Friday, 2 April 2021

Charlemont

EDITED EXTRACTS FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY GAZETTEER AND THE TOPOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IRELAND


CHARLEMONT, an incorporated market town and district parish in the barony and county of Armagh, and formerly a parliamentary borough, in the parish of Charlemont, stands on the right bank of the River Blackwater, and on the road from Armagh to Dungannon.

This place derives its name from CHARLES, LORD MOUNTJOY, who, while Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1602, erected a castle here, and called it Charlemont, partly after his name, and partly after his title.

The post and market town of MOY so immediately adjoins it as to be separated topographically only by the river, and politically by being in a different county; and, for all economical purposes, it is strictly one town with Charlemont, and the more important section of their joint mass.

A neat new stone bridge carries the thoroughfare across the river.

The Stone Bridge leading to Moy (Image: William Alfred Green)

The Ulster Canal passes close to the town; and is expected to occasion a stimulus to trade.

A weekly market is held on Saturday; and fairs are held on May 12, August 16, and November 12.

The castle or fort of Charlemont is a place of considerable military strength, crowning an eminence on the margin of the Blackwater, a little below the bridge; and it is maintained in repair, and used as the ordnance depot, and headquarters of the military in the north of Ireland, and is usually occupied by two companies of artillery, amounting, with wives and children and other parties, to a population of about 300.

This strength was formerly of great importance on account of its commanding the passage of the Blackwater, and checking the turbulences of the O'Neills of Tyrone.

THE borough of Charlemont was incorporated by charter of JAMES I; and it became one of the boroughs included in the "New Rules" of CHARLES II.

The limits comprised the townland of Charlemont, and a small additional area called the Liberties, the former containing about 200, and the latter about 20 acres.


The corporation was styled "The Portreeve, Free Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Borough of Charlemont."

The portreeve and the free burgesses, the latter 12 in number, returned two members to the Irish Parliament; but, in exercising this privilege, they were long the mere tools of the Earls of Charlemont, heads of the Caulfeild family; and at the legislative union, Francis William, 2nd Earl of Charlemont, received the whole of the £15,000 [about £1,150,000] of compensation for disenfranchisement.

The corporation speedily sank into "incurable decay," and its last portreeve died about 1820; but almost immediately after its legal extinction, some individuals resuscitated and usurped the rights, obtaining a recognition by the Lord Lieutenant and Privy Council, and professedly brought the provisions of the charter into operation.

"But we conceive," said the Commissioners on Municipal Corporations, in 1833, "that the present corporation has not any legal existence, and is not aided by the provisions, which places a limitation on the remedy by quo warranto."

A borough court, granted by the charter, fell into desuetude amid the decay of the genuine corporation, but was revived, and held weekly before the portreeve, under the usurping administration.

Tolls were collected by the legal corporation, and began to be exacted by the  newly organized body, but were resisted at fairs, though not at the weekly market.

But the receipts and disbursements during three years, ending in 1830, amounted only to respectively £9 11s 3d [about £1,060 in 2020], and £8 16s 2d.

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