Document of the Day: A letter from Thomas O’Kane to Honoria Raymond (1832)

Susan Durack, Special Collections and Archives



Letter from Thomas O Kane to Honoria M. Raymond, 20th August 1832

A letter dated 1832 from Thomas O Kane, land agent, to Miss Honoria M. Raymond of 35 Lower Gloucester Street, Dublin.

The letter is an update of the land agent’s activities on behalf of the Raymond family to Honoria (1)  who is representing her mother’s interest as landlord. The letter has a Listowel postmark.

It is a personal letter. Its tone is one of respect for and duty to the family but also there appears to be a bond of trust and friendship.  The letter serves as an interim report to allay any anxieties that the Honoria’s mother might have felt in relation to land and income.

Thomas O Kane mentions his intent to meet the superior monk at Iveragh, County Kerry.

Thomas O’Kane outlines his intention to meet with the “superior monk” at Iveragh in County Kerry and gives a description of the “Barren Mountain” as “a place between three and four thousand acres in our tract of Barren mountain in Iveragh that has always been a commonage to the tenants for their young stock of sheep and goats without being charged any rent.    Some extra value had been put on their farms in consequence of the advantage of the commonage”.  He states that great part of the land of the mountain is not worth more than about three pounds per acre.  He advises that it would be desirable to offer the monks every encouragement to reclaim as much land as possible. However, he fears that the monks will not take it a lease of 99 years unless they get some of the arable land attached.

He notes that part of the problem is that all the farms are still “overshadowed with tenants” even though they have in the last few years “got rid of about 30 families”.   He outlines the improvement to the property that he and Honoria’s “poor bother” had carried out in the past. They made roads for the conveyancing of manure to reclaim parts of the mountain land. Her brother had improved things so that poor tenants of small holdings with no capital had a “good house and a coarse lot of ground and horses to draw manure, at a trifling rent”.  O’Kane is keen to reassure Honoria’s mother at every turn and says he has taken the opportunity to let her know that the mountain could be totally reclaimed in 20 or 30 years and the value calculated at about £100 per year added to the property.   He provides update one the Clonmahon and Dirrha farms and asks Honoria to reassure her mother that he has the farm at Dirrha almost sorted and asked that she let  M.Simpson know that “I will sort out the leases in a few days in order to prepare the ejectments”.

Thomas O’Kane makes reference to the Harrigan chalice, donated by Honoria to St. Saviour’s Church, Limerick, 1810


We get a picture of some of the responsibilities of land agents – collecting rents which were usually collected twice a year on appointed gale days in May and November and often. They kept accounts, drew up leases, supervised estate expenditure, oversaw improvement, carried out evictions and valued property as well as ensuring tenants agreements were adhered to.

O’Kane speaks of M. Harrigan whom he met on his way through Limerick and notes that Harrigan had received the €20 from Honoria’s mother.  He mentions a Dr. Egan “with whom I left the chalice”.

Two intriguing items in the letter reference  “ your poor bother” and “the chalice”.

The chalice referred to the one that dates from 1810  called the Harrigan chalice. This chalice was donated by Honoria M. Raymond to James Harrigan for her son John Bernard and her spiritual comfort,  to St. Saviour’s Church Limerick. Fr Joseph Harrigan, was prior of the Fish Lane Dominican community in 1814. The foundation stone was laid on 27 March 1815, and the church was opened in the following year.

The reference to “poor brother” refers to James Raymond (1786?-1851), postmaster-general, was reputedly a landowner and magistrate in County Limerick, Ireland, who became involved in disturbances there and was forced to abandon his property when his life was threatened. When his lands became dilapidated in his absence, Raymond decided to emigrate. Henry Goulburn organised free passage for the family to New South Wales.  With his wife Aphrasia and nine children he arrived at Sydney in April 1826. He took up the position as coroner at Parramatta. In April 1829 George Panton, the postmaster, died and Raymond was appointed to succeed him at a salary of £400; this was confirmed by Downing Street in September. In 1835 his title was changed to postmaster-general, and his salary had increased to £650 by the time of his death. He died at Darlinghurst on 29 May 1851 aged 65, and was buried at St Peter’s, Cook’s River. His wife Aphrasia predeceased him on 1 September 1848; they had seven daughters and four sons, of whom James and Robert Peel held positions in the post office and William was a landholder at Bathurst.

Thomas O Kane’s seal
  1. Honoria Raymond married Richard Philpot Hall in 1806 (Ireland Diocesan and Prerogative Marriage Licence Bonds indexes 1623-1866,  Diocese of Cork and Ross Record). There is a record of a will in her name in 1847 (Deputy Keeper of Ireland, Index to the Act or Grant Books, and to Original Wills, of the Diocese of Dublin 1272-1858 (26th, 30th and 31st Reports, 1894, 1899). Her alias is noted as Hall and her address is Lower Gloucester Place Dublin



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