Parliaments, nations and identities in Britain and Ireland, 1660–1850

Editor: Julian Hoppit

In 1660 the four nations of the British Isles were governed by one imperial crown but by three parliaments. The abolition of the Scottish and Irish Parliaments in 1707 and 1800 created a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland centred upon the Westminster legislature. This book takes state formation. A number of important points emerge, however, the book deals with three. The first and most obvious point is that the unions were limited in scope and were palpably not incorporating . The second point is that, depending upon the issue, parliament required or encouraged not only different arguments but different voices. The final conclusion to emerge from these essays is that utility of 'national identity' as a way of understanding how people in the period conceived of themselves and their relationship to the state is not as clear and certain as might be first thought. National identity was one amongst a number of geo-political communities people might belong to, albeit a very important one. Inasmuch as the Westminster parliament provided a forum in which debates about how to legislate for three kingdoms took place, in its own way it helped to reinforce awareness of that difference. Liverpool petitions allow us to explore the intersection between policy debate and imperial identity during a pivotal era in the evolution of the British Empire. After 1832, virtual representation, though it survived in many different ways, became associated in the colonial context with nabobs and planters, the very demons of 'old Corruption'.

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