The making of the Irish poor law, 1815-43

By Peter Gray

The making of the Irish poor law, 1815-43

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7649-7
  • Pages: 392
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2009
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Social & cultural history, Poverty & Unemployment, HISTORY / Modern / 18th Century, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Poverty & Homelessness, 18th century, c 1700 to c 1799, General & world history, Social & cultural history, History, Modern History


The making of the Irish poor law, 1815-43 examines the debates preceding and surrounding the 1838 act on the nature of Irish poverty and the responsibilities of society towards it. It traces the various campaigns for a poor law from the later eighteenth century. The nature and internal frictions of the great Irish poor inquiry of 1833-36 are analysed, along with the policy recommendations made by its chair, Archbishop Whately. It considers the aims and limitations of the government's measure and the public reaction to it in Ireland and Britain. Finally, it describes the implementation of the Poor Law between 1838 and 1843 under the controversial direction of George Nicholls.

It will be of particular importance to those with a serious interest in the history of social welfare, of Irish social thought and politics, and of British governance in Ireland in the early nineteenth century.


1. Introduction: The Irish poor and public charity before 1838
2. The positions stated: the cases for and against an Irish poor law, c.1737-1833
3. The campaigns for an Irish poor law, 1826-35
4. The rise and fall of the Whately Commission, 1833-36
5. Russell, Nicholls and the making of the Irish Poor Law Bill, 1835-37
6. The Poor Law Bills in Parliament, 1837-38
7. Public Reaction in Ireland and Britain, I: 1836-37
8. Public Reaction in Ireland and Britain, II: 1837-38
9. Implementation and Adaptation, 1838-43
Conclusion: The Irish Poor Law as Idea and Reality


Peter Gray is Professor of Modern Irish History at Queen's University Belfast

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