The United Irishmen and the Politics of Banishment, 1798–1807

  • Michael Durey


In 1807 the old Federalist leader Rufus King was defeated when he stood for election to the New York assembly on a nativist ‘American ticket’. Significant opposition was raised against him by a number of Irishmen who had recently settled in New York City and who were able to manipulate the considerable Irish voting bloc in the state. Among these new Americans were Thomas Addis Emmet, William James MacNeven, William Sampson and George Cuming, all former United Irish leaders, who in 1798, among a large group of state prisoners, had reached an accommodation with the Irish government by which, in return for giving information regarding their treason in the 1790s, they were not brought to trial, but banished from the British empire for life. According to the state prisoners, their desire to emigrate to the United States in 1798 had been thwarted by an unholy alliance between Rufus King, then American ambassador to the court of St James, and the Irish and British governments.2 King’s defeat in 1807, and a subsequent defeat in the gubernatorial election of 1816, were thus acts of political revenge by former Irish rebels.


State Prisoner British Government Irish Government British Library Solitary Confinement 
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  1. 3.
    Thomas Pakenham, The Year of Liberty (London, 1969); R.B. McDowell, Ireland in the Age of Imperialism and Revolution 1760–1801 (Oxford, 1979); Daniel Gahan, The Peoples Rising: Wexford 1798 (Dublin, 1995); The Mighty Wave: The 1798 Rebellion in Wexford, ed. Daire Keogh and Nicholas Furlong (Dublin, 1996).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Memoirs and Correspondence of Viscount Castlereagh, ed. Charles Vane, Marquess of Londonderry, 12 vols. (London, 1848–53) [hereafter Castlereagh Corr.], I: 149–50; Cornwallis to Portland, 8 July 1798, in Correspondence of Charles, First Marquis Cornwallis, ed. Charles Ross, 3 vols. (London, 1859) [hereafter Cornwallis Corr.], II: 359–60.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    W.J. MacNeven, ‘An Account of the Treaty between the United Irishmen and the Anglo-Irish Government in 1798’, in Pieces of Irish History, ed. William J. MacNeven (New York, 1807), p. 172.Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    ‘Neilson’s Account of the Negotiation’, in R.R. Madden, The UnitedIrishmen: Their Lives and Times, 2nd edn (Dublin, 1858), I: 153–4.Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    Ibid., I: 149, 155.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    Ibid., I: 155–6.Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    William Sampson, Memoirs of William Sampson, 2nd edn (Leesburg, 1817), p. 37; Arthur OConnors Letter to Lord Castlereagh, pp. 7, 21.Google Scholar
  8. 32.
    The most recent account of the rebellion in Ulster, in which the leaders’ roles are explored, is A.T.Q. Stewart, The Summer Soldiers: The 1798 Rebellion in Antrim and Down (Belfast, 1995).Google Scholar
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    For Dickey, see Andrew Brysons Ordeal: an Epilogue to the 1798 Rebellion, ed. Michael Durey (Cork, 1998).Google Scholar
  10. 49.
    Rupert J. Coughlan, Napper Tandy (Dublin, 1976), pp. 124–54; Ian Waterston, ‘The Political and Military Intelligence Role of Sir James Craufurd at Hamburg, 1798–1799’, unpublished Honours dissertation (Murdoch University, 1997).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Michael Durey

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