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Chapter Two

[Ireland 1800-1850 Copyright © 2001 by Desmond Keenan. Book available from and]

Addington and Pitt 

(March 1801 to January 1806)

Summary. The policies and problems of Addington's administration differed little from that of Pitt, with the exception that no further measure for the relief for Catholics would be proposed. A short-lived peace was signed with France but when the war was resumed the limitations of the mild Henry Addington were exposed. Pitt returned as prime minister and constructed another coalition against Napoleon. After a few years, the Catholics began to prepare another petition to Parliament for relief. The chapter ends with the death of Pitt.


The Policies of the New Ministry

Relations with France

Policies in Ireland

Financial Policy

Return of Pitt and the Catholic Petition of 1805

Social and Economic Measures


The Policies of the New Ministry             

[March 1801] Except on the question of Emancipation i.e. the admission of Catholics to Parliament and the higher public offices, the policies of Addington differed little from those of Pitt. Addington (later Viscount Sidmouth) had been a life-long supporter and friend of Pitt, and a man of mild and affable character. He had been until this date Speaker of the House of Commons, and Pitt persuaded him that he must do as the king wished, since he himself was no longer acceptable. Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, a Portland Whig (those Whigs who followed the Duke of Portland in joining Pitt in a coalition), replaced Lord Cornwallis as Lord Lieutenant. His instructions were to try to calm the country without promising Emancipation. The new Irish Secretary was Charles Abbot, a Tory. (It seems that this was now technically a new office funded by Westminster. Acceptance of this office, like that of Secretary to the Navy, did not require resignation from Parliament and re-election - DNB 'Abbot', SNL 9 Dec l809). John Fitzgibbon, Lord Clare, a strong pro-Unionist and anti-Catholic, was retained as Lord Chancellor. (Note: at this period 'anti-Catholic' meant only opposition to the political claims of the Catholics; it almost never meant opposition to the Catholic religion as such. William Saurin, a leading Dublin barrister, was perhaps an exception to this rule.) Lord Clare died shortly and was replaced by an able and energetic English barrister, Sir John Mitford, who was raised to the peerage as Baron Redesdale. (At the request of Charles Butler, Mitford had introduced one of the earliest Catholic Relief Bills in 1788.)  Isaac Corry of Newry was retained as Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer. 

Those Irishmen who accepted office in the various ministries at this time were all more-or-less Tories. That included men from a broad spectrum in the political centre. Irishmen with extreme views, especially extreme anti-Catholic views, were rarely appointed to important Government offices. Lord Castlereagh and William Conyngham Plunket were typical moderate Irish Tories. They often favoured the Catholic claims, but unlike the Whigs, they did not make Emancipation a condition for accepting office. 

            For over a hundred years the Whigs and Tories were the two groupings in British and Irish politics. Political party in the modern sense is too strong a word. It was remarked of them that they resembled not the opposite ends of a hayfork but the two prongs on the same side of the hayfork. As noted in the last chapter the differences between them were often only marginal. At this period the Tories favoured the rights of the crown; Whigs those of Parliament. Consequently Tories favoured a strong army and strong foreign policy abroad with law and order at home (royal concerns), while Whigs favoured non-intervention abroad, and a tiny standing army, liberty for the individual, and no police. Tories favoured the Established Church while Whigs preferred toleration for Dissenters and Roman Catholics (but not Jews, Turks, or atheists). Tories were inclined to be conservative while Whigs favoured reform, especially parliamentary reform provided it was not excessive. These were just tendencies, and Robert Peel, for example, a Tory, was a much greater reformer in many ways than Lord Grenville, a Whig. Individuals, or whole groups, could move from one party to another, depending on whom was Prime Minister. All Whigs supported Catholic Emancipation, but many Tories did so too. (The odd expression was derived from the contemporary campaign to secure emancipation for Negro slaves.) 

Though Emancipation was temporarily excluded, some politicians like Castlereagh and Lord Grenville thought the Government should proceed with the payment of the Catholic clergy. Though the Government was at the time supporting the French émigré clergy it was not in favour of this. Neither the Irish Catholic bishops nor the Holy See favoured the measure. In a letter to the Irish bishops on 7 Aug l801 Rome expressed its disapproval. The matter was dropped. 

Men of all parties assumed that the turn of the Catholics would shortly come when the Prince of Wales became permanent Regent. In 1804 the king's malady returned and it was believed that the Prince would ask the Irish peer Lord Moira to form an administration and bring in an Emancipation Bill. The king however soon recovered. 

            Hardwicke disapproved of the wearing of Orange favours or badges by any members of the armed forces. About this time, the wearing of the orange colour, and parading at the statue of William III in Dublin, were becoming the marks of the anti-Catholic faction, and the Lords Lieutenant began to dissociate themselves from practices associated with a single faction. Numerous Orangemen joined the yeomanry. With 1798 in mind, the calling out of the yeomanry in a county was reserved by an Act of 1802 to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. One should not exaggerate the anti-Catholic spirit of the Orange Order at this time. A brother of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the United Irish leader, was a county Grand Master in the Orange Order. The Order itself was a variation of Freemasonry. Individual yeomanry officers could and did exclude Catholics from their units, though this practice was far from universal. But this explains why the Government was anxious to prevent county sheriffs or county governors from calling out the yeomanry to deal with a local disturbance. [Top] 

Relations with France             

[1802] On the Continent, France, which had been close to collapse a few years earlier, was now pulling itself together under Napoleon's firm direction as Consul and First Consul. Austria withdrew from the Second Coalition and made peace with France. Addington's ministry did likewise, and the Peace of Amiens (1802) was signed. The Government remained suspicious, and kept a close eye on Napoleon's activities. The disbandment of the militia in Ireland proceeded slowly, as the Irish militia was obliged to remain embodied for some time after a peace was signed. Suspicions concerning Napoleon's good faith did not disappear. By November of the same year Hardwicke was again building up the strength of the militia, and by March of 1803 it was entirely re-embodied. In March also Hardwicke by proclamation allowed the Navy to recruit by pressgang or other methods. In April, the British Ambassador, Charles Whitworth (later Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), withdrew from Paris and war recommenced. 

            [1803] Between April l803 and October 1805 the overwhelming concern of everyone in the British Isles was how to prepare to meet the expected French invasion. Richard Lowell Edgeworth got Government assistance to erect a system of semaphore telegraphs, which was eventually to join Dublin with the remotest parts of the West. An enormous programme of construction of fortifications was begun which lasted more than ten years. Military barracks and stores, depots, forts, Martello towers, gun emplacements, and beacons were constructed around the coasts and along the Shannon. Cork was developed as a naval base. Many units of the Irish militia volunteered to serve in England. In India the two Irish brothers, the Marquis Wellesley and Sir Arthur Wellesley, defeated Napoleon's plan to take over that country for France. With the battle of Trafalgar, 21 October l805, the immediate danger of invasion receded. The construction of the fortifications was continued, but the telegraph system was allowed to fall into decay. One can assume it had proved ineffective, as the signals could only be seen when it was not raining. 

As the character of Napoleon's regime in France and its occupied territories became clearer sympathy for the French among the Irish who had supported the United Irishmen several years earlier largely evaporated. On the surface at least the whole country was united against a French invader. The United Irish leader, Robert Emmet, made it clear that he would resist a French invasion. (This is the most obvious meaning of his speech as printed at the time, and of his remarks to the clergyman who visited him in prison. When the speech was edited half a century later the words 'were the French to come “as enemies” were inserted. This made nonsense of the passage. By 1803 nobody envisaged Napoleon coming as a friend.)  

Years later, Daniel O’Connell who was active in the Lawyers’ Corps against the rebellion disabused American visitors of any romantic ideas they had about it.

‘The scheme of rebellion (in 1798) was in itself an ill-digested foolish scheme entered on without the means or the organization necessary to ensure success. And as to the leaders, no doubt there were among them some pure well-intentioned men but the great mass of them were trafficking speculators who cared not whom they victimized in their prosecution of their schemes of self-aggrandisment’ (Luby).

Luby in his turn notes that O’Connell was himself no better served by his own followers. He speaks of ‘the falseness, self-seeking, mean trickery, petty dodging, and political depravity of the sordid crew that so often hung on the skirts of the O’Connellite agitations’. (Americans have no need to be reminded of the activities of the Irish Catholics connected with Tammany Hall.) Every generation in Ireland saw young but ineffective idealists starting movements which were quickly hi-jacked by more effective and more ruthless self-seekers hiding under the banner of idealism. As Dr Johnson once remarked in an English context ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’ meaning that when a man a man says he motivated by love of his country it is time to beware.  

            On the Continent, Napoleon formed an 'Irish Legion' to aid, he said, his liberation of Ireland. Several hundred men joined him, but they were used all over Europe just as an ordinary French battalion. In 1802 an unsuccessful attempt was made by Thomas Russell to reorganize the United Irishmen in Ulster. In Dublin, Robert Emmet, imagining his support was much greater than it actually was, attempted an uprising. Only about seventy men joined him in his assault on Dublin Castle. They promptly murdered an elderly judge in cold blood, and Emmet went home in disgust. (As in 1798 it seems likely that it was the more desperate of the agrarian terrorists who joined the uprising.) Emmet's importance in Irish history lay not in what he did but in the use made of an edited version of his speech by Irish nationalists later in the century. [Top] 

Policies in Ireland 

The Government hastily renewed the emergency powers. Habeas Corpus was suspended, and men suspected of belonging to the United Irishmen were interned in gaol. (The young gentlemen interned incidentally hastened penal reform by complaining about conditions in the gaol.) The Insurrection Act was again renewed, and the counties of Meath and Kildare were proclaimed under it. These were the counties where the most difficulty was experienced in 1798 in putting down the rising. (The Act gave special powers to the local magistrates such as the right to search houses for arms at night and to impose a curfew.) The country at large remained quiet.     

            The administration of Ireland and the policies of the Government were scarcely affected by the Union whose advantages were expected to be found elsewhere. The Administration now had to secure a majority for its views only among the hundred Irish M.P.'s at Westminster instead of among three hundred in Dublin. But as there was a Tory majority both in Britain and Ireland this was no problem. Lord Redesdale began overhauling the civil administration insofar as it came under the direction of the Lord Chancellor, but this was a personal initiative. The Lord Chancellor presided in the Court of Chancery, supervised the administration of the county sheriffs, and appointed magistrates. The Irish Secretary supervised the other departments of the civil service and the administration of such units as boroughs with charters, which were not under the Lord Chancellor. The Lord Lieutenant, and not the Lord Chancellor, exercised patronage in the Established Church and appointed the bishops. Clergymen with excessively Protestant views were not appointed bishops.  

            Up until the so-called ‘Tithe War’ in the 1830s there was a spirit of mutual courtesy between members of the clergy of different denominations, and also between the clergy and the Government. The Catholic bishops had publicly supported the Government in 1798 though a handful of the junior clergy joined the rebels.  The Catholic archbishop of Dublin, Archbishop Troy, could ask the Lord Lieutenant for positions for his relatives. It was agreed on all sides that the Catholic Relief Act of 1793 should be implemented fully and fairly, and also that Catholics should be free to seek further reliefs. It was the invariable practice of the Government to seek clarification from the Catholic bishops with regard to any proposed measure with might affect the Catholic religion. Towards the middle of the century the attitude of the Catholic bishops and clergy changed. They became much more suspicious and surly in their relations with the Government and the other Churches. This was partly the result of a growing nationalist spirit that blamed the British Government and the Established Church for everything. When George IV visited Dublin all the Catholic bishops assembled to meet him; when Queen Victoria came several bishops absented themselves. But this bitter sectarian spirit was not yet visible. 

With regard to ordinary domestic policies Hardwicke continued those of his predecessors before the Union. There were seven Irish Secretaries in just over six years, and none of them remained long enough to make a mark. Work recommenced on the Grand and Royal Canals out of Dublin, the former reaching the Shannon in October 1804. As the canals progressed westward they opened up central Ireland to commercial tillage. The Board of Inland Navigation assisted with the improvement of the Newry Canal. The disbursement of the half a million pounds for inland navigation, voted by the last Irish Parliament, was placed in its care. It did not construct canals itself, but was responsible for approving applications for Government grants.  The directors of the Lagan Navigation connected their canal from Belfast on to Lough Neagh. The lands surrounding this great body of water in mid-Ulster were now connected with the sea by two canals. Lighthouses were constructed around the coast by the Commissioners for the Port of Dublin (The Ballast Office) to improve sea-navigation, and it was decided to build a packet station at Howth outside Dublin to speed the delivery of mails.  

            The Irish economy in many ways benefited from the war economy. A large part of the programme of fortification was paid for by loans raised in England. This produced a net inflow of capital, which could then be used for other developments. Contracts for provisions for the army and navy were placed in Ireland, resulting in great agricultural prosperity, though Napoleon’s Berlin Decrees (1806) were temporarily to affect the linen industry. The provisions largely consisted of salted beef and salted pork in barrels. The Irish provisions firms, especially those around Cork, were the largest in the United Kingdom, and won their contracts on price and quality alone. When the war in the Iberian Peninsula started Cork harbour was found to be little affected by the westerly winds blowing up the English Channel, and so was selected as the principal port for sending out supplies. 

            At the request of John Foster and the Irish Farming Society tariffs were removed from imports of new farm machinery and improved varieties of seed. The Royal Dublin Society was formed in Ireland early in the eighteenth century particularly to improve agriculture. It was not an official body. The Linen Board of Commissioners, an official body, was also founded early in the eighteenth century to promote the cultivation of flax and the weaving of linen. For many years before and after 1800 John Foster directed it. In 1790 the lectureship in botany in Trinity College was raised to a professorship, and soon afterwards a 'botanic garden' was procured at Glasnevin, just outside Dublin, for the scientific study of crops and weeds. In 1800, several improving landlords, including John Foster of Collon, and the Marquis of Sligo, formed a Farming Society to promote good agricultural practice, to improve seeds, to acquire better farm machinery and tools, and to improve Irish livestock. The Farming Society began holding two annual shows of agricultural produce, one in Dublin and one at Ballinasloe, in county Galway, for the exhibition of improved livestock and seeds. The show at Ballinasloe was held in the grounds of Lord Clancarty, a model farmer. Those who came to that show could therefore see examples of the most up-to-date farming practice. When the Farming Society came to an end about 1830, the Royal Dublin Society was persuaded to undertake its ancient duty again, and hold the annual Spring Show in Dublin. [Top] 

Financial Policy 

Taxation of the new United Kingdom worked out as follows. In February 1801, William Pitt, still acting Prime Minister, introduced his budget in the parliament in Westminster, and noted that Ireland was to raise just over four million pounds sterling for joint expenses and about two and a half millions for separate expenses such as its Sinking Fund (SNL). He was followed by the Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer (Corry) who presented the Irish Budget and said how he proposed to raise the money. It was soon to become clear that Ireland had reached the limit of her taxable capability, and raising some taxes reduced revenues by killing off particular industries. Both Britain and Ireland raised much of the revenues needed to finance the War by borrowing. (In l805, at the start of the Third Coalition, Pitt promised the Russians and Austrians a subsidy of 12 pounds 10 shillings each year for every soldier they recruited.) From 1804 onwards the Irish Chancellors were resigned to raising enough revenue from taxes to pay the interest on the loans, and to borrowing to meet current expenditures. This would have the effect of raising Ireland's Debt to equal two seventeenths of the British debt. This then would lead to an amalgamation of the Exchequers, after which Ireland would be taxed exactly in proportion to her income. 

             The use of gold coins had been prohibited in England in order to obtain a supply of bullion for use as subsidies to the Allies. The prohibition was not extended to Ireland immediately after the Act of Union, but was brought in eventually. There occurred a great increase in the issue of paper currency. Inflation set in and most people attributed this to the unwarranted increase in the paper issue. At the same time genuine silver and bronze coinage disappeared from the streets, and forgery became common. More importantly, the increase in excises on the products of distillation led to an enormous increase in illicit distillation. This was to be a major social problem in Ireland for decades despite all the efforts of the Government and the Churches to stamp it out. 

[1804] Isaac Corry was regarded as ineffective and in February 1804, John Foster of Collon, the last Speaker in the Irish House of Commons (known to history as Speaker Foster) and a staunch opponent of the Union, was persuaded to take his seat in the House of Commons. He had formerly been an effective Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer before the Union, and was one of Ireland's principal improving landlords. Even before he became Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer in Westminster, Foster drew up the Irish budget. 

             Though the views of Adam Smith on the effects of freeing trade were well known, and were accepted by William Pitt, Foster always remained a Mercantilist. Mercantilists advocated protecting home industry by means of tariffs and encouraging exports by means of bounties. But as every country would do the same the nett effect was to discourage trade, and each country would be worse off than it could be in the absence of tariffs and bounties. Many who accepted this argument with regard to manufactured goods still felt that agriculture should always be protected. Irish and British agriculture remained protected until the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. 

            Foster soon became the Government's chief economic adviser on Irish affairs, and when Pitt replaced Addington in May 1804, Foster became the Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer. (He did not resign and seek re-election until August when he was returned unopposed in Louth.) Foster dealt ably with the problems in hand and gradually brought most of them under control. He rooted out corruption among the Revenue Officials, and tightened up accountancy procedures. Inflation was controlled and an incorrupt metal coinage was issued and accepted. Though he threatened local magistrates with a property tax if they did not stamp out illicit distillation, he found no solution to this problem. [Top] 

Return of Pitt and the Catholic Petition of 1805 

Addington had little idea how to prosecute the War so Pitt decided to replace him and he became Prime Minister again in May 1804. Napoleon was concentrating his 'Army of England' at Boulogne on the French shore of the English Channel.  Pitt was not content with preparing a mere passive defence, so he sought out allies. He succeeded in constructing the Third Coalition with Russia and Austria.  Prussia joined later. Spain allied herself with France, but when Nelson totally destroyed the combined French and Spanish navies at Trafalgar in October l805, the immediate danger of an invasion of the British Isles disappeared. The citizens of Dublin opened a subscription for a public monument to the admiral, and for a hundred and fifty years 'Nelson's Pillar' was Dublin's most famous landmark and rendezvous. Napoleon decided to attack the allies on the Continent instead. 

In Pitt's Irish Government Hardwicke remained as Lord Lieutenant. (Pitt had intended appointing the Earl of Powys but he died before taking office.) Foster, as already noted became Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer.  William Conyngham Plunket remained Solicitor General until October l805 when he became Attorney General. A moderate barrister named Kendal Bushe became Solicitor General and retained that position until 1822 when Lord Wellesley made him Chief Justice. About this time Wellesley was recalled from India and his brother Arthur returned as well. Castlereagh became Minister for War and, having a high regard for Arthur Wellesley's capabilities, ensured that he was given military commands whenever possible. (Both men were aged thirty five in 1804, but Castlereagh’s life had been spent in the United Kingdom while Wellesley had been in India. Furthermore, Castlereagh as the eldest son of an earl had the courtesy title of Viscount. Wellesley was the fourth son of an earl, and had no title of nobility until made Viscount Wellington until 1809.) 

Pitt was again faced with the question of Emancipation. He had made up his mind that there was no possibility of changing the old king's mind on this point, and so refused to bring in any measure. Some English Whigs thought the matter should be raised, though how they proposed to change the king's mind is not clear. They persuaded the prominent Irish Whig, Henry Grattan, to return to parliamentary life, and found a seat for him in a borough in England. It was considered necessary that the Irish Catholics should themselves first petition Parliament for further relief from their civil disabilities. The various Acts reimposed at the time of Emmet's Rebellion were still in force so many Catholics were reluctant to meet even for the purpose of petitioning Parliament. Such meetings were specifically declared to be legal under the Convention Act (1793).

A young Dublin merchant named James Ryan consulted with the Earl of Fingall, the highest-ranking Catholic in Ireland, and undertook, with Fingall's backing, to organise the meetings. A petition was drawn up and signed. Signatures were secured from interested parties. No attempt was made to make this petition representative in character, but for parliamentary purposes this was inessential. For organizing the meetings he earned for himself the undying hostility of an older Catholic leader named John Keogh. The disputes among the Catholics which were to last eighteen years thus started at the same time as the campaign for Emancipation. Keogh also distrusted the Irish Catholic aristocracy and never ceased to sow the seeds of this distrust among others. The Government, knowing that the meetings were chaired by a man of unimpeachable loyalty like the Earl of Fingall, raised no objection to them. 

[1805] In February 1805 the petition was brought to London by a Catholic delegation. This consisted of the Irish Catholic peers, the Earls of Fingall, Kenmare, and Shrewsbury (who had a secondary Irish title), Baron Trimleston, Viscount Southwell, the baronet Sir Edward Bellew, the barrister Denys Scully, and the merchant James Ryan. In general, in the early nineteenth century, the rank of the petitioners was more important than the numbers they represented. Pitt expressed sympathy with their aims but reminded them that the king would in no way change his mind. The Whig Lord Grenville presented the petition in the House of Lords, while Charles James Fox presented it in the Commons. When the latter House rejected the petition 83 Irish members voted of whom 25 supported Fox and 58 opposed him. A prominent member of the Dublin Corporation named Jack Giffard tried to organise a Protestant counter-petition so Hardwicke promptly removed him from a minor Government post he held. 

Meanwhile in England a rather strange figure was taking an active part in affairs. This was the English Catholic bishop, John Milner, vicar apostolic of the Midland District. (Vicars Apostolic were bishops by papal delegation, or papal vicars. Apostolic was short for Apostolic or papal see. There were four vicars in four districts in England and Wales.)  Milner was perpetually at war with his fellow vicars apostolic in England and with the majority of the Catholic laity whom he suspected of schism or heresy. He wrote a book on controversies with the Protestants and always suspected the worst of them. He preferred to deal with the Irish where his anti-Protestant views found a more ready welcome. He undertook to clarify the Catholic position with regard to a proposed royal veto on the appointment of Catholic bishops in his majesty's dominions, and some time after expressing his views publicly seems to have changed his mind.  The result was that he thoroughly confused the Whig leaders in Parliament who were actively supporting the Catholic campaign. He was to campaign to the end of his life against the veto and against supporters of the veto, though Rome at least twice bade him not to speak or write on political matters (Ward passim). By l820 he was being ignored by all parties. But he left a bitter legacy behind him. Early in the nineteenth century relations between the Churches in the British Isles were friendly. The atmosphere of suspicion and hatred, which grew up, owed much to Milner's efforts. 

In 1805, Milner wrote to Dr Concanen, OP, the agent in Rome of the Irish bishops, to get a statement from the Holy See on the questions involved. Rome replied to Dr. Concanen that it could not tolerate payment of the clergy, that positive nomination of Catholic bishops could not be granted to heretical monarchs, but a negative veto could be tolerated, and that the right of inspection of Roman documents could not be allowed. About the same time the Irish bishops expressed to Rome their objections to the payment of the clergy (SNL 13 May 1814; Vatican Archives, Scritture Referite 1805). [Top] 

Social and Economic Measures 

Apart from the questions of Emancipation and the defence of the realm already mentioned, the Irish Government passed several pieces of legislation through Parliament. One allowed British court warrants to be served in Ireland; another allowed the authorities in the counties to establish medical dispensaries for the benefit of the poor. There was an Irish Post Roads Act to improve the post roads, a Partition of Common Lands Act to enable any remaining lands held in common to be divided up among their users, and a Dublin Paving and Lighting Act. These Acts were typical of the kind of Acts passed for Ireland for the next fifty years, but which are too numerous to catalogue. Tithes and the reform of the Irish Protestant Church were matters, which were raised in Parliament, as also was the question of Government money spent on supporting education in Ireland. Work was commenced by the Revenue Commissioners and the Commissioners for the Port of Dublin (the Ballast Office) on clearing the old riverside quays, rebuilding the riverside walls, and constructing continuous quays and streets on either side of the Liffey. 

            The mailcoach or stage coach era began in Ireland in 1790 (several years after it began in England) when the Government persuaded a Scottish contractor named John Anderson to contract for the carriage of mails on new terms to Limerick. Anderson was to make up the road to a standard fit for (relatively) fast coaches, to procure such coaches, and to carry the mails every day within the time limit specified by the Post Office. This, at the start, allowed twenty four or thirty hours to reach cities like Limerick from Dublin. The coaches gradually speeded up and the Government passed several acts to improve the roads for the mail coaches, and to regulate the carriage of persons and goods. A cottage industry, not peculiar to Ireland, of robbing the Post Office coaches or postmen of the money they were carrying grew up. The change from postboys on pony-back to mailcoaches was largely the result of the presence of numerous highwaymen on the post roads. 

            Various attempts had been made in the eighteenth century to provide Irish towns and counties with an efficient police force. The old Dublin city watch had been disbanded and replaced by a Dublin city police. Then Henry Grattan got the police abolished and replaced by a reformed watch. Grattan was one of those Irishmen who had no experience of administration and no taste for it. He preferred sniping at the Government of the day from the safety of the Opposition benches. The Dublin watch remained unsatisfactory and successive Irish Secretaries tried to devise an efficient form of policing which would still satisfy objectors. Most of the objections during this period were coming from the Tory members of Dublin Corporation who felt that the prestige of the aldermen was lessened if they had no direction of the police. 

              In July 1805 Napoleon marched his army eastwards to deal with the new coalition. In October the Austrian Army was heavily defeated at Ulm. News of the Royal Navy’s victory at Trafalgar over the combined French and Spanish fleets and the defeat at Ulm reached the British Isles about the same time. In December Napoleon decisively defeated Austria at Austerlitz, and she withdrew from the Coalition. 

[1806]  Shortly after the news of Austerlitz reached England William Pitt died in January 1806.



Copyright Desmond J. Keenan, B.S.Sc.; Ph.D. ;.London, U.K.