By Paul Greaney

The majority of the principal sources for Irish genealogy have been appearing as online databases over the past ten years or so, and it is now possible to conduct much, if not most, genealogical research from the comfort of one’s own home. One of the more colourful sets of records to appear has been the Petty Sessions record books, of which the Headford and Galway collections relate to incidents in the Annaghdown area. The Petty Sessions were the lowest rung of the courts system, roughly equivalent to today’s district court in some respects, with the Quarter Sessions and Assizes dealing with more serious matters. Most of the Petty Sessions records for Annaghdown relate to incidents of minor significance: road contractors frequently summoned farmers for allowing their stock to wander on the public road, for example. However, there are some more unusual, and some humourous incidents which provide a rich insight into life at the time. The following are a few interesting examples.

1852: Rescue of Twenty Heifers
1852: Rescue of Twenty Heifers

On 6 September 1852, before G. Staunton Lynch, E.L. Hunt, and Pierce Joyce. Martin Forde, bailiff, Gardenham, summoned Pat Browne, George Browne, yeomen, of Creggduff; Thomas Scully, Pat Lee, servants, Creggduff; Pat Tierney, William Cavanagh, yeomen, Ballinduff; Thomas Malley, William Malley, yeomen, Shanbally. Cause of complaint: Rescue of twenty heifers on the 25th day of August 1852 at Creggduff siezed for rent due to Walter Joyce, Esqr., out of said lands of Creggduff. No appearance.

On 7 February 1853, before G. Staunton Lynch and E. L. Hunt. Mark Keeneen, pound keeper, Aughlogin, summoned Bartly Wall, yeoman, of Carraruane, and Thomas Grealy, yeoman, of Racollough or Corbally. Cause of complaint: for that on the 27th day of January 1853 the defendants did enter complainants land at Aughlogin, then and there did forcibly & illegally take and carry away five sheep which were in compts care and impounded for Poor Rates by Matthew Creavin, Poor Rate Collector. Fined 10s. and costs each or one month’s imprisonment in the County Jail.

On 13 November 1854, before E.L. Hunt. Winefred Newall, alias, Flynn, Rhinaharney, summoned Mary Flynn, spinster, Rhinaharney. Cause of complaint: Breaking open complainant’s house at Rhinaharney on Saturday the 3rd November 1854 and feloniously stealing and carrying away thereout a quantity of potatoes, a small pig, bed clothes, dresser, and a box (complainant’s property). John Dillon, yeoman, Rhinaharney, called to give evidence on behalf of complainant. No appearance.

On 28 February 1859, before William Joseph Burke. Michael Doran, Carrowbeg, summoned William Burke, Michael Burke, Michael Graney, Ardgeeneen; Michael Cunningham, Kilgill; James Graney, Bunnatubber; Patrick Graney, Glanrevagh. Cause of complaint: For having been engaged in a riot and having been rioting on the 13th day of February instant at Gortroe on the public road in said County, at the same time and place, William Burke of Ardgeeneen having assaulted complainant in the execution of his duty.

On 19 June 1871, Michael Ruane, Rhinaharney, summoned Stephen Donnellan, Rhinaharney. Cause of complaint: suffering and allowing your cow to trespass in complainant’s potatoes and cabbage and injuring his shirt, all value to the amount of six shillings, on the 9th of June 1871 at Rhinaharney. No appearance.

These records are available on the subscription site findmypast.ie.

This article first appeared in our Winter 2017 Newsletter.

Petty Sessions Records

8 thoughts on “Petty Sessions Records

  • January 14, 2018 at 4:09 pm
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    I am surprised that none of my Ford family members were involved in the riot on February 13, 1859. I probably would have been among the trouble makers.

    Reply
    • June 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm
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      My Fords are from Annadaughdown……who are your Fords?

      Reply
  • June 6, 2018 at 3:38 pm
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    Hi Ruth—
    Good to hear from you. My great grandfather, Michael Ford, was born in Knockbluff, Annaghdown in 1852. His parents were Denis Ford (1812-1898) and Mary Winn. Michael was the only male among four sisters. He was also the only family member to emigrate to America. Not sure when he arrived but he lived in Pittsburgh, PA for most of his years here until his death in 1897. His son, Michael (Mickey) Ford was my mother’s father and my grandfather.

    Please, tell me about your Fords.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  • June 6, 2018 at 9:26 pm
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    Hi Nita, Well this is very interesting….I live in Pittsburgh, PA. I’ve only recently traced my Fords to Annaughdown. My GGgrandfather was Thomas Ford born about 1828…for years I have been looking for a connection to his Irish home…and when I say recently I mean after 30 years I only made a connection in the last 2 weeks and it was thanks to a DNA match. I knew that Thomas’ parents were John Ford and Ellen Casey….they apparently were born in Annaughdown. Thomas came to Pittsburgh, PA about 1848-1850 where he married and remained the rest of his life. One sure has to wonder if the Fords of Anaughdown have to all be related.

    Ruth

    Reply
  • June 6, 2018 at 10:00 pm
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    Ruth—Have you found parish records from Annaghdown with the date and other information about your Ford ancestors’ baptisms (assuming they were Roman Catholic)? Have you found any immigration records for Thomas? I am interested in whether Tom may have made a stop or two along the way before his arrival in Pgh. My Fords lived on Tustin Street in Soho and were buried in Calvary Cemetery in Hazelwood.

    Nita

    Reply
    • June 6, 2018 at 10:33 pm
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      Nita, I have found baptism records for 3 of Thomas’ siblings in the RC records of Annaughdown, but not for Thomas as anything prior to 1834 were lost in the 1922 fire.

      I have not turned up a passenger list that I can be sure is my Thomas. I have found several but hard to pinpoint if it is the right Tom Ford.

      Thomas and his wife Ellen Ennis are on the 1850 in Sharpsburg, but eventually move to
      McKees Rocks/West End area where they remained.

      Ruth

      Reply
      • June 6, 2018 at 11:02 pm
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        Okay. On the baptism records that you found, do any of them mention a townland in the margins or top of page or somewhere on page?

        Yes, I saw your Fords in Sharpsburg and in the Rocks on Ancestry.

        I have some other non-Ford Irish relatives who emigrated to the port of New Orleans around the same time your Tom was crossing the pond. Those relatives ended up in Pittsburgh not long after their arrival in Louisiana.

        Ennis is an interesting name.

        Reply
        • June 6, 2018 at 11:15 pm
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          I went to take another look at the baptisms and there is nothing noted on any of them about the townland.

          Reply

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