Macquarie University

Thesis file(s) suppressed due to copyright restrictions

Reason: On receipt of a Document Supply Request, placed with Macquarie University Library by another library, we will check if we can supply a copy of this thesis. For more information on Macquarie University's Document Supply, please contact

Irish lives in the British Caribbean: engaging with Empire in the Revolutionary Era

posted on 2022-03-28, 19:52 authored by Jennifer A. McLaren
This thesis examines the Irish experience of empire in the British Caribbean during the Revolutionary Era by means of ten individual biographies of Irish sojourners. The thesis builds upon Irish historiography which addresses Ireland’s place in the British Empire, and also seeks a place within British imperial historiography, which has often neglected the role of Irish people in the Empire. Each chapter focuses on a separate social sphere—the Military, Commerce, Administration and Humanitarianism, and includes profiles of non-elite men. The thesis explores the relationship between the men’s Irish identities and the imperial structures within which they fashioned their Caribbean lives. For most, a connection with Ireland was important, but as the men were involved in an array of imperial projects, their Irish identity was just one of a number of interlocking cultural spaces they inhabited. The thesis interrogates how biography enables the historian to advance an argument about the past and suggests that combining a spatial approach with biography can provide thorough, multi-dimensional contextualisation. The thesis adapts the geographer David Harvey’s spatial model and analyses the absolute, relative and relational spaces the sojourners inhabited, and the tensions within and between those spaces. A close study of the spaces the men inhabited, the networks and exchanges that shaped their lives, and the internal spaces of their ideas and emotions, produces a nuanced understanding of the imperial world in which they lived, and their experience of empire. The Irish sojourners navigated family, mercantile and administrative networks, as well as broader British and trans-imperial connections in the region. Although not exclusively Irish characteristics, the men in this thesis shared a tenacious nature and the ability to withstand conflict. Many pursued trans-imperial opportunities and engaged with more than one empire simultaneously. Their experiences confirm the porous nature of imperial boundaries in the region, the contingent and varied experience of imperial rule, and the asymmetries of power that existed across different sites in the British Caribbean.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- 1. Engaging with the British Military: Irish soliders in the service of the Crown in the Caribbean -- 2. Commercial life: Irish planters and merchants -- 3. Administering the Empire: Irish participation in Imperial governance -- 4. Irish humanitarians: medical and missionary engagement in the British Caribbean -- Conclusion -- Bibliography.


Bibliography: pages 325-352 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Kate Fullagar

Additional Supervisor 1

Tanya Evans


Copyright Jennifer A. McLaren 2018. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource ( 352 pages)

Former Identifiers