IT was not, however, in the great seats of the cotton manufacture, whether those of Lanark on the one side of the Tweed, or those of Lancashire on the other, that the grasp of poverty was most pinching during the extreme period of the cotton famine. Hand-loom weaving forms a large source of labour in the North-West district of Ulster, and immense quantities of muslins are produced there. At the close of 1860, within a ten-mile circle around Belfast, there were about 20,000 hands engaged in weaving, and perhaps 80,000 at work in embroidering muslin. 1 The wages of these people had hardly ever been such as would have given them the chance of laying up any surplus fund after supporting themselves; and when the evil day came, when employment was scarcely to be had, and thousands of men, women, and children were unable to procure the means of keeping up mere existence, the sufferings of numerous families very much exceeded any degree of human wretchedness ever known in Ulster. In many weaving-shops half the looms were idle; a still greater number had not a single one engaged. And even those weavers who had been fortunate enough to get work rarely earned more than tenpence a-day, and others toiled for sixteen hours at the loom to gain the wretched income of eightpence. As the Winter season set in, vast numbers of the people became reduced to such a state of destitution, that, at the end of December, 1862, there were some families that had existed for whole clays on boiled cabbage, seasoned with salt; others could not procure more than one ration of Indian meal stirabout in the twenty-four hours. Nor did the wants of the weavers and embroiderers end there : hundreds of them were only partially clad, and in numerous cases there was neither sheet nor blanket in their sleeping apartments, the poor creatures being obliged to use their day-clothes as covering during the hours of rest. This state of suffering had gone on for some time, and at length, when an approach to semi-starvation had been endured, the real state 0f affairs became known to a few pers0ns outside those districts.
Ballymacarrett weavers were reduced to the very verge of destitution; the operatives of Newtownards had struggled against the inroads of want until it was impossible longer to conceal it. But it was in Lisburn and its neighbourhood that the cloud of distress had fallen with the greatest density, and where in every section the very aspect of the people told in unmistakeable language that existence itself was threatened. Reports of a serious nature had been heard of the want and misery endured by the operatives, and in course of the Christmas week of 1862 those reports became still more alarming. During the holidays, Mr. David Carlisle, the Lisburn agent for the house of Messrs. Brown, Yates & Howat, muslin manufacturers, of Glasgow, personally inspected the cottages of weavers in the Maze and its immediate localities, and about the same time the writer of these pages made a similar investigation respecting the condition of the c0tton operatives in Lisburn. The result of these inquiries was to bring 0ut a mass of evidence which proved that poverty of the most intense description was all but general among those poor people. A requisition, of which the following is a copy, was speedily got up, and presented to the Chairman of the Town Commissioners :-
"SIR,—We, the undersigned inhabitants of Lisburn, respectfully request that you will be good enough to call, at an early day, a meeting of the ratepayers of this town for the purpose of considering the roost effective mode of collecting funds for the aid of the distressed weavers of Lisburn, the Maze, and adjoining districts.
" Dated this 5th day of January, r863."
Immediately after having had the requisition signed, two gentlemen waited on the Town C0mmissioners, who were then holding their usual monthly meeting in the Court-house, and having presented the document, and urged the necessity for prompt measures, Mr. J. J. Richardson, J.P., who, in the absence of Mr. Lucas Waring, presided on the occasion, called a public meeting, to be held on the following Thursday. A number of large placards were afterwards printed and posted through the town and neighbourhood, calling attention to the objects of the requisitionists. The newspaper report will tell of the great necessity which existed for direct action in the matter.
On Thursday, the eighth of January, 1863, at half-past eleven o'clock, an influential public meeting was held in the Court-house, Lisburn, for the purpose of " devising means for alleviating the lamentable distress existing among the cotton weavers of the above districts." There were present—J. J. Richards0n, J.P., T.C.; J. W. Fulton, J.P. ; Joseph Richardson, John Barbour, Robert Barbour, Samuel Barbour, Thomas Barbour, James Richardson, Thomas Ward, David Beatty, Joshua Lamb, James N. Richardson, John Millar, T.C.; George Stephenson, T.C. ; John Stevenson, Samuel Kennedy, T. Kennedy, Hugh M'Call, T.C. ; David Carlisle, A. Millen, George Pelan, Henry J. Garrett, Redmond Jefferson, 'T.C. ; John Sloan, John Campbell, M. D. ; James Megarry, A.Macartuey, T.C. ; T. M'Creight, John Bradbury, J. Pennington, S. Musgrave, M.D.; W. S. Darkin, Robert Mister, Mercer Rice, Rev. H. Hodson, Rev. Mr. Franks, Rev. W. Hall, Rev. D. J. Clarke, Rev. E. Best, Arthur Gamble, James Boyd, William Brownlee, J. Kane, William Hanna, J. Musson, William Young, Robert Mulholland, Wm. Johnston, Wellington Young, George Thompson, David Mack, T.C., John M'Clure, George Wilson, jun., and .John Finlay.
Mr. GEORGE STEPHENSON, Solicitor, moved that Jonathan Joseph Richardson, Esq., J.P, take the chair.
Mr. MILLAR seconded the motion.
Having taken his seat as president, Mr. RICHARDSON said, that although he was only filling the place of Mr. Lucas Waring, he had great pleasure in doing so. A requisition, signed by several of the influential inhabitants, had been laid before the Town Commissioners on the previous Monday, but as the Chairman could not attend, he (Mr. R.) had called this meeting. Most of those present were aware of its object; he would, however, read the memorial as addressed to the Chief of the Town Council. Having done so, the Chairman, in continuation, said he felt highly honoured in being called on to preside at what was really a great occasion, the object of which was the good work of making arrangements to assist a most deserving body of suffering people. He had heard much of their poverty and privation ; but further information on the subject led him to say that all he had been told about it fell far short of the reality.
Mr. M`CALL, secretary pro tem., said that as soon as arrangements had been made for holding the meeting on that day, he had got circulars printed and addressed to the principal gentry, merchants, and traders, requesting them to come forward and assist in the proposed work of charity. In addition to such notices, large posters had been extensively distributed in the town and neighbourhood, and he was happy to sec so many friends of philanthropy had responded to the call. He would beg to read letters of apology he had received from some gentlemen who were unable to attend.
" Lisburn, January 8, '63.
"SIR,—I regret much that business of importance will prevent my being present at the meeting for the relief of the distressed weavers, Vic. The object is a very laudable one, and, I have no doubt, will be warmly taken up by the inhabitants of the town. For some time past the want of employment has been keenly felt by the poorer classes, especially among those who have hitherto gained a livelihood by weaving. In order, therefore, to alleviate, in some degree, their distress, large numbers of those who would otherwise have been destitute of any means of support, have daily, for some time past, been employed, on the part of Lord Hertford, in sub-soiling, draining, and other useful work in the neighbourhood of the town. Having ascertained of late that the greatest amount of distress lay in the Maze and Broomhedge districts, similar works have been commenced in those districts also, on the understanding that only those who are in real distress shall be employed; and, feeling convinced that reproductive works such as I have mentioned will ultimately be much better calculated to relieve distress than any other mode that may be devised, I have adopted this course of `giving employment.' There may be certain cases, however, such as families consisting of young children unable to work where pecuniary relief may be desirable ; and, as I presume a subscription list will be opened after the meeting for this purpose by those who cannot give employment such as I have named, I shall be obliged by your adding £5 to that list on my own private account. Hoping that the meeting will be a success, and that a large sum will be raised, I am, Sir,
" Your very obedient servant,
"WALTER T. STANNUS.
" Lisburn, January 7, 1863, .
"My DEAR SIR,--I have received your circular, and I regret I cannot attend your meeting to-morrow without great inconvenience ; but I shall be happy to assist the object in any way in my power.
" I rode out to Broomhedge the other day, and
found the reports of the distress in that district were only too true.
Something has already been done to afford employment to small tenants there,
whether such tenants be weavers or no. I shall, however, be only too happy
to subscribe to any fund which may be formed
" There appears to be some reduction of the distress in Lancashire ; and if the Relief Committee there would only carry out the intentions of the sub. scribers—who would be glad to see their money spent where distress could be most relieved—if they would send over to this neighbourhood some of the superfluous cash.—Very faithfully yours,
"T. R. STANNUS,
Hugh M`Call, Esq."
"Glenmore, Lisburn, January 8, 1863.
" DEAR SIR,—I regret not being able to attend the meeting to-day, to be held in the Court-house, to collect funds to aid the distressed weavers in the neighbourhood of Lisburn.
" I aced not say that I heartily concur in the object of the meeting, and as soon as I know the result I will tender my subscription. It will be desirable not to limit yourselves to the weavers only, as I believe there is great distress in the labouring classes. The weather being so very severe, out-door work is greatly retarded.
" The operatives of Glenmore Bleachworks and Millworks have been at work unsolicited, and will hand in a subscription of not less than £14 19s 8d, may be more.-Wishing that you may have a successful meeting, I am, yours, truly.
" Mr. Hugh M'Call."
" Derrevolgie, January, 1863.
" My DEAR SIR,—I regret very much my state of health will prevent use from attending your meeting to-morrow on behalf of the poor weavers of our locality. I shall, however, have much pleasure in contributing my mite, with others, when called on, as I believe these poor people are in very great distress and poverty, occasioned by the want of employment.—I am, my dear Sir, Yours very truly,
" Hugh M`Call, Esq.
Lambeg, 8th January, I863.
" My Dear Sir,—I regret that my business engagements will not allow me to attend the meeting to-day in aid of the distressed weavers ; but when a subscription list is opened, I shall be glad to contribute towards their relief. I remain, very truly ours,
" JOHN RICHARDSON.
" H. M`Call, Esq."
The letters having been read,
Mr. JAMES MEGARRY, of Broomhedge, rose to move the first resolution. He said he had been requested to say a few words as to the state of the weavers in his locality, and for that purpose, and since he came into that Court-house, a paper had been put into his hands on which he was unprepared to speak. It was only of necessity, from the very sad state of the country, that he came there that morning. They had heard a great deal about the Lancashire distress, and of the efforts that had been made to relieve it; but he believed that the people of their own neighbourhood at the present time were in a more pitiable condition than even the operatives referred to. He believed there were many men in the Maze and Broomhedge districts who, if they did not get immediate assistance, would be forced to take it where they could get it, or death must be the result. They had borne all patiently. There was not another district in Ireland, or England either, in which the people could have borne their distress in the same way while almost starving; and it was the last thing they would do to ask assistance. Some of the children of these poor parents would touch the feelings of the most careless. The speaker concluded by moving : That while we admire the efforts that have been made in this country to relieve the distress in Lancashire, we believe that vast numbers of the cotton weavers in our neighbourhood require prompt and effective assistance."
Mr. M`CALL, in seconding the resolution, said that few events had occurred during the present century which demanded so much attention and excited so much public sympathy, not only among those connected with the cotton trade, but among all other classes, as the distress that had been brought on certain parts of the kingdom by the war in America. He was quite sure that England never supposed the day would come when her own land—the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world—would have in its midst such intense suffering and poverty as that which then existed throughout her cotton districts. In the recently prosperous county of Lancaster and its environs, upwards of 400,000 people had been thrown idle by the dearth and famine of raw cotton, and these sufferers for months past were receiving alms at the rate of 2/- per head per week for every man, woman, and child connected with the trade. It was highly gratifying to think of the munificent sums that had been sent from nearly all parts of the world in aid of the Lancashire operatives, and that Ireland too had not been slow in forwarding her gifts to the same treasury ; but he thought it strange that amid the wide-spread sympathy so aroused not a single word had yet been said about the distress and calamity that had fallen on the cotton operatives in their own neighbourhood. (Hear.) He was aware that many persons who should know more than they appear to do of the industrial history of their country, indulged in the idea that the cotton manufacture of the United Kingdom was almost confined to Lancashire and Lanark. The fact, however, was, that within a circle of ten or twelve miles around Lisburn, there existed a greater number of hand-loom weavers than could be found in either Manchester, Bolton, or Glasgow ; but the wages earned by Irish weavers, even in the best times, were far under those realized by the English or Scotch operatives. No other class of workmen in the kingdom were so easily pleased in the matter of wages as the weavers of the North of Ireland. Their wants were few and their habits simple ; indeed a state of things which an English operative could only look upon as that of sheer poverty would be considered by an Ulster hand-loom weaver as a condition of comparative comfort. He (lid not exaggerate when he stated that a Lancashire man would eat up in a single day an entire week's earnings of a Down or Antrim weaver. (Laughter.) Just before coming to the meeting he had read in the Ashton Observer of a young girl, a weaver, who lamented over her distress in being obliged to work inferior Surat cotton, and to eat Indian meal stirabout for dinner. Some of the people whose houses he had visited that morning, would be exceedingly glad to get employment in weaving any material, whether Surat or American cotton, and as for food they would be quite satisfied with a sufficient supply of India meal, but of that article they had not more than half the quantity requisite to support life. He had considerable experience of the condition of hand-loom operatives in and around Lisburn, and had recently visited their houses and weaving shops, and the state of some of these would be hardly credited. Not only were the unemployed in an almost destitute condition, but many of the employed were little better off. Very few of these men were able to earn more than 3s 6d in the week, and out of that small sum they had to support a family. One poor fellow with a wife and four children, could only earn by toiling at the loom for fifteen hours a day, the sum of 4/- a week. That income was at the rate of eightpence a head for the weekly support of his family. According to the published accounts, the unemployed operatives of Lancashire were paid by the relief committee two shillings a week for each member of their households. The hand-loom weavers of Down and Antrim had not been reduced to their present state of destitution by any acts of their own ; they were quite willing to work, but labour could not be had. He knew many of those people who, in point of ingenuity and skill, were far beyond any other class of working men ; yet th0se same weavers were not only in poverty, but were literally starving. Fortunately for many families, the flax spinning trade had been brisk, and gave work to vast multitudes of people. He did not know what the result of the existing crisis in the cotton trade would have been in their own locality but for the extra employment given under the tall chimneys of Messrs. Stewart & Sons, Mr. J. J. Richardson, and Messrs. William Barbour & Sons. (Applause.) The experience of those trying times should bind together in closer relationship the people engaged in the linen and cotton trades of Ulster. After some further allusions to the existing crisis, Mr. M'Call concluded by begging leave to second the resolution proposed by Mr. Megarry.
Mr. DAVID BEATTY rose and said the resolution that had been placed in his hands referred to financial affairs. Probably the Secretary thought he was more cognisant of these matters because of his having known so much about the humble people whom he regretted to find in such a condition. He was one of the first persons who conversed with Mr. M'Call and his neighbour, Mr. Carlisle, on the subject; and rejoiced that he had been one of the earliest to bring the question before his fellow-townsmen. Very alarming reports had been heard from Broomhedge and the Maze by gentlemen in whom he could place the utmost reliance. There were there honest men, with honest hearts, and those poor weavers would live on turnips rather than proclaim their poverty ; but the day of relief had dawned, and he felt happy to see so many of his townsmen coming forward in such an honourable cause, and a Richardson in the chair. (Hear, hear.) The Richardson family, one and all, had ever been the supporters of the humbler classes, and they were always ready and willing to move in any good work that was found necessary in the neighbourhood. But, with every respect to those gentlemen, there were others who were liberal employers too ; and every one who was present must have been delighted to hear the friendly spirit in which the letters of apology are couched from those who are ready with their subscriptions when this meeting is over. Before submitting the resolution, he wished to mention a matter which came under his notice. He happened to be for a short time in Buxton in October last, and having met with some gentlemen from Manchester, he asked them if the distress was as severe as the local papers represented it to be, and if it were extending in the district. They said, in answer to his inquiries, that they had a good right to know all about it—that they were ready to confirm the statements made in the newspapers, and every statement he had read were confirmed by those gentlemen. On Friday, when in Belfast, he had met with one of these gentlemen, who was on his way to Dublin, and asked him how matters stood at present in Manchester and district, and he replied that the distress was decreasing. He also said, if an application was made from their neighbourhood, that the manufacturers would, perhaps, contribute largely to their funds. He was very happy to see that so large a number of his fellow townsmen had come forward at the request of Mr. M'Call; and he was no less glad to see there so many of the operatives, who thus find they are sympathised with. There were many present who had prepared their pockets to show that sympathy. These poor men had many claims upon them, and he only wished that his circumstances would enable him to give more liberally than he intended to so good a cause. He would, therefore, request the Secretary to set down his name for five pounds. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Beatty then proposed the resolution, which was as follows :—" That a subscription list be immediately opened, and that a committee be appointed, with Mr. Millar as Treasurer and Mr. M'Call as Secretary, to carry out the objects of this meeting."
Mr. JOHN D. BARBOUR had very great pleasure in rising to second the resolution ,proposed by Mr. Beatty. Under any circumstances, he should feel gratified in taking part in a public meeting in Lisburn, but he felt especially so in the present case. He did not recollect the time, but many of those around him could look back to the period when the state of the trade enabled the cotton weavers to earn a rate of wages much above that of most other operatives. In the present position of that manufacture the whole amount of the cotton weaver's earnings would not procure the merest necessaries of life. With those and all other details connected with the terrible ordeal through which the poor people had then to make way, placed fully before the wealthier classes, he had no doubt there would be very little difficulty in getting up a large subscription list. From his own comparatively limited idea of the cotton manufacture, he was not able to form a correct opinion of the real income of a cotton weaver in full work; but from what he had read in one of the Belfast papers, that full grown men could not earn more than five shillings per week, whilst some weavers only made three, it was evident then that, when men in employment could only realise about one-third the rate of wages wade in other trades, even the poor weavers who had full work must be in a very sad condition, whilst those who were idle must have to battle against the very extreme of poverty.
He would not go further into the question, as there were other gentlemen to address the meeting, but conclude again by stating that he had great pleasure in seconding the resolution proposed by Mr. Beatty.
The resolution was carried nem com.
Mr. GORGE PELAN said he begged to mention that the Lord Provost of Glasgow had some time before made an application on behalf of the unemployed weavers of that city for a portion of £80,000 which had been subscribed towards the Indian famine relief, and which had not been required for that purpose. He felt assured that if the sad state of destitution to which a large proportion of the working ranks around them had been reduced by the cotton famine were rightly represented to the proper authorities, some portion of the unappropriated fund would be allocated to Lisburn. It might be well, therefore, for the committee to be appointed that day to act on the suggestion he had thrown out.
Mr. J. D. BARBOUR hoped that the Secretary would take a note of Mr. Pelan's suggestion. It wads really most important, when so much distress had fallen on the people around their own doors, that every exertion should be made to add to the means of giving relief.
Rev. E. FRANKS, a Wesleyan minister stationed at the Maze, addressed the meeting at some length on scenes of distress which had come under his own notice, and which he depicted with such graphic power as to elicit the entire sympathy of every person present. He spoke of the cotton weavers of the district as a class of highly moral men, and second to none with whom he had ever before come in contact. Ile had been in England for a considerable time, and he knew much of the working ranks in that country, and he could say that the people of the Maze were those of which any nation might well be proud.
Captain WARD said that since he had entered the room a resolution had been placed in his hands, which he would read :"That a letter be written to the Marquis of Hertford, calling his attention to the distress existing here at present, and respectfully s0liciting his lordship's aid on behalf of the poor weavers in Lisburn and its vicinity." He said there was no question but the greatest distress prevailed amongst them at the present time. Indeed he himself had no idea until that moment that the calamity was so wide-spread, but he felt certain that every exertion would then be made. to alleviate the suffering. So far as related to the immediate object of the resolution he held in his hand, he had no doubt of its success. The Marquis of Hertford and his forefathers had ever been kind and considerate, as well as benevolent landlords; and he felt assured that a letter written in accordance with that resolution would meet from his lordship such a response, directly or indirectly through his worthy agent, as would satisfy the wishes of everyone present, and largely add to whatever funds might be raised for the aid of distress in Lisburn and the neighbourhood. He, therefore, begged to propose the resolution ; and he could not better evidence his own sympathy with the great object in hand than by asking the Secretary to add his name to the list for a subscription of twenty pounds (Applause.)
Mr. JOHN MILLAR said that, in coming forward to second the resolution which had been so well introduced by Captain Ward, he would refer to an erronious opinion which had gained ground in some quarters. It had been stated, in relation to the distress prevailing in their midst, that only those who had been immediately benefitted by the cotton trade should be called upon to contribute towards the support of the suffering weavers, and that the lords of the soil should not be solicited to aid in the relief.
This vas, at least, a very narrow-minded view of the question, and
totally opposed to the right reading of a landlord's duties. The Poor Law
Act told the true state of affairs. If in the present case that law was
extended, as it might be, and that the rates were made amenable to the
support of the poor weavers, the local owners of the soil would have to
contribute half the total amount of their maintenance. Seeing, however, the
noble efforts that had been made to ward off the distress in Lancashire, and
how liberally the landlords of that portion of England had aided in the same
cause, he had no doubt that the owner of the Hertford property would display
equal benevolence towards poor weavers, most of whom had been born and
brought up on his estate. He concluded by seconding the resolution.
This motion was also carried unanimously.
Mr. JAMES N. RICHARDSON, of Lissue, said that the resolution calling Lord Hertford's attention to the weavers should not be confined to that class of workpeople. He would suggest that the letter about to be written to the landlord of the great estate on which they stood should be so worded as to request Lord Hertford's support on behalf of poor weavers and other suffering people. Within the last week a greater number of men and women had called on him for assistance than he had ever known seek aid.
Mr. JOSEPH RICHARDSON, of Springfield, stated that he was just about to make an observation to the same effect. In his neighbourhood the farm labourers were nearly as badly off, and some of them quite as destitute as the cotton weavers. He would therefore propose that an alteration be made in the resolution, and that it should read "On behalf of the cotton weavers and others."
Mr. JOSHUA LAMB, was also of opinion that the resolution should be altered, and the required change made.
The CHAIRMAN put the amendment proposed, and it was at once agreed to.
Mr. M`CALL said it had been suggested that a deputation should be sent over to Glasgow for the purpose of giving the heads of houses in that city some correct data relative to the destitution existing in and around Lisburn. He felt assured that those firms which, though their agents had been giving out muslin webs to be woven in that neighbourhood, would aid any Relief committee that might be formed that clay in warding oft the effects of the cotton famine. The Glasgow manufacturers had long been large employers of labour at the loom, but much of that demand for hands had ceased. One firm that some time before kept 2,000 people engaged, did not then employ above 200, and another house that formerly gave work to 1,000 weavers, had not a tithe of that number employed. In the mean time, however, and whether or no any action be taken in the matter, he would suggest that it might be well to consider the best mode of alleviating the cases of distress so well known to some of those present. Many of the sufferers were weavers in the employment of these manufacturers, and he felt sure, if applied to, they would contribute to the fund. He wished to know the best means of bringing the cases before these gentlemen. As to what local landlordism had done he was glad to learn that Lord Downshire, with his usual liberality, had given £50 to the Fund raised for the weavers in the neighbourhood of the Maze. But that course of action was only in accordance with his Lordship's character as a resident landowner. In 1847, when the dearth and destitution prostrated so many people on his property, the Marquis contributed to their support more than the total sum given for a like purpose by any half dozen of the other owners of land in Ulster.
Mr. BEATTY remarked that, in 1847, Lord Downshire had contributed by gifts of food and sums of money, about £20,000 towards the relief of the poor people on his estate.
Mr. DAVID CARLISLE in reply to what had been stated by Mr. M'Call, relative to the proposed appeal to the cotton manufacturers of Glasgow, said he was sure if letters were written them, a liberal response would be the result. He was gratified to say he had that morning received from the house for which he was agent, an order to get a number of webs woven, which for a time at least would employ 300 people.
Mr. ROBERT ALLISTER said his feeling was quite in favour of the poor cotton weavers, for they had suffered a great deal of distress. It was sixteen or seventeen years since he became agent for parties in Glasgow, and during the intermediate period the power-loom had to a large extent displaced the hand-loom. Some six or seven years ago he employed 500 or 600 weavers, but most of such work was now done by steam power.
The CHAIRMAN said he had listened with great pleasure to the different
speakers, and in reference to the present state of affairs, he would add
that the distress in Lancashire had been great. It was a county in which the
spinning of cotton had been more extensive than in any other part of the
world; and the war in America had prostrated it to a lamentable extent. On
behalf of the suffering people an appeal had been made to the whole of the
United Kingdom, and to most parts of the civilised world. That appeal, he
was glad to say, had been very generously and nobly met. A nobleman, whose
name he should mention—Lord Derby—had he believed, in the first instance,
subscribed £1,000 his last subscription was £5,000. He hoped the Marquis of
Hertford would read over the proceedings of that day; and he trusted that,
having due reference to his position—having regard to the large stewardship which he possessed, and the claims
upon him as a landlord, he would take Lord Derby as his example, and come
forward in the manly worth of that noble house under whose arms he now
stood. [The heraldic insignia of the family of Hertford is placed above the
bench in the Lisburn court-house, and just over the seat occupied by the
chairman.] He trusted that Lord Hertford would not forget the poor people on
his own property, now suffering so much from compulsory idleness, and that
towards their relief fund he would contribute in a manner worthy the
proprietor of these broad demesnes.
Mr. LAMB proceeded to explain to the meeting a regular course of relief which he had conducted for some days past in his district. He had given temporary relief to no less than one hundred families.
Rev. HARTLEY HODSON wished to say a few words. He had only that moment returned to town, having been in the country on special business, and but for having had that duty on hand he would have been among the earliest of those assembled at the commencement of the meeting. Many of the gentlemen present were aware that having been promoted to a rectory in a distant part of the county, his immediate connection with Lisburn, as one of its pastors, would very soon cease ; but the interest he felt in his dear friends, the people of the town in which he had spent so many happy days, would only end with his life. (Applause.) He felt rejoiced in stating that, during his long period of labour among them, he had experienced much kindly feeling from all sects of people, and it gladdened his heart to see there that day the representatives of so many creeds, met for the noble purpose of benevolence. Lisburn had always exhibited the utmost sympathy with distress, and had come forward nobly and liberally to respond to calls from other places, and although not the first time they had brought out the influence and property of their good town to meet that occasion. He had only to say that the Secretary might put his name down for ten pounds. He might add to his dear friends that, no matter what part of the world his future lot should be cast, or wherever he might reside, there never should be destitution affecting the community of Lisburn in which his heart, pocket, and hand would not be always open. (Applause.)
Mr. J. W. FULTON, J.P., said it was only that morning he had received a notice to attend that meeting. He regretted to observe, during the time he had stood in this Courthouse, that there seemed to be some desire to set one landlord above another. (No, no.) By such a course they would make the meeting a local one, and that would not further the cause of charity. The distress in the districts around them had been created by the same cause as that in Lancashire—the Cotton Famine—and it appeared to him that that was the ground on which they should apply for aid at a distance. The people themselves had nothing to do with the cause of it. If they had anything to do with it, then the subscriptions should be of an entirely local character. He was not connected, as was very well known, nor had he anything to do, with either the Hertford or the Downshire estate, and he had simply came there as a landed proprietor to assist in alleviating the distress. He had heard since he came into town that efforts had been made by Lord Hertford, through his agent, to contribute towards the assistance of some farm labourers, which proved they were not backward in relieving want; but the distress they had then met to consider was that caused by the Cotton Famine. This was the ground which enabled them to apply to the richer classes in England for relief—upon the ground that the workmen here who were thrown out of work were similarly circumstanced to those in Lancashire. The Earl of Derby, to whom reference had already been made, always kept great numbers of the labouring ranks in employment at his seat at Knowsley ; but, besides doing so, his Lordship had contributed six thousand pounds to the Relief Fund. He felt certain, therefore, that the facts of the distress then existing in Lisburn had only to be made known to Lord Hertford in order to secure his Lordship's cooperation in the work.
At the conclusion of Mr. Fulton's speech, it was arranged that the following gentlemen should constitute the Committee of Management :—Dr. Musgrave, Dr. Campbell, J. N. Richardson, David Beatty, John Sloan, John Bradbury, David Carlisle, James Megarry, Joseph Richardson, Bennett Megarry, George Pelan, J. J. Richardson, Redmond Jefferson, Captain Bolton, Joseph Shaw, the Rev. Hartley Hodson, Rev. M. M'Kay, and Joshua Lamb, together with the Treasurer and Secretary.
A subscription list was then opened, and a very handsome total was made up as the contributions of the gentlemen present. When all the business part of the proceedings had been concluded, Mr. FULTON, J.P., proposed, and Mr. REDMOND JEFFERSON seconded, the following resolution:—" That we present our hearty thanks to the Chairman for his kindness in presiding over the meeting of this day, and also for the interest he has ever taken in the well-being of the working ranks."
Mr. J. J. RICHARDSON acknowledged the compliment in brief terms, and the proceedings terminated.
In course of the forenoon some hundreds of people connected with the cotton trade had assembled on the street, opposite the Court-house, and as the meeting dispersed, its members were loudly cheered.