Archives of the Tholsel Court Dublin
Toby Barnard and Bridget McCormack, editors
Dublin’s Tholsel Court was a recourse for creditors to bring debtors to account. Ranging from the 16th to the 18th centuries, although fragmentary in nature, the surviving archives give an insight into the lives of middle-class Dubliners, who followed a diversity of trades, crafts and callings. The archives highlight the city’s pre-eminence as a port, political, economic and social centre, and magnet for visitors from the provinces. Of most interest is likely to be the ‘praysements’ which were assessments by the Sheriffs of Dublin on goods belonging to debtors as these could be distrained in payment of debts. These careful inventories give an unexpected glimpse of the everyday world of Dublin inhabitants. At the most rudimentary level, the data recoverable from the Tholsel records can add to a named person perhaps a designated occupation, an address (not always in Dublin itself), and, depending on the type of record, whether or not possessed of simple literacy. The value of these records is enhanced by their covering a period in Dublin’s history otherwise rather occluded and this publication will bring this under-utilized source to public attention.
Toby Barnard FBA is emeritus fellow in history at Hertford College, Oxford. Bridget McCormack is one of Ireland’s leading palaeographers.