God-Provoking Democrat

The Remarkable Life of Archibald Hamilton Rowan

By Fergus Whelan

Born into the Anglo-Irish landowning class of Down (Killyleagh Castle), Archibald Hamilton Rowan (1751-1832) led a colorful life. Heavily influenced by the celebrated radical John Jebb at Cambridge, Rowan made waves throughout his career, weathering the wrath of his own class as he championed the causes of the poor and oppressed. Of a passionate disposition, he was involved in several duels, was denounced by the military for shooting dead tradesmen in Dublin for bull-baiting, and, as a young man, was liable to getting into 'scrapes with married women.' Indeed, Marie Antoinette was so taken by his good looks that she sent him a ring. Rowan was a founding member of the United Irish Society. Imprisoned in 1794, he managed to escape in a fishing vessel to France. He endured 11 years of hardship in France, Germany, and America before his tenacious wife Sarah Dawson managed to secure him a pardon and he returned to Ireland in 1806. His revolutionary activities, treasonable plots with spies, prison escape, and the efforts of the authorities to entrap and hang him, are such that this story is an adventure. However, it is much more. Archibald Hamilton Rowan's world view was influenced by a liberal religious and intellectual tradition of the New Light Presbyterians. The book gives an account of the post-rebellion trauma within Presbyterianism and Rowan's dramatic defiant stand in defense of New Light principles. In conclusion, it traces the evolution of liberal Presbyterian opinion as they pondered their defeat in 1798 and sought new ways of pursuing the old goals of religious freedom and political democracy. *** "Impressively researched....a compelling, exceptionally well written, instructive, and entertaining read that is especially and enthusiastically recommended for both community and academic library Irish Biography, Irish Studies, and Irish History collections." -- Midwest Book Review, MBR Bookwatch: March 2016, Greenspan's Bookshelf [Subject: Biography, Irish Studies, History]


Publication Date: 10/20/2015
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781848404601