New Ross - Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885

About “Wexford County Guide and Directory,” 1885

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

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The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version of Bassett’s Wexford County Guide and Directory is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

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Population in 1881 (including Rosbercon), 6,660.

THE Parliamentary borough of New Ross is favourably situated on the Barrow, 83 miles south south-west from Dublin, 22 miles, English, from Wexford by mail road, 17 miles from Enniscorthy, 12 miles by road, and 22 miles by river from Waterford. Its nearest railway station is at Ballywilliam, distant 5 miles, English, with which it is connected by an efficient omnibus service. Much doubt exists as to the origin of the name New Ross. Ross is a Celtic word, meaning headland, and from the situation of the town, on the river, no lack of appropriateness would seem wanting if historians were willing to accept it as the true derivation. According to tradition it was named in honor of Rose, daughter of Crume, King of Denmark. Upon the same authority the building of its walls is attributed to Rose, sister of Strongbow. Old Ross is about 2½ miles, Irish, to the east of New Ross. Its name, with almost equal appropriateness, might have been derived from the Welsh rhos, signifying moor. It was anciently a place of considerable importance, and possessed chartered privileges. New Ross was known as Rosspont. Its more favourable situation made it a strong rival of the older town. In a country with an increasing population, the old and the new, in time, would have grown to each other, but in the conditions, the new survived and the old decayed, until not a vestige of it remained. Its site is now occupied by a few houses on the estate of Lord Carew. There is a small unpretending Protestant Church, a way-side tavern, and a comfortable homestead, occupied by Mr. Wm. Whitney. Opposite this, across the road, a mound marks the spot where the castle stood. Not a stone of the foundation remains, and the mound is chiefly remarkable for the fact that it was tunneled half through by a man named Cloney, who, sometime atterwards, emigrated to Australia. Down to a recent period it was customary to refer to a portion of a field in the vicinity of the castle as “the street.” Two rows of beeches, one on each side of the Old Ross Road, extend for about half a-mile, and in their track there is not the faintest suggestion of anything but rural beauty and repose.

A charter granted by Roger le Bigod, early in the thirteenth century, shows that Old Ross had not then lost its supremacy. It provided that each new provost should be presented to him at Old Ross, or to his seneschal in New Ross, or Rosspont. The shipping advantages of New Ross gave to it a strength that neither time nor circumstance could affect. Jealousies regarding its growth, and privileges as a sea-port, and rival of Waterford, arose in the latter part of the thirteenth century. A great deal of bitter feeling was engendered thereby, but New Ross ultimately triumphed over Waterford. In 1372 it was elevated to the dignity of a borough. Donald Fuscus, head of the MacMurroughs, in 1469, burned the town, and in the years following the population was greatly reduced in the effort to obtain reprisals. James, Duke of Ormond, besieged the town in 1641, in the interest of the king, and was compelled to retreat.

After having arranged things at Wexford to his entire satisfaction, Cromwell laid siege to New Ross in October, 1649. It was garrisoned by 2,500 soldiers, and the governor was Sir Lucas Taaffe. On the 17th Cromwell sent a formal summons, demanding the surrender of the town. Firing was continued until Sir Lucas had arranged terms, by which he and his soldiers were permitted to march out bag-and-baggage. Of the soldiers, 600 were Englishmen, and they fraternized with the Cromwellians, and remained behind. During the Rebellion of 1798 some heavy fighting was done at New Ross.

James II. granted a charter to the borough in 1687, and it was put in force by the election of Patrick White and Luke Dormer, severally, as the first Mayor and Recorder. The Corporate records show that great public rejoicings were occasioned by this election, and that the Mayor, “mounted on a stately grey gelding, attended by fifty proper comely young men, all decently clad in white,” marched to the Sovereign’s House. In 1841, the borough lost its municipal privileges, through not having the requisite population. A further change in its government took place by the passage of the Towns’ Improvement Act, in 1855. Its Commissioners elect a Chairman, annually. The Corporation property produces the moderate rental of £320. The water rents come to about £50; the sales of street sweepings and refuse average £50; and the fines for drunkenness, about £30. To supplement the total of £450, there is imposed a borough rate, of from sixpence to a shilling in the pound. The streets are lighted with gas, and the water supply is drawn from springs which discharge into tanks, at the head of the town. The water is considered good, and efforts have been successfully made by Mr. John Tobin, the Town Clerk and Executive Sanitary Officer, to maintain the standard of purity.

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