The Anglo-Irish and the Historians, 1830–1980

  • G. C. Bolton


Who were the Anglo-Irish? According to Professor J. C. Beckett ‘It is essentially a historian’s term’:

Grattan and his Protestant contemporaries never doubted that they were Irishmen, without any qualifications…. But by the time of Grattan’s death, in 1820, a shift of opinion was already evident; and it became more sharply marked during the next generation. The change was noted by one of the powerful Beresford family, which had dominated much of Irish political life in the later eighteenth century. ‘When I was a boy’, he said, ‘“the Irish people” meant the Protestants; now it means the Roman Catholics.’[1]

Anthony Malcolmson makes the same point in another way: ‘The term “Anglo-Irish Ascendancy” is a historian’s term, which can be defined as the historian chooses….’[2] For many historians the term has specific reference to the dominant social and political elite of the eighteenth-century: a central network of perhaps five hundred families, with a wider penumbra of small Protestant tradesmen and farmers, lapsed Catholics, and minorities such as Huguenots and Quakers from whom the inner cousinhood recruited new blood.


Eighteenth Century Early Eighteenth Century Irish People IRISH Culture Peasant Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Oliver MacDonagh 1983

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  • G. C. Bolton

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