AS the Summer set in, a very exciting demand sprung up for hands at the loom,' and such was the competition among manufacturers for getting goods woven that the scale of wages rose to the highest point reached for twenty years before, and canvassers were engaged by some agents for Glasgow' houses to go through the country and solicit weavers to take out webs from them. Great activity prevailed in the making of muslins, and skilled workmen were able to earn good wages; even third class hands shared largely in the results of stirring activity. From that time, and until the first half of 1866 had passed, the trade of hand-loom weaving continued prosperous, but the financial crisis caused by the failure of the famed banking house of Overend, Gurney & Co., unfavourably influenced every department of industry throughout the Kingdom. The Bank of England felt the pressure so powerfully that the Peel Restriction Act had once again to be broken ; the rate of discount ran up to ten per cent., and even at such usurious exactions, there was much difficulty experienced by merchants in getting cash accommodation. Trade languished in consequence of the feeling of distrust that prevailed, and as usual, the cotton manufacture was the first to suffer. Considerable losses fell on the importers of raw material. During the year the landings in Great Britain from every source of supply had been 3,749,500 bales, but from the first of January to the middle of June, American cotton fell from 21d. to 12d., Egyptian went down from 24d, to 16d., and East Indian from 16d. to 9d. the pound. Many speculators were nearly ruined, and several went to the wall. As a consequence, the year 1867 came in with very lowering prospects. Severe weather put a stop to outdoor work—common labourers were left without employment, the hand-loom weavers in Lisburn and the surrounding districts found it difficult to procure webs, and numbers of looms were idle. Early in January, a meeting of the Relief Committee was held, and a sum of fifty pounds was handed over to be distributed among the people of the Maze ; twenty-five pounds were allotted to Lissue, and a like amount to Lisburn.
The distribution of money, however, did little more than give temporary relief, and as distress increased among the common labourers as well as among the weavers, it was proposed that a public meeting of the inhabitants should be convened for the purpose of considering what should be done for the more effectual relief of the industrious householders.
On the 19th of January, 1867, a second meeting was convened in the Lisburn Assembly Room, on which occasion there were present—The Dean of Ross, Mr. W. T. Stannus, J.P. ; Mr. J. J. Richardson, J.P. ; Mr. J. D. Barbour, J.P. ; Rev. Robert Lindsay, Rev. W. Breakey, Rev. Edward Kelly, P.P. ; Rev. W. Pounden, Rev. David J. Clarke, Rev. Mr. Powell, Mr. Jonathan Richardson, J.P., Glenmore ; Mr. Henry J. Manley, Northern Bank ; Mr. J. E. Morton, Ulster Bank ; Messrs. D. Beatty, John Millar, Hugh M'Call, G. Thompson, Redmond Jefferson, John Finlay, T. R, Pelan, D. Carlile, John S. Ward, and several other gentlemen.
On the motion of Mr. RICHARDSON, of Glenmore, the Dean of Ross was called to take the chair.
After briefly alluding to the necessity for immediate action, and referring to the sums which had recently been given towards relief of the people by the Cotton Operatives' Committee, the CHAIRMAN said he was ready to hear what any gentleman had to propose.
The Rev. Mr. POUNDEN detailed at some length the state of the labouring poor, who were suffering nearly as much from lack of fuel as from want of food. He Strongly urged the necessity of carrying out a larger measure of relief for the sufferers.
The Rev. ROBERT LINDSAY said he had never known greater distress than that he had seen in the dwellings of some of the poorer class of labourers. He would say that no time should be lost in giving relief to those people.
The Rev. EDWARD KELLY, P.P., agreed with the gentlemen who had just spoken as to the want that existed. In course of his own parochial duties, he had that morning witnessed the extreme of poverty in a great many houses, and he regretted to add in not a few cases where, a short time before, the inhabitants had been in comparative comfort.
The Rev. Mr. BREAKEY said that he, too, had been among the poor, and he had seen much actual starvation. Many cases that required prompt relief had come under his notice; but as the management of all charities required more astute knowledge of human nature than most other affairs of life, he begged to urge on the meeting the prudence of passing over the names of the clergy in making out the list of distributors. In his experience as a minister, he had ever found that where destitution prevailed, much more was looked for at the hands of the clergy than from the laity ; and the former were much more likely to be imposed on by pretended suffering. In course of their arrangements, therefore, he hoped they would not appoint any clergyman as a distributor of relief.
The Rev. Mr. POWELL added his opinion to that of the other ministers present on the imperative necessity of aiding the poor as liberally as they could, and as promptly too.
Mr. RICHARDSON inquired if it were intended to confine the proposed system of relief to town ; and, if not, then how far would it extend over the rural districts ?
The Rev. D. J. CLARKE explained that, in course of the previous week, £75 of the balance in hand had been voted for the Maze and Lissue; and at a meeting held half-an-hour before, the Relief Committee had allocated a further sure for the same districts in like proportion. He would, therefore, suggest that the distribution then proposed should not go 0utside the municipal boundary.
Mr. BEATTY thought that the meeting had forgotten one material point.
Before they went farther into the details of the mode
of distribution, they should get the funds to work upon. The Cotton
Operatives' Committee had been very prompt and very liberal in allocating a.
portion of the small balance then in hand for the purpose of warding off the
existing distress. No direct claim had been made on the inhabitants of
Lisburn on any similar exigency for several years past, and he would be glad
to see every man putting his band into his own pocket to supplement what had
been already done. If a general subscription were raised, he was sure the
Marquis of Hertford would head the list. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. WALTER T. STANNUS did not agree with Mr. Beatty's concluding remark. The Lisburn people expected too much off Lord Hertford. That nobleman's income out of the town consisted solely of ground rents, which were merely nominal. In fact, the owners of small houses had a far better right than that nobleman to subscribe to the fund. In many cases, those people had built up such dwellings on every foot of ground in their yards and bye-places, contrary to the terms of leases. True, there was no penalty attached to those breaches of covenant in any of the old leases, and, consequently, no power to stop buildings of that class ; but in all new leases there were clauses to prevent the erection of small tenements in the reres of front buildings. The mills and factories had also been the means of bringing numbers of poor people into town as tenants for such small houses ; and as Lord Hertford was not benefitted by those buildings, he (Mr. Stannus) would not subscribe to the proposed fund until he had seen what the owners of small houses would do. He would move that a committee be appointed to call on those people, and get their subscriptions in the first instance.
No one supported the proposition, and after a short silence,
Mr. BEATTY rose and said he could hardly think that Mr. Stannus really meant what he had just stated, and if such a proposal were carried it would certainly not reflect any credit on the Hertford administration.
Mr. JOHN D. BARBOUR regretted very much to hear Lord Hertford's agent, a gentleman who should entertain correct ideas on public questions stating that the mills and factories in and around Lisburn had been the means of increasing the numbers of poor people. The very opposite was the fact. (Hear, hear.) Any of the inhabitants who recollected Lisburn in former times, would be able to see that the extension of public works there had done immense good by adding largely to the industrious and peace loving population and giving considerable extension to local commerce; and as to pauperism, the number of people then supported at the Union Workhouse was not so large as it had been five and twenty years before. If Mr. Stannus would only look back to the time of the cotton famine he would find that the people working at the mills were in a condition of comparative independence, and, to their credit be it said, they contributed of their earnings a very liberal sum for the relief of their brother and sister operatives connected with the Cotton trade. Having glanced at other matters alluded to by Mr. Stannus, and which he said should not have been introduced at a meeting held for purely benevolent purposes, Mr. Barbou1 urged that prompt measures should be taken fo1 the assistance of the people who required immediate attention. The state of the weather appeared rather to increase in severity than otherwise (a storm of snow was then dashing against the windows of the Assembly Rooms), and if any postponement of relief took place, serious results might ensue. He would therefore request them to go direct to business and open a list of subscriptions to which he would attach his name for twenty pounds.
The REV. D. J. CLARKE said that while he trusted immediate action would be taken in the matter before the meeting, he would beg leave to add that it was with great regret he had listened to the remarks of Mr. Stannus respecting the claims which Lisburn's poor had on Lord Hertford. His idea was, that in all cases where human suffering existed, and where want called for relief, it was the duty of those who had means to render such assistance as they felt it their duty to do, and that course should he pursued without the slightest feeling relative to whether the persons appealed to for contributions had or had not been advantaged by those seeking aid, but that relief should be given on the broad principles of Christian benevolence. During the days of the cotton famine as alluded to by Mr. Barbour, the Messrs. Richardson, Sons, & Owden, had contributed largely to the Relief Fund, yet the weavers had no special claim on them. The firm of Messrs. Barbour & Sons had also subscribed with a liberal hand. Messrs. Richardson & Co., of Lambeg, the firm of Messrs. Richardson Bros., Mr. J. N. Richardson, their good friend Mr. J. J. Richardson, of the Island Mill, and Captain Ward, of the damask factory, had all come out in the spirit of generosity. No one of the gentlemen to whom he alluded could be said to have special duties encumbent on him in favour of the poor of Lisburn, nor did any of the vast numbers of people they employed require aid from the Relief Committee. As to the proprietors of cottages being called on to lead the way in heading the subscription list, he could only say that this idea was most absurd. He did not know any capitalists that accomplished more for the moral and physical well-being of the working ranks than those who erected comfortable small houses for them. What would the poor people do for habitations if some enterprising men did not provide dwellings of that class?
Mr. J. J. RICHARDSON, J.P., said be hoped that, as the Marquis of Hertford had not given any subscription towards the relief of the cotton weavers in 1863, his agent would then make good that neglect. The present meeting had been called not to assist one section of sufferers, but in aid of poor people engaged in different departments of labour, all of whom were residents and many were natives of his lordship's own town, the capital of his great estate. Mr. Stannus had alluded to the owners of freehold property in town having built small houses on every foot of ground they could spare in their yards and back gardens, but that was because they could not get building leases from the landlord of the estate. That however, was a matter quite beside the question before the meeting, and the broad fact remained that the weavers who had suffered by the cotton famine had strong claims on Lord Hertford's sympathy. In times gone by, and before the linen trade attained that great extension which made it the leading industry of Ulster, large sums, in the shape of wages to cotton weavers, were distributed throughout the Hertford estate. The effect }vas to create vastly increased demand for farm produce, and to put thousands of pounds into the pockets of the respective owners of the property. Manufacturing industry had done more for the lords of the soil on which they stood than any of those noblemen had had the grace to acknowledge.
Mr. W. T. STANNUS could not agree with the last speaker's remarks, nor did they prove that the sufferers by the cotton famine had any particular claim on Lord Hertford's sympathy. It might as well be said that the people of Lisburn had peculiar claims on Mr. J. J. Richardson, because he had made his fortune at the Island Mill.
Mr. MILLAR here came forward with a sheet of paper, prepared to receive the names of subscribers. He hoped that, whatever difference of opinion might exist on the matter to which the several speakers had alluded, there would not be any respecting the alleviation of the wants of the poor, many of whom had neither food nor fire in their homes that day.
The subscription list having been laid on the table, Mr. W. T. Stannus placed Lord Hertford's name at the head for £25 : Mr. Richardson, of Glenmore, subscribed £20, Mr. J. D. Barbour, ; Mr. J. J. Richardson, £20; the Dean of Ross, £10 ; and a number of smaller sums having been added by those present, the total amount subscribed on the spot exceeded two hundred pounds. A committee was then appointed to collect from such of the inhabitants as had not attended the meeting. On the motion of Mr. J. E. Morton, Mr. Manley, manager of the Northern Bank, was appointed Treasurer, and Mr. Beatty Secretary of the Fund about being raised.
Several gentlemen having volunteered to go through those lanes and alleys of the town for the purpose of distributing at the doors of poor people who were considered most in need of assistance, tickets were printed, and in course of the evening 500 families were supplied with a bag of coal each, and in many cases tickets for one shilling or eighteen-pence worth of meal were given in addition.
Collectors were also appointed to call on the gentry, merchants, and traders who had not attended the meeting, and the response to that call was very liberal. Frost and snow continued to the end of January, nearly all means of outdoor labour having been sealed up, but the sum subscribed fully met all demands, and many families were saved from going into the workhouse by the timely assistance rendered them. A favourable change of weather set in about the middle of February, employment became pretty general, and no more relief was required.
Early in the autumn of that year—1867—it was reported that Mr. A. T.
Stewart had been on the Continent and was then in Paris, and that while on
his way home he purposed spending some days in Belfast, and at the same time
to visit Lissue, his birthplace, near Lisburn. Arrangements were then made
to pay some special mark of attention to him, and the only course open was
that of preparing an address of welcome.
Accordingly, a meeting of the Relief Committee was called for Tuesday, the 3rd of September, on which occasion the following members met in the News-Room :—John D. Barbour, J.P. ; Rev. I). J. Clarke, Dr. Musgrave, Hugh McCall, and David Carlile.
Mr. BARBOUR, having been requested to take the chair, said he had great pleasure in presiding over any meeting that had for its object the paying of a mark of respect to one of the most distinguished Irishmen in the United States. They all felt proud of Mr. Stewart, and especially so because the great merchant of Broadway was a native of their own neighbourhood.
The SECRETARY then read the draft of an address which be had prepared for approval of the Committee, and after some changes had been suggested and made in it,
Dr. MUSGRAVE proposed that, as he understood Mr. Stewart had arrived in Belfast, Mr. McCall should visit that gentleman at his hotel, and ascertain at what time it would be most convenient for him to receive a deputation appointed to present the address.
On Friday afterwards the Secretary called on Mr. Stewart at that gentleman's apartments in the Royal Hotel, Belfast, and having introduced the matter for which the meeting of committee had been held in Lisburn, Mr. Stewart expressed his pleasure as well at the attention which had been paid him on other occasions as because of the continued feeling of gratitude shown towards him. He said it had been a great source of satisfaction many a time since 1863, to think of how well the donation he had sent over that year had been applied to the poor people. In reference to the proposed address, he would regret that the gentlemen appointed to present it should have the trouble of coming to Belfast for that purpose, and would, therefore, request that the little ceremonial should take place at Glenmore, the seat of Mr. Jonathan Richardson, and where he had been engaged to dine next evening (Saturday). It would add to other obligations if his friends should be good enough to meet him there at five o'clock.
Before the appointed hour on that afternoon, Mr. J. D. Barbour had his carriage ready at his house in Castle Street, Lisburn, and Mr. M'Call, the Rev. D. J. Clarke, and Mr. D. Carlile having joined him, the party was driven to Glenmore. On arriving there, Mr. Richardson met the gentlemen in the hall, and a servant having led the way to the library, the host introduced each member to Mr. A. T. Stewart, and also to the Honourable Judge Hilton and Mr. George Fox, of Manchester, one of the partners of the firm of A. T. Stewart & Co. The gentlemen present having resumed their seats, Mr. Barbour rose and said " he had rarely felt greater pleasure in taking part in any movement than he enjoyed on that occasion. As soon as it was known that Mr. A. T. Stewart was about to visit the neighbourhood of his birthplace, a meeting of the gentlemen who had taken active part in the relief of the cotton operatives was called, and he (Mr. Barbour) had the honour of being chairman of that meeting. Its object was to make arrangements for presenting an address to the renowned merchant who in 1863, and during the time of the cotton famine, had so largely supplemented their relief fund. In his private capacities and as a member of a house that for many years had been commercially connected with America, it was to him a source of no ordinary pleasure to have an opportunity of being present on that occasion, and of joining the deputation which had been appointed to pay some slight mark of respect to the head of a firm which had attained the world-wide celebrity enjoyed by Messrs. A. T. Stewart & Co. It was to him a matter of regret that his friends Mr. J. J. Richardson, J.P., and Mr. John Millar were then travelling in England on their holiday trip, as he felt assured that both those gentlemen would have been much pleased to have been present. He would just conclude by requesting Mr. M'Call to read the address." The guests and other gentlemen present having risen to their feet, the Secretary read as follows:—
"To A. T. STEWART, ESQ., NEW YORK.
"SIR,—The Committee of the Cotton Operatives' Relief Fund having heard of your arrival in this country, feel very much pleased at the opportunity thus given them of welcoming you to the place of your nativity. In former years, and long before the cotton famine had created such distress in this part of Ulster, we had heard of your fame as an American merchant, and exulted over your high standing as a citizen of that Republic. But the promptitude with which you responded to our appeal for assistance when semi-starvation reigned in the homes of hundreds of families connected with our cotton manufactures, has called forth a feeling of gratitude for your benevolence, and of respect for your kindly recollection of 'the old country,' which we feel assured will never be forgotten.
" We have also to state that in addition to the vast amount of good produced by the munificent gift of breadstuffs and provisions you sent over to us, and the extended aid we were thus enabled to bestow on the distressed operatives, the free passages and provisions for one hundred and thirty-seven persons led to the most favourable results. Many of those emigrants have since then remitted means to bring over to America certain members of their family that remained at home; others have written to say that they had found the world beyond the Atlantic to be a land of plenty, where their labour was well paid, and where- industry rendered them independent. In every instance the correspondence of these people abounded with hopefulness, and in not a few cases they expressed in genuine eloquence their grateful sense of your generous conduct in chartering a good ship to convey them across the ocean, and also providing them with ample provisions for the voyage. Thus, Sir, in your adopted country, as well as in your native land, you have many living monuments of that philanthropy which we trust will ever form the brightest attribute of your character.
(Signed) " JOHN D. BARBOUR, Chairman.
" HUGH M'CALL, Secretary.
"Lisburn, Sept. 6, 1867."
Mr. STEWART, whose feelings were much influenced during the reading of the address, delivered his reply as follows :-
"SIR, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE, — Your address fills me with a deep sense of gratefulness for the kindly spirit in which you have conveyed to me the affectionate remembrance of the cotton operatives in Lisburn. It is a fact that neither time nor space can efface from the memory the place that gave us birth ; and no matter what period may intervene, the heart, ever true to its instincts, turns with faithful affection to the home of childhood.
" It was this instinct and this feeling of affection that, in time of suffering among the poor of my native land, caused me to see it my duty to lend a helping hand. I recollected that if no other or higher reason controlled, there was a debt owing from me to my countrymen to the extent, at least, of that patrimony which, many years ago, I took with me to that land of promise and of liberty, where ever since I have lived and prospered.
"If in the performance of this duty I have been the means of conferring a lasting benefit on any of my countrymen, my highest wishes and objects shall have been attained.
"For the pleasing manner in which you have conveyed to me the intelligence that this result has been accomplished accept my sincere thanks, and to those whom you represent please express my deep sense of their kindness and friendship.
(Signed) " ALEX. T. STEWART.
"Sept. 7, 1867."
The delivery of this reply had evidently called forth quite a host of old recollections, and scenes of former days seemed to have come up before the speaker, bright as visions of youth. So much indeed was Mr. Stewart affected that he had nearly broken down when alluding to "the home of his childhood."
At the conclusion of what may be considered the more ceremonious part of the
proceedings, Mr. Richardson intimated to the deputation and other friends
that some refreshments had been laid out in another apartment to which he
requested those present to adjourn. In course of the dispensing of the
host's hospitality a very interesting conversation took place, in which
Judge Hilton and Mr. Fox t00k prominent part with the members of the
The former named gentleman said he understood that some members of the relief committee had proposed that the balance of money in hands should be devoted to .the building of cottages as asylums for weavers widows, and be himself would be glad to see such memorials erected.
Mr. M'CALL was of opinion that some lasting evidence of the days of 1863 and the benevolence brought out during that time of distress, should be raised in Lisburn. There still remained in hand as balance of the Stewart Fund £150, and also a donation of £100 sent the Committee by Mr. Hart, of Shanghai, and if Mr. Stewart thought well of the project, the total could be invested in building memorial colleges.
Mr. Fox thought the matter worth consideration, but did not consider that Mr. Stewart would agree to the mixing up of any other donations with the balance of his own fund.
At this stage of the conversation Mr. Stewart, who had been absent for a few moments, joined the group, and having been informed of the subject under discussion, inquired whether, in case of arrangements being made to erect memorial buildings, a suitable site could be obtained.
The Rev. J. D. CLARKE replied to say that he understood that Dean Stannus had been applied to on the subject, and had stated his willingness on the part of Lord Hertford to give a rood of ground for that purpose.
Mr. CARLISLE was not much in favour of the erection of cottages, as it would incur much trouble to whoever might be appointed trustees, still as some memorial of the cotton famine he would not oppose the erection of a neat building.
Mr. Stewart expressed his willingness to supplement the balance in hands as soon as the committee had finally resolved on building. Apart from that question however, he could not avoid using the opportunity he then had of expressing his very warm thanks to his friends, the trustees, for the great trouble they took in the right distribution of the bequest. Mr. M'Call had written him about the efficient service which Mrs. Clibborn had rendered in the case, and to that lady and her co-Trustees he felt under special obligations.
The Rev. Mr. CLARKE alluded in terms of grateful eulogy to the large hearted men of America who had so abundantly contributed to their funds. Judge Hilton said he had listened with the utmost pleasure to the story told by the rev. gentleman. " It was to him quite an enjoyment to hear of the gratitude with which the gentlemen present spoke of the kindness and sympathy which had been shown towards the people of that part of Ireland, and that they cherished grateful remembrances of American citizens, not only in the case of the cotton famine, but on many other occasions." Mr. Stewart himself listened with much interest to this conversation, and was evidently delighted by the great satisfaction with which the honourable Judge heard the expression of grateful acknowledgment which had been made regarding the liberality of his countrymen.
This meeting and its details formed in reality the wind-up of the annals of the cotton famine, but not those of after proceedings. It may be considered by many readers that the reports include much that might have been left out of print. They refer, however, to a very remarkable period in the history of the cotton manufacture as it existed on both sides the channel. They also give some notice of the exertions made to save the suffering from utter destitution, and thus it may happen that, in after years, when the writer, and all others whose names figure in its pages, shall have passed away, the descendants of some of those who contributed towards the funds, or who assisted in the management and distribution of them, will read over with the utmost interest every line that had been written on the subject.
There was still on hands about two hundred and fifty pounds, the balance of Mr. Stewart's gift and Mr. Hart's donation, and w0nderful was the anxiety of some members of the Committee to have the whole sum distributed. In this world of ours one phase of Charity rises even to the Sublime, when professors of benevolence can exercise it at othe1 people's expense. There had been the usual degree of poverty in many parts of the country around Lisburn in the early weeks of 1868, and a requisition to that effect having been handed to the Secretary, a meeting of the Relief Committee was held on Thursday, the 14th of February, in that year—
JOHN D. BARBOUR, Esq., J.P., in the chair. On taking his seat, the President said " he had attended the meeting as a matter of duty, and in accordance with the notice sent to him; but he really did not see there was any special occasion for further call on the balance of cash in hand. He himself would always be ready to assist the struggling poor where aid became direct necessity ; but he was quite opposed to indiscriminate charity. (Hear, hear.) In consequence of the great demand for hands at the spinning mills, he knew of cases in which families the heads of which and their elder children were in full work, and earned three pounds a week, yet did not save one penny of an income exceeding that of ministers who had to support the position of gentlemen."
The Rev. D. J. CLARKE said he had visited in the course of the week several of the bye streets and lanes of the town, and he did not find any extra exhibition of poverty. Still, if cases could be brought forward which required relief he would 1eadily join in moving a resolution calling attention to them.
The SECRETARY read a letter he had received fr0m Mr. Richardson, of Lissue, in which that gentleman stated that weavers and labourers in his district were badly off, and he (Mr. R.) thought it hard that such should be the case when a large balance still remained in the hands of the Treasurer.
Mr. CARLISLE gave some account of the state of the weavers in the Maze and Half Town, many of whom were idle.
The Rev. S. NICHOLSON said he had privately collected seven pounds, and given it to poor people about Broomhedge ; but there was much destitution still there.
A general discussion followed, in the course of which,
The Rev. ROBERT LINDSAY said that, so far as the poor people of the town were concerned, be had not obtained any evidence of such distress as required outside aid ; but in case money should be allocated for that purpose, he would hope that, as their friend Mr. Breakey had advised some years before, the clergy should be exempted as distributors. His own experience was that the laity, who had full experience of such affairs, were much less likely to be imposed upon by pretended poverty than the ministers of any Church.
Ultimately, it was agreed that thirty-five pounds be handed over for distribution in Lissue, the Maze, Broomhedge, and the Half Town, and ten pounds for Lisburn.
During the succeeding two years no further demands were made on the balance of funds in hand ; but at the commencement of March, 1870, a meeting was called to consider some cases of destitution in the country districts. On that occasion J. N. RICHARDSON, Esq., was called to the chair, and, after referring to the cause of the meeting, he requested that the Treasurer would give in his report of the state of the funds.
Mr. MILLAR Said that the balance in hands, with interest due to date, of what had been kept distinct as the Stewart fund, was £07, in addition to which there was £1ce—Mr. Hart's donation—which the Secretary had held over in the hope that, with the other balance, it should be expended in the erection of memorial cottages for the free occupation of weavers' widows. Mr. M'Call had been offered a site for the buildings by Dean Stannus, but without any lease.
" The case of Captain Bolton's school-house in Hillhall, which was held at will under Lord Hertford, having been wrested from that gentleman's trustees, and the bequest of Captain Bolton's cottages in Piper Hill having also been taken by Lord Hertford's agent, the idea of erecting memorial cottages on ground held at will, was finally abandoned. Mr. A. T. Stewart and Mr. Hart had given full liberty for such appropriation of the money ; but except a site in fee simple could have been obtained it would not have been prudent to so invest the money."
On the CHAIRMAN inquiring of the members present as to the state of the weaving ranks,
Mr. CARLILE said the hands were pretty well employed, and the scale of
wages was quite as high as it had been for many years
past. The average, however, did not exceed 7s. a week. One old man, eighty years of age, was busy at work, but did not earn above 2s. 6d. a-week.
The Rev. Mr. CLARKE said that at the last distribution Lisburn only received £10, while the country had £35 allotted to it.
Mr. JAMES MEGARRY did not know of great distress in his part of the country; but after much difference of opinion had been expressed on the subject, £46 was voted for the country and £10 for Lisburn.
Belfast and Lisburn, though so widely different in commercial status, have many characteristics in common, and in the annals of philanthropy each has long held a prominent place. In the reign of Charles the First, even before Belfast had obtained special maritime privileges from Carrickfergus, its inhabitants formed a Society for assisting the suffering poor, and when the terrible typhus raged, not many years afterwards, a local tax—self imposed —was cheerfully paid to provide medicine and food for the poorer classes, and for the interment of the dead. During the succeeding century, the same feelings that had actuated their fathers was fully developed in the men of the different ages. The Old Poor House, erected in 1772, and endowed by the lord of the soil with lands that have since proved so valuable, that they produce a large revenue—was built at the expense of the local gentry and merchants. Twenty years afterwards, and when the Rev. William Bristow, Vicar of St. Ann's Church, was sovereign of Belfast, the germ of that admirable institution-the General Hospital—was brought into existence chiefly through the exertions of that respected clergyman and his friends, Doctors M'Donnell, Halliday, and Campbell. The example of benevolence never fails to keep alive the very spirt of that virtue, and hence we find in the records of Belfast instances of rare liberality. In the autumn of 1820, the funds of the Poor House had fallen very low, and at the solicitation of the committee, charity sermons were preached in the different places of worship. The collections, in all these cases, were large, and, in one instance, especially so. After the service in Dr. Hanna's church, it was discovered that two of the bank notes that had been placed on the plate of one collector were for £500 each. Much curiosity was raised at the magnificence of the gift. For a time, however, conjecture failed to light on the name of the donor ; but after the death of John Gregg of Ballymacarrett, it was found that that worthy and highly-valued merchant had been the contributor of the handsome donation.
Lisburn—the great centre of that calamity which fell on the cotton weavers in 1863—has also her records of benevolence, and these refer to former, as well as to latter days. When the marauding troops of Queen Elizabeth destroyed the household furniture and even the growing crops of local farmers, the leading men of Lis-Na-Garvagh collected funds to support the desolated people; and, in November, 1641, when nearly all the houses were burned down by the retreating rebels, leaving many families destitute and homeless, the generosity of local philanthropy was actively exerted. Lord Conway who fought at the head of his own troops during the terrible scenes of that insurrection returned home in the December of that year. Ralph Briggs, his favoured henchman had erected tents for the burned out poor, and his lordship had workmen collected from different parts of the county to aid local builders in raising houses on the sites of the former ones. Food was provided for the poor, and means were subscribed for erecting temporary habitations to shelter the house-less until more suitable buildings could be finished. [n later times the same feeling has never failed to show itself, and, under all circumstances, the cry of the distressed has never been heard in vain.
But Lisburn has other claims to stand among renowned localities. When the naval and military history of the country be written by one able to do justice to all connected with it, the sons of the ancient borough will take a prominent place in those annals. Lieutenant Dobbs, who commanded a man-of-war in 1778, and fought against the celebrated Paul Jones, was a native of Lisburn. Some of the finest soldiers of past ages first saw the light there.
The late Major Flack, a Lisburn man, who had risen from the ranks, and had served in some of the hardest fought battles, said that wherever the danger was greatest, and the difficulties most formidable, he had ever felt proud of the pluck and prowess of his countrymen, but especially so did he regard those of his own town. Many of the ablest men connected with the civil administration of India, and not a few of the warriors to whom England owes, in a great measure, her reign in the land beyond the Ganges were from Lisburn. Among the highest of India's military chiefs, there stands the name of Brigadier-General Nicholson, one of the greatest heroes in the Indian army, and whose deeds of daring throughout the whole period of the Sepoy Mutiny have given him immortal fame. It is, however, because of Lisburn having been the early seat of textile manufacture in Ulster, and where the cotton trade was planted in the last half of the past century, that the author of this bo0k has been so diffuse in these details of the cotton famine and its effects on the work-people in that neighbourhood. No doubt events of far greater moment have often passed over without a single record of their existence being left for the guidance of historians ; but let that be that as it may, we would fondly hope that the peculiar incidents of 1863, with all their realities of patience, sorrow, and suffering on the part of the cotton operatives, the exertions which the Relief Committee made for the alleviation of distress, and the generous sympathy of the contributors to the funds, will never cease to hold a prominent place in the annals of old Lis-na-Garvagh.