Commission into Fairs and Markets |
in Ireland in 1854
In September, 1852, a Commission was issued by the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, for the purpose of making inquiry regarding the fairs and markets in Ireland. This step was taken, as it appears from the letter, addressed by the Chief Secretary, to the Commissioners, in consequence of the representations that had been made to the Government of the unsatisfactory state of the markets throughout Ireland, their defective management, and the irregularities and frauds practised at them under various forms.
The instructions to the Commissioners expressly enjoin them to conduct their inquiry with a view to legislation, and among the objects to be obtained in addition to the correction of all irregularities, is a machinery for supplying the Government with accurate returns of the quantities and average prices of all articles of agricultural produce annually disposed of at the several markets. The Commissioners appear to have addressed themselves very diligently to the duties they undertook. They visited the principal market towns in every part of Ireland; the facts they report they rest upon evidence they everywhere took in open court, where misrepresentation could not be regarded, and the recommendations and suggestions with which they close their Report are supported by the opinions of the most competent witnesses.
They found that tolls were collected often without warrant, and that where warranted they were wanting in uniformity owing to its being, in most of the patents for holding markets, left to the discretion of the patentee to determine what was "a fair and reasonable toll." In one town they found an advalorem toll of 2½ per cent claimed on corn; in another they found "3d. to the crown value," or 5 per cent levied as toll on the sale of frieze, an article in common wear among the peasantry. In other places toll in kind was claimed, as in Gort, where one-sixtieth was claimed on all corn sold; and at Skibbereen where "one-sixteenth part of all meal and potatoes" was claimed as toll; but, though the toll boards exhibited such charges, a fixed charge in money was 1698generally levied. In many towns, tolls were levied on days that were not market days, and upon articles upon which toll could not legally be demanded. One instance may suffice to illustrate the extortions in this way practised at times upon the peasantry. Evidence was given before the Commissioners at Roscrea, of the collector having demanded 4d. toll on a goat, the sale of which had only produced 2s. 6d. The purchaser refused to pay, on the ground that there was no such charge in the schedule. The collector seized the goat, asserting that it came under the head of "horned cattle," and was therefore chargeable.
In addition to the evil of tolls being thus variable, and often illegal, the Commissioners found that in many places tolls were exacted where the public had no accommodation of fair-green or market-place, and that the public thoroughfares were in consequence blocked up on fair and market days, by the exposure therein of live-stock and agricultural produce for the purpose of sale. All these circumstances combined gave rise, about twenty-five years ago, to an organised system of resistance which eventually resulted in the abolition of tolls, by mob force, in a great number of market towns in the provinces of Leinster, Ulster, and part of Munster. The Commissioners, however, observe, that defective as is the superintendence of the markets generally where tolls are levied, the worst markets they visited were those where tolls had been abolished owing to the total absence of supervision and control. The want of uniformity in weights and measures, and the irregularities practised in weighing, are prominently noticed in the Report.
A case is noticed by the Commissioners of a purchaser having been convicted of having thirty-four barrels of wheat in his store at the end of one market day, for which he had not paid the sellers, but had obtained by fraudulent weighing. Such practices, where fraud must necessarily be met by fraud, cannot but be most injurious to the morals of the community as well as detrimental to commerce. The prevalence of irregularity in the department of weighing, against which there is no summary means of obtaining redress, and from which the poorer classes are, therefore, commonly the sufferers, may be illustrated by the fact, that in some places the Commissioners found men and women placed in the scales in the absence of the standard measures of weight. It is no doubt strange and almost incredible that a state of things such as these Commissioners have reported should exist.
Below is a transcript of the commission's inquiry in Lurgan.
Lurgan, January 7, 1853.
John Handcock, esq., examined.
8240. Do you reside in Lurgan? – I do.
8241. Are you the Chairman of the Town Commissioners? – Yes, and seneschal of Lurgan.
8242. You are the agent of Lord Lurgan? – Yes.
8243. When were you appointed seneschal? – In April last.
8244. How long has the town been under the control of Town Commissioners? – Since 1829.
8245. Under what patent are the fairs and markets held in this town? – Under a patent, dated the 22nd June, 1630, granted by Charles I., to Sir William Brownlow, Knight, in the fifth year of his reign. He was the ancestor of the present Lord Lurgan.
8246. Lord Lurgan is the representative of the original patentee? – Yes.
8247. And consequently owners of the fairs and markets? – Yes.
8248. What does the patent grant? – One free market weekly on every Friday, and two fairs yearly, one on the feast of St. James, and the other on the feast of St. Martin; the fairs to continue two days, respectively, unless they happen to fall upon Saturday or Sunday, when they are to be held on the Monday next following and continue two days, and it grants courts of pie poudre with all tolls, customs, profits, emoluments, jurisdiction, and privileges, whatever belonging to the said markets and fairs. All these tolls were given up by the present Lord Lurgan’s grandfather.
8249. Is the market now held on Friday? – No; it is held on Thursday, in consequence of the opening of the railroad, and the Belfast market being on Friday.
8250. When was the change made? – In October, 1841. A memorial was presented to Lord Lurgan from the townspeople.
8251. Was there any authority or patent obtained for the change? – I believe not.
8252. There was no writ of ad quod damnum sent down to ascertain if the change affected any neighbouring market? – Not that I am aware of.
8253. Is there any market within seven miles held upon Thursday? – I am not aware of any.
8254. Are tolls paid at the fairs? – No.
8255. When were they abandoned? – Upwards of thirty years ago.
8256. Was it in consequence of opposition? – It was.
8257. Are the fairs held upon the days mentioned in the patent? – They are.
8258. What are the days? – The 5th and 6th of August, and 22nd and 23rd of November. The second fair day is now of very little consequence.
8259. Are there any other fairs held? – Yes; there is a fair on the second Thursday in every month.
8260. Was there a patent obtained? – None, whatever; it was done by general consent.
8261. Are there enclosed market places here? – Not except for the linen market. There are two linen markets, one in a house for diapers and damasks, and another in a yard, enclosed, for lawns and lighter fabrics. There is a market-house for meal, with a weigh-bridge attached for weighing hay and straw.
8262. What other market accommodation? – There is a house, or rather a wooden box, with scales for weighing corn. There is also a wooden weigh-house for pork, and butter sheds, also under cover. There is a fowl market, but there is no accommodation for it.
8263. Then all the corn, butter, pork, and everything except linen, are sold in the open street? – Yes; the meat is sold in sheds, which are private property.
8264. Is all the agricultural produce sold in the town weighed at the places you have mentioned? – A great deal of the grain is weighed at the private stores.
8265. Where is pork weighed? – All in the public scales.
8266. Where is butter weighed? – A good deal is weighed about the town. Meal is weighed sometimes in the scales, and sometimes at private stores. The meal-market has very much decreased.
8267. Is all the linen sold in the Linen-hall? – No; merely for what is called the open market. There is a good deal of manufacturing carried on independent of the market altogether; it is used by the small manufacturers and by weavers. The open market had fallen off, but the trade is increasing.
8268. Are all the markets under the superintendence of Lord Lurgan? – No; he does not exercise control over them. The butter market and the pork market were erected by subscription. In 1840, a Market Committee was established who raised money by subscription, and erected sheds for the sale of pork and butter, and made a small charge for weighing, to cover the expense.
8269. Did they appoint a weighmaster? – They did.
8270. What weighmaster has Lord Lurgan appointed? – The weighmaster for the meal and corn.
8271. Is there a sufficient number of beams and scales provided? – I should think so; I have heard no complaints on the subject.
8272. If all the agricultural produce had to go to the public crane, would there be sufficient accommodation? I should think not.
8273. Is any of the weighmasters sworn? – None of them.
8274. Do they charge what they like, or is there a scale laid down? – There is a certain scale; I never heard complaints about it, and never interfered.
8275. Do they account to you for their receipts? – No.
8276. They keep what they receive as salaries? – Yes.
8277. Is corn sold here by the barrel or by the hundred-weight? – By the hundred-weight of 112 pounds.
8278. Where are the fairs held? – In the open street.
8279. No enclosed fair-green? – No fair-green of any kind.
8280. Do you consider the street a convenient place for the holding of fairs? – I have heard inconvenience much complained of; the streets are crowded a little upon fair-days.
8281. Would not an enclosed fair-green be better? – I do not know that it would be of very much use here; there is not much cattle, and it is a very bad horse fair.
8282. Do the townspeople complain of the streets being crowded? – They complain more on market days; the market is increasing, and it is all held at one part of town, where there is considerable pressure.
8283. Have you a flax market here? – No.
8284. Would you explain how the Market Committee was originally constituted? – On the 26th October, 1841, a meeting was held, at which it was resolved to alter the market day, and to hold monthly fairs. Then there was a subscription list opened for the purpose of erecting butter sheds and a pork market, and £76 was subscribed by the inhabitants of the town, which was vested entirely in the hands of a Committee of fifteen gentlemen who were named at the first meeting, the survivors of whom still continue to act. They laid out the money in erecting sheds, and made certain charges for the use of the scales and weights.
8285. It is not held in shares? – Not at all.
8286. Was the appointment of these gentlemen sanctioned by Lord Lurgan? – Yes; he was one of them himself. Three years ago a joint committee was formed, when the Summary Jurisdiction Act was passed, which gave additional power to Town Commissioners over markets; a joint committee was formed at a meeting held here, of the Market Committee and the Town Commissioners, to carry out arrangements for the butter and pork markets.
8287. Have you a secretary and treasurer? – We have a secretary, who is also clerk to the Town Commissioners. We have no treasurer, the money is lodged in the bank.
8288. Of course the four Town Commissioners are changed yearly? They are appointed yearly.
8289. Did the committee appoint a weighmaster? – They did.
8290. Is there one weighmaster for pork and butter? – There is. We had formerly two, but one man manages both now; we have also a weighmistress.
8291. Would you be in favour of a general market, with proper accommodation, sufficient staff, and sworn weighmasters, and have all the agricultural produce sold and weighed there? – It is a very difficult question. I think myself some of the markets would be very advantageously removed to a market square, but there would be great objection upon the part of the inhabitants of the town. It would be very desirable to have them all classified, and have proper accommodation, but I do not know where you would get a square large enough.
8292. These are matters of detail, but as regards the principal? – As regards the principle, I think it would be desirable.
8293. Would you be in favour of an assimilation of weights and measures all over the country? – Most decidedly. I would have a uniform system of dealing everywhere.
8294. What would you think the best uniform system of weighing? – We have always been accustomed to the stone and hundred-weight. I should like myself to get the decimal system of weights introduced, but if that could not be carried out, I should like to weigh by the hundred-weight and stone. Pork here is bought by the long hundred-weight, of one hundred and twenty pounds, which is illegal, and I endeavoured to stop the practice, but they evade the law by purchasing by so many pounds.
8295. Would you be in favour of weighing all agricultural produce standing beam, to the pound, and abolishing all deductions? – I certainly would.
8296. Does not the present system of nominally paying for a certain quantity, and in reality getting a great deal more, if it does not actually injure the farmers, tend at least to keep up a fictitious price? – Certainly it does.
8297. Would you approve of opening and closing the market at a certain hour? – I would; we do so here with the linen and pork markets.
8298. Would it not be a very great advantage that, in such a market, you would be able to obtain the statistical returns of the country? – Of course it would; the only difficulty I see is, whether the market would pay its expenses. The farmers complain a good deal of the charges in Belfast.
8299. Of course the expense to the farmer should be nothing more than would support such a market? – Certainly, no more.
8300. Have you ever heard of frauds practised in private weighing? – One or two instances, but they are very rare.
8301. Does not the system offer great facilities for fraud, if a person chooses to be dishonest? – I do not know; I see great difficulties in carrying out a wholesale system of weighing, for I fear it never could be got through.
8302. What are you duties as seneschal? – Practically nothing; I never hold a court.
8303. Are you a magistrate for the county? – I am; there is another gentleman also resident here.
8304. Then you have no great difficulty in deciding disputes? – No.
8305. In places where there are no local magistrates, would it not be desirable to give the Town Commissioners increased powers? – Yes, I would give them every very extensive powers for deciding disputes and regulating the markets.
8306. As a general rule throughout the whole country, would you be in favour of vesting the markets in trustees? – I would be in favour of vesting them in the Town Commissioners.
8307. Would not that be vesting them altogether in buyers? Do you not think it would be better to vest them in trustees selected from, and representing all classes? – I would like to see a greater number of persons voting, and the Town Commissioners made to represent all classes. There might be an appeal vested in some controlling power, such as there is over Boards of Guardians, and functionaries of the same description. It seems to me, that a local government of that sort, elected by the inhabitants, affords the best safeguard for having the market well looked after.
Ellen Browne examined.
8308. Do you reside in Lurgan? – I do.
8309. What is your occupation? – I superintend the weighing of corn at the crane.
8310. By whom were you appointed? – By the late Lord Lurgan; he continued me in the office, as successor to my father, who held it before.
8311. How many beams and scales have you? – A large one for weighing corn, and a small one for weighing the empty bags.
8312. How many persons do you employ? – One man to attend the scales and lift the weights. I do the clerk’s work myself.
8313. Have you an office there? – Yes.
8314. Is all the corn weighed at your scales? – No, a very small proportion.
8315. What quantity do you weigh in a year? – I could not tell, but it is made up in the book.
8316. You keep a book? – Yes.
8317. Do you weigh any thing but corn? – Nothing; and a good deal of the corn is weighed at the meal crane.
8318. You do not account for your receipts? – No, I keep the receipts.
8319. What do you charge? – One penny a draught, large or small.
8320. What is your system of weighing? – A turn of the beam.
8321. Do you require the scale to touch the ground? – Yes, generally.
8322. Do you weigh to the pound? – No, to the two pounds.
8323. If it were standing beam, would you throw out two pounds? – Yes.
8324. Then a person may lose any thing short of two pounds? – Yes, he may.
8325. What deductions do you make for beamage? – There have been none made these three years past; there used to be three pounds taken off the beam generally.
8326. Do you deduct the weight of the empty sack? – Yes.
8327. Do you weigh the empty sack to the two pounds? – No, to one pound.
8328. Do you enter the weight of the corn in the book? – Yes, and the name of the seller, and make out the ticket from it.
8329. Do you put the price in the ticket, or the weight of the sack? – No.
8330. Do you weigh on every day of the week? – None comes in except upon market days, but if it did I would weigh it.
8331. Are odd pounds paid for? – Yes, ½d. a pound when they come to less than a stone.
8332. How long have you been performing the duties? – Twenty years.
8333. Did you weigh a great deal last year? – The market was better than the year before.
8334. Could you give a copy of the ticket if it were lost? – I could.
8335. But not the tare of the sack? – No.
John Macrory examined.
8336. What is your occupation? – Weighmaster of the meal crane.
8337. By whom were you appointed? – By Mr. Handcock, agent to Lord Lurgan.
8338. When were you appointed? – I think eighteen or nineteen years ago, when my father died, who was weighmaster before me.
8339. What weighing accommodation have you? – A large scale, and a weighbridge, and sixteen small scales for potatoes, which I let out at 2d. a day, and the parties themselves weigh.
8340. What do you weigh? – I used to weigh a great deal of meal, but it has nearly all left the market, and is taken upon the miller’s word. Whatever corn is fetched to me I weigh.
8341. What do you charge? – Two pence a draught.
8342. Independent of weight? – Yes.
8343. If you weighed six or seven stone of grain, would you charge 2d.? – I would only charge 1d. for a hundred-weight, but anything over that I charge 2d. I sometimes put two bags in the scale.
8344. What is your system of weighing grain? – Just merely a turn of the beam.
8345. What is the smallest weight you use? – One pound.
8346. If it were standing beam, would you take out one pound? – I would.
8347. That is all a person can lose? – It is; I do not think he would loose over that.
8348. Do you deduct the actual weight of the empty sack? – I do.
8349. Do you give a ticket? – Yes.
8350. Do you keep a book? – Yes.
8351. What does the ticket state? – The gross weight, the date, and the tare of the bags.
8352. No beamage? – Nothing at all.
8353. Do you get much corn to weigh? – In the season of the year I do.
8354. Is you system of weighing meal the same? – Exactly the same.
8355. And potatoes? – Just the same.
8356. Is there much corn weighed at the stores? – Yes, considerably more than I weigh.
8357. Have you ever heard of frauds practised in private weighing? – Very seldom in this town.
8358. Did you ever hear persons say you did not give them good weight? – I did.
8359. Too nice, was it? – Yes.
8360. What is the system of weighing in the private stores? – They sometimes take two pounds on the draught, sometimes three pounds, and sometimes four pounds.
8361. How often do you get your weights adjusted? – About once or twice a year.
8362. What would it take to bring your scales, with a heavy draught, from standing beam to down weight? – Half a pound or one pound.
8363. What height are they from the ground? – About six or eight inches.
8364. Do you keep a copy of every ticket in your book? – I do.
8365. If a man lost his ticket, could you give him a duplicate? – I could.
8366. Do you enter the tare of the sack? – No.
8367. Do you account for your receipts to Lord Lurgan? – No; they are for my own salary, and they are very easily kept now.
8368. If a person brought his own scales to weigh potatoes, would you oblige him to take yours? – No.
8369. Do you keep a book for the crane? – No.
8370. Why so? – We get very little to do there.
8371. What staff do you employ? – Sometimes I have a man, and sometimes not.
8372. Are odd pounds of grains paid for? – Yes, down to seven pounds, and from that they are calculated at the next lowest even price.
8373. Do you store meal or grain? – I do.
8374. Do you charge for it? – Not generally.
8375. I suppose if parties weigh with you they get storage from you? – Yes, gratis.
Mr. William Sear examined.
8376. Do you reside in Lurgan? – I do; I am secretary to the Committee established in 1841, and also clerk to the Town Commissioners.
8377. The Market Committee raised money by subscription/ – Yes.
8378. How was it spent? – In erecting butter sheds and corn boxes, employing a weighmaster, and supplying weights.
8379. They make a charge for weighing? – Yes.
8380. And employ a weighmaster? – Yes; and during the busy season he has an assistant.
8381. Is he sworn? – No.
8382. Did the committee lay down a scale of charges? – They did.
8383. What are the charges? – In the pork market 2d. a draught; butter in crocks and firkins, 1d.; lump butter under five pounds, nothing; five pounds and under twenty, ½d.; twenty pounds and under thirty pounds, 1d.; thirty pounds to forty pounds, 1½d.; forty pounds to fifty pounds, 2d.; fifty pounds to sixty pounds, 2½d.; sixty pounds and upwards, 3d.
8384. No higher charge? – No.
8385. Sixty pounds in a crock would only be charged 1d.? – That is all.
8386. Is not that a strange arrangement? – That is the arrangement made by the Committee, and carried out by the weighmaster. I can give no information as to the reason why the difference is made.
8387. Any other charges? – We charge 6d. a day to merchants for the use of the scales and storage, when they use our butter sheds.
8388. Can you give us a statement of your receipts and expenditure for the last three years? – I can.
|Market Committee, Lurgan – Pork And Butter Markets
|Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for three years, ending 31st December, 1852
|Receipts For Weighing
| Pork Butter Total Expenditure
| £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
| 74 12 8 38 0 11 112 13 7 96 13 4
| H. Robinson, Esq. William Sear, Secretary to the Committee.
8389. What was done with the surplus revenue? – We were a little in debt at the commencement of the year, and since then we have given money towards the improvement of the tow, and we give £5 a year for keeping the town clock in order. My own salary is not included there.
8390. What is the balance in hands now? – Seventeen pounds.
8391. Do the Committee themselves derive any revenue from the receipts? – Not a fraction.
William Neill examined.
8392. Do you reside in Lurgan? – I do.
8393. What is your occupation? – I am weighmaster for butter and pork.
8394. By whom were you appointed? – By the Market Committee.
8395. Do you account to them for your receipts? – I do; and I get a weekly salary.
8396. What are your charges for weighing? – The same as the last witness has stated.
8397. No other charge? – None.
8398. You receive 6d. a stall from merchants? – Yes.
8399. Why do you charge so much more for lump butter than you do for crocks of firkins? – There might be a great many draughts in the lump butter, and there is more trouble in weighing.
8400. How many pair of scales have you? – Three for butter; one for firkins, and two for lump butter, one small and one large.
8401. What in the pork market? – One large scale.
8402. Do you give a ticket? – Yes.
8403. What is your system of weighing pork? – With a cast of the beam to the pound.
8404. Then a man may lose one pound in standing beam? – He may.
8405. What deduction? – Eleven pounds on each pig, which always lie in the scale, and are never brought into the ticket at all.
8406. Do you make it twelve pounds on a wet day? – No; but I believe the buyer does.
8407. What is that for? – Head and feet.
8408. Does the seller get the head and feet? – I do not suppose he does.
8409. Do you weigh by the short hundred-weight of 112 pounds? – I do; and the buyer makes it into the long hundred-weight of 120 pounds.
8410. Suppose a pig weigh two hundred-weight, one quarter, and twelve pounds, how does the buyer bring it into the long hundred-weight? – Eight pounds to the hundred-weight is deducted from the long hundred-weight.
8411. Is it ever deducted from the short hundred-weight? – No; that would not be fair to the seller.
8412. What charge is made? – The buyer charges 6d. for carriage and for the house.
8413. And you charge 2d.? – Yes.
8414. Then the seller loses eleven pounds and 8d.? – He does; and I have seen the buyer take off twelve pounds on a wet day.
8415. Then the seller may lose thirteen pounds, including one pound for down weight on a pig? – He may.
8416. What is the average weight of a pig? – One hundred-weight three quarters.
8417. What is the value of twelve pounds of pork? – I suppose 5s.
8418. Then a farmer may lose nearly 5s. 8d. on every pig? – He might. Yesterday there was a man losing just the same on a pig which only weighed two quarters and thirteen pounds.
8419. What does the buyer do for the 6d. he stops? – He only just puts it in his pocket.
8420. He goes into a public house, perhaps, where he has nothing at all to pay, for the publicans will give accommodation in order to have custom.
8421. What is the greatest number of pigs any buyer purchases here in a day? – He might buy twenty or thirty. I knew men to buy fifty.
8422. Have you ever heard complaints about persons after they have bought a pig declaring it is measly? – There are some cases of it, but the Committee have an inspector to inspect pork.
8423. Do the farmers generally complain of the deductions and charges? – They have often made complaints to me about them, but I could do nothing; the system has been so long carried on they cannot do any thing.
8424. Did you ever hear complaints about persons scoring pigs, and afterwards saying they were measly, and wanting to cut them? – That might be done in other places, but there is an inspector here who would decide whether the pig was measly or not at once.
8425. Does he decide as to the deduction for measles? – No, I mark upon the ticket that the pig is measly, and the buyer and seller arrange the deductions.
8426. What is your system of weighing crocks of butter? – Down weight to the pound.
8427. What deduction? – I deduct nothing; I have the butter turned out of the crock, and weigh the crock, and then put it in the butter, and weigh crock and all, and I give the net weight.
8428. Is there no beamage? – generally two pounds taken off each crock, from thirty to sixty pounds for waste, and from that up, four pounds.
8429. What charges are made? – Sixpence each crock.
8430. Does that include cooperage? – Yes; and 1d. is paid to one.
8431. How do you weigh lump butter? – To the quarter pound, with a cast of the beam, and no deductions; there is one pound beamage taken of twenty pounds, between the buyer and seller, but it is not a rule of the market.
8432. Do you strip firkins? – No; we take the brand on them.
8433. How do you know that it is right? – If there is any doubt, it is weighed; I have known firkins to be one pound and two pounds more than was marked on them.
Mr. William Murray examined.
8434. Do you live in Lurgan? – I do.
8435. Are you in the butter trade? – I am.
8436. Do you buy firkin and crock butter? – I do.
8437. Is the evidence of the last witness correct as to the charges in the market? – It is.
8438. What deductions do you make? – Two pounds a crock up to sixty pounds, and over that four pounds.
8439. The same on the firkin? – Yes.
8440. For what do you charge the seller sixpence on each crock or firkin? – We have to pay the cooper; he has to take it out and put it in, and put a head upon it, and between all there is nothing saved.
8441. Would you be in favour of weighing to the pound, standing beam, and abolishing all deductions? – If it were a rule in every other market it would be far better; it puts nothing in our pockets. The Market Committee here made a regulation that the farmer should be paid for all the butter he had, and it was put up, the notice in print, for the farmers to see it; and when we gave them their choice which they would take, they all cried out to get the high prices, and give the deductions.
8442. Perhaps you offered them less than the difference? – Oh, no.
8443. Does not the system keep up a fictitious price? – It does.
8444. Is this a large market? – It is not; I can get more in Armagh in one day, where there are fifteen buyers, than here in four days.
8445. Would you be in favour for a general market for butter? – Yes; very much so.
8446. Have everything weighed to the one pound standing beam, and make no deductions but the actual weight of the empty firkin or sack? – I would be very much in favour of such a system.
Mr. Richard Coulter examined.
8447. Are you one of the Market Committee? – I am.
8448. Are you a farmer? – I am.
8449. Where do you reside? – About a mile from Lurgan.
8450. Do you sell butter here? – I do.
8451 How much land do you farm? – About sixty acres.
8452. Are the answers we have received generally correct, in your opinion, as to the charges and deductions at the market here? – Yes; at first the system was not so bad, but the practice is increasing.
8453. Would you be in favour of a general market, with sworn inspectors and weighmasters, and oblige parties to pay the farmer for what he has got, regulating their prices accordingly, and abolish all deductions? – Certainly, I would; and I am sure it would gain the general consent of the farmers at large.
8454. As a farmer, would you object to pay a small charge to support such a market? – If the thing was handled wisely, I would be very much inclined to it.
8455. Would it not be the fairest system for all agricultural produce to be weighed at the public scales? – Certainly, if it could be managed generally; I do not think four scales would do it.
8456. But have twenty, if necessary, as in Cork, where all the business is over in a few hours? – It would be quite the best system; when I weigh at the private stores, with the most honest and correct man, the weight is always a little short of what I weigh it at home. I hang my scales six inches from the barn floor, but when I come to the stores I have to weigh in scales, perhaps twelve or fourteen inches from the ground; then it must three times touch the ground, or off goes a two pound weight.
8457. You cannot lay down rules for all the private stores in the country? – Certainly not; you can have no tie upon what goes to the private stores.
8458. Would you remove the markets off the streets? – No, it would not work; the farmers and townspeople would object to it. I may mention to you that in Belfast, although the pork merchants would weigh for us in their own scales, we go to the market for one particular object, that there is an inspector there who would pronounce whether pork was measly, or smelling, or anything of that kind; in this town, from the experience of some of the Market Committee, we have fixed an inspector for the market, and no man can take advantage of the farmer, for he decides at once, and men would be imposed on otherwise.
8459. You would be in favour of a uniform system of dealing everywhere? – Yes; by hundreds, quarters, and stones.
8460. Would you be in favour of having the market begin and close at a certain hour? – I would; I would have an appointed hour, and a bell rung, so that no buyer could take advantage of the farmer.
8461. Would it not be very desirable, in such a market, to obtain the proper statistics of the country? – It would be a great advantage, and would give us a valuable share of information which we have not now. I think the public labour under a great disadvantage from the want of a proper uniform system of weighing.
8462. You would abolish all such charges as 8d. on pigs, and 6d. on butter? – Certainly, I would.
Mr. James Johnston examined.
8463. Do you reside in Lurgan? – I do.
8464. Do you buy corn? – Yes, for Mr. John Tuite, of Aghalee.
8465. Do you buy much in the course of the year? – Not a great deal here; perhaps a couple of hundred tons.
8466. Do you buy in the streets, and weigh in your own stores? – Yes; or take it from the market crane.
8467. Do you charge for weighing or porterage, at your stores? – No, we make no charge.
8468. What is your system of weighing? – Two pounds is the smallest weight we use, and we weigh with a cast of the beam.
8469. Then a person may lose two pounds, standing beam? – Certainly.
8470. What do you deduct? – The customary thing is to take two pounds on every draught.
8471. Then a person may lose four pounds at each draught? – He may.
8472. You deduct the weight of the empty sack? – Of course.
8473. Would you deduct two pounds upon a draught of two-hundred weight? – The same on every draught.
8474. Do you pay for odd pounds? – Certainly; at the same rate until it comes to half a stone, and then we pay at the nearest possible rate.
8475. Would you object to buy in a well arranged public market? – If it were a general thing I would be in favour of it.
8476. Would not such a market be a protection not only to the farmer, but to the honest trader? – I should think it would.
8477. Did you ever hear of men who weighed unfairly being able to give higher prices than others? – Just so.
8478. There should be heavy penalties for frauds by either party? – Of Course.
8479. Would you be in favour of abolishing all deductions of beamage and weighing to the pound? – If it were general, I certainly would think it the best.
8480. Would you approve of an assimilation of weights and measures over the whole country? – I think it would be a great improvement.
8481. What system of weighing would you consider the best? – By the hundred-weight.
8482. Would not by the stone of fourteen pounds be more convenient? – No; I think not.
8483. Do you ever get any of the corn weighed by Macrory? – I do.
8484. Do you give the same price for the corn weighed by him as that from the weighmaster? – Yes; just the same.
8485. But as the system is different you must lose by it? – I do not doubt that we do; but we charge the additional beamage.
8486. Do you think the system of weighing in private offers facilities for fraud if a party chooses to be dishonest? – I do. I think it would be a good thing to fix the hours for the market.
8487. Would you be in favour of the market commencing by a bell ringing at a certain hour, and closing at a certain hour? – Yes; I think every market should fix its own hour.
Mr. Thomas Riddall examined.
8488. Are you a farmer? – I am.
8489. Do you generally concur in the opinions expressed? – I do not concur in forcing a man to go to a public scales; I would rather leave it at his own option, and have a uniform system of weighing.
8490. How would you enforce it? – Let an inspector attend at the different stores. If you go to the public scale, you must have the sacks all taken off, weighed and put on again to go to the store.
8491. But in markets where it has been left optional, we have found that the public scales were never used? – I would rather leave it optional to weigh with the merchant; but I certainly object to the system of weighing in some private stores.
8492. You have an Act of Parliament at this moment, that if a merchant takes an ounce more than is standing beam, he can be fined. – But it is not in force. One farmer is unwilling to act; for if he takes a stand against the purchaser, he will be held up to enmity in the market, and it will be a considerable expense to him; but if we acted in concert as a society, we could remedy a great deal of it. But if you made a law compelling people to go into the public scales, some farmers would not come into the market at all; they would go to the stores close to them.
8493. You cannot have a public crane if you leave it optional? – We could, for many merchants here would not take the ticket of a public crane.
8494. He might not take it before, but it would be a different thing in a public market? – But it might raise disputes, which would cause delay, and I may want the money to-day.
8495. In markets where the system is carried out, there are no disputes when the grain goes to the stores. When it is left optional, a man who goes to the public scale, is considered to have put a slight upon the merchant, and he will not take the corn at all. In some markets the merchants keep spies for the purpose. I think any alteration in the market of Lurgan would be a great injury.
The information on this website is free and will always be so. However, there are many documents and records that we would like to show here that are only available for sale. If you would like to make a donation to the Lurgan Ancestry project, however small (or large!), to enable us to acquire these records, it would be very much appreciated. We could cover our pages in Goggle Ads to raise money, but feel that this would detract from the information we are trying to provide.
You can also help us to raise money by purchasing some of our ebooks on our sister website: www.genealogyebooks.com
The Lurgan Ancestry Project is a not for profit website, all monies raised from the site go back into it.