Charity: International Philanthropy & Domestic ‘noblesse oblige’. (Carton House)

The site of Carton House, where the “Famine Queen” Victoria visited in 1849, presents an idea of a direct connection between the cases of Ireland and Finland. As in the Irish case, British Quakers were prominent in raising money for Finland and publicising the plight of the Finns internationally. Also as in the Irish case (and linked directly to some of Professor Kinealy’s recent work), there was a considerable international charitable response, reflecting a variety of motives from the donors. This formed part of an international interest in philanthropy and humanitarianism in the second half of the 19th Century (for example, the foundation of the Red Cross movement in 1863 has often been seen as the “birth” of modern humanitarianism). Comparisons can also be found between the two cases when looking at “domestic” aid – landownership in Finland was different from Ireland, and so there is not the same narrative of good vs. bad landlords, but in terms of urban philanthropy there are many fundraising initiatives, which fulfilled a demand for “Christian charity”, assuaged potential feelings of guilt, and also allowed middle-classes (both men and women) to mingle on relatively equal terms with the aristocracy, in this urban civic sphere. Finland and Ireland, in this regard, were both part of much broader European trends. The British aid effort began in the immediate aftermath of the Crimean War, as Quakers sought to make amends for what they considered to be Britain’s unnecessary bombing campaign along the Finnish coast.

The following extract is from 1857: