1820. Memorial to Lord Lieutenant by William Swanton, Gortnagrough, Ballydehob, West Cork. High Constable (Rate and Tax Collector), Barony of West Carbery For Relief on Losses Caused to Him in Banking Collapse when He had transmitted Due Amount to County Treasurer, Leslies, Stephen and Roches Bank, Supported by Lord Bantry and Magistrates Timothy O’Donovan (Durrus), William Hull (Schull), Richard Townsend (Skibbereen), Rev. Edward Jones Alcock (Durrus), Nathaniel Evanson (Durrus), Robert Kenny (Bantry).
William Swanton got a ringing endorsement from the County Treasurer. Before his time there had been significant arrears in reemitting county taxes to the Treasurer.
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Petition of William Swanton, high constable and collector, Gortnagrough, County Cork, to Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquis Wellesley, Lord Lieutenant, Dublin Castle, requesting extension of financial aid due to personal losses incurred through devaluation of currency received as ‘Collector of the Public Money for the West Division of the Barony of West Carbery’. Refers to the collection of notes issued by the banking houses of Messrs Leslie and of Stephen and James Roche, who later declared bankruptcy, and counts the refusal of same by the county treasurer as ‘a fatality which he could not foresee’. Asserts he was obliged to make up the losses out of his own fund; with character reference on foot signed by Lord Bantry [Richard White, 1st Earl of Bantry] and 6 others. Also second signed memorial from Swanton to Wellesley, plus certificate from James Delacour, treasurer, County of Cork, describing Swanton as ‘a highly meritorious public officer’. CSO/RP/1824/706
Letter from William Swanton, Swanton‘s Town [Ballydehob], Skibbereen, County Cork, to William Gregory, Under Secretary, Dublin Castle, referring to the ‘unexampled distress’ in his neighbourhood, and requesting a government loan to offer relief to the inhabitants of the village which he established on his lands, 9 May 1823. Encloses statement of George Atkins, Cork, certifying to Swanton‘s character and recommending his application for a loan, 3 May 1823. Annotation on reverse of Swanton‘s letter, of opinion of John Sealy Townsend, KC and legal advisor to Chief Secretary’s Office, Dublin Castle, 17 May 1823. 1823/5941
The collapse of the Cork banks was caused by the economic downturn following the 1815 Battle of Waterloo and their chronic undercapitalisation. The Government at Dublin Castle proposed to bail then out but was advised by Saurin the Attorney General that there was no statutory basis so it would be illegal. They decided to let the banks fail. This ushered in an economic disaster in Minster that lasted for over 20 years.