One of the many crises afflicting Asquith’s premiership was the Irish rebellion of Easter 1916. This seems to have caught the government by surprise, Asquith confiding to Sylvia Henley that it came as ‘a bolt from the blue’.
We can see the private reactions in high political circles where it seems that at first some found it difficult to take the Rising seriously. The papers of the under-secretary for Ireland, Sir Matthew Nathan, include details of day-to-day occurrences in the streets of Dublin during the Rising as reported to the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The heavy-handed British response turned what had been a small revolt into a national movement.