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local taxes other than what I have enumerated.”—Minutes of Evidence, House of Lords, 1825, p.
Matthew Singleton, Esq., Chief Magistrate of Police, in the Queen's County.
“ Are the Committee to understand, that you consider that the spirit of outrage has not been got under ? — It has not.
“ Can you give any hint to the Committee, as to what you consider likely to accomplish that desirable object ?—I think if the laws were amended in one, two, or three instances, which I will suggest, it would tend to the security of the public peace; there is scarcely an outrage committed relative to lands, but what the people assign a cause for, if I may use that expression; in some instances the unfortunate people do show
“ What are the Committee to understand by showing a cause ?—Oppression, high rent, low wages, and contracts being broken. I had two prisoners before me, one of whom was a boy, a few days before I came here; they were apprehended on a warrant, to give bail and keep the peace,
and they told me a story, which, if true, I think is very severe : they told me that their forefathers (that was the expression they made use of) were in possession of a certain small plot of land; that they had a lease not expired; that they sent up a half year's rent to Dublin to the landlord; it would not be taken; when they returned it was spent; by that time the second gale came round, and they were not able to pay the rent; and then they were permitted to give up the lands, on condition not to pay the rent due.
That is to say, they were not called upon to pay the arrear ?—They were not called upon to pay the rent due, on the proviso of surrendering the lands.
“ Do you give credence to all the oppressions stated ?-In many cases I do give credence. I have seen, and I know land to be set one-third above its value; and I have seen, at least I have heard and believe, that small cottagers who had land without a lease, before the assimilation of the currency, are
now called upon to pay the same rent in British currency.”Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1832, Nos. 4100-4.
John Dillon, Esq., resident at Maryborough.
“ As soon as the Orangemen in Mount Mellick were put down, about that period different poor people were ejected and put out of their holdings, and then a new feature was added to the Ribbon system. They then became Rockites: they are the same as the Shanabests, and different other bodies under different denominations in the county, who endeavoured to procure a rise of wages, to prevent people being turned out of their holdings and to lower the rents; they are now called Whitefeet.
“ Do you think that the convictions at the last commission will check them?-It may do it partially; but if they continue suffering under hardships, and they are certainly very great, Whitefootism will revive again.
What are the hardships under which they are suffering? -High rent, want of employment, low wages, and tithe, they consider the greatest hardships; but it is not one of the objects of the Whitefeet to put down tithes.”—Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1832, Nos. 2349-56-7.
Rev. Michael Keogh, parish priest of Abbeyleix, Queen’s County
“ Is it the habit in the Queen's County to refuse letting small portions of land to poor people ?-Yes, it is.
“ How long has that habit been exercised ?—I think since the Sub-letting Act was introduced.
“ Is it your opinion that any of the disturbance is attributable to that cause, from the want of power in the poor man to obtain small portions of land ?-Yes, I am of that opinion.
Is it not rather to be attributed to their being placed under the necessity of looking for land ?—Certainly; if they had land they need not seek for it.”-Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1932, Nos. 4685-8.
Mr. John Wiggins, an Englishman, land-agent in Kerry.
“ Have many of the political difficulties which have arisen in the south-west of Ireland within your knowledge arisen out of the relation of landlord and tenant?-I conceive the relation of landlord and tenant has given rise to that political commotion which we call Whiteboyism. I have found less tendency to that commotion where the occupying tenants hold of the immediate landlord under the new system; but where there are three or four middlemen over those people, they are goaded to become Whiteboys.”—Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons Committee on State of the Poor in Ireland, 1830, No. 4030.
All the above witnesses agree in a remarkable manner with regard to the causes of the Whiteboy disturbances : all trace them to the miserable condition of the peasantry, to their liability to certain charges (the chief of which is rent) which they are often unable to meet; and to their anxiety to retain possession of land; which, as Mr. Blackburne truly states, is to them a necessary of life, the alternative being starvation. With the dread of this alternative before their eyes, it is not to be wondered that they make desperate efforts to avert it: that crime and disturbances should be the consequences of actual ejectment is still more natural.
The poor Irish tenant clings with the tenacity of a drowning man to his cabin and patch of potatoground * ; so that if a landlord, for the purpose of consolidating farms, wishes to dispossess several cottiers, he is often compelled to expel them by force, and to throw down the houses, as otherwise they would return.
* On the difficulty which a landlord in Ireland finds in recovering possession, see De la Cour, Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1825, p. 552.
As such extreme courses are not resorted to elsewhere, it may
be desirable to give an example of one of these forcible ejectments.
Francis Blackburne, Esq.
knowledge, of great numbers of persons having been ejected from particular properties ?—Yes, there has.
“ Mention any one instance that occurs to you ?—The most remarkable that has occurred in my time has been the eviction of the occupants of a property of Lord Stradbrook.
“ Mention the particulars of that eviction ?-A lease had been made by Lord Stradbrook, or his ancestor, for thirty-one years; the lease expired in 1823; the land had been subdivided to such a degree, that I believe there were between forty and fifty families resident upon it; it was between four and five hundred acres, I think. Lord Stradbrook's agent, upon the expiration of the lease, took possession, which the people gave him in point of form, and he let them back, upon an understanding, that when tenants were provided, and a new disposition made of the property, they should give up possession; the object being, upon the part of Lord Stradbrook, to consolidate those farms, to retain a great number of the old tenants, and to enlarge their tenements. I believe contracts were made by his lordship's agent for new lettings, but when possession was demanded, upon the part of Lord Stradbrook, it was refused, and Lord Stradbrook was obliged to bring an ejectment; Lord Stradbrook's agent (there was no defence to the ejectment), attended by the sheriff, and several men to assist him, went upon the lands and dispossessed this numerous body of occupants; they prostrated the houses, leaving the people at liberty to carry away the timber; the number of persons that were thus deprived of their homes on that occasion was very large; I am sure there were above forty families, but I cannot tell the number of individuals; they were persons of all ages and sexes, and in particular a woman almost in the extremity of death.
What do you conceive has become of them ?-I should think they have been received from charity, up and down the country.”—Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1824,
The following statements show how the actual eviction of tenants drives the individuals thus cast upon the world to vindictive courses of violence and outrage.
Rev. Michael Keogh.
“ To what do you attribute the commencement of these outrages ?—The poverty of the people, and a great many having been ejected from their lands.
“ State the particulars of the ejectments ?-On Mr. Cosby's estate there were a great many ejected; I have made inquiries of late into the matter, and from all the information I could collect, I found there were 174 families ejected.
“How many, upon an average, were there in each family? - I do not know the number; on Mr. Cassan's estate there were a great many ejected ; and Mr. Johnson ejected thirtyfour families.
“ Were there any other cases ?— Dr. Doxay, middle landlord in Ballyrone, ejected a few families, and they became very disorderly people. Mr. Roe also ejected others, and they turned out very bad ; and many others whom I do not immediately recollect.
“ Was Mr. Roe, like Dr. Doxay, a middleman ?--Yes.
“ Were those persons ejected during the term of their leases, or at the expiration of the term of their leases ?— They were ejected principally at the expiration of their leases.
“ Do you know whether those persons so ejected remain still in the country ?-A great many of them do.
• Where did they put themselves ?-A great many crowded into Ballyrone, which is a village on the decline, and they got lodgings cheaper there; they flocked there and into the neighbouring villages.
Was it at Ballyrone the disturbances began ?—No, it was not.