Belfast Telegraph

Ancient police records go online

The earliest set of police records in Ireland have been brought to life and digitised for a world wide audience.

Records dating back to 1724 from the parish of St John in Dublin have gone online with the Church of Ireland's Representative Church Body (RCB) Library.

The two account books (1724-85) and seven registers (1765-80) reveal the names of constables and watchmen, when and where they were stationed, crimes committed in the area, and the justice administered.

Archivist Dr Susan Hood said the surviving watch records reveal local security measures across Ireland when policing happened at parish level before the Dublin Police Act, 1786.

"As the pages of each of these volumes are turned in the digital presentation, local society in 18th century Dublin and the activities of parish watch system, come to life," she said.

"They chronicle the activities of the parish watch of this particular inner city parish - one of 21 parishes into which the city of Dublin was divided."

To view the collection, digitised by the Garda Siochana Historical Society, visit www.ireland.anglican.org/library/archive. The originals can also be seen in the RCB Library in Breamor Park, Churchtown.

A Garda spokesman said: "An Garda Siochana are delighted to have collaborated in the online publishing of these rare documents which trace the origins of modern policing in Ireland."

Dr Hood said the collection forms the oldest continuous set of Irish parish registers, vestry minutes, churchwardens' accounts and local taxation records in existence.

"It includes the earliest surviving register of baptisms, marriages and burials, dating from 1619, and an even older vestry minute book, commencing in 1595," she added.

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