One of my 5th great grandfathers was James Cavenagh (c. 1702 – 1769), a gauger [exciseman] at Graiguenamanagh on the River Barrow, ten miles or so southeast of Kilkenny.

View of Graiguenamanagh and the church from the River Barrow. Photograph taken 1997 by Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 3.0, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Researching James Cavenagh led me to ‘Postscript to a Graiguenamanagh gauger’s stockbook’ by Edward J Law, which appeared in the 2012 “Old Kilkenny Review, pp. 61–65.

The article was not online, so I wrote to the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, which kindly emailed me a copy. Law’s Graiguenamanagh gauger was indeed James Cavenagh. Much of the information for the article, based on research by Wentworth Odiarne Cavenagh in the early 1900s, had been provided by my cousin Diana Beckett. The 2012 article was a follow-up to ‘An eighteenth-century Graiguenamanagh gauger’s stockbook’, published in the Old Kilkenny Review in 2011, also by Edward Law. The Kilkenny Archeological Society librarian also kindly sent me a scan of this. (Edward Law was the Society’s honorary librarian in 2011 and 2012.)

The notebook, of two hundred pages, is in the archive of the Kilkenny Archeological Society. The first 30 folios of the stock book were used for the intended purpose and contain notes relating to the Excise service. The rest of the book was used by James Cavenagh for personal memoranda.

Kilkenny District Thos Town Walk 1737

This stock book containeth 92 pages is for the use of the Division
Com[mencing] March 19th & ends ye 24th of March following 1737

Signed Jas Cavenagh gaugr and per Mark Usher surveyr

“Excise duties were imposed by acts of Parliament and collected in accordance with the regulations. The officers employed in collecting the inland excise, the main revenue in a district, were the collector, surveyor and gauger. Each district was divided into ‘walks’, with a gauger assigned to each walk. The gauger went round his walk twice a week taking account of all brewing activity, and the quantity and type of liquor being brewed. He measured all brewed substances in gallons, by which measurement duty was charged to the brewer. Once a month the surveyor visited each gauger’s walk, taking account of the brewings, and the quality and quantity, which he compared with the gauger’s accounts. If the accounts tallied, the gauger and surveyor signed and returned them to the collector, who assessed the duty payable per gallon, and charged the duty upon the brewer.” [McGrath, Charles Ivar Vincent. ‘The Irish Revenue System: Government and Administration, 1689-1702.’ PhD thesis, University of London, 1997. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/30695631.pdf]

The notebook has readings three times a week for the town of Graiguenamanagh. Barrels, probably of beer, were counted as were stocks of tobacco. Permits were issued to carry wines and spirits to various towns and villages, individuals, houses, and fairs. The permits were for brandy, rum, French wines, Spanish wines, sack [white fortified wine], shrub [a fruit liqueur], canary [from the Canary Islands], and claret [red Bordeaux wine]. Sometimes the permits mentioned vinegar and sugar. The quantities were in:

  •      Hampers of up to six dozen bottles
  •      Jars of 2 ½ gallons
  •      Caggs [kegs?] of 9 – 18 gallons
  •      Casks 43 – 94 gallons
  •      Hogsheads 68 – 103 gallons
  •      Tierces [an old measure of capacity equivalent to one third of a pipe, or 42 wine gallons] for vinegar
  •      Roules [rolls] for Irish tobacco of 12 to 24 pounds
  •      There were also bags 100 – 224 pounds and hogsheads of 400 – 920 pounds

On folio 25 of the notebook, James Cavenagh recorded some notes about his family:

  •      Elizabeth Lindsay born 16.1.1717 was married to her 17.10.1732 she died 17.4.1734
  •      I was married to Ann Lane 20.7.1735
  •      Kildare born 24.4.1736
  •      Mary Cavenagh born 21.8.1737
  •      Matthew Cavenagh born 22.10.1738
  •      Wentworth born 18.6.1740
  •      Jane born 20.4.1741
  •      Margaret born 30.4.1742
  •      Ann Cavenagh died 9.6.1742
  •      I was married to Elizabeth Archdekin 12.2.1747
  •      Langrishe Cavenagh born 26.11.1748
  •      Ann Cavenagh born 15.2.1750
  •      Wentworth born 17.11.1752 new stile

Some of these names and dates are new to me. I look forward to researching my new relatives and adding them to my family tree.

The notebook also includes the placing out of James’s children as apprentices or servants. For example, on 15 June 1747 Margaret was placed with Mrs Richmond at 2s 0d per quarter. Matthew was entered for a second time with Mr Richmond on 27 August 1744 and with Mr Connors 17 July 1750.

The notebook also records income from the letting of property, details of his tenants, and sales of hay and grass. It has details of female employees, presumably maid-servants, with names, commencement dates, and payment It also records payments for shoes, clothing, and various goods and services.

The document is very interesting and I am pleased it has been preserved and researched by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society.

Related posts

Wikitree: James (Cavanagh) Cavenagh (abt. 1702 – 1769)