Recorder of Cork
The Recorder of Cork was a judicial office holder in pre-Independence Ireland. The Recorder was the chief magistrate of Cork city: his principal duty was to keep the peace. The office was broadly similar to that of the Recorder of Dublin, except that the Recorder of Cork, unlike his Dublin counterpart, did not have power to hear cases involving a capital crime. A statute of 1877 stated that where possible the Recorder should also be the Chairman of the Cork East Riding Quarter Sessions. The office was an onerous one, requiring at least two sittings of the Court every week; at certain times the Recorder had a Deputy Recorder to assist him. As with the Recordership of Dublin, it could be combined with another legal office, such as that of King's Serjeant-at-law. Several Recorders of Cork also served in the Irish House of Commons. Like the Recorder of Dublin he was elected by the Corporation, rather than being appointed by the Crown.
The first known reference to the office of Recorder of Cork is in a charter of Queen Elizabeth I in 1574, requiring the Recorder to act as a "keeper of the peace", justice of oyer and terminer, and justice of gaol delivery.
Notable recorders of Cork have included:
- William Meade (died after 1611), who refused to proclaim the new King James I of England in 1603: as a result he was tried for treason, but acquitted. He later fled from Ireland and died in exile in Italy.
- William Worth (c.1646-1721), a member of a leading clerical family (his father was Edward Worth, Bishop of Killaloe). He was Recorder of Cork 1678-81 and later Baron of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland).
- Alan Brodrick, 1st Viscount Midleton (c.1656-1728), Recorder 1690-1695, one of the leading Irish judges and statesmen of his time, whose numerous public offices included Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was notoriously bad-tempered.
- Hugh Carleton, 1st Viscount Carleton, Recorder from 1769 to 1779, a member of one of Cork's leading merchant families. He was a rather unsuccessful politician, but became a distinguished judge, who held office as Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas.
- John Bennett, Recorder c. 1783-7, a prominent local politician, member of the Irish House of Commons, and later justice of the Court of King's Bench (Ireland).
- Robert Bennett, Recorder 1841–1847, who kept a valuable notebook of the cases he heard between 1841 and 1843.
- William Waggett, Recorder 1808–1841: he was one of the most eminent Irish barristers of his age, but was also noted for eccentricity.
- Matthew Bourke (1849–1926), the last Recorder of Cork (1908–1924), who was portrayed with great affection by his friend Maurice Healy in his memoir The Old Munster Circuit.
List of Recorders of Cork 1574–1924 (incomplete)
- John Meagh, or Meade (c.1574)
- William Meade (removed from office 1603)
- Benjamin Crofts (c.1665-1668)
- William Worth (1678–1681)
- Alan Brodrick, 1st Viscount Midleton (1690-1695)
- Hugh Dickson (appointed December 1728; still in office 1734); he was also MP for Cork city
- Joseph Bennett (1738- 1767)
- Hugh Carleton, 1st Viscount Carleton (1769-1779)
- John Bennett (c.1783-1787)
- William Waggett (1808–1841)
- Robert Bennett (1841–1847)
- Thomas Forsyth, or Forsayth (1847-1879)
- James Hamilton (1880-1892)
- Sir John Chute Neligan (1892–1908)
- Matthew Bourke (1908–1924)
- County Officers and Courts (Ireland) Act 1877 s.86
- Act for the Regulation of Cork 1772 :"Recorder or Deputy Recorder"
- Courts of Justice Act 1924 s.51
- Kenny, Colum The King's Inn and the Kingdom of Ireland Dublin Irish Academic Press 1992 pp. 51-2
- Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 London John Murray 1926
- Ball p.177
- Cork City and County Archives IE CCCA U021
- O'Flanagan, J. Roderick The Irish Bar London 1879
- Published by Michael Joseph Ltd London 1939
- Ball p.358