MOLYNEUX, William. The Case of Ireland’s Being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England, Stated. Dublin: Printed by Joseph Ray, and are to be Sold at his Shop in Skinner-Row, 1698. 12mo. pp. , 174, . Contemporary full calf, spine professionally rebacked, title in gilt on burgundy morocco label. Signature of George Meares Maunsell, dated 11th May, 1809, at Merrion Square South, Dublin, on dedication leaf. With six pages of original text (p 49-54) supplied in manuscript. Some notes by Maunsell, when at Oriel College, Oxford at front and rear. Early owner’s signature on titlepage. A very good copy. Rare.
ESTC R30063 locating 6 copies only in Ireland. Sweeney 3054. Wing M2404
William Molyneux (1656-1698), Patriot and Philosopher, was born at his father’s house in New Row, Dublin, educated at Trinity College where he graduated B.A. He went to London to study law at the Middle Temple in 1675, not all that interested in the subject, he spent most of his time at philosophy and applied mathematics. William returned to Ireland three years later and soon afterwards married Lucy Domville, daughter of the Irish Attorney-General. Along with Sir William Petty he formed the Dublin Philosophical Society, the forerunner of the Royal Irish Academy. He posed the famous question: “What knowledge of the visual world can a blind man have?” which baffled and fascinated many 18th century philosophers, including Bishop Berkeley.
The severe laws and restrictions passed for the destruction of Irish trade and commerce moved Molyneux to write this work, which has since rendered his name immortal in our history: ‘The Case of Ireland Stated’, was first published in 1698.
In it he maintained that Ireland and England were separate and independent kingdoms under the same sovereign – that Ireland was annexed, not conquered – “If the religion, lives, liberties, fortunes, and estates of the clergy, nobility, and gentry of Ireland may be disposed of without their privity or consent, what benefit have they of any laws, liberties, or privileges granted unto them by the crown of England … I have no other notion of slavery but being bound by a law to which I do not consent?”. The work was deemed seditious, and so infuriated the English Parliament that they ordered it to be burnt by the common hangman.
George Butler of Ballyragget was the son of Hon. Edward Butler of Ballyragget Castle who was son of the 4th Viscount Mountgarret. Edward was a staunch Jacobite and suffered forfeiture of his estates after the defeat at the Battle of Boyne in 1690, he died the following year. His eldest son George had fought alongside him, was able in the ensuing years to gain back Ballyragget Castle and his father’s other estates. Ballyragget Castle was the favourite residence of Margaret (Fitzgerald), Countess of Ormonde, the wife of Piers Butler, 8th Earl of Ormonde, in the 16th-century, and she ensured that it went to their second (and her favourite) son Richard Butler, later created 1st Viscount Mountgarret.