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Jonathan Swift’s Allies

The Wood’s Halfpence Controversy in Ireland, 1724–1725. Second revised and augmented edition


Sabine Baltes-Ellermann

The patent for coining copper money granted by King George I to the English manufacturer William Wood aroused nationwide protest in Ireland. It led to the publication of Jonathan Swift’s «Drapier’s Letters», in which the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, attacked both the patent and England’s Irish policy. But this is not the whole story. This annotated edition contains more than 100 pamphlets, declarations, poems, and songs that were published during the dispute. Most of the reproduced texts are extremely rare and have hitherto lain dormant in various libraries. They illustrate that the protest was in fact carried on by the Irish population at large, who regarded the coinage scheme as a severe intrusion into the nation’s circulating cash which threatened to ruin the country’s economy.

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13. A Letter to William Woods, Esq; From his Only Friend in Ireland


Since I was Queen, yet did I never put my Pen to any Grant but upon Pretence or Semblance made me that it was for the Good and Avail of my Subjects generally, tho' a private Profit to some of my ancient Servants, who have deserved well; but that my Grants shall be made Grievous to my People, and Oppressions to be privileged under Colour of our Patents, our Princely Dignity shall not suffer it.

When I heard it, I could give no Rest unto my Thoughts untill I had Reform'd it; and these Varlets, lewd Persons, Abusers of my Bounty, shall know I will not suffer it.

And Mr. Speaker, tell the House from me, I take it exceeding grateful that the Knowledge of these Things are come unto me from them. And tho' among them the Principal Members are such as are not troubled in private, and therefore need not speak from any Feeling of the Grief; yet we have heard that other Gentlemen also of the House who stand as free, have spoke as freely in it, which gives us to know that no Respects or Interest have moved them, other than the Mind they bear to suffer no Diminution of our Honour, and our Subjects Love to us."252

A LIST of LORDS and others living in England, who have Estates or Places in Ireland.


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