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‘IRELAND AS A WEAPON OF WARFARE’: WHIGS, TORIES, AND THE PROBLEM OF IRISH OUTRAGES, 1835 TO 1839*

  • JAY R. ROSZMAN (a1)

Abstract

This article contends that the Irish policy of both the Whig and Tory parties has received rather short shrift in the historiography surrounding Britain's decade of reform. In an attempt to rectify this gap, the article traces the emergence of the Whig policy of ‘justice to Ireland’ between 1835 and 1839; a policy championed by an emerging activist leadership within the party that promoted Catholics in Irish administration and attempted to pass substantial legislative reform. This ambitious Whig agenda upended a thirty-five-year consensus that relied on coercion to rule Ireland's recalcitrant population. Tories vehemently opposed this change, and used Irish agrarian violence – so-called ‘outrages’ – to undermine the success of the Whigs’ novel approach to governing Ireland through remedial legislation. This confrontation over Irish policy led to an 1839 House of Lords committee on Irish crime that passed a vote of censure on the Whigs’ Irish policy and nearly toppled Melbourne's government. However, the article demonstrates how the Whigs’ Irish policy was the one question that held together their big tent coalition of Whigs, English radicals, and O'Connellites, thus extending their administration for another two years.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 jroszman@andrew.cmu.edu

Footnotes

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*

I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this article, along with David W. Miller, Kate Lynch, and Peter Mandler. Of course, any errors that remain are my own.

Footnotes

References

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1 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1839, vol. 47, c. 39.

2 On important legislation for Ireland during the period, see Gray, Peter, The making of the Irish Poor Law, 1815–1843 (Manchester, 2009); Broeker, Galen, Rural disorder and police reform in Ireland, 1812–1836 (London, 1970); Macintyre, Angus, The Liberator: Daniel O'Connell and the Irish party, 1830–1847 (London, 1965), ch. 7.

3 Lord Mulgrave was created the first marquess of Normanby in August 1838. For the sake of clarity, I will refer to him as Mulgrave throughout this article except in notes or direct quotations.

4 Gash, Norman, Sir Robert Peel: the life of Sir Robert Peel after 1830 (Totowa, NJ, 1972), pp. 217–19; Mitchell, Leslie, Lord Melbourne: 1779–1848 (Oxford, 1997); Mandler, Peter, Aristocratic government in the Age of Reform: Whigs and Liberals, 1830–1852 (Oxford, 1990), pp. 195–8. Ian Newbould does mention the episode in passing but treats it as a breaking point in the Whig–Tory pact, which he argues kept the Whigs in power between 1835 and 1839. This article contends that reading underestimates the Whigs’ commitment to their Irish policy. See Newbould, Ian, Whiggery and reform, 1830–1841: the politics of government (Stanford, CA, 1990), pp. 229–32.

5 Hon. William Howard to Sir Robert Peel, 8 Apr. 1839, British Library (BL), Peel papers, Add. MS 40,426, fo. 164.

6 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1839, vol. 47, c. 93.

7 Hoppen, K. Theodore, ‘An incorporating Union? British politicians and Ireland, 1800–1830’, English Historical Review, 123 (2008), p. 347 ; Peel to Gregory, 15 Mar. 1816, in Parker, C. S., ed., Sir Robert Peel, i: In early life, 1788–1812; as Irish secretary, 1812–1818; and as secretary of state, 1822–1827: from his private correspondence (London, 1891), p. 215 .

8 Romani, Roberto, ‘British views on Irish national character, 1800–1846: an intellectual history’, History of European Ideas, 23 (1997), p. 200 .

9 For example, see Bill for continuing Acts in Ireland for Suppression of Rebellion, and Protection of Persons and Properties of H. M. Faithful Subjects, Parliamentary Papers (PP) 1801 (18) i.13; Bill to provide for preserving peace in Ireland in parts disturbed by seditious persons, or unlawful combinations or conspiracies, PP 1813–14 (301) ii.997.

10 Harling, Philip, ‘Parliament, the state, and “old corruption”: conceptualizing reform, c. 1790–1832’, in Burns, A. and Innes, J., eds., Rethinking the Age of Reform: Britain, 1780–1850 (Cambridge, 2003), pp. 111–12.

11 Akenson, Donald H., The Irish education experiment: the national system of education in the nineteenth century (London, 1970); Macintyre, The Liberator, p. 40; on money for public works, see correspondence between Anglesey and Stanley at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), for example, Stanley to Anglesey, [7 Feb. 1831?], Anglesey papers, PRONI, D619/31S/8; 7 Mar. 1831, D619/31S/21.

12 Stanley boasted to Anglesey, ‘On Irish matters he [Peel] is a strong supporter’, Stanley to Anglesey, 19 Feb. 1831, Anglesey papers, PRONI, D619/31S/13.

13 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1831, vol. 7, cc. 487–8; Anglesey to Melbourne, 23 Feb. 1831, Anglesey papers, PRONI, D619/29B/23. On the Insurrection Act, see Crossman, Virginia, ‘Emergency legislation and agrarian disorder in Ireland, 1821–1841’, Irish Historical Studies 27 (1991), pp. 309–23.

14 Lord Wellesley to Lord Melbourne, 15 Apr. 1834, The National Archives (TNA), HO 100/245/165.

15 Prest, John, Lord John Russell (Columbia, SC, 1972), pp. 98100 .

16 On the process of convincing the more conservative members of the Whig party to adopt a strategy of opposition towards Peel's government, see Duncannon to Melbourne, 18 Dec. 1834, in Sanders, Lloyd, Lord Melbourne's papers (London, 1890), p. 229 ; Hobhouse diary, 25 Jan. [1835], BL, Broughton papers, Add. MS 61826, pp. 75–7; Russell, Rollo, ed., Early correspondence of Lord John Russell: 1805–1840, ii (London, 1913), pp. 75–9.

17 Hobhouse diary, 27 Mar. [1835], BL, Broughton papers, Add. MS 61826, p. 112.

18 Greville, Charles, The Greville memoirs: a journal of the reigns of King George IV and King William IV, ii (New York, NY, 1875), p. 374 .

19 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1835, vol. 27, cc. 364, 384, emphasis added.

20 ‘The Morning Chronicle’, Morning Chronicle, 31 Mar. 1835.

21 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1839, vol. 46, c. 963.

22 ‘Irish history manuscript’, n.d., Castle Howard MSS, Castle Howard, York, J/19/11/14, fo. 113.

23 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1836, vol. 10, c. 62.

24 Brent, Richard, Liberal Anglican politics: whiggery, religion, and reform: 1830–1841 (Oxford, 1987), pp. 51–8; Mandler, Aristocratic government, pp. 33–43. Also, see A. Burns and J. Innes, ‘Introduction’, in Rethinking the Age of Reform, pp. 1–70.

25 Ireland’, Edinburgh Review, 57, no. 115 (1833), pp. 251, 276–7.

26 Mandler, Aristocratic government, pp. 161–2; Mitchell, Lord Melbourne, p. 156.

27 ‘Irish history manuscript’, n.d., Castle Howard MSS, J/19/11/14, fo. 108.

28 Mulgrave to Russell, 15 Apr. [1836], TNA, Russell papers, Public Records Office (PRO) 30/22/2B, fos. 43–4.

29 On the tithe question and the violence it produced in Ireland, see O'Donough, Patrick, ‘Causes of the opposition to tithes, 1830–1838’, Studia Hibernica, 5 (1965), pp. 728 . Even in the face of sure defeat in the House of Lords, Morpeth maintained his commitment to tithe reform based on the principle of appropriation. See Morpeth to Mulgrave, 10 Apr. 1837, Mulgrave Castle MSS, Mulgrave Castle, Sandsend, M/559.

30 Correspondence between magistrates and Irish government on police force being sent to Glanntane and Kilshannick to protect persons employed in collection of tithes, PP 1834 (109) xliii.363.

31 Russell to Mulgrave, 4 Oct. 1835, Mulgrave Castle MSS, M/798; Russell to Mulgrave, 9 Oct. 1835, ibid., M/799.

32 ‘Arrival of their excellencies the earl and countess of Mulgrave’, Belfast News-Letter, 15 May 1835.

33 Daniel O'Connell to P. V. FitzPatrick, 21 Apr. 1835, in O'Connell, M., ed., The correspondence of Daniel O'Connell (8 vols., Dublin, 1972–80), v, p. 294 .

34 Kriegel, Abraham D., ed., The Holland House diaries, 1831–1840: the diary of Henry Richard Vassall Fox, third Lord Holland, with extracts from the diary of Dr. John Allen (London, 1977), p. 290 .

35 On backbench support for Russell's strategy as it related to Irish church appropriation, see Coohill, Joe, Ideas of the liberal party: perceptions, agendas and liberal politics in the House of Commons, 1832–1852 (London, 2011), ch. 5.

36 ‘State of Ireland’, Quarterly Review, 56, no. 111 (Apr. 1836), p. 276.

37 A word in season to the Conservatives in parliament’, Dublin University Magazine, 10, no. 69 (Nov. 1837), p. 534 .

38 The cabinet’, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 42 (July 1837), pp. 78, 87–8.

39 O'Connell to P. V. FitzPatrick, 18 June 1838, in O'Connell, ed., Correspondence, vi, pp. 170–1; Morpeth to Russell, 7 June 1838, TNA, Russell papers, PRO 30/22/3B, fo. 85; Ebrington to Russell, 11 June 1838, ibid., PRO 30/22/3B, fo. 97.

40 Tuathaigh, M. A. G. Ó, Thomas Drummond and the government of Ireland, 1835–1841 (Dublin, 1978).

41 Russell to Mulgrave, 13 Dec. 1835, Mulgrave Castle MSS, M/812; Mulgrave to Russell, 12 Jan. 1836, TNA, Russell papers, PRO 30/22/2A, fos. 74–6. On the debate over government appointments, see Hansard, 3rd ser., 1836, vol. 31, cc. 537–51.

42 Historians of Ireland have written dozens of studies on the history of agrarian violence. On the sporadic movements in the early nineteenth century, see Donnelly, James S. Jr, Captain Rock: the Irish agrarian rebellion of 1821–1824 (Madison, WI, 2009); Beames, Michael, Peasants and power: the Whiteboy movements and their control in pre-famine Ireland (Brighton, 1983); Roberts, Paul E. W., ‘Caravats and Shanavests: Whiteboyism and faction fighting in east Munster, 1802–1811’, in Clark, S. and Donnelly, J. S., eds., Irish peasants: violence and political unrest: 1790–1914 (Madison, WI, 1983), pp. 6699 ; Katsuta, Shunsuke, ‘The Rockite movement in County Cork in the early 1820s’, Irish Historical Studies, 33 (2003), pp. 278–96.

43 Malcolm, Elizabeth, ‘“The reign of terror in Carlow”: the politics of policing Ireland in the late 1830s’, Irish Historical Studies, 32 (2000), pp. 5974 .

44 Col. Shaw Kennedy to Mulgrave, 14 Mar. 1838, TNA, Russell papers, PRO 30/22/3A, fo. 189.

45 Serjeant Jackson to Sir Robert Peel, 17 Apr. 1838, Southampton University, Wellington MSS, WP2/50/104.

46 Peel to Wellington, 22 Apr. 1838, Southampton University, Wellington MSS, WP2/50/102–3.

47 Serjeant Jackson to Sir Robert Peel, 17 Apr. 1838, Southampton University, Wellington MSS, WP2/50/104.

48 Mulgrave to Morpeth, 9 Apr. [1838], Castle Howard MSS, J/18/63/3.

49 Greville, Charles, The Greville memoirs: a journal of the reign of Queen Victoria (London, 1885), p. 48 .

50 ‘Gazette – state of the country’, Times, 4 Oct. 1838.

51 ‘Gazette – state of the country’, Times, 9 Oct. 1838.

52 Ibid.; ‘The Gazette – state of the country’, Times, 21 Dec. 1838.

53 ‘Revolting murder’, Times, 16 Nov. 1838.

54 See ‘Reports of outrage’, TNA, HO 100/256.

55 ‘The Gazette – state of the country’, Times, 3 Nov. 1838.

56 ‘Tipperary fabricated outrages’, Freeman's Journal, 12 Nov. 1838.

57 Tipperary committals: a return of the number of persons committed to prison in the county of Tipperary…, PP 1836 (226) xlii.717.

58 Tipperary County: a copy of the correspondence which has recently taken place between Her Majesty's government and the magistrates of the county of Tipperary, relative to the disturbed state of that county, PP 1837–8 (735) xlvi.571.

59 McLennan, John Ferguson and Drummond, Thomas, Memoir of Thomas Drummond (Edinburgh, 1867), p. 337 .

60 ‘Copy of letter to Lord Donoughmore’, 22 May 1838, National Library of Ireland, Larcom papers, MS 645, emphasis added.

61 Peel had sanctioned the proposal for a general inquiry into crime in Ireland but certainly not one restricted to Mulgrave's tenure as lord lieutenant. Roden's motion surprised Wellington, although he voted in favour of it, and put Peel in the unenviable position of having to defend the committee's formation in the House of Commons. See Wellington to Peel, 23 Mar. 1839, BL, Peel papers, Add. MS 40310, fo. 259; Peel to Wellington, 25 Mar. 1839, in Parker, C. S., ed., Sir Robert Peel, ii: From his private papers (London, 1899), pp. 384–5.

62 Roden to Lord Londonderry, 6 Mar. 1839, PRONI, T/3438/1.

63 Hourican, Bridget, ‘Robert Jocelyn, third earl of Roden’, Irish dictionary of national biography (Cambridge, 2009), http://dib.cambridge.org.

64 Roden to Wellington, 20 Nov. 1835, Wellington, Arthur Wellesley (duke of) et al. , Wellington, political correspondence: 1833 – November 1834 (London, 1975), p. 44 .

65 Roden to Wellington, n.d. [3 Mar. 1835], ibid., p. 489.

66 Roden to Londonderry, 16 Apr. 1835, PRONI, T3438/1.

67 Speech of the earl of Roden on moving for a Select Committee on Ireland’, Edinburgh Review, 70, no. 142 (1839), p. 503 .

68 See Hansard, 3rd ser., 25 Feb. 1839, 26 Feb. 1839, 5 Mar. 1839, 7 Mar. 1839, 18 Mar. 1839.

69 Ibid., 3rd ser. 1839, vol. 45, cc. 842–4.

70 For example, see Normanby to Drummond, 27 Feb. [1839], Mulgrave MSS, M/267; Normanby to Drummond, 10 Mar. [1839], M/268; Drummond to Normanby, 14 Mar. 1839, M/269.

71 Roden's secrecy goes a long way to explain the slim margin of victory – only 5 votes (63–58) – along with the anger expressed by Wellington after the vote, and John Cam Hobhouse's revelation in his diary of the Ministry's shock the next morning during an emergency cabinet meeting. See Hobhouse diary, 22 Mar. [1839], BL, Broughton papers, Add. MS 56560, p. 106; Wellington to Peel, 23 Mar. 1839, in Parker, ed., Sir Robert Peel, ii, p. 384.

72 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1839, vol. 46, cc. 949, 964.

73 See Greville, The Greville memoirs: reign of Queen Victoria, p. 152. On Wellington's speech, see Hansard, 3rd ser., 1839, vol. 46, cc. 1012–16.

74 Drummond to Mulgrave, 14 Mar. 1839, Mulgrave Castle MSS, M/269.

75 The duke of Wellington complained that when Mulgrave could ‘command the Official Documents’ he ‘always has the best of the discussion’. Wellington to Westmeath, 5 Mar. 1839, Southampton University, Wellington MS, WP2/57/63.

76 Hobhouse diary, 22 Mar. [1839], BL, Broughton papers, Add. MS 56560, p. 107.

77 Holland, The Holland House diaries, p. 394.

78 Drummond to Morpeth, 29 Mar. 1839, Castle Howard MSS, J/19/1/22/79.

79 ‘Great national meeting’, Freeman's Journal, 12 Apr. 1839.

80 Drummond to Morpeth, Apr. 1839, Castle Howard MSS, J19/1/23/2; ‘Great national meeting’, Freeman's Journal, 13 Apr. 1839. In a letter to Mulgrave before the meeting, O'Connell wrote to urge his colleagues to ‘Enlist once again the Reform force in order to be able, as you are willing, to add to the security of the Throne the active gratitude of the Irish people.’ O'Connell to Normanby, 6 Apr. 1839, in O'Connell, ed., Correspondence, vi, p. 229.

81 Ebrington to Morpeth, 7 Apr. 1839, Castle Howard MSS, J19/1/22/90.

82 Ebrington to Morpeth, n.d. [13 Apr. 1839?], Castle Howard MSS, J19/1/23/4.

83 ‘Grand national meeting’, Freeman's Journal, 13 Apr. 1839.

84 On this perspective espoused by Drummond, Ebrington, and Lord Plunket (lord chancellor of Ireland), see Ebrington to Morpeth, 7 Apr. 1839, Castle Howard MSS, J19/1/22/90; Ebrington to Morpeth, 10 Apr. 1839, Castle Howard MSS, J19/1/22/94.

85 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1839, vol. 47, c. 39.

86 Greville, The Greville memoirs: reign of Queen Victoria, p. 153.

87 Hansard, 3rd ser., 1839, vol. 47, cc. 39–77.

88 Ibid., 1839, vol. 47, c. 262.

89 Ibid., 1839, vol. 47, c. 183.

90 Holland, The Holland House diaries, p. 394.

91 ‘The Morning Chronicle’, Morning Chronicle, 19 Apr. 1839.

92 O'Connell to Fitzpatrick, [c. 20 Apr. 1839],  in O'Connell, ed., Correspondence, vi, p. 233.

93 ‘Lord Normanby's government of Ireland’, Freeman's Journal, 30 July 1839.

94 Holland, The Holland House diary, p. 406.

95 Greville, The Greville memoirs: reign of Queen Victoria, p. 199.

* I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this article, along with David W. Miller, Kate Lynch, and Peter Mandler. Of course, any errors that remain are my own.

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