Hugh Boulter

Life
1672-1742; ed. Merchant’s Hall School, and Christ Church, Oxon; MA 1693; DD, 1708; fellow of Magdalen; chaplain to Archbishop Tenison; chaplain to George I in Hanover; bishop of Bristol, and dean of Christ Church, Oxon., 1719; Protestant Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, 1724; freq. acted as lord Chief Justice of Ireland, and Deputy to the Lord Lieutenant; displayed a steady prejudice against the Irish; he is cited in the 4th Drapier’s Letter, where his reduction of salary is computed on the basis of Swift’s estimate of the worth of Wood’s halfpence; in 1726-27 he corresponded with Lord Newcastle about the admission of Irish officers in the French army to recruit in Ireland, and on the perpetual draft of men into the French and Spanish armies. ODNB

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Works
A. Phillips, ed., Letters Written by His Excellency Hugh Boulter, DD, Lord Primate of All Ireland, 2 vols. (Oxford 1769).

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Commentary
W. E. H. Lecky, The History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century [Cabinet Edn.] (1892): ‘There can be little doubt that if the Catholics had been permitted to enlist in the British army they would have availed themselves in multitudes of the privilege, and would have proved as loyal and as brave under the British flag as they have in every campaign, during the present century [...] It would have been an inestimable economical boon to a country where a large proportion of the population were often reduced to the verge of starvation [...] Archbishop Boulter, however, who then directed the affairs of Ireland, while urging on the Duke of Newcastle in 1726 the propriety of making Ireland a recruiting ground, did so only on the condition that the permission should be restricted to those who could bring certificates of their being Protestants and children of Protestants [Boulter’s Letters, i, 148]’. (Lecky, op. cit., pp.416-17.) Lecky goes on to quote Boulter's letter to Newcastle of May 1726: There seems likewise to be more listing in several parts, but whether for France or Spain is uncertain, though they pretend the former’ (Lecky, op.cit., p.420), followed by another to Lord Carteret: ‘Every day fresh accounts come to us that there are great numbers listing for foreign service’ - and again in March 1727 to Newcastle: ‘Everything here is quiet, except that, in spite of al our precautions, recruits are still going off to Spain as well as to France.’ (Lecky, idem.) Lecky goes on: ‘In 1730 we find traces of a very curious episode illustrating the friendship which at that time subsisted between the Governments of England and France. An officer in the France service named Hennessy came to Ireland to raise recruits, and he actually had a letter of recommendation from the Duke of Newcastle to Primate Boulter. It was necessary to observe much secrecy so as to escape the notice of the Opposition in England. The difficulty was enhanced by the fact that every justice of the peace was competent to arrest and commit a recruiting agent, [420] who could then only be released in due course of law, or by a formal pardon; and it was feared that the zeal of many magistrates would be stimulated if they knew that the levies were secretly countenanced by a Government with whose policies they disagreed. Boulter urged these difficulties strongly upon the ministers. He assured them that as many recruits as they proposed to allow the French agent to levy had been clandestinely enrolled annually for several years; and that “all recruits raised here for France or Spain are generally considered as persons that may some time or other pay a visit to this country as enemies’ [...] and he added: “What has happened to several of them formerly when they were raising recruits here in a clandestine way (though as we know his Majesty's intentions, we slighted and, as far as we could, discouraged complaints on that head), your Grace very well knows from the several applications made to your Lordship by the French ambassador.’ / The predictions of the primate were verified by the event. The proceedings of the Government became known. They were attacked by the ‘Craftsman’, and created so violent an explosion of hostile opinion in England as well as in Ireland, that it was thought necessary to recall Hennesy as speedily as possible. [Boulter, i, 72, 151-74.]’ (Lecky, op. cit., p.420-21.)

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Gerard McCoy, ‘“Patriots, Protestants and Papists”: Religion and the Ascendancy, 1714-60’, in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1 (Spring 1994), pp.105-18, quoting: ‘I do not know enough of the Case, to lay any particular blame on you or others, but I cannot but esteem it a reproach to the Protestants of this Country, that so few Converts have been made from Popery.’ (The Charge Given by Hugh, Lord Bishop of Ardmagh and Primate of All Ireland to his Clergy, Dublin 1725, p.17; McCoy, p.110). Bibl. see also [Boulter], A Report Made by His Grace the Lord Primate, from the Lords Committees Appointed to Enquire into the Present State of Popery in the Kingdom of Ireland (London 1747).

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Thomas Moore (Captain Rock, 1824): Accordingly, we find Primate Boulter complaining thus in a letter to the Duke of Newcastle: “I find that [126] the people of every religion, country, and party here, are alike set against Wood’s halfpence, and that their agreement in this has had a most unhappy influence on the state of this nation, by bringing on intimacies between Papists and Whigs, who before had no correspondence with them.” (Memoirs of Captain Rock, the Celebrated Irish Chiefain, with some Account of his Ancestors, Written by Himself, London: Longman, et al. 1824, pp.126-27.)

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Quotations
New Protestants: ‘We have had several who were papists, and on the road from London hither have taken the sacrament and obtained a certificate, and at their arrival here have been admitted to the bar. They likewise pretend that the children born after their conversion are not included in the clause [of the 1697 Act] about educating their children as Protestants, because they were not under fourteen at the time of their conversion, so that many of these converts have a papist wife who has mass said in the family and the children are brought up as Papists [...] Now this grievance is the greater here, because the business of the law from top to bottom is almost in the hands of these converts; when eight or ten Protestants are set aside, the rest of the bar are all converts; much of the greatest part of the attorneys, solicitors, deputy officers, sub-sheriff’s clerks are new converts; and the new Protestant[s] are every day more and more working out the business of the law, which must end in our ruin.’ (Boulter’s Letters, Dublin and London, 1729; quoted in Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Great Melody, 1992.)

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