Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 6: From 1660 to the surrender of Galway to King William's forces, 1691


King grants new charter, 1676

Chapter 6

From 1660 to the surrender of Galway to King William's forces, 1691

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Old map of Galway

Such was the melancholy state to which this once opulent town was reduced in the hands of its new possessors. The corporation, however, to prevent their utter ruin, solicited Theodore Russell, esq., a colonel in the army, who had amassed considerable wealth, and was then settled in the town, to enter into a negociation with Mrs. Hamilton on the subject. He accordingly, on condition of being elected mayor, and continued in that office, purchased from her, in the year 1674, the charter, market and petty duties for 2,500. [i] He was then elected, and served eleven years successively, during which time he continued in the exclusive receipt of those duties and customs; [k] and, encouraged by the commiseration expressed by the lord lieutenant for the decayed and ruinous state of the town, he and the rest of the corporation, in the year 1676, petitioned for a new charter, "for the encouragement of trade and his majesty's service in the town;" and that the great disbursements of colonel Russell, "to redeem them from their lost condition, should be provided for, and further compensation made for his great pains and favour therein shewed unto them." This application was favorably received by the lord lieutenant; and accordingly the king, by charter, dated the 14th of August, 1676, ordained and granted that the town of Galway should, at all times, for ever thereafter, be one entire and free borough of itself, to be known by the name of the "town and borough of Galway;" and that the town, and all within two miles of it, in a direct line, should thenceforth be a county of itself, corporate and separate from the county of Galway, and be known by the name of the "county of the town of Galway;" provided always that judges of gaol delivery, justices of peace, sheriffs and other officers of the county at large, should have free ingress and regress, to hold their sessions, &c. in the town. That the corporation should consist of one mayor, two sheriffs, free burgesses and commonalty, to be called and known by the name of the "mayor, sheriffs, free burgesses and commonalty of the town and county of the town of Galway;" by which name they might purchase lands and goods, demise lands, and do all the other things corporate, plead and be impleaded, and return members to parliament. The modern mayor, sheriffs, recorder and town clerk, were appointed, and their successors for ever thereafter, to be elective, and to hold for one year. That the mayor might appoint a deputy in case of sickness or absence, and that the usual oaths should be taken. That he and the recorder, and their deputies, should be justices of the peace for the county of Galway; and directions were given for the election of mayor, in case of death in office. That the sheriffs should be elective and all writs, bills, &c. for execution within the town, should be directed to them. That no other sheriff should enter the town to execute his office, except as before excepted. The names of the corporate officers to be presented, and the warden nominated pursuant to the "new" rules. That no officer should be capable of exercishlg his office until he should take the prescribed oaths; and on refusal, his election to be void, unless dispensed with by government. That all officers should be chosen by the mayor, sheriffs and common council; and that no freeman should vote, if not of the council. That no matter should be proposed in the tholsel until first passed in council.- Regulations were then laid down as to the admission of foreigners, artisans, &c. to their freedom. A guild of merchants of the staple was appointed: also that the mayor, sheriffs, free burgesses aand commonalty might have and use such several vestments, ensigns and ornamcnts, "for the honour and dignity of the town," as had been used before the 23rd day of October, 1641; and that the mayor should have a sword borne before him, "for the greater eminence of the mayoralty, or office of mayor." That they should have a tholsel wherein to assemble, and have full power and authority to make bye-laws, and punish for the breach of them, provided such bye-laws and punishment should be reasonable, and not repugnant to the laws of the kingdom, or the "new" rules. That they should forever thereafter hold a weekly court on every Tuesday and Friday, before the mayor and recorder or their deputies, of all pleas and actions upon the case, trespass, &c. arising within the town and county of the town, and cause the defendants to be attached by their goods and chattels, or their bodies to be arrested and imprisoned. The king then confirmed unto them and their successors, for ever, all manors, messuages, houses, countries, lands, &c. possessed by their predecessors on the 22nd October, 1641, and all liberties, franchises, powers, authorities, &c. before that time granted unto them by any royal grants or charters, or enjoyed by any other right or title whatsoever, saving to Elizabeth Hamilton her rights in and to any lands formerly belonging to the corporation, and to Theodore Russell his right to the charter, market and petty duties and customs lately assigned by her; and it was specially ordained that the corporation should not demand or levy any of these customs, until he, his assigns or agents, should receive out of the same the sum of 2,500. which he disbursed, and he also paid 300l. over and above, "as a reasonable compensation for the great pains and trouble undergone on behalf and for the good of the corporation: after which they were to revert to the mayor, sherisfs, free burgesses and commonalty for ever.[l]

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