Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Let’s Boycott

Posted by Elyse Bruce on February 22, 2010

In 1880, Englishman and former British soldier, Captain Charles C. Boycott was the real estate agent for the Earl of Erne in County Mayo, Ireland.  The earl was one of the absentee landowners who as a group held most of the land in Ireland.

Charles Parnell, an Irish politician, wanted land reform and advocated for a new policy.   Any landlord who would not charge lower rents or any tenant who took over the farm of an evicted tenant would be given the complete cold shoulder by Parnell’s supporters.

Boycott refused to charge lower rents and ejected non-paying tenants.  Parnell’s Irish Land League stepped in, and Boycott and his family found themselves without servants, farmhands, service in stores, or mail delivery.

Thus began the term “let’s boycott him” which means “let’s do to this person as we did to Captain Boycott in 1880.”

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