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Definition from the Era

(The information in this section is from the 1771 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Please do not make edits to this section. Content is presented in its original form as to spelling and grammar use. This is what an educated person of Aubrey and Maturin's time would have known)

An island of the Atlantic ocean, subject to Great Britain, situated between 5° and 10° W long. And between 51 and 56° N lat. being bounded by the Northern ocean on the north and St George's channel, which divides it from Great Britain, on the east and by the Atlantic and Western ocean on the south and west. This country is two hundred and fifty miles long, and one hundred and fifty broad; distant from Holyhead in north Wales fifty miles and from Galloway in Scotland fifteen miles. It is divided into four large provinces, Ulster on the north, Leinster on the east, Munster on the south and Connaught on the west. (C-L pg 850)

Additional information

Politically, at the time of the Canon, the Kingdom of Ireland had just been united with the Kingdom of Great Britain (England and Wales, and Scotland). This followed the uprising of the United Irishmen in 1798 which had been put down with some force and a number of executions. Instead of having its own parliament as before, Ireland elected a number of members of Parliament to the House of Commons at Westminster. This ensured that Irish interests were always in a minority.

At the time of the Canon, the peasant population of Ireland was mostly dependent on smallholdings to supply their food while working on the farms and estates of the (often absentee) landowner for meagre wages to pay the rent and provide other goods. These smallholdings had to supply food for the family and so the Irish became dependent on the potato as this was the crop best suited for providing a large amount of calories from a small area. Most families also kept a pig which provided protein. The population was sustained and was expanding with this diet.

In the Canon

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