Lansgstaffs in Ireland

The Years 1800 to 1829.

    With the rebellion over, the English Prime Minister, William Pitt the younger, realized that
Ireland was such an intractable question that only a fundamentally different approach would 
solve the problem.  His proposal, first rejected by the Irish parliament in 1799, was the Act of
Union.  It was passed in the summer of 1800 and with it Pitt united Great Britain and Ireland 
into an effective free-trade zone.  Now the Protestants were a majority in the union instead of
a minority in Ireland.  As well Pitt hoped that the influx of capital would raise the Irish living 
standard and quell the fears associated with Catholic emancipation.  

    Parliament had given Catholics the vote in 1793, though they still could not be members of
Parliament or hold offices of state.  Nothing came about from this act until in 1828 a barrister 
from County Clare, named Daniel O'Connell stood for Parliament in the local by election.
While he could not sit in Parliament nothing stopped him from running.  The result was entirely
predictable, a landslide victory.  The government, seeing the writing on the wall, capitulated and
in 1829 passed the Catholic Emancipation Act removing all remaining impediments from Catholic

    If you were a minority Protestant in Wexford now that the Catholic majority had an upper 
hand in Parliament, what would you do?  If given a chance would you emigrate to the "promised

During these years, the population of Ireland was just beginning to surge. The majority of the population lived on a small holding of land which was used to supply a cash crop of cereal grain to pay the rent and a second crop of potatoes to feed the peasant's own family. The poorest of peasants did not have a holding large enough to be truly considered a farm, but worked as a day labourer in exchange for a "tiny" plot of land on which to grow his potatoes1. A sketch of what one of their homes might have looked like is shown in the skectch below and it can be compared to the home shown in the drawing "Plunder of the Bishop of Ferns Home" in the last section. Any problem with the potato crop would spell disaster to most Irishmen. In 1817 and 1821 crop failures did occur, harbingers of the great famine of 1845-92. These disasters resulted in thousands of deaths and great suffering among the poor. Eye witness accounts of this time tell of whole families dying of starvation, huddled in rags on cold earthen floors of squalid primitive buildings, too weak to bury their dead. 1 The potato, along with milk or buttermilk, was not a poor diet as might be supposed. If one had a sufficient supply, one would remain in relatively good health. In Canada, statistics show our ancestors were still growing and consuming vast quantities of potatoes. In 1851 John and William grew 20 bushels and that rose to 100 bushels in 1871 by William's son John. 2 These failures were not due to the fungus that decimated the crops in the "Great Famine Years", but was caused by a disease known as curl or dry rot. From Carol Bennett's book, Peter Robinson's Settlers, 1987. An early Irish cabin, circa 1770, from a sketch by Arthur Young in his Treatise "A Tour In Ireland". As well the Act of Union had created a free trade zone between England and Ireland and the result was that Ireland became a source of raw material and its limited manufacturing facilities declined. The final defeat of Napoleon in 1815 made matters worse as it reduced the nations requirements for all manner of goods. In today's terms a major recession was in progress and nonagricultural jobs declined drastically just as the population was surging. This was especially true of the linen trade which traditionally employed many spinners, weavers and flax growers. A list of possible emigrants from Wexford, compiled in 1817, by a merchant named Joseph Elly, who had business dealings in Elizabethtown (Brockville) includes a James Longstaff who has probably a wife and five children. While he never appears in Canada it is just possible that William and John are his sons. The name James was given to one son in both William and John's family. At this point, knowing that William and Elizabeth did emigrate in 1825 and John actually did emigrate in 1831, we have, the following reasons why William, John and Andrew for sure did tackle the long voyage to face an uncertain future in Upper Canada: 1) to remove themselves from the violence that had occurred on both sides during the Rebellion of 1798 and would in all likelihood repeat itself in the future, in fact large scale unemployment in neigbouring County Cork had already caused a reoccurrence of "white boy" violence in 1821-22;
       2) to be free of a government controlled by one religious majority that in the future would in all 
           probability be Roman Catholic (our Langstaffs all attended the Church of England as the Lamb's 
           Pond (Elizabeth Twp.) records show);
       3) to make it possible for all future members of the families to acquire property of their own on which
           to raise their families and hopefully entertain a higher standard of living (the small log homes they
           would inhabit for the next generation must be seen a step up from the crofter's cottages they left 
      4) to remove the fear of starvation when another potato crop failed. as it surely would;
      5) lastly they responded to the Government's new policy of encouraging emigration to Upper Canada
          for military reasons as well as to reduce Ireland's population.
    What of the existence of other Langstaff's in Ireland at this time?  The oldest found was that of Daniel
Langstaff from the Parish of Nougheval in County Westmeath who received the government entitlement
for growing flax for the linen trade in 1796.  Is he possibly related to the Quaker Daniel,  who on the 
18 November 1683 was imprisoned four days and nights in Leeds prison and later in York Castle for 
attending Quaker meetings, as they were certainly in contact with other people from Ireland.
There also was of course the family of seven headed by James Langstaff who in 1817 signed a list of potential emigrants from Counties Wexford and Carlow for the following spring. These people were being recruited by one Joseph Elly of Ross in County Wexford for settlement in the Brockville area. The list totals 4087 Protestant and 1475 Roman Catholic individuals if all the family members were included willing to leave. Living conditions must have been poor for such large numbers to be willing to face the hardships of such an undertaking. There was only one Warren family listed, but several Tackaberrys and several Percivals and Davis' who we know later were friends and neighbours of William and John in Elisabethtown and Augusta. The Ackland/Dormday families were completely absent. The Tithe Applotment Books for 1833 for the Parish of Ballycanew still had registered John Langstaff, shown below. Only part of the document was cleaned as it was a very bad film. John was assessed a tithe of 1£ 7s 11 1/2d for his 20 odd acres. In fact 20 acres meant he had quite a large holding. The townland of Brackernagh had only 6 families. The A.R.P columns are land measure, acres( 43,560 sq. ft.), roods (10,890 sq. ft.), purches ( 272.25 sq. ft.) John owned 890,257.5 sq. ft. or 20.4375 acres. Could this John Langstaff possibly be the man who later appears on the 1861 census for Augusta Twp. But we will meet that later. Griffith's Primary Valuation Lists of 1853 show a James Langstaff living in Brackernagh (see below) and renting an extensive holding from a Edward Irvine. In fact James rents a holding of 102 acres,2 roods, 32 purches, so large that his tithe is 60£ 25s for land and 2£ 15s for buildings. He can even sublet one house to Catherine Byrne and a second house and garden to Walter Roche and still have his own farm. But do remember, he does not own the land but is only a rentor. Edward Irvine owns the entire townland as well as the neighbouring townland of Cranacower as well. The listing shows there is a John Hollingsworth recorded in this townland as well. The same surname as Ann Hollingsworth, the wife of William Warren. As well another page lists Ann Hollingsworth both Ann and John seem to have been very prosperous as they rent quite large holdings in other townlands. Is it possible that these Hollingsworths are related to the Ann who married William Warren and to the other Hollingsworths who later settled in Leeds County (see family tree for more details concerning this family). As you can readily see the data relating to Langstaff families in Ireland between 1800-1860 is meagre to to say the least and until local church records are searched all we can do is speculate on our earlier ancestors.