Drapier's Letters

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Jonathan Swift (1667—1745) writer and dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin

Robert Molesworth (1656—1725) politician and political writer

Wood's halfpence

William Molyneux (1656—1698) experimental philosopher and constitutional writer

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A series of pamphlets published by Swift in 1724. The word ‘Drapier’ = ‘Draper’.

A patent had been granted to the duchess of Kendal for supplying copper coins for use in Ireland, and by her had been sold to a certain William Wood for £10,000. In 1723 the Irish Houses of Parliament voted addresses protesting against the transaction, and Swift, writing in the character of a Dublin draper, published a series of four letters in which he prophesied economic ruin to the Irish if ‘Wood's half‐pence’ were admitted into circulation; a fifth letter of protest, also signed Drapier, was addressed to Molesworth. The letters produced an immense effect and the government was forced to abandon the project and compensate Wood. Swift thus became an Irish national hero.

Subjects: Literature.

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