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From Ireland to Africa: the Criminal Career and Punishment of Patrick Madan

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is about a man who never actually made that voyage, yet whose life was profoundly influenced and altered by events around the Atlantic Ocean. Patrick Madan's life was illustrative of many of the factors Atlantic historians discuss: attitudes towards the Irish in Britain and towards black Africans among Europeans; the anti-British sentiment in America in the era leading to the Revolution; class divisions within Britain and anti-authoritarianism among the lower classes, and not least forced labour movement around the Atlantic. Patrick Madan was everywhere, a character who loomed large in Londoners' collective imagination in the 1770s. What none could foresee, however, was that Madan would go on to suffer the strangest punishment in an era of very bizarre to the modern mind at least punishments. Madan was a pickpocket, a burglar, a mugger, a highwayman, a bank robber and a fence for stolen goods.

Keywords: Africa; anti-British sentiment; Atlantic Ocean; criminal career; Ireland; Patrick Madan; punishment



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