Bessborough Commission


In the book "Land and Popular Politics in Ireland County Mayo from the Plantation to the Land War" by Donald E. Jordan Jr. there is a section on how the landlords raised the rents. Mary Chervenak was eagle eyed enough (and scholarly enough,let's face it, is this a book you'd read?) to sieze upon the fact that Patrick M'Ginn (McGing) of Arderry is quoted. I believe this to be my great great grandfather.

"One landlord who regularly raised the rates was the Marquisses of Sligo, owner of the largest property in County Mayo and the 3rd largest lanndowner in Ireland. Lord Sligo explained his actions in a letter to the Bessborough Commission:

There was a great Famine in Ireland thirty years ago, and when, after it, I wiped off great arrears of rent ... I let the land at nominal rents. All was in confusion. I had no idea of making them permanent. I told the tenants that the rents were only temporary and low to help them to recover themselves, and to repair their houses, etc., and put pig sties outside instead of inside the houses.I determined from the first to raise the rent by degrees, and not all at once, to a fair and moderate rate. The rent at the first arrangement was far less than the old rate... I believe the rates now tobe fair and moderate.

He informed the commissioners that following the 1875 rise in rent, one based on a re-evaluation of the farms on his estate, small tenants were paying, on the average, 14 percent over the government valuation of their farms.

Lord Sligo may have thought that his rents were fair and reasonable, but those of his tenants who appeared before the Bessborough Commission disagreed. For example, Patrick M'Ginn, a tenant of Lord Sligo in the townland of Arderry, told the commissioners that between 1853 and 1869 his rent had been raised three times from £28 to £98. Rather than accept Lord Sligo's argument that the rent rises were justified by the low rates charged following the Famine, M'Ginn claimed that "according as we improved the land he raised the rent." Other tenants on the Sligo estate echoed M'Ginn's complaint about steep and regular rent increases with the bulk of them having received their most recent rise in 1875, as a result of a re-evaluation of the estate. ... "



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