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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Electoral List of 1832

Co. Carlow

The Borough Electoral List of 1832

By Sean O'She


The passing of Hobert's Catholic Relief Act 1793 conceded to Catholics the right of forty - shilling freeholders to vote in the counties and in the open Boroughs, to act as grand Jurors and to become members of corporations. Catholics had been disfranchised entirely from 1728 until that time. However, Catholics were still debarred from Parliament from 1691, because they would not take the oath of Abjuration and declare against Catholic Doctrine and so remained until the Catholic emancipation act 1829.

The Irish parliament (referred to as Grattan's parliament) in 1793 was entirely a Protestant parliament comprising three hundred members with approximately two thirds representing Borough constituencies. Many members were returned by closed Boroughs (also known as Rotten Boroughs) with seats frequently bought and sold, and were simply seats in the gift of the members and Patron of the Borough. Though Grattan's parliament claimed to be independent, it was distinguished by its unrepresentative and corrupt nature.

Carlow Town Borough (a closed Borough) enjoyed and exercised the right to elect two members to the Irish parliament. The Borough retained this franchise in 1793 as a closed Borough controlled by the Patron Lord Charlville.

The County of Carlow was one of twelve districts formed into shire ground by King John and among the privileges conferred by such an incorporation would have been the right to return two members to parliament. Carlow County retained that privilege, with the addition of Catholic freeholders of forty shillings having the right to vote.

A Borough also existed at Old Leighlin in 1793 which was controlled and managed by the Bishop of the Diocese (known as a Bishop's Borough), which returned two members to parliament. This privilege was retained at that time.

Thus six members were returned to the Irish parliament from the county of Carlow in 1793.

The insurrection of 1798 precipitated the passing of the Act of Union of 1800 which abolished the Irish parliament fror 1801. The Irish parliament was henceforth represented in the British House of Commons with a reduced membership of one hundred, resulting in Carlow Borough reduced t electing one member to the new parliament and the Borough of Old Leighlin was disfranchised. Carlow Count retained the right to send two members to parliament, thus reducing the parliamentary representation for the count to three.

In 1828 Daniel O'Connell was successful in a By-Election in County Clare, defeating Fitzgerald, a protestant land lord by 2057 votes to 982. However, he could not take his seat in parliament until the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed on the 13th April 1829 (following much opposition and hostility). To accommodate the Emancipation Act, the Catholic Association which supported O'Connell was required to dissolve and the forty-shilling freeholders were disfranchised by raising the franchise to ten pounds, but the way was now clear for Catholics to enter parliament.

In 1831 a parliamentary reform bill was introduced in the British House of Parliament by the Liberal Party and was fiercely opposed by the Tories, but after much deliberation it was passed. Under the Act (the Reform Act 1832 parliamentary seats were redistributed and closed Borough lost their right to elect members to parliament, consequently the political usefulness of corporations diminished sharply. Politicians seeking to represent Carlow Town i parliament were now dependent for election on the mainly middle income class vote often pound free holders.

The first parliamentary election following the Reform Act was held in Carlow Town on the 14th and 15th of December 1832. Many years of agitation for the right of the middle class to vote in parliamentary elections had come at last. The successful candidate was N. A. Vigors.

The following is the Borough List taken from the Carlo1 Morning Post of the 3rd of that month, which names those entitled to vote, giving their residence, occupation, religion and political affiliation.


 The Borough Electoral List Of 1832 Analysis Of Borough List



Religion and Clergy - Catholic, 1; Protestant, 3; Dissenters, 4; Laity - Catholics, 180; Dissenters, 6;Protestants, 80; Quakers, 5; Politics - Conservative, 85; Doubtful, 30; Liberals, 161.


Trades, Professions, &c. - Apothecaries, 4; Attorneys 4; Boatowners, 4; Booksellers, 2; Brewers, 6; Burgesses, 6; Butchers, 3; Carpenters, 6; Chandlers, 4; Clerks, 2; Coal Merchants and Dealers, 3; Confectioners, 3; Coopers 6; Dealers, 13; Disstillers, 2; Eating-house keepers, 4; Farmers, 14; Fruiterers, 2; Grocers and Wine-merchants, 15; Hatters, 2; Hotel-keepers, 2; Huxters, 7; Leather-sellers, 4; Malsters, 9; Medical Doctors, 3; Millers, and Corn Dealers, 5; Newspaper Propriators, 2; Painters and Glaziers, 3; Pawnbrokers, 3; Policemen, Pensioners, Staffmen, and Yeomen, 11; Publicans, 14; Saddlers, 3; Servants, 2; Shoemakers, 10; Slaters, 1; Smiths, 6; Tailors, 2; Tanners, 2; Victuallers, 2; Watchmakers, 3; Woolen-drapers, 4;There is one of each of the following trades &c: Boat-wrights, Brogue-makers, Carries, Glovers, Music-masters, Pound-keepers, Ragmen, Plasterers, Seedsman, Stonemason, Surveyor, Tinker, Vet. Surgeons, Weighmaster, and Wireworker.


Streets - Number of electors in each- Athy Street, 9; Barrack Street, 5; Bridewell Lane, 13; Browne Street, 9; Burrin Street, 15; Castle Hill, 7; Castle Street, 13; Centaur Street, 7; Chapel Lane, 5; Charlotte Street, 3; Church Lane, 2; Coal Market, 13; Cox's Lane, 2; Dublin Street, 35; Graigue, 19; Granby Row, 1; John Street, 4; Kilkenny Road, 4; Montgomery Street, 3; Newmarket,2 Pollerton Road, 3; quarries, 5; Quay, 3; Staplestown Road, 8; Tullow Street, 74; Wellington Sq, 3; and Green Lane, 3.



The Borough List

Carlow was a Rotten Borrough.-The Reform Bill opened it. Under that Act were 724 notices of registry. The registry occupied six days. viz. 29th, 30th and 31st October, and 5th, 6th, and 7th November - at close there were 277 electors registered - one has since died, leaving at present 276.

Source: Carloviana 2011. No. 60. p.38-44

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