Captain Boycott, Fall 1880, Ballinrobe


Captain Boycott, Fall 1880, Ballinrobe the inception of “Boycotting” – landlord and land agent for Lord ErneCharles Boycott, an Englishman by birth, rented a farm from Lord Erne three miles from Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Boycott also acted as estate agent for Lord Erne, who was an absentee landlord.

Tenants of Lord Erne asked for a reduction of their rents. Boycott not only refused but started evictions.

Land League leaders suggested that everyone in the locality should refuse to deal with him. Soon he was without workers on his farm, the local merchants refused to sell to him, crowds booed him as he passed. He was, in effect, unable to continue to live as he had before.

Coercion was a force in getting everyone to comply with the isolation of the Boycott family.

  1. Patrick Harte, age 55 [?] had two shots fired into his house on November 14, 1880. The motive was believed to be to encourage him to give up his emploment by Boycott.
  2. On December 24th 1880 shots were fired at Thomas Harigan, age 20, medical student, Robert Wilderspin, grooom age 25 and a unanmed third “young man” (Captain Boycott’s nephew) while they were out checking rabbit traps at night. Harigan and Wilderspin were wounded slightly. All were staying at Loughmask house. Harigan was a guest of Captian Boycott’s nephew.
  3. On March 13, 1881 a shot was fired through the door of the home of Patrick Farragher, labourer, age 60 at Caherobbent who’s son, Michael, had been a laborer on the Boycott property.
  4. No one was arrested or prosecuted for these offences.

The military was brought in to assure Boycott’s safety. Orangemen from the north volunteered to help bring in Boycott’s crops. The troops and Orangemen were booed by the locals.

The situation escalated as the national and international press covered the incident. In the end Boycott left Ireland and returned to England.

“Boycotting” proved an effective means of change through social ostracism.

Lord Erne, John Crichton (1802-1885), was the third Earl of Erne and was an an Irish Representative Peer from 1845-1885. He inherited his title from his uncle, Abraham Creighton, in 1842. The family seat was in County Fremanagh, Ulster. Lord Erne held 31,389 acres of land in Fremanagh and 2,184 acres in Mayo. Captian Boycott was the agent for 1,550 acres near Lough Mask and Castlebar.

For more information on the Boycott story and for images from the International press covering the story go to Boycott now or at the bottom of the page.

Print collection of Maggie Land BlanckThe Graphic, Nov. 20, 1880


This image was in the same issue of the Graphic which carried a number of images of the Boycott incident in Ballinrobe. See Boycott

An accompanying article notes that this image “does not represent Captain Boycott at Lough Mask, but is merely a general sketch of the conditions under which many Irish landlords and agents are now living”. In other words military protection was offered to other landlords and land agents.

Print collection of Maggie Land BlanckThe Graphic, Nov. 20, 1880

A detail of the above print. Compare the “Resident Landlord’s” abode to the homes of his tenants.

Print collection of Maggie Land BlanckThe Graphic, Nov. 20, 1880

An Irish Landlord’s constitution.

Boycotting Continued January 1881“Boycotting” continued throughout Ireland and the world to bring changes to socioeconomic situations.

Print collection of Maggie Land BlanckIllustrated London News from January 1, 1881
THE STATE OF IRELAND; “BOYCOTTING” A TRADESMAN, COUNTY MAYO January 1, 1881Clearly boycotting in this instance meant more than not shopping in the store of this tradesman. The townsmen have come out to “groan” and make unpleasant noises and comments.

Unfortunately, the article that accompanied this picture was not included when I bought the image.

The Land LeagueThe Irish Land League was a political organization who’s aim was to free the poor tenant farmers from the burden of the rents imposed by landlords.