George Harvey was the owner of Malin Hall, an eighteenth century residence overlooking Trabrega Bay in Inishowen. Annsley Malley believed the house had the same architect as Prehen House in Derry which dates from the same period. As a resident landlord, he managed an estate of around 10,000 acres. He had an interest in trees and his records show large plantations around the house which were established in the late 1770s. The trees can still be seen today and the house is now the property of Michael Connolly who acquired it in the 1970s. Michael was a successful builder in London and he told me that at his peak he built 1,000 houses a year in Luton.
George Harvey’s rent and account book is in the National Library, Dublin. (Mss.7885). He paid rather high wages to James Smyth in the 1770s when hiring was mainly on a day or weekly basis. In 1798 he paid one servant £4.11.0 for six months work and others received half that amount for a three month period. His servants were recruited locally because the hiring fair had not then made an appearance. The rates are quite high and were similar to wages paid in the 1850s in Donegal.
It was interesting to see his records of animals grazing on the commonage lands. Tenants could graze cattle here free of charge. Commonages were enclosed in the mid-1800s. He kept a record of the names of those with cattle and the number of cattle per owner and some of the names are as follows: Dunlop, Victor Gallarvey, Mr. Nimes amnd Robert Smart.
He also collected rents in Ardmalin in 1799 and recorded these. The following paid £6.18.9 each for six months: Philip Magwire, James Houten and Patrick McLaughlin. The following paid £4.12.6 for six month at Ardmalin: Shane Doherty, Philip Houten, Manus McGonigall, Owen Long, Nogher Doherty, Charles Kearney and Cormack Loag. These rents could be described as short six-month leases.
He sold large quantities of barley to Ros Campbell, John Thompson, John Mitchell, Isaac Mackey, John Platt, Rev. McDaid, Cahir O’Doherty and Philip Dougherty. The names listed are of interest from a genealogical point of view in the Malin area as many of the names still survive.
He grew large quantities of potatoes and sold them by the barrel for three shillings. He lists the names of 19 buyers of barley in 1799: William Elder, Robert Campbell, John Thompson, William Russell, Moses Mitchell, Peter Floyd, William Reid and John Tinsley among others. The Harveys did not distinguish themselves as farmers, unlike the Youngs of Culdaff who drew favourable comments from Arthur Young (no relation) when he visited Donegal. The quantities of barley and potatoes sold indicate that George Harvey was an extensive farmer. Inishowen stood to benefit when landlords were resident as they supported local projects and headed relief committees during the Great Famine. In many cases, their farms were model farms where they experimented with new farming systems. For example, Norton Butler of Grousehall, Gleneely was the first man to drill land for potatoes in 1800 when the usual system of planting was in ridges.
For a few years before the family sold Malin Hall, it was used for Bed and Breakfast accommodation but this never took off. Older residents in the peninsula have described the dances they attended in Malin Hall in the 1960s. There is also a lonely and secluded graveyard on the estate, and many of the gravestones record the deaths of young children and their mothers. Infant mortality was high even in estate houses.