The following article is the second compiled by Mr. Jack Redmond based on the memoirs of his grandfather Johnston Redmond.
Jack Redmond was seven years old when his grandfather died and he is anxious that the excerpts should be reproduced exactly as the old man wrote them as this was also how he spoke. A brief family tree has been given for the assistance of readers.
In 1741 took 30 acres of waste land from Mr. Cope, The Manor, Loughgall at 4/= per acre, in the townland of Annacramp about 2 miles from Armagh City. Above lands was not occupied for a long time before, when Adam Dickey took above he and his family spent many years in reclaiming, draining, filling swamps and bog holes, rocks and stones, and in fact everything that could be done until it was put into good order, after all this hard work for 49 years, the Copes raised the rent to 21/= per acre. This was British law in Ireland, the Irish landlord never done anything to help the farmers in any shape or form.
On the land acts of '81 up to the purchase act all the forced law that could be accomplished by valuers or land agents, by swaring the value of land proximity to co. roads also to town and also railway station all put on against the farmer and his labourer, as the farmer had to pay for all those conveniences, charged at from 5/ to 20/ per cent. This was and is British Rule in Ireland. Lord Craigavon failed to tell the Prince of Wales these facts. The new land rent was fixed in Adam Richardson's name, the whole annuities on Irish lands was fixed on the farmers own personal improvements.
Our childhood days of sports and plays and shooting marvels (marbles), spinning tops, tossing buttons and halfpennies and also farthings, playing ball and throwing bullets, running races playing bud and blind man's buff and so on. At about 6 years old, Gran Aunty Kells my grandfather's cousin, said to me one day, hear you are my lad I had you on my lap 3 times for death the time I had your dead clothes beside me to put on and overed it, I had you the second time also and your Dead clothes ready, and you got out of it, I had you also the third time on my lap to die but I did not bring the dead clothes and you are here what a wonder.
About 8 year old I and a lad called Newell, was in the Potato field gathering after 2 men, the drills were frosty and put on a fire and tosted some potatoes. I had a holster pistol, the barrell about one foot long set in a wood stock, she would kill a bird 20 yards away. I had a powder horn, a cow's horn with powder in it with bottom and cork in, we scrambled about the bristled potatoes and Newell pushed me across the fire and the powder went off and blew the seat out of two pairs of trousers and set me on fire. Several toys were blown away and never got.
(P.S. so the Lord God was merciful and continues to be so.)
It was a common practice on a Sunday for to take our horses after the Spring's work and herd them on the head, side and foot ridges after dinner so as they might get a bite of grass. I at about 10 years of age, my brother Edward and I thought we would have a gallop, as we had a new horse. We took them to poles (?) near the present Post Office Drumannon (1991 it is a big ruined house opposite Crowhill new gate at road junction) and for who would be at Redmond's first (the old house at the bridge). I was on the new horse and could not guide him and he jumped against the present stone wall and knocked about 2 feet off the top of the wall at the lower gate. I fell off onto the wall on my side and I got by agony to slide down the yard inside the wall, got into bed, I had blood haemorrhage also threw off blood for some days - before and after I done all my classes of farm work and attended warping mills and winding machines also in the plough handles doing all classes of farm work, tooth hook, sythe hook, mowing with sythe and so on. At about 14 years, Frank Woods a neighbour, asked me to draw him a load of hay, it was round the fields cut out off the ditches and side ridges, round my predecessors farm I was finishing the last lot, at the present gate at the Diamond Hill T.J. Kells land now, and the horse slipped forward and I fell right down with my head foremost. I lit on a potato drill got up and finished the work.
(At the time described, the linen business was still going at the bridge, and my own dad told me he remembered, as a child, seeing the long single storey house, with a two storey building at the high end which contained some sort of machinery. It sounds as if they were engaged in weaving linen themselves. Regarding "my predecessors land" then held by T.J. Kells, when the Walker Redmonds left Grange, it seems the land to the left of the road from Grange to the Diamond Hill might have been sold to Johnston, but it was in fact sold to T.J. Kells, the father of the present son and successor Tommy, our very good neighbour, his wife Olive and son Maurice at this moment still living in the farm house down the lane beside us).
(Jack R. 9.3.1991).
Among the people round here, praying and singing hymns praising God and glorifying Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. Meetings specially were here, Mrs. Jane Kells, the present family grandmother, a godly woman and her three daughters. When prayer was often repeated the person praying could tell giving the name of some other person praying lying on the road side. and often in a field, and I, Johnston Redmond and some other one of the meeting and find the person named at the very place mentioned singing and glorifying God and Jesus Christ aloud. This praising of God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord continued for a considerable time.
I felt myself very much over this wonderful change of spiritual light, and on the 14th of April, 1859, I was digging for potatoes in the near Wood field mentioned in a former page, there is still a oak tree there, (even was in 1991), I said the spade down at half past 9 a.m., and knelt down behind a ditch and pleaded with God my Father and your Father, for the great light and redeeming power of Jesus Christ. There and then, I know today that the Lord God changed (?) my life to serve Him humbly.
P.S. We had a servant boy named J. Connelly. He asked me about the meetings and I told him to come and see for himself. He attended a few meetings and on one night, he knelt down and prayed. The light went out and he got up in the dark, took the Bible out of a little book case, turned over the leaves and sound (?) The young men will see visions and old men dream dreams, and the verses in Jeremiah - the Lord will pour out of his spirit.
J. Connelly could not read one word. We heard him say the alphabet afterwards.
(The letter 't' at the end of a word is sometimes round here (in my experience) softened to 'd' ... hence 'said' for 'set' ref. the spade. I have copied the original as exactly as I can, errors and omissions and all. Jack R. 1991).
(In this section I have improved and polished the original text only where necessary to clarify the unfolding of the events described. I do not normally approve of this course for fear of changing subtle shades of meaning or idiom unknown to me. But in the case of this long and involved episode it really was necessary. Jack R. 1991)
"A joining neighbour T. Duke, came to me and asked me to help him and I refused as he and I was not in good terms at the time. He took out 2 ejectment Prosses and asked me to look at them. I saw they were for 41/2 years rent against the farm. I refused to have anything to do in the case saying I was in the land court my self. The acreage was 61h acres, he pressed on me to buy 2 plots namely 2 acres. I told him "If you part with 2 acres you cannot keep a cow," so I refused. He went to my brother Edward Redman, and the 2 came back. Edward took me to one side and told me "Tom owes me £11 and if you won't do something for Tom he will be put out and I will lose my £11. (An earlier overdue rent).
I had a desire and still have, to ger on my knees night and morning and ask for forgiveness for the past and guidance in the future. Above talk was on a Saturday and on Monday morning I sent Tom word to be ready at I1 a.m. This is rent paying day so we walked together into Loughgall. Before I left home I had put £11 (being two years rent), in a cotton bag, not telling Tom my mind in any way, so we arrived at the office, Mr. Babington was outside and said "Mr. Redmond, are you going to buy Duke's land?" "No sir, I have enough bad land, I want no more!"
"Well" said Mr. Babington, "what are you coming about?" "Come into the office and I will tell you" said I. I handed him the cotton bag and the £11. "What do you mean by this £11?" said he. "I mean for you to take it and wipe out all rent and arrears of rent and costs off this poor man."
"Redmond, do you think I am here to set whatever the rent you think of?" "No, Mr. Babington, this is a very sad case." He replied, "I can't nor won't do it." Said I "This poor man, and the death of his Father and his Mother, the death of a child and his one cow, all inside 2 years. I know he is as far in debt as he can, and he is an unpleasant neighbour, and the scripture says if you do good for evil it covers a multitude of sin and I need it badly." He looked at me and said "I would do it if I could, but I have no power," and so on......
I then put the question "How long have I to serve a notice on you to quit serving ejectment prosses on this estate?" "What do you mean?" was his reply.
"I mean what I say". Said he "You can ask a lawyer", I said "you are one" and I asked him again "How long has this poor man time to serve a notice on you to fix a fair rent, as this latter farm comes under the Quarter Sessions Act." The reply "You can ask a lawyer." I asked him for, and got, paper, pen and ink, and wrote to Mr. Joshua Peel, solicitor, Armagh - "Dear Sir, please serve a notice on Mr. Babington, Land Agent, the Manor, Loughgall, to have a fair rent fixed at First Quarter of Thomas Duke's farm, Grange Lower. Bearer will give you particulars of same. Mr. Babington is in the office today." "T. Duke, have you any money on you?" "Not a penny." So I had 3/6 in my pocket and gave it to him.
Tom had to walk 5 miles into Armagh, told his information to Mr. Peel. He, seeing time so short, sent a server with the notice. He had to walk the 5 miles to Loughgall. When he arrived Mr. Babington was away to Derry, when the server came back to Armagh and told his information to Mr. Peel, the latter saw into the case, and found out through the railway guide, that Mr. Babington could not get to Derry city only by the late Mail. Mr. Peel sent on the notice, (by telegram), to a man in Derry, and the server was in time to catch Mr. Babington's arrival and the latter's car and coachman was waiting for him, and he jumped on his car and ordered his man "Drive your best."
The server jumped on another car waiting a job, and the two car men both galloping their horses after other, Mr. Babington trying to dodge the service of the notice for a fair rent. Mr. Babington told me his self that he got ashamed up the street of Derry of a man on a car behind shouting him to stop, holding a paper in his hands; so he told me in the rent office afterwards.
There was only 3 days from the date to have service. He said, "You beat me that time!" Said I "Serve you right." Duke v Cope was first on the alphabetical list for hearing as the undefended cases for ejectment are called. T. Duke's case was called. Said Mr. Babington to Judge Kirby "Better leave this case to last as there is a statement by Mr. Redmond about these arrears." I was called to get into the witness box, so I handed down my cotton purse and it was given to Judge Kirby,"and he counted the £11 and said "What do you mean by this?" I said, "I aks you to take the £ 11 and two years arrears and wipe out all rent and costs off this poor man." I told of the deaths and distress in every way ..... I knew the poverty, the Father, Mother and children. The judge's reply was "I respect you very much in the matter, but I have no Law to do it."
Joshua Peel, the solicitor, pleaded with all his might for Duke's liberty, and so at last the Judge said "I cannot and I will not for I have no law to reduce arrears."
My reply "Your Honour I will be responsible for it." "On that condition" said the Judge, "I will do it." So he entered in the Book to that effect.
So I shouted up "Your Honour, the case is won!"
Mr. Peel then drew His Honour's attention that there was a notice to fix a fair rent on this small farm. Mr. Peel to me "You know this farm?" "Yes, I join march with it." "Do you know the class of land it is?" he asked me. "It lies almost flat, poor and hard to labour. I have done horse's work now and again for about 30 years, and also drew their turf when it suited, and I never saw a good crop on that." Said the Judge. "No, the land is all bad to you get a low rent fixed. Mr. Peel what rent would you call a fair rent?" "10/= an acre." "10/= an acre," said the Judge, "I am ashamed to hear of 10/= an acre on the Cope estate." I said "There is my respected agent Mr. Babington and he was at the fixing of my rent in the lands long side it at 10/= an acre on better lands better cared for." So Richard Allen, Grange, (my neighbour), appears as Landlord valuer, 15/6. So his Honour put it at 12/6.
1 then wrote to Mrs. Cope, The Manor, Loughgall, giving her full information of the sad state poor Duke was in. Her reply was thanking me and accepting the offer of 2 years rent. I then sent her a reply and all particulars as stated in Court to the Lord Chancellor in Dublin and the reply was accepting the 2 years rent.
I then called on Mr. Babington and gave him the £11 getting a clear receipt. So there was much talk over this case. At the same hour in Court I heard the names of 25 tenants on the Cope estate, decrees granted for arrears of rent, 6 or 7 of them were present and one of them never opened their mouth asking time or else. In about a month I received a letter from Mr. Babington, stating all the farmers on the estate in arrears, if paid up the 2 years would get a clear receipt to date.
I went round a number of names I heard cried out in court, read the letter to them and advised them to pay if possible. I think as far as 85 tenants got the reduction, there was also the Mountnorris estate to be dealt with, a number of farmers came to me for information and advice."
"I wrote to Mr. Babington about another distressing case also a neighbour, and the above was merciful. I wrote him again and his reply was that no man could live on land and be in such a sad state as I said, and that he would go and see for himself the state of the family. Mr. Babington came on a car that drove any person for payment, Jas. Killen's car. When he examined the home and family he came into the yard and called me out and said "I was at John's, and it is impossible for that man to recover. He is far worse than you said." My reply was "It is a low quick the sun never shines on. I hope you will live to see the day that flowers will be growing in his windows." (Mr. Babington let him stay on and try to recover).
The family commenced and planted some strawberries and the land suited them, and in 2 or 3 years I saw over 100 cases of 32lbs each leave in one day. What a change! John is their yet and doing fairly well, he has now a lot of apple trees and has a fairly good crop of apples this year and they are giving a reasonable price this season. Mr. Babington was the present Attorney General's father. A kind and obliging man.
Mr. Babington was appointed as a real estate valuer, so I was told, and then Mr. Arthur Brooks, a Donegall man, was appointed instead. The fixing of rent and appeals was going on, and the additional rent put on orchards on the acreage or the number of trees on the farm .... all classes of small fruits were taken into account. It was common for to put 10/=, to £1 or often £2 on what acreage the tenant had under fruit.
My neighbour T.J. Kells on one acre of old orchard, I think over 100 years old, £1.2.6 additional to the fair rent fixed on the land; about 10 acres in this farm, then on a farm of 26 acres on the historic Diamond Hill, about 1 rood and a half of formerly 3 tenants garden, a few trees in some, 5/= put on in additional rent, namely £1.7.6 in a seperate item called "the Pink Schedule."
This was British Law & Landlord Law. Judge Meredith, I think the present Judge in Dublin, he seemed to be anxious to fix rent on all classes of fruit growing on a farm. In County Armagh, Mr. Brooks, the agent, brought a land agent from, I think, county Westmeath to county Armagh as landlord's valuer, and also to fix a rent on each farm for apple growing according to acreage. His evidence in the witness box was that for every 5 acres the tenant held, he should be compelled to have or plant 3/4 (might be 3 or 4) roods of apple trees to pay to the landlord 16/= per year additional rent on every 5 acres of land the tenant possessed.
My case and 6 others was listed for hearing at same hour. My counsel was Mr. Greer, Mr. Wright solicitor, Portadown.
My counsel addressed the county Westmeath valuer "Now Mr. Barrons, what are you, and where from? You are a land agent of some of the best lands in Ireland. What do you know about the clay lands of county Armagh? Did you ever plant any apple trees?" "Yes." "How many to one acre ... How many trees did you plant in one acre?" "80 trees." "What did each tree cost?" "3/6 per tree." "What was the cost of planting and manuring each tree?" "About 2/= per tree." "How many years would you have to continue this cost before you would have a return?" "10 years."
Mr. Brooks, our agent, jumped up and shouted at the top of his voice, "This man is mad... put him down.... he doesn't know what he is saying."
Mr. Greer then spoke to the Judge, "I demand further reduction on Redmond's farm and these other cases."
So this put a stop to the rent fixed on apple trees, except where the tenant agreed privately.
Three persons named Brown, just opposite Ternegreevy school house was served with ejectment processes for arrears of rent and costs, so a decree was laid on the farm and the Brown family, namely 3 old maids and a little child, making 4 in all. The sheriff and his party came and turned out everything they had and nailed up the doors and ordered them to leave. The agent Mr. Brooks in the meantime ordered the ........ing officer to the Poor House to come and bring the 4 into the Poor House at Armagh at once. They refused to go and the youngest of the 3 being 65 years of age came and asked me to take up their case. I tried to put her off and pointed out a number of Orangemen in the neighbourhood to press on them and that I would subscribe and for them to try and collect and pay all they could. They had tried and no help to be got. She came again and again with similiar news and at last I sat down and wrote to Mrs. Cope, a kind lady, "Dear Mrs. Cope, I ask you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to take 2 years rent and allow those 3 old women to remain in their miserable home as it would be a disgrace to turn them out into the Poor House..."
(Johnston ended a page there, and the next simply begins thus...) "To the estate and you would be the largest shareholder of paying their upkeep. I will see that the 2 years rent be paid." I received a very kind reply accepting my offer. I then sent for one of the Browns and told her to 'go and open the window; do no harm to any part of your home, I'll see that you are not interfered with any more.' I gave no news of this to the agent. He heard of it and got into a terrible temper and swore what he would do. He was sent to me to see about the rent, and I told him I would keep them in their home as the tribe was there for one or two hundred years. So I advised them to go round and collect; I would subscribe. So they got a memorial wrote out and went round fully 10 miles, and what they collected they used it as they went along for some weeks. I was still waiting to get what would meet the 2 years rent, but it never came yet and a Rev. Mr. Kennedy of Moy, a supernumerary, took up the matter. He attacked Mr. Brooks the agent. The Minister wrote the agent about his cruelty, and Brooks reply asked if he encouraged tenants to rob the landlords. So this continued for some time, and the finish up the Rev. Mr. Kennedy paid the 2 years."
(In the margin alongside the page, Johnston wrote "Mr. Brooks is dead very long ago so there is some of the family there yet Dec. 5th 1932).