Queen Victoria doubles Famine aid gift


January 25th, 1847: A Limerick man gets Queen Victoria to double her contribution to Famine aid. She first subscribed £1,000. But Stephen Spring Rice, secretary of the British Relief Association, tells the government it is not enough. "It was increased to £2,000." Baron Lionel de Rothschild, the Jewish banker, gives £1,000.

While mortality is rising in the workhouses, the organisation of Castlebar Poor Law union has broken down. Lord Lucan, chairman of Castlebar board of guardians, writes from Hanover Square, London, regretting that the paupers are without food and fuel. Contracts hadn't been signed because of the union's insolvency.

His lordship, who owns 61,000 acres of Co Mayo with a rent roll approaching £100,000, wants the government to bail out the union. No wonder the British middle class is growing tired off Irish landlords.

Lucan's agent delivers turf and meal sporadically to the poorhouse, but no bread, which those with dysentery need. As a result deaths from dysentery are increasing.

The gentlemen who comprise the board of guardians fail to strike a poor rate to maintain the paupers. Assistant Commissioner Otway recommends dismissing them, particularly after an inmate's body lay for two days in the workhouse because there was no money for a coffin.

The board talks of getting up - a subscription but defers any - action Finally, the medical officer (Dr Ronayne) and the clerk and master of Castlebar poorhouse pay for it out of their own pockets.

It should be recorded, too, that the chairman of Ballina board of guardians is advancing £120 a week to keep that workhouse open. Edward Howley remains determined to make every sacrifice rather than allow the poor to be turned out and left to die; still it is impossible for one private individual to support 1,300.

The Cork Constitution reports that even respectable farmers, holding 30 acres or more, "are obliged to consume in their families and in their stables the corn which in former years procured clothes and other comforts for them".

Capt Edmond Wynne, the idiosyncratic inspector employed by the Board of Works in Clare at £1 a day, says the relief committees are composed of "half gentry, bankrupts in fortune and in character". They "refuse no applicant and throw the entire odium on me".

Capt Wynne dismisses about 10,000 workers on public relief who he considers are not really destitute, ignoring a death threat from `Captain Starlight'.

Crowds of country people attack bread carts in Dublin, "devouring the bread with evident voracity".

The Quakers open their model soup kitchen in Upper Ormond Quay.

Russell presents to the House of Commons proposals to substitute soup kitchens for public works in Ireland.