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Middle-Class Life in Victorian Belfast$
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Alice Johnson

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620313

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620313.001.0001

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A divided city

A divided city

(p.140) 4 A divided city
Middle-Class Life in Victorian Belfast

Alice Johnson

Liverpool University Press

Belfast’s middle classes lived in a divided city. Politically, Belfast was divided for the period under review into Conservative and Liberal camps. Religious divisions existed between Protestants and Roman Catholics, and within Protestantism itself. Society was also separated into different classes, with the middle classes positioned above the working classes and below the aristocracy. Political, religious and class tensions existed in every industrial city, of course. However, in Belfast, religious division assumed a particularly ugly and bitter hue. This chapter focuses on an elite living in a society divided along lines of both class and religion. The relationship of Belfast’s elite to the city’s working classes and the local aristocracy is explored; while a discussion of Belfast’s middle-class Roman Catholic community assesses the extent to which it was integrated into the city’s elite. The chapter also examines the relationship between the middle classes and the city’s growing sectarianism.

Keywords:   Class, middle class, working class, aristocracy, philanthropy, religion, sectarianism, Protestantism, Catholicism

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