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‘Craven subserviency had vanished. Bitter hostility had arrived’: agrarian violence and the Tenant League on the Ulster borderlands, 1849–52

  • Kerron Ó Luain (a1)

Abstract

On the Ulster borderlands, the years 1849 to 1852 represented a crucial period in the development of a correlation between agrarian violence and constitutional political agitation. The emergence of the Tenant League in the region from 1848, along with a parallel clandestine violence from 1849, foreshadowed the better-known Land War of the latter part of the nineteenth century. This article analyses the hitherto unacknowledged interplay between agrarian violence and constitutional politics in south Armagh and surrounding districts. In so doing, it emphasises the years in the immediate wake of the Great Famine as being critical in the long-term development of more politicised forms of collective action. Such methods, in turn, would ultimately be deployed to the detriment of the landed ascendancy in subsequent decades.

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Corresponding author

*Center for Irish Studies, Villanova University, kerron.oluain@gmail.com

References

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1 Wright, Frank, Two lands on one soil: Ulster politics before home rule (Dublin, 1996), pp 165207.

2 Whyte, J. H., The Tenant League and Irish politics in the eighteen-fifties (Dundalk, 1963), pp 613; idem, The Independent Irish Party, 1850–9 (London, 1958), passim.

3 Shields, Andrew, ‘Serving the farmer: the tenant right movement in the west, 1848–57’ in King, Carla and McNamara, Conor (eds), The west of Ireland: new perspectives of the nineteenth century (Dublin, 2011), pp 51–9.

4 Madden, Kyla, Forkhill Protestants and Forkhill Catholics, 1787–1858 (Belfast, 2005), pp 82102.

5 McMahon, Michael, The murder of Thomas Douglas Bateson: County Monaghan, 1851 (Dublin, 2006), pp 762.

6 McKeown, Thomas & McMahon, Kevin, ‘Agrarian disturbances around Crossmaglen, 1835–1855’ in Seanchas Ard Mhacha, ix, no. 2 (1979), pp 302–32; x, no. 1 (1980–1), pp 149–75; x, no. 2 (1982), pp 380–416; xi, no. 2 (1985), pp 342–62; xii, no. 1 (1986), pp 213–51; xii, no. 2 (1987), pp 194–250; xiii, no. 2 (1989), pp 167–229; xix, no. 1 (2002), pp 189–210; xix, no. 2 (2003), pp 206–24.

7 Suibhne, Breandán Mac, The end of outrage: post-Famine adjustment in rural Ireland (Oxford, 2017), pp 5372.

8 Return of the number of murders, waylayings, assaults, threatening notices incendiary fires, or other crimes of an agrarian character, reported by the constabulary within the Counties of Louth, Armagh, and Monaghan, since the 1st day of January 1849, pp 1, 4, 7, 8, H.C. 1852 (448), xlvii, 465, 468, 471–2 (henceforth cited as Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849).

9 Wright, Two lands, pp 74–9, 90–5.

10 Duffy, P. J., ‘Geographical perspectives on the borderlands’ in Gillespie, Raymond and O'Sullivan, Harold (eds), The borderlands: essays on the history of the Ulster–Leinster border (Belfast, 1989), p. 6.

11 Newry Examiner, 2, 12 July 1851.

12 Census for the year 1861, part iv: religion, education and occupations, vol. i & vol. ii (Dublin, 1863), pp 113–14, 396, 460–3.

13 Census for the year 1851, part i: area and population, vol. iii (Dublin, 1852), pp 44–9, 57, 259.

14 Census for the year 1851, part iv: ages and education, vol. iv (Dublin, 1852), pp 36–7, 120–21, 144–5.

15 Legg, Marie-Louise, Newspapers and nationalism: the Irish provincial press, 1850–1892 (Dublin, 1999), pp 44–5.

16 Dundalk Democrat, 14 June 1851.

17 McCutcheon, W. A., ‘Transport, 1820–1914’ in Kennedy, Liam and Ollerenshaw, Philip (eds), An economic history of Ulster (Manchester, 1985), pp 120–4.

18 Comerford, R. V., ‘Ireland, 1850–1870: post-Famine and mid-Victorian’ in Vaughan, W. E. (ed), A new history of Ireland, v: Ireland under the Union, I, 1801–1870 (Oxford, 1989), p. 374.

19 Patrick Gibney, land agent, to Redington, Killeshandra, 1848 (N.A.I., OR 1848, 4/146); Charles O'Reilly to Redington, Comismuck, 22 Mar. 1848 (N.A.I., OR 1848, 4/142).

20 Kennedy, Liam and Solar, Peter M., ‘The rural economy, 1780–1914’ in Kennedy, Liam and Ollerenshaw, Philip (eds), Ulster since 1600: politics, economy and society (Oxford, 2013), pp 172, 174.

21 Newry Examiner, 14 Sept. 1850.

22 Account of Tomás Mac Cuileannáin, Blackrock, County Louth (National Folklore Collection, U.C.D., MS 1213).

23 R.M. Millar, Loughgall, to Dublin Castle, 12 Jan. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 2/15).

24 Evidence of James Major (Report from the select committee on outrages (Ireland), p. 275, H.C. 1852 (438) xiv, 1 (henceforth cited as Select committee on outrages 1852)); Evidence of Michael Lennon P.P. (ibid., pp 340–42); Cormac Ó Gráda, ‘The investment behaviour of Irish landlords, 1850–1875: some preliminary findings’ in Agricultural History Review, xxiii, no. 2 (1975), p. 148; P. J. Duffy, ‘The evolution of estate properties in south Ulster, 1600–1900’ in William J. Smyth and Kevin Whelan (eds), Common ground: essays on the historical geography of Ireland presented to T. Jones Hughes (Cork, 1988), p. 88; Evidence of R.M.s Golding and Kirk (Select committee on outrages 1852, pp 102, 111, 438, 445); R.M. Singleton to Redington, 28 Dec. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1852, 2/408).

25 Evidence of R.M. Golding (Select committee on outrages 1852, pp 70–1).

26 Evidence of stipendiary magistrate, Captain Bartholomew Warburton (ibid., pp 2–3).

27 See Table 1.

28 Evidence of stipendiary magistrate, Captain Bartholomew Warburton (Select committee on outrages 1852, pp 17–18); Lord Rossmore, Rossmore Park, Monaghan, to lord lieutenant, 6 Dec. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 23/45).

29 Newry Examiner, 16 Aug. 1851; Armagh Guardian, 23 Apr. 1849; Lord Rossmore, Castleblayney, to Dublin Castle, 6 Dec. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 23/207).

30 Dowling, Martin W., Tenant right and agrarian society in Ulster, 1600–1870 (Dublin, 1999), p. 275.

31 Ibid., passim.

32 Oliver MacDonagh, ‘Politics, 1830–45’ in New hist. Ire., v, 188.

33 James S. Donnelly, Jr., ‘Landlords and tenants’ in New hist. Ire., v, 349; Reilly, Ciarán, The Irish land agent, 1830–60: the case of King's County (Dublin, 2014), pp 120–1.

34 Wright, Two lands, pp 165–6.

35 The Vindicator, 2 Feb. 1848.

36 Newry Examiner, 7 Feb. 1852.

37 Ibid., 9 Oct. 1850.

38 Ibid., 10 May 1851.

39 Report from The Nation carried in Armagh Guardian, 7 Feb. 1852.

40 Bell, Thomas, ‘The Reverend David Bell’ in Clogher Record, vi, no. 2 (1967), pp 253–9.

41 Northern Whig, 27 May 1848.

42 United Irishman, 27 May 1848.

43 Andrews, Ann, Newspapers and newsmakers: the Dublin nationalist press in the mid-nineteenth century (Liverpool, 2014), pp 158–9.

44 Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, pp 1, 4, 7, 8; Armagh Guardian, 23 Apr. 1849.

45 Armagh Guardian, 23 Apr. 1849; Information of Catherine McCabe, given before R.M. French, Creggan, 8 May 1849 (N.A.I., OR 1849, 20/89).

46 Griffith's valuation for the county of Armagh (Dublin, 1865), p. 64.

47 R.M. French to Redington, 18 Dec. 1849 (N.A.I., OR 1849, 20/200).

48 R.M. Singleton, Newtownhamilton, to Redington, 4 Dec. 1849 (N.A.I., OR 1850, 2/307).

49 Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, pp 2, 4, 5, 8, 9.

50 The Times, 30 May 1850.

51 Robert Lindsay Maulever to Tipping, 7 Feb. 1850 (P.R.O.N.I, Tipping estate papers, D4160/L/21/1).

52 Newry Telegraph, 13 July 1850.

53 Newry Examiner, 10 May 1851.

54 Bell, ‘The Reverend David Bell’, pp 253–9.

55 Dundalk Democrat, 29 June, 6 July 1850.

56 Whyte, Independent Irish party, pp 5–13.

57 Rafferty, Oliver, Catholicism in Ulster 1603–1983: an interpretive history (Columbia, 1994), p. 161.

58 Dundalk Democrat, 14 Sept. 1850.

59 Duffy, P. J., ‘Management problems on a large estate in mid-nineteenth century Ireland: William Steuart Trench's report on the Shirley estate in 1843’ in Clogher Record, xxvi, no. 1 (1997), pp 101–2.

60 George Morant, Shirley House, to Dublin Castle, 28 Sept., 2 Oct. 1850 (N.A.I., OR 1850, 23/166/172).

61 See, for example, a handbill from 1866 entitled ‘Farney, keep your eyes open’ & Daily Telegraph, 3 Jan. 1866 (P.R.O.N.I, Shirley estate papers, D3531/B/4–5).

62 Dundalk Democrat, 26 Oct. 1850.

63 Belfast News Letter, 25 Nov. 1853.

64 Sean Connolly, Priests and people in pre-Famine Ireland, 1780–1845 (London, 1982), p. 273.

65 Larkin, Emmet, ‘The devotional revolution in Ireland, 1850–75’ in American Historical Review, lxxvii, no. 3 (June 1972), p. 625.

66 The Nation, 5 Oct. 1850.

67 Ibid., 12 Oct. 1850.

68 Sub-Inspector Barry to Inspector General, 2 Oct. 1850 (N.A.I., OR 1850, 23/no number).

69 Duffy, Charles Gavan, The league of north and south: an episode in Irish history, 1850–1854 (London, 1886), pp 77–8.

70 The Nation, 5 Oct. 1850.

71 Shields, ‘Serving the farmer’, pp 64–5.

72 Wright, Two lands, p. 199.

73 Howley, Carrickmacross, to Redington, 23 Feb. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 23/39).

74 Wright, Two lands, pp 197–203.

75 Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, p. 2.

76 Armagh Guardian, 23 Dec. 1850.

77 2nd Head Constable Whitley to R.M. Singleton, 15 Dec. 1850 (N.A.I., OR 1850, 2/403).

78 Howley, Carrickmacross, to Redington, 17, 21 Jan. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 23/20).

79 The Nation, 11 Jan. 1851.

80 Dundalk Democrat, 8 Feb. 1851.

81 Printed address to the tenant farmers of Co. Armagh from the honorary secretaries of the Co. Armagh Preparatory Committee of the Irish Tenant League, 14 Jan. 1851 (P.R.O.N.I., Exhibitions papers, T2125/17/7).

82 R.M. French, Dundalk, to Redington, 20 Jan. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 20/37).

83 Newry Examiner, 29 Jan. 1851.

84 Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, p. 6.

85 Dundalk Democrat, 22 Mar. 1851.

86 Feingold, William, The revolt of the tenantry: the transformation of local government in Ireland, 1872–1886 (Boston, 1984), p. 49.

87 Howley, Carrickmacross, to Redington, 17 Mar. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 23/65); see note 121 for Chambré reference.

88 John Boyd, Newry, to Redington, 25 Mar. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 8/93); Armagh Guardian, 31 Mar. 1851.

89 Arthur Johnston Jr. to R.M. Singleton, Apr. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 2/216).

90 Dundalk Democrat, 3 May 1851.

91 Griffith's valuation for the counties of Louth and Armagh (Dublin, 1855, 1865); Dundalk Democrat, 31 May 1851.

92 Dundalk Democrat, 19 July 1851, 20 Mar. 1852.

93 Newry Examiner, 24 May 1851.

94 Griffith's valuation for the county of Louth (Dublin, 1855), p. 19.

95 Dundalk Democrat, 21 June 1851.

96 Newry Examiner clipping attached to correspondence from Crown Solicitor William Hamilton to Redington, 25 Sept. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 20/256).

97 Newry Examiner, 16 Aug. 1851.

98 Newry Examiner, Sept. 1851 (no day given).

99 Griffith's valuation for the county of Louth, p. 23.

100 Threatening letter sent to John McClean, high constable, 6 Dec. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 2/283).

101 The Nation, 7 Feb. 1852.

102 Dundalk Democrat, 17 May, 14 June 1851.

103 Ibid., 7 June 1851.

104 Ibid., 24 May 1851.

105 R.M. French, Drogheda, to Redington, 15 July 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 20/202).

106 R.M. Singleton to Redington, Jan. 1852 (N.A.I., OR 1852, 2/18).

107 Proudfoot, Lindsay, ‘Placing the imaginary: Gosford castle and the Gosford estate, ca. 1820–1900’ in Hughes, A. J. and Nolan, William (eds), Armagh: history and society (Dublin, 2001), pp 881916.

108 Greig, William, General report on the Gosford estates in Armagh, 1821, eds Thompson, F. M. L and Tierney, David (Belfast, 1976), pp 11, 57.

109 Fogarty, L. (ed.), James Fintan Lalor: patriot & political essayist, 1807–1849 (Dublin, 1918), p. 44.

110 O'Neill, Thomas P., James Fintan Lalor (2nd ed., translated from Irish, Dublin, 2003), p. 119.

111 Viscount Templeton, Castle Upton, Templepatrick, 1785 (P.R.O.N.I, Templeton estate papers, D585/1/17).

112 Armagh Guardian, 6 Dec. 1851.

113 Newry Examiner, 10 Dec. 1851.

114 Howley, Carrickmacross, to Dublin Castle, 29 Dec. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 2/243).

115 Dundalk Democrat, 6 Dec. 1851.

116 Howley, Carrickmacross, to Dublin Castle, 4 Nov. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 23/215).

117 R.M. Singleton, Newtownhamilton, to Redington, 10 Dec. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 2/378).

118 Lord Rossmore, Rossmore House, to lord lieutenant, 6 Dec. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 23/227).

119 Newry Examiner, 27 Dec. 1851.

120 Howley to Redington, 30 Dec. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 23/248).

121 Threatening notice sent to Meredith Chambré, 12 Dec. 1851 (Select committee on Outrages 1852, cited in Madden, Forkhill Protestants and Forkhill Catholics, p. 110).

122 Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, pp 3, 4, 7, 10.

123 Armagh Guardian, 31 Jan. 1852.

124 Ibid., 3 Jan. 1852; Resolutions signed by numerous County Louth magistrates, 5 Jan. 1852 (N.A.I., OR 1852, 20/25); Resolutions signed by numerous County Monaghan magistrates, 7 Jan. 1852 (N.A.I., OR 1852, 23/8).

125 Newry Examiner, 3 Jan. 1852.

126 Copy of threatening notice received by Thomas Fortescue, 10 Jan. 1852 (N.A.I., OR 1852, 2/40).

127 Elliott, Marianne, The Catholics of Ulster: a history (London, 2000), pp 83, 133.

128 Evidence of R.M. Golding (Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, pp 82, 85).

129 Newry Examiner, 3, 7 Jan. 1852.

130 Constabulary Office, Dublin, 30 Oct. 1851 (N.A.I., OR 1851, 20/51).

131 Armagh Guardian, 26 June 1852.

132 Belfast News Letter, 23 Jan. 1852.

133 Dundalk Democrat, 26 Jan. 1852.

134 Newry Telegraph, 22 Jan., 17 July 1852.

135 Armagh Guardian, 31 Jan. 1851.

136 Dundalk Democrat, 7 Feb., 17 July 1852.

137 Newry Examiner, 28 Jan. 1852.

138 Warburton to Redington, 21 May 1852 (N.A.I., OR 1852, 2/245); Armagh Guardian, 14 Feb. 1852; Newry Examiner, 14 Apr. 1852.

139 Armagh Guardian, 14 Feb. 1852.

140 Ibid., 7 Feb. 1852.

141 Ibid., 29 May 1852.

142 The Nation, 15 May 1852.

143 Armagh Guardian, 15 May 1852.

144 R.M. Murray, Castleblayney, to Redington, 17 June 1852 (N.A.I., OR 1852, 23/174).

145 R.M. Geary, Monaghan, to chief secretary, 23, 24 July 1852 (N.A.I., OR 1852, 23/218/228).

146 Bew, Paul and Wright, Frank, ‘The agrarian opposition in Ulster politics, 1848–1867’ in Clark, Samuel and Donnelly, James S. Jr. (eds) Irish peasants: violence and political unrest, 1780–1914 (2nd ed., Manchester, 1986), p. 200.

147 Armagh Guardian, 21 Dec. 1855.

148 Whyte, Independent Irish Party, pp 12, 24, 176–7.

149 Dundalk Democrat, 10 July 1852.

150 Newry Examiner, 4 Aug. 1852.

151 Griffith's valuation for the county of Armagh (Dublin, 1865).

152 Newry Telegraph, 3 Feb., 6 Mar. 1852.

153 Armagh Guardian, 10 Mar. 1854.

154 Ibid., 21 July 1854.

155 Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, p. 8.

156 Return of outrages reported to the constabulary office during the year 1849–1852 (N.A.I., Chief Secretary's Office, Irish Crime Records 1).

157 See, for example, Hepburn, A. C., A past apart: studies in the history of Catholic Belfast, 1850–1950 (Belfast, 1996), pp 147–8.

158 Samuel Clark and James S. Donnelly, Jr., ‘The unreaped harvest’ in idem (eds), Irish peasants, pp 424–5.

159 Luain, Kerron Ó, ‘The Ribbon societies of Counties Louth and Armagh, 1848–1864’ in Seanchas Ard Mhacha, xxv (2014), pp 124, 133–5.

160 Evidence of Father McMeel (Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, p. 298).

161 Evidence of R.M. Golding (ibid., p. 82); evidence of R.M. William Kirk (ibid., p. 479).

162 Evidence of Crown Solicitor Maxwell Hamilton (ibid., p. 151).

163 Armagh Guardian, 5 May 1854; Belfast News Letter, 17 Apr. 1854.

164 Evidence of Captain George Fitzmaurice (Return of the number of murders since Jan. 1849, p. 48).

165 Evidence of Deputy Inspector General Brownrigg (ibid., pp 195–8); evidence of R.M. Golding (ibid., p. 103).

166 Newry Examiner, 26 Mar. 1851.

167 Armagh Guardian, 9 July 1849; R.M. Matthew Singleton to Redington, 16, 24 June 1850 (N.A.I., OR 1850, 2/207).

168 Donnelly, James S. Jr, ‘The Irish agricultural depression of 1859–64’ in Irish Economic and Social History, iii (1976), pp 52–4.

169 Vaughan, W. E., Landlords and tenants in mid-Victorian Ireland (Oxford, 1994), p. 178.

170 Bew, Paul, Land and the national question in Ireland, 1858–82 (Dublin, 1978), pp 4673; Curtis, L. P. Jr., ‘Moral and physical force: the language of violence in Irish nationalism’ in Journal of British Studies, xxvii, no. 2 (Apr. 1988), pp 150–89; Lucey, Donnacha Seán, Land, popular politics and agrarian violence in Ireland: the case of County Kerry, 1872–86 (Dublin, 2011), pp 96–7.

171 Lee, Joseph, The modernisation of Irish society, 1848–1867 (2nd ed., Dublin, 1989), p. 39; Clark, Samuel, ‘The political mobilisation of Irish farmers’ in O'Day, Alan (ed.), Reactions to Irish nationalism (London, 1987), p. 68.

172 See Casey, Brian, ‘Matt Harris and the Irish land question, 1876–1882’ in Rural History, xxv, no. 2 (Oct, 2014), p. 184, for detail on grassroots Fenian agrarian activism.

173 Moran, Gerard, A radical priest in Mayo: Father Patrick Lavelle: the rise and fall of an Irish nationalist, 1825–86 (Dublin, 1994), p. 162.

174 Mac Cuileannáin account (National Folklore Collection, U.C.D., MS 1213).

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