Wednesday, 12th July 1882.
The Right Honourable the EARL OF DERBY, Chairman.
His Grace the Duke of Bedford, K.G.
The Right Hon. Viscount Sherbrooke.
The Right Hon. Lord Coleridge.
The Right Hon. Sir Richard Assheton Cross,
Sir Nathaniel M. De Rothschild, Bart. M.P.
Sir Sydney II. Waterlow, M.P.
Mr. Alderman Cotton, M.P.
Mr. Walter H. James, M.P.
Mr. Joseph Firth, M.P.
Mr. H. D. Warr, Secretary.
(fn. 1) A deputation from the companies' Irish estates,
consisting of Mr. R. H. Todd, LL.D., Rev. W.
McCay (Ironmongers' Company), Mr. Andrew Brown,
J.P. (Salters' and Drapers' Company), Mr. Robert
Stewart (Mercers' Company), Mr. Robert Dunn
(Fishmongers' Company), Rev. Nath. M. Brown, and
Professor Dougherty, waited upon the Commission.
The deputation was introduced by the following
Ulster members, Sir T. McClure, M.P., Mr. C.
Russell, M.P., Mr. T. Lea, M.P., Mr. Givan, M.P.,
Dr. Kinnear, M.P., Mr. T. A. Dickson, M.P., and
Mr. J. Dickson, M.P.
Deputation from Companies' Irish estates.; 12 July 1882.
1815. (Chairman to Sir Thomas McClure, M.P.)
Now, Sir Thomas, we shall be glad to hear what
you have to say?—I regret that my colleague, the
Solicitor-General for Ireland, is unable to attend. He
is watching a Bill in the House of Commons, and was
not able to come with us, which he is sorry for. I
have the honour to attend with a deputation of
gentlemen who have been selected by the tenants on
the estates of the London companies in the county
of Derry to appear before you. They wish to give
evidence as to the position and general management
of those estates, and especially to convey the earnest
expression of the desire of the tenants that greater
facilities might be given to them to become owners
of their holdings. Your lordship is no doubt aware
that those estates were granted nearly three centuries
ago for the purposes of encouraging a settled population who might cultivate the land and become a
centre of civilization and strength to the nation. It
is not my part to enter upon the question of how far
that trust has been carried out, but I may state this,
that the uncertainty of the terms of the tenure by
which the cultivators of the soil held their land
has long been the subject of complaint, and I can
say, without hesitation, that I believe the companies
would best fulfil the duty they undertook and the
trust imposed upon them by promoting the transfer
of the farms on easy terms to the present occupiers.
Having visited all these estates and become acquainted
with the tenantry I can state that their character
is exemplary, and that they are an industrious thrifty
people, and I believe that to make them owners of
the land which they occupy would not only be a
benefit to them, but also an advantage to the country,
by establishing a settled industrious prosperous population. I may now introduce to you the deputation
of gentlemen whose names I will just mention. The
Reverend Mr. McCay has been selected by the
tenants on the Ironmongers' estate to represent them;
Mr. Robert Dunn, to represent the tenants on the
Fishmongers' estate; Mr. Andrew Brown, J.P., to
represent the tenants of the Salters' and Drapers';
Mr. Robert Stewart, to represent the Mercers'; we
have also the Reverend Nathaniel M. Brown, of
Limavady, who took an active part in the arrangements for the tenants on the Waterford estate, and
who can give valuable evidence as to the difficulties
in the way of conveyance to tenants and the affording of greater facilities; then we have Mr. Todd who
has acted as solicitor for the tenants, and who can
give very valuable general information, and we have
Professor Dougherty who is well acquainted with the
matter and anxious to forward all arrangements that
would be for the welfare of the people and likely to
promote content and material prosperity. I should
state that in March 1881 I was requested to present
memorials from all the tenants of the different estates
to Mr. Gladstone. I presented them personally, and
at the same time read to him a letter which was
enclosed, and I beg to hand those memorials and that
letter in to your lordship.
1816. Before we go into the general subject perhaps
I may suggest that as there are a great many points
upon which the argument which you are about to use
must be common to the tenants of all the companies it
might be convenient and save repetition and a waste
of time if you would agree to have that general argument stated once for all, and then questions which are
special to the estates of any particular company can be
gone into afterwards. I think that will be most convenient?—(Mr. C. Russell, M.P.) I think your lordship will find that that has been already considered by
the deputation itself. I think it is proposed that
Dr. Todd, who is a solicitor in Londonderry, and who
has already communicated to your Commission a paper
dealing with the subject generally, shall hand that in
as his evidence, supplementing it by such additional
observations as seem to him necessary, and that that
should be treated as his evidence subject to such
examination as individual members of the Commission
think right to address to him. I think your lordship
will also find that the individual members of the
deputation, who speak to particular estates and particular subject matters in reference to these estates,
are arranged in the order of witnesses in the paper
handed to your lordship. I do not propose to add
anything to what my friend Sir Thomas McClure has
said, except just to mention this, that as there seems to
be a consensus of opinion between all political parties
in the state that it would be an advantage not merely
to the individuals themselves but to the community
generally that there should be an increase of occupying
proprietary in Ireland, this (undoubtedly dealing with
property, which is of a public nature and of a trust or
quasi trust character) would seem to offer an exceedingly advantageous opportunity of trying that experiment without any interference (to which the Legislature of this country undoubtedly strongly objects
in general) with what may be called particular private
interests. I would add also this further observation,
that the dealings of some of those companies with
their properties, one notably, I might mention, points
strongly, I think, to the great desirability of the right
of sale being secured to the tenants themselves and
the properties not being offered in the general market.
The particular case to which I allude is the case of
the Clothworkers' Company, whose property it may be
known to some members of the Commission was sold by
that Company. The tenants were willing to buy. They
offered fair terms for the purchase, I believe terms which
in the aggregate would have quite come up to the price
which was offered by the individual purchaser, but the
Company, I suppose preferring not unnaturally to deal
with a single buyer sold to that single buyer, and the
result was that the rents to the tenants upon the Clothworkers' estate have been raised, and raised enormously,
upon the tenants since that sale to the particular
purchaser. I do not think it is desirable that I should
mention the name of that purchaser or go into
particulars about it, but if the Commission desire to
have the particulars they can have them put before
them in detail by those who are cognisant of the facts.
I would only add my testimony to that of Sir Thomas
McClure (being myself an Ulster man by birth and
having lived in that province a great part of my life)
that a more thrifty, industrious, and hard-working
population does not exist in any part of Her Majesty's
1817. I do not want to interfere with the conduct
of your case, but questions of rack renting or high
renting it can hardly be worth while to go into now,
because assuming the existence of rack renting in the
past or in the present a remedy has been provided?—
It was not with that view that I was mentioning the
particular case of the Clothworkers', but only with a
view to securing the right of pre-emption to the
tenants, should the estates be sold.
1818. My comment upon that was, and is, that the
tenants are secured in the case of there being other
purchasers, or in the event of any such difficulty
as that to which you refer, or in the event of the
rents being raised?—I agree that the difficulty is not
so great as it was.
1819. (fn. 2) (To Dr. Todd.) We shall now be happy
to hear what you have to say?—I have handed in a
printed statement of the evidence I propose to give,
and perhaps it would save some time if your lordship
would take that as my evidence; and if there are any
other questions which you desire to ask me I shall
be happy to reply to them. I merely point out that
in the printed statement there is one inaccuracy. As
I understand you have not had an opportunity of
reading the statement, I will just tell you shortly
what the substance of it is. I deal with four points.
First, the desire of the tenants to buy; secondly, the
reasons why the companies, if unwilling to sell to
the tenants on reasonable terms, should be compelled
to sell on reasonable terms; thirdly, suggested terms
of purchase; and fourthly, the disposition of the
1820. You say in the first place, as I understand,
that the tenants on the estates for which you speak
desire to buy the holdings?—That is so.
1821. That I suppose may be taken to be a very
general wish?—That may be taken to be a very
general wish. It would depend upon the terms, but
if the terms are reasonable they are all willing to buy.
1822. But are they prepared to pay for their farms
what would be their fair value in the market in
ordinary times?—Their fair value in the markets, yes,
if the fair rents were fixed all over the estates.
1823. That you have a legal power of obtaining
at present without any interference, have you not,
under the Land Act?—Certainly.
1824. (Sir S. Waterlow.) Will you state the
estates to which you refer so that we may know what
you are speaking to?—My evidence is general with
regard to all the estates that are unsold.
1825. (Chairman.) All the estates under the companies that are unsold you mean?—Yes. It is not
possible for some of the companies tenants to get the
rents fixed at present under the Land Act of 1881,
because on a good portion of the estates (and on the
whole of one estate particularly, i.e., the Fishmongers'
estate) the holdings are under lease.
1826. I think we may assume one or two points.
I think the Commissioners will be willing to assume
that the tenants do probably desire to buy the holdings, that that is a general feeling, and that the question is in the main one of terms?—The question is in
the main one of terms.
1827. Supposing that the companies were called
upon to sell their estates on the ground that a nonresident proprietary is undesirable and that land had
better not be held by corporate bodies, are the tenants
prepared to make offers equally advantageous with
those which would probably be made by the outside
public?—I do not think the outside public at present
would buy any of the estates at all. I do not believe
that any private individual would buy at the present
1828. Perhaps not at the present moment, but
speaking of ordinary normal times?—I do not anticipate that in Ireland it is likely that landlords will
invest their money in estates in the future, because it
is impossible that they can get any increase of value
and the tenants can purchase on equally good terms
with private individuals.
1829. We will assume that the rents not only may
be fixed, but that they either are fixed by existing
leases or will be fixed hereafter by the Land Court?
—Suppose the rents were fixed, I believe that the
rate of purchase would be about 20 years' purchase.
1830. Is it your opinion that any considerable
number of the tenants would be able and willing to
pay 20 years' purchase for their holdings?—About
one fourth, I think, of the tenants on the various
estates would be able to supply from a fourth to a
fifth of the purchase money.
1831. That is to say, they would not be able to pay,
but they would have to borrow the money somewhere?—Exactly. It would be only by the aid of
State money or money to be lent by the companies or
private individuals that they could possibly make a
purchase of the whole estates.
1832. Let me understand clearly what would be
the difference in their position, because at present I do
not see it. If they bought under the circumstances
you mention, borrowing either from private or public
sources, three fourths or four fifths of the purchase
money, they would, of course, be paying interest upon
1833. In what respect would their position as proprietors liable to pay full interest upon the purchase
money differ from that of persons who are nominally
tenants but whose rents are fixed for a long term of
years by the operation of the law?—They do not
propose to pay the full interest on the purchase money;
they propose to get at least three fourths from the
Government on advantageous terms under the Land
1834. That is to say, they are not prepared to pay
the ordinary rate of interest?—They propose borrowing
the three fourths from the Government, and in case
the Government extend the amount to be given, and
advance it on more reasonable terms, they propose
borrowing as much money as they can get from the
Government, and then ask for the balance from the
companies, that balance to be repaid by similar instalments to those by which they repay the loan from the
Government. In point of fact no considerable number
of the tenants could pay any portion of the purchase
money except by instalments.
1835. Do you think it would be a safe financial
operation to lend to a man so circumstanced?—Quite
1836. You propose then that the Government
should lend three fourths of the money?—Yes; we
are in hopes that the Government will lend at least
four fifths of the money, but in the meantime the
Government will lend three fourths of the purchase
money under the Land Act of 1881.
1837. Where is the remaining one fourth or one fifth
of the purchase money to come from?—We propose
that the companies should be recommended to take
payment of that in instalments as well.
1838. Not to receive it at once?—To take payment
in instalments in the same way as the Government.
1839. And with regard to the three fourths or four
fifths which the State is to contribute, the companies
are to receive that down, as I understand you?—Of
course the companies would receive the three fourths
at once from the Government. We propose that the
whole money shall be payable by instalments, three
fourths to the Government by instalments and one
fourth to the companies by instalments.
1840. Speaking generally, you have stated what you
consider to be fair terms—20 years' purchase upon
the rent fixed by law?—I propose that the basis of
the purchase should be the Government valuation of
the land, that is, the present poor law valuation of the
1841. Griffith's valuation?—The present Government valuation.
1842. Is that Griffith's valuation?—Griffith made
two valuations, but it is the present Government
valuation I refer to.
1843. (Sir N. M. de Rothschild.) Is not that considerably below the present rental?—On some estates
considerably below the present rental, but considerably
above what the rents should be.
1844. That is not the question I asked; is it not
considerably below the present rental?—Not considerably. On the Drapers' estate, for instance, it is
only a small fraction below that.
1845. (Chairman.) Why do you prefer Griffith's
valuation to a rent fixed by the Land Courts?—Simply
because it is impossible to get the rent fixed by the
Land Court within a reasonable time to complete a
purchase, and because tenants who hold under lease
cannot have a fair rent fixed.
1846. (Sir S. Waterlow.) You mean the valuation
now in force for taxation purposes, do you not?—
Exactly; but the Government valuation, exclusive
of the houses: The gross Government valuation
includes houses. The reason I put it on the value
of the land alone is that some tenants have a
large proprietary interest in the way of buildings;
others have very small buildings, and it would be
obviously unfair to say to the tenant that he should
purchase on the basis of the houses he had erected
himself. Take Mr. Cather, of the Fishmongers'
estate; he has buildings on his estate, I should say,
worth 200l. or 300l. a year, all erected by himself,
and under the present law they are his own property.
Taking the gross valuation as the basis of the purchase, you would ask him to purchase the property he
1846a. I presume you mean that the tenant is only
to purchase that property which belongs to his landlord. Of course that which belongs to him he would
not have to purchase on any valuation at all?—I propose that he should purchase a little more. I take it
if you look at the history of the estates you will find
the greater part of the value has been created by the
tenant's sole expenditure.
1847. Is he to purchase that?—I think it is not
possible to give him full justice. If you gave him full
justice you would simply give the landlord about one
third of the purchase money that I propose giving
1848. (Chairman.) I think we understand your
view as to the basis on which the purchase should
take place. Now as to your fourth point, the disposition of the purchase money; I understand from
your printed statement that you think that that
money, or the greater part of it, should be retained
in the country?—Yes, I think the estates are clearly
trust estates—trust estates for public purposes in
Ireland. It is already declared that the estates of
the Irish Society are trust estates, and the charter
to the Irish Society granted the whole of the lands,
the lands not only that they hold themselves, but
the lands that are at present held by the companies,
and the Irish Society conveyed the proportions to
the various companies, who take their title through
the charter. There is a declaration in the charter
that is sufficient to impress the estates with the public
trust, and there have been a considerable number of
dealings between the Crown and the public and the
Irish Society which show clearly that the intention
was that the estates should be administered for the
benefit of the public only.
1849. (Sir S. Waterlow.) You are speaking, I
presume, only of the estates of the Irish Society?—
And of the companies'.
1850. Is it not the other way round; were not
the estates granted, and were not the trusts that were
imposed upon them all placed upon the estates of
the Irish Society, and were not the livery companies
estates exempted from them?—Not at all; at least,
I think not.
1851. Have not the House of Lords declared that
so soon as the public trusts attached to the Irish
Society's estates have been satisfied (if that time ever
arrives), the Irish Society's estates are to belong to
the livery companies?—I am not at all sure that you
are correct in your interpretation of that judgment,
but I think you will find, if the matter is brought
before the court at the present time, that the companies take subject to the trust. They have notice of
the trust; the trust is actually impressed in the charter.
1852. Are not the words of the House of Lords
these, "so soon as the public trusts of the society are
satisfied, if that time ever arrives, then the companies are entitled to the reversion of the estates"?
—I have not the words by me, and have not read
them recently, therefore I cannot exactly say; but I
have not the slightest doubt that the statement made
is inaccurate as to the present law of the matter.
1853. (Chairman.) You say in your printed statement, "there can, I think, be little doubt that the
companies are not private owners, but trustees of
these estates for public purposes"?—Yes.
1854. Has that ever been recognised by a judicial
decision?—No, except in the Star Chamber proceedings, where the trust was not denied. It never came
before a court of justice in the case of the companies
estates. In the case of the Irish Society it did, and
it was there argued. The Irish Society set up the
same claim as that which the companies set up now,
namely, that they held for their own private benefit.
1855. (Sir S. Waterlow.) Was not the case a case
in which the livery companies were the plaintiffs and
the Irish Society the defendants, and did not the
livery companies claim to exercise the control over
the Irish Society's estates, and did not the House of
Lords declare that so long as there was any public
trust to be discharged by the society the companies
could not touch the property, but that so soon as those
trusts were satisfied, they would be entitled to the
reversion?—I am not quite sure that you are accurate
in your recollection of the words you are quoting,
but I am quite sure that the words you are quoting
are inconsistent with the other part of the judgment.
1856. Was not the judgment against the livery
company?—It was, decidedly.
1857. Was it not held that they had no control
over the property until the trust was satisfied?—Yes;
but if my recollection is correct the livery companies
claimed to be private owners, and to be entitled to
the full amount of the purchase money, whereas they,
in fact, would take the residue of the Society's estates
subject to the trusts under which they hold their
1858. Have not the livery companies not only
claimed to be private owners, but exercised the right
as owners and sold their property, and made a good
title, and do not the private owners hold it now
against everybody?—No, certainly not.
1859. Does not Sir Hervey Bruce hold his estates
from the Clothworkers' Company?—He does.
1860. Do you desire to challenge his title?—I do
not challenge his title directly. I do not challenge his
title to hold the lands, but I say that the money the
company received from Sir Hervey Bruce should be
devoted to public purposes in Ireland according to
the trust. Of that I have no doubt whatever, and
may say further that the companies have clearly
recognised this trust from time to time.
1861. (Chairman.) The trust, I suppose, which
you speak of would be a trust for some specific and
definite purpose, what purpose has ever been defined
as that to which these trusts were applicable?—So
far as defined, at all—for educational, religious, and
charitable purposes, and the development of the
resources of the country. The charter says, "Whereas
there can be nothing more kingly than to establish
the true religion of Christ among men, hitherto
depraved, and almost lost in superstition,
strengthen, improve, and cultivate, by art and
industry, countries and lands uncultivated and
almost desert." That gives the substance of it,
though it is elaborated more fully.
1862. (Sir S. Waterlow.) Were not those trusts
subsequently imposed upon the estates which were
separated from the general body of the estates and
granted to the Irish Society in order to carry out the
trusts?—Do you mean at the time of the separation
of the estates?
1863. At the time they were divided partly among
the companies and one thirteenth part to the Irish
Society for the purpose of giving effect to this trust?
—You mean at the time the estates were allotted?
1864. Yes?—I do not agree with you there at all.
I think it was shown afterwards that the estates of
the company were taken subject to that trust, because
having failed to carry out that trust the charter was
revoked, the grant was cancelled, and the estates
taken into the hands of the King again, and if you
look at the reports of Sir Thomas Phillips, who was
then the governor of the country, he states that very
distinctly; you will find also that the letters of the
King state it very distinctly, and the judgment of
the Star Chamber declares it very distinctly. There
is a further reason why I think that the money
should be devoted to public purposes in Ireland, and
more especially in connexion with the county.
According to that statement which I have just read
to you the lands were impressed with that trust,
and the companies were intrusted to reclaim the
waste lands. Immediately after getting the second
charter (which they got from Charles I. after the
cancellation of the grants) they sublet all their estates
to middlemen and left the cultivation and reclamation
of the estates altogether to the tenants. From that
time until the resumption of the estates by the companies in the beginning of the present century, (the
companies resumed as the various leases fell out in
the present century) the tenants made all the expenditure. They reclaimed 130,000 acres of land in the
county, built all the farm buildings made all the
fences, drained all the lands, did all the farming
improvements on the estates, and raised the value of
the estates from 1,800l. a year (which was the amount
of the return made to the grand jury at that time
for taxation purposes as the value of the whole
estates), to the present rent of, in round numbers
(I am not sure that I am quite accurate in my
figures), about 160,000l. per annum; that is, including
the estates of the 12 companies and the Irish Society's
estates. That is about the rental, and I should say
that in raising the value from 1,800l. to 160,000l. a
year the companies never spent more than 20,000l.
or 30,000l. at the very utmost, and I believe not so
much as that. I mean of course in agricultural improvements. So far as regards charitable purposes
they have devoted a good deal of their funds undoubtedly to such objects, but they have not assisted
the agricultural portion of the community at all: and
what I think is this, that the tenants of the county,
having increased the value of the lands of the county
to that extent, it would be unreasonable that the
land, or the purchase money of that land, representing that value created by the tenant's expenditure
should be handed over to any other purposes than
purposes in the benefits of which the tenants would
1865. (Chairman.) On the ground that the value
has been created by the tenants themselves?—Exactly,
that is one of the reasons.
1866. Would not that argument equally apply in
the case of a private person selling his estate. As I
understand you, you say that if these estates are sold
the purchase money ought to go back to the tenants,
because it is by their labour that the estate has been
created?—Not exactly that. I am afraid I did not
put it clearly. What I say is this, in the first place
the companies' estates are trust estates, and being
trust estates the purchase money of those estates should
be devoted to public purposes in Ireland, in accordance with the original purposes declared by the King
in granting the estates, but that the county of Derry
has a peculiar claim to a large portion of this trust
money on the ground that I state. In point of fact,
if under the Land Act of 1881 the rents were fixed,
and fixed on the principle that no rent should be
charged on the tenant's improvements, then, inasmuch
as we have clear evidence in this case that no improvements were made by the landlords, also clear evidence
as to the condition in which this land was at the time of
plantation, and can show the condition of the land now,
the result would be that the present landlords would
be limited to the original value, or the prairie value, of
1867. Is that a principle which has ever been laid
down by the Land Court?—There is a section in the
Act of 1870 which is held to be applicable, and that
is that the rent at which the lands have been held,
the time during which the tenant may have enjoyed
the advantages of the improvements effected by himself, shall be taken into account by the court in reduction of the tenant's claim. But I would like to point
out to your lordship the construction of that. The
tenants are supposed to enjoy advantages before that
section applies at all. Now if the improvements do
not yield more than a fair return upon the outlay, (and
they do not) the tenants have enjoyed no advantages,
and the section could not possibly apply. There is
the further point that the rent at which the tenant
has held the holding may be taken into account by
the court, and if during all this time the tenants have
been paying not only a full rent on what they got at
first, but rent also on their own improvements (and
they have been doing that all along), it is clear that
they have enjoyed no advantages and have not been
recouped for the labour they have expended.
1868. Is not this a question to be settled by the
Land Court?—I put it in this way; this is a strong
reason why the tenants should get favourable terms;
it is a strong reason why, if we cannot do absolute
justice by having the rents fixed before purchase, and
have to purchase on the scale I laid down, a considerable portion of the purchase money should be
devoted to the purposes of the county of Derry.
1869. Is there anything you wish to add to the
statement you have made?—There is a matter in one
of the paragraphs of my statement that I was anxious
to call attention to, in which I find that there is a
slight inaccuracy, and that is in the reference to the
Fishmongers' estate. It is stated in the 10th paragraph,
The last lease to the Earl of Tyrone expired in 1820,
the company then resumed possession, revalued the
estate, and raised the rental to 10,000l. a year." I
may say that there was a rise in 1820 and leases given
for 31 years or 21 years; on the expiration of those
leases there was a second rise. This is the rental after
the second rise and not after the first rise.
1870. (Sir S. Waterlow.) When you said that the
income of the companies estates and of the Irish Society was about 160,000l., did you mean the income
payable by the tenants to the landlords, or did you
mean that the properties were assessed at that in the
Government valuation?—I mean the gross rental of
the 12 companies estates and the estates of the Irish
1871. Received by the landlords?—Received by
1872. (Mr. Firth.) Have you the division of it
amongst the companies?—I have not got it in this
statement, but I can furnish it to you in a very short
1873. (Sir S. Waterlow.) I think you said that
the tenants had made all the improvements?—Yes.
1874. I will come to that point presently, but is it
not a fact' taking the Drapers' Company's estate as an
example, that the value of the tenant's interest in the
property is on an average 23 years' purchase of the
rental?—I have no doubt it is quite; it should be
25 years' purchase.
1875. If the tenant has an interest in the property
equal to 23 years' purchase of the rental, surely that
is some compensation for any improvements which he
may have made, is it not?—Certainly not.
1876. Does it not show that the property is worth
really the tenant's interest and the landlord's interest
in it, i.e., twice as much as the tenant is paying the
landlord?—Not if the 23 years' purchase would give
no return to the purchaser, as is the case, as a rule,
with tenant right in the north of Ireland.
1877. Do you mean seriously to tell the Commission
that tenant right sells at 23 years' purchase in the
north of Ireland, and that when the tenant has bought
it it gives nothing back to him?—I do; I know that
of my own knowledge. I have been practising the
last six years, and know that many of the tenants
have bought and have sold the tenant right interest
where the actual rent was more than the full value
of the land. They have the selling interest, but no
valuable interest whatever; that I know of my own
1878. Now take a farm of 10l. a year, which is an
easy calculation, there is a tenant right of 23 years'
purchase, that is 230l.?—Yes.
1879. Do you mean to say that a tenant would go
in and pay 230l. without getting any return upon the
230l. which he invested?—I mean to say that he has
done it from time to time, and that it is the custom to
do it. I do not mean to say that in all cases there
is no return, and I do not mean to say that the return
in one case is always the same as in another, but I
say that tenants have purchased farms held at a rackrent for a considerable number of years' purchase, and
I say also that a considerable amount of the purchase
money in all cases represents good will and not valuable
interest, and this is what we call dead money, which
is lying invested in the land until the tenant comes to
re-sell and get his money into his pocket again; in
the meantime it gives him no return, but simply a
home and occupation, and for the purpose of getting
that he pays more than the land is value for.
1880. Do you mean seriously to tell the Commission
that the money paid in the north of Ireland does not
yield to the tenants any monetary return in the shape
of profit from the farm?—I mean to say that it yields
from 0 per cent. up to 5 or 6 per cent., but in very
many cases it yields 0 per cent.; in some 1, in some 2,
and in very few over 3 per cent.
1881. How do you account for people giving the
money for that which will bring them back no return?
—They have no other means of occupation; they
have no means of investment; they know of no investment by which they can get a return. In the
banks they could only get 1 or 1½ per cent. interest.
The amount is very small, and very often men will
purchase, and pay a large number of years' purchase
money, in order to get into a larger holding, or for
the purpose of raising their social status, and getting
some other advantages.
1882. Do you know anything about the Drapers'
estate?—Yes, but not so much as of the Fishmongers'
estate and the Skinners'. I know them very intimately, I have a large number of clients on those
estates, and am practising among them daily. But I
know that the figures I give you are accurate, or substantially accurate. There may be a slight inaccuracy.
1883. Taking the years from 1870 to 1879, am I
not substantially accurate in putting the gross rental
at 14,000l. to 14,500l. a year; do you know sufficient
to judge of that?—From my recollection of the figures
that is the case; I have not them before me, but I
think you are about accurate. Mr. Brown has the
figures. It is practically correct as you put it.
(Mr. Andrew Brown.) There is an obvious difficulty
in having any discussion between the Drapers' tenantry
and their landlords, because the Drapers' Company
have generously granted a reduction of 15 per cent.
upon their rents, taking it off the leaseholders as well
as the others; the people are highly gratified with
it, and I am sent here to say so.
1884. (To Mr. Andrew Brown.) May I take it from
you that the statement you have just made may be
accepted by the Commission as evidence that you, as
one of the Drapers' tenants, speaking for yourself and
others, are pleased and gratified with the arrangements which they have made, and are now making, as
to the reduction and revision of rents; is that what
you would wish to convey?—They are highly gratified.
(Dr. Todd.) They may be highly gratified with the
particular reduction, but I should think they are
hardly gratified at being overcharged ever since the
rent was raised.
1885. (To Dr. Todd.) I was not asking anything
on that. I had intended asking you if you knew the
very large amount (more than 50 per cent.) which
the Drapers' Company have been in the habit for
years past of spending on the estate or upon public
objects on the estate?—I say distinctly they recognise
their trusts on all the estates; they spend large
quantities of money in providing schools.
1886. From your knowledge of the tenants on the
Company's Irish estates in the north of Ireland, do you
think that those tenants would have been better off if
they had been the tenants of private individuals, instead of being tenants of the companies?—With some
private individuals they would have been better off,
and with some worse.
1887. On the average would they not have been
materially worse off?—On the average they are better
off than with private landlords; I admit that freely,
but I could give the names of landlords that are better
landlords than the companies.
1888. Do I understand you to say that you believe
that there are no better landlords in the north of
Ireland than the livery companies?—I do know
better landlords in the north of Ireland than the
1889. Can you tell me any one of them?—Lord
Castlestuart is one.
1890. Does he spend 50 per cent. upon his property?—No, but he never rackrented his property;
he never charged rent on his tenants' improvements,
but allowed the tenants to develop the land, without
raising the rents. The companies have invariably
rackrented, from the time they got hold of their
estates until the present time; or, rather, they have
allowed the middlemen to do so.
1891. I think you said that the Skinners' on their
Pelliper estates increased their rents some short time
ago, or some few years ago?—Yes, they did.
1892. Do you know what portion of the gross
rental the Skinners' spend on the Pelliper estate?—
I know that they have spent nothing in the way of
agricultural improvement at all, nothing whatever.
1893. Are you prepared to say that they do not
spend out of the gross rental in Ireland on the estates
from 25 to 35 per cent. of their gross rental every
year?—I believe they do in charitable and religious
and educational purposes. I think that is quite accurate.
1894. And in the maintenance of the estates generally?—No. They have paid the lawyers, agents,
bailiffs, and surveyors, and they have given money to
clergymen, and they have given money to doctors,
and they have given money for various other charitable and religious purposes; but in no single instance,
to my knowledge, have they spent a single sixpence
in agricultural improvements, or given the slightest
benefit to their tenantry.
1895. Did not they in 1879 and 1880 make an
abatement to their tenantry of 10 per cent. of their
rents?—They did, when they should have made an
abatement of 50 per cent.
1896. We will take the fact?—Other landlords
were making larger abatements, I may tell you, at the
1897. Are they not now negotiating with all their
tenants for renewed tenancies, instead of going into
the Land Court, and have they not settled with at
least 100 of them?—I do not think they have settled
with 100 of them; they have settled with a few.
1898. Are you prepared to say that they have not
settled with 100?—I am not. I do not know how
many they settle with from day to day, but I can tell
you the mode in which they make the settlement if
you will allow me.
1899. (Mr. Firth.) Tell us that?—They summon
each individual tenant into their office; they refuse
to allow him to be accompanied by solicitor, counsel,
friend, neighbour, or anybody. They bring him in
before their own clerk from London, before their own
counsel from London, before their own solicitor from
London, before their local solicitor, before their agent,
before their sub-agent, and before two valuators. I
think eight or nine persons altogether.
1900. (Mr. James.) What company does this refer
to?—The Skinners' Company. I believe that is the
worst-managed estate in the north of Ireland, without
exception, and I know it intimately. The tenant is
brought in, he has no assistance, he is an ignorant
man as a rule, he is in fear of his landlord, as all such
tenants are; one question is put to him by the agent,
another question is put by the solicitor, a third by the
London solicitor, a fourth by the London counsel,
the fifth is a suggestion made by a valuator, and so on
until the poor man is badgered to such an extent that
he agrees to almost anything; the rent is put up to
auction, as it were; one suggests so much reduction,
another a little more, and another a little more, until
they get the man to accept whatever they think right.
I can tell you further that the reductions they have
given are not in accordance with the justice of the
case, and that the Land Court would have reduced
them very much more.
1901. (Sir S. Waterlow.) I have not interrupted
you because I supposed you were stating what you
knew personally?—Quite so.
1902. You have been acting for some of the tenants,
as I understand?—For a large number.
1903. Do you not think that a tenant acting under
your advice and going in to see his landlord is quite
capable of judging for himself what he ought to give
for his farm, and if he settles amicably with his landlord, is not that a better settlement than going into
the Land Court?—I think it a system of gross tyranny
to introduce a poor ignorant man into a room among
a lot of intelligent men, and allow them to badger
him until he does not know what he is about.
1904. What evidence have you of badgering?—
That of the tenant himself.
1905. Do you not think that if the landlord wants
to settle with his tenant it is better to have a conference with him?—It is, but he should be allowed
the assistance of a friend or valuator or somebody.
They refuse to allow him to have a neighbour in
with him; and I may tell you further that they take
him at once, and without allowing a neighbour to
see him at all, or allowing him to consult with anyone,
into another room to sign the agreement.
1906. Is it not a fact that the livery companies do
expend out of the gross rental of their estates much
larger sums in the neighbourhood in which their
estates are situated than private individuals do?—
They do expend large sums in pursuance of their
trust, but they rackrent the tenants and take the
money out of their pockets and give it for public
purposes, and then pose as benefactors of the country.
1907. You say they rackrent the tenants; what
evidence is there of that; are you prepared to state
that the rents exacted by the companies are so high
that the tenants are obliged to give up?—To give
1908. Yes?—They are so high that the tenants are
nearly all in arréar and unable to pay the rents, and
at present a large number of them are to my own
knowledge under ejectment for nonpayment of rent.
1909. Do you wish the Commission to understand
that the tenants of the Irish livery companies' estates
in the north of Ireland are more in arrear than the
average of the tenants in other parts of Ireland?—
They are very much more in arrear than on a great
number of estates that I have personal knowledge of.
I will take the estates of Lord Castlestuart and the
Duke of Abercorn for instance.
1910. Will you answer my question to the best of
your knowledge. Do you mean to convey to us that
they are more in arrear, so far as you know, than the
average of other parts of Ireland?—I can speak as
of the Skinners' Company, and I say that they are
as much if not more in arrear than the tenants on
any estate I know of.
1911. Can you tell us whether the Skinners' estate
is in arrear more than 12 months on the whole?—A
great many of the tenants are much more than 12
months in arrear.
1912. Are you prepared to say that there is more
than 12 months' rental owing on the Skinners' estate,
taking it all over?—I cannot say that, I have not the
return. I speak of cases that come within my own
1913. Is it not a fact that there is not 12 months'
rent owing on the Skinners' estate?—I do not know
that as a fact as to the whole estate, but as to a large
number of the tenants they are several years in arrear
and utterly unable to pay.
1914. Then you are unable to say whether on the
whole there is more than 12 months' arrear?—I
know that there are a large number of substantial
tenants who have other farms and other means of
living, and who have paid out of their other means,
but whose farms on the company's estates would not
produce as much as would pay the rent and allow
them a decent means of living.
1915. You are unable to answer my question as
to whether the estate is more than 12 months in
arrear?—I don't know whether that is a fact.
1916. (Mr. Firth.) Can you tell us whether the
tenants would be prepared to accept a fair rent as
the basis of purchase if such fair rent were fixed by
the court?—Quite willing.
1917. And if the leases were broken and a fair
rent fixed by the court would they accept that?—
1918. I ask you that because I see in your evidence
you say that the companies' estates "are now value
for about 3,000,000l." and of that 2,000,000l.
should "in justice be the property of the tenants"?
—Certainly, there is no question about that at all,
if justice were to be done, but the tenants hardly
1919. You say some of these companies have sold
1920. Do you suggest that the money which they
have raised and are now using for other purposes
should be brought back?—I certainly think the
whole of the money should be brought back to Ireland in conformity with the trusts declared originally.
I think it was a great breach of trust to bring the
money to England at all.
1921. To what purposes do you suggest that this
160,000l. a year (or whatever the sum may be)
should be applied if the estates were sold?—I would
suggest that at least one fourth should be given to
the county itself in reduction of county rates, as some
recognition of a part of the value made by the tenants,
and that the balance should be applied to public purposes generally.
1922. By which you mean, what?—As to the exact
public purposes I will not undertake to say, but what
I would suggest is this: if the provincial boards that
we expect to have in Ireland, (a modified form of
Home Rule), are established, that those moneys should
be put into the hands of those boards as trustees
for the public, with powers defined by an Act of
Parliament, and limited to developing the resources of
1923. You say, "In accordance with the provisions
of the charter," which provision is it that you say
constitutes these moneys to be used for purposes of
that kind?—The recitals in the beginning of the
1924. That is as to reclamation?—Yes, as to both;
educational, charitable, and religious purposes as well.
1925. That is what I wish to ask you; I would
like you to draw my attention to that provision?—If
you will kindly read the whole paragraph you will see
it. I may just state this: the difficulty in fixing a
particular trust is very great, because it is clear that
at this time the King had the desire to benefit the
country by all possible means.
1926. That is a difficulty as to which I wish to
hear your explanation?—It is so wide that it is very
difficult to fix any particular trust.
1927. Which words do you say form the general
trust, as you call it?—"To establish the true religion
of Christ among men, hitherto depraved and almost
lost in superstition." That, I think, there is some
difficulty about at present, because there are several
sects in Ireland, and we might quarrel as to who
would get hold of the money "To strengthen, improve, and cultivate by art and industry countries
and lands uncultivated and almost desert." That
would be clearly an intention to reclaim waste lands
in the north of Ireland.
1928. Surely those were the objects of the plantation articles?—Clearly.
1929. But those are not trusts which apply to the
property resulting from it now; however, that is your
answer?—That is my suggestion, and I think those
trusts so far as they remain unperformed still attach
to the property.
1930. (Mr. James.) Suppose that, owing to a
series of bad seasons, or from other unforeseen circumstances, a tenant or any number of tenants were to
prove unable to pay either their instalment or their
interest, what course could the State adopt under such
circumstances?—Sell the holding, by all means.
1931. You would sell it?—Certainly, it is available
for the purposes of sale.
1932. You do not anticipate any difficulty in carrying out such an arrangement?—Not the slightest
difficulty. If the fair rent is fixed it will leave a very
large margin to the tenant. It is only the balance—
the landlord's interest that will be purchased, and we
reckon in the north of Ireland that even apart from
the companies estates the half of the full value of the
land is the tenant's. That is a general observation
and certainly that would apply to the companies'
estates with greater force than to the estates of private individuals.
1933. Supposing the value of the estate could not
be realised, what, then, would happen in the event of
the instalment and interest not being paid; that is to
say, supposing the estate were put up to auction to be
sold and the value of the estate could not be realised?
—You refer to particular holdings?
1934. Yes, I refer to particular holdings?—If it
could not be sold the money could not be realised.
1935. Who, then, would be the sufferer?—The
1936. Would not that be rather hard upon the
State?—In connexion with that I would just point
out that those tenants bear the character of the most
industrious and hard-working people in the north of
Ireland, and the most loyal; there is no discontent in
the way of disloyalty amongst the tenants; they are
industrious tenants, and they have borne the system
of rackrenting so long that when they get fair rents
they will be prepared to pay them, especially if they
see a prospect of within 50 years being the absolute
owners without further payment.
1937. Have any negotiations taken place with
private individuals on the part of companies similar
to those that took place in the case of the Clothworkers' Company?—The Salters' Company, I believe,
had some negotiations.
1938. To whom did the Salters' Company dispose
of their property?—They did not sell—there were
some negotiations for a sale.
1939. Do you mean for a sale to tenants?—I
thought you asked me whether there were negotiations
for sale to private individuals.
1940. Are there negotiations for sale going on with
the Salters' Company at the present time?—No.
1941. What were you referring to then?—Negotiations carried on between the Salters' Company and
Mr. Adair for the purchase of the whole estate five or
six years ago. The tenants wrote to Mr. Adair and
put their position before him, and the purchase was
not carried out.
1942. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) Do we understand
that you think the tenants should have the right of
purchasing their holdings?—Certainly.
1943. And then do we also understand you to say
that the tenants have no money so to purchase their
holdings?—My idea is this: that if the sale is made to
the tenants at all it must be made to all the tenants in
order to make it a success, but to make that feasible it
is necessary that the tenants should get all the money
advanced, because a large portion of the tenants could
not advance any portion of the purchase money.
1944. Then you did mean to tell the Commission
that the tenants should be allowed to purchase property although they have no money to buy it with?—
1945. But no money in hand?—No money in hand.
1946. Perhaps it is an Irish view of purchase, but
you think it is right, as I understand, that a tenant
should be allowed to purchase his land, the Government giving him three fourths, and then the company
or the landlord finding the other fourth for him?—
That is not an Irish view. I take that from the report
of the House of Lords Committee, which is essentially
an English body.
1947. You think that is the right way?—I do think
that is the right way.
1948. Do you think that the landlords should be
compelled to sell upon those terms?—Not a private
landlord. I say these being trust estates, and the object being to improve the kingdom, and the system
of occupying owners being one of the means in my
opinion of improving the country, and it being a safe
scheme to carry out, I believe the money should be
advanced and repayment taken in instalments.
1949. It certainly is an easy method of purchasing
property, is it not?—It certainly is. No other way
would be feasible in the case. It is not like an ordinary case of purchase, because the tenant right means
nearly the half, or the whole of the half, of the value.
1950. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Will you refer to
paragraph 4 of your printed statement. You say,
"The plantation of the companies' estates was carried
out with public moneys, specially raised from the
citizens of London for the purpose." Higher up
you say, "It was levied through the convenient
agency of the livery companies, each of the twelve
principal companies raising 3,330l. odd"?—Yes.
1951. Is it not the fact that the companies themselves raised the money out of their own property,
and did not levy upon the citizens at all?—Not at all.
It was a tax upon the citizens. If you will be good
enough to investigate the records of the period you
will find that that is quite clear.
1952. Did not some of the companies sell their
property, their plate, and something else for the purpose of raising this very money?—Whether the companies were unable to raise the whole of the tax or
not I cannot say, but I know that they imposed a tax
upon the citizens for this purpose, and I believe they
sold their plate to pay a fine imposed on them for
breach of "The Articles of Plantation."
1953. Do you mean seriously to tell the Commission
that the public companies at that time had the power
to tax the citizens, and that they did tax them for the
purpose of raising that money?—The Corporation of
London taxed them.
1954. Can you tell me when the Corporation of
London ever had the power to levy public taxes in
London?—At that time they had the power, or the
records of the period are not accurate. There was an
order issued by the King in Privy Council to raise the
money, and in pursuance of that order the Corporation
and companies levied the tax.
1955. Did not each company contribute their share
out of their own funds?—No.
The following printed statement was supplied by this
1. The London companies became connected with
the county of Derry in the beginning of the 17th
century, through the scheme of King James I., known
as the Plantation of Ulster. The scheme was devised
on the confiscation of the estates of the Ulster Earls,
with the view of bringing peace and prosperity to
Ireland, by colonizing Ulster with loyal English and
Scotch settlers. During the previous century the cost
of governing Ireland had been about 26,000l. yearly,
while the annual revenue derived by the Crown from
that kingdom was only 6,000l. The object of the Crown
in the plantation scheme was to save the nation from
the vast expense and trouble that Ireland had caused it
in the preceding century.
2. As soon as it became known that the King intended
to plant the escheated lands with English and Scotch
settlers, a vast number of adventurers applied for grants.
But the King expressly refused to allot the lands to any
except such as were, in his own words, "of sufficient
merit and ability" to carry out the public objects he
had in view. To prevent any misunderstanding he
issued, in the year 1608, a State paper entitled a
collection of such orders and conditions as are to be
observed by the undertakers upon the distribution
and plantation of the escheated lands in Ulster."
These orders and conditions, popularly known as the
"Articles of Plantation," together with the various
other public declarations of the King and Privy Council
on the subject of the plantation, are the bases and limits
of the title by which the companies hold their Irish
3. The King proposed to the London Corporation to
undertake the plantation of a portion of the escheated
lands. At first the Corporation refused, but after considerable negotiations they agreed to the King's suggestion. A Committee of the Corporation, afterwards
known as the Irish Society, was appointed, a survey
and report obtained, and the plantation of the co. of
Londonderry undertaken. The substance of the
negotiations between the King and the Common Council
of the City of London is given in a book entitled "A
concise view of the Irish Society," published by order
of the Society in the year 1822. During the negotiations
the King and Privy Council sent an official document to
the Corporation setting forth "motives and reasons to
induce the City of London to undertake the plantation
in the north of Ireland," and "a statement of the profits which London shall receive of this plantation,"
which are given at length in the report of the Skinners'
Company against the Irish Society. No reference is
made in these reasons to any revenue to be derived by
the Corporation in the way of rents from the Irish lands.
The document deals exclusively with the public good
to be derived from the settlement and the advantages
to the City of London to be anticipated from bringing
within the control of the City the valuable fishings,
and extensive woods, and various articles of produce
of the north of Ireland. The "Motives and Reasons"
and the "Statement of Profits" are given in the
4. The money required to effect the settlement of
co. Derry was not taken from the funds of the Corporation or of the companies. The required sum of
40,000l. was raised by means of a special tax assessed
on the citizens of London. The tax was heavy, and
was raised with considerable difficulty. It was levied
through the convenient agency of the livery companies,
each of the 12 principal companies raising 3,330l. odd.
From the negotiations between the King and Privy
Council on the one hand, and the London Corporation
and companies on the other, and from the various
public records of the period and the subsequent dealings
of the Crown with the Irish Society and the companies,
it seems manifest that (1) the plantation of the companies' estates was carried out with public moneys,
specially raised from the citizens of London for the
purpose; (2) that it was undertaken reluctantly at the
request of the King and not by the desire of the Corporation or the companies; (3) that the estates were
granted to the Irish Society and the London companies
not for their corporate or private benefit, but as trustees for the purpose of carrying out the plantation
scheme; (4) that the intention was to give such advantages to the settlers as would induce them to invest
their capital in the soil, and so develop its resources
and ensure the peace and prosperity of the province. This is shown even by the charter granted in the
year 1613 to the Irish Society, which is the root of these
companies' title to their estates. In the introduction
to the charter the King states that—
"Whereas the greater part of six counties in the
province of Ulster, within the realm of Ireland, named
Armagh, Tyrone, Coleraine, Donegal, Fermanagh, and
Cavan, being escheated and come to the Crown, hath
lately been surveyed, and the survey thereof transmitted and presented unto his Majesty, upon view
whereof his Majesty, of his princely bounty, not respecting his own profit, but the public peace and welfare of that kingdom, by the civil plantation of those
unreformed and waste countries, is graciously pleased
to distribute the said lands to such of his subjects, as
well of Great Britain as of Ireland, as being of merit
and ability, shall seek the same, with a mind not only
to benefit themselves, but to do service to the Crown
and commonwealth; and, forasmuch as many persons
being ignorant of the conditions whereupon his Majesty
is pleased to grant the said lands, are importunate
suitors for greater portions than they are able to plant,
intending their private profit only, and not the advancement of the public service, it is thought convenient to
declare and publish to all his Majesty's subjects the
several quantities of the proportions which shall be distributed, the several sorts of undertakers, manner of
allotment, the estates, the rents, the tenures, with
other articles to be observed, as well on his Majesty's
behalf, as on the behalf of the undertakers, in manner
and form following." (fn. 3)
In the introduction to the charter granted to the
Irish Society, in the year 1613, when the whole county
of Derry was placed under the proprietorship of the
London companies, both the social and civil condition of the county and the public objects of the plantation are still more explicitly declared. In this royal
grant his Majesty says—"Whereas there can be nothing
more kingly than to establish the true religion of
Christ among men, hitherto depraved, and almost
lost in superstition; to strengthen, improve, and
cultivate by art and industry, countries and lands uncultivated and almost desert; and the same not
only to plant with honest citizens and inhabitants,
but also to renovate and strengthen them with good
statutes and ordinances, whereby they might be more
safely defended, not only from the corruption of their
morals, but from their intestine and domestic plots,
conspiracies, and also from foreign violence. And
whereas the province of Ulster, in our realm of
Ireland, for many years now past, hath grossly erred
from the true religion of Christ and divine grace,
and hath abounded with superstitution, inasmuch
that, for a long time, it hath not only been harassed,
torn, and wasted, by private and domestic broils, but
also by foreign arms; we, deeply and heartily commiserating the wretched state of the said province,
have esteemed it to be a work worthy of a Christian
prince, and of our royal functions, to stir up and
recall the same province from superstition, rebellion,
calamity, and poverty, which, heretofore, have horribly raged therein, to religion, obedience, strength,
and prosperity." (fn. 4)
5. The Irish Society and the London companies were
sequestrated in 1630 for breaches of the Articles of Plantation, and in 1637 the charter to the Irish Society was
revoked and the grant to the companies cancelled, in
pursuance of a judgment of the Star Chamber declaring
the charter and grants void. The society and companies
had by this time discovered how valuable the estates
could be made, and offered the King 100,000l. for a
grant of the estates freed and discharged from the
Articles of Plantation. This offer was refused. In 1650,
however, Charles II. gave a new charter to the Irish
Society, and the society regranted their proportions to
the companies, but subject to all the original articles and
6. After the second grant, the vigilance of the Crown
seems to have been considerably relaxed, for from that
time up to the present the companies have ignored the
greater part of the Articles of Plantation with impunity,
and have carried out the purposes of the plantation to
a limited extent only. Immediately after the lands
were restored to them by Charles II. the whole of the
companies leased their proportions to middlemen, in
whose hands they continued up till recently. In only
two instances, I believe, did the lessees enter into a
covenant to observe the Articles of Plantation, and in
no case have the companies insisted on their observance.
The result has been shown by the Rev. G. V. Sampson,
agent of the Fishmongers' Company, in his statistical
survey of the county of Londonderry, published in
1814, and by Mr. Slade, Secretary to the Irish Society,
in his report of the state of the plantation published in
1802. Mr. Slade's report is as follows:—"But if the
measures recommended are likely to promote the
original object of the charter, that of encouraging a
Protestant colony in the north of Ireland, the nation at
large has a right to demand, and the Protestant
tenants a right to expect from the society's justice,
that every endeavour will be exerted to improve
their condition, and make them participate in the
benefits of the union which has recently taken place
between the two countries. If such an impression
as this could once be made on the minds of the Irish
it would put a stop to that emigration which a contrary conduct, particularly an excessive rise of rent,
has frequently occasioned. This leads me to question the policy, I might say the justice of the city
companies, in letting their lands on payment of
heavy fines, without stipulating for the performance
of the relative duties between landlord and tenant.
In the instance of the company to which I myself
belong, the Ironmongers', I have discovered on inquiry since my return, that in the year 1767 they let
their estate for 61 years and three lives, on payment
of a fine of 21,000l. to a gentleman who had acquired
a large fortune in India, but who, as far as I could
learn, has never seen any part of the company's
estates. The Irishman who cultivates the soil might
with justice observe that he derives no protection
from such a line of conduct, and if he were informed
that the sum subscribed by all the companies together in the reign of king James amounted only to
40,000l., and the Ironmongers and their associates'
proportion of that sum only to 3,334l., he could not
be charged with ingratitude if he appeared to feel no
obligation to his landlords in subjecting him to a
rent far beyond what can possibly be derived from the
product of the soil, and which can be only paid out of
the profits of his loom."
Mr. Samson, among other things, says, "This county
is rather unfavourably circumstanced. Several of
the principal proprietors are absentees. Were it
not for the gentlemen of the linen business, and
others whose names occur as residents . . .
There would be little occasion for the following query,
viz., circulation of money or paper."
7. In the State paper, entitled "Motives and Reasons
for inducing the City of London to undertake the
Plantation in the North of Ireland," the king, after
describing the extent of the co. Derry, and defining the
common lands that were to be laid rent free to the city
of Derry and the town of Coleraine, adds, "The rest
to be planted with such undertakers as the city of
London shall think good for their best profit, paying
only for the same the easy rent of the undertakers."
These easy rents are defined by the Articles of Plantation as 6s. 8d. for every 60 acres English, or 1⅓d.
per acre, and are thus held out as a special inducement
to colonization. 3,210 statute acres was the quantity
of land each company undertook to plant. This was
38,520 acres in all, and this, with the 7,000 acres given
the city of Derry, and town of Coleraine, and the waste
lands adjoining the several proportions, was all the
King intended granting to the society and the companies. As it turned out, however, by some mistake,
90,000 acres, in addition to the waste lands, were
obtained. For 38,520 acres only, the companies pay
the Crown rent of 5l. 6s. 8d. per 1,000 acres, though
90,000 acres, in addition to bogs, mountains, and
waste, were granted them. The area of these waste
lands was in round numbers 173,700 statute acres, so
that the lands held originally by the society and the 12
companies comprised altogether 263,700 statute acres.
8. After the plantation of the county was undertaken
each company built a castle, with a bawn attached, and
it is believed assisted a few of the first settlers in
building houses around the castles, in such a manner
as to furnish a garrison and provide outworks for its
defence; but the buildings thus erected by the companies would not be value for more than 1,000l. yearly.
From the middle of the 17th century, when the estates
were leased to middlemen up till recently, when they
resumed possession of the estates, the companies do
not seem to have spent a single penny in forwarding
the work of the plantation. During the reign of the
middlemen no assistance whatever was given the
tenants in the reclamation or improvement of the
estates. Since the estates came into the hands of
the companies some of them have advanced money to
the tenants to assist them in building and draining,
but the sums advanced in this way would not amount
in all to more than 15,000l. or 20,000l., and nearly the
whole of this was advanced by way of loan, the tenants
paying in some cases 4, and in others 5 per cent. on
the amount borrowed. The county roads are made and
maintained out of the county cess, all of which is paid
by the occupying tenants. The farm roads on the
companies' estates have, with a few exceptions barely
worth mentioning, been made at the sole expense of
the tenants. The farm houses, farm buildings, and all
drains and fences on the various holdings on the companies' estates, have been made by the occupying
tenants without any assistance, except what has been
already mentioned. The tenants on the companies'
estates, since the time of the plantation, have reclaimed
at their own expense 130,000 acres of waste lands. By
their own labour and expenditure they have increased
the annual value of the estates from 1,800l. a year,
which is the estimated value of the society's and companies' estates in 1609, to 160,000l., which is, in round
numbers, the present rental of the estates. During
this whole period they have been paying the full value
of their holdings, though the greater part of that value
was created by their own expenditure. Between buildings, roads, drains, fences, and reclamation the tenants
have sunk in permanent improvements at least 10l.
per acre for every acre of arable land on the estates,
or upward of 2,000,000l. in all. Five per cent. on this
would be 100,000l. per annum. The present tenement
valuation is now about 136,000l., and the present rental
is nearly 160,000l. Assuming that what was worth
1,800l. a year in 1609 would, by reason of the companies' expenditure and the change in the value of
money now be worth 60,000l. a year, the tenants are
paying, in the shape of rent, interest at 5 per cent. on
their own expenditure, and as the money expended on
these improvements has barely yielded a return of 5
per cent. (agricultural improvements in the north of
Ireland seldom increase the letting value of lands to
the extent of 5 per cent. on the expenditure), it is clear
the tenants have been paying rent on the whole increased value, and have not been recouped in any way
for their outlay. The companies' estates, after allowing
for all necessary outgoings, are now value for about
3,000,000l. Of this at least two thirds have been created
by, and should in justice be, the property of the tenants,
and under the Land Law (Ireland) Act, 1881, it would
be theirs in point of law if the Act were fully and fearlessly administered.
9. The following tables show the valuations and rents
of the companies' estates at various periods:—
10. The companies resumed possession of their estates during the present century as the leases to the
middlemen expired; as soon as they got possession
they had the estates re-valued, and in most instances
raised the rents, though the middlemen had previously,
as Mr. Slade states, imposed rents on the tenants "far
beyond what could possibly be derived from the
product of the soil," the rents being paid out of the
profits of the loom. The Skinners' Company raised
the rental by about 2,000l. a year over what the middleman, Mr. Ogilby, had been receiving. The rental of
this estate was 5,000l. a year in 1803, and in that year
Mr. Robert Ogilby paid the company a fine of 25,000l.
for a lease of three lives and 61 years, subject to a rent
of 1,500l. a year. Mr. Ogilby had entered into a
covenant to observe the Articles of Plantation, but immediately he got his lease in 1803 he raised the rental
to 16,000l. yearly. When prices fell on the termination
of Napoleon's wars, the tenants were unable to pay
these rents, and Mr. Ogilby was obliged to reduce the
rental to 13,000l.; it was again reduced at the time of
the Famine to 11,800l. When the lease expired in
1872, the company resumed possession and again raised
the rental to upwards of 13,000l., neither the company
nor the middleman, in the meantime, having spent a
shilling in improving the property.
The Fishmongers' estate was held by the Beresford
family, who paid the company a rent of 400l. yearly,
and exacted 2,000l. a year from the tenants. The last
lease to the Earl of Tyrone expired in 1820; the company
then resumed possession, re-valued the estate, and
raised the rental to nearly 10,000l. a year. The tenants
who had improved most were subjected to the largest
increases, some being raised as much as 1,000 per
cent. on the rent payable to the middleman. I have
the receipts of one holding the rent of which was
8l. 15s. 6d. in 1820, and is now 66l.; and in another
case, the rent was raised from 7l. 10s. to 75l. yearly.
In these cases the greater part of the holdings was
drained and reclaimed by the tenants, and all buildings
and fences erected by them—neither company nor
middleman contributing anything to the expense.
Similar examples of increases of rent charged on
tenants' improvements will be found on any of the
11. It is clear that the companies have violated the
Articles of Plantation, and have hindered, instead of
assisted, the development of the resources of the
county, and that the only way of securing to the
tenants the fruits of their own industry, and to ensure
the full development of the estates, is to convert the
occupiers into absolute owners of their own holdings.
The tenants are intelligent, thrifty, and industrious;
they have special rights under the Articles of Plantation, and are entitled to special consideration by reason
of the vast amount of capital they have sunk in the
improvement of their holdings. No difficulties can
arise in the transfer as the estates are not subject to
any charges or incumbrances. The companies estates
therefore present the best possible opportunity for increasing the number of occupying proprietors in Ireland.
As a large part of the rental is charged on the
tenant's improvements, there is considerable difficulty
in ascertaining what would be a fair price to be paid
by the tenants until fair rents be fixed. I know, however, that the tenants would be willing to adopt any
scheme which would even partially recognise their
claims, and would enable them to become owners of
their holdings on reasonable terms. In my opinion
the Government valuation of the land, exclusive of
houses, would be the proper basis on which to fix the
amount of the purchase money; and though by the
scheme I propose, the tenant would, in many cases,
be purchasing part of his own improvements, I am
satisfied that, for the purpose of becoming independent
of future interference, the tenants would, in a body,
be willing to pay from 17 to 20 years' purchase of the
Government valuation of the land. They are, however,
so impoverished by rackrenting and bad seasons, that
not more than a fourth of them could pay any portion
of the purchase money in hand; and in order to make
a purchase by the tenants feasible at all, it would be
absolutely necessary that the whole of the purchase
money should be advanced to them. Under the Act
of 1881 the land commission have power to advance
three fourths of the purchase money to the tenants,
and the tenants entertain the hope that Parliament
will shortly empower the commission to make the
advance repayable by fifty-two yearly instalments
of 3¾ per cent. on the amount of the loan. In
my opinion, the companies should leave out the remaining fourth on the same terms. Considering the amount
of money the tenants have invested in their holdings,
and their character as thrifty, industrious, and lawabiding people, I am of opinion that that both the
Government and the companies would be perfectly safe
in lending the tenants the whole of the purchase money,
and that the tenants would be able to pay the instalments suggested without difficulty.
12. The disposition of the purchase money is a matter
of the last importance. There can, I think, be little
doubt that the companies are not private owners, but
trustees of these estates for public purposes. The
Articles of Plantation, the Charter of the Irish Society,
the declarations of King James and his Privy Council,
the interference of the Crown with the companies' estates, the cancelling by the Star Chamber of the grants
to the companies for breaches of "The Articles of Plantation," and the judgment of the House of Lords in the
case of the Skinners' Company against the Irish Society,
all point unerringly to this conclusion. They point
with equal force to the conclusion that the purposes of
the trust are purely local. The Irish Society and the
companies have all along recognised this fact. It has
been judicially declared that the Society's estates are
held for the benefit of public of the locality. The companies derive their title through the Irish Society, and
so far as can be seen, hold their estate subject to the
same trusts. Since the estates have come into the hands
of the companies, they have themselves recognised the
trusts by expending a considerable portion of their rental
on charitable, religious, and educational objects, and in
the relief of the poor on their estates. The Grocers'
Company, for example, whose estate was sold several
years ago, still recognise the public claims on the purchase money by continuing their contributions towards
local, religious, educational, and public purposes. The
Clothworkers' Company sold their estate in 1871 to
Sir Hervey Bruce, but they charged the property with
50l. yearly to the Castlerock, and 50l. yearly to the
Fermoyle Episcopal Churches, and in lieu of an annual
contribution, they gave 1,000l. out of the purchase
money to the Coleraine Town Commissioners in trust
for the Coleraine Academical Institution. They left
out 75,000l. of the purchase money on a mortgage of
the estate. On this Sir Hervey Bruce was to pay 4 per
cent. interest; but to enable Sir Hervey to give suitable contributions for educational and charitable purposes connected with the estate, as I am informed, they
made an abatement of half the interest or 1,500l. a year.
Of this 1,500l., however, Sir Hervey, up to the present,
so far as I can discover, has given only about 150l. a
year for the purposes intended.
But the county has a further claim on the purchase money, on the ground that it was the labour
and capital of the tenants that raised the estates to
their present value, and that any application of the
fruits of their industry and thrift to purposes in which
they had no interest would be unjustifiable. As already
stated, the lands were to be let to English and Scottish
settlers in accordance with "The Articles of Plantation" at 6s. 8d. for every 60 acres, statute measure. It
would appear from the "Articles of Plantation," and
from the "Statement of Profits to be derived from the
Plantation by the City of London," that no increase
of this rent was contemplated. This view is strengthened
when we remember that manors were created on all the
estates on which there grew up the tenant's right of
renewal, referred to in pages 107, 128, and 135 of the
Concise View published in 1822. The violation by the
companies of this right of removal at the rent fixed by
the Articles, and their failure to perform these Articles,
and the conditions of their trust are adequate reasons
now, as in the time of Charles I., for the interference of
the State, apart altogether from the facts that the companies are corporate bodies and non-resident, which furnish additional reasons for State interference. And
once that point is established, it seems to be clear the
proceeds of the sale should be devoted to public purposes in Ireland, and that care should be taken that the
tenants should be secured the right of pre-emption on
such terms as would do justice to the claims created
by the toil and capital of themselves and their predecessors.
I would suggest that at least a fourth of the purchase
money should be applied in reduction of the county
rates, and that the remainder should be applied to
public purposes, and in the development of the natural
resources of the county and district, in the benefits of
which the whole of the inhabitants of the county, and
of a good part of the Province of Ulster, would participate.
Motives and Reasons to induce the City of London to
undertake the Plantation in the North of Ireland.
"The late ruinated city of Derry, situated upon the
river of Lough Foyle, navigable with good vessels above
the Derry, and one other place at or near the castle of
Coleraine, situate upon the river of Bann, navigable
with small vessels only, by reason of the bar a little
above Coleraine, do seem to be the fittest places for the
City of London to plant.
"The situation is such, that with small charge and
industry, the aforesaid places, especially Derry, may be
made by land almost impregnable, and so will more
easily afford safety and security to those that shall be
sent thither to inhabit.
"These towns His Majesty may be pleased to grant
unto not only corporations, with such liberties and
privileges for their good government, &c. as shall be
convenient, but also the whole territory and county
betwixt them, which is above 20 miles in length,
bounded by the sea on the north, the river Bann on the
east, and the river of Derry or Lough Foyle on the
west, out of which 1,000 acres more may be allotted to
each of the towns for their commons rent free; the
rest to be planted with such undertakers as the City of
London shall think good for their best profit, paying only
for the same the easy rent of the undertakers.
"His Majesty may be pleased to grant to these towns
the benefit of all the customs of all goods to be imported
hither, or exported thence, as well poundage and tonnage
as the great and small customs, for 21 years, paying
yearly 6s. 8d. as an acknowledgment.
"Furthermore, that His Majesty will be pleased to
buy from the possessors the salmon fishing of the rivers
of Bann and Lough Foyle, and out of his princely
bounty to bestow the same upon those towns (for their
better encouragement), which some years proveth very
plentiful and profitable.
"And likewise to grant them licenses to transport
all prohibited wares growing upon their own lands.
"And likewise the Admiralty in the coasts of Tyrconnel and Coleraine now, as is supposed, in the Lord
Deputy by the Lord Admiral's grant, may be, by His
Majesty's means, transferred unto them for the term of
The Land Commodities which the North of Ireland
"The country is well watered, generally by abundance
of springs, brooks, and rivers, and plenty of fuel, either
by means of wood, or where that is wanting, of good
and wholesome turf.
"It yieldeth store of all necessary for man's sustenance, in such measure as may not only maintain itself,
but also furnish the City of London yearly with manifold provision, especially for their fleets, namely, with
beef, pork, fish, rye, bere, peas, and beans, which will
also in some years help the dearth of the city and
country about, and the storehouses appointed for the
relief of the poor.
"As it is fit for all sorts of husbandry, so for breeding of mares and increase of cattle it doth excel, whence
may be expected plenty of butter, cheese, hides, and
"English sheep will breed abundantly in Ireland.
The sea coast and nature of the soil being very wholesome for them, and if need were, wool might be had
cheaply and plentifully out of the west parts of Scotland.
"It is held to be good in many places for madder,
hops, and woad.
"It affordeth fells of all sort in great quantity, red
deer, foxes, sheep, lambs, rabbits, martins, squirrels, &c.
"Hemp and flax do more naturally grow there than
elsewhere, which, being well regarded, might give
great provision for canvas, cable cording, and such like
requisite for shipping, besides thread, linen, cloth, and
all stuffs made of linen yarn, which is more fine and
plentiful there than in all the rest of the kingdom.
Materials for building, timber, stone of all sorts, lime,
stone, slate and shingle, are afforded in most parts of
the country, and the soil is good for brick and tile.
"Materials for building of ships (excepting tar) are
there to be had in plenty; and in the country adjoining,
the goodliest and largest timber in the woods of Glanconkene, and Killetroughe, that may be, and may
compare with any in His Majesty's dominions, which
may easily be brought to the sea by Lough Neagh and
the river of the Bann. The fir masts, of all sorts, may
be had out of Lochabar, in Scotland, not far distant
from the north of Ireland, much more easily than from
Norway; other sorts of wood do afford many services
for pipe staves, hogshead staves, barrel staves, hoop
staves, clapboard staves, wainscot, soap, and dyeing
ashes, glass and iron work, for iron and copper ore are
there plentifully had.
"The country is very plentiful for honey and wax."
The Sea and River Commodities.
"First. The harbour of the river of Derry is exceedingly good, and the road of Portrush and Lough Swilly,
not far distant from the Derry, tolerable.
"The sea fishing of that coast very plentiful of all
manner of usual sea fish, especially herrings and eels,
there being yearly, after Michaelmas, for taking of
herrings about seven or eight score sail of his Majesty's
subjects, and strangers for lading, besides an infinite
number of boats for fishing and killing.
"Great and profitable fishing are in the next adjacent
isles of Scotland, where many Hollanders do fish all the
summer season, and do plentifully vend their fish in
Spain and within the Straits.
"Much train or fish oil of seal, herrings, &c., may
be made upon that coast.
"As the sea yieldeth very great plenty and variety
of the sea fish, so doth the coast afford abundance of
all manner of sea foul, and the rivers greater store of
fresh fish than any of the rivers in England.
"There be also some store of good pearls upon this
coast, especially within the river of Lough Foyle.
"The coasts be ready for traffic with England and
Scotland, and for supply of provision from or to them,
and do lie open and convenient for Spain and the Straits,
and fittest and nearest for Newfoundland."
The Profits which London shall receive by this
"If multitudes of men were employed proportionably
to these commodities which might be there by industry
attained, many thousands would be set on work to the
great service of the King, strength of his realm, advancement of several trades, and benefit of particular
persons whom the infinite increasing greatness (that
often doth minister occasion of ruin to itself) of this
city might not only conveniently spare, but also reap a
singular commodity, by easing themselves of an insupportable burthen, which so surcharged all the parts
of the city, that one tradesman can scarce live by
another, which in all probability would be a means also
and preserve the city from infection; and by consequence the whole kingdom, which, of necessity, must
have recourse thither, which persons, pestered or closed
up together, can neither otherwise or very hardly
"These colonies may be a means to utter infinite commodities from London, to furnish the whole north of
Ireland, which may be transported by means of the
rivers of Bann and Lough into the counties of Coleraine,
Donegal, Tyrone, Armagh, and Antrim.
"The city of Dublin, being desolate by the slaughter
of the easterlings, who were the ancient inhabitants
thereof, was given by King Henry the Second to the
city of Bristol, to be inhabited, which, without any
charge to the King, Bristol did undertake, and performed it, whose posterity doth there continue unto
this day. This plantation thus performed to the perpetual commendation of Bristol, was not the least cause
of civilizing and securing that part of the country.
"It were to be wished this noble precedent were
followed by the city of London in these times, with so
much the more alacrity, as inability and means they
excel them, and so much the rather for that the commodities which the city of London shall reap thereby do
far surpass the profit that could redound to Bristol by
Orders and Conditions or Articles of Plantation.
"First. The proportion of land to be distributed to
undertakers shall be of three different qualities, consisting of sundry parcels or precincts of land, called by
Irish names, used and known in the several counties,
viz.: Balibetagh's Quarters, Balliboes Fathes and Polls.
The first and least proportion to contain such and so
many of the said parcels as shall make up 1,000 English
acres at least, and the second or middle proportions to
contain such, or so many of the said parcels as shall
make up 1,500 English acres at the least, and the last or
greatest proportion to contain such or so many of the
said parcels as shall make up 2,000 English acres at the
least, to every of which proportion shall be allowed such
quantity of bog or wood as the country shall conveniently afford.
"Second. The persons of the undertakers of the
several proportions shall be of three sorts, viz., 1st.
English or Scottish, as well servitors as others, who are
to plant their portions with English, or inland Scottish
inhabitants; 2nd. servitors in the kingdom of Ireland,
who may take mere Irish, English, or inland Scottish
tenants, at their choice; 3rd. natives of Ireland, who
are to be made freeholders.
"Third. His Majesty will reserve unto himself the
appointment in what county every undertaker shall
have his portion. But to avoid emulation and contro
versy, which would arise among them if every man
should choose the place where he would be planted, his
Majesty's pleasure is, that the scites or places of their
portions in every county shall be distributed by lot.
"Lastly. The several articles ensuing are to be observed as well on his Majesty's behalf as of the several
(fn. 5) "Articles concerning the English and Scottish
undertakers who are to plant their portions with
English and inland Scottish tenants:—
"First. His Majesty is pleased to grant estates in
fee farm to them and their heirs.
"Second. They shall yearly yield unto his Majesty,
for every proportion of 1,000 acres, 5l. 6s. 8d. English,
and so rateably for the greater proportions, which is
after the rate of 6s. 8d. for every 60 English acres. But
none of the said undertakers shall pay any rent until
the expiration of the first two years, except the natives
of Ireland who are not subject to the charge of transportation.
"Third. Every undertaker of so much land as shall
amount to the greatest proportion of 2,000 acres or
thereabouts, shall hold the same by knight's service
in capite, and every undertaker of so much land as shall
amount to the middle proportion of 1,500 acres, or thereabouts, shall hold the same by knight service as of the
castle of Dublin, and every undertaker of so much land
as shall amount to the least proportion of 1,000 acres, or
thereabouts, shall hold the same in common soccage,
and there shall be no wardship upon the two first
descents of that land.
"Fourth. Every undertaker of the greatest proportion of 2,000 acres shall, within two years after the date
of his letters patent, build thereupon a castle with a
strong court or bawn about it, and every undertaker
of the second or middle proportion of 1,500 acres shall,
within the same time, build a stone or brick house
thereupon, with a strong court or bawn about it, and
every undertaker of the least proportion of 1,000 acres
shall, within the same time, make thereupon a strong
court or bawn at least. And all the said undertakers
shall draw their tenants to build houses for themselves
and their families near the principal castle, house, or
bawn, for their mutual defence and strength, and they
shall have sufficient timber, but the assignment of such
officers as the Lord Deputy and Council of Ireland shall
appoint, out of His Majesty's woods in that province
for the same buildings, without paying anything for
the same during the said two years, and to that end
there shall be a present inhibition to restrain the felling
or destruction of the said woods in the meantime for
what cause soever.
"Fifth. The said undertakers, their heirs and assigns,
shall have ready in their houses at all times, a convenient store of arms, wherewith they may furnish a
competent number of able men for their defence, which
may be viewed and mustered every half year, according
to the manner of England.
"Sixth. Every of the said undertakers, English or
Scottish, before the ensealing of his letters patent, shall
take the Oath of Supremacy, either in the Chancery of
England or Ireland, or before the commissioners to be
appointed for establishing of the plantation, and shall
also conform themselves in religion according to His
"Seventh. The undertakers, their heirs and assigns,
shall not alien or demise their portions, or any part
thereof, to the mere Irish, or to such persons as will
not take the oath, which the said undertakers are bound
to take, by the former Article, and to that end a proviso
shall be inserted in their letters patent.
"Eighth. Every undertaker shall, within two years
after the date of his letters patent, plant or place a competent number of English or inland Scottish tenants
upon his proportion, in such manner as by the commissioner to be appointed for the establishment of this
plantation, shall be prescribed.
"Ninth. Every of the said undertakers, for the space
of five years next after the date of his letters patent,
shall be resident in person himself upon his portion, or
place some such other person thereupon, as shall be
allowed by the State of England or Ireland, who shall
be likewise resident there during the said five years,
unless by reason of sicknes or other important cause, he
be licensed by the Lord Deputy and Counsel of Ireland
to absent himself for a time.
"Tenth. The said undertakers shall not alien their
portions during five years next after the date of their
letters patent, but in this manner, viz.:—one third
part in fee farm, another third part for forty years or
under, reserving to themselves the other third part
without alienation during the said five years; but after
the said five years they shall be at liberty to alien to all
persons, except the mere Irish and such persons as will
not take the oath which the said undertakers are to take
" Eleventh. The said undertakers shall have power
to erect manors, to hold courts baron twice every year
to create tenures; to hold of themselves upon alienation
of any part of their said portions, so as the same do not
exceed the moiety thereof.
"Twelfth. The said undertakers shall not demise
any part of their lands at will only, but shall make
certain estates for years, for life, in tail, or in fee
"Thirteenth. No uncertain rent shall be reserved
by the said undertakers, but the same shall be expressly
set down, without reference to the custom of the
country; and a proviso shall be inserted in their letters
patent against cuttings, cosheries, and other Irish
exactions upon their tenants.
"Fourteenth. The said undertakers, their heirs and
assigns, during the space of seven years next ensuing,
shall have power to transport all commodities growing
upon their own lands, which they shall hold by those
letters patent, without paying any custom or imposition
for the same.
"Fifteenth. It shall be lawful for the said undertakers for the space of five years next ensuing, to send
for and bring into Ireland, out of Great Britain, victual
and utensils for their household materials, and tools
for building and husbandry, and cattle to stock and
manure the lands aforesaid, without paying any custom
for the same, which shall not extend to any commodities
by way of merchandise.
Certain General Propositions to be notified to the
Undertakers of all sorts.
"First. That there shall be commissioners appointed
for the setting forth of the several proportions, and for
the ordering and settling of the plantation, according to
such instructions as shall be given unto them by His
Majesty in that behalf.
"Second. That all the said undertakers shall, by
themselves, or by such as the estates of England or
Ireland shall allow of, attend the said commissioners in
Ireland, at or before midsummer next, to receive such
directions touching their plantations as shall be thought
"Third. That every undertaker before the ensealing
of his letters patent shall enter into bond or recognisance with good sureties to his Majesty's use in the
office of his Majesty's chief remembrancer in England
or Ireland, or in his Majesty's Exchequer or Chancery
in Scotland, or else before two of the Commissioners to
be appointed for the plantation, to perform the aforesaid
Articles according to their several distinctions of building, planting, residence, alienation, within five years,
and making of certain estates to their tenants in this
manner, viz., the undertaker of the greatest proportion
to become bound in 400l., of the middle proportion in
300l., and of the least proportion in 200l.
"Fourth. That in every of the said counties there
shall be a convenient number of market towns and
corporations erected for the habitation and settling of
tradesmen and artificers, and that there shall be one
free school at least appointed in every county for the
education of youth in learning and religion.
"Fifth. That there shall be a convenient number of
parishes and parish churches, with sufficient incumbents
in every county, and that the parishioners shall pay all
their tithes in kind, to the incumbents of the said
1956. (Chairman to Rev. W. McKay.) We shall
be very glad to hear what you have to state to
the Commission; I think you represent the tenants
of the Ironmongers' Company?— (fn. 6) I do. What I
have got to say will be very brief. My evidence
is printed, and what has been said by Dr. Todd
holds good. In regard to the tenantry on the Ironmongers' estate, they would be desirous to become
owners of their holdings if they could do so on favourable terms. Only a few of them would be able to
provide the fourth in addition to the three fourths
supplied by the Government; we have been enter-
taining the hope that the company (which I think is
disposed to sell, I mean the Ironmongers' Company)
may perhaps supply the other fourth to the tenants,
who would be unable to get it within themselves,
receiving interest on the same terms (or on such terms
as might be fixed) as the Government.
1957. That is to say, you would spread the payment
over 40 or 50 years?—A period of 40 or 50 years on
this fourth, that would be wanting.
1958. And in the event of these tenants (who Mr.
Todd has told us are many of them so poor that they
cannot find even one fourth or one fifth of the purchase money), or in the event of some of them, being
unable to keep up the annual payments, what would
happen then?—In that case I suppose there must be
a sale of the farm, but I should think that the cases
would be few and far between, speaking from what
little experience I have of the tenants who purchased
on the Waterford estate. A goodly number of the
tenants on the Waterford estate are members of my
congregation; and from my experience not a single
farm yet has been sold. There are two or three farms,
I think, which must be sold, but the tenants of those
farms were deeply in debt before the purchase. Each
year that they pay the interest upon the money the
property becomes of so much more value. 35 years
would dispose of the whole of the Government advance
of two thirds.
1959. Then I suppose that none of those tenants
that you refer to are much in arrear now?—I do not
think that many of the tenants on the Ironmongers'
estate are in arrear. A few of them are, owing to the
very bad seasons we have had of late. We had very
unfavourable seasons, which no doubt your Lordship
is aware of, and in consequence of that many of the
tenants were not able to pay their rents as usual;
but still I would like to think that it is not very
1960. That they are in arrear, you mean?—Not
generally, I should think.
1961. And at the same time they were unable to
contribute the smallest per-centage to the purchase
money of the farms which they wish to hold?—Many
of the tenants that had a little saved have, during the
last four or five years, had to draw upon it to pay the
rents. Four or five years ago there was far more
money among the tenants than at the present moment.
It has been used up in consequence of the bad
1962. Is it not a common thing in all countries for
a man who wishes to buy an estate and has capital
only to buy say one half of it to obtain the other
half on mortgage?—I daresay it is.
1963. What is the objection to that course here?—
I do not know any objection to it. According to
the Land Act there is permission for a second mortgage upon property where the tenants become
peasant proprietors, and our idea was that perhaps as
the company would have the money to lend, they
might lend this one fourth to as many tenants as
would need it, and as a second mortgagee receive the
interest upon the same.
1964. In the case of the company's estates that you
represent, have they taken any steps to get their
rents settled?—We have had no cases tried in the Land
Court as yet. There are only a few tenants who have
served originating notices. I might say that the Ironmongers' Company for some years have been talking
of selling the estate, and the estate is now partitioned
or divided among the different companies, that is,
among the Ironmongers' Company and the six minor
companies. And what the end may be we do not
know. I was authorised by the tenants to say that
the tenantry would regret extremely to see the property pass out of the hands of the company otherwise
than by sale to the occupying tenants. The idea of
that is this, that unless the tenants could become
owners of their own holdings they do not wish to
change landlords. They consider that they are quite
as safe if not more so under the company than they
would be under any individual private landlord. Of
course under the present Land Act no man can extort
more than what may be considered a fair rent, but we
have no wish to get rid of them unless we can
become owners of our own holdings. I hold I may
say a small farm under the company myself.
1965. (Sir S. Waterlow.) Do you know anything
of the gross rental of the Ironmongers' estate?—I
think it is about 7,000l.
1966. Do you know anything of the amount which
the company spend in the district of the estate out of
the gross rental of 7,000l.?—They give to schools or
to schoolmasters from 10l. to 15l. a year, and I think
there may be from 12 to 16 schools upon the estate.
Latterly they have given 10l. a year to the ministers
of the different religious denominations in the district
where their tenants or a portion of their tenants are.
I may say that I received the first 10l. last year myself, but it is only latterly that they have given anything, specially to the ministers of the Presbyterian
Church. They give a little in charities, but I could
not say how much—I mean towards the poor of the
district in the way of clothing during the winter.
They used to give draining pipes to the tenants, and
they used to give them tiles for roofing office houses.
That latterly has been discontinued; the tiles were
not a success, and many of the farmers did not much
care for them, and the tile yard has passed out of the
hands of the company and been let to a private gentleman as a speculation.
1967. Should you be surprised to hear that in 1878
and 1879 they spent 3,200l. out of the 7,000l. gross
rental, and that in 1879–80 they spent 3,100l. out of
the gross rental of 7,000l. ?—I should be astonished
indeed, only that I now am reminded of the fact that
we have got constructed what is known as the Derry
Central Railway, and they gave the land gratis, I
understand, for that, and each company, the Ironmongers' and the Mercers', are responsible for the interest upon, I think 17,000l. for 23 years. I think
they must count that, because it would be utterly impossible for them to have spent the amount you
mention on the property in any other way, I should
1968. Can you tell the Commission about, on an
average, how many years' purchase the tenant right is
worth on the Ironmongers' estate?—The Ironmongers'
Company limited the tenant right to 10 years' purchase
until the passing of the Land Act of 1881, but since
that we have had no sales, or almost none, I think, on
the estate, but I should say it would vary according
to the quality of the farm from 12 to perhaps 20 years'
purchase. Tenant right sells very high in county
Derry, as, no doubt, you are aware.
1969. And you think that on the Ironmongers'
Company's estate it would sell from 12 to 20 years'
purchase?—I have no doubt it would, according to
the quality of the land and the district of the country.
1970. The Ironmongers' manage it with the other
associated companies, do they not, and none of the
others interfere?— There are six minor companies, if
I am correct, who take part in it.
1971. The Ironmongers' Company alone manage the
estate, do they not?—No, there is a member from each
minor company that makes six, and then there are six
members of the Ironmongers' Company. The committee consists, I think, of 12, one representative from
each of the minor companies and six representatives
from the Ironmongers' Company.
1972. Have you any idea of the total number of
tenants on the estate, speaking roughly?—I really
cannot answer that question. I know there are 42
town lands, but I could not ascertain the number of
the tenants before I left home.
1973. Do you think there are 150?—I should think
1974. And none of them have taken their landlord
into the Land Court, have they?—Yes, notices have
been served by a few, but not by many.
1975. Do you think that as many as 10 have served
notices?—I daresay there may be more than 10, but
I think not more than 20.
1976. There have been no cases settled?—None
1977. Have the company endeavoured thus to make
arrangements to prevent the necessity of going into
the Land Court?—There has been no move made in
that direction so far as I know.
1978. (Mr. Firth.) Is there tenant right on all the
Ironmongers' property, so far as you know?—On
1979. And I suppose that would be a security over
and above the money advanced?—Precisely so. Then
we consider that the security becomes better every
year. For example, take the tenants that purchased
Lord Waterford's property; their property is worth a
great deal more now than it was 10 years ago when
they purchased, because they have paid interest and
two thirds of the money from that day to this;
consequently the property is of much greater value,
and where it has to be sold, as will be the case with
two or three who were in debt before they purchased,
the property is of more value now than when they
1980. Let me ask you how you fix 16 to 20 years'
purchase. Is that fixed for any reason?—It is just
to leave a margin. It is just a general statement,
we could not say exactly what it should be.
1981. (Mr. James.) Do the Ironmongers' Company
make an annual visitation?—A triennial—every three
years they pay a running visit.
1982. What is the average size of the farms?—
They vary very considerably. We have some of 50
acres, though only a very few; perhaps there are a
few above that; but they run, say, from 15 and 20
acres down to 5 acres.
1983. Do you anticipate in the event of the tenants
becoming owners of their farms that any of them
would sublet a portion of the farm, or continue its
cultivation themselves?—I would not allow them to
purchase on condition that they could sublet. They
are strictly forbidden to sublet under the Bright's
clauses; if they do sublet they forfeit their right,
and the Board of Works may sell. None have attempted to sublet, and I know a good dea about them
in my own district.
1984. Do you think that that is an arbitrary restriction?—It is one I would heartily concur in. I
think it would be very injurious to their own interests
to allow them to sublet what is already too small.
I might say, moreover that there is a marked change
on those farms that were purchased on the occasion
of the sale of the Marquis of Waterford's property.
Since they purchased improvements have been made
that would not have been made. There is a very
great contrast between those town lands that the
tenants purchased and the town lands that were sold
to private landlords at that time. The tenants are
happy and prosperous, and content and loyal. The
tenants who changed landlords, and got out of the
hands of the Marquis of Waterford into the hands
of private individuals, got their rents doubled, and
sometimes more than that, and they are very far
from being satisfied. The Marquis of Waterford
was one of the best landlords in the north of Ireland.
He had a large property in the county of Derry.
1985. In the case of the Marquis of Waterford's
estate, is it not a fact that not all the purchasers have
remained and cultivated the land themselves, but have
let the farms?— You misunderstand me. I have not
made myself clear. There were town lands where the
tenants did not purchase that were sold to private
individuals. Those private individuals doubled the
rents upon the tenants, and I say there is a marked
contrast between the town lands where the tenants
did purchase and the town lands that were sold to
private individuals. I omitted a statement that I
should have made in one part of my evidence; it is
not material as it is in the printed statement, but
would your lordship permit me to say that in addition
to what the Ironmongers' Company give to schools,
charities, and for religious purposes they have also
given 25l. per annum to the Magee College to found
a scholarship for the sons of farmers upon the estate.
I think it is only fair to give them full credit for all
that they have done.
The following printed statement was supplied by this witness.
I am a tenant on the Ironmongers' estate, holding a
farm of about 30 acres, and have been appointed by the
tenantry on this estate to state to the Commission their
desire to become owners of their holdings on favourable
terms. In present circumstances the tenantry, speaking generally, would require to have the whole of the
purchase money advanced to them on such terms as
would render the annual repayment by the purchaser
about equal to a fair rent, and if such terms could be
obtained, they would be prepared to buy at from 16 to
20 years' purchase.
The Ironmongers' estate, in which six minor companies are interested (the Brewers, the Scriveners, the
Coopers, the Pewterers, the Barbers, the Carpenters)
contains about 13,000 statute acres. The company,
with the associated minor companies, having raised
for plantation purposes a sum of about 3,000l. in the
time of James I., obtained possession of the estate.
Shortly afterwards this estate was leased to a middleman, and the company did not resume possession till
about 1840. The tenants were left to make all necessary improvements, the company having no direct connexion with the estate during a long period of years.
Since resuming possession, the practice of the company
has been to have a valuation every 21 years. There
have been two valuations since 1840. The present rental
was fixed in 1861. The Ironmongers' Company has
been liberal in its grants to religious and educational
purposes. National school teachers, and Presbyterian,
Roman Catholic, and Episcopalian clergymen receive
annual grants of sums varying from 10l. to 15l. The
company contribute to the repairs of churches and
school-houses. They have established a scholarship in
the Magee College, Derry, of 25l. per annum for the
benefit of the sons and brothers of tenants on their
estate. They have also, to a slight extent, assisted the
tenants from time to time in making necessary improvements.
It is understood that the company has been contemplating a sale of their Irish estate. With a view to
such sale, arrangements have been made to apportion
the estate among the various companies interested.
The tenantry would regret extremely to see the property passing out of the hands of the company otherwise than by sale to the occupying tenants.
1986. (Chairman to the Rev. N. M. Brown.) Do
you represent any particular estate?—I do not. It is
upon the general question that I have to address the
1987. Do you confirm what the other witnesses
have said as to the desire of the tenants to buy the
estates?—I do. I have had considerable experience
with regard to a peasant proprietary (and I wish to
confine myself largely to that particular phase of the
question), inasmuch as I was a purchaser upon Lord
Waterford's estate, and inasmuch as I had the honour
and pleasure of assisting many of those who were
tenants upon the estate to become peasant proprietors.
1988. Then you are able to speak of the success of
the experiment in that case?—I wish to do so.
1989. How long is it since the sale took place?—In
1871, I think, in the month of December.
1990. Have they in all cases been able to hold on
and pay their instalments?—They have. I think they
have paid better upon the whole than any of the
tenants upon any of the estates about, and I am prepared to add that so popular has the purchase scheme
been, that I believe even the tenants upon all the
companies estates are anxious to buy if they could
purchase at a reasonably fair rent.
1991. In the case of Lord Waterford's estate do you
know at how many years' purchase they purchased ?
—I am sorry to say at a very high rate, much higher
than we would just now. We paid on an average
about 30 years' purchase. The rents were somewhat
lower than the Government valuation. That is the
reason why it appears high. In some cases the rent
was fully as high as the Government valuation.
1992. The transaction, as I understand, was a purely
voluntary one on both sides?—It was.
1993. The tenants paid the price they thought the
property worth?—What we could get it at; we were
very willing to purchase at the time.
1994. And they thought it worth 30 years' purchase
of the ordinary rent?—They thought it was well to
purchase even at that rate, because in those days we
had not the provisions of the Act of 1881 which we
have now, and which if we had possessed at that time
I am sure we would not have purchased at such a high
1995. You would have preferred to hold on under
the Act?—I do not say that, but I think we would
have purchased at a much lower rate.
1996. Are you sure you would have been able to
purchase at a much lower rate?—I think we would,
because I think strangers would not have offered so
much for the property, and I think Lord Waterford
who bought back one third of the property would not
have bought it at such a high figure.
1997. Bought back from whom?—In the court,
Lord Waterford's family.
1998. Then if I understand you rightly your idea
is that the tenants ought to purchase at the present
time, at a price lower than they would in normal
periods, because at the present time strangers are not
likely to come in?—We regarded Lord Waterford in
those days as a very good landlord, and if he had held
on we would have been very well content; we were
afraid of new purchasers even under the Act of 1870,
because under the Act of 1870 the landlords still had
the power of raising the rents, therefore to defend ourselves and protect our tenant right we were most
anxious to be purchasers even at a high rate, and we
purchased accordingly. Some 70 lots were purchased
by the tenants at the high rate I speak of.
1999. As I understand you, the tenants of the
companies are peculiarly anxious to purchase at the
present time?—They are, but not at the same figure.
We regard the land as of much lower value when it
is brought into the market now, and I think nowhere
would tenants buy at 30 years' purchase now.
2000. Another part of the proposal is that they
should not find any part of the purchase money themselves?—I should be disposed to say that in Ulster
we might very justly claim the whole of it from
Government, because I think there would be no risk
whatever, inasmuch as the tenant right is so valuable
in Ulster. I would suppose that on legislation there
can be no exception made in favour of Ulster. I
think that whatever legislation is made must be made
for the whole of Ireland, including all the provinces,
therefore I would say that the safe thing for them to
do would be perhaps to give the four fifths of the
money, as was recommended by Mr. Lefevre's committee.
2001. We have had it in evidence from a former
witness that some of the tenants of those estates
were very poor; in fact, that is the reason why it is
desired that four fifths of the purchase money should
be advanced by the State; supposing one or two bad
years were to come, do you think that they would be
able to keep up the annual payments?—I am happy
to say that we have paid hitherto, and we have passed
through as stern an ordeal as we would feel again.
The year 1879, to wit, was an exceedingly severe
year, and others that followed it were very little
better, and yet with all we have paid up the instalments with admirable carefulness and honesty.
2002. You put it in this way, as I understand, that
the tenants are so well off that they could be reckoned
upon to pay, even if a series of bad years should come
in the future, but at the same time they are so impecunious that they cannot afford to advance any part of
the purchase money?—No, I do not mean to say that.
I mean to say if they can live under a landlord and
pay the rent they can live as their own landlord. If
they can live under a landlord and pay the rent, they
could pay the instalment to the Government as well
as to the landlord.
2003. What do you contemplate in the event of
their not being able to pay the instalments?—They
have a valuable property, and I suppose it must be
sold out and the money must be repaid. The Government must not lose. I should say that the Government are thoroughly insured against loss.
2004. You would be prepared, on the part of the
tenants, to accept that result?—I would, certainly.
2005. Do you not think that there would be a great
popular clamour if any man were compelled to part
with his holding in consequence of bad seasons?—
People are always apt to be annoyed if put out, but
after all I think there should not be any clamour in
case a man is only paying his just debts.
2006. (Sir S. Waterlow.) We have been told by
previous witnesses that the tenant right of the property belonging to the livery companies and the
Irish Society is worth from 12 to 20 years' purchase;
do you agree with that ?—Yes, I do.
2007. Then the tenant has a property equal to from
12 to 20 years' value of the rental?—Yes.
2008. Would not that property be a sufficient
security, even if the Government advanced four fifths
of the purchase money?—I think it would.
2009. Suppose that for nonpayment of the stipulated amount of principal and interest the estate
was put up to be sold, say, at the end of two years;
that is to say, the value of the tenant right would be
sufficient to guarantee the Government and the company who advanced the money?—I think it would,
but there would be a difficulty to separate the landlord's interest from the tenant's interest, because the
two would be combined in that case.
2010. Surely if the tenant owed the Government
or owed the landlord for the purchase money, and
only owed two years, and he was sold up, his interest
would be sold as well as the other, and that would be
sufficient to cover the two years' payment, would it
not?—Yes, or much more.
2011. To narrow it into one question, assuming the
tenant right to represent an average value of, say, 16
years' purchase, surely two years' payment would be
more than covered by a 16 years' purchase?—Yes,
in the north the Government would be perfectly
2012. I am only speaking of the property belonging
to the livery companies and the Irish Society, because
upon that point only have you stated that the tenant
right is worth on an average of from 12 to 20 years'
2013. That is as regards those particular properties ?—There is a large tenant right upon them all.
2014. Which would be quite sufficient to secure
against two years' payment?—Yes, I am certain of it.
2015. (Chairman to Mr. R. Stuart.) You represent the Mercers' estate?—I represent the tenantry
on the Mercers' estate.
2016. You have heard what has been said by previous witnesses, do you confirm that?—I do; the
tenants on the Mercers' estate are most anxious to
become the purchasers, the same as they are on the
other estates, and on the same terms as the gentlemen who have preceded me have spoken of.
2017. We understood from the last witness that
their wish was not so much founded upon any ill usage
that they had met with from their landlords as upon
the wish to become proprietors?—The only ill usage
we think they have suffered at the hands of their
landlords is in increase of rent.
2018. That we may take it is dealt with by the
Land Act, and therefore that question cannot arise
again?—No; but the rental some years ago was, of
course, much lower than it is now, and since the year
1832 or 1833 we have had at three different times a
rise of rent, until the rental is now a little over 12,000l.,
or a rise from 8,000l. to 12,000l.
2019. Surely that is not a question of practical
importance now, because if your rent is too high you
have the power of appealing to the Land Court and
getting it reduced?—Yes, but we think we will not
be successful in getting it reduced so low as it was
in 1832 or 1833, and the only great grievance that
the tenantry have to complain of is this great rise of
rent, the rackrent.
2020. I understand you come here because you are
not satisfied that the Land Court will do enough for
you in the way of reduction of the rents?—It is not
so much that as that we are anxious to become the
purchasers of the property.
2021. That is, on the conditions before mentioned,
viz., that you do not pay the money for it down?—
But we will pay for it in the course of time; we do
not want it as a gift; we are willing to pay for it by
2022. In your judgment would the tenants be prepared to offer the same price for the land as would be
offered in ordinary times by outside purchasers?—I
2023. Why?—I think if the land had been sold
about 10 years ago it would have commanded a higher
price than it would do now. I think there are very
few landlords in the country who would wish to purchase an estate at such a high figure as they would
have given for it 10 or 15 years ago, and the tenants
certainly would not be prepared at the present time
to give 20 years' purchase on the enormous rental of
2024. Then part of their demand is, that they shall
obtain the land at an exceptionally low rent?—At a
fair rent. The rental of the estate now is nearly 30
per cent. over the poor law valuation of the land. The
tenants have built all the houses on the estate. In
the very town of Kilrea, with the exception of a few
houses built by the Mercers' Company, they were all
built by the tenantry.
2025. What I want to get at is this, whether you
are contending that the tenant has a claim to buy the
land at a lower rate than its ordinary value in the
market?—They have been paying this rackrent for so
many years that they think they are entitled now to
get some justice from the hands of the landlords, inasmuch as they wish to have the land purchased at a
cheaper rate, or at a lower rate, than any outside purchaser would give for it.
2026. "Some justice " means that they expect to
obtain the land at less than its market value, that is
the way you put it?—They think that they should have
some concession granted to them by the landlords, and
that if the Government could interfere at all in the
matter they would take this into consideration, inasmuch as the tenantry have been very highly rented
for many years.
2027. You put it in this way, that they are entitled
to a retrospective reduction of the rent they have paid
to be taken out of the purchase money?—Certainly.
2028. And perhaps it is the idea that that demand
is reasonable and likely to be complied with that leads
to the general feeling in favour of creating a peasant
2029. That is to say, they are not prepared to buy
their land at the market value, but think that they are
entitled by the help of the legislature to obtain it at a
rate below the market value ?—They would not like
to give a competitive price for it.
2030. The "competitive price " means the price it
would fetch in the market, does it not ?—The price
that an outsider would give for it.
2031. Do not let us have any misunderstanding
about that; you say the tenants are not prepared to
give what would be the market price for outsiders?—
Provided that outsiders would offer a price much
about the same as that which the tenants would be
willing to give, then, of course, the tenants would be
prepared to buy it, but they would not be prepared
to buy it on the enormous rackrent that they are
2032. They would not be prepared to go into the
open market and buy it against any competitor even
if money were advanced?—I cannot answer that
question; we do not know what outsiders would give
for the estate. We think that if we could purchase it
on the basis of the poor law valuation that we would
be quite content to do that, taking off some of the
working expenses of the estate.
2033. Supposing that the companies were compelled to sell their estates, you think they ought to
be compelled to sell them at a low fixed rate to the
tenants rather than make the most that could be made
of them by putting them into the market ?—I think
that the tenants should get the first chance of purchase,
and if the Government would consider that it was a
fair offer on the part of the tenantry that the companies should be bound to take it.
2034. Would you allow a tenant who had bought
in that manner to sell again?—For many years the
tenants have been making up the land, they got it in
a crude state, and for 50 years, and more, they have
been making it up, improving it, building on it, and
making it as valuable as it is now, and I think that
they would be entitled to get it at a low rent.
2035. You do not quite answer the question I endeavoured to put. It is this : supposing the fixed rate
at which you say the tenant is willing to buy is lower
by three or four years' purchase than can be obtained
in the open market (we will take that as a supposition), do you contend that the tenant has a moral
right to purchase at that low fixed rate, and that he
is to be free again to sell, if he pleases, at a higher
rate, because if so that seems to be very much like
making him a present of several years purchase of his
land with the help of the State?—I am not prepared
to answer that question, but I know that the tenants
are anxious on all the estates that I know of to buy
at as cheap a rate as possible, independently of what
they would get for it afterwards; I think that is the
feeling over all the estates.
2036. (Lord Coleridge.) I want to know whether
I quite understand you. You have told Lord Derby,
as I understand (but I do not know whether you
meant to tell him), that you think it would be right
and proper that those tenants should now, in the
present state of things, purchase their property for
less than it is worth ?—The way I would answer that
question is this—
2037. I follow what you have said by a question;
did I rightly understand you to answer Lord Derby
so ?—What I meant to convey was this, that they
would not wish to purchase on a rackrent now,
because if an outsider comes into the market now to
purchase the estate he would purchase on the actual
rental; he would give so many years actual purchase
of the present rental of the estate.
2038. Does it enter into your answer to Lord Derby
that at present the rents are too high, that they can
be reduced by law by going into the court to reduce
them, and that you think that the purchase should
take place upon so many years' purchase of the
reduced rent?—Of the reduced rent.
2039. Is that what you mean?—That is the meaning I intended to convey.
2040. Then that would be open to anybody—to the
outsider as well as to the tenant?—Then the tenant
would compete, I believe, with the outsider.
2041. That course would be open to anybody, viz.,
to go into the Land Court and get the rent reduced.
Suppose I came and took a holding now held by one
of those tenants, upon a perfectly proper arrangement
between myself and him, I could go into the court
and get the rent reduced if it were too high, could I
not?—Of course you could.
2042. So could he?—Of course he could.
2043. Do you mean more than that when that
process has taken place and the rent is reduced to
what you say is a fair rent that then the tenant should
buy at the full value of that reduced rent?—I mean
what I say here in my printed evidence.
2044. A lawyer has a way of liking to have his
questions answered in his own way; do you mean
more than that?—I really do not perfectly understand
you, but if you will kindly permit me to explain
myself I will do so.
2045. If you mean more than that you obviously
do mean what Lord Derby has said; if you do not
mean more than that, it is a qualification of your
answer?—What I mean is, that if a tenant should
purchase, not at the rental they are paying now, but
at the rental which would be fixed by the Land Commission, who have already tried several cases in connexion with the Mercers' Company's estate, and
reduced the rental 20 per cent.
2046. I was going on to say, then when that reduction has taken place, do you mean that the tenant
ought to stand in any advantageous relation to an
outsider, or not ?—I think that the tenants should
get a preference before any outsider, they having
been so long on the estate.
2047. Do you mean that they should pay less ?—I
would like that they should pay less, but I will not
say that they should do it.
2048. Do you put forward the proposition that they
have any claim to pay less?—I think they have a prior
claim to any outsider coming in.
2049. To pay less?—To pay less. I should say
that they have been always prepared since there was
any talk of the purchase of the estate to give a fair
price for the estate; they do not want to take any
advantage of the Mercers' Company.
2050. (Mr. Firth.) Have you got a copy of Lord
Selborne's ultimatum with you?—I have.
2051. Will you kindly hand it in. If the Land
Commission reduce the rent, you say to 9,640l. less
1,900l. for working expenses, the actual rental would
2052. "Purchased at 20 years, 154,800l.; at 18
years' purchase, 139,320l.; at 16 years' purchase,
123,840l.; at which price the tenantry would
willingly purchase " ?—Yes.
2053. Is that the price at which they would
willingly purchase ?—They would willingly purchase
at the low price.
2054. Would they willingly purchase at 20 years ?
—I believe they would.
2055. Would they willingly purchase on a fair rent ?
—On a fair rent.
2056. Twenty years' purchase?—Twenty years'
2057. But you would take the fair rent as settled
by the court?—We should do that, and we should be
obliged to do that; but I think I am perfectly correct
in those figures as to the working expenses on the
estate and the rise of rent that has been imposed on
the tenantry since 1832.
2058. I do not misunderstand you, I hope, as to
the 20 years' purchase. It is 20 years' purchase on
the fair rent, not 20 years' purchase after deducting
something for working expenses. I put the question
about 20 years' purchase upon the fair rent as settled
by the court. Would the tenants be willing to purchase at that rate?—If we could not get it for less we
would take it at that.
2059. I am putting nothing about working expenses. I see something here, in your statement,
which may or may not be important. The question
I put to you is this, do I correctly understand you to
say that the tenantry are willing to purchase on 20
years' purchase upon a fair rent as settled by the
court—yes or no?—They would, by getting four
fifths of the money, extending the repayment over 52
2060. (Lord Coleridge.) Then what do you say
about the working expenses?—I suppose we should
throw them overboard.
(The following printed statement was supplied by this
In the year 1751 the Mercers' Company leased their
estate to Mr. Stewart, of Ards, for three lives, or 61
years, for a fine of 16,300l. and a yearly rent of 420l. The
last of the lives expired in 1832, when the rent of the
estate was 10,443l. When the Mercers' resumed possession they found the land of the estate in a wretched
condition, and the tenantry in a hopeless state of insolvency owing to the rackrents imposed on them by the
middleman, Stewart. The Mercers' purchased from the
heirs of Stewart the arrears of rent due to them by the
tenantry, and swept the same away on receiving from
the tenantry 5s. in the pound. The Mercers', on
resuming possession of their estate, reduced the rental
of 10,443l. to 8,498l., or 19 per cent, nearly. The
tenantry continued to pay their rent up to 1855, when
the Mercers had a revaluation of the estate, the valuers
being Mr. Saunders and Mr. Watney, both Englishmen,
the latter being a member of the Mercers' Company.
These gentlemen increased the rental to 10,260l., or to
within 163l. of the rackrent imposed on them by the
Again, in 1876 the Mercers' sent over Mr. Watney to
again value the estate, but certainly with the object of
increasing the rental. Mr. Watney's valuation was
about 14,000l., an enormous increase to be imposed on
the tenantry, at a time too when there were 259 civil
bill processes issued against the same number of the
tenants, or nearly one fourth of the whole number on
the estate. These processes were issued for nonpayment of rent only. When the tenants were called on
to pay this increase they became alarmed, and resisted
the unreasonable demand; they held public meetings
and appointed a working committee to manage their
affairs. The Mercers' saw that the tenants were prepared for war, and they sent over Lord Selbourne and
three other gentlemen from Mercers' Hall to treat with
the tenants. Lord Selbourne issued an ultimatum to
the tenantry, a copy of which was sent to each tenant
on the estate. The offer held out by this document was
to be final. The ultimatum said that all rents raised
over 40 per cent. would be brought down to 40, with an
abatement of 8 per cent., and all others whose rents
are raised from 28 per cent. and upwards, an abatement
of 8 per cent., and all others whose rents are raised 20
per cent. and upwards, no abatement for them. The
tenantry would not take these terms. Consequently
over 60 of them whose rents were nearest to the Government valuation, or to all appearances were not highly
rented, received notice to quit, and an ejectment process
issued against them. They appeared before the chairman of quarter sessions. Mr. John Rea was attorney
for the tenants. When the case was being argued,
Mr. Rea insulted the chairman, and was committed to
Derry Gaol for 12 days. The tenants were then left
without a solicitor, but the cases went on nevertheless,
and decrees granted against the whole number. Mr. Rea
advised them to appeal to the assizes. They did so;
the judge ruled against them, not on the merits, but
because their claims were not heard in the court of first
instance. They were put into 850l. costs. Mr. Dolling
was removed from the agency, and Sir William Holmes
replaced him. The extravagant rise of rent was manipulated in the rent office, each tenant receiving another
notice of the amount they were to pay. The reductions
brought the amount down to the present rental,
11,769l., but previous to the last rise of rent in 1876
each tenant and cottier paid 1s. a year for the privilege
of cutting turf. Since the litigation with the tenantry
each tenant and cottier pays now 5s. a year for the same
privilege. There are a large number of tenants on the
estate. In 1869 there were 550 holdings on the estate
of less than 10 acres; 350 of less than 20 acres; 150
of less than 40 acres; 60 of upwards of 40 acres;
making in all 1,110 tenants, or thereabouts. It is
safe to calculate that there are still 1,110 using bog
for turf—at 5s. a head gives 277l. 10s.—added to
11,769l. it gives a total of 12,046l. 10s., which I
assume is the actual rental of the estate, being an
increase of 14½ per cent. over the rental paid from the
years 1875 to 1876, which was a period of exceptional
prosperity for the farmers. This last rise brought the
rental 31 per cent. over the poor law valuation. The
valuation of the estate is 9,135l. The tenants built all
the houses and made all the improvements, receiving
no assistance from the landlords save a few arterial
drains, and by-roads for turf drawing. In many instances the tenants were called on to contribute towards
their maintenance. The rental over the valuation is
now 2,911l. The Sub-Commissioners held a court in
Kilrea, the chief town on the Mercers' estate, and heard
a number of cases, some of them from adjoining estates.
The landlords were represented by two Queen's counsel.
one of them Mr. Holmes, late Solicitor-General, and
the other equally as eminent; also two able solicitors,
London valuators, and Mr. Murphy. The tenants had
two attorneys. The cases were ably argued on both
sides, the result being that the rents of the tenantry
whose cases came before the Commission were reduced
fully 20 per cent.
Assuming that all the other cases of the tenants be
disposed of on the same basis, it would bring the
rental of the land and bog down to 9,640l., which
would be 505l. over the Government valuation. The
Mercers' spend annually large sums of money in working
the estate. The agent receives 800l. a year, a splendid
mansion and land adjoining, altogether worth 1,000l.
a year or nearly. Two clerks, one receiving 150l. the
other 80l., an office keeper at 30l., a surveyor 130l., a
clerk in the Irish office, London, at 400l., and expenses
for deputation coming every year 100l., or in round
numbers nearly 1,900l. Assuming that the rental after
being cut down by the Land Commission be 9,640l.,
less 1,900l. for working expenses, it would leave the
actual rental 7,740l., purchased at 20 years, 154,800l.;
at 18 years' purchase, 139,320l.; at 16 years' purchase,
123,840l., at which price the tenantry would willingly
The Mercers' land is of an agricultural nature. It
is not rich enough in soil to be good fattening grass
land. There is none of it that I am aware of set apart
for grazing farms, unless on the wild mountain land.
As a rule, no wheat nor barley is grown on it; if any,
it is of no account. The principal crops are potatoes,
oats, and flax. Then three or four years' rest, and
then the same rotation again. The flax grown on the
estate is of a poor quality, much inferior to flax grown
in the counties of Down, Antrim, and Armagh. It is
mostly all hand-scutched. It loses a large per-centage.
When scutched at the flax mill it is considered so inferior that merchants and spinners from Belfast do not
care to purchase it. It yields so badly, and consequently is bought at a price so low, that it does not
remunerate the farmer. We have no public works on
this estate, with the exception of a small beetling engine
concern for linen cloth. No manufactories to give
employment to our people. When the young grow up
they emigrate, such of them as can find the means of
doing so. Those who cannot go to England and Scotland. Much of their earnings come back to the estate
to pay the rent. Had it not been for the Irish boys
and girls who emigrated from this country and sent
home tens of thousands of pounds, the rents would
now be reduced more than 50 per cent., for their savings
and much of the produce of the land at home went into
the pockets of the landlords.
The Mercers' Company do not encourage any extension of the towns of Kilrea and Swatera. They will
grant no building leases for longer than 61 years, and
there are few who care to invest their capital on such
short tenure. I have heard that they are not at all
anxious to give any more leases, even for 61 years.
Capitalists and manufacturers would have settled
long ago on the Mercers' property, on their side of the
Bann, had they got leases in perpetuity. The Bann
flows from Lough Neagh to the sea near Coleraine.
Lough Neagh is an inland lake, containing nearly
100,000 acres. From north to south it is 17 miles long,
and from east to west 10 miles long. This great lough
has a catchment basin of 1,865 square miles, or 1,193,600
statute acres. The fall from the bar at Toome, the
entrance to the lough, is 48 feet over the low water at
Coleraine, on the Mercers' property. At Portna we
have the first fall of 14½ feet, equal to 2,457 horsepower. The next fall is 2½ miles down the river, at
Myvanagher, also the Mercers' property. At this place
there is a fall of 8½ feet, giving 1,606 horse-power. The
last fall on this property is at Carnroe, five feet fall,
giving out 945 horse-power. We have on this neglected
property, on a length of river a little more than three
miles long, a power of water equal to 5,000 horses,
flowing unproductive to the sea, a mine of wealth flowing past our doors which, if utilised, would give work
and wages to more than 20,000 people, save the nation
more than 26,700 tons of coal, value for more than
18,000l. a year, a sum equal to nearly two years' rent of
the Mercers' estate when the Land Commission reduces
the rental 20 per cent., and over. No estate can be
prosperous having three loan banks; this estate has
three. One of them, and the one of the greatest importance, is called the Company's bank, was established
about 30 years ago to enable the tenantry to pay the
rent with money borrowed at a high rate of interest.
The agent of the estate is the general manager or chairman of the directors. The office officials are on the
committee; the sitting is in the rent office. When a
tenant wants a loan he travels sometimes five miles to
lodge his application. In a week after he comes again
to know if he has been successful. If so, he brings
with him two solvent securities. He gets the money,
6d. in the pound being first deducted from it. He pays
it back in five monthly payments, each time walking
perhaps 10 miles. The two other banks charge a higher
rate of interest—one of them 1s. in the pound; the
other, I think, charges 9d., but they all do a good business. They are sources of great evil and much misery
to the farmers. It is said by the old people living on
this estate that during the tenancy of Stewart such was
the miserable condition of the tenantry that the girls
living on adjoining properties would not marry with
the boys on the Mercers', because they said they would
be going home to poverty. The subjoined narrative by
Mr. Slade, who was Secretary of the Irish Society in
1802, will strengthen the truth of the tradition.
Kilrea, July 8th, 1882.
Extract from a Narrative of a Journey to the North
of Ireland in the year 1802, by Robert Slade, Esq.
The first notice I received of my arrival on lands
belonging to the Londoners (as they are there called) was
at Kilrea, a market town situated on an eminence near
the river Bann, which I learnt from the landlord of my
inn was held by Mr. Stewart, uncle of lord Castlereagh,
under the Mercers' Company, and that it extended
for more than six miles along the road over which I
was to pass in my way to Londonderry. Inquiring
into the reason of the want of accommodation and the
apparent poverty of the place, the master of the inn
observed, "that it could not well be otherwise in a part
of the country where they never saw the face of the
owner of the soil, or even his under-tenant"; and
he mentioned this circumstance as a grievance which
greatly prevails in Ireland, but particularly in all those
parts situate in the north of the island, which belong
to any of the city companies. I felt the force of the
observation, which impressed me with a greater degree
of indulgence for the poverty, ignorance, and laziness
of the lower order of the people, who toil for a miserable
subsistence, and see the fruits of their labour carried
off from time to time by an agent of their landlord,
to be spent in a foreign country; while the very same
description of people in England are cheered by a hospitable reception in the hall of their landlord when
they wait upon him to pay their rent, derive benefit
from his expenditure and example, and, in case of petty
disputes, find an honest magistrate, a kind landlord,
and a well-informed neighbour to reconcile their
differences and prevent little misunderstandings from
growing into rancour and the desire of revenge. This
want of example, assistance, and consolation from the
resident landowners deprives the inhabitants of all
inducement to union, so that each family lives by itself,
in a little cabin without a chimney, with a clay floor,
and a bed of straw or rags. A group of nearly naked
figures are often seen at the doors, consisting of the
wife and children. The husband finds the means by
working at his loom to pay an extravagant price for four
or five acres of land, on which a cow is kept for the
family, and some potatoes and flax are grown. This,
with a turf fire kindled in the corner of their cabin,
round which the family crouch, with some oatmeal for
stirabout, constitutes all the wants, and whiskey the
luxury of the Irish peasant; who, never looking beyond
it, has no temptation to enterprise or exertion.
I was assured that it was no uncommon thing for a
man and his family, after planting their potato ground
in the spring, to turn the key of their door, and after
employing the summer in begging, to return again to
their habitation in order to gather their crop of potatoes,
collect a little stock of turf, and thus provide themselves for the winter. If the mere propagation and
increase of the human species were to be considered
as a proof of the prosperity of a country, the north of
Ireland would be the richest in Europe. The cabins
swarm with children, and a late ingenious author (the
manner of whose death has left an indelible disgrace
on those concerned in it) (fn. 7) is said to have made a calculation, by which he ascertained the population of
this part of Ireland far to exceed that of any part of
England or even Holland. Such is the general state
of the northern part of Ireland; and as the late rebellion was checked in an early stage by the exertions of
the yeomanry, the face of the country affords but few
marks of its effects.
The lands belonging to the Mercers' Company extend
from the left bank of the Bann, near Kilrea, for the
space of about six miles towards Boyd's Mountain,
and are let, as I was informed, in small parcels, from
5 to 30 acres (which is considered as a large farm), at
an average of about 1l. 3s. an acre. There are no
timber trees on the property, but I learnt from the
conversation I had with the landlord of the inn that
about 14 years since Mr. Stewart, the tenant, had cut
down a great many trees, chiefly ash and sycamore,
in the neighbourhood of the town. Mr. Orr, a linen
merchant of Londonderry, has a handsome house near
the high road, and is now building some cotton or linen
works towards the foot of the mountain, which, notwithstanding its dreary aspect and unprofitable soil, is
interspersed with cabins.
Instances of Advance of Rents.
James Stewart, Lesacrin. Rent receipts.
|1783||2||18||6||Under Stewart, who leased the estate from the Mercers'.|
|1857||15||8||0||Under the Mercers'.|
William M'Kay, Kilrea:—
1806. Lease for seven years, house and land,
9l. 8s. 7d.
1876. Rent demanded by memorandum of agreement 1876, 18l.
John Johnston, Kilrea:—
|Rent in 1849||5||18||8|
Tenants made all the improvements.
(fn. 8) 2061. (Chairman to Mr. A. Brown.) I understand you represent the tenants on the Salters' and
Drapers' estate?—I do.
2062. And I gather that you are prepared to state
that they are anxious to purchase their farms?—
2063. And probably you agree with the last witnesses as to the terms upon which they would wish to
purchase?—Yes, in general terms I do.
2064. As a rule, are they a poor class of tenant?—
The holdings are not very large upon the Salters'
estate, and there is considerable poverty prevailing,
because during the bad years the Salters' Company
never made them any reduction or allowance upon the
2065. Have the tenants applied to the Land Court
to have their rents fixed ?—A few of them have. A
good many of them are in such a position that they
cannot apply, owing to their owing rent.
2066. Being in arrear, do you mean?—Being in
2067. Then we cannot go into the question of what
may be done as to present arrears; but do you consider that they would be able and willing to pay their
20 years' purchase of a rent fixed by the Land Court,
assuming the question of arrears to be disposed of?—
2068. Do you think that they would be willing if
the estates were put up for sale to bid in the open
market against any other person?—I have not the
least doubt about that. They would be prepared to
bid as far as they considered the value to extend.
They are the best judges, because they know the position they are in with regard to poverty, and how
they have sunk in the scale in the last six or seven
2069. Do you take the same view that the last
witness has taken, that they are morally entitled to be
protected against the competition of any outside purchasers?—I do not altogether. I believe that taking
that view of it is rather an abstract view. The
tenants on this property have for the last 130 or 140
years been the sole improvers of it, and I believe as a
matter of generosity on the part of the landlords that
they would be bound to give the tenants such an
opportunity of buying as they would not give to outsiders.
2070. That is to say, that you consider that they
have a moral claim to buy at a lower rate than the
rest of the world; is not that only putting your own
answer in other words?—Their position towards the
landlords is different.
2071. I think I may take it, then, that you consider
that they have a right to obtain possession of their
farms at a lower rate than an outsider would give for
them; you have said that, have you not?—At a lower
rate than an outsider would give for the whole estate
in the farm.
2072. You think that they are entitled to get that
upon lower terms?—Yes.
2073. Have you considered on how much lower
terms?—I have never considered it.
2074. What do you consider is the advantage in the
market that the tenant ought to have from the fact of
his being a tenant; would you say three or four years'
purchase, or what?—I would not put figures to it.
2075. If there is a right there must be some limit
to the right; you have not considered that?—No.
2076. Can you explain what I did not entirely
understand upon another point; assuming the tenant
to have this monopoly of the right to purchase at a
lower rate, is he to be entitled to sell again to any
other person and put the difference in his pocket?—I
would scarcely put it as strong as your lordship has
put it. I would consider him entitled to a monopoly
at that rate.
2077. Would you consider that he had the right to
sell again after a certain time?—Yes, I think he
would be entitled to sell again.
2078. That is to say, supposing that it were determined that being a tenant he had the right to buy at
16 years' purchase, and supposing the value of the
holding in the open market to be 20 years' purchase
he would be entitled after a year or two to go into the
open market and sell at 20 years' purchase what he
purchased at 16, and pocket the difference?—If your
lordship would allow me to answer indirectly, if you
would consider it a proper answer, I would say that if
this tenant has for a number of years been paying
rent upon his own improvements is he entitled to go
into the market under the same circumstances as a
2079. Then I think I understand you. You mean
that in consideration of improvements he has made he
is entitled to a reduction in the price at which he
purchases?—To a consideration, I think so.
2080. You say to a consideration?—Yes, a consideration in the price.
2081. Will you define the term. Do you mean a
reduction in the rate of purchase?—Yes, I think he
should have it at an easy price.
2082. I take it from your answer that you consider
a tenant has a right to buy below the market price,
and that he has a right having so bought to sell again
at the market price?—Yes.
2083. (Lord Coleridge.) May I venture to ask you,
do you take any account of the tenant right in that
answer?—Of course; the tenant right is a defined
quantity, but I take note of this in my answer that
the tenant has been paying for a number of years a
rent which the landlord had the opportunity of putting
upon him without contradiction on the part of the
tenant, and that in many cases such rents have been
paid upon the tenant's improvements.
2084. I speak ignorantly upon this subject. The
tenant's improvements and what he has put into the
land is represented by tenant right, is it not?—It
ought to be. It is represented by tenant right if the
rent has not been raised so as to absorb the tenant
right, which it has in times past.
2085. Forgive my ignorance. In Ulster there is
tenant right everywhere, is there not?—There is.
2086. The value of the tenant right is ascertainable
in a given estate or a given farm at any time, is it
not. You can sell the tenant right at any time, can
you not?—Yes, of course.
2087. The tenant right has a certain market value?
—It has a certain market value.
2088. What a tenant buys is the value of the land
plus the tenant right, is it not?—Yes.
2089. If he himself buys his holding he pays the
sum it is worth less his tenant right, does he not?—
2090. What right has he to anything more?—Only
this that I have described, that during years gone
past he has been paying a rent which has been put
upon him—and that he had no option—and a higher
rent than he should have paid, and it is now plain
from the dealings of the Land Commission that the
rent which has been put upon him is more than the
fair rent, because the Land Commission, generally, all
over the country, is reducing the rents.
2091. And the present landlord must pay to the
present tenant what I will assume for the purpose
of the question (not for any other purpose) to be the
overcharge made by a former landlord to a former
tenant?—Yes, that he should consider it in selling to
2092. (Mr. Firth.) The Land Commission, in
inquiring into and settling a fair rent, would take into
account all these things you are speaking of, would it
2093. And the fair rent would be settled after their
value had been completely estimated?—If all these
things were put in evidence that would be so, but that
which I describe in regard to payments made upon a
rackrent in the future may not be given in evidence.
Then I have a statement to make in regard to the
Drapers' estate. The tenants upon the Drapers'
estate are willing to buy their farms on such conditions as the other tenantry all over the London companies' estates may be buying upon. They wish to
enter into no controversy at this time, because the
Drapers' Company have given them 15 per cent. of
deduction in their rent on the leased as well as on
the unleased properties, and in consequence of their
going beyond the provisions of the Land Act in giving
them the reduction upon the leased lands they are
grateful to the Company. It may have been supposed from what I stated before that their gratitude
consists in their having received 15 per cent. It
does not consist in that, it consists in this: that the
Drapers' Company have overstepped what the law
provided for them in giving a reduction upon the leases
and the leaseholders are grateful for it. I suppose it
will be thoroughly understood now.
(The following written statement was supplied by this
The first requirement towards a purchase of their
holdings by the tenants is:—That all the money be
provided by the Government, which would be perfectly
legitimate, seeing that according to the admission of
Mr. Cartwright, agent of the Salters' Company, the
tenant has as large and valuable an interest in his
farm as the Salters' Company have, but failing the Government, the landlords might advance the portion
which the Government would refuse to give, on the
same terms of payment. All the money should be provided, because the poor section of the tenants must be
protected from falling into the hands of usurers; but if
the poorest tenants must go out of the country it is the
duty of the Government, first, to give them an opportunity under the system suggested, and if they do not
succeed no blame can attach either to the Government
or the landlords, and the tenants might emigrate, or
whatever seemed best, having no grounds for disaffection.
Any arrangement for purchase must secure a less
annual money payment than the present rent, because
that which is most of all wanted is a present relief for
the tenants, who are steeped in poverty, as will be
shown further on. This condition is imperative. A
careful scrutiny of the resources of the tenants shows
that scarcely one fifth of the acreage is held by men
who are able to meet the payment of the portion of the
purchase money required under the Bright clauses, and
four fifths would require the whole money, so while I
require the whole money it is in the interest of the
poorest people, and intended to be so, as the deadlock
has come under two forces: one, bad land laws, and
the other, poverty of the people, the poorer the tenant
the greater the claim.
The Salters' Company should sell out their estate
because they do not seem to understand their duties:
in the year 1874 a memorial claiming to have the
tenants placed under the protection of the provisions of
the Land Act of 1870 would not be received, and the
landlords virtually contracted the tenants out of its
provisions without allowing them to appeal even to
themselves (the landlords) by memorial. Another
appeal was made against an advance of 20 per cent.
put on a portion of the estate in the bad year without
Another appeal made for a reduction of rent after the
bad year with a like result. Another appeal was latterly
made with a like result.
A deputation of the tenants at a still later time waited
on the Salters' Company respectfully asking them, in
the interest of the landlords and the tenants alike, that
a fair rent should be fixed without going into court;
the tenants were more successful on this occasion. The
reply of the Salters' Company to their tenants contains
"The value of the agricultural holdings having increased they felt justified in advancing the rents in
1866." Who improved the condition of the holdings?
The estate was leased to Messrs. Stewart and Bateson
about the year 1754, in whose family it remained up to
1854, and it was impossible the Salters' Company could
during that time have done anything towards improving
the condition of the holdings. During the 10 years that
intervened between 1854 and 1866 there are many living
witnesses to prove that none but the tenants did anything to their farms, so that 110 years stand to the
account of the tenants for improvements; and from
1866 till 1882 the agricultural holdings have not in any
way been improved by the landlords; then by carrying
the mind back to the date of the sub-lease to Stewart
and Bateson at 500l., and taking the rental as the then
present value, you find that in the 100 years an improved value of 20 times the first rent has arisen on
improvements made solely by the tenants, as the rental
stood at 11,000l. when Stewart and Bateson's lease expired.
From 1866 till 1882 the additions placing the figure
at somewhere near 17,000l. An averment is made that
nearly 50,000l. have been expended on improvements
from which the Salters' Company derive no income;
but how do public buildings improve the agricultural
holdings? and do not the Salters' Company charge as
good rent for their stores and markets as any private
individual could obtain for such?
The Salters' Company should sell their estate to the
tenants, because the fixing of a judicial rent does not
settle the land question, for so soon as the rent is fixed,
an ill-defined line is taking the place of the judicial
arrangement, and growing up until the next judicial
term, and there cannot possibly be any lull in the land
agitation as the judicial term, depending as it must
upon the date that each individual tenant goes before
the Land Commission, commits the country to a continual fixing of rents, and the only sound settlement is
to sell out the property to the tenants.
Second. The settlement, even on the London companies' estate, would stay the demoralisation of the
people, and the sale once accomplished on reasonable
terms would lead the people of the country in the
direction of their own interests.
The London companies in rising to this position do
not require to make an effort attended with any difficulty, but a work lies before them the most ennobling,
the most patriotic, that can well be imagined; they can
cut the knot of the difficulty that perplexes the statesman; they can restore the people to a state of contentment and loyalty, giving them a stake in their country,
enlisting their patriotism. A present feature of the
agitation is, that on the small estates where landlords
have made arrangements with their tenants (as judicial
term), on these disaffection and agitation have literally
died, and the people would settle down to the rank
of good citizens if once made owners of their own
The London companies from their position have an
opportunity of initiating the transfer to the tenant
farmers of Ireland of their holdings; the sequel will
prove how far their patriotism will carry them to do a
great work for their country; they largely benefit distracted Ireland in the example they lay before the other
proprietors to take up the only real solution of the land
Third: There is no sacrifice required on the part of
the companies, as all the rents go to public purposes.
This only directs the current into a new channel, while
it may be the means of saving Ireland, and the London
companies may take the proud position of initiating
the settlement of that most difficult of all social and
The tenants are willing to purchase their holdings
on the following conditions:—
1st. That all the purchase money be provided.
2nd. That the annual payments be less than the
The tenants do not wish to enter upon any discussion
at this time, as the Drapers' Company have generously
granted a reduction of 15 per cent. off the rents of all
their lands, leased and unleased, thus going beyond
the provisions of the Land Act, by abolishing leases,
giving all their tenants the same abatement for the
judicial term. This arrangement the tenants gratefully
2094. (fn. 9) (Chairman to Mr. Dunn.) You represent
the tenants on the Fishmongers' estate?—I do.
2095. Are they considerable in extent?—It is not
a very large estate, but it is a valuable estate, it is not
so large as some of the others.
2096. You have heard the evidence which has been
given by other witnesses; do you agree with them as
to the desire of the tenants to purchase their holdings?
—I do; the tenants would willingly purchase.
2097. Do we understand that they would require,
like the rest, that the whole of the purchase money
should be found either by the State or by the landlord?—That is so. I consider that a large per-centage
of the tenants would require the money to be advanced by the Government partly, and the remainder
allowed to remain for the same term and on the same
conditions as that on which the Government is lending.
2098. That is to say, that they should not be called
upon to pay down any part of it?—Quite so.
2099. Are they all small and poor tenants?—No,
there are a good number of large farms on this estate.
There is a matter here which I should refer to which
was got up on the occasion of granting the last lease.
That was in 1872. There was a considerable advance
proposed at the time. The estate fell out of lease, and
was revalued. The tenants objected, and considered
that they could not pay it, and eventually, after some
negotiations between the company and a deputation
from the Fishmongers, who came over to visit their
estates, and a deputation from the tenants who came
over to wait upon the company, it was agreed that
the company should hand over their valuator's book,
that is, Mr. Nolan's or Messrs. Nolan and Son's, and
that the tenants agreed to accept. I may mention that
that valuation was made at a time when agricultural
matters were in a very prosperous state. It was made
after a period of years, in which the price of produce
had been high and seasons good. It is shown by statistics that the average gross agricultural produce for
the 10 years previous to this was more than the rent,
greater than for 10 years afterwards, owing to the fall
in the value of produce and inclement seasons.
2100. I understand your wish that all the tenants,
large and small, should be enabled to purchase in the
same manner, the State advancing nearly the whole of
the sum and the landlord the rest?—I should say the
State advancing three fourths or four fifths. Three
fourths is what they can do at present, the landlords
allowing the other fourth to remain on the same terms,
and I consider that they would be perfectly safe, as
the tenant's interest would be ample for them to fall
back upon in the case of the tenant failing to pay the
interest as it became due.
2101. In the case of the larger tenants, those who
are well off, on what do they rest their claim to assistance from the State to obtain money on cheaper terms
than they would otherwise get it?—One reason would
be that the State advances money on more reasonable
terms. If a man had surplus capital he could invest
it better with them than he could at 3 per cent. The
present terms upon which the Government offer to
advance the three fourths are at the rate of 5 per cent.,
terminable at the end of 35 years.
2102. A tenant can borrow from the State upon
these terms to buy his holding, if the landlord is
willing to sell; is not that so?—He can borrow three
2103. Then the demand for fresh assistance rests
on this, that the tenants are unable to find the other
fourth?—A great many of them could not.
2104. You have heard the questions which have
been put to former witnesses and I need not repeat
them; do you consider that the tenants for whom you
speak would be willing to pay the fair market price
for their farms like anybody else, or would they expect,
on the ground of being tenants, that they should have
their farms below the market price?—I should think
they ought to have a preference, or a little more.
2105. "A preference, or a little more." What does
that mean in more definite terms?—I will explain that
in a moment. I put in a written statement of my
evidence, and the effect of that is to show that this
estate has been very highly rented from the time it
came into the Fishmongers' hands. In early times it
was let to the Earl of Tyrone, and afterwards I
believe leased to the Honourable John Beresford for 61
years, which lease expired in the year 1820. I am
informed that the estate was let by the Fishmongers
to the Beresford family for 400l. a year. They were
getting a rental from the tenants of from 2,000l. to
3,000l., 2,000l., I believe, or a little more. Immediately the estate came into the company's hands the
rents were at once raised without a valuation to nearly
four times the amount the tenants had been paying
2106. (Lord Coleridge.) Do you mean that they
were raised beyond the 2,000l.?—Yes, four times,
2107. (Mr. Firth.) Do you mean that they were
raised to 8,000l. nearly?—Yes, and that without the
company expending 1s. upon the estate. That was
done at once. In a few years after that the estate
was surveyed and valued. Some of the land was in
rundale; the farms were squared, put into shape, and
then revalued, and that valuation amounted to about
the same as the arbitrary rise of rent would in 1820.
Leases, I think, were granted in 1824. These leases
were, I think, for 21 years, and some of them, I think,
for 19 years, with lives. About the time the leases
expired we had a famine, a potato failure. At that
time the company certainly did give an abatement of
rent to their tenants of 10 per cent. to the larger
farmers and 15 per cent. to the smaller farmers, which
abatement was continued until 1852, when the estate
was revalued by Messrs. Nolan and Son for the company. The revaluation did not increase the rent
beyond what it was with the abatement off. It did
not bring it up within 10 or 15 per cent. of what it
had been from 1825 to 1845 or 1846.
2108. (Chairman.) Then, whatever may have happened in former years there can be no further rents
fixed in an arbitrary manner?—I am aware of that;
but one thing I want to point out is that it was taken
or argued that where rents had been punctually paid
for a period of years there could be no claim for abatement. These rents have been paid in one way or
other. At that time there were industries that the
small farmers had that they have not now. They
were able to grow flax, and they earned a good deal
of money by spinning and weaving.
2109. Is not all that a question that could be dealt
with by a Land Court?—Just so. Then the estate
was valued at that time, and a considerable increase of
rent put on, I may say, roughly, 20 per cent. over the
estate. That was in 1872, and since then we have
had a considerable fall, and I am sure the tenant right
of any of those properties would not sell for anything
like what it would have sold for five or six years ago,
nothing like it.
2110. But you cannot rest the demand to have the
estate sold upon the ground of arbitrary rent, because
that is put an end to. You can only rest it upon the
ground that the tenants prefer to be proprietors rather
than to be tenants at a fixed rent?—Yes; I stated the
one reason why the tenants are anxious to become
proprietors on the terms on which the Government
lend the money. At the end of 35 years the whole is
paid off, and at 20 years' purchase he is paying no
more rent than he would have paid as a yearly tenant,
while at the end of 35 years is his own landlord.
2111. But supposing that two or three bad years
were to come, like those that we had in 1879 and
1880, do you think that those small tenants would be
able to keep up the payments?—I think they would.
They would be paying no more rent than they are
paying now and have been paying.
2112. But if they were not able to do so, do you
not think that there would be a great outery against
the Government if it attempted to enforce the instalment?—I do not think so. It is the same thing now.
If they fail to pay the interest off, certainly their
tenant right would be liable to be sold. The tenant's
interest would be always a sufficient guarantee for
both the first and second mortgages against any loss.
There is one matter I would like to say has been lost
sight of a little, speaking with reference to the Fishmongers' estate. I must say that the Fishmongers'
Company have been most liberal in the way of erecting houses of worship for all denominations and schools,
and also in supporting these schools; and in times past
they have supplied slates and timber on new farms, only
they have exacted pretty high rents. This is what I
was going to remark; in estimating the number of
years' purchase there is one matter that has escaped
the notice of the other witnesses, that is, that the
landlords have got to pay the one half of the county
cess according to law. Some of them have contracted
themselves out of it. I do not mention any names,
but they have to pay one half the county cess, and
they have to pay one half the poor rates; that is,
those who have not contracted themselves out of it;
and at present they pay the rent-charge or tithe, their
share amounts in ordinary years to 2s. 6d. in the
pound; that is 12½ per cent. The whole of that
would be thrown on the tenants if they purchased. I
put in several statutory declarations as to this supporting my statement.
(The following printed statement was supplied by
This estate was let to the Hon. John Beresford, who
held as a middleman under the company. His lease
expired in 1820. The rental of the estate to Mr. Beresford was about 2,000l. As soon as the estate fell into
the hands of the company they immediately quadrupled,
or almost so, the former rents without having expended
one shilling on the estate. A short time afterwards
they altered the boundaries of the farms, or "squared"
the farms, had the estate revalued, and kept the rents
up to the figure originally arbitrarily fixed. The rents
were so exorbitant that in many instance the tenants
refused to accept the leases subject to the new conditions
imposed. The rents were paid as best the tenants could
until the year 1847, when the company were obliged
to make an abatement, which they were compelled to
continue up to 1852, when the estate was once again
revalued, which did not increase the rents paid from
1857 to 1852, showing that the estate must have been
grossly rackrented from the time at which it came into
the hands of the company. After the revaluation of
1852 leases for 21 years were issued. In the year 1873,
at the fall of these leases, another revaluation was
made, and an increase of rent followed immediately to
the extent of, roughly speaking, about 20 per cent.,
which now puts them greatly above the Government
gross valuation, and I consider that if the tenants were
in a position to go before the Sub-Commissioners they
would be certain to get a reduction of rent to the extent
of at least 25 per cent. But, being under leases, they
are precluded from the enjoyment of this advantage.
On the whole, I may say that the company have been
liberal in providing places of worship. schools, &c., and
in addition they have annually subscribed small sums
for the benefit of the local clergy. They have also
assisted in providing teachers for the schools, and
during the famine times they advanced half the money
required by their tenants on the estate for draining
purposes, likewise supplying slates for new building on
new farms. They have also erected houses and offices
for some of the tenants, charging an interest of 5 per
cent. on the outlay. With the exception of the above
benefactions the company have not expended any money
for the benefit of the tenants, as the building of houses,
offices, draining, fencing, reclaiming, road making—in
fact, bringing the land from a state of nature—have
been the sole work of the tenants. They have also
erected houses and offices for some of the tenants,
charging an interest of 5 per cent. on the outlay. I
think it is only just that, notwithstanding the leases
imposed upon the tenants by the company, the former
should be given advantage of the recent legislation, and
that the rents should be reduced on an ave rage 25
per cent. I think that the tenants after this would be
willing, nay, anxious, to purchase the fee-simple at a
fair number of years' purchase.
2113. (Chairman to Professor Dougherty.) You have
heard what these gentlemen have said, and I believe
you wish to add a few remarks of your own?—I
approach the subject from a slightly different point of
view. I am one of those who think that an occupying
proprietary is the ultimate solution of the Irish land
question, and I think that nowhere in Ireland could
the experiment of an occupying proprietary be tried
with better results than on the estates of the London
companies, the tenantry of which are thrifty, industrious, and orderly to a degree. An experiment has
already been tried in the case of the Waterford estates
in county Derry and in the case of the church lands;
and notwithstanding the fact that the tenants on the
Waterford estates and the tenants on the church lands
bought at a very high rate of purchase, and the fact
that the years which have intervened have been
exceptionably bad years for farmers in the north of
Ireland, as everywhere else, I believe that the repayments of the loans advanced by the Government to
enable these tenantry to purchase have been made
most punctually. I spoke some little time ago to the
local bank manager in my native village, who collects
the annual repayment for the Church Commissioners
and for the Treasury, and he told me then that there
was not a single tenant in that district in arrears.
Since then, I believe, one or two have fallen into
arrears. The tenantry in county Derry have suffered
as I say as everywhere else in consequence of the bad
seasons, and in approaching the companies in order to
purchase these estates they are anxious to secure that
they should not be overburdened by the annual repayment in respect of the purchase money. They are entitled to three fourths of the purchase money from the
Treasury under the Land Act of 1881, supposing they
arrange to buy. If they have to go into the open
market to borrow the remaining fourth the probability is that they will have to pay a very high rate
of interest, and that rate of interest, added to the
annual repayment to the Government, would amount
to a heavy burden, much more than a fair rent, and
having regard to their experience in those past years
during bad seasons they are unwilling to burden themselves in the future in that way. What they are
anxious to do then is to borrow at a fair rate, or a
moderate rate, that balance of the purchase money
which about three fourths of the tenantry speaking generally would require to borrow in order to
purchase. We believe that considering the value of
the tenant right in Ulster the security offered for that
fourth of the purchase money would be a perfect
security—a good security—and it seems to me that
instead of going into abstract questions as to the
right of the tenant to purchase at a lower rate than
other people in the open market, the point we have
to address ourselves to is rather this, if it is desirable
to try this experiment of an occupying proprietary
upon those estates, should we not endeavour to start
the experiment upon such terms as would be likely to
make it a success.
2114. You would, in fact, propose to give a bounty
on the creation of those peasant proprietors, because I
need not point out to you that enabling people to
borrow on lower terms than they otherwise can borrow is to that extent a gift?—No doubt it is a gift,
but a gift for a great public purpose may be desirable
and even necessary in some circumstances.
2115. I am not disputing that. I only put it to
you in that way, whether what you are proposing
does not come to this, that you would give a State
bounty upon the creation of peasant proprietors?—It
would be hardly a State bounty to ask the companies
who have undoubtedly derived a large revenue from
these estates for a long series of years to advance, at a
moderate rate of interest, a fourth of the purchase
money to the tenants who have made those estates so
valuable by their improvements; and I may point out
that one company (the Clothworkers' Company) in
selling to a private landowner (Sir Hervey Bruce)
did as a matter of fact advance about half, or more
than half, the purchase money at a very low rate of
interest, indeed something like 2 per cent., in order, I
suppose, to enable him to purchase. If they could do
that in the case of Sir Hervey Bruce, I should think
that they could much more do so for a purpose which
is now recognized on all hands and by all parties in
the State as desirable.
2116. You think the tenant right would be security
enough?—Undoubtedly. It is a most valuable security.
2117. And you think that if any considerable number of those tenants fell short in their payments there
would not be any practical difficulty in enforcing payment?—At the present moment I happen to know a
case within my own experience where a tenant on
the Waterford estate borrowed the balance of the purchase money which he required. Unfortunately he
has not been able to maintain his payment and interest on that portion of the purchase money, and the
creditor went into the court the other day and obtained
a judgment, and the farm is to be sold within six
months to satisfy this judgment. I know the locality
well, and it is recognised on all hands as being (at the
suit of the creditor) perfectly fair. Perhaps I may be
allowed to offer one word of explanation. I am sorry
that Sir Sydney Waterlow has left the room. My
reading of history is slightly different to his as to the
manner in which these companies acquired these Irish
estates. In point of fact the King in Council required the citizens of London to provide a certain
amount for the purposes of the plantation in Ulster.
That sum was levied by poll tax on the citizens.
Every citizen was then a member of some trade, and
these trades, as we know, were organised in guilds,
and the guilds furnished a convenient machinery for
the purpose of raising this poll tax. The money
came out of the pockets of the citizens of London, and
not out of the money of those guilds.
(Dr. Todd.) Would your lordship allow me to
explain one or two points. The main point is the
claim made by the tenants to rebate from the purchase
money or bonus over an ordinary purchaser. I think
that feeling exists very generally, and that there
is a very substantial basis for that feeling. It is
what Mr. Dunn points out that the tenants by purchasing will have to pay all the local burdens. That
is a substantial basis to start with. If the landlord
purchased he would have to bear a share of the local
burdens. On the other hand, the tenant must bear
2118. (Lord Coleridge.) Is not that so much off
the purchase money? If you buy land in England
you buy it subject to the local charges?—There is
the feeling that the public entertain, namely, that,
owing to the present course of legislation, the burdens
are increasing on the landlords and falling off the
tenants. The general feeling is that the landlords'
portion of the property will be taxed more in future,
at least, that is the feeling in Ireland.
2119. If I went and bought I should be in the same
position as a tenant; I should have to pay all these
things, and if I was a wise man I should take that into
account in the price I paid?—Certainly; but in case
of purchase the tenants would have to support all the
educational, religious, and charitable institutions to
which the companies now contribute, and that a private purchaser might not assist in keeping up. Then
there is a further point. Lord Derby suggested that
the Land Court could take into consideration previous
rackrenting. Now there is no provision in the Land
Act authorising or empowering the Land Court to go
into the past history of rackrenting. The tenants feel
that they have increased the value of the estates very
largely, but in fixing the rent the court has no power
to take that into account, and, that being so, the
tenants feel that they have a strong moral claim to
some consideration on that account. The Land Court
just fixes the rent, and will not take that into account.
But what I suggest by way of avoiding any difficulties
is this, if it is thought advisable that the estates
should be sold to the tenants by the companies, that
a Commission should inquire into the price that each
tenant should pay for his holding; it might be the
Land Commission (as at present established) if not,
any other Commission; let them take all the circumstances into account, and then fix the price. If
that were done the tenants would be quite satisfied
to pay whatever price any court would say they should
pay under all the circumstances.