1834 Listing of Cess Payers of Baronies of Bere and Bantry and Carbery, West Cork
Thanks to Wikipedia.
The cess to pay for roads, bridges, and other public works was set per barony. “Presentment sessions“, where petitioners applied for funding for such works, were originally held as part of the county assizes, though the costs were paid from the barony cess if the work was of local benefit only. The county grand jury was supposed to have included jurors from each barony, though this did not always happen. From 1819, significantly modified in 1836, baronial presentment sessions were held for these purposes, with a local jury picked by the county grand jury from among the barony’s highest rate-payers, according to a complicated formula. The baronial presentment sessions were a convoluted process, lacking public confidence and marred by allegations of corruption and favouritism.
There was a growing recognition in London of the inadequacies of these ascendancy-dominated structures by the early nineteenth century. Thirty-six out of ninety-nine chartered boroughs were eliminated as corrupt and inefficient by the Act of Union in 1801. Subsequent to a series of damaging select committee reports on the grand jury system in the 1820s, legislation regulating annual salaries for county officers, instituting uniform methods of assessing county cess and providing for limited representation of cess payers when grand juries were deliberating road expenditures, brought some minor improvement in the 1830s.
The composition of the cess payers listed here reflects a shift in power from the Landed Gentry to the Catholic, Church of Ireland and Methodist business people and strong tenant farmers. This process accelerated throughout the century.
Courtesy Gordo Kingston: