Bateman’s Great Landowners – Preface

Title Page of Bateman's The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland
Title page of John Bateman’s book

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In this preface Bateman explains that his parameters exclude a large number of rich Lancastrians who earned more than £3,000 from their estates because these were too small to match the 3,000 acres barrier:

Many friends again urged that the line should be drawn at 3,000 acres or £3,000 per annum; but a careful test of the number of persons in one county (Lancashire), where the number of nearly landless individuals with a gross annual value put upon the few acres they had of £3,000 and upwards, amounted to 142—convinced me that they, who were I presume chiefly mill-owners, plus all the Cheshire soapboilers, Stafford potters, Durham and Northumberland coal-masters, Warwick hardwaremen, Nottingham hosiers, Yorkshire Clothiers, and Glamorganshire iron-masters, to say nothing of smaller trades, would form a quite unmanageable host.

He points out that earlier in the century it would have been simple to identify Catholics from their school and the fact that they were not Oxbridge graduates, but emancipation had blurred that distinction. I think his description of those who followed Newman as ‘among perverts from the Protestant to the Roman Catholic faith’ clearly illustrates his anti-Catholic prejudice.

As it is interesting to know a man’s religion and politics, and at the same time unusual to say what they are; I have added, where I can arrive at them, each landowner’s college and club. From his college may be inferred the religion of his forebears, if not his own; though this inference is not so invariably true as of yore. Had this compilation been made twenty years ago, every Roman Catholic proprietor might have been “spotted” by the place of his education being given as Oscott, Ushaw, or Stonyhurst; now, on the contrary, at least fifteen per cent of the heirs to Roman Catholic estates find their way to either Oxford or Cambridge. It is noticeable that among perverts from the Protestant to the Roman Catholic faith, though Oxford is responsible for far the greater number of cases among both laic small fry and the English clergy, the perversions of big-wigs from Cambridge more than equal those from Oxford. When a landowner’s alma mater is given as “Edinburgh” or “Glasgow,” it is, as far as I can judge, only evidence to the extent of about four to one in favour of his being a Presbyterian.

Club membership can be revealing:

From a man’s club may be pretty safely gathered his status, his politics and pursuits; for instance, in “Brooks’s” one does not expect to find a violent radical; in “White’s” a nouveau riche; in the “Athenaeum ” a sporting man; in the “St. George’s” a hot Orangeman; in the “National” a henchman of Cardinal Manning…’

One point that Bateman makes shows that the Radicals’ call for ‘three acres and a cow’ could have unintended consequences:

The conservative power of the soil on owners is a perpetual pill to the French extreme left; they see it, admit it, but cannot understand it—why should a man, say they, who works 13 hours a day, and eats meat once a week, always vote for the de facto Government, because he owns 2½ acres of soil? while his easier worked, better fed, and better instructed kinsman in Paris will always vote for upsetting it.

And, anticipating Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Give someone something to conserve and they’ll become a conservative’, he writes:

Without for a moment putting English and French liberalism on the same level, it is curious to note how the ownership of land seems to drive the possessors into the Tory fold, high and low alike … no county for its size contains anything like so many peasant holdings as Lancashire, yet a Liberal poet, who has not yet reached Tennysonian fame, writes of the general elections of 1868 and 1874—
“Frailty! thy name is Lancashire!”

He shows that he was singularly qualified for his ‘labour of love’:

In conclusion, let me say that this compilation (partially attempted in 1876 for England alone) was undertaken by me simply as a labour of love, when no one else seemed disposed to attempt it; it is, no doubt, full of errors, but such errors would be tenfold were the process repeated by any one who, unlike myself, lacked a fair knowledge of who’s who.’


Preface

That the affairs of one’s neighbours are of no little interest to men of every class of life has perhaps never been more strongly proved than by the production of and great demand for “The Modern Domesday Book.” Not only have Mr. Frederick Purdy and others analyzed it, Mr. Lyulph Stanley abused it, Mr. John Bright moved its digestion in the House, and the “Spectator” and other London journals scathingly criticised it, but the immense herd of country newspapers have actually reproduced it, as far as their own neighbourhoods are concerned, in their columns, much, probably, to the satisfaction of the bulk of readers, to whom twenty-six shillings (the price of the English volumes alone) is prohibitory. As an example of this, I may mention, that having a small party in my house during one of those dubious weeks which come in ’twixt the close of the hunting and the beginning of the London season, I was saved all Marthean cares as to the amusement of my guests simply by leaving about on the table the two huge volumes of “The Modern Domesday,” over which I found bowed with the utmost constancy two or more heads.

I heard from one of my guests that the copy of the work at the “Ultratorium” was reduced to rags and tatters within a fortnight of its arrival—a lesson which was not wasted on the library committee of my own club, who caused the book to be so bound as to defy anything short of a twelve-year-old school-boy.

Mr. Lyulph Stanley finds great fault with the carelessness of some of the entries in “ Domesday,”—faults which, it must be admitted, are most perplexing to the compiler— faults in spelling, faults in description of residence, gross faults as to the initialling of names, not infrequent double entries of the same man, first as John, then as J., and in the same fashion through the alphabet; and not least, the almost invariable mixing up of a parson’s glebe land, or possession in his public capacity of parish priest, with his private acreage, as what Sidney Smith dubbed a “squarson.” One huge stumbling-block in the way of the work’s perfection is the large number of double-barrelled (if I may use the term) names in England, such as Hart-Dyke, Leveson-Gower, and Vernon-Harcourt, to say nought of such perfect “mitrailleuses” as Rouse-Boughton-Knight and Butler-Clarke-Southwell-Wandesforde. This necessitates a search for acres under every one of the bracketed family names.

In Wales the difficulty lies in a very different direction, i.e., in the almost desperate simplicity of names; in fact, it may be taken for granted that two-thirds of Wales is owned by the families of Jones, Davies, Evans, and Williams.

Would that for the wretched compiler’s sake there had been a few more “Sir Watkins ” in existence!

In a compilation of the sort I have attempted, mistakes must occur, but I have tried to minimize them by noting the most glaring and oft-recurring errors in the return, in order to be on guard against them. I may class these errors as follows:—

I. Mixture of Vowels.—Vowels I find in the return mean next to nothing. For instance, Sir H. Selwin-Ibbetson is returned as himself properly spelt, and in the same county as “Sir H. Ebbetson”; in the far north, the name of Lindow is spelt with the most perfect impartiality “Lindow,” “Lindon,” and “London”; in a Midland county, my good friend John Levett and his kinsfolk are put in as “Levitt,” “Lovett,” and “Lovatt,” and unless a man knew or found out that no Lovett was ever squire of Wichnor and guardian of the hereditary flitch, he would grievously fail in judging the Levett acreage aright. In Derbyshire, again, the considerable family of Turbutt of Ogston is robbed of its entire patrimony (except a beggarly four acres), which is given to the mythical house of “Tinbutt,” while to add further insult to the first injury, some property in Notts is said to appertain to one Tarbutt of “Hogstar”—a heavenly body till now unknown.

In Somerset one “Troate” usurps a goodly share of Mr. Troyte’s domains. I might multiply these cases a hundredfold.

II. Variation of Consonants—Even consonants, though not so bad as vowels, are muddled in a most arbitrary fashion; one main object of the rural authority who furnished the materials for “Domesday” being to spell his local landowners phonetically, the family possessions of the house of “Fazakerley” are distributed among the “Fazackerleys,” “Fizackleas,” “Phizackarleys,” and “Phizackleas.”

The half-educated Briton, especially the South Saxon is fond of adding to the length, if not to the dignity of a name, by adding a final “s”; the London mob invariably cheered the late champion of popular rights as “Odgers.” This final “s” is in the “Domesday Book” very frequently added, so much so that in a similar compilation to the present for England alone, somewhat hastily done, I altogether failed to recognize as one and the same owner the head of the Bucks and Essex family of “Tower,” who figures under the fourfold spellings of “Tower,” “Towers,” “Trower,” and “Trowers.” It is possible he may even be entered for a few acres as “Trousers,” on some page which I have overlooked.

Mr. Pochin would probably hardly care to own an estate were the ownership coupled with the condition that he should change his name to “Poctim,” yet so “Domesday” has it. Mr. Ellis Nanney perhaps thinks the return a most incorrect piece of work, and his estate lamentably understated, in which case I would advise him to look for his missing lands under “Vanney.” Col. Gunter, of shorthorn celebrity, might have been acquitted of any special proclivity for swine; he nevertheless figures as “Col. Grunter.”

A small estate in Sussex is returned as belonging to one “Burdfmak”; what this appalling name is meant for quite outreaches all conjecture.

III. Titles—Titles are a great trial. Englishmen are said to “love a lord,” but that is hardly an excuse for giving two steps in the peerage, as is done in Lord Stafford’s case, and some others, or for making the widows of knights into Lady Janes, Lady Bettys, and Lady Marys. I may mention that a Viscount seems to be a hopeless grievance to the compilers, who get out of the difficulty by sometimes using the simple letter V, and in other cases Vincent; Lord Valentia, for instance, being entered as “V. Valentia.”

In countrified parts one often hears of ladies who act the part of Lady Bountiful being described as “Ladies as is Ladies,” but I was hardly prepared to find that this description”had gained a footing in the parochial rate books and the parliamentary returns; so it is, however, and I could mention several cases where plain “Mrs. A.” is returned as “Lady A.” A more excusable, but at the same time puzzling vagary, is to enter the numerous class of “Hon. Mesdames” as “Ladies.” The letter V is not a prolific one, but two such cases occur in it, “Hon. Mrs. Vernon” and “Hon. Mrs. Vansittart” being entered as “Lady Vernon ” and “Lady Vansittart.” Titles, however, are no obstacle when, as seems to have been the case in some counties north of the Humber, the parochial authorities were of the Quaker persuasion, for there I find a man’s title sometimes denied him in toto. Had the Prince been a Northern landowner, they would have possibly entered him as “Albert E. Guelph.” Lord Houghton is re-converted in one county into a commoner, not as Monckton-Milnes, but as “Aaron” Houghton.

IV. Addresses—The general orders of Government were that the rate collectors should give the addresses of the landowner, and not the name of the farm or farms he owned, or the name of the parish in which they lay. This has been done fairly well in some counties, notably the south-eastern, where, if they do not know an owner’s address, they either leave it blank, with the name of the place in which the acreage is situate in brackets, or simply insert the address of the firm of lawyers who collect the rents, at No.—, Lincoln’s Inn.

In some parts of England the confusion is horrible; for instance, an owner, say Mr. J. T. P. Smith-Green, of Granby Hall, will be described as J. Smith, Little Pedlington—perhaps he only owns an outlying farm there; as J. T. Green Smith, of Granby Hall, his real abode; as John Thomas Plantagenet SMITH-GREEN, of 200, Portland Place, W.; as J. T. P. GREEN-SMITH, of the Fogies’ Club, S.W.—the only error in this case being the putting the Green in front of the Smith, and giving his address at his club on the all-sufficient ground that he once dated a letter enclosing a cheque for rates from it; as J. G. Smith, of Aix-les-Bains, for same reason; or as J. T. P. Smythe-Green, of Boulevard, Paris—“ Boulevard,” “Paris,” being all the locus standi given to one owner whose popularity is undoubted, and whose acres are very broad. I have, therefore, had no scruple, where internal evidence is forthcoming in any case, in crediting a man with acres, whether his address be parochial, real country seat, London house, club, such-and-such a regiment, Lincoln’s Inn, or any English or foreign watering-place where he may be making a temporary sojourn for economy, health, or any other cause.

The Scotch and Irish returns, as regards workmanship, compare most favourably with the English—the Scotch returns being, however, undoubtedly the best. It is curious to note, that while in England and Scotland a man is the unfortunate inmate of an asylum, the compilers discreetly conceal the fact by leaving the address blank; in Ireland, contrariwise, the name of the asylum is always given. Even Scottish counties, like English ones, vary in degrees of goodness and badness; Kirkcudbrightshire being facile princeps in excellence, which is strange, as at low water it almost touches Cumberland, a badly done county, and next neighbour to Lancashire, which is out-and-out the worst done of all counties in England.

V. Initials—These are not always to be trusted. F and T being particular sinners, so much so that I have in this work utterly disregarded the distinction between them, where the addresses are the same, or even in the same neighbourhood. The following case, affecting two estates not far from my own, is a fair example :—

White, F. G. G., Wethersfield, acres 1,561, val. £2,491
White, T. G. G., Wethersfield, acres 3,576, val. £4,303

The facts of the case simply these :—
That Mr. White owned estates in two parishes or more. That in each case his address was correctly given. That one returning authority could not have written an over plain T, but that he gave T as the initial not a soul who knows Essex and remembers poor “Tom” White would for a moment doubt These entries, I may say, occur, not side by side as I have put them, but on different sheets. The initial of a father’s name is frequently given, while he may have been dead and his acres in the son’s possession, say ten years.

Ten years, however, does not suffice for the eminently conservative county of Somerset, where in one case they “keep the memory of the dead man green” for eighteen years in the rate books, not troubling themselves to substitute the son’s name for that of the father.

VI. Miscellaneous Blunders.—Such as the mixture of names and addresses; the giving the name of the tenant as owner instead of that of the freeholder; the too liberal use of trusteeships as substitutes for ownerships personal; and lastly the “clerical error” pure and simple. As an instance of the first form of blunder I would mention the case of the late Col. Peers Williams, whose Anglesea estate is given to Col. T. Williams, of “Peers,” “Menai Bridge.” A curious attempt at the same thing is made in the case of the late Sir Digby Neave, of Dagenham Park, Essex, where the compiler of “Domesday” has tried to fuse the name and address Digby and Dagenham into a harmonious whole—result, “Neaves, Sir.D., Bart, Digman Park, Sussex.”

A fair example of the second class of error is that of Mr. Peckover, of Wisbeach, who is returned as owner of only about 2,000 acres in various counties—his estates amounting to well over 3,000 acres, partly entered in his tenants’ names; this sort of error is probably very common in England; while in Ireland it is, excepting faulty addresses, almost the only grievous stumbling-block.

Of the third class Sir Walter Barttelot’s is noteworthy, Sir Walter being owner of between 3,000 and 4,000 acres, while “Domesday” only allows him something short of 2,400; the balance being entered as the property of various trustees. The last class of blunders is the most hopeless. A mysterious “Mr. Jos. Rewes,” in my county, troubled me not a little, being entered as an owner of some £6,000 a-year in land. Thinking it odd I had never heard of him socially, politically, in the hunting field, or even on a subscription list, I wrote to friends in the close neighbourhood of his supposed estate; they knew him not! I then teased all the neighbouring rate collectors without effect, beyond discovering the existence of a clodhopper named “Reeves,” who did not own much more than half an acre. In despair I attacked the Local Government Board, who very civilly investigated the matter, and informed me that “Jos. Rewes” was inserted by a clerical error for “Jas. Tabor,” the head of an Essex family, seated in the same parish, who, if “Domesday” were to be trusted, would have had but a few hundreds a-year to live upon.

A few gentlemen, in cases of these gross errors, have been at considerable pains to clear them up; some on the contrary nothing will induce them to answer, the consequence being that I have omitted a few acreages, which though exceeding 3,000 acres are palpably in error. Mr. Potts, for instance, of Chester, is down for 5,560 acres in Staffordshire, rented at £221 a-year. Staffordshire marl is not exactly the same thing as Sutherland bog, as the noble owner of Trentham knows full well, and I may safely affirm that, except in the latter county, Wester Ross, County Mayo, or County Kerry, no such poverty-stricken estate could be found. All endeavours, however, have failed in the case of a “Revd. Scutt,” of Bognor, whose existence is denied by the Sussex officials; and of a mysterious estate in county Down, the ownership of which is bandied backwards and forwards by the Irish Local Government Board, Lord Clanwilliam, his second son, and every other “Meade” and “Mead” whose address could be discovered in print. (see Clanwilliam.)

In arranging these pages I have drawn the line at 3,000 acres—the line must be drawn somewhere, how it came to be drawn at the double 3,000 was in this wise. Having lately been smoke-driven from my paternal acres, and forced to invest the proceeds of their sale in fields and pastures new, I had spent the greater part of two years in examining every middle-sized estate then in the market, and thus knew at the time much of the values and sizes of some scores of estates in the three kingdoms. The “Return of Landowners,” published early in 1876, became naturally doubly interesting to me, and in April of that year I conceived the idea of making a list of those who held a substantial share of the soil of England and Wales. Seeing at once that as the size of the estates diminished, their number enormously increased, and as poor Pickering (kindest- hearted and most regretted of all publishers) had urged the publication before summer was past, I adopted 3,000 acres as a minimum, i.e., about what could be accomplished in four months’ work;—as land in England and Wales is practically always worth at least one pound per acre, no rental qualification was fixed. My labours resulted in “The Acreocracy of England.” Pickering, 1876.

Forthwith the papers began to criticize. Many shortcomings and errors were pointed out, and many suggestions good and bad were given—“The Athenaeum” showed conclusively that nothing so marred the value of the book as the omission of Ireland and Scotland. I, therefore, in attempting a second work, drew the line at a minimum of 3,000 acres and £5,000 a-year in each sister kingdom— which was designed to exclude the almost endless McMethuselahs and O’Doghertys who possess the uplands of Ross and the bogs of Donegal. But again Milesian critics were too strong for me, and I was told that ’twas “bhase injusthice” on the part of a “bhase Saxn” to make one rule for England and another for Ireland—poor McMethuselah meanwhile never uttering a word—and so I was forced to make a hard and fast line, applicable to all three kingdoms, of 3,000 acres and £3,000 per annum in the first edition of “Great Landowners.”

Burke’s “Landed Gentry,” Walford’s “County Families,” and Shirley’s “Noble and Gentle Men of England,” excellent work as each is in its own line, rather amuse some Philistines among us, by the insertion, in the first and third cases, of men with pedigrees long or splendid, who have perhaps but one dilapidated and moated grange (whence poor Mariana, unless pre-eminently moon-faced, might have in dowerless solitude gazed and sighed in vain), left to them as a relic of former greatness, the value of which may not reach £50 per annum; while Walford is, to say the very least of it, uncommonly catholic in his idea of what constitutes a “county family.” Writing to one of my collaborateurs in the same field, and asking him where he “drew the line,” I was much tickled to find that he drew it at “untitled supporters of the Tichborne claimant,” the late Lord Rivers being tolerated because Peers could not be suppressed. The critics of the first stillborn Tory Reform Bill might have stigmatized even this as a “Fancy Franchise.”

Many friends again urged that the line should be drawn at 3,000 acres or £3,000 per annum; but a careful test of the number of persons in one county (Lancashire), where the number of nearly landless individuals with a gross annual value put upon the few acres they had of £3,000 and upwards, amounted to 142—convinced me that they, who were I presume chiefly mill-owners, plus all the Cheshire soapboilers, Stafford potters, Durham and Northumberland coal-masters, Warwick hardwaremen, Nottingham hosiers, Yorkshire Clothiers, and Glamorganshire iron-masters, to say nothing of smaller trades, would form a quite unmanageable host. To quote the words of the reviewer in the “Broad Arrow,” I stick to my original “clear cut rule, even if it be a rule of thumb, whereby we may distinguish the sheep from the goats, amongst those who would have us believe them to be cream upon the milk of English society; in these days, when every man with a gardener in a drab coat and a cockade, aspires to be recorded among the Upper Ten Thousand, and to have his kith and kin enumerated amongst the county families,”

Though ’tis hard for some old-established families, such as Bodenham, of Rotherwas, to be excluded because, as in his case, he lacks but a quarter of an acre, though his income therefrom amounts to about £6,000 a-year, whilst Sir Goahead Scattercash, with his 3,001 acres, mortgaged for rather more than they are worth, duly appears as a “great landowner”; yet so it must be, and I can only assure Mr. Bodenham that if he can show me the additional quarter acre under some misspelling, he shall be duly entered in the next edition.

As some amends for this Medo-Persic exclusion, such persons as come within a minimum of 2,000 acres and £2,000 rental value are arranged, like Peris outside the gate of Paradise, in sight of the blessed 3,000 sanctum, but barred out by a strong black line; their possessions are massed, and not separated into counties.

I have also to mention that I have given, in every case but that of Mr. T. Truesdale Clarke, Mr. Clarke-Thornhill, Mr. Sotheron-Estcourt, Lord Holmesdale, and one or two others, the son’s acres to the father, the Dowager’s property, in every case where it will probably go back to the main estate, to her eldest son, and the wife’s property to the husband; for instance, his Grace of Devonshire has added to his acreage some 5,000, which in the return are under Lord Hartington’s name.

In case, however, an amalgamation of nominally different owners is made, I take care to mention it at the foot of the notice.

No notice is taken of parts of an acre, or of shillings and pence; in every case, therefore, where a man owns in divers counties, his acres and income will be slightly greater. Some English families here entered do not enjoy the credit of anything like their real income and area, for three reasons: first, that that area may be in Lancashire, West Yorkshire, or Staffordshire, where the return sins grievously in giving incomes without area; or that it may be in the Metropolitan District, which is not entered at all, or that it may lie in East Hereford, West Sussex, or other well wooded district, where one-third perhaps of the whole area is under timber; at the date of the compilation of “Domesday” woods destitute of saleable underwood being still unrated.

The rent-roll pertaining to the houses of Bedford, Westminster, Portland, Maryon-Wilson, Cadogan, and Lowndes of Chesham, to mention only a few, would look more imposing by far were London included in the return.

In Scotland great misapprehension may arise from two causes. First, that only part of that kingdom is surveyed, and where done, well done; the result of the survey being to reduce in almost every case the supposed area of far northern estates. A recent trial between a laird and his game tenant exemplifies this. The laird had leased the moor as measuring say 20,000 acres; the tenant doubting this had it surveyed, when it was found to be about 13,000, and recovered a part of his rent. All the time the laird was acting in perfectly good faith, merely calling the place what it had always been called, viz., 20,000 acres.

Lord Southesk kindly warns me that “corrections” of acreage when sent by Highland lairds, should be received with caution, as the amount given in the blue-book would, unless the laird had bought lands in the meantime, be often nearer the truth than the corrected acreage.

A faint suspicion of this stamp of correction should be noted in the case of a Rossshire baronet, who claims to hold over a quarter million of acres—the return giving him only 110,000; while another baronet in the highlands of Perthshire has added 30,000 acres to the total given him in the return. Recent purchases may, however, account for both corrections.

As to the second, Mr. Guthrie, a West Highland laird, sends me a most amusing homily, which I would fain have copied, but space forbids, on the emptiness and vexation of spirit entailed on a man who expects revenue from a Highland estate; he calls the rental therefrom a “delusion and a snare”; while Louisa, Lady Ashburton, tells me to erase it altogether, being something gravely past the point one might call “profitless.”

In Ireland, the many complications of tenure and custom made it difficult for the very painstaking officials who compiled the first Irish return (for there are two) to reduce chaos into order.

The instructions from London seem to have been that the compilers were to accept the poor-law valuation as a test of value. This valuation varies, as I am told, in various districts, being on an average 15 per cent under letting value in Ulster, somewhat more in central Ireland, and even as much as 35 per cent under the mark in Co. Kerry. This should be borne in mind where an Irish estate in this work remains without the asterisks, which mark a more or less complete correction. The lessees of lands for 99 years and upwards, a class common in Ireland, were ordered to be entered in the Irish return as “owners,” as also were all such names as at the time showed on the poor-law valuation rolls. Now as every immediate lessor is treated in Ireland as owner for poor-law purposes, the confusion entailed is horrible, “middlemen” without end figuring in the return as owners. On Sir C. Domvile’s estate eleven such cases occur, mulcting him of about half his property. What in the year of grace 1882 is the value of Irish property to those in whose veins the pure Celtic blood flows not, I leave others to answer. I should hardly think the extirpation of landlordism in Wales could long be delayed—after its extinction across St. George’s Channel. Can Mr. Gladstone urge that his stock is pure native Welsh when he comes to plead for his family rights over the rapidly diminishing forests of Hawarden? War is brutal! say the modern illuminati; bag and baggage must the Turk be ousted from Europe—conquest being his only title to Turkey. Let us carry the principle further,—the Saxons, under various English kings and Cromwell, conquered Ireland. The Saxon landlord is already all but driven away. Let the descendants of the ancient Briton, in the shape of the modern Welsh, then repossess themselves of England, and let the American Indian vindicate his claims to the domain of Yankeedom!

The second Irish return, published in August, 1876, is commonly called the “amended” return; two Ulster proprietors have referred me to it for a correct account of their possessions, the inference to be drawn being that they believed this return to be a great amendment on the first one.

A howl of indignation has, however, reached me from other parts of Erin, and owners in the three other provinces with one accord denounce the “amended” as far more untrustworthy than the original return.

As an instance, the first return makes Mr. R. Berridge, of Connemara, territorially the biggest owner in Ireland (he bought in 1872), while the amended return erases his name in toto, and gives his estates back to those who had sold them four years before; I have, therefore, put the “amended” Irish return on one side, using the other alone.

As it is interesting to know a man’s religion and politics, and at the same time unusual to say what they are; I have added, where I can arrive at them, each landowner’s college and club. From his college may be inferred the religion of his forebears, if not his own; though this inference is not so invariably true as of yore. Had this compilation been made twenty years ago, every Roman Catholic proprietor might have been “spotted” by the place of his education being given as Oscott, Ushaw, or Stonyhurst; now, on the contrary, at least fifteen per cent of the heirs to Roman Catholic estates find their way to either Oxford or Cambridge. It is noticeable that among perverts from the Protestant to the Roman Catholic faith, though Oxford is responsible for far the greater number of cases among both laic small fry and the English clergy, the perversions of big-wigs from Cambridge more than equal those from Oxford. When a landowner’s alma mater is given as “Edinburgh” or “Glasgow,” it is, as far as I can judge, only evidence to the extent of about four to one in favour of his being a Presbyterian.

From a man’s club may be pretty safely gathered his status, his politics and pursuits; for instance, in “Brooks’s” one does not expect to find a violent radical; in “White’s” a nouveau riche; in the “Athenaeum ” a sporting man; in the “St. George’s” a hot Orangeman; in the “National” a henchman of Cardinal Manning; in the “Raleigh” one of the straitest sect of the Pharisees; in the “Turf” a great light of science; or, I may add, in the “Travellers’ ” a Livingstone, a Speke, or a Baker; though in justice to the “Turf,” I should add that the fact of a man’s membership is just as likely to mean that he is an accomplished whist player, as that he concerns himself in the smallest degree with the comparative speed of what Sir A. Lusk, in a recent attack on Queen’s Plates, informed the House were nothing but “exaggerated greyhounds”.

The conservative power of the soil on owners is a perpetual pill to the French extreme left; they see it, admit it, but cannot understand it—why should a man, say they, who works 13 hours a day, and eats meat once a week, always vote for the de facto Government, because he owns 2 ½ acres of soil? while his easier worked, better fed, and better instructed kinsman in Paris will always vote for upsetting it.

Without for a moment putting English and French liberalism on the same level, it is curious to note how the ownership of land seems to drive the possessors into the Tory fold, high and low alike. The number of men in these pages who belong to one or other of the Tory clubs will be seen to vastly outnumber that of members of the Liberal ones, even if “Brooks’s” be added (as in strictness it ought not) to the latter—see List of Clubs in Appendix. As to men of humbler standing—no county for its size contains anything like so many peasant holdings as Lancashire, yet a Liberal poet, who has not yet reached Tennysonian fame, writes of the general elections of 1868 and 1874—

“Frailty! thy name is Lancashire!”

If the Party leaders would condescend to take the compiler’s advice ’twould be thus given:—

To Sir S. N. At the risk of mortally offending every rising Parliamentary lawyer, insist on the simplification of all laws relating to land transfer.

To Mr. G. Pile on the agony! Impose a new and crushing tax on every dealing in the soil.

In England mines vastly complicate the return, coal property being added to and mixed with the land, a most unfair proceeding, as coal is capital, not in any sense income, coal rents being in point of fact annual coal sales. The canny Scot takes good care in every case to separate between a man’s above-ground and under-ground rental. Again the cases of exaggerated incomes from the ground landlord being credited with the whole rent, from building property, which will eventually fall in to his grandchildren, are very frequent, when estates impinge on large towns or fashionable watering-places. The return takes care to note five of the more glaring instances of this exaggeration, viz., the Duke of Norfolk, at Sheffield, Lord Calthorpe, at Birmingham, Sir John St. Aubyn, at Plymouth, Sir J. Ramsden, in Yorkshire, and Lord Haldon, at Torquay; I have added notes to a few more cases that have come within my own ken. In regard to other mineral property I am much indebted to Mr. Jasper More, late Member for South Salop, who has pointed out to me the incongruity of entering incomes from coal, and not those from lead, tin, and copper. Lead and other metallic mines, though now rateable, were not so at the date of the English return, and in consequence many Welsh and Cornish estates are returned at but a tithe of their real value, for I need hardly say that where, as in Lord Lisburne’s case, a mine proves “real jam,” the owner is in no hurry to turn it into a limited company.

One reviewer in his critique says plaintively that “many who answer the requirements of Mr. Bateman’s 3,000 acres and £3,000 a-year, by no means as an actual fact are in receipt of that income.” True words, forsooth! For the benefit of guileless fundholders who have not as yet dabbled in land, I will give them what I consider a fair specimen of what a “landed income” of £5,000 a-year means when analysed. My typical £5,000 a-year squire shall be called—

First part of annual accounts of a landed gentleman

Second part of annual accounts of a landed gentleman

Leaving our worthy squire the magnificent annual sum of £1,032 to live upon. The subscriptions, I think I may say, are hardly over painted—being, as folks say, “the least that can be expected from a person in Mr. S’s position.”

In conclusion, let me say that this compilation (partially attempted in 1876 for England alone) was undertaken by me simply as a labour of love, when no one else seemed disposed to attempt it; it is, no doubt, full of errors, but such errors would be tenfold were the process repeated by any one who, unlike myself, lacked a fair knowledge of who’s who.

Also let me express my gratitude to many correspondents who have taken the trouble to correct their own notices, and to point out errors in those of their neighbours; I venture to hope that others will follow their good example, and where they find a misstatement, will send me a correct one, noting in cases where they have added to their family acres by purchase, from whom those acres were bought, or in the unhappy case of a dwindling patrimony, to whom they were sold, so that in a fifth edition I may get my “Great Landowners” absolutely correct.

JOHN BATEMAN
BRIGHTLINGSEA, COLCHESTER,
June, 1882.


Who owned Lancashire – introduction

Bateman’s Great Landowners – Lancashire

Lancashire’s resident ‘great landowners’

Bateman’s Great Landowners – Appendices

See also:

Great War conscription and Edwardian Preston’s ‘class ceiling’

Public School Prestonians

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