From the early 13th century onwards, the Dublin City Assembly was responsible for the provision of piped water to the city's householders, who paid an annual charge for the service. Collection of the pipe water levies was usually farmed out to contractors who kept their own accounts, but these have not survived. The surviving Pipe Water Accounts relate to the years when the City Assembly collected the charge and these are entered into the Dublin City Treasurer's Account Book. Data is entered parish-by-parish for the years 1680 and 1681 and street-by-street for 1694, 1705 and 1706.
The Pipe Water Accounts for 1680 [fol. 404-8] are detailed, since they record the purpose for which water was supplied; of a total of 303 entries the vast majority were supplied with water for private or domestic use. Thirty people needed water for brewing, distilling or related purposes; of these, two are described as distillers; ten as brewers; thirteen as ale-brewers; three as conducting brewing and malting; and two as carrying out malting alone. Of the thirteen ale-brewers, seven were widows, so also was one of the distillers. A total of eight entries in the accounts can be identified as relating to taverns or inns. Stabling was the stated purpose in two instances and there was one bleaching yard and one dyer. Only 27 women were entered into the 1680 accounts, of whom 25 were widows, including Lady Bellingham, widow of Dublin's first Lord Mayor, Sir Daniel Bellingham. The basic rate of payment was £1-0s-0d for private use, and this amount was also paid by taverns. Water for distilling cost £2-10s and the cost to brewers was between £1-10s and £6-10s. Note however that only southside parishes are included, since water-supply did not then extend across the River Liffey. It is also probable that even in the parishes listed many householders did not have a water-supply and are therefore not returned.
The Pipe Water Accounts for 1681 [fol. 419-20] contain 89 entries and the vast majority were supplied with water for private use. One person was supplied with water for brewing; one for malting; three for brewing and malting; three for ale-brewing; one for distilling and one for stabling. The returns relate only to six parishes, St. Audoen's; St. Catherine's; St. Michael's' St. Nicholas Within the Walls; St. Nicholas Without the Walls; and St. Werburgh's.
The Pipe Water Accounts for 1694 [fol. 510-12] are entered street-by-street and contain 67 entries. For the first time in this series of Pipe Water Accounts, entries relating to the north side of the River Liffey are given, including one entry each for Abbey Street, Mary Street and Ormond Quay and five entries for Capel Street. Payments are either £1-0s-0d or £0-10s-0d; however the purpose for which water was required is not stated.
The Pipe Water Accounts for 1705 [fol. 577-82] indicate the rapid growth of Dublin. In 1680, 303 households were in receipt of piped water, but this had risen to 758 in 1705. This was occasioned largely by the development of new suburbs to the north of the River Liffey, primarily by Sir Humphrey Jervis, who is returned in 1705 as a householder in Abbey Street. Temple Bar was another new development not featured in 1680 but it is included in 1705. Since 95% of households paid a standard sum of £1-0s-0d for water, the revenues accruing from each street provide a rough guide to density of settlement. The largest revenues were generated in well-established areas, including St. Thomas Street (£52) and Church Street (£42); but Capel Street, which was developed after Jervis built Essex Bridge in 1678, was already providing £38-10s, more than Castle Street with £34. The Pipe Water Accounts for 1705 also include a number of French names, throwing light on Huguenot settlement, and also reveal that the miser Joseph Damer (better known for his residence Damer House, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary) actually did pay for a supply of water to his premises in Smithfield. The purpose for which water was required is not recorded in the accounts for 1705.
The Pipe Water Accounts for 1706 [fol. 589-94] are entered street-by-street and contain 782 entries, relating to both south and north of the River Liffey. The purpose for which water was required is not stated.
Dublin City Pipe Water Accounts, 1680