Talk:Edmund Burke

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Former good articleEdmund Burke was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
October 23, 2006Good article nomineeListed
October 15, 2007Good article reassessmentDelisted
On this day...A fact from this article was featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on July 9, 2017.
Current status: Delisted good article

The "absurdity" of "atheistic rationalism"?[edit]

Under the heading "Early writing", the last sentence of the first paragraph states "Burke imitated Bolingbroke's style and ideas in a reductio ad absurdum of his arguments for atheistic rationalism, demonstrating their absurdity." This needs clarification for as it currently reads, it suggests that the "arguments for atheistic rationalism" are "absurd" -- a claim that seems to me impossible to support. Bricology (talk) 02:45, 6 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

@Bricology: I agree that that is an unfortunate bit of prose. I've altered it to make clear 1) that it is Burke and not Wikipedia that considers Henry St John's arguments to be absurd, and 2) that this was Burkes aim and not necessarily what he actually achieved. It now reads: Burke imitated Bolingbroke's style and ideas in a reductio ad absurdum of his arguments for atheistic rationalism, in order to demonstrate their absurdity.. --Xover (talk) 08:59, 6 March 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Edmund Burke was NOT Anglo-Irish[edit]

The entry starts by declaring that Burke was "Anglo-Irish." He was not. (Four citations are provided for this claim, but none of them support it!)

Burke did not identify as Anglo-Irish, and, while some ambiguity exists regarding his father's origins, contemporary scholarship, overwhelmingly, does not identify him as Anglo-Irish. (There is nothing to cite because, as a general rule, such a claim is not even considered.)

It may be that the writer does not understand what the term "Anglo-Irish" means, when applied to a person. It refers to (typically Protestant) descendants of English settlers in Ireland, just as "Scots-Irish" refers to descendants of Scottish settlers in Ireland. (For reference, there is in fact a Wikipedia entry on "Anglo-Irish" that explains the meaning of the term.) It most definitely does not refer to an Irishman who moves to England, like Burke. (talk) 23:07, 23 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Edmund Burke was Anglo Irish[edit]

I would suggest that the commenter above take their own advice and read through the Wikipedia entry on "Anglo-Irish". Not only does it explicitly reference and link to Burke's page, in a speech by Yeats about the Anglo-Irish, but it clearly states, "Not all Anglo-Irish people could trace their origins to the Protestant English settlers of the Cromwellian period; some were of Welsh stock, and others descended from Old English or even native Gaelic converts to Anglicanism". His paternal family, Burke was English in origin and again the "House of Burke" page on Wikipedia mentions its Anglo-Irish branches. The Fitzgerald Dukes of Leinster, George Canning and the Guinness family are all from a similar "Old English" stock but nevertheless are referred to as Anglo-Irish. Edmund Burke's Irish identities by Sean Patrick Donlan is a good reference for clarifying the complicated nature of Burke's nationality. He had English and Jacobite ancestor's who emigrated to Ireland during the traditional Anlgo-Irish period.

In the discussion below about the use of "British vs Irish", Pailsimon put together a good collection of 16 references. Of which 7 refer to Burke exclusively as Anglo-Irish 1 234 5 67, one as both Irish and Anglo-Irish, 5 as exclusively Irish and one doesn't seem to mention his nationality but does mention that he was a lifelong Anglican (often associated with the Anglo-Irish). The vast majority of the academic articles (as opposed to newspapers) use Anglo-Irish.

To these I would add my own examples of Burke referred to as Anglo-Irish 123456

Surely this is good grounds to conclude that the consensus is that Burke was Anglo-Irish.

Admittedly the situation is clearly complicated, so I would also support not leading the article with a mention of his national identity, as seems to be the norm with historical figures who cannot be easily categorised with modern nationalities.

However personally the fact that Burke referred to himself repeatedly as an Englishman, as is stated later on this page, for example in his letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol (1777) "Liberty is in danger of being made unpopular to Englishmen. Contending for an imaginary power, we begin to acquire the spirit of domination, and to lose the relish of honest equality" strongly supports for referring to him as at least Anglo-Irish.

This is of course in addition to his membership of the British Parliament, the 47 years he lived in England (where he was buried), as opposed to 21 in Ireland and his Anglican faith.

Tchaikovskyflowers (talk) 17:54, 7 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your post suggests you don't understand what Anglo-Irish means. "Anglo-Irish" is a term for the foreign ruling class that immigrated to Ireland from England in the early modern period. It is first and foremost an ethnic term that does not fit the Irish Catholic-descended Burke. One of your sources ( even mentions that he was of "Munster Roman Catholic" stock, thus disqualifying him from this label despite the author's own lack of insight.
Other Sources demonstrating a lack of an "Anglo-Irish" consensus (which was forged out of a slim majority of those sources): (Refers to Burke as an "Irishman") — Preceding unsigned comment added by ComradeKublai (talkcontribs) 00:49, 8 December 2021 (UTC) ComradeKublai (talk) 00:56, 8 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Anglo-Irish as an ethnic term:, Anglo-Irish as being defined by descent: (talk) 00:56, 8 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm sorry I thought my post was quite clear, I was following the definition used by Wikipedia, the Oxford Reference Dictionary, Miriam Webster, besides others, all of which all refer to Anglo-Irish as a person with mixed ancestry living in Ireland.

Burke qualifies to be in this group, as being of English descent. Most obviously his surname is English, from Old English "burh" meaning "fortified hill" and being derived originally from his ancestors in East Anglia.

Anglo-Irish does not solely refer to those who immigrated in the early modern period. Could you find me a source that defines Anglo-Irish as solely those who immigrated in the early modern period?

You seem to be overstressing the distinction between Old English and New English settlers in Ireland. Both pages on Wikipedia make it clear that there was interrelation and assimilation between the two groups.

"And while most of the Anglo-Irish originated in the English diaspora in Ireland, some were of native Irish families who had converted from the Catholic Church to Anglicanism.[6]"

"Conversely, some Hiberno-Normans assimilated into the new English Protestant elite, as the Anglo-Irish."

Burke would be a perfect example of this. He had Jacobite ancestry that immigrated in the 17th century and English ancestry such as Edmund Spenser, who would qualify as Early Modern.

Rather than implying that the Mcgill article's author has a lack of insight, I would suggest considering that they acknowledged Burke's "Munster Roman Catholic stock" and still decided to label him Anglo-Irish. This is strong evidence that the term is not as narrow as you claim.

Your four sources aren't very persuasive as to Anglo-Irish not being the preferred term, the second one doesn't label him Irish anywhere I can see, and the third refers to him as British before Irish. Even if we were to acknowledge them, it would reinforce my point that this is a complicated issue, where the academic community is split and simply calling him Irish isn't suitable. Again an alternative might be to remove any reference to his ethnicity in the header and let the article on his life simply speak for itself, it's quite clear later on that Burke was ambiguous in his identity.

If we are simply trading sources though, here are another two that clearly include him as one of the most important figures in discussions of Anglo-Irish literature.


Britannica has a subheading dedicated to Burke in its discussion of Anglo-Irish literature. [2]

Again I should explain that my argument is not to deny his Irishness, he was absolutely born in Ireland, spoke a fair amount of Gaelic and expressed deep fondness for the land and people. However identity and ethnicity are extremely complicated and nuanced concepts, and a person can often identify with multiple labels. Burke was clearly one such case. I believe that Anglo-Irish captures this ambiguity far better than simply Irish.

If instead you refuse to discuss or try to understand the situation and simply revert my changes, you'll be in breach of WP:CON, where it is clearly the protocol to try and reach an evidence based consensus.

If you have the time I'd again recommend reading more widely on Burke's identity, most important for this discussion being Edmund Burke's Irish identities by Sean Patrick Donlan. At the moment all you seem to be biasedly edit warring, and oversimplifying the issue down to "Roman Catholic Stock".

Tchaikovskyflowers (talk) 13:18, 8 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Here we go again..
Yes, let's look at the Anglo-Irish page and pay particular attention to the talk section I opened cautioning editors to tone down all the genealogy talk.
You fundamentally misunderstand how "Anglo-Irish" is being used in this context. It does not, for example, mean "Normans" who came to Ireland in the 12th Century, nor is it solely referring to Cromwellian expropriators in the Early Modern period. It's a term used to describe the privileged (Anglican) Irish from about the 17th until the 19th Century, regardless of their origins. The Guinness family didn't come from "Old English stock" -- they had ancient Irish McCartan origins, and like most Anglo-Irish were intermarried with other members of this social class, as well as the British aristocracy. The "Burke" name isn't "English" either - it's primarily an Irish surname of Anglo-Norman origins, not that this matters as to who was "Anglo-Irish"[3].
The question regarding Burke's identity has been answered by the number of sources describing him as "Irish" or "Anglo-Irish". "Irish" with no qualifier is used by a slight majority, but I've no personal problem using "Anglo-Irish" on this page (although it should be used consistently in other bios for subjects who meet this criteria, which it's not). Granted, Burke was barely Anglo-Irish considering his family background and upbringing, but if using the term is to highlight his social position in contradistinction to about 80% of Ireland's population at the turn of the 19th Century, then it has its value.
A lot of the problem here has to do with political sensitivities in a post-1922, post-Brexit world rather than editors genuinely trying to improve this article, which is not something usually accomplished by incessantly rehashing the same argument. Who gives a shit if Burke's described as "Irish" or "Anglo-Irish"? The issue is that the Irish claim him as their own and so do the British. Which again raises the question of whether the "Anglo-Irish" designation is actually appropriate here, or merely a compromise between annoying ethnic chauvinists who can't let this thing go.Jonathan f1 (talk) 01:55, 19 December 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

British vs Irish[edit]

Burke was born and lived in Ireland making him Irish. Plus the vast majority of sources call him Irish. There's no conceivable way he is "British". PailSimon (talk) 19:50, 19 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The two are not mutually exclusive in this context. He was most definitely Irish, and nonetheless British for it. Although I admit (and have been campaigning for this on C.S. Lewis's page) that this on its own does not merit the 'British' description, is is the fact that he was a Briton who served in an official capacity as a politician (a statesman, as the lede we are discussing states) in the Union-wide House of Commons that makes this one of the few cases where mention of his being British must be made. This is a well-established precedent elsewhere on this website. I believe something to the effect of "Irish-born British" strikes the right balance, as it is true that his Irishness (and I do not say Irish-born to imply his ethnicity is of importance per se, as per a silly Wikipedia rule) is also--though less--notable.

SeanEML (talk) 20:25, 19 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Some links:

If you are able to provide evidence that he is Irish to the exclusion of being British, then we can talk.

Kind regards, SeanEML (talk) 20:28, 19 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You dont get to demand anything by the way, please read WP:CONSENSUS. Regardless the overwhelming majority of sources bar one or two strays refer to him as Iriah without qualification so Wikipedia should reflect that.PailSimon (talk) 20:39, 19 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As I'm sure you're aware, I only meant by "then we can talk" that then you will have a sufficient case. It's a colloquial expression. We can continue this editing war, but as I am the only one who is making a sophisticated case for my edits, I fail to see why the onus is on me and not you. You are equally liable to be blocked, perhaps especially as only I have justified my edits. Only a short while ago 'Anglo-Irish' was the description (which is of course completely incorrect) so I am not interfering with some historic consensus. Rather, I am following a long-established precedent of referring to MPs and other statesmen in a Union-wide capacity as British.

SeanEML (talk) 20:48, 19 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is no "we", there is simply you in the edit warring case. Please read WP:BRD and WP:CON. You are in breach of both, which I am not. "Only I have justified my edits" is just patently false and needs no response considering the edit summaries and everything I have said on the talk page. "Only a short while ago 'Anglo-Irish' was the description (which is of course completely incorrect) so I am not interfering with some historic consensus." Calling him British is evidently challenging a long term version, so again I ask you to familiarize yourself with the relevant Wikipedia polices. "I am following a long-established precedent of referring to MPs and other statesmen in a Union-wide capacity as British" No such precedent exists and even if it did it means nothing, please see WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS. The simple fact of the matter is you are edit warring without consensus and violating BRD by inserting something not backed up by the vast majority of reliable sources. PailSimon (talk) 21:47, 19 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You can continue to hurl Wikipedia pages at me or you can actually respond to the points I have made. You harp on about "the vast majority of reliable sources" but provide no sources, and you have not responded to my essential about him being Irish and British in equal measure, with the latter being of fundamental importance considering his role as statesman. I have cited credible sources to this end, including the most reputable encyclopaedia in the English language. But however many sources you fail to cite describe him as Irish, this does not disqualify my fundamental point about his also being British and the relevance thereof, which I am confident any reliable source will also mention, although perhaps not consistently in the lede. As I keep on saying, one must be cautious about the British/Irish false dichotomy. Putting 'British' in the lede conforms with Wikipedia's policy, however, as I was enlightened about in relation to a similar issue recently, and this is why the precedent does in fact matter - see
You seriously need to understand that Burke is extremely commonly identified as British. This is not really a debatable point, he was an MP in the British House of Commons representing an English constituency whilst living in England. Clearly the label 'Irish' on its own is restrictive ... Please, PLEASE enlighten me with sources that identify him as Irish to the exclusion of being BritishSeanEML (talk) 22:44, 19 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am "hurling wikipedia pages" to inform you that you are breaking the rules. As for the sources which call Burke Irish without qualification or simply Anglo-Irish 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16. Wikipedia does what most reliable sources do and most call him Irish or perhaps more commonly Anglo-Irish without mentioning "British" whatever that even means.PailSimon (talk) 10:12, 20 January 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Interesting how SeanEML has stopped responding after being given the sources he requested, yet continues to edit war. This shows clear dishonesty and a blatant disregard for Wikipedia's rules. Should SeanEML be allowed to continue engaging in this sort of behavior? ComradeKublai (talk) 02:23, 17 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Again with this obsession with his identity. It was just recently changed again to "Anglo-Irish". There are a significant number of sources using this description, but the majority of the references cited here, as far as I can tell, describe Burke as Irish with no qualifier. Looking at the edit history and how many times the lede's been changed from Irish to Anglo-Irish to British and back again, this is getting tiresome and has very little to do with improving the article.Jonathan f1 (talk) 00:05, 9 November 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Should this page be protected?[edit]

I'm relatively new to editing Wikipedia, so sorry if this isn't the place for this. Would it be possible to limit editing on this page in an effort to stop the constant edit warring? The reason I say this is that many blatantly POV-pushing editors have been repeatedly edit warring to claim that Burke was British or Anglo-Irish, despite both of these clearly being proven inaccurate many times both in the edit history and on the talk page. ComradeKublai (talk) 20:04, 18 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, the number of disruptions is very low and specific to a couple time periods. The editing history doesn't show enough disruption to warrant protection. Additionally there's no vandalism or true disruptive editing going on, just a content dispute which is not a reason to protect. Canterbury Tail talk 14:37, 19 March 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I imagine this has been addressed in past comments, but I'm surprised there's no mention of Burke's numerous aspersions against "Old Jewry" [ed: that refers to a London inn, not to Jewish people] - catalogued here by Losurdo, from top of p.274 onward. Shtove (talk) 13:43, 11 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]