The North East of England was regarded as a major Catholic stronghold in the nineteenth century. This was, in no small part, due to the large numbers of Irish Catholic immigrants who contributed greatly towards the region’s unprecedented expansion, with the Catholic population in Newcastle and County Durham increasing from 23,250 in 1847 to 86,397 in 1874. How far were the Catholic Church and its incoming Irish adherents accepted by the Protestant population of North East England? This book will provide a timely reassessment of the hitherto accepted view that local cultural factors reduced the anti-Catholic and anti-Irish feeling in the North East that seemed deep-seated in other areas.This book demonstrates the way in which north-eastern anti-Catholicism was far from homogenous and monolithic, cutting across the political and religious divide. It highlights the proactive role of the Catholic communities in sectarian controversy, whose assertiveness contributed, ironically, towards the development of local anti-Catholic feeling. Finally, it will show how large-scale Irish immigration ensured that the North East experienced regular outbreaks of sectarian violence, whether English-Irish or intra-Irish, which were influenced by local conditions and circumstances.This book is the first comprehensive regional study of Victorian anti-Catholicism. By examining areas of enquiry not previously considered in broader studies, its findings have wider implications for understanding the prevalent and all-encompassing nature of anti-Catholicism generally. It also contributes towards the wider debate on North East regional identity by questioning the continued credibility of a paradigm which views the region as exceptionally tolerant.
Jonathan Bush completed his doctoral thesis at Durham University in 2012. At present, he is working as a professional archivist for Durham University, cataloguing the collections of the former Roman Catholic seminary, Ushaw College.