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Title: Irish protestant travel to Europe, 1660-1727
Author: Ansell, Richard
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines travel to continental Europe as undertaken by several generations of Irish Protestants between 1660 and 1727. Historians draw parallels between the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland and other polities in ancien régime Europe, but these demand an exploration of contemporary encounters. Research on the Irish in Europe concentrates on Catholics without much regard to Protestant experiences, while work on English or British travel overlooks ways in which Irish Protestant voyages differed. This thesis analyses the experiences of Church-of-Ireland families from the gentry, nobility and aristocracy, especially the Southwells, Percevals, Molesworths, Molyneuxs, Boyles and Butlers. Correspondence, notebooks and financial accounts reconstruct their voyages, mainly to France, Italy, the Low Countries and Germany, and their attitudes towards the practice of travel. Journeys to other destinations are incorporated, as are the voyages of neighbours, acquaintances and employees. Purposes varied, but travel was consistently considered an opportunity for 'improvement'. The thesis follows the successive preoccupations of travellers, beginning with demonstrations of 'fitness to travel'. Wealthy young men were judged according to criteria that privileged anglicisation and Protestantism, though linguistic skill was a more socially-comprehensive standard. Advisors emphasised civil conversation and written observation, but warnings to avoid 'countrymen' were ignored. The company of English-speaking travellers and Irish Catholic expatriates created distinctive European experiences. Foreign hosts often saw uncomplicated Englishmen, though some recognised Irish difference. Anglican travellers held qualified membership of a 'Protestant international', drawing on a cross-confessional 'stock of friends'. Travellers received tuition that complicates perceptions of travel as 'informal' education and they memorialised experiences through souvenirs and gifts. Voyages encouraged some into English residence and identifications, though others brought improvements home to Ireland. 'Improvement', as it related to wealthy Church-of-Ireland families, functioned not as a binary between approved England and disdained Ireland but a triangular exchange in which continental Europe featured prominently.
Supervisor: Barnard, Toby Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Early Modern Britain and Europe ; Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; Geography & travel ; Transnationalism ; National identity ; Education ; Irish history ; Irish Protestants ; British history ; European travel ; grand tour ; improvement ; identity