Wentworth’s ‘eye of the Court’: Sir George Radcliffe’s management of the Irish parliaments of Charles I’s reign

Brownhill, Charlotte (2024). Wentworth’s ‘eye of the Court’: Sir George Radcliffe’s management of the Irish parliaments of Charles I’s reign. Parliamentary History (In Press).

Abstract

Sir Thomas Wentworth (later earl of Strafford) has often been portrayed as an isolated figure working in Ireland, as lord deputy and then lord lieutenant, for the good of the crown. In reality, he had a tried and tested support system that developed throughout the 1620s in England and was implemented in the 1630s in Ireland. In the Irish Parliament of 1634–35, Wentworth relied heavily upon Sir George Radcliffe to generate and maintain support for governmental policy. He was an important conduit of information to Wentworth, assessing the mood of the House, acting as a controller of debate and reporting back to the lord deputy on discussions within committees. However, despite outward appearances that the Parliament of 1634–35 had been a success, the 1640 sessions of the 1640–49 Parliament were much more difficult to control in Wentworth’s absence and Radcliffe struggled to maintain the government’s initiative over parliament. Radcliffe’s parliamentary career provides an insight into how Wentworth used his cabal to support his policies. This was fairly successful whilst Wentworth’s government was strong, but, in Wentworth’s absence, Radcliffe was unable to control parliament, contributing to the collapse of the regime.

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