The Boycott Medal - Available for Sale €1000

Posted by Valerie L on

Available for Sale €1000


This very rare medal was issued in 1880, and presented in 1880-81, to the 25 participants on the Boycott trek. The only other one that remains in Ireland is in a Museum, it is not engraved, and no pictures of that one seems to be available online. When we purchased this recently, we needed to assure the seller, that we would not melt it for the Silver or otherwise dispose of it other than to a collector, as it held a strong family connection, where it has been since it was awarded. 

That is 140 or so years of safekeeping.

Only 25 of these were known to have been presented. This medal is considered to be extremely rare.

.925 Silver (Sterling) 22.5g. 1-1/2 “ Diameter, not cleaned, only a few marks on the surfaces, due to handling. We would doubt if this Medal has ever been worn or displayed.

 

The word "boycott" entered the English language during the Irish Land War, derived from Charles Boycott’s name. Captain Charles Boycott was an Englishman who was the land agent for Lord Erne, an absentee landlord. Charles Boycott and family settled in the Ballinrobe area, Country Mayo in 1873, managing thirty-eight tenant farmers on Lord Erne’s nearly 1500-acre estates near Lough Mask and Castlebar.

The Irish National Land League was formed in 21 October 1879 and aimed to reduce rents and stop evictions. The League led agitation in the Land War and was very active in the Lough Mask Area. On 19 September 1880, Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the Land League, gave a speech. Instead of resorting to violence, he encouraged the locals to shun landlords and tenants who take over a farm from which another tenant was evicted. Thus the League’s weapon of social ostracism was born. This tactic would be first used against Charles Boycott.

Due to bad harvests in 1879, famine once again struck Ireland. In September 1880, Lord Erne offered a 10% reduction in rents to his tenants, but they protested, all except two tenants insisting on a 25% reduction. Lord Erne refused, and Boycott obtained eviction notices for eleven tenants who failed to pay their rent. Three days after Parnell’s speech, the local process server, David Sears, escorted by seventeen constabularies, started serving the eviction notices. He succeeded in serving three, but was unable to continue as the group was harassed by the locals who threw mud and manure at them.

The tenants also appealed to Lord Erne to dismiss Boycott and replace him with another agent, but this was also refused. Boycott was now a marked man. Led by Father John O'Malley, the parish priest at the Neale (where Lord Erne's estates were located) and a local leader, a large group of people arrived on the Boycott farm and "advised" all of Boycott's servants and farm workers to leave and not return. His workers stopped work in the fields and stables, as well as in his house. Father O'Malley is credited with coining the current usage of the word "boycott".

By the evening of 23 September, Boycott and his family were alone on the farm. Once the process started, it did not stop. The letter boy refused to deliver the mail. The shopkeepers of Ballinrobe refused to wait on the Boycott family. All of the local Catholic population refused to provide any services.

Boycott was left unable to hire anyone to harvest the crops in his charge. Eventually, a band of Ulstermen, made up of 32 Monaghan Orangemen and 25 Cavan Orangemen, came to Lough Mask on 10 November 1880. Dubbed the "Boycott Relief Expedition", they were largely funded by the Belfast Newsletter who were anticipating a confrontation in the Mayo mountains. Even though the the local Land League leaders had said that there would be no violence from them, the Orangemen were escorted to and from Claremorris by one thousand policemen and soldiers. They formed an encampment on Boycott’s grounds to protect the volunteers and Boycott and his family.

The Orangemen departed Mayo on the 28th November 1880. True to the Land League’s words, no violence happened. Their protection had cost approximately 27 times more than what the harvest was worth. Boycott and his family also had to leave their home, but a moral victory against the land league was claimed.

In February 1881, silver commemorative medals were awarded by Lord Rossmore to members of the "Boycott Relief Expedition". John Mullen, who this medal was awarded to, was part of the 25 Cavan Orangemen who was in the Boycott Relief Expedition.

 

References

1. Blanck, Maggie Land. 2010. Captain Boycott. Retrieved from: http://www.maggieblanck.com/Mayopages/Boycott.html

2. Dougan, Quincey. 2015. The relief of ‘Boycott’. Retrieved from: http://quincey.info/?p=1180


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