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Title: A history of the Irish poor law, in connexion with the condition of the people
Author: Nicholls, George
Language: English
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                               A HISTORY
                                 OF THE
                            IRISH POOR LAW,

                           IN CONNEXION WITH

                      THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE.

                    BY SIR GEORGE NICHOLLS, K.C.B.,



      “Let every man be occupied, and occupied in the highest
      employment of which his nature is capable, and die with the
      consciousness that he has done his best.”—SYDNEY SMITH



                     JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.

                    KNIGHT & Co., 90, FLEET STREET.



                           AND CHARING CROSS.


          To the Ex-officio and Elected Members of the Boards
          of Guardians in Ireland, in the hope that it may be
          of use to them in the performance of their important
          Duties, this History of the Irish Poor Law is

                              By their faithful servant,

                                             THE AUTHOR.

          _November 1856._



The Irish Poor Law was in its origin no more than a branch or offshoot
of the English law, but it is a measure of so much importance, and has
so close a bearing upon the social well-being of the Irish people, that
it seems to be entitled to a separate consideration. The severe trials
moreover to which the law has been exposed, and the changes that have
been made in its organization and executive, have given to it a new and
distinctive character, on which account also a separate description of
its progress and the incidents connected with it appears to be
necessary. Hence therefore the intention which I at first entertained of
combining the history of the Irish Poor Law with that of its English
parent has been abandoned, and it is now published as a separate and
independent work.

Notwithstanding the separate publication of the histories however, it
must always be remembered that the English and the Irish laws are
similar in principle, and identical in their objects. The end sought to
be attained by each is, to relieve the community from the demoralization
as well as from the danger consequent on the prevalence of extensive and
unmitigated destitution, and to do this in such a way as shall have the
least possible tendency to create the evil which it is sought to guard
against. This is the legitimate object of a Poor Law, and the facts and
reasonings on which such a law is founded, are not limited to Ireland or
England or Scotland, but are in their nature universal. I hardly need
say that this object is distinct from charity, in the ordinary sense of
the term, although it is undoubtedly charity in its largest acceptation,
embracing the whole community—It is in truth the charity of the
statesman and the philanthropist, seeking to secure the largest amount
of good for his fellow men, with the smallest amount of accompanying

The part that was assigned to me, first in the framing of the Irish Poor
Law, and then in its introduction, seems to render any apology for my
undertaking to write its history unnecessary. Although failing health
and advancing years had compelled me to retire from the public service,
I thought that I might still be usefully employed in recording the
circumstances under which the law was established, and the events
attending its administration; and I am most thankful for having been
enabled to undertake the task, and for being permitted to bring it to a

It is true that for the last nine years I have not been immediately
connected with the Irish Poor Law, but I have nevertheless continued to
watch its progress with the greatest solicitude, and have spared no
pains to obtain information as to its working. I could indeed hardly
have failed to do this, after the part I had taken in the framing of the
measure, even without reference to the heavy trials through which the
Irish people have passed, and which obtained for them universal sympathy
and commiseration. If such was the general feeling with regard to
Ireland in its season of trial, it will readily be believed that mine
could not have formed an exception; and in the authorship of the present
work, I may therefore I trust venture to claim credit, not only on
account of my connexion with the origin and introduction of the law, but
also for having attended to its subsequent progress, and acquired such a
knowledge of its operation and results as to warrant the undertaking.

A history of the Irish Poor Law, explaining its origin and the
principles on which it was founded, together with an account of its
progress and the effects of its application would, it might reasonably
be supposed, afford information that must be generally useful—that it
would be useful to the administrators of the law, can hardly admit of
doubt. Such a history would place before them in a complete and regular
series, all that it would be necessary for them to know, and all that
ought to be borne in mind, in order that the examples of the past may
prepare them for promptly dealing with the present, or for anticipating
the future. The following work has been framed chiefly with this view;
and I can only say that I have earnestly endeavoured to make it
sufficient for the purpose, without any other wish or object than that
it should prove useful in a cause to which during several years my best
energies were devoted, and to the furtherance of which I could no longer
contribute in any other way.

                                                               G. N.

_November 1856._


 PREFACE                                                          Page v

                               CHAPTER I.

 State of Ireland before the conquest—Its subjection by Henry
   II.—Spenser’s account of the state of the country—Plantation
   of Ulster—Progress of population—Legislation previous to the
   accession of Anne—Dublin and Cork Workhouse Acts—Hiring and
   wages—Apprenticeship—Provision for foundling and deserted
   children—Licensed beggars—Arthur Young’s account of the state
   of Ireland                                                          1

                               CHAPTER II.

 Rebellion of 1798—The Union—Acts of the Imperial Parliament:
   respecting dispensaries, hospitals, and
   infirmaries—Examination of bogs—Fever hospitals—Officers of
   health—Lunatic asylums—Employment of the poor—Deserted
   children—Report of 1804 respecting the poor—Dublin House of
   Industry and Foundling Hospital—Reports of 1819 and 1823 on
   the state of disease and condition of the labouring
   poor—Report of 1830 on the state of the poorer classes—Report
   of the Committee on Education—Mr. Secretary Stanley’s letter
   to the Duke of Leinster—Board of National Education—First and
   second Reports of commissioners for inquiring into the
   condition of the poorer classes—The author’s ‘Suggestions’—The
   commissioners’ third Report—Reasons for and against a
   voluntary system of relief—Mr. Bicheno’s 'Remarks on the
   Evidence'—Mr. G. C. Lewis’s ‘Remarks on the Third Report’          67

                              CHAPTER III.

 Recommendation in the king’s speech—Motions and other
   proceedings in the House of Commons—Lord John Russell’s
   instructions to the author—The author’s first Report—Lord John
   Russell’s speech on introducing a bill founded on its
   recommendations—Progress of the bill interrupted by the death
   of the king—Author’s second Report—Bill reintroduced and
   passed the Commons—Author’s third Report—Bill passes the
   lords, and becomes law                                            153

                               CHAPTER IV.

 Summary of the 'Act for the more effectual Relief of the Poor in
   Ireland,' and of the ‘Amendment Act’—Arrangements for bringing
   the Act into operation—First and second Reports of
   proceedings—Dublin and Cork unions—Distress in the western
   districts—Third, fourth, fifth, and sixth Reports—Summary of
   the Act for the further amendment of the Law—Seventh
   Report—Cost of relief, and numbers relieved—Issue of amended
   orders                                                            222

                               CHAPTER V.

 Eighth Report of proceedings—Failure of the potato—A fourth
   commissioner appointed—Ninth Report—Potato disease in
   1846—Public Works Act—Distress in autumn 1846—Labour-rate
   Act—Relief-works—Temporary Relief Act—Pressure upon
   workhouses—Emigration—Financial state of unions—First Annual
   Report of Poor-Law Commissioners for Ireland—Extension Act—Act
   for Punishment of Vagrants—Act to provide for execution of
   Poor Laws—General import of the new Acts—Change of the
   commission—Dissolution of boards of guardians—Report of
   Temporary Relief Act Commissioners—British Association—Second
   Annual Report of Poor-Law Commissioners—Recurrence of potato
   disease—Cholera—Rate-in-Aid Act—Further dissolution of boards
   of guardians—Boundary Commission—Select committee on Irish
   Poor Laws—Expenditure, and numbers relieved                       303

                               CHAPTER VI.

 Third Annual Report of Poor-Law Commissioners—Further Amendment
   Act—Fourth Annual Report—New unions and electoral
   divisions—Consolidated Debts Act—Rates in aid—Fifth Annual
   Report—Annuities under Consolidated Debts Act—Treasury
   minute—Act to amend Acts relating to payment of
   advances—Medical charities—Medical Charities Act—First Report
   of Medical Charity Commissioners—Census of
   1851—Retrospection—Sixth Annual Report—Rate of
   wages—Expenditure, and numbers relieved—Changes in Poor-Law
   executive—New order of accounts—Author’s letter to Lord John
   Russell, 1853—Present state and future prospects of Ireland       364

 INDEX                                                               405




                          THE IRISH POOR LAW,

                           IN CONNEXION WITH

                      THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE.


                               CHAPTER I.

State of Ireland before the conquest—Its subjection by Henry
  II.—Spenser’s account of the state of the country—Plantation of
  Ulster—Progress of population—Legislation previous to the
  accession of Anne—Dublin and Cork Workhouse Acts—Hiring and
  wages—Apprenticeship—Provision for foundling and deserted
  children—Licensed beggars—Arthur Young’s account of the state of

After Strongbow’s expedition to Ireland in the year 1170, which was
followed by that of Henry the Second and the general submission of the
chieftains of the several clans in 1172, the history of Ireland becomes
closely connected with and may be said to form a portion of that of
England. The accounts we have of the state of the country anterior to
Strongbow’s invasion are vague and uncertain, although there are grounds
for believing that some degree of civilization had prevailed, and that
intercourse with the East had been to some extent maintained, at a very
early period. It has been said that “The Gauls or Celtes from the
north-west parts of Britain, and certain tribes from the north-west
parts of Spain peopled Ireland, either originally or by subduing the
Phœnician colonies which had been established there;” and that the
Irish, and their kinsmen the Highlanders of Scotland, are supposed to be
“the remains of a people who in ancient times had occupied not only
Britain, but a considerable part of Gaul and Spain.”[1] The Irish were
no doubt commonly known by the name of Scots, and the proximity of the
two countries, irrespective of all other considerations, renders the
identity of origin highly probable.



  See the ‘Liber Munerum publicorum Hibernie,’ the first and following
  chapters on the Establishments of Ireland, supplementary to the
  History of England, by Rowley Lascelles, of the Middle Temple, printed
  by authority in 1824. This work has been chiefly relied upon for
  historical reference. It bears evidence of great research, and is on
  every account entitled to much weight in the conflicting testimonies
  with regard to the early events of Irish history.


The Romans never extended their conquests to Ireland, and it was
protected by its insular position from the irruption of barbarians which
burst upon the Roman provinces in the fifth and sixth centuries, and
caused the dismemberment of the western empire. In that age, we are
told, “Irish missionaries taught the Anglo-Saxons of the north, who also
resorted to Ireland for instruction.” Lingard says that “when learning
was almost extinguished on the continent of Europe, a faint light was
emitted from the shores of Erin; and that strangers from Britain, from
Gaul, and from Germany, resorted to the Irish schools.” It is probable
however that the light was partial as well as faint, and that the
Christian monasteries with their learned men which constituted the
“schools,” existed in only a few places in Ireland, each establishment
forming as it were a speck of civilization, like an oasis in the desert
of barbarism. It is certain that the Irish of that day paid no Peter’s
pence, and acknowledged no supremacy in the see of Rome; and there is
reason to believe that the Irish Church was derived rather from the
Greek than the Latin hierarchy.[2] Whatever glimmering of civilization
prevailed in Ireland at this early period, must have been damped and
prevented from expanding “by the rude influence of the native
institutions, and it was nearly if not quite extinguished by the
irruptions of the Northmen, or Danes, who annually made incursions into
Ireland from the middle of the eighth to the end of the tenth century.”
The ancient division of the country into the four provinces of Munster,
Connaught, Leinster, and Ulster, which must be referred to this early
period, seems to have been for ecclesiastical purposes. The division
into counties, of which there are thirty-two, took place long after.



  See ‘The Handbook of Architecture,’ a recent publication in which the
  ingenious author supports this conclusion by showing the similarity of
  the religious buildings erected in the East and in Ireland, which in
  both differ materially from what is seen in Italy and the other
  countries of Europe.


The Conqueror is said to have at one time entertained the project of
bringing Ireland under subjection, but notwithstanding its proximity to
England, and the obvious advantages that would result from uniting the
two islands under one government, neither he nor his three immediate
successors made any effort to accomplish this object. In the reign of
Henry the Second however, a circumstance occurred which drew the
attention of the English sovereign to the state of Ireland, and led to
consequences most important to both countries. In the year 1169 Dermod,
king of Leinster, who had been expelled by O'Connor, king of Connaught,
sought the protection of Henry, who accepted the tendered allegiance,
and permitted his subjects to assist the Irish chief. [Sidenote: 1172.
Subjection of Ireland by Henry II.]Earl Strigul (or Strongbow) took
advantage of this permission, and in 1170 embarked for Ireland with a
few armed retainers. He was followed two years afterwards by the king
himself, with a considerable force. Henry was everywhere received as a
conqueror, the Irish princes and chiefs submitting without opposition;
and at a council assembled at Lismore, the laws of England are said to
have been gratefully accepted by all, and established under the sanction
of a solemn oath.

The chieftains who had however, so readily submitted to become Henry’s
vassals, as readily withdrew their allegiance on his quitting Ireland,
which he was compelled to do at the end of little more than six months,
in consequence of Becket’s murder, and the rebellion of his own sons.
Thenceforward for the long period of 400 years, the country was
distracted by local dissensions and jealousies, and the conflicts of
contending chiefs. Treachery and murder everywhere prevailed. The
sovereigns of England were too much occupied with the crusades, and
their French wars, to attend to the state of Ireland; and although the
English race maintained itself in that country, it is said to have
become wilder and less civilized in each succeeding generation. “The
first adventurers (we are told) trampled down the original Irish; they
were themselves in their turn trampled down by the next adventurers;
these by subsequent ones; and so on in a continual series, as if each
race had forfeited all rights, or power of acquiring and retaining any
rights whatsoever, more than a common robber or pirate.”

Little was done towards establishing order and the supremacy of law in
Ireland, until Henry the Seventh, after having put an end to civil
strife in England, was enabled to direct his attention to the state of
that country, where he was alike successful. Henry the Eighth assumed
the title of king, instead of that of lord of Ireland as used by his
predecessors. His efforts to establish the Reformation in Ireland, were
not so successful as in England, where a great majority of the nobility
and the people were with him, but in Ireland he had neither. The power
of the government moreover was there less, and might be opposed or
disregarded with comparative impunity. On the accession of Mary in 1553,
“so little had been done in advancing the Reformation, that there was
little to undo.” In the reign of Elizabeth, however, the whole
ecclesiastical system was assimilated to that of England, and such of
the clergy as would not conform, were deprived of their cures.
Throughout great part of Elizabeth’s reign, Ireland was kept in a state
of disquiet by Spanish emissaries, the landing of Spanish troops, and
the intrigues of Tyrone and other Irish chieftains; but the Spaniards
were compelled to evacuate the country, Tyrone submitted, and before the
close of her reign in 1603, peace had been everywhere restored.[3]



  In ten years Ireland is said to have cost Elizabeth the immense sum of
  3,400,000_l._ See ‘History of the English Poor Law,’ vol. i. p. 205.


[Sidenote: 1596.
           Spenser’s account of the state of Ireland.]

Our great poet Spenser has left us a description of the state of Ireland
in the latter part of Elizabeth’s reign. Both he and his friend Raleigh
had obtained grants of land there, and Spenser had resided in Ireland
for several years, and thus acquired a knowledge of the country, which
he describes with all the fancy of a poet and the fervour of a
patriot—“and sure (he says) it is a most beautiful and sweet country as
any under heaven, being stored thro’out with many goodly rivers,
replenished with all sorts of fish most abundantly, sprinkled with many
very sweet islands and goodly lakes, like little inland seas, that will
carry even shippes upon their waters; adorned with goodly woods even fit
for building houses and ships, so commodiously, as that if some princes
in the world had them, they would soon hope to be lords of all the seas,
and ere long of all the world; also full of very good ports and havens
opening upon England, as inviting us to come unto them, to see what
excellent commodities that country can afford, besides the soyle itself
most fertile, fit to yield all kinds of fruit that shall be committed
thereunto. And lastly, the heavens most mild and temperate, though
somewhat more moist in the parts towards the west.”

After thus eulogising the country as most sweet and beautiful, Spenser
describes the habits of the people, in less favourable colours
certainly, but no doubt with equal truth—

“All the Irish almost (he says) boast themselves to be gentlemen, no
less than the Welsh; for if he can derive himself from the head of any
sept (as most of them can, they are so expert by their bardes) then he
holdeth himself a gentleman, and thereupon scorneth to worke, or use any
hard labour, which he saith is the life of a peasant or churl; but
henceforth becometh either an horseboy or a stocah (attendant) to some
kerne, inuring himself to his weapon, and to the gentlemanly trade of
stealing, as they count it. So that if a gentleman, or any wealthy man
yeoman of them, have any children, the eldest of them perhaps shall be
kept in some order, but all the rest shall shift for themselves and fall
to this occupation. And moreover it is a common use among some of their
gentlemen’s sonnes, that so soon as they are able to use their weapons,
they straight gather to themselves three or four straglers, or kearnes,
with whom wandering up and down idly the country, taking only meate, he
at last falleth unto some bad occasion that shall be offered, which
being once made known, he is thenceforth counted a man of worth, in whom
there is courage; whereupon there draw to him many other like loose
young men, which stirring him up with encouragement, provoke him shortly
to flat rebellion; and this happens not only sometimes in the sonnes of
their gentlemen, but also of their noblemen, specially of them who have
base sonnes; for they are not only not ashamed to acknowledge them, but
also boast of them, and use them for such secret services as they
themselves will not be seen in, as to plague their enemies, to spoil
their neighbours, to oppress and crush some of their own too stubborn
freeholders, which are not tractable to their wills.”

Having thus given a general description of the country and the people,
Spenser next adverts to circumstances connected with the landlord and
tenant classes in particular, to the first of which classes it will be
remembered he himself belonged—

“There is (he says) one general inconvenience which reigneth almost
thro’out Ireland: that is, the lords of land and freeholders, doe not
there use to set out their land in farme, or for terme of years, to
their tenants, but only from year to year, and some during pleasure;
neither indeed will the Irish tenant or husbandman otherwise take his
land than so long as he list himself. The reason hereof in the tenant
is, for that the landlords there use most shamefully to racke their
tenants, laying upon them coigny and livery at pleasure, and exacting of
them (besides his covenants) what he pleaseth. So that the poor
husbandman either dare not binde himself to him for longer terme, or
thinketh by his continual liberty of change, to keep his landlord the
rather in awe from wronging of him”—“The evils which cometh hereby are
great, for by this means both the landlord thinketh that he hath his
tenant more at command, to follow him into what action soever he shall
enter, and also the tenant being left at his liberty, is fit for every
occasion of change that shall be offered by time, and so much the more
ready and willing is he to runne into the same, for that he hath no such
state in any his houlding, no such building upon any farme, no such
coste employed in fencing or husbanding the same, as might withhold him
from any such wilfull course as his lord's cause, or his own lewde
disposition may carry him unto”—“and this inconvenience may be reason
enough to ground any ordinance for the good of the common wealth,
against the private behoof or will of any landlord that shall refuse to
graunt any such terme of estate unto his tenant, as may tende to the
good of the whole realme.”

It appears that Tipperary was at that time distinguished from the other
counties, being the only county palatine in Ireland; and of it and its
peculiar privileges, and the consequences to which these gave rise,
Spenser thus complains—“A county palatine is, in effect, to have a
privilege to spoyle the enemy’s borders adjoining. And surely so it is
used at this day, as a privilege place of spoiles and stealthes; for the
county of Tipperary, which is now the only county palatine in Ireland,
is, by abuse of some bad ones, made a receptacle to rob the rest of the
counties about it, by means of whose privileges none will follow their
stealthes; so as it being situate in the very lap of all the land, is
made now a border, which how inconvenient it is, let every man judge.”

Spenser also describes several measures which he considered necessary
for the repression of disorder and the protection of life and property.
In this “enumeration of needful points to be attended to for the good of
the common wealth,” he first wishes “that order were taken for the
cutting and opening of all places through woods, so that a wide way of
the space of 100 yards might be laid open in every of them for the
safety of travellers, which use often in such perilous places to be
robbed and sometimes murdered. Next that bridges were built upon the
rivers, and all the fords marred and spilt, so as none might pass any
other way but by those bridges, and every bridge to have a gate and a
gatehouse set thereon, whereof this good will come, that no night
stealthes, which are commonly driven in by-ways, and by blind fordes
unused of any but such like, shall not be conveyed out of one country
into another, as they use, but they must pass by those bridges, where
they may be easily tracked, or not suffered to pass. Also that in all
straights and narrow passages, as between two boggs, or through any deep
ford, or under any mountain side, there should be some little fortilage
set, which should keep and command that straight. Moreover that all
highways should be fenced and shut up on both sides, having only forty
feet for passage, so as none shall be able to pass but through the
highways, whereby thieves and night robbers might be more easily pursued
and encountered where there shall be no other way to drive their stolen
cattle. And further, that there shall be in sundry convenient places by
the highways, towns appointed to be built, the which should be free
burgesses and incorporate under bailiffs, to be by their inhabitants
well and strongly intrenched, or otherwise fenced, with gates on each
side to be shut nightly, like as there is in many places in the English
pale, and all the ways about it to be strongly shut up, so as none
should pass but through the towne; and to some it were good that the
privilege of a market were given, for there is nothing that doth sooner
cause civility in any country than many market townes, by reason that
people repairing often thither for their needs, will daily see and learn
civil manners of the better sort.”[4]



  See Spenser’s View of the State of Ireland, written in 1596, vol.
  viii. of his works, printed in octavo in 1805.


These extracts throw much light upon the social condition of Ireland at
that time, and no apology can be necessary for giving them insertion
here. It is impossible to doubt the writer’s sincerity, or the
truthfulness of his descriptions; and it is no small advantage to have
such a testimony to the state of things then existing in Ireland, which
may be regarded as a kind of standard or starting-point for future

Shortly after Elizabeth’s death, and the accession of James the First,
an insurrection again broke out in the north of Ireland. It was soon put
down however, but it led to upwards of 500,000 acres of land being
escheated to the crown. [Sidenote: The plantation of Ulster.] This vast
tract, situated in the six northern counties, on which, we are told,
“only robbers and rebels had found shelter,” now afforded James the
opportunity for carrying into effect his favourite scheme of a
plantation in Ireland. The natives were removed to other localities, and
settlers from England and Scotland introduced; and thus Ulster shortly
became the most civilized and best cultivated of the four provinces,
instead of being the most wild and disorderly, as had previously been
the case.

In the contest between Charles the First and the parliament, the Roman
Catholics of Ireland adhered to the cause of the king; but their
adherence to that cause was accompanied by the treacherous massacre of
the Protestant settlers in 1641—an atrocity that gave rise to the
bitterest feelings throughout England, and eventually led to the
exacting of a stern and ruthless retribution. In 1649, six months after
the death of Charles, Cromwell proceeded to Ireland, taking with him a
considerable body of his disciplined veterans. He landed at Dublin in
August, and shortly afterwards Drogheda and Wexford were stormed with
great slaughter, upon which Cork, Kinsale, and other towns opened their
gates; and in ten months the entire country was brought under
subjection, with the exception of Limerick and Waterford, the reduction
of which Cromwell left to his son-in-law Ireton, and re-embarked for
England where his presence had become necessary. If Cromwell had
remained longer in Ireland, it is probable that he would with his usual
vigour have crushed the seeds of many existing evils, and laid the
foundation for future quiet; but this was not permitted, and the
elements of disorder remained, repressed and weakened it is true, but
still ready to burst forth whenever circumstances should give vent to
the explosion.

At the Revolution in 1688, when England adopted William the Third, the
Irish Roman Catholics adhered to James; and it was not until after the
battle of the Boyne, and the surrender of Limerick, that Ireland can be
said to have been again entirely subject to the English crown. During
the insurrections which took place in favour of the exiled family in
1715 and 1745, Ireland remained quiet. But in 1798 the triumph of
democracy in France, together with the active interference of French
agents, and the promises of assistance held out by them, led to the
outbreak of a rebellion, in the progress of which great enormities were
perpetrated; and which was not put down until after a great loss of
life, and the destruction of much property. Although doubtless to be
lamented on these accounts, the rebellion of 1798 was not however
without its use, for it showed in the strongest light the defects of the
existing system in Ireland, and thus helped to establish the legislative
union of the two countries, which took place at the commencement of the
present century, when the whole of the British islands were included
under the designation of “_The United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland_.” Since the passing of the Act of Union in 1800, there is
nothing distinctive requiring to be noticed with regard to Ireland, its
interests being thenceforward merged in the general interests of the

[Sidenote: Progress of population in Ireland.]

The following summary of the estimated population of Ireland at several
periods is abstracted from the memoir of Mr. Shaw Mason, the officer
appointed under the Act for taking the census of Ireland in 1821, as the
same is given in the Appendix to Selections from the Lords’ Journals, by
Mr. Rowley Lascelles—

      1672 as estimated by Sir William Petty                  1,320,000

      1695      ”       by Captain South (doubtful)           1,034,102

      1712      ”       by Thomas Dobbs Esq., founded on      2,099,094
                          returns of the hearth-money

      1718      ”                      do.                    2,169,048

      1725      ”                      do.                    2,317,374

      1726      ”                      do.                    2,309,106

      1731      ”       by the magistrates and clergy         2,010,221

      1754      ”       by returns from the hearth-money      2,372,634

      1767      ”                      do.                    2,544,276

      1777      ”                      do.                    2,690,556

      1785      ”                      do.                    2,845,932

      1788      ”       by Gervais Parker Bushe Esq., one     4,040,000
                          of the commissioners of revenue

      1791 as estimated by returns from the hearth-money      4,206,612

      1792      ”       by the Rev. Dr. Beaufort              4,088,226

      1805      ”       by Major Thomas Newenham              5,395,456

      1813      ”       founded on the incomplete census      5,395,856
                          under the Act of 1812

      1821 ascertained  by the census of 1821                 6,801,827

 [5]  1831          do.                1831                   7,767,401

 [5]  1841          do.                1841                   8,175,124

 [5]  1851          do.                1851                   6,522,386



  These are taken from the census returns of the respective periods.


With reference to the above summary, it may be remarked that a rapid
increase in the population of a country, cannot always be taken as a
proof of the increase of wealth and civilization, or of improvement in
the social condition of the people. It is possible indeed that it may be
productive of results the very reverse in these respects, when the
increase unduly presses upon or outruns the ordinary means of
subsistence, as it sometimes undoubtedly did in certain parts of
Ireland. But on the whole, and making every allowance for adverse
circumstances, the above table affords grounds for concluding, that
subsequently to 1672, the productive powers of the country were
receiving continually increased development, to meet the wants of a
continually increasing population. Or we might perhaps go further back,
and date the increase from the time when Cromwell, with a strong hand,
enforced order and established the ascendancy of the law in Ireland. The
decrease in the population which took place between 1841 and 1851, when
the number was forced back below what it had been thirty years
preceding, indicates a period of great trial and suffering. In the
latter portion of this period, the country was assailed by famine and
pestilence—a fearful visitation which will be noticed hereafter in its
order of date, and of which it would be out of place to say more at

Until a comparatively recent period, there was no law directly providing
for the relief of the Irish poor. In this respect the legislation of
Ireland differed from that OF England and Scotland, in both of which
countries we have seen that such a provision was early made. The
difference in this respect, was probably at first owing to the disturbed
and unsettled state of Ireland; and afterwards, when it was brought more
thoroughly under subjection, the difference of race and religion with
other unfavourable circumstances, united to prevent the growth of that
orderly gradation of classes, and that sympathy between one class and
another, which exist in every well-conditioned community, and of which a
poor-law is a natural development.

Although there was no direct provision for the relief of the poor in
Ireland, several Acts of the Irish parliament were more or less
subsidiary to that object, whilst others were calculated to illustrate
the progress of civilization, and the general condition of the country.
Various institutions of a charitable character were likewise
established; and it will be necessary to notice certain of these
matters, before entering upon a consideration of the important measure
of 1838. The legislative enactments have precedence in order of time,
and to these we will now in the first instance direct our attention.[6]


  The citations hereafter made, are taken from ‘The Statutes at Large,
  passed in the Parliament held in Ireland’—published by authority in
  thirteen volumes folio, in 1786.

[Sidenote: 1310.
           Edward II.]

As early as 1310, in the reign of Edward the Second, we find that in a
parliament assembled at Kilkenny “it was agreed that none should keep
idle people or kearn in time of peace, to live upon the poor of the
country; but those which will have them shall keep them at their own
charges, so that the free tenants and farmers be not charged with them.”
And [Sidenote: 1440. Henry VI.] 130 years afterwards, in the reign of
Henry the Sixth, among the ordinances established by a parliament holden
in Dublin, it was declared—“that divers of the English do maintain and
succour sundry thieves robbers and rebels, because that the same thieves
robbers and rebels do put them into their safeguard and comrick, so that
the king’s faithful subjects dare not pursue their right against such
thieves robbers and rebels, for fear of them which have taken them into
their safeguard and comrick”—wherefore it is ordained, that such as do
put themselves, and such as do grant such safeguard and comrick, be
adjudged traitors, and suffer accordingly. [Sidenote: 1450. Henry
VI.]And in the same reign, at a certain great council held in Dublin
(1450) it was declared—“that thieves and evildoers increase in great
store, and from day to day do increase in malice more than they have
done heretofore, and do destroy the commons with their thefts stealings
and manslaughters, and also do cause the land to fall into decay and
poverty and waste every day more and more”—wherefore it is ordained that
it shall be lawful for every liege man to kill or take notorious
thieves, and thieves found robbing spoiling or breaking houses—“and that
every man that kills or takes any such thieves, shall have one penny of
every plough and one farthing of every cottage within the barony where
the manslaughter is done, for every thief.”

These enactments show that the state of the country within the English
pale, or that portion of it which was subject to English rule, was then
very similar to what existed at the same periods in England and
Scotland, more prone to violence and disorder perhaps, and therefore
somewhat more backward in civilization; but all the leading
characteristics are nearly identical. Beyond the pale however a far
worse state of things prevailed. There violence and disorder ranged
without control. “The Irishry,” as they were called, were continually
engaged in battleings and feuds among themselves, one chief or one sept
against another, or in making inroads and committing robberies and
murders within the pale, which again led to retaliations; and thus a
species of domestic or border warfare alike injurious to all
parties,—and a state of ferment and insecurity throughout the country,
were kept up and perpetuated.

[Sidenote: 1447.
           Henry VI.]

A parliament held at Trim in 1447, laments—“that the sons of husbandmen
and labourers, which in old time were wont to be labourers and
travaylers upon the ground, as to hold ploughs, to ere the ground, and
travayl with all other instruments belonging to husbandry, to manure the
ground, and do all other works lawful and honest according to their
state—and now they will be kearnes, evildoers, wasters, idle men, and
destructioners of the king’s leige people”—wherefore it is ordained that
the sons of labourers and travaillers of the ground, shall use the same
labours and travails that their fathers have done. [Sidenote: 1457.
Henry VI.]And ten years afterwards, at a parliament held at Naas, it was
ordained—“forasmuch as the sons of many men from day to day do rob spoil
and coygnye the king’s poor liege people, and masterfully take their
goods without any pity—that every man shall answer for the offence and
ill doing of his son, as he himself that did the trespass and offence
ought to do, saving the punishment of death, which shall incur to the
trespasser himself.” This last enactment, making the father answerable
for the acts of his son, was perhaps under the circumstances of the
period calculated to check violence and disorder and may be so far
regarded as defensible. But the same cannot be said of the former
enactment requiring the son to follow the same occupation as the father.
Yet such has been the practice throughout a great part of Asia from the
earliest period. In the present instance, the enforcement of the
practice by special enactment, seems to imply that the demand for
agricultural labour was increasing in Ireland, either through an
increase of land under cultivation, or an increased amount of labour
applied to it; and either the one or the other must be considered as
indicative of improvement.

[Sidenote: 1465.
           Edward IV.]

In the reign of Edward the Fourth (1465) an Act was passed ordaining and
establishing “that in every English town of this land[7] that pass three
houses holden by tenants, where no other president is, there be chosen
by his neighbours or by the lord of the said town, one constable to be
president and governor of the same town, in all things that pertaineth
to the common rule thereof”—doubtless a useful provision, and calculated
to aid the cause of order and good government. [Sidenote: 1472. Edward
IV.] In the same reign, at a parliament held at Naas, (1472) it is
recorded—“For that there is so great lack of money in this land, and
also the grain are enhanced to a great price because of great lading
from day to day used and continued within this realm, by the which great
dearth is like to be of graines, without some remedy be
ordeyned”—whereupon the premises considered it is enacted—“that no
person or persons lade no grain out of the said land to no other parts
without, if one peck of the said grains exceed the price of ten pence,
upon pain of forfeiture of the said grain or the value thereof, and also
the ship in which the said grains are laden.”



  That is every town within the English pale.


The prohibition of export has always been clamoured for, and often
resorted to whenever the price of corn becomes high, whether it be in
Ireland, England, or elsewhere; and this always moreover on the ground
here set forth, that is, for the sake of the poor classes, or “for that
there is so great lack of money in this land.” All such prohibitions are
however based on erroneous views of economical policy. By prohibiting
export cultivation is discouraged, and so in the long run corn is made
dearer rather than cheaper. It may moreover be remarked, that if grain
be exported, it will be for the purpose of obtaining a higher price than
can be obtained at home, and the exporting country will thus be better
enabled to go to another market for a supply, and will have the benefit
of whatever profit may arise in the double interchange. With respect to
grain therefore, as with respect to all other commodities, the true
principle is that of non-interference—they will then each and all find
their own level, and that in the way most beneficial to all parties
interested, whether as producers or consumers, whether those who want or
those who have to spare. But this great truth was not recognised at that
day. Neither is it indeed universally so at present; for at this time
(the end of 1855) there are clamourings for a prohibition of the export
of corn, on account of the present high price.[8]



  The average price of wheat in Mark-lane for the week ending on the
  10th of November, was 83_s._ 8_d._ per qr. For the week ending on Nov.
  15, 1851 the price per quarter was 36_s._ 4_d._; and for the week
  ending Nov. 13, 1852 the price per quarter was 39_s._ 11_d._


We are now arrived at the reign of Henry the Seventh, by whom order was
established in Ireland, as it previously had been established in
England. [Sidenote: 1495. Poynings’ Act. 10 Hen. VII. cap. 4.] The first
important measure towards the accomplishment of this object was the
passing of Poynings’ Act,[9] _10th Henry 7th, cap. 4_, which directs
that no parliament shall be holden in Ireland, until the Acts be first
certified into England, and be thence returned with sanction of the king
and council expressed under the great seal. This secured a harmony of
action between the legislatures of the two countries, and was otherwise
beneficial. But there were two other Acts passed in the same year, not
less important for the peace and good government of the country than the
preceding, and therefore requiring to be separately noticed.



  So called after Sir Edward Poynings, who was lord deputy in Ireland
  during a great part of Henry’s reign, and in the earlier part of that
  of his successor. The lord deputy is described as “the active scourge
  of all insurgents,” and it was latterly said of him that “he might
  call all Ireland his own.” See Liber Munerum, book ii. cap. 1. Mr.
  Lascelles gives 1494 as the year in which this Act was passed. In the
  Statutes at Large it bears the date of 1495.


[Sidenote: 1495.
           10 Hen. VII. cap. 6.]

The first of these Acts, _cap. 6_, directs that no citizen shall receive
livery or wages of any lord or gentleman; and it further enacts “That no
lord nor gentleman of the land shall retain by livery, wages, or
promise, sign or token, by indenture, or otherwise, any person or
persons, but only such as be, or shall be his officers, as baylifs,
steward, learned counsel, receivors, and menial servants daily in
household at the said lord’s cost.” And if any lord or gentleman retain
any person contrary to this Act, both the retainer and he that is
retained are to forfeit to the king twenty pounds of lawful money for
every such offence. [Sidenote: 10 Hen. VII. cap. 17.] The second Act,
_cap. 17_, directs “that no peace nor war be made with any man without
licence of the governor.” It recites—“Forasmuch as diverse lords and
great gentlemen of Ireland, useth daily to make several peace with the
king’s Irish enemies, and where the peace hath been taken and concluded
by the lieutenants and their deputies for the time being with the
aforesaid enemies, and for the universal weal of our said sovereign
lord’s true subjects, the said lords and gentlemen for singular lucor
and for malice, have diverse and many seasons and without any authority
of the lieutenant or deputy, entered into the countries of such Irish
enemies as have standen under the protection of our sovereign lord, and
the same countries have robbed, spoiled, hurt and destroyed, by reason
whereof the said enemies have likewise entered into the English country,
and the true English subjects have robbed, spoiled and brent in
semblable wise”—wherefore it is ordained, that thenceforward “there be
no peace nor war taken or had within the land, without the lieutenant or
deputy’s licence;” and whatsoever persons break the said peace, or rob
or spoil contrary to this Act, as often as they so offend are to forfeit
100_l._ to the king, and be committed to ward until the same is paid.

We see from the above, that the Irish beyond the pale were still
regarded as enemies; and to prevent as far as possible the barbarous
conflicts that were continually taking place between them and the people
within the pale, was doubtless one reason for passing these Acts. But
independently of this object, the general policy of the two measures is
abundantly obvious. They amount, taken together, to no more than
extending to Ireland the principle observed by Henry in his government
of England, namely, that of reducing the exorbitant power assumed by the
great nobility and gentry, and making them amenable to the general law,
a thing no less necessary in one country than in the other, although
widely differing in so many respects.

[Sidenote: 1522.
           13 Hen. VIII. cap. 1.]

On the accession of Henry the Eighth, Irish legislation became more
active, but we shall only notice a few of the Acts. _The 13th Henry 8th,
cap. 1_, declares, that “many ill-disposed persons for malice, evil
will, and displeasure, do daily burn corn, as well in ricks in the
fields, as in villages and towns, thinking that it is no felony, and
that they should not suffer death for so doing”—wherefore it is enacted,
that all wilful burning of ricks of corn in fields and in towns, and
burning of houses of and upon any of the king’s true subjects, be high
treason, and that execution be awarded against such evil-doers
accordingly. [Sidenote: 1534. 25 Hen. VIII. cap. 1.]Twelve years
afterwards another Act (the 25th Henry 8th, cap. 1) was passed against
lezers of corn. It recites—“That whereas many inconveniences within this
land ensueth by reason that many and diverse persons, labourers strong
of body, as well men as women, falleth to idleness, and will not labour
for their living, but have their sole respect to gathering and lezing of
corn in harvest-time, and refuse to take money for their wages to rippe
or binde corn, to the intent that the poor earth-tillers should give
them sheaves of corn for their labour, by colour whereof they steal
men’s cornes, as well by night as by day, to the great hindrance and
impoverishing of the poor earth-tillers; and also by giving of said
sheafes, the church is defrauded of the tythe of the same.”—Wherefore it
is ordained, that henceforth no persons “being strong of body to labour
for their living, shall gather or leze in any place in harvest-time,
except it be in their own fields; and that no impotent persons gather or
leze in any other place, saving in the parish where their dwelling is;
and that no man give nor take any corn in harvest for ripping nor
binding,” under penalty of the same being taken from him and forfeited.

These Acts for the protection of the corn-grower against waste in time
of harvest, and against incendiarism when the corn is in the rick, are
indications of the advance of agriculture in Ireland. The titheowner may
have had some influence in the passing of the latter Act; but taking the
two together, it seems impossible to doubt that the occupation of the
“poor earth-tillers,” as they are termed, was considered to be important
with regard to the general welfare, and therefore deserving of special

[Sidenote: 1537.
           28 Hen. VIII. cap. 15.]

Three years after the last preceding Act, another was passed (_The 28th
Henry 8th, cap. 15_) in which it is declared that the king, considering
that “there is nothing which doth more conteyne and keep many of his
subjects of this his land in a certain savage and wilde kind and manner
of living, than the diversitie that is betwixt them in tongue, language,
order and habite, which by the eye deceiveth the multitude, and
persuadeth them that they should be as it were of sundry sorts, or
rather of sundry countries, where indeed they be wholly together one
body”—wherefore it is enacted, that no person shall wear hair on the
head or face nor any manner of clothing, mantle, coat, or hood, after
the Irish fashion, but in all things shall conform to the habits and
manners of the civil people within the English pale. And it is further
enacted, that all persons of whatsoever degree or condition “to the
uttermost of their power cunning and knowledge shall use and speak
commonly the English tongue,” and cause their children to do the same,
“and shall use and keep their houses and households as near as ever they
can, according to the English order.” Spiritual promotion is moreover
directed to be given only to such as can speak English; so that nothing
appears to have been omitted for bringing about the desired assimilation
of the native Irish with their fellow-subjects of the English race.
Subsequent events showed however that these efforts were not crowned
with success, and a long period elapsed before the Irish of the western
districts can be said to have at all assimilated to English habits, or
become amenable to English rule.

[Sidenote: 1542.
           33 Hen. VIII. cap. 9.]

The regulation of wages by legislative enactment so frequently adopted
in England,[10] was likewise attempted in Ireland, but apparently with
no better result; for we find _The 33rd Henry 8th, cap. 9_, complaining,
that “forasmuch as prices of victuals, cloth, and other necessaries for
labourers, servants at husbandry, and artificers, yearly change, as well
sometimes by reason of dearth and scarceness of corn and victual as
otherwise, so that hard it is to limit in certain what wages servants at
husbandry should take by the year, and other artificers and labourers by
the day, by reason whereof they now ask and take unreasonable wages
within the land of Ireland”—wherefore it is enacted that the justices of
peace at a sessions to be held yearly within a month after Easter and
Michaelmas, “shall make proclamation by their discretion, having respect
to such prices as victuals cloth and other necessaries then shall be at,
how much every mason, carpenter, sclantor, and every other artificer and
labourer shall take by the day, as well in harvest-season as any other
time of the year, with meat and drink, and how much without meat and
drink, between both the said seasons; and also at the Easter sessions,
how much every servant at husbandry shall take by the year following,
with meat and drink; and that every of them shall obey such proclamation
from time to time, as a thing made by Act of parliament for a law in
that behalf,” on pain of imprisonment. By thus empowering justices to
vary the rate of wages according to the variations in the price of
provisions and clothing, the objection which exists to a permanent fixed
rate is no doubt so far obviated; but the great primary objection to any
interference with the natural range of prices, and to subjecting them to
other control than that of supply and demand still remains, and is not
susceptible of any defence. Thus much on the score of principle. But the
passing of such a measure as the above, is nevertheless a proof of the
increasing demand for labour, and of the advance of regular industrial
employment, which is always an important step in the progress of



  See ‘History of the English Poor Law,’ vol. i. pages 100 and 110.
  _11th Henry 7th, cap. 2_, and _6th Henry 8th, cap. 3_.


[Sidenote: 1537.
           33 Hen. VIII. cap. 15.]

The last enactment of the present reign requiring to be noticed, in
connexion with our subject, is _The 33rd Henry 8th, cap. 15_, entitled
‘An Act for Vagabonds.’ It recites—“forasmuch as at a parliament holden
at London, it was enacted and ordeyned how aged poor and impotent
persons compelled to live by alms should be ordered, and how vagabonds
and mighty strong beggars should be punished, which Act (_22nd Henry
8th, cap. 12_) for divers causes, is thought very meet and necessary to
be enacted in this land”—wherefore it is ordained and established, “That
the same Act, and all and every article provision and thing comprised in
the same, be an Act and statute to be continued and kept as a law within
this land of Ireland, according to the tenor and purport of the same.”
The English Act (_22nd Henry 8th, cap. 12_) is then given at length, and
stands in the statutes as an Act of the Irish parliament, and is to be
obeyed accordingly. A full account of this statute will be found in the
‘History of the English Poor Law’ (vol. i. page 115) to which the reader
is referred. Whether the Act was entirely suited to the backward state
of Ireland at that time, may admit of doubt; but there can be no doubt
that if enforced it was calculated to bring about a better order of
things by repressing vagabondism, and making some provision for the
relief of the destitute. We have no means of knowing to what extent the
Act was enforced, or whether it was enforced at all. It could hardly
have been brought into operation beyond the English pale, and even
within the pale the arm of the law was then feeble, and its action
uncertain; so it is probable that like many other measures intended for
the benefit of Ireland, the present Act was permitted to lie dormant. It
remained in force however, as one of the Irish statutes, until 1772,
when it was repealed by the _11th and 12th George 3rd, cap. 30_.[11]



  See post, p. 51.


[Sidenote: 1569.
           11 Elizabeth, cap. 4.]

There are only two of the Acts passed by the Irish parliament in
Elizabeth’s reign calling for notice, and this rather as exhibiting the
condition of the country at that time, than as directly connected with
our subject. The first of these is _The 11th Elizabeth, cap. 4_,
entitled ‘An Act that five persons of the best and eldest of every
nation amongst the Irishrie, shall bring in all the idle persons of
their surname, to be justified by law.’ It declares that her Majesty’s
“most humble and obedient subjects have been these many years past
grieved with a generation of vile and base conditioned people (bred and
maintained by coynie and liveries), the ancient enemies to the
prosperity of this realm, of which sort the lords and captains of this
land hath to raise and stirr up some to be maintained as outlaws to
annoy each other’s rules, and so serving the iniquitie of the time, hath
not only in attending those practices imbased their own particular
estates, but also brought the whole public wealth of their supposed
rules to ruin and utter decay.” For remedy whereof, it is now ordained,
“that five persons of the best and eldest of everie stirpe or nation of
the Irishrie, and in the countries that be not as yet shire grounds, and
till they be shire ground, shall be bound to bring in to be justified by
law, all idle persons of their surname which shall be hereafter charged
with any offence, or else satisfie of their own proper goods the hurts
by them committed to the parties grieved, and also such fines as shall
be assessed upon them for their offences.” The Act we see applies to
parts of the country beyond the pale, “which be not yet shire grounds,”
where “the lords and captains of the land” were in the habit of
maintaining a number of base-conditioned people in a state of outlawry
to annoy each other’s rules, which practice it is said hath not only
injured their own estates, but also brought the whole country under
their supposed rule to ruin and utter decay. The remedy for these evils
now sought to be applied, is by making five of the principal people of
each sept or nation of the “Irishrie” answerable for the rest of the
clan, and it seems likely that nothing better could have been devised
under the circumstances; but the resorting to it is nevertheless an
indication of the lawlessness and insecurity which prevailed, and how
imperfectly the country had yet been brought under subjection.

[Sidenote: 1570.
           12 Elizabeth, cap. 1.]

The other Irish Act of Elizabeth’s reign requiring notice, is _The 12th
Elizabeth, cap. 1_, entitled ‘An Act for the erection of Free Schools.’
It commences by reciting—“Forasmuch as the greatest number of the people
of this realm hath of long time lived in rude and barbarous states, not
understanding that Almighty God hath by his divine laws forbidden the
manifold and heinous offences which they spare not daily and hourly to
commit and perpetrate, nor that He hath by His Holy Scriptures commanded
a due and humble obedience from the people to their princes and rulers,
whose ignorance in these so high points touching their damnation
proceedeth only of lack of good bringing up of the youth of this realm,
either in public or private schools, where through good discipline they
might be taught to avoid those loathsome and horrible errours”—Wherefore
it is enacted that there shall be a free school established in every
diocess of Ireland, and that the schoolmaster shall be an Englishman,
“or of the English birth of this realm.” The archbishops of Armagh and
Dublin, and the bishops of Meath and Kildare and their successors, are
to appoint the schoolmasters within their respective diocesses, and the
lord deputy for the time being is to have the appointment in the other
diocesses. The schoolhouses are to be built in the principal shire
towns, at the cost and charge of the whole diocess, under direction of
the ordinary, the vicars general, and the sheriff; and the lord deputy
for the time being is “according to the quality and quantities of every
diocess,” to appoint a yearly salary for every schoolmaster, whereof the
ordinary of every diocess is to bear the third part, and the parsons,
vicars, prebendaries, and other ecclesiastical persons of the diocess,
by an equal contribution, are to bear the other two parts. The whole
charge of these free schools was therefore, we see, to be borne by the
clergy, on whom their superintendence also devolved.

The Reformation had at this time been established in Ireland, and the
clergy whom the state recognised were necessarily all Protestant. The
desire for extending education as a means for improving and enlightening
the people, was therefore to be expected from them; and it is not
improbable this desire was accompanied, and perhaps strengthened, by a
belief that education would bring about the conversion of such of the
people as were not yet of their flock, but still adhered to the church
of Rome. That such were the motives of the Protestant clergy in the
prominent part taken by them with regard to these free schools, and that
the government and the proprietary classes generally were influenced by
similar motives, can hardly admit of doubt. The result turned out
different however from what was anticipated. The great bulk of the
people remained in ignorance, and devotedly attached to the old
religion, as it was and still is called; and thus a separation sprung up
between one class and another, between the more English and Protestant
class, and the more Irish and Romanist class, which has been a fruitful
source of evil to each, and in spite of the countervailing efforts which
have of late years been made, can hardly be said to have altogether
disappeared even at the present day. How strange it seems that religion,
which ought, and we must believe was designed to be, a bond of concord
and union, should be perverted into an occasion for hatred and
strife!—Yet so it unhappily too often has been, and in no country
perhaps more than in Ireland.

[Sidenote: 1612.
           11 and 12 James I. cap. 5.]

Little was done in the way of legislation during the reign of James the
First, and only one of the Acts of the Irish parliament in his reign
requires to be noticed, namely _The 11th and 12th James 1st, cap. 5_.—It
is entitled ‘An Act of Repeal of divers Statutes concerning the natives
of this kingdom of Ireland.’ The preamble declares, that “in former
times the natives of this realm of Irish blood, were for the most part
in continual hostility with the English and with those that did descend
of the English, and therefore the said Irish were held and accounted,
and in divers statutes and records were termed and called Irish
enemies.” But—“Forasmuch as the cause of the said difference and of
making the said laws doth now cease, in that all the natives and
inhabitants of this kingdom, without difference and distinction, are
taken under his Majesty’s gracious protection, and do now live under one
law as dutiful subjects, by means whereof a perfect agreement is and
ought to be settled betwixt them”—Wherefore it is enacted, “that all the
said Acts and statutes, and every clause and sentence in them conteyned,
shall for ever be utterly and thoroughly repealed, frustrated,
annihilated, and made void to all intents and purposes.” The passing of
this Act manifests a change in public feeling, and was certainly a step
in the right direction. To treat a people as enemies, is the sure way to
make them such; and that the native Irish had long been so treated, the
records of the antecedent period abundantly prove. The present was
therefore a healing measure. By abolishing the distinction of race, and
bringing all alike under protection of the law, the Act was no doubt
intended to pave the way for an entire amalgamation of the two people.
National distinctions and national grievances are however not easily
obliterated or forgotten; time, intercourse, and the mutual interchange
of good offices being necessary for effecting the one, or blotting out
the remembrance of the other. And even after this has been accomplished,
and a kind of oblivion of the past established, ancient feuds are too
apt to be revived by the occurrence of some circumstance, trivial
perhaps in itself, and race to be again put at enmity with race, class
to be arrayed against class, and sect against sect. The history of
Ireland abounds in examples of such revival of enmities, promoting
discord and disorder, retarding improvement, and exercising a baneful
influence on the character as well as on the condition of the people.

[Sidenote: 1634-5.
           10 and 11 Charles I. cap 4.]

The Irish parliament was somewhat more active in the reign of Charles
the First, than it had been in that of his predecessor, and four of its
Acts, all passed in the same year, we will now proceed to notice, the
first of these being—_The 10th and 11th Charles 1st, cap. 4_—entitled
‘An Act for the erecting of Houses of Correction, and for the punishment
of Rogues Vagabonds sturdy Beggars and other lewd and idle persons’—For
which purpose it is enacted, that before Michaelmas in the following
year “there shall be built or otherwise provided within every county of
Ireland, one or more fit and convenient house or houses of correction,
with convenient backside thereunto adjoining, together with mills,
working-cards, and other necessary implements, to set the said rogues
and other idle and disordered persons on work; the same houses to be
built or provided in some convenient place or town in every county,
which houses shall be purchased conveyed or assured unto such person or
persons as by the justices of peace, or the most part of them shall be
thought fit, upon trust, to the intent the same shall be used and
employed for the keeping correcting and setting to work of the said
rogues, vagabonds, sturdy beggars, and other idle and disorderly
persons.” The justices are empowered to make orders from time to time,
for raising money upon the inhabitants of the county for providing the
said houses, and for the government and ordering thereof, and for
setting to work such persons as shall be committed to the same; and also
for the yearly payment of the governor and such others as they shall
think necessary to be employed therein. The justices are moreover to
appoint honest and fit persons to be governors of such houses,—which
governors “shall have power and authority to set such rogues vagabonds
idle and disorderly persons as shall be sent to the said houses, to work
and labour (being able) for such time as they shall there continue, and
to punish the said rogues &c. by putting fetters or gyves upon them, and
by moderate whipping.” And it is further ordered, that the said rogues
and vagabonds during the time they remain in such house of correction,
“shall in no sort be chargeable to the country for any allowance, either
at their bringing in or going forth, or during the time of their abode
there, but shall have such and so much allowance as they shall deserve
by their own labour and work.”

The justices at their quarter session of the peace are required to
assign to the governors of the said houses a fitting salary, to be paid
quarterly in advance by the treasurer of the county, which if the
treasurer neglect to pay, the governor is empowered to levy upon him by
distress of his goods. And in order that more care may be taken by the
governors of such houses of correction, “when the country hath been at
trouble and charge to bring all such disorderly persons to their safe
keeping,” it is directed that they shall at every quarter session yield
a true account to the justices of all persons committed to their
custody; and if any of such persons “shall be troublesome to the country
by going abroad, or otherwise shall escape away from the said house of
correction before they shall be from thence lawfully delivered, the
justices may impose such fines and penalties upon the said governor as
they shall think fit.” The justices are to meet at least twice a year
for the better execution of this statute, and are by warrant to command
the constables of every barony, town, parish, village and hamlet within
the county (“who shall be assisted with sufficient men of the same
places”) to make a general privy search in one night for finding out and
apprehending all rogues, vagabonds, wandering and idle persons, who are
to be brought before the justices to be examined of their wandering idle
life, and punished accordingly, or otherwise sent to the house of
correction and there set to labour and work.

[Sidenote: Who are to be deemed rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars.]

And that there may be no doubt as to who are liable to punishment under
these provisions, it is enacted—“that all persons calling themselves
scholars going about begging; all idle persons going about in any
country either begging or using any subtle craft, or unlawful games or
plays, or feigning themselves to have knowledge in physiognomy palmistry
or other like crafty science, or pretending that they can tell
destinies, fortunes, or such other like phantastical imaginations; all
persons that be or utter themselves to be proctors, procurers, patent
gatherers, or collectors for gaols prisons or hospitals; all fencers,
bear-wards, common players of interludes and minstrels wandering abroad;
all jugglers, wandering persons, and common labourers being able in
body, using loytering, and refusing to work for such reasonable wages as
is taxed and commonly given, and not having living otherwise to maintain
themselves; all persons delivered out of gaols that beg for their fees,
or otherwise travaile begging; all such as wander abroad, pretending
loss by fire or otherwise; all such as wandering pretend themselves to
be Egyptians, or wander in the habit form or attire of counterfeit
Egyptians—shall be taken adjudged and deemed rogues vagabonds and sturdy
beggars, and shall sustain such punishments as are appointed by the
_33rd Henry 8th, cap. 15_,[12] or be otherwise dealt withall by sending
them to the house of correction in the county where they shall be found,
as to the justices shall be thought fit.”



  Ante, p. 22.


It appears moreover that many wilful people having children, and being
able to labour for the maintenance of themselves and their families, “do
nevertheless run away out of their parishes, and leave their families
upon the parish”—Wherefore it is enacted that all such persons so
running away, shall be taken and deemed to be incorrigible rogues, and
suffer accordingly—“and if either such man or woman, being able to work,
shall threaten to run away and leave their families as aforesaid, the
same being proved by two sufficient witnesses upon oath before two
justices of peace, the person so threatening shall by the said justices
be sent to the house of correction, there to be dealt with as a sturdy
and wandering rogue, unless he or she can put in sufficient sureties for
the discharge of the parish.” This enactment, and the recital by which
it is introduced and justified, might be taken for a part of our late
English poor-law system, so exactly does it accord with what was
frequently practised in English parishes. Yet nothing like settlement,
or a right to relief, or any organization for providing or affording
relief, existed in Ireland. The great principle of parochial
chargeability for relief of the destitute embodied in the _43rd of
Elizabeth_, seems nevertheless to have been in some degree recognised,
and was probably to some extent operative in Ireland, although without
legal sanction; for unless such were the case, persons running away
could not be said to leave their families a charge upon the parish,
neither perhaps would their threatening to run away be so stringently
dealt with as we here find it to be.

The provisions of this Act are no doubt important, and the Act itself
taken as a whole, throws considerable light upon the condition of
Ireland at that time, and shows that the state of society there was
gradually approximating to that which prevailed in England. The persons
subjected to punishment as rogues and vagabonds, are identical with
those described in the English Act _22nd Henry 8th, cap. 12_.[13] The
provisions with respect to houses of correction, are similar to those
directed by the English Acts _18th Elizabeth, cap. 3_,[13] and the _7th
James 1st, cap. 4_;[13] and the privy search ordered to be made for
apprehending vagrants &c. is the same as in the Act of James.[13] With
such a similarity of enactments therefore, we can hardly doubt that
there was a general similarity in the circumstances of the two
countries, although those parts of Ireland which were latest brought
under subjection, may still have been in a rude and backward state, as
indeed it is known that they then were, and for a long time afterwards
continued to be.



  See ‘History of the English Poor Law,’ vol. i. pp. 115, 171, 233 and


In proof of the backwardness of at least some parts of Ireland at that
time, two Acts passed in the same year as the foregoing may be cited.
[Sidenote: 1634-5. 10 and 11 Charles I. cap. 15.] The first is, _The
10th and 11th Charles 1st, cap. 15_, entitled ‘An Act against ploughing
by the Tail and pulling the Wool off living Sheep.’ It declares that “in
many places of this kingdom there hath been a long time used a barbarous
custom of ploughing, harrowing, drawing and working with horses, mares,
geldings, garrans, and colts, by the tail, whereby (besides the cruelty
used to the beasts) the breed of horses is much impaired in this
kingdom, to the great prejudice thereof; and also, that divers have and
yet do use the like barbarous custom, of pulling off the wool yearly
from living sheep[14] instead of clipping or shearing of them”—Wherefore
all such barbarities are prohibited, and it is enacted that whomsoever
shall so act in either case in future, or procure the same to be done,
shall be subject to fine and imprisonment. [Sidenote: 1634-5. 10 and 11
Charles I. cap. 17.] The other Act is the _10th and 11th Charles 1st,
cap. 17_, entitled ‘An Act to prevent the unprofitable custom of burning
Corn in the Straw.’ It recites—“Whereas there is in the remote parts of
this kingdom of Ireland commonly a great dearth of cattle yearly, which
for the most part happeneth by reason of the ill husbandrie and
improvident care of the owners, that neither provide fodder nor stover
for them in winter, nor houses to put them in extremitie of stormy cold
weather, but a natural lazie disposition possessing them, will not build
barnes to house and thresh their corn in, nor houses to keep their
cattle from the violence of such weather; but the better to enable them
to be flitting from their lands, and to deceive his Majesty of such
debts as they may be owing, and their landlords of their rents, do for a
great part instead of threshing, burn their corn in the straw, thereby
consuming the straw which might relieve their cattle in winter, and
afford materials towards covering or thatching their houses, and
spoiling the corn, making it black, loathsome and filthy”—for prevention
of which unprofitable and uncivil customs it is ordained, that no person
shall “by himself, wife, children, servants, or tenants,” burn or cause
to be burned any corn or grain in the straw, on pain of being imprisoned
ten days for the first offence, for the second offence one month, and
for the third offence to pay a fine of forty shillings and be bound to
good behaviour.



  A parallel to the “pulling off the wool from living sheep,” may even
  now be witnessed all over the west of Ireland, in the plucking off the
  feathers from the living geese, a process that must be attended with
  great pain, and under the cruel infliction of which many of the poor
  geese perish.


These Acts certainly indicate the existence of very rude and barbarous
practices in some parts of Ireland—so rude indeed, that one finds some
difficulty in giving credence to them; but that they did prevail, there
can be no reasonable doubt. To plough by the tail, to strip the wool off
sheep, and to burn corn in the straw, are doubtless all indications of a
lamentable state of backwardness and barbarism; but how far this
backwardness was owing to “a natural lazie disposition” in the Irish
tenantry, or whether it was the “better to enable them to be flitting
from their lands to deceive their landlords of their rents,” as asserted
above, or occasioned by the oppressive conduct of the landlords, as
described by Spenser,[15] it is impossible to say with certainty. Most
likely all these causes were in operation, together with a general
feeling of insecurity, a backward state of civilization, and a feeble
and uncertain administration of the law.



  See ante, p. 7.


Another cause of backwardness and disorder is indicated [Sidenote:
1634-5. 10 and 11 Charles I. cap. 16.]by the ‘Act for the suppressing of
Cosherers and idle Wanderers.’ This Act (_the 10th and 11th Charles 1st,
cap. 16_) commences with the following recital—“Whereas there are many
young gentlemen of this kingdom that have little or nothing to live on
of their own, and will not apply themselves to labour or other honest
industrious courses to support themselves, but do live idly and
inordinately, coshering upon the country, and sessing themselves their
followers their horses and their greyhounds upon the poor inhabitants,
sometimes exacting money from them to spare them and their tenants, and
to go elsewhere to their eaught and edraugh, viz. supper and breakfast,
and sometimes craving helps from them; all which the poor people dare
not deny them, sometimes for shame, but most commonly for fear of
mischief to be done them so refusing, and therefore do bear it although
unwillingly, and many times when they are scarce able so to do, and yet
dare not complain for fear of the inconveniences aforesaid, and to that
end do make cuts levies and plotments upon themselves to pay them, and
give such entertainment and helps to the utter impoverishing and
disabling of the poor inhabitants to pay their duties to the king, and
their rents unto their landlords; and by that lawless kind of life of
these idle gentlemen and others, being commonly active young men, and
such as seek to have many followers and dependants upon them, many other
inconveniences are likely to arise, for they are apt upon the least
occasion of disturbance or insurrection, to rifle and make booty of his
Majesty’s loyal subjects, and to be heads and leaders of outlaws and
rebels, and in the mean time do and must sometimes support their
excessive and expenceful drinking and gaming by secret stealths, or
growing into debts often-times filch and stand upon their keeping, and
are not amenable to law”—wherefore for prevention of such inconveniences
it is enacted, that if any person or persons shall directly or
indirectly follow any of the above practices in future, the justices of
assize are to cause them to be apprehended and bound to good behaviour,
and imprisoned until good sureties for the same be given. These
“cosherers” are apparently the same class of persons described by
Spenser as infesting the country half a century before,[16] too proud to
beg, too idle to labour, and for the most part living by the plunder and
intimidation of the poor tenantry. There could hardly have been a
greater obstruction to improvement, or a more certain incentive to
violence and disorder, than the conduct of these “cosherers and idle
wanderers” as above described. They must have been in every way a curse
to the country, stirring up and perpetuating whatever was pernicious
oppressive and demoralizing, and subverting whatever had a contrary



  Ante, p. 6.


We have now approached the period of what is emphatically called “the
great Rebellion,” which was followed by the Commonwealth, the
Protectorate, and the Restoration; and then, after an interval, by the
Revolution of 1688, which led to the establishment of constitutional
monarchy. But in none of these periods, although all highly interesting
and important in an historical point of view, do we find anything in
Irish legislation so immediately bearing upon our present subject, as to
call for citation or remark.

The first enactment in the order of time which it is necessary to
notice,[Sidenote: 1703. 2 Anne, cap. 19. The Dublin workhouse.] is _The
2nd Anne, cap. 19_, entitled—‘An Act for erecting a Workhouse in the
city of Dublin, for employing and maintaining the poor thereof.’ The
preamble declares, that “the necessities number and continual increase
of the poor within the city of Dublin and liberties thereto adjoining,
are very great and exceeding burdensome for want of workhouses to set
them at work, and a sufficient authority to compel them thereto: and
whereas the lord mayor, sheriffs, commons and citizens of Dublin for the
encouragement of so charitable and necessary a work, are willing not
only to appropriate a piece of ground for a workhouse within the said
city, but also to endow the same with lands of inheritance of the value
of one hundred pounds per annum”—It is enacted, that from and
immediately after the 1st of May 1704, there shall be a corporation to
continue for ever within the county of the city of Dublin, to be
entitled the governors and guardians of the poor, and to consist of the
chief governor (or lord lieutenant) the lord mayor, the lord chancellor,
the archbishop of Dublin, the sheriffs, the justices of peace, the
members of the corporation, and a great many others specially named, who
are to have perpetual succession, with all the usual powers and
privileges of a corporation. They are to assemble on the first Thursday
in every month, “for relieving, regulating, and setting at work, all
vagabonds and beggars which shall come within the city or liberties,”
and are to provide such necessaries and material as are needful for the
same. They are likewise empowered to apprehend all idle or poor people
begging or seeking relief, or who receive parish alms within the city or
liberties; and also to detain and keep in the service of the said
corporation until the age of sixteen, any poor child or children found
or taken up within the said city or liberties above five years of age,
and to apprentice out such children to any honest persons, being
protestants, a male child until the age of twenty-four, and a female
child until the age of twenty-one. The governors and directors are
moreover empowered to inflict reasonable punishment or correction, from
time to time, on all persons within the workhouse who shall not conform
to the established regulations; and are to have the care of the poor of
the said city and liberties of what age or kind soever they be, infants
under the age of five years only excepted; and in order thereto, are
empowered “to examine, search, and see what poor persons are come into,
inhabiting, or residing within the said city and liberties, or any part
thereof, and to apprehend any idle vagrants and beggars, and to cause
them to be set and kept at work in the said workhouse, for any time not
exceeding seven years.”

For the encouragement of such as shall become benefactors to the
foregoing “good design,” it is enacted that a donor of fifty pounds and
upwards shall be eligible for the office of governor and guardian; and
power is also given for granting licences for the keeping of hackney
coaches not exceeding 150 in number, and for sedan-chairs not exceeding
80 in number, to ply for hire within the city and liberties, every
licence so granted being charged with the sum of 5_l._, to be paid to
the governors and guardians of the poor by way of fine, and forty
shillings annually afterwards, so long as the said licence shall be
continued. It is further enacted for the support of the poor in the said
workhouse, that a rate of 3_d._ in the pound be charged on every house
within the city and liberties, to be levied in the same way as
ministers’ money; but in case any surplus should remain after defraying
the necessary charges of the workhouse, and the poor maintained and
employed therein, a proportional abatement is to be made in this tax
upon houses.

The above is the substance of this important Act, important, that is, as
being the first in which a direct provision is made for the relief of
poverty in Ireland. The Act is local, it is true, its operation being
limited to the city and liberties of Dublin; but it recognises the
principle of taxing the public for the prevention of vagrancy and
begging, conjointly with the alternative of relieving the destitute—a
principle universal in itself, and susceptible of universal application.
The endeavour to effect these objects through the agency of workhouses,
was very generally resorted to in England about this time. They had been
recommended by Sir Matthew Hale, and also by Mr. Locke in his Report on
the state of the poor, and the Bristol, Worcester, and other workhouses
were established with a like intent,[17] although the employment of the
inmates with a view to profit, was no doubt at the same time regarded as
a collateral advantage. The direction that the poor children “found or
taken up” should be apprenticed to “honest persons being protestants,”
seems, as in the case of the free schools already noticed,[18] to
indicate a desire in the framers of the measure to make it subservient
to the spread of the reformed religion; but at that time the property,
and nearly all the industrious occupations of the country were in the
hands of protestants, so that with them alone was there likely to be an
eligible opportunity for apprenticing out the children. The direction to
do so was therefore superfluous, but it indicates the dominant feeling
of the time. The corporation was reconstituted and its powers extended
by _the 1st George 2nd, cap. 27_, in 1728, and ultimately the workhouse
became merged in the Dublin Foundling Hospital; but as it will hereafter
be necessary to revert to this point we need not dwell on it at present.



  See ‘History of the English Poor Law,’ vol. i. pp. 302, 372, 373 and


  Ante, p. 24.


The Act passed in 1635, ‘for the suppression of cosherers and idle
wanderers,’ has already been noticed.[19] [Sidenote: 1707. 6 Anne, cap.
11.]In 1707 another was passed (_the 6th Anne, cap. 11_,) explaining and
amending the former, and entitled ‘An Act for the more effectual
suppressing tories robbers and rapparees, and for preventing persons
becoming tories or resorting to them.’ It directs—“that all loose idle
vagrants, and such as pretend to be Irish gentlemen, and will not work
nor betake themselves to any honest trade or livelihood, but wander
about demanding victuals and coshering from house to house among their
fosterers followers and others, and also loose persons of infamous lives
and characters, upon presentments of the grand juries at assizes and
general quarter sessions, and upon warrant of the justices, shall be
imprisoned until sent on board the fleet, or transported to some of her
Majesties plantations in America, whither the justices are empowered to
send them, unless sufficient security for their good behaviour be given.
Many persons are moreover said to make a trade of obtaining robbery
money from the country, pretending to have been robbed, “whereas they
never were robbed, or were not robbed of near the value they allege, and
so get money on that account which they never lost”—Wherefore it is
directed that all persons pretending to be robbed, shall not only give
notice thereof to some neighbouring justice, but likewise to the high
constable, who is forthwith to publish the same in all the market towns
of the barony.



  Ante, p. 34.


There appears to have been another species of fraud in connexion with
this [Sidenote: “Robbery money.”] “robbery money,” for the principal
inhabitants, when applotments were made for reimbursing the persons that
had been robbed, do it is said, “usually lay the whole burthen on the
poorer sort, that are least able to bear it, or least able to resist or
pursue the tories, and thereby they pay little or nothing themselves,
who ought to be charged according to their abilities”—Wherefore the
parties aggrieved are authorised to appeal to the judges of assize, who
are empowered to examine into the case upon oath, and to determine the
same. We thus see how apt a law, however good in itself, is to be
perverted to a bad purpose. The making the county answerable for
reimbursing a person who had been plundered, would seem calculated to
array all the inhabitants on the side of honesty and good order; but
without preventing robbery, the law in this case appears to have given
rise to a fraudulent trafficking in “robbery money,” and to gross
injustice in other respects. There is no other Act of the Irish
parliament in Anne’s reign requiring to be noticed, but there is one in
that of her successor which must not be passed over.

[Sidenote: 1715.
           2 George I. cap. 17.]

_The 2nd George 1st, cap. 17_, may be called a multitudinous Act, as it
comprises a great variety of enactments, but such parts only will be
noticed as bear upon our subject. It is entitled ‘An Act to empower
justices to determine disputes about servants’ wages &c.’ and it
recites—“Whereas several persons do refuse or neglect to pay the wages
due to servants, artificers, and day labourers, and there being no
remedy whereby they can in a summary way, without much charge or delay
recover what is due for their service”—it is therefore enacted for the
more easy recovery of the same, that any neighbouring justice of the
peace or chief magistrate may receive the complaint of any such servant
upon oath, and may summon the master or mistress and determine the
demand, which if not paid within ten days as so determined, may be
levied by distress. “And forasmuch as several servants are drunkards,
idle or otherwise disorderly in their services, or waste and purloin
their master’s goods, or lend the same without their master’s or
mistress’s consent or knowledge, or depart their service within the time
for which they had obliged themselves to serve,” it is further enacted,
that on complaint upon oath of any master or mistress to such effect
before any justice of peace or chief magistrate, they are to hear and
determine the same, and if the offence be duly proved, may commit the
offender for six hours to the stocks, or to the house of correction with
hard labour for any time not exceeding ten days. It is also enacted,
that on the discharge or quitting service of any servant, the master or
mistress shall give a certificate in writing to that effect, “and shall
in the said discharge certify, if desired, or if the master or mistress
shall think fit, the behaviour of such servant;” and no servant is in
future to be hired without producing such discharge or certificate of
character. These enactments appear alike calculated to benefit the
master and the servant class, and if fairly administered could hardly
fail of so doing. They show moreover that social organization in Ireland
had attained a more stable and orderly form, that its gradations were
more distinctly marked and better understood, and that the duties of
each were more clearly defined. We no longer see any allusion to the
“Irishry” as a separate race. All are brought within the pale of the
law, or it may rather be said that the law and the pale have become

[Sidenote: 11th section. Apprenticing of helpless children.]

By the _11th section_ of the Act provision is made for apprenticing
helpless children. It commences with this preamble—“and whereas there
are in almost every part of this kingdom great numbers of helpless
children who are forced to beg their bread, and who will in all
likelihood, if some proper care be not taken of their education, become
hereafter not only unprofitable but dangerous to their country; and
whereas it is hoped that many of them may be entertained in comfortable
services, and others may be bound out to and bred up in useful callings,
if well-disposed persons could have any fair prospect of receiving
hereafter by the labour of such poor children, any return suitable to
the trouble and charges they must necessarily undergo in bringing them
through that state of childhood”—Wherefore it is enacted, that the
minister and churchwardens shall have power, with consent of a justice
of peace, to bind out any child they find begging within their parish,
or any other poor child with consent of the parents, to any honest and
substantial protestant housekeeper or tradesman that will entertain such
child, until the age of 21, if as a menial servant, or till the age of
24, if as an apprentice to a trade. And to prevent abuse of power in
masters and mistresses towards such servants and apprentices, it is
further enacted that justices of peace may, on complaint of ill usage or
cruel treatment examine into the case, and if the complaint appear
groundless, may order reasonable correction for the servant or
apprentice complaining without cause; but if immoderate severity or
cruel usage be fully proved against the master or mistress, the justice
is empowered to discharge the servant or apprentice from their service,
and to bind him or her to some other master or mistress for the
remainder of the time. We here see that the power of apprenticing out
poor children conferred upon the Dublin corporation of governors and
guardians of the poor,[20] is now extended to the minister and
churchwardens of every parish in Ireland, accompanied by a like
condition as to the master’s being a protestant. In this respect only is
there any material difference between the present enactment, and _The
39th Elizabeth, cap. 3_,[21] with regard to apprenticing poor children,
although better provision is now made for protecting them against
improper treatment subsequently.



  Ante, p. 35.


  See ‘History of the English Poor Law,’ vol. i. p. 183.


[Sidenote: 1735.
           9 George II. cap. 25.]

In 1735 an Act was passed for establishing a workhouse at Cork, similar
in its main provisions to that which was passed for Dublin in 1703.[20]
The present Act (_The 9th George 2nd, cap. 25_) however makes provision
for rebuilding the cathedral church of St. Finbarry, as well as “for
erecting a workhouse in the city of Cork for employing and maintaining
the poor, punishing vagabonds, and providing for and educating foundling
children.” With respect to the former of these provisions, it is only
necessary to remark, that the money authorised to be raised by a
coal-tax, was directed to be applied during the first four years to the
purposes of the cathedral; and we may therefore abstain from further
noticing that point, and proceed at once to a consideration of the other
provisions of the Act.

[Sidenote: Strolling beggars and vagabonds to be seized.]

The _9th George 2nd, cap. 25_, has the same preamble as the Dublin Act.
It constitutes the bishop of Cork, and the mayor, recorder, aldermen,
sheriffs, common councilmen, the common speaker, together with
twenty-six other persons who are to be elected annually, a corporation
and body politic, entitled the “Governors of the Workhouse of the City
of Cork.” They are to have a common seal, with all the usual powers, and
may purchase and take for the uses of the corporation any lands or other
hereditaments not exceeding the annual value of 2000_l._ The ground for
the workhouse is given by the city corporation, and in order to defray
the expenses to be incurred in carrying the several provisions of the
Act into effect, a duty of one shilling per ton is imposed on all coal
and culm imported into Cork during the term of thirty-one years, to be
paid to the governors of the workhouse. Four general assemblies of the
governors are to be held in every year, and they may from among
themselves annually appoint fifteen to be assistants, any five of whom
are to have full power to carry the regulations established by the
governors into effect, and likewise to regulate the management of the
gaol or house of correction. The beadles and constables are authorised
to seize all beggars and other idle vagabonds, found strolling in or
frequenting any of the streets or houses within the city and suburbs,
and to carry them before one of the said assistants, who is empowered to
commit them to the workhouse and hard labour until the next meeting of
the governors, who may if they see cause confine such beggars or
vagabonds in the workhouse for any term not longer than four years, and
keep them to hard labour or otherwise as shall be thought fit. If
disorderly, they may be committed to the house of correction.

[Sidenote: Section 17. Foundling children.]

The workhouse at Cork, like that established in Dublin, is thus we see
primarily intended for the repression of mendicancy and vagabondism, and
like that too it is further designed for the reception and maintenance
of foundlings. The _17th section_ of the Act declares that “the exposed
or foundling children left yearly on the several parishes in the city
and suburbs of Cork are very numerous, and do frequently perish for want
of due care and provision for them”—Wherefore it is enacted, that as
soon as the workhouse shall be built, the governors shall receive from
the churchwardens of the respective parishes all the exposed or
foundling children that are then within the same, and likewise all such
as may thereafter be found exposed or left to be maintained by any of
the said parishes, “and shall take due care to have such children
nursed, clad, and taught to read and write, and thoroughly instructed in
the principles of the protestant religion.” The male children are to be
taught some trade or calling, and employed thereon within the workhouse
until the age of 21, when they are to be discharged, and furnished with
a certificate under the seal of the corporation, stating their having
been so brought up and taught such trade in the workhouse, which
certificate will entitle them to the freedom of the city of Cork, with
all the privileges other freemen enjoy.

If the number of male foundlings should become so great, that the fund
appropriated to the maintenance of the workhouse proves insufficient for
continuing them therein until they severally attain the age of 21 years,
the governors or assistants are empowered to place out so many of the
male children to such art trade or calling, or to the sea service, or to
be household servants, for any term not exceeding seven years, as they
shall judge necessary and expedient. The female children are to be
instructed in such proper trades and employments, and disposed of at
such ages and in such manner, as the governors may deem advisable; and
in order to prevent the improper interference of the parents of such
deserted children, many of whom being Roman catholics are said to strive
to hinder their children from being brought up protestants, the
governors of the workhouses of Dublin and Cork are empowered to exchange
the children maintained therein, whenever such interchange shall be
agreed upon by the respective governors. This appears the only material
addition suggested by the experience obtained in the thirty years
between the passing of the two Acts, and it strikingly illustrates the
difficulty of dealing with matters connected in any way with differences
in religion. Here are parents so wanting in natural affection as to
desert their own progeny, and leave them to be cared for by their
protestant fellow-subjects, and who yet make it a point of conscience to
hinder their children’s being brought up in the religion of their
protectors. It would seem impossible to carry unreasoning inconsistency

Foundling hospitals have, from a remote period, existed on the continent
of Europe, especially in Italy and France. It appears to have been
thought that by providing a place where mothers might deposit their
illegitimate offspring in safety, the frequent recurrence of
child-murder would be prevented. But it may be doubted whether the
exemption from the consequences of illicit intercourse, does not tend to
relax moral restraints, and to increase the number of illegitimate

[Sidenote: 1771-2.
           11 and 12 George III. cap 11. Dublin Foundling Hospital.]

The double functions assigned to the Dublin workhouse, of dealing both
with vagrants and foundling children, were deemed to be inconsistent,
and _The 11th and 12th George 3rd, cap. 11_, was passed to remedy this
defect, and in fact to reconstitute the entire establishment. All former
Acts affecting it were accordingly repealed, and a new corporation
appointed, comprising a long list of persons official and non-official,
from the lord-lieutenant downwards, who are to be called “the Governors
of the Foundling Hospital and Workhouse of the city of Dublin.” The
corporation is invested with large powers, and may for its own use and
benefit purchase and hold any lands, tenements or hereditaments, not
exceeding the annual value of 2,000_l._, or any personal estate
whatsoever; and may make such rules by-laws and other regulations, as
the governors shall judge necessary and expedient for the good
government of the institution. There are to be four quarterly meetings
of the governors in the year, and as in the case of Cork the governors
may appoint annually from among themselves fifteen or more “to be called
the Court of Assistants,” who are to assemble as often as they think
proper for putting in execution the orders and regulations ordained by
the governors, and are invested with authority to inspect and regulate
the management of the institution, “and the children received therein or
sent out to nurse therefrom.”

[Sidenote: Vagabonds and strolling beggars not to be admitted.]

And as “the reception of vagabonds and strolling beggars into the same
house, or within the same walls with children, will be manifestly
injurious by the setting a bad example,”—it is enacted that no vagabond
or strolling beggar shall be sent into the same house, or kept within
the same walls with the children; but when apprehended shall be sent to
bridewell, or to such other place as the governors shall appoint,
separate and apart from the said children, and be there maintained and
set to work at the expense of the corporation, under such management and
regulation as the governors shall prescribe, the produce of their labour
to be applied in aid of the revenues of the institution. The governors
and the court of assistants are empowered to inflict reasonable
punishment or correction from time to time, on any vagabond beggar or
poor person within the said bridewell, or other place of confinement;
and each of the governors, and every justice of peace, may apprehend any
poor persons begging or seeking relief, and all vagabonds and strolling
beggars, within the city and liberties. The beadles, constables, and
inhabitants generally, are moreover required to seize and take all such
persons before one of the said governors, or one of the said justices,
in order to their being committed to bridewell or other appointed place,
until the next quarterly court of governors, who may confine the beggars
and idle vagabonds so committed for any term not exceeding three years,
“there to be kept to hard labour, or otherwise usefully employed, as
they shall see cause and shall order and direct.”

[Sidenote: Section 16.
           Foundling children.]

The entire separation of the vagrant classes from the foundling children
being thus provided for, it is then by the _16th section_ enacted—“that
all and every poor child and children under the age of six years, who
shall be found or taken up within the said city and liberties, or sent
to the foundling hospital, shall be received and kept therein, or sent
to nurse therefrom; and that all children presented for reception who
appear to be six years old, and not exceeding eight, shall be received
if there be room, and the children appear to be sound in mind and body.”
The children are to be instructed in the principles of the protestant
religion, and taught to read write and cast accounts, together with such
other useful matters as “may tend to increase the fund for the support
of the said house.” The governors may, from time to time, place out as
apprentices by proper indentures any of the said children to persons
being protestants and following any trade or calling, or to seafaring
men, or to gentlemen or housekeepers for servants, for any term not
exceeding seven years.[22] The maintenance and education afforded to
these poor children, and their being thus placed out as servants, or
apprenticed to a trade, naturally made the institution attractive; and
it is declared to be necessary “that some further funds should be
provided, as it is found by experience that the numbers of children are
of late years greatly increased, and the children are brought to the
hospital from all parts of the kingdom, and from his Majesty’s
neighbouring dominions.”



  This limitation was afterwards removed by the _25th George 3rd, cap.
  48_, which allowed of children being apprenticed for any term,
  provided it did not exceed the age of 21 for a male and 18 for a


Accordingly, the governors are empowered for “the better support of the
said Foundling Hospital and workhouse, and for the maintenance and
education of the children and other purposes of the Act,” to grant
licences to persons keeping hackney coaches, stages, or other vehicles
plying for hire, and to porters or messengers within the city or suburbs
or seven miles thereof,—on conditions and at rates of charge prescribed
in the Act; and also to charge and receive 6_d._ in the pound on the
yearly rent of all houses within the city and liberties, or within two
Irish miles of Dublin Castle, as the same is returned for the minister’s
money, or if not so returned, on the rents payable by tenants in
possession. And whenever the number of children causes the expense to
exceed the revenue provided by the Act, the governors are to cause
notice thereof to be inserted in the Dublin Gazette, after which no
child is to be again received until notice to that effect be in like
manner given.

On comparing this with the original Act of 1703, and with the Cork Act
of 1735, it will be seen that the chief difference is the entire
separation of the vagabond or culpable class from the foundling children
which is now directed, and the reason for which is distinctly stated.
This was doubtless an advantage, and it led to so many other
improvements in the care and management of the children, that the
numbers deserted and pressed upon the institution went on continually
increasing, and soon became excessive. It is indeed complained of in the
present Act, before the separation it directs was carried into full
effect, and the influence we are told even extended beyond the limits of
Ireland. To provide for the additional charges thus arising, the area of
the house-tax was extended, and its rate increased from 3_d._ to 6_d._
in the pound. No change is made in the charge for licensing carriages,
but the number to be licensed was increased, hackney coaches from 150 to
300, and sedan-chairs from 80 to 400, which may be taken as proof of the
increasing wealth and population of Dublin, if not of the country
generally. This Act was repeatedly amended; and even in the following
year, on the ground that “the number of children of the age of six years
and under, have of late years increased so far beyond the expectation of
the governors,” it is directed by the _13th and 14th George 3rd, cap.
17_, that children of three years old and upwards are not to be
received, and that the house-tax be raised from 6_d._ to 10_d._ in the
pound for two years, on houses of 10_l._ rental and upwards.

[Sidenote: 1772-74.
           11 and 12 George III. cap. 15.
           13 and 14 George III. cap. 24.]

Nothing further need at present be said with respect to the above
statute. But two other Acts were subsequently passed, one in the same
year, and the other in the year following which require to be
noticed.—The first is _The 11th and 12th George 3rd, cap. 15_, ‘for the
relief of poor infants who are or shall be deserted by their
parents’—the other is _The 13th and 14th George 3rd, cap. 24_, for
amending the same. The first-named Act commences with this
recital—“Whereas poor infants are frequently deserted by their parents,
and left exposed to the inclemency of the weather in the streets and
other places in cities; and whereas the inhabitants of several parishes
in which children are so exposed refuse to raise money for the support
of such children, by which many of them perish”—it is therefore enacted,
that in every parish of every city (excepting Dublin and Cork) a vestry
shall be held in the first week of June annually, at which three
overseers are to be chosen, who shall take up and provide for the
maintenance and education of all such children as shall be so deserted
and exposed within their respective parishes. The sum of 5_l._ is
allowed for the bringing up of each child, and the entire expense is to
be equally borne by the inhabitants of the cities respectively. The
overseers are to collect the sums assessed upon each inhabitant, and
apply the money so collected to the maintenance and education of such
deserted children within their respective parishes. This provision is,
we see, limited to cities; but the other Act (_13th and 14th George 3rd,
cap. 24_) makes the provision general throughout the country. After
citing the former Act, it directs—“that in every parish in this kingdom
(except in the cities of Dublin and Cork for which particular provision
is made) a vestry shall be held annually, at such time and with such
powers as the former Act prescribes;” and the overseers in such parishes
are to “take up and provide for the maintenance and education of all
such children as shall be deserted and exposed within their respective
parishes at the age of twelve months or under;” and such sums of money
as shall be necessary for the purpose, are to be “raised upon the
respective parishes in the same manner and with such remedies as other
parish cesses.” If any parish refuses or neglects to raise the amount
necessary, the next going judge of assize, upon complaint of the
minister or curate thereof, may order such sum to be raised as he shall
think fit, “so as the same do not exceed the sum of 5_l._ for each
child;” and the money so directed to be raised is to be assessed and
levied in the manner and with the like remedies as the presentments of
grand juries, and is to be paid to the minister or curate of such
parish, and by him applied to the purposes of the Act.

These Acts, taken together, make provision for the support of exposed
and deserted children of tender age in every parish in Ireland, by means
of a compulsory assessment upon the inhabitants. This amounts in fact to
a limited relief of the poor, or a restricted kind of poor-law, the
children being in almost every instance the offspring of parents too
poor to rear and maintain them, whence (as was the case in England) the
parish of necessity becomes responsible for the performance of these
duties, and stands _in loco parentis_. After thus legislating for one
class of the destitute, and recognising the principle of compulsory
assessment, it seems remarkable that nothing further should be done in
the way of establishing a regular system of relief for the destitute of
every class, especially as vestries were now being organised, and
overseers appointed in all the parishes of Ireland. Perhaps an Act
passed about the same time, and to which we will now turn, may serve to
explain this omission, as it attempts to effect the object circuitously
and by indirect means, instead of openly charging property for the
relief of destitution.

[Sidenote: 1771-2.
           11 and 12 George III. cap. 30.]

_The 11th and 12th George 3rd, cap. 30_, is entitled ‘An Act for Badging
such Poor as shall be found unable to support themselves by labour, and
otherwise providing for them, and for restraining such as shall be found
able to support themselves by labour or industry from begging.’ It
commences as follows—“Whereas strolling beggars are very numerous in
this kingdom, and whereas it is equally necessary to give countenance
and assistance to those poor who shall be found disabled by old age or
infirmities to earn their living, as to restrain and punish those who
may be able to support themselves by labour or industry, and yet may
choose to live in idleness by begging; and it is just to call upon the
humane and affluent to contribute to the support of real objects of
charity; and whereas those purposes may be better effected by one law,
than by many laws tending to the same purpose”—it is enacted that the
_33rd Henry 8th, cap. 15_,[23] and the _10th and 11th Charles 1st, cap.
4_,[23] be repealed.



  Ante, pp. 22 and 28.


The Act then proceeds—“And whereas the good purposes intended by this
Act are most likely to be promoted by creating corporations in every
county at large, and in every county of a city or town in this kingdom,
[Sidenote: Corporations to be established in every county.]who may
execute the powers and trusts hereinafter expressed”—it is enacted that
such corporations be established accordingly, consisting in counties of
the archbishop or bishop, the county members, and the justices of peace;
and in counties of a city or town, of the chief magistrate, sheriffs,
recorder, members of parliament and justices of peace. Every such
corporation is to be called “The President and Assistants instituted for
the relief of the Poor, and for punishing Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars,”
of the county, city, or town, as the case may be; and is to have a
common seal, and to hold meetings at which the bishop when present is to
preside, and to make by-laws and appoint standing committees, and is
likewise empowered to elect such other persons as shall be thought fit,
including those who contribute any sum not less than 20_l._, or
subscribe annually not less than 3_l._, to the charitable purposes of
the corporation, to be members thereof respectively. The corporations
are authorised to accept donations, and to take or purchase lands and
tenements not exceeding 500_l._ annual value, and to hold leases for
terms not exceeding 21 years, and may also take by grant or devise any
quantity of land in a city or town not exceeding two roods, and in the
open country not exceeding twenty acres, “for the sites of houses to be
built for the reception of the helpless poor, and for keeping in
restraint sturdy beggars and vagabonds.”

[Sidenote: The poor to be badged and licensed to beg.]

The corporations, constituted as above, are empowered to grant badges
to such of the helpless poor as have resided one year in their
respective counties cities or towns, with a licence to beg within such
limits for such time as may be thought fit; and are also empowered to
appoint certain of the justices to grant badges and licences
likewise—“specifying the names and places of birth and the character
of the persons so licensed, and the causes as nearly as may be
collected of their poverty, and whether reduced to that state by
sickness or misfortune.”

[Sidenote: Houses of industry or workhouses to be provided.]

The said corporation are moreover required as soon as they possess
sufficient funds, to build hospitals to be called workhouses or houses
of industry for the relief of the poor in their respective counties, “as
plain, as durable, and at as moderate expense as may be;” which
hospitals are to be divided into four parts, one for such poor helpless
men, and one other for such poor helpless women as shall be judged
worthy of admission, a third for the reception of men able to labour and
committed as vagabonds or sturdy beggars, and the fourth for idle
strolling and disorderly women committed to the hospital and found fit
for labour.

[Sidenote: Persons begging without a licence to be apprehended.]

Every man above the age of fifteen found begging without a licence, and
not wearing a badge, is to be committed to the stocks for any time not
exceeding three hours for the first offence, and six hours for every
subsequent offence; and old persevering offenders may be indicted at the
sessions, and if convicted are to suffer imprisonment not exceeding two
months; after which if they again offend they may be publicly whipped,
and be again imprisoned for four months, and so on continually for every
subsequent offence. Every female found begging without a licence and
badge, may be confined in any place appointed for that purpose, not
exceeding three hours for the first offence, and for every subsequent
offence not exceeding six hours; and every old and persevering offender
is, as in the case of the men, to be proceeded against at the sessions;
and in order that these directions may be carried into effect, the
corporations are empowered to appoint “such and so many persons as they
shall think fit, at reasonable salaries, to seize and arrest all such
persons whom they shall find begging without such licence and badge, and
carry them before the next justice, who may commit the party to the
stocks or otherwise as aforesaid.” Justices are moreover empowered on
their own view, to cause such persons to be seized and dealt with as is
above directed for every first and subsequent offence.

[Sidenote: Poor children to be provided for.]

Whenever a poor person deemed worthy of having a licence to beg, has one
or more children under the age of ten years not apprenticed or otherwise
provided for, the age and number of such children are to be inserted in
the licence by the person applied to in such case, or he may “at his or
their election take such and so many of them as he or they shall think
fit from the parent, and convey such child or children to the committee
of that county, city or town, and insert the names of the rest in the
parents’ licence.” If any fatherless or deserted poor children under
eight years of age are found strolling and begging, they are to be
conveyed to the committee of the particular county city or town, to be
placed in such charter school nursery as will receive them when under
eight, and the rest are to be apprenticed. The committees are required
to keep up a correspondence with the Protestant Charter Schools
Society,[24] that they may be informed from time to time when there is
accommodation for poor children, in order “that all poor children may as
much as possible be prevented from strolling, and may be put to trades
or to industry.”



  Ante, p. 25.


[Sidenote: Strolling vagabonds to be seized and committed.]

As soon as the houses of industry are provided and furnished for the
purpose, the corporations are to place therein so many vagrants sturdy
beggars and vagabonds, and so many helpless poor as their funds admit
of; “and they are authorised and required to seize every strolling
vagrant capable of labour who hath no place of abode, and who doth not
live by his or her labour or industry, and every person above the age of
fifteen who shall beg publicly without a licence or badge, and every
strolling prostitute capable of labour, and to commit the said persons
to the divisions allotted for them respectively in the said houses, and
there to keep them to hard labour, and compel them to work, maintaining
them properly,” and inflicting reasonable punishment when necessary, for
the periods named in the Act, varying from two months to four years.

[Sidenote: Money to be provided by grand-jury presentments.]

“In order to furnish some revenues for the said corporations at the
outset,” the grand juries are required to present annually at every
spring assizes in every county of a city or town, to be raised off the
lands and houses equally and rateably, any sum not less than 100_l._ nor
more than 200_l._, and in every county at large any sum not less than
200_l._ nor more than 400_l._, to be assessed and collected as other
county taxes are, and paid to the corporations respectively, without fee
or deduction whatever, for the charitable purposes of the Act. All
rectors vicars and incumbents of parishes are likewise required to
permit such clergymen as the respective corporations may appoint, to
preach sermons in their churches annually, and to permit collections to
be made for the objects contemplated by the Act.

[Sidenote: Recapitulation.]

We here see that provision has been made, partly by compulsory
assessment, partly by voluntary contributions, and through the
instrumentality of corporations specially appointed—for the badging and
licensing of the poor to beg—for providing hospitals workhouses or
houses of industry in every county at large and county of a city or
town—for separately confining therein able-bodied vagabonds and
disorderly women who are to be kept to hard labour—and for the
maintenance therein of poor helpless men and women. Authority is
likewise given to seize any one found begging without a badge or
licence, and to send such as are above fifteen to the house of industry
for punishment, whilst the children are to be placed at school or put
out to trade or service. And finally, persons are appointed at
reasonable salaries to carry these enactments against unlicensed begging
into effect.

In this Act therefore we have stringent provisions against mendicancy,
coupled with a conditional permission for practising it. The deserving
poor are permitted to beg, or if helpless are maintained; the
undeserving poor if they beg are punished: but the distinction between
the two is not defined, neither is it perhaps possible so to define it
as to guard against continual deception and fraud. The punishment of
vagrancy in every shape prescribed by this Act, accords with what we
find in all the earlier Scottish and English statutes, and if due
provision were at the same time made for relieving the destitute poor,
this would be open to little objection; but the relief of poverty is
here proposed to be effected chiefly by means of an organised system of
begging, the helpless poor for whom provision is made in the houses of
industry, being evidently those only who are too infirm to travel about
for that purpose. By thus combining two objects of an opposite nature,
it is evident neither will be accomplished—vagrancy will not be put
down, and poverty will not be relieved. The providing for the
establishment of corporations in every county, with powers to erect
hospitals, houses of industry, or workhouses, and to tax the property of
the country for such purpose, was no doubt an important advance in the
legislation with regard to the poor; but like many other Irish
enactments the present does not appear to have been carried into effect,
except in a very few instances; and as a general measure the Act may be
said to have been inoperative. It possessed however so much of a general
character, and seemed to hold out such a promise of efficiency by
consolidating the provisions of former Acts, that it was for a time
relied upon, and upwards of half a century elapsed before anything
further was attempted for the relief of the poor in Ireland.

The foregoing is the last of the Acts of the Irish parliament which we
shall have occasion to notice, and when the Union took place in 1800,
the Imperial legislation superseded that which had been local.

On here closing the last volume of Irish statutes, it may be convenient
to give a short statement of the nature and extent of the previous
legislation connected with our subject. Houses of industry and foundling
hospitals, supported partly by public rates, and partly by voluntary
contributions, were we have seen established at Dublin and Cork, for the
reception and bringing up of exposed and deserted children, and the
confinement of vagrants—free schools were directed to be maintained in
every diocese, for educating the children of the poor—parishes were
required to support the children exposed and deserted within their
limits, and vestries were organised and overseers appointed to attend to
this duty—hospitals, houses of industry or workhouses, were to be
provided in every county, and county of a city or town—severe
punishments were enacted against idle vagabonds and vagrants; whilst the
deserving poor were to be badged and licensed to beg, or if infirm and
helpless were to be maintained in the hospitals or houses of industry,
for the building and upholding of which however, reliance was chiefly
placed on the charitable aid of the humane and affluent, assessments for
the purpose being limited to 400_l._ in counties at large, and to
200_l._ in counties of cities or towns.

It is evident that each of these measures partakes more or less of the
nature of a poor-law, but there is one material deficiency pervading
them all, that is, the want of a certain and sufficient provision for
carrying them into effect. In no instance is such a provision made
compulsory upon the public. A portion only of what is necessary for the
purpose is so imposed, and the remainder is sought to be obtained by
voluntary contributions, a combination always attended with uncertainty,
and in most cases leading to an insufficiency of the necessary means.
Even if the various provisions were fully carried into effect and
generally acted upon, this would go far towards rendering them
practically inefficient; but at that time in Ireland, it by no means
followed because an Act was passed that its provisions would be
enforced, and there is reason to believe that in very few instances only
were the provisions contained in these Acts carried into operation. The
existence of such provisions however, defective and for the most part
inoperative as they were, would nevertheless serve as an answer to any
person who might be desirous of seeing an efficient system established
for the relief of the destitute; and thus the semblance of such a system
may have prevented the establishing of one that would have been real,
which it only could be when founded upon a general rate, as in the Act
of Elizabeth. No such foundation was however, we see, here provided.
Neither parochial nor parental liability as recognised and enforced in
England, was established by these Acts. Even in the case of fatherless
and deserted children, the entire chargeability of the parish for any
such child was limited to 5_l._, an amount surely insufficient for its
rearing and maintenance until it attained an age to support itself; so
that here also reliance must have been placed on the co-operation of
private charity, or else upon the child’s being received into one of the
foundling hospitals, and the parish being thus relieved from further
expense. In short, the training up and educating poor children as
protestants, and the repression of vagabondism, appear to be the objects
chiefly sought to be attained in all these Acts of the Irish parliament;
and to these objects the relief of the infirm and destitute poor, seems
to be regarded as a matter altogether secondary and subordinate.

A short account of the state of Ireland at this time will be a fitting
conclusion of the present chapter, as well as a useful preparative for
what is to follow. The best authority we can refer to for furnishing
such an account I believe to be Arthur Young,[25] who devoted three
years from 1776 to 1778 inclusive, to a personal examination of the
country, its agriculture, commerce, and the social condition of the
people. I have had considerable opportunities of testing the accuracy of
Arthur Young’s statements, and making due allowance for the changes
which must be presumed to have taken place during a period of some sixty
years, they have appeared to me to exhibit the circumstances of the
country about the time they were written with remarkable accuracy and
perspicuity. Of these statements, the following is such a condensed
summary as will, it is hoped, show the reader what were Arthur Young’s
views of the then condition of Ireland, more especially with regard to
matters bearing upon our present subject.



  See Arthur Young’s Tour in Ireland in the years 1776-77-78 and brought
  down to 1779. 2 vols. 8vo. Published in 1780.


[Sidenote: Arthur Young’s account of the state of Ireland.]

In natural fertility, acre for acre, Ireland is said to be superior to
England. It has no such tracts of uncultivated mountain as are seen in
the English northern counties, and its lighter shallower and more rocky
soil (chiefly of limestone) is nourished by and flourishes under a fall
of rain, which if it took place in England, would render the stiff clay
lands almost useless. There is no chalk, and little sand or clay in
Ireland. The fertility of England may be said to be in great measure
owing to the application of skill industry and capital, that of Ireland
chiefly to the soil and climate; whilst the bogs, which else would be
waste, afford abundance of fuel. Notwithstanding the naturally superior
fertility of Ireland however, the rent of land there as compared with
England is in the proportion of two to five, or in other words, the land
which lets in Ireland for two shillings, would in England let for five.
It is considered that 5_l._ per acre expended over all Ireland (which
would amount to about eighty-eight millions) “would not more than build,
fence, plant, drain and improve that country to be upon a par in those
respects with England;” and that it would take above twenty millions
more to put the farmers in the two countries upon an equal footing.
Profit in all undertakings depends upon capital, and the deficiency of
capital thus accounts for the inferiority of the Irish rents. Tillage is
little understood, and the produce is very inferior; “and were it not
for potatoes, which necessarily prepare for corn, there would not be
half of what we see at present.” The practice of harrowing by the tail,
and burning corn in the straw, was still seen at Castlebar and other
places in the west, notwithstanding its being prohibited by statute.[26]
The moisture of the climate is favourable to pasturage and the keeping
of cattle was much followed, as it well suited the indolent habits of
the people.



  See _10th and 11th Charles 1st, caps. 15 and 17_, ante page 32.


Considerable pains are taken to show that the system of middlemen which
then prevailed, or persons holding tracts of land intermediately between
the head landlord and the smaller occupiers, was injurious to both, and
a bar to improvement. It was defended on the ground of its affording
greater security for the rent. But Arthur Young says that the smaller
tenantry were found to be the most punctual rent-payers; and he further
observes, “that at the last extremity it is the occupier’s stock which
is the real security of the landlord,—it is that he distrains, and finds
abundantly more valuable than the laced hat hounds and pistols of the
gentleman jobber, from whom he is more likely in such a case to receive
a ‘_message_’ than a remittance.” These “profit-renters” are said to
waste their time and their means in horseracing and hunting, and to be
the hardest drinkers and most dissolute class of men in Ireland, as well
as the greatest oppressors of the poor tenantry, whose condition is
described as little better than the cottars they employ.

Arthur Young declares, that—to be ignorant of the condition of the
labouring classes and the poor generally, is to be wanting in the first
rudiments of political knowledge, and he states that he made every
endeavour to obtain the best information on the subject, from persons in
every class of life. According to some, the poor were all starving.
According to others, they were in a very tolerable state of
comfort.—Whilst a third party, who looked with a jaundiced eye on
British administration, pointed at their poverty and rags as proofs of
the cruel treatment of their country. When truth is thus liable to be
warped, an inquirer should, he remarks, be slow to believe and assiduous
to examine, and he intimates that such had universally been his

The recompense for labour is the means of living. In England the
recompense is given in money, in Ireland for the most part in land or
commodities. Generally speaking the labouring poor in Ireland are said
to have a fair bellyfull of potatoes, and the greater part of the year
they also have milk. If there are cabins on a farm, the labourers reside
in them. If there are none, the farmer marks out the potato-gardens, and
the labourers raise their own cabins, the farmer often assisting them
with the roof and other matters. A verbal contract is then made for the
rent of the potato-garden, and the keep of one or two cows, as the case
may be; after this the cottar works with the farmer at the rate of the
neighbourhood, “usually sixpence halfpenny a day, a tally being kept,
half by each party, and a notch cut for every day’s labour.” At the end
of six or twelve months they reckon, and the balance is paid. Such it is
said is the Irish cottar system, and it does not differ materially from
that which prevailed in Scotland at a period somewhat anterior. Many
cabins are however seen by the road-side or built in the ditch, the
inhabitants of which have no potato-gardens—“a wandering family will fix
themselves under a dry bank, and with a few sticks, furze, fern &c.,
make up a hovel no better than a pigsty, support themselves how they can
by work begging and pilfering, and if the neighbourhood wants hands or
takes no notice of them the hovel grows into a cabin”—these people are
not cottars, but are paid in money for whatever work they perform, and
consequently have no potato-ground.

The food of the smaller tenantry the cottars and labouring poor
generally, was potatoes and milk, of which for the most part they are
said to have a sufficiency. The English labourer’s solitary and sparing
meal of bread and cheese, is contrasted with “the Irishman’s potato-bowl
placed on the floor, the whole family upon their hams around it,
devouring quantities almost incredible, the beggar seating himself to it
with a hearty welcome, and the pig taking his share.” It must be
admitted that the contrast is sufficiently striking, and scenes such as
here described were no doubt then often witnessed in Ireland, and with
some little modification may even occasionally be met with at the
present day. This luxurious abundance was however by no means universal,
as is evident by statements in other parts of the work, where many of
the people are described as living very poorly, “sometimes having for
three months together only potatoes and salt and water.” There is said
to be a marked difference between the habits of the people in the north,
and those inhabiting the southern and western districts. In the latter,
land is alone looked to for affording the means of subsistence. The
former are manufacturers as well as farmers, each man holding from 5 to
10 acres of land, and sometimes more, on which he raises the usual crops
of corn and potatoes, together with a certain quantity of flax, which is
prepared and spun, and sometimes also wove by himself and his family.
This double occupation is however not favourable to excellence or
improvement in either. The farming was bad, and the people generally
very poor. The practice of subdividing the land, until it is brought
down to the smallest modicum that can support a family, prevailed in the
north as in the other parts of Ireland at that time, and has not
entirely disappeared at the present day.

The people are said to be everywhere very indifferently clothed. Shoes
and stockings were rarely seen on the feet of women or children, and the
men were very commonly without them. They appeared more solicitous to
feed than to clothe their children, the reverse of which is the case in
England, where, as has often been remarked, it is common to pinch the
belly in order to clothe the back. Education as far as reading and
writing goes was pretty general. “Hedge schools,” as they are called,
were everywhere met with, and it is remarked that they might as well be
called _ditch_ schools, many a ditch being seen full of scholars. This
shows the people to have been desirous of instruction, another proof of
which is, the fact of there being schools for men. “Dancing is so
universal among them that there are everywhere itinerant
dancing-masters, to whom the cottars pay sixpence a quarter for teaching
their families.” The people are said to be more cheerful and lively than
the English, but lazy to an excess at work, although active at play; and
their love of society is as remarkable as is their curiosity, which is
declared to be insatiable. Their truthfulness is however not to be
relied upon, and petty thefts and pilferings are very common. They are
“hard drinkers and quarrelsome, yet civil submissive and obedient.” Such
is the summary of the Irish character at that time, as drawn by Arthur
Young, and there is no reason to doubt its general accuracy.

With regard to other matters, an Irish cabin is described as being the
most miserable-looking hovel that can well be imagined. It is generally
built of mud, and consists of only one room. There is neither chimney
nor window. The door lets in the light, and should let out the smoke,
but that for the sake of the heat it is mostly preferred to keep it in,
which injures the complexion of the women. The roof, consisting of turf
straw potato-stalks or heath, has often a hole in it, and weeds
sprouting from every part, giving it all the appearance of a weedy
dunghill, upon which a pig or a goat is sometimes seen grazing. The
furniture accorded with the cabin, often consisting only of a pot for
boiling the potatoes, and one or two stools probably broken. A bed is
not always seen, the family often lying upon straw, equally partaken of
by the cow and the pig. Sometimes however the cabin and furniture were
seen of a better description, but on inquiry it generally appeared that
the improvement had taken place within the last ten years.

The readiness with which habitations are procured in Ireland, and the
facility of obtaining food for a family by means of the potato, are
considered to be one cause of the rapid increase of population which is
shown to have taken place towards the end of the 18th century.[27]
Marriage was, and indeed still is, more early and more universal in
Ireland than in England. An unmarried farmer or cottar is there rarely
seen, and even the house-servants, men as well as women, are commonly
married. Yet notwithstanding the rapid increase of population, there was
a continual emigration from the ports of Derry and Belfast, several
ships being regularly engaged in this passenger trade as it was called,
conveying emigrants to the American colonies. These emigrants were
however chiefly from the northern counties, partly farmers partly
weavers. When the linen trade, the great staple of Ireland flourished,
the passenger trade was low, and when the former was low the latter
flourished. The emigrants are said to have been chiefly protestants, the
Roman catholics at that time rarely quitting the country.



  See table at pages 11 and 12 ante.


The towns were said to have very much increased during the last twenty
years. “It may in truth be said that Ireland has been newly built over
within that period, and in a manner far superior to what was the case
before.” Towns are the markets for the general produce of the country,
which they help to enrich, and at the same time also to improve. The
rise of rents is a natural consequence of the increase of towns; and on
an average throughout Ireland, the rents are said to have doubled in the
last twenty-five years. The entire rental of Ireland at that time is set
down at 5,293,312_l._, but Arthur Young considered it to be not less
than six millions. The cost of living was on the whole found to be
nearly one-half less than in England. All the articles of use and
consumption were cheaper in Ireland, and the taxes trifling in
comparison. There was no land-tax, no poor’s-rate, no window-tax, no
candle or soap tax, only half a wheel tax, no servants’ tax; and a
variety of other things heavily burthened in England, were free or not
so heavily burthened in Ireland. The expenses of a family in Dublin and
in London, are considered to be in the proportion of five to eight; but
the Irish do however, it is added, nevertheless contrive to spend their

                              CHAPTER II.

Rebellion of 1798—The Union—Acts of the Imperial Parliament: respecting
  dispensaries, hospitals, and infirmaries—Examination of bogs—Fever
  hospitals—Officers of health—Lunatic asylums—Employment of the
  poor—Deserted children—Report of 1804 respecting the poor—Dublin House
  of Industry and Foundling Hospital—Reports of 1819 and 1823 on the
  state of disease and condition of the labouring poor—Report of 1830 on
  the state of the poorer classes—Report of the Committee on
  Education—Mr. Secretary Stanley’s letter to the Duke of Leinster—Board
  of National Education—First and second Reports of commissioners for
  inquiring into the condition of the poorer classes—The author’s
  ‘Suggestions’—The commissioners’ third Report—Reasons for and against
  a voluntary system of relief—Mr. Bicheno’s ‘Remarks on the
  Evidence’—Mr. G. C. Lewis’s ‘Remarks on the Third Report.’

The commencement of the nineteenth century is memorable for the
legislative Union of Great Britain and Ireland. This measure, fraught
with such important benefits to both countries, was probably hastened by
what occurred in Ireland in 1798, when the partizans of democracy,
excited by the events of the French Revolution, and stimulated by French
emissaries and promises of support, broke out into open rebellion.
[Sidenote: 1798. Irish Rebellion.]The rebellion was however soon put
down, although not without the sacrifice of many of the ignorant
misguided people who had been led on to take a part in it; and the
speech from the throne at the opening of the session on the 20th of
November 1798, announced that “the French troops which had been landed
for its support were compelled to surrender, and that the armaments
destined for the same purpose were, by the vigilance and activity of our
squadrons, captured or dispersed.” On the 22nd of January following, a
royal message relative to a union with Ireland was delivered to
parliament, in which the king expressed his persuasion, that the
unremitting industry with which the enemy persevered in their avowed
design of effecting the separation of Ireland from this kingdom, cannot
fail to engage the particular attention of both houses, and he
recommended them to consider of the most effectual means of
counteracting and defeating such design.

[Sidenote: 1800.
           Mr. Pitt’s speech on proposing the Union, January 22.]

In the debate which followed the delivery of the royal message, Mr. Pitt
observed—“Ireland is subject to great and deplorable evils, which have a
deep root, for they lie in the situation of the country itself—in the
present character manners and habits of its people—in their want of
intelligence—in the unavoidable separation between certain classes—in
the state of property—in its religious distinctions—in the rancour which
bigotry engenders and superstition rears and cherishes.” If such
circumstances combine to make a country wretched, the remedy ought, he
said, to be sought for in the institution of “an imperial legislature,
standing aloof from local party connexion, and sufficiently removed from
the influence of contending factions, to be the advocate or champion of
neither. A legislature which will neither give way to the haughty
pretensions of a few, nor open the door to popular inroads, to clamour,
or to invasion of all sacred forms and regularities, under the false and
imposing colours of philosophical improvement in the art of government.”
This, he said, “is the thing that is wanted in Ireland. Where is it to
be found?—in that country or in this?—certainly in England; and to
neglect to establish such a legislature when it is possible to do so,
would be (he declared) an improvidence which nothing could justify.”

Much of the evil which Ireland then laboured under arose, Mr. Pitt
considered, from the condition of the parliament of that country. “When
there are two independent parliaments in one empire,” he observed, “you
have no security for a continuance of their harmony and cordial
co-operation. We all have in our mouths a sentence that every good
Englishman and good Irishman feels—we must stand or fall together, we
should live and die together—but without such a measure as that which is
about to be proposed, there can be no security for the continuance of
that sentiment.” And he concluded a long and powerful address, by
saying, “I am bound to convey to this house every information which it
may be in my power to give; but however acceptable to the one or to the
other side of the house, however acceptable or otherwise to those whom I
respect on the other side the water, my sentiments upon this subject may
be, my duty compels me to speak them freely. I see the case so plainly,
and I feel it so strongly, that there is no circumstance of apparent or
probable difficulty, no apprehension of popularity, no fear of toil or
labour, that shall prevent me from using every exertion which remains in
my power to accomplish the work that is now before us, and on which I am
persuaded depend the internal tranquillity of Ireland, the interest of
the British empire at large, and I hope I may add, the happiness of a
great part of the habitable world.” The address in answer to the Royal
message was carried without a division.

[Sidenote: 1800.
           Mr. Pitt’s speech on submitting resolutions for the Union.]

On the 31st of January following, Mr. Pitt submitted to the house of
commons certain resolutions declaratory of the principles on which it
was proposed to establish the union between the two countries, and
explained most fully the various circumstances connected with the
measure. It was not merely in a general view, he said, that the question
ought to be considered—“We ought to look to it with a view peculiarly to
the permanent interest and security of Ireland. When that country was
threatened with the double danger of hostile attacks by enemies without,
and of treason within, from what quarter did she derive the means of her
deliverance?—From the naval force of Great Britain—from the voluntary
exertions of her military of every description, not called for by
law—and from her pecuniary resources—added to the loyalty and energy of
the inhabitants of Ireland itself, of which it is impossible to speak
with too much praise, and which shows how well they deserve to be called
the brethren of Britons.” Great Britain has, he observed, always felt a
common interest in the safety of Ireland; “but the common interest was
never so obvious and urgent as when the common enemy made her attack
upon Great Britain through the medium of Ireland, and when their attack
upon Ireland went to deprive her of her connexion with Great Britain,
and to substitute in its stead the new government of the French
Republic. When that danger threatened Ireland, the purse of Great
Britain was as open for the wants of Ireland as for the necessities of

Among the great defects of Ireland, Mr. Pitt remarked, “one of the most
prominent is its want of industry and capital—How are those wants to be
supplied, but by blending more closely with Ireland the industry and the
capital of this country?”—The advantages which Ireland will derive from
the proposed arrangement are, he said, “the protection she will secure
to herself in the hour of danger, the most effectual means of increasing
her commerce and improving her agriculture, the command of English
capital, the infusion of English manners and English industry
necessarily tending to ameliorate her condition, to accelerate the
progress of internal civilization, and to terminate the feuds and
dissensions which now distract the country, and which she does not
possess within herself the power either to control or to extinguish.”
And he added, “while I state thus strongly the commercial advantages to
the sister kingdom, I have no alarm lest I should excite any sentiment
of jealousy here. I know that the inhabitants of Great Britain wish well
to the prosperity of Ireland; that if the kingdoms are really and
solidly united, they feel that to increase the commercial wealth of one
country, is not to diminish that of the other, but to increase the
strength and power of both.” He then cited the example of the union with
Scotland—“a union as much opposed, and by much the same arguments
prejudices and misconceptions, as are urged at this moment; creating too
the same alarms, and provoking the same outrages as have lately taken
place in Dublin.” Yet the population of Edinburgh is said to have nearly
doubled since the Union, a new city being added to the old; whilst the
population of Glasgow since the Union, has increased in the proportion
of between five and six to one. The division in favour of the measure
was 140 to 15.

On the 2nd of April 1800 Mr. Pitt presented a message from the king,
expressing his Majesty’s satisfaction at being enabled to communicate to
the house, the joint address of the lords and commons of Ireland,
containing the terms proposed by them for an entire union between the
two kingdoms; and he earnestly recommends the house to take all such
further steps as may best tend to the speedy and complete execution of a
work so happily begun, and so interesting to the security and happiness
of his subjects, and to the general strength and prosperity of the
British empire. The session terminated on the 29th of July, when the
king in his speech from the throne congratulated both houses on the
success of the steps taken for effecting the union of Great Britain and
Ireland, emphatically adding—“This great measure on which my wishes have
been long earnestly bent, I shall ever consider as the happiest event of
my reign, being persuaded that nothing could so effectually contribute
to extend to my Irish subjects, the full participation of the blessings
derived from the British constitution, and to establish on the most
solid foundation the strength prosperity and power of the whole



  See British Statute _39th and 40th Geo. 3rd, c. 67_, and Irish Statute
  _40th Geo. 3rd, c. 38_.


It would seem impossible, having regard to the circumstances of the
times, to doubt the necessity for such a union as was thus established,
and perhaps equally impossible to doubt or over-estimate the benefits it
was calculated to confer. But as in the case of Scotland a century
previous, the Union was now denounced as an act of injustice and
degradation to Ireland, although it is difficult to see how the
combining of the two countries under one united government and common
designation, thus adding to the security and general importance of both,
could be an injustice or degradation to either. The author is able to
remember the circumstances of that period, the alarms, the forebodings
of evil, the fervid declamations of popular patriots, who regardless of
the benefits that would ensue to their country, could only be induced to
acquiesce in the measure by some immediate benefit accruing to
themselves. The Union has indeed continued down even to the present day,
to be declaimed against as a grievance by certain parties in Ireland,
whenever for factious or sectarian objects it suited their purpose to do
so; and the blending and amalgamation of the two peoples which was hoped
for, and which was foretold and relied upon as a certain consequence of
the Union by its great promoter, has therefore been less entire than it
otherwise would have been. Notwithstanding this drawback however, the
material resources of Ireland have vastly increased, and its general
condition been in all respects greatly improved, since it has by the
Union become an integral portion of the British empire.

[Sidenote: 1801.
           First parliament of “The United Kingdom of Great
           Britain and Ireland.”]

The first parliament of “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland,” assembled on the 22nd of January 1801, when the king, in his
opening speech, declared his confidence “that their deliberations will
be uniformly directed to the great object of improving the benefits of
that happy union, which by the blessing of Providence, has now been
effected, and of promoting to the utmost the prosperity of every part of
his dominions.”

There were certain Acts passed subsequent to the Union which it will be
requisite to notice, as they exhibit the views of the now united
parliament in regard to Ireland and the relief of the Irish poor, and
form also a necessary introduction to the more important measure which
followed in 1838.

[Sidenote: 1801.
           41 Geo. III. cap. 73.]

The first of these Acts is _The 41st George 3rd, cap. 73_, which directs
the application of certain sums of money granted by parliament to the
Dublin Society and the farming societies in Ireland—namely any sum not
exceeding 4,500_l._ Irish currency to the Dublin Society, to be applied
towards completing their repository in Hawkins Street, and the botanic
garden at Glassnevin; and any sum not exceeding 2,000_l._ Irish
currency, to be applied in promoting the purposes of the farming
societies in Ireland for the current year. The Irish Society is an
institution founded for the purpose of promoting improvements generally,
and the farming societies are exceedingly valuable as promoting
agricultural improvements in particular. The imperial parliament could
hardly therefore have better shown its desire for the improvement of
Ireland, than by thus so immediately after it assembled giving its aid
and high sanction to these two societies.

[Sidenote: 1805.
           45 Geo. III. cap. 111. Dispensaries.]

After referring to the Irish Acts which provide for the establishment of
infirmaries and hospitals, _The 45th Geo. 3rd, cap. 111_, recites—“and
whereas the distance of many parts of each county from the infirmary
therein established, does not allow the poor of those parts the
advantages of immediate medical aid and advice which such infirmary was
proposed to afford”—it is then enacted, that in all cases where the
governors of the county infirmary shall certify to the grand jury of the
county, that they have actually received from private subscription or
donation any sum since the preceding assize, for the purpose of
establishing in any place a dispensary for furnishing medicine, and
giving medical aid and relief to the poor therein—the grand jury are
empowered to raise from the county at large a sum equal in amount to the
sum or sums so received, to be applied by the said governors, together
with the moneys so received, in providing medicines and medical or
surgical aid and advice for the poor of such place and its
neighbourhood, in such manner as the said governors shall deem most
advisable. Every person subscribing not less than one guinea towards the
establishment or maintenance of any local dispensary, or towards the
county hospital or infirmary, is entitled to be a member of the body
corporate thereof, “so far as relates to the management of and direction
of such local dispensary.” The dispensaries are perhaps the most
extensively useful of all the medical institutions in Ireland, and this
Act providing for their establishment, cannot therefore fail of being
considered as of great importance, more especially as regards the rural
population residing at a distance from towns, and who are consequently
deprived of access to hospitals or infirmaries.

[Sidenote: 1806.
           46 Geo. III. cap. 95. Hospitals and infirmaries.]

The _46th Geo. 3rd, cap. 95_, is entitled—‘An Act for the more
effectually regulating and providing for the Relief of the Poor and the
Management of Infirmaries and Hospitals.’ It refers to the _11th and
12th Geo. 3rd, cap. 30_, of the Irish parliament,[29] and directs—that
in case it shall be made to appear to the satisfaction of the judge at
the summer assize in any county, that the corporation instituted under
that Act is properly conducted, and that on comparison of the expense
incurred in the former year, it is expedient that a greater sum should
be presented and levied, or that it is expedient to provide for the
expense of building the house of industry—the grand jury in the county
of a city or town may present and levy a sum not less in the whole than
400_l._, nor more than 500_l._, and in any county at large a sum not
less than 500_l._, nor more than 700_l._, to be applied to the purposes
directed by the said Act. The limits of such presentments are thus we
see greatly enlarged from what was prescribed by the Act of 1772; but
the entire amount permitted to be raised by assessment is still small,
showing that voluntary contribution was still chiefly relied upon. All
infirmaries and hospitals are moreover now required to make out returns
annually, showing in detail the amount of their funds and their
expenditure, and the lord lieutenant may order an examination of their
state and condition. By an Act in the following year another sum of
100_l._ was allowed to be presented for a fever hospital, “whenever one
had been established.”



  Ante, p. 51.


[Sidenote: 1809.
           49 Geo. III. cap. 101.
           Irish bogs.]

‘An Act to appoint Commissioners for two years, to examine into the
nature and extent of the several Bogs in Ireland &c.,’ was passed in
1809, commencing with this recital—“whereas there are large tracts of
undrained bog in Ireland, the draining whereof is necessary for their
being brought into a state of tillage; and whereas the adding their
contents to the lands already under cultivation, would not only increase
the agriculture of Ireland, but is highly expedient towards promoting a
secure supply of flax and hemp within the United Kingdom for the use of
the navy, and support of the linen manufacture”—it is therefore enacted
that the lord lieutenant may appoint not exceeding nine persons, to be
commissioners for ascertaining the extent of such bogs as exceed 500
acres, and for inquiring into the practicability and best modes of
draining the same, and the expense of so doing,—also as to the depth of
bog soil, the nature of the strata underneath, the nature and distance
of the manure best fitted for their improvement &c.—“together with the
opinion of the said commissioners as to such measures as they shall deem
necessary or expedient for carrying into speedy effect the drainage
cultivation and improvement of all such bogs, and the future increase of
timber in Ireland, by providing for the plantation and preservation of
trees in such parts thereof as shall be best fitted for the purpose;”
and it is further enacted that the commissioners shall act without a

This inquiry could hardly fail to prove useful, by directing attention
to a subject of very great importance, both in a general and a local
point of view: but in this, as in most other instances, the result fell
short of what was anticipated. The appointing of such a commission
however, evidenced a strong desire on the part of the imperial
legislature for the amelioration of Ireland. The term of the commission
was afterwards extended for another two years by the _51st George 3rd,
cap. 122_; and four elaborate Reports, the 1st in June 1810, and the
last in April 1814, accompanied by a large mass of evidence on all
matters connected with the subject, are proofs of the commissioners’
zeal and industry in discharging the duties assigned them. The subject
was moreover again reported upon by a special committee in 1819, and
valuable evidence was taken in reference to it, in connexion with the
employment of the poor.

[Sidenote: 1814-18.
           54 Geo. III. cap. 112, and 58 Geo. III. cap. 47.
           Fever hospitals.]

The _54th George 3rd, cap. 112_—provides—“that whenever any fever
hospital has been or shall be established in any county, or county of a
city or town, it shall be lawful for the grand jury at the spring or
summer assize to present such sum or sums of money, not exceeding
250_l._, as shall appear to be necessary for the support of such fever
hospital, to be raised off the county at large, or the county of a city
or town as the case may be;” and four years afterwards another Act on
the same subject was passed (_The 58th George 3rd, cap. 47_)
entitled—‘An Act to establish Fever Hospitals, and make other
regulations for relief of the suffering Poor, and for preventing the
increase of Fevers in Ireland,’ commencing with this preamble—“Whereas
fevers of an infectious nature have for some time past greatly prevailed
among the poor in several parts of Ireland, whereby the health of the
whole country has been endangered, and it is expedient that hospitals
should be established for the relief of the sufferers in such cases, and
that regulations should be made to prevent, as effectually as possible,
the increase of infection; and such good purposes are most likely to be
promoted by creating corporations in every county at large, and every
county of a city or town”—it is therefore enacted that such corporations
shall be created accordingly, to consist in counties of the bishop or
archbishop of the diocess, the representatives in parliament, and the
justices of peace for the county; and in the county of a city or town,
to consist of the chief magistrate, sheriffs, recorder, representatives
in parliament, and justices of peace, all for the time being, and also
donors of not less than 20_l._, or contributors of one guinea
annually—which corporation is to be called “The President and Assistants
of the Fever Hospital of ——,” and is to have perpetual succession &c.,
and to hold meetings and make by-laws &c., and purchase and hold lands
not exceeding 500_l._ yearly value, as they shall think fit.

The corporations are required to build or hire houses for hospitals for
relief of the poor who are ill of fever, in the several counties or
counties of cities or towns, “as soon as they shall be possessed of
funds sufficient for this purpose, as plain, as durable, and at as
moderate expense as may be.” The hospitals are to be divided into two
parts, one for poor helpless men, the other for poor helpless women, and
the corporations are to appoint masters, physicians, surgeons,
apothecaries, nurses, and other fit persons and servants to govern and
take care of such hospitals and the patients therein. Grand juries are
empowered to present sums, not exceeding double the amount of private
donations and subscriptions to fever hospitals, whether the same be
attached to any dispensary or not, and they may also present in like
proportion for local dispensaries; and whenever such presentments are
certified by the clerk of the crown, the lord lieutenant may order an
advance of money from the consolidated fund; and on the appearance of
fever in any town or district, he may also appoint a board of health,
with powers “to direct that all streets, lanes and courts, and all
houses and all rooms therein, and all yards gardens or places belonging
to such houses, shall be cleansed and purified, and that all nuisances
prejudicial to health shall be removed therefrom.”

[Sidenote: 1819.
           59 Geo. III. cap. 41.
           Officers of health to be appointed.]

The powers of this Act were extended in the following year by _The 59th
George 3rd, cap. 41_, which declares that—“it has become highly
expedient to provide for and secure constant attention to the health and
comforts of the inhabitants of Ireland,” and authorizes the appointment
of officers of health to carry the sanitary measures specified above
into effect. The increase of fever indicated by the passing of these
Acts, would seem to have been very marked about this time, and may
possibly have been in part owing to the rapid increase of the
population, and the consequent overcrowding in the dwellings of the
poorer classes. The practice of subdividing their land among all the
members of a family, may also have had some share in causing fevers, by
reducing the means and lowering the general standard of living, as well
in their dwellings as in their food clothing and ordinary mode of

[Sidenote: 1817.
           57 Geo. III. cap. 106.
           Lunatic asylums.]

_The 57th George 3rd, cap. 106_, commences by declaring it to be
“expedient, that the distressed state of the lunatic poor in Ireland
should be provided for;” and it empowers the lord lieutenant to direct,
that any number of asylums for the lunatic poor shall be established in
such districts as he shall deem expedient; “and that every such district
shall consist of the whole of two or more counties, or of one or more
county or counties, and one or more county or counties of cities or
towns, but shall not include part only of any county, or county of a
city or town;” and that all lunatic poor within any such district
respectively, shall be maintained and taken care of in the asylum
belonging thereto; and that every such asylum shall be sufficient to
contain such number of lunatic poor, not being less than 100, nor more
than 150 in any one asylum, as shall seem expedient to the lord
lieutenant. The grand juries respectively are to present such sum or
sums of money as shall be requisite for defraying the expenses of
erecting and establishing such asylums, and for maintaining the same, to
such amount and in such proportion as shall be directed by the lord
lieutenant; who is further empowered to appoint such persons as he shall
think fit, to be governors and directors of every such asylum, and also
to nominate any persons not exceeding eight to be commissioners for
superintending directing and regulating such asylums—“provided that all
such governors directors and commissioners shall act without salary fee
reward or emolument whatsoever.”

The necessity for attending to the state of the poor generally,
including the lunatic and insane poor, seems now to have been strongly
felt, and this feeling naturally led to the passing of the present Act.
Lunacy is said to be more prevalent in Ireland, than it is either in
England or Scotland, whilst the poverty of the people caused it to be
there, if possible, a greater affliction than elsewhere, and rendered
greater care necessary for the protection of its hapless victims.

[Sidenote: 1822.
           3 George IV. caps. 3 and 84.
           Distress and extension of relief.]

The year 1822 was a period of much distress in Ireland, and on the 24th
of May _The 3rd George 4th, cap. 3_, entitled ‘An Act for the employment
of the Poor’ was passed, empowering the lord lieutenant in certain cases
to order advances to be made from the public treasury, in anticipation
of but not exceeding the amount of grand-jury presentments actually
made. This does not however appear to have been sufficient to meet the
emergency, and on the 26th of July _The 3rd George 4th, cap. 84_, was
passed, the preamble declaring that—“Whereas by reason of the distress
that exists in many parts of Ireland, it is in many counties thereof
impossible without great severity and great mischief to the country to
levy and raise the sums heretofore presented by the grand juries of such
counties, and which ought by law to be levied and raised on or within
the said counties respectively; and whereas the roads and works and
other objects and purposes for which many of the said sums have been
presented, cannot be delayed without great injury to the persons
interested therein, and the commencement of such works, by employing the
poor, must tend to alleviate the existing distress”—it is therefore
enacted that certain advances which had been provisionally made by the
lord lieutenant should be confirmed, and that he may further order
advances for public works to be applied according to such directions as
he shall give in connexion therewith; and the respective grand juries on
being certified of the sums so advanced, are to present the same, to be
raised by not less than four nor more than twelve half-yearly
instalments, according to the state of the country. Such advances are
therefore loans at longer or shorter periods, for road-making or other
public works, as a means of relieving the distress of the people, there
being then no other source whence relief could be derived.

[Sidenote: 1825.
           6 George IV. cap. 102.
           Deserted children.]

In 1825 an Act was passed ‘to amend the Laws respecting Deserted
Children in Ireland.’ After referring to previous Acts, which provide
that the sum of 5_l._ sterling shall be leviable on any parish for the
support of each deserted child found therein, it proceeds—“and whereas
the sum of 5_l._ is now required to be paid previous to the reception of
any such deserted child into the General Foundling Hospital of Dublin,
transmitted from any such parish; and whereas no fund at present exists
either to pay the expense of maintaining such deserted children in the
parishes wherein found, or of transmitting them to the city of
Dublin”—It is therefore enacted that it shall henceforward be lawful
“for the several parishes in Ireland to raise and levy such additional
sum as may be necessary for maintaining such deserted children as shall
be found therein, until such children shall be admitted into the
foundling hospital aforesaid, and for transmitting such children
thither.” But it is further provided that no greater sum than fifty
shillings shall be raised in any one year for the support of any such
deserted child, or for its transmission to the foundling hospital in
Dublin. The city and liberties of Cork are exempted from the provisions
of the Act, which is limited to two years. It will not fail to be
observed that this Act gives a legislative sanction to the rating of a
parish for the relief of a destitute class “found therein,” and so far
may be said to amount to a species of poor-law.

The foregoing are the only Acts requiring to be noticed, between the
period of the Union and the passing of the Irish Poor Relief Act in
1838. They show the feeling of the legislature with regard to the state
of Ireland, and seem to point to further measures as being necessary for
amending its social defects. But in the interval there were moreover
several commissions appointed by the crown, and several committees of
parliament, whose reports contain much valuable information as to the
state of the country and the condition of the people at the respective
periods; and some of the more prominent of these we will now proceed to

[Sidenote: 1804.
           Report of committee of house of commons
           respecting the poor in Ireland.]

In 1804 a Report was made to the house of commons by a committee which
had been specially appointed to make inquiry “respecting the Poor in
Ireland.” The committee, after considering the several statutes, and
examining such evidence as was laid before them, came to the
resolution—“that the adoption of a general system of provision for the
poor of Ireland, by way of parish rate, as in England, or in any similar
manner, would be highly injurious to the country, and would not produce
any real or permanent advantage, even to the lower class of people who
must be the objects of such support.” The committee further resolved,
“that the Acts directing the establishment of a house of industry in
every county and county of a city or town, have not been complied with,
nor any presentment made by grand juries to assist in the support of
such establishments for relief of the aged and infirm poor, and the
punishment of vagrants and sturdy beggars, except in the counties of
Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and Clare, and in the cities of Cork,
Waterford, and Limerick.” But the committee remark, that the house of
industry in Dublin is open to the admission of the poor from all parts
of Ireland, which may have induced the other counties and cities to
consider it sufficient, “and precluded the necessity of their making
further provision for the poor.” The futility of this excuse must be
sufficiently apparent, and coupled with the resolution against any
systematic provision for the relief of the poor “by way of parish rate,”
shows the kind of feeling which prevailed at the time in parliament on
the subject. It appeared to the committee however, that the Acts
directing the establishment of infirmaries or county hospitals, and
granting a certain allowance from the Treasury for the salary to the
surgeon or physician attending thereon, “have been carried into effect
in almost all the counties;” whilst the provisions of the _57th George
3rd_[30] “empowering grand juries to present the sums necessary for
support of a ward for idiots and insane persons have not been complied
with; and the committee consider that there is a great want of
accommodation for idiotic and lunatic persons, and recommend the
establishment of an asylum in each of the four provinces, to be erected
and maintained either by grand-jury presentment or otherwise as may
thereafter be determined.” The very important objects which had been
referred to the committee require however, they say, more deliberation
than the advanced period of the session permitted, and they therefore
recommend that the investigation should be resumed in the ensuing
session; but it does not appear that this was done, although the Acts
passed in the two following years with regard to dispensaries
infirmaries and hospitals, may very possibly have had their origin in
the inquiries instituted by this committee.



  Ante, p. 79.


[Sidenote: Dublin house of industry.]

The notice taken of the Dublin house of industry in the above Report, as
well as the real importance of the institution, renders some account of
it here necessary. The house of industry was established in 1772, by the
_11th and 12th George 3rd, cap. 11_,[31] under the provisions of which
Act it was separated from the foundling hospital, of which it had before
formed a part; and was thenceforward applied to the maintenance of such
helpless men and helpless women as from age and infirmity were deemed
fitting objects for admission, for the confinement of men who were
committed as vagabonds or sturdy beggars, and for the punishment of such
idle strolling and disorderly women as the magistrates might commit
thither. Considerable additions were made to the building, and after a
time some changes and modifications took place in the management, which
ultimately led to the house of industry being used for the reception of
poor aged and infirm men and women, idiots and incurable lunatics
removed from the Richmond Lunatic Asylum, the sick poor and persons
labouring under acute chronic and surgical complaints, for whom
appropriate hospitals had been provided, and lastly strolling beggars
thither committed by the magistrates of police. From the year 1773 to
1776 inclusive, the house of industry was supported by subscriptions,
donations, and charity sermons, and afterwards by annual parliamentary
grants, voluntary contributions, the profits (so called) arising from
the labour of the poor, and a small sum of interest accruing on certain
legacies. The voluntary contributions became less after aid was obtained
from parliament, and as might be expected, soon ceased altogether. In
1776 the parliamentary grant to the institution was 3,000_l._—In 1786 it
was 8,600_l._—In 1796 it was 14,500_l._—In 1806 it was 22,177_l._—In
1814 it was 49,113_l._—In 1820 it was 26,474_l._, and in 1827 it was
23,000_l._[32] At first the house of industry was managed and governed
by the corporation for the relief of the poor in the county of the city
of Dublin, under the provisions of the Act of 1772—afterwards by seven
persons balloted for and appointed “acting governors of the house of
industry,” in conformity with the _39th George 3rd, cap. 38_. In 1800
the number of governors was reduced to five, and in 1820 the management
was vested in a single governor, with a salary of 500_l._ a year. The
number of admissions in 1803 was 4,468, and the average number in the
house was 1,313. In 1807 the admissions were 5,900, and the average
number in the house was 1862. In this latter year 271 of the admissions
were by committal.



  Ante, p. 45.


  The grants were made annually, and these years are selected as
  indicating the average amount. The whole is abstracted from a return
  made to parliament in 1828, and from Warburton Whitlaw and Walsh’s
  History of Dublin, published in 1818.


[Sidenote: Dublin Foundling Hospital.]

The foundling hospital originally formed part of the house of industry,
the joint establishments being founded in 1704 under _the 2nd Anne, cap.
19_.[33] They remained so united until 1772, when the objects of the two
institutions being deemed incompatible, they were as before stated
placed under separate and distinct government by _the 11th and 12th
George 3rd, cap. 11_.[33] The object of the institution is thenceforward
said to be “the preservation of the lives of deserted or exposed
infants, by their indiscriminate admission from all parts of
Ireland;[34] putting them out to nurse in the country until they are of
a proper age to be drafted into the hospital, and educating them there
in such manner as to qualify them for being apprenticed to trades, or as
servants, and thus rendering them useful members of society.”[35] Down
to 1823 the institution was supported partly by a house-tax levied on
the citizens of Dublin and its liberties and suburbs, amounting to
between 7,000_l._ and 8,000_l._ annually, and partly by parliamentary
grants, and the rent of a small property of 115_l._ per annum: but the
citizens of Dublin were then relieved from the house-tax, and the sum of
5_l._ was required to be paid with every child on its admission to the
hospital, by the overseers or the minister and churchwardens of the
parish whence the infant was sent, no child being admissible whose age
exceeded twelve months. The aggregate of these latter payments amounted
to about 2,000_l._ annually, and the annual grants by parliament varied
from 21,554_l._ in 1800, to 34,000_l._ in 1828. The number of admissions
was 2,041 in 1800, 2,168 in 1806, and 2,359 in 1811, at which time the
number of children remaining on the books of the institution was 6,498.



  Ante, pp. 35 and 45.


  “Every child presented at the gate, or placed in the cradle, was
  immediately received, and taken to the infant nursery by a person
  appointed for that purpose.” See Warburton Whitlaw and Walsh’s History
  of Dublin.


  See Parliamentary Return No. 2, ordered to be printed 21st March 1828.


[Sidenote: 1819.
           Report on the state of disease, and the condition of the
           labouring poor in Ireland.]

In 1819 a select committee of the commons of which Sir John Newport was
the chairman, was appointed to inquire into the state of disease, and
also into the condition of the labouring poor in Ireland; and a Report
on each of these subjects was presented to the house in course of the
session, of which Reports the following is an abstract.

[Sidenote: On the prevalence of fever.]

With regard to the first point, although it is said not to be “the most
essential or most difficult object of their investigation,” the
committee consider the prevalence of contagious fever in Ireland a
calamitous indication of general distress; and in order “to prevent the
migration through the country of numerous bodies of mendicant poor, who
pressed by want and seeking for relief, have fatally contributed to the
general diffusion of disease,” they recommend that magistrates,
churchwardens, or other appointed officers “be empowered to remove out
of their respective parishes any persons found begging or wandering as
vagabonds therein, or to confine such persons to hard labour for
twenty-four hours in any bridewell or other public place of confinement,
or to adopt both measures as the case may require; and also to cause the
persons and clothes of such vagabond beggars to be washed and cleansed
during the period of such confinement.” The committee consider that the
Act of last session (_58th George 3rd, cap. 47_)[36] “enacted under
circumstances of severe and calamitous visitation,” has on the whole
been productive of good, and they think it of infinite moment that there
should be a systematic local control established in all cities and great
towns for the removal of nuisances which generate and increase disease;
for which purpose they recommend that officers of health should be
annually elected by the householders in places containing above 1,000
inhabitants, with power to direct the cleansing of streets &c., the
removal of nuisances, the ventilation of houses, and the doing of all
things necessary for the health and preservation of the inhabitants; and
also that such country parishes as think proper may do the same, and
that the expenses incurred in performance of these duties should be
levied as a parish rate, and the expenditure accounted for as in the
case of other parochial assessments.



  Ante, p. 76.


The committee then express their intention of proceeding, “in further
execution of their duty,” to inquire into the practicability of
ameliorating the condition of the labouring poor, “by facilitating the
application of the funds of private individuals and associations for
their employment in useful and productive labour,” by which alone the
entire and permanent removal of the malady can be expected, although it
is, they say, much mitigated in its severity, and more circumscribed in
its extent than heretofore. The disease still however, it is observed,
continues to press heavily on the community, and by “the united
testimonies of every competent inquirer is attributed to the want of
employment of the labouring classes, as a primary and powerfully
efficient cause.”

[Sidenote: 1819.
           On the condition of the labouring poor.]

On the second head of inquiry, the condition, or in other words, the
employment of the labouring poor, the committee “find themselves in a
great measure controlled by the unquestionable principle that
legislative interference in the operations of human industry is as much
as possible to be avoided.” There are however, they say, certain
exceptions to such a rule, either when injurious impediments are to be
removed, or where any branch of industry cannot at its commencement be
carried on by individual exertion, on which occasions, it is considered,
parliament may with advantage interpose its aid. The existence of
general distress and the deficiency of employment were so notorious,
that the committee deemed it unnecessary to encumber their Report with
evidence on the subject. Their inquiries were particularly directed to
agriculture and the fisheries, as being the two most important
departments of labour, and as “those likewise to which the greatest
extension may be given without hazarding reaction.” They refer to the
Report of the Commissioners on the Bogs of Ireland, which they consider
“prove the immense amount of land easily reclaimable, and convertible to
the production of grain almost without limit for exportation”—whilst,
“the small extent to which the commissioners’ recommendations have been
acted upon, demonstrates lamentably that want of capital which in
Ireland unnerves all effort for improvement.” The institution of
commissioners of sewers, as in England, is then recommended, as is also
the draining of the great bogs and marshes, and the making a legal
provision for repayment of the necessary outlay. The formation of roads
in the mountainous districts is likewise recommended, those districts
not having, it is said, “their due share of the benefits of the
grand-jury system.”

The want of capital the committee consider is attributable to a variety
of causes. Capital, they justly remark, “can accumulate only out of the
savings of individuals; and in Ireland there are few persons who conduct
their operations on such a scale, as to admit of much surplus for
accumulation.” The manufacture which flourishes most is the linen-trade,
and this is said to be “spread abroad amongst a population which at the
same time cultivates the soil for their sustenance,” a state of things
incompatible with large savings. Whilst in agriculture, the tendency to
the subdivision of farms, and the practice of throwing the expense of
buildings and repairs on the tenants, prevent the accumulation of profit
in the hands of the farmers, and its application to agricultural
improvements. There are, it is said, two millions of acres of bog in
Ireland, capable when reclaimed of growing corn; and the mountain
districts comprise a million and half of acres at present nearly
unproductive, but about one-half of which is suitable for agriculture,
and the remainder for pasturage and planting. The reclamation and
improvement of these bogs and mountain districts would, the committee
observe, afford profitable employment to the people, and greatly
increase the productive powers of the country; but for this capital is
necessary, and in Ireland the capital is not to be found.

With regard to the fisheries, it is declared that “in whatever view they
can be considered, whether as a source of national wealth, as a means of
employing an overflowing population, or as a nursery of the best
seamen,” they are of the utmost importance; and the revision and
simplification of the fishery laws, and the direct application of
encouragement to the fishermen of the coast, whose actual condition is
said to be miserable, the committee consider essential to any successful
fishery in Ireland. The northern, western, and southern coasts, are said
to afford every advantage for a bay or coast fishery, and to be
admirably suited for a deep-sea cod-fishery of great importance; and
after noticing what had been done in Scotland, where an improved system
of fishery laws, and parliamentary encouragement wisely applied, had
been eminently successful, the committee earnestly recommend “on every
ground of policy as well as justice,” that the precedent of Scotland
should be applied to Ireland. The circumstances of the two countries are
declared to be remarkably similar, “both being mountainous and
uncultivated, and abounding with an unemployed population.”

On this last point, the committee remark—“It is almost impossible in
theory to estimate the mischiefs attendant on a redundant, a growing and
unemployed population, converting that which ought to be the strength
into the peril of the state.” It is obvious, they say, that the tendency
of such a population to general misery, and the boundless multiplication
of human beings satisfied with the lowest condition of existence, must
be rapid in proportion to the facility of procuring human sustenance;
and it is declared—“that such a population, excessive in proportion to
the market for labour, exists and is growing in Ireland, a fact that
demands the most serious attention of the legislature, and makes it not
merely a matter of humanity, but of state policy, to give every
reasonable encouragement to industry in that quarter of the empire.” The
non-residence of a great portion of the proprietors, and their spending
their incomes in England, is then adverted to, as being a circumstance
which “enhances the claim of Ireland on the generous consideration of

No one better knew the state of Ireland than the chairman of this
committee, the substance of whose Report is here given. We may therefore
rely upon the correctness of the statement, that there was then, twenty
years after the Union, a redundant, an increasing, and unemployed
population in Ireland, subsisting on food obtained with peculiar
facility, (the potato) and consequently “leading to the boundless
multiplication of human beings satisfied with the lowest condition of
existence.” Yet the land was fertile, the sea-coasts abounded in fish,
and the bogs and mountain districts solicited improvement. It will
probably be said that there must be something wrong in the character,
habits, or social position of a people, where such circumstances
existed. The Report points to want of capital, and the non-residence of
proprietors, as being the cause or causes of what was wrong; and no
doubt both circumstances may have been influential in the matter. But
capital we are told is the accumulation of savings, which are the fruits
of industry, which again is nourished and supported by its own progeny;
so that a want of industry may have lain at the root of the evil as
regards the mass of the population, whilst the proprietors through
absence, or want of sympathy with the other classes, probably failed in
their duty of originating and urging forward improvement. With the
proprietor class indeed, as with the others, the capital arising from
savings and applicable to objects of improvement, was of slender amount;
and the committee appear to rely more upon “the generous consideration
of parliament,” than upon native energy or resource, for supplying the
deficiencies and remedying the evils of which they complain.

[Sidenote: 1823.
           Report on the condition of the labouring poor.]

In 1823 another select committee[37] was appointed “to inquire into the
condition of the labouring poor in Ireland, with a view to facilitate
the application of the funds of private individuals and associations for
their employment in useful and productive labour.” The committee made
their Report on the 16th of July, and after adverting to the course
pursued in the former inquiry of 1819, they state that during the last
year “a pressure of distress wholly unexampled was felt in Ireland,
which directed the attention of government, of parliament, and of the
British public, to the condition of the Irish peasantry, and led to the
appropriation of large sums voted by the legislature, and subscriptions
by individuals for the purpose of mitigating if not of averting, that
famine and disease which had extended to so alarming a degree in many
districts in Ireland.”[38]



  Mr. Spring Rice, now Lord Monteagle, was the chairman of this


  Ante, p. 80.


It appears that early in May of the preceding year, a public meeting was
held in the city of London to raise subscriptions for the relief of the
distress in Ireland, and a committee of gentlemen was appointed to
superintend the distribution of the money subscribed. Considerable
grants of public money were also made by parliament for the same
purpose. The committee state that the distressed districts comprised
one-half of the surface of Ireland, and there were grounds for believing
that considerably more than one-half of the entire population of these
districts depended upon charitable assistance for support. The sums
distributed through the city of London committee amounted to nearly
300,000_l._, which with the amount advanced by government furnished
means for continuing the relief until the month of August, when the
necessity for its further continuance seems to have ceased; and it is
satisfactory, the committee observe, to find that the most lively
feelings of gratitude have been excited by this benevolent
interposition, “which it is to be hoped will tend to unite the two parts
of the empire in the strong ties of sympathy and obligation.”

In the districts where the distress chiefly prevailed, the potato
constituted the principal food of the peasantry, and the potato crop had
failed; but there was no deficiency in the other crops, and the prices
of corn and oatmeal were moderate. Indeed the exports of grain from
ports within the distressed districts, was considerable during the
entire period of the distress: so that those districts, the committee
observe, “presented the remarkable example of possessing a surplus of
food, whilst the inhabitants were suffering from actual want.” The
calamity of 1822 may therefore be said to have proceeded less from want
of food in the country, than from the people’s want of the means to
purchase it, “or in other words, from their want of profitable
employment.” In some districts where the potato failed, but where the
population were engaged in the linen-trade, no individual so employed is
said to have had occasion for relief; and the committee come to the
conclusion that the late distress had chiefly arisen from the
circumstance that the peasantry depended for subsistence upon the food
raised by themselves. When the potato fails, they have not the means to
purchase other food, and the potato is not only uncertain as a crop but
it soon decays, so that the surplus of one year cannot be preserved to
supply the deficiency in another.

The agents of government, and of the London contributors, as well as the
local associations which had been formed, made a point on all occasions
as far as possible, of affording the necessary assistance in return for
labour; and the committee express their entire approbation of this
principle. “Relief purely gratuitous (they observe) can seldom in any
case be given without considerable risk and inconvenience; but in
Ireland, where it is more peculiarly important to discourage habits of
pauperism and indolence, and where it is the obvious policy to excite an
independent spirit of industry, and to induce the peasantry to rely upon
themselves and their own exertions for support, gratuitous relief can
never be given without leading to most mischievous consequences.” Any
system of relief, it is remarked, which leads the peasantry to depend
upon the interposition of others, rather than upon their own labour,
however benevolently it may be intended, cannot fail to repress the
spirit of independent exertion which is essentially necessary to the
improvement of the condition of the labouring classes.

The condition of the people in the districts to which the evidence
obtained by the committee chiefly applied, appears “to be wretched and
calamitous to the greatest degree.” A large portion of the peasantry in
those districts, are described as living in a state of the utmost
misery. Their cabins scarcely contain an article that can be called
furniture. In some families there are no such things as bedclothes, the
place of which is supplied by a little fern, and a quantity of straw
thrown over it, upon which they sleep in their working clothes. The
witnesses agreed in this description with regard to a large portion of
the peasantry, and they agreed also in attributing the existence of this
state of things to the want of employment. Yet the people are
represented as being willing to labour, and we are told that they quit
their homes at particular seasons in search of employment elsewhere,
whilst the inhabitants of the coasts bordering on the Atlantic, carry on
their backs the sand and seaweed many miles inland for the purpose of

The committee are of opinion that the rapid increase of the
population[39] is one immediate cause of the want of employment. The
demand for labour, they say, has not kept pace with the continually
increasing number of persons seeking employment. Another cause of the
want of employment, they consider, arises from the effect produced on
the gentry of the country by the fall of prices. The fixed payments to
which many of the landlords are subjected, whether in the shape of
head-rents or interest on incumbrances, bear a greater proportion to the
whole income than they did during the war, and consequently the balance
remaining in the hands of the resident gentry is diminished, a reduced
employment follows, labourers are discharged, and the distress of the
higher class is thus visited upon the lower.



  See table, ante pp. 11 and 12.


The want of capital was however in most instances assigned as the
principal cause of the want of employment. This want was manifested in
the wretched description of implements commonly in use. The ploughs,
carts, harrows, were of the very rudest kind, and there appeared to be a
deficiency even of these. The same want of capital has, it is said, led
to the payment of wages, not in money, but by allowances in account, or
as a set-off against the landlord’s claims for rent, or presentments, or
some other object, which is not only a hardship to the labourer, but
tends to an increase of local burdens; and as it was “generally admitted
that if the wages of labour were paid in money, the labour would be more
cheaply purchased and more cheerfully and efficiently given,” the
committee express a hope “that a system of ready money payment may be
introduced, so far at least as the public works of the country are

The encouragement of the fisheries, the erection of piers, the formation
of harbours, and the opening of mountain roads, are all recommended, as
is also the instruction of the peasantry in agriculture, by combining
instruction in this branch, with the other instruction imparted in the
various educational establishments throughout the country. In
conclusion, the committee admit that danger attends all interferences
with industrial pursuits, which prosper best when left to their own
natural development; but they consider that the state of Ireland
constitutes it an exception to the general rule, and that the aid of
government in support of local effort is there absolutely necessary.

[Sidenote: 1830.
           Report of select committee on the state of the poorer
           classes in Ireland.]

At the end of seven years, another select committee of the commons was
appointed “to take into consideration the state of the poorer classes in
Ireland, and the best means of improving their condition,”[40] and their
very elaborate and comprehensive Report, (which was ordered to be
printed on the 16th of July,) will require to be especially considered.



  Mr. Spring Rice (now Lord Monteagle) was also the chairman of this


The committee commence their Report by declaring that they entertain a
deep sense of the difficulty and importance of the question referred to
them, and that they have felt it their duty to make most minute
inquiries into the actual state and condition of the Irish poor,
considered in all points of view, moral, political, physical and
economical, in order to enable the house to form a correct opinion on
the entire subject. The Report is arranged under three principal
heads—1st, the state and condition of the poorer classes—2ndly, the laws
which affect the poor, and the charitable institutions—3rdly, the
remedial measures suggested; and each of these is again subdivided into
several minor headings. It is not intended to adhere to these divisions
in the following summary, but to select such portions only as
immediately bear upon our subject, and as are calculated to show what
was then the general state of the country and the condition of the

[Sidenote: State of the country, and condition of the people.]

Regret is expressed by the committee at their being compelled to state
“that a very considerable portion of the population is considered to be
out of employment.” The number is, they say, estimated differently—by
some at one-fifth, by others at one-fourth; and this want of demand for
labour necessarily causes distress among the labouring classes, which
combined with the consequences of an altered system of managing land, is
said to produce “misery and suffering which no language can possibly
describe, and which it is necessary to witness in order fully to
estimate.” Yet the price of labour is not considered to have materially
fallen. By returns from the county treasurers, the rate of wages appears
to average 10_d._ per day on presentment works throughout Ireland, and
an extensive contractor thinks that there is a tendency in wages to
increase rather than otherwise, notwithstanding that the labourers can
now, he says, purchase for 6_s._, what would formerly have cost them
12_s._ These are seemingly contradictions, and there is much more of the
same kind of conflicting testimony given in the Report, which can only
be accounted for by the fact, that the several parts of Ireland differ
widely from each other, and that what is true in one case is not true in
another. This indeed appears to be the view taken by the committee, for
they say however consolatory the favourable testimony may be, it would
lead to a false inference were it to induce a disbelief in the existence
of very great distress and misery in Ireland. “The population and the
wealth of a country may (they observe) both increase, and increase
rapidly; but if the former proceeds in a greater ratio than the latter,
an increase of distress among the poor may be concurrent with an
augmentation of national wealth.” The state of the labouring classes
must, it is considered, mainly depend on the proportion existing between
the number of the people and the capital which can be profitably
employed in labour. Of the truth of these propositions, there can be no
reasonable doubt; neither can it well be doubted, that much of the
distress and misery which were seen in Ireland, was owing to a
disturbance of this proportion, the population having become greatly in
excess of the capital necessary for and applicable to profitable

The committee consider that it would be impossible to form a correct
estimate of the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland, without
first ascertaining the nature of the relations which existed between
landlord and tenant,—“the connexion between the inheritor and the
occupier of the soil being one which must influence if not control the
whole system of society.” Great attention is accordingly bestowed on
this part of the subject, and much evidence was taken in reference to

Under the excitement of war prices, it is observed, agriculture advanced
with extreme rapidity. The demand for labour increased, and the
population augmented in proportion. Land rose in value from year to
year, and lessees realised large profit rents by subletting, one or more
persons being frequently interposed between the owner and the occupier
who was ultimately liable for the rent, both to the head landlord and
the intermediate tenants. It became the practice in most cases, we are
told, for the occupying tenant either to sublet, or to divide the land
among the members of his family—in the former case a class of middlemen
was created, which operated as a bar to improvement, and led to the
paying or to the promise of paying higher rents—in the latter case the
practice of subdividing led to consequences perhaps still more
mischievous. When the farmer of 40 acres subdivided the land among his
children, those children were led to do the same among theirs, until the
farm of 40 acres was cut up into holdings of one two or three acres,
each holding occupied by its particular owner, and yielding no more than
was barely sufficient for his subsistence. “Now if the tenant of 40
acres had been prevented from subdividing his land, he would,” as is
observed by one of the witnesses,[41] “have provided for his children by
sending them one into the army, another into the navy, and then left his
holding to a third, and thus the farm would have been continued in its
first state.” The cultivation of the land so subdivided and cut up is
moreover always of the very worst description. The crops are uncertain,
the liabilities to scarcity greater, the cabins are most miserable, and
the visitations of fever are more frequent. The soil itself becomes
deteriorated by bad tillage, and not a bush nor a tree is left standing;
whilst the ease with which a cabin is reared, and the meal of potatoes
provided, induces early marriages, and the land teems with an excessive



  Dr. Doyle, the Roman catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, whose
  evidence is entitled to the utmost consideration on this and every
  other question connected with the state of Ireland.


The above is not an overdrawn description of the consequences of
subdividing land, but a change in management is said to have taken place
soon after the peace, when the decline in the price of agricultural
produce disabled many of the middlemen as well as the occupying tenants
from paying their rents, and created much anxiety and alarm in the minds
of the landlords. An apprehension was moreover, we are told, generally
felt that a pauper population would go on increasing, and the value of
the land at the same time go on diminishing, until the entire produce
would become insufficient to maintain the people. The proprietors sought
to devise a remedy for this state of things, so as to prevent the
occurrence of such an evil; and Dr. Doyle stated in his evidence, that
they did apply remedies, the principle of which he fully approved; but
he added “that he thought, and still thinks, that those remedies ought
to have been accompanied by some provision for the poor.”

The remedy or change in management here adverted to was the
consolidating of farms, which it is said would lead to better husbandry,
to a greater certainty of crop, to the providing farm-buildings and more
comfortable habitations, and to an increase in the quantity and
improvement in the quality of the produce. These are all important
considerations, and if the landlords and the tenants who continued in
possession were alone to be regarded, the change would appear an unmixed
good. But there is another class, the ejected tenants, whose condition,
it is said, necessarily becomes most deplorable. “It would be impossible
for language to convey an idea of the state of distress to which the
ejected tenantry have been reduced, or of the disease, misery, and even
vice, which they have propagated in the towns wherein they have settled;
so that not only they who have been ejected have been rendered
miserable, but they have carried with them and propagated that misery.”

Such is the testimony of Dr. Doyle on this point, and although the
committee express a hope that it may be regarded as descriptive of an
extreme case, they yet have no doubt “that in making the change, in
itself important and salutary, a most fearful extent of suffering must
have been produced.” The change was however, they say, unavoidable, and
delay would have increased and aggravated the evil which followed in its
train. Various suggestions were made with a view to carry the country
through the period of change, and the severe trials by which it must be
attended—“Emigration, the improvement of bogs and waste lands; the
embankment and drainage of marsh lands; the prosecution of public works
on a large scale; the education of the people not only in elementary
knowledge, but in habits of industry; the encouragement of manufactures;
the extension of the fisheries; and lastly, the introduction of a system
of poor-laws, either on the English or Scotch principles, or so modified
as to be adapted to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland,” were all
recommended, and on each of these questions, the committee say, valuable
evidence had been taken and would be submitted to the house.

[Sidenote: Vagrancy.]

On the subject of vagrancy, after referring to the old laws against it
which had fallen into desuetude, and which are recommended to be
repealed, the committee quote _the 6th Anne, cap. 11_,[42] under which
(as amended by the _9th George 2nd, cap. 6_) idle vagrants, or pretended
Irish gentlemen, who will not work &c., may on the presentment of a
grand jury be apprehended and transported for seven years. They likewise
quote _The 11th and 12th George 3rd, cap. 30_,[43] for establishing
houses of industry, and these statutes are said to be in full force. A
table is also given, showing that on an average of eight years the
number of commitments under the first-named statutes was 160 annually;
and the committee observe, that “although it is necessary to continue
penalties against vagrancy,” they “cannot but think that a more
constitutional and efficient system may be adopted, than one which
allows the penalty of transportation to be inflicted upon the mere
presentment of a grand jury, and this, not for an offence defined with
precision, but under contingencies extremely vague and uncertain.” In
the opinion thus expressed by the committee, every one must concur.



  Ante, p. 38.



  Ante, p. 51.


With regard to the county infirmaries, of which [Sidenote: County
infirmaries.]there were thirty-one,[44] the committee, after referring
to the several Acts under which they were established,[45] state that
during the last year relief had been given to 7,729 intern patients,
besides other medical assistance; and that the entire incomes amounted
to 54,693_l._, the whole derived from local subscriptions and grand-jury
presentments, excepting 3,000_l._ (Irish currency) furnished by
government. The committee recommend that the several statutes should be
consolidated, and that the grand juries should be enabled to provide
more than one infirmary in the larger counties, and that their
presenting powers should be extended in order to guard against
insufficiency in any case. An efficient audit of the accounts, and a
duly authenticated Report half-yearly of all particulars connected with
the hospitals, together with a regular inspection by the grand juries,
are likewise recommended; and with these alterations, the committee are
of opinion that “the county infirmaries of Ireland may be considered as
adequate to the purposes for which they were intended.” There does not
however, it is added, appear to be any reason for continuing the
government grant of 3,000_l._ Aid from the public purse should, it is
said, be reserved exclusively for loans and advances, “and for cases in
which local funds are inadequate to the immediate discharge of a
necessary duty.”



  There was an infirmary in every county excepting Waterford, where the
  peculiar provisions of a local Act had prevented one being erected.


  Namely 5th George 3rd, cap. 20; 45th George 3rd, cap. 111; and 47th
  George 3rd, cap. 50.


[Sidenote: Fever hospitals and dispensaries.]

The subject of fever and fever hospitals is next adverted to by the
committee. “From the occasional failure of the potato crop, and the
misery which then invariably ensues, the poor of Ireland are (it is
said) peculiarly liable to fever, which has at various times spread with
such violence, and to such an extent, as to require extraordinary aid,
not only from private charity and local assessment, but from the public
purse.” Dublin had suffered most severely from this calamity, upwards of
60,000 persons having in one year passed through the fever hospitals of
that city. In 1817 fever extensively prevailed in Ireland, and a board
of health was constituted whose Report to government showed “that on a
moderate calculation a million and a half of persons suffered from
fever, of which number at least 65,000 had died.” By _the 58th George
3rd, cap. 47_,[46] additional facilities were given for establishing
fever hospitals, and provision was made for the appointment of local
boards of health. By _the 59th George 3rd, cap. 41_, effect was given to
the recommendations of the select committee of 1819,[47] and under these
statutes fever hospitals have been established in most parts of Ireland.
No county is said to be without one in Munster, and the county of Cork
has four, and Tipperary eight; but many counties in the provinces of
Ulster and Connaught have omitted to provide fever hospitals, and the
committee consider that if the grand juries persist in such omission,
the providing of them should be made compulsory. With respect to
dispensaries for the medical relief of the sick poor, these were
sanctioned by _the 45th George 3rd, cap. 111_,[48] under which Act
nearly 400 are said to have been established, “affording relief annually
to upwards of half a million of persons.” But some doubts appear to have
arisen as to whether the presentments for their support were optional or
otherwise, and the committee recommend that such doubts should be
removed by making the presentment imperative, as was apparently the
intention of the framers of the statute; and for security against abuse,
it is also recommended that a Report of all matters connected with the
dispensary, should in each case be annually submitted to the grand jury
making the presentment.



  Ante, p. 77.


  Ante, pp. 78 and 86.


  Ante, p. 73. The chapter is by mistake stated in the Report to be 91.


[Sidenote: Lunatic asylums.]

The provision for the lunatic poor is said to have been for a long time
very defective in Ireland. A hospital attached to the house of industry
in Dublin, a large asylum at Cork, and cells connected with some of the
county infirmaries, were all that existed for the safe custody and
proper treatment of the insane poor. In 1810 a grant was made for the
establishment of the Richmond Lunatic Asylum, with accommodation for 200
patients. In 1817 the subject was inquired into by a select
committee,[49] in accordance with whose recommendation _the 57th George
3rd, cap. 106_,[50] was passed, empowering the lord lieutenant to fix
certain districts within which lunatic asylums should be erected, the
cost in the first instance to be advanced by government, but to be
ultimately repaid by local presentments, from which also the maintenance
of the asylums is to be derived. “When these institutions are completed,
which is easily practicable within three years, every county in Ireland
will be provided with receptacles for their lunatic poor; and if these
shall not be found sufficient for incurable as well as curable cases, a
ward or two may be attached to each at a moderate expense, and the
exigency may be thus completely provided for.” This quotation is given
from the inspector’s Report to the Irish government on the subject in
1830, and the committee express their satisfaction, that as regards “one
of the most painful afflictions to which humanity is exposed, there has
been provided within a few years, a system of relief for the Irish poor
as extensive as can be wished, and as perfect and effectual as is to be
found in any other country.” Still however the cases of idiots and
incurable lunatics are not separately provided for; and the committee
consider it important that curable and incurable cases should be kept
distinct, and that space should not be appropriated to the safe custody
of incurables, which would be more usefully employed in the treatment of
cases where there was a probability of recovery. Every lunatic
establishment in Ireland, whether public or private, is subject to the
visitation of the inspectors of prisons, who report regularly upon the
condition and management of these institutions.



  Of this committee Mr. Vesey Fitzgerald was chairman.


  Ante, p. 79.


After referring to the _11th and 12th Geo. 3rd, cap. 30_, the _46th Geo.
3rd, cap. 95_, and the _58th Geo. 3rd, cap. 47_,[51] [Sidenote: Houses
of industry.] the Acts under which houses of industry are established
and regulated, the committee state that the number of these institutions
in Ireland does not exceed twelve “including the great establishment
bearing that name in Dublin, which is supported exclusively by votes of
parliament.” There are eight in Munster, and three in Leinster, but none
either in Ulster or Connaught. A proposition is said to have been made
for extending houses of industry generally throughout the country, and
for rendering their erection and support compulsory. But the committee
are of opinion that “establishments of this description combining the
two distinct purposes of punishment and relief, are not likely to be
useful either as prisons or hospitals.” They think that coercion is more
likely to be effective when applied in houses of correction, than when
applied in asylums intended for old age infirmity and destitution. They
also think that the criminal ought to be separated from the distressed
poor, and that these asylums should be reserved for particular
descriptions of the latter class only—or in the words of Dr. Chalmers,
for “cases of hopeless and irrecoverable disease, and all cases of
misery the relief of which has no tendency to increase the number of
cases requiring relief.” To the poor who suffer from loss of sight or
limbs, and the deaf and dumb, the house of industry judiciously managed,
would they say “afford a suitable place of refuge.” Such are the views
of the committee with regard to houses of industry, and they do not
materially differ from what prevailed in England a century previous with
regard to the almshouses or old parish poorhouses then so common.



  Ante, pp. 51, 74, and 77.


[Sidenote: Voluntary charities.]

The number of voluntary charities in Ireland maintained by private
benevolence, independently of any contribution from general or local
taxation, said to be very great, and they are stated to be most
liberally supported. “Among them will be found schools, hospitals,
Magdalen asylums, houses of refuge, orphan establishments, lying-in
hospitals, societies for relief of the sick and indigent, mendicity
associations, and charitable loans.” Yet notwithstanding the existence
of these multifarious institutions, and the active exercise of private
benevolence, and the frequent collections by the clergy of all
persuasions,[52] “the committee have not the satisfaction to hope that
more is accomplished than the mitigation of distress.” Societies for the
suppression of mendicity have it is said been formed in many parts of
Ireland, on a plan similar to those established in London, Bath, and
other places in England. In Dublin the income of the Mendicity Society
amounts to 7,000_l._, and the committee are informed “that although the
voluntary contributions are scarcely sufficient to maintain the
establishment, still on the whole, supporting the poor as they do, they
have enough.” When the funds are very low, a threat is held out either
of applying to parliament for a power of compulsory assessment, or else
that the poor people supported by the society will be discharged into
the streets, “and by these means additional subscriptions are called
in.” Institutions of this kind, supported by private contributions, are
said to be complained of as casting an unfair and unequal burden upon
the benevolent, and it has been suggested that they should be supported
or at least aided by local assessment: but this suggestion, the
committee observe, involves the entire principle of a poor-law, a
question on which at that advanced period of the session they are not
prepared to enter. They however recommend it as a subject for future
consideration and inquiry.



  Dr. Doyle in his evidence before the committee, stated that the poor
  were almost exclusively supported by the middle classes; and that
  “although these form a class not over numerous, and subject to great
  pressure, still of the million and a half or two millions now expended
  to support the Irish poor, nearly the entire falls upon the farmers
  and the other industrious classes.”


[Sidenote: Emigration.]

With regard to emigration, although in some districts “there exists a
population exceeding that for whose labour there is a profitable
demand,” the committee nevertheless consider emigration to the full as
much an imperial as a provincial question. The cause of the great influx
of Irish labourers into Great Britain is, they say, the higher rate of
wages which prevails there, and emigration from Ireland would “diminish
that inducement, and lessen the number of Irish labourers in the British
market.” It might seem therefore that the expense of such emigration
should be defrayed out of the general funds of the empire. But the
committee say they are not prepared to recommend any compulsory system
of taxation for the purpose, “nor yet to discuss the probability of the
repayment of advances made to colonial settlers.” They have however no
doubt that colonization might be carried on to a great extent, “if
facilities were afforded by government to those Irish peasants who were
disposed voluntarily to seek a settlement in the colonies, and who could
by themselves or their landlords provide all the expense required for
their passage and location.” In districts where the population is in
excess, it must be alike the interest of all, of the landlords, the
tenants, and the labourers, that such excess should be removed; and the
committee consider the most legitimate mode of effecting this to
be—“that upon the actual deposit of a sum sufficient to cover the entire
expense, the government should undertake the appropriation of that sum
in the way most effectual for the purpose”—that is, for the conveyance
of the emigrants to, and helping them to obtain a suitable location in,
some British colony.

Amongst the various remedial measures suggested, the committee urge at
great length the importance of an extension of public works, roadmaking,
drainage, embankments &c., founded chiefly on the example of Scotland,
and the benefits which there ensued from opening out the Highlands by
the formation of roads and the construction of the Caledonian canal. The
evidence given by Mr. Telford the eminent engineer in 1817, is cited and
much relied upon in this particular, and certainly no higher authority
on the subject could have been adduced. An emendation of the grand-jury
and vestry laws is also recommended, together with several other matters
of minor import.

In the present very comprehensive Report, as in all preceding Reports on
the state of Ireland, [Sidenote: Education.] whether by committees of
parliament or Royal commissions, the necessity for education is adverted
to as a matter of paramount importance. It is now moreover said, that
“the entire body of the Roman catholic hierarchy have by petitions to
both houses of parliament, entreated that the recommendations of the
select committee of 1827,[53] should be adopted”—on which account, as
well as on account of its intrinsic importance with regard to the
question of education generally, that Report now requires to be noticed.



  The committee consisted of twenty-one members, and Sir John Newport
  was the chairman.


[Sidenote: 1828.
           Report of the Select Committee on Education in Ireland.]

The Report of the select committee appointed in 1827 here referred to,
was printed by order of the House of Commons on the 19th May 1828.[53]
The committee declare that they “have proceeded to consider the Reports
on the state of education in Ireland, with a full sense of the
importance of the subject, and of the peculiar difficulties with which
it is encompassed.” During several centuries, they observe, the
necessity for providing the means of education in Ireland has been
recognised. As early as the reign of Henry the Eighth the prevalence of
crime was attributed to the ignorance of the people, “and education was
relied upon as producing moral improvement, and supporting the
institutions of civil policy.” Various statutes were passed and charters
granted, and endowments made, with a view to this object; and inquiries
had likewise been at different times instituted with the same intent. Of
the commissions appointed, the two latest are the most important, namely
that issued in 1806, and which terminated in 1812, after making
“fourteen Reports upon the schools of royal and private foundation, the
charter schools, foundling hospital, and the parochial and diocesan
schools;” and that issued in 1824, which terminated in 1827, after
making “nine Reports on the various establishments for education.” But
the interference of the State was not solely confined to regulation and
inquiry. “Parliamentary grants have been at various times most liberally
made for the purposes of education,” and of these a list is given,
amounting in the whole to 2,914,140_l._ The number of scholars receiving
instruction in the existing schools in 1826, is stated to be 560,549,
“leaving in all probability upwards of 150,000 without the means of
education.” Of the number of scholars returned, it is said that 394,732
are brought up in the common pay schools, 46,119 in schools supported
exclusively by the Roman catholic priesthood and laity, 84,295 in
various establishments of private charity, and 55,246 in schools
maintained in whole or in part at the public expense.

In pursuing their investigations, the committee say “their sole object
has been to consider the principle upon which it will be expedient
hereafter to grant public money in aid of Irish education;” and they
prefer recording the conclusions at which they have arrived in the form
of abstract propositions, instead of reasoning upon and discussing the
merits of different modes of procedure in this respect. After the most
anxious deliberation, they have, they say, adopted a series of
resolutions on the subject, which are given at length, and in fact
constitute the substance of their Report; and it is now proposed to
select such portions of these resolutions as will enable the reader to
see clearly what the views of the committee were. To give the whole is
unnecessary, and would be inconvenient. The various Reports of
committees and commissioners on Irish education are so voluminous, as to
make it impossible to quote them at length, and the abstracts of the
more important portions herein given will be sufficient for our purpose.

A passage from the Report of the commissioners in 1812[54] is cited, to
the effect—“that no plan of education, however wisely and
unexceptionably contrived in other respects, can be carried into
effectual operation in Ireland, unless it be explicitly avowed, and
clearly understood as its leading principle, that no attempt shall be
made to influence or disturb the peculiar religious tenets of any sect
or denomination of Christians.” A passage from the Report of the
commissioners in 1824 is likewise cited, to the effect—“that in a
country where mutual divisions exist between different classes of the
people, schools should be established for the purpose of giving to
children of all religious persuasions, such useful instruction as they
may severally be capable and desirous of receiving, without having any
ground to apprehend any interference with their respective religious
principles.” Another passage of the same Report is also cited—“in favour
of the expediency of devising a system of mutual education, from which
suspicion should if possible be banished, and the causes of distrust and
jealousy be effectually removed; and under which the children may imbibe
similar ideas, and form congenial habits, tending to diminish, not to
increase, that distinctness of feeling now but too prevalent.”



  This Report was signed by three bishops, the provost, and several
  other distinguished clerical and lay members of the established


The committee of 1828 adopt these several propositions, and
resolve—“that it is of the utmost importance to bring together children
of different religious persuasions in Ireland, for the purpose of
instructing them in the general subjects of moral and literary
knowledge, and providing facilities for their religious instruction
_separately_, when differences of creed render it impracticable for them
to receive religious instruction together.” And in accordance likewise
with the recommendations of the commissioners of 1812 and 1824, the
committee further resolve—“that considering the very large sums of
public money annually voted for the encouragement of education in
Ireland, as well as the extreme discretion required in adopting a new
system of united education, without permitting any interference in the
peculiar religious tenets of the scholars—it is indispensably necessary
to establish a fixed authority acting under the control of the
government and of the legislature, bound by strict and impartial rules,
and subject to full responsibility for the foundation control and
management of such public schools of general instruction, as are
supported on the whole or in part at the public expense.”

The committee likewise record their opinion, that the selection of
teachers in the schools should be made without regard to religious
distinction, and that their qualifications should be proved by
instruction or examination in a model school, the teacher first
producing a certificate of character from a clergyman of his own
communion. And they further resolve—“that for the purpose of carrying
into effect the combined literary, and the separate religious education
of the scholars, the course of study for four days of the week should be
exclusively moral and literary; and that of the two remaining days, the
one should be appropriated solely to the separate religious instruction
of the protestant children, the other for the separate religious
instruction of the Roman catholic children—the religious instruction in
each case being placed under the exclusive superintendence of the clergy
of the respective communions.” The committee moreover recommend that a
board of education should be appointed, “all persons being eligible
without reference to religious distinctions;” and they also recommend,
that as a rule the children be required to pay such small sums as may be
directed, “but that free scholars, being either orphans or the children
of parents unable to afford payment, be received on the recommendation
of the parochial clergy, and dissenting ministers, and persons
subscribing to the schools, or having granted land for the site.”

The conditions under which the committee consider that the parliamentary
grants in aid of the establishment and support of schools in Ireland,
should in future be made, are as follows—

“Not to exceed two-thirds of the sum required.

“The school-houses and site to be conveyed to the commissioners.

“The managers to undertake to conduct the school according to the
prescribed rules.

“Gratuities to teachers according to regulations prescribed by the

“Books for the _literary_ instruction of the children to be furnished at
half price, and for the _separate religious_ instruction at prime cost.

“A model school for the education of teachers to be provided.

“A system of inspection to be established.

“Public aid to depend on private contributions, and adherence to the
commissioners’ rules.”

In conclusion the committee observe, that it has been their object to
discover a mode in which the combined education of protestant and Roman
catholic children may be carried on, resting upon religious instruction,
but free from the suspicion of proselytism.—They have endeavoured, they
say, “to avoid any violation of the liberty of conscience, or any
demands or sacrifices inconsistent with the religious faith of any
denomination of Christians.” They propose to leave to the clergy of each
persuasion, the duty and the privilege of giving religious instruction
to those who are committed to their care. And finally, they express an
earnest hope that if adopted, their recommendations will satisfy
moderate and rational men of all opinions.

There can be no doubt that the committee were entitled to avow the
expectation here expressed. The perfect fairness and impartiality of
what they proposed with regard to religious teaching, and the simplicity
and moderation of their recommendations, fortified moreover as these
substantially are by the Reports of the commissions of 1812 and 1824,
seem to leave no room for cavil or objection on any side. Yet we do not
find that any steps were specifically taken for carrying the committee’s
recommendations into effect until October 1831, when Mr. Stanley,[55]
the then Secretary for Ireland, addressed a letter to the Duke of
Leinster, stating that it had been determined to constitute a board for
the superintendence of a system of national education in Ireland, and
that it was proposed, with the duke’s consent, to place him at its head.
The motives for constituting the new board, and the powers intended to
be conferred upon it, “and the objects which it is expected that it will
bear in view and carry into effect,” are all then very fully explained.



  Afterwards Lord Stanley, and now Earl of Derby.


[Sidenote: 1831.
           Mr. Stanley’s letter to the Duke of Leinster on the
           formation of the Board of National Education.]

A preceding government, it is observed, imagined that they had found a
superintending body acting upon the impartial and non-proselytising
system recommended by the committee of 1812, and had intrusted the
distribution of the national grants to the care of the Kildare-street
Society.[56] But, the letter proceeds—

“His Majesty’s present government are of opinion that no private society
deriving a part, however small, of their annual income from private
sources, and only made the channel of the munificence of the
legislature, without being subject to any direct responsibility, could
adequately and satisfactorily accomplish the end proposed; and while
they do full justice to the liberal views with which that society was
originally instituted, they cannot but be sensible that one of its
leading principles was calculated to defeat its avowed objects, as
experience has subsequently proved that it has. The determination to
enforce in all their schools the reading of the Holy Scriptures without
note or comment, was undoubtedly taken with the purest motives; with the
wish at once to connect religious with moral and literary education, and
at the same time not to run the risk of wounding the peculiar feelings
of any sect, by catechetical instruction, or comments which might tend
to subjects of polemical controversy. But it seems to have been
overlooked, that the principles of the Roman catholic church (to which,
in any system intended for general diffusion throughout Ireland, the
bulk of the pupils must necessarily belong) were totally at variance
with this principle; and that the indiscriminate reading of the Holy
Scriptures without note or comment, by children, must be peculiarly
obnoxious to a church which denies, even to adults, the right of unaided
private interpretation of the sacred volume, with respect to articles of
religious belief.”

“Shortly after its institution, although the society prospered and
extended its operations under the fostering care of the legislature,
this vital defect began to be noticed; and the Roman catholic clergy
began to exert themselves with energy and success against a system to
which they were on principle opposed, and which they feared might lead
in its results to proselytism, even although no such object were
contemplated by its promoters. When this opposition arose, founded on
such grounds, it soon became manifest that the system could not become
one of national education.”

“The commissioners of education in 1824-5, sensible of the defects of
the system, and of the ground, as well as the strength of the objection
taken, recommended the appointment of two teachers in every school, one
protestant and the other Roman catholic, to superintend separately the
religious education of the children; and they hoped to have been able to
agree upon a selection from the Scriptures that might have been
generally acquiesced in by both persuasions. But it was soon found that
these schemes were impracticable; and, in 1828, a committee of the house
of commons,[57] to which were referred the various Reports of the
commissioners of education, recommended a system to be adopted, which
should afford, if possible, a combined literary, and a separate
religious education, and should be capable of being so far adapted to
the views of the religious persuasions which prevail in Ireland, as to
render it, in truth, a system of National education for the poorer
classes of the community.”



  This society, originally founded in 1811 under the designation of “The
  Society for promoting the Education of the Poor in Ireland,” was
  managed by gentlemen of various religious persuasions, on the
  principle of promoting the establishment and assisting in the support
  of schools, in which the appointment of governors and teachers, and
  the admission of scholars should be uninfluenced by religious
  distinctions, and in which the Bible and Testament, without note or
  comment should be read, excluding catechisms and books of religious
  controversy. In 1814-15 a grant of 6,980_l._ Irish currency, for the
  above objects, was made to this society, which removed its
  establishment to Kildare-street, and thence took the name of “The
  Kildare-street Society;” and annual grants were continued
  subsequently, varying from 10,000_l._ in 1821, to 25,000_l._ in 1830,
  the number of pupils within that period increasing from 36,637 to


  Ante, p. 108.


The letter next points out, that on the composition of the board will in
a great degree depend the obtaining of public confidence, and the
success of the measure; and it is then declared to be the intention of

“That the board should exercise a complete control over the various
schools which may be erected under its auspices; or which having been
already established, may hereafter place themselves under its
management, and submit to its regulations. Subject to these,
applications for aid will be admissible from Christians of all
denominations; but as one of the main objects must be to unite in one
system, children of different creeds, and as much must depend upon the
co-operation of the resident clergy, the board will probably look with
peculiar favour upon applications proceeding either from—

“1st.—The protestant and Roman catholic clergy of the parish; or

“2nd.—One of the clergymen, and a certain number of the parishioners
professing the opposite creed; or

“3rd.—Parishioners of both denominations.

“Where the application proceeds exclusively from protestants, or
exclusively from Roman catholics, it will be proper for the board to
make inquiry as to the circumstances which lead to the absence of any
names of the persuasion which does not appear.

“The board will note all applications for aid, whether granted or
refused, with the ground of the decision; and annually submit to
parliament a Report of their proceedings.

“They will invariably require, as a condition not to be departed from,
that local funds shall be raised, upon which any aid from the public
will be dependent.”

The letter then goes into a statement of various kinds of local aid to
be required; the school-hours to be observed; and the time for religious
instruction. After which, it proceeds—

“The board will exercise the most entire control over all books to be
used in the schools, whether in the combined moral and literary, or
separate religious instruction; none to be employed in the first except
under the sanction of the board, nor in the latter, but with the
approbation of those members of the board who are of the same religious
persuasion with those for whose use they are intended. _Although it is
not designed to exclude from the list of books for the combined
instruction such portions of sacred history, or of religious or moral
teaching as may be approved of by the board, it is to be understood that
this is by no means intended to convey a perfect and sufficient
religious education, or to supersede the necessity of separate religious
instruction on the day set apart for the purpose._”

The part here printed in italics is not in the copy of the letter
published with the _1st Report_ of the Commissioners of National
Education, but it is in a copy annexed to the _8th Report_, and is
believed to be the true one. The remainder of the letter relates to
school arrangements and other proceedings of the board.

[Sidenote: 1832.
           Discussion in parliament on the government plan of education.]

On the 6th of March 1832, a lengthened discussion on the government plan
of education took place in the house of commons, in the course of which
Mr. Stanley stated his views on the subject in answer to the objections
raised by several members; and ended by saying, that “He was far from
thinking the system now about to be carried into effect was perfect, but
he believed that it was the most likely to unite the people of all
religious persuasions in the education of their children, and produce
those results which, the Scriptures said, were the fruits of the
Christian religion—peace, meekness, gentleness and love.” On the 23rd of
July following, 37,500_l._ was voted “in aid of the funds to be
appropriated to the new system of education,” which thenceforward may be
regarded as permanently established; and in 1844 the board was duly
incorporated by royal charter.

We now approach a period when public attention was very generally and
very earnestly directed to the condition of the poor, and to the
operation of the laws providing for their relief. In 1832 commissioners
were appointed to inquire into these subjects in England, and the reader
is referred to the 2nd volume of the ‘_History of the English Poor
Laws_’ for information as to their Report on the occasion, and also for
an account of the important measure which was founded thereon.

[Sidenote: 1833.
           Commission to inquire into the condition of the poorer
           classes in Ireland.]

On the 25th September 1833, commissioners were appointed “to inquire
into the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland, and into the
various institutions at present established by law for their relief; and
also whether any and what further remedial measures appear to be
requisite to ameliorate the condition of the Irish poor or any portion
of them.”[58] An extensive field of inquiry was thus laid open to the
commissioners, who forthwith entered upon the duties confided to them;
and it must be admitted that there could hardly have been any more
important, or more highly responsible.

[Sidenote: 1835.
           The commissioners’ first report.]

In July 1835 the commissioners made their first Report—“_as to the modes
in which the destitute classes in Ireland are supported, to the extent
and efficiency of those modes, and their effects upon those who give,
and upon those who receive relief_.” A large body of evidence is
appended to the Report, which evidence the commissioners say is now
complete, containing parochial examinations made in one parish in each
of seventeen counties, relative to the present modes of relieving—

“Deserted and orphan children.

“Illegitimate children and their mothers.

“Widows having families of young children.

“The impotent through age or other permanent infirmity.

“The sick poor, who in health are capable of earning their subsistence.

“The able-bodied out of work.

“Vagrancy as a mode of relief.”



  The commissioners were, the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Murray (the
  Roman catholic Archbishop), Rev. Charles Vignoles, Richard More
  O'Farrall Esq., Rev. James Carlisle, Fenton Hort Esq., John Corrie
  Esq., James Naper Esq. and William Battie Wrightson Esq. The Right
  Hon. A. R. Blake was subsequently added to the commission.


An examination of every dispensary in nine counties is also given, and
of every infirmary, and some dispensaries and hospitals in eleven
counties. Likewise the examinations concerning institutions not medical,
for the relief of different classes of the poor, which are said to be
“principally mendicity institutions, houses of industry, almshouses, and
societies for visiting the destitute and distributing food, money, or
clothes,” in all the large towns.

After thus enumerating the several heads or divisions under which their
investigations were conducted, the commissioners proceed to state—

  1st.—The difficulties they had to encounter from the extensive and
      complicated nature of the subject, and the peculiar social
      condition of the Irish people.

  2ndly.—The course they pursued in collecting information, “showing how
      far it is full and impartial, and therefore how far worthy of
      confidence.” And

  3rdly.—The reasons why they are not yet able to report—“Whether any
      and what further remedial measures appear to be requisite to
      ameliorate the condition of the Irish poor, or any of them.”

These points are all largely dwelt upon, especially the first. On every
side, the commissioners say, they were assailed by the theories of
persons who might be supposed to possess means of forming a sound
judgment—“one party attributed all the poverty and wretchedness of the
country to an asserted extreme use of ardent spirits, and proposed a
system for repressing illicit distillation, for preventing smuggling,
and for substituting beer and coffee. Another party found the cause in
the combination among workmen, and proposed rigorous laws against trades
unions. Others again were equally confident, that the reclamation of the
bogs and waste lands was the only practicable remedy. A fourth party
declared the nature of the existing connexion between landlord and
tenant to be the root of all the evil. Pawnbroking, redundant
population, absence of capital, peculiar religious tenets and religious
differences, political excitement, want of education, the
maladministration of justice, the state of prison discipline, want of
manufactures and of inland navigation, with a variety of other
circumstances, were each supported by their various advocates with
earnestness and ability, as being either alone, or jointly with some
other, the primary cause of all the evils of society; and loan funds,
emigration, the repression of political excitement, the introduction of
manufactures, and the extension of inland navigation, were accordingly
proposed each as the principal means by which the improvement of Ireland
could be promoted.” The commissioners abstain from expressing their
opinion upon any of these propositions, but they determine “that the
inquiry should embrace every subject to which importance seemed to be
attached by any large number of persons.”

Under the second division of their Report, the commissioners advert in
considerable detail to the obvious impossibility of collecting the
necessary information themselves, and the difficulty of finding Irishmen
at once competent and impartial to undertake the duty; and they
determine as the only mode of combining local knowledge with
impartiality, to unite in the inquiry “a native of Great Britain with a
resident native of Ireland.” And in order that the evidence might be
full and impartial, and be collected and registered in a satisfactory
manner, the assistant-commissioners who had been appointed were desired
to adopt in their investigations the following course of procedure:—

  First—“To request the attendance of persons of each grade in society,
      of each of the various religious persuasions, and of each party in
      politics; to give to the testimony of each class an equal degree
      of attention, and to make the examinations in presence of all. Not
      to allow any person to join in conducting the examination, and to
      state at the opening of the proceedings, that any statement made
      by an individual, and not impugned by any person present, would be
      considered to be acknowledged as at least probable by all.”

  Second—“To note down at the time of examination, the replies given, or
      the remarks which occurred to him; to register, as nearly as might
      be possible in the words of each witness, the statements which
      might be made; to register the names of all the persons who
      attended the examination; and before proceeding to examine another
      district, to send the minutes of the previous examination to the
      office in Dublin, signed by both the assistant-commissioners.”

With regard to the third head, that is the reasons for not yet being
able to report “whether any and what further remedial measures appear to
be requisite to ameliorate the condition of the Irish poor, or any
portion of them”—The commissioners observe that the reasons are
sufficiently apparent in the fact that they have not yet completed their
inquiry into the causes of destitution. They would, they say, be little
worthy of the high trust reposed in them, were they content with
deciding upon the extent and nature of distress, or upon the means of
only present alleviation. “We consider it our duty (they remark) to
endeavour if possible, to investigate the causes of the destitution
which we discover, and to ascertain why classes of his Majesty’s
subjects are from time to time falling into a state of wretchedness; why
the labouring population do not provide against those events which seem
inevitable; why the able-bodied labourer does not provide against the
sickness of himself, or that of the various members of his family;
against the temporary absence of employment; against the certain
infirmity of age; against the destitution of his widow and his children
in the contingent event of his own premature decease; whether these
omissions arise from any peculiar improvidence in his habits, or from
the insufficiency of employment, or from the low rate of his wages.” It
would not even be sufficient to answer that the limited amount of
employment and the rate of his wages will not permit him. “It is our
duty (they say) to carry the investigation further, and at least to
endeavour to trace whether there be any circumstances which restrict the
amount of employment, or the rate of wages; or in any other way offer
impediments to the improvement of the people, which are such as can be
remedied by legislation.”

The commissioners accordingly in the first place directed their
attention to agriculture, that being, they observe, the principal
occupation of the Irish people. There was said to be much unreclaimed
land which might be brought into cultivation, and throughout Ireland the
land already in cultivation might be better worked, and thus the demand
for labour be increased. The commissioners wish to ascertain the extent
to which such statements are well founded, and whether the evil is
attributable to want of capital or to want of skill; and “whether there
are any circumstances which have deterred British capitalists from
coming to Ireland, or have prevented the investment in agriculture of
capital existing in Ireland, and to what extent those circumstances have
proved injurious; and in case the evil arises from a deficiency of skill
in the tenantry, to ascertain whether there are any means by which a
superior knowledge of agriculture can be diffused.” By endeavouring to
prevent the occurrence of destitution, they consider that they will more
effectually fulfil their mission, than if they merely devised the means
for its alleviation after it had arisen. They shall, they say, “feel
deep pain should they be compelled to leave to any portion of the
peasantry of Ireland, a continuation of distress on the one hand, or a
mere offer of charity on the other—far more grateful (it is added) would
be the office of recommending measures by which the industrious labourer
might have the prospect of a constant field for his exertions, with a
remuneration sufficient for his present demands, and admitting of a
provision against those contingencies which attach to himself and to his
family.” They declare it to be their anxious wish to do more than
diminish the wretchedness of portions of the working classes, and that
they are most solicitous to place the whole of those classes in the
greatest state of comfort consistently with the good of the rest of

In answer to certain complaints which appear to have been made “within
and out of parliament” of the time and money consumed in the present
inquiry, the commissioners explain at some length the impossibility of
proceeding more rapidly. They however admit that the time will exceed
that occupied by several other inquiries, and particularly by that on
the English Poor-law, to which they specially refer—“because the highest
estimate has been formed of the manner in which it was conducted, both
as regards diligence and accuracy, and because they feel that in
measuring their labours, and the time they are likely to occupy by such
a standard, they shall have taken the surest mode of showing that they
have used the utmost diligence.”

The foregoing summary exhibits the general purport of the commissioners’
first Report, which it will be observed aims rather at explaining what
ought to be and what is further intended to be done, than pointing out
remedies or deducing practical conclusions from the “large body of
evidence” which had been taken. It is impossible not to concur in the
views and reasonings expressed by the commissioners with regard to the
spirit in which the inquiry should be conducted, and also as to the
objects sought to be attained: but nothing definite is proposed, nor any
practical suggestion offered; and as the commissioners admit that they
had been occupied a year and ten months in the inquiry, we can hardly
wonder that some impatience should be manifested “both in and out of
parliament” on the occasion. The evidence presented with the Report was
no doubt important, and calculated to afford much valuable information
on the several points to which it specifically referred;[59] but the
mere collecting and grouping of such evidence, unaccompanied by any
condensed summary of its import, or practical deduction from its
details, could not be expected to be very satisfactory or very useful,
either to the legislature or to the public generally.



  See the seven heads of inquiry set out, ante page 119.


[Sidenote: 1836.
           The commissioners’ second report.]

In the early part of the following year the commissioners made a second
Report “on that part of the inquiry which respects the various
institutions at present established by law for the relief of the poor.”
These are said to be—medical institutions, lunatic asylums, houses of
industry, and foundling hospitals; and although much of the information
given respecting them has been anticipated by the Report of the select
committee of 1830,[60] it will be convenient to insert in this place a
short abstract of the Report on these institutions, the most numerous of
which are the medical charities.



  Ante, pp. 95 to 108.


[Sidenote: Infirmaries.]

To establish an infirmary, 500_l._ must be first raised by voluntary
contributions, to which a grant not exceeding 1,500_l._ may be made by
government, provided the distance be not less than ten miles from any
existing infirmary. The funds for its support are provided by grand-jury
presentments not exceeding 600_l._ in any one year, and a grant of
100_l._ by government towards the salary of the surgeon. The number of
county infirmaries is stated to be 31, in addition to which there are 5
city and town infirmaries. Each is governed by a corporation, consisting
of certain official persons, together with the donors of twenty guineas
and upwards, and annual subscribers of three guineas. The corporation of
governors appoint the medical officers, regulate the admission of
patients, enact by-laws, and have the entire control of the institution.

[Sidenote: Dispensaries.]

Dispensaries were established for affording medical relief to those poor
persons who are too distant to receive aid from an infirmary. They are
governed by the same corporation, with the addition of subscribers of
not less than one guinea annually, and are supported by such
subscriptions, together with grand-jury presentments not exceeding a
like amount. The number of separate dispensaries is 452, and there are
42 more united with fever hospitals.

[Sidenote: Fever hospitals.]

The great prevalence of fever in Ireland rendered hospitals for the
special treatment of fever cases, absolutely essential to the general
security; and for providing such hospitals, of which there are 28, grand
juries may present sums equal to double the amount of voluntary
subscriptions, and government may also make advances for the purpose, to
be subsequently repaid by instalments. By the _58th Geo. 3rd, cap.
47_,[61] provision is made for the appointment of a board of health,
with extensive powers, whenever fever occurs in a town or district; but
it appears that this provision has been rarely acted upon.



  Ante, p. 77.


The total expense of supporting these infirmaries, dispensaries and
fever hospitals, in the year 1833 as stated in tables appended to the
Report, was 109,054_l._—of which amount grand-jury presentments
furnished 55,065_l._—subscriptions 37,562_l._—parliamentary grants
6,661_l._, and petty-sessions fees and miscellaneous funds 9,766_l._ The
entire number of cases relieved in the same year, was 30,634 intern, and
1,243,314 extern.

[Sidenote: Lunatic asylums.]

The lord-lieutenant is empowered to direct as many lunatic asylums to be
provided as he may think fit, and grand juries are required to present
such sums as may be necessary for defraying the expense of erecting and
supporting them. Eleven were completed, or in progress towards
completion; and the total amount of expenditure on them in 1833 was

With regard to these institutions the commissioners remark—“The medical
relief at present afforded throughout Ireland is very unequally
distributed. In the county of Dublin, containing exclusive of the city
about 176,000 inhabitants, and about 375 square miles, there are 24
dispensaries, or one to every 7,333 inhabitants. In the county of Meath,
containing about 176,800 inhabitants, and about 886 square miles, there
are 19 dispensaries, or one for every 9,306 inhabitants. In the county
of Mayo, containing 366,328 inhabitants, and about 2,100 square miles,
there is only one dispensary supported at the public expense.” Such
inequalities, it is observed, are the necessary consequence of a law
which renders the establishment of a dispensary contingent upon
voluntary contributions. In districts abounding in rich resident
proprietors, a medical charity is least wanted, but subscriptions are
there most easily obtained; whilst in districts where there are few or
possibly no resident proprietors, the aid is most wanted, but there are
no subscribers, and consequently there is no medical charity.

[Sidenote: Houses of industry.]

Houses of industry (or workhouses) are established and regulated under
the provisions of the _11th and 12th Geo. 3rd, cap. 30_,[62] the _46th
Geo. 3rd, cap. 95_,[62] and the _58th Geo. 3rd, cap. 47_.[62] There are
nine of these institutions in Ireland, and of some of them a brief
account is given; but it is said to be difficult to judge of the economy
with which they are conducted. The total income of the houses of
industry in the year 1833 derived from grand-jury presentments,
subscriptions, and miscellaneous sources, and including a parliamentary
grant of 20,000_l._ to the Dublin institution, was 32,967_l._, and the
number of inmates on the books was 2,732.



  Ante, pp. 51, 74, and 77.


[Sidenote: Foundling hospitals.]

There were two large foundling hospitals, one in Dublin, the other in
Cork, and a small one in Galway. With the exception of one child under
peculiar circumstances, there have been no admissions for some time into
the Dublin house, and the establishment is only used for the occasional
accommodation of such children as are still on the books; and as these
are disposed of, will cease altogether. The Cork hospital is supported
principally by a tax on coals: it is still open, and has 1,329 on the
books. At Galway the number of children is only eight. These
institutions, the commissioners remark, are now acknowledged to be in
their nature utterly indefensible. The expense of the Cork and Galway
establishments in 1833, derived from miscellaneous sources, was
6,628_l._ The parliamentary grant to the Dublin foundling hospital in
1828 was 34,000_l._ Supposing it to have been 30,000_l._ in 1833, it
would make the entire charge of these institutions, in the latter year,
amount to 36,628_l._

The total charge of the foregoing institutions as stated in the tables
appended to the Report, is as follows:—

                   Infirmaries           }
                   Dispensaries          }  £109,054
                   Fever hospitals       }
                   Lunatic asylums            26,247
                   Houses of industry         32,967
                   Foundling hospitals        36,628

Of this sum upwards of 50,000_l._ appears to have been furnished by
parliamentary grants, the remainder being derived from grand-jury
presentments, voluntary contributions, and other local sources.

The commissioners think that some provision ought to be made for poor
persons discharged from hospitals in a state of convalescence, and also
for persons suffering from chronic and incurable disease, neither being
proper objects of ordinary hospital treatment. They are likewise of
opinion that a public provision should be made for the deaf dumb and
blind poor, such persons being, they consider, peculiarly deserving of

The impatience of the public was not likely to be satisfied by the
appearance of this second Report, which contained no recommendations,
and added nothing to what was previously known of the condition of the
Irish poor. For a series of years inquiry after inquiry had been
instituted by commissions and committees into that condition, with a
view to devise means for its amelioration; but without leading to any
satisfactory result. And now, after two years and a half had been spent
in prosecuting like inquiries, and this moreover by men specially
selected for the task, and standing deservedly high in public estimation
for talent and acquirements, people began to fear that the result would
be again the same, and that time labour and money would have been
expended in vain. It was known, or at least generally surmised, that
differences of opinion existed among the commissioners, as to the nature
of the recommendations which should be made by them conjointly; some
being in favour of the imposition of a general rate for the relief of
the poor, and others advocating a system of voluntary contributions for
that purpose. The latter pointed to Scotland as an example to be
followed, and the former to England. Under these circumstances it is not
surprising that the question should occupy a good deal of public
attention, and that those who possessed, or were supposed to possess
information on the subject, should be induced or invited to express
their opinions with regard to it. Pamphlets were written, and speeches
made, contrasting the advantages and disadvantages inherent in the
compulsory and the voluntary systems of relief, as well generally, as
with reference to the case of Ireland; and the entire subject became a
matter of very general discussion, of which the proceedings under the
amended Poor Law in England naturally formed a part, and thus gave
additional interest to the question.

[Sidenote: ‘Suggestions’ by the author, January 21, 1836.]

The author being at that time a member of the English Poor Law
Commission, the subject was necessarily much pressed upon his notice;
and having reason to believe that a statement of his views in reference
to it would be acceptable, he prepared for the consideration of
government, a series of suggestions founded upon a general view of
social requirements, and upon his experience of the working of the
English Poor Law. He did not pretend to any personal knowledge of the
state of Ireland, but considered that the information furnished by the
evidence appended to the commissioners’ first Report, showed that
destitution and wretchedness prevailed to such an extent among the
poorer classes in that country, that legislative interference could no
longer be delayed without compromising the general security; and
contrasting the state of the English poor with what existed in Ireland,
he attempted to point out a remedy, or at least a palliative for the
evils which prevailed there. This he was induced to do without waiting
for the final report of the inquiry commissioners, as the mode of
comparison pursued by him was different from the course which they would
adopt, and likewise because the commissioners indicated their intention
of taking the general circumstances of the country into consideration,
whilst he proposed to limit his suggestions to one object, with a view
to a single and specific remedy.

These ‘Suggestions’ were framed in considerable detail, and recommended
the application of the amended system of English Poor Law to Ireland,
with certain modifications, calculated to guard against the evils which
had sprung from the old law in England, and at the same time be
sufficient for the relief of a large portion of the destitute classes
who stood most in need of it. The ‘Suggestions’ were presented to Lord
John Russell in January, about the same time as the commissioners’
second Report; and on perusing them now, after so long an interval, and
with all the experience since acquired, the author finds little to alter
in what he then ventured to suggest.

[Sidenote: 1836.
           The commissioners’ third report.]

The long-expected final Report was at length received, embodying all the
recommendations for ameliorating the condition of the Irish poor, which
after nearly three years of inquiry and deliberation, the commissioners
felt themselves warranted in submitting to government. It commenced by
stating, that the evidence annexed to the former Reports proves the
existence of deep distress in all parts of Ireland. There is not, it is
said, the division of labour which exists in Great Britain. The
labouring class look to agriculture alone for support, whence the supply
of agricultural labour greatly exceeds the demand for it; and small
earnings, and widespread misery, are the consequence. Tables are given
of the population of Great Britain and Ireland respectively, of the
classes and occupations in each, the quantity of cultivated and
uncultivated land, the proportions of agricultural produce, and the
wages of agricultural labourers—from which, the commissioners say it
appears—“that in Great Britain the agricultural families constitute
little more than a fourth, while in Ireland they constitute about
two-thirds of the whole population; that there were in Great Britain in
1831,—1,055,982 agricultural labourers, in Ireland 1,131,715,—although
the cultivated land of Great Britain amounts to about 34,250,000 acres,
and that of Ireland only to about 14,600,000.” So that there are in
Ireland about five agricultural labourers for every two that there are
for the same quantity of land in Great Britain. It further appears that
the agricultural produce of Great Britain is more than four times that
of Ireland; that agricultural wages vary from 6_d._ to 1_s._ a day; that
the average of the country is about 8½_d._; and that the earnings of the
labourers come on an average of the whole class, to from 2_s._ to 2_s._
6_d._ a week, or thereabouts, for the year round.

Thus circumstanced, the commissioners observe, “it is impossible for the
able-bodied, in general, to provide against sickness or the temporary
absence of employment, or against old age, or the destitution of their
widows and children in the contingent event of their own premature
decease.” A great portion of them are, it is said, insufficiently
provided with the commonest necessaries of life. “Their habitations are
wretched hovels, several of a family sleep together upon straw, or upon
the bare ground, sometimes with a blanket, sometimes even without so
much to cover them; their food commonly consists of dry potatoes, and
with these they are at times so scantily supplied, as to be obliged to
stint themselves to one spare meal in the day. There are even instances
of persons being driven by hunger to seek sustenance in wild herbs. They
sometimes get a herring or a little milk, but they never get meat except
at Christmas, Easter, and Shrovetide.[63] Some go in search of
employment to Great Britain during the harvest, others wander through
Ireland with the same view. The wives and children of many are
occasionally obliged to beg, but they do so reluctantly and with shame,
and in general go to a distance from home that they may not be known.
Mendicity too is the sole resource of the aged and impotent of the
poorer classes in general, when children or relatives are unable to
support them. To it therefore crowds are driven for the means of
existence, and the knowledge that such is the fact leads to an
indiscriminate giving of alms, which encourages idleness, imposture and
general crime.”



  To partake of meat at these seasons is enjoined upon all the members
  of the Roman catholic church.


Such is described as being the condition of the great body of the
labouring classes in Ireland, and “with these facts before us (the
commissioners say) we cannot hesitate to state, that we consider
remedial measures requisite to ameliorate the condition of the Irish
poor—What those measures should be is a question complicated, and
involving considerations of the deepest importance to the whole body of
the people, both in Ireland and Great Britain. Society is so
constructed, its various parts are so connected, the interests of all
who compose it are so interwoven, the rich are so dependent on the
labour of the poor, and the poor upon the wealth of the rich, that any
attempt to legislate partially, or with a view to the good of a portion
only, without a due regard to the whole of the community, must prove in
the end fallacious, fatal to its object, and injurious in general to a
ruinous degree.”

None will deny the truth of these propositions, which doubtless ought to
be kept in view in legislating for the relief of the poor, or for any
other matter of general interest or importance. Their enunciation does
not however materially assist in discovering a remedy for the fearful
amount of destitution and suffering shown to prevail in Ireland, the
descriptions of which as given in the Report, are here brought together
in one point of view, in order that the reader may have the extent of
the evil laid open before him.

It has, the commissioners say, “been suggested to us to recommend a Poor
Law for Ireland similar to that of England, but we are of opinion that
the provision to be made for the poor in Ireland must vary essentially
from that made in England.” The English law, it is said, requires that
work and support should be found for all able-bodied persons who may be
out of employment, and such work and support will now be provided for
them only in a workhouse; so that if workhouses were to be established
in Ireland as a means of relief, they must be sufficiently capacious for
setting vast numbers of unemployed persons to work within them. The
commissioners state that they “cannot estimate the number of persons in
Ireland out of work and in distress during thirty weeks of the year, at
less than 585,000, nor the number of persons dependent upon them at less
than 1,800,000, making in the whole 2,385,000—This therefore (it is
added) is about the number for which it would be necessary to provide
accommodation in workhouses, if all who require relief were there to be
relieved;” and they consider it impossible to provide for such a
multitude, or even to attempt it with safety. The expense of erecting
and fitting up the necessary buildings would, they say, “come to about
4,000,000_l._, and allowing for the maintenance of each person 2½_d._
only a day (that being the expense at the mendicity establishment of
Dublin) the cost of supporting the whole 2,385,000 for thirty weeks
would be something more than 5,000,000_l._ a year; whereas the gross
rental of Ireland (exclusive of towns) is estimated at less than
10,000,000_l._ a year, the net income of the landlords at less than
6,000,000_l._, and the public revenue is only about 4,000,000_l._”

The commissioners do not however think that such an expense would
actually be incurred. On the contrary they are convinced that the
able-bodied and their families would endure any misery rather than make
a workhouse their domicile; and they add—“now if we thought that
employment could be had provided due efforts were made to procure it,
the general repugnance to a workhouse would be a reason for recommending
that mode of relief, for assistance could be afforded through it to the
few that might from time to time fall into distress, and yet no
temptation be afforded to idleness and improvidence; but we see that the
labouring class are eager for work, that work there is not for them, and
that they are therefore, and not from any fault of their own, in
permanent want.” This, it is said, is just the state to which, on the
authority of a passage quoted from the English Poor Law
Commissioners,[64] the workhouse system is held not to be applicable;
and if it were established in Ireland, would, the commissioners are
persuaded, “be regarded by the bulk of the population as a stratagem for
debarring them of that right to employment and support with which the
law professed to invest them.” It is unnecessary, the commissioners add,
to point out the feelings which must thus be created, or the
consequences to which they might lead; and they conclude this section of
their Report by saying—“We cannot therefore recommend the present
workhouse system of England as at all suited to Ireland.”



  The entire of the paragraph quoted would not bear out the
  interpretation here put upon it.


Having thus rejected the workhouse, the commissioners next consider how
far the objections applicable to a provision for enforcing in-door work,
would be applicable to one for enforcing out-door employment; and they
come to the conclusion, that having regard to the number of persons for
whom work must be found, and the experience of the consequences to which
out-door compulsory employment led in England, any attempt to introduce
it into Ireland would be attended with most pernicious results. “If (it
is said) the farmers were compelled to take more men than they chose or
thought they wanted, they would of course reduce the wages of all to a
minimum. If, on the other hand, magistrates or other local authorities
were empowered to frame a scale of wages or allowances, so as to secure
to each labourer a certain sum by the week, we do not think they could,
with safety to their persons and property, fix a less sum than would be
equal to the highest rate of wages pre-existing in the district for
which they were required to act; nor would anything less enable the
labourer to support himself and his family upon such food, with such
clothing, and in such a dwelling, as any person undertaking to provide
permanently for human beings in a civilized country could say they ought
to be satisfied with. It would therefore (the commissioners think) be
necessary to fix different scales of wages or allowances, which would
average for the whole of Ireland about 4_s._ 6_d._ a week. This would be
to double the present earnings of the body of labourers, and these
appear to amount to about 6,800,000_l._ a year. The additional charge
would therefore come to about that sum.”

The tenantry, the commissioners say, cannot be expected to bear this
burden. They have not capital for it, and the charge must therefore fall
upon the landlords. Rents would diminish, commerce would decay, and the
demand for agricultural produce and all commodities save potatoes and
coarse clothing would contract, while the number of persons out of
employment and in need of support would increase, and general ruin
ensue. The well-known case of “Cholesbury” is then cited, and held up as
an example of what would follow in Ireland, “at the end of a year from
the commencement of any system for charging the land indefinitely with
the support of the whole labouring part of the community.”

“With such feelings,” the commissioners observe, “and considering the
redundancy of labour which now exists in Ireland, how earnings are kept
down by it, what misery is thus produced, and what insecurity of liberty
property and life ensues, we are satisfied that enactments calculated to
promote the improvement of the country, and so to extend the demand for
free and profitable labour, should make essential parts of any law for
ameliorating the condition of the poor. And for the same reasons, while
we feel that relief should be provided for the impotent, we consider it
due to the whole community, and to the labouring class in particular,
that such of the able-bodied as may still be unable to find free and
profitable employment in Ireland, should be secured support only through
emigration, or as preliminary to it—those who desire to emigrate should
be furnished with the means of doing so in safety, and with intermediate
support when they stand in need of it at emigrant depôts. It is thus,
and thus only, that the market of labour in Ireland can be relieved from
the weight that is now upon it, or the labourer be raised from his
present prostrate state.” Long quotations are then given from the
several Reports of the assistant-commissioners, showing that, “the
feelings of the suffering labourers in Ireland are also decidedly in
favour of emigration.” They do not desire workhouses, it is said, but
they do desire a free passage to a colony where they may have the means
of living by their own industry.

The commissioners conclude this section of their Report by saying, that
they do not look to emigration as an object to be permanently pursued
upon an extensive scale, nor as the chief means of relief for the evils
of Ireland, but “as an auxiliary essential to a commencing course of
amelioration.” They then “proceed to submit a series of provisions for
the improvement of Ireland, and the relief of the poor therein,
including in the latter means of emigration.”

The recommendations extend from section 5 to 15 inclusive, and are all
more or less connected with agriculture, which is said to be the only
pursuit for which the body of the people of Ireland are qualified by
habit, and that it is chiefly through it that any general improvement in
their condition can be effected. It is recommended—

  1st. That a board constituted on the principle of the Bedford Level
      Corporation should be established, for carrying into effect a
      system of national improvement in Ireland, having a president and
      vice-president with suitable salaries, and who together with two
      of the judges to be appointed for the purpose, are to form a court
      of review and record, with power to hear and determine all matters
      connected with such improvements.

  2nd. The “Board of Improvement” is to be authorized to appoint
      commissioners, who are to be armed with the usual powers given to
      commissioners under Enclosure Acts, and are from time to time to
      make surveys and valuations, and partitions of waste lands, the
      Board of Works making such main drains and roads as may be
      required, and taking, in consideration thereof, an allotment of a
      certain part of each waste in trust for the public, in proportion
      to the expense incurred in making the survey, partition, drainage,
      and roads.

  3rd. With regard to land under cultivation, it is recommended that
      both draining and fencing should be enforced by law, and that the
      “Board of Improvement” should be empowered to appoint local
      commissioners for the purpose, for any district they may think
      proper. If the outlay to be incurred should exceed what the
      landlords or occupiers may be able to pay, 5 per cent. on the
      amount may be annually assessed and made payable to the Board of
      Works, which in consideration thereof is to advance the requisite
      sum—the funds placed at its disposal being proportionally

  4th. The “Board of Improvement” to be enabled to cause cabins which
      may be nuisances to be taken down, and to require the landlords to
      contribute towards the expense of removing the occupants and
      providing for them.

  5th. The “Board of Improvement” to establish an agricultural model
      school, with four or five acres of land attached, in so many
      parishes or districts as may be thought necessary, the master to
      undergo due examination, and to give instruction in letters and in

  6th. Tenants for life, with the approval of the “Board of
      Improvement,” to be empowered to grant leases for thirty-one
      years, and to charge the property with the amount expended in
      effecting permanent improvements.

  7th. A fiscal board to be established in every county, with the powers
      to make presentments for public works now vested in grand juries,
      and to be required to present such sums as may be appointed by the
      Improvement Board.

  8th. The Board of Works to be authorized to undertake any public works
      “such as roads, bridges, deepening rivers, or removing
      obstructions in them, and so forth,” that within certain
      limitations may be approved by the “Board of Improvement.”

A dissertation is then introduced on the effect of Irish immigrants on
the labour-market of England, and ending with this quotation from
Burke—“England and Ireland may flourish together. The world is large
enough for us both. Let it be our care not to make ourselves too little
for it.” The commissioners say it was their intention “to inquire
relative to trade and manufactures, to the fisheries, and to mining; but
that it has been found impossible to go into those matters through want
of time.”

The foregoing summary of the commissioners’ recommendations can hardly
be said to come within the province of poor-law legislation, but it has
been thought right to insert them here, in order that the reader may see
what were the commissioners’ views with regard to the state of Ireland,
and especially with regard to its wants, which apparently consist in a
want of capital, and a want of skill. The first is proposed to be
furnished by government through the Board of Works, the last it is
proposed to supply by constituting a “Board of Improvement.”

The 16th section of the Report commences with the declaration “_We now
come to measures of direct relief for the poor_.” After adverting to the
Poor Laws of England and Scotland, the one carried into universal effect
by local assessments, and the other “in general supported by voluntary
contributions administered by officers known to the law and responsible
to it”—the commissioners say “they have shown by their second Report
that the institutions existing in Ireland for the relief of the poor are
houses of industry, infirmaries, fever hospitals, lunatic asylums, and
dispensaries; that the establishment of these, except as to lunatic
asylums, is not compulsory, but dependent upon private subscriptions, or
the will of grand juries; that there are but nine houses of industry in
the whole country; that while the provision made for the sick poor in
some places is extensive, it is in other places utterly inadequate; and
that there is no general provision made for the aged, the impotent, or
the destitute.” Much, it is added, is certainly given in Ireland in
private charity, “but it is not given upon any organised system of
relief, and the abundant alms which are bestowed, in particular by the
poorer classes, unfortunately tend to encourage mendicancy with its
attendant evils.”

The commissioners then declare that upon the best consideration they
have been able to give to the whole subject, they think that a legal
provision should be made, and rates levied, “for the relief and support
of incurable as well as curable lunatics, of idiots, epileptic persons,
cripples, deaf and dumb and blind poor, and all who labour under
permanent bodily infirmities—such relief and support to be afforded
within the walls of public institutions; also for the relief of the sick
poor in hospitals, infirmaries, and convalescent establishments, or by
extern attendance and a supply of food as well as medicine where the
persons to be relieved are not in a state to be removed from home; also
for the purpose of emigration, for the support of penitentiaries to
which vagrants may be sent, and for the maintenance of deserted
children; also towards the relief of aged and infirm persons, of
orphans, of helpless widows with young children, of the families of sick
persons, and of casual destitution.”

For effecting these several purposes, it is recommended that powers
should be vested in Poor Law Commissioners as in England, “for carrying
into execution all such provisions as shall be made by law for the
relief of the poor in Ireland, and that they shall be authorized to
appoint assistant-commissioners to act under their directions.” It is
proposed that the commissioners should divide the country into relief
districts, and cause the lands of each to be surveyed and valued, with
the names of all proprietors of houses or lands and of all lessees and
occupiers thereof, and the annual value of such houses and lands
respectively, the same to be lodged at such place within the district as
the commissioners shall appoint, and public notice thereof to be given.

It is also recommended that a board of guardians should be elected for
each district by the ratepayers, consisting of proprietors, lessees,
and occupiers, a certain number of the board to go out each year and
others to be elected in their stead. The board of guardians to have
the direction of all the institutions for the relief of the poor
within the district which are supported by local rates, and to cause
them to be duly upheld and maintained. If any district refuse or
neglect to appoint guardians, or when appointed if the guardians
refuse or neglect to act, the Poor Law Commissioners to be empowered
to appoint assistant-commissioners for such district with suitable
salaries, who are to exercise all the powers of the board of
guardians. The salaries to be paid by a rate on the district.

It is likewise proposed that there should be so many asylums in Ireland
for the relief and support of lunatics and idiots, and for the support
and instruction of the deaf and dumb and blind poor, so many depôts for
receiving persons willing to emigrate, and so many penitentiaries for
vagrants, as the Poor Law Commissioners shall appoint—that these several
establishments should be national, and that for maintaining them &c. the
commissioners should be empowered to rate the whole of Ireland, and to
require the boards of guardians to raise a proportional share thereof in
each district, according to the annual value of its property. It is
moreover recommended that there should be in each district an
institution for the support and relief of cripples, and persons
afflicted with epilepsy or other permanent disease; also an infirmary,
hospital and convalescent establishment, and such number of dispensaries
as may be necessary, the whole to be provided for by local assessment. A
loan fund administered according to regulations approved by the
commissioners, is likewise recommended to be established in every

With regard to emigration, as the whole United Kingdom will, it is said,
“be benefited in a very great degree, and particularly in point of
revenue, by the improvement which extensive emigration coming in aid of
a general course of amelioration cannot fail to produce in Ireland,
one-half of the expense should, the commissioners submit, be borne by
the general funds of the empire.” And considering the particular benefit
which Ireland will derive from it, and especially those landlords whose
estates may thus be relieved from a starving population, it is proposed
that in rural districts the other half should be defrayed partly by the
national rate, and partly by the owners of the lands from which the
emigrants remove, or from which they may have been ejected within the
preceding twelve months. It is further proposed that all the necessary
arrangements for carrying on emigration, should be made between the Poor
Law Commissioners and the Colonial Office; “and that all poor persons
whose circumstances require it, shall be furnished with a free passage
and with the means of settling themselves in an approved British
colony;” and likewise—“that the means of emigration shall be provided
for the destitute of every class and description who are fit subjects
for emigration; that depôts shall be established, where all who desire
to emigrate may be received; that those who are fit for emigration be
there selected for the purpose, and that those who are not shall be
provided for under the directions of the Poor Law Commissioners;” who
will moreover be authorized to borrow moneys from the Exchequer Bill
Loan Commissioners for the purposes of emigration, or for defraying the
cost of any buildings they may think necessary, and also “to secure the
repayment thereof by a charge upon the national rate.”

The commissioners likewise propose that the laws with respect to
vagrancy should be altered. “At present,” they say, “persons convicted
of vagrancy may be transported for seven years—our recommendation is
that penitentiaries shall be established to which vagrants when taken up
shall be sent; that they be charged with the vagrancy before the next
quarter sessions, and if convicted shall be removed as free labourers to
such colony, not penal, as shall be appointed for them by the Colonial
Department.” But the wages earned in the colony are to be attached until
the expense of their passage be defrayed; and it is added by way of
summary, that by such provisions as are now suggested, “all poor persons
who cannot find means of support at home, and who are willing to live by
their labour abroad, will be furnished with the means of doing so, and
with intermediate support, if fit to emigrate; and if not, will be
otherwise provided for, while the idle who would rather beg than labour,
will be taken up, and the evil of vagrancy suppressed.”

The _58th George 3rd, cap. 47_, and an Act of the following year (_cap.
41_)[65] amending the same, are then referred to, and the commissioners
recommend that the powers given by these Acts to vestries should be
transferred to the boards of guardians of each district, and that
officers of health should be elected by them for every parish within
their jurisdiction—such officers of health to grant tickets of admission
to the next emigration depôt to any poor inhabitants of their parish who
may, on behalf of themselves or their families, demand the same; and
also, where necessary, to procure means for passing such persons to the
depôt. The officers of health are moreover to pass all persons taken up
under the provisions of the above Acts to a penitentiary, and also to
cause all foundlings to be sent to nurse, “and when of a suitable age to
cause them to be removed to an emigration depôt, from whence they may be
sent to an institution in some British colony, which shall be appointed
for receiving such children, and training and apprenticing them to
useful trades or occupations.” The officers of health are also to
provide in like manner for all orphan children,[66] and the funds for
the several purposes are to be raised by local assessment in the
district. Provision is likewise to be made at each depôt for receiving
the persons sent thither by the officers of health, such persons to be
there supported and set to work until the period for emigration arrives;
and any persons who after entering an emigration depôt shall leave it,
“without discharging such expenses as may have been incurred with
respect to them, or who shall refuse to emigrate, shall be subjected to
the provisions recommended with respect to vagrants.”



  Ante, pp. 77 and 78.


  The duties here proposed to be performed by the officers of health,
  are similar to what are required from the relieving officer under the
  amended Poor Law in England.


With respect to the relief of the aged and infirm, of orphans, helpless
widows with young children, and destitute persons in general, it is
stated that there is a difference of opinion—some of the commissioners
“think the necessary funds should be provided in part by the public
through a national rate, and in part by private associations, which,
aided by the public, should be authorized to establish mendicity-houses
and almshouses, and to administer relief to the indigent at their own
dwellings, subject however to the superintendence and control of the
Poor Law Commissioners; while others think the whole of the funds should
be provided by the public, one portion by a national rate and another by
a local rate, and should be administered as in England by the board of
guardians of each district.” The majority are however of opinion, “that
the plan of voluntary associations, aided by the public, should be tried
in the first instance.” Recommendations are then made as to the mode of
raising and apportioning the rate. The commissioners have, they say,
“anxiously considered the practicability of making the rate payable out
of property of every description; but the difficulty of reaching
personal property in general by direct taxation, except through very
inquisitorial proceedings, has obliged them to determine on recommending
that the land should be the fund charged in the first instance with it.”

There being, the commissioners say, reason to believe that the landed
property of Ireland is so deeply encumbered, that a rate might absorb
the whole income of some of the nominal proprietors, the Masters of the
Court of Chancery were consulted on the subject, and from the facts they
stated, “it appears that the average rent of land is under 1_l._ 12_s._
6_d._ the Irish acre, equal to about 14_s._ 2_d._ the English; that the
gross landed rental of Ireland amounts to less than 10,000,000_l._; that
the expenses and losses cannot be taken at less than ten per cent., nor
the annuities and the interest of charges payable out of the land at
less than 3,000,000_l._ a year; so that the total net income is less
than 6,000,000_l._” The commissioners think therefore, that the
encumbrancers should bear a share of the burden, and recommend “That
persons paying any annual charge in respect of any beneficial interest
in land, shall be authorised to deduct the same sum in the pound
thereout, that he pays to the poor-rate.” They also recommend “that the
original rate shall never be raised by more than one-fifth, unless for
the purpose of emigration.”

As regards voluntary associations, it is proposed that the Poor Law
Commissioners shall frame rules for their government, and that each
association shall transmit to the commissioners an estimate of its
probable expenditure and its funds for the year ensuing, and that they
shall award such grant to it as they think proper. The commissioners to
be also authorised “to advance to any voluntary association, out of the
national rate, the whole sum which may be necessary for the building and
outfit of a mendicity or alms house for any parish;” and if such
mendicity or alms house be not afterwards duly maintained, the sum so
advanced is to be repaid by the parish to the credit of the national

Certain recommendations are then made with the view of promoting
sobriety, and lessening “the inordinate use of ardent spirits”—also with
reference to the Board of Charitable Bequests, whose functions may, it
is suggested, be advantageously transferred to the Poor Law
Commissioners—likewise the details of a plan for purchasing the tithe
composition, and vesting it in the Poor Law Commissioners as a fund for
the relief of the poor, by doing which, it is said, “there would be a
surplus of 313,000_l._ a year applicable to the purposes of the national
rate.” In conclusion, the commissioners express their belief, that upon
the whole there is a rising spirit of improvement in Ireland, which
however requires to be stimulated by sound legislation, “or it cannot
speedily relieve the country from the lingering effects of the evil
system of former times.” At present, it is observed, with a population
nearly equal to half that of Great Britain, Ireland yields only about a
twelfth of the revenue to the state that Great Britain does, nor can it
yield more until it has more to yield. Increased means must precede
increased contribution, and to supply Ireland with these is, the
commissioners say, the great object of their recommendations.

Such was the commissioners’ final Report on the condition of the Irish
poor and the means for its amelioration, the substance and general
import of which I have endeavoured to give with the fulness and
completeness the importance of the subject demanded. The Report was not
however signed by all the commissioners. Three of their body withheld
their signature, and recorded their “reasons for dissenting from the
principle of raising funds for the relief of the poor by the voluntary
system, as recommended in the Report.”[67] The ‘Reasons’ are set forth
in thirteen propositions, the most material of which are the following.



  These were Dr. Vignoles, J. W. S. Naper Esq., and Lord Killeen.


“Because—in the lamentably distressed state of the Irish poor, any
system of relief to be effectual must be comprehensive, uniform, and
prompt; whilst the very constitution of voluntary associations proclaims
that their operations must be tardy; and circumstanced as Ireland is in
the distribution of her population, must be partial and precarious.

“Because—it is notorious that many contributions, in name voluntary, are
frequently obligations of the severest character. The pressure of such a
tax must be unequal. The class least removed from want, would furnish as
it now does, the largest number of contributors, and to the greatest
amount; whilst the wealthier classes, resident as well as absentee,
would in a great measure be exempted from the liability of contributing
in proportion to their wealth, or even from contributing at all.

“Because—viewing the peculiar state of society in Ireland, the extent to
which religious zeal prevails, as well as the influence it must
exercise, we consider the difficulties attendant on the raising of a
voluntary fund in the first instance, and of an impartial distribution
of relief in the next, all but insurmountable.

“Because—the mendicity institutions of Dublin, Limerick, Newry, Birr,
Sligo, Waterford and Londonderry, as well as the voluntary poor’s fund
established in some of the rural districts, afford strong proofs of the
inefficiency of the support afforded to these institutions; for although
they have not totally failed, yet their subscriptions are falling off,
and they are by no means adequate to the relief of the objects they

“Because—although we admit that there are districts in Ireland in which
voluntary societies might be established, and which would afford means
of constructing a local administration for the management of the poor’s
fund—still we feel satisfied that in the present state of society, and
under the existing distribution of the population, such a system cannot
be either comprehensive or uniform. We are therefore of opinion that the
fund should be obtained by an assessment, wholly and not partially
compulsory; and that it will be most efficiently managed by elective
boards of guardians as in England, directed by responsible public
officers whose proceedings shall be subjected to the strictest public

These are no doubt weighty reasons in favour of certain means being
provided to meet a certainly recurring contingency. But reasons were
also adduced on the opposite side of the question, the other eight
commissioners having in a series of sixteen propositions likewise
recorded their “reasons for recommending voluntary associations for the
relief of the poor;”[68] of which ‘Reasons’ the following are the

“Because—there are and must necessarily be continually arising, many
cases of real destitution which cannot be relieved by a compulsory
assessment, without bringing claims upon it to an unlimited extent. The
attempt was made in England to meet all cases of distress by a
compulsory rate, and the consequence was, that in one year the rate
amounted to the enormous sum of more than 7,800,000_l._ sterling; and
besides the oppressive amount of the assessments, it did much evil in
pauperising a large portion of the labouring population.

“Because—although such cases of distress might, and probably would be,
relieved by spontaneous charity, yet the leaving of such cases of
distress to be relieved by the operation of undirected benevolence,
inevitably leads to an extensive vagrancy. This is now the state of
Ireland. On the most moderate computation the amount of spontaneous alms
given, chiefly by the smaller farmers and cottars, is from one to two
millions sterling annually; but being given without system or without
inquiry to the good and to the bad, the really destitute and the
pretenders to destitution receive alike their maintenance out of the
earnings of the industrious, to their great impoverishment, and to the
great injury of the morals and good order of the kingdom.

“Because—the most direct and effectual, if not the only means of
avoiding these two great evils, namely, an extensive and ruinous
pauperism created by an attempt to make compulsory provision for all
cases of destitution, and an extensive and equally ruinous vagrancy
created by the want of public provision, is to endeavour to bring
voluntary almsgiving under regulations and system, so as to direct it to
the relief of real distress exclusively.

“Because—the best means of systematising and regulating voluntary
almsgiving, is to hold out the offer of a measure of public aid for all
voluntary associations, based on certain principles, and governed by
fixed regulations approved by a central board.

“Because—while a fund thus founded upon voluntary contributions would
provide effectual relief for those who are really destitute, the very
nature of it would debar the poor from establishing legal claims upon
it; since the contribution to a voluntary fund being wholly spontaneous,
the contributors could at any time withhold them, if an attempt were
made to compel an appropriation of the joint fund contrary to their

“Because—the example of an organised system of relief for the poor by
voluntary contribution is afforded in Scotland, where it has been
eminently successful.

“Because—although the system of providing for the poor by means of
voluntary associations, aided by the public purse, and constructed upon
well-digested principles, may not succeed at once in every part of the
country—yet that, so far as it does succeed, it will tend to bring the
population into a sound state with respect to the poor, and will we
trust gradually work its way over the face of the island, and probably
supersede in many places, as the Scottish system does so extensively,
the necessity of a compulsory rate. Whereas we are convinced, that
although a compulsory rate might be rendered general more rapidly, and
be administered by artificial means, it would every day become more
difficult to manage, and tend to bring the country into a worse state
than our inquiry has found it.”



  The commissioners who signed this schedule of reasons are, the
  Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Murray the Roman catholic archbishop, Rev.
  Mr. Carlisle, Mr. F. Hort, Mr. John Corrie, Mr. W. B. Wrightson, the
  Right Hon. A. R. Blake, and Mr. J. J. Bicheno. The two latter had been
  subsequently added to the original commission.


The arguments for and against establishing a system of relief in Ireland
founded upon voluntary contributions, are here deliberately stated by
the advocates of such a procedure on one side, and by its opponents on
the other. The question is vitally important with regard to the relief
of the Irish poor, and deserves the most careful consideration. If the
voluntary system be susceptible of the organisation and the certainty
its advocates assume, it might doubtless be made to a considerable
extent available, although still open to the objection that it would
operate unequally upon the absentee and the resident proprietor, upon
the liberal man and the niggard. The majority of the commissioners, we
see, attach much weight to the example of Scotland, where they believe
the voluntary system to have “been eminently successful.” How little
ground there was for such belief, is shown in the recent working of that
system;[69] and as regards the combining public aid with voluntary
contributions which is recommended, it may be remarked, that such a
combination has always led to the whole charge being eventually borne by
the public.



  See ‘History of the Scotch Poor Law.’ The number of parishes assessed
  to the relief of the poor in Scotland in 1855, was 700, and the number
  unassessed, in which the relief is raised by voluntary contributions,
  was 183. The latter are continually diminishing, and will probably ere
  long cease altogether.


[Sidenote: Mr Bicheno’s remarks on the evidence.]

In addition to the two schedules of ‘Reasons’ already noticed, another
document was appended to the Report, entitled ‘Remarks on the Evidence
&c., by one of the Commissioners.’ This was prepared by Mr. Bicheno, as
an exposition of his own peculiar views, and fills upwards of forty
closely printed folio pages. It contains a good deal of information upon
the state of the country, and the condition and habits of the people,
selected from the evidence furnished by the assistant-commissioners; but
is too long for insertion. The concluding paragraph however indicates
the spirit in which the ‘Remarks’ were written, and may therefore have a
place; it is as follows—“After all the assistance that can be extended
to Ireland by good laws, and every encouragement afforded to the poor by
temporary employment of a public nature, and every assistance that
emigration and other modes of relief can yield, her _real_ improvement
must spring from herself, her own inhabitants, and her own indigenous
institutions, irrespective of legislation, and English interference. It
must be of a moral nature; the improvement of the high and the low, the
rich and the poor. Without this, her tenantry will be still wretched,
and her landlords will command no respect; with it, a new face will be
given to the whole people.”

[Sidenote: Mr. G. C. Lewis’ remarks on the third report.]

Another paper, entitled ‘Remarks on the Third Report of the Irish Poor
Inquiry Commissioners,’ was submitted to government shortly after the
delivery of that Report. It was dated in July 1836, and was drawn up by
George Cornewall Lewis Esq.,[70] who had been one of the
assistant-commissioners for prosecuting the inquiry in Ireland. The
objections to the system, or rather the several systems of relief
recommended by the commissioners, are stated by Mr. Lewis with great
force and clearness, and he comes to conclusions on the whole question
very similar to those contained in the ‘Suggestions’ which had been
submitted by the author in the month of January preceding.[71] He
proposes to apply the principle of the amended English Poor Law to
Ireland, including the workhouse, with regard to the rejection of which
by the commissioners, he remarks—“as the danger of introducing a
poor-law into Ireland is confessedly great, I can conceive no reason for
not taking every possible security against its abuse. Now if anything
has been proved more decisively than another by the operation of the
Poor Law Amendment Act in England, it is that the workhouse is an
all-sufficient test of _destitution_, and that it is the only test; that
it succeeds as a mode of relief, and that all other modes fail. Why
therefore, this tried guarantee against poor-law abuses is not to be
employed, when abuses are, under the best system, almost inevitable, it
seems difficult to understand. If such a safeguard were to be dispensed
with anywhere, it would be far less dangerous to dispense with it in
England than in Ireland.”



  Now Sir George Cornewall Lewis Bart., and Chancellor of the Exchequer.


  Ante p. 129.


An account of the further steps taken with reference to the
commissioners’ Report, and as regards the whole of the very important
question to which it applies, will be given in the next chapter.

                              CHAPTER III.

Recommendation in the king’s speech—Motions and other proceedings in the
  House of Commons—Lord John Russell’s instructions to the author—The
  author’s first Report—Lord John Russell’s speech on introducing a bill
  founded on its recommendations—Progress of the bill interrupted by the
  death of the king—Author’s second Report—Bill reintroduced and passed
  the Commons—Author’s third Report—Bill passes the Lords, and becomes

The impatience generally felt for the Report of the Irish Poor Inquiry
Commissioners, was not a little increased by the uncertainty as to what
would be its nature. It was known that there were great differences of
opinion among the commissioners with regard to the remedy, although they
were all agreed as to the existence of the evil, and the necessity for
something being done towards its mitigation; but what that something
should be, was a question on which it was understood they by no means
coincided. It was feared therefore, that the present inquiry would end,
as others had ended, without any practical result. An impression had
long prevailed, and was daily becoming stronger, of the necessity for
making some provision for the relief of the destitute poor in Ireland.
The perpetually-increasing intercourse between the two countries,
brought under English notice the wretched state of a large proportion of
the people in the sister island; and the vast numbers of them who
crossed the Channel in search of the means of living, and became more or
less domiciled in the large towns and throughout the western districts
of England, made it a matter of policy, as it assuredly was of humanity,
to endeavour to improve their condition; and nothing seemed so equitable
or so readily effective for the purpose, as making property liable for
the relief of destitution in Ireland, as was the case in England—in
other words, establishing some description of poor-law.

[Sidenote: The king’s speech on opening parliament, February 4, 1836.]

On the assembling of parliament, the subject was thus referred to in the
Royal speech—“a further Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the
condition of the poorer classes in Ireland will speedily be laid before
you. You will approach this subject with the caution due to its
importance and difficulty; and the experience of the salutary effect
produced by the Act for the amendment of the laws relating to the poor
in England and Wales, may in many respects assist your deliberations.” A
few days after (February 9th) Sir Richard Musgrave moved for leave to
bring in a bill for the relief of the poor of Ireland in certain
cases—“He himself,” he said, “lived in an atmosphere of misery, and
being compelled to witness it daily, he was determined to pursue the
subject, to see whether any and what relief could be procured from
parliament.” On the 15th of February another motion was made by the
member for Stroud for leave to introduce a bill for the ‘Relief and
Employment of the Poor of Ireland;’ and on the 3rd of March following, a
bill was submitted by Mr. Smith O'Brien, framed upon the principle that
in a system of poor-laws for Ireland, there ought to be local
administration, combined with central control—“local administration by
bodies elected by, and representing the contributors to the poor-fund,
and general central supervision and control on the part of a body named
by the government, and responsible to parliament.”

[Sidenote: Lord John Russell’s observations on the commissioners’
           Report, April 18, 1836.]

These bills were all introduced, it will be observed, irrespective of
the final Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry, which indeed had not
yet been presented. But on the 18th of April, in answer to a question
respecting it, Lord John Russell, then Secretary of State for the Home
Department, said “that the Report had been under the consideration of
government, and they certainly had found in it a great variety of
important matters; at the same time he must add, that the suggestions in
it were not of that simple and single nature as to allow them to be
adopted without the caution which was recommended by the commissioners
themselves.” He could not, he said, conclude without adding, “that the
Report was not only of extreme importance, but that the subject of it
was of a nature to render it absolutely necessary that some measure
should be brought forward and adopted. It would be anxiously considered
by the government with a view to such measures, and there were none as
affecting Ireland, either at present or perhaps within the next hundred
years, which could possibly be of greater magnitude.” [Sidenote: Lord
Morpeth’s observations in reference to the Poor-Law question.] On the
4th of May Mr. Poulett Scrope moved a series of resolutions expressive
of the necessity for some provision for the relief of the Irish poor—in
commenting on which, Lord Morpeth[72] admitted “that the hideous nature
of the evils which prevailed amongst the poorer classes in Ireland,
called earnestly for redress, and he thought no duty more urgent on the
government and on parliament than to devise a remedy for them.”
Government were now he said engaged in determining on the steps proper
to be taken, and at the first moment they were in a condition to propose
such a general measure as they could recommend for adoption on their own
responsibility, they would do so. On the 9th of June following, on the
motion for postponing the consideration of Sir Richard Musgrave’s bill,
Lord Morpeth again assured the house “that the subject was under the
immediate consideration of government; and that he was not without hope
of their being enabled to introduce some preparatory measure in the
present session; but at all events they would take the first opportunity
in the next session, of introducing what he hoped would be a complete
and satisfactory measure;” and here the matter rested for the present.



  The present Earl of Carlisle, then Secretary for Ireland, and now Lord


[Sidenote: Parliament prorogued August 20, 1835.]

Parliament was prorogued on the 20th of August, without anything having
been done, either with the bills introduced by individual members, or in
regard to the Report of the commissioners of inquiry. The
recommendations of the commissioners seem indeed to have increased
rather than lessened the difficulties attending any measure for the
relief of the Irish poor, owing probably to the recommendations “not
being of that simple and single nature” to which the home secretary
adverted in his address to the house on the 18th of April. Public
attention nevertheless continued to be directed to the subject with
undiminished earnestness, and government felt the necessity of coming to
some early and definite conclusion as to the steps to be taken in regard
to it.

[Sidenote: The author’s connexion with the subject.]

We have now reached a portion of our narrative when the author will be
compelled to speak of himself, and the part taken by him, first in
devising a poor-law for Ireland, and next in superintending its
introduction into that country; and he is very anxious to bespeak an
indulgent consideration for the difficulty in which he is placed, by
having been thus personally engaged in the transactions which he will
have to describe. The great social importance of the Irish Poor Law,
imposes upon him the duty of giving a full and complete account of all
that took place with regard to it; and he feels that this duty cannot be
rendered less imperative, by the fact of his official connexion with the
measure. He will therefore proceed to detail the circumstances as they
severally occurred; and it will be more simple, and may save
circumlocution for him to speak in the first person, on the occasions in
which he was himself immediately concerned.

[Sidenote: Lord John Russell’s letter of instructions, August 22, 1836.]

On the 22nd of August I received directions to proceed to Ireland,
taking with me the Reports of the commissioners of inquiry, and there to
examine how far it might be judicious or practicable to offer relief to
whole classes of the poor, whether of the sick, the infirm, or orphan
children—whether such relief might not have the effect of promoting
imposture, without destroying mendicity—whether the condition of the
great bulk of the poorer classes would be improved by such a
measure—whether a rate limited in its amount rather than its
application, might be usefully directed to the erection and maintenance
of workhouses for all those who sought relief as paupers—whether any
kind of workhouse can be established which should not give its inmates a
superior degree of comfort to the common lot of the independent
labourer—whether the restraint of a workhouse would be an effectual
check to applicants for admission; and whether, if the system were once
established, the inmates would not resist, by force, the restraints
which would be necessary. Supposing the workhouse system not to be
advisable, I was directed to consider in what other mode a national or
local rate might be beneficially applied; and to examine the policy of
establishing depôts where candidates for emigration might resort. My
attention was also specially directed to the machinery by which rates
for the relief of the poor might be raised and expended; and to the
formation and constitution of a central board, of local boards, of
district unions, and of parochial vestries. I was also directed to
inquire whether the capital applied to the improvement of land, and the
reclaiming of bogs and wastes was perceptibly or notoriously increasing
or diminishing, and to remark generally upon any plans which might lead
to an increased demand for labour; and lastly, to “carefully read the
bills which had been brought into the house of commons on this subject
during that year, and the draft of a bill prepared by one of the
commissioners of inquiry in conformity with their Report.”

It will thus be seen that the proposed inquiry was sufficiently
extensive; and I hardly need say that I entered upon the duty assigned
me with a deep sense of the responsibility it involved. The working of
the English Poor Law, afforded means for obtaining some insight into the
character and habits of such of the Irish as had become resident in the
metropolis and the larger towns of England, and I immediately instituted
inquiries on the subject among the workhouse masters and other officers
of several of the London parishes where the Irish labourers principally
resided. They all assured me as the result of their experience, that the
discipline of a workhouse operated with the Irish precisely as it did
with the English poor. There was in fact no difference in this respect,
nor any greater difficulty with regard to the one, than there was in the
management of the other. This was so far satisfactory; but further
examination and inquiry were necessary for giving entire confidence on
this point, and these could best be pursued in Ireland whither I
accordingly proceeded early in September.

The evidence collected by the late commissioners of inquiry and appended
to their Report, established so conclusively the existence of a state of
poverty throughout Ireland, amounting in numerous cases to actual
destitution,[73] that I felt it to be unnecessary to adduce any
additional proofs on the subject. To this extent moreover, the evidence
was fully borne out by previous investigations of committees and
commissions on the state of Ireland. The fact of wide-spread destitution
was therefore notorious, and its existence was universally admitted; so
that in reporting to government at the end of my mission, I considered
it enough to state as the result of my own inquiries, “that the misery
now prevalent among the labouring classes in Ireland, appears to be of a
nature and intensity calculated to produce great demoralization and
danger;” and such being the case, it was doubtless the duty of
government and the legislature to endeavour to devise a remedy for the
one, and thus at the same time to guard against the other.



  Whether the number of persons in distress and requiring relief during
  thirty weeks in every year, amounted to 2,385,000, as estimated by the
  commissioners, may admit of question; but there can be no doubt that
  much distress prevailed, and that occasionally it was exceedingly


[Sidenote: The author’s first report, Nov. 15, 1836.]

My first Report was delivered on the 15th of November. It stated that
after examining the several institutions in Dublin, I had visited the
west of Ireland from Cork to Limerick Westport and Sligo, and back by
Armagh—“everywhere examining and inquiring as to the condition and
habits of the people, their character and wants; and endeavouring to
ascertain whether, and how far, the system of relief established in
England, was applicable to the present state of Ireland.” The above
route was deemed the most eligible, because the inhabitants of the
manufacturing and commercial districts of the north and east, more
nearly resembled the English than those of the southern and western
parts of Ireland; and if the English system should be found applicable
to them, there could be no doubt of its applicability to the others.

The Report is divided into three parts or principal divisions—

The first, gives the general result of inquiries into the condition
habits and feelings of the people, especially with regard to the
introduction of a law for the relief of the poor.

In the second part, the question whether the workhouse system can with
safety and advantage be established in Ireland is considered, and also
whether the means for creating an efficient union machinery exists

Assuming these questions to be answered affirmatively, the chief points
requiring attention in framing a poor-law for Ireland, are in the last
part considered.

It is now proposed to insert, under the above divisions, so much of the
Report as will be sufficient for showing its general import, and the
nature of its recommendations; but omitting such portions as are not
necessary for this purpose—

                       _First Report._—Nov. 15, 1836.

PART THE FIRST.—“The investigations and inquiries in which I have been
    engaged, have led to a conviction that Ireland has, on the whole,
    during the last thirty or forty years, been progressively improving.
    It is impossible to pass through the country without being struck
    with the evidence of increasing wealth almost everywhere apparent,
    although it is of course more visible in towns than in the open
    country. Great as the improvement in England has been within the
    same period, that in Ireland, I believe, has been equal. There are
    towns and districts there, as there are towns and districts in
    England, in which little improvement is seen, or which may even have
    retrograded; but the general advance is certain, and the improvement
    in the condition and increase in the capital of the country, are
    still, I think, steadily progressive. If it be asked how this
    accords with the misery and destitution apparent among a large
    portion of the people, the answer is obvious—The capital of the
    country has increased, but the increase of the population has been
    still greater; and it therefore does not follow that there is an
    increase of capital or comfort in the possession of each individual,
    or even of the majority. The reverse is unhappily the fact—Towns,
    exhibiting every sign of increased wealth, are encircled by suburbs
    composed of miserable hovels, sheltering a wretched population of
    mendicants. In the country, evidence of the extreme subdivision of
    land everywhere appears, and as a consequence, the soil, fertile as
    it naturally is, becomes exhausted by continual cropping; for the
    cottier tenant, too often reduced to a level little above that of
    the mendicant, is unable to provide manure for his land, and has no
    other mode of restoring its vigour but by subjecting it to a long
    and profitless fallow. Farmers of three hundred acres, or even of
    two or one hundred, except in the grazing districts, have become
    almost extinct in Ireland. A variety of circumstances seem to have
    contributed to bring about this change. In some instances the
    proprietor has himself subdivided his land into small holdings of
    five, ten, or fifteen acres, with a view of increasing his
    rent-roll, or adding to his political influence. In other cases the
    land has been let on lease to a single tenant on lives, or for a
    term of years, or both conjointly; and he has sublet to others, who
    have again gone on dividing and subletting, until the original
    proprietor is almost lost sight of, and the original holding is
    parcelled out among a host of small occupiers.

“The occupation of a plot of land has now gotten to be considered, by a
    great portion of the Irish people, as conferring an almost
    interminable right of possession. This seems to have arisen in great
    measure out of the circumstances in which they have been placed; for
    there being no legal provision for the destitute, and the
    subdivision of the land into small holdings having destroyed the
    regular demand for labour, the only protection against actual want,
    the only means by which a man could procure food for his family, was
    by getting and retaining possession of a portion of land; for this
    he has struggled—for this the peasantry have combined and burst
    through the restraints of law and humanity. So long as this portion
    of land was kept together, it was possibly sufficient to supply his
    family with a tolerable degree of comfort; but after a time he would
    have sons to provide for, and daughters to portion off, and this
    must all be effected out of the land—until the holding of ten or
    fifteen acres became divided into holdings of two, three, or five
    acres. After a time, too, the same process of subdivision is again
    resorted to, until the minimum of subsistence is reached; and this
    is now the condition of a large portion of the Irish peasantry. Land
    is to them the great necessary of life. There is no hiring of
    servants. A man cannot obtain his living as a day-labourer. He must
    get possession of a plot of land to raise potatoes, or starve. It
    need scarcely be said that a man will not starve, so long as the
    means of sustaining life can be obtained by force or fraud; and
    hence the scenes of violence and murder which have so frequently
    occurred in Ireland.

“One of the circumstances that first arrests attention on visiting
    Ireland, is the prevalence of mendicancy. It is not perhaps the
    actual amount of misery existing amongst the mendicant class, great
    as that may be, which is most to be deprecated; but the falsehood
    and fraud which form a part of their profession, and spread by their
    example. Mendicancy appeals to our sympathies on behalf of vice, as
    well as want; and encouragement is often afforded to the one, by the
    relief intended for the other. To assume the semblance of misery is
    the business of the mendicant, and his success depends upon the
    skill with which he exercises deception. A mass of filth, nakedness,
    and squalor, is thus kept moving about the country, entering every
    house, addressing itself to every eye, and soliciting from every
    hand; and much of the filth and indolence observable in the cabins,
    clothing, and general conduct of the peasantry, may I think be
    traced to this source, and I doubt even if those above the class of
    labourers altogether escape the taint. Mendicancy and filth have
    become too common to be disgraceful.

“The Irish peasantry have generally an appearance of apathy and
    depression. This is seen in their mode of living, in their
    habitations, in their dress, in the dress of their children, and in
    their general economy and conduct. They seem to have no pride, no
    emulation; to be heedless of the present, and careless of the
    future. They do not strive to improve their appearance, or add to
    their comforts. Their cabins are slovenly, smoky, dirty, almost
    without furniture, or any article of convenience or common decency.
    On entering a cottage, the woman and children are seen seated on the
    floor surrounded by pigs and poultry, the man is lounging at the
    door, which can only be approached through mud and filth. Yet he is
    too indolent to make a dry approach to his dwelling, although there
    are materials close at hand, and his wife is too slatternly to
    cleanse the place in which they live, or sweep the dirt and offal
    from the floor. If you point out these defects, and endeavour to
    show how easily they might improve their condition and increase
    their comforts, you are invariably met by excuses as to their
    poverty. Are a woman, and her children, and her cabin filthy, whilst
    a stream of water runs past the door—the answer invariably is,
    ‘Sure, how can we help it? we are so poor!’ With the man it is the
    same; you find him idly basking in the sun, or seated by the fire,
    whilst his cabin is scarcely approachable through the accumulation
    of mud—and he too will exclaim, ‘Sure, how can we help it? we are so
    poor!’ whilst at the very time he is smoking tobacco, and has
    probably not denied himself the enjoyment of whisky. Now poverty is
    _not_ the cause, or at least not the sole cause, of this condition
    of the Irish peasantry. If they desired to live better, or to appear
    better, they might do so; but they seem to have no such ambition,
    and hence the depressed tone of which I have spoken. This may be
    partly owing to the remains of old habits; for bad as the
    circumstances of the peasantry now are, they were yet, I am
    persuaded, worse fifty or thirty years ago. A part also may be
    attributed to the want of education, and of a feeling of
    self-respect; and a part likewise to their poverty—to which last
    cause alone, everything that is wrong in Ireland is invariably

“The desultory habits of the peasantry are likewise remarkable. However
    urgent the demands for exertion—if, as in the present season, their
    crops are rotting in the fields from excessive wet, and every moment
    of sunshine should be taken advantage of—still, if there be a market
    to attend, a fair, or a funeral, a horse-race, a fight, or a
    wedding, all else is neglected or forgotten; they hurry off in
    search of the excitements which abound on such occasions, and with a
    recklessness hardly to be credited, at the moment that they are
    complaining of poverty, they take the most certain steps to increase
    it. Their fondness for ardent spirits is probably one cause of this,
    and another will be found in their position as occupiers of land.
    The work required upon their small holdings is easily performed, and
    may, as they say, ‘be done any day.’ Working for wages is rare and
    uncertain; and hence arises a disregard of the value of time, a
    desultory sauntering habit, without industry or steadiness of
    application. Such is too generally the character, and such the
    habits, of the Irish peasantry; and it may not be uninstructive to
    mark the resemblance which these bear to the character and habits of
    the English peasantry in the pauperised districts, under the abuses
    of the old Poor Law. Mendicancy and indiscriminate almsgiving have
    produced in Ireland, results similar to what indiscriminate relief
    produced in England—the like reckless disregard of the future, the
    like idle and disorderly conduct, and the same proneness to outrage
    having then characterised the English pauper labourer, which are now
    too generally the characteristics of the Irish peasant. An abuse of
    a good law caused the evil in the one case, and a removal of that
    abuse is now rapidly effecting a remedy. In the other case, the evil
    appears to have arisen rather from the want, than the abuse of a
    law; but the corrective for both will, I believe, be found to be
    essentially the same.

“The objections usually urged against the introduction of Poor Laws into
    Ireland, are founded on an anticipated demoralization of the
    peasantry—and on the probable amount of the charge. The first
    objection derives its force from the example of England under the
    old Poor Law; but the weight of this objection is destroyed by the
    improved administration under the new law, which is rapidly
    eradicating the effects of previous abuse; and will, there is good
    reason to believe, effectually prevent their recurrence. This belief
    is founded on the experience of the effects of the system in every
    instance in which it has been brought into operation, and
    particularly in two important parishes in Nottinghamshire, where the
    workhouse principle was first established in its simplicity and
    efficiency fifteen or sixteen years ago, and where it has continued
    to be equally effective up to the present time. Similar results have
    invariably attended its application in the unions formed under the
    new law, which are conducted essentially upon the same principle,
    but with a superior combination of machinery, and administrative

“With respect to the second objection, founded on the probable amount of
    expenditure, it may be remarked that the Irish population, like
    every other, must be supported in some way out of the resources of
    the country; and it does not follow that the establishment of such a
    system of relief will greatly increase the charge, if it increase it
    at all. During the progress of my inquiries, I was often told that
    the recognition of any legal claim for relief would lead to
    universal pauperism, and would amount to a total confiscation of
    property. Many Irish landowners appeared to participate in this
    apprehension—under the influence of which it seems to have been
    overlooked, that the only legal claim for relief in England is
    founded on the actual destitution of the claimant, and that as the
    existence of destitution is the ground of the claim, so is its
    removal the measure of relief to be afforded. This, if the
    destitution be rightly tested, will be a sufficient protection to
    property. At present there is no test of destitution in Ireland. The
    mendicant, whether his distress be real or fictitious, claims and
    receives his share of the produce of the soil in the shape of
    charity, before the landlord can receive his portion in the shape of
    rent, and before the tenant has ascertained whether he is a gainer
    or a loser by his labours and his risks. The mendicant’s claim has
    now precedence over every other. If the whole property of Ireland
    was rated to the relief of the poor, it would be no more; but in
    such case the charge would be equally borne, whereas at present it
    is unequal, and tends to evil in its application.

“The voluntary contributions of Scotland have been recommended as an
    example to be followed, rather than the compulsory assessments of
    England; and the Dublin Mendicity Association has been referred to,
    and its working described as at once effective for the suppression
    of mendicancy, and for the relief of the indigent within the sphere
    of its operations, without injury to the sensibilities of individual
    benevolence. But the feelings of charity and gratitude, which it is
    delightful to contemplate as the motive and the fruit of benevolent
    actions, can only exist between individuals. It matters not whether
    the fund to be distributed has been raised by voluntary
    contribution, or by legal assessment, or whether it has been devised
    for purposes of general charity. The application of the fund
    becomes, in each case, _a trust_; it is distributed as a trust, and
    it is received as a right, not as a gift. It may moreover be
    remarked, that the Dublin Mendicity Association has with difficulty
    been kept in existence by great exertions on the part of the
    committee, and by threats of parading the mendicants through the
    streets. If difficulty is thus found in supporting such an
    institution in Dublin, how impracticable must it be to provide
    permanent support for similar institutions in other parts of the
    country. Some persons contend that relief for the indigent classes
    in Ireland should be provided in ‘houses of industry,’ similar to
    those now existing in Dublin and a few other places. These
    institutions are in general not badly managed, and some
    classification is enforced in them, and the sexes are invariably
    separated. But they are certainly not entitled to the designation of
    ‘houses of industry.’ They are in fact places for the maintenance of
    a number of poor persons, mostly aged or infirm, and idiots, and
    lunatics; but as a general means of supplying necessary relief, and
    of testing the necessity, they are totally inefficient.

“Notwithstanding these objections, I found everywhere, after quitting
    Dublin, a strong feeling in favour of property being assessed for
    the relief of the indigent. At present, the burthen falls almost
    exclusively upon the lower classes, whilst the higher classes
    generally escape. A system of poor-laws, similar in principle to the
    English system, would go far to remedy this inequality—the people
    are aware of this—and, as the general result of my inquiries, I have
    been led to the conclusion, that poor-laws may be now established in
    Ireland, guarded by the correctives derived from experience in
    England, with safety and success. I think also, that such a measure
    would serve to connect the interest of landlords and tenants, and so
    become a means of benefiting both, and promoting the general peace
    and prosperity of the country. The desire now so generally expressed
    for a full participation in English laws and English institutions,
    will dispose the Irish people to receive with alacrity any measure
    tending to put them on the same footing as their fellow-subjects of
    England—a circumstance particularly favourable to the establishment
    of a poor-law at this moment. At another season, or under other
    circumstances, it might be difficult to surround a legal provision
    for the relief of the Irish poor, with sufficient guards against
    abuse; but at present, I think the legislature may venture to
    entertain the subject, having the experience of England before them,
    with a reasonable confidence of being able to bring the measure to a
    successful issue; and if the landed proprietors and gentry of
    Ireland will there perform the same part, which the proprietors and
    gentry of England are now performing in the administration of the
    new Poor Law, the result will be neither distant nor doubtful.

“If a poor-law were established in Ireland, it must not however be
    expected to work miracles. It would not give employment or capital,
    but it would, I think, help the country through what may be called
    its transition period; and in time, and with the aid of other
    circumstances, would effect a material improvement in the condition
    of the people. The English Poor Laws, in their earlier operation,
    contributed to the accomplishment of this object in England; and
    there seems nothing to prevent a similar result in Ireland.
    Facilities now exist in Ireland for helping forward the transition,
    and for shortening its duration as well as securing its benefits,
    which England did not possess in the time of Elizabeth, or for a
    century and a half afterwards. By ‘transition period,’ I mean that
    season of change from the system of small holdings, con-acre, and
    the subdivisions of land, which now prevails in Ireland, to the
    better practice of day-labour for wages, and to that dependence on
    daily labour for support, which is the present condition of the
    English peasantry. This transition is, I believe, generally beset
    with difficulty and suffering. It was so in England; it is, and for
    a time will probably continue to be so in Ireland; and every aid
    should be afforded to shorten its duration, and lessen its pressure.
    It has been considered that the existence of the con-acre system is
    favourable to such a transition. I am disposed to concur in this
    view, and think that the annual hiring of the con-acre, may help to
    wean the Irish peasantry from their present desire of occupying
    land, and lead them to become labourers for wages. The eager
    clinging to land, and its subdivision into small holdings, is at
    once a cause and a consequence of the rapid increase of the people,
    and of the extreme poverty and want which prevail among them. It is
    not because the potato constitutes their food, that a kind of famine
    occurs annually in Ireland between the going out of the old, and the
    in-coming of the new crop; but it is because the peasantry are the
    sole providers for their own necessities, each out of his own small
    holding; and being all alike hard pressed, and apt to
    under-calculate the extent of their wants, they thus often find
    themselves without food before the new crop is ripe. In this
    emergency there is no store provided to which they can have
    recourse, and misery and disease ensue. A poor-law would lighten the
    pressure under such a visitation, and the poor-law machinery might
    be useful in cases of extreme need, as well as for preventing a
    recurrence of the calamity.

“It is impossible to mix with the Irish people without noticing the
    great influence of the clergy, and it seemed important therefore to
    ascertain their views in regard to a poor-law. I discussed the
    subject with many of them, as well Roman catholic as protestant, in
    all parts of the country; and I found them, with few exceptions,
    decidedly favourably to such a law. In the cases where they were not
    so, it appeared to be owing to an apprehension that their influence
    might be lessened, by taking from them the distribution of the alms
    which now pass through their hands; but this feeling was of rare
    occurrence, and I am warranted in saying, that the clergy of every
    denomination are almost unanimously favourable to a system of Poor
    Laws for Ireland. This was perhaps to be expected, the duties of the
    clergy leading them to mix more with the people, and to see more of
    their actual wants, than any other class of persons. The shopkeepers
    too, and manufacturers and dealers generally, I found favourable to
    a poor-law. They declared that they should be gainers at the end of
    the year, whatever might be the amount legally assessed upon them;
    for that they could neither close their doors, nor turn their backs
    upon the wretched objects who were constantly applying to them;
    whilst the gentry, if resident, were in a great measure protected
    from such applications, and if non-resident, escaped them

“A legal provision for the destitute, is moreover an indispensable
    preliminary to the suppression of mendicancy. If the state offers an
    alternative, it may prohibit begging—it would be in vain to do so
    otherwise, for the law would be opposed to our natural sympathies,
    and would remain inoperative. This was the course adopted in
    England, where it was long endeavoured to repress vagrancy by severe
    enactments, but apparently with little advantage. At last the offer
    of relief was coupled with the prohibition of mendicancy, and until
    our Poor Law administration became corrupt, with perfect success. To
    establish a poor-law, then, is I believe a necessary preliminary to
    the suppression of mendicancy. That it will be, on the whole,
    economical to do this in Ireland, it is I think scarcely possible to
    doubt; but whether it be so or not, the advantage both morally and
    socially of removing such an evil, is beyond question important.

“It may be regarded as a circumstance favourable to the introduction of
    a poor-law, that so much land is lying waste and uncultivated in
    Ireland. Much of this land is susceptible of cultivation, and the
    order and security which a poor-law would tend to establish, will
    encourage the application of capital to such objects. If capital
    were to be so applied, considerable tracts would be brought under
    culture, and thus afford occupation to the now unemployed labourers.
    Most of the reclaimed bog which I saw in the western counties, was
    effected by the small occupiers, who partially drained and enclosed
    an acre or two at a time; but such operations were without system or
    combination, and for the most part indifferently performed. In this
    way, however, the reclamation of these wastes will of necessity
    proceed—constantly adding to the number of small cottier tenants,
    and swelling the amount of poverty and wretchedness in the
    country—unless proprietors and capitalists shall be induced to take
    the matter in hand, and by enclosing and effectually draining whole
    tracts, secure the means of applying economical management on a
    large scale. The enclosing and draining, and the whole process of
    reclamation, would afford employment to labourers who are now, for a
    great portion of the year, idling about without occupation; and when
    the land so reclaimed becomes subjected to a regular process of
    cultivation, it will continue to afford them regular employment at
    daily wages, instead of the often miserably insufficient produce of
    their own small holdings, to which they now are compelled to cling
    as their sole means of support.

“It appears then, I think, that a poor-law is necessary for relieving
    the destitution to which a large portion of the population in
    Ireland is now exposed. It appears too, that circumstances are at
    present favourable for the introduction of such a measure. A
    poor-law seems also to be necessary, as a first step towards
    bringing about improvement in the habits and social condition of
    the people. Without such improvement, peace, good order, and
    security cannot exist in Ireland; and without these, it is in vain
    to look for that accumulation of wealth, and influx of capital,
    which are necessary for developing its resources, agricultural and
    commercial, and for providing profitable employment for the
    population. Ireland is now suffering under a circle of evils,
    producing and reproducing one another. Want of capital produces
    want of employment—want of employment, turbulence and
    misery—turbulence and misery, insecurity—insecurity prevents the
    introduction or accumulation of capital—and so on. Until this
    circle is broken, the evils must continue, and probably increase.
    The first thing to be done is to give security—that will produce
    or invite capital—and capital will give employment. But security
    of person and property cannot co-exist with extensive destitution.
    So that, in truth, the reclamation of bogs and wastes—the
    establishment of fisheries and manufactures—improvements in
    agriculture, and in the general condition of the country—and
    lastly, the elevation of the great mass of the Irish people in the
    social scale, appear to be _all_ more or less contingent upon
    establishing a law providing for the relief of the destitute.—How
    such a law may be best formed, so as to secure the largest amount
    of good, with the least risk of evil, it is proposed next to

PART THE SECOND.—“There are two points for consideration under this
    division of the subject which are of primary import, the question of
    a Poor Law for Ireland mainly depending upon them. First—Whether the
    workhouse system can be safely and effectively established in
    Ireland; and secondly—Whether a machinery can be there established
    for their government, such as exists in the English unions.

“In my inquiries with regard to these points, I endeavoured to exercise
    a care and vigilance proportioned to their importance. The inquiry
    was entered upon under an apprehension that the workhouse would be
    less efficient in Ireland, than experience had shown it to be in
    England; and that it would probably be applicable to the able-bodied
    in a limited degree only, if applicable to them at all. I was
    doubtful also, whether it would be practicable to control any
    considerable number of the able-bodied in a workhouse—whether the
    proneness of the Irish peasantry to outrage and insubordination
    would not, as had often been represented, lead them to break through
    all restraint, and perhaps demolish the building, and commit other
    acts of violence. The probability of such outrage is strongly
    insisted upon by the Commissioners of Inquiry, and the same argument
    was urged upon me by some persons with whom I communicated in
    Dublin. In the progress of my inquiries however, I soon found reason
    for concluding that there was no ground for apprehension, either as
    to the applicability of the workhouse for the purposes of relief, or
    as to any danger of resistance to such a system of classification
    and discipline within it, as would make it a test of destitution. In
    the several ‘houses of industry’ established in Ireland, a strict
    separation of the sexes is enforced, and a discipline more or less
    approximating to our workhouse discipline is established. No spirits
    are admitted, and on the whole, there is enough in these
    institutions to render them distasteful as places of partial
    restraint. Yet from no governor of a house of industry could I learn
    that resistance had ever been made to their regulations, and
    surprise was even expressed at my thinking it necessary to make the
    inquiry. I received the same opinion from the governors of gaols. In
    short, every man whom I conversed with, who had any experience of
    the habits of the people, declared that the peasantry are perfectly
    tractable, and never think of opposing authority, unless stimulated
    by drink, or urged on by that species of combination for securing
    the occupancy of land, which has become so common in certain
    districts. Neither of these influences will interfere with the
    establishment of a workhouse, or the regulation of its inmates, all
    of whom will have sought refuge in it voluntarily, and may quit it
    at any moment. As regards the security of the workhouse, therefore,
    and the establishment of a system of discipline as strict as that
    maintained in the English workhouses, I believe that there will be
    neither danger nor difficulty.

“How far the workhouse, if established, may be relied upon as a test of
    destitution and a measure of the relief to be afforded; how far it
    will be effectual for the prevention of pauperism, and for
    stimulating the people to exertion for their own support;—how far,
    in short, the workhouse system, which has been safely and
    effectually applied to dispauperise England, may be applied with
    safety and efficiency to prevent pauperism in Ireland, now remains
    for inquiry. The governing principle of the workhouse system is
    this:—that the support which is afforded at the public charge in the
    workhouse, shall on the whole be less desirable than the support
    obtained by independent exertion. To carry out this principle, it
    might seem to be necessary that the inmates of a workhouse should be
    in all respects worse situated—worse clothed, worse lodged, and
    worse fed, than the independent labourers of the district. In fact,
    however, the inmates of our English workhouses are as well clothed,
    and generally better lodged and better fed than the agricultural
    labourer and his family: yet the irksomeness of the discipline and
    confinement, and the privation of certain enjoyments, produce such
    disinclination to enter the workhouse, that experience warrants the
    fullest assurance that nothing short of destitution, and that
    necessity which the law contemplates as the ground for affording
    relief, will induce the able-bodied labourer to seek refuge therein;
    and that if driven thither by necessity, he will quit it again as
    speedily as possible, and strive (generally with increased energy
    and consequent success) to obtain subsistence by his own efforts.

“It would perhaps be in vain, even if it were desirable, to seek to make
    the lodging, the clothing, and the diet, of the inmates of an Irish
    workhouse, inferior to those of the Irish peasantry. The standard of
    their mode of living is so low, that the establishment of one still
    lower is difficult, and would under any circumstances be
    inexpedient. In Ireland therefore, there would not perhaps be found
    the same security in this respect for the efficiency of the
    workhouse test, which may in some degree be operative in England.
    There are countervailing circumstances in Ireland however, which
    more than balance this drawback, even if it were greater than it
    really is. The Irish are naturally, or by habit, a migratory people,
    fond of change, hopeful, sanguine, eager for experiment. They have
    never been practically limited to one spot by a law of settlement,
    as has been the case with the English peasantry. They have never
    been enervated by a misapplied system of parish relief. Rather than
    bear the restrictions of a workhouse, the Irishman, if in possession
    of health and strength, would wander the world over to obtain a
    living. All the opinions I have collected from persons most
    conversant with the Irish character, agree in this. Confinement of
    any kind is even more irksome to an Irishman than to an Englishman.
    Hence, although he might be lodged, fed, and clothed, in a
    workhouse, better than he could lodge, feed, and clothe himself—he
    will yet, like the Englishman, never enter the workhouse, unless
    driven thither by actual necessity; and he will not then remain
    there longer than that necessity exists. The test of the workhouse
    is then, I think, likely to be as efficient in Ireland, as it is
    proved to be in England; and if relief be there restricted to the
    workhouse, it will be at once a test of destitution, and a measure
    of relief, and will serve to protect the administration of a legal
    provision for the destitute poor, from those evils and abuses which
    followed the establishment, and led to the perversion, of the old
    Poor Laws in England. I speak of the workhouse as a test of
    destitution generally, without limiting its operation to age,
    infirmity, or other circumstances; for independent of the difficulty
    of discriminating between those who may fairly be considered as aged
    and infirm, and those who are not—as well as certain other
    difficulties, practical and theoretical, in the way of making any
    such distinction—I have found in the state of Ireland, no sufficient
    reason for departing from the principle of the English Poor Law
    which recognises _destitution alone_ as the ground of relief, nor
    for establishing a distinction in the one country, which does not
    exist in the other.

“The expense of providing workhouses, will not, I apprehend, be so
    considerable as has by some been anticipated. If the surface of
    Ireland be divided into squares of twenty miles each, so that a
    workhouse placed in the centre would be distant about ten miles from
    the extremities in all directions, this would give about eighty
    workhouses for the whole of Ireland. A diameter of twenty miles was
    the limit prescribed for the size of unions by Gilbert’s Act, but it
    was often exceeded in practice—it may however, be assumed as a
    convenient size on the present occasion. In some cases, owing to the
    position of towns, or other local causes, the unions will probably
    be smaller; in others, especially in the thinly-peopled districts of
    the west, they may be larger: but still, there is, I think, every
    probability that the number of workhouses required will not greatly
    exceed eighty. In aid of this number, the houses of industry, and
    mendicity and other establishments, which will be unnecessary as
    soon as a legal provision is made for the relief of the destitute,
    will become available at probably a small expense. In some
    instances, moreover, barracks, factories, or other buildings
    suitable for conversion into workhouses, may perhaps be obtained on
    easy terms:—but excluding all such considerations, and assuming that
    instead of eighty workhouses, a hundred will be required, and that
    the cost of erecting each will be about the same as for the largest
    class of English workhouses, namely, about 7,000_l._—this would give
    a gross outlay of 700,000_l._ for the whole of Ireland—a sum not
    disproportionally large, when the nature of the object is taken into
    account. If government were to advance the sum necessary for
    providing the workhouses by way of loan, as has been done to the
    unions in England, requiring an instalment of five per cent. of the
    principal to be paid off annually out of the rates, it would make
    the whole charge so easy, that it would scarcely be felt. The
    payment of 35,000_l._ per annum for twenty years, with the interest
    on the constantly-decreasing principal, could not be considered a
    hardship on Ireland; and this is in fact the whole of the new or
    additional outlay proposed: for as regards the relief of the
    destitute, that would not be a new charge, the destitute classes
    being now supported, although in a manner calculated to injure and
    depress the general character of the people.

“As respects the means for local management in Ireland, if it were
    attempted to establish a parochial machinery similar to that which
    exists in England, I believe the attempt would fail. The description
    of persons requisite for constituting such a machinery, will not be
    found in the majority of Irish parishes. In some parts however, and
    especially in the north and the east, competent individuals would be
    found in many, if not in most of the parishes. If an Irish Poor Law
    were established, the uniting of parishes for the purpose of
    securing the benefits of combined management, is therefore more
    necessary even than it was in England; and by making the unions
    sufficiently large, there can be no doubt that in almost every
    instance, such a board of elected guardians may be obtained as would
    secure the orderly working of the union, under a due system of
    supervision and control.

    “In the first instance, and until a rate for the relief of the
    destitute is established, the contributors to the county-cess might
    be empowered to elect the guardians. But in some cases an efficient
    board may not be obtainable by election, and this is most likely to
    occur at the commencement, when individuals will be ill instructed
    as to their duties, and when the public will perhaps have formed
    erroneous notions of what is intended to be done. To meet such a
    contingency, it seems essential that large general powers should be
    vested in some central authority, to control and direct the
    proceedings of the boards of guardians, and even to supersede their
    functions altogether, whenever such supersession shall be necessary.
    Power should also be given to declare unions, and to appoint paid
    officers to conduct the business, under the direction of the central
    authority, without the intervention of a board of guardians; and in
    order to guard against mistakes to be expected on the first
    introduction of an entirely new order of things, and to prevent the
    mischief that might ensue from failure or misconduct at the outset,
    the central authority should also, I think, be empowered to dispense
    with the election of the first board of guardians, and to appoint
    such persons as may appear most fit and competent to act as
    guardians of the union, until the Lady-day next ensuing, or the
    Lady-day twelvemonths. The number and selection of such
    specially-appointed guardians to be at the discretion of the central
    authority. These powers are greater than were given to the English
    commissioners by the Poor Law Amendment Act: but they are, in my
    opinion, necessary in the present state of Ireland. With such powers
    confided to the central authority, no difficulty can arise for which
    it will not be prepared; and it will, I think, be enabled to
    establish the unions, and to constitute an adequate machinery for
    their government throughout the whole of Ireland, with certainty and

“In England, the county magistrates residing and acting within a union,
    are _ex-officio_ members of the board of guardians. The number and
    position of the magistracy in Ireland seem to require some
    modification in this respect. The principle of administration
    established in England by the Poor Law Amendment Act, is based
    essentially upon popular representation. The guardians are elected
    by the occupiers and owners of the property rated, and in the hands
    of the guardians the administrative power is vested. The county
    magistrates, it is true, in virtue of their office, sit and act as
    members of the board; but this does not destroy its elective
    character, as the number of elected so far exceeds that of the
    _ex-officio_ guardians, that the popular character of the board is
    maintained; whilst the presence of the magistrates, who in virtue of
    their office are permanent members, and therefore connecting links
    between the successive boards of elected guardians, secures a
    stability and continuity of action, which, if based entirely upon
    election, the board might not possess. This is the constitution of
    the boards of guardians in England, and nothing can work better: but
    in Ireland, the number of magistrates who would be entitled under a
    similar provision to act as _ex-officio_ guardians, would in general
    greatly exceed the number so qualified in England, and in some cases
    might outnumber the elected guardians. If this should occur, the
    elective character of the board would of course be destroyed; but
    even if this should not be the case, yet any undue preponderance of
    the permanent _ex-officio_ guardians would detract from the popular
    character of the governing body, and lower it in the confidence of
    the people. With a view therefore of keeping as nearly as possible
    to the practical constitution of the English boards of guardians, I
    propose in the Irish unions,—1st. That the number of _ex-officio_
    guardians shall never exceed one-third the number of elected
    guardians: 2dly. That immediately on the declaration of a union, the
    county magistrates residing and acting within its limits, shall
    nominate from among themselves a number nearest to, but not
    exceeding, one-third of the elected guardians,—which magistrates so
    nominated by their compeers, shall be entitled to act as
    _ex-officio_ guardians of the union, until the Michaelmas
    twelvemonth after such nomination: and 3dly. That at each succeeding
    Michaelmas, the magistrates entitled as aforesaid, shall proceed to
    a new election. These regulations will, I think, not only preserve a
    due proportion in the constitution of the boards of guardians, but
    also ensure the co-operation of the most efficient portion of the
    magistracy in the government of the unions; as the magistrates will
    doubtless nominate those members of their body who are most active
    and able.

“A different practice from that established in England, seems also to be
    necessary with respect to the Clergy. Under the provisions of the
    Poor Law Amendment Act, ministers of religion of every denomination
    are eligible for the office of guardian, elected or _ex-officio_. In
    the present condition of Ireland, I fear this would be attended with
    inconvenience, and might destroy the efficiency of the boards of
    guardians. I therefore propose that no clergyman, or minister of any
    religious denomination, shall be eligible to act either as elected
    or _ex-officio_ guardian. This exclusion is not proposed from any
    notion of the general unfitness of the clergy to fill the office of
    guardian; but with reference solely to the present state of
    religious opinion in Ireland, and to the importance of keeping the
    functions of the boards of guardians free from the suspicion of
    sectarian bias. If the ministers of one persuasion were to be
    admitted, the ministers of every persuasion must be so; and then the
    deliberations would too probably he disturbed by religious
    differences. On no point have I taken more pains to arrive at a
    sound conclusion than on this, being fully sensible of the
    objections, on principle, to the exclusion of any class of men from
    office: but the great majority of the clergy themselves with whom I
    have conversed, Roman catholic and protestant, have agreed in
    thinking that it will be, on the whole, inexpedient to admit any of
    the ministers of religion to act as guardians; and after the fullest
    consideration and inquiry, I therefore recommend that they should
    all be declared ineligible.

“In England, under the provisions of the Poor Law Amendment Act, every
    parish or township rated for the maintenance of its poor, and
    included in a union, is entitled to return a guardian. In Ireland it
    will, I think, be essential that the central authority should be
    empowered to fix the limits of a union, without being restricted to
    parish boundaries. It should be enabled to divide parishes, either
    for the purpose of electing guardians, or for joining a portion of a
    parish to one union, and another portion to another union. It should
    also be empowered to consolidate parishes for the purpose of
    electing one or more guardians, and likewise to form election
    districts for this purpose, without reference to parochial
    boundaries. And lastly, the central authority should be empowered to
    add to, take from, and remodel unions, whenever such change might be
    found necessary. These powers would have enabled the English Poor
    Law Commissioners to make their unions more compact and convenient
    than they at present are, local prejudices and local interests
    having frequently compelled them to abandon the arrangement which
    would have been best for the general interest. In Ireland, full
    powers in these respects are, I think, indispensable for enabling
    the central authority to deal with the various circumstances under
    which the unions will there have to be formed. But with adequate
    powers, and with such modifications as are before described, the
    principle of union which has been established in England by the Poor
    Law Amendment Act, may I think be advantageously extended to
    Ireland; and as it has been shown that no insurmountable difficulty
    exists to prevent the introduction of the workhouse as a test of
    destitution—so neither will there be any insurmountable difficulty
    in establishing an adequate machinery for the government of the
    unions when formed.

PART THE THIRD.—“Assuming that a system of Poor Laws ought to be
    established in Ireland; that the workhouse system may there be
    relied upon, as a test of destitution; and that the means of forming
    and governing unions exist there, as well as in England—It now
    remains to describe the several points which require attention in
    framing a measure comprising these objects; and also to offer such
    further observations, as did not seem to come within the scope of
    the preceding divisions.

“The governing principle to be observed in dealing with this portion of
    the subject is, that the Poor Law of Ireland should assimilate in
    all respects as nearly as possible to that established in
    England,—varying only in those instances, in which the different
    circumstances of the two countries require it. In conformity with
    this principle, the first point for consideration would naturally be
    the constitution of the central or chief authority, and the powers
    to be confided to it; but I postpone this part of the
    subject—assuming only that a central authority is to be established,
    with powers similar in kind to those conferred upon the English Poor
    Law Commissioners. The other points for consideration are the

_1st._ _Of Relief._—“The only legal claim for relief in England, is
    founded upon the destitution of the party claiming it. I propose to
    extend the same principle to Ireland; and as a test of the actual
    existence of such destitution, and to guard against the evils which
    have invariably attended the distribution of out-door relief, (that
    is, of relief administered either in money or in kind to parties out
    of the workhouse) I further propose that, in Ireland, no relief
    should be given except in the workhouse. I do not propose to impart
    a _right_ to relief, even to the destitute poor. The claim to relief
    in England, is founded on prescription, rather than enactment; for
    although the _43rd of Elizabeth_ provides for the levying a rate for
    the purpose of relieving the destitute poor, it invests them with no
    right to claim relief, the administration of which is left to the
    local authorities, who are of course responsible for its due
    exercise. The promulgation of rules for the administration of relief
    will therefore rest with the central authority, limited by the
    proviso that relief is only to be administered in the workhouse. The
    central authority will declare when the workhouse shall be so
    applied in each union, and will also take care that no time be lost
    in providing suitable workhouse accommodation, as well as to
    establish such regulations as may be necessary for the guidance of
    the local authorities in the interim; but it will be most safe to
    prohibit all relief whatever, until the test of the workhouse can be

“The strict limitation of relief to the workhouse may possibly be
    objected to, on the ground that extreme want is found occasionally
    to assail large portions of the population, who ought then to be
    relieved at the public charge, without being subjected to the
    restraint of the workhouse. But this is an exceptional case, and it
    would not, I think, be wise to adapt the regulations of poor-law
    administration in Ireland to the possible occurrence of such a
    contingency. In a period of famine, the whole population may be said
    to become destitute; but it surely would not be expedient to hold
    out an expectation, that if this should unhappily occur, support for
    _all_ would be unconditionally provided at the public charge?—During
    such a visitation, the workhouse might not be sufficient for the
    numbers who were anxious to crowd into it; but to the extent of its
    means of accommodation it would help to relieve the general
    distress, and the union machinery would probably be found useful in
    other respects. The occurrence of a famine, however, if general,
    seems to be a contingency beyond the powers of a poor-law to provide
    for. There is then an actual deficiency of supply; and as there is
    less to consume, less must be consumed. It is however, I think,
    impossible to contemplate the continuance of such a state of things
    in Ireland, as that in which any considerable portion of its
    population would be subjected to the occurrence of famine. As the
    habits and intelligence of the people improve, these visitations
    will be guarded against or averted; and I do not propose to make any
    exception permissive of out-door relief in such cases, but recommend
    that relief should be limited strictly to the workhouse. It is
    moreover necessary that no individual of a family should be
    admitted, unless all its members enter the house. Relief to the
    father or husband is equivalent to relief to the child or the wife,
    and _vice versâ_; and, while they continue one family, a part cannot
    be considered as destitute, and the rest not so; a family must be
    taken as a whole, and so admitted or excluded. The provisions of
    _the 43rd of Elizabeth_, requiring parents to support children, and
    children to support parents, should also be extended to Ireland; and
    I think relief by way of loan, as provided for by the _58th section_
    of the Poor Law Amendment Act, might in certain cases be useful, and
    if exercised with discretion, can scarcely be productive of

_2ndly._ _Of the Local Machinery._—“I propose that the local machinery
    for the administration of relief to the destitute in Ireland, under
    the direction of a central authority, should be the same as is
    provided in England by the Poor Law Amendment Act; namely, the union
    of a district for common management, under a board of guardians
    elected by the ratepayers, with paid officers appointed or approved
    by the central authority.

“In forming the unions, it will be necessary to observe the civil,
    rather than the ecclesiastical boundaries of parishes; but cases
    will arise, in which it may be requisite to disregard all such
    boundaries—it being obviously more important that the district to be
    united should be compact, convenient, and accessible, and be
    naturally connected with its centre, than that the old and often
    inconvenient boundaries should be observed. This applies no less to
    county or baronial boundaries than to those of parishes or other
    divisions. The principle which has governed the formation of the
    English unions, whenever the commissioners have not been driven from
    it by local circumstances, has been to fix upon some market-town
    conveniently situated as a centre, and to attach to it the whole
    surrounding district, of which it may be considered the capital, and
    in which the general business of the district, both public and
    private, for the most part centres. The roads of a district always
    converge upon the market-town. The communications with it are
    constant, and the people settled within the range of its influence
    constitute almost a distinct community. To form such a district into
    a union, seems an obvious course, and I recommend its being adopted
    in Ireland. There may be parts of the country in which such a
    convenient centre does not exist, but this will be of rare
    occurrence, and the general powers of the central authority will be
    competent to deal with it.

“Much of what appeared to be necessary with reference to the members of
    the boards of guardians, both elected and _ex-officio_, is given in
    the second part of this Report: but the important question—in whose
    hands the right of appointing guardians shall be confided, and in
    what way that right shall be exercised, still remains to be
    considered. In this, as in other cases, the principle established in
    England, should, I think, be applied to Ireland, and the election of
    guardians be vested in the ratepayers and owners of property within
    the union; but the circumstances of Ireland require some
    modification of the English practice, in this respect. The owners of
    property in England, are entitled to vote according to the scale
    which was established by the Select Vestry Act, and which ascends by
    gradations of 25_l._ each, from a rated value of 50_l._ per annum up
    to 150_l._ per annum, giving one vote for the former, and six votes
    for the latter. This scale seems open to some objection, on the
    grounds of complexity and over-minuteness. It moreover differs from
    the scale of voting fixed for the ratepayers by the Poor Law
    Amendment Act, which provides that ratepayers, if rated under
    200_l._ shall have one vote; if rated at 200_l._ and under 400_l._,
    two votes; and if at 400_l._ and upwards, three votes. Such a scale
    seems on the whole well adapted to the condition of ratepayers in
    England, but the amounts specified are too high for Ireland; and the
    scale is not sufficiently minute in its graduation, for the
    subdivision of property which prevails there. Instead of adopting
    these English scales, therefore, I propose to establish one scale in
    Ireland, by which simplicity of detail, and a right result, will I
    think be more effectually secured; and I recommend the following for
    regulating the votes of owners of property, as well as occupiers,

             above  5_l._ and under  5_l._ one vote.

              50_l._ and under  100_l._    two votes.

             100_l._     ”      150_l._    three votes.

             150_l._     ”      200_l._    four votes.

             200_l._ and                   five votes.

_3rdly._ _Of Rating._—“The power to assess the property and levy a rate
    within a union for the purpose of relieving the destitute, must, I
    think, be confided to the board of guardians, by whom such relief is
    to be administered. The mode of assessing and collecting the rate,
    as well as its application, will be prescribed by the central
    authority. The Parochial Assessments Act passed last session,
    establishes the principle that the rates are to be paid upon the net
    annual value of property. This was always the law, although it had
    not always been acted upon. As regards the principle by which the
    assessment of property should be regulated, it will therefore be
    only necessary to extend the provisions of that Act to Ireland,
    substituting the union for the parish authorities. The valuation of
    property for rating need not, I apprehend, be made in every instance
    by surveyors or professional valuators. The fairly-estimated value
    of the property is all that is necessary. In many instances a
    valuation has already been made for the purpose of tithe
    commutation, and wherever that, or any other fair valuation has been
    made, it will be available for rating to the relief of the poor.
    Hitherto there has been no such rate in Ireland. The destitute
    classes have gone on increasing in numbers, but still there has been
    no recognised or legal provision for their relief. Property has been
    acquired, capital invested, and contracts made, under this state of
    things, and it will be impossible now to impose a rate upon
    property, without affecting existing arrangements: but I believe the
    effect will be slight, and that in a few years it will cease
    altogether. If it were far greater than I anticipate however, all
    objections to the imposition of a rate on this ground must be
    overborne by considerations of the public welfare.

“The question as to who shall pay the rate, and in what proportions, is
    next to be considered. The parties immediately interested are the
    owner or person possessing the beneficial interest of the property
    assessed, and the tenant or occupier. Between these therefore, it
    seems both equitable and expedient to apportion the rate. Where the
    two are combined, the same person would be answerable for the entire
    rate. The Irish Poor Inquiry Commissioners appeared to be of opinion
    that the owner should pay two-thirds of the rate, and the occupier
    one-third; and it seemed to me, at first, that this would be a
    suitable division: but after further consideration and inquiry, I
    thought that each should be called upon to pay half the rate.[74] I
    was mainly influenced to adopt this view, by the consideration that
    at present nearly the whole support of the destitute falls upon the
    tenantry. It is to the occupiers that the mendicant resorts, and
    from them he receives his daily rations. There is thus in reality, a
    rate now levied, although not sanctioned by legal enactment; and no
    occupier, however limited may be his means, turns away the mendicant
    empty-handed from his door. The pressure of these continual calls
    upon the occupiers, help to bear them down, and keep them at their
    present low level; but if the destitute classes were relieved by
    means of a general rate upon property, of which the occupiers were
    called upon to pay half, they would be relieved from nearly one-half
    their present burthen. A poor-law, if rightly administered, although
    it ensures relief for the destitute, will not increase their number,
    or eventually swell the fund appropriated to their support. On the
    contrary, I believe it will help to lessen both. But admitting that
    the number and the amount remain the same, still the occupiers will
    then have to pay only one-half, the landlord the other; whereas now
    the occupier contributes nearly the whole.



      In Scotland the rate is divided equally between the landlord and


_4thly._ _Of Settlement._—“Parochial settlement, as established in
    England, is almost universally admitted to have been productive of
    great mischief. It has led to much litigation and expense; and by
    fixing the peasantry to the narrow limits of their parish, beyond
    which the world was to them almost a blank, it has done more to
    injure their character, to destroy its elasticity, and to banish
    self-reliance and resource, than any other portion of the old Poor
    Law system. It will not, therefore, I presume, be considered right
    to establish parochial settlement in Ireland. The habits of the
    Irish are migratory, their movements depending upon their own
    volition. To establish a law of settlement, would be to fix them to
    one locality. No such law has yet been established there; and it is
    therefore open to the legislature to prescribe the limits, if a
    settlement shall be deemed advisable; or else to dispense with
    settlement altogether.

“Without a law of settlement, it is true, vagrants from other districts
    may congregate in particular unions, and may claim relief, or be
    sent to the workhouse; but if the workhouses are all regulated upon
    the same scale of diet and discipline, there would be no inducement
    for the vagrant classes to prefer one union to another, and they
    would probably remain scattered throughout the country, in much the
    same proportion as at present. If such a preference was in any
    instance shown by them, it might be taken as a proof of inefficient
    management or lax discipline on the part of the favoured union, and
    would be a signal for the central authority to interfere. Thus, if
    there should be no law of settlement, the number of inmates in the
    several workhouses would serve as a kind of index to the management
    of each; and the local authorities would be compelled in
    self-defence to keep their unions in good order, to prevent their
    being overrun with paupers. Such a competition, if well regulated,
    might go far to ensure the general efficiency of the unions.

_5thly._ _On Mendicancy_—“Whenever relief is provided for the destitute,
    mendicancy may be suppressed. A law which says, ‘You shall not beg
    or steal, but you shall starve,’ would be contrary to natural
    justice, and would be disobeyed; but if the law first makes
    provision for the destitute, and then says, ‘You shall not beg, but
    you shall be relieved at the public charge,’ the alternative thus
    offered will entitle the community to suppress a practice which is
    held to be injurious. On these grounds, I think the law which
    establishes a system of public relief for destitution, should at the
    same time prohibit mendicancy. The present state of Ireland however,
    and the habits and feelings of the Irish people, throw considerable
    difficulty in the way of an immediate suppression of mendicancy. The
    number of mendicants is very great, and they are therefore of some
    importance as a class, and support and keep each other in
    countenance whilst following, what they consider, no disreputable
    vocation. They enter the cottages of the peasantry as supplicants,
    it is true, but still with a certain sense of right; and the
    cottager would be held to be a bold, if not a bad man, who resisted
    their appeal. In fact, the appeal never is resisted,—if there is
    only a handful of potatoes, they are divided with the beggar; and
    there is thus perhaps levied from the produce of the soil in Ireland
    for the support of mendicancy, as large a contribution as it is now
    proposed to raise by an assessment of property for the relief of
    destitution. The ‘sturdy beggars,’ noticed in the _14th of
    Elizabeth_, must have been very similar to those now common in
    Ireland. Indeed the state of society at the two periods seems to
    have been nearly the same in both countries, the prevalence of
    begging in each being accompanied by the same general disposition to
    give, and this disposition of course increasing the number of

“The evils of mendicancy in Ireland are certainly very great, and its
    suppression should be provided for at the earliest practicable
    period. The best mode of effecting this would probably be, to enact
    a general prohibition, and to cast upon the central authority the
    responsibility of bringing it into operation in the several unions,
    as the workhouses became fitted for the reception of inmates. The
    central authority might, I think, so regulate their proceedings, as
    that the now itinerant mendicants who may be really unable to
    provide for themselves, should be placed in the several workhouses
    with the least degree of coercion and inconvenience; and that the
    ablebodied vagrants and disorderly persons should be compelled to
    provide for their own subsistence, by the application of strict
    workhouse discipline. Time and forbearance will doubtless be
    necessary in carrying such a measure into operation in Ireland, and
    these the powers of the central authority will enable it to afford.
    The present generation will probably pass away before the
    disposition to encourage begging by indiscriminate almsgiving, which
    now prevails so generally among all classes in Ireland, will be
    corrected by the adoption of a more enlightened benevolence. It will
    then we may hope be seen, that the real friends of the people are
    those who lead them to independent exertion, to a reliance upon
    themselves and their own efforts for support—not those who, by the
    constant doling of miscalled charity, entice the people into a state
    of dependence. It may minister to human pride, to be surrounded by a
    crowd of such dependents; but it surely is inconsistent with genuine
    benevolence to encourage, or even to permit this, if it can possibly
    be prevented.

_6thly. Of Bastardy._—“As far as I had opportunity of observing and
    inquiring, the Irish females are generally correct in their conduct.
    I am aware that opinions somewhat different have been expressed; but
    my own impression of the moral conduct of the Irish females is
    highly favourable. Their duties appear to be more laborious than
    those of the same class in England. Their dress, too, is inferior,
    and so likewise seems their social position; yet they universally
    appear modest, industrious, and sober—I state this as the result of
    my own observation; and if the Irish females have preserved their
    moral character untainted hitherto, as I believe in the main to be
    the case, it affords an argument for ‘letting well alone.’ If it had
    been otherwise however, and if the extent of bastardy, and its
    demoralising influence on public manners had been greater, I should
    still have recommended that the Irish females should be left, as
    now, the guardians of their own honour, and responsible in their own
    persons for all deviations from virtue. The abuses under the old
    English bastardy law, and our brief experience of the improved
    practice established by the Amendment Act, warrant the
    recommendation that no such law should be applied to Ireland; but
    that bastards, and the mothers of bastards, in all matters connected
    with relief, should be dealt with in the same manner as other
    destitute persons solely on the ground of their destitution.

_7thly._ _Of Apprenticeship._—“The experience which England affords with
    regard to apprenticeship, is of a somewhat conflicting character,
    although the preponderance of testimony is opposed to it. It is open
    to much abuse, and has operated mischievously in several parts of
    the country, by increasing that dependence upon the parish which
    under the old Poor Law had become so characteristic of the English
    peasantry. It must however I think be admitted, that the
    apprenticing of orphan and destitute children, as provided for by
    _the 43rd of Elizabeth_, has in many cases been productive of good;
    and if judiciously limited, so as not to be regarded as the ordinary
    mode of providing for the children of the labouring classes, but
    merely as a resource for the destitute and the orphan, it might
    still I think be continued with advantage. I am aware that this
    opinion differs somewhat from that of the members of the late
    English Poor Law Inquiry Commission; but the evidence of abuse
    submitted to the commissioners was taken in the time of the old Poor
    Law, which converted everything it touched into an abuse; and it
    does not follow, because apprenticeship added to the accumulation of
    evils under such circumstances, that it is incapable of producing
    good under others. It is on the different application of
    apprenticeship, and on the different circumstances in which it would
    be applied, that I now rely. None of the abuses exist in Ireland
    which prevailed under the old parochial management in England; and
    by the aid of the union machinery apprenticeship may, I think, be
    safely applied to the placing out of destitute and orphan children,
    the number of whom in Ireland is very considerable. The Poor Law
    Amendment Act empowers the commissioners to frame regulations for
    apprenticing the children of poor persons; and I propose to extend
    this provision to Ireland, by which it may be hoped that all the
    beneficial effects of the law may be secured, whilst the evils which
    certainly have resulted from it in England will in great measure be

_8thly._ _Of Pauper Idiots and Lunatics._—“For individuals of this
    description, if not dangerous, the union workhouses will be
    available. Dangerous lunatics, and insane persons, must of course be
    sent to asylums, as at present; and it is important, I think, that
    these institutions should be kept distinct from poor-law
    administration. The deprivation of reason is a misfortune so
    extreme, that special efforts are called for on behalf of
    individuals subjected to such a visitation. The careful supervision
    of such unhappy persons is necessary for the protection of the
    community. But with respect to pauper idiots and lunatics not
    dangerous, these might, I think, be advantageously provided for in
    the several workhouses, where a lunatic ward should be prepared for
    such of them as might be unfitted to mingle with the other paupers.
    Idiots, labouring under a deficiency, rather than a deprivation of
    reason, appear in general to feel contentment in proportion as they
    are employed on something of a nature suitable for them. In a
    workhouse, such employment might always be found, and they would
    probably there partake as largely of comfort as their unhappy state
    is susceptible of. I propose, therefore, that the provision of the
    Poor Law Amendment Act, permissive of the retention in a workhouse
    of idiot and lunatic paupers, not dangerous, be extended to Ireland,
    and that their mode of treatment and employment be in all cases
    subject to the direction of the central authority.

_9thly._ _Of Emigration._—“A country may be so circumstanced, as to
    require that a portion of its population should migrate from one
    part of it to another, either permanently or occasionally; and may
    still, on the whole, have no actual excess of population. A country
    may also, with reference to its means of employment, labour under an
    excess of population; or both these circumstances may exist at the
    same time, which appears, in fact, to be the state of Ireland at
    present. The Irish population is excessive, compared with the means
    of employment; and the effect of this excess would be more felt,
    were it not for the opening which England presents for migration.
    Where the population is in excess, it must be exceedingly difficult
    to effect any material improvement in the condition of a people; for
    as long as the labourers exceed the number required, so long will
    their competition for employment serve to depress their condition,
    and counteract whatever efforts may be made to improve it. The only
    alternative in such case is, either to increase the amount of
    employment, or to decrease the number of labourers depending upon
    it. To bring about by direct interposition any material increase of
    permanent employment, is in every view difficult, and under common
    circumstances, perhaps impossible; but something may be done
    indirectly in this respect, by the removal of impediments and the
    establishing of increased facilities for the application of capital,
    and something also perhaps by the intervention of government: but
    all such aids must of necessity be limited in their application, as
    well as remote in their effects—it is from spontaneous or natural
    employment alone, that the labouring classes can look for permanent
    occupation, and the means of support.

“To aim directly at effecting an increase of employment in Ireland, is
    beyond the powers if it be not foreign to the province of a
    poor-law, the immediate object of which is to provide for the relief
    of the destitute. Now destitution may be caused by an excess of
    labourers, or by a deficiency of employment, which are in truth
    convertible terms. If an able-bodied labourer becomes destitute
    through want of employment, he must be relieved at the common
    charge, like any individual reduced to a state of destitution by age
    or infirmity. If the want of employment and destitution be owing to
    an excess of population, to relieve that excess by emigration must
    be a good. Yet it may be doubted whether the parent stock is not
    enfeebled by the remedy, for in general the most active and
    enterprising emigrate, leaving the more feeble and less robust at
    home; and thus a continual drain of its best elements will lower the
    tone and reduce the general vigour of a people, at the same time
    that it imparts an additional stimulus to their increase.

    “Emigration however, not only may, but I believe must be had
    recourse to as a present means of relief, whenever the population
    becomes excessive. The excess will be indicated by the pressure of
    able-bodied labourers on the workhouse. If any considerable number
    of these enter the workhouse, and remain there subject to its
    discipline, it may be taken as a proof of their inability to provide
    for themselves, and of the consequent excess of labourers beyond the
    means of employment. Under such circumstances, emigration must be
    looked to as the only present remedy; and provision should be made
    for defraying the expense which this would occasion, as well as for
    the regulations under which it should be carried into effect. With
    regard to the expense, I propose that the charge should in every
    case be equally borne by the government, and the union from which
    the emigrants proceed. This division of the charge appears
    equitable, for although the union only is immediately benefited, yet
    eventually the whole empire is relieved, excess in one portion of it
    tending to occasion an excess in the whole. But the emigration
    should, I think, be limited to a British colony, and should be
    conducted under the control of the central authority, and be
    subjected to such regulations as the government may deem it right to

_10thly._ _Of Houses of Industry, and Charitable Institutions._—“There
    is now a kind of poor-law established in Ireland, under which the
    ‘houses of industry’ are managed, but it is partial and ineffective;
    and the several statutes providing for these houses of industry, and
    the other institutions intended for the relief of the poor, should
    be repealed, and the management of such establishments placed under
    the central authority. Institutions strictly charitable, and
    supported by voluntary contribution or otherwise, would of course
    remain as at present; but it would, I think, be extremely desirable
    to invest the central authority with such a power of revising their
    rules and superintending their practice, as would ensure their
    acting in unison with, or at least prevent their acting in
    contravention of, the principles which the Act establishes for
    poor-law administration in Ireland. The ‘houses of industry’ would
    generally become available as union workhouses, for which they are
    for the most part well adapted; and the other establishments, where
    they are public property, or supported by government, or by local
    grants from the county-rates, may be appropriated in like manner,
    under direction of the central authority.

“The foregoing appear to be the only points requiring especial
    attention, in framing a poor-law for Ireland, although there are
    several other matters of minor interest not to be overlooked. The
    ‘Poor Law Amendment Act’ should, I think, be taken as a guide in
    framing the measure, and the language, order, and general provisions
    of that Act should be adhered to, except where the contrary is
    herein indicated, or where a variation is obviously necessary. There
    will be much practical convenience in thus assimilating the two
    statutes, which provide for poor-law administration in the two
    countries. A measure framed on the principles developed in this
    Report, is I think necessary for Ireland. Unless the people are
    protected from the effects of destitution, no great or lasting
    improvement in their social condition can be expected. The
    establishment of a poor-law is, I conceive, the first step necessary
    to this end; and followed as it will be by other ameliorations, to
    the introduction of which it is a necessary preliminary, we may hope
    that it will ultimately prove the means of securing for Ireland the
    full amount of those benefits which ought to arise from her various
    local advantages, and the natural fertility of her soil.

“The proposed measure may, I believe, be carried into effect, either by
    means of a separate commission in Ireland, or by the existing
    English Poor Law Commission. One of these modes, I presume, must be
    adopted; and before deciding which, it will be necessary to consider
    the advantages and disadvantages of each. In doing this, it is
    important to bear in mind, that it is the English Poor Law system
    which is now proposed to be established; and that the knowledge and
    experience acquired in working that system, can be best made
    available for Ireland, by employing individuals conversant with the
    English practice. If there should be a separate commission for
    Ireland, it would be necessary that the commissioners should be
    acquainted with the English Poor Law, as now administered; and this,
    I apprehend, would exclude most of those Irishmen who might
    otherwise be deemed qualified for the office. Such exclusion,
    however necessary, would have an ungracious appearance, and might
    excite angry comment. But independent of this consideration, if
    there were a separate commission, the law would be similar in both
    countries, but the practice might become widely different, as was
    the case in different parts of England under the old Poor Law
    administration. With two commissions, there might possibly be no
    unity of principle,—there would certainly be no unity of action,—and
    probably no identity of result. Unless the existing English Poor Law
    Commission should be unequal to the additional duty of introducing
    the proposed law into Ireland, or unless it should appear that the
    commissioners ought not to be intrusted with the performance of this
    duty, the above reasons would seem to be conclusive against a
    separate commission.

“It must be admitted that the official duties of the English Poor Law
    Commissioners have been, and in fact still are, very heavy. As a
    member of the commission, and one too not unaccustomed to work, I
    may be permitted to say, that the labour has been throughout
    unceasing and excessive, to an extent that nothing but the hope of
    accomplishing a great public good would have rendered bearable. The
    success of the measure, however, in lessening the pressure on the
    ratepayers, and in improving the condition of the labouring classes,
    coupled with the support which has been afforded by government, and
    by nearly all the intelligent portions of the community, have given
    the commissioners encouragement and confidence; and when the process
    of forming unions shall be completed, their labours will become
    lighter. Under these circumstances, there would seem to be no
    insuperable difficulty in the way of the present Poor Law
    Commissioners being made the instruments of establishing the new law
    in Ireland; and whatever may be the difficulty at first, it will
    lessen as the amount of English business decreases, and the
    organisation of the Irish machinery is perfected. If, then, no other
    grounds of objection exist, and if it shall be deemed desirable, I
    see no reason to doubt that the English Poor Law Commissioners are
    competent to the additional duty of introducing the proposed measure
    into Ireland.”

Such was the substance of my first Report, which it has been here
endeavoured to condense as far as was consistent with a full exposition
of its import; and this it is necessary to give, in order to prepare the
reader for correctly appreciating the important measure which was
founded upon it. After undergoing much consideration, the Report was
finally adopted by government on the 13th of December 1836, and on the
following day I was directed to have a bill prepared embodying all its
recommendations. This was accordingly done, and after being scrutinised
clause by clause in a committee of the Cabinet specially appointed for
the purpose, and receiving various emendations, the bill was introduced
on the 13th February 1837.[75] The public and parliament bad been
prepared for the measure by the Royal speech at the commencement of the
session, in which his Majesty recommended for early consideration “the
difficult and pressing question of establishing some legal provision for
the poor in Ireland, guarded by prudent regulations, and by such
precautions against abuse as their experience and knowledge of the
subject enable them to suggest.”



  The author’s Report was presented to the house at the same time.


[Sidenote: Lord John Russell’s speech, February 13, 1837.]

Lord John Russell[76] introduced the bill in a comprehensive and very
able speech—It appears, he said, from the testimony both of theory and
experience, that when a country is overrun by marauders and mendicants
having no proper means of subsistence, but preying on the industry and
relying on the charity of others, the introduction of a poor-law serves
several very important objects. In the first place it acts as a measure
of peace, enabling the country to prohibit vagrancy which is so often
connected with outrage, by offering a substitute to those who rely on
vagrancy and outrage as a means of subsistence. When an individual or a
family are unable to obtain subsistence, and are without the means of
living from day to day, it would be unjust to say they shall not go
about and endeavour to obtain from the charity of the affluent, that
which circumstances have denied to themselves. But when you can say to
such persons—here are the means of subsistence offered to you—when you
can say this on the one hand, you may on the other hand say, “you are
not entitled to beg, you shall no longer infest the country in a manner
injurious to its peace, and liable to imposition and outrage.” Another
way, he observed, in which a poor-law is beneficial is, that it is a
great promoter of social concord, by showing a disposition in the state
and in the community to attend to the welfare of all classes. It is of
use also by interesting the landowners and persons of property in the
welfare of their tenants and neighbours. A landowner who looks only to
receiving the rents of his estate, may be regardless of the numbers in
his neighbourhood who are in a state of destitution, or who follow
mendicancy and are ready to commit crime; but if he is compelled to
furnish means for the subsistence of persons so destitute, it then
becomes his interest to see that those around him have the means of
living, and are not in actual want. He considered that these objects,
and several others collateral to them, were obtained in England by the
Act of Elizabeth. Almost the greatest benefit that could be conferred on
a country was, he observed, a high standard of subsistence for the
labouring classes, and such a benefit was secured for England chiefly by
the great Act of Elizabeth. His lordship then alluded to the abuses
which subsequently arose, and to the correction of those abuses then in
progress under the provisions of the Poor Law Amendment Act; and said
that “we ought to endeavour to obtain for Ireland all the good effects
of the English system, and to guard against the evils which had arisen
under it.”



  Then secretary of state for the home department, and leader in the
  house of commons.


The Report of the Poor Inquiry Commissioners for Ireland was next
adverted to. They had, he said, recommended many measures of improvement
for Ireland, and suggested certain measures with regard to the indigent.
It was to the latter he wished to call the attention of the house, as
being the principal object of the present bill. The other suggestions
for the general improvement of Ireland he proposed to leave for future
consideration. With regard to the question of immediate relief for the
destitute, the commissioners, he said, propose in the first place, that
a large class of persons should be provided for at the public expense by
means of a national and local rate. They advise also that there should
be money afforded for emigration, and that depôts should be provided for
persons preparing to emigrate. In considering that Report, great doubts
occurred to his Majesty’s ministers whether it was a good principle to
provide only for certain classes, and whether those depôts for
emigration could be safely and advantageously adopted. It appears, he
observed, from every reflection on the subject, that the real principle
is to afford relief to the destitute, and to the destitute only; and it
would be quite as wrong to refuse relief to the able-bodied person in
that situation, as to afford relief to the cripple, the widow, or a deaf
and dumb person who had other means of support. It is not then the
peculiar circumstances which excite public or individual compassion that
we are to regard; but if we have a poor-law at all, it ought to be
grounded on destitution, as affording a plain guide to relief. Then with
regard to the emigration depôts, that part of the commissioners’
recommendations could not be adopted without a great deal more of
consideration than the plan proposed by them appears to have received.
And, he added, “deeply impressed as we have been with the responsibility
that attaches to a government which proposes a law upon this subject, it
occurred to us that the best method was to see whether the law which, as
amended, has been applied to England, could be introduced with advantage
in Ireland.” For this purpose Mr. Nicholls, one of the Poor Law
Commissioners, was requested to go to Ireland, and ascertain on the spot
whether anything resembling the machinery of the English Poor Law could
be there applied; and the result of Mr. Nicholls’s inquiry is, that
supposing it to be expedient to extend a poor-law to Ireland, there was
no insurmountable obstacle or objection to the establishment of a law in
many respects resembling the amended Poor Law in England. The reasons
for that opinion are stated in the Report which has been laid on the
table, and on which the bill is founded. His lordship then adverted to
the chief portions of the Report, and stated generally his own views on
the subject.

There is no doubt, he said, that there have occurred in Ireland many
outrages consequent upon vagrancy and destitution, and the people’s
being left without remedy or relief; and also that a large portion of
the people, especially those not having land, do practise mendicancy for
a great portion of the year. He had made some inquiry with respect to
the amount of the relief thus afforded to mendicants, and the result is
that in most cases a shilling an acre is paid in course of the year by
farmers for the support of mendicants. In some cases it has been 6_d._
an acre, in others 9_d._, and in others 1_s._; but in one case it
amounted to 2_s._ an acre. This is a heavy tax, which cannot upon the
whole amount to less than between 700,000_l._ and 800,000_l._, perhaps a
million a year. But this practice of mendicancy, which raises so vast a
sum, is not like a well-constituted poor-law, which affords relief to
the really indigent—that which seems to afford relief to the distressed,
also promotes and keeps up imposture, and in Ireland where mendicancy is
so general, and relief so freely given, the number of impostors must be

His lordship then proceeded to consider whether the workhouse system was
applicable to Ireland; and after noticing the objection made by the
commissioners of inquiry, and urged by others, that the workhouse would
not be safe—that there would be too much violence—that there would be
such a dislike of restraint that it could not be enforced—he came to the
conclusion “that there was no reason to apprehend anything of the sort.”
In some of the houses of industry, he remarked, they have carried the
system of restraint further than in the old English workhouses, and have
established the separation of sexes such as exists in the new English
workhouses; and no regulation was proposed which did not now exist, so
“there need be no fear that violence would be used, or that we could not
protect the workhouses in Ireland, as well and as securely as the
workhouses in England.”

It had been much urged, he said, as a means of preventing undue pressure
on the workhouse, that a residence in the district of three years or
some other definite period should be a condition to any person’s being
relieved therein; but he declared that he was opposed to establishing a
law of settlement in Ireland, being quite convinced that it is one of
the greatest evils of the poor-laws in England. It circumscribes the
market for industry. It has led to immense litigation, and any person,
he observed, “who has attended the quarter sessions, and there witnessed
the disputes that arise between parishes as to whether a person had been
hired for a year and a day, whether he had been ordered to go home on
the day before the expiration of the term so as to destroy the
settlement, or whether he had served a full year and a day, and various
other similar questions—any person who has attended to this litigation
and those disputes, will not have any wish that I should introduce the
question of settlement into this bill.”

When the whole of the workhouses are in operation, and we are enabled to
relieve all that are entitled to it, we may then, he observed, prohibit
vagrancy; but until we can do the one, it will not be just altogether to
prohibit the other. It is not therefore proposed to prevent persons
asking alms, if they can show they have applied for and failed in
obtaining relief. This is a necessary step in the transition from one
state to another. If it succeeds, we shall hereafter be able to prohibit

His lordship then went over the ground more fully discussed in the
Report, with regard to the local machinery, the question of rating, the
extent of the unions, cost of the workhouses, emigration, and some other
minor points; and then stated that the safest way of introducing such a
law as had been described, would be to use the simple machinery which
had been found so advantageous in England. It was therefore proposed,
instead of forming a separate commission for Ireland, that the Poor Law
Commissioners for England should have the power of intrusting to one or
two of their body, the power of acting in Ireland for carrying the law
into operation. This would he thought be better than establishing a
separate commission. A lengthened discussion then took place in
reference to the proposed measure, in which Mr. Shaw, Mr. O'Connell,
Lord Howick, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, and other members took part.
[Sidenote: The bill read a first time.] Doubts were of course expressed,
and objections stated; but on the whole the measure was not received
unfavourably, and the bill was ordered to be read a first time.

[Sidenote: The bill read a second time and committed.]

On the 25th of April Lord John Russell moved the second reading of the
bill, and the debate thereon was continued by adjournment to the 1st of
May, when the second reading was carried without a division, although
not without long and somewhat hostile discussion. On the 9th of May the
house went into committee on the bill, and the first fourteen clauses
were passed with only a few verbal alterations. On the 11th the
committee got to the end of the 20th clause, after two unimportant
divisions. It had been announced that on the 12th of May the question of
settlement should be considered. Many members were still of opinion that
a settlement law was necessary; but after a long and temperate
discussion of the subject in all its bearings, the committee decided
against the introduction of settlement by 120 to 68. On the 26th of May
the bill was again in committee, when the clauses up to the 35th were
agreed to. [Sidenote: Vagrancy clauses postponed.] On the 2nd, 5th, 6th
and 7th of June, the committee proceeded in considering the clauses of
the bill up to the 60th, but the vagrancy clauses (53 to 58 inclusive)
were postponed. These clauses provided for the repression of mendicancy
in the unions, as the workhouses were successively completed and in
operation; but there appeared to be a strong feeling in the house that
nothing should be done to prevent begging, until the poor-law was
everywhere fully established. The clauses were therefore postponed for
further consideration.

[Sidenote: Death of William IV. June 20, 1837.]

At this time the king’s illness had so much increased that his recovery
became highly improbable, and the business of parliament was
consequently suspended. William the Fourth died on the 20th of June, and
was succeeded by his niece the Princess Victoria, our present gracious
sovereign. On the 17th of July parliament was prorogued by the youthful
queen, in a speech from the throne, which the manner of its delivery and
the occasion combined to render more than ordinarily interesting. The
Irish Poor Relief bill, and the other measures then in progress, were
therefore put an end to, and would have to be commenced anew on the
re-assembling of parliament.

The interval thus interposed, afforded opportunity for further
consideration and inquiry, and it was determined that this should be
taken advantage of, and that the author should again proceed to Ireland
for the purpose of visiting “those districts which a want of time
prevented his inspecting last year.” I was also directed to bear in mind
the discussions which had taken place during the progress of the bill in
the late session, and generally to report whether the circumstances of
the districts about to be visited, or any new matter that I might
discover, “shall have caused me in any way to alter or modify the
recommendations set forth in my last Report.”

Accordingly at the end of August I proceeded to Ireland, and continued
in the active prosecution of my inquiries until early in October. I
moreover took advantage of the opportunity afforded me in going and
returning, to inquire very carefully at Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester,
and Birmingham, into the habits of the large number of Irish congregated
in each of these towns, and into the mode of dealing with such of them
as become destitute, or stand in need of relief, on which points I
obtained much valuable information, for the most part confirmatory of my
previous views. On the 3rd of November I reported the result of my
further inquiries;[77] and I will now, as was done in the case of the
‘First Report,’ give an abstract of this ‘Second Report,’ although much
less fully, it not being now necessary to go so much at length into what
may be considered matters of detail, as was requisite in the first



  The Report was accompanied by appendices containing important evidence
  on several of the points to which it referred; and in particular a
  communication from Mr. Stanley, on the extent of destitution among the
  poorer classes in Ireland, in which he shows that the estimate of the
  inquiry commissioners was founded on erroneous data.


                       _Second Report._—Nov. 3, 1837.

“The investigations which I have just concluded, have not afforded
    ground for any material change of opinion. I may perhaps estimate
    the difficulty of establishing a poor-law in Ireland somewhat higher
    than I did before, but of the necessity for such a measure, I am if
    possible more fully convinced; and now, after a more extended
    inquiry, both in England and in Ireland, I am enabled substantially
    to confirm the statements in my Report of last year, to which I can
    add but little in the way of recommendation, although it may be
    necessary to notice certain objections which have been made to
    portions of the Report, and to some of the provisions of the bill of
    last session. No material change in the bill however appears to be
    called for, and I presume government will again proceed with it as
    then proposed. The measure is essentially based upon the English
    workhouse system; and as, notwithstanding the facts and reasonings
    which were adduced in proof of its applicability to Ireland, doubts
    were still expressed both in and out of parliament upon this vital
    point, it seemed important to ascertain whether any grounds for such
    doubts really existed.

“With this view I visited Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, and
    Birmingham, through which places nearly the whole of the Irish
    migrants pass and repass, and in all of which there is a large
    resident Irish population, and where therefore their habits are well
    known. All the persons whom I consulted in these places, were
    unanimous in declaring their belief, that nothing but absolute
    inability to provide for himself would induce an Irishman to enter
    the workhouse. But it may be objected, that although disinclination
    to the workhouse is characteristic of the Irish when in England,
    such would not be the case if the system were established in
    Ireland. This objection does not admit of an answer founded on
    direct experience; but judging from analogy, and making due
    allowance for the circumstances of the two countries, there seems no
    reason to doubt that the result would be the same in one as in the
    other. The Irishman is by habit and temperament more roving and
    migratory than the Englishman; but this is surely not calculated to
    reconcile him sooner to the restraints of a workhouse. I made it my
    business to inquire, and obtain information from all classes of
    persons, and was everywhere assured that the Irish would not go into
    the workhouse, if they could in any way obtain support out of it.
    The result of my investigations in the several houses of industry
    and mendicity establishments has been to the same purport, all
    tending to show that if the workhouse is properly regulated, it will
    be resorted to only by the actually destitute. It is not less
    important to state however, that I found the same persons decidedly
    opposed to anything in the shape of out-door relief. I have not met
    with an individual conversant with the subject, either in England or
    in Ireland, who did not declare against out door relief. ‘Confine
    relief to the workhouse,’ was the general reply, ‘and you will be
    safe; but if you once grant out-door relief, your control is gone,
    and the whole Irish population will become a mass of paupers.’

“It has been argued that the workhouses will eventually fail in Ireland,
    as they have failed in France, at Munich, and at Hamburgh; but there
    is no analogy between the two cases. The workhouse principle was
    never recognised in these establishments, which were all either
    poorhouses for the maintenance of the aged and infirm, or
    manufactories for setting to work vagrants, mendicants, and other
    idle persons. All these institutions were established under the
    notion that profitable labour could be always found, and that pauper
    labour could be made profitable to the community, and their
    management had reference to these objects. There were certain
    variations in practice to suit local circumstances, but this was the
    view under which the institutions were founded, by Count Rumford, at
    Munich, by the imperial government in France, and by Baron de Voght,
    at Hamburgh. I need scarcely say that this view is essentially
    different from the workhouse system established in England, and as
    it is proposed to establish it in Ireland. Experience has proved
    that pauper labour can never be profitable. The workhouse is here
    used merely as a medium of _relief_; and in order that the destitute
    only may partake of it, the relief is administered in such a way,
    and on such conditions, that none but the destitute will accept it.
    This is the workhouse principle, as first established in the two
    parishes of Bingham and Southwell eighteen or twenty years ago, and
    as it has recently been established in the unions formed under the
    Poor Law Amendment Act; and we have the experience of these
    parishes, and the more varied, though less prolonged experience of
    the English unions, in proof of the efficiency of the system, which
    has worked hitherto without a single instance of failure. It is not
    therefore upon mere hypothesis, that it is proposed to proceed with
    regard to the Irish Poor Law, but upon the surer ground of

“It has been further argued, that there is always a tendency to
    deterioration in such institutions, and that after a time they fall
    away from the principle on which they were originally established—to
    which it may be answered, that no such deterioration occurred in the
    two parishes above named—on the contrary, the workhouse principle
    continued to operate in these parishes in all its simplicity and
    efficiency, up to the day when they were each constituted the centre
    of a union. May it not therefore be inferred, that if established as
    a test of destitution, the workhouse will continue to be effective,
    and the principle free from deterioration, as in the two cases named
    above? But the proposed measure does not depend on this inference
    alone—a safeguard is provided by the Poor Law Amendment Act in the
    appointment of commissioners, who under the control of the
    executive, and the supervision of parliament, are to superintend the
    working of the measure, and to apply from time to time such
    correctives, whether local or general, as may be necessary for
    securing its efficiency. Whatever doubts may have arisen on either
    side of the Channel, as to the sufficiency of the workhouse for
    relieving the destitute, as well as for protecting the ratepayers, I
    therefore feel warranted in expressing my conviction, not only that
    the workhouse system is applicable to Ireland, but that it is the
    only mode in which relief can be safely administered to the
    destitute classes in that country.

“The question of the workhouse being thus disposed of, I shall now
    proceed to notice such objections as have been made to the bill
    generally, or to any of its provisions; and in doing this, I will
    endeavour to introduce such illustrations as seem to be called for,
    and such further information as I have been able to collect during
    my recent visitation, which extended from Waterford to Belfast and
    Londonderry, and the counties of Donegal, Fermanagh, Cavan, and

“The chief objections which have been made to the measure, as it was
    introduced in the last session, are comprised under the heads
    hereafter specified, to each of which a full explanation is appended
    in the Report. From these several explanations, so much is here
    given, as will, it is hoped, serve to lessen, if not altogether to
    remove, the weight of the objections which were raised during the
    discussion on the bill, or which may have appeared in pamphlets or
    in any other shape.

_The measure is said not to be applicable to the North of Ireland._—“It
    has frequently been asserted, both in and out of parliament, that
    the condition of the people in the north of Ireland differs so
    essentially from those in the south, that a poor-law which might be
    applicable in one case, would be inapplicable in the other; and it
    was urged as a ground of objection to the measure of last session,
    that it had been framed exclusively with reference to the southern
    and western districts. This objection seems to have been made mainly
    on the ground, that no specific information had been obtained as to
    the north of Ireland; whereas, in fact, a large mass of information
    had been collected by the commissioners of Irish Poor Inquiry, with
    respect to the north, as well as the other parts of the country; and
    this information, coupled with what I had obtained from other
    sources, and supported by my own observation in those of the
    northern counties which I had visited, appeared to be sufficient,
    without further examination of the northern districts. An
    opportunity for such examination having however been afforded by the
    postponement of the bill, I have now visited most of the northern
    counties, and carefully examined the condition and habits of the
    people, with special reference to the contemplated measure; and I
    can with entire confidence state, in my opinion, it is as well
    adapted to the circumstances existing in the north, as to those
    which prevail in the south. The habits of the people are there in
    some degree fitted for its reception. The necessity of relieving the
    destitute is there admitted, and in most of the northern towns of
    any note, there is now a kind of voluntary poor-law established. In
    Monaghan, in Armagh, at Newry, Belfast, Coleraine, Londonderry, I
    found provision made for relieving destitution, and the principle
    virtually recognised, that it is the duty of a civilised community
    to protect its members from perishing by want. Indeed, if any doubt
    existed as to establishing a poor-law in Ireland, an inspection of
    the northern counties would, I think, remove the doubt, and show the
    expediency of such a measure. The extent of poverty is there less
    than in the south and west; but the amount of destitution is
    probably as great. There is this important difference however—in the
    _south_ and _west_ the destitute depend for support upon the class
    immediately above them, the small cottiers and cultivators; but in
    the _north_, the sympathy existing between the different ranks of
    society—between the opulent and the needy—has led to the making of
    some provision for the relief of the latter class. If the charge of
    this provision was fairly spread over the whole community—if the
    relief afforded was sufficient, and permanent, and equally
    distributed, it would be equivalent to a poor-law; but the charge is
    unequal, the provision uncertain, and the relief partial and
    inefficient. To apply the proposed measure to the north of Ireland,
    will therefore be little more than carrying out, in an equal and
    effective manner, that which has been long but unequally and
    ineffectually attempted by the communities themselves.

“In speaking of the north of Ireland, I ought to except the county of
    _Donegal_, the inhabitants of which differ materially from those
    of the other northern counties, and approximate to those of the
    west and south. Small holdings, and minute subdivisions of land,
    prevail in Donegal to a greater extent than I have found in any
    other part of Ireland; and the consequent growth of population
    there presses so hard upon the productive powers of the soil, as
    to depress the condition of the people to nearly the lowest point
    in the social scale—exposing them, under the not unfrequent
    occurrence of an unfavourable season, or a failure of the
    potato-crop, to the greatest privations. This has unhappily been
    the case during the last four years, in each of which, and
    especially in the last, there has been a failure of the crops in
    Donegal. In May, June, and July last, nearly the whole of the
    population along the northern and western coasts of the county,
    were reduced to a state bordering on starvation; and had not
    government sent a supply of meal and medical aid, numbers of the
    people would have fallen victims to famine and disease. The
    surface of Donegal is generally covered with bog, susceptible of
    profitable cultivation wherever lime or sea-sand or sea-weed is
    obtainable, and the people have in consequence congregated
    wherever these elements of fertility abound—along the coasts, and
    on the shores of the numerous bays and inlets opening upon the
    Atlantic, along the banks of the rivers, and up the narrow valleys
    and ravines with which the country is intersected—everywhere, in
    short, where the soil is most easily reclaimed by individual
    exertion. But wherever combined effort, or an outlay of capital is
    necessary for draining, fencing, and reclaiming—there nothing has
    been done, and the surface is permitted to lie waste and
    unproductive. The process of reclamation in such circumstances is
    above the limited means of the people, each one of whom just
    manages to cultivate land enough to raise potatoes for his
    family—a patch of oats to supply them, mostly I fear, with
    whisky—and then, as to rent (for they all pay rent), they rely for
    raising that upon a few cattle or sheep running wild upon the

“Nothing can exceed the miserable appearance of the cottages in
    _Donegal_, or the desolate aspect of a cluster of these hovels,
    always teeming with a crowded population. Yet if you enter their
    cabins, and converse with them frankly and kindly, you will find the
    people intelligent and communicative, quick to comprehend, and ready
    to impart what they know. They admitted that they were too numerous,
    ‘too thick upon the land,’ and that, as one of them declared, ‘they
    were eating each other’s heads off,’—but what could they do? There
    was no employment for the young, nor relief for the aged, nor means
    nor opportunity for removing their surplus numbers to some more
    eligible spot. They could only therefore live on, ‘hoping,’ as they
    said, ‘that times might mend, and that their landlords would sooner
    or later do something for them.’ To improve the condition of such a
    people would increase the productive powers of the country, a point
    well deserving the attention of the great landowners, with whom it
    mainly rests. But no material or lasting improvement can be
    effected, so long as the present subdivision of land continues. This
    practice, wherever it prevails, forces the population down to the
    lowest level of subsistence—to that point where subdivision is
    arrested by the dread, or by the actual occurrence of want; and it
    is alike the duty and the interest of the landowner, so to exercise
    the right of property as to guard his tenantry from such depression.
    In the case of Donegal, a two-fold remedy seems to be necessary,
    that is, emigration, and an extension of cultivation. There is
    abundant room for the latter, and if undertaken with spirit and
    intelligence, it will not only ensure an ample return on the capital
    expended, but also afford employment, and provide suitable locations
    for a part of the surplus population. If a portion of this surplus
    were removed by emigration, and another portion placed on new
    grounds, effectually reclaimed, a consolidation of the present small
    holdings might be effected. This would be a great point gained,
    where the average rental of such holdings does not exceed 2_l._, and
    numbers are under 1_l._ per annum. A poor-law would facilitate this
    change, so necessary for the landowners, as well as for the great
    mass of the people of Donegal. The principle of a poor-law is to
    make the property of a district answerable for the relief of
    destitution within it; and the application of this principle would
    serve to connect the several orders of society, and teach them to
    act together—it would show them that they have reciprocal interests,
    reciprocal duties—that each is necessary to the other—and that the
    cordial co-operation of _all_ is necessary to the well-being of the
    whole. I therefore augur much good from the establishment of a
    poor-law, under circumstances similar to those now existing in
    Donegal; and believe that such a law, whilst it provides for the
    relief of the destitute, will be a safeguard to property, and
    facilitate the introduction of other ameliorations.

_There ought to be a law of Settlement._—“There is no part of the
    subject to which I have given more attention than to the question of
    settlement. Of the evils arising from settlement in England, there
    can be no doubt, and the grounds on which it was proposed to
    establish a poor-law in Ireland without settlement, are explained in
    my former Report. But it appears that many persons still consider
    some law of settlement necessary for securing local co-operation
    based upon local interests, for the protection of particular unions
    from undue pressure, and for guarding the towns on the eastern coast
    from being burdened with the destitute who may flock thither, or be
    sent thither from England or Scotland, or with the families of the
    large body of migrants who proceed to Great Britain in the harvest
    season and return at its conclusion. If there were danger from all
    or any of these sources, it might be right to make provision against
    it in the bill; but I am satisfied that, in carrying out the measure
    as now proposed, none of these inconveniences would arise, beyond
    what the commissioners could meet by special regulations, without
    recurring to a settlement law. There is this primary objection to
    settlement, that it impedes the free distribution of labour, and
    interferes with the fair and open competition which is alike
    necessary for protecting the employer and the employed, and by which
    an equalisation of supply and demand in the labour-market can alone
    be maintained. Its direct tendency is to depress the social
    condition and character of the people; for by narrowing the field of
    labour, and binding individuals to a particular locality, not
    perhaps favourable to the development or most profitable employment
    of their faculties, improvement is checked, independence is
    destroyed, and the working classes, without resource or elasticity
    of spirit, are led to depend upon their place of settlement in every
    contingency, instead of upon themselves. If therefore the bill as at
    present proposed, by requiring the rate to be levied upon the union
    for relief of the actually destitute within it is sufficient, as I
    believe it to be, for securing attention to the business of the
    union, there can be no necessity to establish a law of settlement
    for such purpose; and nothing short of absolute necessity in that or
    some other respect, could justify the introduction of a law, the
    direct tendency of which would be in other respects so injurious.

_Out-door Relief should have been provided for._—“Much has been said as
    to the necessity of providing out-door relief in Ireland; but most
    of the arguments in favour of an extension of relief beyond the
    workhouse appear to be founded, either upon a misapprehension of the
    objects of a poor-law, or upon an exaggerated estimate of the number
    of destitute persons for whom relief would be required. The object
    of a poor-law is to relieve the destitute—that is, to relieve those
    individuals who from sickness, accident, mental or bodily infirmity,
    failure of employment, or other cause, may be unable to obtain the
    necessaries of life by their own exertions. Under such
    circumstances, the destitute individual, if not relieved, might be
    driven to beg or to steal; and a poor-law, by providing for the
    relief of destitution, prevents the necessity or the excuse for
    resorting to either. This is the legitimate object of a poor-law,
    and to this its operations are limited in the bill of last session.
    But if, disregarding this limitation, it be attempted to provide
    relief for all who are needy, but not destitute—for all who are
    poor, and whose means of living are inferior to what it may be
    desirable that they should possess—if property is to be taxed, not
    for the relief of the destitute only, but for ensuring to every one
    such a portion of the comforts and conveniences of life as are
    assumed to be necessary—the consequence of any such attempt must be
    in Ireland, as it notoriously was in England, not only to diminish
    the value of property, but also to emasculate and demoralise the
    whole labouring population.

“The evidence collected by the Commissioners of Poor Law Inquiry in
    England, establishes the conclusion that out-door relief is
    inevitably open to abuse, and that its administration entails
    consequences prejudicial to the labouring classes, and to the whole
    community—in short, that there is no security for the prevention of
    abuse, nor any mode of ensuring a right administration of relief,
    but by restricting it to the workhouse. The facts and reasonings
    contained in the Reports on this subject, have been confirmed by the
    experience of the present Poor Law Commission; and although out-door
    relief has not yet been totally prohibited in any of the English
    unions, there can be no doubt that the intention of the Poor Law
    Amendment Act points eventually to the workhouse as the sole medium
    of relief, and requires that it should be so restricted as early as
    circumstances permitted. To establish out-door relief in Ireland,
    would therefore be in direct contradiction to English experience,
    and to the spirit of the English law. It would introduce a practice
    in the one country, under the prejudicial effects of which the other
    has long been suffering, and from which it has not yet entirely
    recovered. Some persons have recommended that out-door relief in
    Ireland, should be restricted to the aged, sick, and infirm; but
    even with this limitation, how is abuse to be prevented, and how is
    the precise limit to be defined of the age, sickness, or infirmity,
    entitling an individual to be relieved out of the workhouse?—I
    believe it to be impossible so to define the conditions as to
    prevent the occurrence of gross abuses, which would not only be a
    source of demoralisation, but would also serve to engender strifes
    jealousies and ill feeling in every locality. After the best
    consideration which I have been able to give the subject, in all its
    bearings, I still retain the opinion that in Ireland relief should
    be restricted to the workhouse, or in other words, that out-door
    relief in any shape should be prohibited.

_The mode of Rating is objected to._—“The question of rating is
    obviously open to much contrariety of opinion. The mode of
    valuation, of assessment, of collection, and the proportions in
    which the rate shall be paid, are all questions on which different
    opinions might possibly be formed by different persons; and
    accordingly the views expressed upon these points have been various
    and conflicting. Some have contended that the whole of the rate
    should be charged upon the owner, on the ground that the tenant
    derives little profit, often no profit whatever from the occupation,
    and ought not therefore to be called on to pay any part of the rate.
    Those taking this view, appear to overlook the fact that the
    destitute classes in Ireland are now supported almost entirely by
    the occupiers, who will be relieved from this charge when the
    proposed measure shall have come into operation. To require the
    occupiers to pay half the rate, is not therefore to impose on them a
    new charge, but a portion only of an old charge, to which they had
    long been accustomed. Moreover the occupiers have an interest in the
    property rated—not permanent indeed like the owners, but more
    immediate; and on this ground also they are fairly chargeable with a
    portion of the rate. If the owners paid the whole, the occupiers
    would of course not be entitled to take part in the distribution of
    the funds, nor in the management of the business of the union—they
    would have no interest in common with their landlords, and would to
    a certain extent be arrayed against them; for their interest and
    their sympathies would probably lead them to increase the amount of
    the burthen, rather than lessen it. Even if there were a sufficient
    number of resident owners, it would be inexpedient to place the
    whole control of the unions in their hands, thus constituting them a
    separate class, and at the same time lowering the position of the
    occupiers; but in the present state of Ireland, such a proposition
    seems especially open to objection. The exemption in favour of
    occupiers of 5_l._ value and under, and the charging the owners of
    such property with the entire rate, forms an exception to the above
    reasoning, and will probably be disapproved by those whose interests
    may appear to be affected by it. But every such charge is eventually
    borne by the property, and in the long run it is perhaps not very
    material whether the rate is paid by the owner or by the tenant, it
    being in fact a portion of the rent. This arrangement is proposed,
    partly as a matter of convenience, on account of the difficulty and
    expense of collecting a rate from the vast number of small holdings
    of 5_l._ value and under which exist in Ireland, and partly also
    with the view of relieving this description of occupiers, who are
    for the most part in a state of poverty bordering on destitution,
    from a portion of the burthen; and it is gratifying to find that
    this proposition has on the whole been favourably received.

_The Unions as proposed are too large._—“In almost every discussion
    during the progress of the bill last session, the proposed number
    and size of the unions were objected to. Yet the discretion of the
    commissioners is unfettered in these respects. They are left at
    liberty to form the unions, as may appear best adapted to the
    circumstances in each case. The same discretion was confided to the
    commissioners in England, and it must be equally necessary that they
    should possess it in Ireland. The objections to the intended size of
    the unions, do not therefore apply to the bill, but to my first
    Report, in which it is stated that, ‘If the surface of Ireland be
    divided into squares of twenty miles each, so that a workhouse
    placed in the centre would be about ten miles from the extremities
    in all directions, this would give about eighty workhouses for the
    whole of Ireland.’ Instead of eighty workhouses however, I assumed
    that a hundred might be required, and calculated the probable
    expense accordingly. But this was mere assumption, for it is
    obviously impossible to state what will be the precise number of
    unions, until some progress has been made in the work of formation.
    The commissioners are bound to form the unions in the best manner,
    according to the best of their judgment. Their credit as public
    functionaries would be compromised by any failure in this respect;
    and it may be fairly presumed that they will use due vigilance and
    impartiality, and avail themselves of all the experience which
    England affords in this matter.

_The suppression of Mendicancy objected to._—“Objections have been made
    to the vagrancy clauses, and it has been contended that if such
    provisions were necessary, they should be established by a separate
    Act. Whether the suppression of mendicancy be provided for in the
    Poor Law Bill, or by a separate bill, does not seem very material;
    but it is important that the provision should be made concurrently
    with the Poor Law measure. To establish a poor-law, without at the
    same time suppressing mendicancy, would be imperfect legislation,
    especially with reference to the present condition of the Irish
    people. It is true there are now vagrancy laws in Ireland, which
    enact whipping, imprisonment, and transportation as the punishments
    of mendicancy; but these laws are inoperative, partly from their
    severity, and partly from other causes. Ireland wants a vagrancy law
    that shall operate in unison with the Poor Law, for without such
    concurrent action, both laws would be in a great measure
    ineffective. The suppression of mendicancy is necessary for the
    protection of the peasantry themselves. No Irish cottier, however
    poor, closes his door whilst partaking of his humble meal. The
    mendicant has free access, and is never refused a share. There is a
    superstitious dread of bringing down the beggar’s curse, and thus
    mendicancy is sustained in the midst of poverty, perpetuating itself
    amongst its victims. Much of the feeling out of which this state of
    things has arisen may, I think, be traced to the absence of any
    provision for relieving the destitute. A mendicant solicits charity
    on the plea of destitution. His plea must be admitted, for it cannot
    be disproved; and to refuse relief, may occasion the death of a
    fellow-creature, which would be a crime of great magnitude. Hence
    the admission of the mendicant’s claim, which is regarded in the
    light of an obligation by the Irish peasantry. To make provision for
    relieving mendicants at the public charge, without at the same time
    preventing the practice of begging, would leave the peasant exposed
    to much of the pressure which he now sustains from this source; for
    the mendicant class would generally prefer the vagrant life to which
    they are accustomed, to the order and restraint of a workhouse. To
    suppress mendicancy, is therefore necessary both as an adjunct of
    the proposed Poor Law, and for the protection of the labouring
    classes throughout Ireland.

_Objections to cumulative voting, &c._—“It might perhaps be sufficient
    to say, in answer to the objections which were made to cumulative
    voting, voting by proxy, and constituting magistrates _ex-officio_
    guardians, that the Irish bill follows in these cases the example of
    the English Poor Law Amendment Act. There are, however, weighty
    reasons in favour of each of these provisions, some of which it may
    be useful to notice.

“With respect to cumulative votes, it may be observed, that the raising
    and disbursing of a poor-rate involves nothing political, but is to
    be regarded rather in the light of a mutual assurance, in which the
    community joins for the purpose of being protected against the
    effects of pauperism, each member contributing in proportion to his
    means, and each having an interest according to the amount of his
    contributions. If therefore the amount contributed be the measure of
    each ratepayer’s interest, it ought in justice also, within certain
    convenient limitations, to be the measure of his influence; and
    these limitations the bill provides, by fixing a scale according to
    which every ratepayer is entitled to vote. As regards the voting by
    proxy, such a power is necessary for enabling the owner to protect
    his property, his interest in which is permanent, although he may
    not always be present to represent it by his personal vote; and the
    bill therefore provides for his doing so by proxy. The occupier is
    always present, and may vote in person; not so the owner, whose
    interest would be unprotected without this power of voting by proxy.
    That the owner’s interest ought to be represented will not be
    denied. The rate is levied upon property, and thus in fact becomes a
    portion of the rent, which would be increased by the amount of the
    rate, if this were not levied for Poor Law purposes; so that in
    reality it is the landlord, the permanent owner of the property, who
    finally bears the burthen of the rate, and not the tenant or
    temporary occupier. It seems consonant with justice therefore, that
    every facility should be afforded to the owner for protecting his
    interest by his vote.

“There are many reasons why magistrates should form a portion of every
    board of guardians. The elected guardians will for the most part
    consist of occupiers, or renters, not the owners of property; and
    their interest will be temporary, whilst the interest of the owner
    is permanent. Some union of these two interests seems necessary
    towards the complete organization of a board of guardians; and as
    the magistrates collectively may be regarded as the chief landed
    proprietors of the country, the bill proposes to effect this union
    by creating them _ex-officio_ members of the board. The elected
    guardians are moreover subject to be changed every year, and their
    proceedings might be changeable, and perhaps contradictory, and
    confusion might arise through the opposite views of successive
    boards. The _ex-officio_ guardians will serve as a corrective in
    this respect. Their position as magistrates, their information and
    general character, and their large stake as owners of property, will
    necessarily give them much weight; whilst the proposed limitation of
    their number to one-third of the elected guardians, will prevent
    their having an undue preponderance. The elected and the _ex
    officio_ members may be expected each to improve the other, and
    important social benefits may arise from their frequent mingling,
    and from the necessity for mutual concession and forbearance which
    such mingling cannot fail to teach. Each individual member will feel
    that his influence depends upon the opinion which his colleagues
    entertain of him, or upon the respect or regard which they feel
    towards him; and hence will arise an interchange of good offices,
    and a cultivation of mutual good-will, beginning with the board of
    guardians, and extending throughout the union, and eventually it may
    be hoped throughout the country; and thus the union system may
    become the means of healing dissensions, and reconciling jarring
    interests in Ireland. On these grounds, I consider that the
    establishment of _ex-officio_ guardians, voting by proxy, and
    cumulative voting, as provided in the bill, should be adhered to.

“Many measures, local as well as general, have been suggested, either
    for removing restrictions to the application of capital, or for
    giving direct encouragement to its application in Ireland; and some
    of these measures, I understand government intend taking into early
    consideration. In the survey which I have been able to take of the
    state of Ireland, and of the condition of the Irish people, it has
    appeared to me that quiet, and the absence of excitement, is the
    object chiefly to be desired. With repose would come security, and
    the investment of capital, and thence would arise employment, and
    the development of the productive powers of the country. The
    proposed Poor Law will not of itself accomplish these objects, but
    it will be found a valuable accessory; and with the progress of
    education, and that orderly submission to lawful authority which is
    at once the cause and the consequence of peace and prosperity, all
    those other objects will, we may hope, be eventually secured for

My Report was considered by the Cabinet,[79] and the whole subject was
again very fully discussed, and several minor alterations in the bill
were decided upon. It was also determined to bring it forward as the
first measure of the session. The subject continued to occupy a good
deal of public attention, as well in England as in Ireland. It was
discussed in the papers, and pamphlets were written upon it. In this
instance however, as in most others, the opponents were the most active,
and much ingenuity was displayed in animadverting on the asserted
incongruities of the proposed Irish Poor Law. The inquiry commissioners
also had their advocates, and in Ireland especially their
recommendations were, as might be expected, more popular than the
government bill. However, on the whole, the measure may be said to have
held its ground, and to be regarded as a matter of first-rate



  The following estimate was prepared during the progress of the bill,
  and was printed by order of the house of lords.

  Assuming that there will be a hundred unions, each having a workhouse
  capable of accommodating 800 persons, the paid officers, with their
  respective salaries in each union, may be stated as follows:—

 Clerk of the union                                  from  £60 to    80
 Master and mistress of the workhouse                       60  ”    80
 Chaplains                                                  50  ”    80
 Medical officers and medicines                            100  ”   150
 Auditor                                                    20  ”    30
 Returning officer                                          10  ”    20
 Collector                                                  50  ”    70
 Schoolmaster and schoolmistress                            50  ”    80
 Porter and assistant-porter                                20  ”    30
 Other assistants in the workhouse and union, say           30       30
                                                            ——       ——
                                                          £450 to   650

  For the hundred unions, this would give a total expenditure in
  salaries of from 45,000_l._ to 65,000_l._ per annum; or say 55,000_l._
  on an average.

  In addition to the above, it may be further assumed, that on an
  average throughout the year the workhouses will be three parts full,
  and that the total cost of maintenance clothing bedding wear and tear
  &c., will amount to 1_s._ 6_d._ per head per week, which is equal to
  3_l._ 18_s._, or say 4_l._ per head per annum; this will give an
  expenditure of 240,000_l._ per annum for maintenance &c., in the
  hundred unions: which added to the 55,000_l._ for salaries, will make
  a total charge of 295,000_l._ annually for the relief of the
  destitute, under the provisions of the bill.

  The money for building the workhouses is to be advanced by government,
  free of interest for ten years; and is to be repaid by annual
  instalments of five per cent. The cost of the workhouses has been
  stated at 700,000_l._, but assuming it to amount to 1,000,000_l._,
  this would impose an additional charge of 50,000_l._ annually for the
  first twenty years (exclusive of the interest after the first ten
  years on the then residue of the principal), which, added to the
  above, makes an aggregate charge of 345,000_l._ per annum.—G. N.


  It was laid on the table of both houses on the assembling of


[Sidenote: The bill reintroduced, December 1, 1837.]

Parliament assembled on the 10th of November, and on 1st of December
Lord John Russell reintroduced the bill, in an argumentative speech of
considerable length. After going through and commenting on the several
recommendations of the inquiry commissioners,[80] and noticing the
objections to which they were all more or less open, he explained by way
of contrast the principle on which the present bill was founded, much in
the same manner that he had done on the first introduction of the
measure. The statement was generally well received, although there were
some marked exceptions in this respect, and the bill was read a first
time without a division. It was in like manner read a second time on the
5th of February 1838. But on the motion for going into committee on the
9th, Mr. O'Connell strongly opposed the bill, and moved that it be
committed that day six months. The amendment was however negatived by
277 to 25, a majority which made the passing of the measure in some form
pretty certain. On the 23rd of February the question of settlement was
again very fully discussed, and its introduction decided against by 103
to 31, the latter number comprising all who could be brought to vote for
a settlement law of any kind. The vagrancy clauses were now also
withdrawn from the bill, on the understanding that there would hereafter
be a separate measure for the suppression of [Sidenote: The bill passed
the commons and read a first time in the lords.] mendicancy. The bill
continued to be considered in successive committees until the 23rd of
March, when all the clauses having been gone through and settled, it was
ordered to be reported, which was done on the 9th of April. On the 30th
of April the bill was read a third time and passed by the commons, and
on the day following was introduced and read a first time in the lords.



  Ante, pp. 137 to 146.


It had been thought desirable that during the Easter vacation I should
visit Holland and Belgium, with the view of ascertaining whether there
was anything in the institutions of those countries, or in the
management of their poor, that could be made available in the present
measure of Irish Poor Law; and it was arranged that Dr. Kay, one of our
assistant-commissioners should accompany me. The time at our disposal
was short, and our investigations were necessarily hurried; but the
letters with which we were furnished procured for us ready access
everywhere, and enabled us to obtain information which would not
otherwise have been accessible. On our return, I reported to government
the result of our inquiries.[81] The first portion of the Report was
chiefly furnished by my companion, and had reference to the subject of
education, in which Dr. Kay[82] felt a deep interest, and in the
promotion of which he afterwards took a distinguished part. The latter
portions of the Report applied more immediately to our present subject,
and from these portions I will now abstract so much as seemed calculated
to be useful with regard to the question of Irish Poor Law, or to bear
in any way upon the state of Ireland—



  The Report was printed, and laid before parliament.


  Now Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, Bart.


                        _Third Report._—May 5, 1838.

“The institutions for the relief of indigence are numerous in Holland,
    and consist of hospices for the aged and infirm, orphan-houses,
    workhouses of towns, depôts de mendicité, or district workhouses,
    the poor colonies, and private charitable institutions. The funds
    for the support of these establishments are to a great extent
    derived from endowments and voluntary contributions, the direct tax
    not being more than about 1,800,000 guilders, or 150,000_l._ per
    annum. Among the classes having ability to labour, a state of even
    temporary dependence is considered disgraceful, and great exertions
    are made by the labouring population to avoid it. But no sense of
    degradation attaches to the orphan establishments, which are
    calculated to invite rather than to discourage dependence. The
    depôts de mendicité, or provincial workhouses bear so close a
    resemblance to the old English workhouses and those established
    under Gilbert’s and the various local Acts, as to warrant a belief
    that the English workhouses must have been formed upon a Dutch
    model; but however this may be, the result has certainly been the
    same in both countries, the evil of pauperism having been increased
    rather than diminished by these institutions, in which the
    profitable application of pauper labour has been sought for, rather
    than the repression of pauperism.

“The workhouse of _Amsterdam_ is a vast building, capable of containing
    upwards of 1,500 inmates. The imposing character of its exterior,
    the elegance of its entrance-hall, and the decorations of the rooms
    appropriated to public business, were in marked contrast with the
    aspect of the several wards. The inmates chiefly consisted of the
    lowest and least moral part of the population of the great cities,
    who had sought refuge in the workhouse because they had forfeited
    their claim to regular employment, and the vigilance of the police
    did not permit them to subsist by mendicancy. The sexes were
    strictly separated at all times, but the children were in the same
    apartment with the adults of each sex. The males and females each
    occupied separate day-rooms, in which the dirt and disorder were
    very offensive. In these rooms the inmates ate their meals, without
    any attention to regularity or propriety. Here also they worked in
    the looms, or at other occupations. The first group of men to whom
    we advanced, were seated at a table playing at cards; we found
    another party playing at draughts, and a third at hazard. Others
    were idly sauntering up and down the room. The women’s day-room
    presented a scene of similar disorder. Both men and boys were
    clothed in a coarse kind of sacking. The chief article of their diet
    is rye-bread, almost black, and not over-abundant, with an
    indefinite quantity of boiled buttermilk; but they are permitted to
    work at certain rates of wages, and to spend a portion of their
    earnings at a canteen in the house, where coffee tobacco gin &c. may
    be obtained. On application for admission, the paupers undergo a
    strict examination as to their ability to maintain themselves; and
    while inmates they are not permitted to go abroad, ‘unless they give
    positive hopes that on re-entering society, they will render
    themselves worthy of their liberty, by diligently endeavouring to
    gain their own livelihood by honest means.’

“The establishment at La Cambré, near _Brussels_, was superior in its
    internal arrangements to the workhouse at Amsterdam, particularly in
    the separate classification of the aged, the children, and the
    adults, and also in the good arrangement and cleanliness of the
    sleeping-rooms. The sexes are strictly separated, as is invariably
    the case in all the other Dutch and Belgian institutions. By the
    penal code, a mendicant once condemned to a depôt de mendicité for
    begging, may be kept there during the remainder of his life; but in
    practice, he is allowed to leave the establishment whenever the
    commission of superintendence are satisfied that he is disposed to
    labour for his subsistence, without resorting to mendicancy.

“There are three great workhouses for the whole of _Holland_, which are
    situated, one at Amsterdam, another at Middleburgh, and a third in
    the commonalty Nieuve Pekel A, in the province of Groningen.
    _Belgium_ has five great workhouses, situated respectively at La
    Cambré, near Brussels, for the province of Brabant; at Bruges, for
    the two Flanders; at Hoogstraeten, for the province of Antwerp; at
    Mons, for Hainault, Namur, and Luxembourg; and at Reickheim, for
    Liege and Limburgh. Under their present regulations, these
    provincial workhouses, or depôts de mendicité, both in Holland and
    Belgium, are I think, judging from what we could learn and what we
    saw, very defective institutions; and hence seems to have arisen the
    necessity for resorting to some stricter measures, which ended in
    the establishment of the poor colonies. In England, the defects of
    the old workhouses were remedied by the introduction of regulations
    calculated to render them efficient tests, by the aid of which we
    have succeeded in establishing the distinction between poverty and
    destitution: for the latter we have provided relief, but we have
    left the former to its own natural resources. In Holland and Belgium
    no such distinction has been made, or test established. Their
    workhouses remain as they were originally formed—nurseries for
    indolence, and stimulants to pauperism. But in order to correct this
    evil, the Dutch have had recourse to the establishment of penal
    colonies, to which all persons found begging (or committing
    vagabondage as it is termed) are sent, if able to work, and
    compelled to labour for their subsistence, under strict discipline
    and low diet. Had the workhouses been made efficient, there would
    have been no occasion for these establishments; but the workhouses
    not being efficient, recourse has been had to the penal colonies,
    where the test of strict discipline, hard labour, and scanty diet,
    is so applied as to be held in the greatest dread by the vagrant
    classes. All beggars are apprehended by the police; if able to work,
    they are sent to the penal colonies; if aged or infirm, or unable to
    perform out-door work, they are sent to the workhouses; and although
    the discipline of the workhouses is defective, and the management in
    many respects faulty, yet with the aid of the penal colonies they
    secure the repression of mendicancy.

“In the workhouses of the penal colonies to which the able-bodied
    mendicants are sent, one ward is used in common as a dormitory,
    refectory, and workshop. The inmates sleep in hammocks, and are very
    coarsely clad. They labour in the fields, or in making bricks, or at
    manufactures in the house, under the superintendence of an
    inspector. Each colonist is furnished with a book, in which is
    entered the work executed daily, the amount of food and clothes
    furnished, his share of the general expenses of the establishment,
    and whatever he has received in the paper-money of the colony.
    Guards on horseback to patrol the boundary of the colony, rewards
    given for bringing back any colonist who has attempted to escape,
    and an uniform dress, are the means adopted to prevent desertion
    from the colony. Mendicants when arrested, may choose whether they
    will be brought before the tribunals as vagabonds, or be sent to the
    coercive colony, where they must remain at least one year. These
    rigorous measures for the suppression of mendicancy, have been
    adopted in the absence of any acknowledgment of a right to relief,
    and notwithstanding that a large portion of the relief actually
    administered arises from endowments and voluntary contributions.
    This forms an important feature in the Dutch and Belgian system; and
    if, as I believe, the rigour of this part of their institutions has
    been caused by the imperfect organization of the others, the true
    remedy would have been, not in the establishment of penal colonies,
    but in such an improvement of those other institutions as would have
    rendered them efficient for the repression of mendicancy, as well as
    for the administration of relief. On comparing the modes of relief
    existing in Holland and Belgium, with the system of relief it is
    proposed to establish in Ireland, the latter will I think be found
    to be much more simple and complete, and consequently to promise
    greater efficiency. No right to relief exists in Holland or Belgium,
    yet mendicancy is suppressed in both those countries. It is proposed
    not to give a right to relief in Ireland, and it is intended to
    suppress mendicancy,—in this respect therefore the circumstances are
    similar. But in Ireland, it is proposed to divide the whole country
    into districts of convenient extent, with a workhouse to each, so
    that every destitute and infirm person will be within easy reach of
    adequate relief; and this arrangement is obviously preferable to the
    various, and in some respects conflicting modes of relief which
    exist in Holland and Belgium, and will be more effective in its
    operation. The example of Holland and Belgium may therefore be
    cited, in addition to that of England, in support of the proposed
    Irish Poor Law.

“Another matter of much interest, is the different condition of the
    smaller class of cultivators in the two countries. Small farms of
    from five to ten acres abound in many parts of Belgium, closely
    resembling the small holdings in Ireland; but the Irish cultivator
    is without the comforts and conveniences of civilised life, whilst
    the Belgian peasant-farmer enjoys a large portion of both. The
    houses of the small cultivators in Belgium are generally
    substantial, with a sleeping-room in the attic, and closets for beds
    connected with the lower apartment, a dairy, a store for the grain,
    an oven, a cattle-stall, piggery, and poultry-loft. There is
    generally decent furniture and sufficient bedding, and although the
    scrupulous cleanliness of the Dutch may not be everywhere
    observable, an air of comfort and propriety pervades the whole
    establishment. In the cowhouse the dung and urine are preserved in
    the tank; the ditches are scoured, the dry leaves potato-tops and
    offal of every kind are collected for manure, and heaps of compost
    are in course of preparation. The premises are kept in compact
    order, and a careful attention to economy is everywhere apparent.
    The family are decently clad, none are ragged or slovenly, although
    their dress may be of the coarsest material. The men universally
    wear the bleuse, and wooden shoes are in common use by both sexes.
    Their diet consists chiefly of rye-bread milk and potatoes. The
    contrast of what is here described, with the state of the same class
    of persons in Ireland, is very marked. Yet the productive powers of
    the soil in Belgium are certainly inferior to the general soil of
    Ireland, and the climate does not appear to be superior. To the soil
    and the climate therefore, the Belgian does not owe his superiority
    in comfort and position over the Irish cultivator. The difference is
    rather owing to the greater industry economy and forethought of the

“A small occupier, whose farm we examined near Ghent, paid 225 francs
    per annum for about two bonniers, or six acres of land, with a
    comfortable house, stabling, and other offices attached, all very
    good of their kind; this makes the rent (reckoning the franc at
    10_d._) equal to 9_l._ 7_s._ 6_d._ sterling per annum; and, if we
    allow 3_l._ 7_s._ 6_d._ for the rent of the house, stabling, and
    other offices, there will be 6_l._, or 1_l._ per acre for the land,
    which accords with the information we obtained at other places. This
    farmer had a wife and five children, and appeared to live in much
    comfort. He owed little or nothing, he said, but he had no capital
    beyond that employed on his farm. We questioned him respecting his
    resources in case of sickness. He replied that if he were ill, and
    his illness was severe and of long duration, it would press heavily
    upon him, because it would interrupt the whole farm-work; and in
    order to provide for his family and pay the doctor he feared he
    should be obliged to sell part of his stock. If his wife and family
    were long ill, and he retained his strength, the doctor would give
    him credit, and he should be able to pay him by degrees in a year or
    two. We suggested that the Bureau de Bienfaisance, or charitable
    individuals, might afford him aid in such a difficulty, but he
    replied cheerfully that he must take care of himself If a sick club,
    or benefit society, were established among these people, to enable
    them by mutual assurance to provide for the casualty of sickness,
    the chief source of suffering to their families would be obviated,
    and there would be little left to wish for or amend in their social
    condition. The Belgian peasant farmer here described, is not very
    different from the small Irish occupier as respects his position in
    society, but how much better is his condition as regards the
    comforts and conveniences of life. The cause of this difference I
    believe to be, the more skilful system of culture pursued by the
    six-acre farmers of Belgium, the rigid economy which characterises
    them as a class, and the persevering industry and forethought with
    which they adjust their limited resources to their wants; and one of
    the first steps to the improvement of this important class in
    Ireland should be, to endeavour to assimilate their farming
    operations and domestic management, to that of the same class in

“It is not necessary to discuss the comparative advantages of small and
    large farms, it being notorious that the former abound in all parts
    of Ireland, in some districts almost to the exclusion of the other;
    and that any attempt at a rapid consolidation of these small
    holdings would occasion great misery and suffering. Changes of this
    nature cannot be successful, without special regard to local
    circumstances; and the obstructions which arise from fixed habits
    and old social arrangements, generally render any great organic
    change impracticable, excepting in the lapse of years. An improved
    management of the small farms in Ireland, would however afford the
    means of increasing the comfort, and ameliorating the condition of
    the cottier tenantry, and at the same time facilitate the progress
    of other changes conducive to their general well-being. It would, in
    fact, be beginning at the lowest point of the scale—improved
    management would bring increase of capital and improved habits, and
    thence would arise an enlargement of occupancies, which the vast
    extent of now waste but reclaimable land in Ireland would greatly
    facilitate. The establishment of a poor-law, by removing the burthen
    of supporting mendicancy which now presses almost exclusively on the
    class of small cultivators, will afford them relief and
    encouragement, and facilitate the improvement of their condition:
    but the Poor Law alone will not effect the necessary ameliorations,
    which can only be accomplished by a combination of efforts, of which
    the establishment of a poor-law is one, possibly it is the chief;
    for a poor-law will unite the interests of the other classes with
    the well-being of the poorest, and thus secure for the least
    intelligent, and therefore the most dependent portion of the
    community, the sympathies and the assistance of the most competent
    and intelligent of the middle and higher classes. The Poor Law will
    in this way, I believe, become the means of combining the now
    discordant elements of society in Ireland, for the promotion of the
    common interest; but the first impulse in the career of amelioration
    must be given by the landed proprietors, who should unite in
    promoting improvements among their tenantry, as well as in carrying
    out the provisions of the law.”

[Sidenote: Bill read a first time in the lords, May 1, 1838.]

The feeling in the house of lords with regard to the bill, was decidedly
more adverse than had been the case in the house of commons. Many of the
Irish peers whose properties were deeply encumbered, were alarmed at the
threatened position of a poor-rate, which they feared would swallow up a
large portion of their incomes. These fears were appealed to, and the
danger declaimed against and magnified, both by the economical opponents
of any poor-law whatever, and by the opponents of the present measure.
It was evident therefore from the first that the bill would encounter a
strenuous opposition in the lords, and that its passing was far from
certain. [Sidenote: Bill read a second time in the lords.] On the 21st
of May the bill was read a second time, after a long and stormy debate,
which lasted nine hours. Lord Melbourne moved the second reading in a
judicious and temperate speech, touching skilfully on most of the
leading points, and deprecating the intervention of party feeling. The
bill was, he said, founded on the amended system of the English Poor
Law. It was in fact an adaptation of the Act of 1834 to the
circumstances of Ireland, with such alterations as were required by the
peculiar condition of that country, and as the experience of its working
suggested. He thought the establishment of the measure would be the
beginning of a system of order, and that it would introduce order in a
beneficial form. It would among other things form the foundation of a
measure for the suppression of mendicancy; and one great advantage to
which he looked as arising from it was, that the struggle for land, and
the violent means the people took of enforcing what they conceived to be
their right with regard to it, would be much lessened, if not
extinguished. The writings of eminent political economists had, he said,
led him at one time to doubt whether the evil effects attending a system
of poor-laws, did not more than counterbalance any advantage to be
derived from them; but a full and careful consideration of the subject
had convinced him, that it was most beneficial for the landlords to be
made to take an interest in the condition of the people on the land. The
principle on which a poor-law should be established, was that of the
general benefit of the country—we should relieve the destitute, but not
do so in a way to paralyze the feeling of energy and enterprise which
ought to be paramount in every man’s bosom; and for this purpose he
thought the workhouse system was the one best adapted for testing the
necessity and means of the applicant.

The Marquis of Londonderry spoke strongly against the bill, and moved
that it be read that day six months. Many other peers joined in
denouncing the measure, but none more violently than Lord Lyndhurst, who
declared that it would lead to a dissolution of the Union. The Duke of
Wellington supported the second reading, with a view to amending the
bill in committee, and rendering it better fitted for its objects. The
distress existing in Ireland was he said undoubted. There had been
inquiry after inquiry on the subject, and on the outrages of every
description to which it led. He expected from this bill that it would
improve the social relations of the people of Ireland, and prevent the
distress which now so often prevailed there. Another result he
anticipated from the measure was, that it would induce the gentry of
Ireland, whether resident or not, to look after their properties, and
pay some attention to the state of the population on their estates.
This, the duke observed, would improve the social relations between
landlord and tenant—between the occupier and the labourer of the soil.
If the Poor Laws had not been amended in England, he should have
hesitated before consenting to the introduction of a poor-law into
Ireland; but seeing the results the measure of 1834 had produced in this
country—seeing the great advantage which had occurred from the working
of that system—and seeing how it has improved the relations of landlord
and tenant, he could not help desiring some such measure for Ireland, in
order, if possible, to remedy in like manner the evils of that country.
With regard to settlement, he was firmly convinced that its
establishment in connexion with the bill, would be productive of
unbounded litigation and expense, and lead to disputes of which no one
could foresee the end. At the same time, he thought care should be taken
that all parishes should be required to pay the expenses connected with
the relief of their paupers, “that being one of the principles of the
Poor Law in this country; and such an amendment should be introduced
into the present bill.” The measure being thus supported by the duke,
the second reading was carried by a majority of 149 to 20.

[Sidenote: The bill in committee.]

It was proposed that the bill should be committed on the 28th of May,
but the debate was exceedingly violent and was continued by adjournment
to the 31st. It is difficult to describe the scene which took place, on
the motion for going into committee on the bill. The confusion then, and
indeed during the whole night, surpassed anything one could have
expected in such a deliberative assembly. The alarms of the Irish peers
as to the effects of the measure exceeded all bounds, and they were
joined by several English peers who are supporters of the English Poor
Law. On the resumption of the debate on the 31st however, and after a
further discussion for eight hours, the house resolved by 107 to 41 to
support the principle of the bill, as embodied in the _41st clause_.
This clause provided that relief to the destitute might be administered
in the workhouses, at the discretion of the boards of guardians, subject
to the condition—in the first place of a preference being given to the
aged and infirm poor, and to destitute children; and in the second place
to persons residing in the union before those not so resident, when
there is not sufficient accommodation for all the destitute.

These latter provisions were introduced at the instance of the Duke of
Wellington, in order to meet the objections and mitigate the hostility
of the opponents of the bill, as was also the provision in the _44th
clause_ charging the cost of relief to the several electoral divisions,
instead of to the unions at large, as it before stood. These changes
were arranged between the duke and myself, with the approval of
government, previous to the second reading. [Sidenote: The bill read a
third time.] The bill was considered in committee on the 7th, 21st,
22nd, and 26th of June, and was read a third time on the 6th of July. On
the 11th I find it recorded in my journal—“The bill is now clear of the
lords, altered and in some respects improved, although the localisation
of the charge upon the electoral divisions approximates too nearly to
settlement to be quite satisfactory. I wish this had been left as it at
first stood; but so long as no right to relief, and no power of removal
are given, we shall I trust be able to avoid the infliction of actual



  This quotation is from a journal which I had kept of the proceedings
  with regard to the Irish Poor Law, from the commencement of my
  connexion with the question in August 1836, and which has been very
  useful in framing the present narrative. In this journal is recorded
  from day to day, the progress of my inquiries in Ireland and
  elsewhere, the deliberations and consultations with government on the
  subject, the discussions with different public men in reference to it,
  and also the various interviews with the Duke of Wellington after the
  bill had passed the commons, in which it was my good fortune to be the
  medium of communication for settling the points at issue be tween his
  grace and the government. I say “my good fortune,” for without the
  duke’s assistance the bill would not have passed the house of lords,
  and without the part taken by myself in negotiating and bringing about
  a right understanding on the subject, I doubt if that assistance would
  have been accorded. If therefore the enactment of the Irish Poor Law
  was, as I believe, a measure of great social importance, and as
  subsequent events have moreover I think shown it to be, it cannot but
  be regarded as a great privilege to have been permitted to assist in
  any way towards the accomplishment of such an object. With this
  privilege I was so fortunate as to be invested, and I feel happy in
  the consciousness of having spared no pains to fulfil the obligations
  it involved.


Although so far “clear of the lords,” there nevertheless remained much
to be done in reconciling differences between the two houses with regard
to some of the amendments, and in particular with regard to the schedule
of rating, which it was desired to make available for the purposes of
the municipal franchise. Several conferences were held, and “reasons”
_pro_ and _con_ were delivered in, and it was not until the 27th of July
that the bill was ready for the royal assent—This was given on the 31st,
and thus a law was at length established, making provision for the
systematic and efficient relief of destitution in Ireland.

                              CHAPTER IV.

Summary of the ‘Act for the more effectual Relief of the Poor in
  Ireland,’ and of the ‘Amendment Act’—Arrangements for bringing the Act
  into operation—-First and second Reports of proceedings—Dublin and
  Cork unions—Distress in the western districts—Third, fourth, fifth,
  and sixth Reports—Summary of the Act for the further amendment of the
  Law—Seventh Report—Cost of relief, and numbers relieved—Issue of
  amended orders.

Having in the last chapter described the progress of the bill from the
commencement till it became law, I now propose, as in the case of the
English and Scottish Acts,[84] to give a summary of the Irish statute
sufficiently in detail for enabling the reader, with the aid of the
Reports on which the measure was founded, to understand clearly both the
import and the object of the several provisions—



  See the author’s Histories of the English and Scotch Poor Laws.


              _Summary of the 1st and 2nd Victoria, cap. 56_,

       Entitled 'An Act for the more effectual Relief of the Poor in
                          Ireland'—31st July 1838.

_Sections 1, 2, 3._—Empower the Poor Law Commissioners for the time
    being to carry the Act into execution, and to issue such orders for
    the government of workhouses, the appointment and removal of
    officers, the guidance and control of guardians, and for keeping and
    auditing of accounts, as they shall think proper.

_Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8._—General rules issued by the commissioners are
    to be submitted to the secretary of state, and not to take effect
    until the expiration of forty days, and are to be laid before
    parliament at the commencement of every session. The rules are to be
    made public, and to be open to the inspection of the ratepayers; and
    whenever disallowed, the disallowance is also in like manner to be
    made public.

_Sections 9, 10, 11._—The assistant-commissioners, secretary, and other
    officers appointed by the commissioners, are to be officers under
    the present Act. The commissioners may with the approbation of the
    secretary of state, delegate their powers (except the power to make
    general rules) to one of the commissioners, or to one or more of the
    assistant-commissioners acting in Ireland, subject to such
    regulations as the commissioners may direct.

_Sections 12, 13, 14._—The assistant-commissioners are empowered to
    summon and examine witnesses on oath, and persons refusing to
    attend, or giving false evidence, or altering or concealing
    documents required for the purposes of the Act, are to be deemed
    guilty of a misdemeanor. The commissioners may order reasonable
    expenses of witnesses to be defrayed.

_Sections 15, 16._—The commissioners may by order under their seal,
    unite so many townlands as they think fit to be a union for the
    relief of the destitute poor; and may add to, take from, or dissolve
    the same, and may determine the proportionate amount chargeable in
    any such case, as shall appear to them to be just. But no such
    dissolution or alteration of a union is to take place without the
    consent of a majority of the guardians, and a copy of every order
    for the same is forthwith to be transmitted to the secretary of

_Sections 17, 18, 19._—Whenever a union is declared, a board of
    guardians is to be elected, for which purpose the commissioners may
    divide the union into electoral divisions, and from time to time
    alter the same; but in making or altering such electoral divisions,
    no townland is to be divided. The commissioners are to determine the
    number of guardians, having regard to the circumstances of each
    electoral division; and also the qualification, which in no case is
    to exceed a rating of 30l. net annual value—“provided always that no
    person being in holy orders, or being a regular minister of any
    religious denomination, shall be eligible as a guardian.”

_Sections 20, 21, 22._—The first election of guardians is to take place
    at the time fixed by the commissioners, and afterwards on the 25th
    of March in each year. Outgoing guardians may be re-elected, and in
    case of vacancy occurring through death removal or resignation, the
    remaining guardians are to act.

_Sections 23, 24._—Every justice of peace not being a stipendiary
    magistrate or assistant-barrister or minister of any religious
    denomination, is an ex-officio guardian of the poor of the union in
    which he resides, and after the board of guardians is duly
    constituted may act as a member of the board, in like manner as an
    elected guardian. But when the justices duly qualified and residing
    in the union exceed one-third the number of elected guardians, they
    are at a meeting specially assembled for the purpose, to appoint
    from among themselves a number nearest to but not exceeding
    one-third of the elected guardians, to act as ex-officio guardians
    from the time of such appointment, until the 29th of September
    following, and so annually on each succeeding 29th of September—the
    number of ex-officio guardians being in no case permitted to exceed
    one-third the number of the guardians elected by the ratepayers.

_Sections 25, 26._—If an election of guardians does not take place, or
    if any of those elected shall neglect or refuse to act, the
    commissioners may order a fresh election, and on failure thereof may
    appoint another to fill the place of any guardian so failing, until
    an election of guardians takes place under the provisions of the
    Act. And if regular meetings of the guardians be not held, or if
    their duties be not effectually discharged according to the
    intentions of this Act, the commissioners may dissolve such board,
    and order a fresh election; and if the guardians then elected
    likewise fail, the commissioners may appoint paid officers to carry
    out the provisions of the Act, and define their duties, and regulate
    their salaries, which are to be paid out of the poor-rates of the

_Sections 27, 28, 29, 30._—The board of guardians is declared a body
    politic and corporate for all the purposes of the Act. The
    commissioners and assistant-commissioners may attend the meetings,
    and take part in the discussions of the boards of guardians, but are
    not entitled to vote. The guardians are to assemble at such times as
    the commissioners direct, and no guardian, whether ex-officio or
    elected, has power to act, except as a member, and at a meeting of
    the board, for constituting which the presence of three members is
    necessary. No defect in the election or qualification of a guardian,
    is to make void the proceedings of any board in which he may have
    taken a part.

_Sections 31, 32, 33._—The commissioners may direct the appointment of
    such paid officers, with such qualifications, as they think
    necessary in every union, and may define their duties and determine
    their continuance in office or dismissal, and regulate their
    salaries. The commissioners are further empowered, with or without
    the concurrence of the guardians, to remove any paid officer whom
    they deem unfit or incompetent, and to require the appointment of a
    fit and competent person in his room, failing in which the
    commissioners may themselves make the appointment.

_Sections 34, 35, 36._—When a union is declared, every house of
    industry, workhouse, and foundling hospital within its limits, and
    supported wholly or in part by parliamentary grant &c., with all
    things thereto belonging, is to become vested in the Poor Law
    commissioners, subject to the debts and encumbrances thereof—in
    trust for, and subject to, the powers and provisions of this Act.
    The commissioners may from time to time as they see fit, build or
    cause to be built a workhouse or workhouses for any union, or may
    hire any building or buildings to be used as a workhouse, and may
    enlarge and alter the same, in such manner as they deem most proper
    for carrying the provisions of the Act into execution, and may
    purchase or hire any land not exceeding twelve acres to be occupied
    with such workhouse, and may order the guardians to uphold and
    maintain, and to furnish and fit up the same, and provide means for
    setting the poor to work therein—for all which purposes the
    guardians are required to raise and levy the necessary sums as a
    poor-rate, or to borrow the money and charge the same on the future
    poor-rate, as the commissioners shall direct. But after the
    workhouse has been declared fit for the reception of the destitute
    poor, the commissioners are restricted from ordering the expenditure
    of more than 400_l._ without the consent of the guardians.

_Sections 37, 38, 39, 40._—Incapacitated persons empowered to convey
    land &c.—the powers of _7th George 4th, cap. 74_, regarding the
    purchase and valuation of sites extended to this Act—Where the
    purchase-money is paid into the bank of Ireland, the commissioners
    exonerated from liability as to its application—The commissioners
    may sell lands &c., and apply the proceeds in purchase of other
    lands &c.; but are restricted from selling the workhouse of a union
    without the consent of the guardians.

_Section 41._—When a workhouse has been declared fit for the reception
    of destitute poor, and not before, the guardians, subject to the
    orders of the commissioners, are to take order for relieving and
    setting to work therein, in the first place, such destitute poor
    persons as by reason of old age infirmity or defect, may be unable
    to support themselves, and destitute children; and in the next
    place, such other persons as the guardians deem to be destitute
    poor, and unable to support themselves by their own industry or
    other lawful means—provided that in any case where there may not be
    sufficient accommodation for all the destitute persons who apply,
    the guardians shall relieve such as reside in the union, in
    preference to those who do not.

_Sections 42, 43, 44._—A register-book in a prescribed form, is to be
    kept by the master of every workhouse of the persons relieved
    therein, and such register is to be examined, corrected and signed
    by the chairman at every meeting of the guardians, and countersigned
    by the clerk—Accounts of the expenditure are to be kept and made up
    every six months, charging to every electoral division the
    proportion incurred in respect of persons relieved who are stated in
    the registry to have been resident in such electoral division; the
    expenses incurred in respect of all others are to be charged against
    the whole union. At the end of three years, any two or more
    electoral divisions may, with the commissioners’ concurrence, agree
    to bear the expense of the relief chargeable to each in common, a
    copy of every such agreement to be deposited with the commissioners,
    and another copy with the clerk of the peace.

_Sections 45, 46, 47._—On the declaration of a workhouse in any union,
    all local Acts relating in any way to the relief of the poor
    therein, are to cease and determine. The commissioners are to
    inquire into the state of fever hospitals and dispensaries, and
    report thereon to the secretary of state, stating the number of such
    institutions which in their opinion ought to be provided. They are
    also to examine into the administration of hospitals and
    infirmaries, and give directions for the more effective management

_Sections 48, 49._—The commissioners are to take order for the due
    performance of religious service in the workhouse, and are to
    appoint fit persons to be chaplains for that purpose, one being of
    the established church, another a protestant dissenter, and another
    of the Roman catholic church, and they are to fix the salaries of
    such chaplains. But no inmate of a workhouse is to be compelled to
    attend any religious service contrary to the religious principles of
    such inmate, or to which his or her parents or guardians object.

_Section 50._—The board of guardians are to appoint a fit person in each
    parish or townland within the union to be the warden thereof, who is
    to provide for the conveyance to the workhouse of such destitute
    poor persons as the guardians shall direct, and perform such other
    duties as the orders of the commissioners shall prescribe.

_Section 51._—If a meeting of the ratepayers of any electoral division
    agree to the raising of a rate to assist emigration, the
    commissioners may direct the guardians to raise such sums (not
    exceeding 1_s._ in the pound in any one year) as they think
    requisite for the purpose, either by a rate under this Act, or by a
    charge on the future rates; and the money so raised is, under the
    direction of the commissioners, to be applied by the guardians of
    the union in assisting the emigration to British colonies of poor
    persons residing in such electoral division.

_Section 52._—The money raised under authority of the Act, is only to be
    applied as is expressly provided for in the Act.

_Sections 53, 54, 55, 56._—Every husband is made liable for the
    maintenance of his wife, and every child under the age of 15,
    whether legitimate or illegitimate, which she may have; and every
    father is liable to maintain his child, and every widow to maintain
    her child, and the mother to maintain her bastard child, until such
    children respectively attain the age of fifteen. Relief given to a
    wife or child, is to be considered as given to the person liable to
    maintain such wife or child. Relief may be declared to be a loan,
    and be recoverable accordingly, and when given to a person entitled
    to any pension or other allowance, the guardians may require the
    next payment thereof to be made to them for indemnity of the union,
    and are then to repay the surplus to the person entitled thereto.

_Section 57._—Every child of a poor person who may be unable to support
    himself, shall be liable according to his ability to support his
    parents, and if any relief under this Act be afforded to such
    parents, it may by order of two justices be recovered by the
    guardians from such child, together with such other relief as shall
    subsequently be given.

_Sections 58, 59, 60._—Every person absconding from a workhouse and
    leaving his wife or child to be relieved therein, or who refuses to
    work, or is guilty of drunkenness or disobedience to the rules
    prescribed for the government of the workhouse, or who shall
    introduce spirituous or fermented liquors into any workhouse, is on
    conviction to be subjected to imprisonment with hard labour for not
    exceeding one month. Any person who deserts and leaves his wife or
    child so that they become chargeable, is on conviction to be
    subjected to hard labour in the house of correction for not
    exceeding three months; and every justice of peace may issue his
    warrant for apprehension of the offenders.

_Sections 61, 62, 63._—For defraying the expenses incurred under this
    Act, the guardians are empowered to make and levy such rates as may
    be necessary on every occupier of rateable hereditaments within the
    union, regard being had to the proportion previously charged upon
    any electoral division. The rateable hereditaments are then
    enumerated. But it is provided that no church chapel or other
    building exclusively dedicated to religious worship, or used for
    education of the poor, nor any burial-ground or cemetery, nor any
    building used for charitable or public purposes shall be rateable,
    except where any private profit or use is derived therefrom, in
    which case, the person deriving such profit or use, is to be rated
    as an occupier according to the annual value of the same.

_Sections 64, 65._—Every rate is to be a poundage rate, made upon an
    estimate of the net annual value of the several hereditaments—“that
    is to say, of the rent at which, one year with another, the same
    might in their actual state be reasonably expected to let from year
    to year, the probable annual average cost of repairs insurance and
    other expenses, if any, necessary to maintain the hereditaments in
    their actual state, and all rates taxes and public charges, if any,
    except tithes, being paid by the tenant.” The particulars of every
    rate are to be entered in a book (the form of which is given in a
    schedule annexed) and the guardians and other officers whose duty it
    may be to make the rate, are to sign the declaration at the end of
    the same, after which it is to be evidence of the truth of the
    particulars contained therein.

_Sections 66, 67, 68, 69, 70._—Existing surveys and valuations may be
    used, but if these are not deemed sufficient, the guardians may
    cause new ones to be made. All proprietors of tolls and profits
    liable to be rated are to keep accounts thereof, which the guardians
    are to have liberty to inspect. The commissioners may direct the
    cost of any survey and valuation to be defrayed by a separate rate,
    or by a charge upon the poor-rate, as they see fit. Twenty-one days’
    notice to the ratepayers for inspecting the valuation is to be given
    before making a rate, copies of which may be taken at all reasonable

_Sections 71, 72, 73._—The poor-rate is to be paid by the occupiers, but
    in cases where the property is rated at less than 5_l._ and where
    the parties have agreed thereto, the lessor may be rated instead.
    County-cess collectors may be appointed to collect the poor-rate on
    giving security and being approved by the commissioners—failing in
    which the rate may be collected by any other officer appointed for
    the purpose with like approval.

_Sections 74, 75, 76, 77._—Every occupier may deduct half the poundage
    rate paid by him, from the rent payable to the owner; and where any
    person so receiving rent, shall also pay a rent in respect of the
    same property, he will be entitled to deduct from such rent a sum
    proportionate to what was deducted from the rent he received. The
    entire rate is to be deducted from tithe; and all agreements to
    forego the deduction of rate are declared void.

_Sections 78, 79._—If a rate is not paid within two months after it has
    been made, the guardians may levy the same by distress, or sue for
    such rate by civil bill. The receipt for poor-rate is in all cases
    to be accepted by persons entitled to receive rent or tithe, in lieu
    of such sum as the person tendering the receipt is entitled to
    deduct from such rent or tithe. But no deduction is to be made from
    any rent-charge or terminable annuity.

_Sections 80, 81._—Every occupier paying rate, and every receiver of
    rent from which a deduction has been made on account of rate, and
    every owner of tithe, is to be deemed a ratepayer; and at the
    election of guardians in any union, every ratepayer is entitled to
    vote[85] according to the following scale—

 Where the annual value of the property rated shall not
 amount to 20_l._                                           One vote.

 Where it amounts  to 20_l._ and not to 50_l._              Two votes.

         ”         to 50_l._ and not to 100_l._             Three votes.

         ”         to 100_l._ and not to 150_l._            Four votes.

         ”         to 150_l._ and not to 200_l._            Five votes.

         ”         to 200_l._ and upwards                   Six votes.

    Where the occupier is also the owner, he will be entitled to double
    the above number of votes; and where the net annual value of the
    property rated exceeds the rent paid by the occupier, he is in
    addition to his votes as occupier, to be entitled to vote for such
    excess as if it were rent received by him.

_Sections 82, 83, 84, 85._—Where two or more ratepayers are jointly
    liable, each is to be entitled to vote according to the proportion
    borne by him, but one may claim to vote for the whole. The votes are
    to be given in writing in such manner as the commissioners may
    direct, and the majority returned in each electoral division is to
    be binding on such division. Votes may be given by proxy, but no
    occupier can vote unless all rates assessed upon him of six months’
    standing be first paid.

_Sections 86, 87, 88._—The members of a corporation or joint-stock
    company are not entitled to vote, but their officers may do so if
    duly authorised by the governing body. Where a rate has not been
    made, the cess-payers are to form a constituency for electing
    guardians, with the same proportion of votes as is prescribed for
    ratepayers, each shilling of county cess to be reckoned as one pound
    of annual value. The commissioners are to appoint a returning
    officer, and prescribe the duties to be performed by him in the
    election of guardians.

_Sections 89, 90, 91._—The guardians may with consent of the
    commissioners borrow money for purchasing and providing a workhouse,
    either from the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners, or any persons
    willing to advance the same on security of the rates. The money so
    borrowed is to be repaid in twenty years by annual instalments,
    together with the interest accruing thereon. The securities for
    money so advanced to a union may be transferred or assigned on
    notice thereof being given to the guardians.

_Sections 92, 93._—Contracts made by the guardians are not valid, unless
    conformable to the rules of the commissioners; and no guardian, paid
    officer, warden or other person engaged in collecting the rates, or
    in the management of the union, is either directly or indirectly to
    furnish supplies of any kind for the use of the union, under penalty
    of 100_l._ with full costs of suit to any person who shall sue for
    the same.

    _Sections 94, 95, 96, 97._—Guardians treasurers and other officers
    are to render a true account of receipts and payments &c., at such
    times and in such a form as the commissioners shall direct. Auditors
    are to be appointed to examine such accounts, and are to disallow
    all payments made contrary to the Act, or at variance with the
    orders of the commissioners. Bonds contracts advertisements &c. for
    carrying the Act into effect are exempted from stamp-duty, and
    letters relating exclusively to the execution of the Act, sent by or
    addressed to the commissioners, are exempted from postage.

_Sections 98, 99, 100, 101, 102._—Justices may proceed by summons for
    recovery of penalties—penalty on officers disobeying
    guardians—penalty on officers and others purloining goods &c.
    belonging to any union—penalty on persons wilfully disobeying the
    orders of the commissioners or assistant-commissioners.

_Sections 103, 104, 105._—Forfeitures costs and charges may be levied by
    distress under warrant of two justices, and are to be applied to the
    use of the union—ratepayers are competent witnesses—distress not to
    be deemed unlawful for want of form in the proceedings—plaintiff not
    to recover for wrongful proceeding, if tender of amends be made.

_Sections 106, 107, 108, 109._—Persons aggrieved may within four months
    after the cause of complaint, appeal against the poor-rate, or
    against a conviction where the penalty exceeds 5_l._, and the
    justices and assistant-barrister before whom the appeal is brought,
    are empowered finally to determine the same; but fourteen days’
    notice of the appeal is to be given.

_Sections 110, 111, 112._—Notwithstanding any appeal or notice thereof,
    the rate is to be paid, unless and until it be actually quashed or
    amended. Persons appealing are to enter into recognisance to
    prosecute the same at the next sessions, and to abide the order and
    pay such costs as the justices and assistant-barrister shall award.

_Section 113._—No action to be commenced against any person for anything
    done under authority of the Act, until after twenty-one days’ notice
    thereof, nor after sufficient satisfaction has been tendered to the
    party aggrieved, nor after three months from the time the action
    complained of was committed; and the defendant may plead the general

_Sections 114, 115, 116, 117._—No order of the commissioners,
    assistant-commissioners, or guardians, is removable by writ of
    certiorari except into the Court of Queen’s Bench in Dublin, and
    every order or rate[86] so removed is to continue in force until
    declared to be illegal. No application for writ of certiorari to be
    made, unless ten days’ notice of the particulars thereof shall have
    been delivered in writing to the commissioners, who may thereupon
    show cause against such application, and the court may if it think
    fit, proceed at once to hear and determine the case. Recognisances
    must be entered into previous to application for a writ of
    certiorari, and if the order be quashed, notice thereof is to be
    given to the unions to which it was directed; but the judgment is in
    no case to annul existing contracts.



      In altering the bill to localise the charge upon the electoral
      divisions respectively (see ante, p. 220) it was omitted to
      substitute the term Electoral Division for that of Union in the
      81st sect.; so that a person who might pay a rate in every
      electoral division of the union, could only as the clause stood
      vote in one, although each electoral division was separately
      chargeable. This would be contrary to what was intended by the
      Duke of Wellington’s amendment, and the error was remedied as soon
      as discovered by the _2nd Vict. cap. 1, sec. 5._ See post, p. 233.


      A rate was excepted from such removal by the Amendment Act passed
      shortly afterwards, _2nd Vict. cap, 1_. See post, p. 233.


_Sections 118, 119, 120, 121._—The Poor Law Commissioners for England
    and Wales are declared to be “The Poor Law Commissioners” under the
    provisions of this Act, and are empowered to carry the same into
    effect. A fourth commissioner may be appointed, and any two or more
    of the commissioners may sit as a board in England and Wales, or in
    Ireland, as they shall deem expedient. They are to have a common
    seal, and all orders or copies thereof purporting to be sealed
    therewith, are to be received as evidence that the same have been
    duly made.

_Sections 122, 123._—When required by the secretary of state, or when
    the board shall think fit, one of the commissioners may act in
    Ireland, and have all the powers given to the board of
    commissioners, except the power of making general rules; but the
    whole of the commissioners are to assemble in London once at least
    in every year, for the purpose of submitting a report of their
    proceedings, which report is to be made on or before the 1st of May,
    and is to be annually laid before parliament, “together with an
    account of the expenditure upon the relief of the poor in each
    union, and of the total number relieved in each union during the
    year ended the 1st of January preceding.”

_Section 124._—Interpretation clause.

Notwithstanding all the care that had been taken in framing this Act, it
was found on proceeding to carry it into operation that there were
several defects, partly owing to a want of information with regard to
certain peculiarities existing in Ireland, but principally arising out
of the changes made in the passage of the bill through parliament. Thus,
on the assumption that the division into townlands was universal, an
alteration was made in the Lords constituting a townland the unit in the
formation of unions; but in some places it was found that no townland
existed, and in very many cases the extent of the townland was not
known. There was uncertainty also with regard to parishes, their limits
being in many instances undefined. It became necessary therefore with as
little delay as possible to take steps for remedying these defects, and
to pass a short Act amending the former, which was accordingly done; and
as this last was essential to the one which preceded it, so that the two
Acts may be said to form one statute, it will be convenient to insert a
summary of it here in continuation of the above—

       _Summary of the 2nd Victoria, cap. 1, to amend the 1st and 2nd
                   Victoria, cap. 56.—15th March, 1839._

_Section 1._—The boundaries of many townlands not being accurately
    known, and there being places which are not known as townlands—it is
    enacted that the provisions in the preceding Act relating to
    townlands, shall “apply to every place in Ireland whether known as a
    townland or not.”

_Section 2._—Where the population of any city borough or town exceeds
    ten thousand, or where the population of any other place within an
    area of three miles exceeds ten thousand, the commissioners may
    constitute such city borough town or other place, or any part or
    parts thereof respectively, an electoral division; and may divide
    such electoral division into wards for the purpose of conducting the
    election of guardians.

_Sections 3, 4._—The commissioners may by order under seal declare any
    place not known as a townland, to be a townland; and where the
    boundaries of a townland are not known, may declare and determine
    the boundaries thereof.

_Sections 5, 6._—In the election of guardians, every ratepayer who under
    the last rate made shall have paid or be liable to pay rate in
    respect of property in any electoral division, “shall have a vote or
    votes in the election of guardians in such electoral division,
    according to the scale of votes prescribed.” And where needful
    expenses are incurred before any rate can be levied for defraying
    the same, a sum not exceeding 200_l._ may be borrowed and charged
    upon the first rate made.

_Sections 7, 8._—Conveyances of land &c. to the Poor Law commissioners
    are to be made according to the form set forth in the schedule
    annexed to the Act, or as near thereto as circumstances admit. The
    purchase-money is to be paid into the Bank of Ireland to account of
    the accountant-general of the Court of Chancery, “ex parte the Poor
    Law commissioners.”

_Sections 9, 10._—Appeals may be made heard and determined at general or
    quarter sessions of the peace, although an assistant-barrister be
    not present. So much as relates to the removal by writ of certiorari
    of any rate made under the previous Act, is by the present Act

[Sidenote: 1838.
           Proceeds to Ireland to bring the Act into operation.]

We will now resume our narrative, in the order of date. It has been
stated that the Irish Poor Relief Act was passed on the last day of
July. A fortnight afterwards it was arranged that I should proceed to
Ireland for the purpose of carrying the new law into operation. I had an
interview with Lord John Russell on the occasion, and urged the
necessity of proceeding vigorously and without delay in the introduction
of the measure, and expressed my conviction that our so doing was
essential to success. His lordship assured me that government approved
of our at once going forward with the formation of unions and providing
workhouses, and were prepared to afford every assistance that we might
require. It was settled that I should go to Ireland at the end of the
month, taking with me four of our assistant-commissioners, whose
experience in the administration of the English Poor Law would, it was
thought, be found highly useful in Ireland.[87] I quitted London on the
1st of September, and as soon as the assistant-commissioners had
assembled in Dublin, one of them was sent to Belfast, another to
Limerick, a third to Cork, and one was retained in Dublin. They were
furnished with instructions in which the objects to which their
attention should be chiefly directed were pointed out. The mode of
commencing operations was one of the first things which had to be
considered. Would it be better to commence by forming unions of the
chief towns, and then work back from them to the interior of the
country; or else to begin in the interior, and work up to the great
towns?—This, the assistant-commissioners were told, was an important
question, requiring to be decided as quickly as possible; and in order
to obtain the requisite data for so deciding, it was necessary that some
of the chief towns should he first examined, in doing which, they were
desired at the same time to endeavour to obtain such a knowledge of
other parts of the country, as would assist them in forming a judgment
upon the question.



  The gentlemen selected for this purpose, were Mr. Gulson, Mr. Earle,
  Mr. Hawley, and Mr. Voules.


The investigations in which the assistant-commissioners would thus he
engaged, would it was considered, serve to bring them acquainted with
the condition and habits of the people, and prepare them for entering
upon the formation of unions as soon as arrangements for the purpose
were sufficiently advanced. The position size and character of the
towns, the existence of barracks or other buildings readily convertible
into workhouses, the disposition of the inhabitants with respect to the
new law, whether favourable or otherwise, were all to be noted, as
constituting materials for judging of when and where the unions should
be formed; it being important to begin, where the least difficulty or
opposition would have to be encountered.

The principle adopted in the formation of unions in England was
considered applicable to Ireland, namely, that the union should consist
of a market town as a centre, and the district surrounding and
communicating with it. The unions so formed would, it was supposed, be
pretty equally distributed throughout the country, and be of a size not
materially differing from what had been stated in the Reports to be the
most eligible, that is embracing a radius of about ten miles. Some
persons had contended for smaller unions, but the smaller the union, the
larger in proportion would be the establishment charges; and as the
provisions introduced in the house of lords for localizing the rate upon
each electoral division, had removed one of the objections to large
unions chiefly insisted upon, it would now probably be considered, that
in taking the market town as a guide, the commissioners could not be far
wrong, since the people who frequent the market would find no difficulty
in attending at the union workhouse, whether as guardians or applicants
for relief. At the same time however, local interests were not to be
disregarded in the arrangement of unions and electoral divisions; but
the boundaries of private property, and of counties and baronies were to
be observed, as far as might be consistent with the general interest and

The assistant-commissioners were likewise cautioned as to the
sensitiveness of the Irish people, and the importance of conciliating
their feelings and gaining their confidence, which would be best
accomplished by observing a simple straightforward line of conduct
towards them, a scrupulous fulfilment of promises, and not raising or
encouraging expectations unless they were pretty certain of being
fulfilled. “We know,” it was added, “that the object of the law we are
called upon to administer is kind and beneficent, and calculated to
better the condition and improve the social habits of the people; and
knowing this, we cannot feel otherwise than confident in its
application, and earnestly zealous in working out the results
contemplated by the legislature in its enactment.”

The assistant-commissioners re-assembled in Dublin on the 9th October,
and reported the result of their investigations; and being joined by
four others who had been appointed in the interim,[88] the whole
question as to the mode of bringing the law into operation was very
fully discussed and considered. The assistant-commissioners shortly
afterwards proceeded to Cork, Limerick, Londonderry, and Belfast,
furnished with full instructions for their guidance in the formation of
unions in and around those places, it being considered that clusters of
unions so formed would be better protected from undue pressure at the
outset, than if they stood singly and isolated. Mr. Earle remained in
Dublin for a like purpose. With regard to the formation of unions, the
instructions previously given were confirmed, but careful consideration,
they were told, would be required in arranging the electoral divisions,
as well as in determining the number; for although the commissioners
were empowered “to alter the electoral divisions from time to time as
they may see fit,” it was important that the divisions should be so
formed at the outset as to render subsequent alteration unnecessary. As
a general rule the board considered that there should be as many
electoral divisions as there were elected guardians, and that the
divisions should be all nearly of the same size. There might however be
cases, owing to the extent of individual properties or other cause in
which this rule could not be observed, and in such cases, the larger
divisions might properly have more than one guardian, as in the larger
English parishes: but it would be well to deal with such cases as
exceptions, and as far as practicable to form the several electoral
divisions of the same size, and each to return one guardian.



  These were Mr. Clements, Mr. Hancock, Mr. O'Donoghue, and Mr. Phelan,
  the latter with an especial view to the medical charities. Mr. Stanley
  had been appointed secretary to the board in Dublin.


The townland being the unit, and some townlands being heavily charged
with pauperism, while others were comparatively free, it was thought
that difficulties might sometimes arise in determining upon the
townlands of which an electoral division should consist. Landed
proprietors might be naturally desirous of having all their land in one
division, unmixed with the land of others, especially where they have
taken pains, or incurred expense to improve their properties. The board
deemed it impossible to lay down any unvarying rule that would be
applicable to all such cases, but considered that the wishes of the
proprietor, where the lands are contiguous, should be attended to
whenever it could be done without injury or inconvenience to others; and
in grouping pauperised and unpauperised townlands together, it should be
endeavoured so to arrange the district, as to make the junction as
little oppressive as possible to the latter. In Dublin, Limerick, and a
few of the older towns, it was thought likely that the electoral
divisions could not be so formed as to maintain an equality of pressure,
owing to some parishes being exclusively inhabited by the poor and
mendicant classes, whilst others were entirely free from them. The board
declared that it was “very sensible of the magnitude of this difficulty,
which will receive its best attention with the view of endeavouring to
devise a palliative, if not a remedy; and it is much to be desired that
the efforts of the assistant-commissioners should be directed to the
same end.”

[Sidenote: Number and qualification of guardians.]

As respects the number of elected guardians to be assigned to a union,
it was on the whole considered, having regard to the satisfactory
despatch of business as well as the importance of there being an
executive so extended as to command the confidence of the ratepayers,
that a number varying according to circumstances from 16 to 24, would be
best calculated for carrying into effect the provisions of the Act.
These numbers, with the proportion of one-third ex-officio guardians,
would give to each union a board of from 21 to 32 members, which would
be sufficient for the purpose of deliberation, and yet not so numerous
as to impede efficient action. The qualification of guardians must of
course depend very much upon the circumstances of the district. “In some
parts of Ireland a 5_l._ qualification would not be too low, whilst in
others the maximum of 30_l._ would not be much if at all too high;” and
the assistant-commissioners were told to use their discretion between
these extremes in the recommendations they might make. The board however
considered that it would be advantageous to assume 10_l._ as a
preferable medium to be observed, except in cases where a greater or a
smaller amount of qualification appeared to be required. Recommendations
were then made as to the selection and duties of returning-officers, the
nomination of parish wardens, and the appointment of clerks to the
boards of guardians, and also as to the necessity for observing strict
economy in all the arrangements connected with the formation and working
of the unions. The board likewise, under the heavy responsibility
devolved upon it, considered it to be a duty “to point out to the
assistant-commissioners the vast importance of their avoiding even the
semblance of party bias, either in politics or religion.”

The commissioners being by the _35th section_ of the Act made
responsible for providing the workhouses, very particular instructions
were given to the assistant-commissioners on the subject, which
constituted in fact the foundation of the whole measure. They were
directed “at the formation of every union to make a careful survey, not
only of the present state of destitution and mendicancy within it, and
of what will be the extent of workhouse accommodation required
immediately, or in the first two or three years, but also what was
likely to be necessary afterwards; so as to frame such plans and adopt
such arrangements in the construction of the buildings, as should afford
the earliest present accommodation, and at the same time afford
facilities for enlargement whenever it should become necessary.” In
cases where barracks or other buildings should be taken for workhouse
purposes, care ought likewise to be taken that the necessary alterations
and additions were so framed that a portion only need be constructed in
the first instance, and that the whole of the plan as designed might be
completed whenever it should afterwards be found necessary, without
materially interfering with the parts already in use. The quantity of
land to be occupied with the workhouse is by the Act restricted to
twelve acres, and the assistant-commissioners were recommended to
endeavour to convince the guardians of the inexpediency of occupying
more land than was sufficient for the purposes of a garden, or than
could be conveniently managed by the boys and aged and infirm men.

Next in importance to the workhouse, was the establishing an assessment
founded upon the actual value of all the rateable property within the
union, in conformity with the _54th section_ of the Act. The
assistant-commissioners were directed to call the attention of the
boards of guardians at their first and second meetings to this important
duty, for the performance of which they were responsible. Suggestions
were then offered with regard to the government valuation, and that made
under the Tithe Composition Act, and also to the probable necessity in
some cases of procuring a new valuation; although in general it was
considered that it would be found practicable at the outset to establish
a fair and equitable assessment for the poor-rate, without resorting to
the expensive process of a valuation by professional men.

The board next determined upon the kind of returns, statistical and
otherwise, to be required from the assistant-commissioners, and the
extent of information in all cases to be obtained before any unions
should be declared; and a circular containing full directions on every
point, together with a form for tabulating the several heads of
information, was addressed to the assistant-commissioners for their
guidance in this highly important part of their duty.

Whilst the assistant-commissioners were pursuing their inquiries and
collecting information preparatory to forming unions, the commissioner
acting as a board in Dublin was occupied in preparing the several forms
and orders for declaring unions, governing elections, and regulating the
proceedings of boards of guardians. These were all framed, as nearly as
circumstances admitted, on the model of those issued in England, and
were transmitted to the board in London for revision and approval. And
here it may be well to state, that although under the _122nd section_, I
was when acting singly in Ireland invested with all the powers of a
board, and might make and issue all orders and regulations with the
exception of “general rules,” yet I never directly exercised this power,
but forwarded every such instrument to be approved and sealed by the
board in London. This course was adopted in consideration that it
afforded greater certainty of keeping up a unity of action, and a more
complete interchange of information between the two boards, than would
be likely to exist if the commissioner acting in Ireland were to frame
and issue orders without the participation of his colleagues acting in

At the commencement of their proceedings, the assistant-commissioners
found that vague and often very exaggerated notions prevailed with
regard to the new law, and their approach was at first everywhere viewed
with more or less of suspicion and alarm. By great patience and
perseverance however in explaining the objects and intentions of the
Act, and by the examples they were enabled to cite of the working of the
amended law in England, they generally succeeded in removing these
impressions, and in obtaining a willing co-operation; so that ere long,
the requirements of the law, if not universally popular, were at least
very generally acquiesced in. Perhaps this change may also have been in
some degree owing to the magistrates and the clergy of each denomination
having been furnished with copies of the Act, elucidated by copious
explanatory notes, and likewise with copies of the Reports on which the
Act was founded. The extensive correspondence which was continually
going forward, and the frequent personal communications with the board
in Dublin, contributed moreover to diffuse information as to the nature
objects and working of the law, and not only helped to prepare the way
for its introduction, but proved likewise the means of raising up
zealous administrators for carrying it into execution.

[Sidenote: 1839.
           First report of proceedings in Ireland.]

Having thus generally stated the nature of the preliminary arrangements
for bringing the law into operation, it is now proposed, as in the
author’s ‘History of the English Poor Law,’ and as is also done in his
‘History of the Poor Law of Scotland,’ to take the Commissioners’ annual
Reports as the groundwork of the narrative. Their first Report of
proceedings is dated 1st May 1839.[89] It comprises only a short period,
and will not require a lengthened notice; but it is of considerable
interest, as showing the steps earliest taken in the introduction of the



  This is included in the fifth annual Report of the Poor-Law
  Commissioners, but I shall continue to number the Reports of
  proceedings in Ireland separately, without regard to the number of the
  commissioners’ general Reports.


[Sidenote: Election proceedings.]

As the time approached for declaring Unions, and for constituting boards
of guardians, it was necessary be prepared for conducting the elections.
Arrangements were accordingly made, with the sanction of the Irish
government, for the distribution and collection of the voting-papers by
the constabulary; and as the commissioners were immediately responsible
for the appointment of returning officers to conduct the elections, the
assistant-commissioners were directed to seek for and recommend
competent individuals for the purpose, that is, some one in each
district about to be united who was well known, and possessed the
confidence of the ratepayers; and the Report states that there is every
reason to be satisfied with the manner in which the selections have been

To aid the returning officers in the performance of their novel duties,
they were furnished with ample instructions on every point not provided
for in the election order; and the assistant-commissioners were required
to attend at all the early stages of the proceedings in every union, to
afford such further assistance and counsel as might be necessary. Some
few irregularities occurred, but not more than was to be expected under
the circumstances. There were likewise a few instances of party or
sectarian feeling, but in no case were improper individuals returned as
guardians; and allowance being made for the want of previous training,
the Irish boards will, it is said, “fairly bear a comparison with the
boards in England,” and a hope is confidently expressed that the measure
will not fail through the want of an efficient executive.

[Sidenote: The workhouses.]

Relief in the workhouse being the only mode of relief sanctioned by the
Act, it was evident that until a workhouse is provided the law must be
practically inoperative. Attention was therefore early directed to this
object, for the due execution of which the commissioners were alone
responsible; and much pains were taken to ascertain the kind of
buildings that would be most suitable, having regard to the
circumstances of the country and the habits of the people. After
extensive inquiry, as well in England as in Ireland, and a careful
consideration of the whole subject, it was determined to engage an
architect experienced in the construction of English workhouses, and to
employ him in conjunction with the assistant-commissioners, and with the
aid of the best local information that could be obtained, in devising a
series of plans for the Irish workhouses, of different sizes, together
with descriptive specifications and estimates for each.[90] This was
accordingly done, and the proceeding was fully justified by the result.
The style of building adopted for the workhouses, was of the cheapest
description compatible with durability; and effect was sought to be
obtained through harmony of proportion and simplicity of arrangement,
all mere decoration being studiously excluded. The unoccupied barracks
were originally proposed to be converted into workhouses, and at first a
few of the unions were arranged with a view to this object. But after
repeated discussions with the Ordnance authorities, it became evident
that very few if any of these buildings could be obtained, the whole
appearing to be considered necessary for military purposes.[91]



  The architect engaged for this service was Mr. Wilkinson, who had
  erected several of the English workhouses, and who continued to
  superintend the building operations in Ireland until all the
  workhouses were completed, and for some years subsequently.


  A portion only of one barrack was ultimately taken, that of Fermoy;
  and it turned out to be neither satisfactory nor economical. At the
  end of a few years it was restored to its original use, and a new and
  more convenient workhouse was provided for the union.


[Sidenote: Valuations and rating.]

One of the first duties to which a board of guardians is required to
attend, was the valuation of the property within the union for the
purpose of its being rated to the relief of the poor. This under any
circumstances is a matter of some difficulty, but in Ireland the
difficulty was increased by the condition of the country, and the
absence in many parts of any reliable data for framing such a valuation.
To assist the guardians in the performance of their duties in this
respect, they were furnished with very full instructions, pointing out
in detail the principle on which the valuation and the rating were to be
conducted, and all that was necessary to be attended to, in order to
fulfil what the law required.

Shortly after the commencement of operations in Ireland, it was
discovered, as has been before stated, that there were certain defects
in the Act, which it was necessary forthwith to remedy; and this it has
been shown was accordingly done by the passing of the _2nd Vict., cap.
1_,[92] until after which no union could be formed in Dublin and some of
the other chief towns, owing to the townland division not being there



  Ante, p. 233.


[Sidenote: Unions declared.]

On the 25th of March, the end of the usual parochial year, the Report
states that—“the number of unions declared was 22, and that in 18 of
these boards of guardians had been elected. The requisite statistical
details were also completed for nine other unions, which would shortly
be declared, and considerable progress had likewise been made in
arranging nine more.” Such were the results of somewhat less than six
months’ operations in the introduction of the Irish Poor Law, and they
were generally regarded as satisfactory, and as warranting an
expectation of the successful introduction of the measure.

[Sidenote: 1840.
           Second report of proceedings in Ireland.]

The Report of the second year’s proceeding is dated 30th April 1840, and
is considerably longer than the preceding Report. It was moreover report
of accompanied by an Appendix containing copies of Orders and Reports,
in fact a copy of each class of important documents issued or received
by the Dublin board, thus showing not only everything that was done for
bringing the law into operation, but also the mode of doing it, and
whatever took place in connexion with it.

[Sidenote: Unions declared, and workhouses in progress.]

The first Report brings the proceedings down to the 25th of March 1839.
The second Report brings them down to the same date in 1840, at which
time the number, of unions declared was 104, and it was thought that 30
more would probably complete the number into which it might be desirable
that the country should be arranged. This would be a greater number than
was at first contemplated, but a strong desire for small unions was
found to be very general; and this desire, added to the want of
convenient centres, and other local circumstances, led to an increase of
the number beyond the original estimate. Sixty workhouses had been
contracted for, and were in progress of building, and arrangements for
ten others were considerably advanced.

[Sidenote: Three additional assistant-commissioners.]

It soon appeared to be on many accounts exceedingly desirable, not
only that the formation of the unions, but also that the
necessary arrangements for administering relief, should be urged
forward as rapidly as possible. The government concurred in
this view, and sanctioned the appointment of two additional
assistant-assistant-commissioners,[93] who after a short training in
England, were assigned to their respective duties in Ireland, whither
also another of the English assistant-commissioners was transferred.[93]
The valuable services of Mr. Earle were in the present year withdrawn
from the commission, and he was succeeded in the charge of the Dublin
district by Mr. Hall, who had previously been acting in England.



  These were Mr. Burke and Mr. Otway; and Mr. Muggeridge was transferred
  from England.


[Sidenote: Formation of unions.]

Great pains were taken in forming the unions, and for the most part the
arrangements made were satisfactory to the parties interested, but not
always so to the extent desired; for it was not always found possible
“to adapt the limits of the union to the limits of individual
properties, and at the same time adhere to other local boundaries and
pay a due regard to general convenience.” Difficulties likewise arose in
determining the portion of rural district to be included in the same
electoral division with towns, or with other places where the destitute
and mendicant classes were numerous. Such places were regarded as likely
to bring a burden upon whatever else they might be combined with. It
does not follow however because mendicancy prevails in a town, that the
poor-rates will be heavier there than in the neighbouring country
districts. The reverse will often be the case, the larger amount of
property rateable in a town, being more than equivalent to its
comparatively greater charge of pauperism. The practice generally
adopted on such occasions, was to attach to a town as much of the
adjoining district as seemed naturally to belong to it, and over which
the town mendicants habitually levied contributions. No part of an
electoral division so formed would be subjected to any new burden. It
had supported the mendicant classes heretofore—it would have to pay
rates for supporting the destitute thereafter; and of the two, the
latter would probably be found the lighter.

Before submitting a proposal for establishing a union, the
assistant-commissioners in every instance called a meeting of the
inhabitants of the district, and explained the nature and intent of
the law, together with the proposed arrangements for carrying it into
effect, and also took into consideration whatever objections or
suggestions there might have been made on the occasion; and it was not
until after this public exposition of the course proposed to be
pursued, and a careful sifting of testimony for and against it, that
the arrangements for the several unions were proposed to, and received
the sanction of the board in Dublin. The Reports of the
assistant-commissioners on these occasions were sometimes long and
minute, entering into a detail of the circumstances of the district,
and thus forming “a valuable body of information general and
statistical, which may hereafter serve to test the working of the
measure, and its effects upon the population.” A copy of one of these
Reports furnished by each of the assistant-commissioners, was inserted
by way of example in the Appendix to the annual Report.

[Sidenote: The Dublin house of industry.]

The Board’s attention was early directed to the state of the charitable
institutions in Dublin, and especially to the house of industry and the
foundling hospital, both of which became vested in the commissioners
under the _34th section_ of the Poor Relief Act. The house of industry
consisted of an asylum for aged and infirm poor and incurable lunatics,
together with the Hardwick, the Whitworth, and the Richmond Hospitals,
and the Talbot Dispensary. It was constituted under the Irish Act of
_11th and 12th Geo. 3rd, cap. 11_,[94] and was expected to be supported
by voluntary contributions, but these soon failed, and in 1777 it
received a grant of 4,000_l._ from parliament, and had continued ever
since to be supported in like manner. In 1816 it was determined to
appropriate the house of industry to the reception of the aged and
infirm and the sick poor, orphan children, and lunatics and idiots. This
led to the introduction of a large number of persons requiring medical
treatment, and made it necessary to provide hospitals for the purpose.
The expense of the entire establishment was defrayed by parliament, and
the grant for each of the preceding five years had been 20,000_l._ The
estimate for 1839 was 21,136_l._ The number of inmates was as follows—

            Aged and infirm poor                        888
            Incurable lunatics and epileptics           474
            Sick in the hospitals                       303
                             Total                    1,665



  Ante, p. 45.


[Sidenote: The Dublin foundling hospital.]

The foundling hospital was established in 1704 by the _2nd Anne, cap.
19_, and was re-constituted in 1772 by the _11th and 12th Geo. 3, cap.
11_.[95] With the exception of a small rent from property devised to it,
the institution had been supported by parliamentary grants, which during
the last five years had averaged 14,765_l._ The estimate for the current
year was 11,255_l._ Infants were at first, and for many years
subsequently, received into the hospital without payment or inquiry, the
annual number varying from 1,500 to 2,000. In 1822 a deposit of 5_l._
was required with each child, which soon had the effect of reducing the
admissions to below 500; and in 1829 a committee of the house of commons
recommended that admissions should cease altogether, which they
accordingly did in the following year. The previous admissions however
had been so numerous, that on the 25th of March 1839 the dependents on
the institution still amounted to 4,258, viz.—

       Children at nurse in the country, of whom 446 are
         under   ten years of age                          1,484

       Apprentices                                         2,528

       In course of being apprenticed, or under medical
         treatment   in the house                             40

       Adults on the invalid list                            206





  Ante, pp. 35 and 45.


The invalid class consisted of 150 females and 56 males, and had
accumulated principally since 1797, only 13 having been admitted
previous to that year. “Many were blind, some crippled, others were
severe cases of scrofula, and a few were deaf and dumb. They were
quartered in the country, and were annually visited by the inspectors.”

[Sidenote: Arrangements with regard to the house of industry and
           foundling hospital.]

The capacity of the house of industry and foundling hospital for being
converted to workhouses, and the great prevalence of mendicancy in
Dublin, made it expedient to introduce the new law with as little delay
as possible; and steps were taken for this purpose, as soon as the
passing of the Amendment Act[96] enabled the board to unite districts
not being townlands. Arrangements were, with the approbation of
government, made for the lunatic inmates of the house of industry,
amounting with their attendants to 523, by preparing certain old
barracks at Island Bridge for their reception; and as the hospitals and
the dispensary, when detached from the house of industry, would stand in
need of kitchen and other office accommodation, these essentials were
accordingly provided, and the appointments in connexion with them were
consigned to the Irish government. With regard to the foundling
hospital, a suitable residence was provided for the officers, and for
such of the children as it might be occasionally necessary to bring to
Dublin. The expense attendant upon making these various changes was very
considerable, but the whole was accomplished “without calling for any
advance beyond the money already voted by parliament for the house of
industry and foundling hospital, the balance remaining from the vote of
the year preceding, and the saving of expenditure by enforcing a rigid
economy during the past year, having afforded sufficient funds to effect
all that was necessary.” This result is declared to have been chiefly
owing to the confidence which government placed in the commissioners
with regard to a matter of much intricacy, and which did not perhaps
strictly come within the line of their duty. It was also in no slight
degree owing to the prompt support afforded by his excellency the lord
lieutenant, whose cordial co-operation and assistance on all occasions
is gratefully noticed in the Report.[97]



  Ante, p. 233.


[Sidenote: The two Dublin unions.]

A full account of the measures adopted with regard to the Dublin
foundling hospital and house of industry, is given in the
assistant-commissioners’ Report[98] on these institutions, and also of
what was required to be done preparatory to their being used as the
workhouses of the two Dublin unions, for which they were well suited
both as to size and situation. One of the unions comprised the district
on the south side of the Liffey, with a population of 182,767; and the
other comprised the district on the north side, having a population of
125,245. The workhouses would each be made capable of accommodating
2,000 inmates, and were very conveniently placed, with a sufficiency of
land attached to them. A belt of unions had been formed nearly
encircling the city, so that the Dublin unions would be protected from
undue pressure. The guardians exhibited a good spirit, and promised an
active co-operation in carrying out the law.[Sidenote: Dublin workhouses
declared, March 25, 1840.] The unions were both declared on the 6th of
June 1839; and the order declaring the workhouses fit for the reception
of paupers was issued on the 25th of March 1840, the interval being
occupied in making the necessary preparations.



  Lord Ebrington (now Earl Fortescue) was lord lieutenant at this time,
  and I feel it a duty to state that much of our success in the early
  part of our proceedings, was owing to the aid and countenance he was
  ever ready to afford us. He knew the difficulties with which the
  commission had to contend, and never withheld assistance when it was


  This is inserted in the Appendix to the Annual Report.


[Sidenote: The Cork union.]

Cork possessed a foundling hospital and a house of industry as well as
Dublin; but both were much smaller than the metropolitan ones, and the
house of industry alone was susceptible of being used as a workhouse,
and that only temporarily until an adequate building could be provided
for the purpose. With respect to the foundling hospital, steps were
taken as in the case of that of Dublin, to bring it to a close at the
earliest period compatible with the wellbeing of the children maintained
in it. The Cork guardians entered with alacrity on the discharge of
their new duties, and took immediate steps for obtaining a valuation,
and levying a rate. It was therefore determined in compliance with the
desire strongly expressed by them, and by the inhabitants generally, to
bring the law into full operation in the Cork union with the least
possible delay, although it was not unlikely that some inconvenience
might arise from relief being administered there so much sooner than it
would be practicable to provide for its administration in the
neighbouring districts. [Sidenote: Cork workhouse declared temporarily,
February 15, 1840.] The union was declared on the 3rd of April 1839; and
on the 15th of February 1840 an order was issued declaring the old house
of industry to be the temporary workhouse of the union for administering
relief. Full instructions were furnished to the guardians on the
occasion, and an intention was expressed of watching the progress of the
Cork and the Dublin unions, with a view to the prompt exercise of the
powers provided by the law for mitigating “whatever inconveniences might
arise from thus early bringing the law into operation.” The proceeding
was one of great interest, and of great anxiety also to those on whom
the responsibility rested, so much depending on the success of the first
unions. The author has a vivid recollection of all that passed on the
occasion, and of the deep thankfulness experienced on witnessing the
efficient working of these unions, and this moreover under difficulties
far greater than would be likely to arise when the course of procedure
was more matured.

[Sidenote: Workhouse regulations and order of accounts prepared.]

As the period approached for bringing the Cork and the Dublin workhouses
into operation, it became necessary to prepare a code of workhouse
regulations, and a system of union accounts. The latter, it was
endeavoured to make as simple as possible, having regard to accuracy and
to a proper discrimination of subjects; and the former it was determined
to frame on the model of the English workhouse regulations, making such
changes only as were necessary for adapting them to the circumstances
existing in Ireland. The “order for regulating the workhouse, and for
keeping and auditing accounts,”[99] was accordingly prepared, and was
issued successively as the unions became sufficiently advanced for its
reception. [Sidenote: The workhouse dietaries.] With regard to the
dietaries, an “order” for which it was also necessary to prepare, the
Board instituted inquiries into the mode of living in different parts of
Ireland, so as to be able to establish dietaries in the different unions
that should accord with the general habits of the people, and yet “not
be in any case superior to the ordinary mode of subsistence of the
labouring classes in the neighbourhood.” On this principle the Board
continued to frame the workhouse dietaries, as being essential adjuncts
of workhouse management. But for the efficiency of the workhouse,
reliance was chiefly placed on the enforcement of order, sobriety,
cleanliness, daily occupation, the observance of decency and decorum,
and the exclusion of all stimulants to excitement—these constitute the
real strength of the workhouse as a test of destitution, and would be in
a great degree effective, even if the diet, clothing, and other merely
physical appliances were superior to what is seen in the neighbouring
cottages; and these essentials the workhouse regulations are calculated
to maintain.



  A copy of the order is appended to the 2nd Annual Report.


[Sidenote: Exaggerated expectations as to the effects of the Poor-law.]

Very exaggerated notions prevailed as to what would be the effect of the
Poor Law, when brought into full operation. Some declared that all the
charitable institutions would be immediately annihilated, as people
would cease to subscribe as soon as they were called upon to pay a
poor-rate, and compensation was claimed on behalf of certain
functionaries, on the ground that they would be deprived of their means
of living when the workhouses were opened. Numerous applications were
made on the subject, and among others by the officers of the Dublin
Mendicity Association who claimed to be compensated on this account.
They were however told that the association might still be continued
with advantage, as an independent auxiliary to the Poor Law; for that it
was highly probable there would be a class of persons whose destitution
would not be so urgent as to compel them to become inmates of the
workhouses, and who yet would be proper objects of such charitable
assistance as it came within the province of the mendicity institution
to bestow.

[Sidenote: Erection of workhouses.]

The measures connected with the erection of workhouses required much
care and circumspection, and a constant watchfulness of the prices of
labour and materials in the several districts. The buildings were
proceeded with in such a way as to create the least disturbance in the
labour-market, and it was endeavoured to spread the operations as
equally as possible throughout the country. Notwithstanding these
precautions however, a tendency to advance in prices was sometimes
manifested; but on such occasions the Board made it to be understood,
that it was prepared to put out repeated advertisements, or to postpone
building altogether for a season, rather than submit to terms above what
it considered to be the fair market price. On the other hand, the Board
did not bind itself to accept the lowest tender, and generally gave a
preference to builders resident in the district, when of good character
and possessing a sufficient command of means. The extreme wetness of the
previous season was very unfavourable to building, and also delayed the
valuations, so that the completion and opening of the workhouses was
delayed longer than had been at first contemplated; but an assurance was
given, that no effort would be spared to effect this object at the
earliest possible period.

[Sidenote: Repression of mendicancy.]

Numerous representations were addressed to the board on the subject of
mendicancy, urging provision should be made for its being put an end to
simultaneously with the commencement of relief under the Poor Law. The
question was very generally discussed by the boards of guardians, and
forty of them, for the most part unanimously, passed resolutions in
favour of a measure for the suppression of mendicancy; but three of the
boards took a different view, and were adverse to such suppression. The
correspondence which took place on these occasions appears in the Annual
Report, and also a minute which the Dublin board addressed to the
assistant-commissioners on the occasion. In this minute, after pointing
out the necessity for repressing vagrancy and mendicancy as a measure of
police, the repression is declared to be likewise necessary for ensuring
the effective operation of the Poor Law; for so long as the vagrant
classes were permitted to levy contributions on the plea of destitution,
the ratepayers, although taxed for the relief of the destitute, would
not be protected from the daily demands of the mendicant, nor be
exonerated from those compulsory contributions which the mendicant so
well knows how to exact. Unless mendicancy were repressed therefore,
great injustice would be inflicted on the ratepayer, whose payment of
the poor-rate entitles him to protection from such demands. The most
expedient way of effecting this object, was considered to be by
establishing a law founded on the English Vagrancy Act, with such
modifications as might be necessary for adapting it to the state of



  Clauses to this effect had been inserted in the original bill, but
  were withdrawn, as has been before stated. Ante, p. 195.


[Sidenote: Emigration.]

The subject of emigration was generally regarded with great interest in
Ireland, and had latterly occupied more than usual attention, partly on
account of a persuasion that it would be necessary to have recourse to
it as the corrective for a redundant population, and partly also in
consequence of the efforts which were made by certain associations to
promote it. In answer to the various representations on the subject, the
Board did not offer any opinion as to whether an extensive and organized
system of emigration were necessary or not, but considered that there
might be localities over-densely peopled, to which it might be applied
with advantage. When the unions were all in operation, and when the
effects of the Poor Law had been fully developed, the Board would be
prepared to state its views on the subject—“but pending the introduction
of the Poor Law, one object of which was to establish an identity of
interest between the owners and occupiers of property and the working
classes, and to hold out to the former the strongest inducements to
extend the field of employment at home”—pending the development of this
great impulse upon the home energies of the country, it was considered
that it would be premature to offer any opinion on the general question
of emigration.

[Sidenote: Distress in the western districts—relief afforded by

As the summer of 1839 advanced, severe distress began to prevail in
several districts of the west of Ireland, and the government deputed
Captain Chads of the Royal Navy to investigate its extent and furnished
him with means for affording such present relief as might be found
imperatively necessary.[101] It was at first thought, that where
poor-law unions had been formed, use might be made of the union
machinery in dispensing the relief which government was prepared to
furnish; but it soon appeared that this would be inexpedient if not
impracticable, and that the administering of government aid must be kept
totally distinct from the poor-law executive, except only as regarded
information and advice and whatever other facilities the
assistant-commissioners might be able to afford. The relief distributed
by the agent of government on this occasion, was in every case made
contingent upon an equal amount being raised by persons resident or
having property in the district; and notwithstanding the danger from
fraud and misrepresentation to which a person so deputed was obviously
liable, and the still greater danger of creating an undue dependence
upon government aid, there is reason to believe that a considerable
amount of good was effected, and that little mischief was caused by what
was done by the agent of government in this instance.



  The money expended on this occasion amounted to 5,441_l._ See ‘The
  Irish Crisis,’ by Sir Charles Trevelyan, p. 18.


[Sidenote: Unfavourable season.]

The extremely wet and ungenial summer and autumn of 1839, caused great
apprehension throughout Ireland as to the effect upon the crops, and
steps were taken to obtain correct information on the subject,
particularly with regard to the potato crop, it being the one most
universally important to the Irish people. The result of these inquiries
through the assistant-commissioners and other sources, showed that there
was much ground for alarm, “the crop appearing to be deficient in
quantity in some districts, whilst owing to the almost incessant rains
the quality would it was feared be found inferior in all, and probably
so far inferior as not to admit of the potatoes being kept for the usual
time.” If such should turn out to be the case, distress wide spreading
and severe would inevitably ensue, and the distress would moreover be
aggravated by the want of fuel, the people having been prevented by the
continual wet from gathering in their turf.

[Sidenote: Suggestions for relieving the distress.]

Many applications were addressed to the Poor Law board, and to the Irish
government on this subject, several of them containing schemes and
suggestions for rendering the Poor Law available, in case the danger
apprehended should actually arise; and it was therefore deemed advisable
that the views of the Board in reference to this question should be made
known. This was accordingly done by a minute, calling attention to the
provisions by which relief was to be governed.

[Sidenote: Board’s minute, Dec. 5th 1839.]

The minute states, that the _3rd section_ of the Act directed that
relief should be administered “according to such laws as shall be in
force at the time being;” and that the _41st section_ provides—“That
when the commissioners shall have declared the workhouse of any union to
be fit for the reception of destitute poor, _and not before_, it shall
be lawful for the guardians to take order for relieving and setting to
work _therein_ destitute poor persons &c.” Nowhere else is power given
to the guardians to administer relief—their functions in this respect
are limited to receiving destitute persons into the workhouse, and
relieving and setting them to work “_therein_.” And by the _52nd
section_ it is further provided, “that it shall not be lawful for the
commissioners, or guardians, or other persons acting in execution of
this Act, to apply directly or indirectly any money raised under
authority of this Act, to the relief of destitute poor in any other
manner than is herein expressly mentioned, or to any purpose not
expressly provided for in this Act.” Whether the relief so provided for
be or be not in the opinion of the guardians suitable or sufficient, the
Act under which they are constituted, and whence their administrative
functions are derived, is thus seen to be precise and definite in its
provisions; and they were told that they could not legally deviate in
the slightest degree from the course it prescribes, neither did there
reside in the Poor Law Commissioners any power or discretion to
authorize any such deviation. Some persons however suggested that the
law should be altered early in the next session, so as to allow of other
modes of relief as a temporary measure, to meet the then apprehended
exigency. But this, it was said, would be re-opening a question upon
which the deliberate sense of the legislature had been recently
recorded; and parliament having deemed it right to prohibit all relief
except in the workhouse, the commissioners could not encourage an
application which had for its object the reversal of that decision.

Such was the general purport of the minute, although considerably more
in detail, and embracing some minor points not noticed above. It was
circulated among the boards of guardians, and was thought to have
produced a good effect by directing attention to the principle as well
as to the provisions of the Act. There was reason to believe moreover,
that the potato crop, although scanty in some districts, was on the
whole not materially deficient in produce, and that although the quality
was generally inferior, the potatoes would keep nearly as well as in
ordinary seasons. There was likewise reason to believe that the dread of
scarcity had influenced the people to be more careful and economical in
the use of their stores than they probably otherwise might have been,
and that they would thus by provident forethought avert the occurrence
of any very serious amount of distress, notwithstanding that a general
deficiency in the grain crops was superadded to the other evils arising
out of the extreme wetness of the season.

[Sidenote: 1841.
           Third report of proceedings in Ireland.]

The third Report of proceedings in Ireland is dated May 1st, and
contains an account of all that was done during the previous parochial
year, ending March 25th 1841. At the date of the second Report 104
unions had been declared. [Sidenote: Unions and workhouses.] At the date
of the third Report we find the number increased to 127, and it is
stated that only 3 more will be required, and that these will be
declared in the course of the present month, making the entire number of
unions in Ireland amount to 130. At the date of the last Report 60
workhouses had been contracted for, and the buildings were in different
stages of progress. The number of workhouses contracted for and built or
in process of building up to the 25th of March 1841, was 115, of which a
particular account is given in a Report by the architect inserted in the
Appendix to the present Report.

[Sidenote: Erection of the workhouses.]

The providing of the Irish workhouses was a large and difficult
operation, involving a great variety of details, and requiring constant
attention. The contracts were as stated in the last Report entered into
so gradually, and the works were spread so equally throughout the
country, that although the number actually in progress at one time was
greater than it might at first have been considered safe or expedient to
undertake, it yet was not found that prices were materially affected, or
that any other material inconvenience had arisen. One of the chief
impediments was the delay and difficulty encountered in obtaining sites
for the workhouses, owing to encumbrances and other circumstances
connected with landed property in Ireland, and to the Act’s containing
no special provision for the purpose. At one time indeed it was thought
that it would have been necessary to apply to parliament on the subject;
but by determined perseverance sites were at length everywhere obtained,
and although not in every case so good as might be wished, no union was
left without one sufficient for its object. The winter of 1841 began
early, and continued late, and was unusually severe, which greatly
retarded the progress of the buildings; but the contractors were
generally sensible of the value of time, and whenever the weather
permitted, exerted themselves to recover what was unavoidably lost
through unfavourable seasons. It may perhaps not be deemed irrelevant to
mention, that the author being then the resident commissioner in
Ireland, he made a point of examining every workhouse site purchased, or
intended to be purchased, and also inspected once at least in every year
each of the workhouses, whether built or in progress of building. These
inspections were no doubt a great addition to his other labours, but
they were very necessary for correcting the defects and omissions which
are sure to occur in carrying out so extensive an operation.

[Sidenote: Fourteen workhouses in operation.]

Eleven workhouses were completed and opened for the relief of the
destitute poor during the year 1840-41 in addition to those of Dublin
and Cork opened in the preceding year, and making fourteen in all. Two
of these belonged to the important unions of Londonderry and Belfast.
The Londonderry house had been open throughout the winter, and continued
to work in all respects satisfactorily. The others had been too recently
declared to afford reliable indications as to their future working, but
nothing had occurred to excite apprehension with respect to them.

[Sidenote: The Dublin unions.]

The two Dublin workhouses had been opened upwards of twelve months, and
the guardians had attended to the administration of relief and the union
business generally, in a very exemplary manner. Before the houses were
thoroughly completed and organized, the closing of the Dublin mendicity
institution threw a sudden pressure upon these establishments,
especially upon that of the South Dublin union, as many as 500 poor
persons having been admitted there in one week, and 1,473 within the
first month, a great majority of whom had been previously supported in
the Dublin Mendicity. Such an influx could hardly fail of causing
embarrassment and confusion, and it may be regarded as a proof of the
efficiency of the workhouse system, that notwithstanding the want of
preparation which necessarily prevailed, and the inexperience of the
guardians and union officers, so large an admission was provided for,
and order speedily established. Even after the first influx of mendicity
paupers had ceased, there was great pressure for admission, on which
account a cautionary letter was addressed to the guardians, recommending
that from the numerous applicants they should at one time select such a
moderate number only “as could be conveniently cleansed, classified,
placed in their proper wards, and registered in course of that and the
following day;” and likewise, that the visiting committee should report
as to the condition of the inmates, and whether they had been disposed
of in accordance with the regulations, previous to further admissions
taking place on the days fixed for the purpose. In the absence of strict
discipline, the workhouse will, they are told, become a place to which
the idle would resort to the exclusion of those who are real objects of
charity; and this was the more to be apprehended in the Dublin unions,
from the circumstance of their workhouses being open while no relief was
given in the neighbouring unions, and were consequently attracting from
the surrounding country those poor persons who needed or who professed
to need such relief. The number of inmates in the South Dublin workhouse
on the 25th of March was 2,080, and in the North Dublin the number was

[Sidenote: The Cork union.]

The case of Cork differed materially from the two Dublin unions. These
had each a capacious workhouse in which classification could be
established and order be enforced; but the Cork house was small,
ill-arranged, and altogether insufficient for these purposes; and it was
not without considerable misgiving, that in compliance with the wishes
of the guardians, it had been permitted to be used as the temporary
workhouse of the union, until the new house should be ready.[102] The
inconvenience was certainly less felt than might be expected, the
guardians having made the most of the old building, and established a
tolerable degree of order among the inmates under circumstances
extremely unfavourable for the purpose. The number of inmates on the
25th of March was 1,844, nearly the half of whom were former inmates of
the old house of industry. This number was much beyond what could be
properly accommodated, but owing to the severity of the winter and the
high price of provisions there had been much distress among the poor,
and the pressure for admission had consequently been very great. When
relief shall be administered in the neighbouring unions, the pressure
upon Cork may be expected to subside. The new house is calculated for
2,000 inmates, and will it is considered, when completed, be sufficient
to meet the wants of the union.



  Ante, p. 251.


The foregoing account of the proceedings in the Cork and Dublin unions,
exhibits the actual working of the Poor Law in the only unions in which
it had been in operation sufficiently long for showing any definite
result. In each of these unions workhouse relief had been administered
for upwards of a year, and the boards of guardians and other executives
had mostly held office for double that period. The circumstances under
which they had to act, were moreover peculiarly trying. These unions may
therefore be regarded as average examples of the working of the law, and
might be appealed to in proof of its sufficiency for the objects
contemplated in its enactment. There was no doubt still in these three
unions much to adjust and regulate, which it required time and
watchfulness to effect. But the general establishment of the law
throughout Ireland might now, it was considered, be looked forward to
with confidence, nothing having hitherto occurred to raise a doubt as to
its applicability; but on the contrary, all the proceedings had served
to show that the system was suitable to the circumstances of the
country, and adequate for the relief of the destitute poor.

By the _123rd section_ of the Relief Act it is directed, that an account
of the expenditure upon the relief of the poor during the year, and the
total number of persons relieved, in each union on the 1st of January,
shall be annually laid before parliament, together with the
commissioners’ General Report. On the 1st of January 1841, the returns
showed that the expense of relief in the previous year, and the numbers
relieved in the four unions then in operation, were as follows—

                                              No. in the workhouse
                                             on the 1st Jan. 1841.

    Cork                       £12,453  8  0         1,549

    North Dublin                10,407 12  7         1,601

    South Dublin                12,732  3  8         1,987

    Londonderry (two months)     1,464  4  5           331

                               —————————————          ————

                               £37,057  8  8  Total  5,468

[Sidenote: Education and training of workhouse children.]

The education of the children maintained in the workhouse, was from the
very outset felt to be a matter of the utmost importance. In the North
Dublin workhouse there were 500 children under sixteen years of age, and
in the South Dublin workhouse there were 635. That these children should
be trained up in moral and religious habits, and be fitted by education
and by instruction in useful branches of industry for earning their own
living, all must admit to be necessary; and for these purposes a
protestant and a Roman catholic chaplain, and a schoolmaster and
schoolmistress, were appointed to each workhouse. The girls were taught
sewing, and were employed in the domestic work of the house, so as to
fit them for service. The boys were taught tailoring, shoemaking,
carpentering, and some were set to work in the garden: but the various
employments to which boys reared in the workhouse are likely in after
life to betake themselves, hardly admit of their being specifically
trained for them, and little more can be done in the way of preparation
than to send them forth imbued with habits of industry, their frames
strengthened and inured to labour, their tempers and mental faculties
duly cultivated, and above all with their minds duly impressed with a
sense of their moral and religious duties. When thus prepared, they will
be best fitted for entering upon the duties incidental to their
position, on the right performance of which their future condition in
life must depend. The earnest attention of the Dublin boards was given
to this subject, and arrangements were made with the Commissioners of
National Education for inspecting the workhouse schools, and for
supplying them with books and other requisites on the most favourable
terms. The Board likewise took advantage of every opportunity for
impressing upon the guardians and union officers the great importance of
attending to the education and training of these children, and of
getting them out into service and other occupations as soon as they were
fitted for it.

[Sidenote: Mendicancy.]

Shortly after the opening of the Dublin workhouses, a marked decrease
was observed in the number of beggars, and persons before adverse to the
Poor Law were then heard to speak in its favour. Many of the beggars had
in fact entered the workhouses, and thus the public were relieved from
their solicitations; but the relief was short-lived, for others soon
flocked in from the neighbouring districts, and many who had entered the
workhouses experimentally as it were, or through fear that their
vocation might be suddenly put a stop to, again left them and resumed
their former practice of begging; and thus after a time, the streets and
suburbs of Dublin were as full of beggars as before. This circumstance
appears to have produced a very general conviction, not in Dublin only
but throughout the country, of the necessity for suppressing mendicancy,
and Lord Morpeth[103] introduced a bill for the purpose, which however
was not proceeded with. The commissioners nevertheless again
emphatically declared “that a law for the repression of mendicancy was
essential to the well-working of the Poor Relief Act in Ireland.”



  Then secretary for Ireland.


[Sidenote: The valuations.]

Much attention was given to the valuations of the rateable property in
the several unions, and such advice and assistance as appeared to be
necessary were afforded on the occasion. The valuations were said to be
complete in fifty of the unions, and were in progress in most of the
others; and notwithstanding that they were said to be too low, “there
was on the whole reason to be satisfied with the manner in which this
very important duty had been performed, although in so large an
operation, entered upon under such a variety of circumstances, there
must be variances and imperfections requiring time and experience to
rectify.” It was at this time proposed to found the parliamentary
franchise upon the Poor Law valuations, and the author’s opinion was
asked as to their accuracy, and whether the commissioners possessed
sufficient power for securing their correctness in future. A good deal
of communication took place on the subject, and the author stated that
he considered no further powers to be necessary—that strictly speaking
the valuation was only applicable to one rate, and was constantly open
to revision as the value of property changed, or as circumstances
required it; so that supposing the valuations not to be accurate then,
as provision was made for successive revisions, it could hardly be
doubted that after a few rates had been levied, they would be made to
approximate very closely to what was contemplated by the Act, and would
also be kept in that state by the self-corrective principle with which
they were imbued. With respect to any consequences likely to arise from
basing the parliamentary or the municipal franchise upon the Poor Law
valuations, if either should be determined on, he thought “that whatever
influence such a connexion might have, must tend to raise the
valuations; and as these were now confessedly too low, the effect would
be so far beneficial.”

[Sidenote: Election of guardians.]

Many irregularities had occurred in the election of guardians, and there
had likewise been instances of improper interference with the
distribution and collection of the voting papers. An inquiry was
therefore instituted with a view to ascertain whether it might not be
expedient to make some change in these respects. Under the Municipal
Corporation Act, the suffrages are required to be given at
polling-places appointed for the purpose, while by the Board’s order for
the election of guardians they are directed to be given by means of
voting papers; and of the two modes, many persons thought the former
best suited to the state of Ireland. But although irregularities and
improper influence had no doubt in some cases interfered with the
distribution and collection of the voting papers, intimidation and undue
influence of another kind might, it was thought, be as effectually
practised, and in a more turbulent manner, when the electors proceed to
polling-places to record their votes; and to make so important a change
at the then early stage of the proceedings, unless it were absolutely
necessary, would tend to weaken public confidence—on all which accounts,
and after much consideration, it was determined to adhere to the mode of
conducting the elections then established—endeavouring however at the
same time to improve the details, and as far as possible to guard
against irregularities and improper influences of every kind. Elections
had taken place in 99 unions, and in 25 of these the guardians were
returned without a contest. The other 74 unions comprised 1,234
electoral divisions, and ten divisions which were subdivided into 54
wards, making in all 1,288 election districts, in 254 of which contests
took place, whilst in 1,034 the guardians were returned without a
contest. These results seemed to augur well for the future elections
under the existing order. A tabular statement showing the particulars of
all these elections, with the names of the several returning officers,
is given in the Appendix to the Annual Report.

[Sidenote: The medical charities.]

A limited inquiry into the state of a few of the medical charities had
been made in the previous year, but a more extended inquiry under the
provisions of the Poor Relief Act appearing to be desired, and the time
indicated by the 46th section for commencing such inquiry, namely “so
soon as conveniently may be after the formation of the unions,” having
arrived, it was determined that the whole of the medical charities
should forthwith be examined, and a series of instructions were
accordingly prepared for the purpose.[104] At the date of the
commissioners’ third Annual Report the medical charities within 53 of
the unions had been examined and reported upon, and as these were spread
over every part of the country, and comprised every variety of
circumstance usually connected with such institutions, they might be
considered as presenting a fair sample of the wants, and of the actual
state and condition of the whole. It was therefore thought that a
sufficient amount of information had been obtained for reporting the
same to government, and suggesting such corrective measures as appeared
to be called for, although the inquiry had not been completed in all the
unions; and this was soon afterwards accordingly done.



  The gentlemen to whom this very important duty was confided were Mr.
  Phelan who had been specially appointed with a view to this object,
  and Dr. Corr afterwards temporarily employed for the like purpose; and
  to them was joined the assistant-commissioner in charge of the
  district within which the particular inquiry took place.


[Sidenote: Vaccination.]

_The 3rd and 4th Vict., cap. 29_, ‘to extend the practice of
vaccination,’ had been passed in the year preceding, and no time was
lost in bringing the Act into operation in Ireland, so far as depended
on the Poor Law executive. Letters were addressed to the unions,
advising and instructing the guardians as to the steps to be taken by
them on the occasion, and furnishing them with the necessary forms of
contract &c. for carrying the law into effect. These were generally
found sufficient for the purpose, and ninety of the unions had already
contracted in the form and on the terms proposed; and the others would,
it was expected, do the same, when their organization became
sufficiently advanced. The rate of remuneration recommended for the
medical practitioners, was a shilling for each case of successful
vaccination treated during the year up to 200, and sixpence for each
such case beyond that number; but the guardians were not restricted to
these rates, if in any case they should appear to them to be unsuitable.

[Sidenote: Union agricultural societies.]

It had always been considered that the union machinery would afford
facilities for the introduction of local improvements in Ireland.
Hitherto there had been a want of means for carrying any such object
into effect. But the Union authorities now afforded the means, and
possessed sufficient local influence for setting on foot and supporting
whatever local measures might be necessary for promoting the comfort and
well-being of the people. I had frequent communications on this
interesting subject with persons residing in different parts of the
country, and I omitted no opportunity of adverting to the important
considerations which it involved. Agriculture is the chief staple of
Ireland, on which the welfare, and it may be said the very existence of
its inhabitants depended. Yet agriculture was, with few exceptions,
confessedly in a very backward state; and it appeared to me likely that
this backwardness might to some extent be remedied by the establishment
of union agricultural societies—that is, associations for promoting
improvements in agriculture within the limits of the respective unions;
but of course to be in no way connected with the administration of the
Poor Law. Efforts were accordingly made for accomplishing this object,
and with considerable success, several such associations having been
formed at the date of the third Report, the Ballinasloe union under its
chairman Lord Clancarty being the first, and others likewise being in
course of formation, with every prospect of beneficial results.

[Sidenote: Prevalence of distress.]

The prices of provisions were high during nearly the whole of last year
(1840), and there was a good deal of distress in some districts.
Applications for assistance were as usual made to government on the
approach of summer in the present year, and these being referred to the
Dublin Board, were in every instance fully inquired into. It was evident
that much pressure prevailed in some parts of the country, owing to the
exhaustion or short supply and consequent dearness of the potato; but
“it did not appear that the pressure was so great, or the distress in
any district so urgent, as to call for extraordinary interference on the
part of the government.” The distress which usually took place in the
western parts of Ireland between the months of June and September, from
a failure of the old and pending the incoming of the new crop, will it
may be feared continue more or less to prevail, so long as the potato
continues to be the chief or nearly sole food of the population. The
intensity of the distress is always in proportion to the length of the
interval between the exhaustion of one crop and the maturity of the
other; and this interval under ordinary circumstances can only be
reduced by the exercise of forethought and prudential considerations by
the people themselves. These qualities happily appear to be increasing
and becoming more general, the pressure of the preceding year having
been sustained, not only without the usual aid from government, but with
less suffering and privation than had prevailed in former years,
although the last year’s crops were considerably under an average. The
people therefore must have been more careful in husbanding their means,
and were likewise, it may be presumed, better informed with regard to
their social position, and the duties which it imposed upon them.
Perhaps a portion of this improvement may be attributed to the frequent
discussions with reference to the Poor Law question during the last five
or six years, partly also to the organization of unions latterly in
progress throughout the country, and partly likewise to the spread of
temperance which had happily taken place of late.

[Sidenote: 1842.
           Fourth report of proceedings in Ireland.]

The Report for 1842 brings the account of proceedings down to the 1st of
May, instead of ending at the 25th of March, as in the case of the three
preceding Reports. This was done in order to assimilate the dates of the
English and Irish Reports, the statements of proceedings in each now
terminating at the same period.

[Sidenote: Unions declared.]

At the date of the preceding Report, the unions had all been declared
excepting three, for the declaring of which the preliminary arrangements
had all been made, and these were declared shortly afterwards.[105] The
whole of Ireland must now therefore be regarded as being divided into
unions, with the extent of each union defined, and its population and
other circumstances ascertained and recorded. In each union likewise, an
administrative body had been formed on a broad representative principle,
and there could be no doubt that the boards of guardians so elected
would possess the confidence of the people. A complete return of the 130
unions, with their area and population, the number of electoral
divisions, the number of guardians elected and ex-officio, and the date
of declaration of each union, is given in the Appendix to the Report.



  Ante, p. 259.


[Sidenote: The workhouses.]

Next in order to the formation of the unions, and it may be added next
also in importance, is the erection of the workhouses; and to a
description of the steps taken in carrying forward this extensive
operation, several pages are devoted in the fourth Report, at the date
of which, all the workhouses had been built, or were in progress of
building, and 81 had been declared fit for the reception of destitute
poor. In all of these, excepting a few of the last finished, relief was
being then administered, and by the end of the summer it was expected
that at least 100 of the workhouses would be completed and opened, and
the others far advanced towards completion. A hope is also expressed
that by the end of the following spring, “or at latest by midsummer,”
the workhouses throughout Ireland would be all in operation. This it is
observed was perhaps as much as could be expected under the most
favourable circumstances; but the prevalence of wet weather during the
last three years had greatly impeded the progress of the buildings, and
much increased the labour and difficulty of superintendence. Even in
favourable seasons, it would not be a light task to superintend and
direct extensive buildings, proceeding simultaneously in every part of
the country; but with such weather as had prevailed in the last three
years, and with a hundred of these buildings in progress at one time,
all requiring constant attention, the labour and the difficulty must
obviously have been increased. The builders likewise were sufferers from
the same cause, which made them lose much time, as well as incur much
additional expense. Generally however the buildings were well finished,
and the several contractors evinced, with few exceptions, an honest
determination to fulfil their engagements, although this was in some
instances done to their own loss.

[Sidenote: Workhouse loans.]

The money required for providing the workhouses, being under the
provisions of the Relief Act, and with consent of government, advanced
by the exchequer-bill loan commissioners, arrangements had been made for
its reception, safe custody, and correct appropriation, through the
medium of the Bank of England and the Bank of Ireland. A separate loan
was in the first instance granted to each union, and as the money was
successively required to pay for land purchased, or to pay the
stipulated instalments to the contractor, the amount was transmitted to
the Bank of Ireland for the credit of the person to whom it was payable
in Dublin; and thus these loans passed from her Majesty’s exchequer into
the hands of the parties severally entitled to receive them, without
ever departing from the custody of one or other of the two great
national banks, and consequently without risk, or the possibility of
malversation. On the completion of the buildings, and after the accounts
had been duly examined and certified, they were together with all the
original documents laid before the boards of guardians, in order that
every step which had been taken in the matter might be distinctly seen
by them—the amount claimed, the amount deducted, and the quantity and
price on which the deduction was founded or the claim allowed, all
appeared on the face of the accounts; and a statement was at the same
time delivered showing in detail the amount of the several receipts from
the loan, and the expenditure on account of the union, and exhibiting
the excess if there were a balance in hand, or the deficiency if there
was not enough to cover the expenditure, in which case a further order
to the guardians to raise or borrow the sum deficient was necessarily

[Sidenote: Cost of the workhouses.]

It was originally estimated that the cost of the workhouses would not
exceed a million sterling, and provision had been at the outset made to
that extent: but as the buildings advanced, it became evident that this
amount would not be sufficient, and application was made for a further
loan of 150,000_l._. One cause of the excess was, that it had not been
originally proposed to finish and fit up the workhouses in so expensive
a way as was afterwards found to be necessary. As the general condition
of the people with respect to their habitations and mode of living, was
inferior to that of the corresponding classes in England, it was thought
that the workhouses might properly be of a somewhat less finished and
costly character, and the arrangements for the buildings were framed in
accordance with this view. Further experience however showed it to be
necessary that the Irish workhouses should be made in all respects as
complete as those in England. Indeed the guardians very generally wished
that the finishing and fittings should be more costly and complete than
was the case in the English houses; and if the prevalent desire on this
point had been complied with, the workhouses in Ireland would have been
finished and fitted up after the model and with all the appliances of an
hospital or infirmary. This will account for much of the excess beyond
the original estimate in providing the Irish workhouses.

[Sidenote: Workhouse employment.]

In connexion with the workhouses, the difficulty of always finding
suitable employment for the inmates requires to be noticed. That pauper
labour is unprofitable, was generally admitted; and if it were so in
England where there is a constant demand for labour, it could not fail
of being so in Ireland where the labour market was for the most part
overcharged. All that had hitherto been done in this respect in the
Irish workhouses, was to keep the inmates occupied as far as possible in
employments of the commonest kind. The aged and infirm of both sexes who
constituted a great majority of the inmates, were generally employed in
oakum-picking, in the picking carding and spinning of wool, in knitting,
and some few in making and mending the clothes belonging to the
establishment. There were scarcely any able-bodied men in the
workhouses, although there were many partially disabled, who were mostly
occupied in the kitchen or doing the rougher work about the yards, and
where this did not afford sufficient occupation they were employed in
breaking stones. The able-bodied women were employed in household work,
and there were not always a sufficient number of these to clean and keep
the house in proper order; but where the number was greater than could
be so employed, they were set to work with the needle, or in carding
spinning or knitting. With regard to the children of both sexes, when
not at school, they are employed in occupations suited to their age and
strength—the girls under the matron in household work, or in working
with their needle; the boys working in the yards, or in the garden, or
at some trade in the house, thus accustoming their hands to labour, and
fitting them for the everyday occupations of life. Much difficulty had
always been found in getting young persons out into service or other
occupation in Ireland. The better the workhouse children are trained and
educated however, the better will be their chance in this respect. With
the boys there will probably be less difficulty than the girls.
Emigration would seem to be the suitable remedy for an excess of numbers
in either case; but emigration, contrary to what was originally
intended, was by the _51st section_ of the Relief Act made a charge upon
the electoral division. The board of guardians collectively had no power
to deal with it. And hence, although there were a number of friendless
young persons, mostly females, the residuum of a former system, in the
workhouses of the two Dublin unions, and at Cork, Waterford, Limerick,
and Belfast, for whom no employment could be found, the money necessary
for defraying the expense of their emigration could not be raised, and
they continued a burden upon the unions instead of becoming useful as

[Sidenote: Sanitary state of the workhouses.]

The sanitary condition of the workhouses had generally been good,
although they were in some instances much crowded during the winter.
This was especially the case with the Dublin and Cork houses. Yet the
inmates had on the whole been remarkably healthy, and fewer deaths
occurred than might have been expected, looking at the advanced age and
generally depressed physical condition of a large proportion of the
individuals admitted. But the absence of all exciting influences, the
regular hours, due supplies of food and clothing, and the warmth and
ventilation which are found in a workhouse in a superior degree to what
can be obtained by the same class out of it, no doubt conduce to the
preservation of the health, and the extension of the life of its
inmates. Such is not always the case however with respect to children.
In the Dublin workhouses, a large proportion of the infants were in a
diseased or extremely emaciated state when admitted, and very many of
them in their then condition could hardly be expected to live. The
mortality which took place was accordingly so considerable as to lead to
an inquiry being instituted, the result of which showed—“that although
the mortality among the infants under two years of age in the workhouse
was large, it yet had not exceeded, but rather fallen short of the
average mortality among infants of the same age and class in foundling
hospitals and other like institutions, or even at large under the care
of their parents.”

[Sidenote: Audit of the accounts.]

The accounts of the unions in which workhouses were in operation were
severally audited by the assistant-commissioners, and duly reported
upon. These reports showed the working of the system in all its details,
pointing out and commenting upon the good and bad parts of the
administration, and exhibiting and explaining the general results. The
audit reports are in fact calculated to afford a complete view of the
working of the Poor-law, wherever the administration of relief under its
provisions had been brought into operation. Several of these were
appended to the fourth annual Report.

[Sidenote: Amount of expenditure and number relieved.]

The expenditure on relief of the poor during the previous year, and the
numbers relieved on the 1st of January, in the four unions then in
operation, of which an account has been given,[106] was in the year
ending January 1st 1842 as follows—

                                          Number in the house on
                                           the 1st January 1842.

      Cork                       £11,775           1881

      North Dublin                14,643           1940

      South Dublin                15,613           2124

      Londonderry                  3,711            385

                                 _______           ____

                                 £45,742        Total 6,330

These unions may therefore be considered as being in orderly working,
and equal to the duties imposed upon them by the Poor Relief Act.
Thirty-three other unions in different parts of the country were
likewise in operation during a portion of the year, longer or shorter
according to the respective orders of declaration; and the expenditure
in these unions down to the same date as the above, had amounted to
64,535_l._, the number of inmates in the several workhouses at that time
being 8,916, of which number 1,310 were in the Limerick house. It thus
appears that at the commencement of 1842, after somewhat more than two
years’ preparation, workhouse relief was administered in 37 unions, to
15,246 destitute persons, at an expense of 110,277_l._—a result which,
having regard to all circumstances, could hardly fail of being deemed
satisfactory, and as holding out a promise of the early maturing of the
other unions, all of which had been declared and were in progress of



  Ante, p. 263.


[Sidenote: Collection of the rate.]

Apprehensions had been expressed, that in some parts of the country it
would be difficult if not impossible to collect the poor-rates; but with
very few exceptions no difficulty whatever occurred. There was nowhere
any concerted resistance to the payment of the rate. “In a few
instances, (it is observed) personal caprice or misapprehension of the
law, has led individuals to refuse to pay the rate when it has been
demanded; but such refusals have not been persisted in, after the
commencement of legal proceedings, or after due explanation has been
given; and in no instance has any material difficulty arisen, where the
magistrates have evinced a prompt and firm determination in carrying out
the law.” Whatever apprehensions may have been felt on this point,
experience hitherto had therefore shown to be without foundation.

[Sidenote: Liability relatives.]

By the _53rd and four following sections_ of the Relief Act, the
relatives of persons maintained in a workhouse are, when of sufficient
ability, made liable for the cost of such maintenance; and the boards of
guardians were advised, whenever a case of this kind occurred, and the
ability of the relatives was undoubted, to take the necessary steps for
enforcing the law. That the guardians ought to do this can hardly admit
of doubt, it being no less a legal than a social obligation. No fitting
opportunity of pressing the fulfilment of this duty upon the guardians
was therefore omitted, and an intention was expressed of continuing to
do so—“in the conviction that the liabilities of natural relations, as
established by the 53rd and following sections, were calculated to
confer an important benefit upon the whole community.”

[Sidenote: The valuations.]

The valuations of rateable property had now been completed in a hundred
and ten of the unions, and were in progress in all the others. Before
the end of the present year they would it was expected be complete
throughout Ireland, and confidence is expressed as to their general
sufficiency, “without however venturing to assert that they are in every
instance free from error.” It was indeed said to be almost impossible
that they should be so, the value of properties continually changing;
but they had attained a satisfactory state of average accuracy, and
would, it was considered, become more and more correct through the
successive revisions they will undergo previous to the imposition of
every new rate. On the Municipal Corporations Act coming into operation
in Dublin however, and when the poor-rate was taken as the basis of the
municipal franchise, respecting the possession and exercise of which
much excitement prevailed, the accuracy of the valuations was more
closely scrutinised, and an inquiry with regard to the means for their
revision was instituted. The result of the inquiry was, that although
the valuations in their present state might be sufficient for poor-law
purposes, yet with reference to the Municipal Act, it was desirable that
a supervisor of the rates should be appointed in the unions comprising
large towns. This was accordingly at once done in Dublin and Limerick,
and was determined to be done in other places, as it should be found
necessary. Instructions were at the same time prepared for the guidance
of supervisors in the execution of this duty.

[Sidenote: Report on the medical charities.]

The Report on the medical charities in pursuance of the powers conferred
by the _46th and 47th sections_ of the Poor Relief Act, was presented to
government shortly after the date of the last annual Report,[107]
together with the evidence which had then been taken, and including “the
heads of a proposed bill for the better regulation and support of the
medical charities of Ireland.” The remainder of the evidence was
presented on the conclusion of the inquiry, and the whole was in due
course laid before parliament. I was then the commissioner acting in
Ireland, and being highly impressed with the importance of the numerous
medical institutions, and with the necessity for their better support
and regulation, I had bestowed much time and labour on the subject, and
had earnestly endeavoured to devise the means of placing these valuable
charities in a more secure condition with regard to their finances, and
at the same time to improve the position of the medical practitioners by
whose exertions they were in very many cases chiefly supported. All my
efforts were directed to these ends, and to increasing the efficiency of
the charities for the objects for which they were instituted. I was
aware that there were difficulties to be overcome, arising from
interested motives professional jealousies and misapprehensions; but
there was no concealment, the course adopted was open, no pains were
spared, able assistance had been obtained, and I was hopeful of success.
The Report, with the heads of the proposed bill, was sent to every
medical institution throughout Ireland, and had also been otherwise
extensively circulated, without calling forth any expression of dissent,
either from the medical profession or other parties; and with the
sanction of government a bill was prepared in exact conformity with the
headings set forth in the Report, and was about being introduced into
parliament, when so violent an opposition was suddenly manifested by a
great majority of the medical profession, that government deemed it
inexpedient to proceed with the bill. The measure for “the better
regulation and support of the medical charities in Ireland” was
therefore suspended, but it was not abandoned; and the author had a few
years afterwards the satisfaction of seeing a measure substantially the
same as he had recommended, and founded on the inquiry which he had
instituted, generally acquiesced in and become the law.[108]



  Ante, p. 268.


  The 14th and 15th Vict. cap. 68. See post, p. 382.


[Sidenote: Vaccination.]

Every attention was continued to be given for carrying into effect the
provisions of the Vaccination Act, and no efforts were spared to realize
the benevolent intentions of the legislature for extending the benefits
of vaccination, and for preventing the occurrence and the spreading of
smallpox. The Appendix to the Annual Report contains a return showing
the numbers successfully vaccinated in each of 100 unions, the whole
amounting to 104,713, a number fully equal to if not exceeding what
could reasonably have been expected under the circumstances.

[Sidenote: Mendicancy.]

The prevalence of mendicancy continued to be felt as a burden, and was
very generally regarded as an evil which ought to be put an end to. It
is true that the law did not confer an actual right to relief, and that
the workhouses might possibly be sometimes inadequate for the reception
of all who were in a state of destitution; but a rate was nevertheless
made for the relief of the destitute, and the persons who were most
helpless would be received into the workhouses. It was therefore
considered that means should be taken, if not for putting an end to
mendicancy altogether, at least for its diminution in a ratio
corresponding with the means which had been provided for the relief of
destitution. Many of the boards of guardians had passed resolutions to
this effect; and at a public meeting held in Dublin for considering the
subject, it was resolved to apply to the Irish government, urging the
necessity of immediate steps being taken to put down the evil. The
prevalence of mendicancy was found to be a positive obstacle to the
working of the Poor Law. Thus in some of the unions, after the stock of
habitual mendicants had for the most part been taken into the
workhouses, the ratepayers of particular electoral divisions finding
that the removal of what might be called their own established poor did
not protect them from mendicancy, but was followed by inroads of beggars
from other districts, deemed it better that their own poor should be
permitted to levy contributions from house to house as theretofore, than
that the ratepayers should incur the charge of maintaining them in the
workhouse, and at the same time be called upon for contributions to the
mendicants by whom their doors were beset. If the mendicancy clauses in
the Poor Relief Bill as originally framed had been retained, these evils
would have been prevented, and the repression of begging would have kept
pace with the administration of relief under the Poor Law; but in the
passage of the measure through parliament, these clauses, as before
stated, were withdrawn, and no step had subsequently been taken for
their re-enactment in any shape, as was understood to be intended at the



  Ante, p. 211.


[Sidenote: Unfavourable weather, backward crops, and consequent

During the greater portion of the last year, excessive rains and a
general prevalence of cold ungenial weather affected both the grain and
the potato crops, which were in consequence neither so early, so good,
nor so abundant, as under more favourable circumstances they might have
been. The same had been the case in the two or three previous years; and
this succession of adverse seasons necessarily tended to increase the
distress which usually more or less prevails in Ireland, especially in
the western districts, during the months of June July and August. But
notwithstanding the existence of much distress from these causes, it was
in the present as in the preceding year met and overcome by the energies
of the people themselves, without aid from government as on former like
occasions; a circumstance which must be regarded as indicative of
improved habits, and as warranting hopeful anticipations with regard to
the future.

[Sidenote: 1843.
           Fifth report of proceedings in Ireland.]

At the date of the last Report (May 1st 1842), the whole of Ireland had
been formed into 130 unions, all the workhouses were either built or in
progress of building, and 81 had been declared fit for the reception of
destitute poor. It was then likewise expected that by midsummer of the
following year all the workhouses throughout Ireland would be in
operation.[110] This expectation however was not fulfilled, for at the
date of the present Report (1st May 1843) no more than 110 of the
workhouses had been declared, and in only 98 of these was relief
administered. In the earlier proceedings, it had been the practice to
declare and bring the workhouses into operation as quickly as possible,
leaving certain minor matters to be more leisurely completed afterwards.
This was done, often at some inconvenience, in order to give effect to
the law at the earliest practicable period. But it was now deemed more
expedient to have the workhouse and all the arrangements fully completed
before bringing it into operation; and hence a period longer or shorter
according to circumstances, would necessarily intervene between the
declaration of the house and the actual admission of applicants by the
guardians. This accounts for relief being administered in only 98 of the
houses, although 110 had been declared. It may also account for the
non-fulfilment of the expectation which had been expressed, as to the
declaration of the whole of the workhouses.



  Ante, p. 271.


[Sidenote: Cost of relief and numbers relieved.]

In the 37 unions, the workhouses of which were in operation previous to
the 1st of January 1842, the numbers then relieved and the amount of
expenditure have already been stated.[111] On the 1st of January 1843
the numbers relieved in these unions amounted to 17,529, and the
expenditure to 150,050_l._, thus showing an increase in the former of
2,283 persons, and in the latter of 39,773_l._ And in 55 other unions in
which the workhouses had been brought into operation in course of the
preceding year, the numbers relieved on the 1st of January 1843 amounted
to 14,043, and the expenditure to 131,183_l._, making when added to the
above—31,572[112] persons receiving relief in 92 workhouses, at a cost
of 281,233_l._ The comparative amount of relief administered in the
years 1840, 1841, and 1842 will thus stand as follows—

                                  No. of        No. of   Cost of relief
                               workhouses in   inmates.  in the previous
                                 operation                    year.

 On the 1st of January  1841         4          5,468        £37,057

           ”            1842        37          15,246       110,277

           ”            1843        92          31,572       281,233

In connexion with this statement of the relief afforded during these
three years, it should be borne in mind that the relief was administered
in workhouses so regulated as not to deter the really destitute from
availing themselves of the shelter afforded, whilst the discipline and
regularity of the establishment made it an unwelcome residence for such
of the able-bodied as had the means of supporting themselves by their
own exertions.



  Ante, p. 277.


  Although this was the total number in the 92 workhouses on the 1st of
  January 1843, no less than 56,000 had been admitted and discharged,
  and consequently relieved for a longer or shorter period, during the
  previous year.


[Sidenote: The author quits Ireland.]

At the end of 1842, the author quitted Ireland. The charge and direction
of the proceedings in that country, had hitherto from the commencement
been devolved upon him; and as these were so far advanced as to leave no
doubt with regard to their completion, and as the commissioners were
jointly responsible for carrying the law into effect, it was considered
desirable that his colleagues should now take their full share in the
management of the Irish business. It was intended that each of the
commissioners should reside for a time in Dublin, when and as it might
be found necessary, as had been recommended in the author’s first
Report, and as is provided for by the _11th section_ of the Act. This
arrangement was accordingly acted upon, but only for a short time, it
not being deemed satisfactory; and with the sanction of the Home Office,
it was determined to delegate to two of the assistant-commissioners the
powers necessary for conducting the Irish business,[113] this being
considered, it is said—“a course more consistent with the intention of
the legislature as expressed in the Irish Poor Relief Act.” The author
will now therefore be relieved from a difficulty he has hitherto
experienced in regard to the proceedings in Ireland. With these
proceedings he will no longer be individually connected, and may advert
to them with greater freedom, as being the acts of the commission



  The gentlemen selected for this duty were Mr. Gulson and Mr. Power;
  and the instrument of delegation is dated 20th April 1843.


[Sidenote: Inspection of the workhouses.]

Before leaving Ireland, I visited the several unions, and inspected all
the workhouses whether completed or in course of erection, as I had done
in previous years, for the purpose of satisfying myself with respect to
the arrangements and management in the former case, and as to the
condition and progress of the works in the latter. The result of this
inspection was for the most part satisfactory. There were exceptions, no
doubt, and in two instances owing to the bankruptcy of the contractors,
the houses had to be in great measure built, and entirely fitted up and
completed by the Dublin Board. But on the whole, the contractors had
fulfilled, and were fulfilling their engagements satisfactorily. The
workhouses in operation were also managed in a creditable manner; and
the guardians were generally attending to the business of their
respective unions with regularity and efficiency. I quitted Ireland
therefore without apprehending the occurrence of any material difficulty
or delay, and looked forward with confidence to the early and universal
establishment of the law, and with a deep sense of thankfulness for the
prospect which was afforded of its successful operation.

[Sidenote: Distress, and government aid.]

In the early part of the summer of 1842, the weather having continued
unfavourable, distress again manifested itself especially in the western
districts, as had been the case in the three preceding years; and it was
considered necessary that some assistance should be afforded, and that
the people should not be left entirely to their own resources, as on the
two last occasions. Accordingly on the application of the Irish
government, coupled with an intimation of its desire to extend its aid
“in such a way as not to prejudice or embarrass the future proceedings
of the commissioners,” the assistant-commissioners in charge of the
districts where the distress prevailed, were directed to give all the
facilities in their power by making inquiries and furnishing information
on the cases forwarded to them, preparatory to the distribution of such
aid as the government might think fit to bestow.[114] But before the end
of June the weather changed, and became so favourable as to promise
abundant crops. The markets immediately fell, and the scarcity, which
had arisen rather from the holding back of supply than from any general
deficiency, no longer existed.



  The amount distributed by government on this occasion, in aid of local
  subscriptions, was 3,448_l._ See ‘The Irish Crisis’ by Sir Charles
  Trevelyan, p. 19.


These facts appear to indicate, that a portion of the distress which
periodically takes place in Ireland, may be referred to a cause, the
operation of which is likely to be increased by grants of public money;
for provisions are said to be sometimes accumulated in the stores of
persons who will not bring them to market, under the expectation of
being able to dispose of them at a famine price as soon as government
shall be induced, on the plea of distress, to make an advance of public
money for the purpose. Wherever the union workhouse was in operation, it
proved of the greatest use throughout these periods of difficulty, from
whatever cause arising. It not only afforded efficient relief in
numerous cases where it was needed, but likewise effectually tested the
representations of distress which were continually being made. The
fluctuations in the numbers admitted and discharged, afforded moreover
the means of forming from time to time a correct judgment on the
condition of the poor in the surrounding district, and was thus an index
of the intensity of the distress wherever it existed.

[Sidenote: Pauper lunatics.]

Applications had been frequently made both to the Irish government, and
to the Board in Dublin, representing that if the idiotic and harmless
lunatics then confined in the gaols or maintained in the lunatic
asylums, were transferred to the workhouses of the unions to which they
belonged, those institutions would be greatly relieved, more especially
the asylums, which would then be enabled to receive more curable cases,
and thus extend their usefulness. To such communications it had always
been replied—“that the Irish Poor Relief Act made no provision for the
support of insane and lunatic persons, specially as such; but that a
destitute person, being insane or lunatic, might be admitted into the
workhouse if the guardians so decided, in the same manner as any other
destitute individual.” To provide for cases of this description, idiot
wards had been prepared in every workhouse, which were calculated to
afford accommodation for about 2,400 of this class of paupers, whenever
the guardians in the exercise of their discretion, should think fit to
admit them. It had however been thought right to discourage any forced
or immediate transfer of insane or idiotic persons or harmless lunatics
from the asylums and gaols, but rather to wait for the gradual
absorption by the workhouses of such of these unfortunates as could be
properly relieved therein.

[Sidenote: Emigration.]

Fruitless efforts were made, particularly at Cork and Belfast, to raise
the funds necessary for defraying the expense of emigration. In Cork,
Dublin, Waterford, Belfast, and certain other large towns, a
considerable number of young persons chiefly females, and for the most
part the remnants of a former system, had as has been before
stated,[115] accumulated in the workhouses, for whom emigration would
afford at once the most eligible, and it may almost be said the only
outlet. Yet in the present state of the law, it was found nearly if not
quite impossible to take advantage of it. The workhouses had not created
the present burden, but they had gathered it into mass, and might be
made useful auxiliaries to a well-directed plan of emigration. The
commissioners declared that it would materially facilitate this object,
if the boards of guardians were empowered to apply a portion of the
rates for the emigration of such fit persons as had been resident
sufficiently long in the workhouse for testing their actual helplessness
and destitution. This would in fact be reverting to what was originally
proposed, but which had been altered in the progress of the bill through
the house of lords, by substituting divisional chargeability for that of
the entire union—a change to which is mostly owing whatever difficulties
have since occurred in the working of the measure.



  Ante, p. 275.


[Sidenote: Electoral divisions.]

The _18th and 44th sections_ of the Relief Act provide for dividing the
unions into electoral divisions, and for charging against each electoral
division not only its proportion of the general expenses of the union,
but also the expense incurred for the relief of persons stated in the
registry to have been resident in such electoral division; the relief of
others not stated to have been so resident, being charged against the
union at large. These provisions were inserted in the bill in the house
of lords, on the motion of the duke of Wellington, with the professed
view of assimilating the mechanism of the Irish unions to the unions in
England; but the circumstances in the two countries were widely
different, and there would be little analogy between the
long-established English parish, and the newly-created electoral
divisions. This difference was however overlooked in the desire for
assimilation, and the electoral division system was incorporated in the
Act, together with a sort of quasi settlement as between the different
divisions, approximating to settlement as between parishes in the
English unions. Under these circumstances, it can hardly occasion
surprise, that although arranged with the utmost care, and with every
endeavour to give them a general harmony and coherence, the electoral
divisions did not work smoothly. Their separate chargeability interfered
with the efficient action of the unions for general purposes, as in the
case of emigration, and led to struggles and contention in the boards of
guardians as soon as the unions got fully into operation, each division
endeavouring to relieve itself from the charge of a registered pauper,
by fixing it upon some other, or by casting it upon the union at large;
and thus one of the evils of the English settlement-law was inflicted
upon the Irish unions, contrary to the intentions of the original
framers of the Act, and contrary likewise to what a more thorough
knowledge of the condition of the two countries would it is believed
have dictated.

[Sidenote: Valuation and rating.]

There was moreover still considerable difficulty with respect to the
valuations, and the difficulty was not a little increased by the
complexity of the form in which the rate is directed to be made out.
This form is expressly prescribed by the Amendment Act, and is rather
calculated for the state of things in England, than for what exists in
Ireland, although it is too minute and complex to admit of its working
satisfactorily in either. The form was engrafted on the bill in the
house of lords, with a view to other than poor-law purposes, and
contrary to the author’s earnest representations. As the number and the
business of the unions increased, it was found nearly impossible to
adhere to this form, owing to the extreme subdivision of property.[116]
In all the 130 unions the number of persons rated whose valuations did
not exceed 5_l._ was 630,272, whilst the number whose valuations were
above that amount was 550,866, and those at 50_l._ and upwards 46,565;
thus showing that a considerable majority of the ratepayers were valued
at and under 5_l._[117] Believing that such would turn out to be the
case, the author had recommended that no occupier under 5_l._ should be
called upon to pay the poor-rate, but that the rate on all such holdings
should be paid by the landlord. It was however provided by the _72nd
section_ of the Act, that instead of the exemption of 5_l._ holdings,
the landlord might agree to pay the rate himself, and be allowed a
rebate of 10 per cent. for so doing: but this provision has not been
acted upon, and all the small tenements are required to be rated in the
complex form of the _2nd schedule_ of the Act, comprising no less than
eighteen distinctive columns, under penalty of the rates being deemed
illegal. There can be no doubt that in the abstract, as the
commissioners observe, “all property should contribute to the rate, and
the whole population be interested in the prevention of pauperism, and
in the well-being of the class for whose immediate benefit statutory
provision has been made.” But the small ratepayers in Ireland are so
numerous, and the amounts to be severally collected from them are so
trifling, whilst the distinction between them and the destitute is often
so little perceptible, that Ireland seems to constitute an exception to
the general rule in this respect; and it would be a great convenience,
and tend to facilitate the working of the Poor Law, if as was at first
proposed, the burden of the rate on the smaller holdings were to be
thrown upon the owner or immediate lessor, rather than on the tenant



  See the author’s first Report on Irish Poor Laws, p. 160.


  These numbers were ascertained by returns which the author had
  obtained in 1842, and caused to be tabulated by desire of the Irish
  government, with a view to the parliamentary franchise. The same
  returns show that the net annual value of property assessed to the
  relief of the poor in Ireland, was 13,428,787_l._; but more exact
  returns subsequently obtained place the amount at 13,253,825_l._ The
  annual value of property assessed to the poor-rate in England and
  Wales at that time was 62,540,003_l._—See return to an order of the
  house of commons dated 3rd May 1842. Both of these valuations are no
  doubt below the actual amount, probably by 20 or 25 per cent.; but of
  the two, the Irish valuation is perhaps somewhat nearer the truth than
  the other.


The defects above noticed are explained and commented upon at great
length in the fifth Report. They no doubt impede the orderly working of
the law, and add to the labours and embarrass the proceedings of the
entire executive; but they do not affect the principle of the measure,
nor very materially detract from its usefulness. They are of a different
origin from the measure itself, having been grafted upon the bill in its
progress through parliament; and they will no doubt be removed, or so
modified as to be less obstructive than at present, to which end they
were now brought prominently under notice.

[Sidenote: 1844.
           Sixth report of proceedings in Ireland.]

The Report of 1844, like those preceding, is dated the 1st of May; and
it will be convenient to commence the account of the year’s proceedings
with a summary of the Act for amending the law, which was passed on the
24th August 1843, and which what is said above will have prepared the
reader to expect.

                _Summary of the 6th and 7th Vict. cap. 92._

     For the further Amendment of the Law for the Relief of the Poor in

_Sections 1, 2._—That where the property rated is not of greater value
    than 4_l._, or in certain boroughs named than 8_l._, the rate on
    such property shall be made on the immediate lessor, and if his name
    be not known he may be rated as “the immediate lessor;” and the rate
    is to be recoverable together with costs, notwithstanding any defect
    or error in the name, by action, or by civil bill, or by complaint
    before a justice, but no action is to be brought without consent of
    the Poor Law Commissioners.

_Sections 3, 4._—If a rate be not paid by the lessor in four months, it
    may be recovered from the occupier, who in such case may deduct the
    amount from the rent due to the lessor, or recover it from him. If a
    house be let in lodgings, the lessor is to be rated for the whole
    house, and if the rate be not paid within thirty-one days, it may be
    recovered from the occupiers, who will be entitled to deduct it from
    the rent due by them; but the Municipal Corporations Act is not to
    be affected by any of these provisions.

_Sections 5, 6._—When the property rated is above 5_l._, the lessors may
    in like manner be rated instead of the occupiers, if both enter into
    a written agreement for the purpose, and if the guardians consent
    thereto. All goods and chattels to whomsoever belonging, found on
    premises for which the occupier is liable to pay rate, may be
    distrained for the same.

_Sections 7, 8._—To remove certain doubts with regard to valuators and
    valuations, the commissioners are empowered to appoint valuators, or
    they may direct the guardians to do so; and the person so in either
    case appointed, may enter premises for the purpose of making or
    revising any survey or valuation; and rates are to be assessed on
    the valuations so made or revised, and sealed by the commissioners;
    and are not to be altered unless appealed against, when on receiving
    a copy of the order of court amending such rate, the commissioners
    are to authorize its alteration in conformity therewith. The appeal
    in all cases is to be made to the sessions of the peace of the
    county, or county of a city or town within which the hereditaments
    are situate.

_Sections 9, 10, 11._—Any person affected by a rate, may on all days
    except Sunday, between ten o’clock and four, inspect the valuation
    on which the rate is made, and take copies thereof. The form of rate
    prescribed by the Amendment Act is repealed, and the commissioners
    are empowered to prescribe the form in which the rates are to be
    made. The clerk to certify that the rate when made conforms to the
    valuation, and the chairman and two or more of the guardians present
    are to certify that they allow the same. In Dublin the poor-rate is
    to be collected in the same manner and with the like remedies as the
    grand jury cess.

_Sections 12, 13._—The residence required in order that the expense of
    relief may be charged to an electoral division in any case, is the
    occupation of a tenement for eighteen months, or having usually
    slept within such division for twelve months before the person’s
    admission to the workhouse. The expense of all others not having so
    occupied or slept, is to be charged against the whole union. If a
    person after quitting the workhouse be again admitted within six
    months, the expense of such person is to be charged as before. The
    charge of every child admitted, is to conform with that of the
    person liable for its maintenance. The guardian or any three or more
    ratepayers of an electoral division, may with consent of the
    commissioners appeal against its being separately charged in any

_Sections 14, 15, 16._—The guardians, subject to the commissioners’
    approval, may send any poor deaf and dumb or blind child under the
    age of eighteen, to a deaf and dumb or blind institution, and defray
    the expense of its maintenance therein; and may also defray the
    expense of conveying any poor person from the workhouse to a fever
    hospital or lunatic asylum and his maintenance therein. Persons
    affected with fever or other contagious disease, may be relieved in
    houses hired for the purpose under the commissioners’ regulations,
    and the expense be charged upon the rates.

    _Section 17._—The guardians may charge the rates with any expense
    reasonably incurred, in apprehending or prosecuting offenders
    against the provisions of any of the Poor-law Acts.

_Section 18._—Two-thirds of the guardians of any union, subject to the
    regulations of the commissioners, may assist any poor person who has
    been in the workhouse for three months, to emigrate to a British
    colony, and may charge the expense on the union, or on the electoral
    division to which such poor person has been chargeable; but the
    entire amount of such expense is not in any one year to exceed
    sixpence in the pound on the net annual value of the rateable
    property of the union or the electoral division respectively.

_Sections 19, 20, 21._—If the number of ex-officio guardians be reduced
    by death removal or disqualification, the commissioners may appoint
    a day for the election of another ex-officio guardian in the place
    of the one so removed. A person put in nomination for an elected
    guardian, may refuse by notice in writing to serve the office; and
    in case of vacancy or refusal to act, the commissioners may order a
    fresh election if they think fit, but not otherwise.

_Sections 22, 23._—A person convicted of felony fraud or perjury, or
    adjudged liable to forfeiture under the provisions of the Poor Law,
    is incapacitated for acting as a guardian. The commissioners
    empowered to inquire into and decide disputes in regard to the

_Sections 24, 25._—Notice of claims to vote by owners and proxies,
    extended from one week to one calendar month. Any person knowingly
    tendering a false claim to vote, or forging falsifying or altering
    any such claim, or altering carrying off destroying or defacing any
    voting-paper, subjected to a penalty of ten pounds.

_Sections 26, 27._—In case of reasonable doubt in regard to any claim,
    the returning officer may refuse the vote until proof of its
    correctness be produced. Ratepayers, guardians, and union officers,
    not incapacitated for giving evidence.

_Section 28._—This and the two previous Acts (_1st and 2nd, and 2nd
    Vict. cap. 56 and 1_) to be construed as one Act, except where
    otherwise provided.

The alterations made by the above Act relate exclusively to matters of
detail. There is no change of principle in the measure. The electoral
division system remains entire, except only as regards emigration, the
expense of which the guardians have now the option of making either a
union or a divisional charge. The definition of residence for
establishing the chargeability of an electoral division, may be of some
practical convenience, and would amount to a law of settlement if a
power of removal were given; but as it is, it will merely in a slight
degree facilitate the working of the divisional system. The abolition of
the previous complicated form of rate is no doubt an advantage, as is
also the power of rating the immediate lessors in certain cases, instead
of leaving it optional with them to compound for the rates of their
tenantry as before. The provisions in regard to fever cases will be of
much use, especially as the measure proposed for regulating the medical
charities was not carried into effect.[118] The additional powers given
to the commissioners in election cases are likewise desirable; and it
may indeed be said of the Act generally, that it is calculated to remedy
certain minor defects and omissions, and to promote the more orderly
working of the law.



  Ante, p. 280.


We will now turn to the commissioners’ Report of 1844, which commences
by declaring that “The administration of relief of the poor in Ireland
had been attended with some difficulties during the past year, arising
in a great measure from the political influences which had agitated that
country.” The influences and agitations here alluded to, were connected
with the great movement for a repeal of the Union, stirred up and
organized by the late Mr. O'Connell, the consequences of which were in
various ways exceedingly pernicious, diverting the people from their
legitimate and necessary occupations, exciting jealousy and ill-feeling
towards England, inculcating distrust of the government, weakening the
authority of law, and inciting to a resistance of whatever was
established, of course including the Poor Law. Some indications of this
hostility appeared before the author quitted Ireland towards the end of
1842, but shortly afterwards it was openly manifested, and the Poor Law
was declaimed against as being an intolerable burden inflicted and
enforced by England and English officials, and that it ought
consequently to be opposed by every true Irishman.

[Sidenote: Resistance to the law.]

Under these circumstances, and in the then state of Ireland, it cannot
excite surprise that there should be resistance to the law, and that
efforts should be made to evade its provisions. As early as the end of
1842 there had been resistance to payment of the rates in some of the
divisions of the Skibbereen and Waterford unions, which afterwards
extended to Tipperary and several other unions in different parts of
Ireland. At Skibbereen indeed a death had unhappily occurred, through
the violent resistance made to the constabulary while assisting the
collectors in levying the rates. In a return made to an order of the
house of commons, 21 unions are named as having down to the 1st of
January 1844, so far resisted the payment of the poor-rates as to
require the intervention of the constabulary or the military to enforce
the collection. In 11 of these unions, a military as well as
constabulary force was deemed necessary. In the other 10, the
constabulary alone were found sufficient to protect the collectors in
the execution of their duty. But it was not alone resistance to the
rates which obstructed the working of the law; in the Tuam union a rate
was made in October 1842,[119] but no part of it had been collected on
the 1st of January 1844. This was not owing to resistance on the part of
the ratepayers, but to the unwillingness of the guardians to proceed in
the administration of relief. The workhouse, capable of accommodating
800 persons, had been declared fit for the reception of destitute poor
in August 1842, a master matron medical officer and porter had been
appointed, but such was the backwardness of the guardians in fulfilling
the requirements of the law, that no case of destitution however urgent,
was or could be relieved except by application to some neighbouring



  The rate amounted to 1,796_l._ The population of the union exceeded


Even after the workhouse had been opened, and relief therein
administered, there were several instances of unwillingness on the part
of the guardians to make rates of sufficient amount to meet the
liabilities of the union, and at the same time to provide for the relief
of the poor. Some of the boards moreover refused to borrow and charge
the rates with the sums necessary to cover the expense of building the
workhouses, on the alleged ground of dissatisfaction with the
architect’s certificates in favour of the contractors, or of the manner
in which the work had been executed.[120] Legal proceedings against the
guardians were in consequence taken on account of these refusals, and
much expense was thus injudiciously incurred, whilst the poor were
curtailed of their needful relief. The contracts entered into under such
circumstances for supplying the workhouse, if they could be made at all,
were necessarily made on extremely disadvantageous terms; and thus the
intentions of the legislature were frustrated, and disaffection towards
the law was generated, by the very parties appointed to carry out the
one, and guard against the occurrence of the other. Several unions are
named in the Report, in which such was or had been the case, and in one
(Carrick on Shannon) a poor man had died in consequence of being refused
relief. Yet there can be no doubt that where the unions were properly in
operation, a large amount of actual destitution and extreme suffering
was effectually met by opportune relief afforded in the workhouses. In
many cases however the poor people were so reduced as to be in an
extremely debilitated state when admitted, and they often died shortly
afterwards. In this worst extremity to which, in a physical sense, a
human being can be exposed, an institution affording shelter, medical
attendance, and the last consolations of religion, must surely be one of
the most effective forms in which relief can be administered, more
especially among a population such as exists in Ireland.



  The complaints of the architect’s certificates were not confined to
  the guardians, for whilst these complained of his too liberal
  allowance of charges, the contractors complained that their charges
  were unduly cut down. Both complaints were however totally without
  foundation, and in fact one negatived the other.


[Sidenote: Divisional chargeability.]

Much dissatisfaction continued to be expressed with regard to the
apportioning the charge of relief upon the several electoral divisions.
Those in which the rated property was large, and the number of poor
inconsiderable, complained of the proportion they had to pay towards the
common charges of the union, whilst the amount of relief required by
them was so small. The divisions on the contrary in which the number of
paupers was considerable, and the amount of relief bore a large
proportion to their rated value, complained of the high rate of poundage
to which they were subjected, in comparison with the other divisions.
The change now made in the law may help gradually to reconcile although
it does not remove these distinctions. As new admissions take place, the
proportion charged upon the union at large would most likely increase,
and there would thus be a closer approximation towards an equal rating
of the whole union. But many boards of guardians expressed themselves as
not satisfied with this gradual and partial change, and declared
themselves favourable to a union rate, whereby all charges would be
borne by an equal poundage-rate over the several electoral divisions.
That these guardians took a correct view of the question seems hardly to
admit of doubt. They had seen the evils of divisional chargeability, and
wished to apply the obvious remedy by bringing the law back to what was
originally proposed; but the time for so doing had not arrived, and the
evils and inconveniences were still to be continued, although perhaps in
a somewhat mitigated form.

[Sidenote: Collection of the rates.]

At the date of the present Report (1st May 1844) resistance to the
collection of the rates was in great measure overcome, and the authority
of the law vindicated. The general results of the collection are stated
to have been as follows—In 98 of the unions, in which the rates made
previously to the 24th August 1843 amounted to 605,864_l._, there
remained uncollected on the 1st January 1844 only 46,322_l._, or
something less than 8 per cent. of the entire amount. But it must not be
supposed that even the whole of this arrear was collectable. All
tenements, whether occupied or not, are usually included in the rate,
the infinite number of small tenements making it impossible to
distinguish with certainty what are unoccupied at the time the rate is
made; and it is only the occupied tenements which pay. Public property
legally exempt is also often included in the rate, and the arrears in
the South Dublin union amounting to 4,479_l._, are likely to include
sums of this nature. On the whole therefore, it appeared to the
commissioners, that “considering the great difficulty of collecting the
rates from the occupiers of very small tenements, on which class a large
portion of the entire rate is laid, these results would not be regarded
as unsatisfactory.”

[Sidenote: Auditors appointed.]

In order to secure regularity and efficiency in the collections, and the
proper keeping of the union accounts, it was determined to appoint four
auditors, who would be employed exclusively in that capacity; and it is
expected that they would be the means of establishing a greater degree
of uniformity as well as accuracy throughout all the unions in Ireland.

[Sidenote: Cost of relief, and numbers relieved.]

Fourteen workhouses had been brought into operation in course of the
year 1843, the cost of relief administered in which amounted to
23,277_l._, and the number of inmates to 1,529, on the 1st of January
1844—on which day the number of inmates in the 92 workhouses in
operation prior to 1843 was 31,981, and the cost of relief 221,097_l._
So that the entire number of persons relieved on 1st January 1844 in 106
workhouses was 33,510, and the cost of relief during the year amounted
to 244,374_l._ This appears less than in the preceding year, but the
difference is probably owing to the much greater number of workhouses
which were opened in 1843, and the extra expenditure always attendant
upon first bringing the houses into operation. By a statistical table
appended to the Report, the total number of inmates of all classes in
the several workhouses on 31st January 1845, is shown to have been
43,293, of whom 9,231 were able-bodied (that is 2,809 males and 6,422
females) and 11,441 were disabled through sickness age or other
infirmity. Another minutely framed table in the Appendix to the Report
shows, that of 27,529 adults above the age of fifteen, and 22,585
children under that age, 5,942 of the former were widows, and 3,622
widowers; and that of the children 19,886 were legitimate (4,164 being
orphans) and 2,639 were illegitimate.

[Sidenote: 1845.
           Seventh report of proceedings in Ireland.[121]]

The Report of 1st May 1845, commences by declaring that “the
administration of the law in Ireland had proceeded satisfactorily upon
the whole since the date of the last Report.” The instances of
resistance to the collection of the rates, or in which violence had
occurred, were comparatively few, and the financial embarrassments which
had operated prejudicially in several of the unions, had for the most
part ceased. There were altogether 118 workhouses open for the purposes
of relief. Of the 12 which remained, 3 were not yet declared fit for the
reception of inmates, and in a few instances the guardians still
neglected or refused to proceed in duly administering relief, although
the workhouses had long since been declared. The most remarkable
instance of this kind was in the Tuam union; but the commissioners had
deemed it right to proceed against the Tuam guardians by mandamus, and
their submission to the authority of the law was shortly expected.
Meantime however they had, it is said, been sued for debts which they
did not hesitate to incur, although they neglected to provide the means
of payment.



  This forms a part of the eleventh Report of the Poor Law


[Sidenote: Provision for fever cases.]

Many of the unions had taken steps under the _15th and 16th sections_ of
the late Amendment Act, for providing for the relief of persons
suffering from fever or other contagious complaints, either by building
fever wards distinct from the workhouses, or hiring premises for the
purpose, or by arranging for the reception of such cases into fever
hospitals; and the result had in several instances been highly
beneficial. “In Galway for example, during a severe epidemic, the
guardians erected a temporary hospital near the workhouse, and received
into it during a period of about six months 1,096 cases, of which 995
were discharged cured.”

[Sidenote: Vaccination.]

A statement is given in the Appendix to the Report, showing the progress
made in bringing the Vaccination Act into operation in Ireland. By this
statement it appears that, although not duly carried out in several of
the unions, the measure had obtained a wide and beneficial operation,
and was in course of gradual extension. The amount expended for
vaccination in all the unions during the previous year, exceeded
4,000_l._, the rate of payment being 1_s._ on each case successfully
vaccinated for the first two hundred cases, and 6_d._ on each successful
case afterwards. This is one of the charges for which the poor-rate is
made liable, although not strictly appertaining to the relief of the
poor; but it is no doubt calculated to prevent a far greater charge, by
protecting the people against the smallpox, a fearful scourge which
generally leaves disablement and destitution in its train.

[Sidenote: Cost of relief, and numbers relieved.]

In the 106 workhouses which had been opened prior to 1844, the number of
inmates on the 1st of January 1845 was 37,701, and the expenditure on
relief amounted to 251,467_l._[122] In the 7 workhouses declared in
course of that year, the number of inmates on January 1st 1845 was
1,474, and the expenditure 18,063_l._, making the total number of
persons relieved on that day in 113 workhouses amount to 39,175, and the
expenditure on relief during the year to 269,530_l._ The average weekly
cost of the inmates of the workhouses was 1_s._ 5½_d._ per head for
maintenance, and 2½_d._ for clothing, making together 1_s._ 8_d._ per
head. The cost had at the outset been estimated at 1_s._ 6_d._ per
head.[123] Rates were made in 126 of the unions, in all in fact
excepting four[124] situate in the extreme west; but in 8 of the unions
in which rates had been made, the workhouses were still not in
operation. The commissioners trusted however, that they would “be
enabled to report next year that the whole of the 130 workhouses in
Ireland were open for the reception and relief of the destitute poor, in
accordance with the intention of the legislature, and the provisions of
the Irish Poor Relief Act.”



  No return could be obtained from the Athlone union, which is one of
  the 106, and its operations are therefore not included in these




  See author’s memorandum at page 209 ante.




  These were Cahirciveen, Clifden, Glenties, and Milford.


On comparing the expenditure with the net annual value of property
rateable in each union, it will be found that it does not on an average
amount to sixpence in the pound. The expenditure moreover includes the
instalments which had been repaid on account of the workhouse loans; but
as there was a large arrear of these instalments then due, and few of
the workhouses had their full complement of inmates, it was thought
likely that the average might be higher by and bye, although not so much
higher as to afford reasonable ground for dissatisfaction or alarm. The
aggregate of the loans granted by government for building and fitting up
the workhouses amounted to 1,140,350_l._, or about 1_s._ 8_d._ in the
pound, on the net annual value of rateable property in Ireland, that is
a poundage of somewhat less than 1_d._ in the pound per annum for
repayment of the money borrowed. The poundage varied considerably
however in different unions, according to the proportion the cost of the
workhouse bore to the value of the rateable property.

[Sidenote: Issue of amended orders.]

Advantage was at this time taken of the experience acquired during the
five years that the law had been in operation, to revise the orders and
regulations which were at first promulgated. And accordingly an amended
order was issued for the election of guardians, together with a new
circular of instructions to the clerks of unions with regard to the
duties to be performed by them as returning officers. An amended general
order was also issued regulating the proceedings of boards of guardians,
and defining the duties of union officers; and likewise a general order
containing amended regulations for the management of workhouses,
together with a new form for the half-yearly abstract of accounts, with
ample instructions thereon. In short, nothing in the way of regulation
which came within the powers confided to the commissioners, was omitted
or neglected; and all resistance to the payment of the poor-rates having
ceased, it was hoped that henceforward the working of the law would
everywhere proceed in an orderly and effective manner.

                               CHAPTER V.

Eighth Report of proceedings—Failure of the potato—A fourth commissioner
  appointed—Ninth Report—Potato disease in 1846—Public Works
  Act—Distress in autumn 1846—Labour-rate Act—Relief-works—Temporary
  Relief Act—Pressure upon workhouses—Emigration—Financial state of
  unions—First Annual Report of Poor-Law Commissioners for
  Ireland—Extension Act—Act for Punishment of Vagrants—Act to provide
  for execution of Poor Laws—General import of the new Acts—Change of
  the commission—Dissolution of boards of guardians—Report of Temporary
  Relief Act Commissioners—British Association—Second Annual
  Report of Poor-Law Commissioners—Recurrence of potato
  disease—Cholera—Rate-in-Aid Act—Further dissolution of boards of
  guardians—Boundary commission—Select committee on Irish Poor
  Laws—Expenditure, and numbers relieved.

[Sidenote: 1846.
           Eighth report of proceedings in Ireland.[125]]

The Report for 1845-6, like those of preceding years, is dated on the
1st of May, and represents the progress of the law during the previous
twelve months as being on the whole satisfactory. All the workhouses
were open and the rates in course of collection, except in the two small
unions of Clifden and Cahirciveen, in each of which however the
guardians had taken steps for making a rate and opening the workhouse.



  This eighth Report of proceedings in Ireland, is included in the
  twelfth Report of the Poor Law Commissioners; but as before stated it
  has been thought better to keep the Irish portion of the Reports
  distinct from the other, and to give them a separate number.


[Sidenote: Numbers relieved, and cost of relief.]

The number of persons relieved in the several workhouses continued to
increase throughout the present year, the total number amounting to
114,205. In the week ending 27th December 1845 the number so relieved
was 41,218, whilst in the week ending 28th March 1846 (the last for
which the returns were complete) the number was 50,717, being an
increase of 9,499 in three months, and indicating that the distress
which had now become very general was beginning to press upon the
workhouses. The number described as able-bodied was 8,246, that is 1,984
males and 6,262 females. The total expenditure on relief of the poor
during the preceding year in the 113 unions of which the workhouses were
opened prior to 1845, amounted on the 1st of January 1846 to 298,813_l._
The number of inmates at that date was 40,876. In the 10 other unions
the workhouses of which were opened in the course of 1845, the
expenditure on relief amounted to 17,213_l._, and the number of inmates
to 1,192,—so that on January 1st 1846 there were 42,068 poor persons
relieved in 123 workhouses, and the entire cost of relief during the
year amounted to 316,026_l._

The financial state of the unions generally, appears to have been
satisfactory. In the monthly returns for February 1846, comprising 128
unions, the rates collected during the month amounted to 41,871_l._,
leaving 206,664_l._ in course of collection. The aggregate of the
balances against the guardians in 25 unions was 5,294_l._, whilst in the
remaining 103 unions, the whole of the balances were in favour of the
guardians and amounted to 54,314_l._, thus showing a net balance of
49,020_l._ in the hands of the treasurers. This sum added to what was in
course of collection, making together 255,684_l._, must be regarded as
sufficient for covering an expenditure of say 320,000_l._ per annum, the
rates in a great number of the unions being made half-yearly.

[Sidenote: Electoral divisions.]

The number of electoral divisions amounted to 2,049, each on an average
containing a population of about 4,000 persons. The dissatisfaction
expressed in many instances with the divisional system, and with the
inequalities of charge to which it gave rise, has already been
noticed.[126] The _44th section_ of the Poor Relief Act seeks to provide
a remedy for, or at least a mitigation of such inequalities, by enabling
the guardians of the several divisions of a union to agree to a common
rating: but it is evident that wherever the inequality of rating is
greatest, there will be the greatest difficulty in effecting such an
arrangement. In fact the only instance in which it has been effected is
in the Dunmanway union, where the guardians of all the electoral
divisions signed an agreement in the terms of the statute, that the
charges should thenceforth be borne in common. In this union therefore
one great source of contention will have been removed, although at a
sacrifice in some degree of that local interest which attaches to
guardians representing a district separately chargeable: but enough of
such interest will remain in a common chargeability to secure attention
to the general interests of the union, in which all that is exclusively
local will become merged; and it may therefore be expected that the
well-working of the Dunmanway board will not be impeded through a want
of harmony among its members.



  Ante, p. 288.


[Sidenote: The Tuam and Castlereagh boards dissolved.]

The Tuam guardians, against whom judgment had been pronounced under the
proceedings by mandamus, as noticed in the last Report,[127] although
professing compliance with the peremptory order issued by the court,
were still backward in fulfilling the duties which the law imposed upon
them, as were also the guardians of the Castlereagh union. The
commissioners therefore deemed it right to dissolve both these boards,
on whom it was evident that reliance could not be placed for an
effective administration of the law, in the impending season of scarcity
and distress through the failure of the potato crop; and it was at the
same time intimated, that if the boards elected in lieu of those
dissolved “failed to discharge effectually their duties as guardians of
the poor,” paid officers would be appointed under the _26th section_ of
the Relief Act to carry its provisions into execution. “It is
satisfactory (the commissioners observe), prepared as we are in case of
necessity to resort to the exercise of those powers, that we have, in
the first instance, always endeavoured to give effect to the views of
the legislature, when resisted, by an appeal to judicial authority. We
still trust that the decisions which the Court of Queen’s Bench has
pronounced in vindication of the law, and which have invariably been
followed by submission elsewhere, will finally have their due effect in
the Tuam and Castlereagh unions, and render unnecessary the appointment
of paid officers to perform the functions of guardians in those unions.”



  Ante, p. 300.


[Sidenote: Fever wards.]

Considerable progress had been made in providing for poor persons
afflicted with fever. In 50 of the unions, fever wards in connexion with
the workhouses were either built or in course of building, and in others
houses had been hired for the purpose, or temporary provision was made
until fever wards could be erected. Arrangements had likewise been made
for sending fever patients from the workhouses to county fever
hospitals, and no pains were spared in urging upon the guardians the
necessity of their being prepared for the occurrence of fever, which
experience had shown to be always prevalent in seasons of distress, from
whatever cause arising.

[Sidenote: Failure of the potato.]

We are now arrived at the period of the potato failure, some account of
which as affecting England and Scotland has been given in the respective
histories.[128] “The potato disease,” so called to distinguish it from
the less general and entire failure of that root which has occasionally
occurred, first appeared in America in 1844, but it did not show itself
in Ireland until the autumn of 1845. The early crops generally escaped
its ravages, but the late or main crop was found to be so far tainted
with the disease, that although much of it was susceptible of being used
at the time the potatoes were dug, they afterwards rotted in the pits,
and became an offensive mass unfitted for the use of man or beast. This
was especially the case in the western districts; and there as well as
wherever the small cottier or the conacre systems prevailed, any failure
in the potato crop, even although it were small and partial, would
necessarily occasion much distress, the population being in such cases
generally redundant, and subsisting nearly altogether on that root.



  See ‘History of the Scotch Poor Law,’ p. 199. See also ‘History of the
  English Poor Law,’ 2nd vol. pp. 391-393.


In the present instance there was not only a failure in the quantity
raised, but the portion of the crop stored for future use was known to
be in jeopardy, and the distress and alarm were proportionally
increased. Both were in fact excessive, the one adding to the other, and
causing the most serious apprehensions throughout the country.
Government participated in these apprehensions, and took early steps for
obtaining 100,000_l._ worth of Indian corn from America, in anticipation
of the distress and difficulties sure to arise through the failure of
the potato, and for which the country itself afforded no
substitute.[129] This timely supply arrived in course of the spring of
1846, and in order to its distribution, depôts were established in
various places along the coast under the direction of commissariat
officers, with sub-depôts in charge of the constabulary and
coast-guard.[130] Wherever the ordinary supplies of food were found to
be deficient, Indian meal was sold from these depôts at a moderate
price, to the relief committees if any such had been formed, and
likewise to all who applied for it. The meal was not however at first
relished by the people, for although far more nutritious than the
potato, it was new, and they preferred that to which they had been
accustomed. But necessity is ever a successful controller of taste, and
Indian meal which was at first disliked, and about which the most absurd
stories were promulgated, became ere long, and after the mode of
preparing it came to be understood, a favourite description of food with
the Irish people.



  In March 1846, on the introduction of the measure (_9th and 10th Vict.
  cap. 2_) for enabling the Treasury to make advances on security of
  grand jury presentments, Mr. O'Connell, whose knowledge of Ireland
  must be admitted, declared that government had acted wisely in causing
  a quantity of maize or Indian corn to be imported, to replace the
  damaged potatoes, as by so doing they had added to the quantity of
  food for the people.


  See ‘The Irish Crisis,’ by Sir Charles Trevelyan, reprinted in 1848
  from the Edinburgh Review No. 175.


Although the potato had thus failed, not only in Ireland but in England
and Scotland, and throughout the greater portion of Europe, the grain
crops were generally abundant, and would in a great degree supply the
deficiency caused by such failure, except where the potato constituted
the chief or nearly sole article of subsistence, as was the case in many
parts of Ireland. Here the void caused by the loss of the potato could
only be supplied by imports from abroad, and this circumstance was
adduced by Sir Robert Peel in January 1846 as one of the reasons for a
reduction of the corn-duties, and led to Indian corn being admitted at a
duty of 1_s._ per quarter, instead of being charged the same duty as
barley, as it previously had been, and owing to which charge probably,
it was little used or known either in England or Ireland.

In the autumn of 1845, as soon as the prevalence of the “potato disease”
had been ascertained, government deputed three gentlemen of high
scientific attainments[131] to examine into its nature, and to suggest
means for checking its ravages. But the result showed that the evil was
beyond the reach of human skill, for notwithstanding the application of
every remedy which science could devise or experience dictate, the decay
of the root continued with undiminished rapidity. On the appearance of
the disease, the Poor Law Commissioners entered into active
communication with the several boards of guardians on the subject, and
endeavoured to mitigate the consequences of the potato failure, by
authorizing the use of other kinds of food in the union dietaries. These
were for the most part modified accordingly, and bread, or stirabout
prepared from Indian meal, was substituted for potatoes.



  These were Professors Kane, Lindley, and Playfair.


[Sidenote: A fourth commissioner appointed.]

The circumstances of Ireland at this time, induced the government to
exercise the power conferred by the _119th section_ of the Irish Poor
Relief Act, and to appoint a fourth commissioner to act in that
country. The gentleman selected was Mr. Twisleton, of whom mention has
been made in connexion with the Scotch Poor Law;[132] and on his
proceeding to Ireland, the powers previously delegated to the two
assistant-commissioners[133] were revoked.



  See ‘History of the Scotch Poor Law,’ pp. 130 and 165.


  Ante, p. 284.


[Sidenote: 1847.
           Ninth report of proceedings in Ireland.]

The ninth Report (for 1846-7) is like the others dated on the 1st of
May. It describes very fully the effects consequent on the potato
disease of the previous autumn, so far as these effects bore upon the
working of the Poor Law. The connexion between the two, although in one
sense intimate, is in other respects limited; for where the land has
ceased to be productive, the necessary means of relief cannot be
obtained from it, and a poor-law will no longer be operative, or at
least not operative to an extent adequate to meet such an emergency as
then existed in Ireland. A poor-law, rightly devised and judiciously
administered, will generally be found equal to the relief of destitution
in the ordinary progress of events; but a state of famine, or a total
failure of the means of subsistence is extraordinary, and the
wide-spread destitution thence arising is beyond the powers of a
poor-law effectually to relieve, although it may doubtless be applied to
some extent in mitigation. Under the circumstances at that time
unhappily existing in Ireland, other aid was necessary beyond what could
be derived from any modification of the Poor Law; and the nature of
those circumstances, and the means pursued in dealing with them, will be
explained in the following pages.

[Sidenote: The potato disease in 1846.]

The potato disease made its appearance in 1846 much earlier than in the
preceding year, and it was also much more general and destructive.
Captain Mann in his narrative of events in the county of Clare at this
period, says that the symptoms of the disease were first noticed in the
latter part of July; but that the change which took place in one week in
August was such as he shall never forget—“On the first occasion (he
says) I had passed over thirty-two miles thickly studded with
potato-fields in full bloom. The next time the face of the whole country
was changed—the stalk remained a bright green, but the leaves were all
scorched black. It was the work of a night. Distress and fear was
pictured in every countenance, and there was a general rush to dig and
sell, or consume the crop by feeding pigs and cattle, fearing in a short
time they would prove unfit for any use.” And in a letter printed in the
Parliamentary Papers, Father Mathew[134] states—“On the 27th of July I
passed from Cork to Dublin, and this doomed plant bloomed in all the
luxuriance of an abundant harvest. Returning on the 3rd of August, I
beheld with sorrow one wide waste of putrifying vegetation. In many
places the wretched people were seated on the fences of their decaying
gardens, wringing their hands and wailing bitterly the destruction that
had left them foodless.”



  Commonly known in Ireland as “the Apostle of Temperance,” a worthy and
  benevolent man.


The disease made its first appearance in the form of little brown spots
on the leaves of the plant. These continued to increase until the leaves
became withered, leaving the stem bare, and so brittle that it snapped
off on being handled. The whole was effected in less than a week, the
fields appearing as if they were burnt, and the growth of the root
entirely destroyed. No potatoes were pitted this year, and the wheat
crop barely amounted to an average, whilst barley and oats were
decidedly deficient. “On the continent the rye and potato crops again
failed, and prices rose there early in the season above those ruling in
England, which caused the shipments from the Black Sea, Turkey and Egypt
to be sent to France, Italy and Belgium; and it was not till late in the
season that our prices rose to a point which turned the current of
supplies towards England and Ireland. The Indian corn crop in the United
States this year was however happily very abundant, and it became a
resource of the utmost value to this country.[135]



  See ‘The Irish Crisis,’ by Sir Charles Trevelyan, p. 41.


[Sidenote: Reduction of duty on corn imported.]

In June 1846, _The 9th and 10th Vict. cap. 22_, was passed, providing
for the gradual reduction of the import duty on corn, and fixing it at
1_s._ per quarter on every description imported after the 1st of
February 1849. On the assembling of parliament in January 1847, two
other Acts were passed[136] making further reductions in the duty on
corn, and removing the restriction imposed by the Navigation Laws on the
importation of corn in foreign vessels; and shortly afterwards the whole
duty on rice and Indian corn and Indian meal was suspended.



  _The 10th and 11th Vict. cap. 1 and 2._


[Sidenote: Relief committees formed.]

In the early part of 1846, relief committees were formed throughout
Ireland, under the superintendence of a central commission established
in Dublin, for the purpose of dispensing food, the requisite funds being
furnished by private subscriptions assisted by donations from
government. The months of June and July was the period of heaviest
pressure, during which one of the central depôts established by
government, issued in a single week no less than 233 tons of meal to its
various sub-depôts, and one of these latter again retailed 20 tons to
the public daily. If the people had lived by wages like the labouring
classes in England, the providing a cheap substitute for the potato
would have been sufficient for the present emergency. But money-wages
were comparatively little known in Ireland, the people chiefly
subsisting on produce raised by themselves; and it was therefore
necessary to adopt some plan for enabling them to purchase the new
description of food which had been procured for them.

[Sidenote: The Public Works Act, _9th and 10th Vict. c. 1_.]

The plan adopted was by establishing public works, as had been done on
former somewhat like occasions; and an Act was accordingly passed
enabling the magistrates and principal cess-payers to obtain advances of
public money for this purpose, one-half as a free grant, the other half
as a loan to be repaid by the barony out of the grand-jury cess. The
greatest number of persons employed under this system was 97,000. It was
brought to a close in the month of August, and may be said on the whole
to have answered its intended purpose, although not without considerable
drawbacks, partly through the misapplication of public money, and partly
by increasing the tendency which has always prevailed in Ireland to rely
upon government aid. The entire amount expended by the government down
to the 15th of August 1846, in affording relief to the Irish people
during this season of distress was 733,372_l._, of which one-half was a
free grant, and the other half a loan. The sum raised by voluntary
subscription for like purposes was 98,000_l._, making together
831,372_l._, obtained from other than poor-law sources, and expended
during this first season of severe pressure in relief of persons many of
whom would else have perished through absolute want.

[Sidenote: The autumn of 1846. Severe distress.]

With the approach of autumn another period of distress commenced in
Ireland, far heavier and more intense than the preceding, the potato
crop having now almost universally and entirely failed. In the former
season there were helps or palliatives, some districts having nearly
escaped the disease and others being less generally affected by it; but
in the present season there were no such exceptions, and neither help
nor hope was to be found in the natural resources of the country. A new
emergency may thus be said to have arisen, and the public works which
had been put an end to in August were renewed in the following month,
and the entire machinery of provision depôts and relief committees was
reorganized on a more comprehensive scale than before.

[Sidenote: The Labour-rate Act, _9th and 10th Vict. c. 107_.]

In order to check the exorbitant demands which had in many instances
been made in the previous season, the whole expense of the public works
was now under the new Labour-Rate Act made a local charge, to be
defrayed by a rate levied and assessed in a manner similar to the
poor-rate, which makes the landlord liable for the whole on tenements
under 4_l._ yearly value, and for half the rate on tenements valued
above that amount. It was also determined that as far as possible
task-work should be adopted, and at a rate of payment below what was
usual in the district. It was further determined in order to avoid
embarrassing the operations of the private trader, that government
should not order supplies from abroad, and that its interference should
be confined to the western districts, in which no trade in corn for
local consumption existed. Moreover, the government depôts were not to
be opened for the sale of food so long as it could be obtained from
private dealers, and no purchases were to be made in the local market,
where the appearance of government as a purchaser would be certain to
raise prices.

[Sidenote: The board of works.]

Such generally was the plan proposed to be pursued under the pressure of
famine, and the other distressing circumstances consequent on the
failure of the potato crop at the end of 1846; and it was expected that
the resident proprietors and ratepayers would perform their part, by
ascertaining the extent of destitution in the several localities, and
determining what was necessary to be done in the way of relief, and the
best mode of doing it. This expectation however was not fulfilled, and
in almost every instance these duties were left to be performed by the
board of works, which had thus to obtain the best information it could
through hired agents, “to advance the necessary funds, to select the
labourers, to superintend the works, to pay the people weekly, to
enforce a proper performance of the labour, to ascertain the quantity of
labour required for farm-works, to select and draft off proper persons
to perform it, to settle the wages to be paid to them by the farmers and
to see that they were paid, to furnish food not only for all the
destitute out of doors, but in some measure for the paupers in the
workhouses”—in short, “the board of works became the centre of a
colossal organization, 5,000 separate works had to be reported upon,
12,000 subordinate officers had to be superintended, and their letters
averaged upwards of 800 a day.”[137]



  See ‘The Irish Crisis,’ by Sir Charles Trevelyan, under whose able
  superintendence the government aid was chiefly administered in
  Ireland, and on whose statements of what took place I have chiefly
  relied in this account of the dismal periods of 1846 and 1847.


[Sidenote: The relief-works.]

The strain upon the executive through this system of centralization was
excessive. Government had to bear the entire pressure of the masses on
the sensitive points of wages and food. Task-work was generally objected
to, and its enforcement gave rise to frequent struggles, in which the
safety of the superintending officers was sometimes put in jeopardy. The
number of persons employed on the works continued to increase—“Thousands
upon thousands were pressed upon the officers of the board of works in
every part of Ireland, and it was impossible for those officers to test
the accuracy of the urgent representations which were made to them. The
attraction of money wages regularly paid from the public purse, or ‘The
queen’s pay,’ as it was popularly called, led to a general abandonment
of other descriptions of industry, in order to participate in the
advantages of the relief-works.[Sidenote: Evils of the system.]
Landlords competed with each other in getting the names of their tenants
placed on the lists; farmers dismissed their labourers and sent them to
the works; the clergy insisted on the claims of the members of their
respective congregations; the fisheries were deserted; and it was often
difficult even to get a coat patched or a pair of shoes mended, to such
an extent had the population of the south and west of Ireland turned out
upon the roads. The average number employed in October was 114,000, in
November 285,000, in December 440,000, and in January 1847, 570,000.” It
was obviously impossible to exact from such a multitude the amount of
labour that would operate as a test. Huddled together in masses they
screened each other’s idleness. It was thought that the enforcement of
taskwork would stimulate their industry; but when after a hard struggle
this point had been carried, an habitual collusion between the labourers
and the overlookers appointed to measure their work revived the former
abuse, and the labourers were as idle as ever.

The Labour-Rate Act (_9th and 10th Vict. cap. 107_) was founded on the
assumption that the owners and occupiers of land would themselves make
efforts commensurate with the magnitude of the crisis, and that only a
manageable number of persons would have to be supported on the public
works. But including the families of those so employed, more than
2,000,000 persons were maintained by the relief-works, and there were
others behind including the most helpless, for whom no work could be
found. [Sidenote: Failure of relief-works.]The extent to which the rural
population were thrown upon the relief-works, threatened likewise to
interrupt the ordinary tillage of the land, and thus to perpetuate a
state of famine. In short, a change of system had become necessary, and
at the end of January (1847) it was announced that government intended
to put an end to the public works, and to substitute another mode of
relief. The pressure nevertheless continued to increase. The 570,000 men
employed daily in January, became 708,000 in February, and 734,000 in
March, representing with their dependents upwards of 3,000,000 of
persons. The expenses were in proportion, and exceeded a million
sterling per month.[138] At the end of February however preparation was
made for a change of system by passing the Temporary Relief Act (_10th
Vict. cap. 7_). In March the numbers employed were reduced by 20 per
cent., and successive reductions continued to be made as the change of
system was brought into operation. In the first weeks of April, May and
June respectively, the numbers employed were 525,000, 419,000, and
101,000; and in the week ending the 26th of June the number was reduced
to 28,000. The necessary labour was thus returned to agriculture, and a
foundation was laid for the ensuing abundant harvest. “The remaining
expenditure was limited to a sum of 200,000_l._ for the month of May,
and to 100,000_l._ a month for June, July, and the first 15 days of
August, when the Act expired.”



  In the month of March the expenditure upon relief-works including
  labour and plant, and the cost of the staff, amounted to 1,050,772_l._


[Sidenote: 26th Feb. 1847.
           Temporary Relief Act. _10th and 11th Vict. c. 7_.]

The system of affording relief through the agency of public works having
broken down, while that of administering it in a direct form on the
principle of the Poor Law had generally been found effective wherever it
had been tried, it was as above stated determined to give validity to
this mode bypassing the _10th and 11th Vict., cap. 7_, which directs
that a relief committee consisting of the magistrates, a clergyman of
each persuasion, the poor-law guardian and the three highest ratepayers,
shall be constituted in each electoral division, and that a finance
committee of four gentlemen of character and knowledge of business
should be formed to control the expenditure in each union. Inspecting
officers are also to be appointed, and a central commission sitting in
Dublin,[139] was to superintend and control the working of the whole
system. The expense incurred was to be defrayed out of the poor-rates,
and when these proved insufficient they might be reinforced by
government loans, to be repaid by rates subsequently levied. But no loan
is to be made, until the inspecting officer had certified that the
guardians have passed a resolution for making the rate upon which the
loan was to be secured. Such were the chief provisions of the Act, but
free grants were also made in aid of the rates in the poorest unions,
and when private subscriptions were raised the government made donations
to an equal amount. The liability of the ratepayers would, it was
considered, operate as a check to undue expenditure; and with regard to
the recipients, the test applied consisted in requiring the personal
attendance of all who needed relief, (excepting only the sick and
impotent poor, and children under the age of nine) and that the relief
should be given in cooked food,[140] in portions sufficient to maintain
health and strength.



  Sir John Burgoyne was the chairman of this commission, and Mr.
  Twisleton the poor-law commissioner was a member. The other members
  were Mr. Redington the first under secretary, and Col. Jones and Col.
  M'Gregor the heads of the board of works and the constabulary.


  The best form in which cooked food could be given was “stirabout,”
  made of Indian meal and rice steamed. It is sufficiently solid to be
  easily carried away by the recipients. The pound ration thus prepared
  swelled by the absorption of water to between 3 and 4 pounds.


[Sidenote: The cooked-food system of relief.]

The cooked-food system of relief was found to a great degree efficacious
in preventing abuse, but it was objected to at first, and the
enforcement of it was in some cases attended with difficulty. Undressed
meal might be sold or exchanged for other articles. “Even the most
destitute often disposed of it for tea tobacco or spirits,” but
stirabout soon becomes sour by keeping, and was not likely to be applied
for except by persons who wanted it for their own immediate use. Depôts
of corn and meal were formed—relief committees were established—mills
and ovens were erected—huge boilers cast specially for the purpose were
sent over from England for preparing the stirabout—and large supplies of
clothing were collected. In July 1847 the system reached its highest
point “3,020,712 persons then received separate rations, of whom
2,265,534 were adults, and 755,178 were children.” This vast multitude
was however rapidly lessened at the approach of harvest,[141] which
happily was not affected by the disease. [Sidenote: Cessation of
famine.] Food became comparatively abundant, and labour in demand. By
the middle of August relief was discontinued in nearly one-half the
unions, and ceased altogether on the 12th September. It was limited by
the Act to the 1st October.



  The price of Indian corn in the middle of February was 19_l._ per ton,
  at the end of March it was 13_l._, and by the end of August it had
  fallen to 7_l._ 10_s._ per ton. The quantity of corn imported into
  Ireland in the first six months of 1847 was 2,849,508 tons.


This was the second year in which upwards of 3,000,000 of people had
been fed “out of the hands of the magistrate” in Ireland, but it was now
done more effectually than at first. The relief-works had been crowded,
often to the exclusion of numbers who were really destitute; but a
ration of cooked food was less attractive than money wages had been, and
it also proved a more effectual relief to the helpless poor. “The famine
was stayed.” Deaths from starvation no longer occurred. Cattle-stealing
and other crimes connected with the want or insufficiency of food became
less prevalent, and the system of relief which had been established is
with allowable self-gratulation declared to be “the grandest attempt
ever made to grapple with famine over a whole country.” Organized
armies, it is said, had been rationed before; “but neither ancient nor
modern history can furnish a parallel to the fact that upwards of three
millions of persons were fed every day in the neighbourhood of their own
homes, by administrative arrangements emanating from and controlled by
one central office.”[142] The expense of this great undertaking amounted
to 1,557,212_l._,—a moderate sum in comparison with the extent of the
service performed, and in which performance the machinery of the Poor
Law unions was found to afford most important aid. Indeed without such
aid, the service could hardly have been performed at all; and the
anticipations of the advantage to be derived from the Poor Law
organization in such emergencies,[143] were fully verified.



  See ‘The Irish Crisis.’ See also the Reports of the Irish relief
  commissioners, which give full information on this interesting but
  distressing subject.


  See the author’s first Report, p. 167 ante.


[Sidenote: Fever.]

Fever as usual followed in the train of famine, and in order to check
its ravages _the 10th and 11th Vict. cap. 22_ was passed, “making
provision for the treatment of poor persons afflicted with fever,” and
enabling the relief committees to provide temporary hospitals, to
ventilate and cleanse cabins, to remove nuisances, and to procure the
proper burial of the dead, the funds necessary for these objects being
advanced by the government in the same way as for furnishing food.
Upwards of three hundred hospitals and dispensaries were provided under
this Act, with accommodation for at least 23,000 patients, and the
sanitary powers which it conferred were extensively acted upon. The
expense incurred for these objects amounted to 119,055_l._, “the whole
of which was made a free gift to the unions in aid of the rates.”

[Sidenote: Advances by government.]

The amount expended under the Public Works Act (_9th and 10th Vict. cap.
1_) was 476,000_l._, one-half a grant, the other half to be repaid by
twenty half-yearly instalments. The expenditure under the Labour-Rate
Act (_9th and 10th Vict. cap. 107_) was 4,850,000_l._, half of which was
a grant and the other half to be repaid as before. The sum advanced
under _9th and 10th Vict. cap. 2_ for local purposes, was 130,000_l._,
to be repaid in various periods out of grand jury presentments. Lastly
the sums expended under the Temporary Relief Act, _10th Vict. cap. 7_,
in the distribution of food, and under the _10th Vict. cap. 22_ in
medical and sanitary relief, amounted to 1,676,268_l._, of which
961,739_l._ was to be repaid, and the remaining 714,529_l._ was a free
grant. So that the entire amount advanced by government in 1846 and 1847
towards the relief of the Irish people under the fearful calamity to
which they were exposed, was 7,132,268_l._, of which 3,754,739_l._ was
to be repaid within ten years, and the remaining 3,377,529_l._ was a
free grant.[144]



  See ‘The Irish Crisis,’ p. 110.


But it was not the government alone that contributed to the relief of
the Irish people in this trying emergency.[Sidenote: Private
subscriptions.] Individual subscriptions were poured forth from all
parts of the British empire. Associations were formed, local committees
were appointed, all were active in sympathy and benevolent efforts for
the relief of Irish distress. The chief organ for receiving and
dispensing these various contributions was “The British
Association,”[145] which collected subscriptions to the amount of
269,302_l._, and to which was likewise committed the proceeds of two
royal letters inviting contributions, amounting to 200,738_l._, making
together no less than 470,041_l._, one-sixth of which was apportioned to
Scotland,[146] and the remainder to Ireland.[147] Then there was the
“Society of Friends” who collected 168,000_l._, which was distributed
almost entirely in provisions, whilst a great number of persons in all
parts of England acted independently of any association, but all
directing their efforts to the same benevolent object.



  The present Lord Overstone, then Mr. Jones Loyd, was chairman of the
  acting committee of the association, and Mr. Thomas Baring was the


[Sidenote: The British Association.]

In administering the funds placed at its disposal, the committee of the
British Association acted concurrently with the government and the
Poor-Law authorities, each of whom bore testimony to its great
usefulness. It determined at the outset “That all grants should be in
food, and not in money;” and “That no grant should be placed at the
disposal of any individual for private distribution.” The committee
conclude their Report to the subscribers by declaring, that although
evils of greater or less degree must attend every system of gratuitous
relief, they are confident that any evils which may have accompanied the
application of this fund, will have been far more than counterbalanced
by the benefits which have been conferred upon their starving
fellow-countrymen. “If ill desert has sometimes participated in this
bounty, a vast amount of human misery and suffering has (it is said)
been relieved.”[148]



  See ‘History of the Scotch Poor Law,’ p. 202.


  In fact the amount applied to these objects by the association
  exceeded 500,000_l._, upwards of 130,000_l._ having been obtained by
  the sale of provisions and seed-corn in Ireland, and interest accruing
  on the money contributed.


  See Report of the British Association for the Relief of extreme
  Distress in Ireland and Scotland, 1st January 1849.


The foregoing account of proceedings by the government and by
individuals for relieving the distress which prevailed in Ireland during
the years 1846 and 1847, through the failure of the potato-crops, has
been continued down beyond the date of the ninth Report in order to keep
the subject together, and to obviate the necessity of again recurring to
it. These proceedings form no part of the Poor Law administration, and
are only so far connected with it as being directed to the relief of
distress, and as having been latterly carried on very much in accordance
with recognised Poor Law principles, and moreover to a considerable
extent with the aid of the Poor Law machinery. We will now return to the
detail of proceedings during the twelve months preceding the 1st of May
1847, as given in the commissioners’ ninth Report.

[Sidenote: Amount of expenditure, and numbers relieved.]

All the workhouses had been opened for the relief of poor, and every
union had made a rate, so that the law might now be said to be in
operation throughout Ireland. The amount of expenditure for the year
ending 31st December 1846 was 435,001_l._, and the number of persons
then receiving relief in the several workhouses was 94,437, which
exceeds by 52,369 the number in the preceding year, and the expenditure
is greater by 118,975_l._ The entire number of persons relieved during
the year was 243,933.

All the unions being now in operation, and their accounts being made up
and audited half-yearly on the 25th March and 29th September, it is
intended hereafter to substitute the latter dates for the return which
has hitherto been made up on the 1st of January, at which time no
perfectly authentic account of the expenditure could be obtained, owing
to its not corresponding with either of the audit periods. This
therefore is the last occasion on which that statement will be given;
and it may here be convenient to exhibit in a tabular form its progress
from the commencement, as shown in the several annual Reports—

 The year ended │Number of │Expenditure │ Number in the │Total number of
 December 31st. │unions in │ during the │ workhouses on │    persons
                │operation.│   year.    │December 31st. │relieved during
                │          │            │               │   the year.
      1840      │         4│    £ 37,057│          5,648│         10,910
      1841      │        37│     110,278│         15,246│         31,108
      1842      │        92│     281,233│         31,572│         87,604
      1843      │       106│     244,374│         35,515│         87,898
      1844      │       113│     271,334│         39,175│        105,358
      1845      │       123│     316,026│         42,068│        114,205
      1846      │       130│     435,001│         94,437│        243,933

[Sidenote: Reappearance of the potato disease in the autumn of 1846.]

“The potato disease” having as before stated again appeared at the end
of July (1846), letters were addressed to the boards of guardians
requiring full information as to the state of the crop in the several
electoral divisions. Early in September replies were received, which
left no doubt as to the almost total destruction of the crop that had
everywhere taken place, and the commissioners had anxiously to consider
in what manner the poor-law could be made operative in mitigation of the
distress which must inevitably ensue. Relief from the poor-rates being
limited to accommodation in workhouses, it was manifest that such relief
would be insufficient for meeting the present calamity, “and that the
comprehensive remedial measures adopted by government in the
establishment of a general system of public works, and the organization
of relief committees, were to be looked to as the principal means.”
[Sidenote: Measures taken by the commissioners.] The commissioners
nevertheless considered that it was imperatively necessary to use all
the powers provided by the law on this occasion, and they addressed
letters to the several boards of guardians, drawing their attention to
the probability of a great increase of distress, and requesting them “to
be prepared to make the utmost use of the means of relief which the law
placed at their command.” They were urged to look to the state of their
contracts for provisions and other supplies, and to their stocks of
bedding and clothing, and to base their financial and other estimates on
the assumption that the whole accommodation in the workhouse would be
required, probably for a considerable time. These recommendations were
very generally acted upon. The total rates made in the months of
September, October, November and December, amounted to 232,251_l._, and
much activity was manifested in the collection of the rates, as well as
in providing the necessary supplies.

[Sidenote: Pressure upon the workhouses.]

On the 29th August 1846, the returns for the week showed that the
inmates of the several workhouses amounted to 43,655, and the numbers
continued to increase until on the 17th October, four of the workhouses
were reported to be full,[149] and most of the others became so shortly
after, although they fluctuated in this respect from time to time. The
aggregate weekly returns however showed a continual increase down to the
end of February 1847, when the inmates amounted to 116,321. From that
time the number decreased, but the decrease was probably owing to the
distressed circumstances in which the unions were themselves placed,
rather than to any abatement of the general distress. There can, it is
observed, be few situations more painful than that of a board of
guardians in the present condition of Ireland, surrounded by an
appalling extent of destitution, yet without the means of relieving the
sufferers. “Possessed of a workhouse capable of holding a few hundred
inmates, the guardians are looked to with hope by thousands of famishing
persons, and are called on to exercise the mournful task of selection
from the distressed objects who present themselves for admission as
their last refuge from death.” It was no longer a question whether the
applicants were fit objects for relief, but which of them could be
rejected and which admitted with the least risk of sacrificing life.
Were persons in the last extremities of want to be denied admittance, or
on the other hand were those already admitted to be made the victims of
over-crowding?—The course which prudence dictated was the one most
opposed to human sympathies. Eyewitnesses of the distress which was
endured, the guardians could not always resist the appeals made to them;
and applicant after applicant was admitted to the workhouse, long after
the sanitary limit had been passed.



  Those of Cork, Granard, Ballina, and Skibbereen.


[Sidenote: Overcrowding of the workhouses.]

It was the duty of the commissioners to resist all such impulsive
yieldings, and they failed not to urge upon the guardians the necessity
for such resistance on their part, without which the limited means of
relief at their disposal would be sacrificed. They were told that
effectual relief, even to the extent of the existing accommodation could
not be given, if contagious disease took possession of the workhouse;
and that in attempting to go beyond due sanitary limits, the guardians
would turn what was designed and adapted for good purposes into an
active evil, and deprive themselves of the power of using effectually
those means of relief which had been placed at their command. In some
instances orders under seal were issued, prohibiting the guardians from
admitting beyond a certain number. The commissioners likewise “called
into action the proper functions of the medical officers of the
workhouses, and placed upon them the direct responsibility of advising
and warning the guardians of those limits, beyond which their admissions
could not be extended without danger.” Notwithstanding these precautions
however, such was the fearful prevalence of distress, especially in
Connaught and the south of Ireland, that all considerations of this
nature were borne down, and the workhouses became crowded to an extent
far beyond their proper capacity, the consequences of which were in some
cases very disastrous.

The workhouse hospitals were prepared for cases of sickness occurring
among inmates, presumed to be in an average state of health, and they
were generally found sufficient for the purpose. But now unhappily,
almost every person admitted was a patient—was either suffering from
dysentery or fever, or extreme exhaustion, or had the seeds of disease
about him. Under such circumstances separation became impossible,
diseases spread, and the whole workhouse was changed into one large
hospital, without the appliances necessary for rendering it efficient as
such. [Sidenote: Mortality among the union officers.] This state of
things was not a little aggravated by the illness retirement or death of
many of the principal officers. The usual difficulty of replacing a
master or a matron, or medical officer when suddenly removed, was much
increased by the dangerous nature of the service, there having been
great mortality among these officers. During the first four months of
the current year, at least a hundred and fifty were attacked with
disease, of whom fifty-four had died, including seven clerks, nine
masters, seven medical officers, and six chaplains—a number unusually
large, and calculated no doubt to excite some indisposition to undertake
such duties.

[Sidenote: Mortality in the workhouses.]

The weekly mortality in the workhouses went on increasing from 4 in the
1,000 at the end of October 1846, to 13 in the 1,000 at the end of
January 1847,—20 in the 1,000 at the end of February, and 25 in the
1,000 at the middle of April; the number of inmates at these periods
respectively being 68,839—111,621—116,321—and 104,455. In the last week
of February, when the number of inmates attained its maximum, the deaths
amounted to 2,267; whilst on the 10th of April, when the inmates had
been reduced to 104,455, the deaths of the preceding week were 2,613,
thus showing an increase of mortality notwithstanding a reduction in the
number of inmates. The people had in fact become so exhausted by the
severity of the distress, that in many cases death occurred immediately
after admission. This was the time when to escape famine and pestilence
at home, the great rush of immigrants to Liverpool and the western
coasts of England and Scotland took place, and it is needless to say
that the pressure must have been fearful to cause such an outpouring of
the population.[150] We must not omit to state however, that at this
time great exertions were being made in many, indeed it may be said in
most of the unions to obtain increased accommodation for fever patients,
by erecting or hiring buildings temporary or permanent according to the
urgency and nature of the case; and also in like manner for increasing
the means of workhouse accommodation, so as to bring it more nearly up
to the wants of the period. The money expended upon these objects was in
some instances obtained by way of loan, and in others was defrayed
directly from the rates; but in all cases there was a considerable
addition to the current expenditure by the provision thus made for
affording additional relief.



  See ‘History of the English Poor Law,’ vol. ii. p. 393, where however
  there is a misprint in the eighth line from the bottom, of 1846 for
  1847, which the reader is requested to correct.


[Sidenote: Emigration.]

Emigration was regarded by many persons as the most prompt and effective
remedy, under the circumstances then existing in Ireland; and government
was appealed to for assistance in promoting it, by defraying the expense
of passage and outfit for the emigrants. But it was thought highly
probable that the emigration which would take place independently of any
such inducement, would be quite as large as the United States and Canada
could with advantage receive; and the government therefore limited its
interference to appointing additional agents to superintend the
embarkation of the emigrants, and to increasing the fund applicable to
the relief of the sick after their arrival in the colonies.[151] In 1846
the emigration from Great Britain amounted to 129,851. This was the
largest ever then known; but in the first nine months of 1847 the number
of emigrants was 240,461, nearly the whole of them from Ireland, and
proceeding to Canada and the United States, whence large remittances had
been sent by former emigrants to enable their relations and friends in
Ireland to follow them. Within the same period 278,000 immigrants
reached Liverpool from Ireland, of whom only 123,000 sailed from thence
to foreign parts; and the remainder must therefore have continued a
burden on the inhabitants, or wandered about the country begging, or
died of disease the seeds of which they had brought with them, and which
proved fatal to a great number of other persons as well as to the
immigrants themselves. It was the same everywhere.[152] [Sidenote:
Mortality among the emigrants.] In the United States, in Canada and on
the voyage out, the poor emigrants seeking to escape from famine at
home, were assailed by disease whithersoever they turned, and very many
of them sunk under its ravages. During this fearful crisis, the deaths
on the voyage to Canada increased from 5 in the 1,000, to about 60; and
so many more arrived sick, that the proportion of deaths in quarantine
to the numbers embarked, increased from a little more than 1 to about 40
in the 1,000, besides still larger numbers who died at Quebec, Montreal,
and elsewhere in the interior.[153]



  Upwards of 100,000_l._ was expended in relieving the sick and
  destitute emigrants landed in Canada in 1847.


  See ‘History of the Scotch Poor Law,’ p. 205. See also ‘History of the
  English Poor Law,’ vol. ii. p. 393.


  See ‘The Irish Crisis,’ p. 143.


[Sidenote: Financial state of the unions.]

Reference is made in the Report of 1846, to the generally satisfactory
state of the finances of the unions;[154] but such was no longer the
case in 1847, the heavy pressure consequent on the potato failure having
exhausted their resources, and in many cases caused the most serious
embarrassment. The returns show, that instead of there being as before
money in the hands of the treasurers to meet the current expenditure,
there was now, taking in the whole of the unions, a considerable
deficit. Even those unions which were accustomed to maintain their
finances in a fair state of efficiency, had latterly failed to obtain
funds from the ratepayers proportioned to their expenditure. In some
instances, the commissioners say, they have been compelled by the
extreme urgency of the case, to supply the guardians with bedding and
clothing, and with the means of procuring food to satisfy the immediate
wants of the inmates, “the means of doing so having been furnished by
government;” and they close their observations on these financial
difficulties by stating, “that while the total expenses have been at the
rate of at least 756,000_l._ a year, the sums collected have not much
exceeded the rate of 609,056.”



  Ante, p. 304.


[Sidenote: Increase in the cost of relief.]

The effect upon prices caused by the failure of the potato, may in some
measure be judged of by the weekly cost of maintenance in the
workhouses, which instead of being about 1_s._ 5_d._ per head as in
former years, averaged 1_s._ 8_d._ per head in March, and 1_s._ 9_d._
per head in September 1846, after which it exceeded 2_s._ per head. This
increase of cost must have materially added to the difficulties of the
unions, not only by augmenting the pressure of the poor-rate, but also
by reducing the means of the ratepayers for satisfying its demands. On
every side there appeared ground for alarm, and no one could venture to
look forward without feeling the most serious apprehensions. A third
failure of the crops, should such unhappily occur, would be attended
with consequences the disastrous extent of which it must be alike
impossible fully to estimate or guard against; and the period was
approaching when uncertainty on this vital point would be removed—At the
end of another three months it would be seen whether want disease and
misery were again, but in a more aggravated form, to overspread the
land, or whether the earth would yield forth its increase for the
sustenance of man.

[Sidenote: 1848.
           First annual Report of the Poor-law Commissioners for Ireland.]

The Report for 1847-8 would, in the regular order, have formed the tenth
of the series. But it had now been deemed necessary to establish a
separate commission for Ireland, entirely independent of the English
commission, and the Report is consequently entitled the first of the new
executive. This Report like the nine preceding, is dated on the 1st of
May; and as three Acts making very important changes in the law for the
relief of the Irish poor had been passed early in the period to which
the Report applies, (namely on the 8th of June and the 22nd of July
1847), the insertion of the following summaries of these three Acts will
be a fitting preliminary to our consideration of the Report itself.

[Sidenote: The Extension Act, _10th and 11th Vict. cap. 31._]

_The 10th and 11th Vict., cap. 31_, is entitled ‘An Act to make further
Provision for the Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland’—_8th June

_Section 1._—Directs the guardians of the poor to make provision for the
    due relief of all destitute poor persons disabled by old age or
    infirmity; and of destitute poor persons disabled by sickness or
    serious accident, and thereby prevented from earning a subsistence
    for themselves and their families; and of destitute poor widows,
    having two or more legitimate children dependent upon them. Such
    poor persons, being destitute, are to be relieved either in the
    workhouse or out of the workhouse as the guardians may deem
    expedient; and the guardians are also to take order for relieving
    and setting to work in the workhouse when there shall be sufficient
    room for so doing, such other destitute poor persons as they shall
    deem to be unable to support themselves by their own industry.

_Sections 2, 3._—Whenever relief cannot be afforded in the workhouse
    owing to want of room, or when by reason of fever or infectious
    disease the workhouse is unfit for the reception of poor
    persons, the Poor Law Commissioners may by order empower the
    guardians to administer relief out of the workhouse to such
    destitute poor persons, for any time not exceeding two months;
    and on the receipt of such order, the guardians are to make
    provision accordingly—Relief to able-bodied persons out of the
    workhouse, is however to be given in food only, and the
    commissioners may from time to time regulate its application.

_Sections 4, 5, 6._—The commissioners may direct the guardians to
    appoint relieving officers to assist in the administration of
    relief; and also medical officers for affording medical relief out
    of the workhouse, whenever they shall deem such appointments to be
    necessary or expedient. The commissioners may likewise, on
    application of the board of guardians, wherever an electoral
    division is distant six miles from the place of meeting, form such
    division into a district, with a committee to receive applications,
    and to report thereon to the guardians.

_Section 7._—Relieving officers are empowered to give provisional relief
    in cases of urgent necessity, by an order of admission to the
    workhouse or fever hospital of the union, or only affording such
    relief as may be necessary in food, lodging, medicine or medical
    attendance, until the next meeting of the board of guardians, to
    whom the case is then to be reported, and their directions taken
    thereon. The guardians are to furnish the relieving officers with
    the necessary funds for the above purposes, in such manner as the
    Poor Law Commissioners direct.

_Sections 8, 9, 10._—Relief to a wife or child is to be considered as
    given to the husband or parent, as the case may be; and children are
    liable for the relief afforded to their parents. Relief at the cost
    of a union, is only to be given within the union. Occupiers of more
    than a quarter of an acre of land are not to be deemed destitute,
    nor to be relieved out of the poor-rates.

_Sections 11, 12._—Regulate the mode of charging out-door relief; and
    provide that no person shall be deemed resident in an electoral
    division, unless three years before he applies for relief, he shall
    have occupied some tenement within it for three months, or usually
    slept within it for thirty months.

_Sections 13, 14, 15._—Prescribe the conditions on which assistance may
    be given to emigration, and the proportion of the expense that may
    be defrayed out of the rates. The provisions of _6th and 7th Vict.
    cap. 92, sec. 18_,[155] for the emigration of persons who have been
    three months in a workhouse, extended to poor persons not in a
    workhouse, or who have been there less than three months. The
    expense incurred in aid of emigration not to be deemed relief.



      Ante, p. 293.


_Section 16._—The limitation of ex-officio guardians to one-third the
    number of elected guardians is repealed; but it is at the same time
    provided that the ex-officios shall in no case exceed the number of
    the elected guardians.

_Sections 17, 18._—The commissioners empowered to dissolve or alter
    unions without consent of the guardians, and to form such other
    unions therefrom as they shall deem expedient, and to adjust the
    claims and liabilities consequent thereon. The commissioners also
    empowered to dissolve a board of guardians on their failing duly to
    discharge their prescribed duties, and to appoint paid officers to
    carry into execution the provisions of the law, without any
    intermediate election of guardians.

_Section 19._—Enables the commissioners to provide a chapel, and to make
    such regulations as they deem expedient, for securing the religious
    worship of any denomination of Christians in the workhouses.

_Sections 20, 21, 22, 23, 24._—Provide for the purchase of three
    additional acres of land to be used for a cemetery, or for the
    erection of fever wards. The commissioners are also empowered to
    hire or purchase, not exceeding 25 acres, for the purpose of
    erecting a school for the joint reception maintenance and education
    of the children of the North and South Dublin unions, the management
    of such school to be conducted by a board chosen from among the
    guardians of the two unions, in such manner as the commissioners
    shall by order direct. Other unions may also be formed into school
    districts in like manner, and for a like purpose.

_Sections 25, 26._—The commissioners empowered to prescribe the
    qualifications and the duties of all officers, and to determine
    their continuance or removal, and to regulate their salaries, &c.
    The administration of relief is also subject to the commissioners’
    direction and control.

_Sections 27, 28, 29._—Accounts are to be kept and audited as prescribed
    by the commissioners. Any payment disallowed by an auditor, is to be
    recovered from the party debited therewith. And on or before the 1st
    of May in every year, an account is to be laid before parliament of
    the expenditure on relief of the poor, and of the total number
    relieved in each union, during the year ended on the 29th of
    September preceding.

[Sidenote: The 10th and 11th Vict. cap. 84.]

_The 10th and 11th Vict. cap. 84_, is entitled ‘An Act to make Provision
for the Punishment of Vagrants, and Persons offending against the Laws
in force for the Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland’—_22nd July

_Sections 1, 2, 3._—After declaring it to be expedient to make further
    provision for the punishment of beggars and vagrants &c., the _59th
    section_ of the Irish Poor Relief Act[156] is repealed, and it is
    enacted instead, that every person deserting or wilfully neglecting
    to maintain his wife or child, so that they become destitute and be
    relieved in or out of the workhouse of any union, shall on
    conviction be committed to hard labour for any time not exceeding
    three months. And persons wandering abroad begging or gathering
    alms, or procuring children to do so, and every person going from
    one union or electoral division to another for the purpose of
    obtaining relief, shall be liable on conviction to be committed to
    hard labour for any time not exceeding one month.

_Sections 4, 5._—Offenders may be apprehended by any person whatsoever,
    and taken before a justice to be dealt with as is above provided. Or
    when apprehended, the offender may be delivered over to a constable
    or other peace officer, to be taken before a justice for like
    purpose. Justices may upon proof of offence, issue their warrant for
    the apprehension of any such offender, to be dealt with as the Act
    directs. Proceedings by or before any justice are not to be quashed
    for want of form, nor removable by writ of certiorari.

[Sidenote: The 10th and 11th Vict. cap. 90, 22nd July 1847.]

    _The 10th and 11th Vict. cap. 90_, is entitled ‘An Act to provide
    for the Execution of the Laws for Relief of the Poor in Ireland.’
    After reciting the several previous Acts under which the
    administration of relief to the poor in Ireland is subject to the
    direction and control of the Poor Law Commissioners, whose
    commission will shortly expire, it declares it to be “expedient that
    the control of the administration of the laws for the relief of the
    poor in Ireland should be wholly separated from the control of the
    administration of the laws for relief of the poor in England,” and
    enacts that her Majesty may from time to time by warrant under the
    royal sign manual, appoint a fit person who, with the chief and
    under secretaries of the lord lieutenant shall have the control, and
    shall be styled “Commissioners for administering the Laws for Relief
    of the Poor in Ireland,” and the person so appointed shall be styled
    the Chief Commissioner—



      Ante, p. 227.


_Sections 2, 3, 4, 5._—The appointment of every chief commissioner is to
    be published in the ‘Dublin Gazette.’ The commissioners are to have
    a seal, which shall have the same force and effect as the seal of
    the Poor Law Commissioners; and they may appoint a secretary,
    inspectors, clerks &c., and may assign to the inspectors such
    duties, and delegate to them such powers as they may think

_Sections 6, 7, 8._—One of the inspectors is to be appointed an
    assistant-commissioner, to assist in the business of the office in
    such manner as the commissioners direct; and to him may be delegated
    the powers and functions of the chief commissioner in the latter’s
    absence. The inspectors are entitled to attend boards of guardians,
    and all meetings held for the relief of the poor, and may take part
    in the proceedings, but are not to vote. All salaries are to be
    determined by the Treasury.

_Sections 9, 10._—The powers and duties of the Poor Law Commissioners
    are transferred to the new commissioners; and if any vacancy occur,
    the surviving or continuing commissioners or commissioner may
    continue to act. The commissioners are constituted a body corporate,
    and for all purposes connected with the administration of the laws
    for the relief of the poor throughout Ireland they are to be deemed
    successors of the Poor Law Commissioners, all property held by whom
    becomes vested in them accordingly.

_Sections 11, 12, 13, 14, 15._—The commissioners are empowered to make
    rules orders and regulations, and to vary or rescind the same. Also
    to make general rules with the approbation of the lord lieutenant,
    who may at any time disallow the same or any part thereof, without
    prejudice however to things lawfully done under them before such
    disallowance. Every rule order or regulation directed to, or
    affecting more than one union, is to be deemed a general rule.

_Sections 16, 17, 18._—The rules orders and regulations of the Poor Law
    Commissioners are to continue in force until varied or rescinded by
    the commissioners appointed under this Act, whose authority is in
    all cases to be substituted for the former, and is to have like
    force and effect in Ireland. Acts under seal not to be valid, unless
    signed by two of the commissioners, or by the chief commissioner, or
    in his absence by the assistant-commissioner.

_Sections 19, 20._—The commissioners empowered to summon witnesses not
    exceeding twenty miles distant, and to make inquiries and call for
    returns, and examine on oath. Persons giving false evidence are
    subjected to the penalties of perjury; and on refusing to give
    evidence, or neglecting to obey the commissioners’ summons, or to
    produce books vouchers &c., are to be deemed guilty of a

_Sections 21, 22._—The commissioners are annually to report their
    proceedings to the lord lieutenant. The Report is to be laid before
    parliament, and is to contain a distinct statement of every order
    and direction issued in respect to out-door relief. All lawful
    proceedings of the Poor Law Commissioners, and all things done under
    previous Acts, and not varied or repealed by this Act, are declared

_Section 23._—The chief commissioner and other persons to be appointed
    and employed under this Act, are not to hold office or exercise any
    of the powers hereby given, “for a longer period than five years
    next after the day of the passing of this Act, and thenceforth until
    the end of the then next session of parliament,” after which the
    power of appointing commissioners is to cease to operate or have

These three Acts have, it will be seen, made very considerable changes
in the law, and taken conjointly with the original Relief Act of 1838,
and the Amendment Act of 1843,[157] may be considered as forming the
entire code of Irish Poor Laws, and such moreover as they may be
expected to continue, there being apparently no room for further
alteration, or at least not to any material extent.



  That is _The 1st and 2nd Vict. cap. 56_, and _The 6th and 7th Vict.
  cap. 92_. Ante, pp. 222 _et seq._ and 291 _et seq._


[Sidenote: General import of the new Acts.]

The sanction of out-door relief given by the first of the three Acts is
a most important departure from the principle of the original statute,
and was wrung from the legislature by the distressing circumstances in
which the country was placed by the successive failures of the potato
crop. With starvation raging almost universally around, it was felt that
it would be impossible to maintain the restriction of relief to the
limits of the workhouse. The concession made in the _1st and 2nd
sections_ must however be regarded as exceptional, and as being intended
to meet an exceptional case; for the necessity of workhouse relief being
the established rule, never perhaps commanded more general assent, than
at the time when a departure from it was thus sanctioned. The author was
examined before a committee of the house of lords on this question, and
he gave it as his deliberate opinion that under the circumstances
existing in Ireland the concession was necessary, the preservation of
life being paramount to all other considerations; but at the same time
he considered, that the rule of in-door relief should be departed from
only so far, and in such a way, as would secure its resumption with the
least difficulty and at the earliest possible period; and the two first
sections of the Act are not at variance with this view.[158] In
sanctioning out-door relief under the then emergency, the legislature
limited its application, imposing certain conditions and restrictions,
and at the same time investing the commissioners with large powers for
checking abuse. Nay more, as if distrusting the discretion of the
commissioners themselves, _the 21st section of cap. 90_ provides that
their Report, which is to be laid before parliament, “shall contain a
distinct statement of every order and direction issued by them in
respect to out-door relief.” The appointment of relieving and medical
officers and of district committees, was no doubt a considerable
extension of the union machinery, but it was necessary for giving effect
to the law at the time, and either or all might be discontinued when no
longer required. The limitation of relief by the _9th section_, and the
extension of assistance for the purpose of emigration to persons not in
a workhouse by the _14th section_, are both likely to be of use, as may
also be the provision in the _16th section_ with regard to ex-officio
guardians. But the power given to the commissioners by the _17th and
18th sections_, to alter unions, and to dissolve boards of guardians and
appoint paid officers to carry the law into execution, is by far the
most important of the provisions of this Act, with the exception of
those sanctioning out-relief.



  The necessity for adhering to the principle of indoor relief was fully
  recognised by this committee, whose inquiries were for the most part
  limited to that point, without going into the general question of the
  Poor Law. Any detailed account of the committee’s proceedings does not
  therefore appear to be called for at this time, as no new light was
  thrown upon the subject by its investigations. The same may be said of
  the commission for “inquiring into the state of the law and practice
  in respect to the occupation of land in Ireland,” (of which the Earl
  of Devon was chairman), and whose reports are exceedingly valuable;
  but they do not directly bear upon our subject, and have therefore not
  been noticed. I have indeed endeavoured to confine attention to the
  Poor-law itself, and to those matters immediately connected with it,
  and calculated to elucidate its working, these collectively presenting
  a field sufficiently extensive.


The second of the above Acts (_cap. 84_) is in fact a resumption of the
vagrancy clauses which were intended to form part of the original Relief
Act,[159] and which have now been rendered more necessary by the
sanctioning of out-relief. The third of the above Acts (_cap. 90_)
providing for the appointment of a separate commission for Ireland, may
be regarded as a consequence of the unfortunate condition of that
country, which was now said to require all the care and undivided
attention of distinct functionaries. I have already stated that such was
not my opinion, and after all that has passed I still am satisfied that
the Poor Laws of England and Ireland might be administered under the
superintendence of the same commission, as efficiently as under separate
commissions; and that there would be a weight of authority influence and
other advantages arising from the combination of the two, which would
not be found in a separate commission. The example of Scotland was much
relied upon as warranting the separation, but the cases are not similar,
the Scottish Poor Law differing essentially from that of England,
whereas the Irish law is directly founded upon it, and in its working
must to a great degree be regulated by English experience. But the
separation having taken place, it would be difficult to retrace the
step, unless indeed there should be, as has on high authority been
proposed, an entire amalgamation of the two governments by abolishing
the office of lord lieutenant, in which case the Irish commission would
naturally if not necessarily become merged in the English. It is
bootless however to speculate upon these or other possible changes, and
we will therefore resume our task of tracing out the progress of the
law, and inquiring into the circumstances under which it has to be



  Ante, p. 211.


[Sidenote: Change of the commission. August 27, 1847.]

On the passing of the first of the above Acts (_10th and 11th Vict. cap.
31_, commonly known as the Relief Extension Act), copies of it were
forwarded to all the unions, and the attention of the several boards of
guardians was called to the necessity of making provision on a much
larger scale than heretofore for the relief of the poor, and pointing
out the conditions on which the relief was henceforward to be
administered to the classes of infirm and able-bodied. Five additional
assistant-commissioners were also appointed[160] to attend to the large
increase of duties now devolved upon the commission. On the 27th of
August the appointment of Mr. Twisleton as chief commissioner, under the
_10th and 11th Vict. cap. 90_, was notified in the Dublin Gazette, and
on the following day the administration of the law became vested in the
new commission established by that Act, the ten gentlemen then acting as
assistant-commissioners were appointed inspectors, and Mr. Power was
appointed the assistant-commissioner.



  These were Mr. Crawford, Mr. Bourke, Mr. Stanley, and Mr. Barron. Mr.
  Phelan had been appointed some months previously to superintend the
  sanitary state of the workhouses. Mr. Stanley afterwards became
  secretary, and was succeeded as inspector by Mr. Flanagan.


[Sidenote: Decrease of sickness and mortality.]

The extent of sickness and mortality in the workhouses towards the
middle of April, has already been noticed.[161] The returns continued to
show a gradual decrease of deaths from that time, although there was no
material decrease in the number of inmates or of fever patients until
the month of July, when a decline rapidly took place in all three; and
in the last week of August the number of inmates was reduced to 76,319,
of sick (including 5,782 fever patients) to 15,240, and of deaths to
646, or 8 in every 1,000 weekly. In the first week of October the
inmates had again increased to 83,719, but the deaths were only 433,
averaging 5 per 1,000 weekly. These numbers show the extent of the
pressure on the workhouses in the earlier part of 1847. But the extent
of assistance afforded under the Temporary Relief and the Fever Hospital
Acts (_10th and 11th Vict. caps. 7 and 22_) must also be stated, in
order to show the universality of the distress. [Sidenote: Decrease of
rations issued.]Under the former Act, on the 8th of May rations were
issued to 826,325 persons; on the 5th of June to 2,729,684; on the 3rd
of July to 3,020,712; on the 1st of August to 2,520,376; on the 29th of
August to 1,105,800; on the 12th of September to 505,984; and at the end
of September the issues altogether ceased. Under the latter Act
accommodation was provided for the treatment of 26,378 fever patients,
and the average number in hospital was about 13,000. The proceedings
under these Acts, when viewed in conjunction with those under the Poor
Law, will sufficiently explain the magnitude of the crisis through which
the country passed at this period, and the fearful suffering and
privations to which the people were unhappily and it may be added
unavoidably exposed.



  Ante, p. 326.


[Sidenote: Financial state of the unions.]

The financial state of the unions became greatly depressed during this
trying period. The fact of the treasurers’ balances having turned
against the unions is noticed in the Report of the previous year,[162]
and this continued down to the end of September, when owing to great
exertions in the collection, the returns again showed a credit balance
of upwards of 10,000_l._ in favour of the guardians. There was still
however a large arrear remaining for collection, and this continued to
be the case throughout the succeeding half-year, notwithstanding that
the large sum of 961,354_l._ was collected and lodged with the
treasurers, a proof that the guardians were not backward in making
provision for carrying out the law, although the impoverished state of
many of the unions rendered the collection difficult after the rates
were made.



  Ante, p. 328.


[Sidenote: A good harvest.]

The harvest of 1847 proved to be a good one. Contrary to expectation the
potato crop was free from disease, but the quantity grown was
comparatively small, and the price continued so high that the peasantry
were unable to purchase. The failure of the crop in the two previous
years had discouraged them from planting, and they were consequently in
great measure deprived of their usual means of living. The large
importations of Indian meal had however so far reduced the price of that
and other descriptions of food, that the general cost of subsistence was
not much greater than in ordinary seasons, and in districts where the
people found employment at moderate wages, they generally fared better
than in former years. But in districts where there was no employment or
money wages, and where the peasantry had been accustomed to subsist on
potatoes raised by themselves, this resource being neglected, they would
necessarily be in want of food, and would require assistance to preserve
them from starvation. It was certain therefore, notwithstanding the
non-appearance of the potato disease, that there would be much distress
in many parts of the country long before the approach of harvest in the
following year; and in order to be prepared for affording needful relief
in such a contingency, without at the same time weakening the incentive
to independent exertion in the labouring classes, it was necessary that
a large increase of workhouse accommodation should be provided. This
point the commissioners continued earnestly to press upon the attention
of the several boards of guardians, and for the most part with success.

[Sidenote: 32 boards of guardians dissolved.]

The extent and population of the Irish unions and the constitution of
many of the boards of guardians, rendered it probable that the new and
more laborious duties imposed upon them by the Extension Act (_10th and
11th Vict. cap. 31_) would not always be fulfilled, and that in some
instances there might either be a failure of necessary relief, or a
misapplication of the union funds. The power of dissolving a board of
guardians, and at once appointing paid officers to discharge their
duties, was given to the commissioners for the purpose of enabling them
to deal with cases of this kind; and being armed with such a power, they
were responsible for its exercise whenever the occasion called for
it—“Although reluctant in the highest degree, (they say) to interfere
even temporarily with a system of self-government involving the great
principle of popular representation in the raising and expenditure of a
public fund, it appeared to them that in the immediate circumstances of
the country, a more imperative object demanded for a time the sacrifice
of those considerations, and that it was their paramount duty by every
means which the legislature had placed at their disposal, to provide for
the effectual relief of the destitute poor.” Acting under these views,
and on the occurrence of what they considered to be serious default on
the part of the guardians, the commissioners dissolved thirty-two
boards,[163] and appointed paid officers in their stead. The default in
nearly every instance was either a failure to provide sufficient funds,
or to apply them efficiently in relieving the destitute. Full details of
each case were laid before parliament, and the necessity of the
proceeding was generally admitted, although it was no doubt much to be
lamented that such a necessity should have arisen.



  These were—Athlone, Ballina, Ballinrobe, Bantry, Cahirciveen,
  Carrick-on-Shannon, Castlebar, Castlereagh, Cavan, Clifden, Cootehill,
  Enniskillen, Ennistymon, Galway, Gort, Granard, Kanturk, Kenmare,
  Kilkenny, Kilrush, Longford, Loughrea, Lowtherstown, Mohill,
  Newcastle, New Ross, Roscommon, Scariff, Trim, Tuam, Tullamore,
  Waterford, and Westport.


[Sidenote: Out-door employment.]

It is, however, satisfactory to find that in a great majority of the
unions relief was provided and administered by the guardians in an
orderly and efficient manner. There were some exceptions in addition to
the above, it is true, and the commissioners had to exert all their
influence and authority in procuring the appointment of relieving
officers to receive and inquire into applications for relief, as
provided by the Extension Act and directed by their own order. Another
point on which the commissioners found much difficulty in winning the
acquiescence of the guardians was with regard to the mode of employing
poor persons, for whose relief out of the workhouse under the _2nd
section_ of the Extension Act, a necessity had arisen in some unions.
The guardians wished the employment to be of a productive or profitable
nature, and that it should be applied mainly with that view. The
commissioners were desirous that the employment should serve as a test
of destitution, and recommended stone-breaking as open to least
objection, the food to be given not as the price of labour but in relief
of destitution, the labour being required simply as the condition of the
relief; and in the unions where out-door relief in food was given to the
able-bodied on this principle, the numbers are said to have been for the
most part kept within moderate limits.

[Sidenote: Increase of workhouse accommodation.]

But although the labour-test might so far have succeeded, the operation
of the workhouse system in the present difficult circumstances had been
found far less equivocal, and its efficiency was more universally
acknowledged by those engaged in the administration of relief. A large
extension of workhouse room, partly permanent partly temporary had been
provided. The whole accommodation including additional workhouses and
fever hospitals connected with the workhouses would be sufficient for
upwards of 150,000 persons, “being an addition of more than one-third to
the accommodation originally provided.” In consequence of this great
increase of workhouse accommodation, it appears that in 25 of the unions
no relief was given out of the workhouse, “except perhaps in the
occasional exercise of the provisional powers of the relieving
officers,” and yet the workhouses of none of these unions were said to
be full. In 35 other unions, out-door relief was afforded only under the
_1st section_ of the Extension Act, that is to the infirm, widows with
two or more children, and persons disabled by sickness or accident. In
the remaining 71 unions, orders had been issued under the _2nd section_,
authorizing out-door relief in food; but in only 23 of these was it
authorized to be given without distinction of class.

[Sidenote: The Dublin unions.]

In proof of the efficiency of the workhouse in checking applications for
relief, when not caused by actual necessity, the example of Dublin may
be cited. In the first week of July, rations were gratuitously issued in
the two Dublin unions to 57,509 persons, and the proportion of these
classed as able-bodied amounted with their families to 46,432. In the
South union the number on the relief lists was greatly reduced before
the 15th of August, the day on which the issues under the Temporary
Relief Act were ordered to cease; but in the North union more than
20,000 persons continued to receive rations, and the commissioners were
entreated to issue an order under the powers given to them by the
Extension Act sanctioning its further continuance, the guardians being
apprehensive that so large an amount of relief could not with safety be
suddenly discontinued. The commissioners deemed it to be their duty to
resist the appeal, and recommended the guardians to convert a building
then in their occupation and capable of accommodating 400 persons, into
a subsidiary workhouse. This was accordingly done, and admission was
offered to such of the able-bodied and their families as applied for
relief when the rations were discontinued; but the new subsidiary
workhouse was not filled by those who accepted the offer, and all the
others found the means of living by their own exertions. The class
receiving out-door relief under the _1st section_ of the Act (_i. e._
the aged and infirm poor and widows with two or more children) were at
the same time, with some assistance from the mendicity institution,
reduced to about 4,000 persons; and no necessity afterwards arose for
issuing an order under the _2nd section_ in either of the Dublin unions.

[Sidenote: Report of commissioners appointed under the _10th and 11th
           Vict. cap. 7_.]]

To this example of the efficiency of the workhouse in preventing undue
applications for relief, may be added the testimony of the relief
commissioners appointed under _The 10th and 11th Vict. cap. 7_,[164] as
to the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility in the state of
Ireland at that time, of guarding against gross abuse in the
administration of relief without the corrective of the workhouse test,
even although in the shape of daily rations of cooked food. In their
third Report dated 17th June 1847, the commissioners make the following
remarkable statement—“In several instances the government inspecting
officers found no difficulty in striking off hundreds of names that
ought not to have been placed on the lists, including sometimes those of
servants and men in the constant employ of persons of considerable
station and property. These latter are frequently themselves members of
the committees, and in some cases the very chairmen, being magistrates,
have sanctioned the issue of rations to tenants of their own of
considerable holdings, possessed of live stock, and who it was found had
paid up their last half-year’s rent.”... “In other districts, the
measure is subject to deception and petty frauds practised by many of
the order immediately above the class of actually destitute, and which
cannot be entirely checked by the best exertions of the best committees.
Even in the districts where the service is most correctly performed, the
numbers on the lists will no doubt exceed those of the really
destitute.” It was perhaps to be expected under the circumstances then
existing in Ireland, that something like what is here described might
occur; but it could hardly have been expected that it would have been to
such an extent, or that persons in the positions named would have
descended to practices at once so disgraceful and so unpatriotic.
Against such frauds the workhouse seemed to be the only safeguard.



  Ante, p. 317.


[Sidenote: Expenditure on relief of the poor.]

The entire expenditure from the rates on relief of the poor in the 130
unions during the twelve months ending 29th September 1847, was
803,684_l._ The number of inmates on that day was 86,376, and the total
number relieved in the workhouses within the year was 417,139. There was
some expenditure in a few of the unions shortly before the 29th
September, although the issues under the Temporary Relief Act did not
until then wholly cease. The relief under the Extension Act (_10th and
11th Vict., cap. 31_) which then commenced, continued to increase as the
distress arising from the exhaustion of the small crops raised in many
parts of the country became more and more severe. [Sidenote: Numbers in
the workhouses.]On the 12th February 1848 the number in the several
workhouses amounted to 135,467, and the mortality reached 11 per 1,000.
This was perhaps to be expected from the great pressure upon the
workhouses, and the wretched condition of very many of the poor persons
at the time they were admitted. Contagious disease again prevailed, and
the fatal effects again extended to the workhouse officers, ninety-four
of whom died, chiefly of fever, and also two of the Poor Law inspectors,
and one vice-guardian in course of the year.

[Sidenote: Out-door relief.]

Although the numbers in the workhouses went on increasing in the latter
months of 1847, it was not until February and March 1848 that the houses
became filled, and that out-door relief was largely administered. In
February the cost of out-relief in money and food amounted to
72,039_l._, in March to 81,339_l._ The numbers and cost were then both
at their maximum, and according to the best estimate which could be
formed, the average daily number of out-door poor relieved was 703,762,
and of in-door 140,536, making an aggregate of 844,298 persons. The
description of food supplied to the poor in lieu of their habitual food
the potato, consisted for the most part of a pound of Indian meal, that
being the quantity of cereal food approved by the Central Board of
Health in Ireland as necessary for the daily sustenance of an adult. The
price of Indian meal was at that time about 1_d._ per lb., so that the
cost of the food thus supplied probably did not exceed the cost of that
to which the people had been accustomed. It appears therefore that in
the early part of 1848 no less than 800,000 persons were relieved daily
at the charge of the poor-rates, consisting chiefly of the most helpless
part of the most indigent classes in Ireland; and the commissioners say
they “cannot doubt that of this number a large proportion are by this
means, and this means alone, daily preserved from death through want of
food.” The above 800,000 is irrespective of the children supplied with
food and clothing by “The British Association,” the number of whom in
March 1848 amounted to upwards of 200,000.[165] So that the total number
of persons then receiving eleemosynary support must have exceeded a
million, or over one-eighth of the entire population.



  See Report of the association, p. 41.


[Sidenote: Distress in certain unions.]

The official returns of the collection and expenditure of the poor-rates
are made up to the 31st March 1848, and comprise six months only of the
parochial year which will end on the 29th September following. They show
that in those six months 961,356_l._ had been collected, and 781,198_l._
expended, thus exhibiting an excess of collection over expenditure of
180,158_l._ The state of the balances appears therefore to have greatly
improved,[166] and rates to the amount of 661,855_l._ still remained on
the books for collection. “Up to this point therefore (the commissioners
observe) the financial progress has been favourable”—But they add, “if
we should have to sustain operations for five months longer, at the rate
of expenditure exhibited for March, it is clear that great exertions
have yet to be made in the collection of rates, in order to escape a
large accumulation of debt at the close of the year.” The above
statements apply to the unions in the aggregate. There are however the
commissioners say, certain unions which “cannot for some years be
cleared from present debt under the most favourable circumstances, and
in unions which on the whole are well provided with funds, many
electoral divisions are in a state of almost hopeless bankruptcy.”



  Ante, p. 328.


[Sidenote: British Relief Association.]

The proceedings of the “British Relief Association” have already been
noticed.[167] The committee of the association had still a considerable
sum at their disposal in the latter end of 1847, and this it was
determined to appropriate in aid of such of the distressed unions above
adverted to as the Poor Law Commissioners should recommend for that
purpose, and also in “affording food and clothing to children through
the medium of schools.” Accordingly grants to the amount of 143,519_l._
were successively made to the distressed unions[168] in aid of their
general expenditure; and with regard to the school-children, it is
said—“by the 1st of January 1848 the system was in full operation in
thirteen of the more distressed unions, 58,000 children were on the
relief-roll of the association, and this number gradually increased,
until in the month of March upwards of 200,000 children, attending
schools of all denominations in twenty-seven western unions, were
participating in this relief. The total expenditure for feeding the
children amounted to 80,885_l._, in addition to which the sum of
12,083_l._ was spent in clothing, making a total expenditure during the
second period of the relief operations of the association of
236,487_l._”[169] Treasury grants to the extent of 114,968_l._ had also
been made in aid of the distressed unions, during the present year.



  Ante, p. 321.


  These were Ballina, Belmullet, Ballinrobe, Ballyshannon, Bantry,
  Boyle, Cahirciveen, Carrick-on-Shannon, Castlebar, Castlereagh,
  Clifden, Donegal, Galway, Glenties, Kenmare, Kilrush, Listowel,
  Manorhamilton, Milford, Mohill, Roscommon, Scariff, Skibbereen, Sligo,
  Swineford, Tralee, Dingle, Tuam, Westport, Athlone, Ennistymon, Gort,
  Nenagh, Loughrea and New Ross. This list somewhat differs from the one
  given in the commissioners’ Report, but I quote from that furnished by
  the association, whose Report was made subsequently, being dated 1st
  January 1849.


  See Report of the British Relief Association, pp. 41 and 46.


[Sidenote: Total amount of rates raised.]

It may not be irrelevant here to state, that the entire of the rates
made in all the unions from the first introduction of the Poor Law down
to the date of the present Report, have (exclusive of the last rate)
amounted to 2,496,412_l._, of which not more than 48,804_l._, or 2 per
cent., has been lost—143,046_l._, or 6 per cent., of arrears having been
carried into the rates last made. The last-made rates amounted to
1,462,878_l._, which added to the above makes a total of 3,959,290_l._
assessed upon the property of Ireland for the relief of the poor, in
course of the ten years since the introduction of the Poor Law, the last
three being years of such intense distress as it was perhaps never
before the lot of an entire people to be subjected to.

[Sidenote: 1849.
           Second annual report of Poor Law Commissioners for Ireland.]

The Report for 1848-9 is dated, not on the 1st of May, as before, but on
the 14th July. At the end of their last Report, the commissioners
adverted to the great efforts which were made to restore the potato to
its former position of the staple crop of Ireland, as being a
circumstance at once hopeful and alarming. The policy of a people’s
relying for subsistence on a crop so uncertain in its produce, and which
so soon decays, is no doubt a question of momentous importance. But this
was lost sight of in the promise of an abundant harvest; and as the
disease had done little mischief last year, it was hoped the country
would be equally free from its ravages in the present.[Sidenote:
Recurrence of the potato disease.] At the beginning of August however,
the appearance of blight was reported from many parts of the country,
and although not so general nor so destructive as in 1846, the disease
proved much worse than in 1847, and there can be no doubt that a
considerable proportion of the crop was destroyed by it. In October
sound potatoes were sold at 8_d._ per stone, a price at which the
ordinary rate of wages would not allow a labourer to purchase them for
the support of his family. Another season of distress was therefore
evidently impending. The out-relief lists had been reduced from 830,000
in July, to 200,000 on the 1st of October, when the numbers again began
to increase, and on the last day of December they amounted to nearly
400,000. The numbers in the workhouses increased in the same period from
114,000 to 185,000, with a weekly rate of mortality of 6½ per 1,000.
Statements of the numbers relieved, and the cost of the relief afforded,
were periodically submitted to parliament throughout the whole of this
trying period.

[Sidenote: Great distress and sickness.]

In the earlier months of 1849 there was greater privation and suffering
among the population of the western and south-western districts, than at
any time since the fatal season of 1846-7. “Exhaustion of resources by
the long continuance of adverse circumstances, caused a large accession
to the ranks of the destitute. Clothing had been worn out or parted with
to provide food, or seed in seed-time; and the loss of cabins and small
holdings of land, either by eviction or voluntary abandonment, rendered
many thousands of families shelterless and destitute of fuel as well as
food.” The distress hence arising, aggravated by the inclement weather
which then prevailed, was not we are told effectually met by the system
of out-door relief. Where the workhouses were full, poor persons
receiving out-relief were often compelled to part with a portion of
their food to obtain a lodging. The cabins became crowded with ill-fed,
ill-clothed, sickly people, and epidemic disease found victims prepared
for its attacks. A great proportion of those who died in the workhouses
at this period, had previously suffered from fever and dysentery, and
entered the workhouse weakened by extreme privation, or in an advanced
state of disease.

[Sidenote: Cholera breaks out.]

In the month of March a new enemy appeared, cholera having broken out in
the western and south-western unions, whence it afterwards extended to
other parts of the country. The disease however assumed its most
virulent form in the above unions, and proved extensively fatal to the
inmates of the workhouses, as well as to the population generally. Great
exertions were made to check its ravages; but the commissioners express
their regret that a want of means had crippled their efforts, and in
some urgent cases they had been obliged to apply for permission to
appropriate a limited portion of the funds placed at their disposal by
government, to provide the means of treatment for cholera patients, at a
time when they were anxious to apply every sum remitted to them to the
purchase of food for the in-door and out-door poor in the distressed
unions. After a time the cholera disappeared from most of the unions in
the west and south, but at the date of the Report it still prevailed
with much virulence in other parts of Ireland.

[Sidenote: Extent of relief and mortality.]

The inmates of the several workhouses in the first week of March 1849
amounted to 196,523, and the weekly mortality to 9½ per 1,000. In the
first week of May the number of inmates was 220,401, with a mortality of
12½ per 1,000. At the end of June the inmates were 214,867, and the
mortality was reduced to 6¼ per 1,000. The numbers receiving out-relief
at the three periods respectively were 592,705—646,964—and 768,902.
These numbers show the extent of distress to which the people had been
reduced by famine and disease in the last four disastrous years. This is
also evidenced by the inquests held in cases of alleged death through
actual want, the number of which in the first five months of 1849
amounted to 431. The suffering must necessarily indeed have been greater
in each successive year than in the one preceding, since the general
means were being continually reduced by the failure of the crops, the
weakest and poorest of the people suffering first, then those a degree
above them, and so on, until the comparatively well-to-do occupier of a
few acres of land who had contributed to the relief of others, is
himself dragged down to the condition of the lowest.

[Sidenote: Extension of workhouse accommodation.]

A conviction appears to have become very general, that the abuses and
shortcomings incidental to out-door relief, especially when administered
on a large scale, cannot be altogether prevented; and that in-door
relief is preferable, not only under ordinary circumstances, but in
seasons of severe distress like the present. Hence the guardians had
hired building after building in aid of the workhouses at first
provided; and the entire accommodation, which was originally calculated
for 100,000 inmates, and which during the previous year had been
increased to 150,000, had now been so far extended as to be equal to the
accommodation of 250,000. On this circumstance and the convictions out
of which it arose, the commissioners chiefly founded their hope of
securing an effective and economical administration of the law. It will
be their duty, they say, to give a right direction to these views, by
endeavouring to make the auxiliary establishments effective in point of
classification and discipline, and to reduce where practicable the
expenses of management; and if their efforts should be assisted by the
gradual return of agricultural prosperity in the western and
south-western parts of Ireland, they confidently expect at no very
distant period to be enabled to withhold the exercise of the exceptional
power confided to them in the _2nd section_ of the Relief Extension
Act,[170] or at least to confine its operation within very narrow



  Ante, p. 330.


[Sidenote: Restriction of relief to the workhouse.]

The fact that in 25 of the unions no relief was given except in the
workhouse is mentioned in the Report of the preceding year.[171] Several
unions which then gave out-relief have since ceased to do so, and the
number in which relief is restricted to the workhouse was now 35. In the
great majority of these unions the result of such restrictions had been
in all respects satisfactory. The applications of proper objects were
not refused, and yet there had been sufficient means for relieving all
the really destitute, whilst except in cases where epidemic disease had
prevailed in the neighbourhood, and been thence imparted to the inmates,
the workhouses of these unions had generally been healthy. In some
instances however where the destitution was severe and wide-spreading,
and where the auxiliary houses had been insufficient or defective, the
adherence to in-door relief exclusively was less satisfactory. The
insufficiency of workhouse accommodation led to overcrowding, and thence
arose disease, fed and aggravated by the continual influx of destitute
persons in a state of utter exhaustion, or bearing about them the seeds
of the prevalent malady. In all such cases, and they were not many, the
guardians were urged to resort to those provisions of the Act which
empower them to afford out-door relief, until they had provided the
necessary accommodation for enabling them to restrict it to the
workhouse without endangering life, or violating the principle of the
Poor Law.



  Ante, p. 343.


[Sidenote: Mortality among the administrators of the law.]

In connection with workhouse relief, the mortality which took place
among the officers and other poor-law officials ought to be noticed, as
illustrating the duties which the exigencies of the service required
from them. The subject has already been adverted to as creating
difficulty in obtaining suitable persons to fill these offices.[172]
Although not so great in the present year as in 1846-7, the deaths of
workhouse officers by fever or cholera amounted to no less than seventy,
including nine chaplains and eight medical officers. Seven of the
vice-guardians likewise fell victims to disease in the discharge of
their arduous duties, as well as eight of the temporary inspectors,
together with Mr. Hancock, who had acted under the commission from the
commencement, first as assistant-commissioner and then as



  Ante, p. 326.


  The vacancy caused by the lamented death of Mr. Hancock, was filled by
  the appointment of Mr. Lynch, the temporary inspector of the Westport


[Sidenote: Emigration.]

An increased disposition had latterly been evinced by the boards of
guardians for promoting emigration, under the provisions of the
Extension Act.[174] The steady progress of the measure for sending
orphan girls from the Irish workhouses out to the Australian colonies,
the commissioners considered highly satisfactory. The number of these
girls embarked for Adelaide and Sydney since the spring of 1848 was
2,219, at a cost to the unions of about 5_l._ each for outfit and
conveyance to Plymouth, the remainder of the charge being defrayed from
the colonial funds. Many other unions were desirous that the orphan
girls from their workhouses should participate in this arrangement, but
the number at first was limited to 2,500. A hope is however expressed
that means will be found for continuing to remove from this country a
class of emigrants so eligible in every respect, and so much required in
the colonies. The entire amount expended on emigration during the year
ending on the 29th September 1848, was 2,776_l._—a sum, it is observed,
“less important in its direct effects, than as showing a growth of
opinion in favour of this method of relief.” Spontaneous emigration,
chiefly to the United States, and irrespective of aid from the
poor-rates, was exceedingly active from all parts of Ireland at this
time, the natural love of country having been deadened by the pressure
of want and disease.



  Ante, p. 331.


[Sidenote: The _11 and 12 Vict. caps. 25 and 47_.]

In the session of 1848 two short Acts were passed which it is necessary
to notice. The _11th and 12th Victoria, cap. 25_, extends the powers for
hiring or purchasing land for the use of workhouses to 25 acres, in
addition to the 15 acres previously authorized. It likewise empowers the
commissioners to combine unions for the maintenance and education of
poor children, and also enables boards of guardians to provide for the
burial of deceased poor persons. The _11th and 12th Vict., cap. 47_,
provides “for the protection and relief of the destitute poor evicted
from their dwellings,” and directs relieving-officers forthwith to take
order for the relief of such persons, either in or out of the workhouse,
and to report the circumstances to the guardians at their next meeting.
The power of purchasing an additional 25 acres of land given by the
first of these Acts, was chiefly with a view to the establishment of
industrial schools, and was not intended to be used as a means of
employing the workhouse inmates. Few things would be more objectionable
on principle, or more conducive to lax management, than adding such a
quantity of land to a workhouse for the purpose of being cultivated by
the inmates.

[Sidenote: The _12 and 13 Vict. cap. 4_.]

In the session of 1849 likewise two Acts were passed requiring our
attention. The first of these,—The _12th and 13th Vict., cap. 4_,
relates to the appointment of vice-guardians. It provides that when a
board of guardians shall have been dissolved, and paid officers
appointed, before the 25th of March 1848, the commissioners may direct
the continuance of such paid officers until the 1st of November 1849,
and no election of guardians is to take place in the interim. But it
also provides that the commissioners may if they think fit discontinue
the paid officers, and direct the election of a board of guardians at
any time. The second of these Acts is known as ‘The Rate-in-Aid Act,’
and its provisions require to be more fully explained.

[Sidenote: The Rate-in-Aid Act. _12 and 13 Vict. cap. 24._]

The ‘Rate-in-Aid Act,’ _12th and 13th Vict. cap. 24_, makes provision
for levying “a general rate in aid of certain unions and electoral
divisions in Ireland,” and it enacts as follows:—

_Section 1._—The Poor Law Commissioners, with the approval of the lord
    lieutenant, may during each of the years ending the 31st of December
    1849 and 1850, from time to time declare the amount they deem
    necessary for the above purposes, and may assess the same upon the
    several unions in proportion to the annual value of the property in
    each rateable to the relief of the poor; but the sum levied in any
    union in either of the two years is not to exceed 6_d._ in the pound
    on such annual value. The commissioners are to transmit to the
    guardians of each union an order under seal, stating the amount so
    assessed, and the portion leviable in each electoral division,
    according to the value of its rateable property.

_Section 2._—In the rate next made on each electoral division, the
    guardians are to provide for the sum so leviable; and the treasurer
    of the union, out of all lodgments made with him of such rate, or
    any subsequent rate, on account of any division, is to place one
    moiety thereof to the credit of such division in an account to be
    entitled “The Union Rate-in-Aid Account,” until the whole sum
    leviable on such division shall have been so placed. And the
    treasurer is to pay over all sums so from time to time received by
    him to a separate account at the bank of Ireland, entitled “The
    General Rate-in-Aid Account.”

_Sections 3, 4, 5._—The commissioners of the Treasury may order the
    whole or any part of the money standing in such separate accounts at
    the bank of Ireland, to be paid to such persons, at such times, and
    under such conditions as they may think fit, for affording relief to
    destitute poor persons in any union or electoral division, or for
    assisting emigration, or for repaying advances made for any of these
    purposes. And for the more speedy affording of such relief, the
    commissioners of the Treasury are empowered to advance out of the
    consolidated fund, any sums not in the whole exceeding 100,000_l._,
    the same to be repayable out of any rates levied in pursuance of the
    Act. Accounts of all receipts and payments under the Act are to be
    made up to the 31st December, in the present and the following year

This Act was passed on the 24th May 1849, and its duration is limited to
the 31st December 1850. It must therefore be regarded as a temporary
measure directed to a temporary object, and it was accompanied by a vote
authorizing an advance by the Treasury of 50,000_l._ for relief of the
distressed unions in the west of Ireland. The calls which had been made
upon England during the three preceding years, amounting altogether to
probably little short of 10,000,000_l._ in the shape of loans advances
or donations by the government, and contributions and subscriptions of
one kind and another by individuals, for the relief of Irish distress,
had evidently excited alarm, and appear to have given rise to a
determination on the part of the legislature to revert to the precedent
of the Elizabethan law, and to make the property of Ireland answerable
for the relief of Irish poverty. This was certainly open to no objection
in point of principle, although it may be questioned whether the most
suitable time was selected for its application. We have seen the
calamities to which Ireland had been exposed by the successive failure
of the potato crop. Such failures were unprecedented and exceptional.
The calamity had been emphatically designated as imperial; and if it
were so, there would be no violation of principle, but rather the
fulfilment of a duty, in one part of the empire coming to the assistance
of the other. It was in fact a common cause, and was so regarded
throughout England, until the repeated failures caused apprehensions as
to the perpetuity of the burden, and seemed to point to the necessity of
compelling the Irish people to abandon the treacherous potato, which it
was thought they would hardly do, so long as they could turn to England
for help whenever it failed them. The rate-in-aid was calculated to
effect this object, by casting the consequences of the failure entirely
upon Ireland itself, which in such case would be unable to persist in
its reliance upon a crop so treacherous and uncertain as the potato.

[Sidenote: A subscription promoted by government.]

Such it is believed were the impressions under which the Rate-in-Aid Act
was passed. Its duration was limited to a little over a year and a half,
and yet within that period, indeed within less than a month after it had
passed, a subscription was set on foot by the government, each of its
members subscribing 100_l._ and her Majesty 500_l._, in the belief, it
is declared, “that there are ways in which this money may be expended
most usefully, without interfering with the relief administration
through the Poor Law, such as the supply of clothing, which has now
become a matter of paramount importance, especially to the children.”
The prospects of the next harvest were said to be favourable, but the
promoters of the subscription declare “that the short intervening period
must be one of such overwhelming misery, as to afford a strong claim for
the exercise of private charity.”[175] The distribution of the money
subscribed on this occasion, which did not quite amount to 10,000_l._,
was intrusted to the same benevolent gentleman who had superintended the
application of the funds of the “British Relief Association,” and who
deservedly possessed the confidence of all parties, as well in Ireland
as in England. That the urgency was great, as is above stated, there can
he no doubt; and if it were susceptible of effectual relief by such
means, it may be lamented that the remedy was not earlier resorted to,
as it probably would have been but for the alarms which gave rise to the
Rate-in-Aid Act, and prevented the intervention either of the government
or individuals in furnishing eleemosynary aid.



  This is quoted from the heading of the subscription list, as published
  in the ‘Times’ of 16th June 1849. The money raised was confided for
  distribution in Ireland to Count Strzelecki.


It must not however be supposed that the whole of Ireland was in a state
of “overwhelming misery.” Distress more or less severe was doubtless
very prevalent, and everywhere arising from the same cause; but distress
so intense and overwhelming as to require immediate assistance from some
extraneous source, only prevailed in certain of the western unions,
where the people had depended entirely on the potato, and when that crop
failed became poverty-stricken and helpless in the highest degree. The
potato constituted the chief, or it may almost be said the only source
of wealth in these unions, and its failure left them without other
resource. Rates could not be levied, for the land yielded no available
produce; and the population, accustomed to subsist in a semi-civilized
state upon the potatoes raised by themselves, would nearly all have
perished, as numbers of them did perish, but for the assistance which
was afforded to them from England.

[Sidenote: The western unions.]

It was chiefly with reference to these western unions that the
Rate-in-Aid Act was passed. There were 22 of them,[176] comprising a
population of 1,468,248, thus giving an average of nearly 67,000 to each
union; and they stood in much the same relation to the other unions in
Ireland, as a pauper stands in towards the independent labourer. The
other unions were generally equal to the occasion, trying as the period
undoubtedly was, and supported themselves through it, although not
without undergoing severe privations. But these western unions were
utterly destitute and without resource, and aid of some kind was
necessary to prevent a fearful sacrifice of life. The aid had hitherto
been furnished by England, and chiefly from the imperial treasury. The
legislature now determined that it should be derived from Ireland
itself, a determination that seems only open to objection, on the ground
of the distress being so general and severe as to constitute an
exceptional case, warranting a recurrence to extraneous sources.



  These were Ballina, Ballinrobe, Bantry, Cahirciveen,
  Carrick-on-Shannon, Castlebar, Castlereagh, Clifden, Ennistymon,
  Galway, Glenties, Gort, Kenmare, Kilrush, Mohill, Roscommon, Scariff,
  Sligo, Swineford, Tuam, Westport, and Dingle. All the distressed
  unions had either paid guardians, or temporary inspectors, appointed
  by the commissioners.


[Sidenote: A rate in aid of 6_d._ in the pound.]

The power which had been given of levying a rate in aid was forthwith
acted upon, a general order being issued on the 13th of June, declaring
the sum to be levied in each union and electoral division throughout
Ireland, according to the value of the rateable property for the year
1849. The whole amount so assessed was 322,552_l._ 11_s._, being at the
rate of 6_d._ in the pound. The commissioners say that the resources
thus placed at their disposal, and the advances by the Treasury on
security of the rate in aid, “have been most seasonable, and have
enabled the guardians of the unions assisted, to provide the necessaries
of life during the last two months for a large mass of recipients of
in-door and out-door relief, who must otherwise have been without food,
the money and credit of the unions having been previously quite
exhausted,” and the continuance of such assistance until the period of
harvest, is declared to be necessary for the relief of pressing
destitution in these impoverished and overburdened districts.

[Sidenote: Boards of guardians dissolved.]

In the year preceding 32 boards of guardians had been dissolved, and
paid officers appointed to execute the law.[177] It became necessary
likewise to dissolve some others in the present year;[178] but two of
the preceding boards (Trim and Cavan) were revived under the provisions
of the original Relief Act, and another (Mullingar) was revived under
the _12th and 13th Vict., cap. 4_. By the operation of the latter Act,
the boards of guardians will, on the 1st November next, be reinstated in
all the unions now under the management of paid officers, except the
five last dissolved, which will continue under paid officers until the
25th March 1850, unless previously re-established by order of the



  Ante, p. 341.


  These were Mullingar, Boyle, Cashel, Thurles, Listowel, and Tipperary.


[Sidenote: Sanction of out-relief.]

The orders issued authorizing out-relief under the _2nd section_ of the
Extension Act had, the commissioners say, been more numerous during the
present year than was intended at its commencement. “But the rapid
filling of the workhouses in certain unions, and the pressure of the
representations of distress, left them no alternative but to intrust
once more this extraordinary and exceptional power of affording relief
to the able-bodied out of the workhouse, to those charged with the
administration of relief in the western and south-western unions.”
[Sidenote: Distressed unions.]The financial state of many of these
unions was a source of continual anxiety. In the last year 23 of them
had been furnished with assistance in aid of their rates, by grants from
government and from the funds of the British Association, and they
required like assistance in the present. The sums remitted for this
purpose from time to time by the Treasury, were guarded by the condition
that they should not be used in payment of debts already incurred, but
be applied in purchasing the means of preserving the lives of the
people, when in danger of perishing through want of the necessaries of
life. There were other unions also whose finances were much embarrassed,
although they had not yet received assistance; but all, whether assisted
or not, are said to require perpetual watchfulness on the part of the
commissioners and their inspectors.

[Sidenote: The Boundary Commission.]

The difficulties and distresses to which the country had latterly been
exposed through the failure of the potato, together with the sanction
given to out-door relief by the Extension Act,[179] had led many persons
to consider that the unions and electoral divisions, as originally
formed, were too large for the convenient and effectual administration
of relief under existing circumstances. Representations to this effect
were made to the government, and in March 1848 commissioners[180] were
appointed for the purpose of inquiring and reporting—“whether the size
and other geographical circumstances of the unions, are such as to
prevent the guardians and relieving officers from attending the boards
without serious interruption to their other duties”—“whether the same
circumstances prevent the applicants for relief, who desire or who may
be required to attend the board, from doing so without serious
inconvenience”—“whether the amount of population and pauperism in each
union is greater than would render it possible for the guardians in
ordinary times to transact the business of the union conveniently in one
day of the week”—and lastly, “what alterations it would be advisable to
make in the boundaries of existing unions, and what new unions it would
be desirable to form, in order to meet the wants of the country on the
points adverted to, or any others which may present themselves in the
course of the inquiry: due regard being had to the position of the
existing workhouses, and the charge to be incurred in the erection of
new workhouses.” Similar inquiries were likewise to be made with respect
to the electoral divisions. [Sidenote: Fifty new unions recommended.]
Early in 1849 the commissioners reported the result of their inquiries,
and recommended the formation of 50 new unions, the details of which,
together with maps explanatory of the system on which the recommendation
was made, were appended to the Report.



  Ante, p. 330.


  The commissioners were Captains Larcom and Broughton of the engineers,
  and Mr. Crawford a poor-law inspector.


[Sidenote: Select committee on the Irish Poor-laws.]

Early in the session of 1849, a select committee on the Irish Poor Laws
was appointed in the commons, and empowered “to report their opinion and
the minutes of evidence taken before them from time to time, to the
house.” Many intelligent witnesses were examined, and much information
was elicited with regard to the immediate object of the inquiry, and as
to its bearing upon the state of the country generally. The
recommendations of the boundary commissioners were also much canvassed,
and there appeared to be considerable diversity of opinion on the
subject, some preferring large areas both for unions and electoral
divisions, and others being favourable to small ones. This is of course
in some measure a question of degree, and must likewise depend very much
upon local circumstances. [Sidenote: Size of the unions.] The size of a
union or an electoral division might be perfectly suitable at one time,
or under one class of circumstances, and yet may be unsuitable at
another. When the unions were formed, we were aware that some of them
were too large, and we reckoned upon these being afterwards divided, and
the district readjusted. For instance, in the case of Ballina, the
materials for constituting two efficient boards of guardians could not
be found, and so an extent of territory sufficient for two unions, was
formed into one, until adequate executives could be found for two, when
a division might readily be effected. It was so likewise in other cases,
that of Dingle, now taken from Tralee union and constituted a separate
union, being one; and for my own part I always reckoned upon five or six
additional unions being created after the law had come into orderly
working. I certainly never thought it likely that 50 new unions, or
anything like that number, would be required; but neither did I foresee
the fearful visitations to which Ireland has latterly been subjected, or
the sanctioning of out-door relief under the Extension Act.

[Sidenote: Amount of expenditure, and numbers relieved.]

The expenditure from the rates on relief of the poor in the 131 unions,
(Dingle being now added to the former number) during the twelve months
ending 29th September 1848, was 1,835,634_l._ The number of inmates on
that day was 124,003, and the total number relieved in the workhouses
within the year was 610,463. The number receiving out-door relief on
that day was 207,683, and the total number relieved out of the workhouse
during the year was 1,433,042. There is here a large increase both of
expenditure and numbers relieved, over the amounts in the preceding
year; but the excess is perhaps in neither case greater than might be
expected under the circumstances, the cause of the distress continuing,
and its pressure consequently becoming year by year more severe. In
proof of the great efforts which had been made to meet this distress, it
is only necessary to state the amount of the poor-rates collected during
the three last years, each ending on the 29th September, viz.:—

                           1846     £371,846
                           1847      638,403
                           1848    1,627,700

[Sidenote: Change in the commission.]

Mr. Twisleton who had ably discharged the duties of chief Poor Law
Commissioner since the separate establishment of the Irish board,
resigned office in the month of May in the present year, and was
succeeded by Mr. Power, the assistant-commissioner, whose vacated office
was filled by the appointment of Mr. Ball, one of the inspectors.

                              CHAPTER VI.

Third Annual Report of Poor-Law Commissioners—Further Amendment
  Act—Fourth Annual Report—New unions and electoral
  divisions—Consolidated Debts Act—Rates in aid—Fifth Annual
  Report—Annuities under Consolidated Debts Act—Treasury minute—Act to
  amend Acts relating to payment of advances—Medical charities—Medical
  Charities Act—First Report of Medical Charity Commissioners—Census of
  1851—Retrospection—Sixth Annual Report—Rate of wages—Expenditure, and
  numbers relieved—Changes in Poor-Law executive—New order of
  accounts—Author’s letter to Lord John Russell, 1853—Present state and
  future prospects of Ireland.

The period comprised in the last chapter was one of great suffering and
privation. Famine and pestilence prevailed throughout Ireland, to an
extent only equalled by what is said to have occurred in some rare
instances among eastern nations, if indeed it has ever been equalled in
the world’s history. It was altogether a fearful visitation. I have
endeavoured to compress the chief incidents of the period, more
especially those at all connected with the administration of the Poor
Law, into one chapter, in order to place consecutively before the reader
such a condensed account of the great calamity, as will prevent the
necessity of again recurring to it. We will now turn to the brighter and
more hopeful period which followed—when famine and disease having
disappeared, the energies of the country revived, and all classes united
in making strenuous efforts to remedy the evils which had taken place,
and as far as possible to prevent their recurrence.

[Sidenote: 1850.
           Third annual report of the Poor-law Commissioners for Ireland.]

The third Annual Report of the commissioners is dated 25th May 1850, and
continues the narrative of events and proceedings from the date of the
preceding Report.

[Sidenote: Decrease of relief.]

The maximum number in the workhouses during the year 1849-50, was
227,329 on the 16th June of the first-named year, and the maximum on the
out-relief lists was 784,367 on the 7th July. From these dates the
numbers went on rapidly decreasing throughout the succeeding months,
until on the 6th October the inmates of the workhouses were reduced to
the minimum of 104,266, and the number on the out-relief lists to
124,185, all orders for relief under the _2nd section_ of the Extension
Act being likewise then withdrawn. This sufficiently proves the change
which took place shortly after the date of the last Report.

[Sidenote: The crops generally sound and abundant.]

The crops in the autumn of 1849 turned out generally sound and abundant,
and famine no longer cast its blight upon the land. Yet while all other
parts of the country, including Mayo and Galway heretofore the most
depressed and suffering, rejoiced in the favourable change, we are told
that the unions in the county of Clare, especially those of Kilrush and
Scariff, continued to exhibit a lamentable extent of destitution. There
were still 30,000 persons on the out-relief lists in the Clare unions,
nearly twice the number so relieved in the whole province of Connaught;
“and the rate of mortality in the workhouses, and the number of
inquests, although less than in former seasons, attest the indigent and
suffering state of a great part of the population.” [Sidenote: Reduction
of expenditure anticipated.] A hope is nevertheless expressed “that the
ground has been laid for a further very considerable reduction of
expenditure after harvest, and that a material alleviation of the burden
of poor-rates throughout Ireland, will be experienced during the year
which will end on the 29th September 1851.”

[Sidenote: Increase of workhouse accommodation.]

The large increase of workhouse accommodation which the last Report
states to have been provided,[181] and the opinion which generally
prevailed as to the importance of limiting relief as much as possible to
the workhouse, appear to have realized the hope then expressed of
successfully contending with the difficulties of the period. The large
expenditure, amounting to 1,498,047_l._, connected with in-door relief
in 1848-9, shows the determined character of the struggle, and although
only partial success in establishing the system was obtained, events
have shown the prudence of the course then pursued. When the boards of
guardians which had been dissolved, resumed the charge of their unions
in November, as provided by the _12th and 13th Vict. cap. 4_,[182] they
not only evinced a desire to limit relief to the workhouse, but were
also with few exceptions prepared to make a further increase of their
workhouse accommodation wherever it appeared to be necessary. So that
“the change from out-door relief to the safer system of relief in the
workhouse, has (it is said) been found practicable throughout a large
part of Ireland, not excepting some districts which suffered most
severely during the famine.” [Sidenote: Decrease of out-door relief.]The
conclusion of the harvest was as usual followed by an increase of
applicants for relief, but the extent of workhouse accommodation being
now greater by 70,000 than in the previous year, out-door relief instead
of increasing actually continued to decrease until the end of December,
when the numbers so relieved amounted to 95,468, the number in the
workhouses being then 194,547. At the end of March 1850, the number on
the out-relief lists was 131,702, and in the workhouses 224,381, the
sanitary state of the houses being at the same time satisfactory. No
out-door relief whatever was then administered in 51 of the unions, and
at the date of the Report the number of unions thus exempt was increased
to 58.



  Ante, p. 351.


  Ante, p. 355.


[Sidenote: 24 new unions formed.]

The recommendations of the Boundary Commissioners have been already
noticed.[183] In carrying out these recommendations, the proposed
arrangement of the electoral divisions was generally adhered to; but
with regard to the new unions, it was not thought advisable to make the
entire of the changes recommended. The commissioners have, they say,
“refrained from forming such new unions in districts where it appeared
that there was a preponderance of opinion against it, on the part of
those who would be locally affected by the change, unless where the
necessity for new union centres appeared, in a territorial point of
view, to be placed beyond doubt.” Orders were however issued for the
formation of 24 new unions,[184] and forms of procedure were prepared
for adjusting the liabilities of townlands in unions and electoral
divisions of which the boundaries were altered, in accordance with the
provisions of the _12th and 13th Vict. cap. 104_. This Act now requires
our attention, some of its provisions being of considerable importance.



  Ante, p. 361.




  These were Belmullet, Killala, Dromore West, Newport, Oughterard,
  Skull, Castletown, Clonakilty, Tulla, Killadysert, Corrofin,
  Ballyvaghan, Portumna, Mount Bellew, Glennamaddy, Strokestown,
  Claremorris, Tobercurry, Glin, Croom, Millstreet, Mitchelstown,
  Bawnboy, and Ballymahon.


[Sidenote: The _12th and 13th Vict. cap. 104_.]

_The 12th and 13th Vict. cap. 104_, was passed on the 1st August 1849,
‘to further Amend the Acts for the Relief of the Destitute Poor in
Ireland;’ and the following is a summary of its provisions:—

_Section 1._—Provides that every person applying for relief, is to be
    deemed chargeable to the electoral division in which during the last
    three years he has been longest usually resident, whether by
    occupying a tenement or usually sleeping therein;—provided that if
    he have not been so usually resident for at least one of the said
    three years, the expense of his relief is to be borne by the union
    at large.

_Section 2._—Requires the Poor Law Commissioners in all cases where a
    change is made in the boundaries of any union or electoral division,
    to make such order under seal as appears to them to be necessary for
    the adjustment of the liabilities existing at the time of such
    change, and the proportionate share thereof to be borne by any
    townland affected thereby, and likewise for indemnifying any union
    electoral division or townland for any loss on exchange of property
    occasioned by such alteration of boundaries.

_Sections 3, 4, 5._—On the formation of new unions, the commissioners
    are empowered to prescribe the arrangements for the joint use of the
    existing workhouses, until the new unions are provided with
    workhouses of their own, and from time to time to alter or rescind
    the same, and to enforce payment of the expenses consequent thereon;
    and for the purpose of providing workhouses, ‘the Lands Clauses
    Consolidation Act’ (_8th and 9th Vict. cap. 18_) is declared to be
    incorporated with the Poor Relief Acts.

_Sections 6, 7, 8, 9._—In fixing the qualification of elected guardians,
    the commissioners are empowered to fix a different amount for
    different electoral divisions of the same union. The full number of
    ex-officio guardians may be made up from non-resident justices, if
    the number resident be not sufficient. Two or more electoral
    divisions may be combined for the purpose of electing a guardian;
    and upon the request of a board of guardians the commissioners may
    appoint an assistant-guardian for such union, whom they are also
    empowered to remove or discontinue.

_Sections 10, 11, 12._—Rents arising from exempted property, are to be
    rated to the extent of half the poundage. Occupiers are not to
    deduct from their rent more than one-half the amount of the rate
    paid by them; and the provisions making void all agreements to
    forego deductions from rent are repealed.

_Sections 13, 14._—The valuations are not required to be signed and
    sealed by the commissioners. “To encourage the employment of labour
    in improving the value of land,” the valuation is not to be
    increased in consequence of improvements made under the Land
    Improvement Act, within seven years after such improvements.

_Sections 15, 16, 17, 18, 19._—A short form of declaration is
    prescribed, and costs are limited in actions for recovery of rates.
    Judges may make rules and orders regulating proceedings in actions
    for poor-rates. Civil bill decrees for poor-rates may be filed, and
    have force as judgments of superior court. Judgments for poor-rates
    are to be registered, and take priority as charges on the land, with
    the exception of crown and quit-rents and rent-charges in lieu of
    tithes. The recovery of arrears of rate limited to two years.

_Sections 20, 22, 23._—Date of audit to be stated on the accounts, and
    all disallowances thereof to be inserted by the auditor. The
    rate-books are to be open for inspection, and due notice is to be
    given to the ratepayers. In cases of appeal, the known agent of the
    appellant may sign the notices and enter into the recognizances
    required by law.

_Sections 24, 25._—The names of persons relieved to be entered in books
    kept for that purpose, which are to be open for inspection; and
    weekly statements of the numbers relieved and chargeable to the
    union, and to the electoral divisions respectively, are to be posted
    on the workhouse door.

_Sections 26, 27, 28._—With consent of the commissioners the rates may
    be applied, or loans may be raised on security of the rates, for
    defraying the expenses of emigration; but vice-guardians are not so
    to apply or borrow without the consent of the ratepayers, and the
    amount borrowed is in no case to exceed 11_s._ 8_d._ in the pound,
    of the yearly value of the rateable property chargeable with the
    same. The money borrowed is to be applied under direction of the
    commissioners, in defraying the expenses connected with the
    emigration to British colonies, of poor persons resident within the
    union or electoral division, on the rates whereof the same shall
    have been respectively charged.

_Sections 29, 30, 31._—For the purpose of facilitating proceedings for
    the recovery of rates, assistant barristers &c. may “correct or
    amend any variance, clerical error, or irregularity not affecting
    the substantial merits of the question,” in the notices &c. brought
    before them. Fourteen days’ notice is to be given of proceeding by
    civil bill against immediate lessors for recovery of rates. The
    present and preceding Acts are to be construed as one Act.

[Sidenote: Emigration.]

The facilities afforded by the above Act for promoting emigration, were
productive of less effect than would otherwise probably have been the
case, owing to the financial embarrassments existing in many of the
unions. The guardians were naturally indisposed to apply the poor-rate
or to borrow money for purposes of emigration, whilst there was an
urgent pressure upon them for relief, and great difficulty in obtaining
the means of affording it. The amount expended by the unions on
emigration during the year ending 29th September 1849, was 16,260_l._,
being an increase of 13,484_l._ over that of the previous year.[185] The
number of orphan girls selected from the several workhouses, and sent
out as emigrants to Australia, had been 1,956, which added to the 2,219
so sent out in the preceding year, makes a total of 4,175 from the
commencement, under regulations jointly established by the Poor Law and
Emigration Commissioners in 1848.[186]



  Ante, p. 354.


  Twenty ships had been despatched in the two years, from May 1848, to
  April 1850, with orphan girls selected from the workhouses in Ireland,
  as emigrants to the Australian colonies. Of these emigrants, 2,253
  were taken to Sydney, 1,255 to Port-Philip, and 606 to Adelaide. The
  remaining 61 were sent to the Cape of Good Hope.


[Sidenote: Employment.]

Notwithstanding that past experience and the deductions of sound
principle were alike opposed to the notion that pauper labour could be
made a source of profit, many boards of guardians and other persons of
undoubtedly excellent intentions, are said to have advocated plans for
employing the able-bodied inmates of the workhouses in ordinary
agricultural labour, or in the draining and subsoiling of lands
belonging to private individuals, or in carrying on manufactures within
the workhouse, the produce to be disposed of to other unions, or else
sold to the public under the current market-price. But none of these nor
any similar propositions were sanctioned by the commissioners, who
nevertheless failed not to urge upon boards of guardians the importance
of enforcing work of some kind amongst the inmates, not only as tending
to promote health and keep up habits of industry, but also as a means of
securing the discipline of the establishment, and maintaining the
efficiency of the workhouse as a test of destitution.

[Sidenote: The workhouse children.]

The case of the workhouse children differs essentially from that of the
adults. The house is no longer a test, as applied to them; but a place
of refuge, supplying in a great degree the wants of home, and
responsible also for the fulfilment of home duties. Every consideration
of humanity and policy therefore establishes the propriety, not only of
providing for the education of these children, but also for their
instruction in useful occupations by which they may earn their
subsistence in after life; and much appears to have been done in these
respects with the children of both sexes in the several workhouses. The
power conferred of forming district industrial schools had not yet been
acted upon, neither under the depressing circumstances which have
existed in most parts of the country, could it be expected that the
guardians would attempt to found such institutions, which must,
especially at the outset, entail a very considerable expenditure.

[Sidenote: Amount of expenditure, and numbers relieved.]

The expenditure from the rates on the relief of the poor in the 131
unions during the twelve months ending 29th September 1849, as stated in
Table No. 1, Appendix B, was 2,177,651_l._[187] The number of inmates on
that day was 141,030 and the total number relieved in the workhouses
during the year was 932,284. The number then receiving out-door relief
was 135,019; and the total number who received out-door relief during
the year was 1,210,482.



  As was the case in the preceding year, the half-yearly statements made
  up and audited on the 25th March and 29th September (Appendix 2 and 3)
  exhibit different amounts, and make the total expenditure in the
  present year 2,141,228_l._


[Sidenote: 1851.
           Fourth annual report of the Poor Law Commissioners for Ireland.]

The commissioners’ Report for 1850-51 is dated on the 5th May. After
giving the usual statistics, and adverting to the fact that the maximum
number on the out-relief lists in the previous year terminating on the
29th September 1850, was 148,909, whilst in the following seven months
the number had in no instance exceeded 10,935; the commissioners “notice
the still more satisfactory circumstance, that during the year ended
29th September 1850, and the seven months which had since elapsed, the
worst evils of the famine, such as the occurrence of deaths by the
wayside, a high rate of mortality in the workhouses, and the prevalence
of dangerous and contagious diseases, had undergone a very material
abatement.” This change was, they consider, owing to a combination of
favourable circumstances; but they “do not hesitate to affirm that the
extension of workhouse room had afforded the means of relieving actual
destitution, far more efficiently than could have been done by a
corresponding expenditure in out-door relief; and that life has been
preserved with more certainty, and the general condition of the
population been improved, wherever a sufficient extent of workhouse room
has enabled the guardians to meet all applications for relief, and thus
to remove from the minds of the labouring population every expectation
of the recurrence of an extensive system of out-door relief.”

[Sidenote: State of the workhouses.]

With regard to the mortality which had occurred in the workhouses, it is
remarked “that an accumulation of cases of chronic sickness among
persons who survived the famine, but whose enfeebled constitutions
afford little hope of any other result than a permanent residence in the
workhouse, had filled the workhouse hospitals and infirmaries with a
great number of sick.” Many of these poor people die in the more
inclement seasons of winter and spring, and thus the average mortality
of the workhouses is stated in the returns to be increased. Yet if not
admitted into the workhouse, larger numbers would have perished, as is
shown by the great mortality which took place in the county of Clare,
where the unions were too much impoverished to provide sufficient
workhouse accommodation for the extent of destitution that prevailed,
the condition of Clare being at this time much worse than any other part
of Ireland. The people had there suffered more, and the revival of the
potato crop had brought them less relief. [Sidenote: State of Clare.]
They exhibited in fact an exception to the improvement elsewhere happily
apparent, and nowhere more so than in Connaught, the unions in which
province were among the most forward in recovering from the effects of
the famine.

[Sidenote: Emigration.]

A portion of the fund raised by the rate-in-aid,[188] was applied to
assist the emigration of poor persons from the workhouses of some of the
overburdened unions. But in order to prevent such assistance from
operating injuriously, and serving as an inducement to persons to claim
admission to the workhouse, the commissioners directed that it should be
afforded only to those who had been inmates for one year at least.
Certain of the unions were thus relieved from the charge of maintaining
persons able to work, but unable to find employment; and by the removal
of such persons additional workhouse room was obtained, without
incurring the charge of providing additional buildings. The number thus
assisted to emigrate during the present year, was 360 adult males, 844
females, and 517 children, at an expense of 21,075_l._



  Ante, p. 355.


[Sidenote: New unions and electoral divisions.]

Since the last Report eight more new unions[189] had been formed, which
with the 24 formed last year, and the 131 previously existing make 163
in all. The old unions in which the boundaries either of the Union or
its electoral divisions had been altered, were 86; and the number of
electoral divisions had been increased to 3,404, instead of 2,049 as
originally constituted. Some of the recommendations contained in the
boundary commissioners’ Reports, were disapproved by the guardians of
the unions to which they applied. This was particularly the case in the
north of Ireland, and in several instances the Poor Law Commissioners
deemed it expedient to yield to the objections which were made to any
change; so that instead of 50 new unions as recommended in the boundary
Reports, no more than 32 had been created; and to these, advances to the
extent of 200,000_l._ were made by the exchequer loan board, for
enabling them to provide the necessary workhouses.



  These were Borrisokane, Castlecomer, Donaghmore, Kilmacthomas,
  Tornastown, Urlingford, Youghal, and Castletowndelvin.


It was likewise considered inexpedient to proceed further in making
alterations in the unions or electoral divisions, “until the task of
consolidating the debts due for workhouse loans, relief advances,
labour-rate, and the advance of 300,000_l._ authorized by the _13th and
14th Vict., cap. 14_, had been completed.” The proceedings under this
Act are said to be far advanced. They are of considerable importance, as
is the Act itself, of which the following is an abstract—

[Sidenote: The _13th and 14th Vict. cap. 14_.]

The _13th and 14th Vict., cap. 14_, was passed on the 17th May 1850, and
after reciting the several Acts under which advances had been made, and
declaring that considerable sums in respect of such advances remained
unpaid, but that it was nevertheless expedient to authorize a further
advance of public money to assist certain distressed unions and
electoral divisions in Ireland &c., it empowers—

_Section 1._—The commissioners of the Treasury to make advances from
    time to time not exceeding in the whole 300,000_l._, to such unions
    as they shall think fit, such advances to be paid to the Poor Law
    Commissioners, and by them applied towards the discharge of the
    debts or liabilities of the union or division &c., as the Treasury
    shall direct. All sums so advanced are to bear 3 per cent. interest,
    and be repaid out of the poor-rates at such times as the Treasury

    _Sections 2, 3, 4._—The commissioners of the Treasury may cause the
    debts and liabilities of the several unions and electoral divisions
    &c. to be ascertained, and may cause the same to be consolidated and
    proportionably charged upon such unions or electoral divisions, and
    may charge such an annuity upon the same as shall be equivalent to
    such proportionate amount. A statement of the annuities so charged
    is to be transmitted to the Poor Law Commissioners, who are to issue
    orders to the guardians directing the punctual payment thereof.

    _Sections 5, 6._—If payment be not so punctually made, the treasurer
    of the union is to reserve a third part of the moneys collected and
    lodged with him on account of the electoral division, and place the
    same to a separate account, to be entitled the “Loans Repayment
    Account,” until all arrears have thereby been discharged. But the
    rate in aid under the _12th and 13th Vict. cap. 24_, is to be paid,
    before the annuities charged under this Act.

    _Sections 7, 8._—The Treasury are further empowered to make
    additions to the annuities chargeable under this Act, in respect of
    loans for building or enlarging workhouses; and may likewise suspend
    the recovery of workhouse loans, and moneys directed to be levied by
    grand-jury presentments.

The consolidation of the various claims upon the unions and electoral
divisions, and converting them into annuities on terms which, whilst
they secured the government from loss, would make the repayment as
little burdensome as possible, must no doubt have been, as was intended,
an easement and an advantage to the borrowers. The financial
difficulties of many of the western unions were however, it was
apprehended, such as would not only disable them from making any payment
for some years, but such as would render further aid necessary, in order
to keep them in operation as dispensors of relief to the destitute poor.

[Sidenote: Second rate in aid of 2_d._ in the pound.]

A statement is given in the appendix to the Report, of the appropriation
of the loan of 300,000_l._ advanced under the above statute, which was,
the commissioners say, “a most seasonable relief to many unions and
electoral divisions that were deeply embarrassed by debt in the early
part of 1850.” But in addition to this loan of 300,000_l._, a second
rate in aid of 2_d._ in the pound, amounting to 99,362_l._ 3_s._ 3_d._,
was levied under an order issued on the 23rd December 1850, “for the
further assistance of distressed unions and electoral divisions.” The
Rate-in-Aid Act would expire on the 31st of December, and it had been
hoped that the raising a second rate under it might have been avoided.
“But after the conclusion of the harvest of last year (the commissioners
say) they perceived indications of the continuance of distress in so
serious a degree in the counties of Clare and Kerry, that they could
not, with the small balance at their disposal, feel justified in
omitting to avail themselves of the power of declaring a further rate;”
and subsequent experience, they observe, confirmed the propriety of the
step thus taken. The two rates in aid amounted together to 421,990_l._
The distribution of this large sum among the distressed unions was,
under direction of the government, intrusted to the Poor Law
Commissioners, by whom an account of its application was furnished in

[Sidenote: Amount of expenditure, and numbers relieved.]

An expectation had been held out in the last Report of a very
considerable reduction of expenditure taking place in the following
year,[190] and this expectation was fulfilled. In the 163 unions the
total expenditure from the rates for the relief of the poor during the
year ending on the 29th September 1850, was 1,430,108_l._ The number of
inmates on that day was 155,173, and the total number relieved in the
workhouses during the year was 805,702. The number then receiving
out-door relief was 2,938, and the number who received out-door relief
during the year was 368,565.—It is seen therefore that, as was expected,
a very considerable decrease had taken place; but to show this clearer,
I will recapitulate the several amounts for the three preceding years.
In the year ending 29th September 1848, the total expenditure for relief
of the poor was 1,835,634_l._—in 1849 it was 2,177,651_l._—and in 1850
it was 1,430,108_l._ The total number relieved in the workhouses in
these years respectively, was 610,463—932,284—and 805,702; and the total
number who so respectively received out-door relief, was
1,433,042—1,210,482—and 368,565. The decrease in the numbers who
received in-door relief, may perhaps seem disproportionately small; but
this is accounted for by the fact of the workhouse being more
extensively used for the purposes of relief, than had been the case in
former years.



  Ante, p. 365.


[Sidenote: Extension of workhouse accommodation.]

The generally improved circumstances of the country must doubtless be
regarded as the chief cause of the present decrease of pauperism; but
the commissioners consider that it is likewise in no small degree
attributable to the extension of workhouse accommodation. This extension
has, it is said, “enabled the administrators of relief throughout
Ireland, with very few exceptions, to meet the actual destitution
existing, without having recourse to out-door relief.” The progress of
the extension may thus be tabulated:—

                   Extent of Workhouse Accommodation.

               │ Year.  │ On March 25.  │ On Sept. 29.  │
               │  1847  │    114,129    │    114,865    │
               │  1848  │    154,429    │    169,142    │
               │  1849  │    228,458    │    244,942    │
               │  1850  │    276,073    │    289,931    │
               │  1851  │    308,885    │       —       │

And at the date of the Report (5th May 1851), the aggregate of the
workhouse accommodation available, beyond the numbers then receiving
in-door relief, was 60,491. Improvement in the sanitary state of the
workhouses, and of the labouring population generally, is said always to
follow the increase of workhouse accommodation, and the substitution of
in-door for out-door relief; so that although a great reduction of
expenditure took place in the last year, a still further reduction may
be expected in the present.

[Sidenote: 1852.
           Fifth annual report of the Poor Law Commissioners for Ireland.]

The Report of the commissioners for 1851-52 is dated on the 1st of May,
as had been theretofore generally the practice, although this date was
not adhered to in the three preceding Reports.

[Sidenote: Improved circumstances of the country.]

The transition from out-door to in-door relief was said to be now
complete throughout Ireland, accompanied by a reduction in the number of
applicants, as well as a most satisfactory decrease in workhouse
mortality, The crops generally had everywhere regained their usual state
of productiveness. Famine or fear of famine no longer prevailed, and its
effects were only perceptible in the decrease of the population, and the
consequent increased demand for labour. All in short was prosperous and
promising compared with the state of things five years ago. There was
however one exception, several of the western unions being still much
embarrassed in their finances, and continuing to require assistance.
[Sidenote: The Munster unions an exception.] This was especially the
case in Munster; for the Connaught exception, unions had passed
successfully through the ordeal, and were comparatively prosperous.
“Thus on the 23rd February 1850, while the whole number receiving
out-door relief in Ireland was 148,909, the unions in the province of
Munster contained 101,803 of that number, and those in Connaught only
19,261; and again, on the 26th April 1851, when the number on out-relief
was reduced to 10,935, the eight unions in the county of Clare comprised
6,846, and the 29 unions in the province of Connaught only 232.”

[Sidenote: Increase of workhouse relief.]

During the progress of the important change which was now taking place
in the circumstances of the country, the number of persons relieved in
the workhouses had always considerably increased in the spring and early
part of the summer. These persons were generally in a state of great
exhaustion, and the aid and shelter they received enabled them
afterwards in most cases to leave the house with their health and
strength restored. Some however remained, especially females and the
children of both sexes, by whom it appears the workhouses continued to
be unduly burdened. So long as there was an expectation of out-door
relief being administered, a considerable amount of disease and
mortality often prevailed, owing to the way in which persons really
destitute persisted in hanging upon that expectation, instead of earlier
seeking for admission to the workhouse; but when all hope for relief
otherwise than in the workhouse was removed, “the sequel has invariably
been a reduced number of applicants, a decreased rate of workhouse
mortality, and an improved sanitary state of the population.”

The increased extent of workhouse accommodation which has been noticed,
had been obtained, either by means of permanent additions to the
original workhouses, or by building new ones in the newly-formed unions,
or by the erection of a cheap kind of temporary structure to meet the
emergency; or else by hiring premises for the purpose. The latter of
these expedients had been resorted to more extensively than was
consistent either with economy or with efficient management, and most of
these premises were now given up, or shortly would be so. Anxiety is
expressed that the succeeding year should be commenced with the
workhouse establishments concentrated as far as practicable in each
union, “so as to avoid the disadvantage of using auxiliary buildings.”
Such a concentration was no doubt essential to efficient management, and
it was only by such management, the commissioners observe, and by a
further reduction of expenditure, “that some of the distressed unions in
the west can be expected to become so far solvent as to support their
own pauperism without further external aid.”

It is certainly important on many accounts that there should be only one
workhouse in a union, and that it should have been expressly constructed
for the accommodation of the classes to be relieved therein, with all
suitable means for their separation and employment. Without these
essentials, a workhouse can hardly be effective either as a test of
destitution or a medium of relief; and there is always danger of an
inefficient workhouse becoming a stimulant, instead of being a check to

[Sidenote: Annuities under the Consolidated Debts Act.]

Most of the unions made provision for the payment of first annual
instalment under the Consolidated Debts Act (_13th and 14th Vict. cap.
14_),[191] the arrangements under which, including the advance of
300,000_l._,[192] appear to have been all completed by the end of
September. But in the following month a Treasury minute was issued,
declaring that although “my lords” are of opinion that the present state
of the greater part of Ireland does not call for any relief from the
operation of the Act, yet they cannot doubt that there are districts in
which relief must be given—“in the case of those districts, for
instance, where the local resources are insufficient to meet the
ordinary expenditure for relief of the poor, and where it is necessary
to have recourse to assistance from the relief-in-aid fund for this
purpose, it cannot be expected that further sums for payment of the
consolidated annuities can be raised.” With regard to _postponement_,
their lordships are of opinion that it would only tend to prolong a
feeling of uncertainty as to future payments, whilst it is deemed of
great importance to restore confidence in the owners and occupiers of
land in the distressed districts, to which end the demands should be
definite both in amount and in time. It is thought therefore that a
remission of payment, either altogether or in part according to
circumstances, is preferable to postponement, and an intimation is given
of its being intended to apply to parliament with this view. Meantime
however, the Poor Law Commissioners were authorized to direct the
treasurers of the unions to retain the whole annuity payable by
electoral divisions of which the expenditure in relief was ascertained
to be 4_s._ in the pound, or more; and also to direct “so much only of
the annuity to be paid in other divisions as might, together with the
relief expenditure, amount to 4_s._ in the pound.”



  Ante, p. 374.


  A statement of the appropriation of this loan is given in the Appendix
  to the commissioners’ fourth Report.


[Sidenote: The Treasury minute, October 21, 1851.]

This was doubtless a considerate, but it was at the same time a
necessary proceeding on the part of the government. The impoverished
unions, whose utmost exertions could not raise within themselves
sufficient for relieving their own urgent necessities, would of course
find it impossible to pay the consolidated annuity for which they were
made liable; whilst the continual accumulation of this charge hanging
over them would paralyze local effort, and tend to prevent the
introduction of capital from other quarters. The accumulation would for
the present be put a stop to by this Treasury minute; and if, in
consideration of their late sufferings and present difficulties,
parliament should confirm the boon, it will it is thought inspire
confidence, as well as afford present relief; and it may then be hoped,
that at no very distant day the impoverished unions would be able to
emerge from their state of depression, and join in the general race of
improvement. [Sidenote: The _15 and 16 Vict., cap. 16_.] The requisite
confirmation was given in the following year by the _15th and 16th Vict.
cap. 16_, entitled ‘An Act to amend the Acts relating to the Payment of
Advances made to Districts in Ireland.’ After reciting the _13th and
14th Vict. cap. 14_, and the Treasury minute of the 21st October 1851,
made “upon representations contained in memorials from many unions in
Ireland, of the pressure upon the local resources of several electoral
divisions on account of the necessary expenditure for the relief of the
poor, and in anticipation of a measure to be submitted to parliament”—it
is declared to be expedient that the directions contained in the said
minute should be confirmed, and it is accordingly enacted that “the sums
payable in the year 1851 in respect of the annuities mentioned in such
minute and directions, shall be remitted and deemed to be discharged
without further payment.” The remissions thus sanctioned amounted
altogether to about 75,000_l._—that is 48,000_l._. to Munster,
24,000_l._ to Connaught, and 3,000_l._ to Leinster. The remission, it
will be observed, only applied to the annuities due in 1851, and no
expectation was held out of similar indulgence in future.

[Sidenote: The medical charities.]

Some account has already been given of the inquiry into and Report upon
the medical charities in 1842, and of the bill then prepared but not
proceeded with, in consequence of the opposition made to it by the
medical profession.[193] In August 1851 however a bill, founded on that
Report, and similar in principle and in its main provisions to the bill
of 1842, was introduced and readily passed, the necessity for such a
measure, and for bringing the rating powers and machinery of the Poor
Law in aid of the medical charities, being then admitted by all parties;
and this was the object of the Act of 1851, as it had been of the bill
prepared under the author’s direction in 1842.



  Ante, pp. 267 and 279.


[Sidenote: Medical Charities Act, _14 and 15 Vict., cap. 68_.]

On the passing of the _14th and 15th Vict. cap. 68_, the working of the
medical charities became so closely connected with the operations of the
Poor Law, that a description of the chief provisions of the Act is here

_Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5._—Provide for the appointment of a medical
    commissioner, being a physician or surgeon of not less than thirteen
    years’ standing, to be united with the Poor Law Commissioners in the
    execution of the Act. The commissioners may appoint fit persons,
    being physicians or surgeons of not less than seven years’ standing,
    to be inspectors, but the medical commissioner and the inspectors
    are restricted from practising professionally.

_Sections 6, 7, 8, 9._—The guardians are, whenever required by the
    commissioners, to divide unions into dispensary districts, having
    regard to extent and population; and are to appoint a dispensary
    committee, and provide necessary buildings, and such medicines and
    appliances as may be required, for the medical relief of the poor. A
    committee of management consisting of the dispensary committee, the
    ex-officio guardians, and ratepayers of 30_l._ annual value, are to
    appoint one or more medical officers, to afford advice and medical
    aid to such poor persons as may be sent by any member of the
    dispensary committee, or by the relieving officer or warden.

_Sections 10, 11, 12, 13._—On the declaration of a dispensary district,
    all provisions for affording dispensary relief from the poor-rate or
    county cess are to cease. Guardians or members of the committee of
    management, are not to be concerned in furnishing medicines or goods
    for the use of the dispensary, under penalty of 50_l._ The
    commissioners are to frame regulations for the government of each
    dispensary district, and the medical officer is required to
    vaccinate all persons who may come to him for that purpose.

_Sections 14, 15._—Existing medical officers are in the first instance
    to be the medical officers of the dispensaries. The medical officers
    of a dispensary district are to attend at the examination of
    dangerous lunatics, and are also to attend the bride-wells within
    their districts.

_Sections 16, 17, 18._—The commissioners and inspectors are empowered to
    examine on oath, and to summon witnesses. The giving false evidence
    is declared a misdemeanour, and the refusing to obey summons &c. is
    subjected to a penalty of 5_l._ Inspectors may visit dispensaries,
    and attend meetings of guardians. The commissioners are to report
    upon hospitals and infirmaries. They are also to execute the powers
    and purposes of the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Acts,
    and to report their proceedings annually to the lord-lieutenant.

Such were the chief provisions of this Act, and the powers conferred by
it appear sufficient for procuring the establishment of dispensaries in
districts where they were much needed, and also for securing better
management with regard to medical relief. [Sidenote: First report of
Medical Charity Commissioners.]In their first Report dated 15th February
1853, the commissioners remark, that by the Medical Charities Act, a
partial and imperfect system of medical relief, unattended with
responsibility in its agents, and resting on a financial basis at once
uncertain in duration, and unequal in its pressure as a tax, has been
exchanged for a system uniform and universal, supported out of the
poor-rates, and “influenced in its administration by well-defined
responsibilities, under the direction and control of a central
authority.” The expenditure is estimated at 102,700_l._ per annum.
[Sidenote: Anticipated expenditure.]But “having regard to the diminution
of pauperism, and the improving circumstances of the country,” it is
thought probable that the cost of dispensary relief under the Medical
Charities Act, will not exceed 100,000_l._ in future years.

[Sidenote: New electoral divisions.]

A few more of the electoral divisions were divided, in addition to the
subdivisions which had been made the preceding year,[194] and the total
number of electoral divisions was now increased to 3,439, that is 1,390
more than what were originally constituted, although still short of the
number recommended by the Boundary Commissioners. The permission of
out-door relief, and the increase in the number of unions, especially
the latter, would no doubt render some increase of electoral divisions
necessary; but after the distress out of which these changes had arisen
shall have passed away, and when the country has regained its normal
state, it is not unlikely that these changes may be found burthensome,
and the machinery they have created be beyond what is really necessary
for affording relief to the destitute poor. [Sidenote: New order of
proceedings issued.] The various changes which had been made in the law,
also rendered a new order for regulating the proceedings of boards of
guardians necessary; and accordingly on the 19th January 1852, the old
order was rescinded, and a new one adapted to the altered circumstances
of the unions and the state of the law was issued.



  Ante, p. 373.


[Sidenote: Apprenticing boys to the sea-service.
           _14 and 15 Vict., cap. 35._]

In July 1851, the _14th and 15th Vict. cap. 35_ was passed, to extend
the benefits of the General Merchant Seamen’s Act relating to
apprentices bound to the sea-service by guardians of the poor in
Ireland. By this Act, the board of guardians of a union is empowered to
apprentice any boy of the age of twelve and upwards being of sufficient
health and strength, and who is or whose parents are receiving relief in
such union, and who consents to be so bound, into the sea-service for
not less than four years, or until he attains the age of twenty-one, or
has served seven years, as the case may be. The apprentice is to be
furnished with a suitable outfit at the expense of the union, and sent
to the seaport where the master or owner of the ship resides; and it is
further provided that any such boys may, if they desire it, be placed
out in the naval service. This is a well-devised Act, although it may
not be very operative, at least for a time, the Irish generally having
little predilection for the sea. The Act however supplies what was
certainly an omission in the Act of 1836, and which became more apparent
as the number of boys accumulated in the workhouses, without any means
for apprenticing or getting them out into service. But the abuses which
had resulted from the apprenticeship law in England, prevented its
introduction in any shape into the original Irish Poor Relief Act.

[Sidenote: Emigration.]

Emigration under the provisions of the Poor Law was more active during
the year 1850-51 than in any preceding year, although many unions were
prevented by their poverty from resorting to it.[195] The commissioners
had, as is before stated, applied a portion of the rate-in-aid fund in
relieving the overcrowded workhouses in the counties of Clare and Kerry,
but the nearly exhausted state of that fund disabled them from meeting
other urgent applications for similar aid. Indeed the decrease of the
population in the impoverished districts, as shown in the census
returns, together with the smaller number of applicants for relief, and
a greater demand for labour, would seem to render further aid or
stimulus to emigration both unnecessary and inexpedient. Where the
guardians and ratepayers of a district however were desirous of raising
funds for the purpose, the commissioners did not refuse to give effect
to the proposition.[Sidenote: Extent of emigration.] It appears from the
Reports of the colonial land and emigration commissioners, that the
total Irish emigration from 1847 to 1850 inclusive, was 833,692, nearly
all of which was for North America—the Canada and New Brunswick
immigration from all countries in the same period amounting to 210,904.
In 1851, the emigration from Great Britain to the United States was
267,357, and it was 244,261 in 1852, in which year the number of Irish
emigrants to New York alone was 118,134. This continuous emigration was
chiefly effected by the aid of remittances from persons who had
previously emigrated, to their friends and relatives at home, to enable
them to follow.



  Ante, p. 373.


[Sidenote: Population census of 1851.]

The above figures show the extent of the drain upon the population of
Ireland which had been in progress during the last six years, and will
go far to account for the startling results of the census returns of
1851, which exhibit an actual decrease of considerably over a million
and a half in the previous decennial period, and make the population
less than it was in 1821. The census commissioners,[196] after stating
that the numerical decrease of the inhabitants between 1841 and 1851
amounted to 1,622,739, go on to remark—“But this being merely the
difference between the number of people in 1841 and 1851, without making
any allowance for a natural and ordinary increase of population, conveys
but very inadequately the effect of the visitation of famine and
pestilence”—“We find that the population of 30th March 1851, would
probably have numbered 9,018,799, instead of 6,522,385; and that
consequently the loss of population between 1841 and 1851 may be
computed at the enormous amount of 2,496,414 persons.” That is to say,
the population in 1851 amounted to 6,522,385, whereas under ordinary
circumstances, and with the average rate of increase, it would have
amounted to 9,018,799.



  See 6th part of the Report on the census of Ireland for 1851,
  published in 1855.


It may be convenient in the way of elucidation, to place the numbers of
the four census periods in juxtaposition, thus—

               The population of Ireland was  6,801,827
                                 in 1821

               ”            ”    in 1831  ”   7,767,401

               ”            ”    in 1841  ”   8,175,124

               ”            ”    in 1851  ”   6,522,385

How much of the present decrease was owing to emigration, and how much
was occasioned by want and disease, it is impossible to predicate with
any degree of certainty. Both causes were in operation at the same time,
and both were consequent upon the potato failure. The universal and
almost exclusive use of the potato as an article of subsistence, led to
a rapid increase of the population—its failure led to a still more rapid
decrease, accompanied by an amount of suffering and privation for which
it would be difficult to find a parallel in the history of any people.

[Sidenote: Amount of expenditure, and numbers relieved.]

The expenditure from the rates for relief of the poor in all the 163
unions now established, during the year ending on the 29th September
1851, was as had been expected, considerably less than the preceding
year, and amounted to 1,141,647_l._ The number relieved in the
workhouses on that day was 140,031, and the total number so relieved
during the year was 707,443. The number then receiving out-door relief
was 3,160, and the total number who received out-door relief during the
year was 47,914. It seems almost superfluous to add, that none of these
were relieved under the 2nd section of the Extension Act. The results of
the year as regards relief, both numerically and financially, was deemed
highly satisfactory, and it was expected that a still further reduction
would be effected in the year following.

Before entering on the proceedings of another year (which will moreover
be the limit of our inquiry), it may be well to look back for a moment
to the disastrous period through which we have latterly passed. Famine
and pestilence now happily no longer prevail, and the country has in
great measure recovered from the effects of the severe ordeal to which
it was subjected. The Poor Law has likewise nearly regained its ordinary
state, after passing through the dangers and difficulties of a most
calamitous visitation; and has risen from its trials with an increase of
reputation, and also it may be added, with a greatly increased capacity
for effecting its objects, through the large additional workhouse
accommodation that has been provided. The failure of the potato in 1845
and 1846, the partial failure in 1847, and the more general destruction
of the crop in 1848, were followed in each year by the vast efforts made
to palliate, and as far as possible to relieve the consequent
distress—first by importations of food, and employing the people on
public works—next by a partial adoption of the Poor-law principle of
relief, as it was administered under the Temporary Relief Act—and lastly
by extending the provisions of the Poor Law to meet the emergency, and
permitting relief to be afforded out of the workhouse. These
circumstances have each occupied our attention in the foregoing pages.
They are all exceptional in their nature, but are at the same time most
instructive in their results, whether viewed locally or generally—as
affecting the empire at large, or Ireland in particular.

The character of the period—the waxings and wanings of distress—the
variations in its extent, and the phases of its intensity, are all
unmistakeably indicated in the weekly returns from the several unions,
of the numbers and mortality in the respective workhouses from the
commencement of 1846, and the numbers on the out-relief lists from the
passing of the Extension Act in 1847. [Sidenote: Tables of numbers
relieved and extent of mortality. See p. 404.] These weekly returns are
given at length in the commissioners’ Reports, and from them I have
compiled two tables, which will be found at the end,[197] showing the
dates in each year when the most marked changes occurred in the numbers
relieved both in and out of the workhouses, and the extent of mortality
which took place; but always giving the maximum and minimum numbers in
each case. The cost of out-door relief in the respective weeks is also
inserted, so that the state of the country at the several periods is as
it were mapped out before the reader, and can be taken in at a glance,
requiring nothing further in the way of explanation; and to this table
the reader’s attention is requested.



  See p. 404.


[Sidenote: 1853.
           Sixth annual report of the Poor Law Commissioners for Ireland.]

The commissioners’ sixth Report is dated 2nd May 1853. After the usual
weekly summary of the in-door and out-door recipients of relief, it is
remarked that the number of out-door poor is so inconsiderable, and
liable to so little fluctuation, that “the comparative extent of
pauperism in successive years is now almost wholly dependent on the
number receiving relief in the workhouses.” This number, it is added,
“continues to fluctuate almost in the same degree as formerly,
notwithstanding the absolute decrease which has taken place; the number
in autumn not usually much exceeding one-half the number at another
period of the year.”

[Sidenote: State of Connaught and Munster.]

The satisfactory progress made by the province of Connaught in
surmounting the effects of the famine years has already been
noticed.[198] Although some of the Connaught unions were still in a
state of financial embarrassment, and subject to payment of heavy rates,
the reduction of relief in the last three years had been remarkable, the
number in the workhouses having decreased from 42,286 in April 1851, to
17,389 in April 1853. In Munster on the contrary improvement continued
to be comparatively backward, that province still containing more than
half the pauperism of Ireland.



  Ante, pp. 373 and 378.


[Sidenote: The workhouse children.]

A large number of the children and young persons who had been admitted
during the prevalence of the famine, were discharged from the workhouses
in the course of the last two years. These must be regarded with
satisfaction as the fruits of the Poor Law, but for which, they would in
all probability have fallen victims to want and disease. The children
still remaining in the workhouses, a great proportion of whom were
likewise rescued at the time of the famine, were chiefly orphans, or
illegitimate or deserted, and without friends able or willing to take
charge of them. The number of these children in the workhouses on the
2nd April 1853 under the age of fifteen, was 82,434, of whom 5,710 were
illegitimate; and looking at the large proportion who were returned as
being orphans or deserted, the commissioners say they “cannot but feel
that the prospect of enabling a large number of them to leave the
workhouses and obtain a permanent position in society, must depend in a
great degree upon the exertion made to educate and train them in such a
manner as to enable them to do this at an early age.” A child of twelve
or thirteen is, it is observed, “more easily grafted into society, than
if he resides in a public establishment till eighteen or nineteen, when
he becomes too much accustomed to its routine to exert himself in a new
position, where more labour and individual efforts have to be exacted,
and greater hardships and privations endured.”

[Sidenote: Their education and industrial training.]

The literary education in the workhouse schools was considered to be on
the whole satisfactory. But letters alone, without industrial training,
will not, it is truly said, help a boy or girl of fifteen to get into
employment; and the commissioners therefore encouraged the formation of
agricultural schools, in connexion with the national education board.
The boys were moreover in most of the workhouses taught some kind of
trade, such as tailoring, shoemaking, carpentering &c. The girls were
taught to wash, and make and mend their own clothes, and clean their own
dormitories and day-rooms; but there is obviously more difficulty with
them than with the boys, in regard to employment. As the country
improves however, “and when the drain caused by the continued emigration
is more felt,” there can be little doubt, the commissioners say, that in
all the unions where proper attention has been paid to the education and
training of the children, there will be a demand for those educated in
the workhouses as soon as they are of an age fitted for being useful;
and in the mean time it is satisfactory to learn, that during the year
1852, no less than 5,371 of these children under fifteen years of age,
found employment out of the workhouse.

[Sidenote: Rate of wages and cost of subsistence.]

The drain of emigration just adverted to, must have given rise to an
increased amount of employment for those who remained, but this was
attended with a less apparent effect upon the rate of wages than might
have been expected. Another circumstance had however occurred closely
bearing upon wages which it is necessary to notice, for we find that the
weekly cost of maintenance in the workhouses, the average of which in
1847, exclusive of clothing, was as high as 2_s._ 1½_d._ per head, had
fallen to little more than 1_s._ per head in the years 1850, 1851, and
1852.[199] Comparing the cost of subsistence with the rate of wages, it
will therefore appear that there has been relatively a very considerable
rise in the latter, although the money-rate in 1852 and 1853 may not
appear to differ very materially from what it was in 1845. Employment
had likewise become more certain and more steady, so that the labourer’s
actual earnings during the year were probably greater than before, which
coupled with the general reduction in the price of provisions, would
enlarge his command of the necessaries and conveniences of life, and
tend to improve his condition.



  See table at p. 397.


[Sidenote: Remittances from emigrants.]

Returns had been obtained from the several unions showing the extent of
remittances from abroad, for enabling certain of the workhouse inmates
to emigrate. From these returns it appeared, that in the last year
2,158_l._ was so remitted to enable 877 of such inmates to join their
friends in America; 136_l._ to assist 489 to go to England and Scotland;
and 221_l._ to enable 31 to proceed to Australia. When the sums remitted
were insufficient, assistance was often afforded by the guardians under
the provisions of the Poor Law, and 14,041_l._ was so expended for this
purpose in the year ending 29th September 1852. In the following year
(ending September 1853), 12,865_l._ was so expended by the unions for
the emigration of 403 men, 1,202 women, and 996 children, making
together 2,601 persons; and including the cost of free passages, about
3,500_l._ is known to have been remitted to enable more than 1,100
inmates of the workhouses to join their friends who had emigrated, or
had settled in Great Britain. Others are likewise supposed to have left
the workhouses in consequence of similar remittances, which were not
made through or known to the boards of guardians.

[Sidenote: The valuations.]

The valuations of rateable property in the several unions had, as was to
be expected, varied more or less with the changes which took place from
time to time in the circumstances of the country. In 1845 they appear to
have amounted to 13,404,403_l._, and to 13,187,421_l._ in 1847; but in
1851 the entire valuation of Ireland for the purposes of the poor-rate
was only 11,500,000_l._, so great had been the change caused by the
severe ordeal through which the country had passed. Although the
principle on which the valuation of property in the several unions was
originally founded, namely, what it would let for, was undoubtedly
correct, there were counteracting influences at work, and the valuations
made under it were rarely altogether satisfactory. Some persons
denounced them as being too high, some as being too low, and others as
being unequal or partial.

[Sidenote: Commissioner of valuations.]

In order to remedy these asserted defects, and place the valuations on
what was expected to be a better footing, the _15th and 16th Vict. cap.
63_ was passed in 1852, ‘to amend the Laws relating to the Valuation of
Rateable Property in Ireland.’ The Act declares it to be expedient to
make one uniform valuation of lands and tenements, which may be used for
all public and local assessments and other rating. The lord-lieutenant
is empowered to appoint a commissioner of valuation “who shall make or
cause to be made a valuation of the tenements and hereditaments within
every barony, parish, or other division when directed so to do.” But
further legislation was still necessary, and in the following year the
_16th and 17th Vict. cap. 7_, was passed to amend the above, and
directing the clerks of unions to prepare lists of tenements proposed
for revision by the collectors, and to transmit the same to the
commissioner of valuation, together with the opinion of the guardians
whether a revision is necessary, and the name of a person whom the
guardians recommend as fit to revise the same. The combined provisions
of these Acts are no doubt calculated to effect improvement in the
valuations; but the principle of fair letting value as originally
prescribed, must still be adhered to in whatever changes are made.

[Sidenote: 1852.
           Amount of expenditure and numbers relieved.]

The expenditure for relief of the poor during the year ending on the
29th September 1852, was 883,267_l._, being 258,380_l._ less than in the
preceding year,[200] and fully realizing the expectations then held out.
The number relieved in the workhouses at the above date was 111,515 and
the total number so relieved during the year was 504,864. The number
then receiving out-door relief was 2,528, and the total number who
received out-door relief during the year was 14,911. A further reduction
was likewise still expected. “But the reduction must not, it is said, be
expected to go so far as it would have gone if 32 new unions had not
been formed, inasmuch as a certain amount of establishment charges must
be incurred to maintain the new workhouses, and the necessary staff of
officers, in whatever degree the pauperism of the districts in which
they are built may hereafter be found diminished.”



  Ante, p. 387.


[Sidenote: 1853.
           Amount of expenditure, and numbers relieved.]

The expected further reduction was again confirmed, the expenditure on
relief of the poor during the year ending on the 29th September 1853,
being 785,718_l._, or nearly 100,000_l._ less than in the previous year.
The number relieved in the 163 workhouses was 79,600, and the total
number so relieved during the year was 396,436. The number receiving
out-door relief was 2,245, and the total number who received out-door
relief during the year was 13,232—and now also, important as the
reductions which have latterly taken place assuredly are, we are again
told that still further reductions may be looked for.[201]



  Such in fact took place, the expenditure on relief of the poor for the
  year 1854 being 760,152_l._, and for 1855 being still further reduced
  to 685,259_l._


A tabular statement[202] has been given of the annual expenditure and
the numbers relieved, down to the end of 1846, after which time the date
of the returns was altered to correspond with the half-yearly audits in
April and September. The following is a continuation of the statement
before given, but also including the number of persons who were relieved
out of the work-house in the successive years under the provisions of
the Extension Act—

          │          │            │            │ Total no. │    No.     │Total no.
 The year │  No. of  │Expenditures│ No. in the │relieved in│ receiving  │   who
  ending  │unions in │ during the │ workhouses │    the    │ out-relief │ received
 Sept. 29.│operation.│   year.    │on the 29th │workhouses │  on 29th   │out-relief
          │          │            │   Sept.    │during the │   Sept.    │during the
          │          │            │            │   year.   │            │   year
   1847   │   130    │  £  803,684│ 86,376     │    417,139│     —      │    —
   1848   │   131    │   1,732,597│124,003     │    610,463│207,683     │ 1,433,042
   1849   │          │   2,177,651│141,030     │    932,284│135,019     │ 1,210,482
   1850   │   163    │   1,430,108│155,173     │    805,702│  2,938     │   368,565
   1851   │          │   1,141,647│140,031     │    707,443│  3,160     │    47,914
   1852   │          │     883,267│111,515     │    504,864│  2,528     │    14,911
   1853   │          │     785,718│ 79,600[203]│    396,436│  2,245[203]│    13,232

This table speaks at once to the eye, and by its ascending and its
descending numbers indicates the circumstances of the period to which
they severally refer. But in addition to the expenditure in the third
column, it must not be overlooked that since the passing of the
Consolidated Debts Act[204] in 1850, a considerably larger amount of
rates has been collected than was required for the immediate relief of
the poor. Thus the amount collected in the year ending in September 1853
was 1,000,312_l._, whereas the expenditure on relief was only
781,523_l._, the remainder being applied in payment of the consolidated
annuities, and in defraying expenses incurred under the Medical
Charities Act. At present, it is said, out of 357,858_l._ the entire
amount of the two annuities payable in 1852 and 1853, only 28,768_l._
remains unpaid; and the advances made on security of the Rate-in-aid
have been wholly repaid, with the exception of a trifling sum due on
certain newly arranged townlands. But it is expected that in a short
time “all the exceptional charges on the poor-rates will cease, and that
thenceforward the rates will be exclusively applied to the relief of the
poor, and the support of the medical charities.”



  Ante, p. 323.


  The number in the workhouses on the 29th September 1854 was 66,506,
  and at the same date in 1855 it was 56,546.—The number receiving
  out-door relief on these days respectively was 926 and 655.


  Ante, p. 374.


[Sidenote: Further advance to the impoverished unions.]

Notwithstanding the general improvement, and the reduction of
expenditure which has been shown to have taken place, assistance was
still required by some of the western unions, and the government
consented to an advance of 30,000_l._ being made to eleven of them,[205]
to pay their debts and relieve them from financial embarrassments; but
this was done however, on the express condition that they “should not
expect further assistance, and should make rates to the satisfaction of
the Poor Law Commissioners, to meet their immediate and future wants.”
The condition and the assistance were alike well timed and judicious,
and secured the objects for which they were intended.



  These were Cahirciveen, Dingle, Kenmare, Kilrush, Killadysert,
  Ennistymon, Scariff, Tulla, Clifden, Newport, and Oughterard.


[Sidenote: Average cost of maintenance.]

The cost of subsistence in the workhouse, may be considered to afford a
fair criterion for judging of what is required for the subsistence of
the labouring classes generally, there being in fact little difference
between the food usually consumed by the peasantry, and that supplied to
the inmates of the work-houses. The average weekly cost per head is
ascertained half-yearly, when the union accounts are audited in March
and September, and the following table shows the results on these
occasions from 1847 downwards[206]—

                                  │  Average   │ Average  │  Total.
                                  │weekly cost │  weekly  │
         Half-year ending.        │     of     │ cost of  │
                                  │ provisions │clothing. │
                                  │    and     │          │
                                  │necessaries.│          │
                                  │   s. d.    │    d.    │   s. d.
  1847. 25th March                │    2 1     │    3½    │    2  4½
        29th September            │    2 1½    │    3     │    2  4½
  1848. 25th March                │    1 7     │    3¼    │    1 10¼
        29th September            │    1 5     │    3¼    │    1  8¼
  1849. 25th March                │    1 4½    │    3¼    │    1  7½
        29th September            │    1 2¾    │    3     │    1  5¾
  1851. 25th March                │    1 0½    │    2½    │    1  3
        29th September            │    1 0     │    2¼    │    1  2½
  1852. 25th March                │    1 0½    │    2     │    1  2½
        29th September            │    1 0½    │    1½    │    1  2
  1853. 25th March                │    1 1¾    │    1¾    │    1  3½
        29th September            │    1 2½    │    1½    │    1  4
  1854. Week ended 22nd April[207]│    1 9     │          │



  The returns for 1850 were not completed, in consequence of the
  alterations which were then being made in the number and the
  boundaries of the unions.


  The average for the half-year ending 25th March 1854, was 1_s._
  7½_d._, and for the half-year ending 29th September it was 1_s._
  8½_d._ per head. For each of the corresponding periods in 1855, the
  average was 1_s._ 10¼_d._


[Sidenote: Cost of subsistence and rate of wages.]

In April 1854, we see there was a large increase in the cost of
workhouse maintenance, arising no doubt from the increase which had
taken place in the prices of provisions. This increase would bear hard
upon the labouring classes, unless there were a somewhat proportionate
increase in wages. To obtain information on this point, the Poor Law
Commissioners caused inquiry to be made by the inspectors in their
several districts; and we find it stated as the combined result of their
Reports—“that there is now[208] observable a material increase in the
money value of agricultural labour, to the extent of about 1_s._ per
week on the average throughout Ireland.” It appears also, that
agricultural employment was more continuous than formerly, and that in
most parts of the country the wages of artizans had improved in a still
greater ratio than those of common labourers. Unless there were some
advance in the price of labour, it is probable that the great increase
in the price of provisions would cause an increase in the numbers
applying for relief, which does not appear to have occurred; and this
may be regarded as a further proof, that on the whole the rate of wages
had about kept pace with the increased cost of subsistence.



  That is on the 1st May 1854.


[Sidenote: Changes in the poor law executive.]

Certain changes took place in the Poor Law executive in 1852, which it
is necessary to notice. Mr. Ball resigned the office of Poor Law
Commissioner, and was succeeded by Mr. Senior. The temporary inspectors
were all discontinued. The number of these officers in 1847, on the
passing of the Extension Act, was 48; but they had been subsequently
reduced to 11, and of these 4 were now discontinued, and the remaining 7
were placed on the permanent staff, making the number of inspectors 16,
each having the charge of a larger or smaller number of unions according
to the circumstances of the district.

[Sidenote: New order of accounts.]

A new order of accounts adapted to the alterations made in the law had
been completed, and was issued in April of the present year; and the
commissioners remark in their Report that “the administration of relief
to the destitute poor in Ireland, may be now looked upon as nearly
identical with its normal state, as originally contemplated on the
passing of the _Act 1st and 2nd Vict. cap. 56_. Such a result could
hardly have been expected after the severe trials to which the country
had so recently been exposed, but it was most satisfactory, and must be
regarded as a proof of the enduring soundness of the principle on which
that measure was founded.

I have now brought the narrative of the Irish Poor Law, down to a period
coincident with my histories of the English and the Scottish Poor Laws;
and here, as originally intended, I should conclude. But in the autumn
of 1853 I again visited Ireland, and examined many of the unions,
chiefly in the south and the west, in order to see and form my own
judgment as to the working of the law, and the condition of the people.
The results of what came under my own observation, and of the inquiries
which I was enabled to make, were embodied at the time in a letter to
Lord John Russell, by whom the measure of Irish Poor Law had been
originally introduced and carried through parliament, and who always
took a lively interest in everything connected with it; and it now
appears to me that I cannot do better than give the substance of that
letter, written with all the facts and incidents fresh before me, as a
fitting close to the statements contained in the present work. The
letter is dated Dublin 16th September 1853, and omitting a short
introduction is substantially as follows—

[Sidenote: The author’s letter to Lord John Russell, September 1853.]

“Eleven years have passed since I quitted Ireland. In the interim the
country has suffered from famine and pestilence, and the Poor Law has
been subjected to a most severe trial. An examination of the present
condition of the country and state of the law cannot therefore fail of
being deeply interesting, and I should have been glad to have given more
time to it, if other claims had permitted.

“The circumstance that now first arrests attention in passing through
the country, is the comparatively small number of beggars. Formerly the
roads were lined with them, and the traveller wherever he stopped was
surrounded by clamorous miserable-looking solicitors of charity. This is
now changed. Beggars are rarely seen on the roads, less frequently in
the towns; and are not I think on the whole, more numerous than in
England. The famine may have been partly the cause of this change, but
another if not the chief cause is the workhouses, where the old the
feeble the sick and infirm poor are now supported, as the law designed,
and as sound policy required that they should be. The workhouses are
entirely occupied by this description of paupers, and the very
young—there are no able-bodied. The total number of inmates of all
classes is now 84,000, which is about the number I estimated at the
outset as requiring to be provided for. The cost of relief is moreover
about the same as I then estimated that it would probably amount to; and
it is not a little gratifying to find that our calculations in these
respects are so far verified.

“The Poor Law appears to be now thoroughly naturalized in Ireland. Your
lordship would have been delighted to have heard it spoken of as I have
done, and that by persons who did not know me, and who praised it as
having been the salvation of the country, exclaiming “what should we
have done without it!”—Complaints of the expense are it is true
sometimes heard, but these are directed rather against the inequality of
the charge than against the general amount, some electoral divisions
paying heavily, whilst others pay little or nothing, as is sometimes the
case with English parishes.

“The changes which have been made, are not I think all of them
improvements. Although the subdivision of a few of the unions might have
been necessary, this as well as the subdivision of the districts of
chargeability, has I fear been carried too far—it has added to the
working friction, and swelled the aggregate charge.

“When settlement shall be abolished in England, and union rating
established instead of parochial, as I trust will ere long be the case,
we may hope to see a similar reform extended to Ireland, which would
bring the law back nearly to what your lordship first proposed and
carried through the house of commons; and most of the changes which were
subsequently made, as well as some of those since added, have in my
judgment served to detract from its simplicity, and tended to impede its
effective operation.

“All the workhouses which I have seen are in good order and the
buildings in perfect condition, and such also I am informed is the case
with the others. It is not a little satisfactory to find this the case,
after the complaints that were made of these buildings, which are now as
much praised as they were at one time decried.

“The most pleasing circumstance connected with the workhouse is the
state of the pauper children, who are there educated and trained up in
habits of order cleanliness and industry, instead of being left as
outcasts, with every likelihood of their becoming a burthen, and
possibly a bane to the community. I wish you could have seen with me
some of these workhouse schools, and witnessed the benefits they are
conferring upon the country. In the rural districts there is little
difficulty in getting the boys out to service as soon as they are of an
age fit for it, and the girls likewise now generally obtain places,
although not so readily; but in the large towns there is still a
difficulty with these last, there being proportionally less employment
for females in Ireland than in England. A considerable number of girls
and young women have been assisted to emigrate within the last three
years, and it is very desirable that others should be so assisted and
sent out from such of the workhouses as are overstocked with this class
of inmates.

“With respect to emigration, I think that it has been already carried
farther than was desirable. There appears to be no excess of labourers
anywhere, and now in the harvest season there is evidently a want of
hands to do the work, and high wages are paid, as much in some instances
as 2_s._ and 2_s._ 6_d._ a day; but this is only during the period of
urgency. There is still a want of certain and continuous employment in
Ireland, and the people do not rely upon regular daily labour as a means
of support, although they are I think approximating to it; and the
extensive emigration which has taken place, will no doubt help forward
the change. The rage for emigrating however continues, although the
occasion for it has ceased. It pervades every class, and is strongest
with the best educated and most intelligent. I found this to be the case
among the boys in the workhouse schools. The sharp active intelligent
lads were all eager to emigrate. It was only the more dull feeble and
inert who appeared content to remain at home. Yet I know of no country
where labour can be applied with the certainty of a better return.
Labour is here in fact the thing chiefly needed. It is impossible to
pass through Ireland without seeing this, and lamenting the omission.

“It is encouraging to reflect however, that were there less room for
improvement in this and other respects, there would be less incentive to
exertion; and when the rage for emigration which still prevails shall
have subsided, as subside it will, we may with greater confidence expect
that the energies and increased intelligence of the people will be
turned to the improvement of their own country, in which they will
assuredly find a rich reward, and in furtherance of which they will, in
the Poor Law, have a valuable auxiliary.”

Such were the impressions derived from what came within the limit of my
own observation and inquiry, on again visiting Ireland in the autumn of
1853. That these impressions were not more favourable than the
circumstances warranted, is proved by the progressive ameliorations
which have since taken place, of the extent of which generally, the
proceedings under the Poor Law may be regarded as an index; and these
have shown a continual reduction, both in expenditure and in the numbers
relieved. The total cost of relief in the year ending 29th September
1855, including every item of charge, was no more than 685,259_l._; and
the total number of persons relieved on that day was 57,201, of whom 655
(being exceptional cases) were relieved out of the workhouse.[209] This
reduction in expenditure has moreover taken place, notwithstanding the
greatly increased cost of maintenance in the workhouses as compared with
what it was in 1850 and 1851,[210] making a difference on the whole of
probably not less than 150,000_l._; so that but for this increase, the
entire cost of relieving the poor in 1855 might perhaps not have
exceeded half a million, and in the event of prices falling to their
former level, and other circumstances proving favourable, it may
hereafter possibly range at about that amount.



  The weekly cost of the out-relief so given was 40_l._ 4_s._ 4_d._


  Ante, p. 397.


At present however the expenditure under the Irish Poor Law contrasts
favourably with what is taking place under the English and Scottish
laws—in Ireland it averages 2_s._ per head on the population, whilst in
Scotland the average amounts to 4_s._,[211] and in England to 5_s._
6_d._ per head—or if we take the valuations in the three countries as a
standard of comparison, it will appear that the expenditure on relief of
the poor in Ireland amounts to 1_s._ 2½_d._, in Scotland to 1_s._ 4_d._,
and in England to 1_s._ 5½_d._ in the pound. These comparisons are I
think satisfactory, and it is encouraging also to find the commissioners
declaring in their last Report,[212] that—“a material diminution of
pauperism in Ireland is still going on”—and that—“the improvement in the
rate of wages and the increased constancy of employment have not only
been sustained, but have further advanced and acquired a still more
permanent and healthy aspect.” Emigration likewise, both spontaneous and
that conducted at the expense of the poor-rates,[213] is considerably
lessened, and seems likely ere long to be reduced within its natural
limits. The future therefore appears in every way hopeful for
Ireland—may the Irish people on their part, not be wanting in due effort
for securing the benefits of which there is at present so fair a



  See the tenth Report of the board of supervision.


  The ninth, dated May 1st 1856.


  The amount expended from the poor-rates in 1855, to assist in the
  emigration of 830 poor persons from different unions, was 6,859_l._ In
  the previous year the amount had been 22,651_l._, including 10,000_l._
  from the rate in aid, to assist in the emigration of 1,500 young
  females from the workhouses in the south and west of Ireland.



                │Numbers relieved in the workhouses   │
                │  houses in each of the weeks ending │
                │  on the dates in the first column   │
                │  respectively; together with the    │
                │  number and the rate per 1,000 of   │
                │  the deaths.                        │
                │          │            │      │      │
                │  Weeks   │Total number│Deaths│ Rate │
                │  ending  │   in the   │in the│ per  │
                │          │workhouses. │week. │1,000.│
                │          │            │      │      │
                │     1846.│            │      │      │
                │   4 April│      50,861│   159│   3.0│
                │    4 July│      50,693│   146│   2.9│
                │    7 Nov.│      74,175│   312│   4.2│
                │          │            │      │      │
                │     1847.│            │      │      │
                │    2 Jan.│      98,762│ 1,206│  12.2│
                │    6 Mar.│     115,645│ 2,590│  22.0│
                │    3 July│     101,439│ 1,239│  12.2│
                │   4 Sept.│      75,376│   589│   7.8│
                │   13 Nov.│     102,776│   523│   5.1│
                │          │            │      │      │
                │     1848.│            │      │      │
                │    1 Jan.│     117,568│ 1,362│  11.6│
                │   12 Feb.│     135,467│ 1,316│   9.7│
                │    1 July│     139,397│   620│   4.5│
                │   9 Sept.│     107,320│   350│   3.3│
                │    2 Dec.│     172,980│   787│   4.5│
                │          │            │      │      │
                │          │            │      │      │
                │          │            │      │      │
                │          │            │      │      │
                │     1849.│            │      │      │
                │   13 Jan.│     191,445│ 1,477│   7.7│
                │    3 Mar.│     196,523│ 1,846│   9.4│
                │     5 May│     220,401│ 2,730│  12.4│
                │   16 June│     227,329│ 2,009│   8.8│
                │    6 Oct.│     140,266│   488│   3.5│
                │    1 Dec.│     180,641│   471│   2.7│
                │          │            │      │      │
                │     1850.│            │      │      │
                │    5 Jan.│     203,320│   792│   3.9│
                │    2 Feb.│     230,348│   994│   4.3│
                │    2 Mar.│     237,939│ 1,150│   4.8│
                │     4 May│     243,224│ 1,247│   5.1│
                │   22 June│     264,048│ 1,126│   4.3│
                │    3 Aug.│     219,231│   808│   3.7│
                │  28 Sept.│     155,173│   526│   3.4│
                │    7 Dec.│     191,341│   501│   2.6│
                │          │            │      │      │
                │     1851.│            │      │      │
                │    4 Jan.│     206,468│   654│   3.2│
                │   22 Feb.│     251,836│ 1,201│   4.8│
                │   22 Mar.│     248,501│ 1,512│   6.1│
                │    7 June│     263,397│ 1,264│   4.8│
                │    2 Aug.│     222,038│   789│   3.6│
                │  27 Sept.│     140,458│   386│   2.8│
                │          │            │      │      │
                │     1852.│            │      │      │
                │    3 Jan.│     168,248│   407│   2.4│
                │   21 Feb.│     196,966│   594│   3.0│
                │    5 June│     187,003│   541│   2.9│
                │  18 Sept.│     111,117│   261│   2.3│
                │   25 Dec.│     134,476│   281│   2.1│
                │          │            │      │      │
                │     1853.│            │      │      │
                │   19 Feb.│     160,774│   627│   3.9│
                │   30 July│     113,099│   272│   2.4│
                │    1 Oct.│      79,410│   202│   2.5│

    │Number of destitute persons relieved out of the workhouses   │
    │  under the 1st and 2nd sections of the Extension Act (_10th │
    │  and 11th Vict., cap. 31_) respectively, in each of the     │
    │  weeks ending on the dates in the first column; together    │
    │  with the weekly cost of such relief.                       │
    │          │  Numbers   │  Numbers   │         │              │
    │          │  relieved  │  relieved  │         │              │
    │  Weeks   │   under    │   under    │  Total  │Weekly cost of│
    │ ending.  │Section 1 of│Section 2 of│         │   relief.    │
    │          │ Extension  │ Extension  │         │              │
    │          │    Act.    │    Act.    │         │              │
    │     1848.│            │            │         │  £.   s.  d. │
    │    5 Feb.│     337,665│     107,811│  445,476│12,788   9   0│
    │    4 Mar.│     425,949│     228,763│  654,712│17,564  18   2│
    │   1 April│     408,923│     235,076│  643,999│17,092   6   6│
    │     6 May│     485,364│     266,430│  751,794│18,786  18   5│
    │    1 July│     490,902│     342,987│  833,889│21,800  14  10│
    │   2 Sept.│     279,567│      96,523│  376,090│10,335  14   5│
    │    7 Oct.│     192,401│       7,202│  199,603│ 5,925   4   2│
    │    2 Dec.│     246,125│      31,859│  277,984│ 7,845  12  10│
    │          │            │            │         │              │
    │     1849.│            │            │         │              │
    │    6 Jan.│     327,733│      75,622│  423,355│11,170   7   5│
    │    3 Mar.│     422,693│     170,012│  592,705│15,051  14   3│
    │    2 June│     402,184│     239,229│  642,413│19,263   7   1│
    │    7 July│     492,503│     291,864│  784,367│21,757   8   3│
    │   1 Sept.│     425,197│      50,796│  276,793│ 6,493  13  11│
    │   13 Oct.│     114,316│       1,647│  115,963│ 2,653   7   2│
    │     3 Nov│     102,247│          13│  102,260│ 2,336  11  11│
    │          │            │            │         │              │
    │     1850.│            │            │         │              │
    │    5 Jan.│     104,305│         345│  104,650│ 2,159   0   3│
    │   23 Feb.│     148,909│            │  148,909│ 3,216   8   8│
    │    1 June│     127,727│         128│  127,855│ 2,805   9   2│
    │    3 Aug.│      73,129│          40│   73,169│ 1,617   7   5│
    │  14 Sept.│       3,794│            │    3,794│    96  14   2│
    │   19 Oct.│       2,249│            │    2,249│    63  13   6│
    │          │            │            │         │              │
    │          │            │            │         │              │
    │     1851.│            │            │         │              │
    │    4 Jan.│       2,713│           6│    2,719│    76  14   0│
    │   22 Feb.│       9,103│          20│    9,123│   229   4   6│
    │     3 May│      11,145│           7│   11,153│   268  17   4│
    │    5 July│      19,454│          28│   19,482│   486   4  11│
    │    4 Oct.│       3,084│            │    3,084│    75  10   4│
    │          │            │            │         │              │
    │          │            │            │         │              │
    │     1852.│            │            │         │              │
    │    3 Jan.│       3,170│            │    3,170│    88   6   3│
    │    6 Mar.│       3,396│            │    3,396│   100   0  10│
    │    3 July│       3,579│            │    3,579│   102  19   0│
    │    9 Oct.│       2,491│           1│    2,492│    74   1   3│
    │   25 Dec.│       2,998│            │    2,998│    87  12  10│
    │          │            │            │         │              │
    │     1853.│            │            │         │              │
    │   26 Feb.│       4,152│            │    4,152│   116  16  10│
    │   30 July│       3,092│            │    3,092│    96   5   2│
    │    8 Oct.│       1,977│            │    1,977│    61  16  10│


 Able-bodied disorderly persons and vagrants to be compelled to provide
    their own subsistence by strict workhouse discipline, 182.

 Absconding from a workhouse, punishment for, 227.

 Abuses of out-door relief, impossibilities of avoiding, 204.

 Accounts, new order of issued in 1853, 398.

 Acre, amount per, paid by farmer in relieving mendicancy, 192.

 Act of 1 and 2 Vict., cap. 56, 222 _et seq._
 ——- make further provision for the relief of the destitute poor in
    Ireland, 330.
 ——- to make provision for the punishment of vagrants, &c., 332.
 ——- to provide for the execution of the laws for relief of the poor in
    Ireland, 333.
 ——- for a rate-in-aid, summary of, 355, 356.
 ——- to amend the previous acts for the relief of the poor in Ireland,
    summary of, 367-9.
 ——- for a further advance of public money for distressed unions,
    summary of, 374, 375.
 ——- for the regulation of medical charities, summary of, 382, 383.

 Actions under the Irish Poor-Law Act, preliminary notice of to be
    given, 231;
   to recover poor-rates, regulations as to, 368.

 Adoption by government of the author’s first Report in December 1836,

 Agents empowered to sign notices of appeal, 369.

 Agricultural labourers in Great Britain and Ireland, comparative
    proportions of, 131.

 Agriculture, recommendation to encourage by legislative grants, 88;
   efforts of the Poor-Law Board to improve, 269.

 Almsgiving, desirableness of bringing under a system, 149;
   prevalence of in Ireland, 182;
   discontinuance of anticipated, 183.

 Alms, spontaneous, amounts bestowed by small farmers and cottars, 149.

 Amended orders for the election of guardians, 302.

 Amendment of the new poor-law, act for, 291.

 Amount, total, contributed by England in 1847-8-9, for the relief of
    Ireland, 356.

 Amsterdam, account of the workhouse in, 212.

 Amusements, love of, and reckless pursuit of by the Irish peasantry,

 Anglo-Saxons taught by Irish missionaries, 2.

 Annuities under the Consolidated Debts Act, arrangements for paying,
   partial remission of, 381.

 Apathy of the Irish peasantry, 162;
   poverty not a real excuse for, _ibid._

 Appeals, how and before whom to be brought, 231, 233.

 Apprenticeship of poor children recommended for Ireland, 183, 184.

 Architect engaged to erect workhouses, 243.

 Ardent spirits, recommendations of the Commissioners of Inquiry for
    lessening the inordinate use of, 146.

 Assessment, instructions to the assistant commissioners relating to,

 Assistant barristers allowed to correct clerical errors in actions for
    the recovery of poor-rates, 369.

 Assistant commissioners, in 1833, appointment of and instructions for,
   enactment for the appointment of, 223;
   duties of, _ibid._;
   exertions of, 241;
   additional provided, 246;
   reports of, 247;
   appointment of additional, 338.

 Assistant guardians may be appointed by the commissioners at the
    request of the guardians, 368.

 Asylums for lunatics and idiots, the erection of in each of the four
    provinces recommended, 83.

 Audit of accounts, and half-yearly reports of, infirmaries and
    hospitals recommended, 101;
   report as to, 276.

 Auditing of poor-law accounts, 222.

 Auditors, enactment for the appointment of, 230;
   appointment of four, 298;
   regulations as to, 332.

 Author’s first Report, Nov. 1836, 159;
   second Report, Nov. 1837, 196;
   third Report, 212;
   second visit to Ireland in 1837, 195;
   departure for Ireland as chief commissioner, 234;
   departure from Ireland in 1842, 284;
   visit to Ireland in 1853, 398.

 Auxiliary workhouses, hired buildings ill adapted for, 379.

 Average cost per head of paupers in the workhouses, 301;
   of maintenance of the poor in workhouses, 396;
   rate per head paid for the relief of the poor by the population of
      England, Scotland, and Ireland, 403.

 Badging the poor, act for, 51.

 Ballinasloe union agricultural society, notice of, 269.

 Barracks to be converted into workhouses, if suitable, 237, 239.

 Bastardy, recommendation that no law should be enacted for Ireland,

 Bay and coast fisheries in Ireland, facilities for, 89.

 Beadles and constables authorized to seize beggars and vagabonds in
    Cork, and commit them to the workhouse, 43.

 Becket’s murder, notice of, 4.

 Bedford Level Corporation, a board on the principle of recommended, to
    carry into effect a system of national improvement in Ireland, 137.

 Beggars, act for the punishment of, 22.

 Beggar’s curse, superstitious dread of the Irish peasantry of, 206.

 Begging, not to be prohibited, where persons have asked for, and failed
    in procuring, relief, 193.

 Belfast, assistant-commissioners sent to, 234, 236.

 Belgium, visit of the author to, 211 _et seq._;
   report of the management of the poor in, 213.

 Bicheno, Mr., remarks of upon the evidence submitted by the Inquiry
    Commissioners, 151.

 Bill, directions for the preparation of, embodying the measures
    proposed in the author’s first Report, 188;
   introduced to parliament in Feb. 1837, 189;
   discussion on the first reading of, 194;
   second reading of, and proceedings in committee on, 194, 195;
   dropped in consequence of the death of William IV., 195;
   of the Irish Poor Law of 1837-8 introduced to the house of commons by
      Lord John Russell, 210;
   passing of, 211;
   introduced into the house of lords, 211;
   for the relief of the Irish poor read a first time in the house of
      lords, 217;
   a second time, 218;
   division upon in committee, 220;
   read a third time and passed, 221.

 Board of Charitable Bequests, recommendation to transfer the functions
    of to the Poor Law Commissioners, 146.

 ——- of Education, recommendation for the appointment of, 111.

 ——- of Improvement, proposed duties of, 138.

 —— of Works, proposed duties of, 138, 139.

 —— of Works, efforts of to supply employment to the poor during the
    distress in 1846, 314;
   numbers employed under, 315, 316.

 Boards of guardians, enactment for the appointment of, 223;
   enactment constituting them corporations, 224;
   enactment giving the commissioners power to dissolve, 332;
   thirty-two dissolved in 1847, 341;
   five in 1849, 360.

 Bogs, Irish, act for reclaiming, 75.

 Boundaries of unions, where changed, the commissioners to adjust the
    liabilities, 368.

 Boundary commission, appointment of to regulate the size of unions,
   recommendation of, to form fifty new unions, 362.

 Boyne, the battle of, 10.

 Bread and cheese, contrast of the English labourer’s meal of, with the
    Irish labourer’s potato-bowl, 62.

 Britain, strangers from, resort to the Irish schools, 2.

 British Association, amount collected by to relieve the distress in
    Ireland occasioned by the potato disease, 321;
   number of persons relieved by in 1848, 346.

 —— capitalists, inquiry into the circumstances which have prevented
    their investing in Irish agriculture, 123.

 Building of workhouses, means taken to secure a fair payment for, 254;
   inspection of by the chief commissioner, 260.

 Buildings and repairs of tenements, consequences of throwing the
    expense on the tenants, 89.

 Bureau de Bienfaisance, notice of, 216.

 Burgesses, recommendation of Spenser that they should be nominated, 9.

 Burke, quotation from, 139.

 ‘Burning corn in the straw,’ act against, 32;
   punishment for, 33.

 Cabinet, the author’s report on the state of the north of Ireland in
    1837, considered by, 209.

 Cabins, wretched construction of, in Ireland, 62, 64.

 Caledonian Canal, beneficial effects of employing Highland labourers
    on, cited, 107.

 Capital, amount of, sunk upon the land in England, 60;
   causes of the scarcity of, in Ireland, 88;
   inducements required for the investment of, 208.

 Carrick-on-Shannon, death of a poor man in the union of, from having
    been refused relief, 296, 297.

 Castlereagh union, board of guardians dissolved by the commissioners,

 Cattle, improvident care of, 32;
   reared in Donegal to pay the rent, 201.

 Cemeteries, guardians empowered to provide, 332.

 Census of Ireland in 1851, decrease of population shown by, 386, 387.

 Central authority, necessity for, in administering the poor-laws, 176.

 Certificates to be given servants on leaving their employment, 41.

 Certiorari, actions under the Irish Poor Law Act not removable by,
    except into the Court of Queen’s Bench, Dublin, 231, 233.

 Chapels for workhouses, guardians empowered to provide, 332.

 Character and habits of Irish poor in English poorhouses, 158.

 Charitable institutions, establishment of, 13;
   recommendation to allow them to subsist as they are, 185.

 Charity, private, tendency of, to encourage mendicancy, 140.

 Charles the First, the Roman catholics of Ireland adhere to his cause,

 Chief commissioner of the Irish Poor Law Board, enactment for the
    appointment of, in 1847, 333.

 Children, punishment for the desertion of, 30;
   required age of, for admission into the Dublin Foundling Hospital,
      85, 86;
   indiscriminate admission of, 85 _note_;
   enactment making them chargeable, if able, for the support of their
      parents, 227;
   number of, in the Dublin Foundling Hospital, 249;
   amount expended in feeding, 388;
   number of, in the workhouses in 1851, 390.

 Cholera, appearance of, in 1849, 350.

 Cholesbury, the case of, cited, 136.

 Christian monasteries, state of, in Ireland at an early period, 2.

 Church collections for the relief of distress, 106.

 —— holidays, meat eaten by the poor only on, 132.

 Churchwardens to remove from their parish, or to confine in bridewell,
    wandering beggars and vagabonds, 86.

 Cities, towns, &c., of 10,000 inhabitants may be divided into wards for
    the purpose of electing guardians, 233.

 Clare, distressed state of, 365;
   mortality in, 372.

 Clergy of various persuasions to furnish religious instruction to the
    children of their own faith, 112;
   favourable to a system of poor-laws, 167.

 Clergymen to preach sermons for the support of houses of industry, 55;
   of whatever denomination not to be poor-law guardians, 175.

 Clerks of workhouses to keep register books, 226.

 Clothes of vagabond beggars to be washed and cleansed, 86.

 Clothing of the labourers in Ireland, inferiority of, in Ireland, 63.

 Coals imported into Cork, a duty imposed on, in 1735, for the support
    of the workhouse, 43.

 Cod-fishery, facilities for, on the coasts of Ireland, 89;
   success of the encouragement of in Scotland, _ibid._, 90.

 Corn, clamourings for a prohibition of the export of, in 1855, 17.

 Collection of rates, no difficulty found in the, 277.

 Colonization by Irish labourers, recommended to be undertaken by
    government in 1830, 107.

 Comforts and conveniences, the providing of, not the proper object of a
    poor-law, 203.

 Commission appointed in 1833 to inquire into the condition of the
    poorer classes in Ireland, 118;
   first Report of, in 1835, _ibid._ _et seq._;
   heads of inquiry adopted, 119;
   second Report of, in 1836, 125 _et seq._;
   third Report of, in 1836, 131 _et seq._

 Commissioners to inquire into the nature and extent of Irish bogs,
    appointment of, 75;
   utility of, 76;
   Reports of, _ibid._

 —-—-— of 1833, names of, 118.

 —-—-— of Inquiry, differences of opinion among, as to the nature of
    their Report, 129.

 —-—-— to appoint guardians if not duly elected, 224.

 —-—-— empowered to levy a rate-in-aid for the relief of distressed
    unions, 356.

 —-—-— of valuation, commissioners empowered to appoint one, 393.

 Commissions for the Poor Laws, difficulty of union of purpose if
    separate are appointed for England and Ireland, 188.

 Committee of the house of commons on the poor in Ireland, Report of, 82
    _et seq._

 Compulsory and voluntary relief, agitation of the question as to the
    advantages and disadvantages of, 129.

 —— rates, enormous amount asserted to be necessary for relieving all
    cases of distress, 149.

 Con-acre, use to be derived from, in diminishing the number of small
    holdings, 166.

 Condition of the poor, variations of in different parts of Ireland, 97.

 Confinement more irksome to an Irishman than an Englishman, 171.

 Connaught, the province of, probably an ecclesiastical formation, 3;
   unions, satisfactory state of, in 1851, 378;
   and Munster, state of, in 1851, 390.

 Consolidation of farms, good and evil effects of, 97;
   of small holdings in Donegal, desirableness of, 202;
   new Poor Law likely to assist in effecting, _ibid._

 Constables to be appointed presidents of every town within the English
    pale, by an Act in 1465, 16;
   to make privy search for rogues, vagabonds, and idle persons, 29.

 Contracts made by guardians not valid unless conformable to the rules,

 Contributions called voluntary frequently a real and unequal tax, 147.

 Convicted persons, of felony fraud or perjury, ineligible for
    guardians, 293.

 Cooked-food system of relief, adoption of, 318;
   number of persons fed under, _ibid._;
   expense incurred under, 319.

 Cork, surrendered to Cromwell, 10;
   act for erecting a workhouse in, 42;
   regulations for the government of, 43;
   exempted from the provisions of the act for providing for deserted
      children, 81;
   assistant-commissioners sent to, 234, 236;
   union, establishment of, 251;
   progress of, 262;
   workhouse, inconvenient state of, in 1841, 262.

 Corn-laws, alteration of, 311.

 Corporate bodies, boards of guardians constituted, 224.

 —— to vote for guardians by their officers, 230.

 Corporations in Ireland, act for the establishment of, 52;
   regulations for, _ibid._

 Correspondence of assistant-commissioners with the Dublin board, 241.

 Cosherers, act against, 34.

 Cost of relief, increase of in 1847, 329;
   of subsistence in 1851, 391;
   in 1853, 397.

 Cottages in Donegal, miserable appearance of, 201.

 Cottier-tenants, deterioration of the soil by, 160.

 Cottiers, Irish, extreme charity towards mendicants, 206;
   reasons of, _ibid._, 207.

 Counties made answerable for robberies, 39.

 County-cess collectors may be appointed to collect the poor-rates, 228.

 County hospitals, act for the establishment of, 74.

 —— infirmaries, number of, number of patients in, and incomes of, in
    1830, 101.

 —— magistrates to be ex-officio guardians, but not to exceed in number
    one-third of the number of elected guardians, 174.

 Coynie and liveries, grievances occasioned by, 23.

 Cromwell, conquest of Ireland by, 10.

 Crops, deficiency of, in Ireland, in 1839, 257.

 Cultivated land in Great Britain and Ireland, comparative quantities
    and produce of, 131.

 Cultivation of land, extension of needed in Donegal, 201.

 Cumulative voting, answer to the objections against, 207.

 Customs, barbarous, existing in Ireland in 1634-5, 33.

 Dancing, universality of among the labouring poor in Ireland, 64.

 Danes, irruptions of, into Ireland, 3.

 Day-labourers, no employment for, in Ireland, 161.

 Deaf dumb and blind poor, recommendation of a provision for, 128;
   to be sent to institutions, and their maintenance to be paid for by
      guardians, 292.

 Deceased poor, boards of guardians enabled to provide for the burial
    of, 354.

 Demoralization of the poor, fallacious objection that a system of
    poor-laws would occasion, 163.

 Depôts for emigrants, the establishment of recommended, 137.

 —— de mendicité, in Holland and Belgium, defects of, 213.

 —— for meal, determination not to establish government, in 1846, 313.

 Dermod, king of Leinster, expelled by O'Connor, king of Connaught,
    seeks the assistance of Henry the Second of England, 3.

 Deserted children, provision for, 49;
   act for providing for, 81.

 Deserving poor allowed to beg, 56.

 Destitute persons, means of emigration to be provided for, 143;
   a legal provision for, an indispensable preliminary to the
      suppression of mendicancy, 167;
   danger of their flocking to one union in case of there being no law
      of settlement, how to be obviated, 181;
   Irish in England, strong disinclination of to the restrictions of a
      workhouse, 196, 197;
   poor, work to be provided for in workhouses, 225.

 Destitution, inquiry as to why the Irish labouring poor do not provide
    against, 122;
   the workhouse the all-sufficient test of, 152.

 Deterioration and misery of a too-rapidly increasing population, 90.

 Dietaries, workhouse, order for, 252.

 Difficulties in deciding upon objects for out-door relief, 204.

 Distress, unexampled, of the Irish labouring poor in 1822, 91;
   parliamentary grants in aid of, _ibid._;
   amount of subscriptions to alleviate, 92;
   government advances to be made to relieve in 1822, 80;
   again occurs in Ireland owing to a failure of crops in 1839 and 1842,
      256, 285;
   amount of government relief afforded, _ibid., note:f114#_;
   and again most severely in 1846 to 1849, 307 to 360.

 Distressed unions, number of assisted, 360;
   further advance to in 1853, 396.

 Divisions on the Irish Poor Law bill in the house of commons, 210;
   in the house of lords, 220.

 Divisional chargeability, dissatisfaction with, 297.

 Diocesses of Ireland, a free school to be established in each of the,

 Discussion on the first reading of the Irish Poor Law bill in 1837,

 Dispensaries, local, act for the establishment of, 74;
   number of in 1830, and number of patients relieved by, 103;
   number of in 1836, 126.

 Dispensary districts, enactment for dividing unions into, 383.

 Donegal, peculiar condition of the county of, 200.

 Doyle, Dr., evidence of on the condition of the poor in Ireland, 98,
    100, 106.

 Draining of bogs and marshes recommended as a means of providing
    employment for the labouring poor, 88, 89.

 Drogheda stormed by Cromwell, 10.

 Drunkenness or disobedience in a workhouse, punishment for, 227.

 Dublin, assistant-commissioner stationed at, 234.

 Dublin Foundling Hospital, account of, 85;
   objects of, _ibid._;
   means of support of, _ibid._;
   parliamentary grants to, 86;
   number of admissions of children to, _ibid._;
   state of in 1839, 248;
   formed into a workhouse, 250.

 —— House of Industry, account of, 83;
   means of support of, 84;
   sums raised for, _ibid._;
   management of, _ibid._;
   number of admissions to, 85;
   state of in 1839, 247, 248;
   formed into a workhouse, 250.

 —— Mendicity Society, difficulty of supporting, 165;
   application of the officers of, for compensation, 253;
   closing of, 261.

 —— Society, grant of money to, 73.

 —— workhouse, act for erecting in 1703, 35;
   regulations for the government of, 36;
   rate to be levied for the support of, 37;
   merged in the Foundling Hospital, 38;
   workhouses, establishment of, 250;
   progress of, 261.

 —— unions, examples afforded by, of the efficacy of the workhouse test,
   numbers relieved in, _ibid._

 Dunmanway union, separate rating of electoral divisions abolished in,

 Dwellings, overcrowding of, productive of fevers, 78.

 Earth-tillers, act of Henry VIII. for the protection of, 20.

 Ebrington, Lord (now Earl Fortescue), exertions of, in favour of the
    establishment of the new Poor Law, 250.

 Ecclesiastical promotion, directions for regulating, 21.

 Education adopted as a means of extending the Reformation, 25;
   effects of, 26;
   of the poor in Ireland, generality of, 63;
   the necessity of not interfering with religious belief in, pointed
      out, 110;
   of workhouse children, arrangements for, 264;
   nature of, 391.

 Egyptians, or feigned Egyptians, to be punished as vagabonds, 30.

 Eighth Report of proceedings in 1846 under the New Poor Law Act in
    Ireland, 303.

 Election districts for guardians, power of the Poor Law Commissioners
    to form, 175.

 Election of guardians, the first proceedings under the new Poor Law
    Act, 242;
   amended order for, 302.

 Electoral divisions, difficulties arising from having adopted, 288;
   number of in 1846, 304;
   two or more may be combined for the election of a guardian, 368;
   increase in the number of, 373, 384.

 Electors of guardians, who ought to be, 173.

 Elizabeth, assimilation by of the ecclesiastical establishments in
    Ireland to those of England, 4.

 Emigration, notice of, 65;
   recommended as a means of alleviating the state of the poor in
      Ireland, 100;
   recommendation of as a government measure in 1830, 106;
   recommended by the Commissioners of Inquiry as a means of relieving
      the distress in Ireland, 136;
   direct interposition in favour of, not recommended, 185;
   probability of its weakening the parent stock, 186;
   if necessary, to be promoted by the equal contributions of government
      and the district relieved, 186;
   rates for, how to be raised, 226;
   view of the Irish Poor Law Commission as to, 255;
   defects in the Irish Poor Relief Act for providing means for, 275;
   want of funds for promoting, 287;
   amount of, in 1846-7, 327, 328;
   enactment giving guardians the power to assist, 331;
   amount expended by unions in 1849 for promoting, 370;
   numbers assisted in 1850, 373;
   total amount of from 1847 to 1850, 386;
   in 1851 and 1852, _ibid._;
   amount expended on in 1855, 403, _note_.

 Emigrants from Ireland to Canada in 1846-7, sickness and expense caused
    by, 327, _note_;
   mortality amongst, 328.

 Employment, want of by the labouring poor, a cause of disease, 87;
   act for providing, 80;
   of pauper idiots in a workhouse recommended, 184;
   increase of, beyond the duties of a poor-law, 185;
   in workhouses, the nature of, 274.

 England and Ireland, difference between as to provision for the poor,

 English adventurers in Ireland, conduct of, 4.

 —— Poor Law Commission recommended to carry into effect a new Poor Law
    for Ireland, 187, 188.

 —— and Scottish provisions against vagrancy, similarity of the Irish
    legislation to, 56.

 —— Poor Law, asserted unfitness of for Ireland, 133.

 Escapes from houses of correction, to be followed by a fine on the
    governor, 29.

 Evidence presented with the second Report of the Commissioners of
    Inquiry, value of, 124.

 Excess of population in Donegal, 201.

 Expenditure, probable amount of under a poor-law, would not exceed what
    is now given in mischievous alms, 164;
   for relief in 1841, 276;
   in 1842, 283;
   total, for the relief of the distress occasioned by the potato
      disease in Ireland, 320.

 _Ex-officio_ guardians, reasons for having, 208;
   to be elected in cases of vacancies, 293;
   extension of, but not to exceed the number of elected guardians, 331;
   guardians, non-resident justices may be appointed where a sufficient
      number are not resident, 368.

 Expense, probable, of maintaining the Irish poor on the English
    poor-law system, 134.

 —— of emigration, where necessary to be borne equally by the government
    and the district relieved, 186.

 Expenses of the Cork and Dublin workhouses in 1840, 263.

 Falsehood and fraud, parts of the profession of mendicancy, 161.

 Families, punishment for the desertion of, 30;
   to be relieved as a whole, and not separately, 177.

 Famine, annual occurrence of between the exhaustion of the old crop of
    potatoes and the ripening of the new, 166;
   cessation of in Ireland in 1847, 318.

 Farming societies of Ireland, grant of money to, 73.

 Farms, large, small number of, 160.

 Fathers made answerable penally for the offences of their sons by an
    act in 1457, 15.

 Fatherless poor children under eight years old, to be sent to the
    charter school nursery and to be apprenticed, 54.

 Female foundlings, instructions for, 45.

 Fermoy barrack, taken for a workhouse, 244, _note_.

 Fertility of Ireland and England, causes of difference in, 60.

 Fetters gyves and whipping, punishments for rogues and vagabonds, 28.

 Fever, dangerous prevalence of in Ireland, 86;
   number of patients passing through the Dublin Fever Hospital in one
      year, 102;
   numbers suffering from and dying of in 1817, 102;
   act for making provision for persons afflicted with, 319.

 —— hospitals, act for providing and for the support of, 77;
   number of in 1836, 126;
   dispensaries, &c., commissioners to report on the management of, 226.

 Fever patients, numbers of, in 1847, 339.

 —— wards in workhouses, number of provided in 1846, 306.

 Fevers in Ireland, increase of, 77.

 Fifth Report of Proceedings in Ireland under the new Poor Law Act, 282.

 Fifth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners for Ireland, 378 _et

 Finances of unions, depressed state of in 1847, 339, 340;
   state of in 1848, 347.

 First Report of Proceedings in Ireland under the New Poor Law Act, 242.

 First Report of Medical Charity Commissioners, 384.

 First Report of the Irish Poor Commissioners, 1848, 330 _et seq._

 Fiscal boards, proposed establishment of in each county, 139.

 Fisheries, recommendation to encourage by legislative grants, 88;
   utility of as a nursery for seamen, 89.

 Flax, grown, prepared, and spun by the small farmers in the north of
    Ireland, 63.

 Flax and hemp, bogs to be reclaimed for the purpose of growing, for the
    use of the navy, and for the support of the linen manufacture, 75.

 Flitting, practice of, to defraud the revenue and the landlords, 33.

 Food of Belgian peasantry, 215.

 Forfeitures, costs, &c., to be levied by distress if not paid, 231.

 Form of valuation, difficulties arising from, 289.

 Fortune-tellers to be punished as vagabonds, 30.

 Foundling hospital and workhouse in Dublin, act for the establishment
    of in 1771-2, 46;
   endowment of and regulations for the government of, _ibid._;
   regulations for the admission of children into, 47;
   increased rate for, 49;
   to receive deserted children, 81;
   charge for in 1833, 128.

 Foundling hospitals on the continent, notice of, 45.

 —-—-—, enactment for appropriating as workhouses, 225.

 —-—-— of Cork and Galway, expenses of in 1833, 128;
   number of children in, _ibid._

 Foundlings, provision for the care of, 44;
   male, to be apprenticed, and to have the freedom of the city on the
      expiration of their apprenticeship, _ibid._

 Fourth Report in 1842 of Proceedings under the new Poor Law in Ireland,

 Fourth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners for Ireland, 371.

 France, the workhouse test principle not adopted in, 197.

 Free distribution of labour, impediments offered by a law of settlement
    to, 202.

 Free-schools, act for the erection of, 24;
   expenses of, how to be defrayed, 25.

 French wars prevent the attention of the English to Ireland, 4;
   agents lead to the rebellion in 1798, 11;
   troops landed in Ireland in 1798, surrender of, 67.

 Funds, founded on voluntary contribution, advantages of for the relief
    of distress, 149;
   difficulty of supplying to afford means of emigrating, 287.

 Galway, effective fever hospital established in, 300.

 Gauls or Celtes, from Spain supposed to have peopled Ireland, 1.

 Geese, plucking the feathers from live, 32, _note_.

 General rules for management of workhouses, &c., to be issued by
    commissioners, 222.

 General Merchant Seamen’s Act, extended to workhouse boys in Ireland,

 Gentlemen, idle, mode of living, oppressions occasioned thereby, and
    transportation made a punishment for, on the presentment of a grand
    jury, 34, 35.

 Germany, strangers from, resort to the Irish schools, 2.

 Ghent, manner of living of a small occupier near, 216.

 Goods and chattels to be liable to distress for poor-rate to whomsoever
    belonging, if found on the premises, 291.

 Governors to be appointed by the justices for houses of correction, 28.

 —— and guardians of Dublin workhouse, donors of 50_l._ to become, 37.

 —— of Cork and Dublin workhouses empowered to exchange children in
    order to prevent parents interfering with the protestant education
    of their children, 45.

 Government loans to be made to relieve the distress in Ireland in 1822,
   for the erection of workhouses, mode of managing, 272;
   amount of, 273.

 —— interference with labour, though not generally advisable,
    recommended for Ireland, 95.

 —— supervision of schools supported wholly or partly at the public
    expense, necessity for, 111.

 —— relief afforded to the west of Ireland, during the distress in 1839,
   afforded to alleviate the distress in 1842, 285, _note_.

 —— measures to alleviate the distress occasioned by the potato-disease,

 Grain, act against the exportation of, 1472, 16;
   erroneous policy of, 16, 17;
   exportation of from Ireland during the distress of 1823, 92.

 —— crops, deficiency of in 1841, 281.

 Grand juries empowered to assess rates for erecting and supporting
    county hospitals and dispensaries, 74;
   to present sums for the support of fever hospitals, 78;
   and for lunatic asylums, 79.

 Grants to distressed unions, amount of in 1848, 347, 348.

 Gratuitous relief, an encouragement to pauperism and indolence, 93.

 Greek church, probability of the Irish church being derived from, 2.

 Guardians, boards of, recommended by the Commissioners of Inquiry, 141;
   who should be electors of, 173;
   clergymen of whatever description not to be chosen, 175;
   and paid officers of unions not to furnish supplies for the union
      under a penalty, 230;
   directions as to the number of and qualifications for, 238;
   number of elections contested and not contested, 267;
   may employ rates in apprehending or prosecuting offenders against the
      Poor Law Act, 292;
   or may employ the rates in assisting emigration, 293;
   warning of the commissioners to, against overcrowding the workhouses,
   commissioners empowered to fix different amounts of qualification in
      different electoral divisions, 368.

 Habitations of the poor, wretched condition of, 132.

 Hackney coaches licensed for the support of Dublin workhouse, 37;
   licensed for the support of the Dublin Foundling Hospital, 48;
   number increased for, 49.

 Hair, act against the Irish fashion of wearing, 20.

 Hamburgh, the workhouse-test principle not adopted in, 197.

 ‘Handbook of Architecture,’ notices of, 2, _note_.

 Harbours, the formation of recommended, 95.

 Harrowing by the tail, practice of, 60.

 Harvest in Great Britain, Irish labourers seek employment at, 132;
   beneficial effects of a good, in 1847, 340.

 Hedge-schools, notice of, 63.

 Helpless children, act for the apprenticing of, 41;
   remedy for in cases of ill usage, 42.

 —— poor to be maintained, 56.

 Henry the Second, submission of Ireland to, in 1172, 1, 3.

 Henry the Seventh, exertions of to restore order in Ireland, 4.

 Henry the Eighth assumes the title of king of Ireland, 4.

 ‘History of the English Poor Laws,’ cited, 5, 21, 23, 31, 38, 42, 118,
    241, 306, 327, 328.

 Holland, visit of the author to, 211 _et seq._;
   report of the management of the poor in, 212.

 Holy Scriptures, objections of the Roman catholics to the
    indiscriminate reading by their children, 114.

 Hood, act against wearing the Irish, 20.

 Hospitals for the poor to be provided, 53;
   how to be divided, _ibid._

 House of lords, bill for the relief of the Irish poor read a first time
    in, in 1838, 217;
   read a second time, 218;
   division in committee upon, 220;
   read a third time and passed, 221.

 Houses to be cleansed and purified, 78.

 —— of the peasant farmer in Belgium, contrast of with those of Ireland,

 —— of correction to be built or provided in every county, 1634-5, 28.

 —— of industry to be provided, 53;
   imperfect provision of, 82;
   number of in 1830, 105;
   ineffectiveness of while combining the functions of hospitals and
      prisons, _ibid._;
   number of and total income of, in 1833, 127;
   number of inmates in, _ibid._;
   to be made available as workhouses, recommended, 186;
   enactment for using as workhouses, 225.

 Husbandmen and labourers, act in 1447 for preventing the sons of, from
    changing their profession, 15.

 Husbands, enactment for making them chargeable for the support of their
    wives and children, 227;
   deserting their wives and families, enactment for the punishment of
      with imprisonment, 333.

 Idiots and insane persons, wards not provided for, 83.

 Idle persons, to be brought to be justified in law, 23.

 Illegitimate children to be dependent on their mother, recommendation
    of, 183.

 Immigration of Irish poor into England, necessity occasioned by of
    improving their state in their own country, 153.

 Immigrants to England during 1846-7, expense and sickness caused by,
    326, 327.

 Impatience of the public for the Report of the Commissioners of
    Inquiry, 124.

 Impediments to emigration, propriety of removing, 185.

 Implements, agricultural, rude nature of, 95.

 Impositions practised under the Temporary Relief Act, 345.

 Imprisonment a punishment for begging without a licence, 53.

 Improved circumstances of the country in 1851, 378.

 Incapacitated persons empowered to convey land, &c. for workhouses,

 Incorporations, formation of to provide and maintain fever hospitals,

 Incumbrances on estates of proprietors a cause of distress and want of
    employment, 94;
   on Irish landed property, great extent of, 145.

 Incumbrancers on Irish estates, recommendation that they should be
    rated for the support of the poor, 140.

 Indian corn, importation of to mitigate the distress occasioned by the
    potato disease, 307;
   reduction of the duty on, 308;
   prices of in 1847, 318, _note_.

 —— meal, daily amount supplied to each person, 346.

 Indirect means adopted for charging property for the relief of
    destitution, 51.

 Indolence of Irish peasantry, 162.

 Industrial schools, enactment enabling additional land to be provided
    for, 354.

 —— training of children in workhouses, nature of, 391.

 Industry, what branches of may be safely encouraged by legislative
    means, 88.

 Infants, poor, deserted by their parents, provision for, 49.

 Infectious fevers in Ireland, increase of, 77.

 Infirmaries and hospitals, act for the management of, 74;
   required to make annual returns, 75.

 —— number of, in 1836, government grants to, and constitution of, 125.

 Inmates of workhouses, not to be compelled to attend religious services
    not of their own creed, 226;
   number of, in the Cork and Dublin workhouses in 1841, 263;
   number of in, on January 1, 1841, 1842, and 1843, 283;
   in 1844, 299;
   in 1845-6, 303;
   in 1848, 322;
   in 1847, 345;
   in March 1848, 346;
   in September 1848, 363;
   in March 1849, 351;
   in June 1849, 365;
   in 1848-9, 366;
   in September 1849, 371;
   in March 1850, 366;
   in September 1850, 371;
   in September 1850, 376;
   in September 1851, 387;
   in September 1852, 394;
   in 1853, _ibid._;
   in 1854, 402.

 Inspection of workhouses by the author, 284.

 —— of rate-book, how and to whom allowed, 292.

 Inspectors, medical, commissioners empowered to appoint, 362;
   enactment empowering them to visit and examine dispensaries, to
      examine witnesses upon oath, and to execute the powers of the
      Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Acts, 383.

 Institutions supported by voluntary charity, notice of, 105;
   established for the relief of the poor, Report of the inquiry
      commissioner on, in 1836, 125;
   total amount of charge for in 1833, 128.

 Instructions, letter of, from Lord John Russell to the author, relative
    to his investigation of the state of Ireland, 157.

 Investigation, unsuccessful, as to the cause of the potato disease,

 Ireland, supposed to have been peopled from Spain, 1;
   not attacked by the barbarians who dismembered the Roman empire, 2;
   ancient division of, into four provinces, 3;
   how differing from England and Scotland in making no provision for
      the poor, 13;
   state of, in 1776-78, 59 _et seq._;
   various opinions as to, 61;
   the real improvement of, must spring from herself, 151;
   distress of, in 1839, through an unfavourable season and deficiency
      of crops, 257;
   extreme distress of, 1846 to 1849, 307 to 360;
   population of, in 1821, 1831, 1841, and 1851, 387.

 Ireton, completion of the conquest of Ireland by, 10.

 Irish, supposed to have occupied great part of Britain, 1;
   known by the name of Scots, 2;
   description of by Spenser, 6 _et seq._;
   character, summary of, by Arthur Young, 64;
   parliament, acts of, 13 _et seq._;
   bogs, act for the reclaiming of, 75;
   peers, alarm of at the supposed extent of the poor-rate, 217;
   government, applications to, for relief, and schemes and suggestions
      for relieving the distress in 1839, 257.

 ‘Irish Crisis,’ by Sir Charles Trevelyan, notice of, 256, _note_; 285,
    _note_; 307, 311, 314, 319, 320, 328.

 Irish Poor-Law Commission, re-formation of, 338.

 —— Poor-Law board delegated to assistant-commissioners, 284;
   establishment of, 330, 333;
   powers of the previous commissioners transferred to, 334.

 Irishrie, five of the best, to bring all idle persons of their surname
    to be justified by law, 23.

 Irishry, feuds and disorders of the, 14.

 Island Bridge barrack adapted for the reception of lunatics, 249.

 James the First, insurrection of Ireland during the reign of, 9.

 James the Second, the Roman catholics of Ireland adhere to the cause
    of, 10.

 Joint-stock companies to vote for guardians by their officers, 230.

 Judges of assize to impose rates on parishes refusing to provide for
    poor deserted infants, 50.

 Justices of the peace to regulate wages, 21;
   empowered to decide disputes between masters and employers, and
      servants, artificers, and labourers, 40;
   enactment for their being _ex-officio_ members of the boards of
      guardians, 223;
   time and mode of electing, 224;
   empowered to proceed on summons for recovery of penalties, 230.

 Kay, Dr., visit of to Holland and Belgium, 211;
   report of on education, _ibid._

 Kearns and idle people, act relating to in 1310, 13.

 Kildare Street Society, notice of, 113, _note_;
   Mr. Stanley’s (Earl of Derby) remarks on, 114 _et seq._

 King’s speech, in relation to Ireland, on opening parliament in 1836,

 Kinsale surrendered to Cromwell, 10.

 Labour, act for the regulation of the wages of, 21;
   impolicy of, 22;
   method of paying for in Ireland, 61.

 —— Rate Act, passing of, 313.

 Labouring poor in Ireland, description of the state of in 1823, 94;
   legislative interference with to be avoided if possible, 88;
   proportion of out of employment, 96;
   in Ireland, condition of, 132.

 La Cambré, account of the workhouse of, 213.

 Land, enactment that not more than twelve acres be annexed to
    workhouses, 225.

 Land, rise in the value of, 98.

 Landlord and tenant, relations between, 97.

 Landlords, ill effects apprehended from imposing a poor-rate on, 136.

 Landowners, advantages of making them contribute to the support of the
    destitute, 190.

 Lands, limitation of the quantity of, to be held by corporations for
    the use of the poor, 52.

 Lascelles, Rowley, notice of, 2, _note_.

 Legal claims to relief, advantage of not giving the poor, 149.

 —— provision recommended by the Commissioners of Inquiry for sick and
    infirm poor, for emigration, and for casual destitution, 140, 141.

 —— proceedings taken against unions for neglecting to collect rates,

 Legislation, Irish, for the relief of the poor, summary view of, 57,

 Leinster, Duke of, Mr. Stanley’s (now Earl of Derby) letter to,
    announcing the formation of a national system of education, 113.

 —— the province of, probably an ecclesiastical formation, 3.

 Lessor made liable for the poor-rate in certain cases, 291.

 Letter of author to Lord John Russell in 1853, 399 _et seq._

 Lewis, G. C. ‘Remarks on the Third Report of the Irish Poor Inquiry
    Commissioners,’ 151.

 Lezers (gleaners) of corn, act against, _temp._ Hen. VIII., 19.

 Liability of persons to support their destitute relatives, 278.

 ‘Liber Munerum Publicorum Hibernie,’ notice of, 2, _note_.

 Licences to beg, how and to whom to be granted, 52.

 Limerick, the surrender of, 10;
   assistant-commissioners sent to, 234, 236.

 Limited relief for the poor, adoption of, 51.

 Linen manufacture in Ireland, ill consequences of a mixture of with
    agricultural pursuits, 89.

 Lingard, Dr., statement as to the early learning of Ireland, 2.

 Lismore, council at, submits to Henry the Second in 1172, and receives
    the English laws, 3.

 Livery, act of 1495 against retainers, 18;
   penalty for transgressing, _ibid._

 Living in Ireland, cheapness of, as compared with England, 65.

 Loan funds, recommended for the assistance of the poor, 142.

 Loans to families, by way of relief, recommended in certain cases, 178;
   for erecting workhouses, mode of managing, 272;
   amount of, 273;
   amount of from government in 1845, for the erection of workhouses,
   may be raised on the security of the rates, to defray the expenses of
      emigration, 369.

 Local machinery for the administration of relief, proposed to be the
    same as in England, 178.

 —— acts to cease on the establishment of workhouses under the New Poor
    Law Act, 226.

 London subscription to alleviate the distress in Ireland in 1823,
    amount of, 92.

 Londonderry, Marquis of, opposition to the Irish Poor Law bill, 219.

 —— ——, assistant-commissioners sent to, 236.

 Lunacy more prevalent in Ireland than in England, 79.

 Lunatic asylums, act for providing, 79;
   increase of in 1830, and effectiveness of, 103, 104;
   number of in 1836, and expenditure of in 1833, 126.

 Magistrates, why some should be _ex-officio_ members of boards of
    guardians, 208.

 Mann, Capt., account of the appearance of the potato during the
    disease, 310.

 Mantle, act against wearing the Irish, 20.

 Manufacturing and farming, prejudicial effects of the union of, 63.

 Market-towns to be fixed on for centres of unions, 237.

 Marriages, early, facilities for and encouragement of in Ireland, 55;
   prevalence of in Ireland, 99.

 Marshes and bogs, increased advantages of draining on a large scale,

 Mary, accession of in 1553, 4;
   retards the Reformation, _ibid._

 Mathew, Father, his account of the appearance of the potato during the
    disease, 310.

 Meal, amount of distributed in 1846, 312.

 —— and medical aid, government supply of to relieve the poor in
    Donegal, 200.

 Measures for the relief of the poor, necessity of considering the good
    of society in general in the construction of, 133.

 Meat seldom eaten by the Irish labouring poor, except at seasons
    prescribed by the Roman catholic church, 132.

 Medical and surgical aid, provision for the supply of to the poor, 74.

 Medical charities, Report of the Inquiry Commissioners on, 125;
   total expense of supporting in 1833, and number of cases relieved,
   inquiry into, 268;
   report on in 1842, 279;
   act, summary of, 382, 383.

 —— commissioner, enactment for the appointment of, 383.

 —— practitioners, remuneration of for vaccination cases, 268.

 —— relief for the poor, inequality in the distribution of, 127.

 Melbourne, Lord, speech of on introducing the new Irish Poor Law bill
    to the house of lords in 1838, 218.

 Mendicancy, measures for the repression of, 44;
   prevalence of, in Ireland, 161;
   filth and squalor the accompaniments of, 162;
   means taken for the repression of under the new Poor Law, 254;
   bill introduced to the house of commons for the suppression of in
      Ireland, 265;
   not proceeded with, _ibid._;
   continued existence of, 280, 281.

 Mendicants, poor-law relief necessary for the suppression of, 181;
   prevalence of and encouragement of in Ireland, 182;
   to be removed as soon as possible into workhouses, _ibid._

 Mendicity Society of Dublin, income of, 106.

 —— the sole resource of the aged and impotent poor, 132.

 —— institutions, examples of the inefficiency of, 148.

 Middle classes, almost entirely the supporters of the poor in 1830,
    106, _note_.

 Middlemen, practice of employing, 60;
   injurious consequences of, 61.

 Migration of mendicant poor, tends to diffuse contagious fevers, 86.

 Migratory habits of the Irish opposed to a law of settlement, 181.

 Milk, use of by the labouring poor in Ireland, 61.

 Ministers and churchwardens of every parish to bind helpless children
    as apprentices, 41, 42.

 Minute of the Poor Law Board of Ireland, of Dec. 5, 1849, 257.

 Missionaries, Irish, teachers of the Anglo-Saxons, 2.

 Model schools, agricultural, proposed establishment of, 138.

 Monasteries in Ireland, oasis of civilization, 2.

 Money to be raised for building and supporting houses of correction,
   provision for borrowing by boards of guardians, 230.

 —— wages, the disadvantages of not paying, 35.

 Morpeth, Lord, announcement by of the intentions of government, 155;
   introduces a bill to the house of commons for the suppression of
      mendicancy in Ireland, but it is not proceeded with, 265.

 Mortality, greatly increased ratio of in workhouses during the distress
    occasioned by the potato disease, 326;
   decrease of in 1847, 338;
   in workhouses, increased ratio of in Feb. 1848, 345;
   in 1849, 351.

 Munich, the workhouse test principle not adopted in, 197.

 Munster, the province of, probably an ecclesiastical formation, 3;
   unions, embarrassed state of in 1851, 378;
   and Connaught, state of in 1851, 390.

 Musgrave, Sir Richard, introduction of a bill by for the relief of the
    poor in Ireland, 154;
   consideration of postponed, 155.

 National Board of Education, formation of in 1831, 113;
   powers of, 116, 117;
   incorporated in 1844, 118.

 —— distinctions between Irish and English, act for abolishing, 26.

 —— establishments, recommendation of providing, for lunatics, deaf dumb
    and blind poor, vagrants, and persons willing to emigrate, 142;
   the whole of Ireland to be rated for, _ibid._

 —— improvement of Ireland, a board recommended for carrying into
    effect, 137.

 —— schools, regulations for applications for aid, 116;
   debate in the house of commons in 1832 on the government plan for,
   parliamentary grant in favour of, 118.

 Navigation laws, alteration of, 311.

 Needy but not destitute persons, not objects of poor-law relief, 203.

 Newport, Sir John, chairman of the select committee to inquire into the
    state of disease and the condition of the labouring poor in 1819,
   chairman of the select committee of the house of commons in 1827, on
      education in Ireland, 108.

 Nicholls, Mr. G. ‘Suggestions’ of, in 1836, 130;
   recommendation of Lord John Russell to the house of commons to adopt
      the means proposed by, in order to relieve the distress in
      Ireland, 191;
   Second Report of, 196 _et seq._

 Ninth Report of the proceedings in 1847 under the new Poor Law Act in
    Ireland, 309 _et seq._

 Nobility and gentry of Ireland, measures of Henry VII. for reducing the
    power of, 19.

 Non-residence of proprietors in Ireland a cause of distress, 90.

 North of Ireland, difference between and the south and west, 63;
   the author’s examination of the state of, 199;
   alleged inapplicability of the new Poor Law to, refuted, _ibid._

 Northmen, irruptions of into Ireland, 3.

 Notice of claims to vote for guardians, term for making extended, 293.

 Nottinghamshire, continued efficiency of the workhouse test in two
    parishes of, 164.

 Oatmeal, moderate price of during the famine in Ireland in 1823, 92.

 Oats, cultivation of in Donegal, to procure whiskey, 201.

 Objections to the establishment of the English workhouse system in
    Ireland, combated by Lord John Russell, 192, 193;
   to the new Irish Poor Law bill answered by the author, 197 _et seq._

 O'Brien, Smith, bill introduced by for a system of poor-laws, 154.

 Occupiers, to pay one-half of the poor-rate, 180;
   rated under 5_l._, reasons for exempting from payment of poor-rates,
   to pay the poor-rate, 228;
   and to deduct half from the owner, _ibid._;
   under 5_l._ annual rent, regulation as to, 290;
   of more than a quarter of an acre not to be deemed destitute, 331.

 O'Connell, Mr. D., opposition of to the Irish Poor Law bill of 1837-8,
   difficulties arising in the execution of the poor-laws from his
      agitation for a repeal of the Union, 294.

 Officers of health, appointment of, 78;
   recommendation that they be elected in all towns having 1000 or more
      inhabitants, with power to direct the cleaning of streets,
      removing of nuisances, &c. 87;
   to cause foundlings and orphan children to be taken care of, and when
      of suitable age to be sent to some British colony, 144.

 —— of unions, commissioners empowered to fix salaries, prescribe
    duties, &c. 332.

 Opinions, various, respecting the causes of distress in Ireland, and
    the means of relieving, 120.

 Order of proceedings of boards of guardians, a new, issued, 384.

 Orders and regulations of the commissioner acting in Ireland forwarded
    to the London board, 241.

 —— issued in 1850 for forming twenty-four new unions, 367.

 Orphan-girls, number of enabled to emigrate, 353, 370.

 Out-door compulsory employment, not adapted for Ireland in the opinion
    of the commissioners of inquiry, 135;
   employment, difficulty in providing for the poor, 342.

 —— relief not to be given, 176;
   objections to affording in any case, 204;
   decision of the board against affording during the distress of 1839,
   limited power given to the guardians for distributing, 330, 331;
   necessity for allowing, 336;
   amount expended on, in 1848, 346;
   number of persons receiving, _ibid._;
   in 1849, 365;
   in 1850, 376;
   in 1851, 387, 388;
   in 1852, 394;
   in 1853, _ibid._;
   in 1854, 402.

 Outlaws, maintained by the lords to annoy each other’s rule, 23.

 Out-relief lists, number of persons on in 1848, 349;
   in 1849, 349;
   in March 1850, 366;
   in 1850, 376;
   in 1851, 387, 388;
   in 1852, 394;
   in 1853, _ibid._;
   in 1854, 402.

 Overcrowding of workhouses, dangerous results from, 325.

 Overseers to collect assessed rates to provide for poor deserted
    infants, 50.

 Owners of property to pay one-half of the poor-rate, 180, 229;
   objections to charging the whole of the poor-rate on, 204.

 Paid officers, recommendation of employing in administering relief,
   Commissioners to direct the appointment of, to carry the poor-law
      into effect, 224;
   of unions, the importance of the provision enabling the Commissioners
      to appoint, 337.

 Pale, English, notice of, 11.

 Pamphlets, on the relative value of compulsory and voluntary relief,

 Parish rates, recommendation that they should be levied for sanitary
    purposes, 87.

 Parishes refusing to provide for poor deserted infants, how to be
    proceeded against, 50.

 Parliament, prorogation of, 156;
   prorogation of on the death of William IV., 195.

 Parliamentary franchise, proposition to found upon the poor-law
    valuations, 266.

 —— grants for educational purposes in Ireland, total amount of in 1827,

 Parochial machinery for union management, necessity for varying in
    Irish parishes, 172.

 Pasturage, favourable climate of Ireland for, 60.

 Pauper idiots and lunatics, permission to be retained in workhouses
    under certain regulations, 184.

 —— labour, impolicy of endeavouring to make it a source of profit, 370.

 —— lunatics, wards in workhouses appropriated to, 266.

 Paupers affected with fever or contagious diseases may be maintained by
    the guardians in an asylum, or houses may be hired for them, 292.

 Pay-schools, number of scholars taught at in 1827, 109.

 Peace not to be made with Irish enemies without consent of the
    governor, 18.

 Peasantry, the desirableness of exciting to depend on their own
    exertions, 93;
   the necessity of their obtaining plots of land, the occasion of
      crime, 161;
   indolence and apathy of, 162;
   desultory habits and love of amusement of, 163.

 Penal colonies in Holland, account of, 214, _et seq._

 Penalties, justices empowered to proceed on summons for the recovery
    of, 230.

 Perjury, witnesses giving false evidence to the poor-law commissioners,
    subjected to the penalties for, 334.

 Personal property, difficulties of subjecting to a rate, 145.

 Persons relieved in 1847, number of, 339.

 Peter’s-pence, not paid by the Irish at an early period of their
    history, 2.

 Petitions of the Roman catholic hierarchy for means of education, 108.

 Phelan, Mr., investigation by into medical charities, 268.

 Phœnician colonies, probable existence of in Ireland, 1.

 Pitt, Mr., speech of on proposing the Union, 68;
   speech of on submitting resolutions for, 69, 70.

 Players of interludes and minstrels, found wandering, to be punished as
    vagabonds, 30.

 Plots of land, strong desire of the Irish peasantry for, 161.

 Ploughing by the tail, act against, 32.

 Political influence, the desire for, leading to the subdivision of
    lands, 161.

 Poor in Ireland, no provision for, until a recent period, 13.

 —— children in Dublin above five years old, to be apprenticed to
    protestants, 36.

 Poor-laws, a modified system recommended for Ireland, 100;
   English commissioners recommended for carrying into execution, 187,

 —— Law Commissioners of England to be Commissioners of Ireland, 231;
   changes in 1852, 398.

 —— rate to be recovered from the occupier, who may deduct it from the
    rent in certain cases, 291.

 Poor-rates, amount of charged and collected in 1844, 298.

 Poor relief, amount expended on in the year ending Sept. 1847, 345;
   to March 1848, 347;
   to Sept. 1848, 363;
   to March 1849, 351;
   to Sept. 1849, 371;
   to Sept. 1850, 376;
   to Sept. 1851, 387;
   to Sept. 1852, 394;
   in 1853, _ibid._;
   in 1854, 402.

 Population of Ireland, amount of at various periods, 11, 12;
   decrease of between 1841 and 1851, 12;
   in 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851, 357.

 ——, too rapid increase of, a cause of distress, 94.

 Porters and messengers to be licensed for the support of the Dublin
    Foundling Hospital, 48.

 Potato, the facility of procuring, leads to a boundless multiplication
    of human beings, 90.

 —— crop, distress occasioned by the failure of in 1823, 92;
   evils of a total dependence on, 93;
   in 1839, estimate of the state of, 259;
   deficiency of in 1841, 281.

 —— disease, occurrence of in 1845-6, 306;
   distress occasioned by, 307;
   re-appearance of in the autumn of 1846, 323;
   recurrence of in 1848, 349.

 Potatoes, the food of the labouring poor in Ireland, 61.

 Poverty, conclusive evidence as to the state of in Ireland, 158;
   not the sole cause of the condition of the Irish peasantry, 162.

 Poyning’s Act, 1495, effect of, 17.

 Presidents and assistants for the relief of the poor, institution of,

 Price of labour in Ireland in 1830, 96.

 Private trade in corn, determination not to interfere with, 313.

 —— subscriptions, amount of for the relief of the poor in Ireland
    during the prevalence of the potato disease, 320, 321.

 Progress of population in Ireland, 11, 12.

 Promotion, spiritual, to be given to such only as speak English, 21.

 Property, feeling prevalent in Ireland in favour of taxing for the
    relief of the poor, 165;
   what is to be assessed for poor-rates, 228;
   amount of, rated to the poor in Ireland and England, 269, _note_.

 Prostitutes, strolling, to be sent to houses of industry and kept to
    hard labour, 55.

 Protestant settlers in Ireland, massacre of in 1641, 10.

 —— Charter Schools Society to receive poor children, 54.

 —— clergy, favourable to the introduction of a system of poor-laws,
   salaries to be appointed for in workhouses, 226.

 —— and Romanist classes, division of the kingdom into, 26.

 —— and Roman catholic children, separate religious instruction
    recommended for, 111.

 Protestantism, church establishment of in Ireland, 25.

 Provisions, high price of, in 1840, 269.

 Proxy, reasons for allowing owners to vote for guardians by, 207.

 Public works, the extension of recommended in 1830, as a means of
    employing the Irish poor, 107.

 —— act, passing of, 312;
   amount expended under in 1846, _ibid._

 “Queen’s pay,” ill effects of under the relief works, in withdrawing
    labourers from their proper employment, 315.

 Rapparees, act for suppressing, 38.

 Rate to be levied in Dublin for the support of the workhouse, 37;
   for the support of the Foundling Hospital, 48;
   increase of for that purpose, 49.

 —— in aid, amount of the levy of, 359;
   amount of the second, 375.

 —— of wages in 1851, 391;
   in 1853, 397.

 —— payers, joint, empowered to vote according to the proportions borne
    by each, 229.

 Rateable property, amount of in 1845, 1847, and 1851, 393.

 Rates to be assessed in every county and town for the support of houses
    of industry, 55;
   for emigration, how to be raised, 226;
   for the support of the poor, guardians empowered to levy, 227;
   to be a poundage rate, 228;
   to be recovered by distress if not duly paid, 229;
   collection of, apprehended difficulties proved groundless, 277;
   amount of, collected for the poor in 1845-6, 304;
   total amount raised for the poor, up to 1848, 346;
   in 1846, 1847, and 1848, 363;
   may be raised for defraying the expenses of emigration, 369.

 Rating, power of vested in the board of guardians, 179;
   valuation for the purposes of, 180;
   under the new Poor-Law bill of 1837, objections to the plan answered,

 Reasons against the voluntary system, by a portion of the Commissioners
    of Inquiry, 147.

 Rebellion of 1798, notice of, 11, 67.

 Reclamation of waste land, need of on a large scale in Donegal, 201.

 Reformation not so successful in Ireland as in England, 4;
   education adopted as a means for extending, 25.

 Register-book, enactment for the keeping of in workhouses, 226.

 Relatives, liabilities of, to support their destitute parents, &c.,

 Relief, imperfect recognition of the right of to the poor, 31;
   to be effectual must be uniform and prompt, 147;
   destitution to form the only grounds for, 176;
   rules for to be issued by the central authority, 177;
   amount expended in during 1841, 276, 277;
   in 1842, 283;
   in 1843 and 1844, 299;
   in 1845, 301;
   amount of afforded from various sources under the Public Works Act in
      1846, 312.

 —— committees, formation of in 1846, 311.

 —— Extension Act, copies of sent to all the unions, 338.

 —— works, failure of, 316;
   amount expended on, _ibid._ _note_.

 Relieving-officers, enactment for the appointment of, 331.

 Religious persuasions, importance of bringing together children of
    different, for purposes of education, 110;
   zeal, difficulties offered by in raising voluntary funds and in
      affording impartial relief, 148;
   service, to be performed in workhouses by clergymen of different
      denominations, 226.

 Remark on the evidence of the Inquiry Commissioners, by Mr. Bicheno,

 ‘Remarks’ by Mr. G. C. Lewis on the Third Report of the Inquiry
    Commissioners, 151.

 Remittances from emigrants, amounts of, 392.

 Rental of Ireland in 1776-78, 65.

 Rents, comparative, in England and Ireland, 60;
   arising from exempted property, to be rated to the extent of half the
      poundage, 368.

 Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on the state of the
    poor in Ireland, 82 _et seq._

 —— of the Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1823 for
    providing funds for the useful employing of the labouring poor in
    Ireland, 91.

 Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on education in
    Ireland, 108 _et seq._

 ——, the first, in 1835, of the Commissioners appointed in 1833 to
    inquire into the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland, 118 _et
   the second, in 1836, 125 _et seq._;
   the third, in 1836, 131 _et seq._

 —— of the Poor Inquiry Commissioners, rejection of the means proposed
    by them for alleviating distress in Ireland, 190, 191.

 ——, the first, of Mr. G. Nicholls on the state of Ireland in 1836, 159;
   the second, 196;
   the third, 212.

 —— of Commissioners for Ireland to be annually laid before parliament,

 —— of Commissioners under the Temporary Relief Act, 344.

 Residence required to give a claim to relief, 292.

 Residents for less than three years, if receiving relief, to be charged
    to the union, 367.

 Resistance to the law, instances of unions offering, 295.

 Resolutions submitted by Mr. Pitt for effecting an Union with Ireland,
   agreed to, 71.

 Returning-officers, instructions to, under the new Poor-Law Act for the
    first elections, 242.

 Revenue, comparative proportions raised by Ireland with that of Great
    Britain, 147.

 Revolution of 1688, the Roman Catholics of Ireland support James II.,

 Rice, Mr. Spring (now Lord Monteagle), chairman of the select committee
    of the house of commons in 1823, 91.

 Richmond Lunatic Asylum, notice of, 84.

 Rick-burning, Act against, temp. Hen. VIII., 19.

 Road-making to be undertaken in order to employ the distressed poor in
    1822, 80.

 Roads in mountainous districts, the formation of recommended as
    providing employment for the labouring poor, 88.

 “Robbery-money,” frauds exercised in order to obtain, 39.

 Rogues vagabonds and beggars, act for the punishment of, 28;
   who are to be deemed, 29.

 Roman Catholic clergy, notice of their opposition to the Kildare Street
    Society schools, 115;
   favourable to the introduction of a system of poor laws, 167;
   clergymen in workhouses, salaries to be appointed for, 226.

 Roman Catholics of Ireland adhere to the cause of Charles I., 10.

 Romans, never extended their conquests to Ireland, 2.

 Rome, the supremacy of the see of, not acknowledged by the early Irish,

 Royal message to the parliament recommending an Union, 67;
   congratulating them on the measure being effected, 71;
   assent given to the Irish Poor-Law bill in 1838, 221.

 Rumford, Count, attempts of to make pauper establishments
    self-supporting, failure of, 198.

 Russell, Lord John, announcement of the necessity of some government
    measure respecting the poor of Ireland, 155;
   letter of instructions to the author, 157;
   speech of on introducing the new Irish Poor-Law bill in 1837, 189;
   introduction by of the Irish Poor-Law bill in 1837-8 to the house of
      commons, 210;
   interview of the author with, urging the carrying of the new law into
      immediate operation, 234;
   letter of the author to in 1853, 399 _et seq._

 Salaries, estimated scale of, for union officers, 209.

 —— to be paid to persons employed to seize persons begging without a
    licence, 54.

 Sanitary state of workhouses, 275.

 Scale of voting for guardians, 229.

 Scholars, found begging, to be punished as vagabonds, 29;
   number taught in the various public schools in Ireland in 1827, 109.

 School-houses to be built in each of the shire-towns, 25.

 Schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, appointed for workhouses, 264.

 Schools, supported by Roman Catholics, number of scholars taught at in
    1827, 109;
   for union children, permission given to provide with land, 332;
   number of children attending in 1848, 348.

 Scotland and Ireland, difference between as to provision for the poor,

 ——, alleged success of the system of voluntary contributions for the
    poor in, 150;
   number of parishes assessed and unassessed in 1855, _ibid._ _note_.

 Scots, ancient name for the Irish, 2.

 Scottish rebellions of 1715 and 1745, the Irish take no part in, 10.

 Scrope, G. P., introduction of a bill by for the relief and employment
    of the poor in Ireland, 154;
   resolutions proposed by as to the necessity of providing relief for
      the Irish poor, 155.

 Sea-sand and sea-weed, use of as manure in Donegal, 200.

 Sea-service, male foundlings in certain cases to be apprenticed to, 44.

 ——, guardians in Ireland empowered to apprentice poor boys to, 385.

 Seaweed and sand, carried on the backs of the poor for manure, 94.

 Second Report of Proceedings in Ireland under the New Poor-Law Act,

 Second Annual Report of the Poor Law Commissioners for Ireland in 1849,

 Secretaries, enactment for the appointment of, 223.

 Security of property, necessary to induce the investment of capital,

 Sedan-chairs licensed for the support of Dublin workhouse, 37.

 Select Committee of the house of commons in 1819, to inquire into the
    state of disease, and the condition of the labouring poor in
    Ireland, report of, 86;
   in 1823, to facilitate the application of the funds of private
      individuals and associations for the employment of the labouring
      poor in useful and productive labour, report of, 91;
   in 1830, to consider the state of the poorer classes in Ireland, and
      the best means of improving their condition, report of, 93;
   heads of the report, 96;
   in 1828, on education in Ireland, report of, 108 _et seq._;
   resolutions adopted by, 112.

 Separate instruction in their religious duties for protestant and Roman
    Catholic children recommended, 111.

 —— Poor Law Commissioners, not necessary, 338.

 Servants, drunken, idle, or quitting their employment improperly, to be
    punished with the stocks or imprisonment, 40;
   agricultural, not hired in Ireland, 161.

 Settlement, law of, to be dispensed with altogether, 181;
   litigation caused by the law of, 193;
   not intended to be introduced into the new Irish Poor-Law bill,
   provision for decided against in the house of commons, 210.

 Seventh Report of proceedings in 1845 under the new Poor-Law Act in
    Ireland, 299 _et seq._

 Sexes, the separation of, practised in houses of industry, 192.

 Sheep, reared in Donegal to pay the rent, 201.

 Sickness, inquiry as to why the Irish labouring poor do not make
    provision for, 122;
   prevalence of in 1849, 349.

 Single women, enactment making them chargeable with the support of
    their children, 227.

 Sixth Report of proceedings under the new Poor-Law, 291.

 Sixth Annual Report of the Poor-Law Commissioners of Ireland, 389.

 Skibbereen, resistance to the payment of rates in, 295.

 Small holdings, the work required easily performed and therefore
    constantly neglected, 163;
   prevalence of in Donegal, 200.

 Social importance of the Irish Poor-Law, 156.

 Society, the disordered state of in Ireland a consequence of the want
    of a well-regulated poor-law, 168.

 —— of Friends, amount contributed by to relieve the distress in Ireland
    occasioned by the potato disease, 321.

 Soil of Ireland, peculiarities of, 59.

 Southwell and Bingham, encouragement of the workhouse test principle
    afforded by the example of, 198.

 Spain, Gauls or Celtes from, supposed to have peopled Ireland, 1.

 Spanish emissaries and troops, disquieting effects of, temp. Eliz., 5.

 Speeches of Mr. Pitt on proposing the Union, 68;
   on submitting resolutions for, 69, 70.

 Speech of Lord John Russell on introducing the new Irish Poor-Law bill
    in 1837, 189 _et seq._

 Spenser, the poet, grant of lands to, 5;
   his description of Ireland, 5, _et seq._;
   proposals of for securing the quiet of Ireland, 8.

 Stage-coaches licensed for the support of the Dublin Foundling
    Hospital, 48;
   number increased for, 49.

 Stamp-duty, exemptions from in poor-law proceedings, 230.

 Stanley, Mr. (now Earl of Derby), letter of to the Duke of Leinster,
    announcing the formation of a system of national education, 113.

 Stanley, Mr., communication from respecting the state of the poor in
    Ireland, 196 _note_.

 Starvation, near approach to of the population of Donegal, 200.

 State of Ireland in 1776-78, 59 _et seq._;
   various opinions as to, 61.

 Statements of numbers relieved and chargeable to be posted weekly on
    workhouse doors, 369.

 Statistical returns, instructions for to the assistant-commissioners,

 Statutes at Large, notice of, 13, _note_.

 Statutes cited.—
   Edw. II. 1310, 13;
   Hen. VI. 1440, 13;
   Hen. VI. 1447, 15;
   Hen. VI. 1450, 14;
   Hen. VI. 1457, 15;
   Edw. IV. 1465, 16;
   Edw. IV. 1472, 16;
   10 Hen. VII. cap. 4, Poynings’ Act, 17;
   10 Hen. VII. cap. 6, 18;
   10 Hen. VII. cap. 17, 18;
   13 Hen. VIII. cap. 1, 19;
   22 Hen. VIII. cap. 12, 22, 31;
   25 Hen. VIII. cap. 1, 19;
   28 Hen. VIII. cap. 15, 20;
   33 Hen. VIII. cap. 9, 21, 52;
   33 Hen. VIII. cap. 15, 22, 30;
   11 Eliz. cap. 4, 23;
   12 Eliz. cap. 1, 24;
   18 Eliz. cap. 3, 31;
   43 Eliz., 31;
   7 Jas. I. cap. 4, 31;
   11 and 12 Jas. I. cap. 5, 26;
   10 and 11 Chas. I. cap. 4, 27, 52;
   10 and 11 Chas. I. cap. 15, 32;
   10 and 11 Chas. I. cap. 16, 34;
   10 and 11 Chas. I. cap. 17, 32;
   2 Anne, cap. 19, 35, 248;
   6 Anne, cap. 11, 38, 101;
   2 Geo. I. cap. 17, 40;
   9 Geo. II. cap. 25, 42;
   11 and 12 Geo. III, cap. 11, 45, 83, 248;
   11 and 12 Geo. III. cap. 15, 49;
   11 and 12 Geo. III. cap. 30, 23, 51, 101, 104;
   13 and 14 Geo. III. cap. 24, 49;
   25 Geo. III. cap. 48, 48 _note_;
   45 Geo. III. cap. 111, 73;
   46 Geo. III. cap. 95, 74, 104;
   49 Geo. III. cap. 101, 75;
   51 Geo. III. cap. 101, 76;
   54 Geo. III. cap. 112, 76;
   57 Geo. III. cap. 106, 78, 103;
   58 Geo. III. cap. 47, 76, 102, 104, 144;
   59 Geo. III. cap. 44, 78, 144;
   3 Geo. IV. caps. 3 and 84, 80;
   6 Geo. IV. cap. 102, 81;
   7 Geo. IV. cap. 74, 225;
   1 and 2 Vict. cap. 56, 222, 398;
   2 Vict. cap. 1, 233, 244;
   3 and 4 Vict. cap. 29, 268;
   6 and 7 Vict. cap. 92, 291;
   9 and 10 Vict. cap. 1, 312;
   9 and 10 Vict. cap. 22, 311;
   9 and 10 Vict. cap. 1, 312;
   10 and 11 Vict. cap. 7, 320, 339, 344;
   10 and 11 Vict. cap. 22, 319, 339;
   10 and 11 Vict. cap. 31, 330, 338, 341, 345;
   10 and 11 Vict. cap. 84, 332;
   10 and 11 Vict. cap. 90, 333;
   11 and 12 Vict. caps. 1 and 2, 311 _note_;
   11 and 12 Vict. cap. 25, 354;
   11 and 12 Vict. cap. 47, 354;
   12 and 13 Vict. cap. 4, 355, 360;
   12 and 13 Vict. cap. 104, 367;
   13 and 14 Vict. cap. 14, 374, 380;
   14 and 15 Vict. cap. 35, 385;
   14 and 15 Vict. cap. 68, 382;
   15 and 16 Vict. cap. 16, 381;
   15 and 16 Vict. cap. 63, 393;
   16 and 17 Vict. cap. 7, 393.

 Stirabout, found to be the best form of food for distribution, 318.

 Stirpes or septs, heads of, to be answerable for the rest, 24.

 Stocks, a punishment for idle, drunken, or dishonest servants, 40;
   for begging without a licence, 53.

 Stone-breaking, recommended as a test for relief to the able-bodied
    poor, 342.

 Streets, recommendation for the cleaning of, 87.

 Strigul or Strongbow, expedition of against Ireland, 3.

 Strolling beggars, Act for lodging, 51.

 Strongbow, expedition of to Ireland, 1.

 Stuarts, the Irish take no part in the movement in their favour in 1715
    and 1745, 10.

 Subdivision of land, excessive prevalence of in Donegal, 201.

 Subdivisions of lands, by lowering the standard of living, productive
    of fevers, 78.

 Sub-letting of land, evils consequent on, 98.

 Subscriptions to alleviate the distress in Ireland, 1823, amount of the
    London, 92;
   promoted by government for the relief of Ireland, 357.

 Sufferings of the population of Ireland between 1841 and 1851, 12.

 ‘Suggestions’ by the author in 1836, 129, 130.

 Summary of act of 1 and 2 Vict. cap. 56, 222 _et seq._;
   of the 2 Vict. cap. 1, 233;
   of the 6 and 7 Vict. cap. 91, 291;
   of the act to make further provision for the destitute poor in
      Ireland, 330;
   of the act to make provision for the punishment of vagrants, &c.,
   of the act for the execution of the laws for the relief of the poor
      in Ireland, 334, 335;
   of the Rate-in-Aid Act, 355, 356;
   of act to amend the previous acts for the relief of the Irish poor,
   of an act for the further advance of public money to distressed
      unions, 374, 375;
   of the Medical Charities Act, 382, 383.

 Supervisor of rates, appointed in large towns, 279.

 Suppression of mendicancy, answer to the objections against the
    measures for, 206.

 Surgeons and physicians for infirmaries and county hospitals, generally
    provided, 83.

 Surveys, new ones to be made where necessary, 228.

 Table of the numbers of persons in workhouses, of the number and rate
    of deaths per week, of the numbers relieved, and of the weekly cost
    of relief, from 1846 to 1853, both inclusive, 404.

 Tabular view of number of unions, of the expenditure, of the number of
    workhouses, the number of inmates, and the number relieved, in the
    years from 1840 to 1846, both inclusive, 323.

 Tabular statement of number of unions, expenditure, number of inmates,
    number receiving out-door relief, and total cost from 1847 to 1853,
    both inclusive, 395.

 —— statement of average cost of maintenance from 1847 to 1854 both
    inclusive, 397.

 Tally, the use of by the labouring poor in Ireland, 62.

 Task-work, adoption of as a test, 313;
   inefficiency of, 315.

 Tax, levied under the new Poor Law not likely to exceed greatly that
    now levied by mendicants in Ireland, 192.

 Taxes in Ireland, lightness of previous to the Union, 66.

 Teachers of schools, recommendation that they be selected without
    regard to religious distinctions, 111.

 Temporary Relief Act, passing of, 316;
   provisions of, 317.

 Tenants, ejected, deplorable condition of, 99;
   disease generated thereby, 100;
   for life, proposed empowering of to grant leases for certain terms,
      and to charge the property for permanent improvements, 138, 139.

 Tenantry, not able to bear the burden of a rate for the support of the
    poor, 136.

 Thieves, reward for killing or capturing in 1450, 14;
   robbers and rebels, act against in 1440, 14.

 Third Report of proceedings in Ireland under the new Poor Law act, 259.

 Third Annual Report of the Irish Poor Law Commissioners, 364.

 Threshing, custom of burning the corn in the straw instead of, 33.

 Tillage, inferiority of in Ireland, 60.

 Time of election for boards of guardians, enactment for fixing, 223.

 Tipperary, peculiar state of as a county palatine, 7;
   resistance to the payment of rates in, 235.

 Tithe-owners, influence of in passing the act in favour of
    earth-tillers, 20.

 —— composition, plan for purchasing and making the surplus available to
    the relief of the poor, 146.

 Tithes to pay poor-rate, 229.

 Townlands, enactment for the union of, 223;
   regulation with regard to the boundaries of, 233.

 Towns, recommendation of Spenser that they should be built, 9;
   increase of and wealth in, 160;
   a voluntary poor-law established in the principal of the north of
      Ireland, 200.

 Transition-period, difficulties to be overcome during, 166.

 Transportation, act for the punishment of rogues and rapparees by, 89.

 Treasurers, guardians, &c. to furnish accounts, 230.

 Trevelyan’s (Sir Charles) ‘Irish Crisis,’ notice of, 256, _note_; 285,
    _note_; 307, 311, 314, 319, 320, 328.

 Twisleton, Mr., appointed as fourth Commissioner of the Poor Law Board,
    and sent to Ireland, 309;
   appointed chief of the Irish Commission, 338.

 Tuam union, neglect of to collect poor-rates, 295;
   legal proceedings commenced against, 300;
   board of guardians dissolved by the commissioners, 305.

 Tyrone, rebellion of, 5.

 Ulster, the province of, probably an ecclesiastical formation, 3;
   plantation of by James I., 9.

 Uncultivated land, the existence of a favourable circumstance for the
    introduction of a poor-law, 168.

 Unemployed labourers in Ireland, number of, 133;
   numbers dependent on, 134.

 Union agricultural societies, plan for the formation of, 269.

 —— of Ireland with England, in 1800, 11, 71.

 —— officers, mortality among during the distress in Ireland occasioned
    by the potato disease, 326;
   in Feb. 1848, 345;
   in 1849, 353.

 Unions, suggested size of in Ireland, 172;
   principles to be observed in forming, 178;
   answers to the objections to proposed size of in the Report of 1836,
   estimated expenses of, 209;
   enactment for the formation of by Commissioners, 223;
   directions to the assistant commissioners for the formation of, 236,
   number of, in 1839, 245;
   in 1840, 245;
   difficulties in forming, 246;
   number of in 1841, 259;
   number of declared in 1842, 271;
   number of, in which resistance to the payment of rates were made,
   unsatisfactory state of the finances of in 1847, 328, 329;
   number of, in which no out-relief was given, 343, 352;
   numbers of, not giving out-relief in 1850, 366;
   where new ones are formed, the commissioners to make arrangements for
      the joint use of the workhouse till a new one is built, 368;
   eight new formed in 1850, 373.

 United Kingdom of England and Ireland, the assembly of the first
    parliament of in 1701, 72.

 Vaccination, act for extending, 268;
   number of unions in which it had been introduced, 280;
   extension of in 1845, 300;
   amount expended on, _ibid._

 Vagabonds, act for the punishment of, 22;
   and beggars to be kept separate in bridewells from the children, 46.

 Vagrancy, recommendation for an amendment of the laws relating to, 100;
   clauses in the Poor Law Bill of 1837, postponement of, 195.

 Vagrants and vagabonds, to be sent to houses of industry and kept to
    hard labour, 55;
   recommendation of their being sent as free labourers to some British
      colony, and no longer to be punishable by transportation, 143.

 Valuation of lands and houses recommended by the Commissioners of
    Inquiry, 141.

 Valuations, new, to be made where necessary, 228;
   and ratings, instructions for, 244;
   progress made with, 265;
   difficulties arising from the form adopted, 289;
   not to be increased in consequence of improvements, for seven years,
   number of unions in which they had been completed, 278;
   objection to the correctness of, _ibid._

 Valuators, enactment appointing, 291.

 Victoria, Queen, subscription of for the relief of the poor in Ireland,

 Visiting committee of Dublin work-houses directed to report on their
    state, 261.

 Voght, Baron de, attempt of to make pauper establishments
    self-supporting, 198.

 Voluntary charity, institutions supported by, 105.

 —— associations for the relief of the poor, recommended by the
    Commissioners of Inquiry, 145;
   rules to be framed for, 146.

 —— system of relief, reasons against recommending by some of the
    Commissioners of Inquiry, 147;
   reasons for, 149.

 Votes, scale of according to property, in the election for guardians,
    179, 229.

 —— doubtful, for guardians, may be refused by the returning officer,

 Voting papers for guardians, improper interference with, 266;
   penalty for destroying or defacing, 293.

 Wages, act for the regulation of, 21;
   impolicy of, 22;
   of agricultural labourers in Ireland, rate of, 62;
   average rates of in 1836, 131.

 Wanderers, idle, act against, 34.

 Wardens, enactment for the appointment of in townlands and parishes,

 Wards in workhouses appropriated to pauper lunatics, 286.

 ——, towns with 10,000 inhabitants may be divided into, for the purpose
    of electing guardians, 233.

 Wars, private, not to be made without consent of the governor, 18.

 Waste lands in Ireland, quantities of, 89.

 Waterford, resistance to the payment of rates in, 235.

 Wealth and distress may be concurrent in a country, 97.

 Wellington, duke of, support given by to Irish Poor Law bill, 219, 220.

 West of Ireland, portion taken by the author in his First Report, 159;
   severe distress in during 1839, 256;
   amount of government relief to, _ibid._ _note_.

 Western unions, total destitution of in 1849, 358.

 Wexford, stormed by Cromwell, 10.

 Wheat, average price of in Mark Lane in November 1853, 1854, and 1855,
    17, _note_.

 Whipping, a punishment for begging without a licence, 53.

 Widows, helpless, mendicity-houses and almshouses recommended for, 145;
   enactment making them chargeable with the support of their children,

 Wild herbs, used as sustenance by the distressed poor, 132.

 Wilkinson, Mr., engaged as architect for the Irish workhouses, 243

 William the Conqueror, design of for bringing Ireland under subjection,

 William the Third opposed by the Roman Catholics of Ireland, 10.

 William IV., death of, 195.

 Witnesses, Commissioners empowered to summon, 334.

 Wool, act against the pulling from living sheep, 32.

 Work to be provided for the destitute poor in workhouses, 225.

 Workhouse, act for erecting one in Dublin in 1703, 35;
   regulations for the government of, 36;
   rate to be levied for the support of, 37.

 —— relief, advantages and disadvantages, as regards Ireland, 134;
   not recommended by the Commissioners of Inquiry, 135.

 Workhouse system recommended for Ireland by G. C. Lewis, 152.

 —— masters in London, testimony of as to the characters and habits of
    Irish poor, 158.

 —— system of England, doubts whether practicable in Ireland, 169;
   assurance arrived at that it is, 170;
   doubts whether fitted for a test of destitution, _ibid._;
   assurance arrived at that it would be more so in Ireland than in
      England, 171;
   expense occasioned by adopting not likely to be inordinately large,

 —— officers, estimated expenses of salaries for, 209;
   dietaries, order for, 252;
   employment, nature of, 274.

 —— expenditure in the years 1842 to 1846, 323;
   in 1847, 329, 345;
   in 1848, 363;
   in 1849, 366, 371;
   in 1850, 376;
   in 1851, 387;
   in 1852, 394;
   in 1853, _ib._

 —— accommodation, extreme pressure upon, occasioned by the potato
    disease, 324;
   necessity for an increase of in 1847, 342, 343;
   auxiliary establishments provided in 1849, 352;
   amount expended in procuring increased, 366;
   extent of, from 1847 to 1851, 377.

 —— hospitals, insufficiency of during the prevalence of the potato
    disease, 325.

 —— mortality, greatly increased ratio of during the distress of 1846-7,

 Workhouses to be provided in each county, 53;
   recommendation that houses of industry should be made available for,
   estimated expenses of constructing, 209;
   architect engaged to erect, 243;
   number of provided in 1840, 245;
   in 1841, 260;
   number of in operation in 1842, 271;
   cost of up to 1842, 273;
   sanitary state of, 275;
   number in operation in 1843, 282;
   inspection of by the author in 1842, 284;
   amount of government loans for the erection of in 1845, 302.

 Works, useful, recommended as a means of employing the distressed poor
    in Ireland, 100.

 Young, Arthur, his account of the state of Ireland in 1776-78, 59 _et





                           Transcriber’s Note

On p. 215, the quoted material refers to the Belgian ‘bleuse’ (blouse).
This may be a misprint, however the report being quoted is closely
paraphrased in other texts using the same spelling.

On p. 398, a quoted passage introduced by “commissioners remark in their
Report” opens with a quotation mark which has no corresponding close. It
is not obvious where that passage closes.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
References with three numbers refer to corrections to footnotes.

 46.26      or within the same walls with  child[r]en,     Inserted.

 99.11      An apprehension was more[o]ver                 Inserted.

 99.25      to a greater certain[t]y of crop               Inserted.

 215.38     The men universally wear the [bleuse]          _Sic._

 106.52.1   Dr. Doyle in his eviden[e/c]e before the       Replaced.

 158.29     to adduce any ad[d]itional proofs              Inserted.

 211.4      me[n]dicancy                                   Inserted.

 224.8      from the time of such app[p]ointment           Removed.

 380.15     de[c]laring that                               Inserted.

 416.58     Ninth Report of the proce[e]dings in 1847      Inserted.

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