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“ Where did they begin ?—They first began at Ballinclay, near Timahoe, on Mr. Cosby's estate.
Subsequent to the ejectment of those people ?—Yes.
Those people were scattered through different parts of the county, carrying with them discontent wherever they went? -Yes; and they but too well succeeded in their objects.
“Do you conceive that is the cause, in a great degree, of the disturbance that has since taken place ?—Yes, I am convinced of it.”- Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1832. Nos. 4636-41; 4650-6.
Rev. John Delaney, parish priest of Ballynakill, Queen's County.
“ You have stated that there is nothing political in these combinations, that they arise chiefly from local causes; can you state any circumstances that have occurred in your neighbourhood of late years that might have contributed to those combinations ?—There have a great many causes occurred in neighbouring parishes, and perhaps some in my own. I will state one that occurred in my own parish : there were three families, comprising twenty-three individuals; the heads of those families were accused of having cut scollops or switches for the purpose of thatching their cabins, or perhaps for sale ; there were some ash and oak. The parties so offending were summoned, and a fine of 51. recorded against them; the landlord gave them the option of going out instanter (it was in the depth of winter, in November), forgiving them the arrears due and the fine, or pay the fine, and be served with notice to quit in six months; they chose the first alternative, and went out; their families were scattered over the parish. The next summer, 1830, was one of famine with us; we were obliged to introduce a sort of poor-rate, to keep the people from starving and dying in the ditches; two of those families were thrown upon the parish, and I had to support them myself; there was not so ample a provision for the poor in the district where they lived; they came into the neighbourhood of the town; the people in the town very naturally objected to their being
thrown upon their fund, and I had to give them 2s. or 3s. a week to support them; one of the poor men lost his cow. Some time after being turned out, a series of calamities befel him; he took ill, and after lingering a long time in a state of the utmost destitution and misery, died of a broken heart. The sons of this man, together with a son of the second family above mentioned, became leaders in this system of Ribbonism, and I have reason to believe were some of the most daring and ferocious amongst them; one of them to this day has held out against all my admonitions, and has not yet surrendered himself.
“ Did any other cases of considerable hardship occur in your neighbourhood ?—There was a vast number of persons in the course of the last seven years ejected from the estate of the late Mr. Cosby; some of them came into my parish, and I found them exceedingly troublesome, and disposed to engage in those illegal associations; at length I was under the necessity of speaking to the farmers, and implored them not to encourage such characters, and if possible to prevent their settling on their land; and in truth it was no easy matter, for if they found an out-house unoccupied they would literally force themselves into it, and keep possession until they could procure shelter elsewhere, or until their participation in some act of outrage, or their attempts to propagate their favourite system, fell under the notice of myself or my assistant, and obliged us in self-defence to expel them from the parish. Our conduct in this respect was by them considered very severe and even cruel, and, I have reason to know, brought down on us their bitterest resentment. It was to those persons I alluded in the early part of my evidence, where I stated that I cautioned the farmers not to receive strangers, and forbade them to resort to my chapel.”—Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, 1832. Nos. 4373 and 4377.
Robert Cassidy, Esq.
You live in the Queen's County ?-I do.
It has been in a very disturbed state, has it not ?- Part of it.
“ Would you state to the Committee what you consider to have been the cause and origin of that disturbance?- The state of the county has been more or less in a state of disturbance, or rather dissatisfaction, for some years; but I consider that since May, 1831, those disturbances have become more extensive, and more atrocious in their character, and the nature of the crimes which have been perpetrated has been more aggravated. The cause, I think, has been much longer than the effect: the prevalent distress of the country, to which nine-tenths of the population are subject, makes them very easily attend to any prospect held out to them for bettering their condition. The eviction of tenants, the low rate of
wages, and the generally oppressive conduct of the people to whom the labouring classes have been subjected, have been the prime causes of the combinations amongst the people. “ Then you trace it, in a great measure, to the
persons that have been dispossessed of their lands ?-I conceive that the turning off of tenants has been the principal means of uniting the people for a common cause.”—Ibid. Nos. 5953-6.
Mr. John Cahill, surveyor and civil engineer, resident in the Queen's County.
“ Has the system of dividing land been general in your part of the country ?-Not of late.
" Then the landlords find, when their leases fall out, numerous tenants on their land, which they themselves had actually not put on the land, namely, as being under-tenants of their tenants; is that so?—Gentlemen have agreed to make the farms, in my opinion, as large as possible, and those people who remain on the farms are generally evicted and put off, is the case which I stated of those gentlemen who turned out the numbers I have stated.
“ Do you conceive that it has been these individuals who have been so turned out from want of having proper means of supporting themselves, who have become wanderers and va
grants, and the source of the Whitefeet association that
prevailed in that part of the country ?—I do very much consider so; there were 1126 of those poor people who were evicted, with the idle colliers going about, left idle in a part of two parishes, and all that within about six miles of each other.
· How does it happen you are able to speak with so much accuracy and confidence on the numbers ?-Knowing the barony so uncommonly well, and I have gone through the collieries making the inquiry, and knowing the greater part of all the families that were evicted. Do
you know them by name?-Yes, I have their names. “ Are you able to trace what has become of them in the course of the last four years ?-Yes.
“ State generally what has become of them. Do they continue wandering about ?-I have known on one estate, which is near me, and which I had regulated for a gentleman, there has been a great many of the old people turned off that became beggars, and a good many of them died of want.
Do you mean died from want?-A kind of distress ; being turned out of their houses, and many of them became beggars and died; more of them are labouring in different parts of the country, but the old people in general died : I can state to the Committee the number that died to my own knowledge.
“ When those people are ejected, is it customary for them to remain lurking about the place where they formerly resided ?-When they are ejected they are generally put in by the agents at 6d. per week, and left a little while until it is convenient for them to remove, generally perhaps a quarter of a year, or two months, and then they become paupers; because, according to the Subletting Act, they can get no land; at least it so happens in my neighbourhood.
“ You have stated a great number of people were evicted; are all those who were evicted, except those who have died, remaining in the neighbourhood of the place where they lived ? -But very few.
• What has become of the rest ?—I do suppose some of them are in Dublin ; many have got off into the country and county Kildare, at service.
66 The Committee are not to understand the whole, nor anything like the whole that were evicted, remained as disturbers or vagrants in the county ?-I believe they do ; some of them I know myself, and indeed I believe those that do remain are the most troublesome; that is my opinion.”-Minutes of Evidence, House of Commons, Nos. 7256–87.
The Rev. Mr. O'Connor, parish priest of Maryborough, after stating that certain tenants in the Queen's County were ejected by their landlords because they refused to send their children to a Kildarestreet school, goes on to say S
“ Those persons were all turned out of their houses; most of them went towards the colliery district, and have become leaders of the Whitefeet. When men become reckless of character and principle by intolerable misery, they disregard every moral obligation.”-Ib. No. 3189.
Matthew Barrington, Esq.
“ Have you in your experience of Ireland known great misery suffered by those persons who have been ejected from their properties, from having no provision made for them when they have been turned off their land ?-I have, certainly. I knew one instance which led to a desperate murder on Lord Stradbrook's estate at Bilboa: the farm was out of lease, and during the lease a great number of people had been allowed to reside on it. Mr. Blood, the gentleman who was murdered in Clare last year, took possession of the farm as agent of Lord Stradbrook, dispossessed the tenants, and levelled their houses, and they were thrown out on the road; the succeeding tenant was immediately after murdered.”—Ib. No. 14.
If the landlord, instead of proceeding ejectment, adopts the milder course of distraint, the fate of the cottier-tenant is only one degree better.
George Bennett, Esq. “ Will you explain to the Committee the different effects of