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The officers of the Irish Brigade and the British Army, 1789-98

Elliott-Wright, Philipp J. C (1997) The officers of the Irish Brigade and the British Army, 1789-98. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This is a study of the reaction of the Irish Brigade's officers to the French Revolution and that event's role in ending the restrictions on Catholics holding commissions in the British Army. The eighteenth century had seen considerable strides in Establishment attitudes as well as legislation which mitigated the seventeenth century legal restrictions on Catholics but the ultimate step of commissioning Catholics into the Regular Establishment of the British Army, the guardian of the Protestant Ascendancy, required the trauma of the French Revolution. Ironically, the changed ideological perspective which saw Catholics metamorphosize from the traditional enemy into persecuted ally also produced a coherent body of professional military officers in the guise of the emigres of the Irish Brigade. Their general reaction to the Revolution, mirroring that of their French brethren, re-enforced and confirmed their intrinsic identification with the established order. This permitted the creation, in October 1794, of the British Army's first established formation of Catholic officered troops in the shape of a re-raised Irish Brigade. Even then, substantive legislative changes were ultimately eschewed in favour of the established practice of not asking awkward questions. That the Brigade was ultimately reduced in December 1797 was due to administrative confusion, financial uncertainty and poor recruitment common to many freshly raised formations throughout the British Army, not to latent denominational prejudices amongst elements in the Ascendancy, at Westminster and at Court. Residual prejudice however ensured that it would only be in the aftermath of the Napoleonic conflict that the formal, if unenforced, statutory prohibitions were finally removed

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.731701
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2018 15:16
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2018 15:16
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21155

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