Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act 1885
The Purchase of Land Act 1885 (48 & 49 Vict. c.73), commonly known as the Ashbourne Act is an Act
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...

 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

, passed by a Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 government under Lord Salisbury. It extended the terms that had been achieved under the Kilmainham Treaty
Kilmainham Treaty
The Kilmainham Treaty was an agreement reached in May 1882 between the United Kingdom Government under William Ewart Gladstone and the Irish nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell...

. It set up a £5 million fund and any tenant who wanted to buy land could do so. One could take a loan from the government and would pay it back in monthly installments.

The Act was effected by, and informally named for, Edward Gibson, 1st Baron Ashbourne
Edward Gibson, 1st Baron Ashbourne
Edward Gibson, 1st Baron Ashbourne PC, QC was an Irish lawyer and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.-Background and education:...

, the then Lord Chancellor of Ireland
Lord Chancellor of Ireland
The office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland was the highest judicial office in Ireland until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. From 1721 to 1801 it was also the highest political office of the Irish Parliament.-13th century:...


The loans would be paid back over 48 years and the rate of interest would be fixed at 4% per annum. This made the loan repayments affordable, and more people could benefit from the Act as they would now be able to buy their own land. It strengthened the original Irish Land Acts
Irish Land Acts
The Land Acts were a series of measures to deal with the question of peasant proprietorship of land in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Five such acts were introduced by the government of the United Kingdom between 1870 and 1909...

 as they had enabled tenants to buy land in restricted circumstances. The Ashbourne Act formally gave this right to the tenants and funded the Land Commission

It has often been argued that the Act was not passed out of any genuine desire to help Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 but was passed in order to win the support of Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell
Charles Stewart Parnell was an Irish landowner, nationalist political leader, land reform agitator, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party...

. Salisbury knew that his government would not last long as the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 had an overall majority. Salisbury realised that he would need Irish Party support to maintain power. Therefore the Ashbourne act was a way to win over Parnell while keeping William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 on the backbenches. This failed, as Gladstone came into government soon after and introduced the Government of Ireland Bill 1886; which however also failed.

The Ashbourne Act was extended in 1889. It increased the government grants for loans by a further £5 million and became law in August 1891.
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