Gladstone and Ireland

Justin McCarthy
Chapter XII | Start of Chapter

The greatest English statesman then living gave his whole mind to the subject, and became a convert to the principle of Home Rule for Ireland. This statesman was William Ewart Gladstone. Gladstone had before this become convinced of the necessity for making some change in the land tenure system of Ireland, and for the abolition of the Irish State Church. When at the head of the Government in 1868 he set himself to accomplish these objects. During that Administration he disestablished and disendowed the Irish State Church, and carried a measure recognising the right of the Irish tenant to compensation for improvements effected by him in the soil which he had cultivated if he were to be deprived of his farm. This measure, although imperfect as a complete settlement of the land question, was the first step in the legislation attempted since by Conservative and Liberal Governments for securing to the Irish tenant a fair chance of making a living by his industry.