Friday, May 24, 2024

"Class-based snobbery and identity politics" – article by Dr Rakib Ehsan on the arts and heritage sector

You might need a subscription for this, but worth a read.

I know various people who are full-time within the sector across our islands and they have said similar things in conversation. "Luxury beliefs" have always reduced the working classes, or treated the working classes as totemic exotic pets – online here.

I have seen this in my own lifetime in the way that the white collar bureaucracies here in little Northern Ireland have behaved with Ulster-Scots. Generations ago it was the schools which purposefully eroded the Ulster-Scots speech of children; now it's the patronage of funders and departments that control the 'sector' and therefore filters what 'content' is permissible.

The full extract is "The arts and culture sector, along with other spheres of British life, is increasingly characterised by a toxic combination of old-fashioned class-based snobbery and contemporary US-inspired racial identity politics".

"Diversity through homogeneity" is a bizarre concept, one that Orwell would be proud of.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Asserting Liberty, before the Revolution: "English Liberties: or, the Free-born Subject's Inheritance" by Henry Care, 1680

"...The constitution of our English government (the best in the world) is no arbitrary Tyranny, like the Turkish Grand Seignior’s, or the French King’s, whose wills, or rather lusts, dispose of the lives and fortunes of their unhappy subjects: Nor an Oligarchy, where the great ones, like fish in the ocean, prey upon, and live by devouring the lesser at their pleasure: Nor yet a Democracy, or popular state; much less an Anarchy, where all confusedly are hail fellow well met: But a most excellent mixt, or qualified Monarchy, where the King is veiled with large prerogatives sufficient to support majesty, and restrained only from the power of doing himself and his people harm, which would be contrary to the very end of all government, and is properly rather weakness than power, the nobility adorned with privileges to be a screen to majesty, and a refreshing shade to their inferiors; and the commonalty too so guarded in their persons and properties by the sense of law, as renders them freemen, not slaves.

In France, and other nations, the meer will of the Prince is law; his word takes off any man’s head, imposes taxes, seizes any man’s estate, when, how, and as often as he lists; and if one be accused, or but so much as suspected of any crime, he may either presently execute him, or banish, or imprison him at pleasure; or if he will be so gracious as to proceed by form of their laws, if any two villains will but swear against the poor party, his life is gone. Nay, if there be no witnesses, yet he may be put to the rack, the tortures whereof make many an innocent person confess himself guilty, and then with teeming justice he is executed; or, if he prove so stout, as in torments to deny the fact, yet he comes off with disjointed bones, and such weakness as renders his life a burthen to him ever after...

This original happy frame of government is truly and properly called an Englishman's liberty..."


Henry Care has been described as "London's First Spin Doctor".  Born in 1646, maybe in London but probably somewhere in England, he was a prolific publisher and critic of the establishment and Stuart monarchy of King Charles II and his brother King James II - however he 'switched sides' towards the end and supported James.

Care published a summation of the liberties that English civilians should be aware of, entitled English Liberties: or, The Free-Born Subject's Inheritance, containing I. Magna Charta, The Petition of Right, The Habeas Corpus Act; and divers other most Useful Statutes: With Large Comments upon each of them.

It was published around 1680, reprinted by William Penn as The Excellent Priviledge of Liberty in 1687, and was an articulation of liberties which would only be legally fulfilled as a result of the Revolution of 1688. Care also had a hand in the production of the 1689 pamphlet Their Highness The Prince & Princess of Orange's Opinion about a General Liberty of Conscience (online here).

In these publications, Care is said to have set out "to conceptualise liberty as a birthright of all mankind, to separate religion and the state into two spheres ... was remarkable. John Locke made these selfsame points".

Care died on 8 August 1688, probably of kidney failure or liver disease caused by overwork and alcohol, not living long enough to see the Revolution begin in November of that year. He was buried at St Anne's Parish of Blackfriar's Church - even in death "his enemies vilified him for  assailing the Anglican Church and writing in defence of religious liberty". An epitaph said –

A true Dissenter here does lye indeed
He ne'er with any, or himself agreed

English Liberties was frequently republished in the British Colonies in America during the 1700s – Thomas Jefferson owned a copy. 

• A 1774 Rhode Island printing is online here on

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

The Break of Killyleagh as defined in Patterson's 'Glossary of words in use in the Counties of Antrim and Down" (1880)

When William Hugh Patterson says it's Ulster Scots, then it's Ulster Scots:


Friday, May 03, 2024

New publication - "The Break of Killyleagh, 28 April 1689" - coming soon

Having decided to "go further" by doing a lot of reading about the international impact of the Glorious Revolution on America, and which was published a few weeks ago (see previous post) – I also decided to "go deeper" by looking at the Glorious Revolution era in a very localised way through the story of The Break of Killyleagh which happened 335 years ago on 28 April 1689. Very much in the spirit of the story itself, I am self-publishing it, at 128 pages long, later this month. More info to follow on locations where it will be available.

This is from William Hugh Patterson's Glossary of Antrim and Down (1880):

It's a cracking story and I'm amazed it has been forgotten for so long. As always, there is so much local heritage to recover and put back into the hands, heads and hearts of the community.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

From 1688 Glorious Revolution to 1776 American Revolution: new article on "Liberty" now published online

As we head towards America 250 on 4 July 2026 (website here), I'm expecting that most of the commemorations and narratives will be - lazily - framed as being about forms of nationality, whereas in fact the story should be about liberty.

The people of the 13 British Colonies sought the full reinstatement of their legally-entitled liberties. London refused. Independence was a last resort in pursuit of those liberties. The American Revolution of 1776 was the natural outworking of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Some months ago my friend Dr Jonathan Mattison asked me to pull together the mountain of sources I had been reading on the subject over the past year or two (many of which have appeared here as individual posts) for a detailed article that went online last week in the Journal of Orange History, which is published by the Museum of Orange Heritage. It's on this link, from pages 17 - 49. It's just over 11,000 words, including the footnotes. 


It’s about as comprehensive as I could make it. As a collection of sources I hope it's of benefit to some people out there.

My final quote is from Michael Barone’s 2008 book –

“Americans were thus not rebelling against the Revolutionary settlement. They were seeking to preserve in their own states what they believed the Revolution of 1688-89 had established.”

Or, as Winston Churchill wrote in 1956 –

"The Declaration (of Independence) was in the main a restatement of the principles which had animated the Whig struggle against the later Stuarts and the English Revolution of 1688, and it now became the symbol and the rallying centre of the Patriot cause"

• Feel free to share with others you know who might be working on ‘America 250’ projects.