was a corn
merchant like his father, with warehouses in Cork, Limerick and Tralee.
With a rising population England has been dependent
on imported grain since the middle of the eighteenth century. The
Corn Laws imposed heavy duty on foreign grain. Since the Act of Union of
1800 Ireland had been regarded as part of England and grain imports free
of duty. By 1832-4 the Irish grain harvest exceeded that of England. A
port like Tralee in Co.Kerry was exporting upwards of 10,000 tons
annually. The Kerry Evening Post of June 1834 reported "It is
interesting to view the great number of corn stores now in Tralee, full
every year of grain for exportation and to think back to the time thirty
years ago when not a single corn store was to be seen in the town. In
comparison to today Tralee was a miserable hamlet with little in the way
of maritime trade, and the poor farmer had no other mode of making up
his rent than by the produce of his half-starved cow and the labour of
his wife." By 1852 there were 41 corn stores in Tralee. Thomas
owned three of them.
Thomas continued to export corn throughout the famine
years. According to a
newspaper report headed "Limerick Intelligence" and dated July 1846,
1,663 barrels of oats were dispatched by Thomas from Limerick to London and 250
qrs.of oats & 20 tons of oatmeal from Galway to London. It is not yet
established whether his depots were being guarded by British soldiers against
looting by the starving masses as was
common elsewhere. The british government with an almost religious
devotion to the policy of "Laissez faire" were reluctant to
take any action to restrict the export of corn.
In 1874 Thomas held 2800 shares in the Baltic company (trading in
corn). "These (the
shareholders) were the people who were reaping the rewards of the
Baltic." writes Hugh Barty-King.
In 1871 there are references to his ownership of 340 acres at
At his death Thomas owned 2,600 acres in Co.Kerry; 616 acres in Co.Cork;
842 acres in Co.Clare and 130 acres in Essex. This land was estimated to
yield a gross income of £5,408 annually (£285,000 in today's
money). Source: Great
Landowners of England and Ireland. 1883.
A family pedigree lodged with the college of arms starts with Thomas and can be found in Burke's Landed Gentry
(18th edition, volume 3, 1972).
A memorial can be found in St Finn Barr's Cathederal, Cork.