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Ejectments (Ireland)—The Earl Of Courtown

Volume 50: debated on Wednesday 14 August 1839

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begged leave, before the House proceeded to the business of the evening, to read a statement which ha had received from Mr. Robert Owen, agent to the Earl of Courtown, explanatory of certain proceedings which had taken place in the noble Earl's estate. He thought it only fair to the noble Earl to do so, as his conduct had been impugned in that House:—

"The townland of Coonogue, in the county of Carlow, was let about seventy years ago to one tenant: it consists of between 200 and 300 acres of very poor mountain land. The lessee made several sublettings and divisions of it, and at the time the lease expired, about October, 1837, this townland was found cut up into nearly forty farms, or rather wretched holdings, occupied by mere paupers. These under-tenants had been recognised by Lord Courtown or his agents, and they were given distinctly to understand, that they could not be suffered to continue on the lands when the lease expired. From October, 1837, until the beginning of June in the present year, they were allowed to occupy. Every indulgence and allowance was made to them to provide for themselves elsewhere, and then selection was made by which twelve families out of about thirty (not 220, as stated by Mr. O'Connell) were to continue at least for some time longer on the lands, and the remainder were to be removed. A very ample allowance being made to them for future provision, they all professed, themselves, with one exception, fully satisfied with this arrangement; but on the sheriff going to the lands in June, an immense mob assembled, the tenants refused to give possession; the proceedings of the mob were violent in the extreme, and the sub-sheriff was deterred from executing the habere. Some local circumstances prevented the sheriff making a second attempt until the 7th instant, when he did so with a large force, and the possession was taken without opposition, although great numbers of people were assembled; and so strongly were the neighbouring tenantry on Lord Corn-town's estate convinced of the wrong done to his Lordship by these misled and deluded people, that they assisted most willingly and efficiently in taking possession. His Lordship's estates in that county are almost exclusively occupied by Roman Catholics, and the parties assisting in taking possession were all of that denomination. They are all treated with the utmost kindness and consideration, their wants supplied most liberally, and their condition in every respect improved by most careful and exact superintendence; and I am sure he has not a single tenant on his very extensive estates in that county, who does not know him to be a kind and as liberal a landlord as any either in England or in Ireland. For myself, as his Lordship's agent, it is not for me to defend my own conduct by praising myself, but I should be most happy to be judged on the question of, whether I act with cruelty or oppression, by the tenantry on that very estate. I have been now an agent over very large properties in Ireland for upwards of twenty years, and I cannot call to my recollection one solitary instance where I ever was accused even of either cruelty or oppression; in the present case the blame of advising, if blame there be, rests entirely with me; but on the calmest consideration of the subject, were I to have it to do, instead of having done it, I could not conscientiously recommend any other course than that which has been adopted."

had stated fifty-three families, but had been reported as having said 253.