BENCE JONES, W. The Life’s Work in Ireland of a Landlord who tried to do his duty.
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CLEVER IRISH PEASANTS WITH NO BACKBONE
London: Macmillan, 1880. Crown octavo. pp. xxi, 338, 43 (publisher’s list). Publisher’s green pebbled cloth, covers ruled in black, title in gilt on spine. A fine copy. Very scarce. William Bence Jones owned an estate of 3,800 acres at Lisselane, in the neighbourhood of Clonakilty, West Cork. He farmed about 1,000 acres of this himself and the remainder was in the hands of small tenant farmers. He was not a popular landlord, and raised rents on his property whenever he pleased; “I was under no engagement, expressed or implied, with the tenants, and therefore felt at liberty to make my own terms with them, I accordingly let them the land at the highest rent in my opinion it was worth to them ... The Irish peasant is clever enough but he has no backbone”. Towards the end of 1880 Bence Jones’s tenants asked for a reduction in their rents, he refused, so the Clonakilty branch of the Gaelic League went into action. He was boycotted and had to have police protection. He could not sell his crops or cattle at the fair in Bandon.
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