March 10, 2020

Countering the republican refrain "you took our land"

The common refrain from republicans is, "you took our land".

Yet Belfast as a town and later city was only founded in the early 1600s.

It was built in a basin, situated at the foot of a rim of hills and at the the mouth of a river. It became a trading hub and the merchant community and the population grew rapidly from the 1650s onwards.

A mid-century figure of around 1,000 quickly rose to 2,000 by 1660. Hitting 3,200 by 1670, then reaching 5,000 in 1706.

The population grew to about 8,500 by 1760, grew to 13,500 in 1782, then got to 19,500 in 1791.

By 1912, the population of Belfast was nearly 400,000 compared with 174,000 in 1871. Edward Carson said in 1911:
"The men who made Belfast, which was a town of 12,000 when the Act of Union [1801] was passed, and now has something like 400,000 people, do you think they will accept notice to quit?"

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