There is considerable coverage of insurrection in Ireland in the newspaper – very much more than I have reproduced here. The difficulty is the depressing nature of the news – a daily menu of threats and violence that was Irish history for three centuries until accession to the European Union.

The cause of the Irish is actually central to the readers’ opinion that will likely develop from this book, but was equally well evidenced in Asia. Its inclusion would have made this work both larger than its present enormous size and more emotional – two factors that drew me to conclude it was better to leave Irish history to the specialist.

I have included articles on Catholic disqualification in this chapter as disqualification was an important part of the imperial apparatus of oppression. Readers should note that some of these articles also appear in other chapters. Finally, there is a list of the values of the various Sees of the Anglican Church towards the end of this chapter together with the identity of the holder enjoying the King’s patronage which details are not widely known:

Sat 13th April 1793

A convention of Catholics in Dublin, called the Society of United Irishmen of Dublin, has been commenced. It appears similar to a Jacobin Club. They demand greater equality under the Rights of Man. Simon Butler was in the chair when the following resolution was passed:

“The English House of Commons has never displayed an iota of respect for us. We have repeatedly petitioned against the Police Act without any response. We are treated with contempt.

“The British minister here has one purpose – to dole out corruption to the MPs at the expense of Irish liberty, commerce and improvement.

“We live in a state of hopeless slavery and our only chance is in forcing a reform of parliament through the union of all Irishmen. The policy of our rulers has been ‘divide and rule’. We must be united.”

The citizens of Belfast have done the same.

The Irish reject a Place and Pensions Bill and a Responsibility Bill; the sale of peerages in one house and corruption in the other; the infamy of the traffic between both in Boroughs. These are all symptoms of disease that is corroding our Constitution. They have published an ultimatum:

“We require a release from the weight of English influence in our country so that a cordial Union may be restored which is essential to the maintenance of our liberties and the development of our trade.

“This requires a truly representative assembly in parliament without prejudice to religion or nationality.”

Sgd James Napper Tandy, Secretary.

Sat 3rd August 1793

Europe – The British parliament has enacted that all shipments of wheat, meat and oil from Ireland are banned unless it is to another port in Ireland. Shipments of oats to England are excepted. The export of arms and ammunition from Ireland is also specifically proscribed, similar to the new law in England.

Sat 31st August 1793

Calcutta news – Charter renewal:

Private British and Irish merchants are pressing their claims on the India Company for access to Indian trade. If an agreement cannot be reached, they will petition parliament to oppose the extension of the Charter.

Sat 21st December 1793

Lord Hobart of the Irish parliament (Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant) avers that Ireland has a right to trade east of the Cape and the country had made an enormous concession in agreeing the new terms of the Charter.

He wants to put the Irish on the same footing as the English.

He proposed that a 800 ton Indiaman visit Cork annually to load Irish manufactures for the East. He thought the same 5% value as freight rate at London should apply to Cork. He noted the immense fortunes being made in India and repatriated to Ireland by individuals and thought the manufacturers should get their share too.

He noted that the VOC was at a standstill and only the English Company traded in the East. The only thing England has that China wants is silver but some Irish products might find a market.

He requested leave to bring in a Bill to regulate Irish trade to / from the East.

Leave granted.

Sat 29th March 1794

The London Times, 18th Sept 1793:

The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland has called the men of many Irish regiments to join their regiments at Cork or Portsmouth.

Sat 29th March 1794

An army is being raised in Ireland and Britain for foreign service.

Sat 5th April 1794

Edinburgh 31st August 1794 (the Scottish sedition trials) – Thomas Muir of Huntershill is accused of inciting disloyalty to the King by means of seditious speeches at various Scottish reform societies in November 1792. He promoted and distributed Paine’s Rights of Man, the Declaration of Rights, and the paper The Patriot.

He also read the Address from the Society of United Irishmen to a Scottish Reform Society.

Sat 5th July 1794

The Irish parliament has debated their budget. Mr Vandeleur supports the war but objects to the proposed tax on leather. He said revenue should first be raised from the luxuries of the rich before taxing the necessaries of the poor.

Sat 5th July 1794

The recent Act of Parliament renewing the Company’s charter includes provision for private merchants to ship goods to India on the Company’s or their own ships. The Bombay government has issued the following notice on 2nd July.


Clause 81 (of the Act) says ‘Any British subject in Europe may export any British goods to the Malabar and Coromandel coasts, Bay of Bengal ports and Sumatra. Company employees and licensed country merchants in India may export any goods to London on Company or other ships.’

Sat 13th Sept 1794

London news:

Pitt has presented a Bill in the Commons permitting George III to grant commissions to French officers to serve in the allied cause and for Frenchmen to enlist in regiments for service against France in Europe, the Channel Islands or the French colonies in West Indies. Catholics are welcome.

If such troops are landed in England they will not travel beyond the seaport of landing. They are subject to such Articles of War as H M may deem prudent and to the jurisdiction of British Courts Martial.

The Act will remain in force for the duration of the war.[1]

Sat 28th Feb 1795

Earl Fitzwilliam is made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland replacing the Earl of Westmoreland. He is given extraordinary powers to relieve the Catholics of their legal impediments and allow them to vote, to sit in the Irish parliament and to serve in the army and navy.

Fitzwilliam’s staff are Pelham Secretary; Sylvester Douglas Lord Chancellor; Grattan Chancellor of the Exchequer; the Chief Baron is Secretary of State; George Ponsonby Attorney General; J P Curran Solicitor General.

Sat 28th Feb 1795

Four Catholic regiments are being raised in Ireland for foreign service. This is made possible by Fitzwilliam’s new powers. Britain needs more soldiers and Catholics will have to be accepted into the army.

The new regiments will be commanded by respectively Henry Dillon (brother of Count Dillon), Duke of FitzJames, Count de Walsh and Mr O’Connell (formerly a Colonel in the French Royal army).

Sat 14th Mar 1795

British commercial advantages from Pitt’s war:

The manufacture of linen in Netherlands has been disrupted by war and the supply from Russia is disrupted by the troubles in Poland and the uncertainty of navigation in the Baltic. The Irish are the beneficiaries. Their linen industry is expanding.

Sat 27th June 1795

Mutiny at Spithead – The Irish crew of the Culloden ran aground entering Spithead and damaged the rudder. The Sampson ran aground at the same time and place and was seriously damaged. It required towing into Spithead. The Culloden crew were reluctant to assist. They said the Culloden was unseaworthy. Capt Trowbridge remonstrated with them but they insisted on going directly into harbour.

They went below and stayed six days in command of the lower decks. They directed two cannon to cover the companion ways and kept lighted matches nearby throughout the period. The Royal George and the Queen were brought alongside the Culloden and ordered to sink the ship with the mutineers on board unless they surrendered.

Capt Pakenham obtained permission to board and talk with the men. They surrendered to him and produced 6 Irishmen whom they said were the ringleaders. All six are landsmen (i.e. farmers given the bounty voted by the Commons and impressed).

Sat 2nd Jan 1796

Irish House of Lords, 5th June – The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (effectively a Viceroy) addressed the two Houses:

“H M acknowledges the liberal supplies you have voted for the service of the Empire and defence of the kingdom against the wanton and unprovoked attack of the French.”

Sat 20th Feb 1796

Cork, Ireland 5th Sept:

The 105th and 113th Regiments have mutinied. They took to the streets, showing their Conditions of Service to any who will look, and complain they are to be drafted into other regiments.

There has been no violence but there are only a few fencibles to oppose them and orders have been sent to Mellow Cove and Spike Island to call the Louth and Meath militia to come and protect us.

Gen White has offered to pay the rebels ½ guinea each in cash and to secure the payment of their arrears of wages if they will submit to him. He was told they insisted their regiments be maintained under their own officers or they would not serve.

Gen Massey advocates strong measures and wishes to subdue the refractory men. He brought the militia to surround the square where the rioters were and set-up two field-pieces loaded with grapeshot. The Irish troops did not believe that Massey meant business. He ordered them to ground arms. They hesitated but reluctantly complied.

They were then marched off and deprived of their arms. The sergeants and corporals were deprived of their badges of rank. The ringleader was identified and removed to prison. The riot then subsided. There were no injuries.

Sat 17th March 1798

Notice, Dublin, 7th Oct:

General Clarke, an Irishman in French service who is married to Bonaparte’s sister, spent 40 hours in Dublin last week to confer with the leaders of the United Irishmen. He then embarked on a fishing boat last Sunday, apparently to return to France.

It is supposed that he had previously spent some time in the north of Ireland. This is believed to be a preparatory act to invasion and everyone should be vigilant.

Sat 21st April 179

August 1797 – The anniversary of Fox’s first election to parliament for Westminster was celebrated at the Shakespeare Tavern, Covent Garden.

Fox said he had been in the Commons for 17 years supporting the rights won in 1688. As examples of the arbitrary proceedings of ministers, he mentioned that the freedom of the press in Ireland had just been abolished and all printers were in fear since the army went to a printer’s house and, finding him not at home, burnt it down.

He said the army killed people in Ireland as they killed animals in hunting and these marauding units were often commanded by teenage ensigns. The army had the support of ministers for these acts which were said to be done ‘for the benefit of the people’.

Sat 9th June 1798

General Sir Ralph Abercromby is making an inspection of Ireland and he recommends conciliatory measures, believing they will restore tranquillity. Lord Camden supports Abercromby view but the Lord Chancellor Clare has come to London to demand harsh measures are imperative and must continue.

Sat 16th June 1798

On Tuesday 2nd March the following five people were brought to London from Margate – Arthur O’Connor, proprietor of the Dublin paper The Press, his servant Jeremiah (or Patrick) Leary, John Binns, secretary of a division of the London Corresponding Society (tried recently at Warwick for sedition), John Allay an Irishman and James Fevey aka Quigley aka Capt Jones aka Colonel Morris Allen. They are accused of corresponding with the French government.

Facts: Last Thursday Binns took the stage to Canterbury and hired a horse to the coast. He contracted with a fisherman at Whitstable to carry a man and his servants (actually the other four suspects) to Holland.

There is a vibrant smuggling trade across the Channel in small boats and the request was not unusual.

Binns agreed to pay 150 guineas for the fare and 300 guineas as security in case the boat was seized. On Sunday Fevey presented himself at Whitstable as Capt Jones and the other three as his servants. Then the luggage was seen to be tagged in the ownership of Colonel Morris Allen. The boatman became suspicious as to his true identity and, as a result, the baggage was checked by Customs. A few small but heavy mahogany boxes were not opened on the basis the servant was looking for the keys. Suspicion was increased and the Customs declined to permit departure until they had seen the contents.

To avoid the Customs and the suspicious boatman, the group hired a cart for the baggage and walked 25 miles along the sands to Margate. Binns had a map and was better informed of the way than the cart-owner. They all arrived at Margate on Tuesday afternoon and checked-in to the King’s Head, an inexpensive boarding house on the waterfront owned and operated by Mrs Crickett.

They made the same agreement with another fisherman – 150 and 300 guineas – and he agreed to take them as soon as the 150 guineas was paid. They then sought to amend the terms to 300 guineas on arrival in France and 300 guineas security for the boat. The fisherman insisted on payment up front and they said they had no ready money and could only apply for a remittance from London. In the delay the fisherman became worried that there might be some illegality involved and alerted the Customs.

A report was sent to the Duke of Portland’s office (Home Office) and the Bow Street magistrates informed. They sent two policemen, then deployed at Gravesend searching for the group, to Margate where they arrived on Monday morning. They took a party of light horse and arrested the Irish party in the pub. The baggage was found to contain firearms and daggers. The prisoners had maps of the coast. They denied ownership of some of the baggage. The whole party was escorted back to London. They stopped overnight at Canterbury where Lord Paget visited them.

They arrived Bow Street on Tuesday and were examined by Ford and Flood but refused to answer any questions (except Fevey who said he was trying to go to Ireland by ship). The baggage was not opened. The police found a paper in Fevey’s pocket entitled ‘an address from the Executive Directory of England to the Executive Directory of the French Republic’. The contents suggested that one of the group had contacted the French government previously. This is supposed to be Binns, the sole Englishman, who had been to France two or three times recently. The prisoners are to be examined by the Privy Council as the papers are expected to implicate many people in this country.

The Council has appointed Pitt, Dundas, the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Portland, Cornwallis, Earl of Chatham, Earl Spencer, Lord Grenville and the law officers to interrogate the suspects. The papers were then examined and sufficient cause was discovered to arraign the prisoners for trial.

Fevey’s coat contained an address from the United Irishmen to the French Directory complaining of the delay in providing support.

O’Connor’s baggage contained many Louis d’Ors. O’Connor is the youngest of five brothers. Three are loyal citizens of Ireland; the fourth, Roger, is in preventive detention at Cork, the Lord Lieutenant having availed himself of the suspension of Habeas Corpus to imprison him. The O’Connor family come from Cork. The father had an estate of about £4,000 a year but lived very simply. Arthur is about 34 years old and a clever and agreeable person. The youngest brother is a Major in Lord Longueville’s Cork Militia. His Lordship is an uncle to the O’Connor boys. Arthur was returned to the Irish parliament by one of Longueville’s boroughs. His patriotism for Ireland caused him to exceed the patience of Longueville who eventually cut him out of his Will. He was forced out of the seat Longueville owned and sought to represent County Antrim or Belfast but before he could get back in to the Irish parliament he was accused of sedition and preventively detained a long time in Dublin Castle. He had just been released on bail when he was re-arrested at Margate.

The group is sent to the Tower. Young Leary appears agreeable to give evidence against the others – he has been put in fear for his life and claims to have acted under the instructions of his master. If he comes up to proof, he will likely only be charged with a misdemeanour.

Another King’s messenger Basilico has taken dispatches to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to appraise him of the matter and reportedly to take action against other suspects. Several Frenchmen have been arrested at various places in England and are expected to be deported. M Thiot, who was arrested last Saturday at Rochester for possession of maps, has already been sent back.

The Editor of the London Morning Post was also arrested and examined. He had published a report on this supposedly secret matter yesterday. He admitted to the ministers that one of the policemen had revealed everything to him. On confirmation of the source of his information, he was released.

The prisoners were then put into the custody of four King’s messengers – Mason, Scott, Sylvester and Fabiani. Enquiries revealed that one of the dissidents has been closely connected with London newspapers. It is expected that many other contacts will be revealed under questioning.

The government would like to stop all connections between England and France and this case may serve to do so. It has recently been arresting many people on arrival at Dover from France (the packet still runs from Calais) and sending them back via Hamburg.

Giovanni Battista Viotti, the leader of the Opera group[2] and Rhodes, his colleague, have been deported by the Home Secretary under the Aliens Act.

Sat 14th July 1798

The arrest of O’Connor and his group at Margate has been followed by many further arrests in Ireland. Lord Edward FitzGerald was found in one house that had been used by the conspirators but he escaped. Several representatives of Irish counties were detained.

Councillor Sampson of the Irish parliament has decamped leaving a letter to the Lord Lieutenant that he will surrender himself on condition he is immediately charged (the Irish hate endless preventive detention). He says the British documents, some suggesting French involvement and another a list of officials supposedly intended for assassination, are malicious fabrications. He says the list of people to be assassinated was obtained from his own papers and is a list of Jurors in a case he represents.

The Lord Lieutenant has ignored Sampson’s request. All the arrested men are respectable and wealthy merchants. Many suspects have fled north and are being sought but they have the support of the populace. People found in possession of inflammatory pamphlets are being arrested.

London says the plot involves the voluntary surrender of Ireland to the French as a preparatory step to independence. A paper found in Oliver Bond’s house at Dublin indicated that house was the provisional seat of the Executive Government of the United Irishmen.

A resolution of the Provisional Government said ‘we will ignore the efforts of the British Houses of Parliament to divert attention from our object which is the complete emancipation of our country.’ It seems that Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform would not have satisfied them.

The British ministry says the insurrection was supposed to occur on St Patrick’s Day when it was expected that everyone would be too drunk to interfere in what was happening. The Irish rebels were to seize all the main government offices, murder anyone important and the French were to land a force to co-operate with them. When the details started emerging it was first proposed to put Dublin under Martial Law.

Earl Camden is recalled from the Lord Lieutenancy. The ministers believe he has been too harsh and Sir Ralph Abercromby’s uncompromising orders to the British garrison are strong evidence of the fact. The ministry believes Ireland needs a more conciliatory Viceroy, but one with military skill. It prefers the Marquis Cornwallis, the victor over Tippoo.

Sat 21st July 1798

House of Lords, 22nd March:

The Duke of Bedford has moved the dismissal of Pitt’s ministry for mal-administration.


A good part of the population was in a state of virtual or actual rebellion. In Ireland the garrison is allowed to act at its own discretion with the certainty of non-responsibility for the acts of its members. The atrocities our soldiers have committed in Ireland are condoned by the Ministry. Bedford mentioned a solemn undertaking by the men of one of the regiments that any Irishman who asserted human rights was to be beaten before being delivered to the civil power.

Coercion in Ireland had bred distrust and it had spread to England where functionaries of the ministry published all sorts of pamphlets containing malicious rumours to calumniate those who were not 100% supportive, including himself. All opposition figures were accused of exposing the acts of the ministry in order to get bought-off with some office or other. Either that or they were closet-friends of the French. In fact, office-seekers were precisely those people who already supported the ministry, right or wrong.

Lansdowne supported Bedford. He asked the Peers to look matters in the face. He considered that Ireland was retained solely by military oppression. In the south of that country the farmers have this Spring refused to sow grain (for export to England).

He thought the British Empire was best restricted to England and Ireland – all the rest was a burden more than an asset. As overseas British colonies were held for commercial purposes, why was Ireland not treated the same? He concluded by saying he would vote for anyone in preference to the present ministry.

Grenville for the ministry said the Corresponding Societies were influencing radical opinion in Ireland; they were implicated in the mutinies of the navy; He reiterated that coercion was absolutely necessary for Ireland. We have tried conciliation – one of Pitt’s first measures was to give free trade to Ireland – and it has availed us nothing.

Sat 11th Aug 1798

The clean-up in Ireland continues. In Bond’s house the officers found handbills prepared for distribution advising recipients to not accept Bank of England notes in exchange and asserting they were not worth anything.

In Jackson’s house they found a green uniform, faced with white. The buttons had a harp and in place of the crown was a shamrock.[3]

Also found was a letter from the French Directory to a rebel appointing him Adjutant-General of that part of the Army for the Invasion of England that is to occupy Ireland.

Sat 18th August 1798

Paris news, 6th April – St Patrick’s Day was celebrated in Paris as well as Dublin. Napper Tandy was in the chair of the Paris dinner. On his right and left were Thomas Paine and General Kilmaine, which latter man is charged with command of the centre of the Army of England.

The toast was ‘long live the Irish Republic’.

Sat 18th August 1798

The preparations for the trial of O’Connor’s group are proceeding. They are charged with ‘compassing the King’s death’; ‘comforting the King’s enemies’ and ‘compassing French officials and other to invade England’.

A list of jurors has been prepared. The government has published its list of witnesses – over a hundred. It includes the Under-Secretaries Wickham and King.

Sat 25th Aug 1798

Part of the Judges’ address to Jurors at commencement of the Treason trial in Maidstone (of O’Connor and his group):

“We have full security for our freedom, for no law can be enacted which will not render every Member of the Legislature liable to its effect the same as the poorest subject in the Realm[4] … the difficulties and perplexities of government are … almost innumerable, and the people at large have not sufficient judgement. Much mischief is done by dwelling on imperfections that are inseparable from every human system, by imputing all evils that befall a state to the corruption of the rulers. People would do well to reflect that government, by its nature, invariably falls into the hands of a few. Etc.”

Sat 6th Oct 1798

The prosecutors say their state trial of O’Connor and his group at Maidstone has been vandalised by the Defence.

Barrister Plommer read a letter of the Rev Arthur Young to Gamaliel Lloyd in which the clergyman says he dined with three jurors from the Blackburn Hundred to persuade them to hang the defendants whatever the evidence. Young refused to identify the jurors and the whole contingent from the Blackburn Hundred had to be discharged.

A prospective Juror, I Raikes of Bromley, was discharged for shaking his fist at the defendants and calling them ‘damned rascals’. The Crown prosecutors took up the business and launched challenges against 12 other jurors but without stating reasons. The defence protested but was over-ruled. The 12 men who were eventually selected for the hearing were all proposed by the prosecution. They will serve under foreman C Hoskins of West Wickham.

The trial then commenced. A Bow Street runner produced a letter which he said he had found on one of the defendants. It was from the Secret Committee of England to the French Directory. It reports that:

“ …. taxes increase but overall revenue collections reduce. Pitt’s attempts to borrow more are frustrated by the lack of security he can offer. It seems his system of borrowing is threatened. The voluntary contributions are only voluntary amongst the rich. The poor pay because it is a condition of their employment. Even soldiers are forced to contribute to evidence their patriotism. There is widespread fear and anger.

“The English people need your protection. Their constitutional rights are diminished by a docile parliament that partakes in their plunder. They need protection from their own representatives. All Ireland and Scotland is saddened and dissatisfied – we have representatives of both countries on our Committee. Soldiers and sailors are likewise suspicious and doubtful but they have no leader to unite their efforts. The greedy have thrown their support behind government whilst the fearful are staying indoors. A few of the aristocracy, who should be beyond serious danger, have spoken on behalf of the people but they offer words not action.”

Lord Moira and Thomas Erskine gave evidence for the defence. Moira was prevented giving hearsay evidence of a conversation he had with O’Connor. Erskine said he knew O’Connor for three years and he is a fine man. Fox, the Earl of Suffolk, Sheridan, the Duke of …, M A Taylor, M Grattan, Lord John Russell, Lord Oxford and Whitbread all gave character evidence for O’Connor.

O’Connor, Binns, Allen and Leary were found not guilty; O’Coigly was found guilty and sentenced to death (executed on Pennenden Heath near Maidstone 7th June. He was hanged for 12 minutes then cut down and beheaded. Only about a thousand people attended the spectacle).

On sentence being passed, O’Connor assumed he was a free man and started to leave the dock. The officers rushed at him making use of two swords, exhibits of the case, that had been on the table. O’Connor was beaten down and a new arrest warrant signed by the Duke of Portland was served on him.

O’Connor protested but Mr Justice Buller said an acquittal did not automatically lead to release in England. He said O’Connor might make an affidavit to the King’s Bench to Shew Cause why he should not be released. In any event the Court’s jurisdiction ceased with the verdict and he could do nothing more.

The other three acquitted men were released. O’Connor was given into the charge of the King’s Messengers and ordered detained in their custody in London.

Lord Holland took-up the result of this case in the Lords on 23rd May. He reminded the Lords that the act suspending Habeas Corpus contained an express clause that it applied only to persons charged with High Treason. He vigorously asserted the absence of any legal power to arrest an acquitted man for the same offence.

Lord Sydney accused Holland of intemperate language.

Holland said the present ministry had no respect for persons or property.

Lord Bulkeley said O’Connor should not be allowed to avoid the severest punishment on a mere legal technicality.

The Lord Chancellor said O’Connor was re-arrested on a second charge and there was no impropriety in government’s actions.

Sat 22nd Sept 1798

News of the insurrections in Ireland. Letter of Lt General Douglas to Viscount Castlereagh, 25th May:

Yesterday I left Neas and engaged the rioters on the north bank of the Liffey. They were approaching Kilcullen Bridge and threatened the road to Dublin. The infantry dispersed them and the cavalry cut off their escape. I killed 130 men and took no prisoners but many escaped. None of the British force was killed or injured. The rebels left great quantities of arms and equipment on the field.

Our men were very gallant and it was difficult to restrain them. Capt La Touche’s yeomanry distinguished themselves.

Letter from the army at Armagh to General Lake, 24th May:

We were attacked this morning by surprise and repulsed the enemy after ¾ hour. The cavalry then pursued and killed about a hundred of them in the fields. Another thirty were killed in town. A considerable number of arms and pikes have been seized and several caches of weapons have been found buried in various places around the town. We caught three men wearing green cockades and summarily hanged them in the market place. A fourth gave information for his life. He says the rebels number 1,000 men under Michael Reynolds. That man unfortunately escaped. The conduct of our cavalry and infantry was exemplary.

Tues 25th Sept 1798 Extraordinary

The rebellion in Ireland is still spreading although our military response is extremely violent and few prisoners are taken. In one engagement 2,500 rebels were killed on the battlefield. Our casualties are few but Lords Mountjoy and O’Neil have been killed.

Cornwallis is appointed Lord Lieutenant and CiC of Ireland with full and extraordinary powers to do whatever is necessary to restore tranquillity. He took an extra 10,000 troops with him in mid June. Martial law is being continued.

Lord Edward FitzGerald is dead. He was sold to the British by a serving girl for £1,000. He was shot trying to avoid arrest and died a few days later in prison on 4th June.

Sir Edward Crosbie is dead. His is an ancient family but not rich. He is a barrister and a friend of Hamilton Rowan, Napper Tandy and Wolfe Tone. He was convicted by an army court of aiding the rebels and hanged on 6th June. Afterwards he was beheaded and his head placed in public view on his own pike in front of the gaol.

A stream of Protestant refugees is arriving at Milford Haven from Ireland. The residents of the Northern Irish provinces are already subdued and are surrendering their arms.

Major General Nugent has fought a decisive battle with 5,000 rebels at Ballynahinch. For the most part the enemy was unarmed. They were led by a Lisburn shopkeeper named Munro. Nugent attacked them very early in the morning and got around three sides of their position leaving them with their backs to the mountains. In this position he used howitzers and 6-pounders. The grapeshot did considerable execution and their cornered position forced the rebels into a decision to attack. They tried to capture a cannon with which they might retaliate, but failed. Their own artillery comprised 6 x 1-pounders of limited range. About 400 were killed on the field and the rest soon dispersed into the mountains. British losses were 6 killed and fourteen wounded.

Another crowd attacked Portaferry. The local yeomanry occupied the market and picked off the rebels, killing many. About 40 bodies were left in the town. The rebels carried off a good many more of their injured colleagues.

Another group of rebels from Wexford marched on Borris and burned the town before British forces could respond. They retired in to Wexford.

The rebels fitted out a great many boats and 13 ships at New Ross for their escape. A few armed British vessels were sent round from Fethard and burned the little flotilla.

The hills around Dublin are infested with rebels and an attack is expected. Some fifth columnists in the city attempted to persuade the yeomanry to turn-out for a spurious alarm, apparently intending to capture the town in their absence. The river supplying the Grand Canal has been diverted and the canal is dry.

If this continues for much longer the entire island will be desolated.

The Commons debated Ireland on 14th June. The House was cleared of strangers first. The continued military government of the island was approved. Sheridan attempted to mitigate the harshness of the oppression but was easily defeated.

Sat 29th Sept 1798

Ireland – Gorey is in rebel hands – the Protestants are dead or fled. The rebels have also captured Arklow and Wexford. Protestant clergy have been targeted. All Wicklow and Wexford is rebel country.

Sat 6th Oct 1798

The Irish barrister James Agar has been arrested at his chambers in Hare Court, Temple, by the Home Secretary Lord Portland. Mr Curren, the son of a barrister was also taken. An arrest warrant against Barrister Traynor was also served.

The Hon V B Lawless, son of the Irish peer Lord Cloncurry, was arrested with his French valet at his Pall Mall house and a chap named Stewart, apparently of the Castlereagh family, was arrested in Piccadilly under the same authority.

They are all accused of treason and their papers have been taken for examination. Another Irishman called Gratton was also arrested but turned out to be a known British sympathiser and was released.

Sat 20th Oct 1798

House of Commons, 18th June:

The ministry say the King has told parliament that officers and men of various militia regiments have volunteered to serve in Ireland to suppress the rebellion. The risk of imminent French invasion has passed and these militias are costing money with no return. The King takes the offers as proof of the attachment of his people to his interests and his government.

Next day Dundas asked the House to send the militias to Ireland (a good example of anticipated parliamentary support by the ministry).

Nicholls disagreed – these militias are firstly a safeguard against a standing army and a control on tyrannical government; secondly, a few weeks ago we were told we would be invaded; now the militia that is to defend us is to be shipped off to Ireland as an invasion force itself. Thirdly, the articles of their engagement specified it was for the defence of England.

He said if the insurrection in Ireland is general then the government must have induced it; if it is local then the garrison there should be adequate. He also wished to know why Earl Fitzwilliam, the Minister for Ireland, had been removed. If he had done something wrong he would not have been given the Duke of Norfolk’s regiment. Why was he removed?[5]

M A Taylor complained that the rebellion in Ireland had continued for a month and the Commons knew nothing about it until this unconstitutional proposal from Dundas. Several other MPs, who were in the militias themselves (its a perk), opposed the proposal.

Ryder said Dundas was merely responding to the generous and patriotic offer of some of the militias – just putting it before parliament as he should.

Lord William Russell found Dundas’ proposal thoroughly subversive. He said 90% of the Irish populace opposed the system we enforced there yet their protests were considered traitorous – to evidence loyalty in Ireland you had to kill a fellow citizen.

Banks said we cannot have France on one side and a Francophile Ireland on the other – its too dangerous – but he found the Constitutional principle too strong to overlook.

Windham, Secretary at War, accused Lord William Russell of wishing the rebels to succeed. He categorised the rebellion as unprovoked and unprecedented – it had to be crushed. He said Dublin was as much a part of Britain as York and the militia could go to either place whenever they were needed. We already have fencible regiments in Ireland that were raised in England – what is the difference? In any event there is no choice – we are endangered and must respond with whatever is to hand.

Russell replied that until the ministry informed the House of the results of its enquiries into the causes of discontent, he would maintain his view.

Sheridan said it was only a few weeks ago that Windham told us the militias were barely sufficient for our self-defence; now he is sending 12,000 of them to Ireland. Had the ministry told the House it was sending the fencibles before it did so instead of afterwards, he would have complained of that too – he supposed the King is above the law. The Catholics in Ireland were merely emulating the Americans. People we put in authority over them are abusing their power. The Protestants consider the Catholics as slaves and beasts. The situation in Ireland appeared due to government operating a system of mutual distrust, of inquisition, torture and strangulation. The people were resisting the King’s troops and the ministry says nobody knows why.

Government is supposed to be for the welfare of the people. Why are the Irish resisting it? Have they been goaded beyond endurance? The one thing that every true Briton hoped was that Ireland would not become a province of France. We should be conciliating them. When Earl Fitzwilliam was made Viceroy the people were hopeful. Then he was removed and the country rebelled. Our response was not conciliatory. 30,000 – 40,000 jobs were instantly lost and 25,000 Irishmen emigrated. The Irish have not united to obtain French citizenship, it is more likely they just want food.

He categorised the apparently voluntary nature of the militia’s offer to serve in Ireland as specious. On his way to the House he had seen an armed party dragging a deserter along the street who was identified as a volunteer. These people were not volunteers, whatever reasons they might have to join the militias, they were displaying submission not volition. It is the same with the voluntary contributions – if you don’t pay you are a traitor.

This war is also fought between government and people. General Tarleton offered to serve and was rejected; Lord Petre is a fine patriot but he was found unsuitable too; the Borough Associations likewise. The Duke of Bedford raised a militia in Devon. He then received a letter disposing of his services and enclosing a newspaper report of his attendance at a Whig party. What these patriotic Englishmen have in common is a respect for the people and the Constitution. They profess Whig principles and are accordingly not trusted by King or minister. This war is fought for partisan, not national, interests. That is why we have 80,000 troops and 30 Generals in Ireland.

Dundas said he was surprised that the House doubted the wisdom of his proposals. Was not the King’s message enough? He said the fact is that Ireland will become French unless we extinguish rebellion. A Constitution is supposed to be good for a country; well, ending a rebellion is good for a country too. These minute distinctions between militia and regular troops are unhelpful. The ministry’s job is to win the war – we have raised 100,000 militiamen, 100,000 volunteer infantry and 20,000 yeoman cavalry in support of our regular forces. We have acted responsibly. France has humbled all the powers of Europe except us. We must prevail to preserve British principles. Even if the French invade England tomorrow, I would still send 12,000 militia to Ireland today. Our government in Ireland must be supported.

Lord Petre’s son was denied a regiment and the Duke of Bedford’s regiment was rejected because they are Whigs – their sentiments are inimical with the ministry’s.

Tierney resented the way ministers came to the House and demanded their wishes be met, as though debate wasted time. It was particularly galling coming from Dundas who served his political apprenticeship in the American rebellion and should be knowledgeable about ideological warfare. Earl Fitzwilliam told us three years ago that if the Catholics are not emancipated, they will rebel. They were not emancipated; they are now in rebellion. If the government would care to indicate some alternative cause of their grievances, he would be interested to hear it. For 12 months we have heard nothing from Ireland but burnings, scourgings and hangings. Abercromby was dismissed from his command of the army in Ireland because his humanity was equal to his gallantry. We are oppressing Ireland to keep a small and desperate faction in power. He, like Russell, would not vote a man or a dollar until he was told what was going on.

Wilberforce said it is a maxim of war that ‘those who gain time, gain everything’. The rebels are holding out for foreign help. He supported the ministry. So did Lord George Cavendish.

The House then voted 118/42 to send the English militia to Ireland.[6]

Wed 24th Oct 1798 Extraordinary

Since Cornwallis arrived in Ireland a great battle has occurred at Vinegar Hill near Wexford on 21st June:

General Lake confronted the rebels using grape shot to disperse the crowd and within 90 minutes 5,000 Irishmen were dead on the field. The cavalry was then sent after the fleeing survivors (rather like a battle in India between the India Company and a native Prince). Six one-pounder and 4 brass 6-pounder cannon were captured.

Enniscorthy and Wexford were occupied the following day and the residents reduced to apparent submission. The representatives of the inhabitants (Matthew Keughe and Edward Roche) proposed to deliver the town, lay down their arms and return to their allegiance provided their persons and property were guaranteed but Cornwallis deemed them insolent and arrested them without negotiations. “I do not negotiate with rebels”, he said.

Roche had signed the Proclamation of the People of Wexford of 19th June 1798 alleging the British magistrates James Boyd, Hawtry White, Hunter McGowan and Archibald Hamilton Jacob had acted with cruelty and violence and should be arrested and arraigned before a Tribunal of the People.

Lord Kingsborough has also sought to represent the Irish people. He has made such engagements with the inhabitants. Cornwallis declined to discuss the matter with him and referred him to General Lake. The rebels took many prisoners and killed 70 of them before Lake’s force got there but we saved the rest.

In a follow-up action at Blackstairs Mountain where fleeing rebels had been stopped by a row of English posts, another hundred were killed. It is Cornwallis’ policy to combine overwhelming force with conciliation and reasonableness. The Irish must learn to live on British terms.[7]

Wed 24th Oct 1798 Extraordinary

The King prorogued parliament on 29th June. In his Address he said concerning Ireland:

“Those people who have been seduced from their allegiance to Us will be brought to a just sense of guilt which will entitle them to forgiveness. This temporary interruption of happiness is due to those pernicious French principles. We will resist our enemies and defend our Constitution.”

Sat 10th Nov 1798

House of Commons, 22nd June – The Whigs attempted to get a resolution through the Commons requiring the King to ‘seriously consider the situation of the Irish Catholics’. Fox spoke for the motion. It was defeated 204/62

Sat 17th Nov 1798

Irish House of Commons, 10th May 1797 – Report of the Secret Committee of the Irish House:

Pelham produced a 69-page report on the papers seized at Belfast. The report says the Society of United Irishmen, under the pretext of parliamentary reform and the emancipation of the Catholics, actually promotes the independence of Ireland, the overthrow of the present Constitution and the establishment of a Republican form of government.

The Society exercises a judicial authority over its members and people are charged and tried for ‘offences’. The best evidence comes from Theobald Wolfe Tone who considers Ireland’s connection with the British as the main obstacle to Irish prosperity. In 1791 the Society declared the principle that ‘none but the people can declare the will of the people’. The Society has 100,000 members and raises money from them. Some of this money has been used to buy arms and ammunition. The committee had compelling oral evidence that assassinations are encouraged by the Society and that the Society’s policy is to seduce the loyalty of British soldiers.

Wed 21st Nov 1798 Extraordinary

Paris, 14th July – France has heard the call of the children of Oscar. The United Irishmen ask for our help to overcome tyranny. The despots recently appeared to be winning but the whole world is opposed to the English pirates and their Machiavellian government.

Presently the world is divided into two classes – the ferocious egotists who predate on the people and the generous souls who fight for the happiness of the world. We too have lamented the fall of Condercet and Vergniaux as Ireland laments the fall of Fitzgerald but Ireland’s voice has been heard and they deserve the help of humanity.

Wed 21st Nov 1798 Extraordinary

Cornwallis’ harsh strategy in Ireland has effectively suppressed popular hopes and the English militia will not now be sent. Harvey, who led the Wexford rebellion has been hanged; Colclough and Cornelius Grogan also. They were all found guilty of treason under army law.[8]

Wed 21st Nov 1798 Extraordinary

Several hundred citizens of Dublin have offered their submission to Cornwallis and pledged their allegiance to King George. They include Bond and they are all to be pardoned. The dissident members of the United Irishmen have agreed to self-exile. The Privy Council met and Lords Clare, Castlereagh and Mr Toler supported the submission of the Dubliners whilst Lord Shannon, Beresford and Forster doubted it was heartfelt. Cornwallis had the casting vote and he is for conciliation. It will be an imperative requirement of reconciliation that the Orangemen cease wearing their distinctive badges.

Wed 21st Nov 1798 Extraordinary

3,000 more men, released from duty in Ireland now the rebellion is contained, are sent to the East Indies to confront the French should they invade Bombay from Egypt as intended. The Directors have chartered three extra ships to ensure transport is adequate. The other forces on their way East are the 2nd battalion of Royals from Lisbon and the 28th, 42nd and 70th regiments from Gibraltar. They will stop at the Cape and collect the 84th and 86th regiments as well.

Sat 1st Dec 1798

The Irish parliament is considering appeals from the relatives of people hanged by the British army for treason. Under British martial law our troops have a right of attainder over the property of their entire families as prize.

Castlereagh is sympathetic. He does not want another rebellion. There was a general feeling that only guilty peoples’ property should be confiscated.

The rebel chief, Garret Byrn of Ballymanus, surrendered under the King’s proclaimed amnesty. We required him, as a term of amnesty, to use his powers of persuasion on his erstwhile colleagues and procure their surrender too. After he had spoken long on the subject to them, they piked him to death. Then they surrendered.

Sat 15th Dec 1798

The Viceroy of Ireland has caused the noble vice-chancellor to investigate the political credentials of the professors, lecturers and students of Trinity College, Dublin. There is page after page of interrogations – the authorities are looking for connections with the United Irishmen and evidence of atheism and Republicanism. Several members of staff have already been expelled.

Mon 31st Dec 1798 Extraordinary

A small French force of 700 has landed at Sligo from 3 frigates. It is commanded by General Kilmaine and Napper Tandy is said to be there. They entered Killala and took some prisoners. Unfortunately the French are late. The majority of the Irish population has already submitted to the British.

Mon 31st Dec 1798 Extraordinary

The British inquisition in Ireland has discovered that members of the Irish Union went to Europe in 1796 to discuss the invasion of Ireland by France. They avoided Paris, which was full of émigrés, and met General Hoche at Frankfurt. That led to General Hoche’s abortive expedition of Dec 1796. The Directory only disclosed it in Spring 1797. A failure in communications caused Irish domestic supporters to be absent at the time of the expedition’s approach, so they say. That’s why no-one welcomed Hoche at Bantry Bay.

Lewines, the Union’s representative, went to Paris in summer 1797. Dr McNiven went to Hamburg and saw the French consul there. He promised Irish reimbursement of the invasion costs (financed by the sale of Irish property confiscated from absentee English landlords) and misled the envoy as to the Union’s wealth. The representations of these two procured another expedition – on Admiral de Winter’s fleet in the Texel. The soldiers were embarked but then disembarked to allow Winter to deal with the British blockading squadron. He comprehensively lost that battle to Duncan in Oct 1797.

The Union continued to write but the French deal hardened to ‘lend us the money for the invasion or permit our army to occupy the country by conquest’. The Union bridled at that.

That’s when an independent rebellion became policy. Parliamentary reform was abandoned and independence became the aim. The rebellion occurred and many leaders were killed or arrested. France then sent another force from Dunkirk and Brest at short notice – the three frigates which landed a party of 1,000 at Sligo.

That force was commanded by General Kilmaine, a Dubliner who schooled abroad. He served in the Austrian and French armies and was in America throughout that war. The Union had commended France to create a diversion at Sligo and make the main landing at Killala Bay. The frigates were however captured and a British army is now moving into Connaught to confront the French.

A few Irishmen escaped our suppression of the rebellion. A list of over 30 of them was published in London on 28th and 30th Aug. James Napper Tandy is first on the list. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has introduced a Bill in the Lords requiring the named men to return and surrender themselves to trial or face having their property confiscated by attainder.

The arrested men have generally accepted the deal on offer. It is recommended to them by their surviving ex-leaders. They give all information they know to the British ministry (they are not obliged to implicate third parties) and are then allowed to emigrate to any country in alliance with Britain. They undertake not to enter an enemy country. Its better than death.

Sat 12th Jan 1799

The United Irishmen achieved popularity with the peasantry by promising the abolition of church tithes. This was the key item that motivated the peasants. The United Irishmen also supported emancipation of Catholics. They tried to prevent the people drinking imported alcohol in their colony, a major source of the British King’s revenue. They advised the people against exchanging Pitt’s paper money. They got the Catholic priesthood on-side in spite of the formal French attitude to religion and those gentlemen actively politicised the peasantry.

The Union asked France to demand Irish independence in the talks with Malmesbury at Lille. Indeed an Irishman was present at the negotiations and the United Irishmen were amongst the first to know the doubts about English sincerity.

The Irish tried to raise a loan of £500,000 in Paris to fund their rebellion but this failed as their security was unacceptable. It seems to have been the inability of the Union leaders to concert the rebellion with the French invasion that was the proximate cause of its failure.

Sat 19th Jan 1799

General Lake has chased the French expedition all over Ireland and eventually cornered them at Ballinamuck. 96 officers and 746 soldiers surrendered. Lake lost three men. The French were taken to Liverpool in 8 transports.

The invaders were disappointed at the lack of Irish support – only 2,000 men joined them most of whom were lawless chaps who stole from the French. A large party of these Irishmen received their new green uniforms and arms from the French and then decamped with them.

Afterwards another French frigate with General Rey and James Napper Tandy arrived. Each published an impressive Proclamation calling on the Irish to rise, but when they discovered the fate of the earlier expedition, they got back in their boats and rowed away.

An Irish assignat has been found amongst the French items seized when their army surrendered. It says “No 1 – in the name of the French Government. Good for ½ guinea, to be raised on the Province of Connaught” It is signed ‘John Morris’

Sat 26th Jan 1799

Long articles in successive Bombay Courier papers at end 1798 and start 1799 outline the evidence provided to Pitt’s ministry by Irish rebels who have agreed to trade information for their lives.

Sat 2nd Feb 1799

13 Irish prisoners on the Postlethwaite prison ship have been released to America in pursuit of that part of the King’s amnesty permitting their emigration to British allies. The final pockets of rebellion in Ireland are being extinguished by General Lake.

Sat 23rd Feb 1799

The nine ships comprising the second French contribution to the Irish rebellion were attacked and defeated on 10th Oct by two British squadrons under Sir George Home and Admiral Kingsmill. Seven ships were seized and two frigates escaped. 3,000 troops and an immense amount of military stores were captured. The French have prepared a third expedition to Ireland but withheld its despatch until the results of the 2nd became known. We hope they will now desist from interference in Ireland. It is as contentious as our interference in their internal affairs.

Sat 2nd March 1799

On 6th Oct 1798, the Irish House of Commons voted £1 million to the King’s Exchequer for defence this year, to be raised on credit by sale of Treasury Bills and / or debentures. Everyone willing to pay £61 will get a £100 face value debenture paying 5% pa.

Sat 2nd March 1799

Dublin – the King’s amnesty expired in mid October and there are still plenty of known rebels unaccounted for. George III has struck out Henry Gratton’s name from the list of Irish Privy Councillors and ordered his portrait in Trinity College, Dublin to be removed.

Sat 9th March 1799

The clean-up in Ireland has reached the judicial phase. The Earl of Enniskillen presided at a Court Martial at which Wallaghan (or Woolaghan), a Wicklow yeoman, was charged with the murder of a farmer. He acquitted him.

Cornwallis was furious. He says the evidence of guilt was clear. He requires Wallaghan be dismissed from the yeomanry and not employed again by the British armed forces. He says none of the officers who sat on Wallaghan’s trial are to be employed on Courts Martial again.

He has got Castlereagh to draft a letter ordering these points to be read at every Court Martial before it commences.

The Earl of Enniskillen is unrepentant. He says he will explain everything to Cornwallis when they meet.

Mon 11th March 1799 Extraordinary

Theobald Wolfe Tone was captured in the French warship Hoche, part of the invasion squadron to Ireland. He was brought to Lough Swilly on 31st Oct dressed as a French general. He had been appointed Adjutant General of the French force. He was tried by Court Martial and sentenced to death on 12th Nov but a stay was granted to allow his case to be transferred to the Court of King’s Bench at Westminster as the ministry wants the execution to take place in London.

Regrettably, on 18th Nov he killed himself in prison.

Mon 11th March 1799 Extraordinary

America has declined to receive the Irish rebels who submitted to us and agreed to give information in return for their lives. As we cannot land them in US ports, they will now be deposited in Canada.

Sat 16th March 1799

The last of the Irish rebels are being captured. They have been cut off from supplies and are obliged to plunder to feed themselves. Some of their actions have been truly barbarous and publicity has lost them all support in England and most support in Ireland.

Pitt has proposed to the Commons to unite Ireland to England. It may take some years. Many people support the idea.

Sat 16th March 1799

The third French squadron for Ireland (one capital ship and four frigates) arrived off Killala on 27th Oct with over 3,000 troops on board.

Sun 5th May 1799 Extraordinary

Napper Tandy has come within British reach and been arrested. He is at Hamburg with J M Morris,[9] George Peters and Balthazar Blackwell. His status may be one of the things that Grenville is discussing in Berlin as Prussia has just construed French law and announced that Tandy and the others cannot claim French citizenship, as they have done, without 7 years residence in that country.

Sat 11th May 1799

Napper Tandy and his three companions were arrested at Hamburg on British information. They escaped from Ireland by ship and landed in Norway from whence they made their way partly on foot to Hamburg. On 22nd Nov the British minister to Hamburg, Sir James Crawfurd, learned of their residence at a public house called ‘The Arms of America’ and swore a warrant to the magistrate that they were wanted in England for rebellion against the King.

Crawfurd was refused two times but on his third attempt he formulated his request in a way that was legally acceptable and the Irishmen were arrested on 24th Nov.

Once Crawfurd had the Irishmen locked-up, the French minister to Hamburg, Marragnan, advised the Hamburg Senate that Tandy was French and he would strike his flag and return to Paris if the group was not released.

The Senate ordered Tandy and Blackwell (both bear commissions in the French army and are acknowledged by France as French citizens) to be unchained but has not yet ordered their release. No-one is helping the other two.

7th April 1801 Extraordinary

5th Nov 1800 – The Act of Union with Ireland united the Irish and British parliaments. The Irish parliament was ended on 1st Jan 1801. Irish members of both its Houses will in future sit at Westminster. The first parliament of the United Kingdom will be convened on 22nd Jan 1801. The Irish parliament, before its disbandment, will select those of its members who are entitled under the new law to sit in Westminster.

Sat 2nd May 1801

32 Irish peers have joined the British House of Lords. There are already 40 Irish peers in the British House (Irish peerages awarded to English people). 94 Irish MPs, including Viscount Castlereagh, have also joined the British House of Commons.

Sat 13th June 1801

In February and March 1801 there was a dispute between the Duke of York (George III’s second son) and Pitt which, it is feared, could precipitate a change of ministry. The spat relates to Ireland. Pitt wanted to relieve the Catholics who expect something of the sort from their representatives now sitting at Westminster. The Duke adopted the traditional view of his Dad.

Pitt’s recommendations to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland were so diluted before transmission that that officer said they would not satisfy the people nor promote tranquillity in the island. Regrettably, there is a particularly strong Royal objection to the repeal of the Test & Corporation Acts. In the cabinet Pitt was initially a lone voice but he is a persevering sort of chap and ultimately he won over a majority to liberal measures – it’s the King who is against it.

The Commons is now considering the King’s message in respect of Union.

Charles Grey spoke on the matter in the House. He disbelieves the official line that Union was requisite to extinguish the calls for independence. He notes that Ireland was quiet for a year after our violent suppression of the country. He attributes the present Irish discontent to our acts in ending their rebellion – artillery against crowds, summary public executions, heads on pikes, etc. If we now want Union, it should be on the basis of the 1782 adjustment. Union is a matter of heart and of affection, he said. We have repealed no obnoxious laws, we have not extended our Constitution to Ireland, we continue our imperious policy. I hope I am wrong but we will know very soon when the Irish representatives join us. Maintaining the Protestant ascendancy is not the way to go.

Sat 13th June 1801

Mr Horne Tooke has taken his seat in the Commons as a member for Old Sarum. (one of the commercially available seats).

Sat 4th July 1801

Pitt has spoken of his resignation in the House. He had proposed a legislative measure that he thought essential for the country but had been prevented from bringing it to the House. He thought the appropriate response was to resign the ministry. Some of his colleagues agreed and did likewise.

The ‘legislative measure’ turned out on enquiry by Sheridan, to have been Pitt’s proposals for Ireland. Pitt felt union required concessions to ensure tranquillity in Ireland. He was perfectly convinced of the case and could not abandon the opinion without sacrificing his integrity. His only concern has been to promote the interest, honour and welfare of the Kingdom, he said.

One of the London papers has noted that Pitt’s resignation was expected. Letters from our ministers in both Vienna and Berlin spoke of the event well before it occurred (There is an alternative version that asserts British prior knowledge and perhaps involvement in the assassination of Tsar Paul in March 1801 – George III is trying to preserve monarchy in Europe not extinguish it).

Another papers alludes to something told to the Prince of Wales on 25th Feb after the King became unwell. The Prince called Pitt in that Wednesday for a long meeting at Carlton House. He was concerned to elucidate his own position (he is ‘heir apparent’) in light of the King’s illness. When Pitt met the King, the meeting had been acrimonious and he had tendered his resignation which was accepted. He had remained at the Exchequer to handle the day-to-day work until a successor relieved him or the King recovered. Until a new ministry was formed, he supposed he remained de facto in office and it is true he had not completed many of the formalities necessary for his actual resignation of the ministry (i.e. the King became irrational due to the Austrian peace terms, His loss of Hanover, and Pitt was unable to reason with him, so he resigned. He said privately that the King had acted against the advice of his ministers).[10] Although the King had appointed another man as minister, the formalities for Pitt’s removal remained to be done. On this basis Pitt concluded that he was still minister. The King is reported to have told the Queen and Prince of Wales, in a chat at the Queen’s House, that he is satisfied to have Addington as minister although he regrets the circumstances which necessitated Pitt’s replacement.

Sat 29th Aug 1801

A single report says Napper Tandy was sentenced to death on 4th May but the King, who was thought to be unwell, has pardoned him.[11]

Sat 19th Sept 1801

The ministry is trying to remove Horne Tooke from the Commons. They resent the pardon he has received from the Regent. Some of the ministers are irritated to have the chap sitting there amongst the willing tools of the ministry. They consider the old Etonian to be a Frenchman. A committee was appointed to research a means of removing him and it has found historical grounds to expel Tooke for being a clergyman.

Lord Temple has conduct of the matter for the ministry. He says the objection to clergymen sitting as MPs in the House is Constitutional. The Church already has the right to raise taxes in convocation. If they can raise taxes in parliament as well, that would concentrate too much power on them.

Tooke says he has taken off the robes of clergy. Temple says that is impossible – once a clergyman, always a clergyman. He called for a new Writ to elect another member for Old Sarum in the place of Tooke.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer recalled the election of Rushworth (a Deacon who had sat in the Commons thirty years earlier) and thought that if parliament expelled Tooke, the electors of Old Sarum were quite likely to return him again.[12]

Tooke noted that the historical course had been to disqualify people by Act of Parliament. It had been done in 1705 to remove Customs officers and wine merchants, etc. Why did the ministry not now propose a Bill for the removal of clergy? He defended himself in a long amusing speech, fully reproduced in the Bombay Courier.

Fox said there was no precedent for removing a clergyman, only a precedent for removing a member of the convocation. He noted that the clergy had enjoyed the right to vote in popular elections since 1664 – the year their ability to assess their own tax liability ended – which seemed inconsistent with the ministry’s attempt to banish Tooke. He noted there was the bench of bishops in the House of Lords. The Lords had supreme judicial authority whilst the Commons had supreme financial authority. He failed to comprehend why one should be suitable for clergymen and the other not.

Grey said if clergymen were barred from one House they should be barred from both for consistency. As they were not, he would oppose the motion.

Temple lost his motion by a majority of 41.[13]

Sat 5th Dec 1801

127 of the United Irishmen arrived at Port Jackson in Australia in January / February 1801 on the Anne transport to commence their sentences of transportation. Most of them are convicted of murder.

On landing several of them commenced to make pikes and arm themselves and it was feared they intended to overthrow the colonial government.

A recent insurrection on Norfolk Island due to the same cause was only put down with difficulty. Two Irishmen had to be hanged by our garrison.

Sat 19th Dec 1801

Lloyd’s Evening Post, 6th July:

  • The suspension of Habeas Corpus has been continued; Martial Law in Ireland is continued. These measures are conceived by the ministry as absolutely necessary to maintain political control.
  • An unconstitutional Act preventing clergymen from becoming MPs has passed the Commons specifically to exclude Horne Tooke.
  • The new ministry is pursuing the plans of the old ministry.
  • The prospects of a just peace in Europe are good.

Sat 16th Oct 1802

Newall, the Belfast man who gave information to the British government for his life and identified numerous Irish radicals to us, has been found murdered. He invariably gave evidence in a military uniform whilst wearing a mask, but these precautions seem to have been insufficient for his protection.

Sat 27th Nov 1802

The popular expression used by London merchants nowadays to describe unexplained wealth is ‘estates in Tipperary’.

Sat 25th Dec 1802

Archibald Hamilton Rowan, the Irish patriot who escaped our custody during the rebellion, now lives at Altona, the Hamburg suburb, with his family. All the important people nearby visit him from time to time, including our own Chargé d’Affaires at Hamburg, Sir George Rumbold.

Sat 10th Dec 1803

The King has again addressed parliament:

A treasonable spirit of insurrection has gripped Ireland again. 4,000 men at Dublin are in rebellion under the leadership of a publican named McCabe. They have assassinated Lord Kilwarden and his nephew.

He asks parliament for measures to protect his loyal subjects in that country. Parliament suspended Habeas Corpus in Ireland and proclaimed Martial Law.

Sat 30th March 1811

The Common Council of Dublin (the de facto voice of Ireland since Union) is upset by the King’s Speech proroguing the Westminster parliament. They object to the King’s reference to the flourishing state of Ireland.

Hutton proposed seceding from the Union – ‘the English ministry has no conception of the wretchedness of the Irish people, how we are starving’, he said. They have no humanity. The flourishing state that the King refers to is the state of the English landowners who are exporting huge amounts of grain from Ireland and engrossing all the profits.

Hutton proposes the Council should tell the King that we Irish love him but his minister is killing us. We want our separate parliament again because representation at Westminster is unreliable – they just impose onerous taxes and hit us if we cannot pay.

Hutton’s proposals were agreed and sent to the Board of Aldermen for their concurrence. The latter gentlemen have formed a committee to consider the matter.

Sun 8th Mar 1812 Extraordinary

Ireland is again in rebellion and many English militias have been sent there. The Catholic Assembly protested restrictions and commenced to choose Deputies to carry a remonstrance to the United Parliament in London.

Wellesley Pole found this Constitutional act objectionable and requested the Prince Regent for authority to use force against the Catholic Assembly. Before he got a reply he told Lord Fingal that he thought their protest was illegal. He intended to ask the Irish Privy Council to approve a Proclamation warning the people he would uphold the law. The Council met on 30th July and the Proclamation was then printed but Pole withheld its distribution.

The Irish press nevertheless got a copy and the Dublin Evening Post of 1st Aug says all the names signing it are placemen except La Touche who recently became senile. The election of the Catholic Deputies then continued.

Sat 14th March 1812

The owners and printers of the Dublin Evening Herald and The Freeman’s Journal have been prosecuted by the AG for publishing Denys Scully’s speech to the Catholic Assembly of Ireland.[14]

Sat 9th May 1812

The Irish AG is leading the prosecution of Sheridan and the other members of the General Committee of Catholics in Ireland. Its supposed to be a show-trial by the government. It started on 24th Nov at the Court of King’s Bench in Dublin. There was a long selection of jurymen before the proceedings could commence. In a city where 90% of the population is Catholic, not a single member of that faith was approved as a Juryman.[15]

The AG’s opening address noted the Defendants were all good Catholics for the 18 months prior to July but in that month they promoted rebellion and misled the people. Using the pretence of Catholic Emancipation, they have declared that anyone can worship in his own way. They have appointed a committee to review the penal laws against Catholics. They have solicited a Petition of the Irish Catholics to repeal the restrictive laws against them. To present this petition, they have commended the formation of a delegation of Irish Peers, sons of Peers, Catholic baronets and prelates, and ten people from each of the counties (which number is to include the survivors of those who signed the 1792 Petition).

The AG says the Catholics were effectively electing a new government and that’s treason. Its like the Scottish and English attempts to promote popular representation at the beginning of the wars with France.[16] Some wild and unpredictable men will be appointed to this delegation and create mayhem. It is a bold attempt at revolution, he said. This is the head of the political movement against our mastery of Ireland – it should be decapitated.

Anyone can petition the King if he wishes. It does not require organising. Parliament has received many Irish petitions and debated some of them. We never refuse to receive them. Where is the need to summon a Convention to draft a Petition? This smacks of the work of the United Irishmen. They are trying to achieve by artifice what they could not achieve by violence in 1798 and 1803.

This Convention is governed by no law. For example, the Parliament of the United Kingdom can only convene when ordered to do so by the King; and it must disband when the King’s says so. This Irish Convention is an attempt to create an Irish Catholic parliament constrained by no basic law.

The purpose of the Convention Act that the British Parliament recently passed was to prevent delegations like this without waiting to ascertain what their precise purposes are – that would be too late. Any group of more than ten people who join together with a political purpose is made illegal by the Act. It prevents a large group of people over-awing the ministry. The cases you Jurors are to hear are offences under the new Convention Act.

The Test Act, which the Catholics wish repealed, was an Act of Parliament representing the wishes of a majority of the British people. If we entertain these Irish Catholics what can we expect from the English Catholics? Law represents the wishes of the majority and must be paramount.

After the AG’s address, a policeman gave evidence that he had infiltrated a meeting of the General Committee and their declared intention was to obtain the repeal of various British Laws. That was the case for the prosecution.

Burrowes is conducting the defence. He commented on the jury selection. He then noted Irish Catholics had a history of over 60 years of petitioning the UK parliament by delegation. In 1793 the Royal Assent was given to an Act that removed a good many of the Catholic disabilities ‘in recognition of their loyalty’. He concluded with the proposition that this prosecution is redundant.

The Judge informed the Jury that the Act does not require criminal intent, it is enough to assemble or publish an intention to assemble.

After the jury retired it transpired that they had not been given a copy of the indictment. The Judge said they could have one if they wished. The Foreman so wished and returned for it. They jury then retired for an hour and found Sheridan ‘not guilty’.

Sheridan’s acquittal produced rapture in Dublin. The Royal Duke of Clarence was at a public dinner in Portsmouth when he heard the news. He told the assembly he was highly satisfied at the verdict. He spoke for all the Royal Dukes, except the Duke of Cumberland, when he said they favoured Catholic Emancipation. He said the great obstacle to Catholic integration in the community had been his father and there was no longer any reason to maintain the prejudice.

This prosecution was induced by five attempts of the General Committee of Catholics in Ireland to sue Downes, the Chief Justice of Ireland. The committee members were arrested in August but their helpers served legal notice in September which allowed Downes two months for a reply. On 20th Nov the Writs were served on Downes as he was leaving home for work. The Writs were issued on the advice of Serjeant Sheppard and other Counsel. Each one seeks damages of £5,000. Three will be tried in the Court of Exchequer and the others in the Court of Common Pleas.

Sat 9th May 1812

The Magistrates and landowners of Meath, Drogheda and Duleck held a meeting under the chairmanship of Earl Conyngham. Sir Marcus Sommerville and M/s Coddington, Gorges, G Tandy, Caddle, Harman, Osborne, Gustavus Hamilton and Henry Smith Jr attended.

It was agreed that landowners should be watchful of their employees and discharge anyone suspected of radical acts.

The meeting also agreed to petition for a pardon for any worker who voluntarily submitted to them.

Sat 24th Oct 1812

Now that George III has been removed from the throne, the Anglican Church is beginning to express itself. A group called the Dissenting Anglican Clergymen of London and Westminster has petitioned Lord Holland for Catholic emancipation.

Sat 7th Nov 1812

House of Commons, 23rd April – Gratton has delivered an impassioned speech which was well received:

The constitutional provisions against Catholics were intended to prevent a return of the previous dynasty. They were not targeted against Catholics per se but against the Stuarts. George III upheld the proscription against Catholics, but his influence no longer bears on the question. The matter can now be considered on its merits.

At present Britain is adrift. It is excluded from Europe and from America. Our policies towards Ireland have disabled the majority of those people (two thirds are Catholic) from supporting us. In our own Empire one quarter of our subjects profess Catholicism. We are enveloped in discontent.

It is rare for a country to maintain the eternal disability of such a large part of its people. For over a century we have proscribed Catholicism yet the Irish have maintained their faith and numbers. We conquered their country and took their property but they have continued their way of life regardless. Our hope that they might convert to Anglicanism should be abandoned. Of late we have enacted law to permit their entry into the armed services and this has produced a flow of Irish mercenaries into our forces. They have fought well and diligently on our behalf. Their sacrifice should be worth something. We have also welcomed a great body of French Catholics (the émigrés) amongst us. They are employed in command of our armies and as advisers to our leading officials. They act under no disabilities. Is it Irishmen or Catholics that England hates?

We have incited the phantom of Papacy as an enemy of Protestantism. We have held that the Irish are beholden to Rome and cannot give allegiance to London. Now in the Catholic heartlands, the Universities of Padua, Salamanca, Valladolid, Paris, Louvain and Douai have each denied the temporal authority of the Pope. They say the Catholic is bound by his Oath to God, not to man. We ourselves have repeatedly offered the thanks of parliament for victories that have been partially achieved with Catholic help; we have permitted Catholic soldiers in our army to worship in their own way. We have paid £20 millions so far to war on behalf of Spain without any stipulation about the Pope’s future role in that country.

The Anglican Church has been quiet – the banners of division no longer hang from the pulpits. Parliament is yet to receive a popular Petition against Catholic emancipation although we were told the table would collapse under the weight of them. On the contrary we have only Irish petitions. It is the protestant interest in Ireland – the Ormonds, the Leinsters, the merchants and Anglican clergy – who have united in petitioning us to warn of the ruinous consequences of our present policy.

What more do we need to satisfy ourselves that the Irish are not our enemies?

We should unite all our people in the great national struggle we are involved in. Contrarily, we have dismissed the Irish parliament and prevented her people from appearing at the bar of this House. We dismiss a country without a hearing – Ireland is nothing to us. We ignore her £6 millions of revenue; her £10 millions of trade; her £2 millions to absentee English landlords; her regular repayments on the £4 millions loan from our capitalists.

Can we really shut our doors against her?

Our present assertion of a United Kingdom is a documentary union of parliaments and power but never a union of people. It is a mere convenience for the minister. All the people remain excluded. Irish Catholics ask for rights; Irish Protestants ask for consolidation with England. Both seek for inclusion in the Empire. If this House refuses Ireland, mad resistance and unrestrained oppression will follow as it has done time and again, and separation will continue however we characterise our glossing legal arrangements.

We have seen that military government of Ireland results in hangings, enslavement, property confiscations and plunder. The contribution the country might make to our joint welfare is consumed in garrison costs and violent opposition. Ireland becomes an open door to France and a step on the path to English ruin. The Irish Catholic has no right to trial by a jury of his peers – his case is heard by a jury packed by the Sheriff with Protestants. Must the historian write the epitaph of England – ‘here lies the tax master of America and the disqualifier of Ireland’?

The fact is that law must aspire to the general good. If it upholds the exclusion of part of the populace, it is a threat to all others who might some day be excluded. For a law to earn the obedience of the people, it must be founded in morality. The sole obstacle to peace in Britain and strength abroad is the ministry. Their attempt to have one half of our people cut the throats of the other half has diverted us too long.

The English Constitution is not Protestant. The Act of 1793 proves it. That Act admitted Catholics to the Commons of Ireland and, by the Union, they became part of the Commons of Britain. We have actually already answered the great question of Catholic involvement in our government. We have simply been reluctant to recognise it.

Gratton’s motion for a Select Committee to investigate emancipation got 108 votes and failed.

Sat 9th Oct 1813

The Anglican Church has not been active in persecuting the Catholics and emancipation is again widely spoken of since the Regent came to power. A great many anti-Catholic petitions are being circulated in the public houses for the signature of patrons and passengers on the stage coaches. It is said most of the signatures are actually ‘cross marks’ (denoting illiteracy).

Apart from stirring-up the mob, the instigators have published the fee incomes of the Anglican bishops, which they suppose will tend to win them support. The figures for the various Sees are published in thousands of Pounds Sterling a year, together with the recipient’s identity, as follows:

See £ 000’s Office Holder
Durham 24 Lord Barrington’s uncle
Canterbury 20 Duke of Rutland’s cousin
Winchester 18 Lord North’s brother
York 14 Brother of Lords Vernon & Harcourt
Ely 12 Duke of Rutland’s tutor
London 9 Dr Randolph
Coventry 6 Lord Cornwallis’ uncle
Worcester 6 Dr Cornewall
Salisbury 6 Princess Charlotte’s tutor
Bath & Wells 5 Duke of Gloucester’s tutor
Lincoln 5 Mr Pitt’s Secretary
Bangor 5 Son of the Queen’s English teacher
Chichester 4 Duke of Richmond’s tutor
Hereford 4 Duke of Beaufort’s tutor
Norwich 4 Dr Bathurst
Carlisle 3.5 Duke of Portland’s tutor
St Albans 3 Lord Buckingham’s tutor
Exeter 3 Lord Chichester’s brother
Rochester 1.5 Duke of Portland’s Secretary
Gloucester 1.2 Dr Huntingford
Chester 1.1 Lord Ellenborough’s brother
Peterborough 1 Dr Marlan
Bristol 1 Mr Perceval’s tutor
Landuff 0.9 Dr Watson

Sat 20th Nov 1813

The move towards emancipation of the Catholics that George III’s illness is permitting, is having an effect on the Protestant population of Ireland. They have formed Orange Lodges and use secret signs and words based on freemasonry. This is the first overt combination of freemasonry and politics and will be predictably dangerous for the peace and happiness of the United Kingdom.

The Irish are disproportionately represented in the armed forces of the country and the India Company. They are thought to have started Lodges throughout the Empire. The Orange Order is implacably opposed to Catholicism.

Philip McMahon, a Catholic in Clones, was stabbed in the back with a bayonet and killed. The responsible local Orangemen was a yeomen of the Clones Lodge. He expressed satisfaction at having struck the mortal blow that parted a Papist’s soul from his body.

Sat 23rd July 1814

Dublin, Jan 1814 – Magee, the publisher of the Dublin Evening Post, has been convicted of libel for publishing the resolutions of the Catholic Association at Kilkenny.

Sat 4th March 1815

One of the pieces of oppressive legislation enacted for control of Ireland was the ‘so-called’ Insurrection Act of 1807. This established a curfew from sunset to sunrise and made anyone found in public at night liable to 7 years transportation.

The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was empowered to hear cases of curfew-breaking in a special court that dispensed with trial by jury. His officers were authorised to break-in to private property to arrest fleeing curfew-breakers.

Sat 12th Aug 1815

Dublin – people are dancing in the streets. There is widespread joy at the return of Napoleon to Paris.

Sat 16th Dec 1820

A long eulogium on Henry Grattan, the Irish patriot, who has died.

Sun 10th June 1821 Extraordinary

London, 1st March – Plunkett in the House of Commons has got a resolution of the House (by a majority of 6) to review the legislative disabilities placed on Catholics. Catholics are statutorily required to make an offensive Declaration to be acceptable to government. This is a chink in the oligarchy’s policy.

The King controls the Anglican Church by controlling the bishops. The weekly sermons in Anglican churches are all supportive of the ministry. If Catholicism is revived it may diminish monarchical power by providing a different viewpoint to the people. There is also the matter of Irish land-holdings which are largely in English hands. If the Catholics obtain equality they might diminish our income from their country.

Sat 15th June 1822

The Martial Law Bill, Insurrection Bill, Habeas Corpus Suspension Bill, Mutiny Bill (which overcomes the Constitutional proscription of a standing army) et al are the main legislative weapons of the ministry against public dissent.

They are all being renewed at Westminster, purportedly to deal with dissent in Ireland.

Vol 10 No 18 – 2nd May 1837

The Atheneum extract:

We then heard of the Manchu practice of kow-tow, theirs being a conquering race that required repeated ceremonials to maintain confidence in their power.

This is reminiscent of the Irish insurrection of 1798 when peasants were convicted of treason for failing to pull off their hats to passing Englishmen.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. I included this article to illustrate that it was not the profession of Catholicism that made the Irish objectionable to the English.
  2. The Piedmontese violinist, owner of the famous Stradivarius and later founder of the Philharmonic Society of London.
  3. The description of this uniform sounds similar to the dress of the Irish Brigade in French service.
  4. Misleading – legislators required exemption from the effects of the law suspending Habeas Corpus before they would support the Bill. The other repressive laws have exemptions for MPs as well. The exemption appears in the preamble to each Bill – “The ancient privileges of the Members is preserved.” These exemptions become essential to ensure parliamentary support for repressive legislation in the turbulent years after the war.
  5. The Duke of Norfolk, the premier Duke in the Kingdom, was removed from his offices under the King for his support of parliamentary reform. The facts appear in the Dissent chapter. FitzWilliam was a school friend of C J Fox and supporter of Catholic emancipation. He did not support the landowners’ repressive measures in Ireland and was recalled by Portland.
  6. The difficulty for the English throughout the Revolutionary War was that they said their political system of representative democracy was superior to the French but abandoned it and resorted to oppression when it was threatened. The ministry and its supporting power centres had no faith in popular government which was widely considered as mob rule. This particular problem of Constitutionality will shortly be resolved by incorporating Ireland in a new United Kingdom. This has instant advantages – English militias are reluctant to attack English crowds whereas they have no such difficulty in Ireland. The reverse is also the case. Once the United Kingdom is declared, the costs of crowd control is diminished. At a time when popular repression has been common and continuous, the attachment to oppressive methods is continued until the value of Sterling was restored long after the war.
  7. The ministry’s fear of French-inspired insurrection has caused it to permit an extensive programme of promotions in the British army which was duplicated in the Indian army. The minister’s representative credentials are challenged and he has bought the army to his side. The disproportionate increase in establishment for senior officers is mentioned elsewhere. In this battle, columns of troops were each commanded by one or two Generals, of whom six (Johnson, Eustace, Dundas, Duff, Loftus, Needham) are mentioned in Lake’s formal report to Castlereagh although Generals Hewitt and Cradock were also involved.
  8. Army Law – Under English Law the King may empower his General to execute rebels. The General of his own volition, may require his officers to establish the facts but that procedure is deemed to be neither a Court Martial nor a Court of Record. The General’s power of summary execution for treason is not diminished by his enquiries; neither is the right of attainder (seizure of the traitor’s estate).
  9. Who signed the Irish bank-notes printed in France for the invasion.
  10. This is the Constitutional problem. George III cannot be restrained by parliament – he has his own sources of money in estates in West Indies and in His Chartered Companies, his Hanoverian assets and diplomats and his own regiments serving in the Indian army. It is his overwhelming power that ultimately leads parliamentarians to transfer monarchical power to the Commons, facilitated by the King’s reported illness and the consequent Regency. This was a duty that Castlereagh devoted himself to, cutting the Civil List whilst approving some minor expenditure, like Brighton. It was the end of independent monarchy in Britain 
  11. Crawfurd’s Hamburg arrest was likely illegal and France was keen to have him.
  12. His election is a commercial contract with the borough owner Lord Camelford, Pitt’s cousin. Old Sarum is an uninhabited borough of seven burgage tenancies all owned by the two electors, both resident in London. The electors, have been paid and should perform.
  13. Temple lost this battle but won the war. An Act was passed specifically to exclude Tooke from the subsequent parliament.
  14. Scully later authored the Statement of the Penal Laws which Aggrieve the Catholics of Ireland – the classic 1812 statement on the penal laws then in force.
  15. In fact there was only one Catholic on the panel, who was rejected, but 22 Protestants, who were suspected of sympathy for the Catholics, were also rejected.
  16. The General Committee is called the Catholic Convention in London in evocation of the earlier British and Scottish Conventions. The ministry believes the term ‘convention’ smacks of Republican France. See the Dissent chapter for the English and Scottish attempts.

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