The Occupation of Land in Co. Armagh 1845

Bringing in the Harvest

Mr. Joshua Thomas Noble, examined, Resides in Armagh. Is assistant to Lord Charlemont's agent, and to some extent an agent himself. Was educated as a land surveyor and valuer of land. Is very well acquainted with Lord Charlemont's property, which contains 33,000 acres, and with Miss Trench's property, which contains 12,000 or 13,000 acres. The former is in Tyrone and Armagh, the latter in Tyrone, Cookstown. Miss Trench's property affords opportunities for extensive and remunerative improvements. Thinks the state of agriculture over the district with which he is acquainted is rather stationary than otherwise, improving, if anything.

There are no Farming Societies, with the exception of Markethill, which has had a beneficial effect in the country generally. Lord Charlemont's property is chiefly in tillage. The rent is fixed by valuation on the part of the landlord, is generally an acreable sum, always, he might say. The county roads are generally excluded in the valuation. Thirty shillings per statute acre is paid for a few spots of prime land. On Lord Charlemont's estate, there is very little land let above twenty shillings an acre, none, except one small townland. The estate is generally let lower than those surrounding it. This is not the best land in the district. Mr. Griffith's valuation is about three-fourths of the letting value of the land. The town parks in the neighbourhood of Armagh let at about 2l 15s to 3l per statute acre. In this district, rent is generally demanded about five months after it becomes due, in Tyrone, about twelve months, that is on Lord Charlemont's property. Miss Trench's is demanded in five months, and paid immediately afterwards.

In some cases, particularly in Tyrone, the tenants depend upon Loan Funds for the payment of this rent. Heard a case to-day of a local usurer selling a person meal at 14s per cwt., whilst the price in the market is about 9s 6d. There is not very much of that in the district witness is acquainted with. Distraining is not much used. The tenants in general hold immediately under the proprietors, and on Lord Charlemont's property, generally by lease for twenty-one years, or one life concurrent, which ever lasts longest. Thinks those who have leases improve them most, though there is not very much difference on the properties he is acquainted with,they improve freely without a lease, but the difference is in favour of leases. Permanent improvements, such as building and draining, are effected by the tenant. In some instances, the landlord gives towards them timber, slates, or lime, or one of them. The tenant-right prevails in the district. The purchase-money is always paid to the outgoing tenant. Thinks it has a beneficial effect upon him and upon the landlord. Sometimes the in-coming tenant borrows money to pay the purchase-money, in which case it has a very injurious effect. The value of land values from five to twenty-five years' purchase,h as known twenty-three years' purchase given. That did not depend upon the tenure, which was an old life. Never heard, in any case, of objections made to a proposing tenant on the score of religion.

A Cottier's cottage of the 1850'sThe value of the tenant-right is decreasing latterly. Nothing remarkable in the consolidation or subdivision of the farms has taken place. Cannot say he has noticed any signal difference in the condition of the large farmers, or in that of the small farmers or labourers. The acreable rent is on the same proportion on the large and on the samll farms. The labourers usually hold under farmers, at will, and pay their rent in work. No agrarian outrages have occurred in this district. One has lately taken place at Clonnoe, near Miss Trench's property. In this barony, the proportion of the county cess to Mr. Griffith's valuation has been from ten to seventeen per cent. For some years past he should say twelve per cent. The rent is about one-third more than Mr. Griffith's valuation. The Poor Law valuation is very near the rent. So far as his experience goes, the landlord's proportion of the poor-rate is allowed at the first payment of rent after the payment of the rate.

The Reverend Patrick Quin, examined, is parish priest of Kilmore, in the baronies of Lower Orior and Neilland West, county Armagh. The tenant right prevails in the district, and is generally sold at a very high value. It is recognised by landlords, and generally sells for from 10 to 12 an acre. Its [sic] sells generally for more, when there is a lease. In regard to the consolidation of farms in his neighbourhood, the Rev. James Jones, rector of the parish, has taken ten farms, of from one to seven acres in extent in his own hands. He occupies them all himself. They were not held by lease, but were glebe lands. Some of the parties ejected got 14 or 15 an acre in compensation; others he had heard had got nothing. Did not hear why, but that one of the men was a pensioner, and had 9d. a day. Thought the parties thus treated did not owe the rector more than the running half year, or whole year of rent. The tenants were required to pay this, and if they paid up to the day, they get 4 or 5 an acre; but if a year's rent, or something of that kind was due, it was as far as he understood deducted. The usual tenant-right for lands subdivided in this manner is 10 or 12 an acre. There have been other cases of removal of tenants for the purpose of substituting others. A person to whom a farm was bequeathed would not get it; the landlord or agent took it into his own hand, though there was no arrear on it, for the purpose of re-selling it. It was let at will, and the tenant bequeathed it to his nephew, the agent would not give it to the nephew, even when the nephew offered to re-purchase it. The proprietor was the Rev. Hans Caulfield; the agent Mr. Richmond Pepper.

The land was five or six acres, lying near Portadown. The reason alleged by the agent was, that he would not give the land to one of the sons, meaning that the applicant was a Roman Catholic. The land was sold by the agent to a Protestant; the agent got the purchase-money, and did not allow the tenant anything. He understood the same sum was offered by the tenant in possession as was paid by the party who got the land. There is a general belief arising from facts, that, if the land is to be sold, the landlord or agent will not let a Roman Catholic purchase; the same price is usually offered by both Roman Catholic and Protestant. Witness knew some of the men who had portions of land taken from them without compensation, James Corrigan is one, and Henry Cunningham another ; Corrigan's land lay in the glebe of Kilmore ; he had held twenty years, and had incurred expense prior to his leaving, for draining; Cunningham had four acres.

Mr. Francis Stringer, Esq., examined, is a magistrate of the county and resident at Tassagh House, in Keady; could give explanation relative to some cases on the glebe of Kilmore, referred to by the Rev. Mr. Quin. The witness, after corroborating a part of Mr. Quin's evidence, proceeded to state that Mr. Jones left him to make the arrangements regarding the tenants who were to be dispossessed.

Henry Cunningham held at present 25 acres 1 rood 8 perches at 36 per annum; he formerly held 29 acres and better, at 49 4s. 5d., including the rent of a quarry held also by him. The witness thought, as he had one of the largest farms, he could spare a few acres for some of those he was about to re- move: he accordingly gave a portion of Cunningham's farm, three or four acres in size, to Thomas Keagham, a man of very good character. Cunningham held a quarry along with two Roman Catholics, and Mr. Jones being dissatisfied at the manner in which it was used, took it from the three individuals and gave it to a person selected by himself. Witness, in consequence of taking part of Cunningham's farm, gave him the remainder at less rent than what was paid by his neighbours. With regard to John Kelly, he received permission to take away all his crop, though he owed to Mr. Jones and his predecessor 19 11s. 4d. His rent was 5l. 18s. 9d. Mr. Stringer proceeded to mention other tenants who had been removed under the same circumstances as Cunningham, and then detailed the case of James Corrigan. Corrigan did not live upon the glebe lands at all, but on a portion of meadow which witness understood belonged formerly to the parsonage house, and should not have been let at all. He was in indepenedent circumstances, but re- fused to give up the meadow when required. He was ejected and made to pay the costs. Witness was at a loss to know why the names of Robert and John Clinton had been introduced into the list, as they were still living on the glebe lands.

THome Weavinghe Rev. Patrick Quin was here further examined, and stated that part of Robert Clinton's farm had been given to a man of the name of Johnston, under the following circumstances:, Clinton gave his land to his son, who went to America; the daughter-in-law wished to follow, and the land was to be disposed to pay her way. Mr. Johnston took it by giving a certain sum in hand, and whenever the money was paid back, Johnson [sic] was to give up the land. Johnson lived at the next townland. Witness could not tell what sum he had given, but Johnston told him it was never repaid. He said Mr. Jones and Mr. Stringer promised to give it to him, but he got none of it. A man of the name of Lynch, witness believed, now had got the land.

The Rev. James Johns, examined. This land was mortgaged to Johnson, who was a Quaker,and Johnson stated that he gave 40 for it, though some said he did not give so much. Witness would not let Johnson hold it, because he had a large farm and was living elsewhere, and making as much out of the land as he could, and not putting anything upon it. Witness said to him, you must give up this farm, and you shall get your mortgage, and George Lynch agreed to give it him. Witness understood he had not got it, but Mr. Stringer was a guarantee for it.

Mr. David Craig, examined, is a farmer in the parish of Newtownhamilton, Carntymacculagh, barony of Upper Fews, county Armagh. Is better acquainted with the parish of Newtownhamilton than the district of Upper Fews. He holds about forty acres Irish plantation measure. The extent of the district is about three miles square; considers that it affords opportunities for extensive and remunerative improvement. The Earl of Gosford improved a part of the mountain near as by turning up the whole subsoil and furrow-draining it. It appeared to remunerate after the first year. The county generally would do, if under the state of cultivation. The state of agriculture is not improving. Animal manures and lime are used. Size of the farms from three to twenty acres generally. Oats is the only grain crop; Irish hayseed, and what is called perennial, such as rye-grass, are also sown.

The rent is fixed by the landlord's land-surveyor. In many cases the tenant does not know the rent until it is called for. Has seen them go in and pay down till the agent said that it was enough. When a tenant comes from a distance, he is told what he has to pay, but if a lease expires, they sometimes do not know the amount till they to pay it. During the first year they are paying the old rent, that is, there is generally the running half-year or year. The rent is an acreable one, If a road leads through the farm it is measured in. The ten-ants get a return of so much an acre after it is surveyed, road and all; no matter what is inside the mearings, it is included. Does not think the valuator allowed anything when there is a great deal of road running through a farm. The highest rent in the townland under witnesses landlord is 30s., medium 18s. or 20s. The best land produces in average seasons about ten or twelve barrels of oats; other kinds not five barrels. In places the poor-law valuation is under the rent, in others nearly equal. The Government valuation is one-third under the rent of a tenant at-will. He thinks the poor-law valuation made judiciously enough, but the tenants did not care so much about whether it was high-valued or not, if it was equal. No local funds in the neighbourhood, there were usurers in plenty, but they are now nearly worn out. The usual mode of recovering rent has been lately by civil bill; the distress was preferable, because by it the goods only were taken; whereas by the civil bill, the landlord obtains the person, and can get the goods afterwards.

The service of the process, of course, gives the man notice to pay; but when he is processed, he knows it is for the rent due, and to what time, and how much. There is no middlemen, so far as he is aware. When leases expired, he did not know of any new ones granted by the landlords round the locality. Tenant-right is less prevalent than formerly, and it is diminishing in value. It generally sells from 2l. to 5l. an acre.; but if the land is held in lease more is given according to the rent. If an original lease, such as he held under, it would sell for more than 35l. an acre, at a rent of five shillings and a lease for perpetuity. Thinks the tenant-right has a good effect on the country. Neither the large farmers nor the small tenantry are improving, and the labourers are bordering on pauperism. The acreable rent is no higher on the small tenantry than on the large farms. The labourers get sixpence a day for two seasons of the year, but they have a great deal of idle time. They seldom get any more ground when they want it, except conacre potato ground, for which they pay about 8l. per acre. That is for well-manured land. Witness has land let by conacre, considers himself well paid at 8l. an acre,he has no family to labour for him, and the men labour for this potato ground. The county cess is, in general, about one-tenth of the rent of those holding at will. Knows this because there is a Grand Jury collector for each barony, who gives the amount of what comes to the townland to a person who applots the cess.

There have been no agrarian outrages in this district lately. The last was the murder of Mr. Quin's steward. The poor-rate is about one-tenth of the rent. The landlord's proportion of the poor-rate is usually allowed on the first payment of rent after they pay their poor law tax to the collector. The next rent after that the landlord pays witness what is coming to him. Some do not allow it. The placing [of] the rent charge on the landlord has benefitted the witness. He thinks it better than the way it was before under the Compensation Act ; but where there were tenants-at-will he knew of instances where the tenants said, according to law, the agent of the landlord or the rector could not sue them for tithe, when the combined not to pay ; the agent sent out a valuator over the land, and sometimes put on tithe and sometimes more upon it. The landlord witness lives under charges no tithes for tenants- at-will. He had reduced the rents on the farms since. Last year there was a reduction of 2s. 6d. in the pound.

Witness considers that the Grand Jury collector of cess ought to be dispensed with, and thus a considerable expense be saved. Witness knew that the County Surveyor and Deputy County Surveyor did not do their duty; the former got 300 or 350 a-year, without seeing the road, or the weight of gravel put upon it by the contractor. The reasons that the conditions of all classes was getting worse were, the failure of crops, on account of the district being cold and mountainous, and because the rent was put on by a surveyor, who was ignorant of the localities and rated too high. This complaint is general, and he thinks well grounded. The government valuators were all ignorant of the soil as the other valuators, but their valuation comes nearer what is right because it is lower.

In the supplement to the Report page 15, there is the evidence of W. C. Quin, Esq., the gentleman alluded to by the last witness as having a land-steward who was murdered. Mr. Quin, when examined, stated that his steward Mr. Powell, had never been employed by him to serve notices or make distraints. He (Mr. Quinn) thought it probable that notices may have been served on four of the persons who were to be more or less affected by these arrangements whenever they should be carried into effect, farms having been procured for them on other parts of the estate; and the notices may have been served under the apprehension that the parties might object to vacate their old farms at the time agreed upon. It is possible, too, that the agent without his knowledge may have served notices for the purpose merely of getting in the rents. However this was, Mr. Powell was not at all concerned in the matter. There was a meeting of magistrates and landed proprietors after Mr. Powell was murdered, and they passed the following resolution:,'Resolved unanimously, that we consider Mr. Quin, the owner of the property in the improvement of which Mr. Powell was employed, to be entirely free of any hardship or severity, and to have in every respect conducted himself with kindness and humanity towards his tenantry.'

In the supplement to the Report (page 1) there is the statement of Henry Lindsay, Esq., County Eviction for non payment of rentSurveyor of Armagh in reply to Mr. Craig's evidence; it is as follows:,

'In reply to your letter of the 31st ult., with an extra, from the evidence of Mr. David Craig, I beg to say, whoever he may be, he is substantially incorrect. I see all the public roads myself, but not at the same period of the year, as that would be impossible. The stones are measured for all important roads, and for all others, as far as two assistants can attend to it ; but it sometimes happens, through the ignorance of a contractor, that the stones are spread without measurement, and in all such cases where I have any doubt, I never certify the amount without an affidavit or declaration of the party that he put the quantity on. With respect to parish roads I have heretofore left the management of them to my assistants, as many of those roads are narrow, that I could not go over them even if I were inclined and up to this time, I have only heard of one serious complaint about the conduct of an assistant in looking over a parish road. But as the Grand Jury at last assizes recommended that I should, as far as possible, look after the attendance to such roads, this department of the business may be better conducted in the future.'

William Paton, Esq., examined., Resides in Armagh, and is agent to the Lord Primate, and a magistrate of the county. Wishes to confine his statement to the subject of the markets of Armagh. There is a general deduction made from every pig brought by the farmers, amounting to ten pounds from the weight. Believes this is the case in all the market towns in the North of Ireland. The deduction is made as for feet and heads; it is made on the seller here; and the same takes place in Belfast when they take the pork and sell it to the wholesale merchant. Butter is subject to a similar deduction; when a firkin is weighed there is no tare for the cask, which is correct enough; but for draught or beamage they take two pounds off; then they take one pound for each quarter of a cwt. that it weighs, which comes to about five pounds upon the firkin. The corn sold is usually at the buyer's store, and abuses have frequently been complained of. It is usually weighed when raised to the loft, and he has been informed that after being weighed in the market, it has been weighed at the store, and the weight found less, although the seller complained it was too late.

Considers that the same system of exaction extends to many articles sold by the farmer. To obviate it, all grain should be weighed in the market. When grain is weighed there, there is an allowance given so that it must turn the beam. Pork is all weighed at the market crane, and he never heard any complaint about it. As respects the county cess, since Mr. Griffith's valuation came into operation, that is since the cess was a poundage upon it houses here pay from five to seven times more than they used to do. Formerly, Armagh contributed from 300l. to 400l. a-year to the barony cess; now, he believes it is from 1,500l. to 2,000l. The effect has been to put a stop to building in this town. The proportion of the houses returned vacant at the census in 1841 was 221. Mr. Griffith's valuation is about 2s 6d in the pound; if the houses were all occupied, it would of course be less. Thinks the rate under the 9th George IV. is 1s on the actual rent, which may be about equal to 1s 6d on Mr. Griffith's valuation, bringing those two up to 4s. These rates are exclusive of the poor-rate.

The barony collectors are generally men not brought up to business, and it is seldom that the same person collects for two consecutive levies. Besides, they employ an inferior class to collect as deputies. Considers if there was one collector for the whole county, a salaried officer paid 500 a-year, with expenses, and so on, and that if he had an office where the people would come and pay their cess, it would be so much better. Amount of cess levied off the county is about 20,000l. per annum; taking the average of the last seven years; and 9d in ?? pound was paid for collecting it. If the people did not send their money, when the applotters had finished their applotment they should send them to the collector to be printed and posted so that every person might know what his cess was; the collector could then go back to each barony with the power of detraining for what cess he did not then receive. This would cause the collection of the cess to be begun a month or two earlier. Does not think this would be a hardship; the system would produce a great saving. Suppose 6d a pound for collecting it paid to the collector, it would yield him a salary o? 500l. a-year, and 200l. A year for expenses. Thinks also that county cess and poor-rate might be amalgamated, and connected in one levy as deductions from landlords. Suppose the Government paid the police constabulary, and relieved the county of that outlay, that would be about an equivalent to the rate-payer for the deduction. There might also be a deduction for poor-rate from the landlord's rent of one-fourth instead of one-half.

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