Grattan, Henry

Grattan, Henry

(grăt`ən), 1746–1820, Irish statesman. A lawyer, he entered (1775) the Irish Parliament and soon became known as a brilliant orator. Aided by Britain's preoccupation with the American Revolution and its fear of the revolutionary potential of the Irish volunteer army (see IrelandIreland,
Irish Eire [to it are related the poetic Erin and perhaps the Latin Hibernia], island, 32,598 sq mi (84,429 sq km), second largest of the British Isles.
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), Grattan led the successful fight for abolition of the restrictions on Irish trade and the repeal of Poynings's Law (see under Poynings, Sir EdwardPoynings, Sir Edward,
1459–1521, English statesman. After taking part in an insurrection (1483) against Richard III, he fled to the Continent, where he joined the followers of Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, who in 1485 ascended the English throne as Henry VII.
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). Having thus gained nominal legislative independence for the Irish Parliament, he worked to eliminate the system by which English patrons continued to control it, advocating Catholic EmancipationCatholic Emancipation,
term applied to the process by which Roman Catholics in the British Isles were relieved in the late 18th and early 19th cent. of civil disabilities.
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 as the only means for making the Irish Parliament truly representative. The Catholic Relief Act (1793) gave Catholics the right to vote in Ireland, but hopes raised in 1795 that Catholics would be allowed to sit in Parliament were soon dashed, and Grattan retired (1797) in indignation at the government's policy. In 1800, on the last day of the debate on the parliamentary union with England, Grattan appeared in the Irish Parliament and made the greatest speech of his career in opposition to the Act of Union. He sat in the British Parliament from 1805, taking little part except to support Catholic Emancipation.


See G. O'Brien, Anglo-Irish Politics in the Age of Grattan and Pitt (1986).

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Grattan, Henry


Born July 3, 1746, in Dublin; died June 4, 1820, in London. Irish political figure, leader of liberal opposition to the English government, lawyer, prominent orator.

In 1775, Grattan came forward in the Irish House of Commons as the spokesman of the Irish bourgeoisie who were dissatisfied with the British policy of colonization. He was one of the leaders of the Whig Club, which tried to limit the national movement with moderate-liberal demands. In 1800. Grattan unsuccessfully fought against the bill on Anglo-Irish union, which provided for the liquidation of the Irish Parliament. In 1805 he was elected to the English Parliament, where he joined with the Whig group.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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