Privy Council Proclaims Ireland in State of Rebellion and Imposes Martial Law

  • March 30, 1798

The Irish Rebellion of 1798 was a popular insurrection against the British Crown in what was then the separate, but subordinate, Kingdom of Ireland. The main organising force was the Society of United Irishmen.

First formed in Belfast by Presbyterians opposed to the landed Anglican establishment, the Society, despairing of reform, sought to secure a republic through a revolutionary union with the country’s Catholic majority.

The grievances of a rack-rented tenantry drove recruitment.

The Irish government imposed martial law on 30 March, although civil courts continued sitting. Overall command of the army was transferred from Ralph Abercromby to Gerard Lake who turned his attention to Leinster and Munster where from Ulster his troops’ reputation for public floggings, half-hanging, pitch-capping and other interrogative refinements preceded him.