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Catholic Emancipation in the newspapers

The following reports are taken from the Edinburgh Review of February 1829; the Review reproduced reports from other newspapers.


From The Morning Chronicle

The following account, derived from a source on which we place reliance, of the most important of the provisions of the intended bill for the removal of the disabilities affection his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects which have yet been determined on, may not be unacceptable. 1. All public stations, offices, and dignities (including of course the right to sit in both Houses of Parliament), with one or two exceptions, to be thrown open to Catholics. 2. A clause will be introduced to prevent Catholic members of either House from taking a part in, or voting on any measures relating exclusively to the affairs or privileges of the Protestant Church, as by law established. The framing of such a clause is found exceedingly difficult; and up to this moment the endeavours to overcome the difficulty have not been attended with success. 3. All the Catholic Clergy of all ranks are to be paid by government; but it is not intended that the Crown should have any interference with their spiritual concerns, or take any part in the appointment of the Clergy, beyond this — that, on the election of a Bishop, his name is to be submitted to the government for the approbation of the Crown, when, if it should happen that the Bishop so elected is not approved of, then the Crown may withhold the salary of the individual Prelate in question. With respect to the inferior Clergy, they are not to interfered with in any way whatever, but to draw their allowance subject to no limitation. These, we have reason to believe, are the only points hitherto agreed on. It is certainly intended that there shall be a provision, raising the qualification of the freeholders to twenty pounds; but whether this provision shall be an integral part of the bill for removing the disabilities, or a separate measure, we cannon learn. We think it ought unquestionably to be kept quite distinct from the general bill; because many of the most strenuous of the supporters of government, both ministerial and opposition, may have doubts as to the expediency of this measure; and by coupling it with the other, the success of both may be endangered.

From the Times

A sketch has been published of the most important provisions of the forthcoming bill for the removal of the disabilities under which His Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects labour; and this sketch is said to be derived from a source worthy of credit. We have only to say, in a brief sentence, that it is worthy of no credit whatever; for, with the exception of what any common person may have learned from the Duke of Wellington's speech, the whole is mere verbiage, or worse. No one can have any authority to say that a provision is to be made for the Roman Catholic clergy; nor do we believe that such will ultimately prove to be the case. The idea that Catholic members are to leave the house when matters relating to the Protestant church are under discussion, is derived from a respectable source no doubt, — namely, an ingenious work; but there is no reason to believe that it has ever entered yet into the conception of Ministers to adopt or sanction the principle. Something similar may be said for every other conjectural clause: they are wholly imaginary, and without authority.

From the Courier

The intentions of the Government are to put down the Catholic Association in the first instance.

The second measure in contemplation is the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders and the fixing the elective franchise at £20.

The third is the nomination of the Roman Catholic Bishops by the King, without any foreign interference — without any authority or interference of the Pope.

Such is said to be the outline of the measure contemplated; and it seems that it will have the singular fate of not being satisfactory to the Catholics — and certainly not to the Protestants, who wish to preserve the Constitution as it is.

Now what has worked this miracle? What has converted, as it were by magic, those who were deemed to be the stanchest opposers of the Catholic claims? Mr Leslie Foster talks of three alternatives — the first was to leave the matter to the issue of a civil war; the second to concede the claims upon Catholic principles; the third to attempt the settlement on a Protestant basis. Now what has induced Mr Foster to think his first alternative probable. Rumours are in circulation of danger to be apprehended — of the appalling state of Ireland, &c. Let us have more explicit information. What Ireland is at this moment she has been made by the Catholic Association — which, as Mr Foster says truly, has moulded a government into the form of the purest democracy — had its established church — its separate army of tax-gatherers — its own system of finance — its own organised militia — and it distribution of offices and honours. Does the existence of such a democracy so alarm us, that, instead of putting it down by the strong arm of the law, we are reduced to the necessity of attempting to propitiate it by concession? In reply, therefore, to Mr Foster, we say that nothing should have been done in the way of concession, not a hint be given, until the Association had been compelled to obey the laws of that Constitution, into the sanctuary of which is desires to be admitted. What right have we to expect that they will be faithful supporters of that system which they have insulted and defied? Mr Foster's second and third alternatives we put out of our consideration — the second, because Catholic concession upon Catholic principles is not to be thought if — the third, because we do not see that any securities, or any mode, can be devised, which shall not be full of danger to the Protestant Constitution.

The people of Great Britain are, we do not feel a doubt, hostile to Catholic emancipation — but let them meet and declare it — let them meet, even if they should be in favour of it, in order that the real sense of the country may be ascertained; and that no inference may be drawn from their apathy or silence, that they view the measure with approbation, or deem it unworthy their serious attention.


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