The Irish House of Lords, 1780-1800: politics and ideology

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Murphy, Charlotte Mary
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University College Cork
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This thesis covers the Irish House of Lords in the last two decades of its life. A number of important themes run through the work - the regency crisis, patronage, the management of the Lords, the relationship between the Lords and Commons. These themes, explored from different angles, are vital to an understanding of the political role of the upper house in the 1780s and 1790s. This study is confined to the Lords as a political institution and thus its judicial role as final court of appeal, which was restored to it in 1782, will not be explored here. The thesis consists of two parts. Part one examines the structure and powers of the House of Lords while part two looks at the parties and policies of the house. Chapter one discusses the British constitution as imposed upon Ireland. Chapter two suggests the reasons why constitutional changes were introduced in 1782, and looks at the contribution made by the Irish House of Lords in securing these changes. Chapter three explores the various channels of influence which the peers enjoyed. Chapter four explores the sometimes tense relationship between Lords and Commons. Chapter five examines management of the House of Lords by Dublin Castle. Part two, begins at chapter six. This chapter explores the leadership of both parties within the Lords. Chapter seven looks at how patronage was used to reward those who were loyal to the government. Chapter eight explores the influence of the Whig opposition. Chapter nine looks at the controversial attempts made by Pitt and his ministry during the 1790s to win the support of catholics and turn them from the lure of French ideas, and of the response of the peers to these attempts. Chapter ten is concerned with the relationship between the peers of the House of Lords and the lords lieutenant during the 1790s. Chapter eleven looks at the Union and the House of Lords and attempts to answer the question historians have long asked: why did the Irish parliament and the House of Lords in particular, look favourably on the proposed union of the two kingdoms and the end of their own institution? The House of Lords in the closing decades of the eighteenth century was an institution within which the wealth and power of the kingdom could be found. Its members were politically active, both inside and outside the house. It contained a majority who saw the Crown as the source of stability, but it was a living and evolving political organism and therefore it contained men who believed that the Crown should have its influence limited. This evolution is also demonstrated in its desire for political change in 1782 and 1788. Its last, and perhaps most radical decision, was to vote for its own demise in 1900.
Regency crisis , Partronage , Management of the Lords , Relationship between the Lords and Commons
Murphy, C. M. 2003. The Irish House of Lords, 1780-1800: politics and ideology. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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