Transcribed by Jane from The Newry Telegraph November 7, 1846
Extraordinary Presentment Sessions for the Middle Barony of Dungannon
[from our reporter]
On Tuesday last, an Extraordinary Presentment Sessions for this Barony was held in the Court-house of Dungannon, at the hour of twelve o’clock. By that time the Court was filled chiefly by the Gentlemen of the County, and the middle classes, and shopkeepers of the town, there being very few apparently poor persons present. The conduct of those assembled, throughout the day, was beyond praise. Among those present we observed-
Lord Visct. NORTHLAND, M.P.Colonel
Sir William VERNER, M.P.
Robert WRAY, Esq., J.P.
Thomas EYRE, Esq., J.P., Benurb
John Kinley TENER, Esq., J.P.
James JACKSON, Esq., J.P., Tullydooey
Walter HOARE, Esq., J.P., Benurb
Joseph GREER, Esq., Desertereight-house
James SHEIL, Esq., Q.C. and J.P.; R.W. LOWRY, Esq., J.P., Pomeroy-house
Richard EVANS, Esq., J.P., Dungannon
Thos. GREER, Esq., J.P.
R.D. COULSON, Esq., J.P.
Richard LLOYD, Esq., Tamnamore
James DICKSON, Esq., Dungannon
George WILCOX, Esq., Coalisland
James N. PIKE, Esq., Coalisland
John CRANSTON, Esq., Cranebrook, &c., &c.
Mr. AUCHINLECK read the proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant, calling the meeting. On the motion of J.Y. BURGES, Esq., seconded by Mr. WRAY, the chair was taken by Lord NORTHLAND.
His Lordship, on taking his seat, said: – Gentlemen, I feel highly honored at being called on to preside over a meeting so respectable as the one now assembled. The circumstance of my being called on to take the chair on this occasion is entirely owing to the indisposition of the Lord Lieutenant of this County, who is unable to be here to-day. I have received a letter from Lord CHARLEMONT, stating that, in consequence of his serious illness – a matter which I am sure you will all regret as much as I do – he is unable to attend. I suppose you are all perfectly aware that this meeting has been convened by the proclamation of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, for the purpose of making enquiries into the distress which, unfortunately, too generally prevails in Ireland, by reason of the failure of the potato crop; and also to devise the best means of alleviating that distress by means of drainage and such other works as may be proposed. It is unnecessary for me to detain you any longer by any remarks of mine; and no doubt you are all anxious to hear what sum that Magistrates and associated Cess-payers will think is necessary, for the present, to present. (His Lordship sat down amid loud applause.)
The following Cess-payers were associated with the Magistrates: –
Messrs. William PARK, Stewartstown
Richard SIMMONS, Killymaddy
Richard LLOYD, Tamnamore
Jas. DICKSON, Dungannon
John CRANSTON, of Cranebrook
John MALLON, Cottage Quinn.
E.H. CAULFEILD, Esq., of Drumcairn-house, rose and said:- My Lord and gentlemen, I beg to move that the sum of £5000 be laid on the Middle Barony of Dungannon, and that this sum be levied off the portions of the different Unions in the Barony, for the relief of the poor people in them. It appears to be the general wish in this country to apply the money so laid on to the execution of reproductive works, or works for the improvement of the soil in place of appropriating it to what are called public works, or the making of roads. (Hear and applause.) One of the reasons which have induced the gentry and farmers to come to this conclusion is this, that in public works the poor people have to go to a great distance from their own homes, and consequently the wages they receive are required to support themselves, and their families do not derive any benefit at all; but by employing them at works of drainage, the poor people are not only able to sleep every night in their own houses, and eat every meal with their wives and children, but as they can earn, and may also employ their families, drainage is consequently much better employment, in every way, for those poor people who may require it. (Loud applause.) If this sum of £5000 should hereafter prove insufficient for the exigency of the time, we will have the power of calling Presentment Sessions as often as we please. We should not lay on any more than is necessary for the present; but, trust in God, as we will have to pay this money back again, that by the price of provisions falling, as I hope they shortly will do, that the sum we have voted will be sufficient for the emergency. At all events, it is our duty not to squander the money, but to make the smallest amount, consistent with a due regard to the condition of the people, suffice.
Walter HOARE, Esq., J.P., Benurb-house, seconded the motion, which was passed unanimously.
A Voice. – It is too little.
James SHEIL, Esq., Q.C. and J.P., said. – You should recollect that this sum is only to meet the present distress. It is merely laid on as an experiment, in order that we may first see our way. It will, as far as it goes, be expended in giving relief, and when it is done, more will be granted. (Applause.)
Lord NORTHLAND. – If it be found necessary, you may have another Presentment Sessions next month.
The present meeting is for the purpose of fixing the sum to be assessed on the different electoral divisions with the Barony.
A Cess-payer in the body of the Court, wished to know if every electoral division would not be taxed according to the number of the poor who belonged to it? He said he held in his hand a copy of The Newry Telegraph, which contained a report of a meeting at Tynan, Sir James M. STRONGE in the Chair, from which it appeared that each division would be taxed only for its own poor. He and his neighbors were quite willing to support their own poor, but they did not wish to be taxed for the support of others. (“Hear him, hear him.”)
Mr. SHEIL. – You entirely mistake the nature of the Act. When a gentleman undertakes to drain his own land, none of the farmers pay for it, so that there is nothing assessed upon them. Each electoral division under this Act pays for itself.
The Chairman said he had received a letter from Lord CHARLEMONT stating that he would thank them to allot him the sum of £1,000 to be spent in drainage of the Castlecaulfeild estate.
The Cess-payer, above-mentioned, said: – We’ll keep our own poor, and let each estate keep its own. (Cries of “Hear him.”) We’ll leave it to the clemency and good feeling of the gentlemen to do what they think right.
Chairman. – If the presentments be for roads, you will have to pay for them, but if for drainage, you will only have to pay for that portion of your land which is drained. (Hear, hear, and cries of “That’s right.”)
Courtney NEWTON, Esq., rose and said: – My Lord and Gentlemen, I have a proposal to make to you, and as I am satisfied that both the country at large will be benefitted by the adoption of it, and that employment will also be given to all who may require it, I feel certain that it will receive your approbation. It will not cost this Barony a single farthing, and it will benefit the whole County, and increase the value of property in it, three times beyond its present value. What I am going to ask you to do is, to give a grant of £10,000 to the Coleraine Junction Railway. The advantages that will be gained will be these: first, you will have the sum of £10,000 expended on the laboring men in this Barony; next, you save the Barony the expense of raising money off it to support its poor, for the Barony will never have to pay any of this money; and lastly, you will, by granting the proposition which I have made, ensure the expenditure of no less a sum than £40,000 in the County in order to carry out the line. (Hear, hear, and applause.) Besides what I have mentioned, the railway will be productive of advantages incalculable to the country at large, and there is not an acre of land in this County that will not be increased at least 3s. additional in value. A deputation from the Company has attended, consisting of the London and Irish Secretaries and two of the Directors. I understand that the work will be commenced within one fortnight after the Government give the grant.(Hear, hear, and loud applause.)
Mr. SHEIL. – You are all aware that if the presentment be passed, the Barony is responsible. I wish to know what security you offer us if we lay on the presentment?
Mr. NEWTON. – I can prove that it will be of advantage to the County.
Mr. SHEIL. – That is not the question.
Mr. NEWTON. – I’ll tell you what we propose. Our proposal is this: on condition that the Directors satisfy the Government in giving security for the payment of the instalments, and on that condition alone, will the money be advanced. Several members of the present Government have announced their intention of giving their sanction to this line. We will satisfy the Government as to the solvency of the security we offer.
Mr. SHEIL. – Oh, the solvency is not sufficient. For suppose the Treasury thought right to resort to the Barony, which is responsible, as a collateral security, for the money, what are we to do?
Mr. NEWTON. – We will give any security that can be asked. Surely, if the Government be satisfied with the security we offer, that ought to satisfy the Barony.
Mr. SHEIL. – That’s not sufficient for us.
Mr. NEWTON. – If the presentment be not passed here, it will only postpone the railway and deprive the people of getting work so soon as they otherwise might.
Mr. SHEIL. – There may be another Presentment Sessions in a month, and you may come then with your documents ready. But why is this left to the last moment? – to come forward now with a vague application, and saddle the Barony with a sum without any security.
Mr. NEWTON. – Surely, if we satisfy the Government, it could never come upon the Barony.
Mr. SHEIL. – I want to get the Government to satisfy us that we run no risk in the matter.
Mr. NEWTON. – We will go before the Board of Works, and satisfy them of our solvency. We will give employment in 10 days after we get the money. Mr. NEWTON again rose and said: – I would like to make one observation; it is this. The only thing we ask is, that the presentment be passed, provided we satisfy the Government. Who is so interested in the success of this undertaking as the gentry, farmers, and laboring classes of this County? Surely, the project ought at once be submitted to their consideration, surely they ought to step a little out of the clear course marked out by the Act when we see the Lord Lieutenant doing the same.
Mr. SHEIL. – Oh, aye, but the Lord Lieutenant will get a Bill of Indemnity. I know the railway, if made, would be of advantage to the County.
Mr. GALT. – the London Secretary to the Coleraine Junction Railway, rose and begged leave to say a few words. He said. – My Lord and Gentlemen, I have come over here on the part of the Company in whose behalf the present application has been made. If you reject this application, as you seem at present disposed to do, it may have a bad effect. Our principal object in making it is that we might, as it were, make a commencement of the works. It has been held out as a taunt by the English capitalists to us who are the promoters of the undertaking, that this country and the gentlemen of it, who are most interested in the success of it, will not do the slightest thing, or make the smallest effort to support it. They will call in this country for English money, for English enterprise, and for English assistance, and if you go among them they will do nothing themselves. This is what Englishmen say to us. I put it to you, my Lord, to consider it not as a mere money-lender, but to look at it in a national point of view. I put it to you should these railways be considered as great national undertakings, or do you look, as the last gentleman did, is the security good? Now, suppose you grant the money on the security offered, what is the first result? It will require £700,000 to make the line to Portrush, and you will have that sum spent in the country. If we tell in London that we applied to the Cess-payers of this County, and that we were not able to get a miserable grant of £10,000, why we may just put our Bill in the fire. Is this sense or is it not? (No, no.) The 10 miles of the railway in the Barony are only the commencement of the work. Do you, I ask you, believe that it will be for the good of the country?
A Cess-payer here said that if the railway were a bona-fide one, and not a mere speculation they would be ready to support it.
Mr. GALT, – We only require the first instalment to enable us to commence, and we call upon you to give us this grant, which in effect is only saying that you have confidence in us. What is the first thing we do if you comply with our request? We apply to the shareholders, and we have not the slightest doubt but that our call will be responded to; but if you do not, it will be a heavy blow and a great discouragement to us. We go to Government and say, here is security, if you are satisfied with it. On this ground I apply to you for the presentment.
Mr. CRANSTON. – You cannot commence the work until you have settled with the landholders along the line.
Mr. NEWTON. – We would not lose a single day in making the necessary arrangements.
A Cess-payer. – Suppose the Court should hazard the presentment, could it not be passed subject to the approval of the Board of Works. If they do not approve of it we are safe.
Mr. SHEIL, – You will not get the Board of Works to sanction it unless you go security for the money.
Mr. CRANSTON. – The Barony, no doubt, is collateral security for the money; but if the Treasury are not satisfied that the railway will pay they will not advance anything.
Mr. NEWTON. – The same thing was done on the Newry and Enniskillen line. Only 10 days since they passed a presentment for it at Armagh, and the Company got it without being asked for any security. We are going to ask you for it on the authority of the Board of Works.
Mr. James DICKSON. – My Lord and Gentlemen, it appears to me that £10,000 is but a very small sum for so great an undertaking. I call it a great undertaking, whether considered with respect to the number of able-bodied laborers and artisans to whom it will give employment, or to the very great and important benefits which it is calculated to confer not merely on the County of Tyrone, but on the country at large, by the increased facilities which it will give for commercial enterprise. This sum of £10,000, if we approve of granting it, will be expended in the Middle Barony of Dungannon and not carried away to other parts of the County. From Moy to Stewartstown, the money will be laid out in giving employment to the poor people who may require it, and who will thus be enabled to go to their day’s work, and come home again on the same night. Taking all circumstances of the case into consideration, and looking chiefly to the present great emergency, I am ready freely to run any risk which may be entailed on me by voting for the sum, and I will cheerfully pay my share of it, should I be called on to do so. I will give my voice now, and I would give as much more as the sum proposed. (Loud cheers.)
Mr. CAULFEILD. – I think we should ascertain whether if we passed this presentment it would vitiate the presentment for drainage. Must not the presentments be altogether for drainage or for roads.
Lord NORTHLAND inquired if there were any officer present from the Board of Works?
Mr. ROWAN, County Surveyor, said that the Board of Works had appointed him their officer in that County, but he could not answer Mr. CAULFEILD’S question.
Lord NORTHLAND said he should have come there prepared. He should have written to Dublin for instructions on the matter.
Mr. ROWAN, in explanation, said he was not aware that such a question would have been raised, otherwise he would have been prepared to answer it.
Mr. SHEIL. – I protest I think it is impossible for any person to interpret the Act rightly. (Laughter.)
Mr. DICKSON. – My Lord, I would like to give another reason for my adherence to this motion, and it is this, that I expect if the presentment should be passed the poor would get double as much wages nearly as any of us would be able to give them if we employed them in draining the land.
Chairman. – I don’t approve of the mentioning of high wages, and for this reason, because I believe you will be holding our hopes which can never be realised, a thing which I strongly deprecate, and much to be avoided.
Mr. NEWTON. – Let the motion be put.
Mr. DICKSON. – Before you do so, and in case the Magistrates and Cess-payers should pass it, I wish to know don’t they require that the laborers in the Middle Barony of Dungannon should be employed?
Several Gentlemen. – Certainly.
Mr. CAULFEILD. – I move that the presentment do pass.
Mr. CRANSTON. – I second the motion. (Loud cries of “Railway” and some of “No Railway.”)
Mr. SHEIL. – Let it be polled for.
Sir Wm. VERNER. – Will you permit me to ask you one question. What is the present price of shares in this line?
Mr. NEWTON. – I don’t know the price of the shares, for they are not quoted in the market.
Sir Wm. VERNER. – May I ask you what is the reason of that?
Mr. NEWTON. – Mr. GALT, who is up to these things better than I am, will tell you.
Mr. GALT. – The people of England, who are the chief buyers, think that the gentry in this country don’t care about the line, and therefore they will not buy. I want you to show them that you do feel an interest in it, and have confidence in it.
A poll having been taken, the motion was carried amid loud applause, there being 12 for it, and 5 against it.
Mr. GALT. – I have to apply for another presentment under a certain contingency, which we expect will take place. Last year we brought a proposition before Parliament for a line from this town to Portadown, as we considered that it would be necessary to carry out the communication. We were unable to carry our Bill through Parliament then, but during the next Session we hope to have it passed. In the event of our carrying our Bill through to Parliament, we wish to get this presentment passed. We should not wish to put the one line in opposition to the other, or give one any advantage which the other will not enjoy. It is desirable to complete the communication from Dungannon to Belfast. That would be accomplished by making the line from Dungannon to Portadown, where it would also communicate with the Dublin and Belfast Junction. If you pass the presentment it will have the best effect in enabling us to carry our line through Parliament.
R. W. LOWRY, Esq. – I think this is one of the most useful lines in the County. It is part of the great trunk line running through the country.
Mr. CAULFEILD. – I believe we can’t pass this presentment until the Bill shall have received the sanction of the House of Commons.
Mr. NEWTON. – There has been an instance where a similar course has been adopted, namely, in the case of the Navan Branch of the Dublin and Drogheda Railway. To this presentment the Government refused its sanction, for they proposed to make the railway at the expense of the Barony; but the Government said they could not do so until the Act was passed. On account of the application failing, the Government expressed their approval of the line.
Mr. LOWRY. – The work would give employment to those about Dungannon.
A Voice. – The people who are hungry can’t wait for Acts of Parliament.
Mr. GALT read the motion, which was – “That the sum of £10,000 be voted to the Dungannon and Portadown Railway, to be expended immediately after the Act has received the sanction of Parliament.”
Mr. CRANSTON. – Is there not a clause in the Bill of the Company to whom we gave the last presentment, that their line cannot be made until they have received a Bill for the proposed one? You can only make four miles of it in this Barony.
Mr. NEWTON. – There is a clause inserted in the Bill of the Coleraine Junction Railway recognising this one.
The motion was proposed by Mr. LOWRY, and seconded by Mr. WRAY.
Sir William VERNER. – I can’t pledge myself that what I am going to state will positively be done; but I have reason to believe that, if you pass this presentment here, they will pass a similar one in Armagh. They are very anxious about this railway there. The motion was passed by the same numbers as the last one.
Mr. CAULFEILD. – I understand that the sum we have presented for drainage will be applotted, this evening, over the different electoral divisions within the Barony. I believe we have no other business to transact, and I therefore move that the Court be adjourned until Friday, at the hour of 11 o’clock.
The motion having been seconded by Mr. WRAY, and being carried unanimously, the Court accordingly stood adjourned until the hour mentioned.