Farmers growing more restless over ‘much-vexed Land Question’

Jim Hornby
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The Islander, Feb. 26

CLEARING UP A FARM. When a new settler begins without capital, it is as much as he usually can do to clear two acres per year; at the end of four years, when his rent is sixpence an acre, he may have eight acres cleared, say two in potatoes and turnips, two in wheat, and two in indifferent hay,

The rent goes on increasing from three pence an acre, at the end of two years, to a shilling; at the end of eight years it becomes 18 dollars and 56 cents per hundred acres. Except in very few circumstances, it is impossible to pay the rent and support a family by what is raised upon such a farm. If 50 or 60 acres were cleared, and in good heart, the demand might easily be met; this, however, requires either capital or time. The few persons who have capital do not lay it out in this way; the demand for rent comes on too soon, and even if not paid, remains an incubus upon the energies of the farmer, and prevents improvements.

Appendix to the Report of the Royal Commission on Land.


The Protestant, Feb. 27

ANTI-RENT ASSOCIATION. Mr. Editor--Have you heard of this Association? In Murray Harbor, and on Peter's Road, it was said 100 men banded together and resolved to resist the payment of rent. It appears they are not opposed to pay reasonable rent, but they are opposed to being distrained upon the arrears of rent. This being the day the Sheriff was to offer for sale at the Court House, Georgetown, one or two of their farms for rent, they determined to make a demonstration. And it was said the 100 had swelled into 700. All these were to march with banners and pipers into Georgetown to witness the Sheriff sale, not to molest the Sheriff or any body else; they know he has certain duties to perform, howsoever unpalatable. But they were to march, it is said, to show their numbers, which would be sufficient, it was supposed, to  deter any person from bidding on their farms, the homes of their mothers, wives and children. The Anti-Rent Association did not appear to-day as was expected. Only two delegates attended the Sheriff's sale. And the devil came also. The bad roads prevented the people collecting. The land, it is said, was bought by a sub agent named James Young. When the sleighing becomes good, it is said the 700 will march into Georgetown to show themselves. (James.)

Jim Hornby: To be “distrained” was a legal process whereby personal property —livestock, for choice — could be seized by warrant to a bailiff to enforce a legal obligation — the unpaid rent owed upon leases by struggling tenant farmers who were improving land they could never own.


The Vindicator, March 2

In pursuance of an advertisement which appeared in one of the papers calling a public meeting of the tenants of Lots 35, 36, and 37, to discuss the propriety of forming a Tenant League, a considerable number attended this day, Monday, the 29th February at the house of Mr. James Callaghan (Fort Augustus). Mr.  Burke, the Agent for the Lot, was in attendance, as also several tenants from distant settlements; but the presence of the Agent had very little influence either on the proceedings or the result of the meeting.

Resolved, That, in consequence of the informal manner of calling the present meeting, a requisition to the members of the District, the Honorables George Coles and Francis Kelly, be prepared, calling for a Public Meeting on Thursday, the 10th day of March, at 12 o’clock noon, at Mr. James McDonald’s, Hickey’s Wharf (Glenfinnan), to take into consideration the present aspect of the much-vexed Land Question. (Thomas McManus, Sec’y.)

J.H.: This is the first public meeting called for the formation of the Tenant League. John Roach Bourke was the Land Agent for Viscount Melville, as well as a proprietor himself, owning half of Lot 37.


Ross’s Weekly, March 3

Last week we omitted to mention the very interesting meeting at Temperance Hall in behalf of Christianizing the Jews. James Moore, Esq., Secretary read a report, based on the general report of the parent Society, which exhibited in a clear manner the efforts made to carry the Gospel to the Jews, and the success attending those efforts, which gave encouragement to persist in the undertaking. Several clergymen and others made eloquent and appropriate speeches upon the subject. Since the establishment of the Charlottetown branch of the Society for Christianizing the Jews 18 years ago, nearly £1000 have been sent from the Island to the fund of the parent society, being more than any other British dependency, except one, has contributed for the same object.

J.H.: Joseph Hensley, lawyer and politician, was the president of this local organization. The absurdity of Islanders sending money to London so it could be forwarded to Jerusalem, to people claiming to be baptizing the inhabitants of Israel, set against the viciousness of the personal attacks routinely made across the Protestant/

Catholic battlefields of P.E.I., would be laughable were it not for the many local needs for that £1000. As the old folks said, “Charity begins at home.”


“1864: The Way We Were: gleanings from Charlottetown’s newspapers,” will be presented in The Guardian every Monday throughout 2014 (on holiday Mondays when there is no paper, it will appear on Tuesdays). It contains excerpts from various newspapers of that era, as well as Hornby’s comments on what he has found. To give feedback on this feature, which is presented in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Charlottetown Conference, contact the author at

Organizations: Royal Commission on Land.The Protestant, Court House, Tenant League Anti-Rent Association Land Agent for Viscount Melville Society for Christianizing

Geographic location: Georgetown, Murray Harbor, Charlottetown Fort Augustus Temperance Hall London Jerusalem Israel

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