Acts of Union 1800

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Act of Union (Ireland) 1800
Kingdom Ireland.svg
Long title An Act for the Union of Great Britain and Ireland
Citation 40 Geo. 3 c.38
Introduced by John Toler [1]
Dates
Commencement 1 January 1801
Status: Amended
Revised text of statute as amended
Constitutional documents and events relevant to the status of the United Kingdom and its constituent countries
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Treaty of Union 1706
Acts of Union 1707
Wales and Berwick Act 1746
Irish Constitution 1782
Acts of Union 1800
Parliament Act 1911
Government of Ireland Act 1920
Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921
Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927
Statute of Westminster 1931
United Nations Act 1946
Parliament Act 1949
EC Treaty of Accession 1972
NI (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972
European Communities Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
NI Border Poll 1973
NI Constitution Act 1973
Referendum Act 1975
EC Membership Referendum 1975
Scotland Act 1978
Wales Act 1978
Scottish Devolution Referendum 1979
Welsh Devolution Referendum 1979
Local Government (Wales) Act 1994
Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994
Referendums (Scotland & Wales) Act 1997
Scottish Devolution Referendum 1997
Welsh Devolution Referendum 1997
Good Friday Agreement 1998
Northern Ireland Act 1998
Government of Wales Act 1998
Human Rights Act 1998
Scotland Act 1998
Government of Wales Act 2006
Northern Ireland Act 2009
Welsh Devolution Referendum 2011
European Union Act 2011
Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011
Scotland Act 2012
Edinburgh Agreement 2012
Scottish Independence Referendum 2014
Wales Act 2014
European Union Referendum Act 2015
EU Membership Referendum 2016
Scotland Act 2016
Wales Act 2017
EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017
Invocation of Article 50 2017
European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
EU (Withdrawal) Act 2019

The Acts of Union 1800 (sometimes referred to as a single Act of Union 1801) were parallel acts of the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland which united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland (previously in personal union) to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The acts came into force on 1 January 1801, and the merged Parliament of the United Kingdom had its first meeting on 22 January 1801.

Parliament of Great Britain parliament from 1714 to 1800

The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts created a new unified Kingdom of Great Britain and dissolved the separate English and Scottish parliaments in favour of a single parliament, located in the former home of the English parliament in the Palace of Westminster, near the City of London. This lasted nearly a century, until the Acts of Union 1800 merged the separate British and Irish Parliaments into a single Parliament of the United Kingdom with effect from 1 January 1801.

Parliament of Ireland Former parliament of Ireland

The Parliament of Ireland was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the Parliament of England and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Lords were members of the Irish peerage and bishops. The Commons was directly elected, albeit on a very restricted franchise. Parliaments met at various places in Leinster and Munster, but latterly always in Dublin: in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Chichester House (1661–1727), the Blue Coat School (1729–31), and finally a purpose-built Parliament House on College Green.

Kingdom of Great Britain Constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

Contents

Both acts remain in force, with amendments, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, [2] and have been repealed in the Republic of Ireland. [3]

Republic of Ireland Country in Europe, occupying 5/6 of the island of Ireland

Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern side of the island. Around a third of the country's population of 4.8 million people resides in the greater Dublin area. The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, St George's Channel to the south-east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann, an upper house, Seanad Éireann, and an elected President who serves as the largely ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach, who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.

Name

Two acts were passed in 1800 with the same long title, An Act for the Union of Great Britain and Ireland. The short title of the act of the British Parliament is Union with Ireland Act 1800, assigned by the Short Titles Act 1896. The short title of the act of the Irish Parliament is Act of Union (Ireland) 1800, assigned by a 1951 act of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, and hence not effective in the Republic of Ireland, where it was referred to by its long title when repealed in 1962.

Short Titles Act 1896

The Short Titles Act 1896 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It replaces the Short Titles Act 1892.

Parliament of Northern Ireland former Parliament 1921-1972

The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the Home Rule legislature of Northern Ireland, created under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, which sat from 7 June 1921 to 30 March 1972, when it was suspended with the introduction of Direct Rule. It was abolished under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.

Background

Before these Acts, Ireland had been in personal union with England since 1541, when the Irish Parliament had passed the Crown of Ireland Act 1542, proclaiming King Henry VIII of England to be King of Ireland. Since the 12th century, the King of England had been technical overlord of the Lordship of Ireland, a papal possession. Both the Kingdoms of Ireland and England later came into personal union with that of Scotland upon the Union of the Crowns in 1603.

A personal union is the combination of two or more states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. A real union, by contrast, would involve the constituent states being to some extent interlinked, such as by sharing some limited governmental institutions. In a federation and a unitary state, a central (federal) government spanning all member states exists, with the degree of self-governance distinguishing the two. The ruler in a personal union does not need to be a hereditary monarch.

Crown of Ireland Act 1542

The Crown of Ireland Act 1542 is an Act of the Parliament of Ireland which created the title of King of Ireland for King Henry VIII of England and his successors, who previously ruled the island as Lord of Ireland.

Henry VIII of England 16th-century King of England

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

In 1707, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland were united into a single kingdom: the Kingdom of Great Britain. Upon that union, each House of the Parliament of Ireland passed a congratulatory address to Queen Anne, praying that, "May God put it in your royal heart to add greater strength and lustre to your crown, by a still more comprehensive Union". [4] The Irish parliament at that time was subject to a number of restrictions that placed it subservient to the Parliament of England (and following the union of England and Scotland, the Parliament of Great Britain), however Ireland gained effective legislative independence from Great Britain through the Constitution of 1782.

Kingdom of England historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Kingdom of Scotland Historic sovereign kingdom in the British Isles from the 9th century to 1707

The Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern third of the island of Great Britain, sharing a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England. It suffered many invasions by the English, but under Robert I it fought a successful War of Independence and remained an independent state throughout the late Middle Ages. In 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England, joining Scotland with England in a personal union. In 1707, the two kingdoms were united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain under the terms of the Acts of Union. Following the annexation of the Northern Isles from the Kingdom of Norway in 1472 and final capture of the Royal Burgh of Berwick by the Kingdom of England in 1482, the territory of the Kingdom of Scotland corresponded to that of modern-day Scotland, bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest.

Anne, Queen of Great Britain Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1702–07); queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1707–14)

Anne was the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland between 8 March 1702 and 1 May 1707. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1714.

By this time access to institutional power in Ireland was restricted to a small minority, the Anglo-Irish of the Protestant Ascendancy, and frustration at the lack of reform among the Catholic majority eventually led, along with other reasons, to a rebellion in 1798, involving a French invasion of Ireland and the seeking of complete independence from Great Britain. This rebellion was crushed with much bloodshed, and the subsequent drive for union between Great Britain and Ireland that passed in 1800 was motivated at least in part by the belief that the rebellion was caused as much by reactionary loyalist brutality as by the United Irishmen.[ citation needed ]

The Protestant Ascendancy, known simply as the Ascendancy, was the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland between the 17th century and the early 20th century by a minority of landowners, Protestant clergy, and members of the professions, all members of the Established Church. The Ascendancy excluded from politics and the elite other groups, most numerous among them Roman Catholics but also members of the Presbyterian and other Protestant denominations, along with non-Christians such as Jews. Until the Reform Acts (1832–1928) even the majority of Irish Protestants were effectively excluded from the Ascendancy, being too poor to vote. In general, the privileges of the Ascendancy were resented by Irish Catholics, who made up the majority of the population.

French expedition to Ireland (1796)

The French expedition to Ireland, known in French as the Expédition d'Irlande, was an unsuccessful attempt by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars to assist the outlawed Society of United Irishmen, a popular rebel Irish republican group, in their planned rebellion against British rule. The French intended to land a large expeditionary force in Ireland during the winter of 1796–1797 which would join with the United Irishmen and drive the British out of Ireland. The French anticipated that this would be a major blow to British morale, prestige and military effectiveness, and was also intended to possibly be the first stage of an eventual invasion of Britain itself. To this end, the French Directory gathered a force of approximately 15,000 soldiers at Brest under General Lazare Hoche during late 1796, in readiness for a major landing at Bantry Bay in December.

Furthermore, Catholic emancipation was being discussed in Great Britain, and fears that a newly enfranchised Catholic majority would drastically change the character of the Irish government and parliament also contributed to a desire from London to merge the parliaments.[ citation needed ]

Passing the Acts

Complementary acts had to be passed in the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland.

The Parliament of Ireland had recently gained a large measure of legislative independence under the Constitution of 1782. Many members of the Irish Parliament jealously guarded this autonomy (notably Henry Grattan) and a motion for union was legally rejected in 1799.

Only Anglicans were permitted to become members of the Parliament of Ireland, though the great majority of the Irish population were Roman Catholic, with many Presbyterians in Ulster. In 1793 Roman Catholics regained the right to vote if they owned or rented property worth £2 p.a. The Catholic hierarchy was strongly in favour of union, hoping for rapid emancipation and the right to sit as MPs – which was however delayed after the passage of the acts until 1829.

From the perspective of Great Britain, the union was desirable because of the uncertainty that followed the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and the French Revolution of 1789; if Ireland adopted Catholic Emancipation, willingly or not, a Roman Catholic parliament could break away from Britain and ally with the French, while the same measure within a united kingdom would exclude that possibility. Also the Irish and British parliaments, when creating a regency during King George III's "madness", gave the Prince Regent different powers. These considerations led Great Britain to decide to attempt merger of the two kingdoms and their parliaments.

The final passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was achieved with substantial majorities, in part according to contemporary documents through bribery, namely the awarding of peerages and honours to critics to get their votes. [5] Whereas the first attempt had been defeated in the Irish House of Commons by 109 votes against to 104 for, the second vote in 1800 produced a result of 158 to 115. [5]

Provisions

The Acts of Union were two complementary Acts, namely:

They were passed on 2 July 1800 and 1 August 1800 respectively, and came into force on 1 January 1801. They ratified eight articles which had been previously agreed by the British and Irish Parliaments:

Part of the attraction of the Union for many Irish Catholics was the promise of Catholic Emancipation, allowing Roman Catholic MPs, who had not been allowed in the Irish Parliament. This was however blocked by King George III who argued that emancipating Roman Catholics would breach his Coronation Oath, and was not realised until 1829.

The traditionally separate Irish Army, which had been funded by the Irish Parliament, was merged into the larger British Army.

The first parliament

In the first Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the members of the House of Commons were not elected afresh. By royal proclamation authorised by the Act, all the members of the last House of Commons from Great Britain took seats in the new House, and from Ireland 100 members were chosen from the last Irish House of Commons; both members from each of the 32 counties and from the two largest boroughs, and one each (chosen by lot) from the next 31 boroughs and from Dublin University.

Union flag

Change in the Union Flag
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg
Earlier Flag of Great Britain,
prior to the union with Ireland
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
The second Union Flag,
incorporating the Irish Saint Patrick's Saltire

The flag, created as a consequence of the union of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1800, still remains the flag of the United Kingdom. Called the Union Flag, it combined the flags of St George's Cross (which included Wales) and the St Andrew's Saltire of Scotland with the St Patrick's Saltire to represent Ireland (it now represents Northern Ireland).

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References

Sources

Primary
Secondary

Citations

  1. "Bill 4098: For the union of Great Britain and Ireland". Irish Legislation Database. Belfast: Queen's University . Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  2. From legislation.gov.uk:
  3. From Irish Statute Book:
  4. Journals of the Irish Commons, vol. iii. p. 421
  5. 1 2 Alan J. Ward, The Irish Constitutional Tradition p.28.
  6. "Union with Ireland Act 1800".  No. (39 & 40 Geo. 3 c. 67) of 2 July 1800 . Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  7. "Act of Union (Ireland) 1800".  No. (40 Geo. 3 c. 38) of 1 August 1800 . Retrieved 6 September 2015.

Further reading