The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Cliffe Leslie, Thomas Edward (1827–1882)

  • J. Maloney
Reference work entry


T.E. Cliffe Leslie was both the pioneer (with J.K. Ingram) and the most radical member of the English Historical School. Born in Co. Wexford, he was educated at King William’s College, Isle of Man, and at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1853 he became professor of jurisprudence and political economy at Queen’s College, Belfast. His inaugural lecture ‘The Military Systems of Europe Economically Considered’ was published in 1856 and set the empirical, comparative tone that informed all his work. It was, however, Leslie’s Irish context that did most to sharpen his onslaught on orthodox economics. To the Irish tenant-farmers, lacking either security of tenure or the right to be compensated for improvements they had made, liberal economists offered only free trade and the assurance that no good could come from specific legislation for Ireland. Thus Robert Lowe (shortly to become Gladstone’s Chancellor) in 1868 urged Parliament to oppose land reform ‘with the principles of political economy’. That Mill dissented, supporting what eventually became the Irish Land Act of 1870, was perhaps the crucial episode in Leslie’s becoming a self-proclaimed disciple of Mill.

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  1. Hutchison, T.W. 1978. On revolutions and progress in economic knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Koot, G. 1975. T.E. Cliffe Leslie, Irish social reform, and the origins of the English historical school of economics. History of Political Economy 7(3): 312–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Maloney
    • 1
  1. 1.