In 1835 the Government established a Royal Commission whose brief was ” to inquire into the condition of the poorer classes of our subjects in Ireland and into the various institutions at present established by law for their relief; and also, whether any, and what further measures appear to be requisite to ameliorate the condition of the Irish poor, or any portion of them.”
The reports which were published as a result of the Commission’s investigations give a most detailed account of social conditions in the country in the 1830’s. One of the topics which the Commission had to look at was agriculture and the conditions of the agricultural workers. The assistant commissioner who had responsibility for this part of the inquiry was Jonathan Binns. He paid two visits to Ireland, and in the course of these he travelled through nearly every county in the country.
His decision to write an account of his travels was motivated, he says, by ” a desire to promote, on the part of the inhabitants of this country (England) a more familiar acquaintance with the real situation and dispositions of the Irish people, and to encourage a more practical sympathy for their sufferings.”
The work was published in 1837, in two volumes, and its title was ” The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland.”
From The Storeys of Old. Mr. Jonathan Binns was a native of Liverpool, and then later Lancaster. His mother was one, Mary Albright of Lancaster. He was a skilled agriculturist and became Secretary of the Lancaster Agricultural Society in 1812, succeeding the Rev. James Stainbank, Rector of Halton and Vicar of Kellet.
Mr. Binns was the first person to have gas introduced into his house at Lancaster. His office was on Castle Hill, and his residence was in West Place. In 1824 he published a map of Lancaster made from his own survey; this map represents the character of Lancaster in 1821, and has all the old paddocks and wells marked upon it. In 1837 be published his book, ” The Miseries and Beauties of Ireland.” He was one of the original members of the Lancaster Literary, Scientific and Historic Society. He was an Assistant Commissioner engaged in an Agricultural Inquiry in Ireland. Mr. Binns married Rachel, daughter of William Streknay, a member of a well-known Yorkshire Quaker family. The marriage took place at the Friends’ Meeting House, Oustwick, near Hull. Mr. Binns died at Edenbreck, Lancaster, on the 10th March, 1871, aged 85 years. It may be added that Mr. Binns was appointed High Constable of Lonsdale South of the Sands on the 23rd April, 1842. The Storeys of Old. There is no listed author, and the book is not dated but the forward is dated 1st March 1911 Carlisle, Cumberland, .
He’s also a great, great, great, great grandfather.