The 'natural Leaders' and Their World: Politics, Culture and Society in Belfast, C. 1801-1832
This book is a richly detailed exploration of the complex and cosmopolitan urban culture inhabited by the Presbyterian elite of late-Georgian Belfast, which will prove to be of interest to a wide range of scholars working on the political, cultural and intellectual histories of both Ireland and Britain during the age of reform. Employing both biographical and thematic approaches, the book begins by examining the story of the Tennents, one of the most prominent Presbyterian families in early-nineteenth-century Belfast, before turning to reconstruct their milieu. Challenging existing narratives, the study provides a major re-assessment of the political life of late-Georgian Belfast, highlighting the activities of a close-knit group of advanced reformer - the 'natural leaders' of the books title - who sought to promote the cause of reform and engage with British and European political events. In addition, the book contains the first serious scholarly examination of the cultural and intellectual life of the town in the early-nineteenth century, and the first major treatment of the middle classes' philanthropic activities. The interplay of politics and culture is discussed, as is the accuracy of Belfast's reputation as the 'Athens of the North' and the religious underpinnings of the town's charitable societies. In examining these areas, attention is paid to the influence of trends such as romanticism and evangelicalism and of writers such as Lord Byron, Walter Scott, Robert Owen and Thomas Chalmers, and it is argued that, both culturally and politically, the Presbyterian middle classes of Belfast inhabited a British world.
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1798 rebellion appeared Belfast Academical Institution Belfast Historic Society Belfast politics Belfast Society Belfast’s reformers Britain broader British Bruce Caroline affair Castlereagh Catholic emancipation Chalmers classical context cultural and intellectual diary Donegall Drennan to McTier Dublin early nineteenth century eighteenth century Emerson Tennent established evangelicalism ﬁgures ﬁrst Henry identiﬁed inﬂuence Institution’s Ireland John Tennent JT to RT July late Georgian Belfast letter liberal Linen Hall Library London McBride McTier to Drennan Napoleon natural leaders noted ofthe Oxford period Presbyterian pro—reform Promoting Knowledge PRONI Queen’s University rebellion reﬂected religious Revd John Revd JT revolution Robert James Tennent Robert Tennent Scottish signiﬁcant social Society for Promoting Society’s St Patrick’s Day Stewart Sunday School Synod of Ulster Templeton Tennent papers Thomas tion town meeting town’s Ulster Ulster Presbyterians Union United Irishmen Verner Whig William Drennan William Tennent young