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The possibility of a union between Great Britain and Ireland had been discussed since the mid-seventeenth century but the rebellion of 1798 threw the issue into focus and, combined with a threat of French invasion, led the British Government to consider it seriously. Despite initial Irish opposition, the Dublin and Westminster Parliaments both passed Acts which created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Under the terms of the Union, which came into effect on 1 January 1801, the Irish Parliament was abolished; Ireland was given 100 MPs at Westminster whilst the Irish peerage were represented in the House of Lords by 28 of their number who served for life. 4 Church of Ireland bishops also joined the Lords by rotation.
The Act is in the form of a parchment roll, the text having been handwritten onto membranes stitched end to end.
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