This is an attempt to see how the descendant of the old Gaelic families fared after the ancestral lands were forfeit or confiscated for ‘rebellion’ against the English Crown and administration. It is impossible to be definitive but is likely that many of those represented here are of the old lines. In the long run they have done well and even thrived.
In contrast those families granted estate, Beechers, Townsends or those like the Whites of Biantry or Bernards of Bandon who bought land cheaply early 18th century from the Hollow Blade Company did not fare as well. Few of the West Cork Landed families invested locally in productive assets. Even of the large estates the rentals were modest compared to the larger Irish estates. An exception would be Cox in the development of the Dunmanway linen industry or Addelry in Innishannon. The building of large houses, ostentatious lifestyles residences in Dublin and London ensued large debts and ultimately little disposable income. Papers such as the Chief Secretary are replete with Petitions from the West Cork Gentry for Government aid for road, harbour building various types of distress. However their individual personal contribution can characterised by the following during the cholera epidemic in 1833:
1833, John Roberts, Bantry, Magistrate, reported 15th April 1833, death of one of his policeman Ferguson of cholera. Has been prevalent since the 11th March, 20 cases 5 dead many more now being treated. This is a miserable neglected town without any resident gentry and the few who do, don’t exert themselves whether by contribution or otherwise to check the advance of the disease. The Board of Health do not have the money to open a hospital which is the cause of this disease.
There is an untold story of economic development by the likes of the Bandon Clothiers and textile entrepreneurs, the millers, shippers, brewers such as the Deasys of Clonakilty of McCarthys of Skibbereen, the Bantry Vickeries who were the founders of West Cork tourism. Of Thomas Vickery who founded the hotel and pioneers the ’Prince of Wales Route, Bantry to Killarney, ‘he did more for the people of Bantry and surrounding area all the belted Earls.
The section of deeds in the Bantry/Durrus shows the emergence of a class up to now invisible. They comprise Catholic and Protestant farmers of substance, merchants, Grand Jury road contractors who were in a position to advance loans to the local small Landlords such as the Blairs of Blairs Cove, Evansons of Durrus, Hutchinson of Clonee, Durrus. These are either by way of mortgage or rent charge. Ironically the advances commenced in the late 1780s a time of unparalleled prosperity when a well managed estate should have being doing well. It is estimated the land rent went up by a factor of 3 between 1780 and 1815 the dated of the Battle of Waterloo.
Subject area, p.2
General Charles Vallancey (1731-1812) Survey Report 1778, p.5
Crowley Wills ,p. 8
Apothecaries, Doctors p. 16
1825 Balance of economic advantage grievance of Catholics excluded from Juries, p.19
Convert Rolls/Converts, p.23
Game Certs (Gun Licences), p. 25
Grand Jury Records, Cess payer representatives, p.26
Caheragh/Drimoleague Deeds. P. 40
Deeds Bantry Durrus area, p.40
Magistrates, p 62