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First Tuesday: Dr Joan Allen will talk about: Progressing democracy: the Jarrow Land and Labour League, 1880-1887

March 5 @ 19:00

Irish unrest dominated British politics in the wake of the 1880 Election. The agricultural crisis in Ireland, and the accompanying upsurge of disorder prompted a wave of coercive 1egislation. By November 1880, the number of recorded evictions stood at 10,657 and, on Tyneside, which had a large Irish community, branches of the Irish Land League were quickly established. Wallsend, Walker, Houghton, Murton and Ashington were but a few of the branches whose meetings were regularly reported in the Chronicle newspapers owned by the famous Tyneside radical MP, Joseph Cowen. However, much of what we know about these relatively short – lived British branches is confined to these summary reports.

This brief paper on the Jarrow Land League is based on the astonishing discovery of a Minute Book covering the period 1880-1887 in the Special Collections at National University of Ireland, Galway. The Minutes give us a unique insight into the day to day activity, its finances and membership and its successor organisations. They also reveal that, even at the height of the Home Rule controversy when the Irish in Britain are largely held to be exclusively in the grip of a campaign for independence, we see members galvanised into a voter registration initiative. Arguably, this determination to make their voices heard is the foundation of the confidently progressive Jarrow politics that is so visible in the 1920s and 1930s.


March 5


Old George Inn
Old George Yard
Newcastle, NE1 1EZ