Britain and Ireland 1867: resentment and support for British rule?
There were many problems of Ireland in 1867:
This made it difficult to farm. The main diet was potatoes as they grew underground.
Due to the limited diet of potatoes. Most of Ireland’s food was exported to England.
Limited jobs/unemployment outside cities
Ireland was increasingly agricultural as its industries collapsed such as the textile industry.
Due to emigration to America, disease and starvation from the famine of 1945-49.
Poor living and working conditions
Conditions in cities were bad
Many Irish farmers who were tenants were evicted as the landlords raised the prices of the rent because of the poor law and as they wanted more money. The tenants sold most of their produce just to pay for the rent and starved themselves. The rents went up while the conditions of the property and farms stayed low.
Ireland hand now been dominated by the church of Ireland so Catholics and Presbyterians were discriminated against even though they were the majority. They had less rights, land, and property and were forbidden from certain jobs like in civil service. Catholics had to pay tithe to the Church of Ireland.
Low food prices
Cheap imports of food from America to Britain and a recession dropped food prices, and low food prices meant the farmers could not make enough money to pay their rents.
Low morale for British rule
All the above caused anger against the British Empire.
The problem of land ownership
Most Irish farmers rented property. 25% of landlords in Ireland lived abroad – mainly in England. Some tenants rights groups existed, but had little success. The situation did not really improve. Only 5% of the land was owned by Catholics.
In 1870 a Land Act was introduced. It gave:
- The tenants had rights to compensation if they were evicted for any other reason than non-payment and there were improvements to the property
- Loans out by the government to tenants who wanted to buy holdings from the landlords
- Rents where not supposed to be unfairly high
Reasons for the land act:
- Fenians were emerging into politics
- The Irish Tenant League was revived in the late 1860s
- Gladstone’s actions as prime minster. Felt that the trouble would die down.
Why it didn’t work out:
- It did not actually stop the unfair rent increases
- Tenants with leases longer than 31 years were not affected
- Many landlords worked their way around the act by changing their leases: they made the rent even higher so it was impossible for the tenants to pay.
- Most farmers could not afford the loans
- Tenants could still be unfairly evicted
The Land League:
- Founded in October 1879
- Parnell was the president
- Tactics: rallies, posters and campaigns.
- Like the Tenant’s League, campaigned for the 3F’s: Free sale of leases, fair rents and fixity of tenure.
- Seemed to be behind the “Land War”: barns of landowners burned down, agents were…