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The Acts of Union 1800 (sometimes referred to as a single Act of Union 1801) were parallel acts of the
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union 1707, Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a ...
and the
Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the of the , and later the , from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the and the . The Lords were members of the (’’) and bisho ...
which united the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
and the
Kingdom of Ireland The Kingdom of Ireland ( ga, label= Classical Irish, an Ríoghacht Éireann; ga, label=Modern Irish Irish ( in ), sometimes referred to as Gaelic, is a of the branch of the , which is a part of the . Irish is to the and was the po ...

Kingdom of Ireland
(previously in
personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...

personal union
) to create the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some f ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
. The acts
came into force In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bo ...
on 1 January 1801, and the merged
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
had its first meeting on 22 January 1801. Both acts remain in force, with amendments, in the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
, but have been repealed in the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
.


Name

Two acts were passed in 1800 with the same
long title In certain jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and other Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London (also known less commonly as London city centre) is the innermost part of London, in England, spanning se ...
, ''An Act for the Union of Great Britain and Ireland''. The
short title In certain jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and other Westminster Westminster is a district in Central London Central London (also known less commonly as London city centre) is the innermost part of London, in England, spanning s ...
of the act of the British Parliament is ''Union with Ireland Act 1800'', assigned by the
Short Titles Act 1896 The Short Titles Act 1896 (59 & 60 Vict c 14) is an Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It replaces the Short Titles Act 1892. This Act was retained for the Republic of Ireland by section 2(2)(a) ...
. 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 The Parliament of Northern Ireland was the home rule legislature of Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of ...
, and hence not effective in the Republic of Ireland, where it was referred to by its long title when repealed in 1962.


Background

Before these Acts, Ireland had been in
personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...

personal union
with England since 1541, when the Irish Parliament had passed the
Crown of Ireland Act 1542 The Crown of Ireland Act 1542 is an Act passed by the Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 180 ...
, proclaiming King
Henry VIII of England Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
to be
King of Ireland Monarchical systems of government have existed in Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North C ...
. Since the 12th century, the King of England had been technical overlord of the
Lordship of Ireland The Lordship of Ireland ( ga, Tiarnas na hÉireann), sometimes referred to retroactively as Norman Ireland, was the part of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title= ...

Lordship of Ireland
, a papal possession. Both the Kingdoms of Ireland and England later came into personal union with that of
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
upon the
Union of the Crowns The Union of the Crowns ( gd, Aonadh nan Crùintean; sco, Union o the Crouns) was the accession Accession refers to the general idea of joining or adding to. It may also refer to: *Accession (property law) * Accession, the act of joining a t ...
in 1603. In 1707, the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
and the
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o 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 thi ...
were united into a single kingdom: the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called Great Britain,"After the political union of England and Scotland in 1707, the nation's official name became 'Great Britain'", ''The American Pageant, Volume 1'', Cengage Learning (2012) was a s ...

Kingdom of Great Britain
. Upon that union, each House of the
Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the of the , and later the , from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the and the . The Lords were members of the (’’) and bisho ...
passed a congratulatory address to
Queen Anne Queen Anne often refers to: * Anne, Queen of Great Britain (1665–1714), queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1702–1707) and of Great Britain (1707–1714) **Queen Anne style architecture, an architectural style from her reign, and its revival ...

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". The Irish Parliament at that time was subject to a number of restrictions that placed it subservient to the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who u ...
(and following the union of England and Scotland, the
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union 1707, Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a ...
); however, Ireland gained effective legislative independence from Great Britain through the
Constitution of 1782 A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
. By this time access to institutional power in Ireland was restricted to a small minority, the
Anglo-Irish Anglo-Irish () is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that di ...
of the
Protestant Ascendancy The Protestant Ascendancy, known simply as the Ascendancy, was the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. ...
, 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. 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.


Passage

Complementary acts had to be passed in the Parliament of Great Britain and in the Parliament of Ireland. The Parliament of Ireland had recently gained a large measure of legislative independence under the
Constitution of 1782 A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
. Many members of the Irish Parliament jealously guarded that autonomy (notably
Henry Grattan Henry Grattan (3 July 1746 – 4 June 1820) was an Irish politician and lawyer who campaigned for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century from Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom, a sovereign state ...

Henry Grattan
), and a motion for union was legally rejected in 1799. Only
Anglicans Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *W ...
were permitted to become members of the Parliament of Ireland though the great majority of the Irish population were
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
, with many
Presbyterians Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Cath ...
in
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
. In 1793 Roman Catholics regained the right to vote if they owned or rented property worth £2 annually. The Catholic hierarchy was strongly in favour of union in the hope for rapid
emancipation Emancipation is any effort to procure Economic, social and cultural rights, economic and social rights, civil and political rights, political rights or Egalitarianism, equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group, or more generally, i ...
and the right to sit as MPs, but it was delayed after the passage of the acts until the
Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 The Catholic Relief Act 1829, also known as the Catholic Emancipation Act 1829, was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly As ...
. From the perspective of Great Britain, the union was desirable because of the uncertainty that followed the
Irish Rebellion of 1798 The Irish Rebellion of 1798 ( ga, Éirí Amach 1798; Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ' ...
and the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

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, but the same measure within the United Kingdom would exclude that possibility. Also the Irish and British Parliaments in creating a regency during King
George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on th ...

George III
's "madness", gave the Prince Regent different powers. These considerations led Great Britain to decide to attempt the merger of both kingdoms and Parliaments. The final passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was achieved with substantial majorities, in part according to contemporary documents through bribery with the awarding of
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
s and
honour Honour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, whi ...
s to critics to get their votes.Alan J. Ward, ''The Irish Constitutional Tradition'' p.28. The first attempt had been defeated in the
Irish House of Commons The Irish House of Commons was the lower house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from 1297 until 1800. The upper house was the Irish House of Lords, House of Lords. The membership of the House of Commons was directly elected, but on a hi ...
by 109 votes to 104, but the second vote in 1800 passed by 158 to 115.


Provisions

The Acts of Union were two complementary Acts, namely: * The Union with Ireland Act 1800 (39 & 40 Geo. 3 c. 67), an Act of the
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union 1707, Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a ...
, and * The Act of Union (Ireland) 1800 (40 Geo. 3 c. 38), an Act of the
Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the of the , and later the , from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the and the . The Lords were members of the (’’) and bisho ...
. 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: * Articles I–IV dealt with the political aspects of the Union. It created a united parliament. ** In the House of Lords, the existing members of the Parliament of Great Britain were joined by, as
Lords Spiritual The Lords Spiritual of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...
, four bishops of the
Church of Ireland The Church of Ireland ( ga, Eaglais na hÉireann, ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ul ...
, rotating among the dioceses in each session and as
Lords Temporal The Lords Temporal are secular members of the House of Lords The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by appointment, heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons of the United K ...
28
representative peers In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer ...
elected for life by the
Peerage of Ireland The Peerage of Ireland consists of those Peerage, titles of nobility created by the Monarchy of Ireland, English monarchs in their capacity as Lordship of Ireland, Lord or Monarchy of Ireland, King of Ireland, or later by monarchs of the Un ...
. ** The House of Commons was to include the pre-union representation from Great Britain and 100 members from Ireland. :: * Article V united the established
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
and Church of Ireland into "one Protestant Episcopal Church, to be called, The United Church of England and Ireland"; but also confirmed the independence of the
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis ...

Church of Scotland
. * Article VI created a
customs union A customs union is generally defined as a type of trade bloc A trade bloc is a type of trade pact, intergovernmental agreement, often part of a regional intergovernmental organization, where barriers to trade (tariffs and Non-tariff barriers to tr ...

customs union
, with the exception that customs duties on certain British and Irish goods passing between the two countries would remain for 10 years (a consequence of having trade depressed by the ongoing war with revolutionary France). * Article VII stated that Ireland would have to contribute two-seventeenths towards the expenditure of the United Kingdom. The figure was a ratio of Irish to British foreign trade. * Article VIII formalised the legal and judicial aspects of the Union. Part of the attraction of the Union for many Irish Catholics was the promise of
Catholic Emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the Brit ...
, allowing
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
MPs, who had not been allowed in the Irish Parliament. This was however blocked by
King George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and of Monarchy of Ireland, Ireland from 25 October 1760 until Acts of Union 1800, the union of the two kingdoms on 1 January 1801, after which he wa ...

King George III
who argued that emancipating Roman Catholics would breach his
Coronation Oath An oath of office is an oath or Affirmation in law, affirmation a person takes before assuming the duties of an Public office, office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of offic ...
, and was not realised until 1829. The traditionally separate
Irish Army The Irish Army, known simply as the Army ( ga, an tArm), is the land component of the Defence Forces (Ireland), Defence Forces of Republic of Ireland, Ireland.The Defence Forces are made up of the Permanent Defence Forces - the standing branches ...
, which had been funded by the Irish Parliament, was merged into the larger
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
.


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: two members from each of the 32 counties and from the two largest boroughs, and one from each of the next 31 boroughs (chosen by lot) and from
Dublin University The University of Dublin ( ga, Ollscoil Átha Cliath), corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin, is a university located in Dublin Dublin (, ; ) is the capital and largest city of Republic o ...
. The other 84 Irish parliamentary boroughs were disfranchised; all were
pocket borough A rotten or pocket borough, also known as a nomination borough or proprietorial borough, was a parliamentary borough In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK ...
s, whose patrons received £15,000 compensation for the loss of what was considered their property.


Union Flag

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 The national flag of the United Kingdom is the Union Jack The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the de facto national flag of the United Kingdom. Though no law has been passed officially making the Union Jack the national flag of the United ...

flag of the United Kingdom
. Called the
Union Flag The Union Jack, or Union Flag, is the de facto national flag of the United Kingdom. Though no law has been passed officially making the Union Jack the national flag of the United Kingdom, it has effectively become the national flag through prec ...

Union Flag
, it combined the flags of
St George's Cross In heraldry, Saint George's Cross, also called the Cross of Saint George, is a red heraldic cross, cross on a white background, which from the Late Middle Ages became associated with Saint George, the military saint, often depicted as a crusade ...

St George's Cross
(which was deemed to include
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
) and the of Scotland with the
St Patrick's Saltire Saint Patrick's Saltire or Saint Patrick's Cross is a red saltire (X-shaped cross) on a white field. In heraldry, heraldic language, it may be blazoned "''argent, a saltire gules''". The Saint Patrick's Flag (''Bratach Naomh Pádraig'') is a fl ...

St Patrick's Saltire
to represent Ireland (it now represents Northern Ireland).


References


Sources

;Primary:
Acts of Union – complete original text
* * * ;Secondary: * Ward, Alan J. ''The Irish Constitutional Tradition: Responsible Government and Modern Ireland 1782–1992''. Irish Academic Press, 1994. * Lalor, Brian (ed). ''The Encyclopaedia of Ireland''. Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, Ireland, 2003. , p7


Further reading

* Kelly, James. "The origins of the act of union: an examination of unionist opinion in Britain and Ireland, 1650-1800." ''Irish Historical Studies'' 25.99 (1987): 236–263. * Keogh, Dáire, and Kevin Whelan, eds. ''Acts of Union: The causes, contexts, and consequences of the Act of Union'' (Four Courts Press 2001). * McDowell, R. B. ''Ireland in the Age of Imperialism and Revolution, 1760-1801'' (1991) pp 678–704.


External links


Act of Union Virtual Library
from
Queen's University Belfast , native_name_lang = Irish , image_upright = , image_size = 150px , image_alt = Seal of Queen's University Belfast , caption = Coat of arms of Queen's University Belfast , latin_name = Universitas Reginae Belfastiae , motto = la, Pro t ...

Queen's University Belfast

Ireland - History - The Union,1800/Ireland - Politics and government - 19th century
index of documents digitised by Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers On Ireland
Digital Reproduction of the Original Act (39&40 Geo. 3 c. 67) on the Parliamentary Archives catalogue
{{DEFAULTSORT:Act Of Union (1800) Constitutional laws of the United Kingdom 1800 in law 1800 in Ireland Unionism in the United Kingdom Irish laws British constitutional laws concerning Ireland Great Britain Acts of Parliament 1800 Acts of the Parliament of Ireland (pre-1801) Repealed Irish legislation Unionism in Ireland Law about religion in the United Kingdom National unifications Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations