Progress and Distress on the Stratford Estate in Clare during the Eighteen Forties
AbstractIn the late 1980s and early 1990s, the author acquired about 30,000 letters written mainly in the 1840s. These pertained to estates throughout Ireland managed by James Robert Stewart and Joseph Kincaid, hereafter denoted SK. Until the letters - called the SK correspondence in what follows - became the author’s property, they had not seen light of day since the 1840s. Addressed mainly to the SK office in Dublin, they were written mainly by landlords, tenants, the partners in SK, local agents, etc. After about 200 years in operation as a land agency, the firm in which members of the Stewart family were the principal partners - Messrs J. R. Stewart & Son(s) from the mid-1880s onwards -- ceased business in the mid-1980s. Since 1994 the author has been researching the SK correspondence of the 1840s. It gives many new insights into economic and social conditions in Ireland during the decade of the great famine, and into the operation of Ireland’s most important land agency during those years. It is intended ultimately to publish details on several of the estates managed by SK in book form. The proposed title is Landlords, Tenants, Famine: Business of an Irish Land Agency in the 1840s, a draft of which has now been completed. A majority of the letters in the larger study from which the present article is drawn are on themes some of which one might expect - rents, distraint (seizure of assets in lieu of rent) ; ‘voluntary’ surrender of land in return for ‘compensation’ upon peacefully quitting; formal ejectment (a matter of last resort on estates managed by SK); landlord-assisted emigration (on a scale much more extensive than most historians of Ireland in the 1840s appear to believe); petitions from tenants; complaints by tenants, both about other tenants and local agents; major works of improvement (on almost all of the estates managed by SK); applications by SK, on behalf of proprietors, for government loans to finance improvements; recommendations of agricultural advisers hired by SK, ete. Thus, most of the SK correspondence is about aspects of estate management. It seems, in the 1840s, that the only estate in Clare managed by SK was that of the elderly Col. Stratford. Although the files on the relatively small Stratford estate are much less extensive than those on some of the estates investigated in detail in the draft of Landlords, Tenants, Famine, they do refer to most of the core aspects of estate management mentioned above. But in the case of the Clare estate, the material on some of those themes is extremely thin.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200210.
Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 10 Mar 2002
Date of revision:
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