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Voters Register 1835 - 1839
Qualifying Freeholders and Leaseholders

Leinster Express articles 1836

Leinster Express, Saturday 26 March 1836

County of Kildare Registries:

It will be perceived on reference to our columns that over 250 notices to register electors have been served on the Clerk of the Peace for the ensuing Sessions in Kildare and Naas. It is time that Kildare should bestir itself, and by fighting “the battle of the country in the registration courts” we feel confident that county will not in future be jockied as it has been hitherto, through the instrumentality of meddling priests.

There has been a good deal of speculation upon the expected resignation of Mr. E. Ruthven, but we are inclined to think there is not yet any probability of such a “consummation so devoutly to be wished.” We are still of the opinion he will die game.


Leinster Express , Saturday 8 October 1836  

To the ten pound freeholders of County Kildare

Sirs,—In this county, and generally in every other, the class to which you belong, is perhaps the most important of any in the community; constituting a great link between the extremes of society—the poor man clothed in rags, on one hand; and the high aristocrat, who seems as if he belonged to another creation, on the other: and in proportion to the importance of your station, you are the more exposed to their necessities, and to their tyrannies. The aristocrat that I mean, is not altogether the lord possessed of a large hereditary estate, who occasionally enquires after the wants of his tenantry, and who, when fashion and etiquette allow time, will condescend to notice them with his presence; but, by an aristocrat, I understand, a man who has not always a title or an estate; yet who, by some advantage of education and political discernment, will get into the knowledge of the weakness and wants of his neighbours, and use either for his own advantage—who, without regard to the irreparable injury he inflicts on individuals, and on society in general, will magnify every grievance, real or imaginary, until his instruments are sufficiently discontented and licentious, and then he volunteers to be their leader and their supporter, always pointing out some intemperate means to accomplish his end. Out of the confusion he has caused, he will expect some personal advantage, and when once that selfish object is gained—when the door of advancement is once opened to him, he passes through, remembering little of his former associates, nay, if one of them made the attempt to follow, this aristocrat would be the first to close the door indignantly in the face of the luckless aspirant.

This is what I call an aristocrat; and to you, ten pound freeholders, and to those under you, he is perhaps an animal, the most of all to be dreaded; and it is my intention, in a few subsequent letters, to lay before you some observations that may assist you in coming to the conclusion—whether such men have acted honorably and uprightly? And whether they have not, up to this, done more for themselves than for you? Whether, supposing them to have sacrificed their own private interests, could they not have been more wisely and usefully employed than they have been? And on the whole, whether you have not, for the sake of an imaginary advantage, been at a certain and an irreparable loss? These enquiries are, indeed, worth a little of you time, and it may be that they will lead to others of greater moment. The writer can have no wish to address you for the sake of mere popularity—it is impossible you should ever know him. However, when truths are stated, and plain facts are laid before you, it matters little from whom they come; from a friend or an enemy, if benefit is received from them. Let not the petty considerations of party or politics induce you to reject advice when honestly and candidly given. Rather endeavour to cultivate an independent spirit, and judge for yourselves. He who would wish you to do otherwise is to be suspected.

I remain your's, &c.



Leinster Express, Saturday 15 October 1836  

County of Kildare Registries

We refer our Kildare friends to a report of their registration proceedings on Thursday, and admit that we have no cause to congratulate them on the issue. The Conservatives, were, in brief, well beaten, and their defeat was wholly owing to a want of proper organisation. Few witnesses were brought against the Radical applicants, while very many false claims were allowed to pass by persons in the court, whose testimony would have easily set them aside. People in vain employ counsel if they do not provide those gentlemen with the material for working. Evidence, evidence is the thing. The conservatives should not bring forward any man, without having another to support him. They have also the list of applicants; they know those persons who are likely to be against them, of the nature and situation of their holdings they are also advertised; and yet, numbers are allowed to possess themselves of the franchise, in the presence of Protestant and Conservative farmers; who are intimately acquainted with the grounds and tenements of such persons, and who could conscientiously swear to the insufficiency of value, if they pleased—we had almost said if they dared. The gentry have been often charged with apathy, and censured for inactivity but they are not upon this occasion, we feel satisfied, the real defaulters; much is required from the Protestant Yeomanry likewise, they too enjoy the blessings of that constitution, which they are required to protect, and live under the shade and shelter of those institutions, which the gentry would defend, and in behalf of which the present efforts are making. Since, then, they have a like interest in the result of the struggle, they should take an equal share in the business of the registration; nor forfeit the reputations acquired under the circumstances of greater hazard and in days of greater danger. Things, we are proud to say are not so ordered in the Queen's County, where a more compact system has been adopted. Even the Radicals have set us a good example: they have established parochial committees to “inspirit and invigorate the exertions of the people (we quote Mr. G. Kelly's words) seek out the unregistered who may be qualified—ascertain the value of their qualifications, take care that proper notices are served for them, and insure not only their own punctual attendance at the Session, but that of men competent to give evidence.” If then the good people of Kildare won't learn diligence of their friends, they should learn it of their enemies.


Leinster Express, Saturday 22 October 1836  

County Of Kildare Registries

On Monday last, the investigation of Claimants to register was resumed before the Assistant—Barrister, H. Kemmis, Esq. In addition to the gentlemen named in our last, the Conservatives had the aid of Counsellor Hayes. Mr. Ennis, Attorney, aided the Gentlemen who appeared for the Radicals. Sir John Kennedy, Bart, R. M. O'Ferrall, Esq., M.P., Hugh Barton, Esq., R. Bourke, Esq., R. Archbold, Esq., J. Dillon, Esq., and Major Connor were upon the bench.

The several claimants who answered to their names, and swore to the value of their holdings, were admitted, except in the cases of informality—there not being scarcely any evidence tendered in opposition to their claims. There was one case, however, which we think necessary to report.

Patrick Farrell, of Newhall, claimed out of twenty acres of land, subject to £29 a year rent; the land was worth 40s an acre.

Major Connor sworn—Knows Farrell's land; in his opinion it is not worth the rent he pays.

Mr. Plunkett—do you take any part in the politics of the county, Major Connor?

Major Connor—I never obtrude my politics, but—

The Barrister conceived the question an improper one, and desired Major Connor not to proceed.

Mr. Plunkett asked Major Connor would he give similar testimony, had he not known the claimant would be in favour of a particular candidate?

Major Connor—On my oath I would; and I am ashamed to sit here, and listen to the oaths that have been sworn in this Court.

To court—I may say I am a farmer by profession.

Barrister—I am in favour of the franchise, and shall register the claimant.

Mr. Hayes—I think it is not fair when I have produced respectable testimony in opposition to the claimant; I shall therefore object to the registry.

The registry proceeded and occupied Court to six o'clock on Monday evening, the business was resumed on Tuesday morning, and concluded about one o'clock, when there were


Radicals registered…………………………24

Conservatives……………………………… .8

Majority for Radicals………………………16


There were 18 Radicals rejected, and three Conservatives.

That excellent nobleman, the venerable Earl of Mayo was on the Bench, on Tuesday, with several gentlemen, all of whom appeared to take considerable interest in the proceedings.

To the Ten Pound 22 October 1836 Freeholders of the County Kildare

Sirs—I have already stated that the class to which you belong, is perhaps, the most important of any in the country. The unrestrained intercourse which you must necessarily hold with the great mass of working people, and the connection which must therefore exist between you, place you in a situation peculiarly fitting to make impressions, either of right or wrong. It is in a great degree, you, who form the character of those under you; and that you then attract the attention of the men to whom I alluded in my last letter, is no cause of wonder. They are much too interested in the course they are pursuing, to let even a trifling advantage pass unnoticed, but when a larger prize is in view, their greatest energies are called into action, and they labour with feverish anxiety to accomplish their ends. They tell you, it is your independence and honour they seek, your comfort and respectability, they alone wish for; and when these great objects are once obtained, they are, they say willing again to return to the humble life, from which you were the means of raising them. Now I ask, how often are those promises fulfilled? How often, when their political career is ended, have you been able to say, “They improved our condition, and maintained their own integrity?” Alas! I know too well, the only honest answer you can give. Your own county has furnished a painful instance of how those promises terminate. I remember, and you all remember, a late election, at which your chosen candidate occupied six hours in addressing you with repetitions of his entire devotion to your cause, and this cause he defined to be;

First—The total abolition of Tithe, in name and in nature. It was, he insisted, disgraceful and unchristian , for any set of men to wring from the poor and industrious, the proceeds of their industry.

Second—The repeal of the legislative union, which he never thought of, but with the blood boiling in his veins, for the dishonour to which his country was subjected.

And third—The vindiction of the national honour and justice , which had been so long withheld from his countrymen.

There were the principal topics of a long and laborious address; indeed the extraordinary exertions made by the speaker on this occasion, had well nigh cost him his life. You, ten pound freeholders, were so much elated with what was to be done for you, that you would then follow with imprecations, the man, who would dare to contradict you. Perhaps, after so much time passing over you will be able now to discover what has really been done.

Respecting Tithe, the most sanguine of its opposers have some reasonable doubts as to its abolition; and many, too many of you, have, from dear-bought experience been taught the right of property is still sacred; and that the law is not so easily set aside, as you were led, at first to believe. And well did the individual alluded to know this, the very time he pronounced the man who paid Tithe to be an enemy to his country, and one with whom no communication should be held. His honor, or honesty, had not as yet risen so high, as to tell you what he really believed—that Tithe COULD not be abolished—that it should be paid in some form or other—that, supposing for an instant, the law for inforcing its payment, was at an end, it could be no relief or benefit to you, as landlords would naturally claim a proportionate advance in their rent on setting their lands . However, those were secrets, not then to be told, yet the experience of the last year, has discovered them to you, rather too plainly.

The Repeal question has also been tacitly admitted, by the very persons who were principals in getting it up, to be a humbug. Our condition, when the Parliament did meet in Dublin , holds out little encouragement to us to wish it there again.

Lastly, in reference to the national honour and justice, it has been well said by Edmund Burke, that—“It is to the private virtue of individuals—to the high and honorable spirit of her subjects—that the British realm can alone claim a prominent place amongst the great nations of the earth. Let the finger of scorn,” said he, “point at the tomb of the man would would sell his national birthright—honor, and integrity.” To reflect for a moment, how those words apply to the conduct of him, whom you supported with such frenzied determination, would, I believe, be accompanied with pain. How has his actions agreed with his profession? The answer will be heard in the wrongs of a widow and her fatherless children. It will be heard, where unsuspecting honour confided in a man, and admitted him into that society, whose privileges be afterwards used for the basest and meanest purposes. The highwayman robs at the risk of his life, and there is something, at least of manliness in his character; but the sneaking wretch, who worms himself into confidence for the purpose of betraying it, has reached to the utmost degree of human depravity.

I would not have brought those circumstances to your recollection, but for the purpose of showing that in this manner, your country's honour and your own respectability, are generally supported; and though the reflection is humiliating, it may serve to convince you, in what estimation, your volunteer leaders should be held. When you hear unbounded professions of disinterested devotion to your cause, you may reasonably conclude there is always some strong motive in question; and that one, of mere love of country, may, among all you can suppose, be the last you will conjecture.

There is no species of writing so tiresome as long public letters, and I feel I have already exceeded my bounds.

I remain yours, &c.,



Leinster Express, Saturday 26 November 1836  

The Registries

This is a subject, that on account of its importance we would never omit to notice; did not we think, on the principle of the Pythagoreans, who asserted that there was such a thing as the music of the spheres, which, however, by reason of their perpetual chiming were not heard by us mortals—that our observations on account of their continuance would be soon wholly unattended to. Not that we by any means intend to insinuate, that there is much melody in our lucubrations; no, no, we are by a great deal too modest for such a hint, but we guess few would favour us by reading more that the head-line, did we keep up a series on the subject from week to week. Well then, we intend to be early in the field this season, and so recommend our friends in the Queens ' county and Kildare, to request their friends, in turn, to get up; as certes it is full time for them. Here they have been sleeping for the past year, and their nap threatens to be long as that of Rip Van Wrinkle, unless their houses be tumbled about their ears: and we assuredly think some such pleasant catastrophe will ere long take place if they do not bestir themselves. We blush for the “Ossory boys;” they were wont to be good stuff, but at their last sessions only six conservatives were registered. We did better at Maryborough. The radicals seem to derive fresh confidence from our increasing apathy. As for Kildare—we really see not the most distant chance of success, under existing circumstances, in that county. The gentry, we admit are not inactive; but of what avail is their activity, they have not the material of a conservative constituency. They run about hunting for a Protestant for whom they may serve notice, and they can hardly find one among their Catholic tenantry! They look for a harvest where they have never sown; yet in the ingratitude of their present dependents they reap the reward of their former fatuity. Where now are the Protestant yeomen that once inhabited the districts about Ballitore, Kilcullen, and many other parts of Kildare? Ask this question amid the back settlements of British America, and the some of those injured men will answer, that the cruel neglect of landlords, superadded to the persecution of malicious neighbours, compelled their fathers to seek an asylum in the inhospitable wilds of our colonies, where they have since lard their bones. But let bygone be bygone; let the heritors make reparation for past misconduct by replacing the poor protestants who still remain, in the holdings of their ancestors; and having done this, and thus procured the material, let them proceed to the registry court and from that to the hustings, where triumph must reward such and only such exertions. In the rejection of Mr. Ponsonby, one ball has already been struck from the coronet of the Leinsters, let the representative of that noble house by cooperating with the Conservatives prevent the reoccurrence of defeat, which proved the influence of His Grace on the very territory of the Geraldines to be inferior to that of a landless stranger.  


Leinster Express, Saturday 24 December 1836  

State of the Registries— County of Kildare

We trust the Conservatives of Kildare will make some active preparations, previous to the approaching Sessions—that county is in a deplorable state, but nil desperandum ; there is no difficulty which industry cannot overcome; and we may say with confidence that the gentry of Kildare are not deficient in spirit. The number of notices served from the Protestant colony of Kilmeague, founded by Mr. Preston, bear triumphant testimony to the zeal of that gentleman, and the peculiar advantages of a bold and loyal peasantry. Let the head of the Geraldines too remember that his order is now menaced with extinction, and that if he would retain the ducal star upon his breast he must endeavour to strengthen the friends of the upper Chamber in the House of Commons. His interest and influence have been successfully combated by a stranger, who defeated on his own territory the descendant of that Gerald Earl of Kildare, whom when accused before the Eight Henry in 1495, it was declared, “all Ireland could not govern.” “This Earl shall therefore govern all Ireland ” was the haughty Monarch's reply. The Leinster family might then have “stood against the world— now none so poor to do them reverence.”