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Title: Rethinking the origins of the British Prisons Act of 1835: Ireland and the development of central-government prison inspection, 1820-1835
Authors: Butler, Richard J.
First Published: 29-Jan-2016
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Citation: Historical Journal, 2016, 59 (3), pp. 721-746 (26)
Abstract: While the introduction of central-government inspectors for prisons in a British act of 1835 has been seen as a key Whig achievement of the 1830s, the Irish precedent enacted by Charles Grant, a liberal Tory chief secretary, in the early 1820s, has gone unnoticed by scholars. The article sets out to trace the Irish prefiguring of this measure and, in the process, to consider prison reform in the United Kingdom in the early nineteenth century in a more transnational manner. A new analysis of the critical years between 1823 and 1835 in both Britain and Ireland based on a detailed examination of parliamentary inquiries and legislation shows how developments in the two countries overlapped and how reforms in one jurisdiction affected the other. This article explores the channels through which this exchange of knowledge and ideas occurred – both in parliament and through interlinked penal-reform philanthropic societies in both countries. This article also highlights inadequacies with the theory supported by some scholars that Ireland functioned as a laboratory for British social reform at this time, and instead suggests a more fluid exchange of ideas in both directions at different times.
DOI Link: 10.1017/S0018246X15000357
ISSN: 0018-246X
eISSN: 1469-5103
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2016, Cambridge University Press (CUP). Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy. (
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Historical Studies

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