Coote: Statistical Survey of the Queen's County

Pdf Coote, Sir Charles. Statistical survey of the Queen's County. Dublin: Graisberry and Campbell, 1801.
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Sir Charles Coote's Statistical Survey of the Queen's County was published in 1801 on behalf of the Dublin Society. It is one of a series of statistical surveys of the counties of Ireland just after the turn of the 19th century which examined its agricultural economy and society. County Laois is examined in detail creating a snapshot of its farming development and practises, crops, animals, living conditions, wages, money, religion, society and much more.

Coote was the descendent of namesakes who had fought in the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 and the Cromwellian Wars. The Coote dynasty owned lands in the Irish midlands and held the title of Earls of Mountrath. Coote was part of an Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy who dominated Ireland economically, politically, religiously and culturally. They had replaced the Gaelic Irish and Old English Catholic aristocracy in the 17th century while the majority of the Catholic Irish were reduced to the status of tenants and landless peasants living in wretched poverty and surviving on a diet of potatoes.

At the time of the survey Laois' agricultural economy was experiencing a boom which would last until 1815 during the period of the Napoleonic Wars when prices for farm produce rose. After 1815 the economy would go into a downward spiral not helped by the fact that Dublin was also declining after the Act of Union 1800 merging the Irish Parliament with the House of Commons and meant the rich had migrated to London .

The population of Laois was continually rising due to high birth rates, with large Catholic families dividing up their land generation upon generation, wages were falling due to surplus a population that was also becoming increasingly dependent on the potato for their survival. Absentee landlords spent much of their time and invested their money in Britain and left the management of their estates in the hands of middle men and estate agents. These factors contributed to the catastrophic Great Famine that ravaged the population of Laois in the 1840s.


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