Welcome to Oracleireland.com



Captain Charles Boycott.

Famous Irish People.

Go to famous Irish People

Captain Charles Boycott.
(March 12, 1832—June 19, 1897

Charles Cunningham Boycott was born in Norfolk, England on 12th March 1832, in 1850 joined the 39th Regiment of Foot (later the Dorset's) as an Ensign, and served for a short time with the Regiment in Ireland. After this period in the army he came to Ireland to work as a land agent for The 3rd Earl of Erne (John Crichton,), the local landowner in the Lough Mask area of County Mayo

Captain Boycott's name entered the English language as a word meaning to ostracize, it was first coined by The Times newspaper (London) in November 1880. Boycott was land agent for absentee landlord Lord Erne in County Mayo, he lived at Loughmask House on the eastern shore of Lough Mask.

In September 1880 tenants on the estate demanded a rent reduction, Boycott refused their demands and preceded to evict them from their property. Previously on 21st October 1879, in The Imperial Hotel, Castlebar, County Mayo The Land League had been founded, Charles Stewart Parnell was elected president, A. J. Kettle, Michael Davitt, and Thomas Brennan were appointed as honorary secretaries.

In a speech delivered in Ennis, County Clare, Charles Stewart Parnell advocated a non violent approach to the problem encouraging everyone to refuse to have any dealings with Boycott. This action was eminently successful, all Boycott's workers both on the land and in the house refused to do any work, local businesses refused to supply him and his post was not delivered.

All this coincided with the harvest, Boycott was unable to find anyone to harvest the crops, eventually some fifty Orangemen from Cavan and Monaghan volunteered. They had to be escorted to the estate by about one thousand police and soldiers. This is said to have cost the government £10,000, while the valve of the potato crop harvested was put, according to Boycott's estimate £350.

The story quickly spread across the country and to England, the word Boycott was first used in the Times newspaper on 20th November 1880 as a term of organized isolation, “The people of New Pallas have resolved to 'boycott' them and refused to supply them with food or drink.”. Michael Davitt's in his book “The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland” attributes the adoption of the word to Fr. John O'Malley from County Mayo to "signify ostracism applied to a landlord or agent like Boycott". Other papers soon followed The Time's example, The Daily News reported on December 13, 1880: “Already the stoutest hearted are yielding on every side to the dread of being 'Boycotted'.”

After the harvest the "Boycott" was successfully continued on December 1, 1880 Captain Boycott together with his family left Ireland for England. The Boycott's story was portrayed in the 1947 film Captain Boycott.

Go to famous Irish People home page.