According to the Census of 1851, it appears that there were 570, 338 tenants farmers in Ireland who accounted for over half of the rural population. This census also shows that 10, 000 landlords owned most of the land. These numbers show an unfair domination of the land by landlords. And between these two we find an amount of middlemen. We know that the landlords, middlemen and tenants had ties together simply because of their relationship with the land. It leads us to the question: What was the respective cultural and social significance of the landlord, middlemen and tenant in Irish life in the period 1780 – 1914? Firstly, I will deal with the decline of the landlords through the years. Then we will focus on the role of the middlemen and their eradication. Finally, we will emphasize on the living conditions of the tenants and its evolution.
The landlord owned the land for which he did not pay any rent. The landlords were considered as “the nobles” and there were several ranks of nobles, their rank depending on how much land they owned. Thus, this allows us to say that the landlord was a member of high society. This is also reflected by the fact that the “landlords houses and demesnes were grandly impressive, estates were concentrated in great territorial blocks” . Consequently, it was ascertained that the landlords in the eighteenth century had been the “undisputed economic and legal centres of their localities” .
[...] So, as we have seen the relationship between landlord, middleman and tenant yield much information on the cultural and social significance of each as we see that each relates greatly to the other. Bibliography Moody, T.W., and Vaughan, W.E., (eds) A new history of Ireland: iv, Eighteenth century Ireland (1691-1800) (Oxford, 1986) Vaughan, W.E., (ed.) A new history of Ireland: Ireland under the union, i (1801-1870) (Oxford, 1989) Vaughan, W.E., (ed.) A new history of Ireland: VI, Ireland under the union, ii (1870-1921) (Oxford, 1996) Vaughan, W.E., Landlords and tenants in Ireland 1884-1904 (Dublin, 1884) Donnelly, James S., Landlord and tenant in nineteenth century Ireland (Dublin, 1973) World Wide Web P.W. [...]
[...] We have seen that numerous events of the nineteenth century, most significantly the Famine and its many consequences, gave rise to the landlord's declining position towards the early 1900's and as a consequence his social and cultural significance in the social structure of the time was greatly affected. The middlemen underwent a different kind of decline, in that the landlord helped to eradicate their numbers, so that by 1914 the number of middlemen in Ireland was poor, if any remained at all in certain areas. [...]
[...] Consequently all the power they had in the eighteenth century disappeared more suddenly than gradually because of how they managed their money, for instance, banks, railways and shops were potential sources of power that landlords failed to exploit. By the 1870's they were considered as being on the fringes of rural society, but nevertheless they managed to extract large amounts of money thanks to the Encumbered Estates Act of 1848 which aimed to help landlords. However, there remained landlords who were able to bear the situation. [...]
[...] These sorts of tenants were harshly treated by landlords and middlemen, which again shows their unpleasant situation, living at the bottom of the social structure that existed between landlords, middlemen and tenants. However the law gave them some protection, for instance the ‘Land Law Act' of 1881 and the ‘Land Law Amendment Act' of 1887 universalised right of tenant to sell tenancy, provided for conversion of ordinary tenancies to fixed tenancies and conceded three Fs' which meant fair rent, free sale and fixity of tenure. [...]
[...] He characterised legally by the enjoyment of a written claim to tenure, and economically by the ownership of farm, animals, carts and other equipment and by savings reflected in the size of the dowries he was able to provide”. The individual ownership of a plough and a team of horses was in contemporary eyes itself a criterion of modest comfort. The working conditions were not the same in the whole country, some regions were less favoured than others like the poorer regions that were remote from markets which points towards a difficulty to selling the crops and there was also the problem of poor soils in these places. [...]
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