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catholics : VII. The intended deputation of Dr. Hussey, afterwards bishop of Waterford, to Rome : VIII. The act passed in 1791, for the relief of the English catholics : IX. And the deposit of the Protestation at the Museum, -will be succinctly mentioned in the present chapter.
in 1782. In the year 1782, lord Stourton, lord Petre, Mr. Throckmorton, afterwards sir John Throckmorton, Mr. Thomas Stapleton, and Mr. Thomas Hornyold, were appointed, at a general meeting of the Eng. lish catholics, to be “ a committee for five years, to “ promote and attend to the affairs of the roman“ catholic body in England.”
A variety of circumstances prevented their making any particular exertions in the cause entrusted to them: the only measure of this description, which engaged their attention, was a plan for procuring the catholic ecclesiastics in this country to be formed into a regular hierarchy, by the appointment of bishops in ordinary, instead of vicars-apostolic.
The preceding pages have shown this to have long been the general wish of the secular clergy, and the steps which they had taken to accomplish this object.
Two arguments were particularly alleged in fas vour of this arrangement; its consonancy with the form of government established by Christ and his
apostles, and perpetuated through all succeeding ages, in every country in which the gospel hás been received ; and its being more agreeable to protestant governments than papal vicariats. 2.
Probably it would have been both for the temporal and spiritual advantage of the English catholics, if, after the establishment of the reformation by the legislative acts of the first parliament of beth, bishops in ordinary had been appointed and regularly continued in the British dominions": but the actual form of vicarial government had, at the time of which we are now speaking, subsisted during a whole century; the minds and the habits both of the clergy and the laity were accustomed to it; experience had shown that the practical inconveniences attending it were not very great ; and change, without a moral certainty of its proving advantageous, is always to be deprecated. The greatest grievance attending the present system appears to be, the want of an available appeal, by which a person aggrieved by any proceeding of his prelate can obtain redress : all however must admit that, if there have been cases, in which such an appeal would have been desirable, the number of them has been very small.
Still, the proposed alteration in the ecclesiastical ministry of the English catholics deserved consideration, particularly as the absolute dependance of the English vícars-apostolic on the see of Rome, had frequently been urged by the adversaries of the body, as an objection to the granting of the relief which they solicited.
The first step of the committee was to ascertain the expediency and practicability of the measure. So far as it was a spiritual concern, it belonged to the cognizance of the vicars-apostolic. The committee, therefore, addressed a letter to each of the four vicars-apostolic, most respectfully stating their own views, and requesting his opinion upon the subject. It appeared from their answers, that their opinions differed: the committee, upon
this account, dropped the measure.
The powers of the committee having expired in the beginning of the year 1787, the appointment of a new committee became necessary.
The Formation of the English Catholic Committee
At a general meeting of the English catholics on the 3d of May 1787, the following resolutions passed unanimously.
“ That some kind of appointment of persons “ take place, commissioned to watch over and “ promote the public interest of the English roman" catholics :
“ That the committee now to be elected, be “ under the same rules and regulations as the late « committee :
“ That the committee do consist of ten :
“ That the meeting this day assembled, do elect “ five to form part of the said committee :
“ That letters be sent as generally as possible to
" the gentlemen of the four districts, and of Lan« cashire and Cheshire, to recommend the electing “ of one gentleman from each*; and that ten so « chosen shall form a committee :
" And that there be a general annual meeting as heretofore, on the first Thursday in May.”
The meeting then proceeded to ballot: and, on the ballot, the numbers were in favour of lord Petre, lord Stourton, Mr. Throckmorton, afterwards sir John Throckmorton, sir Henry Charles Englefield, and Mr. Fermor.
Mr. Charles Butler was appointed secretary to the committee. : At a meeting, on the 14th of January 1788, of the members thus chosen, the secretary reported, that, in consequence of the resolution entered into at the last general meeting, he had written to the gentlemen of each district, to recommend the electing of one gentleman from each, to be of the committee, and that it appears, by their letters, that the majority was in favour of,
Lord Clifford,--for the western district;
Sir William Jerningham,—for the midland district;
Thomas Hornyold, esq.—for the London district;
And John Towneley, esq.—for the Lancashire and Cheshire districts.
* i. e. One from each district; and one from both the counties mentioned in the resolution.
By a resolution of a general meeting of the English catholics on the 15th of May.1788, the three following gentlemen were added to the committee:
Dr. James Talbot, the vicar-apostolic of the London district ;-Dr. Charles Berington, the coadjutor of the vicar-apostolic of the midland district ;—and the rev. Mr. Joseph Wilks, a monk of the order of St. Benedict.
The Memorial presented by the English Catholies to
At a general meeting of the English catholics on the both of February 1788, the following Memorial was unanimously approved, and, by their direction, presented to Mr. Pitt.
“To the right honourable William Pitt, first “lord of the treasury, and chancellor of his ma" jesty's court of exchequer ;
“ The memorial of his majesty's English sub
jects, professing the catholic religion,.. « Showeth, “ That, by the laws now in force against persons
professing the catholic religion, your memorial"ists are deprived of many of the rights of English subjects, and the common rights of mankind :
• They are prohibited, under the most severe penalties, from exercising any act of religion, according to their own mode of worship : “ They are subject to heayy punishments for