United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom from 1 January 1801 until 12 April 1927. It was formed by the merger of the Kingdom of Great Britain (itself having been a merger of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland) and the Kingdom of Ireland, with Ireland being governed directly from Westminster through its Dublin Castle administration.

Following partial Irish independence on 6 December 1922, when the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty came into effect, the name continued in official use until it was changed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act of 1927. The current British state is a direct continuation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (albeit having lost territory), and therefore is not generally considered a successor state.

Contents

The United Kingdom

The merger was initially seen favourably in Ireland, if only due to the fact that the old Irish parliament was hostile to the majority Catholic population, some of whose members had only been given the vote as late as 1794 and who were legally debarred from election to the body. The Roman Catholic hierarchy endorsed the Union. However, King George III's decision to block Catholic Emancipation fatally undermined the appeal of the Union. Leaders like Henry Grattan, who sat in the new parliament, having been leading members of the old one, were bitterly critical.

The eventual achievement of Catholic Emancipation in 1829, following a campaign by Daniel O'Connell, MP for County Clare, who had won election to Westminster and who could not for religious beliefs take the Oath of Supremacy, removed the main negative that had undermined the appeal of the old parliament, the exclusion of Catholics. From 1829 on, the demand for a native Irish parliament separate from Westminster grew.

Irish Home Rule

Figures such as Isaac Butt and Charles Stewart Parnell, the first leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, campaigned for a version of all-Ireland self-government called home rule within the United Kingdom, which was nearly achieved in the 1880s under the Prime Ministry of William Ewart Gladstone who introduced two Irish Home Rule Bills, making a pleading Home Rule Speech in 1886. However, the measures were defeated in Parliament, and following the ascension of the Conservatives to the majority, the issue was buried as long as that party was in power.

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