A New Lease on Life: Landlords, Tenants, and Immigrants in Ireland and Canada

A New Lease on Life: Landlords, Tenants, and Immigrants in Ireland and Canada

A New Lease on Life: Landlords, Tenants, and Immigrants in Ireland and Canada

A New Lease on Life: Landlords, Tenants, and Immigrants in Ireland and Canada

Synopsis

In Part 1 Wilson reconstructs the family circumstances and estate management of two landlords, Stephen Moore, third earl of Mount Cashell, and Major Robert Perceval Maxwell. Each owned several estates in Ireland and the estate known as Amherst Island in Ontario. She examines how the management of these estates changed over time and highlights the differences between management in the north and south of Ireland, particularly in Counties Down, Antrim, and Cork. She looks at the form the landlord-tenant relationship took in the New World to determine whether tenancy arrangements in the New World offered landlords an opportunity to start afresh or, instead, were influenced by the traditions and financial circumstances of their Irish estates. The second part of the study follows more than one hundred tenant families who, between 1820 and 1860, migrated from the Ards Peninsula in County Down to Amherst Island, where they rented land from Mount Cashell and, later, from Maxwell. Wilson reveals what life was like in the United Parish of St Andrews, why families emigrated and rented on Amherst Island, and what it meant socially and economically to be a tenant in the New World, where most farmers were freeholders. Wilson sets her study firmly in the framework of British, Irish, and American writing on land tenure, and in this comparative context opens the discussion of tenancy among Canadians more widely than anyone has done heretofore. She concludes that both landlords and tenants were more successful in the New World. Wealth and land ownership might be slow in materializing, but the opportunity, the choices, and the attainment of security were all greater than they had been in Ireland.

Excerpt

This is a transatlantic adventure of a transatlantic people. It is the history of two sets of individuals whose aspirations, opportunities, and destinies spanned the broad Atlantic. Essentially, it is an examination of immigrants on two interrelated levels: those of landlord and tenant.

Part One is a study of landlordism on both sides of the ocean. It is a reconstruction of the family circumstances and estate management of two landlords, Stephen Moore, third earl of Mount Cashell, and Major Robert Perceval Maxwell. They each owned large estates in the north and the south of Ireland, and an estate in the province of Upper Canada (Ontario) known as Amherst Island. Their experiences shed light on several questions. For example, how did estate management change over time, and did it differ in the north and the south of Ireland? Why did these landlords buy land overseas? Once in the New World, where Old World problems of overpopulation, long leases, and middlemen did not exist, what form did the landlord-tenant relationship take? Was this an opportunity for landlords to start afresh, or did the traditions and financial circumstances of their Irish estates influence tenancy arrangements in the New World?

Part Two is a study of tenants on both sides of the ocean. It follows over one hundred families who migrated between 1820 and 1860 from the Ards Peninsula in County Down, Ireland, to Amherst Island, where they rented land from Mount Cashell and Maxwell. Their experiences reveal what life was like in the United Parish of St Andrews, why they emigrated, why they rented on Amherst Island, and what it meant socially and economically to be a tenant in the New World, where most farmers were freeholders. Following the same individuals through their lives and across the ocean is the . . .

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