Movements for reform 1870-1914 chapter 1 landlords and tenants

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1.1 Why the ‘land question’ was important.

Land question. Who had the right to the land?

1870 5 million pop. 4 million dependent on agriculture.

If a leader wanted to influence the Irish he could not ignore the land question.

1.2 Landlords

  1. General

1870 10,000 landlords owned all.

Estates, demesnes, tenants (at will, leaseholders)

Large and small (Downshire V Parnell)

Big income, big expenditure (big houses, servants, balls, charities, schools, the poor rate) Bankruptcy?

  1. Economic Role

Big house a big employer.

Higher servants English or Scottish

Compared with England, little was reinvested in estates. Little done to improve farming or the tenants’ situation.

  1. Political Power

Gov. relied on them.

Unpaid magistrates.

Board of Guardians (poor rate, who got into workhouse, conditions).

Grand Juries until 1898 Local Gov. Act.

MPs unpaid until 1911

Secret Ballot 1872 reduced power.

1879 Land League and National League encourage voting for others.

More education V landlord knows best.

By 1900 political power gone except in Ulster.

1.3 Tenant Farmers and Labourers

Big tenancies.

30,000 rented more than 100 acres. These were well off. Had servants. Children educated. 2 Storey houses with slate roofs. Hired labourers.

Were the leaders of the land movement and benefited most from land acts.

Average farms

Most farmed 15 to 100 acres. Entire family worked. Kids left after primary.

Big families. Eldest son and dowry for one daughter. The rest emigrated (half to US). Sent home fares and remittances.

Eldest son did not marry until parents died.

Small farms

100,000 less than 15 acres. West. 2 roomed cottages. Needed other income (fished, laboured part time, migrated to England or Scotland). Remittances vital. Many left for good.

Landless labourers

Low pay but cottage and patch supplied. When old, might end up in workhouse. Some did not have regular work, lived in one room huts on the edge of tows. Most had emigrated by 1900.

1.4 The Agriculture Industry
Munster dairy

Midlands beef

Ulster flax

West coast subsistence

Exports to Britain high 1850-75 due to industrialisation (beef, butter and barley) US ruined wheat prices so farmer switched to beef (less labour)

All benefited. Railways, shipping, retail, trades and profession.

Rents rose also but tenants could pay so no trouble.

1877 prices fell. Evictions were a real possibility.

Eviction meant workhouse or emigration.

Land question came to the forefront.


2.1 Religious differences

3 main religions 78% Catholic, 12% Anglican, 9% Presbyterian.

The Church of Ireland (Anglican)

Established (state support, jobs, politics)

Given large estates in 17th century so well off.

Got cathedrals.

Tithes paid by all.

Bishops appointed by monarchy

Trinity only university until 1840s (anglican)

1860s Conservatives supported establishment. Gladstone thought it unjust.

The Presbyterian Church

Scottish descent. In north

Elected a General Assembly

Resented privileged position and voted liberal.


Mainly poor farmers.

Starting to grow in wealth and confidence in mid 1800s. Many churches and schools built. Priests trained in Maynooth.

Seemed to be under control of Pope and clergy and appeared a threat to other religions.

Gladstone and Disestablishment

Why did Gladstone disestablish?

The Disestablishment Act 1869 (terms)

Church of Ireland an independent body

Commissioners of Church Temporalities took over all Cof I possessions worth 16m.

It gave back churches and schools and set up a fund to pay and pension clergy.

This left 6m for education, agriculture, fishery and the poor.

The Cof I’s tenant farmers were helped with loans to buy out their land.

Effect on Anglicans

Annoyed at first but appreciated the independence

Effect on Catholics

Because of education and lack of trust they still did not get top jobs.

Monarch still had to be Anglican

It did not make Catholics loyal to the Union

Effect on Presbyterians

Happy to be Unionists. Less tension with Anglicans.

2.2 Primary and Secondary Education

Primary Schools

1831 ‘National School’ system. Government. hoped for non-denominational.

Churches distrust. Parish school’ controlled by priest or minister.

Catholic bishops against compulsory attendance (family rights). Many kids left at 10 or11 (3rs).

1871 competitive exams for civil servants kept many boys in primary until 14.

Parish priests would not employ teachers trained in government colleges. Many untrained until 1880s when government agreed to fund Catholic training colleges.
Secondary schools

expensive £2-£5 per annum.

1870 70 schools run by clergy for Catholics.

Government wanted to fund secondary but anti catholic bias in England stopped them.

Solution = Intermediate Education Board.

This gave payment by results. £3-£10 for each subject passed.

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