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Presented by: ** ** ** ** **. Absentee Landlords. Introduction. Highly influential and important figures in the history of Ireland During the 16 th and 17 th centuries, most Irish land was confiscated from Irish Catholic landowners and were in the control of British settlers

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  • Highly influential and important figures in the history of Ireland
  • During the 16th and 17th centuries, most Irish land was confiscated from Irish Catholic landowners and were in the control of British settlers
  • Called absentee landlords because they assume control of land in Ireland, but were not living there
  • Religious factors and Ireland’s financial crisis contributed to the ascendancy of landlords
  • Most were Protestants and majority of the Irish tenants believed in Catholicism
further background
Further Background

The Great Irish Famine (1740-1741) combined with Ireland’s poor economy led to the death of 400,000 people

Resulted in the development of a cashless subsistence economy

Laws also prevented the Irish parliament from passing any legislation

wealth and power
Wealth and Power

97% of all Irish land were managed by landlords who lived off the rents, but only 49% were Irish residents

They were “derived enormous economic, social, and political authority from their virtual monopoly of landownership” (Landlordism par. 5)‏

Were most powerful during Grattan’s parliament (1782–1801) when they saw Protestantism as the dominant religion in Ireland

Owned dominant structures such as local grain mill and schools

Lived lavishly through “social whirl of parties, heavy drinking, hunting, shooting and fishing; picnics for the ladies, croquet for the gentlemen” in England (par. 8)‏

  • The following pictures below shows Englishmen as royal or upper class-like, whereas Irishmen are portrayed as pigs or drunkards
protestant ascendancy
Protestant Ascendancy

Refers to the “political, economic, and social domination of Ireland by Anglican landowners” during the 17-19th centuries (“Protestant Ascendancy” par. 1)‏

The top social ladder was the ascendancy class, which were English, for example, the Earl of Lucan

Although there in fact has no grounding in the Bible etc. for such mistreatment of any person. Religion was often used as means of war and justification.

Then the poet, John Milton who was an Englishman wrote,

"God is decreeing some new and great period. What does He then but reveal his manner is, first to his Englishmen?” (Hill pg. 118)‏

Owned most of the land and had autocratic power over their tenants

Many of these landlords had not ever set foot in Ireland and were not concerned with anything more than their revenues

Used overseers to manage the Irish land

political oppression
Political Oppression

The absentee landlords were considered as tyrants and lead a “heartless government to make a wilderness of the country and a waste of human life (“Mass Eviction During Famine” par. 19).”

Due to British control over supplies and food, many Irish tenants starved to death

From the aspect of religion, the Irish was discriminated against when Oliver Cromwell landed in Ireland as the English explorer and said:

"By God's divine providence" he would "carry on the great work against the barbarous and bloodthirsty Irish (Downing pg. 95)...”

Cromwell said this prior to the slaughtering 2000 people

The following political cartoons exaggerated that an Irish person was equivalent to an African American slave or even worse, a primate:

clash between protestantism and catholicism
Clash between Protestantism and Catholicism

The Irish tried to rebel against the English Reformation yet ended in a loss of hundreds of thousands in deaths in which more land was confiscated and granted to the English and given to the absentee landlords (‘Ireland” par. 11).

The Poynings’ Law of 1495 stated that the English Privy Council must approve all Irish Parliaments and Legislation. This would suppress the Irish support and prevent them from having any Parliaments in favor of the Irish so the Irish could not have any say on the issue of absentee landlordism (par. 9).

how ireland was victimized
How Ireland was Victimized

Ireland’s land tenure system was the main predicament preventing its participation in the Industrial Revolution.

The system implied that the possessors of land are also entitled to possession of the land’s rent.

Landlords were well-rewarded for a minimum of capital outlay,” observes W.H. Crawford, an American politican. But “the landlords did not supply the dynamics of the economy: that role belonged to the linen drapers and the merchants.”

“The domestic linen industry provided work for all the family and therefore a premium for larger families” W.H. Crawford said. This just furthered the abuse of absentee landlords by increasing rents, and targeted the poorest reaches of the island.

Access to land was available mostly through paying rent, and work was only available so that rent is paid.

By mid-century all land value had been enclosed and the landowners’ position was beginning to strengthen.

Agents were hired to be responsible for their properties while the actual landowners were mostly living in England .

Some agents hired middleman which they would rent out the land to them for a number of years and get their money back with some profits for both of them.

how ireland was victimized cont
How Ireland was Victimized (cont.)‏

There were also 3 systems which were available to tenants:

- The Rundale system allowed people to rent parts a whole estate which often times took a lot of effort and time.

- The Hanging Gale system allowed tenants move in without paying the rent immediately for up to 6 to 8 months which would cause the tenants to be very much in debt.

- Conacre system allowed tenants to move in where the land was already prepared and the tenants were able to use the crops grown to pay for part of the rent.

Tenants who failed to pay rent were evicted or the police would be involved. (“Ireland and Land Problems” par. 5-8)

aftermath and impact of landlords
Aftermath and Impact of Landlords

The rents were about £5 million in the 1780s and increased to about £9 million in 1800. In the early 1840, the rent increased to £12 million and by the time it was 1870, the rents were approximately £10 million (“Landlordism” par. 7).

After the Irish Rebellion, both the British and Irish parliaments joined forces to become The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Home Rule had led to tensions between Irish nationalists (Catholic) and Irish unionist (Protestant). Unionist had unsure feelings towards Home Rule because they were scared to loss power and wealth over the nationalists.

Statistics show that between 1831 and 1841 the population had increased about 5%, this proves to those who thought the population was decreasing wrong.

Overtime, the land value had increased.


Absentee Landlords were able to survive from the rent collect.

Despise the fact the nationalist and unionist were trying to be their own religious group, they often wanted to become more dominant than the other.

Ownership of land was caused by the Great Famine in 1845-1847

“They want are RENT! Rent is higher here than in many other parts of the world. No wonder "investors" from other countries seek it.”

works cited
Works Cited

Absentee landlord. 22 November 2007. 7 December 2007. <>.

Downing, Taylor. The Troubles, London: Thames/MacDonald Futura. N.p. n.p. 1980.

Hill, Christopher, God's Englishmen: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution~ London: Weidenfield and Nicholson. N.p. n.p. 1970.

Ireland. 2007. 7 December 2007.


Ireland 1691-1801. 15 November 2007. 7 December 2007.


Ireland and Land Problems. 2007. HistoryLearningSite.Co.Uk. 7 December 2007.


Landlordism. University College Cork. 7 December 2007.


Mass Eviction During Famine. Nebraska Department of Education. 7 December 2007.


Protestant Ascendancy. 12 November 2007. 7 December 2007.