The Irish Statute Staple Books, 1596-1687
Jane Ohlmeyer & Éamonn Ó Ciardha, editors
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The Calendar of Ancient Records of Dublin
was edited by Sir John Thomas Gilbert and by Lady Gilbert and was published by Dublin Corporation in 19 volumes between 1889 and 1944. The Calendar contains transcripts and translations of documents from the city's archives for the period 1171 to 1841, including selected Dublin City Charters and extracts from the Liber Albus and the Chain Book of Dublin, together with Dublin City Assembly Rolls from 1447 to 1841. This magisterial work is the most extensive and important publication of original archival records undertaken by any local authority in Ireland.
The Dublin City Archives contain a number of medieval and early modern records which have never been published, or which have been published in incomplete versions. To mark the 800th anniversary of the municipality in 1992, Dublin Corporation decided to revive The Calendar of Ancient Records of Dublin by launching a series of supplements, to bring these important records to a wider public in modern, scholarly editions.
The Irish Staple was established in the 13th century to regulate trade in basic or staple goods, such as wool and hides, which could only be sold to foreign merchants in designated staple towns - originally Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Drogheda. It also provided a sure way for traders to recover their debts and by the early 17th century the real significance of the Staple lay in the regulation of debt. Perhaps in recognition of this, the Irish staple towns expanded to include Belfast, Carrickfer-gus, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, New Ross, Sligo, Wexford and Youghal.
The surviving 17th-century staple records, which are held in the Dublin City Archives and in the British Library, provide an invaluable guide to indebtedness and the social and economic history of early modern Ireland. These records also offer an opportunity to analyze the processes inherent in colonization at local level, as they contain detailed entries, amounting to over 4000 transactions, emanating from every county in Ireland.
The Staple records were described by the late Professor R. Dudley Edwards as the single most important unpublished source for the history of early modern Ireland. This volume brings together for the first time these surviving records and presents the material in an accessible manner.
Jane Ohlmeyer lectures in history at the University of Aberdeen, and is the author of Civil War and Restoration in the Three Stuart Kingdoms (1993). Éamonn Ó Ciardha is the author of Ireland and the Jacobite Cause, 1685-1766 (FCP, 2004).