Posted in Posts and podcasts

The Poor Law and its Commissioners – 1846

Freeman’s Journal 5th, January 1846 p2.
(abridged)
We subjoin a notice of motion given in the Board of Guardians of the Gort Union by Daniel MacNevin, Esq., one of the guardians. The facts which appear in the notice illustrate wonderfully the beauty of the new centralizing poor law. It appears that one of the assistant commissioners, a Mr. Handcok (sic.), who represents the Scotch autocracy of Somerset House, and whose sovereign will overrules and supersedes the discretion of the resident gentlemen and ratepayers, chose to apply an outrageously offensive expression to one of the guardians, Mr. Lahiff, a gentleman of very extensive landed property and great influence in the neighbourhood of Gort.
But it is not alone for the personal insult that Mr. Handcock will have to answer to the public and to his employers. On the face of Mr. MacNevin’s notice of motion it is alleged, that on a late inquiry into the conduct of an official in the local pest house (or poorhouse), this worthy assistant-commissioner refused to examine a material witness because she could not speak English. Can anything be more monstrous than this conduct? We trust that the matter will be fairly discussed on the motion, and that, if Mr. MacNevin can substantiate his charges – can prove that, personally, this gentleman is rude, aggressive, and insulting, and that, acting in a quasi-judicial character, he excluded testimony because the witness could only speak her native language – the result will be the exemplary punishment of the party so offending. The following is from the Galway Vindicator:-

GORT UNION – MEETING OF GUARDIANS
At a full Board of Guardians of the Gort Union, on Friday, the 26th of December instant, the following notice was given by D. McNevin, Esq, one of the guardians of said union;-
“I hereby give notice that on the 9th day of January next, I will move for a vote of censure on Mr. Handcock, the Assistant Commissioner of this Union, for insolence and gross misconduct towards this board. In the first instance, for having told one of our chairmen, James Lahiff, Esq., that he (is) a perfect nuisance; in the second place, for having, by his report, misrepresented to the Board of Commissioners, the conduct of these magistrates, members of our Board, two of them being ex-officio Guardians, and for having finally, refused, upon a late inquiry into the conduct of the master of this house, to examine a material witness for said master, inconsequence of her being unable to give her evidence in English, though three gentlemen of our board (perfectly competent to do so) offered to act as interpreters on the occasion, which after the said assistant-commissioner refused, and made his report against the said master, discarding such material witness, and thereby inducing the commissioners to dismiss said master contrary to the unanimous opinion of our board.
The board adjourned until Friday, 9th January next.

Author:

B.A., M.A.(Archaeology); Regional Tour Guide; Dip. Radio Media Tech; H.Dip. Computer Science.

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