The Age of George III

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A Comparison of England and Ireland in 1760: political, social and economic



  • Parliament initiated and passed legislation freely
  • Dublin parliament had to have proposed legislation approved of by Westminster (1494 Poynings’ Law); Westminster could legislate for Ireland (1719 Declaratory Act)
  • Majority of population is Anglican; Williamite Penal Laws apply to very few
  • Agricultural labourers are reasonably well paid, looked after in times of hardship and usually have sufficient food
  • No system of poor relief.  People starve
  • Times of scarcity are few and far between
  • Annual food scarcity is normal
  • Absentee landlords are a minority
  • well developed banking/fiscal system (private banks, Bank of England)
  • no banking system; fiscal system depends on England
  • System of fair rents, fixity of tenure and compensation for improvements to rented land
  • Rack renting, no fixity of tenure or compensation for improvements
  • Agricultural revolution
  • No agricultural revolution
  • Industrial revolution beginning
  • No industrial revolution
  • Manufacturing output increases and provides employment for agricultural labourers
  • Manufacturing industry is controlled by and destroyed by Westminster: no alternative employment for labourers
  • MPs come from England, Scotland and Wales to represent English, Scottish and Welsh constituencies
  • Many MPs in Dublin are English or Anglo-Irish
  • English is the dominant language of the country and of government
  • English is the language of government; most people speak Gaelic
  • Developments in transport (better roads, start of canals) reduces prices of goods
  • No improvements in the infrastructure
  • Most people live in reasonable dwellings; animals are separate
  • Most people live in hovels along with their animals
  • Many large centres of population
  • Anywhere with 20 houses is classed as a “town”
  • Diversification of employment absorbs population increase
  • Population explosion but no diversification of employment; starvation results
  • Last conquest of England was in 1066
  • Ireland was a conquered country ruled by an alien aristocracy
  • Taxation remained in the country to be spent in Britain
  • Taxation left Ireland for England; removal of specie caused problems for the Irish who had no means of exchange
  • The law of primogeniture held sway
  • Primogeniture applied only to Protestants; Catholics had to share out land equally between sons
  • Tenants usually had written agreements with landlords so eviction was rare
  • Few tenants had written agreements so eviction was easy and frequent
  • Little sub-letting of land
  • Frequent sub-letting of land (and sub-sub-letting…)
  • General elections every 7 years, by law
  • General election only on death of a monarch (changed in 1768 with the Octennial Act)

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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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