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Buy Land In Ireland Become A Lord

Contrary to what is usually known about titles of nobility, this lordship is not awarded by a king and then passed on to his descendants. It is tied instead to the ownership of the land and is automatically passed on to the new owner when the land is sold or inherited.

buy land in ireland become a lord

Although substantially correct, the view that Irish land was owned exclusively by English Protestants or by families with strong personal and material connections with England also needs to be qualified. At the very least, it must be appreciated that many of the great landed estates owned by Protestant absentees were in Ulster and the east of Ireland and not all of these men were grasping landlords. For example, the Marquis of Rockingham - who owned vast estates in Wicklow - was a caring man who did his best for his Irish tenants.

Until about 1900 the greater part of the land in Ireland (97% in 1870) was owned by men who rented it out to tenant farmers rather than cultivating it themselves. As in England, the individual wealth of members of the land-owning class varied considerably, depending on the size, quality and location of properties. Smaller landlords in the east, in Ulster or on the outskirts of towns were more favourably placed than the owners of tracts of infertile bog in the west. There were probably fewer than 10,000 proprietors of 100 or more acres in 1830 but this number included many who owned relatively small estates and a few aristocratic magnates.

Absenteeism is also commonly accepted to have been a universal practice in Ireland and detrimental to the country's progress. Its alleged universality and supposedly unfavourable consequences can be queried. Absenteeism was prevalent in England too: large tracts of the north of England were devoid of resident landowners, and in parts of Lincolnshire in the mid-Nineteenth century only 7% of parishes had permanently resident substantial landowners. If a man owned several estates, by definition if he was living on one of them he was an absentee on all the others. Before 1845 an estimated 33% to 50% of Irish landowners were absentees, and a substantial portion of these were internal absentees (i.e. landlords who lived elsewhere in Ireland). Half the country was owned by men who lived on or near their estates.

Absenteeism did not necessarily bring about inefficient estate management or rack-renting. Most substantial proprietors employed land stewards to manage their lands. When these men's enthusiasm for efficiency, maximisation of rental income or both overcame their caution or humanity, aggrieved tenants could and did turn to the absentee as an appeal judge. Permanent absentees were usually the larger and possibly more financially secure landowners who may have had less reason to raise rents and more funds to improve their estates. Some of the most infamous landlords who experienced the full force of tenant opposition during the Land War crisis of 1879-82 were permanently resident on their estates. The fiercest critics of absentees for much of the century were not farmers but resident landlords who felt that they were unfairly expected to shoulder unpalatable, time-consuming, local, social and political responsibilities for which they received no reward and scant recognition.

During the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries the British government had confiscated a great deal of land owned by Catholics and enacted penal laws restricting land-ownership to Protestants. Although some of these Acts had been repealed, starting in 1778, few Catholics purchased land before the famine because estates were too expensive. The situation was eased somewhat by the 1849 Encumbered Estates Act. Almost without exception landowners were in debt. During the famine, landlords' incomes collapsed as thousands of small tenants defaulted on their rent, and this was accompanied by a huge rise in outgoings.

The system of poor relief introduced into Ireland in 1838 was financed out of local rates, a tax levied on occupiers of property. The poor were exempted from paying this if the property they inhabited was valued at less than 4 p.a. for rental purposes; the landlords were committed to paying their rates. Consequently the cost of relieving the destitution after 1845 fell on the landlords. In an attempt to reduce the number of paupers in areas for which they were responsible, landlords resorted to eviction.

It is commonplace to portray Ireland as a country of peasants, poor subsistence farmers eking out a precarious existence on small patches of land, generally planted with potatoes, and uninvolved in the market economy except in so far as they were obliged to pay rent to landlords and taxes to Church and State. In reality rural society was far more complex than this, with no clear distinctions between classes and significant variations between regions and time.

Smallholders numbered 408,000 in 1841. Of these 65,000 had holdings of less than 1 acre, and were virtually indistinguishable from the cottiers. Many had to rely on access to income from elsewhere, such as peat-digging or using waste-land for common grazing, domestic industry (which was declining anyway), kelp collecting, fishing (where possible) or seasonal work on large farms. Smallholders with between 6 and 15 acres were classed as small farmers. Whatever the size of their holdings, virtually none had written agreements with their landlords to give them legal security of tenure. The sad plight of these groups dominates contemporary and much historical writing, but they did not constitute the entire population, and their numbers and economic significance declined from the mid-century.

Some 453,000 were returned in the 1841 Census as "Farmers" and ranked as men of some standing and wealth. They had a comfortable standard of living, participated in local and national politics, supported and financed the Catholic Church, arranged beneficial marriages for their children and provided social leadership in the absence of local landowners. Sometimes they were also landlords to the smallholders and cottiers, subletting land which they rented on long leases from the landowner.

Anti-landlord propaganda which portrayed tenants as powerless victims of landlord oppression had been a major influence on both political and historical approaches to the subject. Landlords traditionally have been found guilty of several related crimes against the Irish tenants. The rents they charged have generally been considered to have been excessively high, bordering on legalised robbery. Even if their tenants paid these extortionate rents they are reputed to have lived under permanent threat of eviction, without notice or reason, since landlords regularly resorted to widespread and indiscriminate clearances. Such practices were not only morally indefensible but also economically ruinous, starving the countryside of capital, eroding the tenant farmers' incentive to invest. Ireland's poverty, even the famine itself was, therefore, the ultimate responsibility of the land-owning class.

However pastoral farming offered less scope for investment, and investment was restricted by landlords' indebtedness and the persistence in some areas of small-scale, uneconomic holdings. By making the financial transactions between landlord and tenant one-directional, it gave credibility to the image of the landlord as a non-productive parasite. There is insufficient information of the level of evictions in the first half of the Nineteenth Century from which to make generalisations. Evictions were not frequent until after 1815, and many were probably carried out by the larger tenant farmers who had sub-let their holdings. Landowners often found it difficult or distasteful to resort to massive evictions. Concerned landlords realised that in the absence of other employment, those deprived of access to land would have no means of survival. Some offered dispossessed tenants free of subsidised passages to North America, or attempted to encourage local industry. Others simply tried to stop sub-letting.

Estate records are the land records for the common social classes in Ireland. The large landed estates were held by the upper social class who leased the property to tenants throughout Ireland. Some were absentee landlords, living elsewhere in the British Isles but holding property in Ireland. The land agent managed these properties on behalf of the landlord and had broad oversight for the lives of those living on the land. In some instances, the land was held by institutions, incorporated cities, universities, and dioceses.

To search the Irish estate records, the researcher needs to identify the name of the landlord and if the records of that estate still survive. During the early twentieth century, many large landed houses and the records of these tenants were destroyed during movement for independence. Estate records may give names, relationships, ages, maps with property descriptions, residences of emigrants and other details of value to the family historian.

In some instances, tenants resided on the land at the will of the landholder, thus tenants at will. This was the worst of all types of leases as the landlord could decide at any time that they were going to remove the tenants from their lands. During the Great Famine, there were a number of landlords who availed themselves of this clause and evicted many of their tenants followed by the tearing down of their dwelling places. A good example of this type of record is in The National Archives, London, Record Group HO 45/2521 Ireland: Irish Poor Law Boundary Commission listing tenants in particular townlands who have had their dwellings pulled down.

Landlords and the Poor Law Unions also capitalized on the opportunity to effectively clear their estates and the poor houses by paying the passage for their poorer tenants whom they were now having to support during the Great Famine. The top-ten landlords emigrating tenants in the nineteenth century were:

Under a solution proposed by the British Government in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, six of the nine counties of Ulster with predominantly Protestant and Unionist communities, would become Northern Ireland and the remaining 26 counties of the south would become the Irish Free State or Éire. 041b061a72


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