CARLOW HISTORY

 

Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Carlow: the Manor and the Town, 1674 - 1721

(Extracts)

Source: 'Carlow, the Manor and the Town' by Thomas King (1997)


Population

No accurate and reliable population figures exist for seventeenth-century Ireland therefore it is only possible to make crude estimates of population of counties and towns based on contemporary estimates, tax returns and hearth money rolls, which are flawed and need to be used with caution. To compound the problem very few of these quite limited sources relate to Carlow, so all that remains are the so-called 1659 'census' for Carlow and Queen's County, and some Church of Ireland registers for the early eighteenth century.

Inhabitants

Carlow was the fourth largest town in Leinster (excluding Dublin) in 1660. It also had the highest proportion of English inhabitants; 48 per cent. There were 271 English out of a total of 560 living in the town. Even if the village of Graigue which lay across the Barrow (96 Irish, 10 English - total 106) is included in the Carlow figure the relative position of Carlow does not change. The situation in the town where one in every two townsmen was English contrasted greatly with the surrounding rural areas where most townlands contained more than eight Irish for every two English people and some townlands listed no English at all. The so-called 1659 ‘census’ was really a tax return which excluded several categories of the population like those under fifteen years.  An approximate population of 1,680 for the town of Carlow in 1660.

A parish applotment list ten years later included a total of 165 inhabitants or households in the two principal streets of the town which was one tenth of the estimated total population in 1660 and would mean that each household represented ten people. Thomas Spaight's survey of 1681 accounts for about sixty tenements and houses which is surprisingly small given the estimated population of the town. But the 1681 survey omits some properties and is not an exhaustive list of tenements.

The rentals augment the number of identifiable houses and tenements and also refer to under-tenants who are rarely named or described in detail. For example Henry Wade was under-tenant to John Butcher for the customs of the markets and fairs, a Mr Sutcliffe was John Browne's under-tenant in a half plot in Dublin Street, and several under-tenants were living on Reynolds plots in the Burrin area in 1695 but were not identified individually Therefore the information provided in the leases and rentals alone is unlikely to contain a full account of those living in the town.

By 1703 when Moland mapped the town it contained 145 buildings, which is closer to the 1669 figure although it includes more streets and the village of Graigue. The first twenty-five of the forty years after 1660 are likely to have experience population growth because of general economic conditions in Ireland at this period and the high level of immigration particularly of Huguenots. There is evidence to suggest that there was a community of at least fifty French in Carlow in the 1680s.

When Thomas Dineley saw the town in 1680 he reported it as prosperous and thriving. But the rise of abandoned properties in the 1690s would indicate a fall in population as would the fear expressed by Edmond Bray, the receiver, that tenants would leave their holdings.

Estimated Population of Carlow & Graig c. 1660

Town

Irish

English

Total

% Irl

% Eng

Carlow

289

271

560

52

48

Carlow & Graig

385

281

666

58

42

Church Records

The Church of Ireland parish register for Carlow may also provide a crude measure of population for this period. The four years, 1699-1702 of the register are relatively complete, as are the years 1710, 1712 and I7I3. A total of 169 baptisms were recorded during these seven years. But Celestine Murphy makes the point that exclusive participation in the sacraments of one church was not necessarily the norm in the seventeenth century. Marriages before a Protestant minister would have been one form of accommodation necessary for a Catholic to protect his economic or social status.

There may have been an element of this in the Quaker community at New Garden, three miles from Carlow town, when concern was expressed about several Friends' children who had gone to priests to get married. The low record of burials may not accurately reflect the true death rate because as late as the second half of the nineteenth century in Dublin accurate burial records were not always kept What the next table indicates is a small rise in registered baptisms and burials after 1710.

St Mary's parish, Carlow: 1699-1702, 1710, 1712 & 1713

Year

Baptisms

Marriages

Burials

1699

22

2

18

1700

12

6

8

1701

17

4

7

1702

29

3

7

1710

38

5

22

1712

28

3

36

1713

23

0

17

Totals

169

23

115

By the 1740s, when seemingly more accurate records were kept (for example illegitimate births were meticulously noted) the number of birth/baptisms recorded had almost doubled (421 baptisms over ten years) and burials had increased compared to the first decades of the century, all of which may indicate a substantial growth of population. A vestry minute provides evidence of a rise in the Protestant population when it says 'the parish church is not large enough to accommodate the great number of parishioners which have of later years increased in the town and parish of Carlow. The hearth money returns for 1732 tend to confirm a high level of Protestant settlement in the area at this time.

There were 1,000 Protestant families in the county and 4,079 'popish' families giving a proportion of Protestants to Catholics of one to four, which was the third highest rate of Protestant settlement in Leinster. The population of the town of Carlow had mixed religious allegiances. There were four separate buildings for religious worship in the town by 1730: St Mary's Church of Ireland parish church, the Catholic mass-house, and the Quaker and Presbyterian meeting houses.

The Huguenot or ‘French’ community appear to have used the Church of Ireland church although there is a possibility they had their own place of worship at one time. The strong Protestant presence seems to have been of long duration because Cardinal Panzirolo commented after the fall of Carlow to General Preston in 1647 that the town had been a nest of heresy for a hundred years. The later seventeenth century saw an influx of Huguenot refugees and the Quakers had begun settling in the area in the 1650s at New Garden just outside the town.

Parish register, St Mary's church, Carlow:

Year

Baptisms

Marriages

Burials

1740

35

5

10

1741

28

5

53

1742

48

6

30

1743

50

10

31

1744

53

2

23

1745

37

2

29

1746

46

6

26

1747

39

5

22

1748

35

8

33

1749

60

11

26

Totals

431

60

283

Migration

Obviously there was also outward migration during this period. The two parish applotment lists for Carlow, 1669 and 1744, seventy-five years apart, can shed light on the incidence of surnames in the earlier list which recur in the latter. Of the 128 surnames in the 1669 list twenty-four recur in 1744. This suggests that four out of five families who were settled in the town in the former year had moved out at some time during the ensuing seventy years. Of the 20 per cent of surnames that recurred in 1744 a high proportion had local or native Irish names indicating perhaps that new settlers tended not to put down deep roots and moved on while the indigenous population were reluctant to leave or did not have the means to do so.

However this sample was confined solely to the area of the town. Some settlers may simply have moved out of town and settled in the locality. The 1746 Killeshin parish applotment list can enable us to test this hypothesis. The list contains sixty-nine surnames, nineteen of which were repeats from the 1669 Carlow list. The preponderance of the recurring surnames were native Irish or local, confirming the pattern set in the earlier example.

The following names recur, with the number of them in brackets:

Surname     Surname  

Brennan

(5)

 

Murphy

(2)

Byrn[e]

(4)

 

Nowlan

(2)

Currin

(3)

 

Pendergass

(2)

Dempsey

(2)

 

Rochfort

(10)

Doran

(4)

 

Ryan

(1)

Howse

(1)

 

Seymour

(1)

Kelly

(4)

 

Smith

(1)

Larkin

(1)

 

Taylor

(1)

Moor[e]

(3)

 

 

 

The majority of surnames in the parish of Killeshin were Irish, indicating that the underlying pattern of a native and Gaelic population in the rural areas around Carlow town, first glimpsed in the 1659 'census', was not much changed by the intervening three quarters of a century. There was a high level of emigration by Quaker families form New Garden to Pennsylvania in the second decade of the eighteenth century.

Surnames in Carlow parish applotment list of 1669 that recur in 1744

Surname

1669

1744

 

Surname

1669

1744

Brennan

1

2

 

Moor/Moore

2

3

Brown/Browne

3

2

 

Murphy

4

1

Bryan

1

2

 

Nowlan/Nowland

4

3

Byrne

5

3

 

Pendergast

3

1

Carroll

2

1

 

Reed

1

1

Curran

1

1

 

Ryan

2

4

Doran

1

1

 

Scooly

1

1

Doyle

4

3

 

Smith

2

3

Gray/ Grey

1

1

 

Wall

2

1

Hickey

1

1

 

Wat[t]son

1

1

Higens/Higgins

1

1

 

White

1

1

Kelly

2

5

 

Worm[e]

1

1

Taking into account all the shortcomings of the available data it is quite evident that what we have is a complex urban settlement seeing a growth in its population after 1660 caused by a good economic climate and immigration, which may have been checked by the set-backs of the 1690s and followed by a gradual recovery as it approached the mid eighteenth century.

Trade

The type of trade and industry in the town developed from, and was inextricably linked to, the nature of the agriculture practised in the area. Milling formed an important element of that economy along with brewing which relied for its raw material on the extensive tillage farming sector. Malthouses were scattered in various locations within and without the gates of the town.

The tan-yard was supplied with hides from slaughtered cattle and seems to have been well established by the later seventeenth century. It was located between Castle Street and the Burrin. The marriage deed of Sir Barnaby O'Brien in 1616 referred to 'the tolls for leather buying in the manor'. In 1624 the lord deputy was requested to sign 'the fiant for tanning in Carlow for Renoulds and his followers', (Tanning in the seventeenth century was strictly controlled because of the effects of rapid deforestation caused by the increased use of bark in the tanning process). A merchant's token from later in the century has the following inscribed on it 'Thomas Reynolds of Carlow tanner' which seems to indicate that the fiant was eventually passed.

Four other tokens were issued in the town between 1652 and 1670; two by inn-holders, John Masters, one-time portrieve of Carlow, who owned the Red Cow inn (Malcolmson) identifies the animal depicted on the token as a bull but it appears to be a cow given the name of Masters' inn and its general appearance on the token. The other inn-holder to issue a token was Garret Quigley, owner of the White Horse inn and the first sovereign of James IIs corporation in 1689, the token's emblem of a harp reinforces the view that he was, as Malcolmson puts it, 'of Hibernian nationality'.

The other two tokens were put out by a merchant and a postmaster. From this small sample of five surviving tokens a picture emerges confirming the importance to the town of businesses connected with the passing trade on the main highway between Dublin and Waterford.

Town Fairs

Carlow had three town fairs in the eighteenth century, held on the 23 April, 11 June and 15 August, two of which were granted licenses in 1722. The weekly market was held on Monday. A report of 1709 recommended a new market for Graigue which 'would not only advance the town but my lord's [Thomond] customs above £30 per annum'. The sovereign was clerk of the market and the customs and tolls of the markets and fairs were leased to John Butcher in 1681 at twelve pounds per annum although it was Henry Wade who actually collected the customs.

In 1703 Butcher filed a bill against Thomas Stephens and Richard Thornsberry who collected the customs to force them to pay him the profits they had received. The customs were held by Thomas Conyers at the time of Hamilton's purchase of the manor in 1722 when they were worth fifteen pounds annually, indicating a modest growth in trade but by 1728, when the customs were set to John Bennet for £30, more than double the earlier rent, the level of trade had increased substantially, justifying the additional markets and fairs granted in 1722.

Occupations

From an analysis of over one hundred individuals whose occupations are known, (information is drawn form a number of sources between 1710-39 a range of fifty-eight separate occupation types can be identified (excluding those designated as gentlemen or esquire and those from a military background). Seventeen merchants were identified for this thirty-year period and were by far the largest group. But there were nine shoemakers/cord-wainers and farmers; eight inn-keepers; seven yeomen and spurriers; and six each of smiths, masons, stone-cutters and carpenters.

There were five bakers; four weavers and hatters/felt-makers, three each of butchers, slaters, clerks joiners and tailors. Carlow spurriers were renowned for their craftsmanship and the high number of them practising in the town at this time suggests a flourishing trade. A reference in 1859 on the death of Robert Reddy, gun-maker, described him as the last of the Carlow spurriers.

A comparison of the main trades and occupations in Carlow between 1710 and 1739 with the twenty-five principal trade guilds in Dublin reveals that eighteen - 75 per cent - were represented at Carlow which indicates the range of skills available in a provincial town in the first half of the eighteenth century. However some members of the guilds which registered nought were undoubtedly practising in the town but simply do not show up in the records for the years in question. For example there were three apothecaries recorded in Carlow, two of whom pre-dated 1710.

Range of trades in Carlow compared to 25 trade-guilds in Dublin

 

Dublin guilds

Carlow members

 

 

Dublin guilds

Carlow members

1

Trinity guild

17

 

14

Weavers

4

2

Tailors

3

 

15

Sheermen

0

3

Smiths

6

 

16

Goldsmiths

0

4

Barbers

1

 

17

Coopers

1

5

Bakers

5

 

18

Feltmakers

4

6

Butchers

3

 

19

Cutlers

0

7

Carpenter

6

 

20

Bricklayers

1

8

Shoemakers

11

 

21

Hosiers

0

9

Saddlers

2

 

22

Curriers

0

10

Cooks

0

 

23

Brewers

3

11

Tanners

2

 

24

Joiners

3

12

Glovers

0

 

 

 

 

Construction

The construction trade in Carlow was well served with eleven skills represented. According to Vincent Gookin, writing in 1663, for every hundred men there were five or six carpenters and masons among the Irish who were 'handy and ready in building ordinary houses'. A comparison of the building of the Quaker meeting house in 1700 and St Mary's parish church twenty-six years later can shed light on construction practices and artisan skills in demand at that time.

Both projects relied mainly on the locality to provide the building materials. The Quaker meeting house was built of stone and timber felled in Michael Wilcock's wood and brought to Carlow by carmen. Ephraim Heritage and Thomas Parkes were charged with ensuring that the stonework was well executed. Before construction started on the new Protestant church in 1727 part of the old church had to be taken down by the carpenter Daniel Brien, who charged £3, while Darby Byrne spent eight days sorting shingles, which were later sold. Earth and rubbish was cleared from the site by John Rogers, the ground around the site had to be raised and a saw-pit was sunk, a number of wheelbarrows being purchased from time to time.

The project required the services of masons, carpenters, sawyers, a nailer, a slater, a plasterer, labourers and a watchmen. Boatmen had to be paid for carrying freight. The church doors were supplied by Edward Buder and the hinges by James Ivors. A Mr Tindall plastered 2,064 square yards and charged one shilling per yard. The finished church had eight windows, two east doors, a chancel door and a west door. The project was begun in 1727 and continued for four years until 1730. The following years saw the installation of special seats and pews. Work appeared to cease at the end of December each year and not resume until the following May, according to the accounts of the construction kept by the parish which carried entries for the months of May to December only each year.

Fourteen years after the completion of the building Thomas Allen was engaged to lay an earthen floor two and a half inches thick, throughout the whole church to be made of lime, sand, 'collum' and blood. The type of materials used in the construction and repair of buildings were those found locally such as stone, lime and sand, timber, lathes and watties; slates, shingles or straw for roofing. George Wilkins, glazier, lived in Dublin Street at least since 1680.

The presence of a glazier would indicate that glazed windows were common enough after the mid-seventeenth century. Edmond Bray, one of the receivers, reported that John Curtis ‘made use of some timber and stones that were about the castle’ in order to erect a grinding-mill and a tuck-mill.' Finding the castle in ruins Garret Quigley 'took away the oak timber' from the castle and with it 'roofed the houses of the Market Cross'.

In 1693 John Browne presented a bill for 'stopping up the castle door and windows' in what may have been a belated attempt to prevent further scavenging. Perhaps the dismantling of the castle is a fitting symbol of the passing of the old order and the dawn of a new world with no use for such an anachronism. The use of wattles for 'wattling' as well as thatch for roofing points to the survival of traditional building techniques to this date. It probably took some time for the stone and slated two storey buildings stipulated in the 1681 leases to become a reality. Repairs were frequent, to the mills, the Bear inn and St Mary's church, whether this was because of poor workmanship, the kinds of materials used or building techniques is not certain but according to L.M. Cullen 'housing in rural Ireland in the seventeenth century was universally bad irrespective of wealth'.

Merchants, farmers, yeomen and inn-holders figured prominently at the top of the list of occupations giving the impression of a strong, middling wealthy class developing. Religion and education had ten and three representatives respectively. A curious omission from the list of occupations at Carlow is anything to do with river transport or fishing. The coalyard was located on the bank of the Barrow. The river Burrin was vital to the milling industry and many new mills were built after 1690; Curtis built two and James Hamilton claimed to have built five when he took over after 1722. Columbines map (1735) depicts three mills on the Burrin,

Occupations based on leather, wool and other animal by-products were also in evidence. Many of those who wished to practice these trades had to serve a long apprenticeship beginning at an early age, and those apprenticed to the weaving and combing trade could expect to serve twelve years at a cost to their parents of almost £,6.

A general education could form part of the contract. When Henry May apprenticed his son to the trade of skinner with Thomas Coates in 1692, it was agreed that 'Thomas Coates is to take care that the boy do learn to read; and if he can to write also'. When it was discovered three years later that the boy and his master 'do not so well agree as we could desire' it was decided that the boy should be discharged and part of his fee of £6.10s.1d and his indenture were to be delivered up. These two cases were quite formal and lengthy with a clause for termination before they ran their full course if circumstances dictated. They come from the Quaker community in New Garden, near Carlow, and it is not clear to what extent these arrangements held good for apprenticeships outside that community.

Linen Manufacture

In an effort to improve the town's economic prospects a Mr Johnstone was invited 'to come down from the north of Ireland ... on purpose to see the place' in 1708, 'to settle a linen manufacture there'. He costed a proposal at £1,000 (£6oo when the agreement was signed and £400 after the first year of operation).

The farms of Crossneen and Mortlestown were to be set to him and the Tobacco Meadows were to be used as a bleaching yard with no rent payable for ten years and the landlord would have to build a bleach house in the town. Johnstone was to fix up twelve looms in the first year and provide the weavers and yarn to keep them constantly at work. By year four there were to be twenty looms working in Carlow.

He acknowledged that the proposal was costly but justified it by arguing that buying linen in the north (flax grown locally at Carlow in the first few years would not be sufficient in quantity or quality), the cost of looms and other equipment, the cost of his having to move to Carlow and sell his stock in the north and likewise the removal of his workers and their families to Carlow along with the building of new houses for them and himself would be a large initial expense. On the positive side he suggested that a linen industry in the town would make the inhabitants more industrious and increase in number by taking the many waste plots which he had observed in the town and thereby increase income from rents.

There is no record of a Mr Johnstone having settled in the town subsequent to this proposal. John Cooper and Matthew Humphrys, two local clothiers, put forward a similar proposal which would cost ,£1,100 but was to have twenty-four looms in operation by the end of the third year, four more than Johnstone’s target. The gentry of the county were to contribute £500. But a linen industry of some kind pre-dated these attempts by at least thirty years. Dineley had observed that 'linen manufacture is set on foot in this county of Carlow: for encouragement whereof once a year a jury is sworn ... to view the clothes'.

The winners in 1681 were from within two miles of Carlow town. These high standards were maintained because in 1711 and 1712 grants were made to James Quin of Carlow 'for teaching eight persons to weave damask'. He was also given land in the Moneen, a marshy piece of land between the town and the castle, rent free to use as a bleaching green in 1712. Weaving was practised in Carlow in the seventeenth century, a particular type of 'sheep’s grey frieze' made in Carlow was said to be the equal of that made in Kilkenny city. Evidence for large flocks of sheep in the county comes from depositions taken after the 1641 rebellion and Quakers wills. There was a property in Carlow town called the 'wool-house' which was derelict by the 1680s and in 1681 two Quakers, Gregory Russell and Joseph Leybourne had twenty-eight 'fleeces of wool' and nine lambs taken from them for tithes.

Military

Carlow was a garrison town and the presence of the military undoubtedly affected the local economy, although its effects could be mixed. In 1663 the inhabitants of Carlow petitioned James Butler, duke of Ormond, lord lieutenant of Ireland, 'that whereas the troop of horse quartered on the town of Carlow' had refused to pay their bills the petitioners were now in debt and 'reduced to a very low and deplorable condition'. Callaghan MacCallaghan, who leased the farm at Crossneen, had a more profitable arrangement, as the receiver, somewhat enviously, reported: 'the soldiers are his [Callaghan s] tenants having the grass and hay of the farm for their horses for which he is paid before hand'.

Accommodation

Situated on a major highway the town had ample opportunity for servicing the large number of travellers who passed its door. A license to keep taverns and make and sell wine and 'ardent spirits in the town and liberty of Carlow' was granted to Sir Barnaby O'Brien in 1616. But by 1709 it was reported that Carlow had lost a lucrative trade in catering for the accommodation needs of visitors and boarders. What had been commodious inns were now reduced to alehouses and travellers of substance chose to stay elsewhere because of the lack of suitable facilities in Carlow.

Three nearby towns, all within seven miles of Carlow, had successfully poached the passing trade from Carlow because their owners; the earl of Kildare in Castledermot, Lord Chief Justice Doyne in Tullow and Mr Pearcy in Leighlinbridge, were 'industrious to improve their towns'. The loss to Carlow was estimated to amount to £800 per annum. Included in this sum was the loss of the boarding out of nearly sixty pupils, attending the local school, among the inhabitants of the town, which was caused by the negligence of the schoolmaster Hugo Young. By 1709 the school had only four pupils in attendance and moves were afoot to have Young replaced.


Extracts from:: 'Carlow, The Manor and the Town' by Thomas King (1997) p.22-32.

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