Land War Prosecution Under The  Crime Act 1882 West Cork

Extracts from Skibbereen Eagle 1882-1883, p.5-78

Land War Durrus district, p. 79

Resident Magistrates, p. 82

Local Lawyers, p. 83

The backdrop here is the Land War:

Courtesy Lurgan Ancestry

The traditional view of the Land War in Ireland has been of the displacement of a Protestant Ascendancy class and the often absentee landlords. The former ascendancy had been on the decline since the Great Hunger of the late 1840s, and for them the problem was that previously agreed rents could not be paid after the slump in prices from 1874; some allowed generous rent rebates while others stuck to the agreements and enforced their property rights. Some were already owed rent and many had mortgaged their property and needed the rents to pay the mortgage costs. Many new landlords since the famine were Irish Catholics, but were still associated with the Ascendancy because of their wealth. A survey of the 4,000 largest Irish landlords in 1872 revealed that 71% lived on their estates or elsewhere in Ireland. By then, 43% of all proprietors were Roman Catholics, though the richest owners were mostly Anglicans.

Rent strikes often led to evictions. Land League members resisted the evictions en masse during the Land War, resulting in enforcement of evictions by court judgements for possession that were carried out by the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary. Murders of some landlords, their agents and policemen, as well as attacks on supportive witnesses and on their property and animals, all occurred as reprisals for evictions. In response, the British army were often deployed to back up the police, restore law and order and enforce evictions, after the Coercion Acts were passed. For protesting tenants, these Acts were a form of martial law; their opponents saw it as the only way to guarantee their legal rights.


The most effective method of the Land League was the boycott, which took its name from when an unpopular landlord’s agent, Charles Boycott, was ostracised by the local community. Boycotting was also applied to tenants who wanted to pay their rent, and to the police, as well as shops and other businesses who traded with boycotted people. The boycotts were often extremely effective, since they were unquestionably lawful under the common law, non-violent, and effectively punitive: since nobody is forced to join a boycott, it was a voluntary act, through private agreeme…..,.,,,