The Age of George III

I am happy that you are using this web site and hope that you found it useful. Unfortunately, the cost of making this material freely available is increasing, so if you have found the site useful and would like to contribute towards its continuation, I would greatly appreciate it. Click the button to go to Paypal and make a donation.

Ireland 1760-1789

This page has been translated into Polish by Alice Slaba and may be found here

From about 1760 a Patriot Party, led by Henry Flood, appeared in the Irish House of Representatives. The Patriot Party advocated reforms, and won a great deal of popular support. To reassert English authority, George III ordered the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to take up permanent residence in Dublin. This was issued as policy by Grafton's government in 1768.

The 'undertakers' managed the Irish parliament; their means were corrupt and their aim was to earn favours from the Lord Lieutenant. Since 1760, however, they had become unruly. When they chose to raise their demands they were in a powerful position, so long as they maintained a united front. They could not only block business in the Dublin parliament, but they could also rouse popular opposition to British measures. The job of the Lord Lieutenant was to prevent the 'undertakers' from posing as reformers.

The American War of Independence gave the Irish a chance to win concessions from England. Troops had been sent to America from Ireland, leaving Ireland exposed to threats of foreign invasion. The Irish Protestants formed militia units - the Irish Volunteers - which became an armed political force. The leader of the Volunteers were prominent Patriots, particularly Henry Grattan, who replaced Flood as leader of the Patriot party. He managed to get restrictions lifted on Irish trade and industry by threatening to use the Volunteers against the British if Irish demands were not met. Grattan was a reformer and an orator second only (perhaps) to Chatham. He was an Anglican, devoted to removing the disabilities suffered by Roman Catholics. He said, "The Irish Protestant cannot be free until the Irish Catholic ceases to be a slave". Grattan was opposed by government officials in Ireland who were hostile to reform of any kind.

In 1782, Rockingham repealed Poyning's Law and the 1719 Irish Declaratory Act. The Irish parliament became almost free for the first time in 300 years.

The French Revolution put paid to any meaningful advances, although economically Ireland began to pick up, exporting surplus food to England's towns. Trade developed, helped by government cash.

The University of Minnesota Law Library has put on line transcripts of the Penal Laws. They can be found here.
Meet the web creator

These materials may be freely used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances and distribution to students.
Re-publication in any form is subject to written permission.

Last modified 12 January, 2016

The Age of George III Home Page

Ministerial Instability 1760-70

Lord North's Ministry 1770-82

American Affairs 1760-83

The period of peace 1783-92

The Age of the French Wars 1792-1815 Irish Affairs 1760-89

Peel Web Home Page

Tory Governments 1812-30

Political Organisations in the Age of Peel

Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel

Popular Movements in the Age of Peel

Irish Affairs
Primary sources index British Political Personalities British Foreign policy 1815-65 European history
index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind