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Following the Rebellion of 1798, the British felt that Ireland should be run from England. On January 1, 1801, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland came into existence. The Act of Union had been formally ratified by the Irish and British parliaments.

Under the Act of Union, Ireland would be run from Westminster in England. This meant that legislation regarding Ireland would come from Westminster. Under the Act, 32 Irish peers (4 of whom would be bishops) would have seats in the House of Lords. These peers were chosen because of their titles: they were not elected.

With regard to the House of Commons, there would be 100 Irish Members who would be elected from their local constituency. At this time, Catholics outnumbered Protestants in Ireland by about five to one. However, Catholics were not allowed to vote and they were barred from many public jobs. While the discussions about the Act had included emancipation for Catholics, King George III hated the idea and had removed emancipation from the legislation.

Day to day government continued to be done from the Dublin Castle under the direction of a lord lieutenant and chief secretary.

With regard to religion, the Act called for the unification of the Church of Ireland and the Church of England. The Act also introduced free trade between Ireland and the rest of Great Britain. Under the Act of Union, the Protestant Irish experienced an economic boom.

With Union, a new flag was needed. Prior to Union, the British flag had combined the flags of England (the Cross of St. George) and Scotland (the white saltire with a blue background). With Ireland in the Union, the saltire of St. Patrick, which was red, was used to create a new flag.

 photo ac391c2a-3ae3-4f86-b727-75e2fd72090a_zps2ead4313.jpg

The Cross of St. George is shown above.

 photo 5ac1eeac-d18c-4f4e-85c5-7bd8eeaaab1d_zps60413929.jpg

A saltire is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross X or letter X. Saint Andrew’s Cross on the flag of Scotland is shown above.

 photo c6144e14-6bb9-46cd-98d5-57b353e74f06_zps4a850781.jpg

The flag of St. Patrick is shown above.

 photo 79cd7efb-ec99-4003-b5f0-758e8b4642a9_zpsdca8a984.jpg

The resulting Union Jack is shown above.

As a part of the powerful British Empire, this meant that Ireland would benefit economically. In addition, they would be able to send their people across the world looking for work. Belfast and Dublin, Ireland’s two main cities, benefited from the nineteenth century industrialization. With industries such as shipbuilding and textiles (linen and cotton), Belfast became one of the richest cities in the Union.

While the economic boom benefitted Protestants and city dwellers, the wealth wasn’t evenly distributed. For poor Irish Catholics and for tenant farmers, the Union brought few benefits. Most of Ireland stayed poor and underdeveloped.

During the nineteenth century, government in Ireland came to be characterized by a great deal of state involvement in public health, economic development, and education. There was high degree of central control.

Originally posted to History for Kossacks on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 07:29 AM PDT.

Also republished by Shamrock American Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Irish History (14+ / 0-)

    is a mini-series that will be posted here over the next couple of Mondays.

    Last week:

    The Rebellion of 1798

    Next week: The Protestant Ascendency

  •  Morning (7+ / 0-)

    I recently met someone who is in a union here. I have never been in one.

    Great info.



    "the Devil made me buy this dress!" Flip Wilson as Geraldine Jones

    by BlueJessamine on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 07:35:31 AM PDT

  •  The King controlled Ireland directly after 1495. (11+ / 0-)

    In that year, the Lord Deputy Edward Poynings, to re-establish royal control after the War of the Roses (the Yorkists had had considerable support in Ireland), got an Irish Parliament to pass "Poynings Law," which required any legislation to be submitted to an Irish Parliament to get prior approval from the King & his council before even being submitted to the Irish parliament.

            This law was a huge bone of contention for the next 300 years and one of the major complaints of not just the Irish and "Old English" (i.e., Anglo-Norman) but of some of the "New English" participants in all the abortive rebellions between 1495 and 1803.  In fact, many Irish of every persuasion felt that the representation in Parliament granted in the 1803 union gave the Irish more influence over their own affairs than they had had for centuries.  Of course, this feeling was more common among Protestants and Anglo-Irish (largely overlapping but far from identical groups--many "Old English" had remained Catholic and some Irish had converted to Protestantism to save their power and/or land).  

    "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

    by Oliver St John Gogarty on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:03:35 AM PDT

  •  Some details (9+ / 0-)

    As a minor quibble, the Irish peers sitting in the UK House of Lords were elected. It was just that the electorate was restricted to the peers of Ireland (who had all been entitled to sit in the Irish House of Lords before the Union).

    More seriously it was not true, by ther late 18th century although it had been earlier, that no Irish catholics had the vote or that the Irish Parliament was totally subservient to the English/British crown.

    From the Wikipedia article "Irish Houses of Parliament":-

    In the last thirty years of the Irish Parliament's existence, a series of crises and reforms changed the role of that legislature. In 1782, following agitation by major parliamentary figures, but most notably Henry Grattan, the severe restrictions such as Poynings' Law that effectively controlled the Irish Parliament's ability to control its own legislative agenda were removed, producing what was known as the Constitution of 1782. A little over a decade later, Roman Catholics, who were by far the majority in the Kingdom of Ireland, were allowed to cast votes in elections to Parliament, though they were still debarred from membership.
    The argument over Catholic emancipation, at the time of the Union, concerned the rights of catholics to be members of Parliament. That was not resolved until 1829, when the UK Parliament passed a law to give the right to catholics to sit in Parliament balanced by an increase in the value of the freehold needed to qualify for a county vote from the traditional 40 shillings (£2) to £20. It was not until the 1885 general election that the Irish franchise was put on the same basis as the British franchises of the period.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:26:44 AM PDT

  •  Interesting diary, thanks! (5+ / 0-)

    You cannot cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Rabindranath Tagore

    by Thomasina on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:32:17 AM PDT

  •  Messed up representation. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, marykk, Tennessee Dave

    Here is the original membership of the House of Commons of Great Britain and Ireland:

    England 489
    Scotland  45
    Wales      24
    Ireland   100

    Total       658

    Ireland in 1800 had a population of approximately 5 million compared to a population in the rest of the UK of 10.1 million, so Ireland was grossly underrepresented. That proportion continued through the 1841 census which showed an Irish population of about 8.2 million and a population in the rest of the UK of about 18.5 million. But then the Great Hunger happened, with massive death and emigration.

    By 1918 the total number of MPs had increased to 707, but Ireland still had 105 even though its population had dropped thanks to the Great Hunger and emigration to about 4 million, while that of the rest of the UK had about 42 million. The remaining people of Ireland ended up being overrepresented and this caused what amounted to a hung parliament after both 1910 general elections. After the 1918 general election, Sinn Fein, who had won 73 of the 105 seats in Ireland, would have been the official opposition had they been willing to take their seats (and had not most of their MP-elects not been in jail or in hiding).

    About 30 of those MPs (the Sinn Fein MP-elects who weren't in jail) ended up declaring the first Irish Republic in 1919.

  •  Thank you, Ojibwa (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, Tennessee Dave

    as we head toward April 24 I'm eager to see what other bits of history you share with us.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 04:49:57 PM PDT

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