The South Sea Bubble and Ireland

The South Sea Bubble and Ireland

Money, Banking and Investment, 1690-1721

Patrick Walsh


Boydell Press



A study of the first great global stock market crash and and its impact on the peripheries of the British state
In late September 1720 the South Sea bubble burst. The collapse of the South Sea Company's share price caused the first great British stock market crash, the repercussions of which were felt far beyond the City of London. Patrick Walsh's book traces for the first time the impact of the rise and fall of the South Sea bubble on the peripheries of the British state. Its primary focus is on Ireland, but Irish developments are placed within a comparative context, with special attention paid to Scotland.
Drawing on an impressive array of evidence, including bank ledgers, private correspondence, pamphlets, newspapers, and contemporary literary sources, this book examines not only investment in London but also the impact of the bubble on the fate of non-metropolitan projects in the 'South Sea Year', notably the failed project for an Irish national bank. Central to the book is the lived experience of the bubble and the wider financial revolution. The stories of individual investors - their strategies, speculations, aspirations, gains, losses and misunderstandings - are employed to create a new, more personal narrative of the momentous events of 1720, showing how they impacted on the lives of the inhabitants of early eighteenth-century Britain and Ireland.

Patrick Walsh is Irish Research Council CARA Postdoctoral Fellow at University College Dublin. He is the author of The Making of the Irish Protestant Ascendancy: The Life of William Conolly, 1662-1729 (Boydell Press, 2010).

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782043744), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


July 2014
1 black and white, 2 line illustrations
216 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843839309
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037050, HIS018000, BUS023000
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Table of Contents

Varieties of Innovation: Ireland, Scotland and the Financial Revolution 1688 - 1720
Banking and Investment on the Periphery: The Case of Ireland
Investment from the Periphery: Irish Investors in the South Sea Company in Comparative and Transnational Perspective
'Most of Our Money of This Kingdom is gone over to the South Sea': Irish Investors and the South Sea Company
'Nothing here but Misery'? The Economic Impact of the South Sea Bubble on Ireland
'A Thing They Call a Bank': Irish Projects in the South Sea Year
The Proposals for a National Bank and the Irish Investment Community in 1720
'A Strong Presumption That This Bank May be a Bubble': Misreading the Bubble and the Bank of Ireland Debates, 1721


A well written, interesting book that deserves to be read. [It] adds much to our understanding of early modern financialisation and surprising new dimensions to the story of the South Sea Bubble. PARLIAMENTARY HISTORY

Thoroughly-researched and welcome....[An] informative and thought provoking book. STUDIA HIBERNICA

Walsh's admirable book forms part of an interesting and important new body of work . . . that addresses the financial revolution as an episode in the imperial history of four nations, complicating and challenging our understanding of the interaction between the state, public credit, and the emergence of Atlantic capitalism. JOURNAL OF INTERDISCIPLINARY HISTORY

A fascinating book of meticulous scholarship that greatly adds to Irish financial history. IRISH TIMES

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