The Belfast Charitable Society had many roles and responsibilities in the town of Belfast in the early 18th Century. One of the functions they performed was checking the weights and measures on Market Day and generally ensuring the smooth running of transactions. If traders were found to be in any fraudulent in their dealings, their stock would be confiscated and sent to the Poor House were the residents were delighted to receive extra portions.
The threat of confiscation, didn’t seem to deter all of the traders and our Minute Books document all the food items sent to the Poor House for being sold underweight or because the trader could not account as to why they had the items in the first place. On 5th July 1817 our Minute books record, “14lb of cheese and 19lb of potatoes taken from a person “supposed to have come by them improperly” and sent to feed the poor.” Almost 350lbs of butter was confiscated in 1817 alone! Items such as bread, meat, milk, fish were all subject to similar penalties and there is no doubt the residents of the Poor House would have been pleased to see sides of beef being sent up for their dinner.