Old town records for Carrickfergus are now available to view online thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Carrickfergus Townscape Heritage Initiative.
The old town records are an invaluable historical resource for any researcher and having become artefacts in their own right, they possess a fascinating insight into the management of the historic town of Carrickfergus.
The Museum holds original records dating back to 1765. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Carrickfergus Townscape Heritage Initiative, some of these records have already been digitised https://www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/OTR1600.
However there were ‘ancient’ town records that no longer exist, having mysteriously disappeared in the early 1800s.
Fortunately, Richard Dobbs, Dean of Connor and Rector of the Parish of Carrickfergus transcribed them in 1785, describing events from 1569 to 1747, and adding some information on later years.
We should be very thankful to him for his efforts as it’s our only way of knowing what the Town Corporation was up to in those days.
The Dobbs manuscript made its way to Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in 1936 (catalogue reference number T707/1).
With the agreement of PRONI’s Deputy Keeper, J S Logan arranged for Margaret Clarke to make a typescript copy in 1982.
That copy has been recently scanned and digitised and is now hosted on the Carrickfergus Museum website https://www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/OTR1569.
Taken together, they are a unique resource and make fascinating reading.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the corporation’s primary concern was the defence of the town, the regulation of trade and expenses relating to the corporation.
The early volumes, contain various information relating to people, lands, historical accounts, some of which sounds strange to the modern reader.
Take for example, the earliest record in Dobbs manuscript, 1st June 1569. It refers to, “all tipplers in this town which have licence to sell ale or beer or bread, shou’d have free liberty so to doe: – Provided alwayes that every of the sayd tipplers shall find… tow bedds for the lodging of strangers…”
For more information please contact Carrickfergus Museum on T: 028 93358241 or E: [email protected]