Even an abbreviated form of this publication's full title intimates at the extent of the information contained within: A List of all the owners of 3,000 Acres and Upwards, worth £3,000 a Year; also, 1,300 Owners of 2,000 Acres and Upwards, in England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales, their Acreage & Income from Land, Culled from the Modern Domesday Book. In this, the fourth edition, published in London in 1883, John Bateman provides details of the great landowners of Great Britain and Ireland extracted from two returns made by Government rate collectors. Bateman's lengthy introduction highlights the usefulness as well as the pitfalls of his publication not least with the information drawn from the returns for Ireland. Based on information garnered by two Government Surveys for the Poor Law - the second of which was known as the 'Amendment' and was conducted in 1876 - the compilers had been instructed to accept these valuations as the true test of value of land. However, as Bateman points out, valuations in Ireland gave the compilers some truly monumental headaches. For example, he the editor points out that true valuations of land were up to 15% lower in Ulster and a staggering 35% in Co. Kerry, that valuations placed in land for the purposes of Poor Law taxation. Even more perturbing was the nature of land tenure in Ireland. Unlike Great Britain, lessees of land for more than 99 years, commonplace in Ireland, were deemed to be 'owners' rather than tenants. This means that many immediate lessors were in fact mere 'middlemen'. As an example of this complication, Bateman points to Sir Compton Domville's estate in Ireland where in no less than eleven instances lessees were recorded as owners of portions of his estate. Limitations of valuations aside, the 533 pages of the Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland holds a certain fascination that sometimes exceeds its usefulness, a point not lost on Bateman. Although Bateman would never have used the phrase voyeurism, he recognised the interest aroused by 'knowing another man's business', especially when those men were the great and good of Great Britain and Ireland. The information provide on owners of land of 3,000 acres worth more that £3,000 a year is useful and in general states the extent and value of land held in each county of Great Britain and Ireland. Biographical information is also provided on the owner and often includes the year of birth, marriage and succession to the head of the family as well as the situation of the family seat. Also included are the public schools and universities attended and gentlemen's clubs enrolled at, from which the editor points out a gentleman's class, politics and religion may be inferred.
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