Poynings’ Law and the making of law in Ireland, 1660–1800

Poynings’ Law was one of the most crucial statutes ever enacted by the Irish parliament, yet the law’s crucial impact on parliament’s operations from 1660 has never been examined systematically.

James Kelly examines how Poynings’ Law impacted on the legislative operations of the Irish parliament between the Restoration and the Act of Union, and he establishes how the Irish parliament contrived, first, by evolving a sophisticated heads of bills process in the late 17th century, second, by curtailing the power of the Irish privy council in the early 18th century, and finally, by securing the amendment of Poynings’ Law in 1782, to achieve a degree of legislative independence that endured until the Act of Union. Based on a close and detailed scrutiny of the records of the Irish parliament and the systematic exploration for the first time of the voluminous records of the British privy council, this book provides a new, revealing perspective on the working of the Irish parliament, its relationship with the Irish executive and on the nature of the Anglo-Irish connection. This is the 18th volume in the Irish Legal History Society Series.

James Kelly is the head of the Department of History, St Patrick’s College, Dublin City University, and author of numerous books and articles on 18th-century Ireland.

The Irish Legal History Society examines, explores, and engages with all issues relating to the legal history of Ireland, from earliest time to the present day. Founded in 1988, the Society holds two Discourses annually, as well as publishing scholarly works on a range of legal history subjects.