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Irish origin of the term 'to boycott'

By rareAdmin, Wednesday, 13th January 2021 | 0 comments
Filed under: Misc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Irish origin of the term 'to boycott'.

Charles Boycott (1832 - 1897) was an English land agent whose ostracism by his local community in Co. Mayo gave the English language the term "to boycott".

Charles had served in the British Army which brought him to Ireland. After retiring from the army, Boycott worked as a land agent collecting rents from tenant farmers on behalf of Lord Erne, a major landowner in Co. Mayo.

When famine hit again in 1879-1880, Boycott was uncompromising and set about evicting eleven tenants for failure to pay rent. As part of the campaign for the Three Fs, (fair rent, fixity of tenure, and free sale) and specifically in resistance to proposed evictions, the Irish Land League advocated that people in the area not attack Boycott, but rather use a new tactic - refuse to do business with him at all.

The “boycott” was substantially instigated by Charles Stuart Parnell who on September 19th 1880, a few days prior to the (non) action against Boycott had suggested in a speech that rogue landlords should be shunned:

“Shun him in the streets of the town, you must shun him in the shop, you must shun him in the fairgreen and in the marketplace, and even in the place of worship, by leaving him alone, by putting him in a moral Coventry, by isolating him from the rest of his country as if he were the leper of old, you must show your detestation of the crime he has committed”.

This new form of protest was effective, there was a withdrawal of local labour required to harvest the crops on Lord Erne's estate that began a campaign of isolation against Boycott in the local community. This campaign included the refusal of shops in nearby Ballinrobe to serve him, and the withdrawal of laundry services. According to Boycott, the boy who carried his mail was threatened with violence if he continued.

The boycott garnered international attention when the Captain wrote a letter of complaint to the London Times about his situation. Boycott left Ireland a few months later. By the end of 1880, newspapers in Britain began using the word "Boycott" the way we know it today, not as a person's proper name, but as a tactic of protest. Boycott died in England in 1897.

Attached: Photo of Charles Boycott