Toby Barnard (University of Oxford)

The ambiguities in publicizing Catholic loyalty in mid-eighteenth century Ireland

This paper focuses on printed accounts of Irish Catholics in the eighteenth century. In particular it considers the few known printed funeral sermons and how they treated their recently dead subjects. The lengthiest and in many ways most interesting is that for Father John Murphy in 1753. Its format and tenor are compared with those for other Catholics, both priests and lay-people. There are also suggestions about differences in the use of the genre by the Church of Ireland, Presbyterians and other Protestant dissenters. How then exemplary Catholics were memorialized and the extent to which defiance or submission was emphasized will be discussed.


John Bergin (Queen’s University Belfast)

Daniel Macnamara: from Jacobite to Hanoverian

Daniel Macnamara (1720–1800), from Ardcloony, Co. Clare, had a highly successful career as a lawyer in London. He was the last important representative of a tradition of Irish-born Catholic conveyancers or ‘chamber counsel’, who combined London agency for Irish clients (often Protestants) with lobbying on behalf of the Irish Catholic interest. Among his predecessors (such as the lawyers Adam Colclough, Peter Sexton and Dennis Molony) and his friends (such as the Irish merchant George Fitzgerald, junior) a good deal of evidence of Jacobite sympathies and activity may be found. These Irishmen in England sprang from families which had served James II in Ireland: Macnamara himself was a grandson of Florence Macnamara, an officer in King James’ Irish army and MP for Ennis in the parliament of 1689. Some of the earliest evidence for Daniel Macnamara in London concerns his Jacobite activism in the 1750s. Yet he was subsequently employed by the Dukes of Bedford and became a close friend of Richard Rigby, a Bedford ally and Irish chief secretary during the 4th Duke’s Irish viceroyalty, 1756–61. In later life, Macnamara’s celebrated political dinners were a regular fixture at his Streatham villa: the Prince of Wales, William Pitt and other political figures were among his guests, where they mingled with Macnamara’s clients. From 1778 he was retained (and handsomely paid) by the Irish Catholic Committee as their London agent. Like his clients and the rest of his social circle, he was thoroughly respectable and (Catholic relief apart) politically conservative: he was alarmed by the proposed tax on Irish absentees and horrified by the French Revolution. His career might be seen in some respects as embodying the journey from Jacobite to Hanoverian allegiance.


Michael Breidenbach (University of Cambridge)

British Catholic sources of American religious liberty

Within the budding literature of ‘Catholic Enlightenment’, historians have identified a particular strand of eighteenth-century Catholic political and religious thought in Europe and America that contrasts the ultramontanism of the next century. Little effort, however, has been made in identifying, tracing, and examining a transatlantic Catholicism flowing from Europe to America. This paper is interested in the particular constellation of eighteenth-century Catholic discourses in Britain and America concerning the nature of papal power, the relationship between church and state, and the content and parameters of religious liberty. As previous scholars have suggested, but without precision, Catholics within the British Empire appropriated the assumptions and claims of the Parisian conciliarist tradition, nationally manifested in English Cisalpinism and Scottish conciliarism. This paper will argue that a specific group of American Catholics who were educated in Continental Europe and England—John, Charles, and Daniel Carroll of Maryland—were well ensconced in this tradition: they were educated by, corresponded with, and read these conciliarists with approval. Upon returning to America at the outset of the Revolutionary War, they employed these ideas in framing religious liberty legislation and establishing the American Catholic Church, including a rejection of the pope’s temporal power, a commitment to constitutional republicanism, even ecclesiastically, and an acknowledgement of the rights of individual conscience and resistance. America’s British Revolution of 1776, unlike Britain’s Revolution of 1688, could establish a sufficient legislative recourse for Catholic religious liberty precisely because these American Catholics rejected the pope’s temporal power, the confessional state, and sectarian preferentialism and intolerance.


Maurice Bric (University College Dublin)

Supporting Catholic Emancipation in Quebec: the Paradox of Protest and Loyalty, 1820–30


Ian Campbell (University College Dublin)

Catholic loyalists, Catholic monarchomachs, and Protestant Power in Seventeenth Century Ireland.

Abstract: What did the seventeenth-century universities teach about Catholic loyalty to Protestant princes, and did this teaching inflect political discourse among the Irish Catholic elite? This paper will explain the theory of Protestant power taught in Europe’s Catholic universities well into the eighteenth century and examine the uses to which the Irish elite put this theory. The remarkable fact is that even those Irish radicals who hated English, Protestant, Stuart monarchy in Ireland and worked from the 1610s through to the 1660s to destroy that monarchy never argued that Protestants were incapable of lawful rule over Catholics merely because they were Protestant. All the Catholic universities taught that it was heresy to imagine that sinners (and Protestants were no more than sinners) lost their rights to property and political power; and Ireland’s Catholic loyalists and monarchomachs agreed that Protestants could lawfully rule Catholics, make binding agreements with them, and even contract valid marriages with Catholics. Disagreement between loyalists and revolutionaries focused on two issues. First, whether or not Ireland’s Protestant monarchs had promulgated positive laws which contravened natural law, the law that all humans could perceive simply because they were human and upon which all positive law was based. Such contravention of natural law was widely recognised as grounds for disobedience to the monarch and even his or her deposition. Second, whether the pope possessed the right to depose monarchs who threatened the true church. Historians of early modern Ireland, following the work of Breandán Ó Buachalla, have argued that the Irish Catholic elite coped with Protestant monarchy by distinguishing rigidly between their spiritual and temporal loyalties. This inaccurate simplification neglects both political doctrines which were fundamental to university curricula, and the anxious engagement of Catholic loyalists with their disloyal co-religionists.


Liam Chambers (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick)

Loyalty, Toleration and the Irish Catholic Community, 1748–1766

The period between the end of the War of the Austrian Succession and the death of James III witnessed the development of Irish Catholic arguments in favour of toleration, drawing on continental European models and Enlightenment ideas, as well as increasingly public professions of loyalty to the Hanoverian state on the part of some members of the Irish Catholic community. The fact that the majority of the community continued to look on James III as their legitimate ruler ensured that debates about toleration and loyalty, while they were not new, were deeply controversial. This paper reconsiders the nature of these debates by examining the increasing use of the printing press to make the case for Irish Catholics, the initiatives to present loyal addresses to George II and George III and the early efforts to establish more organised Catholic lobbying structures. These activities involved a wide spectrum of the Catholic community including gentry, merchants, professionals and clergy. Indeed, the debates about proposed legislation for the registration of Catholic clergy in 1756 and 1757, and the related ‘Trimleston Pastoral’ issued by Archbishop Michael O’Reilly of Armagh and a small group of Episcopal colleagues, reveals the extent to which Catholic clergy were willing to offer loyalty to the state, long before the death of James III. The paper argues that clerical engagement in the debates about toleration and loyalty during this period extended to the continent. O’Reilly, for example, had strong connections to the Irish clerical community in Paris and was one of a number of reformers or ‘zelanti’, identified by Hugh Fenning, with bases in Dublin, Armagh and the French capital. In 1759 a new edition of Louis Moréri’s Le grand dictionnnaire historique included a series of Irish entries penned by the Cork-born priest and influential proviseur at the Irish Collège des Lombards in Paris, David Henegan. Towards the end of his long essay on ‘Irlande’, Henegan made a case for the toleration of Irish Catholics, pointed to the Dutch Republic as a model (an idea that had been floated in Dublin in 1757) and effectively argued for the accommodation of Irish Catholics to the Hanoverian state. That Henegan, perhaps the leading Irish clerical figure in Paris, could take such a bold public position just over a decade after the Battle of Fontenoy is startling. Despite the important work of Maureen Wall, Hugh Fenning, Patrick Fagan and others, the nature of Catholic debates about loyalty and toleration between 1748 and 1766 remains surprisingly understudied. This paper offers a fresh evaluation of the issues, which were to dominate Irish politics later in the century, and beyond.


Liesbeth Corens (University of Cambridge)

‘Bound to his Majesty’: The English Catholic Expatriate Community as exiles, traitors, and loyal subjects.

In the eyes of the English state, every Catholic was a potential traitor, and their going abroad an incentive for plotting. In Catholic polemics, their stay on the Continent was one of loyal subjects exiled for their faith. This paper assesses how these opposite interpretations were shaped and interrelated during the period when Titus Oates’s conspiracy theories caused heightened concern about the dangers of Catholics abroad. It focuses on how English Catholics negotiated their going abroad in relation to their allegiance to the king and their faith. By combining official legislation, printed defences, and family archives, it explores how these different source bases explain one another, and lay bare a more broad and varied spectrum between loyalty and resistance.



John Cunningham (Trinity College Dublin/University of Freiburg)

Catholic loyalty in Ireland from the Cromwellian Conquest to the Stuart Restoration

The conquest of Ireland between 1649 and 1653 undermined two of the key focuses of Catholic loyalty: the Catholic Church and the Stuart monarchy. This upheaval meant that Irish Catholic relations with the state had to be redefined. On the one hand, the Catholics believed that the terms of the various articles of surrender granted to them in 1651–2 provided a type of contractual basis for the safeguarding of their much-weakened position under the new regime. On the other hand, Catholics wishing to remain in the country were expected to subscribe an engagement of loyalty ‘to the Commonwealth of England, as it is now established, without a King or House of Lords’. By 1659 the Catholics were able to argue that their record of obedience since 1652 entitled them to better treatment. Just a year later, the emphasis shifted back towards professions of loyalty to the Stuarts, with Catholic expectations again resting on articles, this time the Ormond Peace of 1649. This paper will explore the nature of Irish Catholic loyalty to the state in the 1650s: was it simply a matter of necessity? How was it related to seemingly similar English Catholic efforts to reach an accommodation with the authorities? These under-examined aspects provide an appropriate background against which to assess Catholic efforts to recover their position after 1660. They can also been seen as foreshadowing the experience of the 1690s, when the Catholics had again to deal with the challenges that arose in the aftermath of military defeat.


Aidan Enright (Cardiff University)

'I see no inconsistency in my being a good Catholic and a good Englishman': The competing loyalties of English Catholics from the Declaration of Papal Infallibility to Irish Home Rule

The thoughts of John Henry Newman in his letter to the Duke of Norfolk in January 1875, they closely resembled the reactions of many English Catholics when, in November 1874, their loyalties to the Pope and the Protestant British state were deemed incompatible by W. E. Gladstone in his pamphlet on the Vatican Decrees. But even though elite English Catholics were more or less of one voice in professing their loyalty to the state in response to such Protestant misgivings, their loyalty to the Vatican in the wake of the Declaration of Papal Infallibility in 1870 was very much up for debate in Catholic periodicals and pamphlets. Liberals, like Newman, either questioned the necessity of the declaration, or, like Lord John Acton, outright opposed it; while ultramontanes, like the Duke of Norfolk, wholeheartedly supported the edicts of Rome. The battle lines were similarly drawn when Gladstone introduced his first Irish home rule bill in 1886. Some Liberals, like Lord Ripon, supported home rule and insisted that their loyalty to the state was not compromised; while ultramontanes, like the Earl of Denbigh, opposed it and deemed the former disloyal. It will therefore be the concern of this paper to examine competing versions of English Catholic loyalty, which, in the end, only served to further undermine their credentials as loyal citizens in the minds of already sceptical Protestants.      


Ultan Gillen (Teesside University)

Irish Catholic Loyalty and the French Revolution

This paper examines Catholic loyalty in the era of the French Revolution, concentrating on the sermons of the Catholic hierarchy and the pamphlets of the prominent Catholic activist and later government pensioner, Theobald McKenna. It examines the arguments they used to try to convince the government and the supporters of Protestant Ascendancy that their loyalty was genuine, and the arguments they used to try to convince Catholics to be loyal. It also examines how Catholic loyalists continued to push for reform even as resistance to change intensified during the course of the 1790s. The question of Irish Catholic loyalty raises issues surrounding the nature of the confessional state in Ireland and its relations with the majority of the population, as well as Anglo-Irish relations, and the effects of the Revolutionary Wars on national identity in Britain and Ireland. It also gives an insight into European Catholic reactions to the French Revolution and the threat its principles and actions posed to the Church. It sheds light on the construction of counter-revolution in Ireland. The paper argues that ultimately while Irish Catholic loyalists and their allies in England like the Burkes succeeded in convincing the London government of their loyalty, they were doomed to be marginal figures, along with their Whig allies, once Fitzwilliam had been recalled in 1795. They were part of a centre ground that could not hold in the polarised atmosphere of the 1790s.


Gabriel Glickman (Warwick University)

The Catholic interest and the politics of the overseas empire 1660–1702

Recent studies of British national consciousness have described the imperial and Protestant identities of the three kingdoms advancing naturally hand-in-hand. However, between 1660 and 1688, a striking number of English and Irish Catholics played visible roles in the development of the nascent overseas empire. From Tangier to New York and the Leeward Islands, men liable to prosecution for recusancy when they stepped back on British shores could be witnessed occupying high civil or military offices, circumventing the penal laws by establishing themselves in places where the writ of parliament did not run. This paper will look firstly at how individuals such as the first Lord Belasyse, Sir Thomas Dongan and Sir William Stapleton developed careers within the overseas dominions, and then show how the empire had become increasingly central to the thinking of Catholic circles at the Stuart court, where the search for global mastery was perceived as a political and intellectual alternative to the European obligations championed by Whigs and confessional Protestants. However, Catholic penetration of the empire did not go unnoticed, and the paper will show how the promotions made through imperial service raised a series of controversies that drew the overseas dominions into the domestic conflicts arising from fears of popery and arbitrary government. The resultant debates wrought a lasting impact on the strategic and ideological character of British imperialism into the eighteenth century.


Richard Keogh (University of Northumbria)

The ‘repeal’ of Catholic emancipation?  The Ecclesiastical Titles Act of 1851 and Irish Catholic loyalty

In 1850, Pope Pius IX’s restoration of a Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales generated widespread indignation and reinvigorated anti-Catholicism across the isles. Even the Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, in an inflammatory letter to the Bishop of Durham condemned the Pope’s actions as ‘Papal aggression’. Russell proceeded to add injury to insult when his government proposed, and then successfully passed, the Ecclesiastical Titles Act of 1851. This piece of anti-Catholic legislation, and the bill that had preceded it, had mobilised the politics of the Catholic ‘establishment’ in a manner not seen since the campaign for emancipation. This paper reconstructs the rhetoric and discourse that characterised the opposition to the bill, and responses to the act, of elite Irish Catholics.

Given that the tests of loyalty were in the hands of the Protestant state, it is unsurprising that public displays of Catholic loyalty were energised in response to times of heightened anti-Catholicism. By taking the reference point of Catholic emancipation, and invoking the rhetoric that the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill would ‘repeal’ the act of 1829, these Catholics were successfully able to contest the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill as citizens with rights rather than subjects with duties, whilst ensuring that their loyalty remained intact. Moreover, it is argued that by contesting the anti-Catholicism of the state, the ‘loyalty’ of these Catholics was not undermined. This paper demonstrates that periods of intense anti-Catholicism could serve to re-define Catholic loyalty, and reveals the contractarian and conditional nature of this identity in mid-Victorian Ireland.


Eoin Kinsella (University College Dublin)

Preventing dispossession: Protestant support for Catholic landowners in Ireland, 1660–1702

The latter half of the seventeenth century provided a series of challenges to Irish Catholics, particularly in relation to the security of their land tenure. Suspicions regarding the sincerity of Catholic loyalty, commonly held among the Protestant polity, appeared in a variety of ways during the Restoration and Williamite eras, yet Catholic landowners also received support from Protestant neighbours and acquaintances at crucial junctures; notably during 1660s and 1690s. While many Catholics could construct convincing cases in the decade after the Restoration pleading their loyalty to the exiled Stuart court, the situation was quite different in the 1690s. Those who appeared before the courts of claims during that decade could rarely fall back on assertions of loyalty to support attempts to retain their land. To claim under the articles of surrender was, essentially, to admit having partaken in rebellion. Even so, no claim passed the court without the support of three Protestant witnesses. For other Catholics who were ineligible for trial before the courts of claims, direct appeals to William III for a royal pardon were necessary. Such petitions were frequently accompanied by certificates from Irish Protestants attesting to the ‘good behaviour’ of the appellant.

This paper will explore the various ways in which Irish Protestants supported their Catholic counterparts at times when Catholics were particularly vulnerable to the loss of their lands. The language employed within Catholic petitions seeking to demonstrate their loyalty will also be contrasted with that used by their Protestant counterparts, such as William King’s State of the Protestants in Ireland (1691). The paper will also address the central role played by the threat of land dispossession in determining where the loyalty of Irish Catholics lay.


Alexander Lock (University of Leeds)

The Grand Tours and Conflicting Identities of Eighteenth-Century English Catholic Travellers: Sir Thomas Gascoigne and Henry Swinburne, 1775–1779

In the autumn of 1775 Henry Swinburne (1743–1803) and his travelling companion, and patron, Sir Thomas Gascoigne (1745–1810) embarked upon an extensive Grand Tour of Spain, France and Italy. The details of their tour were later published by Swinburne as Travels Through Spain in the Years 1775 and 1776 (1779) and Travels in the Two Sicilies (1783–1785) which established Swinburne’s reputation as a travel writer. Using extensive primary source material this paper will explore the writing and reception of Swinburne’s Travels and delineate Swinburne’s and Gascoigne’s tours through Spain and Italy. It will outline the mode in which they travelled, and explore their reception and their reactions to Continental culture, customs and especially religion. Both Swinburne and Gascoigne were descended from English Catholic gentry families and had separately spent their formative years on the Continent. It will be argued that the fact of their religion and upbringing gave both men a cultural advantage over their contemporaries, such as Philip Thicknesse (1719–1792), allowing them easy access to elite social circles and Continental religious institutions. The fact of their faith, however, did not make the travellers overly sympathetic to the Catholic Church on the Continent and both were critical of what they described as ‘the strange practices of religion’ and ‘superstition’ they observed. Such opinions were shared by many of their Protestant compatriots travelling on the Continent, who similarly represented this Continental Catholicism as superstitious and as having a stultifying effect upon the population and economy. This paper, therefore, will demonstrate and analyse how Gascoigne and Swinburne viewed faith on the Continent; they judged it not on its own terms but in relation to all that they patriotically felt England stood for despite their Continental upbringing and despite the prejudices they would have encountered as Catholics in Anglican England. Whilst abroad they perceived themselves specifically as loyal ‘Englishmen’ and as adopting a peculiarly, more enlightened, English form of the faith.


Emma Lyons (National Library of Ireland)

Infancy, lunacy and loyalty: a case study of the Lattin family during the 1660s

During the 1650s there occurred what T.W. Moody has termed ‘the most catastrophic land-confiscation and social upheaval in Irish history’ (N.H.I., iii, xliv), which resulted in those deemed to have supported or taken part in the 1641 Rebellion forfeiting their property. The Lattin family from county Kildare were just one of thousands of Catholic families who were recorded as having lost their estates during the Cromwellian settlements. However, whilst the Lattins were recorded as having been transplanted, the family remained in possession of their estate during the 1650s and 1660s, retaining a significant portion of their estate on the eve of the eighteenth century. In order for this to be possible, the family would have had to prove their loyalty, a difficult task given that they had apparently voted in the confederate elections of 1640 and had supported the rebels during the 1641 Rebellion. This paper will therefore focus upon the Lattin family’s efforts to demonstrate their loyalty during the 1660s, the means by which they sought to explain and rationalise their past actions, and their reliance upon third parties to support their claims of loyalty.


C. Ivar McGrath (University College Dublin)

Catholic recruitment into the British regular army, 1692–1770

It is well known that Irish Catholics were recruited into the French, Spanish, and other European armies in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The reasons for such recruitment are complex, but one justification traditionally put forward as being in some part contributory to the phenomenon was the absence of similar opportunities in Ireland, where a blanket-ban on Catholic recruitment was instigated in the 1690s and not withdrawn until after the commencement of the repeal of the Penal Laws in the 1770s. However, it has also more recently started to be acknowledged that despite such a ban, some Catholic recruitment did occur in the British regular army units based in Ireland or sent overseas from Ireland to other parts of the emerging British empire. This paper examines the extent of such recruitment, how it was facilitated, why it occurred, and the degree to which the blanket-ban was or was not applied, ultimately with a view to addressing aspects of Irish Catholic engagement with the state in eighteenth-century Ireland and, more generally, with the British empire.


Tom McInally (University of Aberdeen)

Cardinal Charles Erskine and the transfer of Jacobite loyalties to the House of Hanover

When James VII started his campaign in Ireland almost the entire student community of the Scots College in Paris enlisted in his army. They were joined by a significant number of alumni of all the Scots Colleges abroad many of whom were professional soldiers. They served with distinction and a number gave their lives in James’ service. For over half a century the members of the Scots Colleges fought and died for the king, his son and grandson. However, at the end of the eighteenth century the colleges were serving the military interests of the House of Hanover and making similar sacrifices. This was not so much a transfer of loyalties as a redefinition of objectives. The reasons behind the change are complex but one man, an alumnus of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, Cardinal Charles Erskine, played a pivotal role in helping the transition. As papal envoy to the court of George III he was a strong advocate for cooperation between the Catholic community and Protestant Britain.  He succeeded to a large extent while gaining respect at court despite the disadvantages of being a Catholic prelate, the son of an exiled Jacobite rebel and the friend and protégé of the Stuart claimant to the British thrones, Cardinal Henry Duke of York. This paper will attempt to explain the means he used and the immediate consequences of his success.

Oliver Rafferty (Heythrop College, University of London)

Irish Catholics and the State 1800–1870

The aim here is to give a brief overview of Catholic loyalty to the Union in the first seventy-years of its existence. After the initial disappointment, expressed by some, of the failure to grant emancipation in the context of the Union, Catholics showed themselves by turns loyal and rebellious. Government attempts to restrict the freedom of the Catholic Church by means of the veto over episcopal appointments met with great resistance although the lead here was taken by laymen rather than by clerics. O’Connell’s emancipation and repeal campaigns did not of themselves weaken a connection with the Crown, but the perception of government inaction during the Famine put the relationship with the Union under considerable strain. The remarkable thing, however, is not the extent of disloyalty but the abject failure of appeals to revolutionary activity in the face of perceived government indifference. Archbishop Cullen’s arrival in Ireland in 1850 marks a turning point in the church’s evaluation of its relationship with the state, but Cullen’s intention was the improvement of the church’s status within the UK rather than per se seeking to align Catholics with forces which would lead to the break of up of the Union. A vehement opponent of political violence Cullen aimed to steer Catholics away from flirtations with Fenianism and to concentrate on Catholic social and political advancement. The disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1870 was a watershed in the church’s ambitions and represented exactly the sort of Catholic ecclesiastical triumph that Cullen hoped would govern all Catholic exchanges with the state. Throughout some attention will be given to the international dimension of the issue especially to the papacy’s concern for stability in church–state relations in Europe as a whole.


Patrick Walsh (University College Dublin/University College London)

‘Rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’: Catholics, taxes, and the Irish fiscal military state

The idea of ‘credible commitment’ has become popular with historians seeking to explain the growth of the fiscal-military state and political stability in Britain, or at least England, in the period after the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. This thesis first developed by American economists Douglas North and Barry Weingast suggests that political and economic institutions were able to develop in Britain because the revolution settlement guaranteed individual property rights, therefore allowing individuals to invest in and support the state.

In Ireland the revolution was not so ‘glorious’; the Catholic majority were excluded from participation in the structures of the new Williamite state, while the Protestant minority were forced to adopt a defensive stance to protect their hard-won legal privileges and property rights. Despite this unpromising outlook the eighteenth-century Irish state was able to fund itself collecting taxes and raising loans as necessary. This ability to raise regular revenue, predominantly through a customs and excise system which permeated every corner of the kingdom, suggests a strong degree of acquiescence and loyalty from the Catholic majority to the institutions of the Williamite and especially the Hanoverian state.  Catholic loyalty to the state’s financial initiatives could be seen in other areas too, with some Catholics financially willing to support the state, both through investment in the Irish, and indeed British, national debt, as well as through offering support for the putative bank of Ireland in 1720 and the actual bank in 1783. Some such offers were rebuffed however with both the aborted Bank of Ireland scheme of 1720 and the successful scheme of 1783 excluding Catholic directors.

These exclusions have often been read as evidence of Protestant fears, but perhaps they may also be considered as reactions to expressions of Catholic commitment to the financial structures of the Irish state.  This paper will examine the complexities of the Catholic financial relationship to the eighteenth century Irish state. It will demonstrate that both through their acquiescence to taxation and to through the willingness of some Catholics to invest in the state, many Irish Catholics demonstrated loyalty and ‘commitment’ to the post revolution state.  


Mark Williams (Oxford University)

The Cultural Limits of Catholic Loyalty: Communication, Misrepresentation, and Accommodation in Ireland and England, 1650–1685

The articulation and successful implementation of a model (or models) of Catholic ‘loyalty’ in the late seventeenth century hinged not only upon the eloquent grafting of theological principles onto politically pragmatic ideas, but also upon the cultural limits in which individuals and communities had to express those ideas. No matter how accommodating or seemingly principled notions of loyalty to the state may have been for an individual or community, failure to communicate and represent those models of loyalty in a language comprehensible and familiar to a wider political audience often doomed such attempts to failure.

Central to such failures were contrasting cultural engagements with the wider Catholic European world. In England, a growing fascination with and concern for Continental European articulations of loyalty and state power both reinforced and challenged existing ideas of loyalty: the rise of Jansenism and the assertion of Gallican liberties in France simultaneously provided a language with which to question the monolithic powers of Rome and develop a model for Catholic loyalty at home. Moreover, increasingly common Protestant encounters with European Catholicism through exile and travel challenged polemical representations of Catholicism: increased access to foreign books, communication with Catholic intellectuals and merchants, and other such encounters suggested a much deeper, considered sense of Catholic loyalty was feasible. In contrast, Ireland’s longer-term engagement with Continental Catholicism proved to be a double-edged sword. Familiarity with the courts and colleges of Europe allowed key voices – including Father Peter Talbot and Father Peter Walsh – to articulate ideas of Catholic loyalty with the added cultural currency of European support. Reliance upon Irish merchants and clergy as vital communication links with Catholic Europe were vital both to the sustaining of the exiled Stuart courts and the security of the Dublin government after the Restoration. Nevertheless, as this paper will show, the place of these Irish Catholics within Europe was frequently misunderstood and misrepresented on all sides across genres of print, oral culture, and political debate. This resulted in a broader failure to find a common language across England and Ireland through which to imagine and implement models of Catholic loyalty.

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