BECK index

Britain of Georges I-III 1714-88

by Sanderson Beck

Britain of George I 1714-27
Britain of George II and Walpole 1727-44
Britain and French Wars 1744-60
Britain of George III 1760-67
Britain and the American Crisis 1768-75
Britain and the American War 1775-82
Britain and the Younger Pitt 1782-88
Ireland 1714-89

Britain of George I 1714-27

Britain's Revolution & Wars 1685-1714

      In 1714 about six million people lived in England and Wales. On August 1 Queen Anne died, and the orderly succession of Hanover’s Elector Georg Ludwig proclaimed him King George I of Britain and Ireland as the closest Protestant relative of Anne. George was 54 years old when he arrived on September 18 with his private secretary Jean de Robethon and his courtiers. Fourteen of the eighteen lords justices who had acted as regents were Whigs, though the Tories still controlled Parliament. King George began by dismissing Henry St. John (Viscount Bolingbroke) and Captain-general Ormonde. All but two of the new ministers were Whigs. Charles Townshend became secretary for the northern department and James Stanhope secretary for the southern department. Parliament dissolved on January 5, 1715, and ten days later a royal proclamation called for an election that gave the Whigs a 341-217 advantage. They met in March and impeached four men in June. Bolingbroke and Ormonde had fled to France in March, and Robert Harley, the Earl of Oxford, and Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford, were held for two years in the Tower. Parliament passed the Riot Act in July to give magistrates more power over unlawful assemblies, and the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended for six months. On August 18 an Act of Attainder was passed against Bolingbroke for having joined the exiled James Francis Edward Stuart.
      After Queen Anne’s death Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, urged the Duke of Ormonde, Viscount Bolingbroke, the Earl of Bathurst, and William Wyndham to proclaim the Catholic James Francis Edward Stuart king, but they decided not to do so, thus delaying Jacobite attempts. The Jacobite party had only about 25,000 supporters. John Erskine, Earl of Mar, had favored the Union of Scotland into Great Britain that was achieved in 1707, but in 1713 he proposed repealing the Act of Union. He and Highland chiefs signed a letter of loyalty to George; but after the King snubbed him in public, Mar joined the Jacobites and organized them in the Grampian Highlands on September 6, 1715. That month Wyndham and five other members of the Commons and two peers of the Lords were arrested for plotting a Jacobite uprising in the west. Ormonde’s two attempts to land a force on the coast of Devonshire failed in October and December, and he went back to France. Thomas Forster led some Jacobites from northeast England into Scotland, gathered about 4,500 men, and went to Lancaster in northwest England, but on November 14 at Preston they were surrounded and capitulated to the government’s forces.
      The strongest revolt was in Scotland led by the Earl of Mar who raised an army of 12,000 and fought against a British force of 6,000 led by the second Duke of Argyll at Sheriffmuir on November 13; but Argyll was reinforced by 6,000 Dutch allies in December. On the 22nd the pretender James VIII landed at Peterhead in Scotland, and in January 1716 he set up a court at Perth; but he and Mar fled to France on February 4, and by April the Jacobite rebellion was suppressed. Hundreds of Jacobites were imprisoned; two peers and thirty others were executed, and about 700 were sent to indentured servitude in the West Indies; but in July 1717 Parliament passed the Act of Grace and Free Pardon that granted amnesty to hundreds, though large estates had been confiscated. The Disarming Act of 1716 offered compensation for weapons, but Jacobite clans retained theirs. James took refuge with Pope Clement XII and in 1719 married his god-daughter Maria Clementina Sobieska who gave birth to Charles Edward in 1720 and in 1725 to Henry Benedict Stuart who became a cardinal.
      Robert Walpole became Chancellor of the Exchequer in October 1715 until 1717. Members of Parliament did not want to face an election after three years and so passed the Septennial Act that delayed the elections due in 1718 by four years. Britain made a commercial treaty with Spain in December 1715. English diplomats negotiated an alliance with the Dutch on January 26, 1716 (OS) and another with the Habsburg Emperor Charles VI in May. King George went to Hanover in July until January 1717, leaving his son George advised by Townshend and Walpole. George I never learned English, but his son did and spoke with a German accent. A long negotiation resulted in a treaty with France in November 1716, and it became a Triple Alliance with the Dutch on December 24 (OS). Townshend left, and Walpole resigned in April 1717, making James Stanhope and Charles Spencer, the Earl of Sunderland, the chief ministers. The British army had been increased to 36,000 men by 1716 but was back down to 16,300 by 1718 and to 12,400 in 1721. In 1717 the Golden Lion was the first coffee house in London to admit women. On June 4 the secretive freemasons established their first Grand Lodge in Covent Garden.
      In 1718 Parliament passed a law for the transportation of convicts to Maryland and Virginia where they were sold at auction for the terms of their sentences, and this would go on until the American War of Independence. Also in 1718 the first English bank notes were issued. Many Scots and Irish began emigrating to America. Matthew Prior wrote poetry while in prison 1715-17, and in 1718 published Alma; or, The Progress of the Mind and Solomon, and other Poems on several Occasions. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote “Inoculation Against Smallpox,” about early efforts in which 98% survived. After testing it on eleven charity children and six prisoners whose death sentences were commuted, she gave it to her own daughter and to two of George I’s grandchildren. George I tolerated dissenters, and in January 1719 the Whig Parliament repealed the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts. On April 28 the Commons rejected Sunderland’s Peerage Bill to close the House of Lords and to limit the number of peers.
      In August 1718 Britain, France, the Dutch, and the Austrian Empire formed the Quadruple Alliance against Spain’s Bourbon Felipe V. Stanhope moved between Paris and Madrid to negotiate; but the Spaniards rejected the terms, and 29 British ships led by Admiral George Byng defeated them off Cape Passaro on July 31 (OS), capturing 3,600 men. The Quadruple Alliance declared war against Spain on December 17 (OS). Eight days later the British allied with Hanover, Saxony, Poland, and the Austrian Emperor against Russia and Prussia. A fleet of 27 ships led by the Duke of Ormonde was devastated by a storm near Cape Finisterre on March 29, 1719, and about 1,150 Jacobites were defeated at Glenshiel on June 10. On August 11 (NS) a British fleet of 29 ships led by Admiral George Byng defeated 25 Spanish vessels by sinking, burning, or capturing all but five of them off Cape Passaro near Sicily. In November 1719 Stanhope reported that the King had agreed to send his German advisors back to Hanover. The Swedish ambassador Karl Gyllenborg was suspected of intriguing with Jacobites, but the death of Karl XII in November 1718 reduced the Swedish threat. Stanhope sent John Carteret to Stockholm, and the Quadruple Alliance made peace with Felipe V at The Hague on February 17 (NS), 1720, resolving issues in southern Europe. Stanhope continued to negotiate with Spain, but the British public did not want to give up Gibraltar.
      Walpole in December 1719 gave a speech in Parliament that led to the defeat of the Peerage Bill of ministers Stanhope and Sunderland that would have secured their majority in the lords by limiting it to current families. The Whig Party was split, but on June 11, 1720 Townshend became President of the Council and Walpole Paymaster-General. The Parliament authorized workhouses for petty offenders. George Frideric Handel had moved to England in 1712, and his Water suites had been performed in July 1717. In 1720 the Royal Academy of Music made him director, and his oratorio Esther was performed. In 1721 Nathaniel Bailey published his Universal Etymological Dictionary, and it had several editions.
      The South Sea Company had been formed in 1711 to exploit South American trade. In 1714 the national debt was £52 million with annual interest payments of £3.5 million. In one month in 1719 the share price of the South Sea stock went from £77 to £123.5. In January 1720 Treasury head Sunderland and Parliament were persuaded to accept the South Sea Company’s offer to take over three-fifths of Britain’s national debt of £51,000,000 for a payment of £7,000,000 and receive 5% interest from the government until 1727 and 4% after that. On April 12, 1720 new stock was offered at £300 a share. It rose quickly, and on June 11, 1720 Parliament passed the Bubble Act which prohibited the forming of joint-stock companies unless they had a royal charter, which was expensive and difficult to obtain. In July a new issue sold for £1,000. That month they learned that Law’s Mississippi Bubble had burst in Paris. John Blount and other South Sea directors began secretly selling their stock. In September the stock fell drastically from £700 to £135.
      Those accused of accepting bribes from the Company included two of the King’s mistresses, the Duchess of Kendal and Madame von Platen, as well as Chancellor of the Exchequer John Aislabie, Stanhope’s cousin Charles, and Postmaster James Craggs and his son. Walpole came up with a plan to transfer shares back to the East India Company and the Bank of England. In January 1721 Parliament prohibited South Sea directors from leaving the country, but the Company’s secretary destroyed important evidence and then fled anyway. Parliament expelled four directors and arrested two of them. James Stanhope died of a stroke on February 5 and was succeeded by Walpole’s brother-in-law Townshend as Northern Secretary. The Southern Secretary Craggs died of smallpox; Aislabie resigned and on March 9 was sent to the Tower for having accepted stock to help pass the South Sea Bill. On April 3 Walpole was appointed First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer to restore finances after the South Sea Company’s bubble burst. He restored public credit by equally dividing the South Sea Company’s stock between the East India Company and the Bank of England. Britain joined the March alliance between Spain and France in June, and Townshend resigned on the 21st. An investigation revealed that directors had spent £574,000 bribing government leaders. Also in 1721 Parliament prohibited using imported calicos to help the English textile industry. On March 8, 1722 the first Parliament of George I was dissolved.
      Robert Walpole was born on August 26, 1676. He learned Latin well enough to converse with King George I. He drank with others and discussed hunting. In 1701 he became a member of Parliament from Castle Rising, and he chose the Tower rather than become a Tory in 1710. He supported writers who wrote pamphlets favoring his views, and he urged Parliament to censor the theater. Walpole declined a peerage which strengthened his control in the Commons but weakened his influence in the Lords.
      After Sunderland died on April 19, 1722, Robert Walpole became in effect England’s first prime minister for the next twenty years. That month he learned of another Jacobite plot, and the next month Bishop Atterbury’s secretary Kelly was put in the Tower. Atterbury was arrested on September 24 for contacting the pretender, and in the trial of Christopher Layer in November the plot was exposed. Parliament met on October 3 and two weeks later suspended the Habeas Corpus Act for one year. Roman Catholics and non-jurors had to pay a special tax of 5 shillings per pound. Layer was executed in May 1723, and that month Parliament banished Bishop Atterbury. Bolingbroke was pardoned and returned from exile in June but was not allowed to sit in the House of Lords. Walpole’s vigilance helped prevent any more Jacobite plots during his long ministry, and he reduced the duties on tea. On October 2 Britain banned trading with the Austrian Ostend Company. Also in 1723 White Kennett in his satirical poem “Armour” referred to condoms that could free English wives from a “big belly and the squalling brat.” Jews in Britain were allowed to take oaths without saying “on the true faith of a Christian.”
      Rob Roy MacGregor (1671-1734) had fought at Kiliecrankie in 1689. In 1712 he sold his cattle but was not paid and went after the buyer. The Duke of Montrose outlawed him and confiscated his land, evicting his wife and children. Rob Roy fought against Montrose and took to cattle rustling and robbing. He became an ally of the Duke of Argyll and fought for Mar in 1715 and with the Jacobites at Glenshiel in 1719. In 1723 Daniel Defoe published the biographical novel Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue. In June 1725 Scots in the Lowlands rioted against the imposition of the Malt Tax. That year General George Wade disarmed the Highlands, and in the next eleven years he supervised the construction of Fort George and Fort Augustus as well as 250 miles of metallic roads.
      Thomas Parker had been Chief Justice of the King’s Bench 1710-18 and was made Baron of Macclesfield in 1714. In 1718 he was appointed Chancellor with a pension for life, but in 1725 he was impeached, removed, and fined £30,000 for taking more than £100,000 in bribes for judicial offices. Efforts were made to reform the Chancery as the fees gave the wealthy great advantage over the poor.
      Thomas Guy made a fortune selling books and increased it by investing in the South Sea Company. He contributed to St. Thomas hospital in London, and after his death in 1724 his legacy funded nearby Guy’s Hospital that Parliament chartered in 1725. Within a decade they were admitting nearly 2,000 patients annually. In April 1725 the London Journal reported that seven homosexuals were arrested, and in May three others were hanged for sodomy. Police had discovered twenty clubs where homosexuals met. London had nearly 2,000 coffee houses.
      In 1723 Walpole expanded the bonded warehouse system so that re-exported goods paid no duties. He began applying it to tea, coffee, and cocoa, but his attempt to extend it to wine and tobacco ten years later would be blocked by public opposition. Walpole implemented the mercantile policy of importing commodities and exporting manufactured goods. British exports would increase from about £8 million in 1720 to £15 million by 1763. Acts were passed in 1721 and 1726 so that justices of the peace could keep wages low through regulation and by prohibiting workers from combining to get better pay and labor conditions. On April 3, 1724 Carteret and Townshend were dismissed. Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle, became Southern Secretary, and his brother Henry Pelham was appointed Secretary of War. Carteret was sent to govern Ireland in October. When George I became king, England had eight provincial newspapers; but by the end of his reign there were seventeen more. In December 1726 Bolingbroke and William Pulteney, Earl of Bath, began editing the journal, The Craftsman, to criticize Walpole’s government.
      In September 1723 Townshend had negotiated two marriages and a defensive alliance with Prussia’s Friedrich Wilhelm, but difficulties prevented a treaty. He went with King George to Hanover in the second half of 1725, and on September 3 they included France in their military alliance. Townshend also allied Britain with the Dutch in August 1726 and with Sweden and Denmark in 1727 after Spain’s armed forces began besieging Gibraltar and attacking British ships in February 1727. The cost of getting elected to Parliament had increased so much that in 1727 the Earl of Egmont spent £900 to win his seat. That year Quakers began a campaign to abolish the slave trade. Parson Stephen Hales published Vegetable Staticks, initiating the study of plant physiology.

Britain of George II and Walpole 1727-44

      George I died of a heart attack at Osnabrück while traveling to Hanover on June 11, 1727, and four days later his 43-year-old son Georg August was proclaimed King George II. Parliament was dissolved in July 17. George and his wife Caroline were crowned King and Queen on October 11 with four anthems composed by George Frideric Handel. She helped persuade him to retain Robert Walpole as first minister, and he increased the Civil List from £700,000 a year to £800,000 for the King’s expenses and £100,000 for Caroline. Whigs won the election of 1727, giving Walpole 415 members against 128 Tories and 15 opposing Whigs. Viscount Bolingbroke provided a house for opposition leaders to meet including the skilled debater William Pulteney, his brother Daniel, and William Wyndham. William Pulteney criticized the government for retaining a war-time army during a time of peace. Yet by 1727 Walpole had used the sinking fund to pay off £8.5 million of the national debt. He also reduced the interest on it to 4% and negotiated 3% for new loans. By abolishing export duties on some raw materials while putting heavy duties on imports he increased home production. Walpole reduced the land tax rate from three shillings to two and then to one (1732-33) with the maximum of four shillings during wars (1727 and 1740-41). He reduced some tariffs especially on pepper.
      George II’s first Parliament began on January 23, 1728. His oldest son Frederick arrived in December and was made Prince of Wales and a peer in the House of Lords; but he quarreled with his parents and encouraged their opponents. They were also supported by the talented writers, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, Richard Glover, and Henry Fielding. The Craftsman began publishing in December 1726 and for the next ten years criticized Walpole’s policies which were supported by the London Journal and other government publications. Bolingbroke advocated a cross-party ministry under the Hanoverian king. Walpole was satirized in Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels and in Gay’s Beggar’s Opera; but Walpole got Gay’s next play Polly closed. In 1728 Ephraim Chambers published his Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences in two volumes.
      In 1728 Spain tentatively agreed to stop trying to drive the British away from Gibraltar, and Northern Secretary Townshend negotiated a peace treaty with Spain that was signed at Seville on November 9, 1729. On February 10, 1730 Wyndham accused the government of not protecting the national interest at Dunkirk by letting the French rebuild its fortifications. Townshend was forced to resign in May, and diplomats persuaded the French to demolish their works. John Carteret returned from Ireland in 1730, and he was supported by Philip Stanhope (Earl of Chesterfield), Charles Paulet (Duke of Bolton), and Richard Temple (Viscount Cobham). Yet in 1730 Walpole was able to decrease the armed forces, reduce the land tax to two shillings, and abolish the salt tax. Two cases of corruption were exposed. Trustees of the Charitable Corporation had taken funds intended to relieve the poor, and the Derwentwater Trust had been exploited by men selling forfeited Jacobite estates.
      In May 1730 Charles Townshend resigned as Northern Secretary and began rotating crops annually in a four-year cycle—first: wheat or oats, second: barley or oats, third: clover, rye, vetches (legumes), rutabaga, and kale, and fourth: turnips with sheep used to eat them, trample and fertilize the soil. His crops increased 30%, persuading his skeptical neighbors. Jethro Tull had invented the seed drill in 1701, and in 1714 he brought his horse-hoe from France to England. In 1731 he published Horse-Hoeing Husbandry, and he promoted his plow that uprooted and buried weeds. Then he developed a seed drill that planted seeds in parallel rows, saving seed and labor. Such innovations helped increase agricultural productivity in the 18th century tenfold. The need for farm labor decreased, and many workers moved to towns. Peasant workers were paid little. The concentration of wealth was mitigated somewhat in England by taxes and charity. Expenditures to relieve the poor increased from £600,000 in 1742 to £2,000,000 in 1784. Most of England’s great forests disappeared in the 18th century, and timber had to be imported from Scandinavia and America.
      The industrial revolution had begun about 1712 when the ironmonger Thomas Newcomen developed the first workable steam engine, and it was used to power pumps. Heating coke was used to smelt iron ore. Thomas Lombe established a factory with three hundred workers operating 26,000 wheels for throwing silk, and in 1718 he obtained a patent for three engines that could wind raw silk, spin it, and then twist it into organzine. In 1728 the first rolling mill moved iron between cylinders to compress it into shapes. In 1740 Benjamin Huntsman began using clay-pot crucibles to cast steel. In factories people worked six days a week for about twelve hours a day with an hour and a half off for meals. Male weavers were paid six shillings a week, women five shillings and sixpence, boys two shillings sixpence, and pre-teen girls one shilling sixpence or less.
      In 1731 English was introduced as the language of the law courts. That year a half pint of rum became the daily ration for sailors in the British Royal Navy. In 1732 Walpole revived the salt tax, believing it was most just; but many believed it hurt the poor more than taxes on luxuries. Parliament passed a tax on tobacco in March, and that year Britain banned the export of hats from its American colonies. Hoping to reduce the land tax further to one shilling per pound, on April 4, 1733 Walpole proposed extending excise taxes, but after much opposition he withdrew the proposed tax on tobacco and wine a week later. Walpole wrote the royal speech proroguing Parliament on June 11. In the 1734 election 136 seats were contested, and troops had to be sent to keep order in the Welsh marches. The Whigs won again, but the Tories increased their members to 149.
      From 1726 to 1732 the British helped defend Hanover by subsidizing 12,000 troops at Hesse-Cassel which increased to 19,000 in the 1730s. At Vienna on March 16, 1731 the British renewed their alliance with the Austrian Empire and would do so again in 1738. In 1732 James Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia which led to boundary disputes with the Spaniards. Between 1714 and 1733 Spaniards seized or pillaged 180 English ships, though in the next four years they only took 20 more. On February 1, 1733 the St. James’s Evening Post reported that 414 of the 666 merchant ships entering Cadiz harbor in 1732 were British.
      In 1733 Parliament taxed British colonists on molasses, sugar, and rum imported from non-British colonies. Smugglers took African slaves to Spanish colonies, traded them for molasses and sugar which they sold to distillers in New England so that they could buy more slaves in Africa. Britain along with the Dutch, Sweden, and Denmark remained neutral during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35). In 1734 Walpole told Queen Caroline, “There are fifty thousand men slain this year in Europe, and not one Englishman.”1 In June 1735 Parliament passed the Engraving Copyright Act to protect artists such as William Hogarth from pirating of their works. Hogarth’s major satirical paintings and prints include The Beggar’s Opera (1728), A Rake’s Progress (1732), The Good Samaritan (1736), Marriage a la Mode (1743), Industry and Idleness (1747), The Four Stages of Cruelty (1751), and Four Prints of an Election (1755).
      In 1736 in the case of Middleton v. Croft the Chief Justice Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke, exempted laymen from the Church’s jurisdiction, though that year and again three years later the Commons failed to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts. In July 1736 Irish building workers felt excluded by English labor and rioted in East London, and a tax on gin provoked protests for cheap liquor. Captain Porteous while drunk had commanded his soldiers who killed eight people demonstrating against the execution of a smuggler. He was convicted and reprieved, but on September 7 at Edinburgh a mob lynched Porteous. Also in 1736 the Witchcraft Act of James I was repealed, and the Smuggling Act prohibited the carrying of arms. Claudius Aymand performed the first appendix operation recorded in medical literature.
      Highways were improved with 25 turnpike acts in the 1730s and 37 in the 1740s, taking tolls to pay for them, and there would be 170 acts in the 1750s and again in the 1760s. In 1735 destroying a turnpike was made a capital crime, and in 1736 a man was hanged for attacking the Ledbury turnpike. People demanded that the stage-coaches travel faster, and this required many more horses.
      In July 1737 Prince Frederick quarreled with his father, George II, and with his wife he left Hampton Court to lead the opposition. The death of Queen Caroline in November distressed Walpole. That year the Licensing Act limited the number of theaters in London and required all plays to be approved or censored by the Lord Chamberlain before performance. In February 1738 William Pitt began opposing Walpole. The Tory Bolingbroke visited England and wrote The Patriot King which he entrusted to Alexander Pope who published it secretly.
      In 1739 potatoes were cultivated in Scotland and became popular, improving the diet of peasants. Walpole used the sinking fund for purposes other than paying off the national debt. The debt of £54 million in 1714 had been reduced to only £46 million by 1739, but Walpole decreased the annual service charge by half by lowering the interest. Britain was becoming accustomed to having a permanent national debt. That year clockmaker and tool-maker Benjamin Huntsman began casting Sheffield steel in clay-pot crucibles. Gin and other liquor was sold without restriction, and some critics warned that drunkenness was demoralizing the British.
      The British smuggler Captain Robert Jenkins had been boarded by Spaniards who cut off part of his ear in 1731, and he testified to a House of Commons committee about this in March 1738; but this war between Britain and Spain was not called the “War of Jenkins’ Ear” until Thomas Carlyle did so in 1858. Walpole delayed declaring war on Spain. In January 1739 a joint commission reported in the Convention of El Pardo that the British had suffered from Spanish damages estimated at £200,000; but they subtracted £60,000 for the Spanish losses at Passaro, £45,000 for prompt cash, and £68,000 owed by the South Sea Company for its asiento to sell slaves to Spanish colonies, leaving only £27,000, and they could not agree on the right of search nor on the boundaries between Florida and Georgia. Walpole opposed war but could not dissuade the Southern Secretary Newcastle, who ordered the British envoy Benjamin Keene in Madrid to stop negotiating. The British Cabinet declared war against Spain on October 8, 1739.
      After two days of fighting the British led by Captain Edward Vernon captured Porto Bello in Panama on November 22. His large fleet in the West Indies first attacked Cartagena in Colombia in March 1740. Using James Thomson’s poem, Thomas Arne composed the music for the patriotic song, Rule Britannia, and it was first sung publicly in London at a dinner honoring Vernon. On February 13, 1741 Robert Walpole spoke in the House of Commons about the “balance of power” in foreign policy. On April 9 Parliament provided £300,000 in credit so that George II could support with a subsidy the Habsburgs and Archduchess Maria Theresa.
      Under the incompetent General Thomas Wentworth an armada of more than a hundred ships with 27,000 men led by Admiral Vernon besieged Cartagena from March to May; but the British lost about 10,000 men killed mostly by disease while the Spanish had only 800 killed. News of this disaster led to the fall of Walpole’s government. In the general election that ended on June 11 many desired a more imperialistic policy, and Walpole barely maintained a ministerial majority with 286 members opposed by 131 Whigs and 136 Tories. On October 9 the British mediated a secret treaty between Austrians and Prussians. On January 21, 1742 William Pulteney’s motion to set up a committee to investigate the conduct of the war was defeated by only three votes. Walpole decided to accept the peerage as Earl of Orford and resigned on February 11.
      Henry Pelham became prominent in the Commons, but on February 16 George II appointed Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington, prime minister and at the Treasury with Carteret as Northern Secretary. In April 1742 the British attacked Panama again. George II made a treaty at Berlin in July. In August the British navy prevented Neapolitans and Spaniards from invading Lombardy. On November 7 Britain formed an alliance with Prussia against France. On December 11 British diplomacy persuaded Russia to remain neutral, and they agreed on a mutual defense treaty if either was attacked by their enemies—Britain by Spain or Russia by Sweden. That month the Commons approved paying Hanoverian troops to defend Austria. Also in 1742 Edward Young’s long poem, The Complaint—Or, Night Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality, included the line “Procrastination is the thief of time.” Handel composed the hymn, “Joy to the World.”
      In 1743 the British navy raided the coast of Venezuela, but they were defeated at La Guaiara on March 2 and at Puerto Cabello on April 16. On June 16 (OS) the British and Hanoverians led by George II himself helped the Austrians defeat the French at Dettingen in Bavaria. Wilmington died on July 2, and on August 27 he was replaced by Henry Pelham. He was assisted by his older brother Thomas, Duke of Newcastle, who became leader in the Lords in 1744. Opposition leaders Chesterfield and William Pitt were brought into a broad coalition. Chesterfield was appointed a special ambassador to the Dutch and was sent off to govern Ireland in January 1745.
      On September 13 (NS), 1743 the British mediated the treaty at Worms between the Austrians and Savoy-Sardinia and provided £300,000 for the ceding of Finale to Savoy and annual subsidies of £200,000 to their allies. During the winter of 1743-44 Pitt in the Commons criticized the government and urged George II to stop paying Hanoverian troops. On February 14, 1744 Parliament requested 6,000 Dutch troops. On the 22nd (NS) the British Navy fought Spain and France at the battle of Toulon, but neither side won.

      In 1733 John Kay got a patent for a wheeled shuttle to improve the weaving of the hand loom. He tried to install it at a mill at Colchester, but weavers were afraid of losing their jobs. He went to Leeds and in 1738 sold the use of his flying shuttle to cloth manufacturers who did not pay him. He sued them but went broke from the legal expenses. In 1753 he returned to Bury where rioters destroyed his home and threatened to kill him. However, the French government gave him a pension for his invention, and by 1760 the flying shuttle was widely used. In 1738 the Huguenot immigrant Lewis Paul patented a roller spinning machine based on ideas by John Wyatt. They sold their patent to Samuel Johnson’s friend, Edward Cave, who installed five machines in a Northampton factory in 1742, replacing hand looms.
      Griffith Jones (1684-1761) became the rector of Llanddowror in Carmarthenshire, Wales in 1716 and worked with the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge. In 1731 he founded circulating schools to teach reading, and by 1738 he had established 37 schools in South Wales with 2,400 students. By 1761 there were 218 schools with about 200,000 pupils. However, disputes over funds that Jones and the philanthropist Bridget Bevan (1698-1779) bequeathed for the schools led to litigation and resulted in their being closed in 1780. Her case was tied up in Chancery, and £30,000 was not released until 1804.
      Admiral George Anson (1697-1762) sailed around the world from September 1740 to June 1744. They began with 1,854 men; but after a mutiny, fighting Spaniards, and mostly because of scurvy, only 188 men returned, though prize money for capturing a galleon made him rich. In 1747 Scottish naval surgeon James Lind began experimenting with food and discovered that citrus fruit cures scurvy. He described this remedy in 1753 in his Treatise on the Scurvy, and in 1757 he advised better hygiene to prevent typhus and other diseases.

Britain and French Wars 1744-60

      On March 15 (NS), 1744 France’s Louis XV declared war on Britain. John Carteret’s mother died in October, making him Earl Granville; but he resigned on November 24 and was replaced by William, Earl of Harrington, as Whigs took over. The navy was allowed to use press gangs to force men to serve on ships, and according to Admiral Edward Vernon those sailors were transferred from ship to ship and were not allowed on land. Henry Carey wrote the song God Save the King. On January 8 (NS), 1745 Britain, Austria, Saxony, and the Netherlands formed an alliance against Russia. On May 11 the British led by George II’s son William, Duke of Cumberland, with their Dutch and imperial allies were defeated by the French at Fontenoy near Tournai. On June 16 (OS) the British captured Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in French Canada. By 1745 the British army had expanded to 74,000 men.
      Archibald Campbell had been appointed to the Privy Council in 1711, and in 1743 he became the 3rd Duke of Argyll and the most influential political figure in Scotland by mediating with the British. On December 23 James Francis Edward declared his son Charles Edward Stuart prince regent. He gathered 3,500 guns, 2,400 swords, 20 cannon, and £4,000 in gold coins, and on July 23, 1745 “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and his supporters landed in the Western Isles of Scotland. They gathered an army and proclaimed his father James VIII. George II returned from Hanover on August 31. Four days later he ordered ten British battalions in the Austrian Netherlands to return, and a reward of £30,000 was offered for the capture of Charles Edward. The Jacobite rebels seized Edinburgh on September 17, and four days later they quickly defeated the loyal troops led by General John Cope at Prestonpans. The Jacobites crossed into England and occupied Carlisle on November 18. Cumberland brought 5,000 troops from the southern Netherlands and on December 4 reached Derby, where Charles was residing. Two days later the Jacobites began retreating. The British besieged Carlisle on December 21, and the English Jacobites surrendered it on the 30th. The Highland army of Jacobites marched back to Scotland.
      On January 17, 1746 at Falkirk 6,000 Scots fought 15,000 British, and each side had about 2,000 men killed. The Jacobites gave up a short siege of Fort William on April 3, and on the 16th they suffered nearly 2,000 casualties and were defeated in the final battle at Culloden. Cumberland ordered rebels arrested and freed those put in jails by the Jacobites. The British captured and imprisoned 3,471 Jacobites; 120 men including 40 British deserters were executed, and more than 600 died in prison; 936 were shipped to the West Indies as slaves; 121 were banished; and 1,287 were exchanged or released. Bonnie Prince Charlie, disguised as a maid, escaped on June 29 and fled to France in September. Tobias Smollett commemorated the defeated revolt with his ballad, The Tears of Scotland. The Disarming Act was revived, and kilts and pipes were banned for a while. Many were pardoned, but lands of attainted traitors were confiscated. Order was soon restored in Scotland, and many schools were established. The British banned wearing the tartan until 1782. Jacobism never revived except in the novels of Walter Scott.
      In August 1745 the British had allied with Prussia against France. In September 1746 the French took Madras in India from the British East India Company. French armies gained territory in Flanders, and Cumberland’s allied army of 60,000 British, Hanoverians, and Dutch was defeated on July 2, 1747 at Lauffeld. However, the British navy was victorious off Finisterre in May and off Belle-Isle in October, giving them control of the English Channel and the Atlantic. The ministerial Whigs were successful in the election of 1747 as they had 338 ministerial supporters opposed by 117 Tories and 97 Whigs.
      By 1748 Britain was spending £1,750,000 on subsidies to pay the Dutch, Hessians, Austrians, Saxons, Hanoverians, Russians, and Sardinians. In the peace treaty at Aix-la-Chapelle on October 18 (NS) the French gave up gains in the southern Netherlands and Madras and recognized the Protestant succession in Britain, expelling the pretender James III, and Britain gave back Louisbourg in Cape Breton. This peace treaty helped Britain decrease the war budget which had become £9,819,345 to £2,628,356 and the subsidies to £30,000 in 1750. The land tax was reduced to three shillings in 1749 and to two in 1752. Since 1739 the British had spent £6,600,000 on the wars. The national debt before the wars had started was £48 million, but by 1749 it was over £77 million. When Pitt became Paymaster of the Forces and a Privy Councilor in May 1746, he refused to accept any interest on the money he handled. He served as Paymaster until he was dismissed in November 1755.
      In 1749 at the age of 71 the conservative Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, published his Letters on the Spirit of Patriotism and suggested that the different classes of society could find a “harmony of interests.” The Iron Act of 1750 prohibited British colonists from manufacturing iron products, but they could trade bar and pig iron for manufactured goods. The Americans generally ignored the law, and by 1776 had as many iron mills as England. On June 17, 1750 John Carteret returned to the cabinet as President of the Council, and on September 13 Britain joined the Austro-Russian alliance against Prussia. Thomas Gray published An Elegy Wrote in a Country Churchyard.
      Chesterfield initiated the Calendar Act of 1750 so that the British could adopt the more accurate Gregorian calendar referred to as New Style (NS). On January 1, 1752 a new year began. Previously the British year had begun on March 25. In 1752 the new calendar skipped the days September 3-13 to make up the eleven-day difference, putting the British on the same calendar as most of Europe on September 14.
      In 1752 medical officer John Pringle published his Observations on the Diseases of the Army, stimulating reforms in hygiene to reduce typhus which he called “gaol fever” and “hospital fever.” Only those who can afford to get a special act of Parliament could be legally divorced. British marriages to be legal had to be celebrated by an Anglican clergyman after publishing banns in church for three Sundays, but they made an exception for Jews and Quakers. Chancellor Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753 required parental consent for persons under 21. The Jewish Naturalization Act was approved by George II on July 7, but it aroused so much opposition that it was repealed the next year. The British Museum was founded in January 1753 when Hans Sloane died and left his library of 50,000 books to Britain; but it did not open to the public until 1759.
      In 1750 Voltaire estimated that Great Britain had 10 million people compared to 20 million in France, 22 million in Germany and Austria, 10 million in Russia, 8 million in Spain and Portugal, 6 million in Poland, and 3 million each in Turkey, Sweden, Denmark-Norway, and the Netherlands. London was the largest city in the world with 725,000 people with Paris next at 675,000. By then coal-burning in homes and factories darkened the sky over London. In 1736 they had installed 15,000 oil lamps to burn through the night. In 1755 Parliament authorized the Sankey Brook canal to help Liverpool get cheap coal, and the Duke of Bridgewater had a canal constructed from 1759 to 1761 to connect his coal mines in Worsley to Manchester. Many more canals were built in England until they extended 2,223 miles by 1790. The Quaker pharmacist William Cookworthy combined kaolin and petuntse to make fine porcelain by 1756. Sea captain John Campbell invented the sextant for navigating in 1757.
      In 1747-48 the British government and the Virginia House of Burgesses had agreed to give Virginia landowners and London merchants of the Ohio Company a charter for a third of a million acres. On April 17, 1754 a French force of 500 men took Fort Prince George from 40 British at the junction of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers and renamed it Fort Duquesne. On May 28 Col. George Washington led a small force that defeated a French detachment in a surprise attack but had to surrender at hastily built Fort Necessity on July 3. Britain had less than 900 soldiers in North America and sent Major-General Edward Braddock with 1,459 men, but they were ambushed by the French and native Americans, suffered 977 casualties, and had to retreat.
      Prime minister Henry Pelham died March 6, 1754 and was replaced by his older brother Thomas, Duke of Newcastle. He agreed to provide a £100,000 subsidy to Russia, and the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture, and Commerce was founded. The Tories spent £40,000 trying to defeat the Whigs in the 1754 elections. On November 16, his 46th birthday, Pitt married 33-year-old Hester Grenville, restoring his physical and mental health. One year later Henry Fox became Whig leader in the Commons and Southern Secretary. On July 8, 1755 Britain broke off diplomatic relations with France. On September 19 the British agreed to give Russia annual subsidies for use of their troops. Pitt criticized Newcastle and Fox for this in the Commons, and Pitt, Chancellor of the Exchequer Henry Bilson-Legge, and Navy Treasurer George Grenville were formally dismissed in November.
      On January 16, 1756 in the Convention of Westminster the British formed a defensive alliance with Friedrich II of Prussia who was concerned about Russia and Austria. Britain declared war on France on May 17, and that month the Austrian Empire signed a treaty of alliance with France at Versailles. On May 20 Admiral John Byng retreated after a short battle with the French who then took over Minorca when the British garrison surrendered on June 28. Byng was tried by a court martial and eventually executed on March 14, 1757. In June 1756 the British surrendered Calcutta to Siraj ud-Daula, an enemy of the East India Company. In August the French defeated a smaller British force and took over Fort Oswego in New York. On November 13 Southern Secretary Fox resigned, and Pitt succeeded him on December 4. Although Newcastle had a majority, Pitt was able to govern and communicated with George II through the King’s mistress, Lady Yarmouth.
      In February 1757 Pitt gained approval by the Commons for £200,000 for an Army of Observation to help Prussia defend Hanover, and the subsidy to Russia was ended. On April 6 George II dismissed Pitt and asked Fox to form a ministry under the Duke of Cumberland. This proved difficult, and Horace Walpole called this three-month interval the “interministerium.” Charles Townshend and his brother George sponsored a Militia Bill supported by Pitt and the Tories that became law on June 28. The next day a ministry was formed with Pitt as Southern Secretary and Newcastle at the Treasury. Fox was given the lucrative position as Paymaster. The admiralty ordered pursers to provide roots and greens to seamen with their fresh meat. Montcalm’s French army drove the British out of Fort William Henry by Lake George on August 9.
      Cumberland left to fight in Germany but was defeated in the battle at Hastenbeck on July 26, 1757 by the larger French army. He signed the Convention of Klosterzeven on September 8 that let the French army occupy Hanover. Cumberland was recalled and dismissed from his position as Captain-General, and George II changed his will to remove his son’s control over a large fund. On October 7 the Cabinet agreed to pay for an Army of Observation in Hanover if the Convention was disavowed. After Prussia’s smaller army decisively defeated the French and Austrians at Rossbach on November 5, Pitt and Friedrich II persuaded George to revoke the Convention. In 1757 the British navy and privateers captured 390 ships with 202 condemned as prizes, and they held in prison more than 10,000 French seamen. That year John Brown published An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times to explain how commerce increases the accumulation of wealth by property owners.
      Pitt supported the Militia Act that reduced the British militia to 32,340 troops, but Newcastle and his friends believed it was intended to restore Tory influence in the counties. Because of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 Scotland was excluded from the Militia Act of 1757. A man could be exempt from the ballot by hiring a substitute for £10, and officers tended to be Tory country-gentlemen. The bill passed the Commons but was defeated in the Lords, though it eventually became law in June 1758. Pitt’s brother-in-law Grenville sponsored a Navy Bill that was also defeated by Newcastle in 1757, but it passed in 1758. In India on June 23, 1757 Col. Robert Clive led the British to victory over Mughal forces under Siraj ud-Daulah and some French artillery at Palashi (Plassey). In France in September a British attack on Rochefort failed.
      On April 11, 1758 Britain promised Prussia a subsidy of £670,000, and on June 23 the British and their German allies defeated the French at Krefeld. An attack on St. Malo in June destroyed 30 privateers, and the British raided Cherbourg in August; but they were defeated near Saint Cast on September 11, suffering 3,000 casualties as the French took 800 prisoners. In Canada the British led by Field Marshall Jeffery Amherst besieged Louisbourg on June 8 and captured it on July 26, though on July 8 General George Howe was killed during General James Abercrombie’s failed attack on Fort Carillon in Ticonderoga. In the fall General John Forbes led a British force of about 7,000 men that captured Fort Duquesne and renamed it Fort Pitt. After a judge allowed the impressment of a man into the military, a new Habeas Corpus Bill passed the Commons on April 24 but was blocked by Hardwicke and Newcastle in the House of Lords.
      At the beginning of the Seven Years’ War the British had 58,000 seamen, but only 17,000 were in the navy. By 1759 the British had 95,000 men in the army and 80,000 in the navy, and the navy’s budget increased from £3,250,000 the previous year to £5,000,000. In the Second Treaty of Westminster the British promised to send troops to support Prince Ferdinand in Prussia, and he and these allies won an important victory over the French at Minden in August 1759. Also that month the French Toulon fleet was defeated off Cape Lagos, and three months later the British led by Edward Hawke destroyed six ships at Quiberon Bay, killing about 2,500 as many men drowned.
      On September 13 the British took over Quebec as the young Major-General James Wolf and General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm died. In April 1760 a French army of 5,000 men had besieged Quebec, and 3,800 British soldiers were defeated in a battle; but the French lifted the siege and went to Montreal where they surrendered to the British on September 8. British beat the French at Warburg on July 31.
      In India in May 1759 a British force had begun attacking the French at Fort Wandiwash; but they were reinforced by Col. Eyre Coote and defeated the French there on January 22, 1760. Coote’s army also besieged Pondicherry, and the French surrendered on January 16, 1761. King George II died of a heart attack on October 25, 1760.
      Between 1700 and 1750 England gained 34 new spas. In 1750 coal provided 61% of the energy in England. By 1760 there were 8,000 justices of the peace in Britain implementing social policies. That year British merchant capacity was about 500,000 tons with exports worth £16 million and imports of £11 million. The British exported textiles (mostly of wool), metal goods, tin, pottery, and cured fish and re-exported tobacco, sugar, Indian calicoes, and leather. In 1760 British exports to America were worth £2 million, and government expenditures were about £15.5 million.
      Edmund Burke was born in Dublin to a Protestant father and Catholic mother, and he went to a boarding school run by Quakers in May 1741, entered Trinity College at Dublin in April 1744, and graduated in 1748. In 1750 he went to London to study law but dropped out to travel and to write on politics, philosophy, and history. In May 1756 he anonymously published A Vindication of Natural Society : A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind which parodied the conservative views of the late Viscount Bolingbroke so well that some thought that he had written it, contrasting a natural society recently recommended by Rousseau to the current European culture corrupted by religion and lamenting the millions killed by governments’ wars. Yet the evils of men require government; but in practice he found that aristocracy and democracy are not much better than despotism, and a mixture is torn apart by factions. The poor have to work like slaves while the rich are corrupted by idleness. In early April 1757 Burke published An Account of the European Settlements in America. Three weeks later appeared anonymously his completed Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful that examined the relations between esthetic perception, feelings, and imagination leading to the appreciation of beauty and the romantic compulsion of the sublime. Burke also worked on a short history of England and he controlled The Annual Register and its reporting of world events from 1759 to 1788. In 1759 he became secretary to William Gerard Hamilton, a Member of Parliament, until 1764.
      In 1758 William Blackstone began delivering at Oxford his Commentaries on the Laws of England, and they were published in four volumes 1765-69. The volumes on the history of common law covered rights of persons, rights of things (property), private wrongs (civil suits), and public wrongs (criminal law). For many decades these works would be considered a good introduction to the study of English constitutional law.
      In 1760 Laurence Sterne began publishing his humorous novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, that would especially influence German literature. Scottish James MacPherson published Ossian, claiming that he had translated ancient poems from Gaelic, but he had written the poetry himself. Also that year Josiah Wedgwood established his pottery works at Etruria in Staffordshire.

Britain of George III 1760-67

      King George III (r. 1760-1820) was born in England and was the son of George II’s son Frederick, who had died in 1751. George celebrated his 21st birthday on June 4, 1759 and took his seat in the House of Lords in November. James Stuart, Earl of Bute, had been his tutor since 1755 and persuaded George to give up Lady Sarah Lennox and to marry in September 1759 Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, niece of Friedrich II of Prussia. She accepted the Anglican faith and learned English quickly. George III was proclaimed king on October 26, 1760.
      William Pitt’s war policy continued, and on November 11 the cabinet approved an expedition to take Belle Isle between Labrador and Newfoundland. One week later George III told Parliament, “Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain,” and he never visited Hanover in his long life. He was granted an income of £800,000 for court, civil and foreign services. That month Israel Mauduit in his Considerations on the German War exposed the ruinous cost of war in Europe and argued that only colonial war could be profitable. Prime Minister Newcastle was shocked to learn in December that George had appointed five Tories to the royal bedchamber. George intended to rule without a party. On the 31st the cabinet agreed to transfer the army in Canada to the West Indies.
      On March 25, 1761 George III made Bute the Northern Secretary and a peer in the Lords in May. That year British expenses increased by four million to £19.5 million, and £12 million had to be borrowed. On September 15 they recalled from Paris their peace envoy Hans Stanley. Also in 1761 James Brindley and the Duke of Bridgewater created the Worsley canal that reduced the price of coal by half in Manchester which six years later was connected by water to Liverpool. Physician John Hill reported that he found six cases of “polypusses” (cancer) because of excessive use of tobacco as snuff. The enclosure of more land to pasture sheep drove off peasants and raised grain prices. The Equitable Life Assurance Society was founded in 1762.
      The British armed forces continued their successes against France by taking Dominica in June 1761, Martinique, Grenada, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia early in 1762, and Belle Isle on June 8. William Pitt and the French ambassador Duc de Choiseul began peace negotiations in the spring of 1761. Bute reduced the expenditures aiding Prince Ferdinand’s army and suspended Friedrich II’s subsidy. Pitt and Richard Temple urged the Council to declare war on Spain in September; but the Council did not agree, and Pitt resigned on October 5 and was given an annuity of £3,000 and a peerage for his wife as Lady Chatham. On December 26 the British decided to send 6,000 troops to aid Portugal, and on January 4, 1762 Britain declared war on Spain and Naples. The Duke of Newcastle complained, and after 37 years in the cabinet he resigned from the Treasury on May 26 and was replaced by Bute. On May 29 Bute founded the Briton that was written by Tobias Smollett. A week later John Wilkes started the North Briton. The ministry responded by beginning the Auditor on June 12. Bute in October persuaded George III to make Henry Fox the ministry’s leader in the House of Commons.
      The British had resumed negotiation in December 1761, and on November 3, 1762 Choiseul, Bute, and the Spanish ambassador Grimaldi signed the Preliminary Articles at Fontainebleau. The French ceded to Britain all of Canada, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio territory. The British also retained their conquests of St. Vincent, Tobago, Dominica, Grenada, and the Grenadines in the West Indies along with Senegal in Africa, and they got Minorca back in exchange for Belle Isle and held onto Clive’s gains in India. To France the British returned Guadeloupe, Martinique, Marie Galante, and St. Lucia in the West Indies, restored French fishing rights in Newfoundland, and Goree in Africa. France also agreed to evacuate Germany. Spain left Portugal and gave Florida to the British to get back Havana and was given back Manila which had recently been taken. Britain now possessed all of North America east of the Mississippi River with fifteen colonies on the east coast from New Foundland to Georgia.
      The Treaty of Paris was debated by Parliament on December 9, and it was opposed by the Duke of Grafton, Newcastle, Hardwicke, and the bandaged Pitt who spoke for more than three hours; but the treaty was approved 319-65 and was signed on February 10, 1763, ending the Seven Years’ War, the first war fought in so many colonies around the world. In 1762 the British had 120,000 men in their armed forces, and they were also paying 66,000 foreign troops. Britain spent an average of £13.7 million annually on the Seven Years’ War, and the national debt increased from £72 million to £134 million. In 1763 Britain reduced the army to 17,500 men in Britain, 12,000 in Ireland, 10,000 in North America and the West Indies, 2,600 in Gibraltar and Minorca, and 550 in Senegal.
      On April 8, 1763 Bute resigned as prime minister and was replaced by Pitt’s brother-in-law George Grenville who had accepted Treasury and the Exchequer. The land tax remained at the high of four shillings per pound, and a new tax on cider would cause conflict and be repealed; but he stopped the growth of the national debt. When Parliament opened on April 23, George III defended the Paris Peace Treaty. On that day in the North Briton issue 45 John Wilkes accused Grenville of inserting a lie into the King’s speech and of bribing the Commons to ratify the treaty. On the 30th the King ordered a general warrant for the arrest of Wilkes and the publishers, and 49 people were detained. On May 6 Chief Justice Pratt discharged Wilkes and declared general warrants illegal.
      On October 7 three new colonies were proclaimed, but with the French in Quebec and Spaniards in East Florida and West Florida they were not allowed to elect assemblies like the English colonies. The new territory from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi Valley was reserved for the Indian tribes as European settlement was prohibited. Trade was permitted but was regulated by the British government. Also in 1763 a Barbados lawyer left a beaten slave to die on a London street. Granville Sharpe nursed the man back to health and complained when the lawyer abducted the slave and shipped him to the West Indies, provoking cries of outrage.
      On November 15 Frederick North moved that Parliament condemn the North Briton article as a “false, scandalous and seditious libel,” and after 82 speeches the Commons passed it. The next day Samuel Martin shot Wilkes in the stomach in a duel. On the 23rd North’s resolution that Parliamentary privilege did not cover seditious libel passed both houses. On January 19, 1764 North’s two motions that Wilkes was guilty of writing the article and that he be expelled were also approved. On February 18 the ministry narrowly defeated a motion condemning as unlawful using general warrants in seditious libel cases. Wilkes did not appear in February at his trial for seditious libel and obscenity for his satirical Essay on Woman, and he was declared an outlaw in November.
      The Sugar Act was passed on April 5, 1764 to raise revenue in America because the Molasses Act of 1733 with a higher rate had not been enforced. Grenville ordered customs duties collected and doubled the number of items taxed so that now it included tobacco, cotton, indigo, dyes, molasses, copper, furs, hides, skins, pitch, tar, turpentine, masts and arms, coffee, whale fins, raw silk and potash. Sugar and rice could be carried to southern Europe and rice to American colonies, and he was blamed for disrupting the illegal trade with Spanish colonies in America. England offered bounties for naval supplies, pitch, silk, and wine which they needed. Secretary of State Halifax and Board of Trade President Hillsborough appointed superintendents to protect the Indians on the American frontiers with 10,000 troops in forts that cost £350,000 a year. On April 19 the Currency Act extended to the southern colonies the restrictions on paper currency imposed on New England in 1751. On May 18, 1764 the British established a Vice-Admiralty court for the thirteen colonies. That year Thomas Reid published An Inquiry Into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense, arguing for direct realism from sense perception. Horace Walpole published the first gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto.
      On February 6, 1765 Grenville introduced the Stamp Act to tax legal documents, newspapers, and dice which had to be paid in the colonies with British currency, and it was passed on March 22; but he delayed its going into effect. On March 24 the Quartering Act required colonists to provide food and shelter for British soldiers and their horses. Virginians began to plan defiance in May, and Boston’s resistance in August soon spread to other colonies.
      During the first three months of 1765 George III was ill with the hereditary disease porphyria, fever, and a cold, and he was bled. He could conduct business but felt he had to obey his counselors and was depressed (melancholy). A regency was organized, and George won the battle to choose the regent; but Grenville persuaded him to dismiss his brother James Stuart Mackenzie who had been Keeper of the Scottish Privy Seal. George’s uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, was influential for a while, but he died on October 31. Pitt’s friend Camden was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and in Entick v. Carrington he held that general warrants are illegal; they would not be used again until 1936. The American Mutiny Act of 1765 ordered people to supply soldiers with accommodation, fuel, and food, but Massachusetts and New York declined to cooperate.
      In July 1765 George III dismissed Grenville and replaced him with Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, who made Edmund Burke his private secretary. On November 1 the Stamp Act was to be implemented in the American colonies; but none of the colonies did so, and a riot erupted in New York. Petitions from 24 British ports and industrial towns were presented at the House of Commons in January 1766. Rockingham blamed the bad economy on Grenville’s taxes and on colonial non-importation. The Declaratory Bill on February 3 asserting Parliament’s right to tax the colonies was opposed by Pitt in the Commons and his friends Shelburne and Camden in the Lords but by very few others. Ten days later Benjamin Franklin was questioned on taxes for four hours. On February 21 Pitt promised military action if American defiance persisted, and he gave his last great speech on March 4. That night the Commons voted to repeal the Stamp Act. Two weeks later the King was cheered in the streets as he went to give his assent to the repeal and the Declaratory Act which asserted the British right to tax the colonies. Townshend pushed through a local tax on New York to make them pay the army expenses, and they yielded in June. That year the British army in America cost £400,000. Also in 1766 the envoy George Macartney negotiated a trade treaty with Russia. John Byron established Port Egmont in the Falkland Isles for Britain, and in January 1771 Spain agreed to cede them to the British.
      After a year George III replaced Rockingham with William Pitt as minister on July 7, and on the 30th his ministry began with support from Grafton at Treasury, Charles Townshend as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Shelburne as Southern Secretary while Henry Seymour Conway continued as Northern Secretary and the ministry’s leader in the Commons. Five days later Pitt accepted a peerage as Earl of Chatham and entered the House of Lords so that he could serve as Lord Privy Seal. This surprised many who called him the “Great Commoner.” A bad harvest in 1766 and the expiration of the prohibition on wheat exports on August 26 raised the price of grain which provoked food riots. A royal proclamation on September 24 reinstated the prohibition on exports until Parliament met and extended the embargo in November. Pitt suffered from recurring gout and was also manic-depressive, and in December he left London to go to Somerset. In February 1767 Grenville went against the ministry and persuaded Parliament to pass a reduction of the land tax from four shillings to three. Pitt returned and saw the King for the last time on March 12. His deputy, the Duke of Grafton, acted as prime minister.
      On August 16, 1765 the East India Company had gained the right to revenues of Bengal in the treaty of Allahabad. Clive in India was turning the Company into a territorial power. Raised dividends led to speculation in 1766 as the stock rose from April to September; but the bubble burst. On December 9 William Beckford proposed a parliamentary investigation into the East India Company. After much debate in June 1767 the Company was required to contribute to the government £400,000 annually from its profits in Bengal and to limit its dividends to 10%.
      The British complained that they were paying the highest tax rates in Europe and were getting little help from the colonists. On June 29, 1767 Townshend’s Revenue Act imposing customs duties on glass, lead, paint, and paper in the colonies passed in Parliament and was approved by George III on July 2. In Franklin’s testimony in the Commons against the Stamp Act he had advised them that the colonies would not oppose taxes regulating trade. Parliament rejected Massachusetts’ legislation to compensate victims of the Stamp Actt riots, and they ordered New York to comply with the Mutiny Act. Townshend died suddenly on September 4. John Dickinson began publishing his “Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer” in December denying the Parliament’s authority to tax the colonies at all because the Americans were not represented there. In 1767 British expenses in the American colonies were £428,000. That year Joseph Priestley published his History and Present State of Electricity.

Britain and the American Crisis 1768-75

      In February 1768 the Massachusetts Assembly protested the Townshend Acts and urged other colonies to do so too. Boston, New York, and Philadelphia organized a non-importation campaign that was to begin in the spring of 1769. In the general election in the spring of 1768 there were 84 contested seats, and 167 new members were elected. Most noticed were 19 “nabobs” who had made fortunes in India and were elected in Westminster. On June 10 in Boston customs officials tried to impound John Hancock’s ship for smuggling, and people rioted. The Massachusetts Assembly refused to cooperate with Governor Bernard who then dissolved them. On July 27 the Cabinet decided to send more soldiers to Boston, and they replaced the absentee governor of Virginia, Jeffrey Amherst, with Narbonne Berkeley, the Baron Botetourt, in residence.
      On October 12 Pitt finally resigned because of his poor health and was succeeded as minister two days later by Augustus Henry FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton. He favored liberal policies toward the colonies but was opposed by the anonymous Junius who wrote letters to the press from 1767 to 1772. Lord North replaced Conway as the leader in the Commons. Also in 1768 Richard Arkwright designed a spinning frame to produce cotton thread and established a mill driven by horses in Nottingham. On December 10 the Royal Academy of Arts was founded with the painter Joshua Reynolds as the first president.
      Lord Temple gave John Wilkes land in Middlesex, and on March 28, 1768 Wilkes was elected to Parliament; but he turned himself in on April 20. Parliament was to open on May 10, and a large crowd wanted him released to take his seat. They skirmished with troops who killed seven and wounded fifteen in what was called the St. George’s Field Massacre. Wilkesites raised money for the prosecution of Magistrate Samuel Gilliam who had called in the troops, but he was acquitted. Wilkes was put on trial in June for seditious libel in the North Briton 45 and for obscene and impious libel in his Essay on Woman five years before, and he was fined £500 and spent two years in prison. Parliament expelled Wilkes in February 1769, and that month the Society of Supporters of the Bill of Rights was founded to help Wilkes and demand reforms. That summer they collected 60,000 signatures on petitions from thirty counties and boroughs. In 1768 and 1769 London weavers left work in protest of reduced rates; coal-heavers rioted in Shadwell and Wapping; and sailors demanding higher pay roamed the streets cheering for Wilkes. He was voted to be an alderman in January 1769 and was elected and expelled from Parliament two more times. Grafton blamed the troubles on the court having too much power. Wilkes was released from prison in March 1770. As an alderman he advocated more jury trials and urged investigation of riots, and in 1771 he was elected sheriff of London. He wanted to abolish impressment for the navy and favored public control of bread prices to help the poor. In 1774 he was elected to Parliament again and served for sixteen years. The Honest Whig Club had rational dissenters who were inspired by Wilkes.
      On March 8, 1769 Edmund Burke proposed an investigation of the St. George’s Field Massacre, but it was rejected by the Commons. On May 1 the Cabinet voted 5-4 to retain only the duty on tea, which was re-exported from Asia and was bringing in three-quarters of the customs revenues. After Pitt joined the opposition of Rockingham, Grafton resigned on January 27, 1770. In April of that year Burke published his Thoughts on the Present Discontents advocating party unity in the government and the opposition, and he disagreed with the view that prosperity causes discord. He noted that resistance to the King had decreased under George III, and he blamed the secret influence of the King’s friends.
      Frederick North became the prime minister for George III on January 28, 1770 and held the position for twelve years. Grafton had stationed four regiments in Boston to keep order, and radical Sons of Liberty often hassled the unpopular soldiers. On March 5 a mob gathered around a company guarding the customs house, and a soldier was knocked down. Captain Preston ordered his men to fire, and they killed five Bostonians. On the same day Prime Minister North proposed repealing most of the Townsend taxes except on tea, and the bill passed and was approved by George III on April 12. On May 9 Edmund Burke moved eight resolutions to censure the government’s policy in America. The anonymous Letters of Junius had criticized several leaders of the government in January 1769, and in June 1770 the publishers and printers were sued for libel. After George Grenville died on November 13, most of his followers supported the North ministry.
      In agriculture enclosures enabled farmers to be independent of their neighbors with new innovative crops and breeding. The number of Enclosure Acts increased from 38 in the 1740s to 156 in the 1750s to 424 in the 1760s and to 642 in 1770s. In August 1771 Joseph Priestley discovered that growing plants release oxygen. That year Captain James Cooke returned from his first voyage of exploration to Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia. Editor William Smelie published The Encyclopedia Britannica, or a Dictionary of Arts and Sciences in three volumes with 2,659 pages which sold for £12. James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny in 1764. The textile industry was aided by Arkwright’s water frame in 1769 and by Crompton’s mule in 1779.
      Turnpikes, named after the turnstiles used to collect the fee, were built to improve roads from 1751 to 1771. In 1754 Abraham Darby II began using coke pig iron in smelting and bellows from a water wheel to improve the blast furnace. James Brindley had a canal built 1759-61 from the mines at Worsley to bring coal to Manchester, and in 1766 his Grand Trunk Canal connected the Trent and Mersey rivers. In 1763 Richard Reynolds built the first railroad with iron tracks. After Parliament ignored petitions by workers, in 1767-68 strikes were organized by sailors, weavers, hatters, tailors, and glass-grinders. In 1769 Parliament made destroying machinery a capital crime, but in 1779 a mob of 8,000 workers demolished machines in Lancashire. The ironmaster John Wilkinson introduced railroads in mines in 1767, and he and Darby were the first to construct an iron bridge over the Severn in 1779, and Wilkinson showed that an iron boat could float in 1787. James Watt had his idea for a steam engine by 1765, patented his condenser in 1769, and by 1775 he had built two large engines. Wilkinson began using one for pumping, and the cylinders he made improved Watt’s engine. By 1777 Wilkinson had organized the Midland ironmasters, and at quarterly meetings they set prices and sale conditions. By 1780 Watt had forty pumping-engines working. In 1781 Matthew Boulton worked with Watt to invent an engine with a rotary motion, and in 1785 the first one was used in a cotton mill at Papplewick in Nottingham. Cotton imports in England had gone from three million pounds in 1753 to 32 million in 1789. By 1788 Britain had 20,000 spinning jennies.
      In 1771 John Millar published his Observations concerning the Distinction of Ranks in Society to describe how women had progressed from ancient slavery to refined domesticity, and he noted how sophisticated people made romantic courtship even more repressive. Hannah More advised English women who enjoyed freedom to avoid disputes and let others believe they are right in her Essays Addressed to Young Ladies which she published in 1777. In December her successful tragedy Earl Percy opened at Covent Garden. In 1779 William Alexander was the first Englishman to write a systematic History of Women, but he found that women were led astray by ideals of chivalry, leaving them without political power. Yet he believed that the increased respect that commercial Europeans have for women was an improvement on the dismal past. Hester Capone wrote Letters on the Improvement of the Mind and recommended that women be gentle and patient. On June 22, 1772 Chief Justice William Murray, the Earl of Mansfield, freed the escaped African slave James Somersett and declared slavery illegal in England and Wales, saying that “as soon as any slave sets foot in England he becomes free.” Joseph Priestley gave “rubber” its name because it rubs out pencil marks.
      In early 1772 the British ship Gaspee was enforcing customs collection at Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, and on February 17 they seized undeclared rum and sent the Fortune to Boston. On June 9 the Gaspee was chasing the small Hannah and ran aground in the bay. Sons of Liberty from Providence boarded the ship the next morning, overcame the crew, wounding Lt. Dudingston, and burned the Hannah. The British demanded an investigation, and John Allen’s sermon in a Baptist church about the incident and aimed against monarchs and corrupt judges was distributed as a pamphlet.
      Economic stagnation and lack of trade caused a credit crisis in western Europe. In June 1772 the Scottish banker Alexander Fordyce fled from his creditors. The East India Company had trouble selling its goods and could not pay back the £320,000 loaned to them by the Bank of England. They also owed £203,000 in customs duties and asked North to let them postpone payment. Yet Clive had accumulated a fortune of £234,000 in India. North forced the state to loan the Company £1,400,000, and they did not have to pay re-export duties on tea. England’s financial crash in early 1772 spread to the continent by June. The House of Commons passed relief bills in 1772 and 1773, but the House of Lords rejected them. In 1773 the Proprietary Library Society formed in Bristol with 140 members and began acquiring books to loan to subscribers. That year Robert and James Adam published their Works of Architecture to promote their neoclassical designs.
      On May 10, 1773 the Tea Act abolished British duties on tea re-exported to America, hoping to reduce the smuggling of Dutch tea. The Regulating Act on June 21 imposed some reforms on the East India Company, which Edmund Burke in 1788 called a “delegation of the whole power and sovereignty of this kingdom sent into the East.” After the shock of the Boston Tea Party on December 16, the Company stopped shipping tea to American colonies. George III sent for General Gage and spoke to him on February 4, 1774. In retaliation on March 28 North’s Coercive Acts demanded that compensation be paid for the tea and the revenue officers, that councilors in the upper house of the Massachusetts legislature were to be appointed by the King instead of being elected, and that the governor could transfer trials to England. The Quartering Act required Boston to provide barracks for royal troops. The Boston Port Act gained royal assent on March 31. On April 19 during the debate on repealing the duty on tea Charles James Fox declared, “Countries should always be governed by the will of the governed.” Edmund Burke gave a famous speech on American taxation and claimed that the British government had the right to use the authority of Parliament to defend its empire. He concluded, “It is agreed that revenue is not to be had in America. If we lose the profit, let us get rid of the odium.”
      On May 20, 1774 Parliament closed the port of Boston and restricted the Massachusetts legislature in what were called the “Intolerable Acts,” and on June 2 Parliament revived the Quartering Act. On the 22nd George III approved the Quebec Act which authorized a legislative council appointed by the King and recognized the Catholic majority and French laws in civil cases, and the boundaries of the colony were extended to include French settlements in Illinois, Vincennes, and Detroit. This Act was resented by the British colonials and Protestants, especially those blocked from westward expansion. On July 1 the King summoned Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson who assured him that the punitive measures would make the colonists submit.
      The first Continental Congres was organized by the thirteen British colonies and met in Philadelphia from September 5 to October 26. They agreed to work for the repeal of all British legislation for the colonies since 1763, and they decided not to import or export anything from or to England except for some southern crops. They supported the Suffolk resolutions not to pay British taxes, and they resolved to be prepared to fight the British if attacked. They planned to meet again on March 10, 1775.
      On September 11, 1774 George III wrote that the colonies must submit or triumph, and he refused to retreat. On November 18 he said, “Blows must decide whether they are to be subject to this country or independent.” The punitive legislation of 1774 met with little opposition in the Parliament. James Brugh published his Political Disquisitions in 1774 and 1775 analyzing the deficiencies of the parliamentary constitution. North was successful in the general elections of 1774, but Bristol elected Henry Cruger and Edmund Burke who joined the opposition.

Britain and the American War 1775-82

      On February 9, 1775 Parliament proclaimed Massachusetts in rebellion. Burke proposed repealing the statutes that offended the Americans including the Boston Port Bill, and his Speech on Conciliation with America on March 22 proposed peace and supported resolutions aimed at establishing equity and justice by granting Americans, who had not been given the privilege of electing representatives, the right to tax themselves instead of Parliament imposing them. North offered to exempt those colonies from the Parliament’s taxes if they would provide the funds needed by the empire, but only Nova Scotia accepted.
      In 1775 the Earl of Chatham (William Pitt) proposed that British troops be withdrawn from America, though he still wanted Britain to be sovereign over their assemblies. Edmund Burke also wanted reconciliation but under the authority of Parliament. British prime minister Frederick North demanded that the American colonies recognize English sovereignty and raise its fair share of their common expenses. The conservative Pennsylvania farmer John Dickinson urged the Americans to negotiate for a redress of their grievances.
      On March 31, 1775 Parliament limited trade and fisheries in the New England Restraining Act, and on April 13 they extended it to South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. The next day General Gage received orders to enforce the intolerable acts and to suppress any increase in the colonial military. On April 19 he sent British soldiers to confiscate the arms at Concord, Massachusetts, and on the way in Lexington they were attacked by the local militia. The Americans destroyed the stores at Concord, and the British troops had to fight while returning to Boston. About sixty Americans were lost and some 273 British soldiers. Americans armed themselves, and Gage proclaimed Samuel Adams and John Hancock rebels. England sent forces under the generals William Howe, John Burgoyne, and Henry Clinton, and they reinforced Boston. On June 17 Howe’s forces had 1,054 casualties fighting the rebels at Breed’s and Bunker Hill. In July the second Continental Congress rejected North’s proposal and appointed George Washington commander-in-chief. Americans led by Philip Schuyler, Richard Montgomery, and Benedict Arnold invaded Canada in August, and on the 23rd George III rejected a peace offer and issued the Proclamation of Rebellion that promised to suppress the revolt. Grafton disapproved of the war and resigned on November 9, and the next day George Germain, the Viscount of Sackville, was appointed Secretary of State for the American Colonies. On December 22 Parliament’s Prohibitory Act blockaded American ports. In January 1776 Tom Paine published his popular Common Sense urging independence.
      In February 5, 1776 the British Prohibitory Act put the American colonies under an interdict. The Continental Congress sent Silas Deane to France to ask for aid. On March 17 Howe and his army withdrew from Boston and sailed to Halifax in Nova Scotia. North sent Howe’s brother, Admiral Richard Howe, to command the navy and offer North’s peace. On July 4 the American Congress voted to be independent of Britain as Thomas Jefferson drew upon the ideas of John Locke in the eloquent Declaration of Independence that included the following complaints against the British rule of the American colonies aimed at King George III, though the Parliament and colonial governors shared the responsibility:

The history of the present King of Great Britain
is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations,
all having in direct object the establishment
of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws,
the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws
of immediate and pressing importance,
unless suspended in their operation
till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended,
he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws
for the accommodation of large districts of people,
unless those people would relinquish
the right of Representation in the Legislature,
a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies
at places unusual, uncomfortable,
and distant from the depository of their public Records,
for the sole purpose of fatiguing them
into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly,
for opposing with manly firmness
his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions,
to cause others to be elected;
whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation,
have returned to the People at large for their exercise;
the State remaining in the mean time
exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without,
and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States;
for that purpose obstructing
the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;
refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither,
and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice,
by refusing his Assent to Laws
for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone,
for the tenure of their offices,
and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices,
and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people,
and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace,
Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military
independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us
to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution,
and unacknowledged by our laws;
giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial,
from punishment for any Murders
which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas
to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws
in a neighbouring Province,
establishing therein an Arbitrary government,
and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once
an example and fit instrument
for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters,
abolishing our most valuable Laws,
and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves
invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us
out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts,
burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies
of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works
of death, desolation and tyranny,
already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy
scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages,
and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens
taken Captive on the high Seas
to bear Arms against their Country,
to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren,
or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us,
and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants
of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages,
whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished
destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions
We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms:
Our repeated Petitions have been answered
only by repeated injury.
A Prince whose character is thus marked
by every act which may define a Tyrant,
is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

      Admiral Howe’s forces captured Long Island in August, and Washington’s army evacuated New York by the end of September. Clinton’s army occupied Rhode island, and Quebec’s Governor Guy Carleton destroyed American ships on Lake Champlain. By the end of 1776 General Howe’s army controlled the coast from Rhode Island to the Delaware River. Congress fled from Philadelphia and met at Baltimore on December 20, but six days later Washington led a surprise attack that captured Hessian mercenaries at Trenton.
      In January 1777 Edmund Burke in his Address to the King acknowledged the validity of colonial grievances, urged an end to hostile actions such as using Indians and emancipated slaves to wage war, and advised offering advantages to gain reconciliation. Britain suspended the Habeas Corpus Act in February. Burke in his March Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol recognized the Americans’ right to revolution. General Howe asked for 20,000 men but was sent only 2,500. George III admitted he owed £600,000, and his civil list was increased to £900,000 a year. Washington’s army was reinforced and regained New Jersey. Burgoyne’s army of 7,200 men captured Fort Ticonderoga in June. The British defeated Washington’s troops at Brandywine in August and occupied Philadelphia in September, but on October 17 the British army of 6,222 men led by Burgoyne had to surrender to General Horatio Gates at Saratoga.
      On February 6, 1778 the Americans formed an alliance with France. Britain learned of the treaty and declared war against France on March 17 which required raising British stamp and custom duties and excise taxes. North tried to make the well-off pay more by taxing carriages, auctions, houses, and male servants, but increases on alcohol, sugar, salt, and soap affected the poor. English sugar consumption had been four pounds per person annually in 1700, but by 1780 it was up to twelve pounds. Rockingham’s faction urged the government to recognize American independence. The Earl of Chatham on April 7 argued that they should not give up the empire, though he favored conciliation. He collapsed during his speech and died on May 11. Clinton evacuated Philadelphia. The loyalist John Butler allied with Indian tribes and defeated the Americans in the Wyoming Valley on July 3 and then destroyed Indian villages. On July 27 the British navy led by Augustus Keppel battled a comparable French fleet off Ushant in the Bay of Biscay. The British suffered more casualties, but the victory claimed by the French was far from conclusive. Keppel was tried by court martial and acquitted.
      British forces attacked the southern colonies, and by January 1779 they controlled Georgia. On April 12 France and Spain signed the treaty of Aranjuez. Spain declared war against Britain on June 21 and on the 24th began the long siege and blockade of Gibraltar. George III was afraid that they would lose the American colonies, the West Indies, and then Ireland, devastating the English economy. A French fleet led by Admiral d’Estaing arrived in July and blockaded Admiral Howe’s fleet in New York harbor. The British fought the French in the West Indies. Admiral Howe went back to London and advised that they could no longer hold America. Too much paper money was being issued, and prices in America multiplied with the inflation. The British campaign in the south led by General Clinton continued, and on May 12 at Charleston the American general Benjamin Lincoln surrendered his army of 5,266 soldiers. On August 16 the British army of Charles Cornwallis defeated a larger American force led by Gates at Camden and captured a thousand men. In December a large public meeting was held in York that discussed the vices of government, and they circulated a petition on government waste and corruption. Petitions were taken up by nearly forty committees or associations. The Quintuple Alliance included London, Westminster, Southwark, Middlesex, and Surrey. Philip Jennings Clerke proposed banning government contractors from seats in the Commons, but his bill narrowly lost.
      On January 8, 1780 Admiral George Rodney’s British fleet defeated the Spaniards off Cape Finisterre and again eight days later off Cape St. Vincent in Portugal, and in the spring he brought reinforcements and relief to the starving garrison at Gibraltar. On February 8 Christopher Wyvill presented the Yorkshire petition, and Burke introduced five bills to address their grievances. On March 13 Burke’s bill to abolish the Board of Trade passed the Commons by eight votes. Prime Minister North offered bonuses on stock in order to get loans for the government, and to head off a corruption investigation he established the Commission of Public Accounts. On April 6 the Commons passed John Dunning’s resolution that the increasing influence of the crown should be diminished. That month rational dissenters founded the Society for Constitutional Information. Benedict Arnold had begun secretly aiding the British in 1779, and after being exposed he deserted the American cause and became a British commander in December 1780.
      The Whig opponent George Savile proposed the Roman Catholic Relief Bill that repealed discriminatory laws against Catholics. A similar proposal in Scotland in 1779 provoked anti-popish agitation by George Gordon’s Protestant Association. On June 2, 1780 about 50,000 people marched on Parliament to protest the Papists Act while Gordon alternated speaking in the Commons and outside to the crowd. That night a mob destroyed the Sardinian chapel in Lincoln’s Inn Fields and set fires in London. Troops were not allowed to shoot because the Riot Act had not been read, though they could have enforced the laws. By June 5 foreign chapels and private homes were being looted. So many distilleries were sacked that alcohol entered the water supply, and some drunk looters burned to death in ruined buildings. The army was called out on June 7, and the next day the New Gaol in the Borough let their prisoners go to avoid an attack. Soldiers eventually dispersed the crowd by June 12, and the Commons voted 192-6 to dismiss the petition. Papists and their chapels had been disrupted in the Gordon riots, and the Earl of Mansfield’s library was destroyed. Jails had been burned. Some 285 people were dead with about 200 wounded. Of about 450 rioters arrested 59 were sentenced to death, though only 21 were executed. Gordon was tried for treason but was acquitted, and London’s mayor was fined for not applying the Riot Act.
      Parliament was suddenly dissolved on September 1, 1780. The general election had very few expensive contests, though North borrowed £30,000 on the King’s authority. On November 20, Britain declared war on Holland because the Dutch had been supplying weapons to the French, the Spanish, and the colonial rebels. In 1782 George III agreed to pay back £13,000 of it, but North still owed money two years later. On January 1, 1781 the first iron bridge opened for traffic crossing the Severn River in Shropshire. On March 13 William Herschel discovered the first planet beyond Saturn which was named “Uranus” one year later.
      Political quarreling led to a duel between the Earl of Shelburne and the Scottish MP William Fullarton, and in March 1781 the Earl of Pomfret, who backed the King, was sent to the Tower for challenging the Duke of Grafton. On April 12 a British squadron convoyed supply ships that relieved besieged Gibraltar again and allowed the civilians to be evacuated. After seven British ships led by Hyde Parker defeated the same number of Dutch vessels at Dogger Bank on August 5, the Dutch fleet did not leave their harbor during the war. That summer Washington planned a campaign that successfully surrounded the army of Cornwallis, and 8,000 soldiers surrendered at Yorktown on October 19. North wanted to end the war, but George III insisted that they persist. About 30,000 British troops were still in the American colonies. The British managed to hold New York and Charleston, and a British fleet led by George Rodney fought the French and Spanish fleets in the West Indies, defeating the French south of Guadaloupe on April 12, 1782. Russia formed the League of Armed Neutrality to oppose the British navy’s commercial blockade.

Britain and the Younger Pitt 1782-88

      By February 1782 about half the Commons were voting to end the war, and North resigned on March 20. A week later Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, became prime minister with Charles James Fox and Shelburne as secretaries of state, John Cavendish as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Edmund Burke as paymaster of the forces. George III did not like the speeches of Fox nor his libertine influence on his son George, Prince of Wales. This ministry favored those who condemned the war, and they recalled Admiral Rodney. The King was afraid that the revolutionary spirit would disrupt England, but the people wanted peace.
      Irish delegates at a convention in February at Dungannon voted to end British legislation for Ireland and control of Irish trade, and they demanded an independent judiciary. The new ministry and the Irish secretary William Eden agreed. Parliament then repealed the 1719 Act that authorized them or the British privy council to make laws for Ireland, and they abolished the perpetual Mutiny Act. The grateful Irish Parliament voted to raise 20,000 seamen and granted an estate to Henry Grattan. The British Parliament also ended appeals from the Irish courts to England.
      Administration was reformed by giving public servants salaries instead of paying them by fees. A position as third secretary of state was eliminated, and Shelburne became Home Secretary which included colonies with Fox as Foreign Secretary. Shelburne wanted Britain and the United States to have a united foreign policy and commerce, and he accused Fox of giving away too much in the peace negotiations. Burke managed to get redundant offices abolished, and Clerke’s Act passed to remove contractors from the Commons.
      Thomas Gilbert’s Relief of the Poor Act of 1782 was intended to extend relief from the elderly, orphaned, and sick to give employment to those without enough income to buy food. Parishes were encouraged to unite and establish workhouses whose profits would be used to pay back taxpayers. However, the program was voluntary, and only a few communities took advantage of the new law. Also in 1782 Joseph Priestley published his History of the Corruptions of Christianity.
      After Rockingham’s death on July 1, 1782 King George III appointed William Petty, the 2nd Earl of Shelburne, as his minister. He had decided to form a coalition with Frederick North rather than with Charles James Fox, who resigned along with Burke and others. Chatham’s 23-year-old son, William Pitt, who had been elected to the Commons in 1781, became Chancellor of the Exchequer. Shelburne reformed taxes to encourage trade, applying the ideas of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. He agreed to grant the United States the western territory, but the British were to have perpetual access to the Mississippi River. He also demanded that the Americans pay their debts to the English loyalists, and those in British Canada and Nova Scotia were eventually compensated.
      The French and Spanish launched a major assault at Gibraltar on September 13 with 33,000 soldiers and 30,000 marines and sailors, losing 6,000 men and ten ships. The British managed to hold onto this strategic place and were relieved again by Howe’s fleet on October 10. The French and Spanish finally gave up the siege of Gibraltar on February 7, 1783. Shelburne negotiated peace, but after defeats in the Commons, he resigned on February 24. His opponents Fox and North formed a coalition, and with William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, as Lord of the Treasury and the King’s titular minister they took over on April 2. Burke had the paymaster’s accounts kept by the Bank of England and limited withdrawals to official purposes, and he also criticized British rule in India in his Ninth Report on June 25.
      On September 3 in Paris the British, French, Spanish, and Americans finally signed a peace treaty. Quebec ceded the Ohio and Mississippi regions to the United States. France got back St. Lucia and gained Tobago in the West Indies, was given fishing rights in New Foundland, and restored to Britain conquered Grenada, the Grenadines, Dominica, St. Christopher’s, Nevis, and Montserrat. France was to have the slave-trading base on the Senegal River while Britain got the one on the Gambia River. Britain refused to trade away Gibraltar but gave East and West Florida back to Spain and regained the Bahamas. Negotiations with the Dutch took longer. Britain reluctantly gave Trincomalee in Ceylon back to the Dutch, and the French let go of the Cape of Good Hope. The Dutch gave the British a town near Madras and navigation rights among the Dutch spice islands in the eastern seas. The peace with Holland was finally concluded on May 20, 1784. During the war about 16,000 American prisoners died on British prison ships by New York City.
      The Commons passed Charles Francis Fox’s India Bill that had been drafted by Burke, but George III persuaded the House of Lords to vote against it on December 17 and 18, 1783. The next day 24-year-old William Pitt was appointed Lord of the Treasury and became a strong prime minister who developed the cabinet system. In the new ministry’s India bill the power of the governor-general in Bengal was enhanced, and a board was to control the political and military affairs of the East India Company; but Fox’s faction narrowly defeated it. Although Parliament passed the Mutiny Bill on March 10, 1784, it was dissolved on the 25th. Supported by public opinion and the wealthy, Pitt won the general election on May 18 with a majority of about 150 seats. He was the only member of the House of Commons in the cabinet until 1789. Pitt delayed the seating of an opponent from Westminster by an investigation of the vote.
      In 1784 the British government’s revenue was £18 million with £7 million from excise taxes, £6 million from customs, and £3 million from direct taxes. The war in America had cost Britain £100 million, and the annual interest payment on the national debt was £9 million. An attempt to sell life annuities failed to meet expectations, but a national lottery begun in 1784 lasted forty years. Pitt lowered the duty on tea from 112% to 25%, and he increased the window tax with progressive rates for more windows which could be easily assessed from outside.
      In 1783 William Jones had gone to India as a supreme court judge, and the next year he founded the Asiatic Society to study eastern culture. Pitt passed an India Act that that went into effect on August 13, 1784 and set up a board of control with six privy councilors named by the King George III. This board would have oversight on all the Company’s papers, and the Company’s directors were bound to obey their orders. The Company still appointed officers in India that the King could veto or remove. British subjects could appeal to England for wrongs done in India, and to discourage greed all nabobs had to report the fortunes they made in India. In 1786 the governor-general was given the power to override his council.
      Also in 1784 Col. James Capper published his Observations on the Passage to India through Egypt. That year George Baldwin came out with The Communication with India by the Isthmus of Suez, and in 1786 he was appointed British Consul-General in Alexandria while an agent for the East India Company. His purpose was to alert the government of French efforts there, but by 1787 Turkish forces had regained control over Egypt.
      Richard Price published his Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution and the Means of Making it a Benefit to the World in 1785. He condemned the trade of African slaves as “cruel, wicked and diabolical,” and he urged the United States to abolish it. Until they do that, he argued that they will not deserve their liberty. He recommended the example of Britain where a negro becomes a freeman as soon as he steps on British land.
      In 1785 Pitt’s attempt to spend £760,000 to add to national defense was defeated when Speaker Charles Wolfran Cornwall broke a tie. Pitt proposed that 36 boroughs be disenfranchised so that the seats could be transferred to the populated areas of London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Winchester, but this was defeated easily on April 18. Yet the Younger Pitt was respected for his ability and practical politics, and his leadership was not challenged. As his power increased, he attracted ambitious men with ability.
      Scottish Henry Dundas was an early defector from North to Pitt. Since uniting with England in 1707 much moral authority in Scotland came from the established Presbyterian Church and its democratic kirk, though most Scottish members of Parliament were chosen by aristocratic families. Of Scotland’s population of a half million only 2,662 voters in the counties elected 30 members while 1,301 in the burghs chose 15.
      Pitt wanted to develop trade with the United States, but that was delayed for ten years. He worked with President Jenkinson of the trade committee to work out free trade with Ireland; surplus revenue from customs duties was to pay for naval expenditure but only if Ireland was making a profit. Josiah Wedgwood led the Great Chamber of Manufacturers organized by merchants who feared free trade. Pitt protected the West Indies from foreign sugar in Irish ships, and the East India Company’s monopoly was confirmed. Adam Smith had argued that British commerce with populous and nearby France would be more beneficial than with distant America, and William Eden negotiated a trade treaty with the French in September 1786 that lasted seven years. That year Britain had a surplus of £1 million, and Pitt appointed a commission to supervise the sinking fund to see that that amount was used annually to reduce the national debt, though in some years they had to borrow to do so. Burke instigated a bill that led on May 10, 1787 to the impeachment of Warren Hastings for misgoverning Bengal. That month the British founded a settlement in Sierra Leone for about 400 Africans liberated during the American war. Fox criticized the commercial treaty with France. Britain began transporting criminals to Botany Bay in Australia where they founded a penal colony in January 1788. That year Britain formed an alliance with the United Provinces of the Netherlands. Prussia joined, and this Triple Alliance pressured Denmark to accept a truce in its war against Sweden and return to neutrality. In July the British Parliament passed a bill that began restricting the slave trade. Hannah More published her Thoughts on the Importance of the Manners of the Great to General Society.
      Edward Gibbon published his monumental Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire between 1776 and 1788 describing its history from 180 to 1453. John Walter began publishing the Daily Universal Register in 1785, and on January 1, 1788 it was renamed the Times of London. In 1787 Thomas Clarkson published his “Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species,” and he and William Wilberforce formed the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The Fante slave Ottobah Cugoana had been freed in 1772 and also published his Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species in 1787. An English authority estimated that between 1680 and 1786 the English transported more than two million Africans to America. In 1788 the African Association was organized to replace the slave trade with legitimate commerce.
      George III and Queen Charlotte had 15 children by 1783 when the oldest George reached the age of 21. Like most people in the 18th century George ate breakfast and dinner but no lunch. His dinner was soup, meat, a vegetable, and fruit. In addition to the hereditary metabolic disorder porphyria, George III may have been affected by arsenic used in his wig. He celebrated his 50th birthday on June 4, 1788, and one week later he suffered a terrible stomachache and became so ill that he went to take the waters at Cheltenham for five weeks. Parliament was prorogued from September 25 to November 20. In October he wrote that the rheumatism in his legs had gone to his stomach, and on the 17th he experienced a severe bilious attack. His sickness began to limit his sight, hearing, and memory, and on November 5 he became delirious. When his serious mental illness became known, efforts were made to form a regency under Prince George with Queen Charlotte guardian of the King’s interests. George I had added 66 more peers to the House of Lords, and George II named 72. George III created 197 peers by 1800, but most of them after 1784.

      John Howard was born on September 2, 1726 in London, and his father was a successful upholsterer who died in 1742 and left a fortune to his son John. He traveled widely in Europe and was imprisoned in France before being exchanged so that he could return to England. In 1773 Howard was made High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and was horrified by the prison he inspected. He criticized the unsanitary conditions and charging the prisoners fees to pay the jailers instead of giving them salaries. In 1774 he testified to a committee in the House of Commons. He visited hundreds of prisons in Britain. In 1775 he went to Flanders, Holland and Germany and then to Switzerland in 1776.
      In 1777 Howard published The State of the Prisons which was expanded in 1780 and 1784. His descriptions were vivid, and he recommended specific reforms, reporting again to the Commons in 1778. He especially objected to keeping prisoners beyond their sentence because they had not paid the fees. He developed the idea of penitentiaries where convicts could be reformed through supervised work and religious instruction. He advocated separate cells for each prisoner. Many of his ideas were included in the Penitentiary Act passed by Parliament in 1779. In 1778 he toured Italian cities, Prussia, Austria, and the free cities of Germany. In 1781 Howard went back to Holland and Germany and then toured the capitals of Denmark, Sweden, Russia, and Poland. In 1782 he found prisoners at Newgate who had been waiting seven years for a trial. In 1783 he visited Portugal and Spain. He investigated more English prisons in 1787 and published The State of the Prisons in England, and an Account of the Principal Lazarettos of Europe in 1789. In the Crimea he caught cholera while visiting a prison and died in January 1790. From 1773 to his death he traveled more than 40,000 miles, mostly in Britain and Ireland. His work inspired many prison reforms, and the Howard Association founded in 1855 in Virginia merged with the Penal Reform League in 1921 to become the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Britain’s Reaction to France 1789-1799

Ireland 1714-89

Ireland and Scotland 1660-85

      Irish Catholics continued to be oppressed by the penal laws inflicted by the British in the 17th century. The British Parliament had prohibited Ireland from exporting woolens in 1699, and a linen industry began to grow. About 1715 much arable land was used for pasture, making so many peasants unemployed that they had to beg for food. Wages were low, and even those who worked in winter and spring begged during the summer. Communities tended to support ten beggars in the winter and maybe forty between planting and the harvest, and thousands of poor wandered around Ireland. Poor farmers had to give up two-thirds of their produce as rent, two or three shillings a year for the government’s hearth tax, and a tithe to Anglican clergy. Five-sixths of the people in Ireland were Catholics and gave what they could to their parish priests. Concerned about serious problems in Irish agriculture, in 1723 Viscount Molesworth wrote the pamphlet Production of Agriculture and Employing the Poor. In 1727 Anglican Archbishop Boulter estimated that Ireland had 3,000 Catholic priests compared to 800 Protestant clergy. Scottish Presbyterians mostly in the north were Protestant dissenters but managed to acquire cheap farms and start businesses. Ulster had as many Presbyterians as Catholics. Most of the rent went to landlords in England while others had fine country houses built with parks and gardens and a wall to keep out the poor. About 80% of Ireland’s income went to England. In 1715 Ireland paid £439,895 for the British military and £63,950 for the King’s expenses.
      Rent-rolls in Ireland rose sharply in the post-war period after 1710 and again in the 1740s and 1750s. Dublin was the center for most of the Anglo-Irish. The British House of Lords overturned an appeal made to the Irish House of Lords, and in 1719 Britain’s Declaratory Act claimed the authority to make the laws for Ireland. Irish Catholics could not vote unless they abjured their faith. The Irish Parliament had not been adjusted for population changes so that thirty rich men controlled 178 seats out of 300 in the Commons while large towns such as Londonderry had little representation. In 1736 Lord Orrery complained that drunkenness was so common in Ireland that one could be persecuted for not drinking. Horse-racing was also very popular. Dublin had cultural activities including the premiere of Handel’s Messiah on April 13, 1742. Between 1691 and 1745 about 450,000 Irish Catholics were recruited into France’s Irish brigade.
      Jonathan Swift was born in Ireland and studied for seven years at Trinity College in Dublin. He went to England and became a successful writer, and in 1713 he was appointed dean of St. Patrick’s cathedral in Dublin. In 1720 he wrote A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture to try to alleviate the misery of the weavers. He published this anonymously, and so the Irish government sued the printer for sedition; but nine times the jury refused to find him guilty. That year George I gave a patent to mint copper halfpennies worth £108,000 to his German ex-mistress, the Duchess of Kendal, who sold the patent for £10,000 to the ironmaster William Wood, who expected a profit of £25,000. Swift’s four Drapier’s Letters and protests prevented the release of the new halfpennies as Walpole revoked the patent in 1725. Ireland’s governor was recalled and replaced by Carteret. Swift wrote, “By the laws of God, of nature, and of nations, and your own country, you are and ought to be as free a people as your brethren in England.” Again juries refused to convict, and no one would claim a reward for naming the author. In 1728 Swift wrote his Short View of the State of Ireland. He complained that he had never heard of any kingdom “which was denied the Liberty of exporting their native Commodities and Manufactures.” He estimated that one-third of Ireland’s rents were spent in England, and half Ireland’s income was profit that went to England. Poverty in Ireland was pervasive. All their silver and a third of their gold were sent away within the last three years. He concluded, “When the Hen is starved to death, there will be no more Golden Eggs.”
      Also in 1728 Catholics and those married to Catholics were formally prohibited from voting and from practicing the legal profession, and it was not repealed until 1793. Thousands of Irish emigrated to America in the late 1720s, including 5,600 to Philadelphia in 1729 and many in the next decade to the Carolinas and Georgia. During three years of famine Swift in 1729 wrote the bitter satire, A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to their Parents or the Country in which he suggested that a quarter of the infants be fattened and fed to the landlords. Ireland suffered a major famine in 1740-41 in which an average of about 500 people died each day. There were also famines in 1644-45 and 1756-57.
      In 1731 landowners and Protestant clergy founded the Dublin Society to improve agriculture. Concerned that Irish children were being educated by Catholics, in 1733 they began setting up charity schools for poor children, and by 1750 Ireland had 33 charter schools. Handel’s oratorio Messiah was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742. When the Irish made their own beer, the British banned the importation of hops. In 1746 they prohibited the export of Irish glass. The Irish exported wheat, oats, meat, and fish, and built ships at Cork. Linen was spun at homes in Connacht and sent to Ulster for weaving in family farmhouses. When Ireland had a budget surplus in 1753, the British Privy Council claimed the money. Henry Boyle was Speaker of the House of Commons 1733-56 and led the effort to defeat the bill in the Irish Parliament. After the opposition rejected the money bill, Archbishop Andrew Stone of Dublin prorogued the Irish Parliament. Public criticism against Stone and Duke Lionel Sackville of Dorset, who was governing Ireland, led to the latter’s removal in April 1755.
      Frances Hutcheson (1694-1746) published his Inquiry into Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue in 1725 and was given the chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University in 1729. Hutcheson taught Adam Smith and was the first to use the phrase, “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.”
      George Berkeley was also born in Ireland and educated at Trinity College and became famous for his philosophical work. In 1732 he was appointed Bishop of Cloyne, and he advocated reform in Ireland in his Querist (1735-37), Letter to the Roman Catholics (1745), A Word to the Wise (1749), and Maxims on Patriotism (1750).
      Oppressed by the British laws, the Irish Catholics formed secret societies to retaliate and seek rough justice. Houghers in Connacht hamstrung cattle and drove sheep off cliffs to protest the turning of arable land into pasture. In 1759 Britain repealed the restriction on the import of Irish cattle, and more land became pasture. In February 1760 a French squadron led by François Thurot defeated a small British force and occupied Carrickfergus for five days. In March at Dublin the Catholic committee was founded by Dr. John Curry, Charles O’Conor, Thomas Wyse, and other traders. In Ireland’s election of 1760 the middle-class Protestants had few votes but made their demands known to support the Patriot group led by the lawyer Henry Flood which returned to the Irish Parliament.
      In 1762 Anthony Malone acquitted the Whiteboys of Munster because they had local grievances. Whiteboys wore white clothes and blackened their faces to tear down fences and maim livestock, and their actions spread to Munster, Leinster, and Connacht. Everyone was required to work six days a year without pay on the roads. In 1763 hundreds of Oakboys in Armagh and Londonderry attacked landlords, and in July troops were sent to disperse them. In the summer of 1763 agrarian protests against the county cess and tithe spread through central Ulster. In 1764 both houses of Parliament set up a committee to investigate rioting in Munster and Ulster. Edmund Burke wrote an address and petition for the Catholic Committee, claiming they had no seditious intent. Father Nicholas Sheehy vociferously opposed the Penal Laws, and after being acquitted on February 10, 1766 at Dublin he was tried under the Whiteboys Act of 1765, was unjustly convicted of being an accessory to murder, and was hanged on March 15. Four laymen were also executed.
      Lord Townshend arrived as the new viceroy in October 1767 and asked to increase Ireland’s standing army from 12,000 to 15,235, but the Irish resented this and defeated the bill until after the election of 1768. In February 1768 George III approved the Octenniel Act mandating elections every eight years. About 20,000 people emigrated from Ulster in the 1760s, and more than 30,000 did so in the first half of the 1770s before the start of the American war. Townshend became more unpopular and left in December 1772. That year the Bogland Act allowed Catholics to get leases for up to 61 years so that they could reclaim the bogs. Oakboys marched into Belfast, occupied the central area, and burned the house of a local liberal. Resentment of the tithe and cess spread through Armagh, Antrim, Down, Londonderry, and Tyrone; but order was restored in 1773 as tenants left for America. Flood accepted a government position in 1775. He was willing to give Catholics relief from the Penal Laws, but he did not want them to have political power. On October 27 Flood accepted the office of vice-treasurer. In 1775 Ireland was 75% Catholics, but they owned only 5% of the land. Many of the Irish were sympathetic to the American cause, and citizens of Dublin, Cork, and Belfast urged their members of Parliament to promote peace between Britain and the colonies and to vote down any measures against the Americans.
      Another lawyer, Henry Grattan, entered the Parliament in December 1775 and emerged with fine oratory. He did not want the Catholics treated as slaves. Catholic churches began praying for George III, and Protestants accepted them as compatriots rather than enemies. In 1778 most of the Anti-Popery Act was repealed. Catholics no longer had to divide their land equally among their sons, and they could become schoolmasters if they taught only Catholics. That Catholic Relief Act also helped the Presbyterians. Many had been emigrating to the West Indies and North America. They heard stories about religious freedom and opportunity in America. When France, Spain, and Holland allied with the Americans in the war, the danger of invasion threatened Ireland. In April 1778 John Paul Jones sailed into Belfast Lough and captured a British navy ship. The English offered little protection, and Belfast expanded the troop of volunteers formed in 1777. Ireland had 15,000 volunteers in 1779 and 40,000 soldiers by 1780. Yet Catholics were still prohibited from bearing arms and were generally excluded.
      The Irish began to think about independence. When their parliament met in October 1779, Grattan suggested that the House of Commons only appropriate money for six months. He proposed free trade and received much support. In the British Parliament opposition leaders Charles James Fox and Edmund Burke supported the Irish. Restrictions on Irish wool were lifted in December, and they were permitted to trade with any country except the rebelling colonies. On April 19, 1780 Grattan proposed that the House of Commons approve a declaration that only the Irish Parliament could make laws for Ireland. Frederick Howard, Earl of Carlisle, arrived in December 1780 to govern Ireland, and helped to establish a national bank. By 1780 Irish linen exports had increased to 18,700,000 yards, and the potato was an important food.
      On February 15, 1782 delegates from 143 Ulster Volunteer corps met in a Presbyterian church at Dungannon in County Tyrone, and they adopted resolutions to assert legislative independence. Grattan included in their final resolution to be free the declaration, “We hold the right of private judgment in matters of religion to be equally sacred in others as in ourselves.” One week later he proposed a declaration of independence in the House of Commons, and the next month the liberals took over the British government. On April 16 the ill Grattan moved independence again, and he called Ireland a new nation. Yelverton’s Act amended the requirement that the Irish Parliament had to confirm laws made in England. Fox got the Declaratory Act of 1719 repealed in May, and the British amended the hated Poynings law by July. That month the Volunteers held a convention at Lisburn and appealed to the reformers John Cartwright, John Jebb, Richard Price, and Christopher Wyvill. The Irish parliament was once again a legislature with their House of Lords as a supreme court. Irish bills were then sent directly to King George III for his approval or veto. Grattan accepted £50,000 of the £100,000 offered by the grateful Irish parliament so that he could work full time on politics. Members of Parliament had no salaries then. The Irish Parliament then appropriated £100,000 to provide 20,000 sailors for the British navy.
      Catholics began investing in Irish businesses and the economy expanded. Ireland’s exports were only worth £50,000 in 1706, but by 1783 they were nearly £3,000,000. Bad harvests 1782-84 were remedied by state bounties, and Ireland’s export of wheat expanded. Dublin built the Custom House and Four Courts and founded the Royal Irish Academy. Many peerages were created, and they increased annual pensions. In 1783 Flood presented a petition for three-year parliaments. On March 1 delegates of the Munster Volunteer corps expressed their view that the Parliament would not be virtuous until the people were more equally represented. They were supported by 38 corps at Belfast in June and by Volunteer delegates at Lisburn on July 1. Another convention assembled at Dungannon on September 8 with delegates from about 270 Ulster corps, and they proposed a national convention which met in Dublin on November 10. On the 29th Flood presented the Catholic Committee’s plan in the House of Commons, but the Parliament voted against changes. In May 1785 protectionists added tariffs to aid Irish industries, and eleven propositions were presented to the British Parliament; but Fox and North opposed them as dangerous to British commerce. In 1784 Charles Manners, Duke of Rutland, had become Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and advocated union to prevent separation. Rutland entertained at Dublin Castle and toured Ireland in 1787, making the viceroyalty more popular.

Ireland’s Rebellion in 1798 and Union


1. Quoted in History of England, Volume III by G. M. Trevelyan, p. 49-50.

Copyright © 2017 by Sanderson Beck

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Britain of Georges I-III 1714-88
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