George Cornewall Lewis, Irish character and the Irish poor law debate, 1833–1836

John-Paul McGauran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

George Cornewall Lewis was a prominent political and literary figure in the mid nineteenth century, serving as both chancellor of the exchequer and home secretary under Palmerston. He had a wide range of interests and wrote on many topics from philosophy to philology and forms of government to astronomy. This article focuses on his views of what was called ‘the Irish character’ in the period 1833–1836, alongside the part which he believed a poor law could play in the reform of both the individual Irish peasant and the wider economy of Ireland. Lewis was an assistant commissioner on the royal commission which examined poverty in Ireland and was responsible for examining Irish migration to England and Scotland. He later wrote a confidential report to Thomas Spring Rice strongly criticising the royal commission's refusal to recommend a poor law for Ireland and also published a book in which he discussed what he saw as the main causes of, and solutions to, Irish poverty. Lewis's public and private writings provide a rich source of theory and philosophy surrounding the character of the Irish peasantry, its capacity to develop, and the central role of an Irish poor law in this process.
LanguageEnglish
Pages28-39
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Volume57
Early online date20 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2017

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poor law
Ireland
poverty
astronomy
nineteenth century
philology
rice
peasant
assistant
migration
reform
economy
cause
Poor Law
philosophy
Philosophy
Poverty
form of government
book
public

Keywords

  • George Cornewall Lewis
  • Irish poor law
  • Irish character
  • Economic development
  • Immigration
  • Land

Cite this

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George Cornewall Lewis, Irish character and the Irish poor law debate, 1833–1836. / McGauran, John-Paul.

Vol. 57, 20.06.2017, p. 28-39.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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