• Studying_People_banner_jpg
  • Academic staff

  • Professor Virginia Crossman

    Professor of Modern Irish History

    School of History, Philosophy and Culture

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


    Phone number: +44 (0)1865 484226

    Email: vcrossman@brookes.ac.uk


    Virginia Crossman completed her doctorate on official reactions to rural unrest in pre-Famine Ireland at Oxford University in 1985. She then spent two years as Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies in Belfast working on local government in 19th-century Ireland. She has held lectureships at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and Keele Universities and joined the History Department at Oxford Brookes in January 2005. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Higher Education Academy Registered Practitioner. She has published extensively on aspects of government and administration in nineteenth and twentieth century Ireland; most recently on the history of the Irish poor law. Her current research focuses on vagrants and vagrancy.


    • U67885 The Troubles : Northern Ireland 1967-1998 (3rd year) [Advanced Study in the History of Britain, Ireland and Empire]
    • U67542 Poverty and Welfare (2nd year)
    • U67822 Ireland, Britain and the Wider World (2nd year)


    • P67501 Key Concepts and Methods in Humanities Research (History)

    Modern Irish history; the Irish poor law; the Troubles.

    Research interests

    • Poverty and welfare in 19th-20th century Ireland: the administration and distribution of poor relief, perceptions of the poor law and poor law reform, philanthropy and social welfare, survival strategies of the poor.
    • Government and administration of 19th century Ireland: the relationships between policy and administration, the centre and the localities and government and the governed.
    • Crime and disorder in pre-Famine Ireland: agrarian secret societies, popular disorder, perceptions of crime and disorder, gender and crime, policing.

    Current research

    • Vagrancy in Ireland; Irish vagrants in Britain
    • Medical relief in Ireland

    Recent research project

    • Welfare regimes under the Irish poor law 1850-1921.

    This ESRC-funded project (2007-10) provided the basis for the first detailed and wide-ranging analysis of poor relief in post-Famine Ireland, thus opening up a major new area of Irish social history. Using qualitative and quantitative data collected by a team of three post-doctoral research assistants, the project examined the character, organisation and operation of the poor law in Ireland from the end of the Great Famine to the establishment of the Irish Free State. The aim was to trace national and regional patterns in the provision and distribution of relief, and to explore the role of economic, social and political factors in the formulation and execution of national and local relief policies. By analysing both general trends in relief policies and the micro-politics of relief, the project provides a historical context for contemporary debates on the position of the poor and marginalised in Irish society, thus facilitating the integration of Ireland into the international history of European welfare.


    • Crossman V, Lucey D, Ed., Healthcare in Ireland and Britain 1850-1970, Institute of Historical Research (2015)
      ISBN: 978-1-909646-02-5
      Abstract Website
    • Crossman V, Poverty and the Poor Law in Ireland 1850-1914, Liverpool University Press (2013)
      ISBN: 9781846319419
    • Crossman V, Gray P, Poverty and welfare in Ireland 1838-1948, Irish Academic Press (2011)
      ISBN: 9780716530893
      Abstract Website

    Journal articles

    • Crossman V, Lucey D, ''One huge abuse': the Cork Board of Guardians and the expansion of outdoor relief in post-famine Ireland'
      English Historical Review 126 (523) (2011) pp.1408-1429
      ISSN: 0013-8266 eISSN: 0013-8266
    • Crossman V, 'Facts notorious to the whole country: the political battle over Irish poor law reform in the 1860s'
      Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 20 (-) (2010) pp.157-169
      ISSN: 0080-4401 eISSN: 0080-4401
      Abstract Website
    • Crossman V, 'Cribbed, contained, and confined?: the care of children under the Irish Poor Law, 1850-1920 '
      Eire-Ireland 44 (1-2) (2009) pp.37-61
      ISSN: 0013-2683 eISSN: 0013-2683
      Abstract Website

    Book chapters

    Conference papers


    • Crossman V, review of Captain Rock: the Irish Agrarian Rebellion of 1821-1824, in Journal of British Studies 49 (2010) pp.897-899
      ISSN: 0021-9371 eISSN: 0021-9371
    • Crossman V, review of Social Conflict in Pre-famine Ireland: the Case of County Roscommon., in Journal of British Studies 48 (2009) pp.521-522
      ISSN: 0021-9371 eISSN: 0021-9371
    • Crossman V, review of The Congested Districts Board of Ireland, 1891-1923: Poverty and Development in the West of Ireland, in Irish Historical Studies 35 (2007) pp.131-132
      ISSN: 0021-1214 eISSN: 0021-1214

    Membership of professional bodies

    Director of the Centre for the History of Welfare



    Conference papers given since 2008

    • Sources for the history of the Irish poor law, Society for the Study of 19th Century Ireland Conference, University of Limerick, June 2008
    • Workhouse medicine in Ireland 1862-1925, Medicine and the Workhouse Seminar, Birmingham Medical Institute, November 2008
    • Rethinking the History of the Irish Poor Law, Royal Historical Society Symposium, Poverty and Welfare in Ireland 1838-1948, Queen's University Belfast, June 2009
    • The romance of poverty in Irish and Welsh nationalism, Ireland-Wales Symposium, Cardiff, September 2009
    • Attending to the wants of poverty: Cardinal Cullen and the development of social welfare in Ireland, St Patrick's College, Dublin, September 2009
    • Exploring the mixed economy of welfare in post-Famine Ireland, Society for the Study of 19th Century Ireland Conference, University College Cork, June 2010
    • The post-Famine Irish workhouse as an institution for moral and practical training’, European Social Science History Conference, Glasgow, April 2012
    • Workhouse medicine in Ireland 1850-1910: comparative and regional perspectives, Healthcare Systems: regional and comparative perspectives in Britain and Ireland 1850-1960, University College Dublin, June 2012
    • 'marching around the country terrorizing women': The Tramp Problem in post-Famine Ireland’, keynote lecture, Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland Conference, Northumbria University, June 2013
    • Social and demographic responses to the Great Famine, Local Population Studies Annual Conference, Oxford, May 2014
    • Reassessing the dispensary system in post-Famine Ireland: a northern case study, Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference, Oxford, June 2014.