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 89 of 295)
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the town of Donegal, fourteen mUes into Bally-
shannon ; from the borders of Fermanagh right up to
Donegal is very good land.

1917. You are not acquainted intimately with the
western part of Donegal 1 — No, not with the western
part. What I meant to convey was that that
portion of Donegal is like part of Tyrone — part of
King J ames's settlement.

1918. Baron Dowse. — What part of Tyrone are
you principally acquainted with? — The union of
Clogher and the union of Omagh. Irvinestown ip
partly in Tyrone and partly in Fermanagh.

1919. The O'Conor Don. — Have you at all



S,pt. 4, 1880.

Mr. Samuel
Joseph Allen.

considered -why the late distress in Mayo produced
disturbance while tlie distress in Donegal apparently
has not? — I think it takes very little to agitate _Mayb
people, in consequence of evictions and the passionate
attachment with which they regard the land in their

1920. It is not due in any way to difference of
treatment between them and their landlords 1 — There
never existed amongst any of the northern plantation
— ^when I say plantation I mean counties under the
old Ulster settlement— there never is that kind of
chronic poverty that exists in Mayo.

1921. You do not beUeve it existed in Western
Donegal?— Take the country from Westport, go from
Ballyhaunis, Claremorris, and right up to "Westport,
there is a large class of people who are in a per-
petual state of poverty.

1922. In fact, if they had no rent to pay they could
hardly live on their holdings ?— There are holdings
where they could not live solely by the land.

1923. Chairman. — Does that arise from the bad-
ness of the soil 1 — Yes, and the small quantity.

1924. The O'Coi^or Don. — The subdivision has
gone on to such an extent ? — The great difficulty is that
the land is so unevenly divided, you will find one part
where the farms are large and the country good, and
other places where it is over-populated, and the land bad.

1925. You know the country about Swiuford ? — I
was only at Swinford once, but Claremorris Union I
know. Of course the condition of a great deal of
the west is greatly regulated by a dry hot year. If
there is a year like this there could be no distress, for
if they have plenty of turf and potatoes there, there is
never any distress.

1926. Baron Dowse. — Isn't it a fact that in that part
of the world they consider very good weather what would
be thought very little of elsewhere 1 — Yes. I have seen
them in the market place standing under the rain, as if
it was quite dry ; they did not seem to mind it.

1927. It is generally very wet there? — Yes, as a
general ru.le.

1928. That is generally the rule ; isn't there more
rain in the west than in the other parts of Ireland ? —
Yes. The great rain line runs from Cumberland, and
I think by Manchester and Liverpool, and then across
to Kerry, round by Clare and the west coast into the
County Galway. Oftentimes I have seen incessant
rain, even in harvest.

1929. Chairman. — Do you say these are people that
ownership of the land would benefit in no way ? — I
would not apply that generally, because I think a
great many of the men who have been in distress this
year have been so from exceptionally bad years. Thei-e
is no reason why in Mayo, with the land even as it
is, the twenty aci'e man Kliould be in distress.

1930. I should have thought that when they are pro-
prietors, whether they are successful or not will depend
on the goodness of the soil 1 — Decidedly ; because on
any farm, whether it is ownership or tenant, you must
have sufficient produce on the average to afford not
only subsistance but a mai'gin for bad seasons.

1931. Bai-on Dowse. — Legislation would not make
the case of any people of that descri})tion better, but it
could not make them worse t — It could not make them
worse off.

1932. And it might make their neighbours better ?
— No doubt security would better their condition, bad
as it is.

1933. Mr. Shaw.— Had the tenant-right of Done-
gal not something to do with the quietness of the
people ? — Decidedly.

1934. And the want of security in Mayo has the
opposite effect, and accounts for the difference ? — I
consider the want of security to be the difference — at
least it would constitute the difference in the main be-
tween the north and south.

1935. Baron Dowse. — Isn'tit a fact that that part of
Donegal you refer to — take from Bundoran up — was
the property of the late Mr. Thomas Connolly ?— Yes.

1936. And it was let very low ? — ^Yes.

1937. And the people were very well satisfied with

the security they had for their investment in the soil ?


1938. And they had tenant-right to the full extent
it was recognised ?— Yes, in a great many parts of
Galway and Mayo I have found the great tendency
amongst every class of farmers was to save money, if
they could, and lodge it in bank, so that in case any-
thin" occurred, either eviction or raising the rent, they
would have something to fall back upon ; but there
was no anxiety to improve the condition of the land.

1939. Suppose they had their land at a fair and rea-
sonable rent, with a sense that they would be safe while
they paid that rent, would they be more inclined to put
that money into the land than into the bank? — I
believe they would put every pound of it into the land.
I saw a remarkable case of the effect of security near
Ballinrobe, on Mr. Tighe's property ; when he got it it
was in a very bad condition, he put the houses into very
fair repair, and settled the land, and built walls, and I
was quite surprised ; it is just as if portion of the
north was taken and put near Ballinrobe. I found
from the tenants that the improved condition was due :
first to the landlord's efforts, and secondly to the
security the people had. They considered that no
matter what they did to their land in improving it
they would not be evicted.

1940. Mr. Shaw. — That is in Mayo ? — Yes.

1941. Have they leases? — I cannot say, but to all
intents and purposes they looked upon themselves as

1912. Baron Dowse. — Had that a beneficial effect
on the peace of that part of the country ? I never
heard of a single case of outrage or disturbance of any
kmd, but on the adjoining property, the old Kii'wan
property of Shrule, which belongs to the Marchioness
de Clifford, if you hear of an outrage it is sure to be in
or near that property.

1943.' Chairman. — Did you notice, going about,
whether improvements by tenants have increased since
the Land Act 1 — I have seen a very great deal_ of im-
provement within the last ten years. I was in that
part of the country before the passing of the Act, and
I have seen men get out of the bog-hole with their
spades to inquu-e what progress the bUl was making
in Parliament ; and after it passed there was, undoubt-
edly, a great tendency to improve on a moderate scale.

1 943a. Do you know, as a rule, in some parts of the
country do the landlords contribute towards the im-
provements, or iu-e they done by the tenants ?— The
tenants alone ; the landlords contribute in very few
cases. I should say men like Lord Clancaity and Lord
Clonbrook have done a good deal for their tenants.

1944. Are these properties on which tenant-right
exists ? — There is no tenant-rifjht in Galway or Mayo.

1945. Baron Dowse. — Is a man allowed to sell his
holding?— He is not allowed, but it may be done in
this way, it is entirely optional with the agent if a
tenant gives up, whether he will accept the tenant to
whom the old tenant sells his interest.

1946. His judgment is to be exercised in every m-
dividual case?— Yes ; and I found a decided tendency
in agents or landlords to look upon any improvements
as their own, and if a farm was to be given up the
first thought was what increased rental they could get.

1947. And that was to be estimated on the actual
state of the farm, including the tenant's improvements
and everything ? — Yes.

1948. Chairman.— That is by paying conpensation
tor disturbance? — That is if they wish to disturb
him, but if he goes without disturbance it is only
a model landlord who would give him compensation.

1 948a. But he would get compensation for improve-
ments even if he left voluntarily 1 — I did not know that

1949. Baron Dowse. — Did you ever hear of a case
of unexhausted manures in Connemara ? — No ; it is
pretty nearly exhausted before the land is surrendered ;
I do not know much about unexhausted manures.

1950. Do you think there is much increase of rent
in the country as a rule ? — I don't think there has
been any general increase. There have been a few
cases. I have always found that land sold in the



courts were worse for tlie tenants, for it would some-
times be bought by a grocer or speculator or someone
of that kind, and the first look he takes after his pro-
perty is to see would it gi-s-e 5 per cent. Findmg it
does ; he does not see why it should not give six, and
then he says the man who pays £10 can pay £2 more ;
the man who pays £12 can pay £15, and so on, and
then if he comes to sell it again, and anyone purchases
it on the rental, he is a considerable gainer.

1951. Is the tenant able to resist that demand? —
Practically no.

1952. And it would be an advantage he should? —

1953. You know the Ulster tenant-right custom? —

1954. You know what it is ; the land at a fair rent ;
without fear of disturbance ; the right of free sale
with a reasonable veto on the part of the landlord 1 —

1955. Do you think it would be well to extend that
to the rest of Ireland 1 — I must qualify it as to the graz-
ing farms.

1956. I am referring to land within the Land Act.
Do you think it would be beneficial ? — Yes.

1957. Do you think the country would be better
off under a regime of that sort 1 — Decidedly.

1958. Do you think that that would discountenance
schemes that have no validity in them and Avould
satisfy the tenant? — I believe it would. I do not
beUeve the men in Mayo, who are speaking and raising
the present agitation, believe in half what they say.
I am quite certain they do not, and I am quite sure
their audiences believe less, but they do it on the
principle that some beneficial measure may be

1959. On the principle that the louder they shout
the more likely is assistance to come? — There is a
general belief throughout the west that " a dumb priest
gets no parish " ; and they believe without making their
wants known nothing will come of it.

1960. CHAiEMAjr. — Do you think, on such properties
as Lord Clancarty's, Lord Clonbrock's, and other land-
lords who assist in the improvements, the tenants
would like to be compulsorily brought under the
tenant-right system, when the landlord's assistance
would probably cease ? — Decidedly ; because although

the present proprietor may be the best of men and one Sept. 4. isso.
ui)on whom they can rely, they don't know who his jj-^_ Samuel
successor may be. Joseph Allen.

1961. Baron Dowse. — And if a landlord makes
improvements on his estate for the benefit of his tenant
the landlord can be compensated by increased rent? —

1962. And wouldn't it be reasonable that the tenant
should give some increased rent to compensate the
landlord for his impi'ovements ? — Yes.

1963. Chairman. — Supj)ose the tenant had security
tliat if at any time the system of landlord improve-
ments ceased, he might then claim his tenant-right?
— I take it that anything tliat will prevent litigation
in the shape of enforcing these legal claims should be
encouraged. In fact in the case of a small holder
they put him to great expense, and in the meantime
his interest in looking after the land is .neglected.
I think anything in the shape of a lease, defining
exactly the relations between landlord and tenant
is far better. I believe the lease is the best remedy.

1 964. Bai'on Dowse. — How would you arrange the
question of fair rent — would you have a valuation or
arbitration ? — It is the only way, there must be some
independent arbitration.

1965. If the tenant is to get the land at afair rent,
and if there is any dispute as to the fair rent, that is
to be settled by arbitration, and if when it is settled,
the tenant is bound to pay it, and is allowed to sell
his interest in the land, giving a reasonable veto to
the landlord ; the tenant only to be evicted for non-
payment, or the breach of some condition it is right
to enforce, isn't that practically a lease ? — Yes.

1966. And, if an Act is passed, isn't it a lease by
Act of Parliament?— Yes.

1967. And would not that answer all the purposes
of a lease? — Yes, but of course there exists the
necessity of having an independent valuation, Grifflth's
valuation is practically useless for rent purposes ; it is
equally useless for income-tax purposes or local tax
purposes, because it does not bear a fair proportion ;
the demesnes and mansions of the principal proprietors
are valued ridiculously low ; even for ordinary local
taxation purposes it has served its day, and is done
for. No man in his senses in the west of Ireland
would buy a farm, taking Griffith's valuation as a
basis, nor would he sell it or let it on it.

Egbert Edward Peeves, Esq., examined.

1968. The O'Conor Dost. — You are a land agent,
Mr. Reeves ? — I am.

1969. In what county ? — In Limerick and in the
Queen's County ; and in Tipperary I am a tenant

1970. Do you reside in Tipperary? — No, I reside
in the Queen's County. I am a landlord in Limerick,
Tipperary, and Kilkenny.

1971. In what part of Limerick are the estates of
which you have the management situated ? — Croom,
Piathkeale, and Ballingarry, adjoining Lord Devon's

1972. Is that mixed land ? — Well, the whole of the
land near Ballingarry is, I may say, grazing.

1973. Dairy farms ?— Principally dairy farms.

1 974. The farms are pretty large, I suppose ? — Yes,
from 50 to 150 acres. In the neighbourhood of
Croom the land is mixed, tillage and dairy, and
towards Rathkeale it is almost altogether tillage.

1975. How does the valuation go in that district,
is it lower or higher than the rent ? — I think nearly
all the old tillage farms are let at about the valuation,
bnt, -svith regard to gi-ass farms, they are let at about
20 per cent, over the valuation.

1976. That, I suppose, is owing to the high price
of cattle ?— Yes, and the consequent competition for
grass land. I think the people consider the grass
land better value at 20 i)er cent, above the valuation
than they do the tillage land at the valuation.

1977. How long have you been a land agent in
that county ? — Nineteen years.

1978. Has there been any raising of rents durino-
that period to any serious extent? — No, we have
rather reduced them.

1979. Within the last couple of years, I suppose?
—No, I have been reducing the rents of tillage lands
since 1 868, particularly the lands about Croom, which
were let very dear. I have reduced them to about
the poor law valuation.

1980. Do you find that the tenants are able to live
pretty well upon that arrangement? — I think they
ought; if they exercised proper industry they ought
to be able to live very well.

1981. Have there been ejectments or changes of
tenancy to any extent on the property ? — I have never
evicted a tenant. When a tenant is completely ruined
and cannot get on, I allow him to sell his interest ;
whatever rent he owes I deduct out of the purchase-
money, and hand him over the balance.

1982. That is very much like the Ulster tenant-
right, in fact ? — It is.

1983. You get your rent and you get a better ten-
ant sometimes ? — I don't always get a better tenant.

1984. At all events you expect to get a better
tenant ? — I do. I expect it. I don't always get it.

1985. Have you had a consolidation of farms to
any extent in your district 1 — Not to any extent. I
have thrown in a few farms to larger men, in cas 's


Robert Edward
Eeeves, Ksq,



Sept. 4, 188,0. -where the smaller tenants wished it and wanted to go

„ , ~r: , away. But there has not been consolidation to any

Eobert Edward ^•> ,

Beeves, Esq. extent. „ ., ,

1986. Are leases common ? — I make every tenant
take out a lease. ,

1987. For what term generally ? — Thirty-five years.
The system I adopt in granting leases is this : I have
only a single covenant, that the land shall be tilled in
a proper and liusbandlike manner. I require the
tenant to keep the houses and offices in repair, and I
do not allow subletting, conacreing, or burning of
land, which I think is most injurious.

1988. Yon say you give leases for thirty-five years.
Have you adopted that principle for the whole nineteen
yearsyou have been in the management of estatesin that
district, or is it only recently that you have done so ? —
I have done it for some years. I think it is more for
the advantage of landlord and tenant to have it let on
a fixed contract. In fact, I am very mitch in favour
of the abolition of tenancies from year to year.

1989. Does not the thirty five years' lease get rid
of the compensation under the Land Act ? — It does.

1990. Is that your object — I suppose it has an in-
fluence in leading you to do it t— Well, it has an in-
fluence ; for I wish to keep out of law as much as I
can, both for mj^self and my employer.

1991. Do you think the claims of the tenant are
sufficiently met by allowing him to sell, in case he
wishes to leave his holding t. — Certainly.

1992. What sum do they get for their holdings
when they are sold — two or three years' purchase 1
— Two or three ! They get fourteen or fifteen years'

1993. For the good will'!— Yes. In 1875, a farm
near Groom, containing seventy acres, belonging to a
Mrs. Smyth, who asked my leave to sell it, was put up for
sale ; it was subject to a rent of £71 a-year. She got
£1,000 for it.

1994. Mr. Shaw. — Seventy Irish acres, I suppose?
— Irish acres.

1995. The O'CoNOE Don.— Had she a lease ?— She

1996. For thirty-five years? — ^Yes.

1997. Mr. Shaw. — Do you re-value the lands at
the end of the thirty-five years ? — My time has not
come for that yet ; I hope it may.

1998. The O'Gonob Don". — Is there a covenant in
the lease against selling ? — There is a covenant in the
lease against selling, without consent.

1999. Mr. Shaw. — I luiderstand you do not refuse
your consent ? — If the incoming ten?int is a respectable
man, certainly not ; but if he is an objectionable man
— if he is taking the land on chance, or if he is work-
ing a lot of other farms, I would object.

2000. Does the principle of permission to sell exist
in Tipperary and Queen's County ? — Well, it is not so
general in Tipperary ; and in Queen's county, I have
had very little experience of it. Up to the year 1875
all our tenants stuck to us. Since 1 875 they have
generally asked for leave to sell. This year five asked
leave to sell.

2001. The O'CoNOE Don. — Were those tenants
holding under, leases ? — They were not; they were
mountain tenants on poor land ; their rents varied
from £6 to £1 8 a-year. They got seven years' purchase.

2002. Mr. Shaw.— You allowed them to sell ?— I

2003. Were those holdings bought by tenants on
the estate ? — A tenant on the estate bought the four

2004. And threw them all into one farm ? — Yes. I
assisted tlie tenant, as an industrious man, to buy
those holdings.

2005. Chairman. — Was it by a loan? — By a

2006. The O'CoNOii Don. — Did you make him take
out a lease 1 — He will take out a lease. The purchase
was only completed last March.

2007. Mr. Shaw. — Do you think it would be
desirable to cxtenil that principle of giving tenants

liberty to sell their holdings ? — I think it would be
most important — especially at the present time. The
only valid objection is this ; the better the landlord,
of course the cheaper he lets his land, and. therefore,
the tenant, when he does sell, gets a great deal more
money. In some cases, on the other hand, I think
the tenant-right is wOrth nothing, because the land is
not worth the rent that is paid for it.

2008. On Lord Devon's property is permission to
sell given? — Yes; permission to sell is recognized by,
Lord Devon, and I may add that the l^nd is let at
very reasonable rents.

2009. You have never had an ejectment, properly
speaking, on your estates ? — Never. I ejected one
man, a tenant of the Queen's County estate, but he
was in Maryborough jail at the time, for stealuig an
ass and cart.

2010. You did not eject him from the jail ? — JSTo, I
let him stop there. I may add I was very glad he
was there.

2011. Have you considered the question of assisting
tenants to purchase their holdings ? — Yes, I have
studied the question of what is called " a peasant
proprietory " a good deal. I have been very frequently
in Switzerland, and, as you are aware, more than half
the peopile of that country are peasant proprietors.

2012. You know Switzerland? — I know it very

2013. Do you think favourably of the project, not
of a wholesale purchase, but a gradual purchase by the
tenants ? — No, sir, I am against it. The objection is
this. For the first few years it does very well ; but
then comes the division, or the borrowing of money
to get rid of children, and after all it makes very
little difference whethei^ you go to a Jew or a Christian
to borrow money. Nearly half the farms in Switzer-
land are pledged, either to the banks or the Jews —
that I know to be the fact.

2014. Baron Dowse. — Does that apply to the
Canton of Berne ? — It does, especially. I know it
very well.

2015. Mr. Shaw. — Do you know France ? — I know
parts of France. I know the wine country.

2016. A great number of small proprietors there ?

2017. Do you know that they are a thrifty and
industrious people, saving money, and that there is no
borrowj-ng to any great extent ? — The French are in
my opinion, the most thrifty nation in Eurojse. Yet I
knoTiT that in the wine country this year, they have
been fu.lly as badly off as the Irish — quite as much
poverty there as in the west — the whole vfine crop

2018. Do you think that as peasant proprietors
the 25eople would be more liable to get into the hands
of the nroney lenders, than they are as tenants 1 — I am
afraid they would.

2019. BvTt it is only a supposition? — It is only a

2020. If the thing could be carried out, do you
think a multiplication of the number of landowners,
would be an advantage to the country '] — I think land-
owners of a certain extent — say 100 or 150 acres —
might be an advantage!

2021. Near towns, don't you think, you could go
lower than that — could not a man make a good living
out of a thirty acre farm ? — Yes. I think men con-
nected with business in the towns would be a valuable
class of proprietors.

2022. Do you know the north of Ireland? — I do,
but not very, intimately.

2023. Are you aware the farms in Armagh and
Down are small farms ? — They are, but as far as I
could see, the farmers there supplement the profits of
their farms by other industry. "They are manufacturers
as well as farmers.

2024. They cultivate flax, and sell it, but they are
not manufacturers ? — They work flax with yarn, and
weave it at home.



2025. Those are the smaller class of farmers "? Tliey

are. •^

2026. I was speaking of a class rather larger than
that — ^holders of 30 acres or thereabouts — ^a man of
30 acres does not weave — he lives by his farm, and
lives well 1 — He does ; and as far as I can see the rent
of land, in proportion to its quality, is higher in the
north of Ireland than in the south.

2027. Is land dearer there than in Limerick 1 — It is
I think Limerick, take it for all in all, is perhaps the
cheapest let county in Ireland.

2028. Baron Dowse. — Does tliat apply to the poor
land, as well as to the better class of land % — It does.

2029. Mr. Shaw. — Tipperary is moderately let, is
not it ? — Those portions of it which are in the hands
of the old proprietors are moderately let ; but the
parts of it which are in the hands of English proprietors

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 89 of 295)