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Poverty and Prejudice: A Study of Irish Immigrants in York 1840-1875

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York Explore Library and Archive

Museum Street

York

YO1 7DS

United Kingdom

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Author, Dr. Frances Finnegan will give a talk and relaunch her book “Poverty and Prejudice: Study of Irish immigrants in York – 1840-1875”. The book is the most referenced and seminal study on the history of the Irish in York and we are delighted that Frances is coming back to York to give this talk for us in partnership with the Borthwick Institute.

Dr. Frances Finnegan was born in England and read Modern History at the University of York (1967). Her D.Phil. (1976) from the same University was on the Irish community in York in the Victorian period, and was based on a detailed survey of the Census Enumerators' Notebooks and other primary and rarely used sources.

Before she moved to Ireland in 1979, she was Research Fellow at the University of York, and later became Lecturer in Social History at the Waterford Institute of Technology, a position she held until her retirement three years ago. She has lectured extensively on the Irish Workhouse system; Magdalen Asylums in England and Ireland, and on he subject of her most recent book - Dorothea Herbert.

She lives near Carrick-on-Suir, has two daughters and three grandsons, and now spends much of her time in Venice.

In common with other recent work on the post-Famine Irish in Britain and America, Poverty and Prejudice examines aspects of immigrant life which had previously been largely neglected by historians, who tended to accept the nineteenth-century view of the anti-social behaviour of the Celt. It sets out to assess the actual extent of an Irish community’s contribution to both crime and local Poor Law expenditure and to consider these findings against the background of hardship and hostility the immigrants encountered in their new lives. It examines too, their demographic and occupational characteristics over a 35 year period, and explores the limited extent of assimilation taking place in a community which was alien in speech, religion and culture, and almost completely replacing itself at least once in every decade.

Using in their entirety the census enumerators’ notebooks (for 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1871), together with all of York’s local (and invariably hostile) weekly newspapers; as well as the Poor Law Guardians’ Application and Report books for the whole period, this study captures the lives of a particular sub-section of the poor, who, apart from the census material, are on record largely as paupers or delinquents.

Also examined are the appalling slum conditions in which they were forced to exist, their abject poverty, and the prejudice they encountered from those in authority as well as from York's existing poor. This was in contrast to the role of the Quakers (particularly the Tukes) who visited Ireland distributing Friends’ Relief in the Famine years and were active in supporting the starving newcomers to the city.

The book contains case studies of individuals, 34 illustrations, 3 maps and numerous tables and graphs.

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York Explore Library and Archive

Museum Street

York

YO1 7DS

United Kingdom

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