Bellews of Mount Bellew

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This book analyses the impact of the penal laws on one particular Catholic gentry family. It also places the Bellews in the broader context of 18th-century Irish country life, emphasizing the related aspects of land-ownership, landlord-tenant relationships, land-use and management, and the gentry's place in the economic structure of their region. It explores the means by which a Catholic gentry family could provide avenues for advancement of younger sons - a paradoxical problem created by success in avoiding the ...

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Overview

This book analyses the impact of the penal laws on one particular Catholic gentry family. It also places the Bellews in the broader context of 18th-century Irish country life, emphasizing the related aspects of land-ownership, landlord-tenant relationships, land-use and management, and the gentry's place in the economic structure of their region. It explores the means by which a Catholic gentry family could provide avenues for advancement of younger sons - a paradoxical problem created by success in avoiding the land divisions called for by the penal laws - and also how it could expand its resources by participation in domestic business and foreign trade, two endeavours often intertwined.

The central themes are: the means by which such a family could evade the laws and preserve their estates intact; the factors, regional and familial, which permitted them to do so; and, the psychological as well as the material impact of the penal laws. The Bellews prospered, despite the penal laws: they maintained their estates, their lands provided them with a good living, and they were prominent in their region. Yet the family did not remain untouched. Accommodation to the penal structure was necessary and can be seen in almost every area of the Bellews' endeavours. The penal laws resulted in a life which was rarely, if ever, uncomfortable, but it was one that could never be completely settled, or 'normal' in terms of their Protestant counterparts.

About the Author:

Karen Harvey teaches European history at Lock Haven, University of Pennsylvania. She has published on topics such as the gentry of east Galway and the Irish playwright John O'Keefe.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781851823512
  • Publisher: Four Courts Press
  • Publication date: 9/19/1998
  • Pages: 224

Table of Contents

Preface 9
Introduction 11
1 'In Open Rebellion': The Seventeenth-Century Background 17
2 'The Gavel, that Infernal Act': The Land, the Law and the Catholic Landed Gentry 43
Securing the Land 47
Profiting from the Land 53
Improving the land 62
Landlords and Tenants 64
Living on the Land 69
3 'We Must Part Our Native Lands': Military Service and Education 81
Military Service 82
Education 92
4 'The Trade of Ireland Is All in the Hands of the Papists': Commerce and Trade 110
Foreign Trade 112
Galway Gentry-Merchant Families in the British West Indies 115
Galway Gentry-Merchant Families in France 123
Galway Gentry-Merchant Families in Spain 125
Gentry Participation in Domestic Trade and Commerce 130
5 'It Is Time for Us to Speak Out like Men': The Gentry and Catholic Relief 145
Epilogue: 'To Preserve the Religion of Our Posterity' 175
List of Abbreviations 179
Notes 181
Bibliography 205
Index 215
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