UK general election, 1852 - Ireland

By 1852, the Industrial Revolution was bringing Britain to levels of prosperity never before imagined. Conversely, British policy in Ireland saw only a rise in poverty. The Great Famine had killed approximately a million people, with another million having emigrated to England or to the United States. It was in this climate that the next British general election occurred. Much of the election revolved around the Corn Laws, which had protected British and Irish corn producers from rival imports from 1815 until its repeal in 1846.  The repeal caused controversy within the House of Commons as the Conservative Prime Minister, Robert Peel (along with a small fraction of his MPs) voted with the Opposition to support it. The remainder of the Conservative Party had opposed repeal.

Peel's faction of the party became known as the "Peelites". Another faction of MPs supporting the further removal of protectionist laws also began to side with the Whigs, becoming collectively known as the "Free Traders". In the election, the Whigs won the popular vote, but the Conservatives took more seats. The new Conservative leader, the Earl of Derby, became Prime Minister of a minority government which lasted until the end of the year, then replaced without an election by a Whig-Peelite coalition, with Lord Aberdeen of the Whigs taking office in Downing Street.

In Ireland, voting patterns remained similar to previous elections. Ulster remained the domain of the Conservatives, with support remaining in east Leinster as well. The Peelites only took two Irish seats: one each from Counties Cavan and Kerry. With the Repeal Association now defunct, the Whigs made advances in the rest of Ireland, but the majority of Whig MPs elected in Ireland instead sat as the Independent Irish Party, or the "Irish Brigade". They sought the repeal of the Ecclesiastical Titles Act which inhibited the powers of Catholic bishops in the UK, as well as campaigning for fair rent for Irish tenants. This party was formed by 48 elected MPs.