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Report by the Select Committee on Pawn Brooking in Ireland, together with minutes of Evidence, an Appendix and an Index, 1838

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Republished here is the Report by the Select Committee on Pawnbroking in Ireland; Together with the Minutes of Evidence, Appendix and Index, which was first published in Dublin by Alexander Thom in 1838. The inquiry into pawnbroking in Ireland came out of concerns being aired in the national press that pawnbrokers in general were charging extortionate and illegal rates of interest for monies lent by them on amounts of two shillings and less and this had brought the entire trade into disrepute. However, it was also acknowledged that the pawnbrokers of Ireland, especially those in Dublin, were also being extorted by the very body that was supposedly set-up to regulate and protect their interests: the Marshal of Dublin. In light of this situation a select committee was established to examine the pawnbroking industry in Ireland as follows: The Select Committee appointed to inquire into the laws and regulations which affect the Trade of Pawnbroking in Ireland, and their practical operation; and to Report to The House whether any and what alterations may be advantageously adopted therein; and to whom several petitions were referred; and who were empowered to report the minutes of evidence taken before them to The House, have considered the matters to them referred. The Committee's Report extends to some thirty pages detailing the shortcomings and making ten recommendations to pass into law; while recognising that even if all of its recommendations were adopted there would be many in Ireland who would feel that the committee had fallen far short of resolving the issues of pawnbroking in Ireland it was hoped that at the very least all questionable transactions would in future be traceable. In order to come to its conclusions and formulate its report the Select Committee on Pawnbroking in Ireland from took evidence over a period of two weeks from twenty-one witnesses across Ireland, many of who were pawnbrokers. The minutes of evidence, which were appear to be verbatim questions and answers, taken by the Committee from the witnesses, constitutes the majority of the Report, which is included by several appendices. The first of these is the petition of Matthew Barrington, Esq., who referred to the recently established Monts de Piété in Limerick City, which appeared to have quickly successfully regulated pawning in the city while at the same time making the system more equitable to both the pawnbroker and the client. The second is a very useful list of registered pawnbrokers in Ireland as of December 1837. Republished here in full-searchable electronic format, the 242 printed pages of the Report of the Select Committee of Pawnbroking in Ireland makes for a fascinating account of an industry that has often operated in the shadows.

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