In the mid 19th century all crime was met with severe punishment. The criminals that were caught and convicted in the 1850’s were charged with some the same types of crimes that you can witness in everyday life today, such as petty theft and assault. Although, as you will see in the extracts below, crimes such as stealing feathers and grass were severely punishable by law.

Where the information was available, follow-ups were been added to those persons transported to Australia as punishment for their crimes.

convictionsThe Main Courthouse, which was in use in 1850.

The following was recorded in the Limerick Chronicle on Saturday 29 June 1850.

1850 City Quarter Sessions – Friday

At 10 o’clock yesterday the Mayor took his seat on the Bench with the Assistant Barrister, when the City Grand Jury were sworn for Crown business :- Richd. B. Corneille, foreman; Robert Unthank, Leslie Acheson, John C Drysdale, John Fogerty, Edward Goodwin, John James, Richard Miller, Eugene O’Callaghan, John F. O’Gorman, Martin O’Donnell, Robert O’Shaughnessy, Samuel Alexander, James Alexander, Esqrs.

His Worship in addressing them said – Gentlemen of the City Grand Jury, the calendar is of such a nature as to require no observation from me. I perceive however, that serious riots have occurred in the central ans auxiliary workhouse. Bills of indictment will go before you against some of the parties implicated in these disgraceful disturbances, and I have to request you will give them your best attention, as the offence is one of a very serious and aggravated nature; and should the prisoners be found guilty by the verdict of a Jury, they will be severely punished. It is a great aggravation of their crime, to find that persons who have been maintained at the expense of the industrious rate-payers of the union should be so unmindful of their position and devoid of gratitude as to cause such annoyance in the City, and I trust you will fully investigate the charges preferred against them. There is nothing else that needs comment as I as sure every case will receive your best consideration. The bills will be sent up now.

After the City Grand Jury had retired to their room, it was announced that the County Criminal business would be resumed, a Jury being empanelled, the following convictions took place :-

  • William Hickey, found guilty of stealing two sheep, the property of William Fitzgerald, of Grange, was sentenced to 7 years transportation.
  • Thomas Gleeson, an ungrateful servant  in the employment of Francis Greene, Esq., of Greenmount, who was a kind benefactor to the offender, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, at hard labour, and to be twice well whipped, for larceny of oats.
  • Johanna Slattery, stealing pawn tickets from Margaret Guinnane, to be imprisoned two months at hard labour.
  • William Duggan, convicted of stealing money and keys from William Dinneen, of Ballylanders, was sentenced to 7 years transportation.
  • Wm Hickey, stealing a lamb from Sarah Nash, being an old offender, was sentenced to 7 years transportation.
  • Cornelius Bresnehan, larceny of £3 from Timothy Connolly, to be transported 7 years.
  • Cornelius Moore, stealing a cow from Daniel Collins, of Drombana, 7 years transportation.
  • Hannah Hartigan and Mary Murphy, apprehended by Mr. Sheils, Inspector of the town watch, were sentenced to 15 years transportation for stealing a cow the property of Michael Lynch, of Drombana. Also, Mary, Ellen and Michael Quin, same rule, for stealing a cow the property of Michael Lynch. One of the prisoners prayed “bad luck” to his worship.
  • Thomas Connors, larceny of shirts from Margaret Shine, one month imprisonment.

The Court adjourned at six o’clock.

Find more information on those transported to Australia during this period can be found here