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SOLVING THE LAND QUESTION. WHAT DID THE FARMERS WANT? Security from eviction. 3Fs=Tenant Rights = Ulster Custom made law. Ultimately Ownership of their.

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Presentation on theme: "SOLVING THE LAND QUESTION. WHAT DID THE FARMERS WANT? Security from eviction. 3Fs=Tenant Rights = Ulster Custom made law. Ultimately Ownership of their."— Presentation transcript:


2 WHAT DID THE FARMERS WANT? Security from eviction. 3Fs=Tenant Rights = Ulster Custom made law. Ultimately Ownership of their own land through a purchase scheme


4 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. Strengths: First time government sided with tenants 800 tenant bought out their land Weaknesses : 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

5 THE 1870 LAND ACT (GLADSTONE’S FIRST LAND ACT) Reaction: 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

6 THE 1881 LAND ACT (GLADSTONE’S SECOND ACT) Terms: Land Courts to decide ‘judicial rent’ ‘judicial rent’ to last 15 years and then back to the Land Court A land purchase clause Weaknesses : Tenants with leases and tenants in arrears not included 15 years too long

7 THE 1881 LAND ACT (GLADSTONE’S SECOND ACT) Reaction: Split the Land League Violence Kilmainham Treaty 1882 Arrears act. Tenants paid one third of arrears. Government paid a third and the landlord suffered the rest.


9 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 Terms: £5m Full purchase price over 45 years Except for 1892-5 the Conservatives were in power from 1886 to 1895

10 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.

11 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.

12 SYNDICATES AND NEW TIPPERARY 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

13 THE 1891 BALFOUR LAND ACT. Killing Home Rule with Kindness. 2 parts. 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. 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.

14 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 Gerald George

15 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.

16 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.

17 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.

18 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.

19 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

20 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

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