Desmond Norton is Senior Lecturer in Economics at University College Dublin
Desmond Norton's fascinating study of the relationships between landlords and tenants in Ireland during the Great Famine period of the 1840s is principally based on a large uncatalogued archive in private ownership of the Stewart and Kincaid land agents. Much of the information from this unique resource is being published for the first time. Norton challenges existing assumptions about landlord-tenant relations, emigration and land improvement during the famine decade. Messrs Stewart and Kincaid was a firm of land agents based in Dublin, and most of the correspondence was addressed to its office there. The letters in the archive relate mainly to the estates managed by the firm during the 1840s, and give a rounded picture of life in the Irish countryside during the period. They provide evidence of some humane and caring landlords, the activities of middlemen, suffering tenants and emigration in a large number of locations, including Sligo and Roscommon, Clare and Limerick, Kilkenny, Carlow and Westmeath.Many famous families appear such as the Pakenhams and Ponsonbys, well-known historical figures, such as Lord Palmerston, who was foreign secretary and prime minister, as well as being a landlord in Sligo and Dublin. The evidence of the Stewart and Kincaid archives is complemented by research into other family archives and from the author's meetings with descendants of many of the families discussed. "Landlords, Tenants, Famine" is an immensely important contribution to scholarship on the Great Famine and to nineteenth-century Irish economic history.
Messrs Stewart, Stewart & Swan, Stewart & Kincaid
Palmerston in Sligo in the Early 1840s
The Palmerston Estates
- Famine and Emigration
The Crichton Estates in Sligo and Roscommon
The Mysterious Daniel Henry Ferrall of Roscommon
Ferrall's Roscommon Estates
Wingfield's Sligo Estate
The Roscommon Estates of the Marquess of Westmeath
The Stratford Lands in Clare
Stratford's Limerick Estate
On Two Estates in South Limerick
. The Frankfort Estates in Kilkenny and Carlow
Properties of Ponsonby, Pakenham and St Lawrence
The Sherlock and the Batty Estates
- Wine, Women and Sadness
"[Norton] throws new light on the relationship between landlord and tenant as well as on famine and emigration. He challenges many assumptions and presents a new framework for examining this period."
Books Ireland Sept 2006
"There's material here for half a dozen books ... sure to encourage further similar work, which is another reason to be grateful to Desmond Norton for his great efforts."
Irish Democrat 2006
"...makes absorbing reading and is an important addition to our understanding of the land question during the Famine period. It is elegantly produced by University College Dublin Press."
Irish Studies Review 15 (2) 2007
"One of Norton’s key contentions is that land is pivotal to the understanding of Ireland’s economy, society, politics and culture in the nineteenth century. He challenges some of the existing – and generally negative – orthodoxies in regard to landlord/tenant relationships, emigration and land improvements prior to 1845. Overall, Norton provides an antidote to simplistic and antagonist views of the Irish landlord, which portrayed them as monolithic and uncaring. Consequently a more complex and nuanced interpretation is offered … [He] demonstrates that … there is still much that we do not know about this pivotal decade in Irish history … and that there is plenty of scope for the next generation of researchers to build on the solid foundations laid."
Christine Kinealy Drew University, Madison New Jersey
Irish Economic and Social History 2008