Directions to Servants - Thomas Otway - 1771/72

MS 12138 - National Library of Ireland

The following is an extract from the above Manuscript, a Ledger of Accounts for Castle Otway, kept by Thomas Otway (ref 259).

"July 10th 1771 - Thos. Otway Esq. orders his groom and coachman not to suffer any strangers or gentlemens servants to go into their particular stables or to leave any of their harness or tackle therein."

"Sept. 1st 1771 Thos. Otway Esq. gives notice to his cotters1 that for the future he will charge the full value of any article that shall be stole from him out of his offices or yards (that he has best reason to suspect was stolen by some of them) upon them all round, unless the thief shall be discovered. Any person that does not chuse to comply with this Rule is hereby required to provide himself another place next May 1772."

"October 30th 1771 Orders - viz. Every man working with a cart or car shall when they unyoke the same, set said cart or car up on their end, any person neglecting so to do, shall be charged for the first time 6d, for the 2nd time 1s, for the 3rd time a crown, for the 4th time a crown and for the 5th time their house to be pulled down if a cotter, if a spalpeen2 he is never to work a day at Castle Otway more."

"October 30 Thos. Otway gives notice to his tenants and workmen that he will punish each man who does not come to work on any holy day (except Sunday) a shilling each time for the first time, 2 shillings for the 2nd time and so forth - any person living on his land not satisfied with this law may provide for himself another place.

Signed by Order

Alex Caldwell, Steward"

"December 7th 1771 Thos. Otway Esq. gives this publick notice to his cotters that after May day every cotter who shall not pay up his rent half yearly as it comes due by his work in said half year, shall positively be charged forty shillings for each collop3 and forty shillings for each acre of land and so in proportion for what he holds, whereof all concerned are to take notice.

Read to the cotters publickly by

Alex Caldwell per order of the master."

The inside front cover of the manuscript gives the rates of pay of Otway's workmen as follows :

"1771 December 22 the daily hire of the workmen

John Teat Senior and Junioreach14per day
James Teat10per day
John Ryan Steward010per day
Frank Gason when coopering010per day
Do. at making laths010per day
Do. at hatchet work06per day
Denis Ryan04per day
all the rest of the workmeneach05per day
a man sheep sheering11per day
a man salving4 lambs06per day
a man mowing meadows010per day
For threshing
oats03per Barrel
wheat06per do.
peas04per do.
Barley or Bere04per do.

The ledger gives the rent which the tenants paid for various types of ground and the prices which they paid the landlord for items, including implements and foodstuffs.

The rent of potato ground was 7 per acre, while grazing of a cow or a horse cost 1 per year. The tenant who kept a pig paid 5/-5 a year, and hearth money cost each tenant 2/- a year. Wheat cost 1/1 and barley 9d or 10d a stone.

The tools which the tenants bought from the master were by no means cheap. A shovel cost from 1/2 to 1/7, three to four days pay for an ordinary workman. A scythe and a stone cost 3/3, and a reaping hook 1/1; a mowers daily pay was 10d. A saw "brought by the master from Dublin" cost 6/6, and "a handsaw from Limerick" was 3/-. Only one tenant is recorded as buying a saddle, which cost him 6/5.

The rules laid down by Otway above, and many others besides, were no idle threats. On 1st November 1771, John Teate " to absent keeping a holy day" was fined one shilling. On the 18th of February, 1772, the same John Teate "to your Loosing the Key of your work House and Being obliged to change the Lock and get a new Lock and Two Keys to ye Door charged 8/1." On the 2nd November, 1772, Daniel Mullowney was fined 1/1 "for going into the stables without orders"; his daily pay was fivepence. On the 9th March, 1772, Denis Burk "To your not reporting the Deer Park wall was broke down punished 2/6 and to your not making of it up punished 2/6"; he was paid 6d a day. Patt Gleeson was fined 2/6 on the 2nd August, 1771, "For neglecting to have the stones picked off the fallow field 'tho often ordered".

The account of Henry and Philip Ryan has this entry for the 28th of December , 1771 : " To your calf got in ye Beech plantation punished 2/8 which you are to get back provided you let no other beast in said plantation till this day twelve months."

On the 17th of December, 1771, several workmen were each fined 1/1 "to spoiling the sea cole beds, not doing as ordered by the master viz. to weed the beds first perfectly clean and then to cover 'em with one inch of sand only, whereas you covered 'em without weeding 4 inches deep with sand. Ordered by the master that they take off all the sand again, and that you get no day until the beds are properly cleaned and finished."

The volume is not very explicit on the relations between the Otway tenants and their landlord. But they could scarcely be friendly with high prices, low wages, and an arbitrary system of punishment by which a worker was easily deprived of a few days' wages. County Tipperary was a centre of the agrarian Whiteboy activity in the second half of the 18th century, but Thomas Otway was one of the landlords who survived. Perhaps Mick Bolan's solution was the best available to a dissatisfied worker.

On the 13th April, 1771, Mick Bolan hired with Thomas Otway for three pounds a year. On the 22nd of May, for "not having the dogs mess in time", he was fined 3d., and he was fined 1/- for the same fault on the 1st of June. On the 15th of June, "to suffering the pigs in the lawn", he was fined 6d. On he 14th of November, though he was then owed 1 in wages, Mick Bolan "Ran away from his service".

1. Occupying a cottage and land in return for labour.
2. A 'spalpeen' was an itinerant labourer.
3. A 'collop' was an area of land sufficient to graze an animal suggested to be sufficient for 1 horse or 6 sheep or 1 cow or 1 fat bullock or 2 yearlings or 3 calves.
4. A salve was " a mixture, usually of tar and grease, for smearing sheep" against sheep-scab (psoroptic mange).
5. Money - there were 12 pence (d) to the shilling (s) and 20 shillings to the . 2 shillings was written as 2/-, while 2 shillings and sixpence (half a crown) was written as 2/6.

Name Index Surname Index Contact Home