Manor Courts Ballydehob 1621, Bantry 1679, Co. Cork, and coments by John Jagoe, Bantry re same to Commission 1836.
The jurisdiction of the Manor Courts was transferred to the Petty Sessions in 1859. Before then they operated throughout Ireland with different dates of commencement.
The court at Ballydehob was set up on the 16th July 1621 over the lands known as ‘Glaght Teige’ or ‘Mahama’ comprising thirteen ploughlands. A parliamentary report of 1837 stated that in 1833 the court sat on 13 occasions with 131 cases entered and 72 tried. Its jurisdiction was below 10 shillings for debt and not exceeding £5 for trespass, detinue, trover and trespass. The court was presided over by a ‘seneschal’ Mr Sweetnam who was not legally qualified and a jury.
There are papers in relation to the operation of the court in 1761 in the National Library.
The Manor Court in Bantry dated from the 17th January 1679 by patent. Its jurisdiction was limited to £2. In 1834 it sat on 14 occasions dealing with 144 cases, this had dropped to 5 sittings in 1837 with 67 cases entered.
In many of the leases granted by the White estate in the 18th century there was a stipulation to sit as a juror in the Bantry Manor Court. Many of the details of these leases are available on line, they are in the Boole Library of University College Cork.
The Manor courts generally at least towards their demise had a terrible reputation. It was reported that the juries had to be plied with drink and the Seneschal from time to time bribed. The better class of litigant avoided it like the plague preferring the higher courts which would have had sessions in Bantry or possibly Skibbereen.
In his evidence he said that there were Manor Courts in Bantry and Leamcon (Schull). They were generally held in public houses wiht a jury drawn from a low class. The seneshal was drawn from a drunken class and paid £50-£80 per annum. His evidence suggested that the jury demanded cash or whiskey from the successful party. This was referred to as a ‘cob’. The jury did not retire but openly debated the verdict and onlookers could hear and influence. The more respectable class of person avoided the Manor Courts preferring the Session Courts which sat in Bantry once a year.
He had attended a Manor Court in Oughterard, Co. Galway which was entirely in Irish, he himself had only a little Irish. He was the father of barrister John Jagoe (Admitted Grey’s Inns 1835 aged 34) mother O’Connor.