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    ‘The Cat’s Paw’: Helen Arthur, the act of resumption and The Popish pretenders to the forfeited estates in Ireland, 1700–03

    Nolan, Frances (2018) ‘The Cat’s Paw’: Helen Arthur, the act of resumption and The Popish pretenders to the forfeited estates in Ireland, 1700–03. Irish Historical Studies, 42 (162). pp. 225-243. ISSN 0021-1214

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    This article examines the case of Helen Arthur, a Catholic and Jacobite Irish woman who travelled with her children to France following William III’s victory over James II in the War of the Two Kings (1689–91). It considers Helen’s circumstances and her representation in The Popish pretenders to the forfeited estates in Ireland, a pamphlet published in London in 1702 as a criticism of the act of resumption. The act, introduced by the English parliament in 1700, voided the majority of William III’s grants to favourites and supporters. Its provisions offered many dispossessed, including the dependants of outlawed males, a chance to reclaim compromised or forfeited property by submitting a claim to a board of trustees in Dublin. Helen Arthur missed the initial deadline for submissions, but secured an extension to submit through a clause in a 1701 supply bill, a development that brought her to the attention of the anonymous author of The Popish pretenders. Charting Helen’s efforts to reclaim her jointure, her eldest son’s estate and her younger children’s portions, this article looks at the ways in which dispossessed Irish Catholics and/or Jacobites reacted to legislative developments. More specifically, it shines a light on the possibilities for female agency in a period of significant upheaval, demonstrating opportunities for participation and representation in the public sphere, both in London and in Dublin. It also considers the impact of the politicisation of religion upon understandings of women’s roles and experiences during the Williamite confiscation, and suggests that a synonymising of Catholicism with Jacobitism (and Protestantism with the Williamite cause) has significant repercussions for understandings of women’s activities during the period. It also examines contemporary attitudes to women’s activity, interrogating the casting of Helen as a ‘cat’s paw’ in a bigger political game, invariably played by men.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Cat's Paw; Helen Arthur; resumption; popish pretenders; forfeited estates ; Ireland; 1700-03;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > History
    Item ID: 13309
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Frances Nolan
    Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2020 15:51
    Journal or Publication Title: Irish Historical Studies
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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