Robert Hyndman’s Toe: Romanticism, Schoolboy Politics and the Affective Revolution in Late Georgian Belfast

  • Jonathan Jeffrey Wright
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood book series


On 2 April 1821 an eighteen-year-old Belfast youth named Robert James Tennent received a letter from a young woman with whom he was conducting a flirtation. Little is known about the letter’s author, one Hannah McGee, but much can be said about Tennent. Born on 30 April 1803, he was a scion of one of Belfast’s most prominent Presbyterian families: his father, Robert Tennent, was a well-known philanthropist and reformer, while his uncle, William Tennent, was numbered among Belfast’s wealthiest merchants and had, in the 1790s, played a prominent role in the United Irish movement.1 Following an early education in Belfast, Robert James Tennent had, in 1820, enrolled in Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied law: he was thus a young man with prospects, and, as McGee herself quipped, a ‘fine, dashing fellow’. Given all of this, it might be supposed that McGee’s family and friends were favourably disposed towards her connection with him. But such was not the case: ‘Let me turn where I like,’ she complained in her letter, ‘I hear of nothing but of such and such a one saying what a pity it is I should have fixed my eye on that harum scarum youth as they are pleased to style you.’2


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© Jonathan Jeffrey Wright 2015

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  • Jonathan Jeffrey Wright

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