Irish Exiles, Revolution and Writing in England in the 1790s

  • Alan Booth
Part of the Insights book series (ISI)

Abstract

In 1791 Thomas Butterworth Bayley, Manchester’s most active and observant magistrate, wrote to the Home Secretary of the difficulties of maintaining order in the rapidly expanding cotton capital of England:

The trade of this country is wonderfully prosperous. It produces its attendant evils, amongst these I include a very numerous and foreign population, especially from Ireland, estranged, unconnected and in general in a species of exile. These men are full of money from the high state of wages and are frequently filled with liquor and engaged in desperate affrays.1

Ten years later this, in many ways traditional, complaint about the disorderliness of the ‘low Irish’ had acquired a new and more frightening dimension. The immigrant Irish were now associated with political subversion, a stigma they were to carry through the nineteenth century. Exile and subversion merged and became indistinguishable in the public mind during this revolutionary decade.

Keywords

Europe Expense Hunt Defend Alan 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    On the early history of the United Irishmen see R. B. McDowell, Ireland in the Age of Imperialism and Revolution 1760–1801 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979) pt III;Google Scholar
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  3. 3.
    The most detailed recent account of English popular radicalism is A. Goodwin, The Friends of Liberty: the English Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution (Hutchinson, 1979).Google Scholar
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  5. 4.
    A very useful collection of LCS records is M. Thale (ed.), Selections from the Papers of the London Corresponding Society 1792–1799 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See Goodwin, The Friends of Liberty pp. 424–9; N. J. Curtin, ‘The Transformation of the Society of United Irishmen into a Mass BaSed Revolutionary Organisation’, Irish Historical Studies, xxiv (1985) 463–92.Google Scholar
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    The terrible conditions in these years are well described in R. Wells, Wretched Faces: Famine in Wartime England 1793–1801 (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1988) ch. 4.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© The Editorial Board, Lumiere (Co-operative) Press Ltd 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Booth

There are no affiliations available

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