Court Clerk gets salary increases in 19th century

Looking back over the years it seems that, over a century ago, Beara had more control over events and policy making and the running of rural affairs then in the present day.

The area had its own Rural District Council which decided on raising money locally, such as rates and water rates, the building of council houses, etc., they also had a Board of Guardians which had control of health matters, etc.

Both organisations were made up of elected members form Castletownbere, Allihies, Eyeries, Adrigole and Bere Island.

We had our own courts and even a Bridwell as well as several local magistrates who sat with the resident R.M. at local sittings of Petty Sessions. Many interesting documents relating to the Petty Sessions, courts and local J.P.s in Castletownbere over a century ago are in our possession. The documents, which date back to the mid 1800s, make an interesting reading and for example; In a letter dated June 30, 1873, to the Clerk of the Petty Sessions for the District Castletownbere, from the Register, Dublin Castle, stated as follows: Sir, You are hereby requested to furnish me with the least possible delay, a return of the number of convictions in each year since 1867, under the Fourteenth Section of the "Master and Servants Act, 1867," distinguished convictions of employers from those employed, and stating the longest and shortest terms of imprisonment. A form is herewith provided on which the return is to be made. Signed, Richard R. Wingfield, Registrar."

It is interesting to learn from another letter to the Clerk at Castletownbere, dated June 30, 1878. What the Clerk's salary was in that year, which is 127 years ago. "Sir, I beg to refer to my letter of 5th April, 1875, in which I informed you that the Lord Lieutenant had ordered that your salary (then fixed for 1875, 1876 and 1877) should be revised at the end of three years. I also pointed out to you how largely the amount of your salary as Clerk of the Petty Sessions depended on your own efforts to increase the fund raising from fees and fines, and upon your conduct and attention to the duties of your office. I have now to inform you that your salary for the years 1878, 1879 and 1880 had been fixed at £95. Your renumeration under the Dogs Regulation Act for the same years at £27 and allowances for expenses, £3-4-2. I am, Sir, Your Obedient Servant, Richard R. Wingfield."

Five months later, the lucky Clerk of the Petty Sessions in Castletownbere, had another increase in his salary. In another letter dated November 29, 1878, from Dublin Castle to the Clerk in the Castletownbere District: "Sir, Referring to my letter for June 30 last, announcing that your salary for the years 1878, 1879 and 1880 had been fixed at £95 a year, I have now to inform you that on further consideration the Lord Lieutenant has been pleased to fix your salary for said years at £108. His grace has been further pleased to grant you a separate allowance for stationary, etc., for said years of £10.
This increase to your salary and allowance are to be revised at the end of three years and varied up or down as circumstances may tender necessary. It is scarcely necessary to add, therefore, that your future salary and allowance for stationary, etc., must largely depend upon the attention you will pay to the duties of your office during the years mentioned. As an allowance is now made for stationery, I will require that in future all communications from Clerks of Petty Sessions to this office shall be made on foolscap paper. I deem it necessary to require this, heretofore in many instances, Clerks have been in the habit of writing on notepaper and small slips, contrary to official usage. It is advisable to include only one subject in each communication, and especially to make separate applications for forms.
"I am, Sir, Your Obedient Servant, Richard R. Wingfield."

Courtesy of the Southern Star
29 October 2005