Text of legislation

How Irish statutes were made

Sources for Irish legislation, 1692–1800

General Index of Bills

Members of parliament

Regnal years and statute numbers


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Text of legislation

Acts and bills
The printed statutes are the most convenient and authentic source for enacted measures. However private acts will not normally be found in the printed statutes. The enrolled manuscript copies of private acts and many copies of failed public bills (as well as petitions, committee reports and other related matter) were lost when the Public Record Office of Ireland was destroyed in 1922. Copies of such items are sometimes found in other collections, and may be of interest where a measure was

enacted, but where an earlier version may differ from the act as passed;
not enacted, and where any surviving version will be of interest;
private, and therefore not normally found in the printed statutes even if enacted.

Surviving copies of measures may be printed or manuscript.

Printed ‘separates’
Many printed copies are reported in ESTC, the English Short Title Catalogue. Some are not reported, notably a set in three volumes in Trinity College, Dublin (OLS X-1-801 to OLS X-1-803). These items, and others in the King’s Inns, Dublin (reported in ESTC), seem to be the largest concentrations of printed items. Other locations include the UK National Archives (especially in SP and HO classes); the National Library of Ireland; and the library of the Royal Irish Academy.

The Database records printed copies found in ESTC with ESTC numbers (to enable details to be found of holding libraries). Where a printed copy is not reported in ESTC, the Database gives the name of the holding library.

Manuscript ‘separates’
Manuscript copies are found in many places, and were made for various purposes. Some are rough proposals; others are copies of measures as they proceeded, bearing evidence of amendments; a few private acts are certified copies obtained from the Public Record Office of Ireland before 1922.

Ongoing research
The Irish Legislation Project would be pleased to learn of other extant copies, in print or manuscript. For contact details, click here.

The Irish Legislation Project has attempted to match extant copies with measures in the Database. Most manuscript copies and some printed copies are undated, however, and measures often underwent changes of title. Sometimes measures on a given subject were proposed in several sessions, making it difficult to identify undated copies with complete confidence. A few copies can only be matched with a series of bills, rather than with a particular bill; some cannot even be matched with any measure known to have been introduced; click here for a list.