The Keep Military MuseumWWII - Home Front

The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset

Contact Us

You are here: Home > History > Empire & New Worlds > Captain Charles Boycott

Printer Friendly Version

Captain Charles Boycott

Captain Charles Boycott - click for enlargementCaptain Charles Boycott's surname has become a word in common use in the English language. This is in part due to his strong sense of duty to his employer, but also in part due to a lack of sympathy for his impoverished tenants.

Charles Boycott was born in Norfolk in 1832. He joined the 39th Regiment of Foot (later the Dorset's) as an Ensign in 1850, and served for a short time with the Regiment in Ireland.

In 1872 he became a Land Agent for the Earl of Erne in County Mayo, as well as farming his own land. Times were tough for tenant farmers, but when they came to Boycott for a reduction in their rents he not only refused, but started eviction proceedings.

In 1880 the tenants retaliated and withdrew all labour and services from Captain Boycott and his family. He found himself without servants, workers, stores or mail. Therefore he was 'Boycotted'. Effectively he was starved out, and soon left Ireland for England. The Irish had invented a new word 'to boycott' meaning 'to ostracize'.