Science, Politics and Society in early nineteenth century Ireland: the Reverend William Richardson

Allan Blackstock

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

    Abstract

    ‘I love controversy’ claimed William Richardson (1740-1820), a clerical polymath whose activities ranged from Ulster politics to interventions in international scientific debates. A prolific pamphleteer, agricultural improvement was his principal project. He believed that Irish fiorin grass could reclaim wasteland throughout Britain and make hay in winter. Though critics alleged he was mad for overturning the adage of ‘making hay while the sun shines’, he was supported by Sir Humphry Davy and Sir Joseph Banks. His true historical significance is that his fiorin campaign represented an Irish attempt to remedy Britain’s food supply problem during the Napoleonic war and came immediately after the Union.Richardson was intensely interested in the origin of basalt at the Giant’s Causeway and refuted claims that it was volcanic. He applied the same empirical reasoning to political economy and Irish politics, where he represents an alternative strand of loyalism to that of Sir Richard Musgrave.
    LanguageEnglish
    Number of pages193
    Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2013

    Fingerprint

    Ireland
    Causeways
    Ulster
    Sun
    Political Economy
    Giant
    Wasteland
    Napoleonic Wars
    Basalt
    Winter
    Polymath
    Humphry Davy
    Food

    Cite this

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    Science, Politics and Society in early nineteenth century Ireland: the Reverend William Richardson. / Blackstock, Allan.

    2013. 193 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

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    AB - ‘I love controversy’ claimed William Richardson (1740-1820), a clerical polymath whose activities ranged from Ulster politics to interventions in international scientific debates. A prolific pamphleteer, agricultural improvement was his principal project. He believed that Irish fiorin grass could reclaim wasteland throughout Britain and make hay in winter. Though critics alleged he was mad for overturning the adage of ‘making hay while the sun shines’, he was supported by Sir Humphry Davy and Sir Joseph Banks. His true historical significance is that his fiorin campaign represented an Irish attempt to remedy Britain’s food supply problem during the Napoleonic war and came immediately after the Union.Richardson was intensely interested in the origin of basalt at the Giant’s Causeway and refuted claims that it was volcanic. He applied the same empirical reasoning to political economy and Irish politics, where he represents an alternative strand of loyalism to that of Sir Richard Musgrave.

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