Carter forgives the attack (1899)

Siobhan McAndrew
7 min readFeb 26, 2024

The Land for the People.

REPLIES FROM ERRIS LANDLORDS.

The Western People, Saturday 2 December, 1899, p. 5.

At the meeting of the Belmullet District Council, on Saturday, — Mr McAndrew. J.P., in the chair — the following replies were received from landlords, in response to the resolution lately passed asking them to sell their lands: —

Messrs Pritchard & Sons wrote — “Mr Carson, of Belmullet, has forwarded to us your letter to him of 7th inst, and we now write to say that the owners of the above property (Attyconnan) are quite prepared to negotiate for a sale of it to the tenants in possession through the Land Commission, or to the Congested Districts Board. The present owners are the three children of Major Charles Frederick Short, who died in the year 1879. The property has been in Chancery since the year 1880, and Mr Carson has been acting as receiver during the greater part of that time. The present rents amount to about £82 a year and the owners, we believe, would be willing to dispose of the property at 20 years’ purchase. If you require any further information or particulars, we shall be prepared to furnish it.”

Mr. A. R. Foot, Examiner on John Carey’s estate, wrote — “In reply to your letter to the receiver in this matter, dated 7th inst, I have seen the solicitor having carriage, who informs me that all interested will agree to sell to the Congested Districts Board or to the tenant, under the Land Acts, at a reasonable price, subject, of course, to the approval of the Land Judge.”

Mr Coghlan, Brize, Claremorris, wrote “In reply to your letter of 7th, Mr Blacker would be willing to sell Erris estate for 15 years’ purchase.”

Mr MacDermott, 10 Fitzwilliam Place, wrote “I have no objection to well to the tenants or to the Congested Districts Board at a reasonable price. The most which tenants or Board would pay should be communicated to me.”

Mrs Mary Anne Lyons, Ardmore, Belmullet, wrote — “I received your communication relative to selling my property to the Congested Districts Board. I am most anxious to do so, or under Lord Ashbourne’s Act, as we agree upon. I will furnish you with my terms in a few days, or any other information you may require regarding the sale of my property.”

Mr S C McCormick, solr, 7 Bachelors’ Walk, wrote: — “In reply to yours of the 7th inst., I beg to say that the owners of Morahan and Barhave are willing to sell either to the Congested Districts Board or to the tenants under the Land Act. I will advise the owners to accept 18 years purchase on the first judicial term rents.”

Mr George Burns, Cambridge House, The Grove, Blackheath, S.E., wrote : — “Replying to yours re sale of Rossdough, I shall be quite willing to do anything that would be likely to improve the condition of my unfortunate tenants; but I am really in ignorance as to what course to take, or what is being done by other landlords. Perhaps you will be good enough to give me some idea of the steps to be taken.”

Mr A. R. Foot, Examiner, wrote relative to the sale of the lands of Messrs. Madden, D. O’Donnell, and W. Bournes, as follows: “In reply to your circular letter of the 7th inst, I have had an interview with the solicitor having carriage of proceedings in above cases, and he is prepared to advise all the parties interested to agree to sell to the Congested Districts Board or to the tenants at 18 years’ purchase, and if this offer is accepted he will apply to the Judge to sanction same. Any further in reference to this should be addressed to Mr S. C. McCormick, 7 Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin, as he is the solicitor having Carriage.”

Mr Thos. F. O’Reilly, Carne House, wrote — “In reply to your letter of the 7th inst. I beg to inform you that I could not sell my property, being only a tenant for life.”

Messrs. H. & W. Stanley, 59, Dawson-street, replying relative to the sale of the Bingham estate, wrote: — “Your letter of 7th inst to Mr Denis Bingham, having been forwarded to the chief receiver, has been handed to us, and we must ask you to let us know the particular lands with reference to which you make the inquiry. We may say that there are three petitions pending in the Land Judges Court for sale of the Bingham estates, and without knowing the particular lands referred to we cannot give the chief receiver the information he requires.”

Mrs Helen H. Stephenson, Ardenlee, Ravenhill Road, Belfast, wrote — “Replying to your letter of the 7th, I am willing to sell some parts of my property in Erris either to the tenants or to the Congested Districts Board, but I cannot say what terms I would accept until I look into the matter more closely.”

Mr Arthur Shaen Bingham, Doolough, wrote : — “In reply to your letter of the 7th inst, I beg to say that I am willing to sell some parts of my property in Erris, provided I am paid such a price for same as I may think sufficient.”

Mr George Tilson Shaen Carter J.P., Chilton House, Sudbury, Suffolk, wrote:- “I have received the letter of the Belmullet District Council relative to my willingness, to sell my estate to my tenants, and in reply I have to that it is impossible to give a general answer, which would include all the various forms of tenancies on my estate, such as farm grants end leases of lives renewable for ever, and 99 years’ leases, &c. l am also very desirous of getting an American syndicate to purchase my property adjoining Blacksod Bay, but all outlying townlands beyond Glencastle (save Corick and Claggan) and all townlands inside the Mullet (save Bayview House and premises), that is to say, all grazing and agricultural holdings, I would be willing to sell to the Congested Districts Board for 20 years’ purchase, which is a small sum by reason of the low rents. To anyone who will put the money down the foregoing offer is extended, but I have a great objection to selling under Lord Ashbourne’s Act, which appears at best, in the case of a heavily mortgaged estate, to be entirely unworkable. Arrangements as to present shooting tenancies and the reservation of all fisheries to the landlord would have to be made before sale. My title to my property to be accepted as valid, which it is; no expense thereby being created by the superfluous investigation of title, &c. Apart from the above reply, I perhaps may be allowed to state that I have no desire to be separated from my tenantry, especially the poorer ones, for though actions of mine may this year appear severe, necessitated in no way by any fault of mine, nevertheless my heart is with my tenantry for their good and for their prosperity and that God’s blessing may attend their labours that the barony of Erris may rise from its poverty, assisted by the many good works now instituted by the clergy. It would be impossible for me, so long associated with my tenantry, not to feel a great regard for them and their welfare, March, 1882, being wholly a thing of the past, as far as I am concerned.”

J. T. Murphy — On my way over here I met Mrs Shaw, and she expressed her willingness to sell her lands.

Clerk — Say now what is to be done next?

Mr Mills — Publish those letters in the press.

Clerk — Would it be sufficient to publish them in the WESTERN PEOPLE, as it is too much to copy all?

Mr Mills — I think the WESTERN PEOPLE would be sufficient.

Rev J. J. Hegarty — Some of those who are now asking for high prices and high terms of purchase offered them before at 10 years’ purchase, and the Government thought they were not worth it. Others offered their lands in private for sale.

Mr Gallagher — Well, what course are you going to adopt?

Chairman — It rests with you and your neighbours to meet Mr Carter in Ballymonnelly.

Clerk — What you want to do is this — you ought to send those letters to the Congested Districts Board in order to show them who are inclined to sell, and thereby put them in a corner as it were.

Mr Scanlon — It is our duty as the elected of the people to do as Mr Flynn says — send all their replies to headquarters to show them that it is their fault to have us kept under landlordism.

Mr Gallagher — I propose that we put on record some expression of our opinion, such as this — “That we thankfully acknowledge the letters from those landlords expressing their willingness to sell their lands to their tenants.”

Chairman — This thing is very much confused. One landlord comes in and says he’ll sell his land at 15 years’ purchase, another will sell it at 10. Now the only way to look at it is to take the position of the land. There is Mr Coyne, my landlord, who raised his land every year till he put it to the highest pitch, whereas Mr Carter did not.

After considerable discussion the following resolution was unanimously adopted, on the proposition of Mr John Gallagher, seconded by Mr P. Scanlon –

“That copies of the letters received from landlords in the Barony of Erris expressing their willingness to sell their estates be forwarded to the Right Hon Gerald Balfour, Chief Secretary, for the information of her Majesty’s Government, and that the Government be requested, if they desire to purchase for the benefit of the tenants, to enter into negotiations for purchase on reasonable terms. That while thanking the landlords who have acknowledged our communications for the desire they shown to assist their tenantry, we feel bound to record our opinion that the prices are entirely exorbitant, and could not recommend the tenants to agree to anything so unreasonable.”

Chairman — The men who have written are as for from selling as those who have not —

Mr Caldwell — Putting dogs on windows.

Chairman — Excuse me, sir.

Mr Gallagher — I don’t take your view of it, Mr Chairman. We can depend better on a man who promises than on one who does not.

It was at length decided to have all the letters published in the WESTERN PEOPLE, the reporter for that journal acceding to the request of the board to include them in his report of the proceedings.

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Siobhan McAndrew

I research in the social science of culture and religion, moral communities and civic engagement. PPE, University of Sheffield