Movements for reform 1870-1914 chapter 1 landlords and tenants

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The Plan of Campaign

In 1886, due to poor prices in Britain, many farmers were facing eviction.

The National League under John Dillon, Timothy Harrington and William O Brien urged tenants to resist eviction.

Harrington published an article in the leagues paper ‘United Ireland’ called ‘Plan of Campaign’.

Tenants would agree what they could afford, offer it to the landlord and if he refused, would put it into a fund to fight evictions. They would prevent any other tenants taking over.

Very successful but Parnell was afraid of the effect on British Liberals and stopped it spreading.

Arthur Balfour and Ireland

Appointed Chief Secretary in 1887 in response to the Plan of Campaign.

Wanted to enforce the law and reform (carrot and stick).

Carrot: He amended the 1881 Land Act by reducing the ‘judicial rent’ from 15 years to 3.

Stick:1887 Balfour’s Perpetual Crimes Act.

Trial without jury for boycotting and encouraging tenants to resist eviction.

The Lord Lieutenant could declare organisations illegal.

Many leaders of the Plan were jailed, including 24 MPs and were treated in jail like common criminals.

He sent soldiers and police to help landlords to evict.

Dramatic eviction scenes reported by journalists using photography. Sympathy in Britain and Balfour stopped.

Landlord Syndicates.

In response to the ‘Plan’ landlords formed syndicates. They pooled money, bought estates of landlords going broke due to the ‘Plan’ and evicted all the tenants.

The leader of the syndicate was Arthur Smith Barry.

New Tipperary

The ‘Plan’ leaders urged Smith Barry’s tenants to stop paying rent. The tenants and the town of Tipperary were evicted.

William O Brien built New Tipperary. Very expensive

Harrington, Dillon and O Brien made inflammatory speeches, got arrested and then jumped bail and went to fund raise in the US.

The Tenants

After the divorce case in 1890 the HR party split and the politicians lost interest. Many tenants did not get back to their land until 1907

The 1891 Balfour Land Act.

Killing Home Rule with Kindness.

2 parts.

  1. Land Purchase

£33m over 49 years but only in government bonds.

Times were bad and landlords did not trust bonds so not as many as expected sold.

  1. The Congested Districts Board.

Western counties where too many people for the quality of land.

CDB was to help by:

  • Buying up unused land and resettling people and so increasing farm size.

  • New agricultural techniques by employing instructors .

  • Promote cottage industries such as knitting, weaving (Donegal tweed)

  • Gave loans to fishermen and built piers

  • Bridges, railways and roads

By 1892 Balfour could claim the country was quiet.

7.4 The Years of Constructive Unionism
1892-95 Liberals back in power

1895-1905 Conservatives in power.

Arthur Balfour promoted and his brother Gerald became Chief Secretary and later his cousin George Wyndham took the job.

Constructive Unionism = killing HR with kindness

The Co-operative Movement

Horace Plunkett returned from the US and saw that Irish agriculture had lost market share in Britain, mainly to Denmark.

He suggested that we follow the co-operative model established in Denmark.

The first co-operative was in Doneraile in Cork

1894 the IAOS was founded.

Plunkett set up a newspaper ‘The Irish Homestead’ to spread the message.

Plunkett was opposed for a time because he was a unionist, protestant landlord.

The IAOS was most successful in dairy areas.

Failed to recapture the market but stopped the rot.

The Department of Agriculture

1892 Plunkett became an MP and persuaded a few other MPs from other parties to form the ‘Recess Committee’. Its purpose was to come up with ideas to help farming in Ireland.

The Recess Committee suggested a Department of Agriculture.

In 1899 it was set up with Plunkett at its head.

Agricultural instructors were appointed to help farming, forestry and fishing.

Change was slow.

1898 The Local Government Act

County, district and urban councils to be elected by ratepayers, men and women.

Responsible for roads, sewage, pubic lighting, water and public buildings. These had been set up in Britain 10 years earlier.

Nearly all the councils were controlled by the Home Rule party and this led to contracts and promotions being given to supporters. Some corruption.

The United Irish League

The new land movement, set up by William O Brien in 1898, wanted compulsory purchase. It became very powerful and helped reunite the Home Rule party. It also looked like it could start a new land war.

George Wyndham preferred conciliation and backed a landlords conference proposals that a new land purchase bill be introduced.

The Wyndham Land Act 1903

The most important land purchase law

  • £100m

  • A very good price in cash (18 to 27 times annual rent)

  • Loans over 68 years

  • Landlords given a bonus if they sold the entire estate in one go, thereby reducing legal bills.

This Act, together with Birrell’s amendment in 1909 was a huge success

Assessment of the Conservative Government

  • They had solved the land question but small farmers were still a lot poorer.

  • They had not killed Home Rule

  • Landlords had done well financially


8.1 The Irish Parliamentary Party and the Liberals 1906-10
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