Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Scott W. See

Second Committee Member

Jacques Ferland

Third Committee Member

Anne Kelly Knowles

Additional Committee Members

Michael Lang

Liam Riordan


This dissertation explores the state’s effort to control public space by passing legislation to suppress Orange Order processions in Ireland and British North America between 1814 and 1851. By the early nineteenth century, annual July Twelfth parades commemorating William III’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 became occasions for violent sectarian clashes in the streets of Ireland, New Brunswick, and Canada as celebratory Protestant Orangemen clashed with resentful Catholic opponents. In 1832 the British Parliament sought to put an end to these riots by passing the Party Processions Act, which prohibited Orange processions in Ireland. The Legislative Assembly of the United Canadas followed suit in 1843. Notwithstanding these statutes, tensions between Orangemen and Catholics continued. An explosion of July Twelfth violence in Canada, New Brunswick, and Ireland in 1849 resulted in divergent legislative responses. Whereas Parliament passed a second Party Processions Act for Ireland in 1850 to replace the original Act, which had expired in 1844, the Legislative Assembly for Canada repealed its Act in 1851. Despite a vigorous debate, New Brunswick never passed any specific legislation on party processions. The British Parliament’s determination to gain control of Irish public spaces through aggressive legislation ultimately revealed the fracture between the interests of the state – seated in Westminster and Dublin Castle – and the priorities of local magistrates in charge of enforcing statutes on the ground. In the two Canadian provinces, New Brunswick’s disinclination to pass a Party Processions Act and Upper Canada’s quick annulment of their legislation showed a determination on the government’s side to not expose their weakness on the ground by retaining a law they found unenforceable. The passage, enforcement, and ultimate failure of these Party Processions Acts provides an opportunity to employ theories from legal geography and social history to investigate the increasing role of government in policing public space. The debate over the Party Processions Acts in contemporary newspapers, official correspondence, legislative debates, Parliamentary reports, and court transcripts exposed tensions between the state and local concepts of order. These issues played out in both the abstract space of the law and in the material space of its enforcement.