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Insurrection Acts

First introduced during 1796, the act imposed the death penalty (replaced in 1807 by transportation for life) on persons administering illegal oaths. It also allowed government to proclaim specific districts as disturbed, thereby imposing a curfew, suspending trial by jury, and giving magistrates sweeping powers of search and detention. The act was in force during 1796-1802, and was reintroduced, with modifications, in 1807-10, 1814-18, and 1822-5.1

View 1796 Act

View 1822 Act

From 1833 a new type of Coercion Act took over as the standard response to Irish disorders.2

Early acts releasing the stringency of the penal laws were passed in 1771 and 1774.

Coercion Acts was a general term for a series of measures that commenced with the Suppression of Disturbances Act (1833). Like the earlier Insurrection Act, this empowered the lord lieutenant to proclaim a district as disturbed, permitting the imposition of a curfew and other restrictions, as well as detention without trial for up to three months. It differed from the Insurrection Act in providing for trial by military courts rather than magistrates in special session.3


  1. S J Connolly ed The Oxford Companion to Irish History OUP 1998 p260
  2. Ibid p260
  3. Ibid p101