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OF

THE PENAL LAWS

AGAINST TAL

IRISH CATHOLICS;

FROM THE TREATY OF LIMERICK TO THE UNION.

WITH AN INDEX.

BY SIR HENRY PARNELL, BART. M.P.

[Concluded from No. XL.]

NEW EDITION, CORRECTED FOR THE PAMPHLETEER

• EXCLUSIVELY.

LONDON:

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To the first question it was answered--That neither Pope, Cardinals, or even a General Council, have any civil authority, power, jurisdiction, or pre-eminence, directly or indirectly, in the kingdom of Great Britain; or over any other kingdom or province in which they possess no temporal dominion.

To the second it is answered—That neither Pope nor Cardinals, nor even a General Council, can absolve the subjects of Great Britain from their oaths of allegiance, or dispense with their obligation.

To the third it is answered. That the obligation of keeping faith is grounded on the law of nature, which binds all men equally, without respect to their religious opinions; and with regard to Catholics it is still more cogent, as it is confirmed by the principles of their religion.

Signed in the usual form, February 17, 1789. While the general committee were occupied in carrying these measures into effect, Parliament had passed a law' for removing part of the restraints and disabilities to which the Catholics were liable. It was introduced into the House of Commons by Sir H. Langrishe, and, being supported by Government, it met with little opposition. But the conduct of Government, on this occasion,

1 321 Geo III. c. 91.

was so suspicious, and its favor conferred with so bad a grace,' that it did not in the least degree contribute to appease the irritation which its former conduct in 1791 had so justly given rise to.

By this act Catholics may be called to the bar, and may be ad. mitted as students into the King's Inns; Attorneys may take Catholic apprentices, and are relieved from the necessity of educating their children Protestants; and barristers may marry Catholics. Catholic barristers, and apprentices to attorneys, must, nevertheless, qualify themselves for the benefits of this act, by taking the oath of the 13th & 14th Geo. III. c. 35.

By this act, so much of 9th William III. c. 3. and 2d Anne, c. 6. as prevents Protestants from interniarrying with Papists, is repealed. But Protestants married to Catholics are not to vote at elections, and the law is not altered which makes it a capital felony for a priest to celebrate the marriage of a Protestant and a Catholic, though the very next act in the statute book enables a Presbyterian clergyman to celebrate the marriage of a Protestant and a Presbyterian.

By this act, also, the 7th William III. for restraining foreign education, is repealed ; and Catholics are permitted to teach school without taking out a licence from the ordinary. And so much likewise of 8th Anne, c. 3. is repealed, which enacts that no Papist shall take more than two apprentices.

In the course of the debates upon this act, the Catholics were accused of professing tenets inimical to good order and government; and with harbouring pretensions to the forfeited estates of their forefathers, and with wishing to subvert the existing establishment, that they might reinstate a Popish one in its stead. The general committee were also accused of being turbulent and seditious agitators. It was asserted, that the petition which they presented this year to Parliament, was the act of an obscure faction, confined merely to the capital, and disavowed by the great mass of the Catholics.

In order to repel the first of these accusations, the declaration of 1774, which has already been introduced into this work, was republished, and signed by Dr. Troy and the principal Catholic clergy and laity of the kingdom. The second charge was not so easily to be contradicted. It was one of most serious importance to the interests of the whole body, and, if suffered to pass without the fallacy of it being exposed, would have contributed to defeat all the exertions which had been made to obtain redress. Urged by these considerations, and also by a communication, which, about this time, was made, from the first authority, that a further application for relief would have great weight with his Majesty, and with Parliament, if the committee were qualified to declare, that it was the measure of every Catholic in the kingdom, the committee devised a plan, by which a convention of delegates should be held, elected by the whole Catholic body. A circular letter was immediately written, directing that each parish should proceed to choose one or two electors, and that these electors should then elect from one to four delegates, as it might appear most expedient to them. Their directions were obeyed, and carried into effect with so much promptitude and good order, that the convention were able to meet on the 3d of December, without the smallest degree of tumult or agitation having occurred in any part of the kingdom.

' This measure was introduced into the House of Cominons without any communicarion with the general committee.

In the mean time, this circular letter had been laid hold of by the Government, as a proper instrument with which to rekindle the embers of religious animosities. Where the partizans of Government were sufficiently strong, corporate and county meetings were held to reprobate the plan of the general committee; but if defeat, or even formidable resistance, was apprehended, similar resolutions were entered into by the grand juries, where success could easily be secured, from the influence of Government in their appointment.

In order to counteract the effect of these resolutions, those Protestants who had the virtue and the good sense neither to become the tools or the dupes of Government, held a great number of meetings of different towns and districts. Some few, with Londonderry at their head, expressed themselves favorable to a gradual admission of the Catholics ; but the great majority followed the example of an immense body of volunteers, who, when assembled together at their commemoration meeting, declared their sentiments in favor of the immediate and unqualified extension of the right of suffrage to the whole Catholic body.

When the convention met in December, their proceedings were wise, temperate, and decisive, and conducted without any violation of the laws of the land, or of the good order of society, At the first meeting the following petition to the King was unanimously agreed to, pursuant to instructions which had been given to each delegate by his respective electors.

See the plan for conducting the election of delegates, published 1793.

To the King's most Excellent Majesty, the humble Petition of the

Undersigned Catholics, on behalf of themselves and the rest of his Catholic Subjects of the kingdom of Ireland.

Most Gracious Sovereign, We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects of your kingdom of Ireland, professing the Catholic religion, presume to approach your Majesty, who are the common father of all your people, and humbly to submit to your consideration the manifold incapacities and oppressive disqualifications under which we labor.

For, may it please your Majesty, after a century of uninterrupted loyalty, in which time five foreign wars and two domestic rebellions have occurred, after having taken every oath of allegiance and fidelity to your Majesty, and given, and being still ready to give, every pledge, which can be devised for their peaceable demeanour and unconditional submission to the laws, the Catholics of Ireland stand obnoxious to a long catalogue of statutes, inflicting on dutiful and meritorious subjects pains and penalties of an extent and severity, which scarce any degree of delinquency can warrant, and prolonged to a period, when no necessity can be alleged to justify their continuance.

In the first place, we beg leave, with all humility, to represent to your Majesty, that, notwithstanding the lowest departments in your Majesty's fleets and armies are largely supplied by our numbers, and your revenue in this country to a great degree supported by our contributions, we are disabled from serving your Majesty in any office of trust and emolument whatsoever, civil or military-a proscription, which disregards capacity or merit, admits of neither qualification nor degree, and rests as an universal stigma of distrust upon the whole body of your Catholic subjects.

We are interdicted from all municipal stations, and the franchise of all guilds and corporations, and our exclusion from the bene- fits annexed to those situations is not an evil terminating in itself; for, by giving an advantage over us to those, in whom they are exclusively vested, they establish throughout the kingdom a species of qualified 'monopoly, uniformly operating in our disfavor, contrary to the spirit, and highly detrimental to the freedom of trade.

We may not found nor endow any university, college, or school, for the education of our children, and we are interdicted fron. obtaining degrees in the university of Dublin by the several charters and statutes now in force therein.

We are totally prohibited from keeping or using weapons, for the defence of our houses, families, or persons, whereby we are exposed to the violence of burglary, robbery, and assassination ; and to enforce this prohibition, contravening that great original law of

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