Ireland from the American Revolution to the Union of 1801. Extracts and Notes

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Marx wrote this work in October and November 1869 when preparing for the forthcoming debate on the Irish question in the General Council of the International (see this volume, p. 83). This is also shown by the extracts taken by Marx from the newspaper The Irishman about the movement for the amnesty of the Irish political prisoners and the draft resolution on the amnesty adopted by the General Council on November 30, 1869. At a later date, apparently when looking through Marx’s manuscripts after his death, Engels attached a separate page with an inscription “Hibernica” and the date “1869” to this series of manuscripts. On this basis we may assume that Marx intended to use “Extracts and Notes” as preparatory material for a report on Item 2 of his plan for the forthcoming discussion in the General Council — the attitude of the English working class to the Irish question (see Note 124). Marx’s letter to Engels of December 10, 1869 (see present edition, Vol. 43) shows that he took an interest in developments in Ireland at the close of the eighteenth century because he wanted to examirte the characteristics of England’s policy in Ireland and of the Irish national movement at the time, whose progressive exponents demanded that Ireland be granted the status of an independent republic, a demand which was just as urgent in the nineteenth century. It was particularly important for Marx to show that the cruel treatment of the Irish revolutionaries and the subjugation of Ireland by the English authorities had a detrimental effect on the English people themselves.

Marx’s work consists of two parts: the main investigation and a supplementary summary of comprehensive chronological data. Each of the parts is in the form of a separate manuscript with the author’s pagination. Page 9 of the second manuscript is missing. The first manuscript is a rough draft of the main investigation with evidence of subsequent editing. On several pages the text is written in above lines crossed out by the author or insertions are made on pieces of paper pasted to the manuscript. Marx used the following sources for his “Extracts and Notes”: J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland, from the Treaty of Limerick to the Present Time, vols. I-II, Dublin, 1869; [J. Ph. Curran,] The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran. Edited, with Memoir and Historical Notices, by Thomas Davis, Dublin, 1855; G. Ensor, Anti-Union. Ireland as She Ought to Be, Newry, 1831, and other material such as the journal Political Register, published by the English radical William Cobbett, a number of documentary publications (Grattan’s speeches, etc.) and historical treatises. The work is not a synopsis of these books. Marx selected material according to his own plan, showing how he understood the course of Irish history at the time considered an d its division into periods. This is also clear from the structure of both manuscripts and by the way Marx himself divided them into sections, paragraphs and items. He very often selects facts from various sources o r from various sections of the same source (for example, from Thomas Davis’ “Memoir of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran “ and from his commentary , or “Historical Notices” , to Curran’s speeches) and arranges them in his own way. Th e exposition proves that Marx took a creative approach to the material.

Direct quotations from various sources and Marx’s own renderings of certain passages (also given in small type but without quotation marks) are written in English. His own remarks are written both in English (mostly) and German and are given in normal type. Passages written in German are indicated in the footnotes (separate German words are not indicated). In both manuscripts, there are passages indicated by Marx with vertical lines in the margin (these are reproduced in this volume). Passages enclosed by Marx in square brackets are given in this volume in braces to distinguish them from the editor’s insertions in square brackets. Words doubly underlined by Marx are given in bold type.

The known sources quoted or rendered by Marx are referred to either in footnotes or in the editorial Notes to the relevant passages. Italics in the quotations belong to Marx except where otherwise stated in the footnotes. This work was first published in English in Marx an d Engels, Ireland and the Irish Question, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1978.

I. FROM 1778 TO 1782. INDEPENDENCE[edit source]

A) IRISH PARLIAMENT BEFORE 1782[edit source]

Importance of the question for English working class, and working-class movement generally.

Until 1800 Ireland, although conquered, remained separate and federate kingdom. Title of King up to peace of Amiens [1]“George III, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith etc.”

The English usurpations in regard to the Parliament at Dublin principally calculated with view to mercantile monopoly on the one hand, and, on the other, to have the appelate jurisdiction in regard to the titles of landed estates in the last instance to be decided at London, only in English courts.

Poynings’ Law[2]

A Statute of Henry VII, framed by his Attorney-General, Sir Edward Poynings, restrained the Irish Parliament from originating any law whatever, either in the Lords or Commons. Before any statute could be finally discussed, it was previously submitted to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and his Privy Council[3] for their consideration, who might at their pleasure reject it, or transmit it to England. The British Attorney-General and Privy Council were invested with a power either to suppress it altogether, or model it at their own will, and then return it to Ireland, with permission to the Irish Parliament to pass it into law. Already Molyneux etc. protested against this (17th century). Later, in the 18th century, Swift and Dr. Lucas.[4]

Statute 6, George I[5]

(It declared in fact the legislative supremacy of the British Parliament over Ireland.)

Poynings’ law reduced the Irish House of Commons to a mere instrument of the Privy Council of both nations, and, consequently, of the British Cabinet.

George I, Statute, to neutralise the Irish legislation altogether, and to establish an appellant jurisdiction to the British Lords, whereby every decree and judgment of the Irish superior courts, which would tend to affect or disturb the questionable or bad titles of the British adventurers or absentees[6] to Irish estates or Irish property, might be reversed or rendered abortive in Great Britain by a vote of the Scotch and English nobility.

(This was re-enacted by the Union!)

Many British Peers and Commoners, through whose influence this Statute of George I had been enacted, had themselves been deeply interested in effecting that measure, to secure their own grants of Irish estates. Under the 1st clause of this law England assumed a despotic power “and declared her inherent right to bind Ireland by every Statute in which she should be expressly designated”.

It was the success of that vicious precedent which had encouraged George III and his British Parliament to attempt to legislate for America. Cost them the North-American colonies.[7]

General Character of Irish Parliament

in the 18th Century Until the Upheaving

Protestant Parliament. Only Protestants electors. In fact the Parliament of the Conquerors. A mere instrument, a mere serf in relation to the British Government. Compensated themselves by despotism against the Catholic mass of the Irish people. Penal Code against Catholics[8] rigorously enforced. Only from time to time some efforts of that Parliament to resist the English commercial legislature ruining Irish industry and commerce, then principally carried on by the Protestant, Scotch-English part of the population.

As to the internal composition of this Parliament etc. more will be said by and by.

A new state of things opened with the American War of Independence and the disasters it brought upon England.





American (United States) Declaration of Independence proclaimed by Congress, 4 July I776.[10]

April 1777: Congress proclaims the Constitution (American) of American Republic.[11]

War between England and America.

6 February 1778: Treaties with France, by which independence of American Republic [was] recognised and France promised to support the Americans, until they had got rid of the English.[12]

Great fermentation produced by the American events in Ireland. Many Irish, mainly Presbyterians from Ulster, emigrate to America, enrol under the United States banners and fight against England on the other side of the Atlantic. The Catholics, who for a long time had in vain supplicated for a relaxation of the Penal Code, moved again in 1776, in louder tones.

1778: Irish Parliament relaxed the severity of the Penal Code, its worst features obliterated, Catholics were allowed to take leases of land.

Curran said afterwards (1792, in debate on Catholic Emancipation):

“What was the consequence even of a partial union with your countrymen? The united efforts of the two bodies restored that constitution which had been lost by their separation.[...] Your Catholic brethren shared the danger of the conflict, but you had not justice or gratitude to let them share the fruits of the victory. You suffered them to relapse into their former insignificance and depression. And, let me ask you, has it not fared with you according to your deserts? Let me ask you if the Parliament of Ireland can boast of being now less at the feet of the British Minister, than at that period it was of the British Parliament?”

“But you affect to think your property in danger, by admitting them into the state.[...] Thirteen years ago you expressed the same fears, yet you made the experiment; you opened the door to landed property, and the fact has shown the fear to be without foundation.”[13] Then Protestant Ascendancy.[14] Tithes and property of the Protestant Church in Ireland.

Main opposition to every innovation and useful measure on the part of absentees. Always steady adherents of the Minister for the time being. Their proxies in the Lords, and their influence in the Commons, were transferred to the Minister on a card or in a letter, and on every division in both Houses they formed a phalanx.




On 4 July 1776 the Americans had proclaimed their Declaration of Independence. In the same year the Irish Catholics, as seen, demanded (they had before supplicated for) relaxation of the Penal Code, redress.

In April 1777 Constitution of American Republic proclaimed. In 1778 first redress of the Catholic grievances etc. This enabled the Irish Protestants, till now considered by the English as their gaolers and bailiffs, to move.

To understand the movement from 1779-1782 (Legislative Independence), it becomes necessary briefly to allude to the state in which England found herself.

June 1778 commenced war between England and France.[15]In 1780 France sent not only, as she had done till then, money subsidies and men-of-war to America, but also an auxiliary army. (6,000 men under the Marquis of Rochambeau.) The French army landed on 10 July 1780 in Rhode Island, surrendered to him by the English. September 1780 English colonel Ferguson defeated in the West of North Carolina. 19 October 1781, Cornwallis (General) included by Washington in York Town (Virginia) had to capitulate. (5-6,000 men, many English men-of-war etc. were captured.)

27 July 1778 sea-battle between French and English at Quessant. Undecided.

Summer 1779: King of Spain[16] accedes as ally to United States and France. His navy united with the French one. The hostile fleets assailed the English coast in June, and only the dissension amongst the French and Spanish Admirals saved Plymouth (August 1779) from the destruction of its wharfs and arsenals.

In 1780 England was not defeated on the sea, but lost much in money and mercantile ships.

26 February 1780 Russia invites all neutral maritime powers to Armed Neutrality.[17] England pounces upon Holland. 5 August 1782 naval battle between English and Dutch, at Doggersbank, in the North Sea. Undecided.

On 30 November 1782 at Paris Preliminary Peace Treaty between United States and England.

* * *

1779. Great part of English army and navy consisted of Irishmen. In 1779 Ireland was left ungarrisoned, an invasion of Ireland by France threatened, English coast (Plymouth) menaced by united French and Spanish navy. Under these circumstances the Volunteers—the armed Protestantism of Ireland[18]—arose, partly for defence from the foreigner, partly for self-vindication. In less time than could have been supposed, from the commencement of these armed associations, the whole surface of the island was covered with a self-raised host of patriot soldiers.

* * *

At this place, it will be interesting to anticipate the whole of the history of this Volunteer force, because, in fact, it is the history of Ireland to the moment when, since 1795, on the one hand, the general popular, national and constitutional movement, represented by them, stripped off its merely national character and merged into a truly revolutionary movement, and, on the other hand, the British Government changed secret intrigue for brutal force intended to bring about, and succeeding in bringing about, the Union of 1800, i. e. the annihilation of Ireland as a nation, and its transformation into an out of the way country district of England.

There are 4 periods of the Volunteer movement.

I Period. From 1779 to 1783: In its first formation the Volunteers, the armed Protestantism of Ireland, embrace all vital elements of all classes, noblemen, gentlemen, merchants, farmers, labourers. Their first object, emancipation from the commercial and industrial fetters which the mere mercantile jealousy of England had thrown around them. Then National Independence. Then Reform of Parliament and Catholic Emancipation as one of the conditions of National Resurrection! Their official organisation and the disasters of England give them new strength, but lay also the germ of their ruin, subordinating them to a weak, bigot, aristocratic Whig, the Earl of Charlemont. The first victories (commercial ones) of the Irish Commons they justly claim as their own victory. The votes of thanks by the Irish Commons exalt them. Catholic bodies enroll in them. The apogee of their power in 1783, when their delegates assembled in Dublin Rotunda, as Convention for Parliamentary Reform. The treason of their chief and the disavowal of them by the Irish House of Commons breaks their force and pushes them into the background.

II Period. From 1783 to 1791 (October).

Still important as pressure from without upon Irish Parliament, especially House of Commons, and as armed and popular support of the national and reforming Opposition (minority) of the House of Commons. The aristocratic element and reactionary part of the middle-class withdrew, the popular element prevailing.

The French Revolution (1789) finds both Catholic Committee

(principally composed of Catholic noblemen) and Whig Club[19]


feeble and dispirited.[20]

There was a steady decline of the Volunteer organisation, and of the strength of the Liberal Party until 1790.

A different race of men from Whig Club orators or Catholic Lords now began to act on the public.

In Dublin, John Keogh, a strong, rough-souled, sagacious merchant, and men of his stamp, sent the Catholic nobles flying in slavish dread.

And in Belfast, Neilson, Russell, McCracken etc., headed a Protestant Party, which advocated Reform, but began soon to think of Republicanism. The government rendered fearful by the Regency dispute,[21] and desperate by the French Revolution, began to push corruption and the principles of the Union[22] harder than ever.

Theobald Wolfe Tone, the son of a man, half coachmaker and half farmer, a poor and briefless barrister, with a wife and a pack of children, resolved to redress the wrongs of the Catholics, restore representation in the Commons, and with these, or failing in them, to make his country an independent republic. Now he wrote a pamphlet in favour of the Catholic emancipation, called: “An Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland, by a Northern Whig, “ and received every mark of gratitude from his new clients.

In October, 1791, in Belfast he founded the first United Irish Society.

From this moment, the movement of the Volunteers merges into that of the United Irishmen. The Catholic question became that of the Irish people. The question was no longer to remove disabilities from the Catholic upper and middle classes, but to emancipate the Irish peasant, for the vast part Catholic. The question became social as to its matter, assumed French political principles as to its form, remained national.

III Period. From 1791 (October) to 1795 (after recall of Lord Fitzwilliam).

The movement of the Volunteers merged into that of the United Irishmen.

Public until 1794, when forced by the government measures to become secret. The United Irishmen increased in numbers, the Catholics in confidence, and the Volunteer Corps began to restore their array, and improve their discipline.

Acme of their action:

15 February 1793: A Volunteer Convention at Dungannon passed resolutions in favour of Emancipation and Reform, and named a permanent Committee. The Relief Bill of April 1793 was carried by this pressure.[23]

But now, the Catholic higher classes secede from the movement; pitched against the ci-devant[24] Volunteers (merging into the Secret Societies of the United Irishmen) the aristocratic and stupidly, bigottedly middle-class yeomen.

Coercive laws against military societies, drilling, and the whole machinery of the Volunteers passed on / / March 1793, and the Alien Act, the Militia, Foreign Correspondence, Gunpowder and Convention Acts[25] in fact, a full code of coercion passed by the same Parliament, that had passed the Catholic Relief Bill.

The United Irishmen became a secret organisation. Recall of Fitzwilliam only left the decision to force.

IV Period. Volunteer movement merged into the revolutionary movement since 1795.

* * *

We now return to the development of the Volunteer Movement, 1779-83, and the Acts of Irish Parliament under this high popular pression. The Armed Associations, first provincial and local, strongest in the North (Ulster) and Dublin (Leinster). Only Protestants. First against Invasion. Protestant farmers rallied under this cry first. Catholics prohibited by statute from bearing arms in Ireland. However, they zealously assisted in forwarding those very associations into which they themselves had no admission. Their calmness and their patriotism gained them many friends, and a relaxation of intolerance appeared rapidly to be gaining ground, but it was not until the Volunteers had assumed a deliberative capacity, that the necessity of uniting the whole population of the country in the cause of independency became distinctly obvious.

The first object of the Irish Volunteers—after the defence against invasion—was to free themselves mercantilely and industrially, an interest then almost wholly in the hands of the Protestants, although by its very nature a national interest.

It was observed, that this British assumption of authority to legislate for Ireland, whatever colouring it might have received by the dissimulation or ingenuity of its supporters, had, in fact, for its real object the restraint of her commerce and the suppression of her manufactures, so far as they might interfere with the interests of England; because the management of the merely local concerns of Ireland, by her own Parliament, was altogether immaterial to Great Britain, unless where a commercial rivalship might be the probable consequence of successful industry and legislative encouragement.

Peers [showed] no public spirit; the measures of the Commons might be suppressed by an act of the Privy Council; hence determined co-operation of the whole people necessary.

The moment (the distress of England and the armed force of the Volunteers) was favourable.

England, notwithstanding [the fact that] she had in some instances suspended, and in others prohibited, the exportation of Irish manufactures, inundated the Irish markets with every species of her own; a combination of the great capitalists of England to destroy Irish manufacture by inundation of the Irish market.

Hence the Irish resolved to adopt a non-importation and nonconsumption agreement throughout the whole kingdom, by excluding not only the importation, but the consumption of any British manufacture in Ireland. No sooner was this measure publicly proposed, than it was universally adopted; it flew quicker than the wind throughout the whole nation. Meanwhile the Volunteer organisation spread; at length almost every independent Protestant enrolled as a patriot soldier. Self-formed, self-governed, no commissions from the Crown, no connexion whatever with the Government, [they] appointed their own officers etc. Yet subordination complete. Their arms at first provided by themselves; but the extraordinary increase of their numbers rendered them at length unable to procure a sufficient- supply by purchase; they required arms from the Government; Government did not think it safe to refuse their demand; and, with an averted eye, handed out to the Volunteers 20,000 stands of arms from the Castle of Dublin.[26] Many men who had served in the United States against the Americans became their drill sergeants. At the head of the corps noblemen etc. Important in this movement the familiar association of all ranks.

Under these circumstances:

Sessions of the Irish Parliament 1779-80. After frivolous speech of the Lord Lieutenant (Harcourt?)[27] in the House of Lords, and usual adulatory address moved in the Commons by Sir Robert Deane,[28] Grattan moved the following amendment:

“That we beseech Your Majesty to believe, that it is with the utmost reluctance we are constrained to approach you on the present occasion; but the constant drain to supply absentees, and the unfortunate prohibition of our trade, have caused such calamity, that the natural support of our country has decayed, and our manufacturers are dying for want: famine stalks hand in hand with hopeless wretchedness; and the only means left to support the expiring trade of this miserable part of Your Majesty’s dominions, is to open a free export trade, and let your Irish subjects enjoy their natural birthright.”[29]

Mr. Hussey Burgh, the Prime Sergeant (above the AttorneyGeneral) moved the following amendment:

“That it is not by temporary expedients, that this nation is now to be saved from impending ruin.[30]

Unanimously carried.

Volunteers attributed rightly this unexpected success to their movement. It greatly increased both the numbers and confidence in Volunteer associations.

Although even in both Houses of the British Parliament attention [was] called to the Irish distress and the dangerous state of that country, Lord North treated the whole [matter] with his usual superciliousness and frivolity. Nothing was done.

The non-importation and non-consumption movement became now general in Ireland. At length, a general meeting was convened by the High Sheriff of the city of Dublin, and resolutions then entered into by the whole metropolis, which finally confirmed and consummated that judicious measure, and at length convinced Great Britain, that Ireland would no longer submit to insult and domination. These resolutions were enforced with vigour and strictness. The Volunteers of Dublin resolved to consolidate, chose William, Duke of Leinster, for their Chief. This was the first measure of the Volunteers to form a regular army composed of every rank of society. Secret efforts of the Government to seduce the soldier from his officers, or to detach the most popular officers from the command of the soldiers—all in vain!

The appointment of the Duke of Leinster to the command of the Dublin Volunteers, was quickly followed by that of other district generals; and the organisation of 4 provincial armies was regularly proceeded on. The Ulster army appointed the Earl of Charlemont its commander-in-chief, the other armies proceeded rapidly in their organisation. Provincial reviews were adopted; and everything assumed the appearance of systematic movement. Soon General Commander-in-Chief [was appointed].

Affairs now approached fast towards a crisis; the freedom of commerce being the subject most familiar to the ideas of the people, was the first object of their solicitude. “A free trade” became the watchword of the Volunteers, and the cry of the Nation; the Dublin Volunteer Artillery appeared on parade, commanded by James Napper Tandy, with labels on the mouths of their cannon: “Free Trade or Speedy Revolution.” Lord North got now frightened. America already lost. On 24th November 1781 speech from the throne wherein he [the King] called the immediate attention of his British Parliament to the situation of Ireland. Now in hot haste these blockheads acceded to the Irish claims. The British Parliament met on 25 November, and the first Bills of concessions received the royal assent on 21 December 1781. Now these dunderheads passed Bills, distinctly repealing all the Acts which their predecessors had declared absolutely essential to secure the prosperity of England from the dangerous industry of the Irish.

Messages sent over to Ireland, much fuss made of the liberality and justice of Great Britain. Meanwhile North tried to pass over the year 1782, by continuing to open the Committee on Irish affairs from time to time, now and then passing a resolution in favour of that country, and thus endeavouring to wear out the session.

Ireland at length perceived the duplicity of proceedings which, while they purported to extend benefits to Ireland?!, asserted the paramount authority of Great Britain, and converted its acts of concession into declaratory statutes of its own supremacy. 14 Irish Counties at once avowed to establish, at the risk of their lives and fortunes, the independence of the Jrish Legislature. The cry of “Free Trade” now accompanied with that of “Free Parliament”.

George III forced, from the throne (in his speech), to pass unqualified eulogiums on the Volunteer army, as expression of the loyalty and fidelity of the people.

The Army in Ireland had been under the regulations of a British Statute, and the hereditary revenue of the Crown, with the aid of a perpetual mutiny bill,[31] enabled the British Government to command at all times a standing army in Ireland, without the authority or the control of its Parliament. Volunteers became aware of this. Resolutions were entered into by almost every military corps, and every corporate body, that they would no longer obey any laws, save those enacted by the King, Lords and Commons of Ireland.

The salaries of the Judges of Ireland were then barely sufficient to keep them above want, and they held their offices only during the will of the British Minister, who might remove them at his pleasure: all Irish justice, therefore, was at his control. In all questions between the Crown and the people, the purity of the judge was consequently suspected.

The Irish Parliament, at this period, met but once in 2 years, and in the British Attorney-General was vested the superintendence of their proceedings and in the British Privy Council the alteration and rejection of their Statutes.

9 October 1781. Irish House of Commons. Irish Parliament opened, speech of the Viceroy[32] etc., after address to His Majesty passed, Mr. O’Neill (House of Commons) moved a resolution of thanks to “all the Volunteers of Ireland, for their exertions and continuance”. Unanimously voted, and directed to be circulated throughout all Ireland, and to be communicated by the Sheriffs of the counties to the corps within their bailiwicks.[33]

This resolution brought down the British Government to the feet of the Volunteers, and raised the Volunteers above the supremacy of Britain, by a direct Parliamentary approbation of self-armed, self-governed, and self-disciplined associations.

These Volunteers by this time exceeded in number the whole regular military force of the British Empire.

Portugal Affair: By the resolutions of the British Legislature, Ireland had been admitted to export her linen and woollen manufactures to Portugal, agreeable to the provisions of the Treaty of Methuen[34] from which liberty she had been previously and explicitly prohibited by express statutes. Irish manufacturers tried immediately to improve this. Portuguese Ministry (under orders of the British Ministers) peremptorily refused, seized the Irish merchandise (this in 1782). Petition of the Dublin merchants to Irish House of Commons. In opposition to a motion of Fitzgibbon Sir Lucius O’Brien moved an amendment, calling upon the King, as King of Ireland, to assert the rights of that kingdom “by hostility with Portugal”, [and] concluding with: “We doubt not that Nation (Ireland) has vigour and resources sufficient to maintain all her rights, and astonish all her enemies.”

House [did] not [have] the courage to pass it.

Now [the] cry in the country, that their connection with England was only federative. This engrossed now almost the exclusive consideration of the armed associations of Ireland.

Want of protection for personal liberty in Ireland: No Habeas Corpus Act:[35]

Repeal of the English Statute of 6, George I asked by the armed Volunteers and corporate bodies[36] etc. Catholic bodies now also entered the Volunteer army, officered by Protestants. Regular and public deliberative meetings of the armed Volunteers. The armed associations of Ulster first appointed delegates to declare the sentiments of their province, in a general assembly. Convention at Dungannon, 15 February 1782. Agreed upon the celebrated Declaration of Rights and Grievances.

They were delegates from 25,000 Ulster soldiers, backed by the voice of about 1 million inhabitants of that country.

Declaration of the Volunteers

at the Dungannon Convention.

15 February 1782[37]

“Whereas it has been asserted that Volunteers, as such, cannot with propriety debate or give their opinions on political subjects, or the conduct of Parliament, or public men, resolved unanimously: That a citizen, by learning the use of arms, does not abandon any of his civil rights. That a claim of any body of men, other than the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland, to make laws to bind this Kingdom, is unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance;

“that the power exercised by the Privy Council of both Kingdoms, under the pretence of the law of Poynings,[38] is unconstitutional and a grievance;

“that the independence of judges is equally essential to the impartial administration of justice in Ireland, as in England; and that the refusal or delay of this right to Ireland, makes a distinction where there should be no distinction; may excite jealousy where perfect union should prevail; and is in itself unconstitutional and a grievance; that it is our decided and unalterable determination to seek a redress

of these grievances ... redress, speedy and effectual; that as men, and as Irishmen, as Christians, and as Protestants, we rejoice in the relaxation of the penal laws against our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects; and that we conceive the measure to be fraught with the happiest consequences to the union and prosperity of the inhabitants of Ireland.”

4 members from each county of the province of Ulster were appointed to act as a committee for the Volunteer Corps, to call general meetings of the province. That the said committee appoint 9 of their members to be a committee in Dublin, in order to communicate with all other Volunteer Associations in the other provinces, that may think proper to come to similar resolutions; and to deliberate with them on the most constitutional means of carrying them into effect.

Earl of Bristol, Englishman by birth, British Peer and Protestant Bishop of Derry[39] (uncle of George Robert Fitzgerald), openly declares for the Volunteers (ditto for full Catholic Emancipation).

In every Volunteer Corps of Ireland the Dungannon resolutions are accepted.

About this time about 90,000 Volunteers are ready.

As soon as the Dungannon Volunteers had received the concurrence of the armed associations, the Irish House of Commons assumed new aspect. The proceedings of the people without now told on their representatives within. The whole House appeared forming into parties.

Their Sessions were biennial, and consequently their grants to Government were for 2 years at once; and till more money was required, their legislative [power] was inactive. They now determined on granting supplies to the Crown for 6 months only, as a hint that they would grant no more till their grievances were redressed: this had its effect.

The proceedings of the Volunteers and municipal bodies became every day more serious and decisive, tone in House of Commons more menacing.

Impracticable to proceed with Lord North any longer. About April 1782 Marquis of Rockingham’s Cabinet {James Fox etc.). Duke of Portland, nominated Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, arrived at Dublin 14 April 1782, had to meet the Irish Parliament on the 16th April.


Message of George HI to British Parliament, 18 April 1782.[41]Stating:

“that mistrusts and jealousies had arisen in Ireland, and that it was highly necessary to take the same into immediate consideration, in order to [effect] a final adjustment.”

British House of Commons in reply: express

“their entire and cheerful concurrence in His Majesty’s views of a final adjustment”.

The same words “final adjustment” were repeated, by the Irish Ministry, when a Union was proposed to the Irish Parliament in 1800.

Duke of Portland wanted to procrastinate. Grattan communicated to him, that this [was] impossible without provoking anarchy. House of Commons, 16 April 1782: Grattan on the point of proposing Independence motion, when Mr. Hely Hutchinson (Secretary of State in Ireland) rose and said, the Lord Lieutenant had ordered him to deliver a message from the King, importing that “His Majesty, being concerned to find that discontents and jealousies were prevailing amongst his loyal subjects of Ireland, upon matters of great weight and importance, recommended the House to take the same into their most serious consideration, in order to effect such a final adjustment as might give satisfaction to both kingdoms”.

Hutchinson accompanied this message, and his statement of his own views on the subject, with a determination to support a declaration of “Irish rights” and constitutional “independence”. Hutchinson declared at the same time, that he had simply to deliver the message; he was therefore silent to all details and pledged the Government to none. Ponsonby proposed a short address.

Grattan spoke: “America has shed much English blood, and America is to be free: Ireland has shed her own blood for England, and is Ireland to remain in fetters?” etc. Proposes Amendment to Ponsonby’s “short address”, etc. “to assure His Majesty that his subjects of Ireland are a free people, that the Crown of Ireland is an imperial crown, inseparably connected with the Crown of Great Britain ... but that the Kingdom of Ireland is a distinct kingdom, with a Parliament of her own the sole legislature thereof, that there is no body of men competent to make laws to bind the nation but the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland, nor any Parliament which hath any authority or power of any sort whatever in this country, save only the Parliament of Ireland; to assure His Majesty that we humbly conceive that in this right the very essence of our liberty exists, a right which we, on the part of all the people of Ireland, do claim as their birth-right, and which we cannot yield but with our lives.”

Brownlow seconded. George Ponsonby stated “that he most willingly consented [on behalf of Portland] to the proposed amendment, and would answer that the noble lord who presided in the Government of Ireland, wished to do everything in his power etc.” and “he (Portland) would use his utmost influence in obtaining the rights of Ireland, an object on which he had fixed his heart”.

(1799. Portland openly avowed in 1799 that he had never considered this concession of England in 1782 as final.)

Unanimously Grattan’s Motion was passed.

Shortly before and shortly after this scene very decided resolutions on the part of the Volunteer Corps. It was the unanimous firmness of the people, and not the abstract virtue of their delegates, which achieved this revolution.

Fitzgibbon had declared [himself] a patriot; and Mr. John Scott, then Attorney-General, afterwards Lord Clonmel, even declared: “If the Parliament of Great Britain were determined to lord it over Ireland, he was resolved not to be their villain in executing their tyranny. That if matters should proceed to the extremity to which he feared they were verging, he should not be an insignificant subscriber to the fund for defending their common rights ... he had determined to throw his life and fortune into the scale.”

(This true man of the Pitt-Castlereagh school!)

Immediately on this turn, Portland sent off 2 despatches to England, one to the Cabinet as a public document, the other, private and confidential, to Fox. Explained the reasons for the necessity of acceding.... Stated in conclusion that “he would omit no opportunity of cultivating his connexion with the Earl of Charlemont, who appeared entirely disposed to place confidence in his Administration, and to give a proper tone to the armed bodies over whom he had the most considerable influence”.

Parliament was meanwhile prorogued for 3 weeks, to wait for the King’s Reply to their Declaration of Independence. Meanwhile reviews and discipline were continued with unremitting vigour by the Volunteer army, now about 124,000, of whom upwards of 100,000 effectives. Besides nearly 1/3 of the whole English army then Irish, ditto very many sailors Irish.

(Portland’s conduct in 1782 a premeditated tissue of dissimulation!)

27 May 1782 Irish House of Commons met, pursuant to adjournment.

Portland in his quasi throne speech: “King and British Parliament ... are united in a desire to gratify every wish expressed in your late Address to the Throne.... By the papers which, in obedience to His Majesty’s commands, I have directed to be laid before you, you will receive the most convincing testimony of the cordial reception which your representations have met with from the Legislative of Great Britain, but His Majesty whose first and most anxious wish is to exercise his Royal Prerogative in such a manner as may be most conducive to the welfare of his faithful subjects, has further given it me in command to assure you of his gracious disposition to give his Royal assent to acts to prevent the suppression of Bills in the Privy Council of this Kingdom, and the alteration of them anywhere, and to limit the duration of the Act for the better Regulation and Accommodation of His Majesty’s forces in this Kingdom, to the term of 2 years. The benevolent intentions of His Majesty ... unaccompanied by any stipulation or condition whatever. The good faith, the generosity, and the honour of this (the English) nation, afford them the surest pledge of a corresponding disposition, on your part etc.”[42]

Grattan the fool rose at once:

“That as Great Britain had given up every claim to authority over Ireland, he had not the least idea that she should be also bound to make any declaration that she had formerly usurped that power. I move you to assure His Majesty of our unfeigned affection to His Royal Person and Government ... magnanimity of His Majesty, and the wisdom of the Parliament of Great Britain, that we conceive the resolution for an unqualified, unconditional repeal of the 6, George I, to be a measure of consummate wisdom and justice”

and similar talk, and in particular

“that no constitutional question between the two nations will any longer exist”.

Sir Samuel Broadstreet on the other hand declared: “The Irish Parliament actually sat at that moment under an English statute.” Ditto Flood, David Walsh:

“I repeat it, that until England declares unequivocally, by an Act of her own Legislature, that she had no right, in any instance, to make laws to bind Ireland, the usurped power of English Legislation never can be considered by us as relinquished ... we have the power to assert our rights as men, and accomplish our independence as a nation.”Grattan’s address was triumphantly carried (only 2 votes against. The secretary Fitzpatrick had accelerated the vote by artifice).

Beauchamp Bagenal proposed to appoint committee “to consider and report what sum the Irish Parliament should grant, to build a suitable mansion and purchase an estate for their deliverer” (i.e. Grattan).

The British Cabinet now frightened. Their intolerance degenerated into fear. They had already signed the capitulation, and thought it impossible to carry it too soon into execution. America already lost.

Bills to enact the concessions demanded by Ireland were, therefore, prepared with an expedition nearly bordering on precipitancy. The 6th of George I, declaratory of, and establishing the supremacy of England, and the eternal dependence of Ireland on the Parliament and Cabinet of Great Britain, was now hastily repealed, without debate, or any qualification by the British Legislature. This repeal obtained the royal assent, and a copy was instantly transmitted to the Irish Viceroy, and communicated by circulars to the Volunteer commanders.

Chap. Ill: An Act, to repeal an Act made in the 6th year of the reign of his late Majesty King George I, entitled, An Act for the better securing the dependency of the Kingdom of Ireland upon the Crown of Great Britain.

“Whereas, an Act was passed etc., may it please your excellent Majesty, that it may be enacted, and be it enacted, by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from and after the passing of this Act, the above-mentioned Act, and the several matters and things therein contained, shall be, and is, and are hereby repealed.”

Irish House of Commons, 30 May 1782. Bagenal resumed the subject of reward to Grattan; proposed £100,000. Mr. Thomas Conolly declared that “the Duke of Portland felt with the Irish people ... he (the Lord Lieutenant) begged to offer, as a part of the intended grant to Mr. Grattan, the Viceregal Palace in the Phoenix Park”

— the King’s best Palace in Ireland.

The Viceroy of Ireland proposing, on behalf of the King of

England, to Grattan to reward his services for having emancipated his country from the domination of Great Britain, was an incident as extraordinary as had ever occurred in any Government, and, emanating from that of England, told, in a single sentence, the whole history of her horrors, her jealousies, her shallow artifice and humbled arrogance. Was, of course, rejected by the Irish House of Commons. Grattan got £50,000 from that House.


General remark on this period: When Lord Westmoreland was removed from Ireland, in 1795, Ireland was in a most unexampled and progressive state of prosperity. Curran suggested even an intention to impeach Westmoreland for having permitted a part of 12,000 troops (which, according to stipulation, should always remain in Ireland) to be drafted out of that kingdom for foreign service.

A) FROM 1782 TO 1783. (THE FIASCO OF THE REFORM BILL[edit source]


Irish House of Commons: Bills to ameliorate, by partial concession, the depressed state of the Catholics, and some reward for their zeal and patriotism, were introduced, and had arrived to their last stages in the House of Commons, without any effective opposition. Opposed by bigotism in their latter stages, the Castle powers stirring on. Those Bills relaxing the severity of the Penal Code passed however through both Houses. The concessions [though] very limited, still afforded great satisfaction to the Catholics, as the first growth of a tolerating principle. Grattan still believed in the Whigs. But at length Fox himself, wearied by a protracted course of slow deception, at once confirmed the opinions of the Irish people, and openly proclaimed to Ireland the inadequacy of all the measures that had heretofore been adopted. He took occasion in the British Parliament, on the repeal of the 6th George I being there alluded to, to state

“ that the repeal of that statute could not stand alone, but must be accompanied by a final adjustment, and by a solid basis of permanent connexion”, that “some plans of that nature would be laid before the Irish Parliament by the Irish Ministers, and a treaty entered upon, which treaty, when proceeded on, might be adopted by both Parliaments, and finally become an irrevocable arrangement between the two countries”.[43]

By that speech, the Irish delusion of a final adjustment was in a moment dissipated, the Viceroy’s duplicity became indisputably proved.

Still Flood was feebly supported in Irish House of Commons, but [was supported] by the Volunteers.

19 July 1782 Flood moved for leave to bring in a Bill “to affirm the sole exclusive right of the Irish Parliament, to make laws affecting that country, in all concerns external and internal whatsoever”.[44]

Even the introduction of this Bill was negatived without division. Grattan!

On the other hand [Parliament] passed [the] foolish motion of Grattan:

“that leave was refused to bring in Mr. Flood’s bill, because the sole and exclusive right to legislate for Ireland in all cases whatsoever, internally and externally, had been asserted by the Parliament of Ireland, and had been fully, finally and irrevocably acknowledged by the British Parliament”[45]

(which was not true). (Fox himself had declared the contrary!) (Because of his scepticism Flood had been dismissed from his office of Vice- Treasurer. )

27 July 1782 the Parliament was prorogued. In the proroguing speech Portland stated amongst other things:

“ Your claims were directed by the same spirit that gave rise and stability to the liberty of Great Britain, and could not fail of success, as soon as the councils of that Kingdom were influenced by the avowed friends of the Constitution.

“Convince the people in your several districts, as you are yourselves convinced, that every cause of past jealousies and discontents is finally removed; that both countries have pledged their good faith to each other, and their best security will be an inviolable adherence to that compact; that the implicit reliance which Great Britain has reposed on the honour, generosity, and candour of Ireland, engages your national character to a return of sentiments equally liberal and enlarged. Convince them that the two kingdoms are now one, indissolubly connected in unity of constitution, and unity of interests.”[46]

Marquis of Rockingham died (1782). Fox and Lord North Coalition.

Portland superseded by Earl Temple (who later became Marquis of Buckingham) (his Chief Secretary his brother Mr., afterwards Lord, Grenville) (15 September 1782-3 June 1783). Temple made small reforms. Though he obtained no credit from the body of the people, he made considerable progress amongst the aristocracy of the patriots (Charlemont, Grattan etc.).

The armed Volunteers had now assumed a deliberative capacity: Paraded as soldiers and debated as citizens. More than 150,000 Volunteers now appeared upon the regimental muster-rolls. Strong accession to them of Catholics. They resolved no longer to obey, or suffer to be obeyed, any statute or law theretofore enacted in England, and to oppose their execution with their lives and fortunes. The magistrates refused to act under them, the judges were greatly embarassed, no legal causes could be proceeded on, under the authority of British Statutes, though naming Ireland, no counsel would plead them, no juries would find for them, the operation of many important laws, theretofore in force, was necessarily suspended.

Parliament divided between Flood and Grattan, the latter (Whig spelt) always in the majority. This division of nation the British Administration wanted to foster. Baffled by the injudicious conduct of some Members of the British Parliament.

In the House of Commons (British) Sir George Young (Sinecure placeman in Ireland, although not Irish, viz. Vice-treasurer of Ireland) opposed the Bill of Concession to Ireland, and Repeal of 6, George I. Protested against the Power of King and Parliament to pass such bills. (He could not act against the will of the Ministers.)

Lord Mansfield, notwithstanding the repeal of 6, George I, proceeded to entertain, in the Court of King’s Bench,[47] at Westminster, an appeal from the King’s Bench of Ireland, observing that “he knew of no law depriving the British Court of its vested jurisdiction”. The interest of money 5% in England, 6% in Ireland. Mansfield had placed very large sums of Irish mortgages to gain the additional 1%. Felt that they were not likely to gain any additional facilities by the appelant jurisdiction being taken from the British courts and transferred to Ireland herself: hence his reluctance to part with it.

Lord Abingdon, in the House of Lords, totally denied the authority of King and Parliament of England to emancipate Ireland; he moved for leave to bring in a Declaratory Bill to re-assert the right of England to legislate externally in the concerns of Ireland.

The Volunteers beat to arms throughout the whole kingdom; above 120,000 paraded. All confidence in Great Britain dissipated. Flood gained much ground amongst the people. Now new panic of the British Ministry. Without waiting for further and peremptory remonstrances from Ireland, they passed the following Statute:

Anno vicessimo tertio (1783)

Georgii HI. Regis[48]

Ch. XXVIII. An Act for removing and preventing all doubts which have arisen, or might arise, concerning the exclusive rights of the Parliament and Courts of Ireland, in matters of legislation and judicature; and for preventing any writ of error or appeal from any of His Majesty’s Courts in that Kingdom from being received, heard, and adjudged, in any of His Majesty’s Courts in the Kingdom of Great Britain. Whereas ... doubts have arisen whether the provisions of the said (their last) Act are sufficient to secure to the people of Ireland the rights claimed by them, to be bound only by laws enacted by His Majesty and the Parliament of that Kingdom, in all cases whatever etc. etc. ... be it declared and enacted ... that the said right claimed by the people of Ireland, to be bound only by laws enacted by His Majesty and the Parliament of that Kingdom, in all cases whatever, and to have all actions and suits at law or in equity, which may be instituted in that Kingdom, decided in His Majesty’s Courts therein finally, and without appeal thence, shall be, and it is thereby declared to be established and ascertained for ever, and shall, at no time hereafter, be questioned or questionable.

And be it further enacted ... that no writ of error or appeal shall be received or adjudged, or any other proceeding be heard by or in any of His Majesty’s Courts in this Kingdom, in any action or suit at law or in equity, instituted in any of His Majesty’s Courts in the Kingdom of Ireland, etc. etc.

This measure brought into the British House of Commons by Mr. Townshend, passed through both Houses, and received the Royal assent without debate and with very little observation. In England held out a mere consequential declaratory part of a general constitutional arrangement entered into between the two nations. This measure came too late to satisfy the Irish people as to the purity of their own Parliament. It convinced them of either its inefficiency or corruption, or the Renunciation Act of the British Parliament would have been quite unnecessary. They had to secure their liberties. The Renunciation Act of Ireland had discredited the Irish Parliament with the Irish people.

Mr. Flood had become most prominent among the Irish patriots. Grattan his enemy. The discussion on the English Renunciation Act led to the conclusion of the necessity to reform their own Parliament, because, without its comprehensive Reform, there was no security against the instability of events and the duplicity of England.

Rotten borough system.[49] Many members of the Irish House of Commons nominated by individuals (borough-mongers) and Peers, who in this way voted by proxy in the House of Commons. The King constitutionally nominated Peers, and the Peers created Commoners. The representation of the people in the Commons was purchased for money, and the exercise of that representation was sold for office. These purchases made by servants of the executive Government, in trust, for the uses and purposes of its ministers to carry measures. The Volunteers had the facts sifted. One Peer nominated 9 Commoners etc. Many individuals openly sold their patronage for money, to the best bidder, others returned members at the nomination of the Viceroy or his Secretary; and it appeared that the number of representatives elected freely by the people did not compose 1/4 of the Irish Commons. The Volunteers at length determined to demand a reform of Parliament. Delegates from several Volunteer regiments again assembled at Dungannon, to consider the expediency and means of an immediate reform of Parliament. Flood [had] great influence now. 300 delegates, men of great influence, many of them members of the House of Lords and the Commons chosen by different corps.

10 November 1783 was proclaimed for the first sitting of the Grand National Convention of Ireland at Dublin. [The delegates] arrived there escorted by small detachments of Volunteers from their respective counties. Rotunda chosen as their place of meeting (vis-à-vis the magnificent dome of the Commons’ House of Parliament). Bishop of Derry and Earl of Charlemont rivals for the presidency. The British Ministers knew that if a reform of Parliament were effected in, Ireland, it could not be long withheld from England. Then the commercial jealousy of England. Charlemont, their fool. By intrigue he (supported by Grattan) [was] elected before the Earl of Bristol, Bishop of Derry, arrived. Collision in the Convention between Flood and the Bishop on one side, Charlemont and his friends on the other.

After much deliberation, a plan of reform, framed by Mr. Flood and approved by the Convention, was directed to be presented by him to Parliament forthwith, and the sittings of the Convention were made permanent till Parliament had decided the question. Mr. Flood obeyed his instructions, and moved for leave to bring in a Bill of reform of the Parliament. The Government knew that the triumph of the Parliament implied not only the destruction of the Convention, but of the Volunteers.

The Government refused leave to bring in Flood’s Bill,[50] because it had originated from their (the Volunteers) deliberations. (Yelverton now Attorney-General.) (Furious speech of Fitzgibbon.)[51] Unprecedentedly violent debate. Bill was rejected by 158 to 49; 158 of the majority were placemen and the very persons on whom the reform was intended to operate. Ditto 158 placemen who carried the Union Bill in 1800, which, if the Reform had succeeded, never could have been passed. An address to the King (moved by Conolly), offending against the Volunteers, carried.[52] Earl Charlemont, suppressing this news, told the Volunteers, he had received a note from the House of Commons, which left no hopes of a speedy decision, the Convention ought to adjourn till Monday,[53] then to decide upon ulterior measures, if the Bill should be rejected. He had secretly decided that they should meet no more. On the Monday morning he repaired to the Rotunda before the usual hour of sitting; only his own immediate partisans present. He adjourned the Convention sine die. When the residue of the delegates came, the door closed, the Convention dissolved. The Bishop became now the popular man. Charlemont went down. He, a bigot, hated the Catholics, Bishop was quite the opposite. Exclusion on the one side, and toleration on the other became the theme of partisans. The dispute ran high. The people began to separate. This effected all the mischief the Government expected.

A Northern Corps, calling itself “Bill of Rights Battalion”, says in Address to the Bishop among other things:

“The gloomy clouds of superstition and bigotry, those engines of disunion, being fled from the realm, the interests of Ireland can no longer suffer by a diversity of religious persuasions. All are united in the pursuit of one great object—the extermination of corruption from our Constitution; nor can your Lordship and your virtuous coadjutors, in promoting civil and religious liberty, be destitute of the aid of all professions.”

Bishop answered in the same strain (dated 14 January 1784): in conclusion he said:

“The hour is now come ... when Ireland must necessarily avail herself of her whole internal force to ward off foreign encroachments, or once more acquiesce under those encroachments, the better to exercise anew the tyranny of a part of the community over the dearest and inalienable rights of others. For one million of divided Protestants can never, in the scale of Human Government, be a counterpoise against 3 millions of united Catholics. But, gentlemen of the Bill of Rights Battalion, I appeal to yourselves, and summon you to consistency— Tyranny is not Government, and Allegiance is only due to Protection.”

The Government resolved (too impotent to act) to watch the progress of events. Many of the best patriots thought the Bishop’s language too strong. The idea of coercing the Parliament very rapidly lost ground. No military language to Parliament etc.

The people were severed, but the Government remained compact; the Parliament was corrupted, the Volunteers were paralysed, and the high spirit of the Nation exhibited a rapid declension.

Weak ly foolish Charlemont, after the dissolution of the Convention, recommended a Reform Bill to be presented to Parliament, as emanating solely from civil bodies, unconnected with military character. Of course, the placemen, who had scouted the military Bill, because it was military, now rejected the civil Bill, because it was popular. Meetings of the Volunteers were suspended, their reviews continued, to amuse the languid vanity of their deluded general.

The temperate (bourgeois parliamentary) system now gained ground. The Volunteers of Ireland survived these blows for some years. The Whig orators (Grattan etc.) lost ground and influence.

December 1783. Pitt Minister. Duke of Rutland Viceroy (!)

B) FROM THE END OF 1783 TO 1791[edit source]


Pitt in England.

Duke of Rutland (Lord Lieutenant) died October, 1787.

Marquis of Buckingham (formerly Earl of Temple) second time Viceroy (16 December 1787-5 January 1790).

John Fane, Earl of Westmoreland [Lord Lieutenant] (Hobart, afterwards Earl of Buckinghamshire, Chief Secretary) from 5 January 1790 onwards (until 1795).

In Irish House of Commons repeated attempts at Reform (Flood, Grattan, Curran etc.) failed.

Place Bill, Pension Bill, Responsibility Bill, Inquiry into the Sale of Peerages and into the Police of Dublin the most material measures pressed by the Opposition during Westmoreland’s Office, hence after the Revolution of 1789 in France.

{The Place, Pension and Responsibility Bills proposed by Mr. Grattan, acceded to by the Viceroy, passed into laws. Place Bill—a bill to vacate the seats of members accepting offices under Government, omitting the term of bona fide offices, thereby leaving the Minister a power of packing the Parliament; this Bill one of the instruments of Castlereagh for carrying the Union.}

[Up] to 1790 all these things as also Emancipation, Reform, Tithe questions failed.

There was a steady decline of the Volunteer organisation, and of the strength of the Liberal party to 1790. We have Tone’s word that when the French Revolution broke out, both Catholic Committee and Whig Club[54]—the Emancipation and Reform parties — were feeble and dispirited.[55]

Irish House of Commons. February 14, 1785. Militia against Volunteers. Gardiner {on behalf of the Minister, and, as Curran told him, “in hope of being rewarded, by being raised to a higher rank”, became actually Lord Mountjoy by the Union} moved a grant of £20,000 for clothing the Militia. This motion was levelled at the Volunteers, and therefore violently debated. One of the reasons of its being carried—the fool-rogue[56] Grattan went with the Government. Fitzgibbon, the Attorney-General, said amongst other things against Curran, who opposed the Bill and defended the Volunteers: “he (Curran) poured forth a studied panegyric of the Volunteers.... I shall even entrust the defence of the country to gentlemen, with the King’s commission in their pockets, rather than to his (Curran’s) friends, the beggars in the streets.”

Orde’s Propositions[57] and Regency Bills the things most important during this period as international questions between Ireland and England; before speaking of them, we shall, however, allude still to a few other objects treated in Parliament during the period 1783-1791.

Renewed efforts for reform made in 1784. In consequence of a requisition, Henry Reilly, Sheriff of the County of Dublin, summoned his bailiwick to the court-house of Kilmainham for the 25 October 1784, to elect members to a national congress. For this Mr. Reilly was attached by the King’s Bench, on a crown motion, and on the 24 February 1785 Mr. Brownlow moved a vote of censure on the judges of that court, for the attachment. Speech of Curran. Motion rejected by 143 to 71.[58]

Shows still a great independent minority.



The endeavour to regain by corruption what was surrendered to force, began in 1782, and increased greatly after the defeat of Orde’s Propositions.[59]


Pensions, 13 March 1786. Irish House of Commons. Bill of Forbes to limit the amount dj pensions. Defeated, i.e., adjournment ad Calendas Graecas[60] carried. As Curran said [the] object of the Bill [was] to “restrain the Crown from doing wrong by a physical necessity”. “The Pension List, like charity, covers a multitude of sins ... coming home to the members of this House ... the Crown is laying a foundation for the independence of Parliament ... they” (the members of this House) “will have this security for their independence, that while any man in the kingdom has a shilling, they will not want one” (Curran).

12 March 1787. (Forbes renewed his Bill for limiting Pensions. Curran supported him. Orde, Secretary. Also failed.)

“The King’s authority” (here) “delegated first to a Viceroy, and next it falls to a Secretary, who can have no interest in the good of the people, no interest in future fame etc.... What responsibility can be found or hoped for in an Fnglish Secretary? ... A succession of men” (these Secretaries), “sometimes with heads, sometimes with hearts, oftener with neither” (Curran). “Where will you look for Orde’s responsibility as a Minister? You will remember his Commercial Propositions” (Curran).

“A right honourable member opposes the principle of the Bill, as being in restraint of the Royal Bounty.... A gross and general application of the people’s money to the encouragement of every human vice, is a crying grievance.... The pension list, at the best of times, was a scandal to this country; but the present abuses of it have gone beyond all bounds” (Curran).

“That unhappy list has been degraded by a new species of prostitution that was unknown before: the granting of honours and titles, to lay the foundation for the grant of a pension; the suffering any man to steal a dignity, for the purpose that a barren beggar steals a child. It was reducing the honours of the State from badges of dignity to badges of mendicancy” (Curran). The Bill would “restrain a Secretary from that shameful profusion of the public treasure.... It is a law necessary as a counterpoise of the Riot Act, [...] a penal law adopted from Great Britain, giving a new force to the executive magistrate. It is a Bill to preserve the independence of Parliament” (Curran).

11 February 1790. Irish House of Commons (government corruption and patriot opposition proceeded, the public daily being more convinced that nothing but a reform of the Commons could save the Constitution of 1782 from the foul policy of the Ministers). Forbes moved an address describing and censuring several recent pensions. Curran supported it. Motion rejected by 136 to 92.

Government Corruption

House of Commons. 21 April 1789. Disfranchisement of Excise Officers’ Bill. Bill rejected by 148 to 93.

Curran’s prophecy in his speech on that occasion was fulfilled. The English executive inflicted incompetent men and corrupt measures on Ireland, then took advantage of her own crime and our misfortunes to provincialise us, and now uses these very events as arguments against our independence. Curran said inter alia:

“The opposition to this measure [...] comes from the avowed servants of the crown and of every administration ... the men sent to grind us are, in general, the refuse of Great Britain.... Cart-loads of excise officers — revenue troops—collected from every corner of the nation, and taking possession of boroughs on the eve of an election” (Curran).

House of Commons. 25 April 1789. Dublin Police.

Sir H. Cavendish moved two resolutions to the effect that the Dublin Police System was attended with waste, and useless patronage. Ministers opposed the Resolutions. Rejected by 132 to 78.

Curran in support said among other things:

“Advantage had been taken of some disturbances in 1784, to enslave the capital by a police. A watch of old men, at 4d. per night, was naturally ineffectual.”

House of Commons. 4 February 1790. Stamp Officers’ Salaries. {Curran proposes to regulate, cut them down etc. Rejected by 141 to 81.} (This was one means of government corruption.) Westmoreland Viceroy, Hobart his Secretary.

Curran says inter alia: the Earl of Temple (afterwards Marquis of Buckingham) incensed because of his failure in the Regency Bill increased the Revenue Board, the Ordnance, £13,000 addition to the infamous Pension List; (Under Lord Harcourt compact [was] made that the Board of Accounts and the management of the stamps (stamp duties had been granted in Harcourt’s times} should be executed by one board.) Buckingham separated them in order to make places for members of Parliament. “Two country members prying into stamps!” “In proportion as you rose by union, your tyrant became appalled: but when he divided, he sunk you, and you became debased.” “I rise in an assembly of 300 persons, 100 of whom have places or pensions.... I am showing the danger that arises to our honour and our liberty, if we submit to have corruption let loose among us ... the people now are fairly told that it is lawful to rob them of their property, and divide the plunder among the honest gentlemen who sell them to the administration.”

In his bold speech Curran alludes to the French Revolution.

House of Commons. February 12, 1791. Government Corruption. {New attempt of Curran to prove the impurities of Government.} Curran’s principal theme: “Raising men to the peerage for money, which was disposed of to purchase the liberties of the people. “ “Miserable men introduced” (by these means) “into this House, like beasts of burden, to drudge for their employers.” On the other hand “those introduced into the House of Lords, to frame laws, and dispose of the property of the Kingdom, under the direction of that corruption by which they have been raised”.

“I have proof[61] ... that a contract has been entered into by the present ministers to raise to the peerage certain persons, on condition of their purchasing a certain number of seats in this House.”

Curran states: “During the whole of last session” (1790) “we have, in the name of the people of Ireland, demanded from them the Constitution of Great Britain, and it has been uniformly denied. We would have passed a law to restrain the shameful profusion of a pension-list—it was refused by a majority. We would have passed a law to exclude persons, who must ever be the chattels of the government, from sitting in this House—it was refused by a majority. A bill to make some person, resident among you, and therefore amenable to public justice, responsible for the acts of your governors—has been refused to Ireland by a majority of gentlemen calling themselves her representatives [...] This uniform denial ... proof to them” (the people) “that the imputation of corrupt practices is founded in fact.”

The vain attempt—in 1790-91—of the Parliamentary Minority against government corruption proves on the one hand its increase, on the other the influence of French Revolution of 1789. It also-shows why, at last, foundation of United Irishmen [took place] in 1791, since all Parliamentary action proved futile, and the Majority of Parliament mere tool in the hands of the Government.

* * *




a) Orde’s Commercial Propositions.

(Duke of Rutland, Lord Lieutenant)[62]

In May, 1784, Griffith proposed in Irish House of Commons inquiry in the commercial intercourse between Britain and Ireland. He desired to show that Irish trade should be protected from English competition etc.

Government took this proposal out of his hand.

On 7 February 1785, Mr. Orde, the Chief Secretary, announced, and on 11 February moved the 11 propositions on trade, commonly called the Irish’A propositions (in fact, of English origin).

There were 4 principles established in these propositions:

1) Taxes on all goods, foreign and domestic, passing between the 2 countries, should be equal

{placing England and Ireland on the same footing, to the ruin of the latter.}

2) Taxes on foreign goods should always be higher than on the same articles produced in either island (this sacrificed the realities of French, Spanish, and American trade then increasing, to the profits of English competition).

3) That the regulations should be unalterable (thus abdicating legislation).

4) That the surplus of the hereditary revenue (hearth tax, and certain customs, and excises, over £656,000 a year) should be paid over to the English Treasury, for the support of the Imperial (English) navy.

Yet this plan was proffered as a boon, a reciprocity plan; Orde (in contrast to Flood) hurried the Commons on to seize upon it, because otherwise the jealousy of the English monopolists might be awakened. The thing was a favour—to be paid for by £140,000 of new taxes, asked and voted in return for it.

On the 22nd of February 1785 Pitt moved the Resolution in British House of Commons which declared that Ireland should be allowed the advantages (i.e. competition) of British Commerce as soon as she had “irrevocably” granted to England an “aid” (i.e. tribute) for general defence. North and the Tories, Fox and the Whigs —

as a party manoeuvre—

saw in English jealousy to Ireland a sure resource against the “heaven born Minister”. Fox obtained adjournments, and all England “spoke out”, from

Lancashire to London, from Gloucester to York. Pitt sounded a parley. He submitted to some of their terms; retained all that was adverse to the Irish Constitution, suffered the loss of all that could by any ingenuity be serviceable to Irish trade. Returned the Act thus approved of by him in the form of 20 English propositions.

The 11 propositions had been increased in England to 20, each addition a fresh injury. Half the globe, namely, all between Magellan and Good Hope, was (articles 3 and 9) interdicted to Ireland’s ships: interdicts were also laid on certain goods. The ivhole customs legislation of Ireland was taken away by clauses which forced her (art. 4) to enact (register) all navigation laws passed or to be passed by England; (art. 5 and 8) to impose all the colonial duties that England did; (art. 6 and 7) to adopt the same system in custom-houses that England did; and finally (art. 17 and 18) to recognise all patents and copyrights granted to England.

Irish House of Commons. 30 June 1785: Orde moves the adjournment of the House till Tuesday fortnight. Curran opposes this. Adjournment is carried. Curran says:

“When we had the 11 propositions before us, we were charmed with them. Why?—because we did not understand them. Yes, the endearing word reciprocity rang at every corner of the streets.”

23 July 1785. Orde moves new adjournment; Curran opposes; adjournment carried.

11 August 1785. Curran asks Orde what has become of the 11 propositions “as of them only that Parliament could treat”. They were “proposed as a system, of final and permanent commercial adjustment between the 2 kingdoms”. “As a compensation for the expected advantages of this system, we were called upon

{and they did so!}

to impose £140,000 a year on this exhausted country.” “We submitted.” “We have oppressed the people with a ioad of taxes, as a compensation for a commercial adjustment: we have not got that adjustment.”

Curran plainly threatened that the people would take revenge against the persons who, in a thin House, would accept the 20 propositions after the adjournment. He threatened that such a demand for surrender of the Constitution would be answered not merely “by words”. All this is taken from Curran’s speech of 23 July.[63]

12 August 1785. Orde moved his Bill (the 20 propositions). Opposed by Grattan, Flood, Curran. Leave to bring in the Bill carried by 127 to 108 (=19 votes: this showed that the Bill would be rejected).

Curran: “The commercial part of it” (the Bill) “is out of the question: for this Bill portends a surrender of the Constitution and the liberties of Ireland.... I fear the British Minister is mistaken in the temper of Ireland, and judges of it by former times. Formerly the business here was carried on by purchase of majorities ... things have changed. The people are enlightened and strong, they will not bear a surrender of their rights, which would be the consequence, if they submitted to this Bill. It contains a covenant to enact such laws as England should think proper: they would annihilate the Parliament of Ireland. The people here must go to the bar of the English House of Commons for relief; and for a circuitous trade to England, we are accepting a circuitous constitution.... A power to bind externally, would involve a power to bind internally. This law gives the power to Great Britain, of judging what would be a breach of the compact, of construing it; in fact, of taxing us as she pleased; while it gives her new strength to enforce our obedience. In such an event we must either sink into utter slavery, or the people must wade to a re-assumption of their rights through blood, or be obliged to take refuge in a Union, which would be the annihilation of Ireland, and what, I suspect, the Minister is driving at[64].... Civil war or a Union at best.”

15 August 1785: Orde, on presenting the Bill, abandoned it for the session, and for ever. Thereupon Flood moved: “Resolved—That we hold ourselves bound not to enter into any engagement to give up the sole and exclusive right of the Parliament of Ireland to legislate for Ireland in all cases whatsoever, as well externally as commercially and internally. “ Curran supported him. Flood withdrew his motion, the House adjourned, and Orde’s Propositions merged in a secret design for the Union.

b) Regency Bill (1789)[65][edit source]

George III mad for some time, concealed, in the end of 1788 could no longer be hid. In the ministers’ draft of the address in answer to the Lord Lieutenant (Buckingham) (he had again become Viceroy in December 1787), they praised themselves.

Irish House of Commons. February 6, 1789. Grattan moved amendment, substituting a general expression of loyalty. Curran spoke in support. “Every man sees the change of public administration that is approaching. “

(People thought that Fox would become Minister under the Prince of Wales.[66])

“It has been delayed and opposed by a party in another kingdom. Upon what principle of wisdom or justice can Ireland enlist herself in that opposition etc?”

Grattan’s amendment was carried without a division although he called Buckingham “a jobber in a mask”

(Fitzherbert Buckingham’s Chief Secretary),

so prostrated was the Castle at the prospect of the Prince’s Regency, with Fox as Premier.

February 11, 1789: Ministers tried to postpone the discussion on the Regency. Their avowed motive to have from England the Resolutions of the British Parliament, appointing the Prince Regent of Great Britain with limited powers. These resolutions passed on 23 January, accepted by Prince on 31st January, but had not reached the Irish Government. The postponement was refused by the House. Conolly then moved an address to be presented to Prince, as Prince Regent of Ireland with full kingly powers. Motion passed without a division.

February 12, 1789. Conolly moved the address. February 17 concurrence of Lords brought up and On 19 February presented to Buckingham. He refused to transmit it. February 20, 1789 agreed to transmit it by deputation. Vote of censure against Buckingham.

February 27, 1789. Deputation (Conolly, O’Neil, etc.) deliver a letter to the Commons with answer of Prince Regent, thanking “warmly” the Irish Parliament. March 20, 1789. Still more fervent letter of the Prince Regent, announcing his father’s recovery, read in the Irish House of Commons.

Pitt, to maintain his power, had defended and carried in England, the right of election of the Regent, hence the right to restrain his power.

The Irish in this case maintained the common Constitution against the oligarchic and ministerial encroachments of Pitt.

* * *

There are for this lapse of time two things still to be considered,

1) the Tithe Riots etc., showing the state of the Catholic Irish peasantry at that time, and

2) The Dublin Lord Mayor election, showing the influence of the French Revolution upon the (into the bargain Protestant) Irish middle-class.

1) Tithe Riots etc.

English Riot Act Introduced in Ireland[67]

Irish House of Commons. January 19, 1787. Outrages in the South. Disturbances in the South caused by the misery of the people, Tithes, Rents, absenteeism,[68] bad tenures, harsh treatment etc.

Towards the close of the 18 century (since end of 1791) political parties united themselves with the peasants (the republicans of the North).

1786.’ In the Lord Lieutenant’s Opening Speech, he referred to the “frequent outrages” (“Right Boys” of Kilkenny, who were bound amongst each other by oath[69]). Yet the only Bill on disturbances brought in by Government was a Dublin Police Bill, against which the City petitioned.

1787 Viceroy’s speech referred much more positively to the Southern outrages, and the debates on the Address in reply to it [were] violent. During this debate the government party (Fitzgibbon for instance) treated the disturbances as against the clergy, accused the landlords of grinding the people, and abetting the disturbances, and asked for fresh powers.

House of Commons. 19 January 1787. Fitzgibbon, in [his] speech (1787) said the disturbances commenced in Kerry, the people assembled in a mass-house, there took an oath to obey the laws of Captain Right. Soon spread through the province of Munster. Their objects the tithes, then to regulate the price of lands, to raise the price of labour, and to opjmse the collection of hearth-money and other taxes. “I am very well acquainted with the province of Munster, and I know that it is impossible for human wretchedness to exceed that of the miserable peasantry in that province. I know that the unhappy tenantry are ground to pou’der by relentless landlords’[70]—far from being able to give the clergy their just dues, they have not food or raiment for themselves, the landlords grasp the whole; and ... not satisfied with the present extortion, some landlords have been so base as to instigate the insurgents to rob the clergy of their tithes, not in order to alleviate the distresses of the tenantry, but that they might add the clergy’s share to the cruel rack-rents already paid.... The poor people of Munster live in a more abject state of poverty than human nature can be supposed able to bear—their miseries are intolerable, but they do not originate with the clergy: nor can the legislature stand by and see them take the redress into their own hands. Nothing can be done for their benefit while the country remains in a state of anarchy.”

Longfield, a County Cork Gentleman, stated that the disturbances were exaggerated, though the distress was not. He accused the government of looking for a year at the disturbances, for a political purpose.

Curran moved an amendment to the address (withdrawn without a division). Said inter alia:

“Cease to utter idle complaints of inevitable effects, when you yourselves have been the causes ... the patience of the people has been totally exhausted; their grievances (have long) been the empty song of this House, but no productive effect has ever followed. The non-residence of the landholders, the tyranny of intermediate landlords. You denied the existence of the grievance, and refused redress.... No wonder that the peasantry should be ripe for rebellion and revolt.... Not a single man of property or consequence connected with the rebels....

“You were called on solemnly ... for a proper reformation in the representation of the people: did you grant it? No; and how does it at present stand? Why, Sir, seats in this House are bought and sold. They are set up to public sale; they have become an absolute article of commerce—a traffic of the constitution.... Saleable rotten boroughs. As they have bought the people for a sum of money, it is natural they should sell them.... The peasantry have formed hopes of relief.... People, when oppressed, [...] though oppressed by law, will make reprisals; and these are the real causes of the disturbances. System of vile jobbing extends to commissions of the peace (24 commissions of the peace sent down to the County of Clare in one post) and to the sheriffs. You may talk of commerce expanding ... but what, in God’s name, have they to do with the wretched peasantry?”

House of Commons. 19 February 1787. “Right Boy Bill”. One clause of the Government, [which was] abandoned, was directing magistrates to demolish mass-houses at which combinations shall be found, or unlawful oaths administered. Curran resisted the Bill altogether:

Curran: “The people are too much raised by a consciousness of their strength and consequence to be proper objects of so sanguinary a code as that now proposed....” He alludes to pamphlet of Dr. Woodward, Bishop of Cloyne, in defence of tithes “tending manifestly to revive the dissensions from which we had so recently emerged, and to plunge us into the barbarism from which we were emerging, or, perhaps to imbrue us in the bloodshed of a religious war”.... (The Bill was committed by 192 to 31.)

20 February 1787. Discussion of the same Bill, by which a Riot Act passed. O’Neill moved to limit it to Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary. (Limiting motion rejected by 176 to 43.) In the Bill Todesstrafe—capital punishment—for tendering an oath etc.

“I fear,” said Curran, “that, as the coercion is so great, and as no means are taken for the relief of the poor, rebellion will go in the dark ... until the whole Kingdom set in a flame.”

13 March 1787. Tithes. Grattan having moved a resolution that if tranquillity were restored, at the opening of the next session, the House would consider the Tithe Question. Motion lost, without a division. Curran supported Grattan’s Motion.

Curran: “A law of pains and penalties severe beyond all example of any former period.... The offence was local and partial ... the causes of such offence were universal.... The abject and miserable state of the peasantry of Ireland. The Secretary” (Englishman!) “declares he is a stranger to their distresses, and will not hold out any hope that they should be ever considered by the Parliament!” ...”The honourable gentlemen could not let the Riot Act pass without accompanying it with an express disavowal of all intention to alleviate, or even at any period, however distant, to listen to their complaints.” “Who are to execute it” (that law)? “That very body of men in the class above the peasants, who have been represented as adverse to the rights of the clergy, and are said to have connived at these offences.” ... “But whatever may be the idea of an English Secretary, this House must be too wise to say that inveterate evils can receive any sanction from any length of time.”

2) Election of Lord Mayor of Dublin (1790)[71]

Disputed election for the Mayoralty of Dublin, connected with the attempt of the English Government to govern or provincialise Ireland by corruption. Hence the burgesses of Dublin pledged themselves in their guilds not to return any one as Lord Mayor or Member of Parliament for the city, who held a place or pension from the Government Alderman James was a Police Commissioner. Under the old Corporation laws the Lord Mayor and Aldermen sat and voted in one chamber, the Sheriff and Common Councilmen in a second. 16 April 1790 the former chose Alderman James as mayor elect for the ensuing year, the Common Council rejected him. Seven other names afterwards sent down were similarly rejected. Then the Common Council elected Alderman Howison; Napper Tandy led the popular party. The Aldermen repeated their election of James. This dispute came before the Privy Council, where Curran pleaded for the Common Council. Privy Council decided for a new election. Aldermen re-elect James and Councilmen Howison. This whole process, with interference of the Privy Council, repeated several times.

On 10 July 1790 Curran pleads for the Common Council before the Privy Council, presided by Fitzgibbon (became Lord Chancellor, and Lord Clare, in June 1789.)

He flagellated that fellow masterly.

Privy Council decided for James, he resigned, on 5th August 1790 Howison chosen by the Aldermen, approved by the Common Council and Privy Council Thus this struggle ended in utter defeat of the Government.

On 16 July, in the Common Council, Napper Tandy carried 17 Resolutions censuring the Privy Council, Aldermen, and summoned meeting of freemen and freeholders[72] at the Exchange. This meeting held on 20 July, Hamilton Rowan in the chair, adjourned to 3d August, after appointing a committee to prepare a state of facts.

3d August that State of Facts read, and James’s resignation was announced.

Sir E. Newenham denounced Fitzgibbon, who on 24 July had in House of Peers made audacious speech, where he read a Resolution of the Whig Club’[73] 9 and attacked them, until Lords Charlemont and Moira avowed the Resolution. (Whig Club founded in Dublin, summer 1789.)

Whig Club, [which] met on 2d August, drew up a Report against Fitzgibbon.

Fitzgibbon had become so unpopular, that the guild of merchants, who had, in the previous winter, voted him an address in a gold box, for services to their trading interests, expunged the resolutions on 13 July, 1790, as “disgraceful”.

From the above-quoted “State of Facts”, August 3, 1790. (Aggregate meeting of the citizens of Dublin, held at the Royal Exchange.) Among other things it said:

“That we do acknowledge, that for the last 10 or 11 years the citizens of Dublin did take an active part for the liberty of their country etc. etc.;

“that we do acknowledge [that] the freedom of the City of Dublin [was] refused to His Excellency etc. the Earl of Westmoreland etc.;

“that we do not deny that many among us did, on a former occasion, favour the scheme of Protective Duties etc.;

“that we do acknowledge to have expressed our approbation of the conduct of the minority of the late Parliament in the last session ... that those measures had no other view, meaning or object, save corruption only: ... that the nation was told by a very high authority (Fitzgibbon) ... that in order to defeat an opposition in Parliament, this nation had been, in the Administration of the Marquis of Townshend, bought in by the Government, and sold by the Members of Parliament for half a million, and that if opposition continued to the present Administration, this nation must be bought and sold again etc. etc.”

The Judges, dependent on the Crown, the Army independen t of Parliament, the Legislature at the feet of the British AttorneyGeneral, and the people boun d by the laws of Scotch and English Delegates. {The two last points apply to the period before 1782.}




{From October 1791 to 4 January 1795. (Arrival of Fitzwilliam.) (Continuation of Lord Westmoreland’s Government. (His Secretary Major Hobart.) }

French events during this time: 1793. Duke of York, 8 September thrashed by Houchard, has to abandon the siege of Dunkirk, Dutch and English thrown back into Flanders.[74] The allies were repulsed on the Upper Rhine, towards the end of December they had to abandon the whole territory as far as Worms. The Republicans were victorious in the South and West of France as well. In October 1793 they subdued the rebellious Lyons and in December 1793 the English-held Toulon, drove the Spanish over the Pyrenees and attacked them on their own territory.

1794. 18 May, Moreau and Souham won a total victory over the Duke of York at Tourcoing.

26 June 2nd battle of Fleurus (Jourdan). Belgium quickly conquered. The leaders of the English and Dutch troops were compelled to think only of the defence of the Netherlands.

October and November the Dutch lost all their frontier fortresses.

October Jourdan compelled the Austrians to abandon the entire left bank of the Rhine up to Mainz, 26 October he entered Coblenz. On the entire left bank of the Rhine, only Mainz and Luxembourg remained in the hands of the allies.

27 December Pichegru in Holland.

1795. 20 January 1795 Pichegru’s entry into Amsterdam.-Batavian Republic.

September Düsseldorf in Jourdan’s hands, Mannheim in Pichegru’s. The Austrians had to withdraw across the Main. Clairfait defeated the French army at Mainz on 29 October. Pichegru and Jourdan had to retreat. An armistice towards the end of the year. Moreau was given the command of the Rhine army.

At the beginning of 1795 a peace treaty with the leaders of the Vendée. (The Peace of La Mabilois.) Pitt landed an émigré army at Quiberon on 27 June 1795 etc. On 20 July it was crushed by Hoche etc.[75]

{February and March 1796 Stoff let, Charette etc. were courtmartialled and executed by firing-squad. July 1796 he [Hoche] reported to the Directory that the civil war in the West had been brought to an end. }

1796. 1797. Bonaparte in Italy.

First United Irishmen Society founded by Theobald Wolfe Tone in October 1791.[76]

Their avowed (and by the mass of the Societies alone wished for) objects were Union between Catholics and Protestants, perfect Emancipation for the Catholics (Belfast had proposed this already in 1783) and Popular Representation for the men of both creeds. (Tone and others of the leading men for independent Republic. Without the c ruelty of Government they would have been overruled by the Whigs, and outvoted in the Societies.)

The Belfast Society met publicly, as did all the United Irish Societies until 1794. The Catholics, on their part, were rapidly advancing in political spirit and information.

Keogh and the leading (not aristocratic and Whiggish) Catholics were United.

The Confederation extended to Dublin, received the support of the leading citizens, and of many of the Volunteer Corps. Its chief organ was The Northern Star: the first number of this paper, printed 4 January 1792 (manager Samuel Neilson), occupied itself chiefly with French politics. The Evening Star appeared in Dublin soon after, but The Press did not commence until 28 September 1797.

Returning now to Westmoreland’s Administration, we remark that Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform were the two cries!

Irish House of Commons. 18 February 1792. Catholic Emancipation.

These proceedings began by the presentation of a petition from the Protestants of County of Antrim for the Bill.

Some small thing was proposed by Grattan. (Rejected.)

Curran. “At Cork, the present Viceroy was pleased to reject a most moderate and modest petition from the Catholics of that city. The next step was to create a division amongst the Catholics themselves: the next was to hold them up as a body formidable to the English Government, and to their Protestant fellow-subjects.... It is not a question merely of the sufferings or their relief—it is a question of your own preservation ... a partial liberty cannot long subsist ... alienation of 3 millions of our people, subserviency and corruption in a fourth ... the inevitable consequence would be an Union with Great Britain. And if any one desires to know what thai would be, I will tell him. It would be the emigration of every man of consequence from Ireland; it would be the participation of British taxes, without British trade; it would be the extinction of the Irish name as a people etc.”

The petition for the Catholics rejected with indignation, by 208 to 23. This rejection inflamed the Catholics.



OK 1793[77]

In March, 1792, the Catholic Committee,[78] or rather Convention (for it was a body of delegates) met, and Tone was named its secretary. The agitation by means of these societies became most vigorous. The shining3 progress of the French Revolution, and the organisation of the political societies in England and Scotland[79] aided them. The United Irishmen increased in number, the Catholics in confidence, and the Volunteer Corps began to restore their array, and improve their discipline. The ministry grew alarmed. “In December (1792) the Catholics thundered out their demands ... they were supported by all the spirit and intelligence of the Dissenters.[80] Dumouriei was in Brabant—Holland was prostrate before him.” (Wolfe Tone.)

7 December 1792. Government Proclamation against all seditious meetings: In this proclamation we read: “The first battalion of National Guards were to have paraded, clothed like Frenchmen etc.” This proclamation answered by the United Irishmen.

16 December 1792, Rowan (of Dublin) Chairman, when the address was voted, Dr. Drennan wrote it.

The main content of this proclamation,[81] on account of which Rowan and Drennan were prosecuted, was: 1) It called the Volunteers to arms:

“To your formation was owing the peace and protection of this island; to your relaxation has been owing its relapse into impotence and insignificance. 2) Elective franchise to the whole body of the people ... reform in representation. 3) Universal Emancipation and representative legislature, in these 4 words lies all our power.... We, therefore, wish for Catholic Emancipation without any modification, but still we consider this necessary enfranchisement as nearly the portal to the temple of national freedom.... The Catholic cause is subordinate to our cause, and included in it; for, as United Irishmen, we adhere to no sect, but to society—to no party, but the whole people, ... were it (Catholic Emancipation) obtained tomorrow, tomorrow would we go on as we do today, in the pursuit of that Reform, which would still be wanting to ratify their liberties as well as our own. 4) For both these purposes it appears necessary that provisional conventions should assemble preparatory to the convocation of the Protestant Convention (this then to communicate with the Catholic Committee or Convention in Dublin).... If a Convention on the one part does not soon follow, and is not soon connected with that on the other, the common cause will split into the partial interest—the people will relapse into inattention and inertness—too probably, some local insurrections, instigated by the malignity of our common enemy, may commit the character, and risk the tranquillity of the island... The 15th of February approaches....,[82] Let parochial meetings be held as soon as possible; let each parish return delegates; let the sense of Ulster be again declared from Dungannon.... Citizen Soldiers etc.” (This address was issued in meeting at a fencing school, Dublin, several corps of Volunteers with their side-arms going there, as well as Napper Tandy etc.)

In December 1792 Rowan was arrested on an information and admitted-to bail.[83]

The prosecution of the “Northern Star” of Belfast for publishing the Declaration and Address of the “Irish Jacobins (name of the society) of Belfast” on 15 December 1792.

The Declaration of the “Irish Jacobins” says among other things:


“1st) Resolved—That this Kingdom (meaning the Kingdom of Ireland) has no national government, inasmuch as the great mass of the people are not represented in Parliament. [...] 3d) That the people of Ireland can never effectually constitute their own laws, without an extension of the elective franchise to all its citizens. 4th) That the elective franchise can never be obtained without a cordial, steady, and persevering union of all the Irish people of every denomination. 5) That the penal code of statutes which have for upwards of a century doomed our fellow-citizens, the Roman Catholics of this Kingdom, to a state little inferior to the unlettered African, is a disgrace to the land we live in. [...] 7) That to obtain this most desirable end (natural rights of men) we entreat our fellow-citizens of every denomination in Ireland, England, and Scotland, to turn their thoughts to a National Convention, in order to collect the sense of the people as to the most effective means of obtaining a radical and complete Parliamentary reform, an object without which these kingdoms must for ever remain wretched etc.”

“Address. The Irish Jacobins

of Belfast to the Public”

Among other things: “Where the mode of government is not derived from all the people clearly expressed, that nation has no constitution; need we say this is the case with Ireland; it possesses only an acting government [...]: in such a government the supreme authority has more power to oppress the subject than to defend his rights.... Out of 5 millions of people (meaning the Irish people) 90 individuals actually return a majority of the House of Commons, who instead of representing the voice of the nation, are influenced by English interests, and that aristocracy whose baneful exertions have ever tended to sap the vital principles etc. of this unhappy and wretched country.... By unanimity and perseverance this divided land will be liberated from the shackles of tyranny.... It is by procuring a renovated representation that liberty will be established in this country; this can only be accomplished by a National Convention. The Roman Catholics are already convened; let the Protestants follow their peaceful example.”[84]

15 February 1793: Volunteer Convention, said to represent 1,250,000 people, met at Dunganaon, passed resolutions in favour of Emancipation and Reform, and named a permanent Committee. This, doubtless, assisted the carrying of the Relief Bill, but it made the Ministry resolve to crush the Protestants, while it conciliated the Catholics.

Irish House of Commons. 10 January 1793. Lord Westmoreland opens Parliament [with a speech]. Complained of the discontent of Ireland, but said nothing of the corruption, extravagance, and alien policy of ministers. It complained of the invasion of Holland by France, but was silent of the European conspiracy against the Republic. It recommended a relaxation of Catholic fetters, but not the motives: English declaration of war against France, Custine had conquered the Rhine (21 October 1792), Dumouriez’s battle of Jemappes (6 November 1792) and annexation of Belgium. The speech also stated that Government had increased the military establishment, and recommended the formation of a militia. This last was a stroke against the Volunteers. The Address moved was echo to the speech, Grattan moved a trivial amendment.

Catholics had acquired spirit and organisation by Wolfe Tone, Keogh, Byrne, Todd Jones and M’Cormick. The Catholic Committee negotiated with the Government, the successes of France compensated them for the baseness of their [Catholic] aristocracy. Supported by the United Irishmen.

In opposition to the Catholic Committee and the United Irishmen, the Ministry stimulated Protestant bigotry and Catholic division. Out of doors they got the exclusive Corporation of Dublin to address the other Irish Corporations against Emancipation, and they intrigued with the Aristocracy (lay and clerical) of the Catholics. In Parliament they found the relics of the old exclusion Party.

11 January 1793: Curran supported Grattan’s amendment which was carried.

“Parliament has become unpopular in the country.... How could the credit of Parliament survive its independency? ...More than half of us have no connexion with the people.... The disunion of the people from this House raises from this—the people are not represented. And to restore the Union ... wanted a radical Reform of the Commons.... Without them (the Catholics) the country cannot be saved. Give them no qualified Emancipation.... A hated Government, an unpopular Parliament, a discontented people.... The Catholic Petition (1792) has been rejected by the influence of the Irish Administration.”

Early in January 1793[85] Curran unsuccessfully resists the Attorney-General’s motion for the committal of M’Donnell, the printer of the Hibernian Journal, for publishing that the House was not free and independent.

On January 14, 1793 (so persuasive were French victories) Grattan obtained a Committee of the Whole House on Parliamentary Representation, and moved resolutions [pointing out] among other things that of the 300 members only 84 [are] returned by counties, counties of towns and cities, together with the University, while the remaining 216 [are] returned by boroughs and manors. Finis: “Resolved—That the state of the representation of the people in Parliament requires amendment.”

Curran supported this. He said:

“The Catholic Question must precede a Reform. Their place in the state must be decided first.... Ireland feels, that without an immediate Reform her liberty is gone.”

Motion lost by 71 to 153.

But the Opposition had already yielded to the Ministers Indemnity for their violent Proclamations against the Republican Volunteers: they had consented to the Militia and Gunpowder Bills, and therefore the Resolutions were resisted.

11 March 1793 another Government Proclamation, forbidding military societies, drilling, and the whole Machinery of the Volunteers, without naming them.

April 1793: Relief Bill of the Catholics passed, admitting Catholics to the franchise, the bar, the University, and to all the rights of property; but excluding them from Parliament, from State Offices, and from all, indeed, that the Bill of 1829 conceded.[86]

The Bill of 1793 was brought in 10 days after the declaration of war against France.[87]

The same Parliament which passed the Relief Bill, passed the Alien Act, the Military Foreign Correspondence, Gunpowder, and Convention Acts, in fact, a full code of coercion and a Secret Committee. It got 20,000 Regulars and 16,000 Militia.

Convention Bill:

“A law,” says Curran, “not to restrain but to promote insurrection.” The law declares that no body of men may delegate a power to any smaller number, to act, think, or petition for them.

This [is] in fact a bill to prevent assemblies of the people to petition against grievances. According to the Convention Act it is a high misdemeanour in any part of the people to assemble for the purpose of choosing any persons to act for them in framing petitions or other representations for the producing of any change in anything established by law. It was intended to put an end to societies formed and forming, in 1793, for the purpose of procuring a Parliamentary Reform. (Cobbett.)’[88]

Thus armed, the Government commenced its crusade of prosecuting and persecuting, and obtained fresh laws from time to time, and, after the truce of 1795, drove the quarrel to an Insurrection and to the Union.

1794. The agitation continued. (Government prosecutions against Volunteers, United Irishmen etc.) The United Irishmen Society was changed into a secret and secretly organised body. The Catholics still laboured; the French had conquered; their Government aroused by the Irish Jacobin Resolutions of Belfast, and the suggestions of some Irish patriots, bethought themselves to assist the discontented Irish to effect a separation. Rev. Jackson sent there as an agent, put himself in communication with Tone. Betrayed; arraigned for treason (after arrest), hanged.

29 January 1794, Curran as defender of Rowan:

“But now, if any aggregate assembly meets, they are censured; if a printer publishes their resolutions, he is punished; rightly, to be sure, in both cases, for it has been lately done. If people say, let us not create tumult, but meet in delegation, they cannot do it ... the law of last session has for the first time declared such meetings to be a crime.”

The informer system is flourishing.



4 January 1795, Lord Fitzwilliam,

Whig, who had opposed Pitt,

[was] sent by him to Ireland, charged with the carrying of Catholic Emancipation (and Reform Bill), and pacification of Ireland. The apparent causes [were] the rapid progress of the United Irishmen and the French armies, who had driven the Spaniards behind the Pyrenees, the Austrians behind the Rhine, destroyed the Duke of York’s army, and prepared the occupation of Holland in the winter 1794-95.[89]

But from papers published (correspondence between Fitzwilliam and

Lord Carlisle[90]) [it is] evident that Pitt (this was, perhaps, second thought, when the King’s and Beresford’s influence prevailed) has chosen him as tool to agitate the Irish, inflame them, and drive them into Rebellion.

Fitzwilliam was one of the most indulgent landlords of Ireland and very popular. What Pitt wanted, was to raise the Catholics to the height of expectation, and by suddenly recalling Fitzwilliam, to drive them into commotions, which would throw the Protestants into the arms of England for protection, whilst the horrors would be aggravated by the mingled conflicts of parties, Royalists and Republicans.

Pitt had sent Fitzwilliam to Ireland with unlimited powers.

The day Fitzwilliam arrived, peace was proclaimed throughout all Ireland. The day he quitted it, she prepared for insurrection.

Irish House of Commons. 22 January 1795 Fitzwilliam opens with plausible speech. Grattan outdid the Ministers in servile adulation3 (as to the Address). An Emancipation Bill[91] was read a first time, but ample supplies were voted, £2 millions loan was voted, and Anti-Gallican frenzy got upon certain classes. Fitzwilliam recalled.

I l l[edit source]


APRIL 1795-END OF JULY 1798[edit source]

Camden’s arrival attended by almost insurrectionary outrages. The Beresfords assaulted, Clare (Lord Chancellor, i.e. Fitzgibbon) almost killed in his carriage.

Camden’s Chief Secretary Mr. Pelham (Earl Chichester) afterwards replaced by his nephew Stewart (Lord Castlereagh).

Camden became extremely popular amongst the armed associations which were raised in Ireland under the title of Yeomen. He was considered the guardian of that Institution.

Irish House of Commons. 4 May 1795. Second Reading of the Emancipation Bill. Rejected by 155 to 84.

Fitzwilliam’s recall was a triumph for the separation party. An Irish Republic now became the only object of the United Irish. The bulk of the Presbyterians of Down, Antrim, and Tyrone joined, as did multitudes of Protestants and Catholics in Leinster. At this time the Catholics of the North were Defenders or Ribbonmen.[92] Both sides made ready for the worst.

An Insurrection Act passed, making death for any one to take an oath of Association; another allowing the Lord Lieutenant to proclaim countries [in a state of siege], in which case no one could go out at night; and magistrates obtained the power of breaking into houses, and transporting to the navy all persons whom they suspected Other acts—granting indemnity for magistrates guilty of any illegality—giving the Lord Lieutenant the power of arrest without bail— licensing the introduction of foreign troops (Germans), and establishing the Yeomanry Corps—followed each other in quick succession.

The Yeomanry consisted of the Tory Gentry, and their dependants, undisciplined and unprincipled, legal banditti. No villainy but was perpetrated by them. Whipping, pitch-capping, half or whole hanging, sending to serve in the navy—as the leisure or facilities of the officer allowed.[93]

1795. Among the papers found by Jackson View of Ireland, by Tone:

“The Established Churchmen in Ireland have engrossed, besides the whole church patronage, all the profits and honours of the country exclusively, and a very great share of the landed property. Aristocrats, adverse to any change, decided enemies of the French Revolution. Dissenters ... Republicans [...]. Catholics, the great body of the people, in lowest degree of ignorance, ready for any change, because no change can make them worse. The whole peasantry of Ireland, the most oppressed and wretched in Europe, may be said to be Catholic. Within these 2 years [they] have received a certain degree of information, [...] various insurrections, [...] bold, hardy race, and make excellent soldiers. [...] Defenders. [...] They are so situated that they have but one way left to make their sentiments known, and that is by war. [...] All Parliamentary, Grand Jury etc. Acts proceeding from aristocrats, whose interest is adverse to that of the people.”

Defenders (in the North). The Lords’ Committee of 1793 describes them

“as poor ignorant labouring men”, [fighting] for Catholic cause, relieved from hearth-money, tithes, county cesses, lowering of their rents. First they appeared in County Louth, April 1793, several of them armed; assembled mostly in the night, forced into the houses of Protestants and took from them their arms. Spread soon through the counties of Meath, Cavan, Monaghan and other parts adjacent. The Secret Committee tried to connect them with Catholic Gentlemen, and the crown prosecMtors tried to trace them to the United Irishmen Association and French gold. Before Drogheda, Spring Assizes, April 23, 1794, Drogheda Defenders, declared not guilty. Dublin Defenders,. December 22, 1795. James Weldon, connected with them, hanged.

House of Commons. February 3d, 1796. Indemnity Bill.

25 February 1796. Insurrection Bill (it gave the right of arbitrary transportation to magistrates).

Curran: “It is a Bill for the rich, and against the poor.”’[94]“What is a Bill which puts the liberty of the poor man, who has no visible means of living but labour, in the discretion of the magistrates? [...] In Ireland,” where poverty [is] general, “it constitutes poverty a crime.” “Let the rich men of Ireland, therefore, fear when they enact a law against poverty, lest poverty should enact a counter-law against riches.” “Gentlemen have reasoned to prove that he who should be transported by this law would only be sent into an honourable retirement, where he might gain glory by fighting for his country from which his poverty had expelled him.”

Irish Flouse of Commons. 13 October 1796. French War. Camden opened [Parliament with the call:] resist invasion! (Hoche’s force was just assembling at Brest, and Wolfe Tone,. Grouchy, and a part of that expedition, reached Bantry Bay on the 22 December and did not leave it till the 28.) Camden denounced also “popular passion and popular opinion”.

Curran. “Government encourages every attack upon the reputation of the Catholics, and the most wicked and groundless prosecutions against their lives.” “Look at the scene that has been ‘exhibited for 2 years in one of your counties, of robbery, and rape, and murder, and extermination” (of the Catholics). “...Law can give them no protection under a hostile and implacable government.”

Ponsonby’s Amendment defeated by 149 to 12. Then the Attorney-General moved for leave to bring in a Bill, similar to such as have been enacted on like occasions in England, to empower the Lord Lieutenant, to take up and detain all such persons as were suspected of treasonable practices. Leave being given, the Bill was forthwith presented, read a first and second time, and committed for the morrow.

14 October 1796. Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Leave to bring it in granted, read, 2 times, etc. all in a few minutes in the morning after midnight.

17 October 1796. Catholic Emancipation Bill. Rejected.

6 January 1797. Hoche’s Expedition[95] Secretary Pelham brought down a message from the Lord Lieutenant full of English palaver, in reference to France and especially the expedition of Hoche.

Curran. “You have already laid a shilling on the brogues of your beggar peasants; will you impose another shilling upon them? [...] What wealth they have? Seven pence per day.”

24 February 1797. Internal Defence. Sir Laurence Parsons moved an Address for an increase of the d< nestic army, especially the Yeomen infantry. Grattan supported, and the Ministers opposed, the Address. Neither party foresaw how the patriots of the Clubs would turn into the scourges of the People— traitors to their country and their oath, when under the bribe of payment, the compulsion of discipline, and the spirit of the army.

Curran. "At this moment the gaols are crowded ... they[96] make a demand of redress an act of treason."

Since end of March 1796 whole counties of Ireland proclaimed (put in state of siege).

House of Commons. March 18, 1797: Disarming of Ulster. Message of Lord Camden. (Pelham is still Secretary.) General Lake—cowardly, infamous, cruel—was to disarm the inhabitants together with the magistrates. Lake's Proclamation. Belfast, 13 March 1797.

19 March 1797. Grattan: "The Lord Lieutenant attaints one entire province of Ireland of High Treason."[97] Amendment of Grattan.

20 March 1797. Amendment rejected by 127 to 16.

Curran. "The North is deeply discontented. By what? Your own laws, your Convention Act, Gunpowder Act, Insurrection Act. The first denies the natural right of sufferers—the right of petition or complaint; the second, the power of self-defence ... the third, the defence of a jury against the attempts of power."

May 15, 1797. Last speech of Curran in the House of Commons, secedes from it, ditto Grattan; the Opposition ceased to attend, and House adjourned on 3 July 1797. Castlereagh Chief Secretary.

We have seen the decreasing minorities of the party who gallantly struggled to maintain the parliamentary constitution of Ireland. But they grew daily more powerless. The people looked to the United Irish Executive, to France, to arms, to Revolution. The Government persisted in refusing Reform and Emancipation, continued the suspension of the Constitution, and incessantly augmented the despotism of their laws, the profligacy of their administration, and the violence of their soldiery—they trusted to intimidation. Under these circumstances, the opposition determined to abandon the contest.

The Government and the United Irishmen now face to face. The Government strengthened itself by spies on the United Irishmen (such as Maguane and others), the “battalion of testimony” (Bird, Newell, O’Brien etc.), free quarters, prosecutions, patronage, and calumny.

Orr hanged 14 October 1797 for having (allegedly) administered the oath of the United Irish to a private soldier. The Oath is: first, to promote a brotherhood of affection among men of all religious distinctions; secondly, to labour for the attainment of Parliamentary Reform; 3dly, an obligation of secrecy, added to it when the Convention Law had made it criminal for any public delegation to meet for that purpose. The Insurrection Act makes the administering of such an oath felony of death.

The United Irish Society of 1791 formed in 1791, for the achievement of Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform. In 1792-93 it increased, retaining its original objects. In 1794, the views of Tone and Neilson, who both desired an independent republic, spread; but the formal objects were unchanged, when, on 10 May 1795, the organisation of Ulster was completed. The recall of Fitzwilliam, the consequent disappointment of the Catholics, the accumulation of coercive laws, the prospects of the French Alliance, and the natural progress of a quarrel, rapidly spread the influence, and altered the whole character of the Society. The test of the Society was made more decisive, and less constitutional. In the autumn of 1796 the organisation was made military in Ulster. Towards the middle of 1797, this system spread to Leinster. So far back as May 1796, the Executive had formally’[98] communicated with France, through Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Only on 19 February 1798 [it was] resolved “that they would not be diverted from their purpose by anything which could be done in Parliament”.

In the winter of 1796-97, the coming of the French was urged as a reason for immediate insurrection; but it did not prevail. In May, 1797, the order for the execution of the 4 soldiers of the Monaghan militia, was regarded by the militias as sufficient motive for action; but not so thought the Executive. In trie summer of 1797 the militia regiments sent a deputation, offering to seize the Castle. The Northern leaders were for an outbreak, so was Lord Edward. Still nothing was done. And again, in the beginning of 1798, the people subjected to free quarters, whipping, burnings, and transportation, pressed for insurrection. Lord Edward disposed to it. Emmet wanted to wait for France, and thus they were, when the sleek traitor Reynolds of Kilkee glided into their councils through Lord Edward’s weakness. Arthur O’Connor was arrested at Maidstone, in the act of embarking for France; on 12 March, a meeting of Leinster delegates, including Oliver Bond, McCann etc., were arrested at Oliver Bond’s warehouse, Dublin. MacNevin, Thomas Emmet, Sampson were not taken for some days. Warrant against Lord Edward, he escaped and lay concealed. New Directory, John Sheares one of it. On 19 May, just 4 days before the rising was to take place, Lord Fitzgerald was pounced on, and on 21st the two Sheares.[99] Thus the insurrection began, without its designers to lead it, and without time to replace them.

23 May 1798 insurrection commenced, 17 July Lord Castlereagh announced its final defeat.

Before the outbreak of the insurrection, trials took place in February and March 1798.[100]

The insurgents during the struggle not treated as soldiers, but hanged. Burning every cottage, and torturing every cottager—the loyalists. Martial law proclaimed, and the courts of justice closed. No quarter on either side. Bills of attainder and all sorts of legal murder. Juries (packed) recorded the opinions given them by the judges.

25 July 1798 the state prisoners’ negotiation with Government. Their lives secured [by] Mr. Cooke, on behalf of the Ministers. On the other hand, they were to describe the United Irish affairs, so far as they could, without implicating individuals. Byrne, however, was hanged: compact was finally settled on 29 July, at the Castle, by “deputies from the gaols”. The Government broke the compact. They, not only in their press, but by their indemnity act, described the United Leaders as confessing guilt, and craving pardon, neither of which they did. Instead of allowing them to go abroad, they were kept in gaol here for a year, and then thrust into Fort George, from whence thev were not released, till the Treaty of Amiens,[101] in 1802.[102]

Within 12 days from the first rising, the people of Wexford had cleared their county, with the exception of Ross and Duncannon, two places unfit to resist a skilful attack. Similar successes attended the Kildare insurrection.

Antrim and Down did not rise for a fortnight, and there, after similar blunders, and a shorter struggle, the Presbyterians were ousted.

The Wexford men protracted the war; partly from a vague hope for foreign assistance, but still more from despair, for they could not trust the faith of their persecutors; and not a few of these heroic men died in the plains of Meath, in an effort to force their way into Ulster.

The soldier having done his own work, and that of the assassin and brigand, too, [it was the turn of] the bow-string of the Attorney-General. Courts-martial hanged those taken in battle, and courts-civil slaughtered the prisoners. Most unaccountably the insurgents did not retaliate. They besides spared females, the loyalists did not.

German and English troops were also employed in these affairs.


1784. Independence assailed by Pitt under colour of commercial tariff.

1789. The Prince Regent’s Question determined to extinguish the Irish Legislature.

1798. Rebellion used to terrify the minds of men out of common sense.

1798-99 and 1598-99 It is here well worthy of reflection, that the exercise of free quarters and martial law, the suspension of all municipal courts of justice, the discretional application of the torture to suspected persons, executions in cold blood, and the various measures which Mountjoy and Carew, and the other officers of Elizabeth practised in Ireland by her authority, in 1598-99, were again judged to be expedient, and were again resorted to with vigour in 1.798-99, 200 years after they had been practised by the ministers of Elizabeth.

United Irish Societies known to Government.

Though it appeared, from public documents, that Government had full and accurate information of the United Irish Societies, and that their leaders and chiefs were fully known to the British Ministry, the Government did nothing to suppress, but everything to exasperate, the people.[103]

Under Camden’s Administration:

Earl of Carhampton, Commander-in-Chief of Ireland, first expressed his dissatisfaction of Pitt’s inexplicable proceedings. Although martial law was not yet declared, Carhampton ordered his troops to intervene, wherever insurrectionary movements occurred.[104]This was prohibited by Camden. Carhampton found that troops in the garrison of Dublin were daily corrupted by the United Irishmen; he therefore withdrew them and formed two distinct camps on the South and the North, some miles from the capital. This measure also refused by the Lord Lieutenant whom Carhampton refused to obey. The King’s sign manual was at length procured, ordering him to break up his camps, and bring back the garrison; this he obeyed and marched his troops into Dublin barracks. He then resigned his command, and publicly declared, that some deep and insidious scheme of the Minister was in agitation; for, instead of suppressing, the Irish Government was obviously disposed to excite, an insurrection. Mr. Pitt counted on the expertness of the Irish Government to effect a premature explosion. Free quarters were now ordered,

{Free quarters rendered officers and soldiers despotic masters of the peasantry, their homes, food, property, and occasionally, their families. This measure was resorted to, with all its attendant horrors, throughout some of the best parts of Ireland, previous to the insurrection, and for the purpose of exciting it.}

to irritate the Irish population; Slow Tortures[105] were inflicted under the pretence of forcing confessions; the people were goaded and driven to madness.

General Aberçromby, who succeeded as Commander-in-Chief, was not permitted to abate these enormities, and therefore resigned with disgust. {General Abercromby, in general orders, stated that the army placed under his command, from their state of disorganisation, would soon be much more formidable to their friends than to their enemies, and that he would not countenance or admit free quarters.}

Ireland was by those means reduced to a state of anarchy, and exposed to crime and cruelties to which no nation had ever been subject. The people could no longer bear their miseries. Pitt’s object was now effected and an insurrection was excited.

United Irishmen and Pitt.

(Poland and Prussia)[106]

Until 1795 the United Irishmen were Protestants, of a minor division of the people. Many of them were Pitt’s dupes. At the same time (1793 sqq) emissaries were sent from Berlin to Poland in order to form there Jacobinical Clubs, that they might offer a pretext for the introduction of new armies.[107]

Exorbitation of the People.

Castlereagh’s Boast

The Irish people were to be tormented, outraged, forced into actual rebellion. Recall of Lord Fitzwilliam involved the country in consternation and dismay. To this succeeded, to fret and exasperate, the Habeas Corpus Act Suspension Bill, the Searching for Arms Act, the Bill to transport persons not found at home from sunset to sunrise; further many persons were shot because, being terrified, they attempted to escape when challenged, or, being seized, they were consigned to Prussia. Ensor met some of them at Berlin, and the law indemnified the perpetrators of such prodigious deeds. Then the Yeomanry were raised: these committed dreadful outrages, particularly in the North; burning houses in open day, commanded by their officers, who were also magistrates. The Militia rivalled the Yeomanry. It is said that pitch-caps were invented by some bravos of the North Cork Militia. Still more ferocious the Dublin Corporation. The riding-house, in Marlborough Street, distinguished for Protestant loyalty, and torture was administered by the scourge and the triangle. Summary executions not uncommon in preparing the Irish for the Union; bodies of Irishmen, deluded by the British Ministry, irritated and inflamed, tortured, tormented, in phrensy and despair, grasped such arms as they could seize, and defied their enemies. This was called rebellion; and Castlereagh boasted that he had made the conspiracy explode. He charged that mine as well as fired it.




Castlereagh had been reformer in Ireland as Pitt in England, till office made him explode. Declared 1792 for Irish Parliamentary Reform. Ditto 1793 for Grattan’s motion for Parliamentary Reform. When, Io! the Ministry of Ireland was changed and Camden succeeded Lord Fitzwilliam. With the change of men Castlereagh’s opinion of Reform was upset. In 1797, the serpent, the viper, and snake made another feat: he declared for a wise and well digested plan of Reform at a proper time. Yet then he has nearly completed the scheme of Ihe Union, and the extinction of the Parliament of his country.

Pitt in British Parliament

The reign of terror (Pitt thundered against the French one) prepared the Union. Pitt, while talking of the prodigious wickedness of interfering with prerogative orders and ancient customs, meditated during years of such verbose, political prudery, the end and ruin of the fundamental constitution of Ireland. At the very time when this his machination was completing, he defended, with swollen rhetoric, the independence of Ireland’s Parliament. In the debate on the recall of Lord Fitzwilliam, in 1795, “he deprecated the discussion as a manifest violation of the independence of the Irish Parliament”.[108] Two years later, in 1797. when Fox proposed to address His Majesty on the best means to tranquillise Ireland, this W. Pitt objected “on the unconstitutionality, the impropriety, and the danger to be apprehended from the interference of the British Parliament in the affairs of Ireland”. This flagitious impostor deprecated any means for Ireland’s prosperity; for he proposed, through its agonies and confusion, to effect its incorporate Union with Great Britain.




Then there was Lord Cornwallis, the man thrashed by the Americans, during their War of Independence. As a governor for India, he was further qualified for destroying a nation’s rights.

(There he incorporated Tippoo Sahib for the East India Company.)

Cornwallis was the intermediate agent between Pitt and Robert Stewart, commonly called Lord Castlereagh.[109]

In India Cornwallis had defeated Tippoo Sahib, but concluded a peace which only increased the necessity of future wars.[110]

19 October 1781, capitulation of Cornwallis by Yorktown.

Quietness was almost restored. Cornwallis affected impartiality, whilst he was deceiving both parties. He encouraged the United Irishmen, and he roused the Royalists; one day he destroyed, the next day he was merciful. His system, however, had not exactly the anticipated effect. Everything gave reason to expect a restoration of tranquillity, it was through the impression of horror alone that an Union could be effected, and he had no time to lose, lest the country might recover its reason.

Fortunate accident for him: A portion of an armament, destined by France to aid the Irish insurgents, had escaped the Irish cruisers, and landed about a 1,000 troops at Killala Bay (in the North-West of Ireland).[111] They entered Killala without opposition, surprising the bishop and a company of parsons who were on their visitation. They were joined by a considerable number of peasantry, unarmed, unclothed, and undisciplined. But the French did their best to render them efficient. Marched into the country. Lord Hutchinson commanded the garrison of Castlebar, a few miles from Killala. His force numerous, with a good train of artillery. General Lake with his staff had just arrived. French attacked them. In a few minutes, the whole of the royal army was completely routed. About 900 French and some peasants took possession of Castlebar.[112] (This battle is called the Races of Castlebar.) The English fled in full haste to Tuam.

A considerable part of the Louth and Kilkenny regiments (militia), not finding it convenient to retreat, joined the victors, and in. one hour were completely equipped as French riflemen. About 90 of these men were hanged by Cornwallis afterwards at Ballynamuck. The defeat of Castlebar, however, was a victory to the Viceroy; it revived all the horrors of rebellion, which had been subsiding, and the desertion of the militia regiments tended to impress the gentry with an idea, that England alone could protect the country.

Lord Cornwallis was supine, and the insurgents were active in profiting by this victory; 40,000 of them were prepared to assemble at the Crooked Wood, in Westmeath, only 42 miles from Dublin, ready to join the French and march upon the metropolis.

The French continued too long at Castlebar, and Lord Cornwallis at length collected 20,000 troops, with which he considered himself pretty certain of conquering 900 men. With above 20,000 men, he marched directly to the [Shannon][113] to prevent the passage, but he was outmanoeuvred]: the insurgents had led the French to the source of that river, and it was ten days before Castlereagh, by the slowest possible marches, which tended purposely to increase the public terror, reached his enemy. After some skirmishes, in which the French [were] victorious, they capitulated at Ballynamuck[114] They were sent to Dublin and afterwards to France.

Horrors now were everywhere recommenced; executions were multiplied. Cornwallis marched against the peasantry, still masters of Killala; and after a sanguinary conflict in the streets, the town was taken: some were slaughtered, many hanged, and the whole district was on the point of being reduced to subjection, when Cornwallis most unexpectedly proclaimed an armistice, and without any terms allowed the insurgents freely to disperse, and gave them 30 days, either to surrender their arms or be prepared for slaughter; leaving them to act, as they thought proper in the interval. This interval was terrific to the loyalists; the 30 days of armistice were 30 days of new horror, and the Government had now achieved the very climax of public terror, on which they so much counted for inducing Ireland to throw herself into the arms of the protecting country. And the first step of Pitt’s project was fully consummated.


Pitt now conceived that the moment had arrived to try the effect of his previous measures to promote a Legislative Union.

The Irish Peers, under Lord Clare’s, Lord Chancellor’s, despotism, [were] ready for anything. The lure of translation neutralised the scruples of Episcopacy. Single exceptions: Marly, Bishop of Waterford, and Dixon, Bishop of Down. The rebellion had commenced on 22 May 1798, and on 22 January 1799, an Union was proposed. 40,000 British troops were then in Ireland.[115]

Pitt now conceived the moment to have come to try the effect of his previous measures to promote a Legislative Union, and annihilate the Irish Legislature.

The measure first proposed indirectly by Speech from the Throne on 22 January 1799. Lord Cornwallis’ unexpected warfare against 900 Frenchmen, evidently intended more for terror than for victory.

{ King’s title was “George III, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith” etc. France was dropped on Amiens Peace.}

Clare’s (Fitzgibbon’s) only check [was] the bar, which he resolved to corrupt. He doubled the number of bankrupt commissioners, revived some offices, created others, and under pretence of furnishing each County with a local judge, in 2 months established 32 new offices, of £600-700 each.

First Parliamentary debate on 22 January 1799, lasted till 11 o’clock of 23 January (22 hours). Government obtained majority of 1 by open sale of a certain Fox, lawyer.

2nd debate on 5 o’clock of 23 January 1799, continued till late in the morning of the 24, Government defeated. In every debate upon that measure, it was insisted upon that Parliament was incompetent, even to entertain the question of the Union. In this sense spoke Saurin, since Attorney-General, Plunket, since Lord Chancellor, Sir John Parnell, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Bushe, since Lord Chief Justice, Lord Oriel, the then Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.

Sir Lawrence Parsons and others showed by irrefutable facts that the country had been worked upon by the English Minister, to terrify the Irish gentry into a resubmission to those shackles from which the spirit of the Volunteers and the nation had but a few years before released them. It was argued that the insurrection, first organised and fostered by Pitt, and protracted by Cornwallis, had been suppressed by the Irish Parliament; and that the introduction of foreign and mercenary Germans, to immolate the Irish, instead of extinguishing, had added fuel to the insurrection. Then great point: the incompetence of Parliament to betray its trust. Act of Union in itself a nullity ab initio,[116] and a fraud upon the then existing constitution.

Act of 23 George III “recognising the unqualified independence of Ireland, and expressly stipulating and contracting that it should endure for ever”.

24 January 1799 111 Members decided against Union, 105 for. Voted that night 216. Absent 84.

House of Lords on 22 January 1799 in answer to the Viceroy’s address voted for the Union.

The Irish Lords lay prostrate before the Government, but the leaders were not inattentive to their own interest. The defeat of the Government in the Commons gave them an importance they had not expected. The accounts of Lord Annesley etc. prove their corruption. A great proportion of the 11/2 millions levied upon Ireland, and distributed by Castlereagh’s Commissioners of Compensation, went into the pockets of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of Ireland.

Cornwallis coquetted with the persons, assuming to themselves the title of “Catholic Leaders”. The Catholic Bishops were generally decieved into the most disgusting subserviency.

The members of the old opposition, who were returned to the new Parliament in 1797, did not exceed 50.

Strongest cause of division amongst the Members [was] the Catholic Question. Cornwallis flattered the Catholics promising certain emancipation; the priests bowed before him. Never yet did any clergy so retrograde as the Catholic Hierarchy, on that occasion. Corruptly deceived. In 1798 the Catholics were hanged, in 1799 caressed, in 1800 cajoled, in 1801 discarded.

Mr. Pitt, by private dispatch to Cornwallis, desired that the measure should not be then pressed, unless majority of 50 [was] certain. Clare, the Chancellor, overhauled this. Thousands of addresses and petitions against any further discussion. As a punishment for the rejoicings at Dublin over the rejection of the Union, soldiers were ordered to fire amongst the people, of whom a few [were] killed and some wounded.

It appears in full proof, that in proportion to their respective numbers, the British Commons, at the period of the Irish Union, [had] 1/4 more corrupted, corruptible, and influenced members than that of Ireland at any period.

5 and 6 February 1800. Union accepted by Irish House of Commons.

Castlereagh compelled even felons in the gaols to sign Union petitions.

English generals, who, at a moment when martial law existed, or a recollection of its execution was still fresh in every memory, could not fail to have their own influence over proclaimed districts and bleeding peasantry; tried to procure addresses to Parliament.

Mr. Darby, High Sheriff of King’s County,[117] and Major Rogers of the artillery, had gone so far as to place 2 six-pounders towards the doors of the Court House, where the gentlemen and freeholders of the county were assembling to address as Anti-Unionists.

In interval between old and new Parliament, the Parliamentary patrons had breathing-time after the preceding session, and began to tremble for their patronage and importance; some desperate step by Government became necessary to insure continuance of their support. Now unparalleled measure.

Castlereagh publicly declared, first, that every nobleman, who returned Members to Parliament, should be paid, in cash, £15,000 for every Member so returned; secondly, that every Member who had purchased a seat in Parliament should have his purchase money repaid to him, by the Treasury in Ireland; thirdly, that all Members of Parliament, or others, who were losers by an Union, should be fully recompensed for their losses; and that £1,500,000 should be devoted to this service; in other terms, all who supported this measure were, under some pretence or other, to share in the bank of corruption. A declaration so flagitious and treasonable was never publicly made in any country; [it] had its effect; before the meeting of Parliament he had secured a small majority of 8 above a moiety of the members.

After the debate on the Union in 1800, he performed his promise, and brought in a Bill to raise 11/2 million of money upon the Irish people, nominally to compensate, but really to bribe their representatives, for betraying their honour and selling their country. George III gives his assent to a Bill to levy taxes for the compensation of Members of Parliament, for their loss of the opportunities of selling what it was criminal to sell or purchase.

The Union Bill but feebly resisted. The divisions of January and February 1800 reduced the success of the Government to a certainty.

Lord Shannon received for his patronage in the Commons £45,000
The Marquis of Ely £45,000
Lord Clanmorris, beside a British peerage £23,000
Lord Belvidere, beside his douceur £15,000
Sir Hercules Langrishe £15,000

15 January 1800 Speech from the Throne, debate proceeded till past 10 o’clock on the 16th. (60 members absent. Not governmental ones.)

5 February next division. The Union propositions, as passed by the British Parliament, were, after a long speech, laid before the House of Commons by Castlereagh. After a debate of the entire night, at 11 the ensuing morning, the division took place.

Members 300, absent 27, rest 273. For Castlereagh’s Motion 158, against 115, majority 43. (273 members present.)

The House was surrounded by military, under the pretence of keeping peace, in fact, to excite terror. (British Regiment.)

The Bishops Troy, Lanigan, and others, deluded by the Viceroy, sold their country, and basely betrayed their flocks, by promoting the Union. Rebellion had terrified the great body of Catholics who could not move. Besides the 1 V2 million Castlereagh also had unbounded secret service money from England. British clerks and officers were smuggled into the Irish Parliament to vote away the Constitution of the Country. By the subjugation of Ireland, England has gained nothing but an accumulation of debt, an accession of venality to her Parliament, an embarrassment in her councils and a progressive danger to the integrity of the empire. The name of Union has been acquired, but the attainment of the substance has been removed farther than ever. Castlereagh palpably purchased 25 Members before the second discussion in 1800, which made a difference of 50 votes in favour of Government. Thus Pitt and Castlereagh carried the Union.

* * *

More about the Union[118]

The Irish Parliament were only delegates for a few years. How could they vote their own dissolution and extinction for ever? If the Irish Parliament was authorised to destroy the Constitution, why not the English? Why not pass a royal law? No appeal was made to the people. This was done in Scotland[119]; [they] did not dare doing it in Ireland. Even the rotten boroughs sickened at the sound.

The Irish Parliament of 1800 elected in 1797 for 8 years.

The Union carried during the reign of Martial Law\ On the other hand, Resolution of the English House of Commons in 1741: “that the presence of armed . soldiers, at the election of members of Parliament, is a high infringement of the liberty of the subject, and an open defiance of the laws and constitution.”

Martial Law Bill in Ireland from commencement of the rebellion in 1798, renewed 1799, in 1800 revived, but in fact it was to be considered as a continuance of [the] former act passed (1799); in 1801, the act of 1800 was continued, for a very short time, by the United Parliament, without any inquiry!

The Act of the Union is an Act of Conquest (Ensor).

Ireland’s Union with England—Cromwell’s scheme. It was among the delusions of Monk. The English Government had no object by the Union, which means the extinction of Irish Legislature, but to deprive Ireland of its political consequence and authority, and subject her property and people to the mercy of England. The English Ministry, in guaranteeing Norway to Sweden, stipulated that Norway, by its union with Sweden, should enjoy an independent Parliament.[120]

Just as the Union of Ireland with England was declared necessary, so had Lord Grenville declared: “Hampshire ought to be no more dear to us than Hanover.”

Popular Meetings (and Petitions)

Despite Martial Law and the Suspension of All Guarantees for Popular Security.

Ditto House of Commons during 1799[121]

Popular indignation universal. Though sheriffs were chosen to obstruct petitioning, though the military opposed their assembling, and dispersed them; yet they met and protested, as at Birr, where Major Rogers actually marched with cannon against a county meeting. They met in Dublin, as in 1759, on the mere rumour of a projected Union. The people assembled in the towns of Belfast, Limerick, Drogheda, Newry, Maryborough, Carrickfergus, Pontadown, etc.; in the Counties of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Wexford, Cavan, Longford, Tipperary, Galway, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Kilkenny, Meath, Carlow, the King’s and Queen’s Counties, Leitrim, Kildare, Down, Westmeath, Armagh, Clare, Louth, Donegal, Mayo, Wicklow, Tyrone, Antrim, Waterford. Thus the population in towns, cities and counties petitioned against that fatal measure, in spite of all terrors and opposition. The Irish Commons coincided with them. Though a mere fictitious representation, first by the borough system, and secondly by its election (a mere farce), for the annalist remarks: “through consternation of some, and hostility of others, it had little more than the formality of an election.” Yet the House of Commons had in 1799 rejected the Union by 111 to 105!

Corruption etc. in 1800

The English Government resumed the measure. Merciless profligacy. Vote with us or vacate your seat! Open, flagitious bribery! The bribe was administered in every form to wretches. Mr. Edgeworth relates that he was offered to vacate a seat, that a more convenient person might be elected in his place. Offices were granted simply, or divided among many; pensions added; endless promises. The Church afforded a great vent for the increase of prostitution; rectories and bishoprics were granted thrice in succession to clerical friends of members, advocates for the Union. The army and navy, boards and concessions, were exposed at the Union mart; lawyers were to be advanced to the Bench, by voting away the Parliament. Commoners were to be made Lords, and Lords to be relorded with a superior title.

So numerous were the superadded placemen alone in the Commons, that in the year of the Union 1800, 35 new writs were moved for the re-election of members, who had accepted places from England’s Minister! The Lords, and the other boro[ughmongers],[122] of course, obtained a grand division of the Union-bribe—£622,000 was voted in the United Parliament, in 1801, [as] compensation for the borough-holdersl Only £622,000 paid, as a first instalment, by the borough-mongers of [England] to the borough-mongers of Ireland!

Yet, after this overwhelming corruption, prompt payment, and endless expectancy, the minority opposed to the Union, in the first [division], in a House of Commons, of whom 84 only returned for the counties, counties of cities, and the University, and 216 for [boroughs and manors]. A simple bribe disqualifies a member from sitting in Parliament; and shall not such bribery, a small part of the corruption, dismiss the Act of Union from the Statute-Book?

Just Punishment of the Traitorous

Catholic Hierarchy and the Few Higher

Class Catholics Who Joined Them

Cornwallis (Pitt) had promised them full emancipation. Fulsome address from the Catholic clergy and Bishop Lanigan from Kilkenny to Cornwallis. Yet King George III, as will be seen from the following, accepted the Union as means to make no further concessions to the Catholics. Pitt in 1801 handed in his resignation, on pretext that King kept not his word as to Catholics. This [was] mere show. He wanted not to be minister during truce with Bonaparte.[123] Re-entered afterwards the Ministry without stipulating any favour for Catholics.

George III, in his letters, published by Lord Kenyon, declares that he was inclined to assent to the Union, believing that the Union would for ever preclude any further concessions to the Catholics.

His words in his letter to Pitt, February 1, 1801, are: “When the Irish propositions were transmitted to me, by a joint message from both Houses of Parliament, I told the Lords and Gentlemen, sent on that occasion, that I would with pleasure, and without delay, forward them to Ireland; but that, as individuals, 1 could not help acquainting them, that my inclination to an Union with Ireland was principally founded on a trust, that the uniting the established churches of the 2 kingdoms would for ever shut the door to any further measures with respect to the Roman Catholics.“[124]

On the Legality of the Union

Attorney-General’s Scott’s (afterwards Lord Clonmel, principal agent of Pitt etc.) declaration of resisting the usurpation of England, in 1782, was repeated in 1800, by 2 successive Attorney-Generals of Ireland. Mr. William Saurin, in his place in Parliament, declared that he considered the Irish representatives incompetent to exact a legislative Union; and that any statute, made by a Parliament, thus constituted, would not be constitutionally binding on the Irish people. [After becoming] AttorneyGeneral, [he] never afterwards repeated his scepticism.

Mr. Plunket made the same declaration, but in rather stronger terms, as he vouched for his son as well as himself; and soon after became Attorney-General.

In every debate upon that measure, it was insisted upon that the Parliament was incompetent, even to entertain the question of the Union. So Saurin, Plunket (since Lord Chancellor), Sergeant Ball, the ablest lawyer of Ireland, Fitzgerald, Prime-Serjeant of Ireland, Moore, since a judge, Sir John Parnell, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Bushe, since Chief Justice, Lord Oriel, the then Speaker of the (Irish) House of Commons.

January 1799. Irish House of Commons. Plunket (Solicitor-General for Ireland under Addington Cabinet) declared: “I tell [you][125] that if, circumstanced as you are, you pass this Act, it will be a mere nullity, and that no man in Ireland will be bound to obey it.”[126]

7 May 1802 Forster declared in the United House of Commons 1802 that Castlereagh, in Ireland, had made use of public money [for the pur]pose of obtaining votes in favour of the Union.

Grey, May, 1806, House of Commons said that ‘‘these votes for Union were purchased by corruption.

“The ac[t of][127] borough-mongers and placemen is irrevocable, against the Irish Nation!” (Ensor.)[128]

Opinions of English Liberals

and Radicals on the Union

Lord Holland: The English were injured (by the Union) particularly by the means it affords to increased parliamentary corruption. This was foreseen by Lord Holland, who, in debating the Union preparatory to its enactment, said “that it was incompatible with the opinions of all those who wished for Parliamentary Reform”.

{The Representative Irish Peers, thickening the ranks of the House of Lords, have strengthened the prerogative. The whole peerage of Ireland is a borough, of which the King is Patron}

George Tierney said, speaking of the Union before it was enacted, that it would ruin Great Britain. It has ruined both England and Ireland. The subjugation of Ireland has made England’s people a mere taxable commodity. Instead of the universal tranquillity, which Canning promised, when advocating the Union, the Union was followed by new and severe laws, extraordinary commissions, and unlimited agitation. Ireland is mocked with some of the minor forms of freedom.

“Union of 1800 a ruin to the annexed, a torment to the annexing nation.” (Barrington.)

Cobbett. Political Register, 14 February 1807, in connection with the “Threshers” disturbances in West Ireland,[129] lays the following ironical words in the mouth of an Irish exciseman:

“He had no doubt but with an entire repeal of the Habeas Corpus Act, a due execution of the statutes for martial law, and the assistance of 60,000 regular troops, Ireland would become a valuable dependence to England, and produce so considerable a revenue, as to [be] able with the aid of Sir John Newport, in borrowing 2 or 3 millions a year, very nearly to pay the troops to keep the peace, the custom-house officers to collect the revenues, and the salaries and pensions of the ‘friends of government’.”[130]

In connection with the Irish Insurrection Bill of 1807, which was still in force in 1809:

Cobbett, Political Register, 9 December 1809: “Angry with the Irish; because — because what? Why, because their existence endangers our safety] Angry with them, because they are alive, and have a desire to enjoy life! Sad dogs those Irishmen must be to desire to keep alive, when to keep (dive may be dangerous to usl” .... “We may, as I before observed, be angry with the Irish, because about 5 millions of them continue to be alive, we may hate them and curse them; we may wish their island sunk to the bottom of the sea; but, still they live, and live they will” .... “It is, therefore, as useless to be angry with them as it would be to be angry with thunder and lightning."[131]

Cobbett. Political Register, 20 February 1811:

“What an infamy to the English nation, who really seem to desire to be deceived with regard to Ireland; but, whose silly and base desire will be frustrated in spite of themselves; for hear and see and feel the truth they must. They may hide their heads in their hoods and cloaks as long as they will; they may, as long as they please, pay impostors to sooth their cowardly fears, but all will not do. Ireland! Ireland! Ireland! will, maugre all their miserable devices, present herself to them in her true and formidable shape.”[132]

Ensor. “Ireland with its foundations is pressed downward by the accumulated burthens of England and her empire.” (Pays 5 millions now for absentees etc. to England.)[133]

Curran: She (Ireland) “thought the circulation of the political blood could be carried on only by the action of the heart within the body, and could not be maintained from without”. “The instruments of our government have been almost simplified into the tax gatherer and the hangman.” With the Union: “all semblance of national independence buried in that grave in which our legislation is interred, our property and our persons are disposed of, by laws made in another clime, and made like boots and shoes for exportation to fit the wearers as they may. ... It was, in fact, the real design of a rash, and arbitrary, and short-sighted projector, at once to deprive you of all power, as to your own taxation, and of another power of not very inferior importance, and which, indeed, is invariably connected with taxation, to rob you of all influence upon the vital question of peace and war; and to bring all within the control of an English minister. This very power, thus acquired by that detested Union, has been a millstone about the neck of England. From that hour to this she has been flaring away in her ruinous and wasteful war.”[134]

Ensor: “England paralysed at home and abroad.” Castlereagh, advanced to be English minister by the Irish war. He taxed the English nation with “an ignorant impatience of taxation”. “The whole House of Commons is a labyrinth of pretension, imposture, falsehood, injustice, and gloating corruption.... There is no shame, no regard to facts, no respect for consequences, since the Union, in the English Parliament.”’[135]

Morning Chronicle, 1828: “The hatred of the Union is the only point, we believe, as to which all Irishmen are agreed. It has been an unfortunate measure both for England and Ireland]”[136]

Petty said: “England has constantly -lost, these 500 years, by the meddling with Ireland.”[137]

Loss to England[138]

Irish Members—access of venality and corruption to the House of Commons. Increase [of] ministerial usurpation.

“How the Irish Members precipitated themselves, when the Manchester Massacre was to be justified by Castlereagh, the manager of the Union! How they thronged to pass the 6 Acts!”[139](Ensor)

“The French war strengthened the royal prerogative in England, as it increased the means of expenditure, and the fonds of corruption. These effected the Union, and the Union multiplied every scheme of rapine and prodigality.” (Ensor.)

Ireland—one of the pretexts of keeping a large standing army.

By the Union, the military of one country, when transferred, are in effect foreign mercenaries. War service in time of peace.

English House of Commons. “Increased members, and the increased and multiform business in the House of Commons, have lessened the attention of the great body of the members. The House of Commons, before the Union of Scotland and England, consisted of 513 members. At this period the business of the nation preceded application to private affairs. The legislature then met in the morning. The members were fined if they absented themselves when the Speaker took the Chair, and absence for a whole day was punished with an enhanced penalty. Now the House consists of 658 members, yet not a 10th are present when the Speaker takes the Chair on any day. Business is often transacted when there is, technically, no House.” (Ensor.)

“Every acquisition of a nation by a nation is injurious to the liberty of both. The accessory country is a lapsed inheritance, while the people who make the acquisition are submissive to their own rulers, lest they might countenance any disturbance in the superadded nation; they submit at home for a barren, often expensive, superiority abroad. [...] This the whole story of the Roman history ... as the world fell before the Roman aristocracy, the Roman citizens were pauperised and enslaved. [...] Every impeachment, of liberty in one country leads to its loss in another.” (Ensor.)

“Talk about revolutionary principles] The Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV, called, in 1793, an effort to abolish the slave trade part of ‘the levelling principles of the French Revolution’.”

“Say not, then, that England will never consent to relieve Ireland from the Union—repeat not that she will never be bullied or frightened. The English are the sport of frights.... When Englishmen proclaim, we will not be frightened: it is as the coward’s song, surprised by the darkness of night. The English not be frightened! ... England not to be frightened by Ireland! The whole history of the connexion of the 2 countries betrays terror, paralysis, distraction. England’s numerous laws against Ireland’s trade, manufactures, and commerce — against her people, as a religious community, as a political society—prove that the fears of England have neither measure nor limit.... Nay, their jealousy, their suspicion, their alarm, confessedly induced them to force the Union on Ireland, by which they ensured the evil they laboured to prevent.” (Ensor.)

Confiscations in Ireland[140]

Sir W. Petty says generally: “most of the lands of Ireland have been, within 150 years, forfeited”?[141]

In fact, all Ireland has been confiscated, three times, again and again. On some occasions, such were the forfeitures, that the territory on sale, from the glut of the market, fell to 1/4 of its former annual value. Lawrence mentions, “that from 1654-1660, not only the adventurers[142] and soldiers, but all persons who could command money, traded in land, and thereby obtained better estates in one year than by treble the sum they got ever before in 7 years’ traffic”.

This upsetting and dislocation of property, by force of arms, were aggravated by wicked inquisitions, and the practices of the crown lawyers. When the head of a clan died, if the descent followed the Irish custom, the land was forfeited: for this custom was repugnant to the English code. [Yet, if][143] this land were distributed according to the English law, that was reputed irregular, for it should have been transmitted, said the lawyers, according to the Brehon law.[144]

Thus the land was forfeited either way, and the Crown became the sole heir. By these means, whether in peace or alleged insurrection, property was subjected to chicane, and the people were systematically robbed. Sometimes the people revolted, e.g. under Edward II and Charles I.[145]

Harris states the reasons of this last insurrection thus: “The preposterous rigour, and unreasonable severity—the covetous zeal and uncharitable fury of some men — and, lastly, the fear of utter extirpation.”

Scotch Union with England

Scotland and England parts of the same island. But the population differed from that in England. In Scotland at that time there was peace at home and abroad. There were only 3,000 troops in Scotland (Defoe)} Again, when the Parliament of Scotland was to be elected, the electors were apprised that they were to depute members to decide respecting the Union of the 2 countries. When Union [was] first proposed in the Scotch Parliament, 64 majority for Union. Scotland by the Union secured for itself the republican form of Church government. Presbyterianism became thus by law the religion of the State. By the Irish Union the religion of 1/10 of the people was declared to be the State religion. Act of Union declares this to be the law for ever. Yet the repeal of the Scotch Union in the English House of Commons[146] in 1713 [was] rejected by a majority of 4 voices.[147]



SUMMARY[edit source]

The second part of the work is subdivided in almost the same way as the first. The only difference being that here two paragraphs are designated by the letter c): "Volunteer Organisation" and "Declaration of Irish Independence", whereas in the main part of the work the first of these paragraphs is designated by the letter b).

1) FROM 1778 TO 1782.



a) Penal Code up to 1778 in full vigour against the Catholics. State of Irish Parliament in 18th century until American War of Independence. Poynings’ Law (a statute of Henry VII, by his AttorneyGeneral, Sir Edward Poynings). Statute 6, George I.

Only some opposition to England on commercial matters. Influence of absentees. (Peers principally.)

b) 1778 Irish Parliament relaxes severity of the Penal Code[148] Catholics were allowed to take leases of land. This [is a] consequence of the American war, and the treaty of France with America (6 February 1778).




June 1778 commenced war with France. Summer 1779 King of Spain accedes as ally to United States and France. Plymouth assailed by their united fleets (August 1779). Threatened invasion of Ireland.

The Volunteers—armed Protestantism of Ireland[149] {(26 February 1780: Armed Neutrality founded by Russia.)} In 1779 Ireland left ungarrisoned.

The Armed Associations first local and provincial, strongest in the North. First against Invasion. Protestant farmers rallied first under this cry. Catholics assisted. Soon cry of the Volunteers: “Free Trade” (i.e. Free Export) an d emancipation of Irish industry an d commerc e from the shackles laid upo n them by England (to free themselves mercantilely and industrially). England suspends, prohibits export of Irish manufactures, inundate s Irish marke t with he r own manufactures. Non-Importation and Non-Consumption Agreement. In the Voluntee r movemen t Association of all ranks.

Sessions of Irish House of Commons 1779-80 unde r this high popular pressure .

Grattan moves an amendmen t to the address, wher e we find the following:

“constant drain to supply absentees, and the unfortunate prohibition of our trade”, demands to “open a free export trade”.

Amendment of Hussey Burgh (the Prime Sergeant):

“that it is not by temporary expedients, that this nation is now to be saved from impending ruin”.[150]

Unanimously carried. Volunteers rightly attributed to themselves this success. Increase in their numbe r and confidence. Lord North supercilious. Does nothing. Non-Importation and NonConsumption Act now general [cry] in Ireland. Dublin (city) Resolutions. Dublin Volunteers chose William, Duke of Leinster, for their Chief. Soon 4 provincial armies organised, Earl of Charlemont first commander-in-chief of the Ulster army, soon general commander-in-chief.

Free Trade became the watchword of the Volunteers. James Napper Tandy at the head of Dublin Volunteer Artillery, with labels on the mouth s of their cannon: “Free Trade or Speedy Revolution”. Meanwhile: 19 October 1781, Cornwallis capitulates at York Town (Virginia).

30 November 1782. Paris Preliminary Treaty between United States and England.

Lord North now frightened. America already lost.

English House of Commons. 24 November 1781 speech from the throne . 25 November 1781 British Parliament meets, first Bills of concessions receive royal assent.

2 December 1781. In hot haste these laws restrictive of commercial and manufactural restraint are now revoked, but North tried, by considering them bit by bit, in longer intervals, to get over the session of 1782 and do no more. Now, on the contrary, the Irish Volunteers became aware that under the pretext of making concessions British Parliament asserts its legislative authority over Ireland. Free Parliament becomes now a watchword added to that of Free Trade. 14 Irish counties at once avowed to establish, at the risk of their lives and fortunes, the independence of the Irish Legislature.

Resolutions entered into by almost every military camp, and every incorporate body, that they would no longer obey any laws, save those, enacted by the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland.

At that time: Poynings’ Statute subjected Irish Legislature to British Attorney-General and British [Privy] Council. 6, George I to Statutes of British Parliament and British Appellant Jurisdiction.

Standing army in Ireland independent of Parliament, under the regulations of a British Statute, Perpetual Mutiny Bill and hereditary Revenue of the Crown.

Judges of Ireland hold their offices only during the will of the British Minister, and their salaries barely sufficient to keep them above want.

Irish Parliament met but once in 2 years. In the British AttorneyGeneral was vested the superintendence of their proceedings, in the British Privy Council the alteration and rejection of their Statutes. Want of Protection for Personal Liberty in Ireland: No Habeas Corpus Act.

9 October 1781. Irish House of Commons. Resolution of vote of thanks for the Volunteers, for their exertions, and continuance. Unanimous.

These brought down the British Government to the feet of the Volunteers—self-armed, self-governed, self-disciplined associations; by this time [they] exceeded in number the whole regular military, force of the British Empire. Now regular and public deliberative meetings of the Volunteers. Catholic bodies entered the Volunteer army, officered by Protestants. Cry: “that their connection with England was only federative”. Repeal of 6, George I asked.

The armed associations of Ulster first appointed delegates to declare their sentiments in a general Assembly. Convention at Dungannon, 15 February 1782. Agreed upon the celebrated Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Delegates of 25,000 Ulster soldiers.

Convention resolves to appoint 9 of their members to act as a Committee at Dublin, to communicate with the other Volunteer Associations, deliberate with them on carrying the Dungannon Resolutions into effect. In every Volunteer Corps of Ireland the Dungannon Resolutions accepted.

Pressure of this on the Irish House of Commons. Its sessions [were] biennial, and, consequently, their grants for the Government for 2 years at once. They now resolved on granting supplies to the Crown for 6 months only. This had its effect.


Proceedings of Irish voluntary bodies and corporate bodies [became] every day more serious and decisive, tone in the House of Commons more menacing. Lord North no longer possible.

April 1782. Marquis of Rockingham Cabinet (James Fox in it). Duke of Portland, nominated Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, arrives at Dublin 14 April 1782, had to meet the Irish Parliament on 16 April.

Message of George III to British Parliament, 18 April 1782, wherein necessity expressed

“to come to a final adjustment with Ireland”.

British House of Commons express their full concurrence.

House of Commons, 16 April 1782. Portland had wanted to procrastinate, Grattan communicated to him that [this was] impossible without provoking anarchy. Hely-Hutchinson, Lord Lieutenant had ordered him to communicate King’s message for

“a final adjustment”. Grattan’s amendment of the address in reply affirming Ireland to be a

“distinct kingdom with a Parliament of her own the sole legislature thereof” etc.

G. Ponsonby (on behalf of Portland^ seconded this. Unanimously passed. Strictly before and after this scene firm Resolutions of the Volunteer Corps. Their firmness achieved this Revolution (even Fitzgibbon and John Scott, afterwards Lord Clonmel, on 16 April 1782 frightened into patriotism). Immediately after this Portland sends two despatches to England, one public, the other private and confidential to Fox, as to the necessity of yielding (ascertaining at the same time that he would act on the Volunteers through Charlemont, on the House of Commons through dissension of Flood and Grattan).

Irish Parliament prorogued for three weeks, to wait on King’s Answer.

Meanwhile public reviews of the Volunteers (then 100,000 effectives); nearly 1/3 of the whole English Army, besides, are Irish, many sailors ditto.

Irish House of Commons meets: 27 May 1782: Quasi Throne Speech of Portland. Will concede to all demands, British Parliament ready; King gives his Royal Assent to acts to prevent the suppression of Bills in the Privy Council of the Kingdom, limits the Act (Mutiny Bill) for Army to 2 years. (Besides much soft-sawder.) Grattan fool, address of thanks.

“The British Government had given up every claim to authority over Ireland” (he says), “that we conceive the resolution for an unqualified repeal of 6 George I to be a measure of consummate wisdom”, “that no constitutional question between the 2 nations will any longer exist. “

Grattan’s Address carried (only 2 votes against). Bagenal proposes to appoint committee for sum to he voted hy Nation to Grattan.

Britishers frightened. Precipitantly Bills enacted for making the concessions to Ireland. 6, George I repealed by British Parliament, obtains sanction of King, instantly transmitted to the Irish Viceroy, by him communicated to all the Volunteer Corps.

Irish House of Commons, 30 May 1782. Bagenal’s proposition for Grattan repeated. Portland offers him, as part of the intended grant, on the part of the Crown, the “Vice-Regal Palace in the Phoenix Park”, the King’s best palace in Ireland. Of course refused. Grattan got from Hous e of Common s £50,000.

II) FROM 1782


TO 1795



Some small measures to relax the severity of Penal Code against Catholics. Opposed by bigots and Castle[151] influence. Passed however. The concessions very limited.

At length Fox himself declared in British Parliament that

“the repeal of that Statute” (6, George I) “could not stand alone, must be accompanied by a final adjustment”, “treaty, to be adopted by both Parliaments, to be entered upon ... to finally become an irrevocable arrangement between the 2 countries”.

By this Viceroy’s duplicity [was] exploded, Grattan’s stupidity exposed, Flood is now still feebly supported in the House of Commons, but strongly by the Volunteers.

19 July 1782 Flood moves leave to bring in a Bill for the ascertaining of Irish legislative etc. independence . Even leave to bring in this Bill was negatived without a division. (Grattan!)

27 July 1782. Irish Parliament. Prorogue d by Portland. In his proroguin g speech: “inviolable adherence to that compact etc.”

Marquis of Rockingham died 1782. Fox-North Coalition. Portland superseded by Earl of Temple (later Marquis of Buckingham). His Chief Secretary Mr., afterward Lord Grenville. His Administration from 15 September 1782—3 June 1783.

More than 150,000 Volunteers now on the Muster-rolls. Strong accession to them of Catholics. Resolved n o longer to obey or suffer to be obeyed any law or statute passed in England for Ireland.

Hence standstill. Magistrates, counsels acted ditto. Juries would not find for them. Action of many important laws suspended.

Parliament divided between Flood and Grattan. The latter (Whig spelt) always in majority. British Administration resolved to foster the division of Nation thus created. Baffled by injudicious conduct of some Members of the British Parliament.

Sir G. Young in British House of Commons. Lord Mansfield in the Court of King’s Bench. Lord Abingdon in the House of Lords.

Volunteers beat to arms throughout Ireland. Above 120,000. Flood [has the] upper hand amongst them. New panic of British Ministry.

1783. 23 Act of George III. All right of legislative interference on the part of British Parliament, and appellant jurisdiction in England, repudiated. Without debate passed.

This British Renunciation Act discredited the Irish Parliament with the Irish People. Showed either its insufficiency or corruption, or would have been superfluous. Reform of the Irish Parliament now the cry.

Irish Parliament. Rotten Borough System. Members of House of Commons nominated by individuals, especially Peers, nominated by the King, voted by proxy in House of Commons. Membership purchased by money and its exercise sold for office. These purchases also made by servants of the Executive Government. The Volunteers had the facts sifted etc. 1 Peer nominated 9 Commoners etc. 1/2 of members only freely elected by people. New Delegates Assembly of Volunteers in Dungannon. 10 November 1783 was proclaimed for the first sitting of the Grand National Convention of Ireland at Dublin. Rotunda place of their meeting. British Ministers knew that if Reform [were effected] in Ireland [it] could not be withheld from England. Then commercial jealousy of England. Charlemont President by trickery. Plan of Reform passed, to be brought into the House of Commons by Flood. Sittings of Convention were made permanent till answer [was received].

The Government refused leave to bring in Flood’s Bill, because it had originated from armed deliberation.

The Government knew that the triumph of the Parliament implied not only the destruction of the Convention, but of the Volunteers. Bill rejected by 158 to 49. 158 of the majority were placemen, as in 1800. Address to the King, offending the Volunteers, carried. Charlemont adjourns the Convention by tricks. Now struggle between the bigots (Charlemont) and Emancipation (Catholic) amongst the Volunteers and People. (Earl Bristol, Bishop of Derry for full emancipation. Address in that sense by Belfast Volunteers.) Foolish Charlemont made new “civil”, not military “Bill of Reform” to be introduced in House of Commons. Of course rejected. Now begins the Period of Moderate Parliamentarism. Th e Volunteers survived the blows for some years, but [were] decaying. The Whig Orators (Grattan etc.) lost ground and. influence.

B) FROM THE END OK 178-i TO 1791


December 1783. Pitt Minister. Duke of Rutland Viceroy. Orde Minister. Rutland died October 1787.

Duke of Rutland Viceroy. (Orde Chief Secretary.) December 1783-October 1787.

In the House of Commons repeated useless attempts at Reform.

Orde’s Commercial Propositions.

May, 1784. Griffith proposes House of Common s inquiry into the commercial intercourse between Ireland and Great Britain, Irish trade he wanted to be protected against English competition. Government took that proposal out of his hands.

7 February 1785. Ord e announced , and on 11 February 1785 moved, 11 Propositions on Trade. This plan proffered as a boon of reciprocity. Favour [to be] paid for by £140,000 new taxes.

22 February 1785. Pitt moved 20 Resolutions in the British House of Commons. Amended in English sense. Then sent to Ireland. Half the globe interdicted to Irish ships and interdicts laid on Irish goods. Whole Custom-House Legislation taken away from Ireland etc. (See p. 22[152].)

Irish House of Commons. On 15 August 1785, after different previous stormy sittings, Orde had to abandon his Bill for the session, [and] for ever. Orde’s Propositions merged into a secret design for the Union.

11 August 1785. Curran had threatened with opposition, “not only by words”.

12 August 1785. Curran:

“the Bill portends a surrender of the Constitution and Liberties of Ireland”.

Irish House of Commons. 14 February 1785. Bill for raising Militia. Against the Volunteers. (£20,000 for Militia.)

1784 renewed effort for Reform. Henry Reilly, Sheriff of the County of Dublin, in consequence of a requisition, summoned his bailiwick etc. for the 25 October 1784, to elect members for a national congress. For this attached by the King’s Bench, on a Crown Motion.

24 February 1785 Brownlow moved vote of censure on the judges of that Court, for the attachment. Rejected by 113 to 71.

The endeavour to regain by corruption what was surrendered to force, began in 1782, and increased greatly after the defeat of Orde’s Propositions.

Irish House of Commons 13 March 1786. Forbes moves to limit the amount of Pensions. This failed.

12 March 1787. Forbes renewed his Bill. Failed again.

No Ministerial Responsibility in Ireland.

Irish House of Commons January 19, 1787. Outrages in the South, caused by misery of the people, from tithes, rents, absenteeism, bad tenures, harsh treatment etc. (Since the end of 1791, United Irishmen, Political Parties united themselves with the peasants, the Republicans of the North.)

1786. Lord Lieutenant’s Opening Speech referred to “frequent outrages” in the South, “Right Boys” of Kilkenny. Yet the only Bill, brought in by Government, the Dublin Police Bill, against which the City of Dublin petitioned.

1787. Viceroy’s speech on this subject much more positive. Fitzgibbon accused the landlords of grinding the people, and abetting the disturbances against the clergy, asked for more powers.

19 January 1787. Fitzgibbon said the disturbances commenced in Kerry etc. “Captain Right”. Spread then through Munster etc. Their object the tithes, then to regulate the price of lands, raise the price of labour, oppose the collection of hearth-money and other taxes.

Curran during the debates:

“You may talk of commerce extending ... but what, in God’s name, have they to do with the wretched peasantry?”

19 February 1787. Right Boy Bill. Bill committed by 192 against 31. By it Riot Act, introduced from England, passed.

20 February 1787: Proposed to limit the Bill to Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary. Motion lost without a division. By this Bill capital punishment for tendering an oath etc.

13 March 1787. Tithes. Grattan moved, that if tranquillity [were] restored, at the opening of the next session, the House would consider the Tithe Question. Motion lost, without a division. English Secretary declared

“he was a stranger to the distress” and would “never have it considered by the Parliament”.

This Riot Act to be enforced by the very same landed proprietors whom Fitzgibbon had accused of grinding the peasant an d instigating him against the clergy.

Marquis of Buckingham (formerly Earl of Temple) second time Viceroy. 16 December 1737-5 January 1790. (Orde Secretary!) (Fitzherbert Chief Secretary.)

(Fitzherbert Chief Secretary.)

Influence of French Revolution of 1789 commences during this period. Irish House of Commons. 21 April 1789. Disfranchisement of Excise Officers’ Bill, Rejected by 148 to 93.

25 April 1789: Dublin Police. Motion

“attended with waste, and useless patronage”. Rejected by 132 to 78.

Regency Bill, 1789. Ceorge III mad for some time, concealed, at the end of 1788 it could n o longer be hid. In the ministers’ draft of the address in answer to Lord Buckingham they praised themselves.

6 February 1789 Grattan moved amendment. ([People] believed that Fox would become Premie r Minister unde r the Prince of Wales.) Carried without a division.

11 February 1789 Ministers tried to postpone division on the Regency; their avowed motive to know the Resolutions of the British Parliament (appointing Prince Regent with limited powers). (These resolutions passed in England on 23 January, accepted by Prince 31 January, but had not yet reached the Irish Government.) Postponement refused. Prince nominated Prince Regent of Ireland with unlimited Powers. Passed without division.

12 February 1789 Conolly moves address, February 17 concurrence of L.ords, 19 February presented to Buckingham. Refused to transmit it, 20 February 1789 Deputation to Prince appointed. Vote of Censure against Buckingham. 27 February 1789 Deputation (of the Commons) send them letter with “warmest thanks “ of the Prince, 20 March 1789 still mor e fervent letter of the Prince to Irish Hous e of Common s on recovery of his father’s health.




(5 JANUARY 1790—4 JANUARY 1795)

House of Commons, 4 February 1790. Stamp officers’ Salaries. (Proposed to cut them down and regulate them. Rejected by 141 to 81.) (Curran in his speech alludes to the French Revolution.)

11 February 1790. Forbes moves an address describing and censuring several recent pensions. Rejected by 136 to 92.

Curran states, afterwards (speech in House of Commons, February 12, 1791):

“During the whole of the session of 1790, we have, in the name of the people of Ireland, demanded from them the Constitution of Great Britain, and it has been uniformly denied. We would have passed a law to restrain the shameful profusion of a pension-list—it was refused by a majority. We would have passed a law’ to exclude persons, who must ever be the chattels of the government, from sitting in this House. Refused by a majority. A bill to make some person, resident among you, and therefore amenable to public justice, responsible for the acts of your governors ... refused. [...] This uniform denial ... proof to the people of Ireland, that the imputation of corrupt practices is founded in fact.”

Disputed Election of Lord Mayor in Dublin (1790)

Citizens of Dublin pledged themselves to elect no one as Lord Mayor or Member of Parliament for the city, who held place or pension from Government.

16 April 1790 Aldermen choose Alderman James, a Police Commissioner, Lord Mayor for the ensuing year. Rejected by the Commo n Council, ditto 7 other names. They elected Alderman Howison (Napper Tandy led the popular party). Aldermen re-elect James. Before the Privy Council. Orders new election. Same farce repeated.

10 July 1790. Curran pleads before Privy Council for Howison. Privy Council for James, who resigns on 5 August 1790. Howison chosen [by the] Aldermen.

16 July 1790. Napper Tandy in Common Council carried Resolutions censuring Privy Council, Aldermen, and summoned meeting of freemen and freeholders at the Exchange. Adjourned to 3 August to draw up State of Facts, which [was] done accordingly.

24 July: Whig Club [passed] similar Resolutions. Their quarre l with Fitzgibbon.[153]


Insurrectionary outrages at Dublin on Camden’s arrival. Fitzwilliam’s recall triump h for the Separation party. Irish Republic soon object of the United Irishmen. Bulk of the Presbyterians of Down, Antrim, Tyrone, joined by multitudes of Catholics and Protestants in Leinster. Catholics of the North Defenders or Ribbonmen.

Irish House of Commons 4 May 1795. Second Reading of the Emancipation Bill. Rejected by 155 to 84. {An Insurrection Bill passed etc., law allowing the Lord Lieutenant to proclaim counties; magistrates obtained power of breaking into houses, and transporting to the navy all whom they suspected. Indemnity for magistrates guilty of illegality—giving the Lord Lieutenant power of arrest without bail—licensing the introduction of foreign troops (German), establishing the Yeomanry Corps.}

Irish House of Commons 3 February 1796. Indemnity Bill.

25 February 1796. Insurrection Bill. {Right of arbitrary transportation to serve in the navy given to magistrates.) Curran:

“bill for the rich, and against the poor”.

Since end of March 1796 whole counties of Ireland proclaimed. 13 October 1796. French war. (Hoche was just assembling at Brest, and Wolfe Tone, Grouchy, and a part of the expedition, reached Bantry Bay on the 22 December, left it only the 28.)

Camden opens Parliament. Resistance to France (Invasion!) and “popular passion and public opinion”.

Curran. Government has instigated persecution of Catholics, for 2 years [they] murdered etc. in one of the counties. Ponsonby’s Amendment to Address rejected by 149 to 12. Then [the] Bill (by Attorney-General) [was] passed, [the] Bill to empower the Lord Lieutenant to take up and detain all such persons, as were suspected of treasonable practices etc. It was read many times, once or twice committed for the morrow.

14 October 1796. Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act.

17 October 1796. Catholic Emancipation Bill rejected.

6 January 1797. Hoche’s Expedition. Pelham brings down message of Viceroy for new war taxes.

24 February 1797. Internal Defence. Yeomanry Infantry etc. (p. 38).a 18 March 1797. Disarming of Ulster. Message of Camden. (Proclamation of General Lake. Belfast. 13 March.)

15 May 1797. Curran, Grattan etc. secede from the House.

3 July 1797 House adjourned. Castlereagh Chief Secretary.

14 October 1797. Orr hanged for having administered oath of the United Irishmen to a private soldier (proven only by an informer etc.)

{10 May 1795. Organisation of Ulster (United Irishmen) completed. In autumn 1796 made military in Ulster. Towards the middle of 1797, this system spread to Feinster. Only 19 February 1798 the Executive of the United Irishmen resolved

“that they would not be diverted from their purpose by anything which could be done in Parliament”.

(Lose time for action.) March 1798 Arthur O’Connor arrested, at Maidstone, in the act of embarking for France; 12 March, Oliver Bond, McCann etc. at Oliver Bond’s warehouse, Dublin. Shortly afterwards McNevin, Thomas Emmet, Sampson. New Directory. John Sheares one of it. 19 May, just 4 days before the insurrection was to take place, Lord Fitzgerald pounced upon, 21 May 2 Sheares. Thus the insurrection began without its designers to lead it.}

23 May 1798 the insurrection commenced (Dublin), 17 July Lord Castlereagh announced its final defeat.

Treason trials were held in February and March 1798 before the beginning of the insurrection.[154] Free quarters. Slow tortures, under the pretence of forcing confessions etc. Summary executions. At the outbreak of the insurrection martial law proclaimed.

25 July 1798. Negotiations of leaders from gaol with the Government. Settled 29 July. (Released only by peace of Amiens, 1802!)


(P. 41 SQQ.)[155]

1598-99 Elizabeth (Mountjoy and Carew); same 1798-99.

Earl of Carhampton. General Abercromby.

United Irishmen and Pitt. Prussia and Poles.

Castlereagh boasted that he had made the conspiracy explode. He charged the mine as well as fired it.

Pitt 1795 and 1797 opposed debates for pacification of Ireland in British Parliament on pretext that it was an encroachment on Irish independence.


Pitt, Castlereagh, Cornwallis. (19 October 1781 Cornwallis’s Capitulation at York Town, Virginia.)

Cornwallis wants terror to carry the Union.

Happy accident for him:

22 August 1798 about 1,000 French, under Humbert, entered Killala Bay, carried Castlebar 27 August.

8 September surrendered at Ballinamuck. (Hardy’s flotilla taken on 11 October with Tone, who died on 19 November.)

Revival of horrors.

40,000 troops in Ireland. Martial Law continuing (it was constantly renewed, and discontinued in 1801).[156]

House of Commons 22 January 1799. Legislative Union first proposed in Speech from the Throne (debate lasted 22 hours, until the morning of 23 January). Government obtained majority of 1, by open sale of certain Fox, lawyer.

2nd debate, on 5 o’clock of 23 January 1799, lasted till morning 24. Government defeated. Ill members decided against Union, 105 for. {Voters 216, Absent 84.)

Lords Spiritual and Temporal use this House of Commons’ Opposition to get money etc. out of Government, stipulated for their sale.

Cornwallis bamboozles the Catholic Bishops; [their] disgusting subserviency.

Petitions, Addresses, Dubliners fired into for their rejoicings.

5 and 6 February 1800 Union accepted by Irish House of Commons. Still minority of 115 of a total of 273 votes. In interval between old and new Parliament corruption broadcast (pp. 48, 49[157]).

Castlereagh’s shameless measure.

The House of Commons was surrounded by a British Regiment. Castlereagh palpably purchased 25 members before the 2nd division in 1800, which made a difference of 50 votes in favour of Government. Thus Pitt and Castlereagh carried the Union.

  1. A referenc e to the peac e treaty concluded by Napoleonic France and her allies with England at Amiens on March 27, 1802. It was no more than a short-lived armistice. In May 1803 the armed struggle for world supremacy was resumed . The change in the royal title under the Peace of Amiens amounted to the final and formal repudiation by the English kings of their claims to the French throne, claims that dated back to the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453).
  2. Poynings’ Law was passed in 1495 by the Parliament convened by Poynings, representative of the English Crown in the town or Droheda, in the south-eastern part of Irelan d conquered by the English. It was repealed in May 1782 under the impact of the Irish national liberation movement (see this volume , p. 225).
  3. The Privy Council of the Lord Lieutenant (Viceroy) of Ireland consisted of high officials who headed various departments of colonial administration.
  4. A reference to the books: W. Molyneux, The Case of Ireland’s Being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England Stated, Dublin, 1698; J. Swift, Drapier’s Letters, Dublin, 1725, and A Short View of the State of Ireland, Dublin, 1727; Ch. Lucas, Barber’s Letters, Dublin, 1747. (These writers are mentioned by Thomas Davis in his “Memoir of... Curran “ included in The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, Dublin, 1855, p. XIX.)
  5. The- Statute of George I mentioned here was promulgated in 1719 and is also known as the Declaratory Act (6. Georg e I. An Act for the Better Securing the Dependency of the Kingdom of Ireland on the Crown of Great Britain). It was repealed during 1782 and 1783 owing to the upsurge of the liberation movement in Ireland.
  6. See notes 232 and 237.
  7. In the latter half of the eighteenth century Britain strove for greater influence over her American colonies. From 1763 onwards, the British Government issued a series of edicts restricting both the territorial location of the American population and the rights of American states in questions of trade. In 1765 laws were issued which provided for a standing army in the colonies and made an attempt to introduce direct taxation (Stamp Act). All this caused mass anti-British actions among the American population. On March 18, 1766 the Stamp Act was repealed but the Declaratory Act was proclaimed instead. It confirmed the British Crown’s supreme rights over its American colonies and repeated, almost verbatim, the Statute of George I concerning Ireland. These acts by the British Government provoked the war of the North American colonies for independence.
  8. See Note 238.
  9. In the manuscript this section is marked II, though the preceding section is marked "A" and the following "C".— Ed.
  10. “Declaration of Independence in Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America”.— Ed.
  11. “Articles of Confederation, and Perpetual Union”.— Ed.
  12. On February 6, 1778 the French Government concluded treaties with the United States of America. France officially recognised the American Republic, promised to defend the independence and sovereignty of the USA, and undertook not to lay down her arms until Britain recognised American independence. These treaties ensured mutual support for the territorial claims of the two countries. At the same time France and the USA concluded the Treaty of Amity and Commerce.
  13. This passage from Curran’s speech to the Irish Parliament on February 18, 1792 is quoted from The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, Dublin, 1855, pp. 140-41. This book contains Curran’s parliamentary speeches from November 1783 to May 1797, as well as those he made later in the courts and elsewhere in defence of participants in the Irish revolutionary movement and in the 1798 uprising. The quoted edition is supplied with “Memoir” and “Historical Notices” containing biographical notes on Curran and a description of the most important developments of the time. The author was Thomas Davis, a prominent Irish democrat, historian and poet, one of the leaders of “Young Ireland” (see Note 224). Throughout his work, Marx gives either direct quotations or his own rendering of passages both from Curran’s speeches and from the “Memoir” and “Historical Notices” by Davis. Marx regarded this book as the most important source for a study of the political history of Ireland in the late eighteenth century and considered Curran himself a “great lawyer and the noblest personality”. Marx brought this book to the attention of the English members of the General Council (see Marx’s letter to Engels of December 10, 1869, present edition, Vol. 43).
  14. protestant ascendancy—a principle employed openly in governing Ireland between 1691 an d 1800 according to which the Protestants, mostly English colonists and their descendants, enjoyed extensive political, social and religious privileges, whereas the Catholic majority was deprived of all rights and had to pay tithes to the state Anglican Church. This principle was expressed most brazenly in the Penal Code (see Not e 238) against the Catholics.
  15. The recognition of the American colonies’ independence and the conclusion of the treaties of alliance and commerce on February 6, 1778, involved France, in alliance with Spain, in war with Britain (see Note 259).
  16. Charles III.— Ed
  17. The principles of armed neutrality proclaimed by the government of Catherine II in 1780 were soon recognised by several states as the norm for international maritime law. They envisaged freedom of trade between neutral and belligerent countries, prohibition of privateering, inviolability of neutral cargo carried by enemy vessels and of enemy cargo carried by neutral vessels (with the exception of arms smuggling), and refusal to recognise a port under blockade if access is not blocked by the enemy navy. The declaration on armed neutrality undermined Great Britain’s monopoly domination of the seas and helped the North American states in their struggle for independence.
  18. Marx borrowed the expression "armed Protestantism of Ireland" from Thomas Davis' "Memoir" in the book J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., p. XIX, to describe the Irish Volunteer movement in the late eighteenth century. In his outline of the four periods in the Volunteer movement, Marx gives long quotations from Davis.
  19. The Catholic Committee was founded in the late 1750s. Among its members were liberal Catholic landowners, Catholic merchants, manufacturers and intellectuals whose aim was to fight for the alleviation and repeal of the penal laws against the Catholics. Originally the Catholic Committee took a very moderate and loyal stand in regard to the English authorities. But the national upsurge at the end of the eighteenth century changed its composition and tactics, and radical elements of the Irish bourgeoisie now prevailed in the Committee. Its left wing took part in the Volunteer movement and subsequently joined the revolutionary Society of United Irishmen. The efforts of the Catholic Committee to secure for the Catholics equal rights with the Protestants continued in the first decade of the nineteenth century. The Whig Club was founded in 1789 in Dublin and the Northern Whig Club in 1791 in Belfast. The composition and political tendencies of this organisation were diverse. Its Protestant leaders voiced the interests of Protestant liberal landlords and the big bourgeoisie. They stood for a compromise with the British Government and wanted to keep the national movement within strictly constitutional bounds. The committee’s radical wing, on the contrary, proposed more resolute action and later formed the nucleus of the United Irishmen Society.
  20. The rest of the section (up to the asterisks), consists of Marx’s close rendering of passages from Davis’ “Memoir” in J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches... (pp. XIXXX) and excerpts from this book.
  21. Marx refers to the struggle for political power among British ruling political circles under George III. In 1788, after George Ill’s first attack of insanity, the Prince of Wales (the future George IV) and his followers believed that the Prince would become Regent, but the King quickly recovered, and the Prince, who had hoped that the Whigs would help him pay his debts, was rejected by the head of the Cabinet, Pitt. In 1806 the latter died and the administration actually went over to Fox, a representative of the Whigs. In 1811 George Ill’s health deteriorated and the question of the Regency was finally settled.
  22. Probably a slip of the pen; in his "Memoir of John Ph. Curran" prefixed to The Speeches of ... Curran, Thomas Davis writes (p. XX): "to push corruption and the principles of disunion".— Ed.
  23. The Catholic Relief Act was passed by the Irish Parliament, with the consent of the British Government, in April 1793. It abrogated part of the Penal Code. Catholic freeholders paying income tax of not less than 40s., were officially allowed to vote. The Catholics were granted the right to acquire, sell and transfer property by will; they were allowed to enter Dublin University but, as before, could not stand for election to Parliament.
  24. Former.— Ed
  25. At the beginning of February 1793 Britain officially began a war with the French Republic. This war was extremely unpopular in Ireland, and the United Irishmen Society issued proclamations calling on the government to conclude an honourable peace with France. The English ruling circles launched an offensive against the Irish national liberation movement. The Convention, Gunpowder and other Acts passed by the Irish Parliament in 1793 effectively deprived the Volunteer organisations and the United Irishmen of their legal ground.
  26. Dublin Castle was built by the English conquerors in the thirteenth century and became the seat of the English authorities—the Lord Lieutenant (Viceroy) of Ireland and the Privy Council (see Note 253), and a stronghold against the Irish population. It was a symbol of English colonial rule.
  27. George Nugent-Temple Grenville, the Marquis of Buckingham, was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the time. See his speech at the opening of the session of the Irish Parliament on October 12, 1779, in H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. I, pp. 20-22.—Ed
  28. Deane's address to George III on October 12, 1779, see H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. I, p. 22.— Ed.
  29. See J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland.., Vol. I, p. 126.— Ed.
  30. The full text of the resolution moved by Hussey Burgh reads as follows: “We beg to represent to His Majesty that it is not by temporary expedients, but by a free trade alone, that this nation is now to be saved from impending ruin.” It is quoted in the book: J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland, Vol. I, p. 127. Marx made wide use of the factual information in this book and of the quoted texts of speeches and documents, but he hardly ever quoted the author’s text. Marx must have borrowed from Mitchel’s book excerpts from some of Grattan’s speeches, the text of the resolution adopted by the Volunteer Convention at Dungannon and data concerning the correspondence between Fitzwilliam and Lord Carlyle (Mitchel, op. cit., Vol. I, chapters XX and XXVIII). Information on the Irish uprising of 1798, on the use of Hanoverian and other German troops for the suppression of the Irish national movement also came from the same source (Mitchel, op. cit., Vol. I, chapters XXVI, XXXII and XXXIII). When estimating the policy of the English Prime Minister Pitt the Younger, Marx also took some of Mitchel’s conclusions into account. He gave high praise to Mitchel’s activities as a leader of the revolutionarydemocratic trend in the Irish national movement in the 1840s and valued his opinion as a historian.
  31. A Mutiny Act (an Act for Punishing Officers or Soldiers who shall Mutiny or Desert Their Majesties' Service) was passed annually by Parliament from 1689 to 1881. This Act invested the Crown with the authority to have a standing army and navy of a certain strength, to introduce rules and regulations in the army and navy, to court-martial and to establish a system of punishment for mutiny, disobedience of orders, breach of discipline, etc.
  32. Frederick Howard, Earl of Carlisle.— Ed.
  33. H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. I, pp. 82-85; J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland..., Vol. I, p. 135.— Ed.
  34. The Methuen Treaty was a trade treaty concluded between England and Portugal on December 27, 1703. It was signed by the English diplomat John Methuen, hence its name. It opened wide access in Portugal for English woollens, in return for which Portugal received the right to export its wines to England on favourable terms.
  35. See Note 142.
  36. See this volume, p. 212.— Ed
  37. The Declaration was published in a book by J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland, from the Treaty of Limerick to the Present Time, Dublin, 1869, Vol. I, pp. 138-39.
  38. Ibid., pp. 212, 215.— Ed.
  39. Frederick Hervey.— Ed.
  40. In this section Marx must have taken passages from the speeches of Portland, Grattan, Hutchinson and others from The Speeches of the Right Honourable Henry Grattan, published in London in 1822-30 in four volumes (the quoted passages are from Vol. I, pp. 131-134, 139, 122-23, 129, 138-43), and from the book: J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland, Vol. I, pp. 144-45.
  41. George Ill's Speech from the Throne of April 8, 1782 (Marx mistakenly wrote April 18) was read by Fox in the House of Commons on April 9. Conveying the contents of the speech, Marx apparently drew on J. Mitchel's History of Ireland, Vol. I, p . 144.
  42. For Portland's speech in Parliament on May 27, 1782, see H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. I, p. 131.— Ed.
  43. H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. I, pp. 148-51.— Ed.
  44. Ibid., pp. 145-46.— Ed.
  45. Ibid., p. 166.— Ed.
  46. Ibid., pp. 170-72.— Ed.
  47. The Court of King's (Queen's) Bench—one of the oldest courts in England. In the nineteenth century (up to 1873) it was an independent supreme court for criminal and civil cases, competent to review the decisions of lower judicial bodies.
  48. The twenty-third regnal year (1783) of King George III (J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland..., Vol. I, p. 153).— Ed
  49. The rotten boroughs were sparsely populated constituencies which had retained the right to a seat in Parliament from the Middle Ages. In practice the election of M.P.s from the rotten boroughs depended on the landlords who controlled them.
  50. "A Bill for the More Equal Representation of the People in Parliament, November 29, 1783." See H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. I, p. 191.— Ed.
  51. H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. I, pp. 191-94.— Ed
  52. J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., p. 38.— Ed
  53. December 1 1783— Ed
  54. See Note 265.
  55. See Davis' "Memoir" in J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., p. XIX.— Ed.
  56. "The fool-rogue" was inserted by Marx.— Ed.
  57. Marx means Orde's propositions regarding the trade between Ireland and Great Britain made on February 11, 1785. See H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. I, pp. 214-17.— Ed
  58. See Davis' commentary in J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., p. 42.— Ed.
  59. The text to the end of the section (up to the asterisks) consists of Marx's close renderings of passages from Curran's speeches and Davis' "Notices " in The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, and extracts from the book (pp. 53-60, 73-76, 91-103 and 131-36).
  60. Until the Greek calends.— Ed.
  61. This word is underlined by Curran.— Ed
  62. This section contains Marx's close rendering s of passages from Curran's speeches and Davis' "Notices" in The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, and extracts from the book (pp. 46-56).
  63. This sentence is in German in the manuscript.— Ed.
  64. The words "or be obliged to ... is driving at" are italicised by Curran.— Ed
  65. This section contains Marx's close rendering s of Davis' "Notices " and Curran's speeches from the book J. Ph. Curran , The Speeches..., and extracts from the book (pp. 82-91).
  66. This sentence is in German in the manuscript.— Ed.
  67. This section contains Marx's close renderings of passages from The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, and quotations from the book (pp. 61-65, 68-73 an d 76-77).
  68. See Note 237.
  69. Right Boys (from th e name of an imaginary leader known as Captain Right)—a secret peasant society that arose in 1785 in the southern counties of Ireland as a spontaneous protest by the Irish peasants against cruel oppression. The Right Boys employed the same organisational forms (special ritual, oath of loyalty) and the same methods of struggle (threatening letters, raids on estates, terrorist acts against landlords, middlemen , tax an d tithe collectors, destruction of enclosures put upon communal lands, seizure of the harvests grown on landlords' fields, etc.) as did the secret peasant societies that appeared in various localities of Ireland in the 1760s, such as Whiteboys, Steelhearts and the like. The actions of these societies often developed into local peasant revolts. The English authorities resorted to the most cruel punitive measures against them.
  70. The passage "to exceed that of ... relentless landlords" is italicised by Davis.— Ed.
  71. In this section Marx renders and quotes passages from Davis' "Notices " in The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, pp . 103, 128-30.
  72. See Note 241.
  73. See Note 265.
  74. The next passage, up to and including the words "1796, 1797. Bonaparte in Italy", is in German in the manuscript.— Ed.
  75. A reference to the final stage of the royalist uprising that flared up in March 1793 in the Vendée, a department in the west of France. The rebels were mostly backward peasants, incited by counter-revolutionary noblemen and priests. The English ruling circles supported the Vendée rebels with arms and money. A decisive blow was inflicted on them in 1795 by republican troops Under Lazar Hoche. Many leaders of the uprising were executed in 1796, but attempts to renew it were made in 1799 and in later years. A Vendée has become a synonym- for a reactionary uprising.
  76. The text to the end of the section consists of Marx's close rendering of passages from Davis' "Memoir " and "Notices " in The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, and quotations from the book (pp. XX-XXI an d 138-42).
  77. This section consists of Marx's close renderings of passages from Curran's speeches and from Davis' "Memoir " and "Notices " in The Speeches..., and quotations from that book (pp. XXI, 154-56).
  78. See Note 265 .
  79. A reference to the so-called corresponding societies — democratic organisations that arose in England an d Scotland under the impact of revolutionary events in France. A particularly important role was played by the London Correspond - ing Society founded at the beginning of 1792 with Thomas Hardy, a shoemaker, as chairman. The corresponding societies disseminated the ideas of the French Revolution, demanded peace with the French Republic and fought for democratic reforms in England . The societies existed for a number of years despite cruel persecution by the government.
  80. Dissenters—persons who do not profess the state religion. Here the author refers to adherents of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland among the descendants of the Scottish colonists who had moved to Northern Ireland, and to members of various Protestant sects at variance with the official Anglican Church .
  81. Marx means the proclamation "The Society of United Irishmen at Dublin. To the Volunteers of Ireland" quoted according to Davis' commentary in J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., pp. 154-55. The division of the text into points is by Marx.— Ed.
  82. A reference to the convocation of the Volunteer Convention at Dungannon on February 15, 1793, where the delegates expressed their readiness to fight for the equal rights for the Protestants and Catholics.
  83. The following two semences are in German in the manuscript.— Ed.
  84. Marx quotes the above-mentioned Declaration and the Address of the Irish Jacobins of Belfast to the Public apparently from Davis' commentaries to Curran's speeches (see The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, Dublin, 1855, p p . 208-09). Further, till the end of the section, there follow extracts from Davis' "Memoir " and commentaries, and from Curran's speeches (op. cit., p p . XXI-XXII, 147-53, 173-74).
  85. According to Davis, on January 29, 1793. Cf. his commentary in J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., p. 152.— Ed.
  86. See Note 223 .
  87. On February 21, 1793.— Ed
  88. Marx refers to the sharp criticism to which the 1793 Convention Act was subjected by the English radical writer William Cobbett in the columns of his journal Cobbett's Weekly Political Register (see Vol. XIX, 1811, pp . 417-18) and to its application in Ireland at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
  89. See Davis' commentary in J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., p. 233.— Ed.
  90. Marx refers to [Carlisle] "A Letter ... to Earl Fitzwilliam, in Reply to His Lordship's Two Letters" (London, 1795) and "A Letter from Earl Fitzwilliam to the Earl of Carlisle" (1795). Further on Marx cites facts according to Mitchel's History of Ireland.., Vol. I, pp. 218-19.—Ed.
  91. See Note 223 .
  92. Defenders—the members of an organisation of Irish Catholics, which emerged in the 1780s an d 1790s in defence against the terrorist gangs of Protestants (yeomen). Many of the Defenders, recruited mainly from among the Irish peasants, took part in the national liberation uprising of 1798. Ribbonmen—Irish peasants who were united in secret societies and wore a green ribbon as an emblem. The Ribbonmen movement was a form of popular resistance to the arbitrary rule of the English landlords and the forcible eviction of tenants from the land. The Ribbonmen attacked estates and organised attempts on the lives of hated landlords and managers. The activities of the Ribbonmen had a purely local, decentralised character and they had no common programme of action.
  93. The text below consists of Marx's close renderings of passages from Curran's speeches and Davis' "Notices" in The Speeches of the Right Honorable John Philpot Curran, Dublin, 1855 (pp. 190, 196, 211-12, 248-58. 261 , 264-85, 315-16) an d quotations from the book.
  94. Here and below in this paragraph italics is by Curran.— Ed.
  95. The expedition under General Hoche was organised by the French Government (Directory) on the insistence of Wolfe Tone, a leader of the United Irishmen Society, who came to France early in 1796 to obtain military assistance for the Irish patriots. He thought the arrival of the French landing force would be the signal for a general uprising in Ireland. The flotilla with the landing force sailed from Brest in mid-December 1796, but only a few ships reached Bantry Bay, the rest either being scattered by storms or sunk by English ships, as is stated in Marx's excerpts (see this volume, p. 280). The expedition was a failure and, towards the end of December, the surviving ships returned to Brest. In spite of this the English authorities waited with apprehension for General Hoche to resume landing operations early in 1797. However, fresh attempts to land French troops in Ireland were undertaken only later (one attempt, in the autumn of 1798, is described below, see pp . 281-82) with very weak landing forces, since support for Ireland's fight for independence was a subordinate issue in the strategy of the French bourgeois rulers, as compare d with their plans for conquering colonies in the Middle East and other regions (Bonaparte's campaign in Egypt, Syria, etc.).
  96. The Commoners.— Ed
  97. Marx quotes Grattan probably according to J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., p. 267; see also H. Grattan, The Speeches..., Vol. Ill, p. 299.— Ed.
  98. The word "formally" is italicised by Davis.— Ed.
  99. Henry and John.— Ed
  100. This sentence is in German in the manuscript.— Ed.
  101. See Note 251 .
  102. J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland..., Vol. II, pp. 15, 19. 26. Further, till the end of the section, there follow excerpts from Davis' "Memoir" in J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., p. XXIV.—- Ed.
  103. This paragraph and the text that follows it, till the end of the section, is Marx's rendering of the text from Mitchel's History of Ireland.. (Vol. I, pp. 261-62) which is close to the original.— Ed
  104. This sentence and the one that follows it are in German in the manuscript.— Ed
  105. Italics by J. Mitchel.— Ed.
  106. A reference to the provocative role of Prussian ruling circles during the second and third partitions of Poland at the close of the eighteenth century. Secretly inciting Polish patriots against Tsarist Russia, the Prussian Government helped in the second partition of Polish lands (1793) and in suppressing the uprising led by Tadeus z Kosciuszko, which was followed by the third partition of Poland (between Prussia, Austri a and Russia) and the final liquidation of the Polish state (1795). The policy of the English Government with respect to Ireland at the close of the eighteenth century is compared with Prussia’s policy on the Polish question in G. Ensor, Anti-Union. Ireland as She Ought to Be, Newry, 1831, p. 85. In some sections of the present work Marx made wide use of this Irish journalist’s accusatory pamphlet. Marx refers to Ensor’s pamphlet mainly when he examines the concrete situation and methods of enforcing the Union. He also borrows historical parallels from Ensor (with the Cromwellian period, with the Union of 1707 between England and Scotland and with the Swedish-Norwegian Union of 1814), plus quotations from speeches made by various statesmen, and passages from newspapers and books by Petty, Lawrence , Harris and other authors whom Ensor himself often quoted without giving reference to the actual editions.
  107. Here and below, up to the section "Lord Cornwallis' Administration", Marx gives rendering of passages from Ensor's book Anti-Union. Ireland as She Ought to Be, Newry, 1831, pp . 85-89.
  108. Elisor's italics in this sentence.— Ed.
  109. G. Ensor, Anti-Union. Ireland as She ought to Be, Newry, 1831, pp. 87, 88.— Ed.
  110. A reference to the Peace Treaty, which Charles Cornwallis concluded in 1792 with Tippoo Sahib (or Tippo o Sultan) —ruler of the South-Indian state of Mysore, who offered stubborn resistance to English expansion. Under the treaty, Mysore lost a considerable part of its territory and had to pay the East India Company 33 million rupees. Further attempts by Tippoo Sultan to prevent England's conquest of India resulted in a fourth Anglo-Mysore war (1799), in which Tippoo was killed and Mysore became a vassal state,
  111. On August 22, 1798; then follow, up to the section "More about the Union", excerpts from J. Mitchel's History of Ireland..., Vol. II, pp. 27-39, 43, 45, 47-51, 59-62, 76-77 and 79.— Ed.
  112. On August 27, 1798.— Ed.
  113. The manuscript is damaged here.— Ed.
  114. On September 8, 1798.— Ed
  115. The bottom of Marx's manuscript page 46 is left blank with a remark in Marx's hand "See continuation p. 47" . In turn, part of the text on page 47, repeating the foregoing description of Cornwallis' actions against the French landing force and Irish insurgents, is deleted with a vertical line. The undeleted text begins with a repetition of the sentence, a little longer this time, "Pitt now conceived..." .
  116. From the beginning.— Ed.
  117. See Note 186.
  118. The heading is in German in the manuscript. This section is. Marx's rendering of a passage from Ensor's Anti-Union..., p. 126.— Ed.
  119. A reference to the unification of England and Scotland into a single state — the Kingdom of Great Britain—by the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707, which abolished Scotland's parliament, allowing Scottish deputies several scores of seats in the English Parliament. However, the autonomy and rights of the Presbyterian Church were retained. The people opposed the Union, seeing it as an encroachment on their country's independence. It was, however, enforced thanks to the efforts of the Scottish aristocrats, who sought thus to secure their privileges, and of the Scottish upper bourgeoisie seeking access to enterprise in the colonies and to England's world trade .
  120. The Swedish-Norwegian Union of 1814 reflected the interests of Sweden's ruling classes. By their promises to help in incorporating Norway into the Swedish Crown, the governments of certain European countries, including England, secured Sweden's participation in the anti-Napoleon coalition of 1813-14. Th e annexation was sanctioned by the Vienna Congress (1814-15). The Union, however, provided for an autonomous Norwegian Parliament and administration. In 1905 the Norwegian Parliament abrogated the Union and Norway regained he r independence .
  121. In this section and in the two sections that follow it Marx sets forth, very closely to the original, passages from Elisor's Anti-Union..., pp. 94-97 and 110.— Ed.
  122. The manuscript is damaged here.— Ed
  123. A reference to Pitt's resignation in view of the forthcoming Anglo-French negotiations which resulted in the conclusion of the Peace Treaty of Amiens (see Note 251).
  124. G. Ensor, Anti-Union..., p. 110.— Ed
  125. The manuscript is damaged here.— Ed
  126. Cf. J. Mitchel, The History of Ireland..., Vol. II, p. 77.—Ed
  127. The manuscript is damaged here.— Ed,
  128. G. Ensor, Anti-Union..., pp. 97-98.— Ed.
  129. Threshers were members of a secret peasant organisation active in the Irish countries of Mayo, Leitrim, Slygow and Roscommon in 1806 and 1807. They opposed excessive requisitions made by church tithe collectors. The authorities meted out cruel punishments to the threshers, many of whom were hanged .
  130. Cobbett's Weekly Political Register, No. 7, February 14, 1807, Vol. XI, p. 255.— Ea
  131. Ibid., No. 23, December 9, 1809, Vol. XVI, pp. 866-74.— Ed.
  132. Ibid., No. 15, February 20, 1811, Vol. XIX, pp. 420-21.— Ed
  133. G. Ensor, Anti-Union..., p. 118.— Ed
  134. Marx quotes passages from Curran's speech made on October 17, 1812, at the General Election in Newry. See J. Ph. Curran, The Speeches..., pp. 465-66, 468-69.—Ed.
  135. G. Ensor, Anti-Union..., p. 11.— Ed
  136. Here and elsewhere Marx quotes The Morning Chronicle for June 1828 from G. Ensor, Anti-Union. Ireland as She Ought to Be, Newry, 1831, p. 31 .
  137. W. Petty, The Political Anatomy of Ireland, Dublin, 1769, p. 320 (quoted from G. Ensor, Anti-Union..., p. 31).— Ed
  138. This section consists of Marx's close rendering of passages and of quotations from Ensor's Anti-Union. Ireland as She Ought to Be, Newry, 1831, pp . 6, 18, 24-27, 44-45.
  139. On August 16, 1819 government troops shot down unarmed participants in a mass meeting in support of electoral reform at St. Peter's Fields, near Manchester. After th e "Battle of Peterloo" , as this massacre was ironically called by analogy with the Battle of Waterloo, Parliament hastened to pass six reactionary acts against freedom of the press and assembly ("gagging laws"), Castlereagh being one of the initiators of their adoption.
  140. This and the next section of the manuscript consist of Marx's renderings and quotations from Elisor's book Anti-Union..., pp. 51, 54, 56-57.
  141. W. Petty, op. cit., p. 359 (quoted from G. Ensor, Anti-Union..., p. 51).— Ed.
  142. See Note 232.
  143. The manuscript is damaged here.— Ed.
  144. Brehon—an ancient Irish lawyer or judge; Brehon law—the code of law used in Ireland before its occupation by the English
  145. A reference to two major uprisings against English rule in Ireland. The first uprising started in 1315 when a detachment led by Edward Bruce, brother of Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, landed in Ireland shortly after routing the army of King Edward II of England. Many Irish clan chiefs joined him. However, although the army led by Robert Bruce came to the assistance of the Irish insurgents, the uprising was quelled in 1318. On the uprising of 1641-52 see Note 229.
  146. See Debates in the English House of Lords on the Union with Scotland on June 2, 1713, in A Collection of the Parliamentary Debates in England, from the Year M. DC, LXVIII to the Present Time, Vol. VI, 1740.— Ed.
  147. G. Ensor, Anti-Union..., pp. 54, 56-57. Ensor has: "... in the English House of Lords...".— Ed.
  148. See Note 240.
  149. See Note 264.
  150. See Note 271.
  151. See Note 270.
  152. Here and further on Marx refers to the main section of his manuscript (see pp. 240-41 of this volume).— Ed.
  153. The next, 9th, page of the manuscript is missing.— Ed.
  154. This sentence is in German in the manuscript.— Ed.
  155. See this volume, pp. 256-59.— Ed.
  156. The sentence in brackets is in German in the manuscript.— Ed,
  157. See this volume, pp. 262-63.— Ed.