Item 47 - Lease of land at Spollanstown to build Tullamore Gaol

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IE OCL P43/47


Lease of land at Spollanstown to build Tullamore Gaol


  • 23 March 1826 (Creation)

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Biographical history

Charles William Bury inherited the Charleville estate when he was a mere 6 months old. His father, John Bury (1735-64), drowned four months after inheriting Charleville from his maternal uncle, Charles Moore (1712-64), earl of Charleville (of the 1st creation). The estate was several thousand hectares in size and included the town of Tullamore. In 1785, Bury reached the age of 21, graduated with a BA from Trinity College Dublin and returned to Tullamore which had been partially destroyed after the great balloon fire of that year. He granted new leases in the town and brought about its rapid development. He employed Francis Johnston to design three major landmarks in Tullamore: St Catherine’s Church, the Market House, and the Gothic fairytale castle, Charleville Forest, which was set in 1500 acres of woodland.
In his political career he was returned MP for Kilmallock in 1789-90 and again in 1791-7. He became Baron Tullamore on 26 November 1797, Viscount Charleville on 29 December 1800, and 1st earl of Charleville (of the 2nd creation) 16 February 1806.
He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1803 and a fellow of the Society of Arts in 1814. He published a paper in the RIA’s Transactions in 1799 on the subject of turf ash and became president of the academy from 1812-1822.

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Administrative history

The grand juries were among the most important organs of local administration at county level until the passing of the Local Government Act of 1898. Although originating in Norman times, the first mention of grand juries on Irish Statute books is in 1634. King’s County, which was shired in 1556, and like all other counties was used as a unit for the administration of justice, although over time, its administrative function increased and it became responsible for public works such as road construction and later for construction of infirmaries, bridewells and other institutions of local governance.

The jurors originally comprised ten in number but this was raised to twenty-three. Members of the grand jury were selected by the high sheriff from the leading property owners in the county, the order in which the jurors stood on the list being an indication of their social standing. The sheriff’s discretion in the nomination of the grand jury was total. The sheriff was a political appointment and it frequently happened that he filled the list with his friends and supporters. Catholics were prohibited from serving on grand juries until 1793 but even after this date, jury lists were predominately Protestant due to the concentration of property in Protestant hands.

Over time the administrative function increased. The 1634 and subsequent acts authorized the justices of the assizes with the consent of the grand jury to levy the costs of roads and bridges on the county or barony. This rate was called the county cess. By 1705 the grand juries were authorised to make presentments or propose works.

The grand juries met twice yearly at the Spring (or Lent) Assizes and the Summer Assizes. The King’s County Grand Jury held its assizes at Philipstown (Daingean) until 1835 when the administration of the county moved to Tullamore. The presentment sessions dealt with the expenses of each barony and then for the county-at-large. They were conducted by the justices of the peace and from 1833 included five to twelve cess payers.

The Local Government Act of 1898 abolished the administrative functions of the grand juries, these functions transferring to the newly formed county councils in 1899. The judicial functions ceased in 1924.

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Copy lease of that part of the lands of Spollanstown, otherwise Tullamore, bounded on the north by the Great Road from Tullamore, on the south by land in the possession of the Earl of Charleville, on the east and west by land in the Earl of Charleville’s possession. The premises contain 2 acres, 1 rood and 3 perches, situated at Spollanstown adjoining to the town of Tullamore, in the parish of Kilbride, barony of Ballycowan and King’s County. It is proposed to build a new gaol for the King’s County on the lands of Spollanstown provided a presentment has been duly passed by the grand jury for King’s County. The Earl is desirous to lend his aid to its erection before the presentment is passed, and proposes to demise to the commissioners appointed for the erection of the gaol and in trust for that purpose the above premises.
Now in consideration of the sum of 10s. paid to him by Lord Tullamore etc., he demises the premises unto Lord Tullamore etc. from the 1 May last during the term of 999 years, yielding the annual rent of 6d., if demanded, to be paid by two equal half-yearly payments on every 1 May and 1 November. With clause that if the rent remains unpaid within the space of 21 days, it will be lawful for the Earl of Charleville to enter into the premises and distrain and drive away same for satisfaction of the rent.
The further covenant with the Earl that they will not at any time convert or dispose of the said building to be erected for a gaol at Spollanstown for any other use or purpose whatsoever save as a county gaol. With provision that if the gaol is used or converted for any other purpose, then the demise will be null and void.

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