Surveying Ireland

Ted McCormick

in William Petty

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780199547890
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720529 | DOI:
Surveying Ireland

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This chapter traces Petty's career in Cromwellian Ireland, from his arrival as Physician‐General in 1652 through the collapse of the Protectorate. It focuses on the origins, design, execution, and significance of Petty's ‘Down Survey’ — long celebrated as the first ‘scientific’ mapping of Ireland. Setting the survey both in the context of political disputes over the Cromwellian land settlement and against the background of Baconian scientific ‘reformation’ described in Chapter 2, this chapter argues that Petty's project was both a key instrument in the English colonization of Ireland and an organic outgrowth of his work with the Hartlib Circle, as well as the basis of his personal fortune. An empirical and collaborative scientific project geared towards the plantation and improvement of Ireland, the ‘Down Survey’ was both a model of Baconian natural philosophy and Petty's introduction to English and Irish religious politics.

Keywords: Ireland; Oliver Cromwell; land; Down Survey; improvement; plantation; colonization; politics

Chapter.  14809 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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