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14 - Interests in Ireland: the ‘fanatic zeal and irregular ambition’ of Richard Lawrence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 July 2009

Ciaran Brady
Affiliation:
Trinity College, Dublin
Jane Ohlmeyer
Affiliation:
Trinity College, Dublin
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Summary

Richard Lawrence is chiefly remembered as the pamphleteer who entered the lists against Vincent Gookin in 1655. His role in defending the scheme to transplant many of the defeated Irish west of the River Shannon is well known. Rather than revisit one controversial episode, it is his entire career in Ireland which will be considered, and particularly Lawrence's reflections on it. Lawrence, having arrived with the Cromwellian army in 1649, stayed until he died in 1684. During those thirty-five years he shifted from championing the English to advancing the locals' interest in Ireland. So much was proclaimed in the titles of his books. The brace from the Interregnum were entitled The Interest of England and England's Great Interest in the Well Planting of Ireland. In contrast, the compendium which was published in 1682 was The Interest of Ireland in its Trade and Wealth Stated. This was a personal journey made by numerous other settlers from England, Wales and Scotland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Apart from its intrinsic interest, Lawrence's altered perspective shows something of the rapid physical and cultural transformations around him, especially in Dublin from the mid-1650s.

The value of Lawrence lay less in his originality than as a conductor of what was in the air. Anxieties which he voiced often had long histories. In several cases – dislike of luxury and absenteeism – they would concern commentators well into the eighteenth century.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

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