and landowners were displaced and the Catholic peasantry subordinated to a Protestant landowning and office-holding "caste". Fearing that Ireland would be used as a stepping-stone for Jacobite or French invasions, the government stepped up subjection of the Catholic population. Legislation was passed by the Irish Parliament against Catholics during the 1690s and early 1700s to diminish their civil liberties and curb the growth of popery.
The Protestant Irish were able to retain their Parliament by using the 'financial lever', the strategic importance of Ireland to the Empire. Catholics were of course excluded from the Irish Parliament, which developed into a regular piece of the machinery of government in Ireland. Poynings' Law determined procedure, though the English government retained the right to legislate for Ireland in event of dispute or crossed interests the wishes of the English government would prevail. Irish MPs were given considerable duties, and the Irish Parliament could on occasion alter English policy - such as when William III's attempt to forge an alliance or treaty with the Catholics was interrupted and a stern penal code designed to exterminate Catholicism and deprive Irish Catholics of civil rights, replaced it. Despite the demise of Jacobitism in Ireland, in 1720 a Declaratory Act reinforced the Protestant Ascendancy. Catholics were explicitly disenfranchised in 1728 and further legislated against over the right to bear arms and education thereafter. There followed some agrarian agitation in Munster and Ulster, with the "Whiteboys" and "Oakboys", during the 1760s.
During the 1690s the "planters" still considered themselves very much the 'English in Ireland', but gradually there developed a sense of patriotism similar to that among the North American colonists. There were protests in 1697-1704 and 1717-24 in the Dublin Parliament against the "oppression" of English rule, although grievances were principally economic and lacked any real or coherent commitment to the political cause of independence. This kind of outburst was frequent enough during economic crises, and timely concessions usually defused the situation. An example came in the early 1720s with William Wood's acquisition of exclusive right to mint copper half pence for circulation in Ireland. After incensed protest and scorn of Jonathan Swift in print ('Drapiers Letters', 1724) Walpole's government grudgingly withdrew the monopoly. Generally during the first half of the eighteenth century the Irish political classes were content to work within the existing constitutional framework.
However by the 1750s consensus was beginning to collapse in Ireland. A patriotic explosion came with the Money Bill Dispute. The English government commandeered surplus money from the Irish Parliament in 1749 and 1751. In 1753 the government was criticised and agitation aroused patriotic enthusiasm to the great alarm of the English government. There was a clearer constitutional issue to Irish Protestant patriotism and the English government realised it was time to alter its approach as its "management" of the Irish Parliament had collapsed during the dispute. Considerations ranged from reducing corruption to the more radical suggestion of union. In event during Lord Townshend's term as viceroy (1767-72) 'undertakers' * were attacked, but the viceroy's recovery of control over parliamentary management (through by-passing the 'undertakers') illustrated the fundamental weakness of the Irish Parliament. The reality of Ireland's subordination to the English polity incited patriotism once again, though this time with the example of the American colonists, the demise of the Jacobist threat, the politicisation of Presbyterians in Ulster, and declining fears about the threat of popery congealed to create an atmosphere hostile to English "paternal" influence. Legislative independence was demanded at bayonet-point by the Volunteers (armed Protestant militia), during the late 1770s and early 1780s. The Volunteers had been disgruntled with Townshend's heavy- handed tactics in Ireland. Irish alliance with the Whigs at Westminster proved fruitful as North's government appeased the Volunteers and Irish Parliament during 1782-83 without violence.
* [i.e. parliamentary managers]
From the later 1770s the government also began to dismantle the machinery of its political-constitutional economic and religious repression in recognition of the need to appease Ireland. In 1778 a Catholic Relief Act was passed, along with trade concessions in 1780. Irish demands for legislative independence and an 'Irish Declaration of Rights' were met in 1782 by the Rockingham government. Also in 1782 came