Portrait: Charles Boycott, an English land agent in Ireland

Wednesday, 22 March 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
Reading Time:  3 minutes

Caricature of Charles Cunningham Boycott in Vanity Fair, 1881 © Vanity Fair magazine

Caricature of Charles Cunningham Boycott in Vanity Fair, 1881 © Vanity Fair magazine

Charles Cunningham Boycott was an English land agent whose ostracism by his local community in Ireland gave the English language the term boycott. He had served in the British Army 39th Foot, which brought him to Ireland. After retiring from the army, Boycott worked as a land agent for Lord Erne, a landowner in the Lough Mask area of County Mayo.

In 1880, as part of its campaign for the Three Fs (fair rent, fixity of tenure, and free sale) and specifically in resistance to proposed evictions on the estate, local activists of the Irish National Land League encouraged Boycott’s employees (including the seasonal workers required to harvest the crops on Lord Erne’s estate) to withdraw their labour, and began a campaign of isolation against Boycott in the local community. This campaign included shops in nearby Ballinrobe refusing to serve him, and the withdrawal of services. Some were threatened with violence to ensure compliance.

The renovated former house of Charles Boycotts on Achill Island © Night of the Big Wind/cc-by-sa-3.0-nl Caricature of Charles Cunningham Boycott in Vanity Fair, 1881 © Vanity Fair magazine St Mary's church at Burgh St Peter in Norfolk, where Charles Boycott is buried © geograph.org.uk - Evelyn Simak/cc-by-sa-2.0
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St Mary's church at Burgh St Peter in Norfolk, where Charles Boycott is buried © geograph.org.uk - Evelyn Simak/cc-by-sa-2.0
Opposition to the campaign against Boycott became a cause célèbre in the British press after he wrote a letter to The Times. Newspapers sent correspondents to the West of Ireland to highlight what they viewed as the victimisation of a servant of a peer of the realm by Irish nationalists. Fifty Orangemen from County Cavan and County Monaghan travelled to Lord Erne’s estate to harvest the crops, while a regiment of the 19th Royal Hussars and more than 1,000 men of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) were deployed to protect the harvesters. The episode was estimated to have cost the British government and others at least £10,000 to harvest about £500 worth of crops.

Boycott left Ireland on 1 December 1880, and in 1886, became land agent for Hugh Adair‘s Flixton estate in Suffolk. He died at the age of 65 on 19 June 1897 in his home in Flixton, after an illness earlier that year.

Read more on Wikipedia Charles Boycott (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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