Movements for reform 1870-1914 chapter 1 landlords and tenants

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Liberals Divided

Chamberlain upset.

Many ‘Liberal Unionists’

It was Gladstone’s baby and many liberals supported it only out of loyalty to him.

8 June 1886 Home Rule Defeated

341 to 311. 93 Liberals had voted against.

Gladstone called a general election.

5.6 The 1886 Election (Case Study, part 3)

As Ireland was a forgone conclusion, the campaigning went on in Britain. Home Rule was the only issue and it was easily defeated.

Gladstone resigned and Salisbury became PM.

The Results of 1885-1886

  • For the first time Partition was an issue

  • Liberals now committed to Home Rule

  • Parnell lost freedom to manoeuvre

  • The Unionist Party set up


6.1 Parnell’s Final Years
After the defeat of the 1886 Home Rule Bill, Parnell spent most of his time in Britain convincing British voters that HR for Ireland was a good idea.

The Plan of Campaign, organised by T Harrington, W O Brien and J Dillon attracted journalists to Ireland who reported on the terrible conditions. This helped change British minds. Parnell stopped it, afraid it might lead to violence.

The Pigott Forgeries had the same effect.

The Pigott Forgeries

Dublin journalist Richard Pigott.

The Times (Conservative) published ‘Parnellism and Crime’

Conservative government set up a commission of enquiry.

Pigott’s confession and suicide in Madrid.

High point.

Divorce Case

Since 1880 3 children

Aunt Ben Woods’ money in trust. After divorce, the will was contested and Kitty got nothing.

Parnell wanted to marry and did not contest the case. So, only O Shea’s side of the story was told.

Uproar in Britain. Gladstone had to cut his links with Parnell. He made this clear to Justin McCarthy who informed Parnell in word and in writing. Parnell was re-elected in November 1890 but many hoped he would resign.

Gladstone published his letter to McCarthy.

Parnell responded by issuing a manifesto questioning if Gladstones’ HR bill went far enough. This ended any hope of another Liberal HR bill while Parnell was around.

A majority of the HR Party demanded a meeting.

Committee Room 15

For 6 days Parnell would not allow a vote on the leadership. Eventually Justin McCarthy and 45 others walked out. Parnell was left with 27.

The anti-Parnellites had the support of the Catholic Church.

The Parnellites had the support of the Fenians.

Parnell lost a bitter by-election in Kilkenny by 2 to 1. Timothy Healy and Davitt slated Parnell and Kitty.

Parnell travelled Ireland drumming up support and fighting and losing 2 more by-elections.

Parnell married in June 1891

He died in October

200,000 attended his funeral

Parnell, a Republican or a Home Ruler?

Impossible to know. He did not keep a diary and died before writing memoirs.

He hinted at independence but it was to win support. A pragmatist.

6.2 The Home Rule Party after Parnell

Parnellites now led by John Redmond and anti-Parnellites by McCarthy.

1892 Gladstone (81) re-elected and introduced his second HR bill.

Passed Commons and failed Lords.

1895 Conservatives in power for 20 years. HR out of the question.

1895 McCarthy retired and there was a power struggle between Healy and Dillon. Dillon won but now the party was split in 3.


1898 William O Brien set up the United Irish League.

Its aim was to get the government to introduce compulsory purchase.

So popular that O Brien could threaten both Dillon and Redmond that he would take over both if they did not bury the hatchet.

1900 Dillon let Redmond take over as leader.

Land Agitation

United Irish League very strong

1902 Land Conference of tenants and landlords suggested a land purchase bill.

1903 the Wyndham Land Act was passed (Wyndham a Chief Secretary)

The Devolution Crisis

Some Southern Unionists suggested the Land Conference idea could replace Home Rule.

Under Secretary Sir Anthony MacDonnell came up with ‘Devolution’, a system of elected councils not unlike the ‘Central Board Scheme’.

Northern Unionists could not accept a scheme from a Mayo Catholic and they set up the ‘Ulster Unionist Council’ to coordinate opposition to HR.

1906 Liberals in Power

A landslide, so they did not need the HR Party for a number of years yet.


7.1 What did the Farmers want?

  • Security from eviction. 3Fs=Tenant Right= Ulster Custom made law.

  • Ownership

7.2 The Liberals and the Land Question

The 1870 Land Act (Gladstone’s First Land Act)

  • Ulster Custom made law where it existed

  • Unfair evictions (other than non payment of rent) to be compensated

  • The ‘Bright Clause’. Two thirds of purchase price over 35 years.


  • First time government sided with tenants

  • 800 tenant bought out their land


  • Ulster Custom unclear and expensive to prove in court.

  • Rent was the only reason for eviction so no compensation in reality

  • Two thirds too much and 35 years too short


1870 to 1876 good prices masked the Act’s weaknesses.

1876 to 1890s ‘The Long Depression’. A worldwide economic depression affected farming also.

Refrigeration created competition.

Even bigger farmers were faced with eviction and they let go labourers.

1879 terrible weather hit harvests. 75% of potato crop failed. Famine loomed.

Davitt, Parnell and the Land League caused agitation.

Gladstone’s ‘carrot and stick’ approach led to the 1881 Land Act

The 1881 Land Act (Gladstone’s Second Act)



  • Tenants with leases and tenants in arrears not included

  • 15 years too long


Split the Land League


Kilmainham Treaty

1882 Arrears act. Tenants paid one third of arrears. Government paid a third and the landlord suffered the rest.
7.3 Arthur Balfour and the Plan of Campaign

The 1885 Ashbourne Land Act

June 1885 Salisbury’s minority government took over with HR Party support.

In return they passed the Ashbourne Land Act


  • £5m

  • Full purchase price over 45 years

Except for 1892-5 the Conservatives were in power from 1886 to 1895

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