The True Life of Betty Ireland online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryAnonymousThe True Life of Betty Ireland → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

E-text prepared by Robert Cicconetti, Suzan Flanagan, and the Project
Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team (

Transcriber's note:

The original spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization have been
retained. However, long s's have been transcribed as modern s's,
and minor punctuation corrections have been made.

The oe ligature is represented as [oe].




_Betty IRELAND._

[Price a _British_ Sixpence.]




_Betty IRELAND._



Together with

Some Account of her elder Sister _BLANCH_


Sundry very curious Particulars.


_LONDON_, Printed:

_DUBLIN_, Reprinted for PETER WILSON, in _Dame-street_.





_Betty IRELAND_.

It is agreed on all Hands, that _Betty Ireland_ was a younger
Daughter by a _second Venter_; let, at first, to run wild in the
Woods, cloathed with Skins and fed with Acorns; till a _famous
Hunter_ took her in his Toils, and, liking her _Countenance_, gave
her to a Son of his, a _Lad_, to bring up. The _Girl_ was born to
a good Estate, but ill tenanted, and run to waste. Her _Farms_
neither _meared_ or bounded, her Rents never paid, as she had no
_certain_ Tenants, and had little more to claim than a Pepper-corn
Acknowledgment. She had no Relation to manage her _Demesnes_, and
could hardly be said to be possessed of any thing.

In this Condition the young _Sportsman_ found her, was fond of her
at first, and resolved to marry her; and _happy_ had it been both
for _him_ and _her_, if he had kept his Resolution, and performed
the _Contract_. But he hankered after his elder Brother's _Estate_,
and, on his Death, suddenly got the Tenants to _attorn_ to _him_,
and basely dispossessed his _Nephew_. But instead of an _Estate_,
he got nothing but a _Law-suit_, lived in _Broils_, and dyed a
_Beggar_. Whereas had he quitted all Pretensions at home, married
_Betty_ and minded her Concerns, he had soon been in a Condition
not to envy his Brother; and, perhaps, had left a _second Family_
little inferior in _Greatness_ to the first.

This was the only Chance ever _Betty_ had to make a _separate_
Fortune, set up for herself, and be _independent_ of her _Sister_.
She was ever after _beholden_ to _her_ for maintaining her
_Rights_, settling her _Affairs_, and bringing her _Tenants_ to

Neither _Betty_ or her Sister were yet of Age, but the Younger far
from it, and continued under such _Guardians_, as the _Elder_
recommended, and had chosen for herself. It was natural to think
they should chiefly be employed in ordering the Affairs of
_Blanch_, and be less attentive to benefit the other. Accordingly,
from time to time, they sent _Proxies_, to let Leases, keep her
_Courts_, and _force_ Possession, where the Tenants held over.
Little, however, was done for _Betty_, though they put her _Sister_
to great Charges; nor did she thrive in the World to any Purpose,
'till she came under the Care of a good _orderly Gentlewoman_, who
was also _Guardian_ to _Blanch_, a notable _Manager_, and very
affectionate to her _Wards_, understood their Business to a hair,
and was never to be imposed on or _over-reached_. Every thing she
put her hand to prospered, and every thing against her miscarried.

When she first looked into _Betty_'s Affairs, she found them in a
manner desperate; her small Revenues had been embezzled by
_Agents_, Farms set to _insolvent_ Tenants, _double_ Leases made
out, huge _Fines_ taken in Hand and sunk in their own Pockets. She
was preyed upon by Vagabonds and _Outlaws_; and, to compleat her
Misfortunes, a _Foreign Count_ fell in love with her, an odious
Monster and _braggadocio_ Huffer. He swore bitterly no one else
should have her, and to support his Claim, brought in his Pocket, a
_pretended Licence_ from the _Spiritual Court_, and a Pack of
_outlandish Goths_ along with him, to take Possession of her
Freehold, and break down her Gates. But her _Sister_ generously
came in to her Assistance, repelled Force by Force, and rescued her
from a Tyrant Ravisher, built Houses for herself, and Fences for
the Tenants, and left some of her own People with her to instruct
them in Trades and Husbandry.

She was then, it might be thought, in a Way of making herself
respected, both by her own and her _Sister_'s Tenants, and not
stand in need of any more Supplies from them; and if the _good
Woman_, her guardian, had lived to bring Matters to any Kind of
Establishment, Things had been better. But she unfortunately died,
more, however, to her _Sister_'s Disadvantage than _hers_; for the
_Guardian_ had chalked out a Track of Proceeding for _Betty_, which
she could hardly miss to follow. The _Elder_, however, was
inconsolable for the Loss of her _Guardian_, and resolved, for the
future, to manage her Concerns by the Assistance of a _Steward_, a
Sort of a Cousin to her _Guardian_ deceased, but no way allied to
her, in Worth or Understanding. He minded nothing but Hunting and
_Puppet-shews_, Feasts and Revels; and though the uncomeliest of an
_ill-favoured Race_, spent his Lady's Money in adorning his own
Person, instead of _fencing_ her Grounds. He was laughed at by one
half of the Neighbours, and despised and gulled by the other. In a
Word, he was every Way unfit for the Charge.

His Son succeeded to the Place; he was a grave-looking, orderly
young Man, main religious, and skilled in the _Customs of the
Manor_. Both the Sisters had great Hopes their Affairs would thrive
under his Management. _Betty_'s, indeed, went on well for a while;
but, in the End, both of them had Cause to complain, and curse the
Day they had bethought them of employing a _Steward_ in their
Concerns. He was not so great a Fool as his Father; yet nothing he
put his Hand to succeeded. He was _bubbled_ by every _Neighbour_ he
dealt with, and choused by every _Tenant_ he trusted. His Word
could never be relied on, as he had always some quibble to evade
it. His Wife made him hated by the Tenants; and for a finishing
Stroke to his undoing, and compleat the Ruin of his _Wards_, he
pretended the _Steward_ had a Right to hold Courts without
_Juries_, and by his own Authority levy Money for _Repairs_. The
Tenants would not endure this Invasion on their Rights, but stoutly
opposed it; and, after a hard Struggle, got the better, turned him
out of the _Stewardship_, and some of them finding him one Day at a
_why-not_, tied him to a Rope, and hanged him in a Frolick.

The Office of a _Steward_ was now abolished for a Time, and the
elder _Sister_ resolved to take her Affairs entirely into her _own
Hands_, and have neither _Steward_ or _Guardian_ for the future.
The Condition, indeed, of _both_ was deplorable. There had been
nothing during the _late Quarrel_, but Riot and Plunder, Rents
unpaid, and Soldiers quartered at Discretion; so that, in order to
retrieve their Affairs, it seemed necessary to put things on a _new
Footing_, and trust none but themselves to manage them. But
whatever they intended mattered but little.

Among the Soldiers quartered on them was a bustling Knave, who from
a Corporal had come to be a Captain. He was bold as a Lion, and
_crafty_ as a Fox. He had cajoled his Soldiers to stand by him; and
pretending _Compassion_ for the Sisters, offered, or rather forced
himself, to be their _Guardian_. They only complied because they
could not help it; and he took more _rule_ over them, than ever
_Steward_ or _Guardian_ had done before him.

He seemed, indeed, to mend Matters in the Beginning, but, in
reality, did _unrepairable_ Damage to _Blanch_, though considerable
Services to _Betty_. The Neighbours all around thought they were
thriving apace, and began to envy their Greatness. The Reason of
which was, that he always took care to have the _Girls_ well
dressed, especially when they went a _visiting_, and sent Word
before-hand (for he was d - - d proud) that all the World should
_Cap_ to them as they passed along. He stinted them in every thing
else, but _spent_ all he could _rap_ and _run_ to make them _fine_.
_Betty_ was _bashful_, and kept pretty much at home; but when
_Blanch_ went _abroad_, she made a _flaming_ Appearance, _held_ up
her Head among the _Highest_, and _insulted_ the _Proudest_ with
her _Braveries_.

But all the while Things were but _uncomfortable_ at home, though
she made such a _tearing Figure_ when abroad. Nothing to be had for
Farms, by reason the Soldiers put _in_ and _out_ as they pleased.
No _Leets_ or _Manor Courts_ were minded. No _taxing_ for _Repairs_
and _Bounds_, but the Soldiers _taxed_ for _Contingencies_ as much
Money as they could hear any one had. So that the _Tenants_ found
themselves in a worse _Pickle_ than ever they had been under the
Management of a _Steward_. They longed for Courts and _Inquests_,
and to have every thing set on the old Bottom again.

They heard of a _poor Boy_, a Son of the late _Steward_'s, who had
run away from the _Lands_ the Time his Father was hanged, and was
now grown up to Years of Discretion. As he had _bit_ a good while
on the Bridle, they thought he might be tamed, more careful than
his _Father_, and do them more Justice and Kindness. They brought
him home in a _Hurry_; and, as it's natural to run from one Extreme
to another, were sure they were all _made_ when they got him into
the _Stewardship_.

It must be owned, he was a pleasant, good-humoured Fellow as ever
broke Bread, civilly behaved, and by no means wanted Capacity for
the Business. But he was _idle_ to a Degree, followed W - - ng and
Horse-racing; and provided he could borrow Money enough from the
_Tenants_, or get _Presents_ from the _Neighbours_, to treat his
Wenches and buy them _Top-knots_, never heeded how _Accounts_ were
settled, how he held the _Courts_, or how he paid the Servants.
Farm-houses went to decay, and Strangers forestalled the Markets.
Few People, however, could find in their Heart to hate him. They
had a Love for him, though he was daily undoing them: For it was
always _their Humour_ to like a _boon Companion_; and instead of
crossing his Prodigality, they followed his Example, wh - - ed it
away from the highest to the lowest, revelled and caroused for
_dear Blood_, and were never better pleased than when the last
Penny was a going. It became a _Fashion_ to be Bankrupt; to be
Rich, was to lose all Credit; and to be Just, was the Mark of a

But though the _elder Sister_ was well-nigh undone by him, he did a
good Turn by _Betty_, and sent one of his _Cousins_ to take care of
her Concerns, who had a good Farm of his own under her, and
was well-beloved over the whole Estate. He kept _Leet_ and
_Court-Baron_, presented Vagabonds at the Sessions, and gave
Rewards for apprehending _Out-laws_. He set the Tenants to Work,
_lived constantly among them_, and looked himself into every thing.
_Betty_ began to thrive, and was less expensive to her _Sister_,
who had wasted huge Sums to keep her Head above Water. She stuck to
Business, and prospered mainly, 'till the _Steward_'s Brother got
himself into the Place, who played H - - ll with every thing, and
brought the two Sisters to the Brink of Ruin.

He was rash, senseless, obstinate, and ill-minded; none of the
Neighbours would _deal_ with him, or the _Tenants_ trust him, as
there was no believing one Word he said, or promise that he made;
for he had taken an Oath when he was young never to speak Truth. He
began his Vagaries by putting the _Curate_ in the _Stocks_, for
refusing to teach a new _Catechism_ of his _own Invention_. He
entered into a Plot to secure the _Elder Sister_ in the House of
Correction, and make her do Penance in the Church, under Pretence
of Carnal Conversation. He agreed to sell _Betty_ to a Cousin of
his, a great Lord in the Neighbourhood, who longed to have her for
a Waiting-woman to his Wife. So the _Tenants_ made short Work with
him, rose one and all, and sent him a-packing to his Cousin, where
he was fain to be a Serving-man, since he could not send _Betty_ to
be a Serving-maid.

Both the _Sisters_ took an Oath never more to have a _Steward_
again, and to abolish the very Name from among them, with a reserve
to his Daughters, who had married abroad, and were good sort of
Women, in their Way.

Here it was that _both the Sisters_ had their Affairs put on a sure
and lasting Footing. The Rights of the _Tenants_ were narrowly
examined, and all pretended Powers of the Steward abolished by a
Rule on the _Court Manor_ Books. There was, indeed, some Difficulty
in bringing it about, and a power of Money laid out on the
Occasion. But it was well bestowed had it been twice as much.

There was a _Stripling_ among the neighbouring _Fens_, who had
married a Daughter of the _Steward_'s, and had got the best Estate
there by the Diligence of his _Ancestors_, who were the principal
_Engineers_ in _draining_ and _banking_ the Country. They had often
borrowed Money from _Blanch_ to carry on the Work, to _stem_ the
Water when the _Fen-men_ were in despair, and prevailed on her to
send a strong _Posse_ of her Tenants to keep off some malicious
Neighbours, who would ever and anon be _boring_ Holes in the
_Dikes_, and endangered the Overflowing of all the Land they had
gained. If ever these _wretched People_ shewed any thing that
looked like _Gratitude_, it was to the Family of their _Engineers_;
and this young Man improved it to his own Advantage, and that of
_Blanch_, whom he acknowledged the Preserver of the _Fen-men_, who
deserved Preservation on no other Account than to make them
_Pack-horses_ and _Carriers_. They were, indeed, a middle Species
between Men and Brutes, and chiefly compounded of the latter. But
this young _Adventurer_ had got the Ascendant over them, and, as we
ordinarily say of vicious Horses, had made the D - - l come out of
them. He _ringed_ them by the Nose, and _bled_ them with the
_Spur_, and so throughly _broke_ them (for he was a special
Horseman) that they never kicked or plunged when he was _in the
Saddle_; but, as the Nature of Beasts is, became the fonder of him
the rougher he handled them.

When he understood that _Blanch_ and her _Sister_ were so hampered
and _Tyrannically_ treated by the _Steward_, he came to their
Assistance, supplied them with Money, which he raised from the
_Fen-men_, and fairly set them free from his Oppression and Rapine,
reversed his _Grants_, cancelled his sham Leases, restored
Possessions, _Leets_ and _Manor-Courts_, made up _Fences_ for the
Tenants, and so strongly secured their _Copyholds_, that there is
no likelihood they will ever be _ousted_ or much _disturbed_ again.
And, to crown all the Services he had done the two Sisters,
he _recommended_ them, before he parted, to the Care of a
_neighbouring Lord_, a Cousin of his own, and a _right honest Man_,
who proved a Father to _them_ and their People, defended their
_Rights_, and secured their _Properties_.

And yet _Blanch_ could never rightly like the _Fen-man_, as she
called him, though he had done so much for her. She could not
comport herself with his Manners and his Humour, hated the Servants
he brought with him, complained they were too costly to her, though
she kept them sparingly, and even quarrelled (so exceptious are
Women) to the Cut of their Cloaths, and the Colour of their

But _Betty Ireland_ had more Gratitude than her _Sister_, adored
him while he stayed with her, and to this Day _remembers_ him as
her _great Deliverer_, the Protector of her Life, and the Founder
of her Fortune.

She, indeed, had double Obligations, as her Condition was more
helpless than her _Sister_'s, and she had more severely felt the
_Tyranny_ of the _Steward_, who, because she could not so readily
complain of him, had first _stripped_ her of all she had, and then
sold her to Bondage. But both _Sisters_ ought surely to reflect,
that all the Happiness, and all the Security they have since
enjoyed, has been owing to the _Friendships_ he procured them, when
he put them under the Protection of _his Cousins_; and that he has
effectually banished the _Stewards_ thereby, who would doubtless
otherwise be meddling with their Affairs, and use them worse than
ever they did before, as coming _in without Leave_, they would act
without Controul.

But maugre all these Considerations, _Blanch_ was glad when he left
her, and ready to leap out of her Skin for joy. She thought of
nothing but Diversions, spent her _Time_ and _Money_ in _visiting_
and _dressing_, ransacked the Globe to set off her Person, and, it
must be owned, she never looked handsomer in her Life. Wherever she
went, she was adored as an Angel, surrounded by admiring Throngs,
and Thousands hanging on her _Look_.

But all this was empty Pageantry and too expensive Glory. She ran
herself in Debt to uphold this Appearance, mortgaged her _Estate_,
and bartered her _Stock_, for the vain Applause of flattering
Knaves, and scoundrel _Tradesmen_. It was Time to pull in, and keep
a Hank in the Hand. She saw her Folly, and doffed her _Gear_. It
was better _go plain_ than run in Debt for Finery; and enough she
had to do to pay the Debts she had contracted in her _Fit of_

_Betty_ all the while was minding Business at home, and her Affairs
prospered amain. Her _Tenants_ became industrious, and her _Estate_
improved; yet she never thought herself sufficiently _secure_ till
she got under the new _Protection_ her _Deliverer_ had provided.
Her Situation is particular. She has a strange Mixture of People on
her Estate, who are always at Daggers drawing with one another, and
a mighty Hindrance to her Business. They are _Whites_, _Blacks_,
and _Black_ and _White_. The _Whites_ only are allowed to be
_Land-holders_; but the _last_, by hiding half the Face when they
converse with her, pass for _Whites_, and make good their _Titles_.
The first are dreadfully maligned by the _Blacks_, who are
unhappily the more numerous, _lay old Claims_ to her _Lands_, and
are ever watching for an Opportunity to make a _Riot_, and take
forcible Possession. 'Till now they were too much favoured by her
_Sister_, which checked the Industry of her Farmers.

But when they found they had nothing to fear, either at home or
abroad, they began in earnest to improve _their Concerns_, as they
were sure they were working for themselves, and in no Danger of
being dispossessed, by Virtue of _chimerical_ Claims, and
_Antediluvian Proprietors_.

The _Blacks_, indeed, immediately made a _Riot_ on this new
Settlement, but could not get Possession; and, lately, a _young
Jackanapes_ pretended a _Right_ to be _Steward_ to _both Sisters_,
by Virtue of a _Patent_ he had got from the last _Steward_, as if
he had a Right to dispose of a _Place_ he had been turned out of
himself. He came on the Lands, however, with a _bloody-minded_ Crew
of _skirtless_ Vagabonds, drove off the Cattle, robbed the
_Hen-roosts_, and _swaggered_ at so _unmerciful_ a Rate, that
_Blanch_ was frightened out of her Senses, and was fain to _send_
for a Dram of _Gin_ to restore her Spirits. But if she was
frightened, her _Guardian_ was not, and had a _Month's Mind_ to
find out the _Varlet_ in Person, and tread him under his Feet.
But as he could not leave the _Hall-house_ where the _Court
was sitting_, he sent a _Lad_ of his own to take Account of him,
who did the _Business tightly_. He was a _well-mettled Blade_,
and _Steel_ to the _Back_. He came up with him at the Corner
of a Farmer's Yard, where he gave him and his _Desperados_ a
wofull Drubbing, kicked him i'the A - - e, _soused_ him in the
_Horse-pond_, which he swam over to save his Bacon, and looked so
miserably scared in his Passage, that it's sure he'll never _try
the Ford_ again.

For a good while before this Alarm happened (which proved nothing
but a _Bugbear_) both the _Sisters_ had a fair Opportunity of
minding their Concerns, and getting above the World. _Blanch_ might
have paid her Debts, and had Money to the fore; but it was ever her
Misfortune to be _ill-served_ by almost all she employed. Never,
sure, had Lady so _unhandy_ a Pack about her, and, indeed, it was
impossible it could well be otherwise; for she did not chuse her
_Servants_ because they were _fit_ for this, or that _Office_, but
because they asked, and would have it, or be horribly out of
Humour else, would make a Noise and _Uproar_ at every _Court-Leet_,
terrify the _Tenants_ at every _Ale-house_, with strange Stories of
Designs on their _Copy-holds_, and wicked _Plots_ just ready to
begin; 'till they turned their Heads, and set them madding. So that
the poor Lady was fain to _take them in_, to keep Peace at Home,
and to pay them Wages for not doing her Business. The Consequence
of which was, she had _Clerks_ could neither write or read; Book,
and Cash-keepers, that could not _count_ or cast up, or ever heard
of a _Ballance_ in their Lives. And so ridiculous was her
Compliance in this Point, that she had once a Lady to curry her
Horse, and a _Fishmonger_ for a _Grass Bailiff_.

'Tis true, she would often change her Servants, but not a _Barrel
the better Herring_. If she got one, by chance, knew any thing of
his Business, the _rest_ never left boddering her 'till they had
him out. It should never be said they demeaned themselves so much
as to serve with one, who would spoil every thing by his
_Rashness_, and disgrace the Service by his _Ignorance_. Now, by
_Rashness_ they meant _resenting Insults_ and _Injuries_ done their
Lady; and by _Ignorance_, not knowing how to _buy_ and _sell_, and
live by the _Loss_. So that, all Things considered, it were a
Marvel her Affairs should be in better Plight than they are, or her
Debts be paid with more Ease and Expedition.

_Betty_, in the mean time, is come to an opulent Fortune, has her
Rents well paid, and her Farms daily improving, and would improve
ten times more, if her _Sister_ could see her own Advantage so far,
as to give her that Encouragement she is daily giving to
_Strangers_, who give her nothing in Return but their Envy and
Ill-will. But as it is, _Betty_'s in a good Way, and makes the most
of a bad Market. And since she must not work for her _Sister_, she
works for herself.

It had been a Custom of hers to buy every thing she wanted from her
_Sister's Tenants_ and _Tradesmen_, though they used her
abominably, and put off upon her the worst Goods they had. If the
Farmer had damaged Hops, he sold them to _Betty Ireland_; if his
Malt was blinked, away it went to her; and the _Pothecary_ thought
his decayed Drugs good enough for _Betty_, and instead of burning
them, laid them by for her, as tho' she were not a Christian, or
had the same Inside as her Sister.

_Betty_ could not help this contemptuous Treatment, as she had
nothing she wanted at Home, by reason of her Laziness, though all
Materials in abundance were at hand. 'Tis incredible to relate,
but, at the Time I am speaking of, certain Fact, on her whole
Estate there was not one to be found could make a Buckle for her
Shoe, or a Pin to her Sleeve; a Pot, a Spit, or any Utensil to cook
her Victuals, might as well be found among the _Tartars_ as with
her. She took every thing from her _Sister_ at what Price she
pleased, unsight unseen, and bought the _Pig in the Poke_.
Necessity roused her from Stupidity and Sloth, she encouraged her
Tenants to apply to Trades, assured them of a ready Market, and
rewarded those that did their Work the best; and, at present, has
every thing within herself. And tho' it must be owned a very
unreasonable, and _not to be endured_ Instance of her Impudence,
she proposes to dress in her own Manufactures, and does not mean
to trouble her _Sister_ any longer for _cast Cloaths_ and
_unmerchantable_ commodities. But in every other Respect, she
desires to keep up a good Correspondence with her, and is daily
doing every thing in her Power, to gain her Favour, and procure her
Regards. Whatever she can spare from her ordinary Expences, she, in
some Shape or other, makes a Present of to her _Sister_, in
Acknowledgement for Services done, and Kindnesses receiv'd in her
_Minority_. Has _Blanch_ a Favourite whom she cannot readily
provide for, a poor Relation on hand, or Retainer to the Family, a
broken Projector, or cast Serving-man; she has no more to do but
acquaint _Betty_ with it, who quickly puts him on a _creditable
Pension_, and never refuses, though she run herself in Debt by it.
Is _Blanch_ engaged in a Brangle with her _Tenants_, (who, by the
way, are cursedly litigious) and hard put to it for Hands to do


Online LibraryAnonymousThe True Life of Betty Ireland → online text (page 1 of 2)