Search billions of records on

The following excerpt is from a book, Emigrants from Ireland, 1847-1852: State-Aided Emigration Schemes, c. 1850, by Eilish Ellis.  A listing of affected families begins on the Ballykilcline Emigrants, Page 1.




 The estates from which state-aided emigration took pIace were part of crown property in Ireland, the management of which was one of the functions of the Quit Rent Office.  They had been let on to various long term leases which expired or were terminated in the early 1830's when it was discovered that a considerable population dependent on uneconomic holdings had accumulated on the estates, e.g., Balykilcline. A survey of this estate made in 1836 revealed that there were 463 subdivisions and a population of just over 500 on a farm of approximately 602 acres.  The impossibility of instituting improvements under these conditions of over-population is apparent, and, with the possible exception of the model farm experiment at Kingwilliamstown, little was done under the Commissioners of Woods in the years before the famine to solve the problems arising from the dependence of an ever-increasing population on an over-worked and worn-out soil.

That emigration would provide an outlet was recognised at least as early as 1836, when a census of the population of Irvilloughter was made by order of the Commissioners of Woods, with this end in view.  The tenants refused the offer to help them emigrate and twelve years were to elapse before they themselves petitioned the Commissioners to be sent to America.

The immediate cause of the inauguration of the state-aided emigration scheme was the necessity for providing some relief for a group of Ballykilcline tenants evicted after protracted court proceedings for non-payment of rent. They petitioned the Commissioners of Woods on 28 May, 1847, asking either that they be allowed to re-occupy their holdings, or, that the means of emigration on a scale similar to that lately practised by the landlords in this vicinity' be provided for them. The Commissioners almost immediately authorised the clerk of the Quit Rents to make arrangements for the departure, not only of those willing to emigrate, but of those who had lately been evicted. The failure of the potato crop, 1845-7. was the reason for the extension of the scheme to the estates of Irvilloughter and Boughill. Between 1847 and 1852, while state-aided emigration was in progress, just over eleven hundred people left these crown estates in Ireland to settle in Canada and the United States.

The implementation of the scheme for the estates of Ballykilcline. Boughill, Irvilloughter and Kilconcouse was entrusted to John Burke. clerk of the Quit Rents, who was assisted by the crown agent or collector of excise for the district in which the particular estate was situated. Michael Boyan, superintendent of Kingwilliamstown model farm, was responsible for the scheme for that estate and for Castlemaine, under the direct control of the Commissioners. It may be noted that more complete details are available for those estates for which Burke was responsible.

Two separate lists of names were compiled by the supervisor of the emigration scheme for each particular estate. The first, consisting of those who had signified their intention of emigrating or who had been compulsorily ejected, was necessary for assessing the amount of money required from the Treasury. It sometimes differed from the second list which gave the names of those who actually left, and which was compiled on or shortly before the day of departure for the port of embarkation. Both lists were sent either direct to the office of the Commissioners of Woods in London. or to the clerk of the Quit Rents in Dublin who forwarded copies to the Commissioners. The second list was checked later with the returns from the shipping agents and the emigration officials at New York and Quebec. It is thus possible to arrive at an almost exact figure of the number of emigrants and be assured of reasonable accuracy in the lists of names.




The crown estate of Ballykillcline was situated in the parish of Kilglass in the barony of Ballintubber, Co. Roscommon. It contained about 602 acres subdivided into very minute holdings occupied by 'cottier labourers', and was almost completely over-tilled and worn out when the lease to the tenant, Lord Hartland fell in in April, 1834. Before the expiration of the lease, terms for the sale of the property had been proposed to Lord Hartland who did not accept them, and the rents, which appeared to have been paid regularly to his agent, were placed in charge with the agents of the Commissioners of Woods, from 1 May 1834. Though the annual amount payable by the under-tenants, of whom there were 74, amounted to 411 19s 11d., less than 350 had been collected when the payment of all rents ceased from 1836. Notices to quit were served and possession demanded from the tenants, and by 1  May 1837, 56 holdings had been surrendered. The remainder however, refused, and in the spring of 1842, John Burke, clerk of the Quit Rent Office, proposed their eviction after a visit to the estate.

There was considerable opposition to the attempts made by crown officials to enter the estate; the assistance of the police was necessary on several occasions;  houses were re-occupied and bailiffs attacked when serving eviction notices. However, those charge with assaulting the  bailiffs were acquitted by a jury, who, in the opinion of the crown agent, 'were a set of the lamest and most ignorant men could be impaneled, and a disgrace to any Court of Justice'. The establishment of a police barracks on the estate was considered at one stage, so determined was the resistance.

It was not until it became evident that there was organised opposition among the tenantry that the Commissioners of Woods  grew impatient. It was reported that the tenants had employed a lawyer named Hugh O'Farrell, whom they were paying the rate of five shillings per acre each, to prevent their being evicted. A part of 'Molly Maguires' also visited the estate.

A decree in favour of the Crown was obtained in April, 1846, and on May 12, petitions were received from the tenants through their agent, Hugh O'Farrell, and the O'Conor Don, asking for leases under the Crown. The Lord Lieutenant, Lord Bessborough, also pleaded for a year's grace, and on 19 June 1846, the Commissioners of Woods expressed their willingness to grant tenancies on condition that two years rent be paid beforehand by those against whom decrees were obtained. The year's grace expired and steps were taken to execute the writ of possession. An army of 60 police,  25 cavalry, 30 infantry and a stipendiary magistrate were deemed necessary as an escort for the sheriff, and on 27 May 1847, fourteen houses were occupied; two were thrown down; the doors and windows   were taken out of others and 12 policemen were left on the premises.

The tenants next petitioned the Commissioners of Woods seeking either permission to re-occupy their holdings, or 'the means of emigration on a scale similar to that which has been lately practised  by the landlords in this vicinity'. The Commissioners of Woods   gave their approval for assisting the evicted parties and any others who wished to emigrate, and sought the advice of the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners as to where they should be sent and the most efficient manner of travelling. The latter suggested that Quebec would be the best destination as there was a Government Emigration Agent there who could give advice as to the districts where employment was readily available and pay a small sum to each emigrant on arrival.

The approval of the Commissioners of the Treasury was given on 12 August 1847 and on September 8, the first group of emigrants arrived in Dublin en route for Liverpool where they were to embark for New York. This party of 55, under the care of a special agent, was detained in Liverpool for several days due to the winds being contrary but sailed on the packet ship Roscius on 19 September  1847. A complaint from the emigrants that food was scarce was investigated and it was shown that the captain of the vessel did not issue the provisions for the voyage until she had sailed.  This was the established procedure.

The shipping agents in charge of the arrangements were Henry and VVilliam Scott, Eden Quay, Dublin, and the charge was 4 for an adult and 2 15s. for a child under fourteen years. Provisions, tins and cooking utensils at the ratio of thirty shillings each for an adult and fifteen shillings each for a child were provided, as well as landing money at the usual rate of a pound per adult and ten shillings per child, to be paid in American currency.

Between 19 September 1847 and 25 April 1848 when the last part sailed, a total of 366 persons from Ballykilckine had left  Liverpool for New York, having sailed in seven different vessels. A certain consideration for the well-being of the travellers is noticeable throughout the arrangements made. Clothing was provided where necessary; a passenger too ill to sail was sent with her husband by a later vessel; another 'not allowed to proceed in consequence of his great age' was transferred to Dublin and sent to New York from there.  By order of the Lord Lieutenant and at the request of the parish priest of Kilglass, a prisoner in the gaol of Roscommon, father of an emigrating family, was released in time to join them on the way to Liverpool.

There was an increase in fares in 1848 - from 4 to 4 5s. and 4 10s. (for the last party to leave) in the case of an adult, and from 2 15s. to 3 15s. for a child, with the same charge for provisions and utensils. The expenses for the emigration scheme from Ballykilcline, by far the most comprehensive of the state-aided schemes, amounted to 2,459 14s. 3d.  Thus, with the exception of six families or twenty-two individuals who declined the offer to help them emigrate, and who were evicted from their holdings  within a month of the  departure of the last party, the entire tenantry of this estate had emigrated to America. On 17 May 1848 it was reported that the lands 'are perfectly untenanted'.

The estate was sold the following year to William George Downing Nesbitt for 5,5OO.

top.gif (2393 bytes)   home.gif (2691 bytes)

This page was last updated on 09/23/08.