Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 1999-10 > 0940655159
From: linda Merle <>
Subject: Re: Land ownership
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 22:05:59 -0700
The idea of land ownership by many was very slow to come to the Plant
Earth. It only recently evolved here, in the new world -- and in many cultures
it still isn't there. It was very slow to come to the Irish whose notion of land
ownership was more akin to American Indians. The clan held the land in
common. In the feudal system the king owned it all. He sublet it out to
his knights and nobles. OFten he reserved the right to take it back. They
had to provide him with a certain number of soldiers of various rank. His
nobles "sublet" it out to their underlings and so on. At the bottom were
serfs, who came with the land. The whole thing is fascinatingly complex.
Even within England the number of serfs versus free men varied widely
between the north and the south. England evolved from a number of early
medieval kingdoms. Saxons in the south. The Angles in the north east
were overrun by the Danes, so the north was within the Danelaw. For a
very long time practices were very different between the two. And then
they were succeeded by the later medieval kingdoms. Check the history
links in www.genuki.org.uk .
The land in Ulster was held by the Irish lords. The largest of them was the
O'Neill. In the feudal system, if you became a traitor, you forfeited your land.
The lords rebelled after formally accepting a grant of their hereditary lands
from Queen Elizabeth -- so according to the rules of the time, having accepted
her as their lord and rebelling, they were rebels. The land legally defaulted to
the Crown. The word "legal" is important here. The British are and were
very legalistic. The reason they were so here is that this was Ireland, and
these Irish were close cousins and part of the Kingdom. If things were not
done legally, then heirs would sue in English and Irish courts till all the
lawyers were rich and everyone else was poor. The other important thing
about legal is that they thus generated lots of legal documents which are
useful for genealogical purposes.
The Irish didn't do a lot of farming back then. They, like their cousins,
the highlanders, grazed cattle, and traveled about with the cattle. ON the
other hand the new generation of Irish scholars in Dublin say they practiced
more farming than is generally beleived. Prior generations prefered to think
the Irish much more "uncivilized" than they were -- ie -- they farmed, ergo
they were civilized. I stay out of these fights, myself.....(I say you can not
farm and still be civilized <grin>).
The English farmed. The future Irish farmer was in a sorry way in those days.
He was subject to the practice of "coin and liverage" whereby the Irish lord
lodged his soldiers, often large, bad tempered, horny Scottish mercinaries,
in your humble one room mud hut. And you had to feed them too. They
were much abused, these folk.
The English notion really is more civilized. You protect the people, they
farm and pay taxes. You use the taxes to build a barracks to house the
militia. That way only SOME of the next generation had soldiers for daddies.
A good book to read on the topic is Cyril Falls "The Ulster Plantation".
It describes the legal process quite well. Hanna "The Scotch Irish" has a lot
of the history of the early kingdoms in Scotland and England (and of course
Ireland) as well as a presentation of the Ulster Plantations . CO Antrim and
Down were not planted under English gov. schemes. They were planted
privately by various Scots lords without benefit of Parliament. Since the bulk
of our ancestors were from Antrim and Down this means that our ancestors'
names are not among the English gov's records .
Hope this helps,