Government and the governing elite in Ireland, 1725–75
Nathaniel Clements (1705–77), treasury official, politician, Dublin property developer, amateur architect, failed banker and leader of fashion, was the fifth son of a Cromwellian gentry family. He amassed a considerable fortune from office, and over the years spent some £70,000 on the purchase of a c.85,000-acre estate in Leitrim, Donegal and Cavan. He was one of the richest men in Ireland at that date and although he remained a commoner, his eldest son rose to be earl of Leitrim.
Clements entered the Irish treasury in 1720, at the age of 15, and died at the head of it in 1777. While English politicians and administrators came and went, Clements – one of the very few Irishmen at the heart of affairs – endured, it seemed, forever. He was, essentially, a harmonizer of British and Irish interests.
This is a book about behind-the-scenes government in Ireland. It shows how one small group of hard-working members of the ruling elite dominated public finance, army administration and, to a considerable extent, the social and cultural life of the country. It also explores major issues of political morality, in an age when Clements was by no means unusual in making a fortune out of office and in which public finance and private profit were inextricably entwined.
Anthony Malcomson was awarded a PhD in history by QUB in 1970 and elected MRIA in 1987. He was director of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland from 1988 until 1998. His publications include Archbishop Charles Agar: churchmanship and politics in Ireland, 1760–1810 (FCP, 2002) and Primate Robinson (1709–94) (Belfast, 2003).