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A certain wealthy farmer, who purchased
the lands from which several comfortable families were ejected, was visited
at night by a party of men disguised as blacks, who, after extorting a
promise from him to resign his lately rented farm, began to administer
to him a severe currying with a wool-card. Writhing under the severe infliction,
the tortured man asked, "Oh! who is this whose hand I feel tearing
the very flesh off my back?" To which several voices answered,
"It is Terry Alt" the pilgrim beggar, that is administering
this combing to you, old fellow!" Afterwards "Terryalt"
was threatened on any person guilty of oppression of the people, and finally
the Whiteboys adopted the name.
EVIDENCE BEFORE COMMISSION IN 1844
Some were of opinion that they originated in the religious controversy between the Parish Priest and a gentleman setting up a different system which the Priest did not approve of; and from appeals from the altar and other means, it began to give rise to outrages.
Asked if the system was ever made use of in avenging agrarian wrongs, he said he rather thought it was, and when persons once got into that combination, they wanted revenge for things that happened twenty years before. He thought the law crushed the Terry Alts completely, but he recollected that the parties who first set on foot the outrages, commenced by endeavouring to get more con-acre, and by intimidating they succeeded. There was not much more con-acre now than there was then.
In the year following the suppression
of the Terry Alts there was a considerable amount of land given out, there
was not a great deal of it since."