Original arrangement, numbering system and registers, 1818 – 1833

To date, Chief Secretary’s Office Registered Papers (CSORP) for the years 1818 to 1833 have been renumbered and catalogued – the following account of original arrangement, numbering and content, only applies to these years.

The clerks in the Chief Secretary’s Office (CSO) gave each incoming document a consecutive number, which was written on the reverse of the document in ink and also recorded in the index/register1 for that year. The documents were physically filed in numerical order using this system.

Any further related correspondence from the sender or submissions from third parties, legal opinions, reports etc. were added to or ‘enclosed’ in the first document by the clerks - to form a ‘quasi file’. Each ‘file’, therefore, generally consists of between one and three documents – but in certain cases the ‘files’ have more than 20 enclosed documents.

In the current cataloguing process this original arrangement has been retained, and although new reference codes have been allocated, the original CSO registered numbers have also been recorded in the catalogue.

The registered number was usually written only on the initial incoming item and not on any subsequent documents. Subsequent documents were loosely enclosed in the initial document. No pins or treasury tags were used in the period 1812-1833, which has occasionally resulted in items becoming separated from their ‘file’.

For the years 1818-1833, there are indexes for the main ‘regular series’ for each year. There are also separate indexes (called private indexes) for the State of the Country/Outrage Papers.

The original number system used for the ‘regular series’ was relatively straightforward. Each year had its own index/register – the first letter received in each year was numbered 1, the second letter received was numbered 2 and so on and so forth. At the end of a year the register was closed and a new register opened, starting again with the number 1.

A separate alpha-numerical numbering scheme and index were used for the Outrage or State of the Country papers. These papers were filed separately and the numbering scheme and indexes also followed the calendar year.

The methodology used by the clerks when compiling these indexes/registers evolved constantly, however, and not all clerks were meticulous or consistent when filling up the register entries in the first instance. As a ‘finding aid’ these 200 year old indexes/registers are relatively sparse in detail and difficult and time-consuming to comprehend and search.

  • 1 Index in the indexes the descriptions and reference codes were put in alphabetical order – the basis for this alphabetical order was the surname of the correspondent or the subject matter. e.g. a letter from John Williams concerning a riot in Mullingar would normally be found under the letter ‘W’ for ‘Williams’ in the index; some clerks may however have unexpectedly placed it under ‘M’ for ‘Mullingar’ in the index. Register - in the registers the descriptions appear in numerical order of the reference code.