One letter does not a person make.  And there were lots of Abercorn lords
over the years.  Keep reading.  Get on this guys bad side and he'd ruin you
and your relations.  Take a read of Earl Haslett's "Along the River Foyle"
for instance.  In the mid 1700s having a park of deer was vogue for the
rich.  They were slow to compensate tenants about Baronscourt for damaged
crops when the deer got out, but you had to at least put down your dogs if
they attacked any escaping deer.  Sometimes they were quite adamant about
clearing their lands of poorer folk.

11 August 1757.  "The cottiers must remove from Priest's Sessagh as I
ordered. I had great trouble with them." [PRONI. D623/A/15/76].

1 September 1758. "I gave very particular directions to have all the
cottiers there removed. I desire you will see it effectually done, before
any lease is given, and that you will besides receive ten shillings for
each of the two years that each cottier has already remained there,
excepting such as actually were removed last summer." [PRONI.


On Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 8:17 PM Elwyn Soutter via CoTyroneList <> wrote:

> *I have been asked for other papers that give a flavour of life in Tyrone
> in the 1800s. I have attached this one from the Abercorn Estate papers
> which (I think) shows that not all the big estate owners were totally
> heartless people screwing every last penny out of their tenants. We are
> often told that in Ireland, absentee landlords treated their tenants
> terribly, and there’s plenty of evidence to support that. However not
> everyone was the same. This letter seems to me to show a more humane
> approach on the Abercorn Estate.*
> *James Hamilton was the agent or estate manager for Lord Abercorn. He
> would write to him in England about twice a week updating him on important
> matters. These letters have survived and are in PRONI.*
> *This letter from 1800 shows that his farmer tenants could not pay their
> rents in full due to a collapse in the price of barley. Barley is of course
> the key ingredient in Irish and Scotch whisk(e)y. The Government had
> clamped down on the number of distilleries, so consequently the bottom had
> fallen out of the barley market, and they couldn’t get the expected price.
> I do not know whether any action was taken to pursue the tenants later for
> the unpaid parts of their rents but my interpretation of the tone of the
> letter is that such action was unlikely, not only because you can’t get
> blood out of a stone, but because the Estate Manager knew their predicament
> was genuine and sympathised.*
> *You can also see the impact that our tricky Irish weather has on farming,
> as a significant part of the summer crop has been lost. Something farmers
> have little or no control over.*
> *The other element that I found interesting was the care that the manager
> seemed to have for the orphaned children on the estate. Efforts were being
> made to help them along in life. *
> *PRONI is full of similar documents, not only from the Abercorn Estates
> but also from big Estates like the Earl of Antrim’s. If you have time to
> spare in PRONI there’s a months reading in them.  I’ll post a few more over
> the next week or so.*
> *Elwyn Soutter*
> PRONI: D623/A/92/32
> From James Hamilton jr (Estate Manager) to Lord Abercorn
> Strabane 24th September 1800
> My Lord,
> There is nothing particular that I have to say to your Lordship. I
> have…the most of last week in Baron’s Court[1]
> <>,
> where I went principally to put the tenants of Derrynook to as little
> inconvenience as possible in paying their rents. I was very much
> disappointed in what I got. I did not receive anything like the half of
> what I expected. They have not been able to discharge the debts they
> incurred last winter in buying provisions. And the present suppression of
> Private Distillery’s has reduced the price of barley so low that nothing
> but actual compulsion will make those who have it sell till the price
> increases.
> There has been a total change of weather since I wrote last – torrents of
> rain almost every day, accompanied with very high wind. We hope it will not
> continue and is only consequence of the equinox. I fear I was rather too
> sanguine when I said that there was two thirds of the crop of this part of
> the country out of the … of the weather – experienced……have convinced me
> that there is above a third yet uncut. I hope to make a remittance shortly.
> While I was in Baron’s Court it struck me that it was full time something
> should be done with the little orphan boy and girl supported by your
> Lordship. The boy is near 16 years old and the girl near 14 years old.
> Kitty seems to have done her duty to them very faithfully, they can both
> read and write astonishingly well. The boy is very desirous of being made
> apprentice to a saddler. So that if his fee were to be paid by your
> Lordship he would be put in a fair way of doing for himself. The little
> girl is an excellent servant and the housekeeper was so much attached to
> her that I think she will leave her fortune to her, if a husband should not
> tempt Kitty. There is a little son of George Foster’s that it is high time
> should also be apprenticed. I received a specimen of the little Baron’s
> Court Liz’s writing. Perhaps your Lordship would take them over as servants
> to the Priory. They have a very lively sense of exactitude to all your
> Lordship’s family. The boy would make a stout stable servant and the little
> girl who promises to be pretty would soon learn to be a maid to one of the
> young ladies.
> I have the honour to be your Lordship’s devoted and ever faithful humble
> servant.
> ------------------------------
> [1]
> <>
> Baron’s Court is the Duke of Abercorn’s estate, near Strabane.
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