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Ireland Gazeteer

County Down in 1837

Introduction, Police, Education, &c.

DOWN, a maritime county of the province of Ulster in Ireland; bounded on the north by an angle of Loch Neagh, the county of Antrim, and the bay of Belfast; on the east and south by the Irish channel; and on the west by the counties of Louth and Armagh, from -which it is partly separated by the bay of Carlingford and the river of Newry. The greatest length from Cranfield point on the south-west to Orlock point on the north-east is 51 English miles; greatest breadth from Moyallan on the west to the coast near Ballywalter on the east, 38 miles. The coast line (including Lough Strangford) from Belfast to Newry, exclusive of small irregularities, is about 125 English miles. The area, according to the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, consists of—

Land : 608,415 acres

Water : 3,502 acres

Total : 611, 917 acres statute measure, or 956 square statute miles nearly.  

The county assizes are held twice a year at Downpatrick. Quarter sessions are held by the assistant barrister twice a year at Downpatrick, Newry, Dromore, and Newtownards, The constabulary force stationed in Down in the year 1835 consisted of 5 chief constables, 30 constables, 114 sub-constables, and 6 horses; and the expense of their support was £6,884 6 shillings, of which £3,297, 10 shillings, 8 pence was chargeable against the county.

Education has made rapid progress since 1821; in that year the number of young persons receiving instruction was 9,521; in 1824 it was 14,111 ; and in 1834 the number of young persons receiving daily instruction, in the two dioceses of Down and Dromore, which are together very nearly co-extensive with the county, was 36,446. These dioceses stand respectively fourth and twelfth in educational rank among the thirty-two dioceses of Ireland. According to Mr. D'Alton's return of funds designed for educational purposes in Ireland, the annual amount so designed in Down is £1,092, 2 shillings, 8 pence; the acreable possessions of the different schools is seventy-one acres, and the amount contributed by the National Board of Education is £645 per annum.

County expenses are defrayed by grand jury presentments: average amount so levied during the twenty years preceding 1830, £31,000. Down pays £13,817, 9 shillings, 6 pence as share of the original expense of the district lunatic asylum at Belfast, and a share of the annual expense proportioned to its population. Two newspapers are supported at Newry: the number of stamps issued to these in 1831 was 122,600; and in 1836 the number was 121,961. The gross produce of customs' duties collected within the Newry and Strangford district in the year 1835 was £53,902, 4 shillings, 7 pence.