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Castlereagh, Wellington, and nationality
Hello there, I just noticed your many recent edits on the article of Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. First off, I'm very happy to see someone else is interested in the Viscount and willing to contribute. The article was once at GA status, and I think with your help, we can get it there again before this month is out. Second, I'm curious as to some of the choices you've made regarding his nationality. It seems clear that his nation was the United Kingdom and he had no qualms about self-identifying as British. I've changed the infobox to reflect this. Where it's necessary to specify an ethnicity or give something a little more exact than "British," I think "Anglo-Irish" suits him well. Representing him as only "Irish," with a link to the "Ulster Scots" page, or confusingly as "an Irish politician and British statesman", seems inadequate: he's not Irish in the same sense that Daniel O'Connell was Irish, considering his parentage, culture, language, and residence in England. I've noticed the same thinking on the page on the Duke of Wellington, and I'm suggesting the same solution there, too. I look forward to hearing back from you and working together on improving this article. -- The_socialist talk? 09:08, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Hi! Thanks for your response and glad you're still interested in Castlereagh. He's an extremely important figure so deserves quite a bit of attention.
I'm trying to fairly methodically work my way through the article. I expect it will take me awhile as I plow through the main part of his career. I'm working my way through publications from the past decade or so that bring new angles to light about important events. The article should make the reader aware of controversies but handle the discussion with a NPOV. So there's lots of work to be done.
I found the article had drifted out of balance by comparison with his standard profile (and it still is unbalanced, since I've only worked on the start and end of his life). It didn't have enough meat about his central roles both in Ireland and in the defeat of Napoleon. And it had lots of interesting bits on his family and his death, but it overlooked important connections to other people or events. The sections didn't flow. And it was a bit too 1911-oriented -- there's lots of stuff that 1911 takes for granted about society or events of the period that need to be fleshed out a bit for today's readers, especially those who aren't from the Anglo-American universe.
His role in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and the Act of Union were both central to his controversial reputation during his life and afterward, and important for his development. Those events don't get handled as well as they ought to in the articles devoted to those topics. So relying on simply linking to other articles doesn't do the trick. And the current single sentence on the Irish Rebellion doesn't begin to capture the controversies over his role. I expect it will take a bit more expansion in the Castlereagh article -- text and maybe footnotes -- as well as some editing in related articles to get the balance right.
That's why, as I'm working my way through the article, I've at least for the time being resorted to adding a bunch of textual notes. Some of the material now in notes probably belongs in related articles, but I'm sticking it in notes for the time being as a sort of placeholder. Get lots of material and then take a knife to it.
The section on his career from when he reentered the government in 1812 onwards is totally inadequate. He really was more than the diplomat who represented Britain -- he was one of the key figures in the defeat of Napoleon. And an article about him that doesn't even have a link to Metternich or Talleyrand is a bit hard to imagine. The post-Napoleon era, and how his vision played out, as well as what his thinking was at the time of his death -- which was followed pretty closely by Canning -- also should be covered. The current description is too shorthand, so is misleading. I don't expect the post-Napoleon section to be terribly lengthy. But the main points, with links to other articles, need to be laid out in his article.
As for "nationality". We have to describe the situation at the time, not try to apply today's labels to the situation as it was two centuries ago. And there are several different categories that tend to be conflated often. So let's tease them apart.
- 1. Ethnicity -- his father's family was Scottish. In fact they claimed that "Stewart" was from a branch (wrong side of the blanket) of the royal Stewarts. Whether or not you believe the claim, no question they were Scots. And those Scots who made northern Ireland their home are referred to as Ulster Scots. His mother was English. But there's no term for Ulster Scots who married English. Ethnicity is, therefore, a confusing label to use. So let's go on.
- 2. Nationality -- his father's family was Irish. They had been settled in Ireland for nearly two centuries. People who were settled permanently in Ireland were Irish. The United Kingdom didn't even exist at that time. Ireland was a Kingdom that had the same King as Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland).
- His father was made an Irish peer, not a peer of either England or Great Britain (or, after 1801, of the UK). When he succeeded, Castlereagh was also an Irish peer. So he didn't sit in the House of Lords -- he could have been appointed a representative peer for Ireland to replace his father in the House of Lords, but he was need as Leader of the Commons. So even his nobility was always identified as Irish.
- During Castlereagh's career in Ireland, he was viewed from London as Irish. In fact his appointment to the office of Chief Secretary was delayed by a year because George III didn't want to appoint an Irishman to represent the Crown in Ireland. Therefore, both Castlereagh and the rest of the world identified him as an Irishman, despite his mother and despite the cultural connections to England. The history books make note that he was the first Irishman as Chief Secretary for Ireland.
- So, while he was a politician in Ireland -- which was until the end of 1800 when the Act of Union went into effect -- he was an Irish politician.
- His later career was centered on London. From that point on, he's clearly British in terms of action. The offices he held were all British -- the term we use for someone who represents the United Kingdom, which came into existence on Jan 1 1801. So as far as "nationality" goes, from 1801 he's British -- a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland -- and he's British in terms of career as a statesman (minister in government and diplomat).
- 3. Social groups. Though he was Irish, he wasn't "ethnic Irish". Rather, he belonged to a particular section of the non-ethnic-Irish elite. That section was the Ulster Scots.
- His family did not belong to the Anglo-Irish social group. They were long-time Ulster Scots. They were Presbyterian, not Anglican. They only made the English connection vis a vis Castlereagh's father's marriages to English aristocrats. But the family's wealth and social standing was based on the position they had made for themselves in Ireland, not based on historical connections to England.
- Obviously, their recent English connections were important for their careers and reinforced cultural links to England. Obviously, in Dublin the elite Ulster Scots and elite Anglo-Irish dealt together a great deal and had close and continual links to England. And from the vantage of a poor Catholic the various segments of the Irish elites might look the same. But it would be a misnomer to characterize the Stewart family as Anglo-Irish.
- So that means that when we say he was an Irish politician -- which is accurate -- we can't link "Irish" to the "irish people" article. That's principally focused on the ethnic Irish, of which he was not a member. He was, ethnically and socially, Ulster Scot. So that article (Ulster Scots people, which explains their history and ethnic and social background) we can link to. That is accurate. And if people are surprised when they click on Irish and get Ulster Scots, they'll learn something about the complex ethnic and social mixes that made up Irish elites of the time.
As for the battles over Wellington. His family was Irish. They'd been in Ireland for hundreds and hundreds of years. But as a family that had long ago come from England, they were identified as an English family ethnically, not a member of the ethnic-Irish-elite. And he wasn't part of the new English who arrived post William III whom we would generally label Anglo-Irish because they retained their recent connections to England -- and a lot of them lived in England most of the time rather than Ireland. So Wellington was Irish, not just born in Ireland, but raised by a family that made Ireland its home for centuries. And the world at the time identified him as such. There was never any confusion about where he originated. He was not part of the British (England, Wales Scotland) aristocracy or nobility.
But he was also part of the social group that was known as Anglo-Irish -- so we should qualify his status as Irish with a link to "Anglo-Irish". And his career was as a British general and as a British statesman.
I think we can sort out all that complexity with the system of text and links I described. If we can't, we should rely on footnotes. But neither Castlereagh nor Wellington should be described in the text as anything but Irish in terms of their national origins.
Hope that's helpful.
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You appear to be eligible to vote in the current Arbitration Committee election. The Arbitration Committee is the panel of editors responsible for conducting the Wikipedia arbitration process. It has the authority to enact binding solutions for disputes between editors, primarily related to serious behavioural issues that the community has been unable to resolve. This includes the ability to impose site bans, topic bans, editing restrictions, and other measures needed to maintain our editing environment. The arbitration policy describes the Committee's roles and responsibilities in greater detail. If you wish to participate, you are welcome to review the candidates' statements and submit your choices on the voting page. For the Election committee, MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 14:09, 24 November 2015 (UTC)