Charles Trevelyan and the Great Irish Famine
By Robin Haines
Charles Trevelyan, assistant secretary to the Treasury during the Great Irish Famine, has received much of the blame for the British government's parsimonious response to the catastrophe. This study begins by exploring the demonization of Trevelyan since the 1960s. It asks why a senior civil servant has been condemned as the architect of a policy allegedly aimed at depopulating Ireland in order to restructure the Irish economy and acculturate Irish society to English norms. This book challenges the verdict of history by showing how Trevelyan's most severe critics have re-circulated half-truths and misinterpreted evidence to create a picture of an anti-Irish evangelical bent upon preventing food reaching those most in need of it. In tracing the efforts of Trevelyan and his subordinates to implement government policy and deliver relief in the field, the author presents a portrait of a complex, opinionated man working against the odds, to assist a country to which he was attached by ties of affection, sympathy, and ancestry.
Publication Date: 8/26/2004