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combine against all other persons that may be competitors for it ?- I think it is both; they both think it unjust, and each poor man, who wishes to preserve the possession of his own land as tenant, of course willingly assists his neighbour when he wants assistance to effect the same purpose.”—H.C., 1825.
pp. 8 and 9.
The Earl of Kingston, resident in the county of Cork:
“ Is your lordship acquainted with the circumstances which led to the murder of the family of Franks, in the county of Cork?-Franks's were tenants of mine, and also of several other people; they were murdered, I think, at Meadstown, not on my estate, but not very far from it, not above half a mile or a mile from a farm they held from me; the young man had sworn, as I have heard and believe, against a man of the name of Shehan, for having fired at him, and this man was tried and transported for it; but it is generally believed now that Shehan was not guilty of that. The young man had also been extremely oppressive to his tenants and under-tenants, exacting the rent from them, and as heavy a rent as he could, when it was due, never by any chance paying his own, I am sorry to say (I was his landlord), and of course he might have done the same upon the other estates that he did upon mine. There was a conspiracy against him, and he and his father and mother were murdered.”—H. L., 1825. p. 435.
The Whiteboys, although their objects are for the most part defined and their laws known, sometimes interfere in an irregular and capricious, and what (as compared with their regular system) might be called an arbitrary and tyrannical manner.
Rev. Michael Keogh, Queen's County :
“ You have stated you found out this combination; what did you believe to be object of the combination ?-To obtain better wages, to lower the rent of land generally, and prevent others taking the land from which they were ejected.
“ Were those the whole objects ?— Yes, the principal objects; they also intruded themselves into the settlement of private differences.
Was there anything about tithe ?—I never heard that there was.”-H. C., 1832. Nos. 4666-8.
Instances of this species of regulation are mentioned by Mr. John Edge, tenant of Newtown colliery :
“Do the Whitefeet interfere with the private affairs of families ?-They did in a way I conceived to be very unreasonable; a man took another man's daughter away, and some years after they came and beat the man in a most horrible manner to compel him to give a marriage portion. Another man swapped a horse, and they came and beat the fellow, and made him give back the money he had received in exchange ; and in all the minute concerns of life, if they do not obey their mandate, they get a right good thrashing.
" Their objects appear to be local objects, and to arise from local causes, and they are little better than banditti?-. I do not know how that is; but a great deal of mischief is done, and lives lost."-H.C., 1832. Nos. 2917-8.
The following statements are important, as showing, that although on some occasions the Whiteboy associations have been directed against tithe, they nevertheless are in general confined to land and the hiring of labourers : and in particular that the great and organized resistance to tithe in 1831 and 1832 was altogether independent of those combinations
Mr. John Dunn, resident at Ballynakill, in the Queen's County, is asked
“ What is the present state of that part of Ireland ?—I regret to say it is very much disturbed indeed.
“ To what do you attribute the disturbance?-) attribute it in a great measure to a body of men who congregate together for the purpose of regulating the price of labour, and prevent
ing the interference of any person, with the occupance of the lands, where leases may determine, but the old tenants.”H. C. Committee on Tithes in Ireland, 1832. Nos. 2787-8.
“ Are you aware of the combinations under the name of Blackfeet and Whitefeet in that part ?-Yes; it has occupied and engrossed the attention of every man in Ireland for the last eighteen months. I have attended most minutely both at the assizes and at the court of quarter-sessions; I have seen crowds of those people brought to trial and convicted, and I never could collect anything beyond this—their associating and binding themselves under the obligation of an oath ; that it appears by their acts they are quite ready to obey this obliga tion when called upon ; that they commit dreadful outrages in the neighbourhood, yet their objects are principally directed to levy increased hire for their labour ; to see that no person shall get the occupancy of another man's land, if the period of their term shall expire, or if they may be turned out under ejectment. I believe the best authorities have not been able to make out any further object that they have. They congregate in great numbers; they go to the public fairs and markets; they disturb the tranquillity of the place; in fact they destroy each other, and throw the whole country into a state of confusion, so that all the exertions that have been made have not put an end to their proceedings.
“ Do you consider those disturbances connected with tithes ? -1 have watched their progress, and I have been present at the trial of great numbers, and in no case could I discover the slightest connexion with tithes, nor indeed amongst them scarce any person of the class who usually pay tithes.”—Ibid. Nos. 2842-3.
Joseph Green, Esq., resident Magistrate of the county of Kilkenny :
“What appears to you to be, in general, the object of those persons, the Whitefeet and the Blackfeet?-I think that their principal object is to prevent any person taking a farm that another has held, and to obtain fire-arms.
“Does their object appear to be confined to tithe?-No.
“ Have you any reason for believing that those persons within your district who are opposing the collection of tithes have any
ulterior object?- I think, generally speaking, not. “ Then you consider them, in fact, as a very different description of persons from the Whitefeet and the Blackfeet ?Yes, certainly.”—H. C. Committee on Tithes in Ireland, 1832. Nos. 448-51.
Rev. Samuel Thomas Roberts, resident near Leighlin Bridge, county of Carlow :6. You
that tithe and rent are in the same situation ; do you know any combination against rent?—With respect to a combination, I do not; but I know that the Whitefeet threaten the people with respect to rent.
“ Do you confound the people who oppose tithe with the Whitefeet and the Blackfeet?-No."-Ibid. Nos. 609-10.
“ Have not the Whitefeet in your neighbourhood engaged themselves in many other combinations besides the opposition to tithe ?—They have threatened persons whom they visited at night, with respect to rent; and in some instances, where men have lately occupied places that had been in the possession of others, they have recommended them to depart under peril of the consequences.
“ Have they not seized arms ?— They have.
“ Have they not given notices against the taking of land ?I do not know that they have given any written or printed notices, but they have given verbal orders to people.”—Ibid. Nos. 613-5.
Something of a more general description appears among the objects of Whiteboyism, in the confession of a man named Hickey, who was convicted and executed near Doneraile, in the county of Cork, in 1823. Mr. Newenham, who was high sheriff at the time, gives an account of what passed.
“ I attended Hickey soon after sentence was passed ; and on my return home that evening, I put down on this paper the communication there was between us. It is, as nearly as could be, in the words he used; he was considered the Captain Rock of that part of the country. I prefaced the questions by stating, 'Anything I now ask you, and you may answer, must be without any expectation that your life will be spared ; your execution is certain.' The first question was, “What object have you in view ?-Getting rid of taxes, tithe, and things of that sort. The plan pursued would only destroy lives and property, and not gain your proposed end; it would render gentlemen less able to give employment ?—Yes; but for one kind gentleman, there are ten the contrary.
Was there any religious feeling in your proceedings ?The lower fellows spoke of this; but certainly that was not the idea amongst any of us; as a dying man I say so.' (This was said, I think, as he believed at the time, but it was contrary to what he before stated to Lord Doneraile.)”—H. C. 1824, p. 302; and see H. L., 1824, p. 182.
Little reliance is in general to be placed on the dying declarations of criminals, although they are often sought after with great eagerness; and in this case it seems that the prisoner gave different accounts of the same thing to different individuals. By taxes, he probably meant county cess, there being no direct tax in Ireland which falls on the poorer classes* ; but though he represents the abolition of tithe as one of the objects, he distinctly disavows any religious motive. How far religion enters into the views of the Whiteboys; how far their combination partakes of an anti-Protestant character, is a question, not indeed hard of solution, but involved in some perplexity, on account of the many indistinct and inaccurate statements which have been
* See above, p. 75.