Colonial representation at Westminster, c. 1800–65
in Parliaments, nations and identities in Britain and Ireland, 1660–1850
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This chapter is concerned with the paradox and its consequences, that is by what means an expanding overseas empire was represented at home by an English parliament. Colonial representation was more than just an incidental footnote to the history of parliamentary reform in the nineteenth century. In many ways, parliamentary reform completed the process of emasculation of colonial MPs which had already begun by the collapsing prosperity of the old empire in India and the Caribbean. Sir Francis Burdett, MP for Westminster, proved a diligent advocate of Irish Catholic interests in the years leading up to 1829, as did Henry Parnell. Westminster became more English and less imperial as the nineteenth century progressed. The Act of Union of 1801 did away with an Irish parliament in Dublin and imposed instead a Protestant representation on a largely Catholic population.

Editor: Julian Hoppit

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