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The Catholic Relief Act

The Catholic Relief Act

1829

Daniel O'Connell's crusade for Catholic emancipation achieved its most notable political successes when the Catholic 40-shilling-freehold voters in certain county constituencies engaged in a "revolt" against the traditional political dictation of their landlords. The most famous such case occurred in July 1828, when O'Connell himself soundly defeated the sitting MP William Vesey Fitzgerald in the Clare by-election. The prospect of many similar Catholic victories, and the fear that the crusade might turn violent if frustrated of its goal, persuaded the Wellington-Peel government in Britain to advise George IV to concede emancipation.

SEE ALSO Catholic Emancipation Campaign; O'Connell, Daniel; Politics: 1800 to 1921—Challenges to the Union; Roman Catholic Church: 1690 to 1829; Roman Catholic Church: 1829 to 1891

AN ACT FOR THE RELIEF OF HIS MAJESTY'S ROMAN CATHOLIC SUBJECTS

Whereas by various acts of parliament certain restraints and disabilities are imposed on the Roman Catholic subjects of his majesty, to which other subjects of his majesty are not liable, and whereas it is expedient that such restraints and disabilities shall be from henceforth discontinued, and whereas by various acts certain oaths and certain declarations, commonly called the declarations against transubstantiation and the invocation of saints and the sacrifice of the mass, as practised in the church of Rome, are or may be required to be taken, made, and subscribed by the subjects of his majesty as qualifications for sitting and voting in parliament and for the enjoyment of certain offices, franchises, and civil rights, be it enacted . . . that from and after the commencement of this act all such parts of the said acts as require the said declarations, or either of them, to be made or subscribed by any of his majesty's subjects as a qualification for sitting and voting in parliament or for the exercise or enjoyment of any office, franchise, or civil right, be and the same are (save as hereinafter provided and excepted) hereby repealed.

II. And be it enacted that . . . it shall be lawful for any person professing the Roman Catholic religion, being a peer, or who shall after the commencement of this act be returned as a member of the House of Commons, to sit and vote in either house of parliament respectively, being in all other respects duly qualified to sit and vote therein, upon taking and subscribing the following oath, instead of the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration: I, A.B., do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to his majesty King George the Fourth and will defend him to the utmost of my power against all conspiracies and attempts whatever, which shall be made against his person, crown, or dignity. And I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to his majesty, his heirs and successors, all treasons and traitorous conspiracies which may be formed against him or them. And I do faithfully promise to maintain, support, and defend, to the utmost of my power, the succession of the Crown, which succession, by an act entitled An act for the further limitation of the Crown and better securing the rights and liberties of the subject, is and stands limited to the Princess Sophia, electress of Hanover, and the heirs of her body, being Protestants; hereby utterly renouncing and abjuring any obedience or allegiance unto any other person claiming or pretending a right to the Crown of this realm. And I do further declare that it is not an article of my faith, and that I do renounce, reject, and abjure the opinion that princes excommunicated or deprived by the pope or any other authority of the see of Rome may be deposed or murdered by their subjects or by any person whatsoever. And I do declare that I do not believe that the pope of Rome, or any other foreign prince, prelate, person, state, or potentate, hath or ought to have any temporal or civil jurisdiction, power, superiority, or pre-eminence, directly or indirectly, within this realm. I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement of the property within this realm as established by the laws, and I do hereby disclaim, disavow, and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present church establishment as settled by law within this realm, and I do solemnly swear that I never will exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled, to disturb or weaken the Protestant religion or Protestant government in the United Kingdom. And I do solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare that I do make this declaration and every part thereof in the plain and ordinary sense of the words of this oath, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever. So help me God.

V. And be it further enacted that it shall be lawful for persons professing the Roman Catholic religion to vote at elections of members to serve in parliament for England and for Ireland, and also to vote at the elections of representative peers of Scotland and of Ireland, and to be elected such representative peers, being in all other respects duly qualified, upon taking and subscribing the oath hereinbefore appointed and set forth. . . .

X. And be it enacted that it shall be lawful for any of his majesty's subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion to hold, exercise, and enjoy all civil and military offices and places of trust or profit under his majesty, his heirs or successors; and to exercise any other franchise or civil right . . . upon taking and subscribing . . . the oath herinbefore appointed. . . .

XII. Provided also, and be it further enacted that nothing herein contained shall extend or be construed to extend to enable any person or persons professing the Roman Catholic religion to hold or exercise the office of guardians and justices of the United Kingdom or of regent of the United Kingdom, under whatever name, style, or title such office may be constituted, nor to enable any person, otherwise than as he is now by law enabled, to hold or enjoy the office of lord high chancellor, lord keeper or lord commissioner of the great seal of Great Britain or Ireland, or the office of lord lieutenant, or lord deputy, or other chief governor or governors of Ireland, or his majesty's high commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

XIV. And be it enacted that it shall be lawful for any of his majesty's subjects professing the Roman Catholic religion to be a member of any lay body corporate, and to hold any civil office or place of trust or profit therein, and to do any corporate act or vote in any corporate election or other proceeding, upon taking and subscribing the oath hereby appointed and set forth, instead of the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration, and upon taking also such other oath or oaths as may now by law be required to be taken by any persons becoming members of such lay body corporate. . . .

XVI. Provided also, and be it enacted that nothing in this act contained shall be construed to enable any persons, otherwise than as they are now by law enabled, to hold, enjoy, or exercise any office, place, or dignity of, in, or belonging to the United Church of England and Ireland, or the Church of Scotland, or any place or office whatever of, in, or belonging to any of the ecclesiastical courts of judicature of England and Ireland respectively, or any court of appeal from or review of the sentences of such courts, or of, in, or belonging to the commissary court of Edinburgh, or of, in, or belonging to any cathedral or collegiate or ecclesiastical establishment or foundation, or any office or place whatever of, in, or belonging to any of the universities of this realm, or any office or place whatever, and by whatever name the same may be called, of, in, or belonging to any of the colleges or halls of the said universities, . . . or any college or school within this realm; or to repeal, abrogate, or in any manner to interfere with any local statute, ordinance, or rule, which is or shall be established by competent authority within any university, college, hall, or school, by which Roman Catholics shall be prevented from being admitted thereto or from residing or taking degrees therein. . . .

XXIV. And whereas the Protestant Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof, and likewise the Protestant Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and the doctrine, discipline, and government thereof, are by the respective Acts of Union of England and Scotland, and of Great Britain and Ireland, established permanently and inviolably, and whereas the right and title of archbishops to their respective provinces, of bishops to their sees, and the deans to their deaneries, as well in England as in Ireland, have been settled and established by law, be it therefore enacted that if any person after the commencement of this act, other than the person thereunto authorised by law, shall assume or use the name, style, or title of archbishop of any province, bishop of any bishopric, or dean of any deanery in England or Ireland, he shall for every such offence forfeit and pay the sum of £100.

XXV. And be it further enacted that if any person holding any judicial or civil office, or any mayor, provost, jurat, bailiff, or other corporate officer, shall after the commencement of this act resort to or be present at any place or public meeting for religious worship in England or in Ireland, other than that of the United Church of England and Ireland, or in Scotland, other than that of the Church of Scotland, as by law established, in the robe, gown, or other peculiar habit of his office, or attend with the ensign or insignia, or any part thereof, of or belonging to such his office, such person shall, being thereof convicted by due course of law, forfeit such office and pay for every offence the sum of £100.

XXVI. And be it further enacted, that if any Roman Catholic ecclesiastic, or any member of any of the orders, communities, or societies hereinafter mentioned, shall, after the commencement of this act, exercise any of the rites or ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion, or wear the habits of his order, save within the usual places of worship of the Roman Catholic religion, or in private houses, such ecclesiastic or other person shall, being thereof convicted by due courses of law, forfeit for every such offence the sum of £50.

XXXIV. And be it further enacted that in case any person shall after the commencement of this act, within any part of this United Kingdom, be admitted or become a Jesuit, or brother, or member of any other such religious order, community, or society as aforesaid, such person shall be deemed and taken to be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be sentenced and ordered to be banished from the United Kingdom for the term of his natural life.

XXXVII. Provided always, and be it enacted that nothing herein contained shall extend or be construed to extend in any manner to affect any religious order, community, or establishment consisting of females bound by religious or monastic vows.

10 Geo. IV, c. 7; A Collection of the Public General Statutes . . . (1829), pp. 105–115.

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