Great Britain. Commissioners of inquiry into the w.

Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the acts amending the same online

. (page 165 of 295)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Commissioners of inquiry into the wReport of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the acts amending the same → online text (page 165 of 295)
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8951a. Your residence is on it ? — It is.

8952. Does it adjoin your other farm? — It imme-
diately adjoins it.



Mr. John Gamble, Londonderay, examined.



8953. The O'Conoe Don. — You live in London-
derry 1 — Yes.

8954. Are you in business in the town 1 — Yes. I
am in the seed trade.

8955. Do you also hold some townparks? — I hold
two farms as executor under a will.

895G. You call them farms ?— Yes ; but I do not
want to give evidence with regard to them. ^ My evi-
dence en the tenant question generally is similar to
what has been given by Mr. Alexander and Mr.
Hanna ; but I wish to mention the special case of the
townland of Carndonagh ; it is the market town of the
barony of Innishowen. I have been deputed to attend
here for that district.

8957. State what the case is that you wish to bring
before us % — This townland, Churchlands, iir which the
village of Carndonagh is built comprises 237 acres,

8958. "Who is the landlord 1 — Mr. Wm. Eankin.

8959. Chairman. — Is he the landlord of the whole
townland '! — He is.

8960. The O'CoNOB Don. — Where does he reside?
— Quite near Carndonagh, at a place called Tearna-
league. The village is built on a rock in the centre
of the townland. The rook comprises 1 4a. Or. 1p. The
village has been built entirely by the inhabitants.

8961. By the occupying tenants? — By the occupy-
ing tenants, and there are no leases. They usually
have a house and garden and a field, for which they
pay a fair rent. The landlord permitted the erection
of the buildings — in fact they were built with his
consent, and were encouraged by him. He said he
would not interfere with them at all, and in true Irish
fashion they spent their earnings in building and im-
proving their houses on their trust in Mr. Rankin's
word without leases. The total number of houses
that have been erected is 153.

8962. Chairman. — ■ Dwelling-houses ? — Dwelling-
houses. The poor law valuation of the townland is
£148, and the valuation of the buildings, £738 12s.,
making a total for land and buildings of £886 12s., as
the value of the townland. I am told that 3Ir. Eankin
always gives liberty of free sale — that is, one person
may sell his interest to another, and have it registered
by going to the office and getting the name changed.

8963. In the case of these houses ? — Yes — by simply
ffoins to the rent oiSce and having the name changed.
The usual price is about twenty-two years' puroliase
on the Government valuation. The total tenant-right
of these houses, valued at twenty-two years purchase,
would be £19,505 4s., and this entire property is held
with three or four exceptions at the will of the land-
lord. The old man is now dead ; his son has suc-
ceeded him, and there is a possibility of the place
being sold. As long as it is in the hands of the
present family the tenants have no fear whatever,
but they are in terror lest the ownership may change
hands, as the entire of their interest in the property
— ^represented by a sum of £19,500 — would be at
the mercy of whoever might chance to be the buyer.

8964. Mr. Shaw. — Are these people in business?
— ^Yes, they have shops, and carry on a smart
business — the village is in the centre of the barony
and all descriptions of goods are sold there. Up
to the present it has gone on in true Irish fashion.
He was a good landlord, and the tenants were his
dependents; as far as that is concerned, there is



no complauit. Their apprehension arises from the
fear that the property may change owners.

8965. The O'Conor Don. — Have they ever asked
for leases ? — Within the last few years they a.sked for
leases, and leases have been promised. When I was
there a day or two ago, I was shown the lease that
was offered — it proposes to increase the rent, and it
embodies a clause tuat at the termination all the im-
provements shall be handed over to the proprietor or
his representatives.

8966. Mr. Shaw. — What is the length of the lease
that was offered ? — One hundred years.

8967. That is not a bad lease ? — Well, in the case
of a house built as these are, on the top of a rook, and
where the landlord never expended one shilling upon
them, they think that if the tenant keeps it in good
order for a hundred years he ought to get a property
in it. They consider the Land Act of 1870 gives no
protection in a case of this kind.

8968. They consider they have a tenant-right ia
these houses, but the Land Act does not cover it ?^
Yes.

8969. Chairman. — Is that on the ground that they
are townparks 1 — Yes ; the tenants have bits of land,
but they don't live on them — they live lq the town
and cultivate the land.

8970. The O'Conor Don. — What they want is pro-
tection for the houses ? — Yes ; protection for their pro-
perty.

8971. The chief pai-t of the expenditure has been
building, I suppose ? — Yes. There is another adjacent
village something similar. To show how hard it presses
upon the people, and how it checks and petiifies then-
enterprise — some of these people live in mere hovels,
who, if they had encouragement and security would
buUd good houses. I know people myself who are
living in miserable hovels, who have money in the bank
and if they got encouragement would build at once.

8972. Mr. Shaw. — Is not a hundred years lease suf-
ficient encouragement ? I know houses in large towns
whicli have been built on a ninety years' lease? — Yes,
but that is in the case of a house- built in a town, not
a village.

8973. Chairman. — Though living in the village, you
say many of them are farmers ? — Yes ; they are all in
business of some sort or other. A number of them
deal in corn and cattle.

8974. Is the townland held with the town? — Yes.

8975. And I understand there are no farmers on
the townland, except people living in the town? — None ;
there may be an exception or two, but that is all.

8976. Is there a fair held in the village? — Yes, a
monthly fair.

8977. That brings it within the townpark clause?
— Yes. I may mention another case of a vUlage a
few miles distant, upon the estate of another proprietor.
During the last twenty years it has grown simply by
this sort of feeling between the tenants and the land-
lord until it has become a small town, with a weekly
market and a monthly fair. They built the houses
without any leases. They got the ground at one shil-
ling or one and sixpence a foot, having "confidence in
the landlord that they would be leniently dealt with.
That is the village of Cross, Clonmany.

8978. Is it under the same landlord as the other?
— No, the landlord is a Mr. John Loughrey, J. P.,



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE.



307



Binion House, Clonmany. For instance, a house
costing abotit £800 was built for a liotel twenty years
ago. After the tenant's death, two years since, the
executors put iip the place for sale. The rent was
originally £2 15s. The landlord said the rent should
bo £13 10s.

8979. It was raised from £2 15s. to £13 10s. ?— Yes.
It was sold for £500 — a little over half the cost. The
increase was no doubt legal, but there will be no more
building in that place under svicli conditions.

8980. Chairman. — Are there many houses in this
Tillage held under middlemen 1 — No ; they are held
direct from the landlord.

8981. Mr. SnAW.^If the first village you men-
tioned was sold to some outsider who might, perhaps,
not recognise the claims of these persons to tenant-
right it would be a serious matter for them t — It woiild
indeed — that is the thing of which they are apprehen-
sive.

8982. Chaiemait. — Is it your opinion that the pro-
visions of the Land Act should be extended to such
holdings 1 — I think the Land Act should be extended to
fill cases where the tenants make an outlay upon the
holding. Persons carrying on business in villages
.should be protected as well as farmers.

8983. Mr. Shaw. — You would extend it to towns
and villages ? — To small country villages I would ; but
not to houses in cities.

8981. You think people who live in towns and
cities are generally business persons who can take
■care of themselves? — Yes. But this village, Carn-
donagh, has been built on the faith the people had in
their landlord, who is one of the best in the whole
country — his treatment of his tenantry was indulgent
in the extreme — much the same as the former Lord
Leitrim who was considered one of the best landlords
in the country.

8985. You mean the father of the Earl who was
killed 1 — I do ; he was indulgent, as a landlord, to an
extraordinary degree. I might mention one or two
other cases of land that came into my possession as an
executor, illustrating the hardships occasioned by the
power the landlords have of arbitrarily raising rent.

8986. You had better mention them'? — There is a
farm over which I am executor. The man died four
years ago. The rent in the old lease was £60 or £61,
the farm contained 110 statute acres. The rent was
raised to £105.

8987. Was it on the death of the tenant 1 — No ; on
the termination of the lease during the life of the
tenant. The Government valuation was £77. The
rent put on was £105. This was a year before the
passing of the Land Act. The old man said he could
not pay the rent ; he got the option of paying it or
walking out.

8988. Was he not allowed to sell?— He did not
wish to lose his property. He elected to remain
on. I might mention that this man had improved
the land wonderfully by digging out rocks and
stones — in fact a great deal of the land when he
got it was full of rocks and whins and unfit for culti-
vation. He spent all his spare money in improving
the land, and after all that had been done his rent was



raised from £60 to £105 a year. A year after the Sept. 27,1880

Land Act passed a lease was granted; it was dated ji^. john

back prior to the Land Act, dated as of 1869 — and Gamble.

the ordinary clauses were inserted binding him to give

up possession at the end of thirty-one years. Now the

grievance in this case is, that the rent was raised

upon the man's own improvements, and to an amount

that he could not pay — an amount that the land was

unable to bear. I was obliged to sell the form in 1878

in order to pay his debts owing to the excessive

rent.

8989. Did the tenant-right sell for anything? — It
sold for ten years' purchase — but it would have fetched
fifteen or twenty years had it not been for the rise of
rent.

8990. Is it near a town 1 — It is within four miles
of Londonderry.

8991. The O'CONOR Don.— How long before had
the rent been raised ? — The lease expired in 1866 — it
was a lease for lives, and had perhaps lasted for fifty
years.

8992. Then, at tlie expiration of fifty years, a rise
was made? — Yes.

8993. Mr. Shaw. — The improvements had been
made by the tenant ? — Every one of them.

8994. Is that the usual thing in that part of the
countrj', or do the landlords make improvements? —
No ; the tenants make all the improvements.

8995. The O'Conor Don.— Who is the landlord?—
The present landlord is Colonel Lyle.

8996. Mr. Shaw. — Is there tenant-right on his
estate ? — Yes ; but the tenant-right is being destroyed
by the raising of rent.

8997. Is that a general complaint in your district
— the raising of rents ? — Yes ; and that the increase
is excessive. The rents are more than the valuation.
If a tenant imi^roves his farm, his rent will be raised,
and his tenant-right is swamped by the rise of rent.

8998. Chairman. — In the Land Act there is this
description of townparks : —

" Any holding ordinarily termed ' townparks' adjoining
or near to any city or town, which shall bear an increased
value as accommodation land over and above the ordinary
letting value of land occupied as a farm."

Therefore if it is occupied as a farm it does not come
under the definition of townpark. Has there been
any case before the Land Court on the subject? — No j
not from our district.

8999. Were you aware that that is the definition of
a townpark ? — I am aware of it, sir ; but I am also
aware that there are many cases in which the County
Court Judges make difierent decisions.

9000. Mr. Shaw. — Your opinion is, that the case
of the village houses you have mentioned is a peculiar
case in itself, and has elements that are not provided
for in the Land Act ? — Yes.

9001. Your contention is, that they build the houses
in the faith of tenant-right ? — Yes, sir. The landlord
of Carndonagh always allowed them fixity of tenure,
fair rents, and free sale.

9002. But in case the landlord sells the property
their right is gone? — Yes, sir; that is what they are
aiDprehensive of — a change of landlords.



Ml'. James Lapsley, St. Johnstown, county Donegal, examined.



Mr. James



9003. Chairman. — You live at St. Johnstown 1—
Yes, sir.

9004. Is that near Londonderry ? — It is in the
county Donegal, within six miles of Londonderry.

9005. What case do you wish to mention to us ? —
My case is similar to the one which has been stated
by Mr. Gamble, with this addition, that we are under
notice to quit at the present time.

9006. Mr. Shaw. — You have no leases? — No leases.
Some tenants who built lately have leases ; but a
number of the tenants who have been in occupation
for years have none.

9007. How many of them are there ? — I think over
twenty.



9008. Had they formerly leases of their holdings ? ^^P^'^^-
—No ; they built the houses without leases on the
faith of the Ulster custom.

9009. Are they small houses 1 — Some of them are
pretty large for a village— built at a cost of £100 to
£250 each.



on part of the pro-
No house in the vil-



9010. It is a village?— It is
perty of the Duke of Abercorn.
lage cost him anything.

9011. Is there a fair held in it ? — Only one in the
year._ The Duke has tried to establish a market in it
within the last year — a corn market.

9012. There is no weekly market? — No.

2R2



308



IRISH LAND ACT COMMISSION, 1880.



Sept. 27, ISSO.

Mr. James
Lapsley.



9013. They built upon the faith of a custom that
existed on the estate ? — Yes ; a custom under which a
tenant, who wished to dispose of his holding, had
liberty from the olKce to sell, and the other had liberty
to b\iy. Now there are over twenty of us under
notice to quit without that privilege.

9014. Without the power of selling? — Yes.

9015. Is it for non-payment of rent that the notices
were served 1 — No. it is not. I am under notice to
quit, and I do not owe anything.

9016. What is the reason of it?— We thought it
was through the unpleasantness that arose out of the
result of the last election, or from a desire to increase
the rent-roll.

9017. Have you votes 1 — A number of us have votes.
Thirteen out of twenty-five or twenty-six have votes ;
and we thought it was for that. However, we have
not ascertained as yet what their object is in serving
the notices.

9018. Were you asked for an increase of rent ? — The
form of the notices was this — a notice to quit otherwise
the rent would be double. That is the wording of the
notice.

9019. Who is the agent?— Mr. T. W. D.Humphreys;
the sub-agent is Mr. James M'Farland.

9020. Does Mr. Humphreys live there? — No; he
lives on the Tyrone property. The Duke has property
in each county.

9021. And you say there are over twenty tenants
under the same circumstances as you are ? — Yes.

9022. Do they know you are coming here to-day ? —
They do. I represent the village.

9023. Do they hold land ? — They do ; some of them.
Others are tradesmen — blacksmiths and cai-penters,
who are a great accommodation to the surrounding
people, and some of them are shopkeepers. Some of
them have land and some have not; but, of course,
even those who have no land, shopkeepers and trades-
men, are a great accommodation to the working class
of people, and to some of the farmers as well.

9024-. The O'Conor Don.— Your case is the same as



that mentioned by the last witness, with this excep-
tion, that you are actually under notice to quit ?— -Yes,
we are under notice to quit in November, and we have
no liberty to sell under the notice, whereas we thought
we had under the custom.

9025. What are the present rents of the houses-
are they ground rents or are they in proportion to the
value of the houses ? — In proportion to the vahie of the
houses, mostly.

9026. Mr. Shaw. — Do you think it was in order to-
raise the rents the notices were served ? — Yes.

9027. Chairman. — I believe you have two holdings ?
— I have.

9028. Are they both under notice ? — Both under
notice — I got two notices.

9029. The O'Conok Don.— Are they both houses?
— A house and land ; I hold about twenty acres of land.

9030. Have you been put to any costs already in
respect of those notices 1 — None.

9031. The reason I asked the question was, you.
mention in your notes two ejectment processes which
involved some costs ? — That was my brother's case, not
mine.

9032. Is he here ?— He is not.

9033. Do you know the particulars of his case ?— 1
do.

9034. Mention shortly what his case is ? — It was
with regard to a little farm that he occufiied. The
office wanted a portion of it for the purpose of extend-
ing the market, and they would not come to terms
with him with regard to the value of it. He offered
to leave the value to arbitration but they required him
to submit to whatever value they would put upon it,
without even telling him how much they would give,
and he didn't like to agree to that, so they served him
with notice to quit on 1st November next.

9035. They ejected him from the whole ? — Yes, from
the whole — house, land, and all. He is sure to get
compensation for the land under the Ulster custom,
but he has no security for the money that he expended
on the house.



Mr. Samuel
Oaborne and
Mr. John
Steel.



Mi: Samuel Osborne, Springtown, Londonderry, and Mr. John Steel, The Park, Londonderry, examined

! a tenant-farmer ?-



9036. Chairman. — You are
IMr. Osborne. — I am.

9037. What land do you hold ?— I hold altogether
229a. 3r. 26p., Lq two holdings, one of which 1 hold
directly under the Irish Society ; the other is on the
property of the Society, but there is a middleman be-
tween us.

9038. Have you any complaint to make as to the
mode in which the Irish Society manage their pro-
perty? — I think all my complaints are embodied in
this paper [produced] of February, 1854, an extract
from which I shall ask your permission to read. I
do not think there has been any improvement in the
Society's management of their estate since that time.
The management of the property of the Irish Society
and of the other London corporations, who have estates
in Ireland was investigated very fully on that occasion
before a Eoyal Commission which took evidence in
London.

9039. In 1854 ? — Yes, before a Royal Commission
of which the late Right Hon. Henry Labouchere was
chairman. There is one special case which is in itself
an illustration of the management of the Society — the
case of Mr. Babington wliose nephew, I believe, will
be here before you to-morrow. He says : —

"In the year 1832 I got a sixty-one years' lease from the
Irish Society, they bound me to Lay out £750, and they
gave me seven years to do it. I did it witiiin the time and
got a certificate from their agent that I had fully performed
my contract. Having a larger farm than I at first intended to
hold upon my hands I wished to lay out a much larger sum
and I went on laying out a considerable sum of money. I
had laid out over £6,000 upon it. I have meraoriahzed the
Society at times for an extension of the lease ; they always
treated me very civilly when they came over to the country,
and approved of my buildings. The last time I applied to



them I stated the case very strongly, and said as they were
trustees for the plantation, as I had laid out so large a sum
I would take it as a favour if, having spent so many years
in maldng the improvements, they would make up my term to
my original grant of sixty-one years. The answer I got
from their secretary to one of my memorials was this — ' In
reply to your memorial, I beg to inform you that the
Honourable the Irish Society have come to the following
resolution — That a new lease be granted to you for four-
teen years, to commence from the expiration of your pre-
sent term at the rent of £162 19s. 2d. ' (I then paid £112
1 9s. 2d.) ' upon the distinct understanding that a flauseshwll
be inserted for the tenant-right to be waived or given up,
and the vihole of the buildings thereon, or to be placed
thereon, with all the improvements on the land, &c., are to
be the exclusive property of the Irish Society at the expira-
tion of the term.' "

9040. That was Mr. Babing ton's evidence given
before the Commission in 1854? — Yes; and my case
is similar to it.

9041. Mr. Kavanagh. — Your case is the same ?—
Almost identically the same. When I took my farm
originally it contained 152a. 1r. 30p. Forty acres of
that are bog. It was given to the tenant who pre-
viously held it on the distinct understanding that it
was to be drained by the Society, and upon that under-
standing the same rent was paid for it as for the land
adjoining. That undertaking was never carried out,
from the fact that there were mills in the neighbour-
hood, and the water would not be allowed to pass
under the mills. I then }iurchat,ed the farm, but the
moment I attemjjted to drain the forty acres I was
served with a notice to quit by the Society.

9042. Mr. Kavanagh. — Do I understand you to
say that it was on account of the mills that you were
prevented from draining the forty acres ? — Yes ; but [
secured the good-will of the miller, and also g')t per-



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE.



309



mission from the Railway Company, but I had to de-
sist operations wlien I got a notice to quit from tlie
Society.

9043. Was that notice to quit served upon you in
order to prevent you from draining 1 — No ; I think
the Society did not understand it.

9044. What was the object of the notice?— Well,
the Society are not favourable to tenant-light ; they do
not understand it. They are English gentlemen.

9045. They did not understand tenant-right"! — Yes.
After I purchased the farm, they said they must have
a revaluation. I submitted to that, and the farm was
raised from £60 to £62 2s. 6cZ. That, you will perhaps
say, was not much of a rise, but the draft lease of four-
teen years was sent to me with an express covenant to
waive my tenant-right — -just what Mr. Babington com-
plains of in the passage I have read. Refusing to do that,
they asked me to submit to anothei- valuation, which
I declined to do, feeling that one valuation in twehe
months was quite enough ; but they carried it out,
and the result was my rent was increased to £\ 1 3 2s. G(/.

9046. From £62 2s. U. ]— Yes.

9047. The O'Conob, Don. — How long ago was this?
— In 1S74. I may mention that I had two valuators
on my own account — one of whom estimated the value
at £72 2s. 6(7. This case raises an important ques-
tion about valuators, and illustrates what six of them
will do within twelve months. I told you the result
of their first valuation was £02 2s. 6d. One of the
valuators I employed made it £72 2s. Qd. ; another
valuator made it £76, with half the county cess re-
turned ; a third valuator made it £85 Is. ll^'i. ; the
fourth £113 2s. Gd. ; and the fifth (the Irish Society)
£ 103. I went to London and waited on the Society, and
explained the circumstances to them, and with what
result 1 — They say I may take the farm at a rent of
£103 per annum as tenant-at-will — that I should have
seven days to consider the acceptance of that offer ;
that, failing acceptance within seven days, I should be
required to give up possession ; and, failing to give
up possession, theii- solicitor would be instnicted to
take steps to recover possession" from m.e. I say the
Society — who are a fluctuating body of gentlemen,
many of whom are unacquainted with the circum-
stances of their property — did this in ignorance.

9048. Mr. Shaw. — Have they an agent here ?^
Yes, and a valuator too ; but I think they were mis-
led by their valuator's statement to them. I again say
I do not blame the English gentlemen at all. I have
always been treated very kindly by them when I went



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Commissioners of inquiry into the wReport of Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inquiry into the Working of the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act, 1870, and the acts amending the same → online text (page 165 of 295)