British Parliamentary Papers

William Roulston in an article on "British Parliamentary Papers and the Local Historian and Genealogist" in Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review, No. 18, 2002, pp. 63-79 concluded by saying:

The importance of parliamentary papers lies not just in their value to social and economic historians looking at Ireland as a whole, but also in their usefulness to the local historian wanting to find out more about his area and the genealogist seeking information on his family history. Much of the value of the reports lies in the fact that the oral evidence is printed verbatim. It is thus possible to find out exactly what people were saying and what they thought about specific issues. The island-wide coverage of some of the reports, such as the Devon Commission, means that it is possible to make comparisons between different parts of Ireland and place one's own area in a wider context. The papers highlighted here can be used in conjunction with other sources such as the Ordnance Survey Memoirs and landed estate records to build up a picture of what life was like for everyday people in the early nineteenth century. While research in the parliamentary papers can be both time consuming and frustrating, ultimately it is extremely rewarding and will considerably broaden our knowledge of the past.

Certainly I have found them useful over the years and included some examples of them in a booklet that I produced in 1979 on the Teaching of Local History in Northern Ireland: a bibliography and guide to sources.The booklet was published by the Queen's University of Belfast Teachers' Centre but is now out of print. Below, I have reproduced pages 15-16 which referred to Parliamentary Papers.

Details of the British Parliamentary Papers relevant to Ireland are given in G.P. and P. Ford, Select list of British Parliamentary Papers 1833-99, Irish Univ. Press, 1969. For papers before 1833 see Hansard's Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 1696-1834, Basil Blackwell, Oxford 1953.*  A full list of papers can be found in the British Parliamentary Papers, General Index which runs from 1801. Over the years, I have found the following useful.

Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Municipal Corporations in Ireland 1835 (23) XXVII 1. The Ulster towns appear in the Appendices 1835 (27) XXVII and XXVIII; 1835 (28) XXVIII; 1836 (29) XXIV.

First Report of Inquiry into the Condition of the Poorer Classes in Ireland, and Appendix (a); with supplement 1836 (369) XXXII, Part I, 1.

Appendix B, Public medical relief, Dispensaries, Fever Hospitals, Lunatic Asylums, etc. with supplement. 1836 (369) XXXII, Part I, 1.

Appendix B, Public medical relief, Dispensaries, Fever Hospitals, Lunatic Asylums, etc. with supplement containing answers to questions 1835 (369) XXXII, Part II, 1.

Appendix C, Part I State of the poor and charitable Institutions in some of the principal towns, 1836 (35) XXX, 35.

Appendix D, Baronial examinations relative to Earnings of labourers, Cottier tenants, Employment of women and children, Expenditure; with supplement 1836 (36) XXXI, 1.

Appendix E, Baronial examinations relative to Food, Cottages and Cabins, Clothing and Furniture, Pawnbroking and Savings Banks, Drinking: with supplement 1836 (37) XXXII, 1.

Appendix F, Baronial examinations relative to Conacre, Quarter or Score ground, Small Tenantry, Consolidation of Farms, Emigration, Landlord and Tenant, Agriculture, Taxation, Roads, with supplement 1836 (38) XXXIII, 1.

Second Report of the Commissioners for inquiring into the Condition of the Poorer Classes in Ireland 1837 (68) XXXI, 587.

Third Report ....................................................................................................................... 1836 (43) XXX, 1.

Report from Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the state of the law and practice in respect to the occupation of land in Ireland 1845, XIX-XXII. Click here to see part of the evidence given to the Commission by Alexander Burnside, a farmer who lived in the townland of Seacon. near Ballymoney in Co. Antrim.

Report of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the state of the fairs and markets in Ireland, with appendix; 1852-53 (1674), XLI, 79. The minutes of evidence which gives details of Individual towns is 1854 - 55 (1910) XIX, 1.

Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the amending Acts; with the Evidence, Appendices, and Index; 1881 (c2779) XVIII, XIX.

Royal Commission on Market Rights and Tolls - Vol. I First Report of the Commissioners, 1888 (c5550) Llll, 1.

Vol. V Evidence taken in Ulster ...................with reports on Markets,1889 (c5888) XXXVIII, 1.

* Since then there are two useful publications that can be added to this list. These are A. and J. Maltby, Ireland in the Nineteenth Century: a breviate of official publications, Oxford, 1979 and J. Canning, "British Parliamentary Papers as a source for local history" in Ulster Local Studies, Vo. 11, No.1, Summer, 1989.

The BBP volumes are now available online at http://eppi.dippam.ac.uk/ . EPPI contains a complete set of British Parliamentary Papers relating to Ireland and Irish affairs published during the period of the Act of Union (1801-1922). You will find more info when you go to the site.

Copyright 2014 W. Macafee.