MR. ST. GEORGE
intreated the indulgence of the House in rising to offer some explanation in a matter personal to himself. It would be in the remembrance of hon. Gentlemen, that some short time ago certain charges were made against him of having illegally and inhumanly carried out extensive ejectments against a great number of poor persons on his estate in Galway. Some surprise had been expressed that he had not at once replied to these allegations; but the explanation he had to give of his silence was, that he had left London on the 8th of March to attend the Galway assizes—that he had not been until very recently aware of his name having occupied a place in the blue book which had been quoted from—and that it was not until the 26th of March any communication upon this subject was received by him from the Government. The statement of the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) in the House, referring to his ease, had been made previous to the correspondence which had taken place between him and the Irish Government. He felt indebted to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. P. Scrope) for having brought the facts before the House; and he trusted that he should be able to satisfy every one that his conduct had been misunderstood and misrepresented. On the 25th of March he received from Mr. Redington, the Under Secretary for Ireland, a letter drawing his attention to the report of the Poor Law Commissioners respecting the ejectments in the Galway union, and requesting to know if he was desirous of making any observations to the Government on that document? He replied on the 28th of March, and took the opportunity of complaining of the partiality evinced by the Poor Law Commissioner in not having referred to him for information before inserting in the report statements 1258 copied from a Galway newspaper, which, for the most part, were altogether unfounded. He explained why he had not been present in his place in the House of Commons to rebut any aspersion which might be cast upon his character by pretended Irish philanthropists, and for the information of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant—whose courtesy he acknowledged—he narrated all that he himself knew or had been able to ascertain, relating to the matters investigated by Major M'Kie. The statement which he made was this:—Mesdames Jane O'Flaherty and E. O'Shaunessy in the year 1836 obtained from my father, the late Arthur F. St. George, a lease of the districts of Lettermore, Garumna, and other denominations of land thereto appertaining, at the yearly rent of 837l. 5s. 4d., and 20l. turf duty. On the 1st of May, 1847, there being unpaid to me by the aforesaid persons 1,255l. 18s., I was obliged to bring in Easter Term, 1847, against the premises ejectments for non-payment of this, to me, very considerable sum of money. Every person living on or at all interested in those lands was served with copies of ejectments. At least 600 householders were served on the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th of last May; and in Trinity Term following I obtained judgment in ejectment, and thereby was concluded the entire interest of Mesdames O'F'laherty and O'Shaunessy, and the several tenants, to the full extent that, until the sum of 1,255l. 18s., and all accruing rent and costs of ejectments were paid, the lessees or their tenants were not entitled to reside on or in any degree to enjoy the possession of the premises. Besides the sum of 1,255l. 18s., and 65l. costs at law, and 30l. turf duty owed, I was obliged to pay Mrs. O'Flaherty 150l., in order to obtain immediate possession of my property. The aggregate quantity of money due to me and expended for recovery of my estate, amounted to 1,500l. 18s. On the 25th of last August I proceeded to Lettermore and Garumna. I inquired into the circumstances of the tenantry. I found their condition indeed bad, arising from the neglect of the Mesdames O'Flaherty and O'Shaunessy. I discovered in those districts persons residing, who, the outcasts from other estates, had come from all parts of Ireland, chiefly pending the litigation between me and the Mesdames O'Flaherty and O'Shaunessy. I was informed by the more respectable portion of the tenantry, and by the priest, the Rev. Mr. Horan, that nothing could exceed the depredations of the persons termed 'squatters.' A flock of upwards of 800 sheep existed amongst the tenants; not one now remains. Many cows have been killed and carried off. I informed the tenantry that 1,500l. was due to me off the lands of Lettermore. I investigated their accounts, and found they owed Mrs. O'Flaherty and Mrs. O'Shaunessy as much money as was due to me. I inquired of them how they were disposed to act towards me? I stated to them that I had the full ability of dispossessing them all. They entreated me not to do so, I considered their sad position, and at length informed them, that if I was paid 400l. within three months I would remit 1,100l. The tenants and the priest considered my offer most liberal. The tenants 1259 informed me they would pay me 400l. provided I got rid of the squatters and all bad characters. I engaged to them to do so. I have now to say I have not as yet received 400l., as promised me. On the 30th of September last, and two or three days subsequently, the deputy-sheriff of the county of Galway was occupied in executing the habere law against the lands of Lettermore, and I accompanied the sheriff, on the 30th of September, when possession was taken from some persons, who were permitted to return to their dwellings in character of caretakers, I explained to several persons who were pointed out to me as being objectionable persons, that I could not allow them to remain on my property. I gave them money to enable them to remove elsewhere. Since the 30th of September the power of the habere has been occasionally put in force. The vastness of the district required the deputy-sheriff not alone himself to act, but to grant specialties to carry out the intention of the law. Several persons have been dispossessed; but I am informed no act of inhumanity has been perpetrated in their removal. Unless in the most urgent cases, the ability which I possessed, and still possess, to keep on my property such persons as I may deem fit shall remain, has not been acted upon. I shall now apply myself to the report of Major M'Kie, and send certain affidavits to show that no person was illegally dealt with, and that no act of cruelty has been perpetrated. I have great confidence in the prudence of my manager, Mr. John Linnane, of Lettermore-house, and I am certain he can fully justify any act of his. I have looked through the book kept as to service of ejectments on the lands of Lettermore, and I find there stated—'Thomas M'Donough, served personally 18thMay, 1847.'JAMES CONNOR.'The district called Garumna comprises many denominations of land. If I was aware of the exact part Michael M'Donough claims to be of, I could inform you whether or not he was served with a copy of ejectment. This matters not, for judgment had, on the ejectment, concluded the entire interests of all parties. I am quite averse to acts of cruelty. I regret the state in which my property is in Connemara. Such is chiefly ascribable to middlemen. I have got rid of this class of tenants, save in one instance. Connemara is an extraordinary county, and requires more than private enterprise to uphold its inhabitants, and regenerate its circumstances. I have borrowed 6,000l. under the Land Improvement Enactment, and have appropriated 1,500l. to Lettermore, and 1,000l. to all parts of Connemara. I am not receiving my rents, and have paid an immense poor-rate, appropriated when a proprietor cannot realise anything from his property. Elsewhere, in Queen's County, and other parts of the county of Galway, my property is in a fairly wholesome condition. I pay weekly from 50l. to 60l. in different parts for the employment of my tenants. I feel indignant at being accounted a bad landlord. I scorn any charge of dereliction as to the duties of my position in society.I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,C. ST. GEORGE.To T. N. Redington, Esq.,Under Secretary for Ireland.This correspondence, he thought, ought to 1260 have found its way to the blue book; the blue book, at any rate, ought not to have been published until his explanations had been forwarded to the Government. The hon. Member also read an affidavit from Mr. O'Hara, deputy-sheriff of Galway, confirming the foregoing statement. This, he said, would show to the House that he had done nothing inhuman, and certainly nothing illegal. He did not censure Major M'Kie for the unavoidable incorrectness of his report, nor find fault with the Government for the promptness with which they had instituted an investigation. All he complained of was that he had not been fully informed of the inquiry which was going forward. There were a great number of witnesses examined by Major M'Kie; but the evidence of only two of these, the fourteenth and fifteenth witnesses, bore on the circumstances in which he (Mr. St. George) was implicated. No such occurrence as that described by the fourteenth witness, Thomas M'Donough, had ever taken place: and the statement of the other witness, Michael M'Donough, that his house had been pulled down, was equally untrue. He had applied to the Rev. Mr. Horan, the parish priest of Garumna Island, for his opinion as to the chracter of Thomas M'Donough; and the information elicited was that he was a man of bad reputation, and that he had been convicted of stealing. The evidence of Thomas M'Donough was altogether without foundation. It was true that the sheriffs' officers went to his house; but when they did so, in November last, they found that he had deserted it three weeks previously. The house of Michael M'Donough was still standing. The hon. Gentleman quoted from an affidavit made by his agent, Mr. J. Linnane, referring to the report of Major M'Kie, and declaring that so far as it related to the estates of Christopher St. George, Esq., it was unfounded and devoid of truth. He hoped that he had now vindicated his conduct, and refuted all the charges urged against him; and, for the future, he trusted the House would refuse to listen to these ex parte statements against Irish landlords. So far as he himself was concerned, he could assure the hon. Member for Stroud that the arrows he had fired fell utterly harmless.