The New Ross Corporation minutes represent the earliest surviving records of local administration in County Wexford. Commencing in 1658, the collection covers the tumultuous times of the 17th and 18th centuries when County Wexford, like most of Ireland was thrust into numerous revolts, wars and insurrection. The minute books provide a unique insight into the functioning of early town governance in relation to land and property management and a glimpse at the characters and personalities who populated the town. There are numerous references to the leasing of properties by women and various payments on the deaths of their husbands. The books also record the admission of freemen and free women into the town, the various trades and craftspeople, military issues, the holding of fairs and markets, the building of and repair to churches, the prevention of fire, the restraint of animals straying in the streets and the granting of leases.
The earliest two volumes (1658-1729) are mainly written in standard Italian long hand (although the first volume does have some secretary hand features in the first quarter of the volume). Clerks were trained to write several hands, depending on the documents they were writing / transcribing, so there are many transitional, hands which have features of more than one hand. This poses an understandable challenge to the majority of researchers which is further exacerbated by frequent passages of Latin text, especially employed throughout Volume 1.
Wexford County Archive engaged two professional transcribers in 2017. Each transcribed page was digitally stitched to its digitized counterpart, while optical character recognition (OCR) was applied to the transcriptions. These minutes can now be exploited to their full potential for academic, local and family history research thanks to fully searchable transcriptions.