examples of correspondence relating to the Bellaghy Estate
Here is part of
a reply by an Amos Strettle in answer to a number of questions asked
by the Vintners Company when he was preparing the 1718 Rental for the
company. The estate had been let in 1673 to Lord Massereene [Clotworthys
of Antrim] and here is what he had to say in response to a number of
wanted to know the extent of their lands.
replied – those listed in the rent roll.
wanted to know the particulars of the estate when it was let
replied that it was not possible to find out the rents or
fines raised at that time but he does go on to say: but
probably they were very inconsiderable if any at all, for the
tenants in those days were very poor as they still are and not
able to pay fines and the landlords were glad to get tenants
at any rate.
also goes on to say that:
fines were raised thereon when they were last let I cannot learn,
but do believe very little, because several of the leases were
made by the late Lord Massereene who set them at the highest
rents he could get and as for as long terms as he had himself
and in some instances longer from whence, I imagine, that he
thought he could at any time easily renew and was glad to get
tenants to take for long terms.
the document he said the following about the present situation
on the estate i.e. 1718:
markets being uncertain in this kingdom ………… most thinking intelligent
people are of the opinion that lands here must fall soon ….
Chiefly by reason that a great many of the inhabitants and tenants
of that part of the country are going to America and leaving
their habitation and lands which must of necessity reduce the
rents very low in all of the northern counties.
is an important source because it gives some insight into conditions
in this part of the county in the early years of the eighteenth century.
The reference to emigration is interesting because 1718 was the year
when there was a substantial exodus of Scottish Presbyterians to New
England from the Aghadowey/Garvagh area of the county.
document is a letter from the tenants of a number of townlands on the
Bellaghy estate which were situated on the higher ground in the western
part of the estate in the parishes of Maghera and Killelagh - see
map. A transcript of the letter is shown below. Click
here to see a copy of the actual letter and its signatories [PRONI:
LR1/1010/1/A19]. The signatories to the letter will be of use
to anyone researching their family history in this part of the county.
The Estates Commissioner
We the undersigned, comprising the greater number of tenants
in the townlands of Fallalea, Fallaghloon, Halfgayne, Ballyknock
and Lisnamuck on the Bellaghy Estate in the Barony of Loughinsholin
and County of Londonderry, do hereby request you to exercise
the powers conferred on you by Sections 43 and those immediately
subsequent thereto of the Land Act of 1909 for the purchase
by you (compulsorily if necessary) of the portion of said estate
comprised in said townlands with a view to a resale of same
to us. We make the said request upon these grounds: -
said five townlands are “congested” within the meaning of
Section 20 of the Irish Land Act of 1909, more than half the
holdings in each of the said townlands being under £7 in rateable
valuation, and much of the land being held in rundale or intermixed
of the holdings are miserably small. Many of us have to eke
out a livelihood for ourselves and our families on holdings
less than £3 in annual value, and in several cases the valuations
are as low as £1 or £1. 10/=. In addition to this, the land
is bad, being to a large extent ground which we or our fathers
have reclaimed from overcut bog, and as well as the townlands
in question are situated high up towards the mountain, the
climate is lateand uncertain. We are really worse off than
in several of the “scheduled congested districts”, because
in the poorest of those the tenants are usually able to supplement
their farming by fishing or local industries, whereas we have
nothing but the land on which to support ourselves. Indeed,
nothing but terrible hard work and unfailing attention and
economy would have enabled us to hold on to our little patches
o well as we have done.
are large tracts of untenanted grazing land on the estate,
which could be made available to render our small holdings
economic. In several cases up to 40 or fifty years ago grazing
rights were appurtenant to the holdings, but the landlords
deprived the tenants of these rights, and thereby rendered
their position much more difficult and wretched.
case you purchase these townlands, we will be willing to purchase
from you our holdings, with such additions as you may be able
to make thereto, pursuant to the provisions of the Irish Land
Acts at such prices and upon such terms and conditions as
you may deem fair and equitable.
owners of the esate are the Countess of Strafford, Lord Deramore,
Sir H. B. Meredith and J. P. Steele Esq. and their agent is
Sydney J. Lyle Esq. whose office is at Ballycastle in the
County of Antrim. Our solicitor in the matter is Louis J.
Walsh of Ballycastle, County Antrim.
this second day of March 1910.
letter was signed by a large numbers of persons covering three
attached pages. A number of these persons were only able to
make their mark - see copy
of original letter.
looks as if they were unsuccessful. These same townlands appear
in the Land Purchase Commission Sale of the Bellaghy Estate
Click here for details of this sale.
these are only two examples. Again a search of the database of estate
records extant for the county will produce some 23 hits which range
across the estates of the Clothworkers. Drapers, Grocers, Ironmongers,
Salters and Vintners.
Copyright 2010 W. Macafee.