Carlow History

Ballintrane (Carlow) land purchases 1918 and 1919

Ballintrane (Carlow) land purchases 1918 and 1919

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien


In February 1918 the world was still fighting another year of the Great War. Civil War was raging in Finland between Russian Communists and Finnish independence fighters.[1] In Ireland the Irish Parliamentary Party and the Sein Fein Party went head-to-head in the South Armagh by-election (the I.P.P. won by 2,324 votes to 1,305). The result temporarily halted the rise of Sinn Fein after four by-election victories.[2]

Also in the news was a meeting in Dublin of the Town Tenant’s League. This meeting was of interest to people in County Carlow as a landlord in Bagenalstown attempted to evict a shopkeeper.[3] If the land war was still ongoing among urban tenants, out in the countryside the tenant farmers were becoming owners of their own land such as two people in Ballintrane on the road between Carlow town and Ballon.

Ballintrane land purchases 1918

On 26th February 1918 Thomas Nolan of Ballintrane, Co. Carlow, purchased his farm under the 1903 Land Act from the estate of Robert A. French Brewster. The property consisted of two parcels of 10 acres 3 roots and 19 perches each. The purchase price was £254 for parcel one and £271 for parcel two or £25 in total. The government advanced the full purchase price repayable on annuities of 3¼ per cent.[4]

In 1911 Thomas Nolan (aged 37, farmer) lived with his wife Mary (aged 36) at house 8 in Ballintrane (Ballintrain). They were married in 1909 and both could read and write.[5] The dwelling house had four windows in the front façade and three rooms within used by the family.[6] There were five outhouses consisting of one stable, one cow house, one calf house, one piggery and one fowl house.[7]

It seems that Thomas Nolan was living in Ballybrommell in 1901 as an agricultural labourer and son of Michael Nolan (agricultural labourer, aged 66) and his wife Sarah Nolan, nee James (born Co. Kilkenny).[8] The land purchase acts did not only benefit tenant farmers to become the owners of their own land but help farm labourers to achieve some economic standing. In 1911 Thomas Nolan described himself as a farmer.[9]

Ballintrane land purchases 1919

One year later, in May 1919, further land purchases were made at Ballintrane. By that time the Great War was over but the Irish War of Independence had begun. Other parts of the British Empire were also at war with unrest in India and Egypt. Labour unrest across Ireland was adding to the climate of uncertainty. Yet there was also time for entertainment with a five day Feis Ceoil at the Dublin Mansion House.[10]

Meanwhile in County Carlow Mr. E. Dowling of Bagenalstown paid £75 for a two year old bullock at Carlow fair while another part of the Brewster estate at Ballintrane was sold to the occupying tenant.[11] On 16th May 1919 William O’Brien purchased a parcel of 11 acres and 3 roots from the estate of Robert A. French Brewster at Ballintrane for which the government advanced £194 as the full purchased price under the 1903 Land Act. The repayable annuities were at 3¼ per cen. On 23rd November 1911 this property was consolidated with land from the trustees of L. Walker.[12] In 1911 there was no person called William O’Brien living in Ballintrane. Across County Carlow there were five people called William O’Brien in the 1911 census but it is uncertain which person, if any, was the William O’Brien who purchased his holding in May 1919.

Also on 16th May 1919 Thomas Doyle purchased a parcel of 16 acres 3 roots and 10 perches from the estate of Robert Brewster at Coole (Rathvilly parish) with a purchase price of £315 fully advanced by the government. This holding was consolidated on 23rd November 1911 with land from the trustees of L. Walker.[13] In about 1850 Coole townland was owned by Philip Newton.[14]

Ballintrane in about 1850

In about 1850 Pilsworth Whelan of Rathglass owned 290 acres of Ballintrane while Thomas Singleton owned 2 acres. The remaindered of the 547 acres of the townland was owned by William Garrett of Janeville house. William Garrett was a cousin of Robert A.F. Brewster as noted below.



Carlow countryside

Brewster family in County Carlow

The Brewster family had settled in County Carlow in the time of Charles II and acquired a number of properties over the years and married into the local gentry families.[15] Samuel Brewster married Elizabeth Garrett, second daughter of Thomas Garrett (born 1711) of Kilgaran, otherwise Janeville, and his wife Anne, daughter of John Cole.[16]

In 1789 Anne (died 1851), daughter of Samuel Brewster, married Samuel Watson (died 1830) of Lumclone, second son of Samuel Watson of Ballydarton, Co. Carlow by his wife Mary, daughter of Jonathan Beale of Mountmellick, Co. Laois by his wife Rebecca Lecky and left one son, Thomas Henry Watson of Lunclone, Co. Carlow.[17]

Brewster in Griffith’s Valuation for Carlow

In the time of Griffith’s Valuation (c.1850) the Brewster family held the following property in County Carlow. At Rathnapish townland in the parish of Carlow Abraham Brewster was joint landlord with the Rev. Thomas Durdin of just over 36 acres of lands with a house and outbuildings (rented by James Nolan). In the parish of Haroldstown, Abraham Brewster was landlord of a number of properties in the townland of Ballykilduff Upper amounting to about 119 acres. In the townland of Haroldstown (parish of Haroldstown) Abraham Brewster rented 338 acres from Sir Ralph Howard and was landlord of three vacant houses and two occupied houses. In the parish of Tullowphelim and in the townland of that name Abraham Brewster was landlord of over 20 acres and 4 houses. In the town of Tullow Abraham Brewster was landlord of three houses.

This Abraham Brewster was son of William Bagenal Brewster of Ballinulta, Wicklow, by his wife Mary, daughter of Thomas Bates. Abraham Brewster was called to the Irish bar in 1819. In 1846 he became Solicitor-General for Ireland and in 1853 was made Attorney-General.[18] In 1866 he became Lord-Chancellor of Ireland. On 26th July 1874 Abraham Brewster died at his residence, 26 Merrion Square South, Dublin, and was buried at Tullow, co. Carlow, on 30 July. By his marriage in 1819 with Mary Ann, daughter of Robert Gray of Upton House, co. Carlow, who died in Dublin on 24th November 1862, he had issue one son, Colonel William Bagenal Brewster, and one daughter, Elizabeth Mary, wife of Mr. Henry French, both of whom died in the lifetime of their father.[19]

Other Brewster land owners 1850

Other members of the Brewster family held land in County Carlow about 1850. In Fennagh parish Edward Brewster was landlord of 59 acres in the townland of Mountmelican with Henry Bruen as landlord for the remaining two acres of that townland. In the townland of Kilknock (parish of Kellistown) Sarah Brewster was landlord of about 450 acres. In the townland of Commons (parish of Ballon) William Brewster was landlord of 39 acres. Michael Brewster rented land in Dunleahny and a house in Tullowphelim.[20]

Brewster family in 1876

In 1876 the only property owned by the Brewster family in County Carlow was the 59 acres 2 roots and 17 perches held by Edward Brewster at Mountmelican.[21]

Robert A.F. Brewster as landlord

By 1889 the Brewster family had expended their holdings in the county. In that year Robert A. Brewster French-Brewster was landlord of Bennekerry. In about 1850 the townland was held by Walter and Philip Newton (Philip also owned Coole in Rathvilly, another Brewster property).[22] In 1889 John Gorman got a judicial reduction in his rent from £18 to £13 for a holding of 15 acres and 37 perches that he rented from Robert Brewster.[23]

Robert A.F. Brewster as MP

Robert Abraham Brewster French-Brewster elected Conservative M.P. for Portarlington in 1883 with 70 votes against Thomas Mayne, Liberal, with 57 votes.[24] He served as M.P. until the general election of 1885 when the constituency was abolished.

Robert A.F. Brewster in the army

After his short lived Parliamentary career Robert A. Brewster joined the army. By 19th July 1899 he was a second lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers and was a lieutenant by 27th June 1900. In 1899-1900 he served with the Fusiliers in the South African War. He was engaged at the battle of Colenso, and was also the at Pieter’s Hill, Hussar Hill, and Hlangwani, and went to the relief of Ladysmith. Robert Brewster also took part in operations in Transvaal, including engagement at Rooidam and the operations in the Western Transvaal under Sir Archibald Hunter.

He then changed to the Irish Guards and by 10th July 1901 was a second lieutenant. On 22nd January 1902 Robert Brewster was made a lieutenant.[25] Later Robert Brewster became a major in the Irish Guards.[26]

Death of Robert A.F. Brewster

On 17th February 1917 Robert A.B. French-Brewster died at 10 Hanover Square, Middlesex in England. In his will he left effects totalling £15,380 19s 8d. Probate was granted in London on 3rd May 1917 to Houston French and Philip Martineau.[27] The death of Robert Brewster in 1917 possibly released any impediments to the sale of his County Carlow estate to the occupying tenants. The land purchases at Ballintrane in 1918 and 1919 noted above formed part of that change of ownership which was repeated across Ireland since the 1870s and continued into the 1960s.




End of post




[1] Evening Telegraph (Dublin), 2nd February 1918, front page

[2] O’Connor, S., (ed.), The Revolution Papers, 1916-1923, number 13 (Dublin, 2016)

[3] Evening Telegraph (Dublin), 2nd February 1918, page four

[4] accessed on 12th March 2017

[5] accessed 12th March 2017

[6] accessed on 12th March 2017

[7] accessed 12th March 2017

[8] accessed on 12th March 2017

[9] accessed on 12th March 2017

[10] Freeman’s Journal, Wednesday 14th May 1919, page two, five

[11] Freeman’s Journal, Wednesday 14th May 1919, page two

[12] accessed on 12th March 2017

[13] accessed on 12th March 2017

[14] Griffith’s Valuation, Coole, Rathvilly parish, Barony of Rathvilly

[15] Walford, E., The County Families of the United Kingdom (London, 1860), p. 73

[16] Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland, 1899, p. 162

[17] Burke’s Irish Family Records, 1976, p. 1191

[18] Walford, E., The County Families of the United Kingdom (London, 1860), p. 73

[19] Dictionary of National Biography at,_Abraham_(DNB00)

[20] Griffith’s Valuation for County Carlow – various locations

[21] accessed on 12th March 2017

[22] Griffith’s Valuation, Bennekerry, Ballinacarrig parish, Barony of Carlow

[23] accessed on 12th March 2017

[24] Walker, B.M. (ed.), Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland, 1801-1922 (Dublin, 1978), p. 308

[25] Hart’s Annual Army List, Militia List and Imperial Yeomanry List, 1908 (London, 1908), pp. 224, 224a

[26] accessed on 17th March 2017

[27] accessed on 17th March 2017


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