Primary tabs

Debate in the Irish Commons


Monday, November 27, 1775.

The Committee of the Whole House accordingly sat again this day, the Right Hon˙ Anthony Malone in the chair; when the second of the Resolutions proposed last Saturday, by Sir Archibald Acheson, to wit: "That it is the opinion of this Committee, that a number of foreign Protestant Troops, not exceeding four thousand, be received into this Kingdom, to replace the like number going abroad, for the security and defence thereof, provided they shall be of no charge to the nation," was read a long debate ensued, in the beginning of which Sir John Blaquiere declared, that he was of opinion his taking a part in this business would not be treating His Majesty' s message with that respect it deserved; he would not give his voice one way or other.

The resolution was supported by the Attorney-General, General Cunningham, Mr˙ Forster, Colonel Burton, and Barry Barry, whose arguments tended to prove that in the arrangement offered them by His Majesty, the sum of eighty-five thousand Pounds per annum would be saved to the nation, besides the pay of the foreign troops sent among us; that the Hessian and Brunswick forces were composed of industrious, docile men, most of them manufacturers; that many of them would probably settle in this Kingdom,


and add to the Protestant strength thereof; that when the four thousand men now permitted to leave the Kingdom would go, there would not remain above six thousand five hundred effective men — too small a number to repel a foreign invasion, or keep quietness at home; that even the number now in the Kingdom was scarce sufficient to protect the revenue, and repress the riotous disposition of the lower class of inhabitants, who were ever rising in divers parts of the Kingdom; and that it would seem very odd to the British Minister to find that this House, ever since the augmentation, had every session, and even a month ago, voted that twelve thousand effective men were necessary for the defence of this Kingdom, should now, when Britain, at her own expense, offered to replace the forces which the exigency of affairs called abroad, should reject the proffered favour.

On the other hand, it was contended by Mr˙ Redmond Morres, Mr˙ Vice-Treasurer Flood, Mr˙ Hussey, Mr˙ Yelverton, Mr˙ Bushe, Mr˙ Boyle Roche, &c˙, that the introduction of foreign troops into this Kingdom was a dangerous measure, pregnant with ruin to the liberty of this country. What would be the consequence when this House would find themselves surrounded by foreign mercenaries, who, not being paid by them, would not be under their command? That these troops, unacquainted with either the language or manners of the people, would be equally unfit for garrison or country duty; that it would be exposing the weakness of this Kingdom, and when these troops returned home, its defenceless situation would be the topick in all the coffee-houses on the Continent; that when the Regiments remaining here, after the four thousand men were gone, would be complete, we should have eight thousand men in the Kingdom — a force, until the late augmentation, thought sufficient for its defence, ever since the year 1690, though two foreign Wars, and two rebellions in Great Britain, had happened since that time; that the payment of twelve thousand men being already provided this session, the saving of near two hundred thousand pounds in the two years would be only putting the means of corruption into the hands of Administration. Lastly, Mr˙ Ogle observed that there was an effectual and constitutional method of defence and security, by a national militia; that two hundred men thus raised in every County, would be a sufficient force to answer every purpose.

Mr˙ Flood adopted the idea of a militia, and showed I was a favourite wish of his to see it carried into execution.

Several amendments to the Resolution were proposed, but all rejected without a division. It being now eleven o' clock at night, the question on the Resolution itself was put, when there appeared, ayes, for the Resolution, 68; noes 106: majority 38.

Mr˙ Ogle then moved that the following Resolution be agreed to, in lieu of the rejected one:

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, that a Militia not exceeding six thousand men is necessary for the defence of this Kingdom.

It being now too late to enter into the merits of this question, it was agreed the Committee should report the Resolution they had agreed to last Saturday, and ask leave to sit again.