Courthouse / Markethouse

court house

The   Courthouse and Market House, which was described as having a roughcast and   whitewashed finish in the 1830s, dates back to 1746 when it had a dual   purpose. Downstairs was what was described as a ‘large and handsome Market   House and above was the Court House’. Up until the beginning of the 1800s, a   market was held every Friday, and fairs were held four times a year. By 1835   these had all been discontinued and the market house was unused by 1846. From   1827 the monthly manorial courts, which dealt with local disputes and   nuisances (wandering cattle, broken fences, blocked ditches, etc), were   replaced by more formal monthly petty sessions where the magistrate and his   trained clerk handled the less serious local crimes. In 1862 the Petty   Sessions were held on the third Wednesday in the month, and the Clerk of   Sessions was Jacob Orr Jnr. One amusing case reported in the press in 1863   concerned the loss of what we would call a ‘lucky charm’. A wife summoned her   husband for gross ill treatment. He had a talisman which he thought made him   invisible at certain times and places and could be used for breaking and   entering, robbery, etc. This mysterious power was communicated by a dead   man’s finger which he valued dearly. Don’t ask where he got it! The wife became   very concerned about the finger, so she buried it in a neighbour’s field and   forgot where she buried it. When the husband demanded it and she couldn’t   find it, he got so enraged that he gave her a terrible beating. The man was   reprimanded for misconduct and gross superstition and ordered to find bail   and keep the peace for 12 months. A local man, who was a young boy in the   1920s, remembers James Patterson Best, a solicitor from Armagh, holding court   in Loughgall. The Petty Sessions were abolished in 1938 when the townlands   involved were transferred to Armagh, Moy or Portadown. Of course there were   some petty criminals who escaped the net. Rev. Francis M. Moeran, rector from   1886 – 1906, recalls a little wiry man, locally known as ‘Black Jack’, innocently   telling him how he and some other men were making counterfeit pennies by   first making a mould with soap. They apparently put more copper in the   pennies than the real ones, thereby giving people better value, He writes   ’They really enjoyed their game hugely, first because they were able to   outwit the police, secondly, they made a little money and thirdly, because   they felt there was nothing wrong with it’. Of course the Reverend advised   him ‘it must come to an end’. Do you think it did? These pennies were locally   referred to as Derrycrew pennies. Older residents recall being taught in the   courthouse when the school was being renovated and attending functions there.   They all remember the judge’s bench which remained there for some time after   the court ceased. In 1992 the building was renovated by conservationist   architects for commercial use including a hairdressers, a tea shop and a   kitchen company. The premises currently house Robyn James’ hairdressers and   Huey’s antique shop, with the courtroom upstairs being used as auction rooms   on an occasional basis
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