Page images


vernment with large sums of money, in case of necessity, to support the Protestant establishment against all its enemies; and the Catholics of the city of Cork, in a body, presented an address to the Lord Lieutenant, expressing their loyalty in the warmest terms of assurance. They professed the warmest indignation at the threatened invasion of the kingdom, by an enemy vainly flattered with the imaginary hope of assistance in Ireland, from the former attachments of their deluded prede

They assured his Grace, that such schemes were altogether inconsistent with their principles and intentions; and that they would, to the utmost exertion of their abilities, with their lives and fortunes, join in the defence and support of his majesty's royal person and government, against all invaders whatsoever. *

These circumstances are proofs of no ordinary -fidelity in the Irish Catholics to the House of Brunswick. They were, however, of no avail in mitigating the rigour of the magistracy in the execution of the penal laws, or in inducing the British government to repeal any part of them ; for the reign of George II. closed without any grateful acknowledgment being made to them for the steadiness, the moderation, and the loyalty, which they had displayed on so many trying occasions.

* Smollett's History of England, iv. 69.


Though the first measure of this reign, the royal recommendation to Parliament to make the judges independent of the crown, bespoke the determination of his majesty to respect the feelings and confirm the rights and liberties of his subjects ; still the unfortunate Catholics of Ireland were doomed to suffer under new pains and penalties.

In the year 1776, an act of parliament was passed *, by which one or more justices of the peace, and all sheriffs and chief magistrates of cities and towns corporate, within their respective jurisdictions, may from time to time, as well by night as by day, search for and seize all arms and ammunition belonging to any Papist not entitled to keep the same, or in the hands of any person in trust for a Papist ; and for that purpose enter any dwelling-house, out-house, office, field, or other place belonging to a Papist, or to any other person where such magistrate has reasonable cause to suspect any such arms or ammunition shall be concealed ; and on suspicion, after search, may summon and examine on oath, the person suspected of such concealment.

By the 17th clause of this act, Papists refusing to deliver up or declare such arms as they, or any with their privity, have, or hindering the delivery, or refusing to discover on oath, or without cause neglecting to appear on summons to be examined before a magistrate concerning the same, shall, on conviction, be punished by fine and imprisonment,

* 15 and 16 G. III. c. 21. § 15.

or such corporeal punishment of pillory or whipping, as the Court shall in their discretion think

proper. In the year 1782, a clause was introduced into an act * by which no person shall be admitted into the society of King's Inns as a student, who shall not, at the time of his admission, be a Protestant.

In the same year an act t was passed, by the 3d clause of which, all statutes made in England or Great Britain, and all such clauses and provisions contained in any statute there made, as relate to the taking any oath or oaths, or making or subscribing any declaration in Ireland, or to any penalty or disability for omitting the same, shall be accepted, used, and executed in Ireland.

This act referred to : 1st. the English act of 3 William and Mary, c. 2. sect. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, by which the oath of supremacy mentioned in 2 Eliz. i. c. 1. is abrogated, and a new oath of supremacy is required to be taken by all persons admitted in Ireland to hold any civil or military office, and by members of both houses of parliament: 2. to the English act of 1 Anne, stat. 2. c. 17. requiring all persons to take the oath of abjuration, prescribed by the English acts of 13 W. III. c. 6. and 1 Anne, st. 1. c. 22. : 3. to the English act of 6 G. HII. c. 53. § 2. declaring that from the 1st August 1776, the oath of abjuration, by this act appointed to be taken in Great Britain, shall be the oath of abjuration to be taken in Ireland.

Though this clause of the 21 and 22 of G. III. c. 48. has attracted very little public attention, it was of no less import than that of being the first legal exclusion of Catholics from sitting in the

* 21 and 22 G. III. c. 32. g 2.

21 and 22 G. III. C. 48. $ 3.

Irish parliament. They had been excluded de facto by their voluntary submission to the English act of 3 William and Mary, but not de jure till this act of 21 and 22 G. III. which made the act of 3 William and Mary, just mentioned, binding in Ireland. *

This circumstance, which has always been overlooked, even by the Catholics themselves, proves how readily they have been inclined at all times to submit to the authority of government. And it also proves how unfounded those arguments are, which maintain that the exclusion of the Catholics of Ireland from parliament, is a principle on which the family of his Majesty was placed upon the throne. It completely overturns the system of erroneous reasoning concerning the coronation oath, which of late has been so common; and, so far as the mean. ing of this oath is at issue, it reduces the question to this simple point, whether the king can conscientiously place the Catholics of Ireland in the same condition, with respect to sitting in parliament, in

* The first Irish parliament summoned by William, having met on the 5th of October 1692, immediately after the election of a speaker and his being seated, “a motion was made for the reading of a late act of parliament, made in England in the third year of their majesties reign, intituled. An act for abrogating the oath of supremacy in Ireland, and appointing other oaths, upon reading whereof, the house immediately proceeded to the swearing of their members, and they being sworn the house adjourned.”—(Irish Com. Jour. 2. p.9.)

It does not appear by the Journals that any objection was made to this motion, or that any Catholic had been elected to serve in this parliament, notwithstanding this English act was not binding in Ireland. Nor is any mention made in the historians of that day, concerning the grounds upon which the Catholics submitted to it. The submissive forbearance of them under a most severe extension of the penal code, is the only point relating to them which has arrested their notice. Plowden, i. 198.

which they had continued till the twenty-second year of his own reign.

In 1785 an act was passed * for granting 40001. to be expended in apprentice fees, to such tradesmen or manufacturers, as should take children from charter-schools or the Foundling Hospital ; but it was expressly provided that the children should be bound to none but Protestant tradesmen and manufacturers.

The whole code of the penal statutes against the Catholics of Ireland is now laid before the view of the reader, under which they so long and so patiently languished; statutes unexampled for their inhumanity, their unwarrantableness, and their impolicy, which were adopted to exterminate a race of men already crushed and broken by the longest series of calamities which one nation had ever

the opportunity of inflicting upon another. They were framed against Christians under the pretence of securing religion; they were the work of Protestants, than whom no sect has cried out more loudly against persecution when Protestants were the martyrs. They were sanctioned by a nation who owed its liberties, and by monarchs who owed their throne, to a solemn covenant that such penal disabilities should never exist. +

Here may we not inquire, if the English nation, legislature, and king, have not a duty to fulfil towards the Irish Catholics even greater than that of justice, a duty of compunction, of repentance, and atonement? The faith of a solemn treaty made with them has been broken; it is not enough that it has been in

* 25 of G. III. c. 48. § 11. and 12.
+ See the articles of Limerick, supra.

« PreviousContinue »