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

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


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.


French Revolution Home Office High Food Price Privy Council Public Record Office 
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© The Editorial Board, Lumiere (Co-operative) Press Ltd 1991

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  • Alan Booth

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