Armagh Borough

The inhabitants were incorporated under the title of the "Sovereign, Free Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Borough of Ardmagh," in 1613, by charter of Jas. I., which was taken from them by James II., who granted one conferring more extensive privileges; but William III. restored the original charter, under which the corporation consists of a sovereign, twelve free burgesses, and an unlimited number of freemen, of whom there are at present only two; a town-clerk and registrar, and two serjeants-at-mace are also appointed. The sovereign is, by the charter, eligible by the free burgesses from among themselves, annually on the festival of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24th); the power of filling a vacancy in the number of free burgesses is vested in the sovereign and remaining free burgesses; the freemen are admitted by the sovereign and free burgesses; and the appointment of the inferior officers is vested in the corporation at large.

By charter of King James, the borough was empowered to send two representatives to the Irish parliament, but the right of election was confined to the sovereign and twelve burgesses, who continued to return two members till the union, when the number was reduced to one. The nature of the franchise continued the same until the 2nd of William IV., when the free burgesses not resident within seven miles of the borough were disfranchised, and the privilege of election was extended to the £10 householders; and as the limits of the district called "the corporation" comprehend 1147 statute acres unconnected with the franchise, a new electoral boundary (which is minutely described in the Appendix) was formed close round the town, comprising only 277 acres: the number of voters registered, according to the latest classified general return made to Parliament, amounted to 454, of whom 443 were £10 householders and 11 burgesses; the number of electors qualified to vote at the last election was 541, of whom 360 polled; the sovereign is the returning officer.

The seneschal of the manor of Armagh, who is appointed by the primate, holds his court here, and exercises jurisdiction, both by attachment of goods and by civil bill process, in all causes of action arising within the manor and not exceeding £10: the greater part of the city is comprised within this manor, the remainder being in that of Mountnorris adjoining. The assizes and general quarter sessions are held twice a year; a court for the relief of insolvent debtors is held three times in the year; and the county magistrates resident in the city and its neighbourhood hold a petty session every Saturday. The corporation grand jury consisted of a foreman and other jurors, usually not exceeding 23 in number, chosen from among the most respectable inhabitants by the sovereign, generally within a month after entering upon his office, and continued to act until the ensuing 29th of September; but its dissolution took place at the close of the year 1832, when a new grand jury having been formed amidst much political excitement, they determined, under an impression that the inhabitants would resist any assessment which they might make, to abrogate their functions, and the system appears to be abandoned. The inconvenience which resulted from the dissolution of the corporation grand jury induced the inhabitants to adopt measures for carrying into effect the provisions of the act of the 9th of Geo. IV., cap. 82, previously noticed.

The sessions-house, built in 1809, is situated at the northern extremity of the Mall: it has an elegant portico in front, and affords every accommodation necessary for holding the courts, &c. At the opposite end of the Mall stands the county gaol, a neat and substantial building, with two enclosed yards in which the prisoners may take exercise, and an infirmary containing two wards for males and two for females: there is also a tread-wheel. It is constructed on the old plan, and does not afford convenience for the classification of prisoners, but is well ventilated, clean, and healthy. The females are instructed by the matron in spelling and reading. In 1835, the average daily number of prisoners was 85; and the total net expense amounted to £1564. 14. 6. Armagh is a chief or baronial constabulary police station, of which the force consists of one chief officer, four constables, and twelve men.

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