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Ireland Gazeteer

Dublin City in 1837

DUBLIN, the chief city of Ireland, forming by itself a county of a city, on both sides of the river Liffey, at its entrance into the bay of Dublin. The situation, as considered with reference to the whole of the United Kingdom, is central, there being more places of importance in Great Britain and Ireland accessible in a given time from Dublin than from either London or Edinburgh.

With regard to its boundaries, Dublin may be considered either as a county of a city with separate corporate jurisdiction; or as a city having a local police, and returning representatives to parliament; or as a city consisting of a collection of continuous buildings. In each character its boundaries are different.

Pending the publication of the Ordnance Survey map of Dublin, the areas contained in these various limits cannot be accurately stated. The map constructed by order of the grand jury of the county of the city in 1821 gives the area contained within the limits of corporate jurisdiction at 5,217 Irish or 8,450 statute acres: the Report of the Boundary Commissioners states that of the city, as limited for the purposes of the elective franchise, at 3,538 statute acres; and the Rev. Mr. Whitelaw in 1805 estimated the entire area then occupied by buildings at 1,264 statute acres.

Dublin appears to have been known by something approaching nearly to its present name in the second century, as it is found written Eblana in the geography of Ptolemy. The name is written in historical documents Dublin, Dyflin, Dyvelin, &c., being all varieties of the Irish Dubh-linn, or Black-pool, which appears to be the true etymology. It is also called, and is still generally known among the Irish, by the name Ath-cliath, which may be rendered Hurdle-ford, from the causeway laid on hurdles which formerly led to the channel of the river across the ooze at either side.

In the various political contests that have afflicted Ireland from the earliest history of the country Dublin has always borne a conspicuous part; but these events belong rather to the general history than to that of the city. Dublin, however, under all circumstances, continued to maintain and increase its importance and its extent. In 1205 the castle was ordered to be built and the city to be fortified: and in 1215 a stone bridge was built over the Liffey. In 1316 the first material extension of Dublin took place in consequence of the pulling down of some of the old walls, and the erection of a new line of defence by the citizens when threatened with a siege by Edward Bruce. The Reformation had commenced in Dublin, in 1535, by the consecration of George Brown, a denier of the papal supremacy, to the archbishopric. In 1550, on Easter Sunday, the liturgy was read in English, for the first time, in Christ Church, and printed, the next year, by Humphrey Powell: this is supposed to have been the first book printed in Ireland. The foundation of the great Protestant University of Trinity College followed close on the establishment of the Reformation. In consideration of the leading part it had taken at the Restoration, the city of Dublin was honoured by the king with a collar of S S., and the mavor was soon after (1665) invested with the title of Lord Mayor, together with an estate of £500 per annum towards maintaining that dignity. After the struggles immediately preceding and following the Revolution of 1688, on the settlement of affairs by the public cancelling of all the arbitrary proceedings of the abdicated government, October 2, 1695, the improvement of the city was resumed, and from this till the period of the Union the increase of Dublin proceeded with great rapidity.

Although Dublin has decidedly fallen off as an emporium of trade and a centre of society since the act of Union removed the seat of legislation to London, it has, during the last period, not only increased in size and population to a great extent, but continues to advance in architectural improvement.

Stephen's Green, Merrion, Rutland and Mountjoy squares, with almost all the streets on the north-east of the river, were built round during the period between the middle of the 18th century and the Union. Fitzwilliam-square and the adjoining streets, which are at present among the most fashionable places of residence in Dublin, have been completed since, and a great extension has taken place in private residences towards the south-east; a considerable portion of the north-east of the city also belongs to this period.

The use of brick and stone in private buildings was not general until after the Restoration; and there are now few or no remains of private dwellings of so early a date. The walls almost entirely disappeared in the extension of the city in the 18th century. Christ Church and St. Patrick's are the chief objects of antiquarian interest. The Castle, although occupying a very ancient site, contains but a small portion of the original building. The Tholsel and old courts of law have disappeared, and the oldest of the bridges now standing is Barrack Bridge, occupying the site of a wooden bridge built so late as 1671.

The corporation of Dublin consists of the Lord Mayor, two Sheriffs, 24 Aldermen, and 144 Common Councilmen, made up of 48 Sheriffs' Peers and 96 Representatives of the Guilds. There are 25 Guilds, of which Trinity Guild, or the Guild of Merchants, is the most important, returning 31 of the 96 representatives of the whole. The number of freemen is not correctly ascertained, but is supposed to be about 4,000. The chief officers of the corporation are the recorder, coroners, president of the court of conscience, and the governors and keepers of the several prisons. This corporation is subject to the New Rules of the 25th Charles, modified by the provisions of the 33rd George II, c. 16. The corporation has for upwards of two centuries maintained a strict Protestant character ; and the exclusion of numerous wealthy merchants of the Roman Catholic religion, or of what are termed liberal principles, has rendered it comparatively inefficient as a municipal body.

The jurisdiction of the corporate magistrates of the county of the city extends over the various liberties within the Circular Road, although these are situated within the county of Dublin. They are not however permitted to sit at sessions of the peace for the county. The court of quarter sessions of the peace for the county of the city, at which the recorder, lord mayor, and two aldermen preside, has, by the 48th George III, c. 140, a criminal jurisdiction extended to all crimes and offences, excepting high-treason, committed on or within the Circular Road; and by its sittings and adjournments affords 12 gaol deliveries each year. The trial of serious offences is generally reserved for the commission court for the county of the city, held before two judges of the superior courts, with whom the lord mayor is joined in commission. The lord mayor holds a weekly court for the determination of small claims of wages, and the infliction of fines for infringement of municipal regulations: the operation of this court is not considered efficient.

The chief civil jurisdiction of the corporation is exercised in the lord mayor and sheriffs' court, which is held once every three months, with a cognizance of all actions for sums exceeding 40 shillings late Irish currency. The recorder's civil bill court for the recovery of debts over 40 shillings is held quarterly. The court of conscience, for the determining cases between party and party, under 40 shillings Irish, sits every day from 10 o'clock a.m. The practice of these courts is considered open to much improvement, particularly in the adjustment of fees, and the remuneration of certain officers by fixed salaries.

The gaol of the county of the city is Newgate, which is also the gaol for that part of the county of Dublin within the Circular Road. It was founded in 1773, and is situated in Green-street, beside the City Sessions'-house, on the north-west of the city. Contiguous to Newgate is the Sheriffs' prison for debtors, erected in 1794. The City Marshalsea is a small prison for debtors committed from the lord mayor's court and court of conscience; the condition of this prison is very wretched. The Smithfield Penitentiary, erected at the charge of government, is a house of correction for the reception of convicted offenders of both sexes; this prison is well conducted. The males are employed and instructed in weaving; the females in needlework, and in washing for the Sheriffs' prison and the gaol of Newgate. The Richmond Bridewell, another government establishment, is also a house of correction for male and female convicts. Weaving is the principal employment of the males; those sentenced to hard labour are put to the tread-mill. The prisoners on being discharged are paid one-third of the earnings of their labour. The condition of this bridewell is highly creditable to the authorities. The current expenses of these establishments are defrayed by presentments of the grand jury of the county of the city, and in the year 1833 the gross outlay was £11,763. Besides these, there is the House of Industry, with lunatic asylum, hospitals, &c. attached, which is supported by an annual grant of £20,000 from government.

The Four Courts Marshalsea prison is situated within the city, but is not connected with the corporation. The county gaol of Kilmainham stands beyond the western suburbs, and is one of the most severe places of confinement in Ireland.

The revenues of the corporation arise chiefly from rents, certain dues on shipping for slippage and anchorage, renewal of leases, fines levied by the city authorities, and pipe-water taxes. The rents arise out of four several estates granted to the city at various times.

The gross amount of revenue and loan received by the corporation in the year commencing 29th September, 1833, was £38,346, 13 shillings, 2½ pence, being equal to the expenditure of the year. The principal item in the expenditure is interest on bond, which amounts to upwards of £14,000 per annum.

The police of Dublin and the surrounding district is regulated by the 48th George III, c. 140, amended by the 5th George IV, c. 102. By these Acts the castle of Dublin, and all places within eight Irish miles thereof, not being within the jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty, are united into one district, and this district is divided into four divisions. Each of these divisions embraces about a quarter of the city, and extends over the adjoining district to the exterior limit of the jurisdiction. To each is attached a divisional office of police, with an establishment consisting of one barrister, one alderman, and one member of the common council, being the divisional justices for that district. The Castle district is the seat of the head police-officer, to whom the divisional justices of the other districts make weekly reports.

The funds applicable to the expense of the police and watch establishments are derived from various sources, namely, from the watch-tax, from pawnbrokers' licences, from publicans' and other licences, from fines and fees, and from government grants. The total disbursements of the Dublin police establishment for the year ending 31st March. 1834, was £41,548, 3 shillings, 6½ pence.

The paving, cleansing, and lighting of the city of Dublin are regulated by the 47th George III. (loc. and pers. sess. 2, c. 109), amended by the 54th George III. (loc. and pers. c. 221). The Paving Board is a corporation, and consists of three commissioners appointed by the lord-lieutenant. They derive their income from various assessments and other receipts. The total amount of the receipts of the commissioners for paving, &c., for the year ending 5th January, 1833. was £41,115, 8 shillings, 6 pence; and the total amount of their expenditure was £41,997, 7 shillings, 5 pence. The streets in general are Macadamized, the footpaths for the most part flagged, and the curb-stones and crossings of cut granite. The city has been well lighted since 1825 with gas, for the supply of which there are four incorporated companies, the works at three of which are at present in operation.

The supply of water is regulated by a committee of the corporation, entitled the Committee of the Pipe-water Establishment. The pipe-water rent, collected by the corporation, forms a large item in their income.

The commissioners of wide streets are constituted by various Acts of Parliament, of which the earliest is the 31st George III, c. 19, and the latest the 2nd George IV, c. 110. The board consists of twenty-five; the lord mayor and representatives of the city and county for the time being are members. Their funds, since the coal-duty ceased in March, 1832, arise almost solely from the wide-street tax, which produces from £5,000 to £5,500 per annum; and this is allocated to pay the interest, at 3 per cent, on a loan of £36,895, 6 shillings, 5 pence from the government.

The port and harbour are under the management of the Ballast Board, constituted by 26th George III, c. 19. Their funds arise from taxes on shipping entering the port. The tonnage duties received by the Ballast Board in 1832 amounted to £11,960, 17 shillings, 9 pence. In the same year the expenditure of the Ballast Board on the harbour was £7,469, 11 shillings, 10 pence, and on the great north wall £160, 13 shillings 5 pence. Upwards of £4,000 per annum of the receipts of the board goes to pay the interest on debt.

The supply of fuel is almost wholly by colliers from the opposite coast of England. The colliers which entered the port in 1832 measured 230,878 tons. Turf is retailed for lighting fires, &c., in which mode considerable quantities are used: the supply is furnished from the extensive bogs of Kildare and Westmeath by the boats of the Grand and Royal canals.

The ground on which Dublin stands rises gently from the river towards the north and south-west: the highest ground in the city is at Broadstone harbour, which is 62 feet above the level of high water in the Liffey. The eastern division on the south of the river lies almost wholly without the limits of the ancient city on level ground, the northern part of which has in a great measure been reclaimed from the former bed of the Liffey. Six extensive plots of open ground ornament and ventilate this portion of the city; viz., on the south, the Coburg Gardens and Fitzwilliam-square; on the east, Merrion-square; on the north, the park of Trinity College; on the west, the Castle Gardens; and in the centre, Stephen's Green. Dame-street, which leads from the castle to the university, expands towards its eastern extremity into College Green, from which all the leading lines of communication radiate.

The whole area of College Green on the east is occupied by the front of Trinity College, a rich and dignified pile of building of the Corinthian order, built in 1759, and extending north and south 300 feet, a little in advance of the provost's house, which stands on the eastern side of the entrance into Grafton-street.

Separated from the college by the entrance into Westmoreland and College streets, stands the Bank of Ireland, formerly the Irish house of parliament, founded in 1729, which presents a portico of six Corinthian columns towards College-street, and a semicircular facade with a receding centre of extraordinary magnificence towards College Green. The effect of this combination of grand architectural objects is peculiarly striking. West from College Green, Dame-street consists of uniform and lofty houses, occupied by persons in trade, having the Commercial Buildings, founded in 1796, about midway on the north, and the Royal Exchange, founded in 1769, at its southern extremity.

Of the squares which lie east and south of College Green, Stephen's Green, laid down in 1670, is the first in point of extent as well in Dublin as in the United Kingdom. The area within the railing is a rectangle of 1,220 by 970 feet, being somewhat more than 27 statute acres, and is now handsomely laid out, although so late as the year 1818 it was a marshy flat surrounded with a stagnant ditch and mean wall. The surrounding buildings are, however, very unequal.

The eastern division of the city lying north of the Liffey occupies higher ground, and is the airiest and most cheerful part of Dublin. Mountjoy-square and Rutland-square occupy the crest of the hill, and from these respectively the chief lines of communication are Gardiner’s-street and Sackville-street, the first leading to the Liffey at the Custom House, the latter to Carlisle Bridge, Westmoreland-street, and College Green. The facade of the Lying-in Hospital and Rotunda Rooms forms a striking termination to Sackville-street on the south.

From Rutland-square Sackville-street extends with a scarcely perceptible descent to Carlisle Bridge, a distance of three-quarters of an English mile. The breadth throughout is 40 yards, and the buildings on each side lofty, and, with few exceptions, uniform. About midway between Carlisle Bridge and the Rotunda stands a fluted Doric column, on a pedestal of large proportions, bearing a colossal statue of Lord Nelson. This monument was erected in 1808. West of Nelson's monument the General Post-Office presents a cut-granite front of 223 ft. to the street. In the centre is a portico of Portland stone.

At the southern extremity of Gardiner-street the Custom-house occupies a detached plot of ground on the quay leading from Carlisle Bridge to the north wall. This splendid building, founded in 1781, is 375 feet in length by 205 feet in depth, and exhibits four decorated fronts of the Doric order; the columns, &c., being of Portland stone, and the body of the building of cut granite. To the east of the Custom-house are docks and stores, the latter on a very extensive scale, surrounded by a lofty wall. The business of the customs-duties department is however so trifling, that half the accommodation here provided would be amply sufficient

Between Gardiner and Sackville streets runs Marlborough-street, parallel to each. On the western side of Marlborough-street, about midway between its extremities, stands the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Church, founded in 1816. St. George's Church, the beautiful spire of which is conspicuous from the bay and many parts of the city, occupies the highest ground in this district. It is the most sumptuous of the modern churches of Dublin, from a design by Johnstone, and cost £70,000.

The western division of the city, north of the river, is not intersected by any street of large proportions, and is almost exclusively occupied by dealers, tradesmen, and labourers. The portion of it which lies along the quays and towards the Blue Coat Hospital is however well built and respectably inhabited. The Four Courts, situated on King's Inn Quay in this district, was commenced in 1786, and is a building of great extent and splendour. Westward from the courts of law, the Royal Barracks occupy an elevated site over the river, at the extremity of the city on this side. On the outskirts of this division of the city, from the Royal Barracks north-east, are the Blue Coat Hospital, founded in 1773; the Richmond Bridewell and Penitentiary, and the House of Industry and hospitals attached; the Linen Hall, opened in 1728; and the King's Inns. In the eastern part of the district, near Capel-street, are Newgate, the Sheriffs' prison, and the Sessions House for the county of the city.

West of the Royal Barracks is the entrance into the Phoenix Park, a finely-wooded demesne of 1,089 Irish or 1,759 English acres, containing the vice-regal lodge, and the lodges of the chief and under secretary; the Zoological Society's gardens and establishment; the Royal Military Infirmary; the Hibernian Society's school for the education of the children of soldiers; a powder-magazine and artillery station; and a grand obelisk, erected in commemoration of the victories of the Duke of Wellington. The park was first enclosed and laid down for the recreation of the citizens in the reign of Charles II, and was completed by the Earl of Chesterfield while Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The greater portion of the lands belonged to the dissolved priory of Kilmainham.

The division of Dublin which lies west from the Castle, on the south side of the Liffey, is the oldest part of the city, and is now almost exclusively occupied by persons in trade, small dealers, and the labouring classes. The Castle of Dublin, at the north-eastern extremity of this district, consists of two handsome quadrangles, surrounded, except on one side, by the apartments of state and the offices of government.

West of the Castle stands Christ's Church Cathedral, a venerable cruciform structure, part of which is of a date anterior to the coming of the English. South from Christ Church, at a distance of rather more than a quarter of a mile, is the Cathedral of St. Patrick, situated at the foot of the declivity, the ridge of which is occupied by the castle and older cathedral. St. Patrick's is an imposing pile, consisting of nave, transepts, and choir, with a chapter-house at the east end. Attached is the ancient archiepiscopal palace, now converted to a police barrack, and the deanery house, a commodious residence built in the last century. At the back of the old palace is the library founded by Archbishop Marsh in 1694. On the south of this division are a penitentiary, the Portobello barracks, and several hospitals; and on the west, towards Island Bridge, these extensive establishments,—the Royal Hospital of Kilmainham, built at the cost of the army in 1684; the Foundling Hospital; Swift's hospital for lunatics; Stephens's hospital; Kilmainham gaol and the county court-house, and the artillery barracks at Island Bridge.

The Liffey is quayed in throughout its entire length, and crossed by eight bridges, five of which are executed in cut stone, and two in metal. These quays give a great air of magnificence to the views up and down the river.

The condition of the poorer classes in Dublin is wretched in the extreme; yet there are few cities in which charitable institutions are more numerous or better supported. The number of persons totally destitute is estimated at 25,000; of labouring persons who, getting only occasional employment, are frequently in a destitute state, at 25,000; and of poor tradesmen, frequently in the same condition from want of employment and other causes, at 18,000.

The principal charitable institutions of Dublin are the following:—Association for the suppression of Mendicity; Society for the relief of Sick and Indigent Room-keepers ; the Strangers' Friend Society; the Benevolent Strangers' Friend Society; the Charitable Association; Society for the Relief of the Industrious Poor; Sir Patrick Dunn's Hospital, Meath Hospital and County Infirmary, Jervis-street Infirmary, Mercers' Hospital, Maison de Sante (these five are general hospitals for the poor); Simpson's Hospital (for lame and gouty poor); Lying-in Hospital, Stephens's Hospital (general), Cork-street Fever Hospital, Whitworth Fever Hospital, City of Dublin Hospital (general), United Hospital of St. Mark and St. Ann (general), Hospital for Incurables, Westmorland Lock Hospital, Hospital of the House of Industry, Lunatic Asylum of the House of Industry, Swift's Hospital (for lunatics). For these charities the total amount of vested estates is £13,262, 19 shillings, 4 pence, and the parliamentary and grand jury grants are £30,200.

In addition to these institutions there are six minor lying-in hospitals in the city, numerous houses of relief, and female penitentiaries, and about twelve dispensaries supported by voluntary contributions and local assessment. The number of out-door patients so relieved is very great, probably not less than 50,000 per annum.

The total number of charitable schools in the city of Dublin is 199. Of these 132 are day-schools, 34 are schools where the scholars are lodged, boarded, clothed, &c., 27 are schools for orphans, or in connexion with orphan societies, 4 are schools belonging to societies, and 2 are daily model-schools of the National Board of Education. The total number receiving instruction at these schools is 15,797; the total annual expenditure is about £37,100.

The trade of Dublin consists chiefly in the supply of the midland districts with articles of import. The silk manufacture has long been carried on with considerable success in the production of a superior article, but the trade has latterly declined, and is now very languid. The woollen manufacture was also carried on with good success, but has likewise fallen off of late years. The firm of Messrs. Willans continue to manufacture broadcloths, but this is almost the only house in the trade. The printing of calicoes and muslins has been brought to great perfection by Mr. David Henry, of Island-bridge.

That part of the trade of Dublin which is carried on with the ports of Great Britain has greatly increased since the general adoption of steam-vessels, but there are no means for distinguishing its amount, the intercourse between the two islands having been placed upon the footing of a coasting-trade. The vessels that entered the port from foreign countries during each of the five years from 1832 to 1836, and the amount of their tonnage were as follows:—

British Foreign Total
Ships Tons Ships Tons Ships Tons
1832 210 38,202 16 2,823
1833 240 45,939 35 6,550 275 52,489
1834 212 36,074 27 5,456 239 41,530
1835 201 32,439 34 6,247 235 38,686
1836 189 38,058 28 5,052 217 43,110

A large proportion of the foreign trade is carried on through Liverpool and Bristol by means of steam-vessels, which convey goods to those ports for shipment.

The amount of customs' duties collected in Dublin in the four years from 1833 to 1836 was:

1833 : £654,754

1834 : £768,632

1835 : £918,801

1836 : £898,630

The tonnage of commodities conveyed upon the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal to and from Dublin exceeds 380,000 tons per annum. The greater part of that which is conveyed to Dublin consists of agricultural produce, cattle, and turf. From Dublin are sent building materials, coals, salt, manure, and general merchandise.

The intercourse between England and Dublin has been much encouraged by the establishment of steam-packets. The number of passengers conveyed by the post-office packets alone, between Dublin and Holy head and Liverpool, in each of the three years, 1833 to 1835, was as follows:—

Between Dublin & Holyhead Between Dublin & Liverpool Total
1833 9,189 9,292 18,481
1834 11,564 12,425 23,989
1835 11,558 14,040 25,598

The population of Dublin has been vaguely ascertained from time to time as follows :—

A.D. Houses Inhabitants
1644 No return 8,159
1777 17,151 137,208
1788 14,327 114,616
1798 16,401 172,084
1803 15,958 109,528
1804 16,234 172,042
1813 15,104 176,610

And with great precision in 1821 and 1831; viz.-

1821 1831
Houses Population Houses Population
County of the City of Dublin, as limited by its ancient boundary 14,029 178,603 16,042 204,155
Dublin inside the Circular Road 18,116 224,317 No return 232,362
Dublin inside and outside the Circular Road and canals 18,567 227,335 No return 265,316

The classification of the population of the county of the city in the latter year was as follows:—Males, 91,557; females, 112,598; males 20 years of age, 50,234; occupiers employing labourers, 14; occupiers not employing labourers, 26; labourers employed in agriculture, 508; employed in manufacture and making manufacturing machinery, 155; employed in retail trade or in handicraft, as masters or workmen, 23,576; capitalists, bankers, professional, and other educated men, 8,620; labourers employed in labour not agricultural, 10,820; other males 20 years of age (except servants), 3,612; male servants 20 years of age, 2,903; male servants under 20 years of age, 556; Female servants, 11,572.

The university of Dublin is incorporated as 'the College of the Holy and undivided Trinity near Dublin, founded by the most serene Queen Elizabeth.' The collegiate body consists of a provost, seven senior fellows, one of whom is vice-provost, eighteen junior fellows, seventy scholars, and thirty sizars. The number of students at present on the books is about 2,000. The permanent income of the university arises out of landed estates, which produce a rent of £13,846, 2 shillings per annum, exclusive of the provost's separate estate, which produces a rent of £2,400 per annum. The income accruing by the class-fees of pupils amounts to about £30,000 per annum, and a large sum is annually drawn in rents of chambers, and fees for commons, &.

The Royal Dublin Society, incorporated by George II, 1749, occupies the late residence of the Duke of Leinster in Kildare-street. The income of the society arises from subscriptions of members, and an annual parliamentary grant of £5,300. Their museum is open to the public twice a week ; and ther professors deliver public and gratis courses of lectures in their several sciences. A considerable number of youths are also instructed gratis in the fine arts in the schools of the society.

The Royal Irish Academy, for promoting the study of science, polite literature, and antiquities, was incorporated in 1786. The funds of the academy are assisted by a parliamentary grant of £ 300 per annum. The academy house is in Grafton-street, where there is a good library peculiarly rich in ancient Irish MSS.

The Royal Hibernian Academy of painting, sculpture, and architecture, incorporated in 1803, also receives a parliamentary grant of £300 per annum. The academy house in Abbey-street was bestowed on the body by Mr. Johnstone, the distinguished architect; and here there is an annual exhibition of painting and sculpture.

The other chief societies for the promotion of science and general knowledge, which are not incorporated, in Dublin, are the zoological, phrenological, geological, agricultural, horticultural, and Dublin-library societies.

A considerable stimulus has been given to the literary pursuits in, Dublin by the establishment from time to time of various periodical works. The newspaper press of Dublin consists of eighteen different papers.