Lecture 5: Land Agitation Eviction at Derrybeg, Co. Donegal
1. Tenant demands in post-famine Ireland and the Land Act of 1870 2. Causes of the Land War 3. The New Departure 4. The Land War 5. Tactics employed during the Land War 6. The Plan of Campaign 7. Legislative responses to the Land War 8. The impact of the Land War
Group of fourteen people, including 3rd Lord Clonbrock, gathered outside photograph house, 1870
‘Some look upon the wealthy Saxon and prosperous Protestant as an intruder and interloper who, notwithstanding the prescription of three hundred years, ought now to be deprived of his possessions and expelled from the soil of Ireland.’Steuart Trench quoted in Cullen, L.M., Life in Ireland
The ‘typical’ landlord owned about 2000 acres of land.By 1876 less than 800 landlords owned half of Ireland. 13.3% of landowners who owned 23% of the landresided outside Ireland36.6% resided in Ireland, but not on their own estates.
EVICTIONS1847-1850: 90,000 evictions recorded 50,000 of those evictions took place between 1847 and 18501854-1880: annual rate of eviction dropped to 1.36 per 1,000 holdings
Family group and dogs outside Mount Congreve, includes Lord Clonbrock, Ambrose Congreve, Augusta Congreve, two Dillon sisters and an unidentified man c. 1865
The Three ‘F’s ‘the alliterative label widely used in post-Famine Ireland to describe long-standing, but in reality ambiguous tenant demands for fair rents, fixity of tenure and free sale (another name for tenant right).’ Oxford Companion to Irish History, p571
Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act 1870 • Gladstone’s first land act • Conceded tenant right in regions where it was customary • It created smaller rights in other parts of Ireland • It provided for compensation for disturbance of tenants evicted other than for non-payment of rent
Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act 1870 • It made provision for compensation for improvements in the case of a departing tenant • The ‘Bright Clauses’ allowed tenants to purchase their holdings but it applied to very few
The New DepartureA compact made between Parnell, Davitt, and the Fenian leader John Devoy in June 1879Fenians, parliamentarians and ‘advanced’ nationalists agreed to work togetherThe New Departure provided the basis for the effective prosecution of the Land War
‘Show following to Kickham, and if approved present to Charles Parnell and friends: Nationalists here will support you on following conditions: (1) abandonment of federal demand [and] substitution [of] general declaration in favour of self-government; (2) vigorous agitation of land question on basis of peasant proprietary, while accepting conditions tending to abolish arbitrary eviction; (3) exclusion of all sectarian issues from platform; (4) [Irish] members to vote together on all imperial and home questions, adopt aggressive policy, and energetically resist all coercive legislation; (5) advocacy of all struggling nationalities in British empire and elsewhere. Text of the ‘New Departure’ telegram
Irish National Land League Founded in Dublin in October 1879The key organization in the main phase of the Land WarWidely representative committee of 54No mechanism for controlling the executiveExecutive dominated by men of ‘advanced’ nationalist viewsMore than 500 branches established
Characteristics of the Land War • A farmers’ movement • Townsmen played a prominent role • Leadership provided by nationalist politicians • A Catholic movement
Open-air meetings, platform oratory, marching bandsDelayed evictions by legal meansPhysically impeded evictionsPrevented the replacement of evicted tenants Boycotting Tactics employed by the Land League
‘They tried cases of people being evicted and grabbers. If a person was put in an evicted farm, he would get a notice to attend the meeting. If he didn’t turn up for three meetings, he would be declared boycotted. His name would be written down in papers and put on walls and trees telling the people not to work for him or buy any of his cattle, etc. This notice would be signed ‘by the order of Captain Moonlight’. Then if the boycotted person went to a fair selling his cattle, pigs or horses, one of the moonlighters would be around the fair and if nay buyer would come to the man and be buying his animals, the moonlighter would say ‘there is a smell from that animal.’ The buyer would then walk away…The boycotted people were called‘roasters.’Recollections of a Co. Kerry farmer, Irish Folklore Commission
The mean number of agrarian murders a year from 1852 to 1878 was 5. Between 1879 and 1882 it rose to 17.In the last quarter of 1880 the number of lesser agrarian crimes reported stood at more than 25 times the level in the same period of 1878. It did not return to pre-1879 levels until 1883.
The Land Law (Ireland) Act 1881 - Gladstone’s second land act) - granted the three Fs. It also instituted the Land Commission. The Ashbourne Act of 1885, advanced 5 million pounds for loans to facilitate land purchase. A further 5 million was made available in 1888. The Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act 1891 (the Balfour Act) introduced land bonds as an alternative form of payment of landlords selling land to tenants. It also set up the Congested Districts Board. The Irish Land Act 1903, known as Wyndham’s Act, was the product of agreement between representatives of landlords and tenants. It laid down financial parameters within which an agreement between a landlord and tenant would be automatically approved by the Land Commission.
The Irish Land Act 1909 (the Birrell Act) was designed to limit the cost to the exchequer of the success of the Wyndham Act. The terms were disimproved and payment of land bonds was reintroduced. In the Irish Free State, the Land Act of 1923 (the Hogan Act) converted rents into payments to the Land Commission, pending compulsory transfer of ownership of remaining tenanted land, abolished the CDB, and gave the Land Commission responsibility for redistribution. The Northern Ireland Land Act (1925) provided for compulsory completion of tenant purchase of land in that jurisdiction.
Michael Connell, Moyasta, Co.Clare after eviction ca.1886-1890.