Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century (1989)

Bibliographical details: Gerard O’Brien, ed., Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, collected Essays of Maureen Wall, Preface Donal McCartney (Geography Publns. 1989). iii+209, index.

Note: Wall does not provide footnotes other than 4 [see infra] for her essay on ‘The Penal Laws’.

Gerard O’Brien, Introduction [n.p.]
… clear unwillingness once O’Connell was dead, to employ for political ends what was undoubtedly a sectarian issue. In the canon of mid-Victorian electoral behaviour few issues were considered so disreputable as religious bigotry …

… the era of Patrick Moran’s Spicelegium Ossoriense, 3 vols (1874-84), and William Burke’s Irish Priests in the Penal Times (Waterford 1914), later to prove invaluable due to the loss of original records in the Public Record Office fire.

[later] Emotive titles such as Persecution of Irish Catholics … obsessive study of the maltreatment of Catholics by mid and late-17thc governments … a pattern [of historiograpy] which was continued into the Free State era by Margaret Gibbbon’s Glimpses of Catholic Ireland in the 18th c. (1932), and Myles Ronan’s Irish Martyrs of the Penal Laws (1935).

Maureen Wall’s 1952 thesis a decisive break … refusal to accept uncritically that all the actions of 18th c. Catholics were naturally good, wholesome, and above reproach … the first scientific enquiry into the numbers and types of Catholics … emerge from her writings not as an amorphous mass of down-trodden victims … but as a group of socially-mobile indidviduals who struggled not only against civil disabilities but also among themselves.

One noticeable weakness perhaps inevitably in the light of her Free State early educational experience … apparent inability to extend … same objectivity to … Lord lieutenants and ministers … [who] tend to remain as anonymous beings … regarded as ‘corrupt’ or ‘misguided’. [ii]

Chp. 1: The Penal Laws, 1671-1760 (1961)
Act of Uniformity of 1560 made attendance of state church on Sundays compulsory for all. [1]

At no time during the whole of [the 18th] century could the Established Church be called a missionary church. [1] It was not until the 19th c. when the State began tro assume responsibility for education of the masses, that such a policy could hope to achieve success, and by that time the Catholic Church was in aposition to defeat the State-aided missionary effort undertaken by various Protestant organisations. [2] [~Obviously pre-Bowen and the Soupers.]

Even George Berkeley, Protestant Bishop of Cloyne 1734-53, who was deeply interested in the social reform of the Irish peasantry, does not seem to have considered undertaking the task of winning them from Catholicism [3]

John Richardson (1664-1747), son of Sir John Richardson of Armagh, frequently preached in Irish in his parish in the neighbourhood of Belturbet in Co Cavan … a firm believer in … reclaiming the native population from popery through … Irish … and publsihed books in Irish among them Seanmora (1711), Caitecismna Heaglaise, and The Great Folly of Pilgrimages in Ireland (1727), as well as a share in the new translation of the Book of Common Prayer (London 1712). [4]

Bishop John Gallagher published in 1735 a book of Irish sermons which went into edition after edition, [and]

.. we find John O’Brien, Bishop of Cloyne, appealing to the Pope for a subsidy for his Focaloir Gaoidhilge-Sax-Bearha or Irish-English Dictionary (Paris 1768) on the grounds that it is absolutely necessary for the preservation of the Catholic religion in Irelnad that such a dictionary should be available to young priests beginning their work there. [5]

Dissenters granted a grudging toleration in 1719

The truth is that the spirit of monopoly and exclusivism was stronger by far in the members of the Irish Protestant ascendancy than the desire to spread what they considered to be the true faith among the people in general [5]

Acts passed in 1662, 1692, and 1703 granting citizenship to French Huguenots refugees. In 1709, about 800 German Palatine families were brought into Limerick and Kerry. [6]

Cornelius Nary’s Case of the Roman Catholics of Ireland (1724) includes a report of a conversation between Lord Galway and Lord Drogheda, the former seeking support for a stringent anti-Catholic bill. When the latter objects that if the papists are driven out there will be none to hew wood and draw water, the former promises to bring in thirty thousand Protestant families in three months after. Lord Drogheda’s answer: ‘For that very reason,’ rejoined the Earl, ‘I will be against the Bill; for there is not one of them but wears a sword and thinks himslef as good a gentleman as I am; and possibly would offer to fight me, should I find fault with him.’ The Protestant immigrants in question were Palatine Hugeunots.

The Banishment Act of 1697 (9 Will. III, C.1): All popish archbishops, bishops, vicars general, deans, Jesuits, monks, friars and all other regular popish clergy and all Papists exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction, shall depart out of this kingdom before 1st May 1698. [Threatening imprisonment, transportation, and execution on repeat of the offence.]

Wall shows that though 383 members of religious orders had been shipped out of Ireland by 1698, there was sufficient diplomatic concern at the impact of the policy on English repute in Europe to curb excesses, and that it was generally motivated by political rather than sectarian feeling since - as the Irish Chancellor was sent to tell William’s Catholic ally Leopold of Austria - the ‘regular clergy were Jacobites’. King James too was distressed by the charge on his purse of having so many resorting to him at Versailles. [~10]

Lists Catholic bishops of Ireland in 1697, when the act came into force. Many had left Ireland after the Boyne. Only eight remained: Edward Comerford (Cashel); Patrick Donnelly (Dromore; Michael Rossiter (Ferns); John Dempsey (Kildare); William Dalton (Ossory); John Baptist Sleyne (Cork & Cloyne); Richard Piers (Waterford & Lismore); Maurice Donnellan (Clonfert). Dalton and Dempsey gave themselves up. Sleyne was arrested, but King William interveneed. Arrested again, he petitioned Queen Anne, but died in prison before a result. Donnellan was arrested and liberated by a crowd of 300 Catholics. Piers left Waterford in 1701 and served as assistant to a French bishop. Donnelly was arrested and released for want of evidence, but later ordained Edward Byrne of Dublin. Comerford remained unmolested in Thurles, sheltered by the Matthew family. [11-12]

An act of January 1704 (2 Anne, c.3) subjected all incoming clergy to the terms of the Act of 1697. This extension of the Banishment Act was at first resisted by Queen Anne as being likely to be ‘construed to infringe the articles of Limerick by making it impossible in length of time for the Papists to exercise their religion’. Its operation was limited to 14 years, but it was made perpetual in 1709. [12-13]

The Registration Act of 1704 (2 Anne c.7, with amendment, 4 anne c.2) under which 1,089 priests were in fact registered, had the effect of legalising them and rendering them free to perform their sacerdotal functions. [13]

In 1693-97, James II had nominated Sleyne for Cork and Cloyne, Creagh (Dublin), Dempsey (Kildare), Phelan (Ossory), Comerford (Cashel), Piers (Waterford & Lismore), Donnellan (Clonfert), Donnelly (Dromore), and Rossiter (Ferns). [14]

KEY: The Pope recognised James III as legitimate King of England making the path of the Catholic Church in England and in Ireland more difficult … When the Pope refused to recognise Charles Edward as King of England on the death of James III in 1766 the Stuart nomination of Irish bishops ceased and this ground of suspicion against Catholics in England and Ireland was removed. But up to that time this suspicion, often exaggerated in order to justify the actions of the Irish Parliament, remained a constant source of difficulty for the Catholics of Ireland [14-15]

The Act of Abjuration, 1701, expressly denying James III ‘any right or title whatsoever to the Crown of these realms’, was passed at the death of James II when Lousic XIV recognised his son as James III. [15]

Charles Forman extolled the military prowess of the Irish Brigade, fighting in red uniforms in the armies of France. His purpose was to warn what a force they would make in an army invading England: ‘As long as theree is a body of Irish Roman Catholic troops abroad, the Chevalier [ie the Pretender] will always ma[ke] some figure in Europe by the credit they give him; and be considered as a prince that has a brave and well-disciplined army of veterans at his service … They are British subjects, they speak the same language with us, and are consequently the fittest troups to invade us with. They are seasoned to dangers, and so perfected in teh art of war, that not only the sergeants and corporals, but even the private men, can make very good officers, upon occasion.’ [16]. France and England were at war from 702 to the Peace of Utrecht in 1713. [17]

The Popery Act of 1709 (8 Anne, c.3) , arising from the scare of a Jacobite invasion, required all priests to swear the Act of Abjuration. In the event, only 33 are known to have done so. This completed the legislation directed against the Catholic clergy. [18]

The Stuart rebellion in Scotland in 1715 was signal for a strict enforcement of the Popery laws in Ireland. [19] Spain declared war on England in 1718. … A fleet commanded by the Duke of Ormond set out to invade Scotland in 1719. A savage law make priests brandable on the cheek was passed in that year, but defeated in the House of Lords. [19]

During the War of the Austrian Succession, 1740-48, and the Seven Years’ War, 1756-63, there were successive persecuting bills, but it was clear by the time George III succeeded to the throne in 1760 that the Hanoverian dynasty was secure.

KEY: Although the Irish Parliament passed the various Popery Acts, it had no power to enforce those laws, or any other laws. The executive in Dublin Castle directly controlled the Irish Civil Service … and was at no time in the 18th c. under the control of the Irish Parliament [21] … the police force consisted of a high constable for each county, &c., and Catholics were prohibited from nomination only by an Act of 1815 [22]

.. in 1712 several dissenters were prosecuted in Armagh for refusing to assist the constable in arresting Bryan McGuirk, the Catholic dean of Armagh. The brother of the magistrate, one Walter Dawson, who conducted the arrest begged the Castle eauthorities not to proceed since the arrest had ‘brought odium on him and a reflection to his family’, as well as appealing to the suffering of the dean then ‘the most miserable wretch as he now lies that was ever seen’. [22]

.. when priests were arrested and sentenced to transportation, the Government often had difficulty in prevailing on captains of ships to take them on board. [23]

KEY: On the whole the early 18th c. did not witness the severe sectarian strife which was such a feature of the last decades of the century, and the century following. [23]

.. Archbishop King, an enthusiastic supporter of the enforcement of the laws, had to confess in 1720: ‘I find the papists with their mobs and insolence too hard for all our laws.’ [24]

Edward Tyrrell, son-in-law of historian Roderic O’Flaherty, educated on the Continent as a Catholic, embarked on career of priest-hunter supplying copious information of Jacobite plots and popish rebellions to the Castle, from 1710; travelled during 1712 to Louth, Monaghan, King’s County, Wicklow, Tipperary, Cork, Wexford, et al. in a commission and with orders to magistrates for assistance and military escort; supplied wildly exaggerated reports of enormous numbers of Catholic clergy; arrested and charge with bigamy before the end of 1712; petitioned for freedom so that he could give evidence against priests, complaining, ‘the very papishes come out of the street into the gaol to abuse me in my confinement’ and adds, ‘what misery I am in for serving Her Majesty’s Government’. He alleged that the charge against him was ‘the invention and malice of several Irish papists.’ Lord Chancellor Phipps and Protestant Archbishop Vesey of Tuam, a Lord Justice, reported that of all his information against priests ‘we could never get the fact proved by any other testimony than his own’, and that they ‘could never find any other effect from his service than to get money from us.’ He was convicted of bigamy and executed in May 1713. [26] The other leading priest-hunter was Garzia, who arrested Edward Byrne, soon after acquitted. [~26]

The Irish Catholics sees were slowly filled again between 1107-1750, by a new generation who had no expectation of the social rank enjoyed under James II. Wall lists the installations, 29-31.

~Wall enumerates the difficulties facing the Catholic clergy, including prominently low educational standards in the diocesan clergy, for which they prescribed compulsory foreign education; the appointment of parish priests by prominent Catholic families, and contention over such office. [31-33]

In 1746, Pope Benedict XIV addressed a strong letter to the Irish bishops urging them to remain in their diocese and asking them to imitate the example of their glorious predecessors, St Patrick and St Malachy, and to recall the days when Ireland was known as the Island of Saints. [35]

Archbishop Dr Hugh MacMahon (1640-1737), bishop of Armagh, 1715; active in reorganising the chruch in Ulster as bishop of Clogher, since 1707; tracked by Edward Tyrrell, and escaped to Flanders for two years, the local magistrates refusing to assist, c.1712; wrote an account there of the state of the church, addressed to the Pope, detailing deprivations of the clergy and the poverty of the people; returned to Ireland 1714; went into hiding in 1720 when a hunt was made for him ensuing on accusations from some apostate priests; established Dominican convent in Drogheda [extant today], 1722. About 1719 the old dispute Primacy broke out between Dublin and Armagh about, bishop Byrne ignoring his summons to Armagh; the Pope supported MacMahon in this case; MacMahon applied himself for many years to writing his famous book, Jus Primatiale Armacanum, setting out in detail the arguemtns for the primatial dignity and jurisdiction of Armagh; died in Drogheda, 1737 at 77 years of age. [36]

Archbishop O’Reilly, bishopof Derry since 1739, nominated by the Pretender for Derry and Armagh; published catechism in English and Irish which was generally adopted throughout Ulster; he was a severe disciplinarian and publicly rebuked priests if he was dissatisfied with the condition of their chapels or the catechising of children; information given against him in 1756 that he was collecting funds for the Pretender; he was brought before Lord Clanbrassil, examined, and speedily liberated. [37]

Bishop Byrne of Dublin sent Fr John Clinch to Rome to argue for the primacy of Dublin; he argued that St Patrick never was primate of Ireland and that the archbishop of Dublin was the first to have been invested with the pallium; that Dublin had been subject to Canterbury but never to Armagh; he supported his argument with quotations from letters patent of English kings and papal bulls. [39]

On the whole for the period under review Dublin Catholics enjoyed a remarkable degree of freedom from persecution. [39]

The Popery Act of 1704 (2 Anne, c.6) forbade all meetings and assemblies held at ‘pretended places of sanctity’ such as St Patrick’s Purgatory in Donegal. Pilgrimages to holy wells ‘by which the public peace is disturbed and the safety of the Government hazarded’ were also forbidden. ... St Patrick’s Purgatory [expressly named] was an outstanding example of the failure to enforce the popery laws. [52]

Hugh Macmahon, appointed Bishop of Clogher in 1707, reported to the pope on the state of religion on the island in 1714. In striking contrast to his remarks on Ulster in general [vide supra], he wrote:’it is regarded by all as little short of a prodigy how this pilgrimage, though prohibited by name, in the foremost place, and under the most severe penalties by Act of Parliament, suffered little or no interruption from the bitter Scots Calvinists living in teh neighbourhood and elsewhere. When I myself visited the place, under the guise of a Dublin merchant, for under the disguise of a trader or tradesman the prelates and non-registered priests of this country generally find it necessary to conceal themselves, the minister of that district received me very kindly. Though everywhere else throughout the kingdom the ecclesiastical functions have ceased, on account of the prevailing persecution; in this island, as if it was placed in another orb, the exercise of religion is free and public, which is ascribed to a special favour of Divine providence, and to the merits of St. Patrick.’ 5,000 persons from all parts of the country made the pilgrimage each year. [53]

A Protestant rector called Hewson, in his Description of St Patrick’s Purgatory (1727), says that while the pilgrimage lasts ‘they hear Mass several times every day, for there are many priests on the island.’ … The chief reason why the pilgrimage was permitted without hindrance is that the Leslie faily of Glaslough, who had a lease on the island from the Protestant bishop of Clogher, received a considerable income from the toll paid by pilgrims ... [53]

Dr Cornelius Nary, parish priest of St Michan’s, c.1700-38, and Dr Edward Synge sustained a religious controversy. Dr. Synge published A Charitable Address to the Catholics of Ireland and Nary replied in a printed tract. The controversary continued and Nary collected the tracts and had them republished in 1728. [53]

Dr Timothy O’Brien of the Irish College at Toulouse, returning to Ireland in 1715, became parish priest of Castle Lyon in Cork and vicar general of united diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. He engaged with Rowland Davies, Protestant Dean of Cork, who had written a tract called The truly Catholic and old religion. His most famous controverrsy was with Dr Clayton, Protestant bishop of Cork, later of Clogher. Dr O’Brien begun in 1743 with A brief historical and authentic account of the beginnings and doctrine of the sects called Vaudois, or Waldenses, and Albigenses, in reality an attack on Protestantism. The exchange lasted two years. O’Brien’s tracts were published without imprint in Cork and Dublin. When he died, the Dublin Courant carried a long obituary stating that ‘on account of his good behaviour and inoffensive deportment, he was greatly esteemed, not only by his own, but by those of a different communion from him.’ [54]

Many of the Protestant bishops issued letters to their clergy during the ‘45 rebellion which were published in the newspapers … these letters, counselling no interference with the local priest ‘so long as he behaves himself orderly and decently as becomes his character’ (letter from Archbishop of Tuam) … are a clear confession of the failure of the popery laws … and show that they had by 1745 fallen into desuetude. [57]

Notice inserted in the newspapers in 1745 by prominent Catholic gentlemen: ‘The Roman Catholic clergy have for three weeks past earnestly recommended their people to behave themselves peacably and quietly like good subjects, to avoid like true Christians all riots, mobs, drunkenness or late hours, to give no offence either in their words or actions to their neighbours, but to behave themselves in every respect, as to be wrothy the favour and liberty they now enjoy.’ [57]

~Bishop Nicholas Sweetman of Ferns interrogated on accusations made by a dismissed priest named Doyle (with falsified Holy Orders documents) in 1751, revealed that all 24 Irish bishops were appointed by the Pope, communicating through the Nuncio in Brussels, but was released as clearly innnocent of conspiracy. Likewise Archb. Michael O’Reilly was arrested and released. … [58

~[S]ome bishops were coming to the conclusion that it would be wise to offer the Goverment proof of loyalty … While the Pope continued to support the Pretender and his name continued to be named in the briefs of appointment their loyalty to the House of Hanover would be suspect. [58] … The bishops of Armagh, Clogher, Meath, Derry, Kilmore, Raphoe, and Kildare met at the house of Lord Trimleston in 1757 and drew up a document … [in which] they emphatically denied certain doctrines imputed to Catholics, viz, ‘it is not and never was a doctrine or tenet of the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope or general councils have power to depose kings., or absolve subjects from allegiance’, or that Catholics ‘may break faith with, murder, plunder, or defraud those of a different communion or religion.’ Some bishops were reluctant to adopt it without papal permission, and it was not till 1770s that the oath of loyalty denying the temporal power of the poep and aduring the Stuarts was generally adopted by the clergy and laity of Ireland, as being necessary to take advantage of the Catholic Relief Acts of 1778 and 1782. … When the Old Pretender died in 1766, the Pope refused to recognise Charles Edwards as King of Great Britain and Ireland …

After 1760 public prayers were offered in Catholic churches for George III, the royal family and the Government … The system adopted by the Government of leaving savage laws on the statue book while conniving at their non-observance brought the law into contempt … the bishops constatntly reminded their flocks … to be obedient to the government which God had placed over them … their frequent excommunications of Whiteboys &c. are proof of their sincerity. But the habit of generations could not easily be broken, and sermons on the rights of property and threats of excommunication fell on deaf ears. The people had become accustomed [59]to defying the law themselves and seeint the law being disregarded by the civil authorities. They had become condition to being members of a nationwide secret society, and they expected the bishops to remember the days when they too had belonged to that secret society.

The refusal of the people in general to recognise the law, and their willingness to take direct ction in defence of their priests and bishops and their places of worship, were important factors in preserving the Catholic faith in Ireland. Thomas Davis did them less than justice when he wrote: ‘What wonder if our step betrays/The freedman born in penal days?’ Indeed Davis’s poem, ‘The Penal Dayds, is perhaps the source of misconceptions regarding the period. His picture of dogs being ‘taught alike to run upon the scent of wolf and friar’ belongs to Cromwellian times than to the eighteenth century. ... the eighteenth century witnessed the tenacity of a clergy who were prepared to face the daily grind of poverty and humilition ministering the needs of an outlawed population.

.. Lecky remarked, ‘In turth the Catholics and Protestants … had one inestimable advantage in the competition of creeds. The English government had no control over the appointment of their clergy.’ One could go further and say that as a result of the popery laws the Catholic Church by 1760 had more freedom to work out its destiny in Ireland than in many countries in Europe where Catholicism was the state religion … [60]

Bibl. [see note supra]: Canon Power’s A Bishop of the Penal Times 1671-1693, regarding bishop John Brennan of the See of Waterford, later Archbishop of Cashel.

Chp. 2: The catholics of the Towns and the Quarterage Dispute in the eighteenth century (pp.61-72)

Quarterage … a sort of medieval insurance [in the English context] [61]

.. a charge payable by all guild members … [in Ireland] it came to be regarded as an unjust tax on Catholics [and] the agitation … to resist the payment of quarterage, became merged in, or may even be said to have given life to, the struggle of the catholics to obtain mitigation of the penal laws. [61]

Cromwellians [first to] deprived catholics of rights of town freemen [61]

act of explanation (1665) empowered Lord Lieutenant and privy council to draw up ‘new rules for the government of the corporations’ [62]

When one considers that even in 1700 the catholic rural population of Ireland greatly exceeded the protestant, and that the tendency is for town populations to be replensished [from] the country, it is obvious that [these] guild laws based on exclusiveness would have been very difficult to enforce.

[By 1676 a bill shows that] at this early date the quarterage paid by catholics was of considerable important to the Dublin guilds. [63]

Attempts to banish catholics in Cork in 1691 abandoned since quartering of troops fell too heavily on protestants … it was found useless to prevent catholics from trading in the city [64]

[By 1705] when a non-freeman became a quarter-brother he was entitled to exercise his craft or sell his wares as fully as any sworn brother of the guild [65]

..not exclusively a tax on catholics … many guild-members also paid quarterage. Nevertheless, since the non-freemen outnumbered the freemen considerably, their contributions became increasingly important in defraying guils expenses [65]

In spite of these by-laws catholic merchants had begun quite early in the eighteenth century to control much of the trade of the country. [65]

Cork seems to have been the chief centre of agitation … threatening to prove the illegality of the guilds [65]

In Feb 1758, the mayor of Cork, who had committed John Meskell and others to the Marshalsea for non-payment, was arrested by Richard Burke and Daniel Browne, catholics. The mayor lost a judgement against him in Dublin, stiffening resistance to quarterage in other cities. [66]

~Catholic merchants who had gained experience of organisation in the Catholic committee now applied themselcs to opposing quarterage legislation. Signing themselves the ‘non-freemen of Dublin’, they presented a petition parliament on 14 Feb. 1766; a Cork petition was presented on 22 Feb. 1766, and other cities followed. Parliament appointed a committee to enquire into the ‘nature and the demand called quarterage … and whether it shall be expedient to establish the said demand’. [68]

On 3 Nov. 1767, Dr Charles Lucas introduced in the Commons [68] heads of a bill for the better regulation of several trades. The non-freeman presented a long petition against it on 20 Feb. 1768, humbly hoping that while trade was under restraints from abroad, nothing would be established in favour of private societies checking the free exercise at home. If as it seemed these ‘pretended priveliges’ of the guilds were condemned by common law, they hoped that they would not receive the sanction of any express now. The heads passed through the lower house, however. [68]

Dr. Lucas writes to the guild of merchants congratulating them, saying that non-fremen will now be put ‘in some sort upon a level with freem who purchase their freedom and hear the durden of public office. The heads were rejected in the privy council where the catholics employed lawyers to present their case, according to Matthew O’Conor [History of the Irish catholics].

Nicholas, Lord Taaffe, a catholic nobleman who had attained eminence in the service of the Holy Roman emperor, and whose exalted position gave him access to the court circles in London, where he frequently pleaded the cause of his catholic fellow-countrymen, went to London that year to make personal application on behalf of the catholics [with the special object of] oppsing quarterage legisation. To his activities and to the ‘benevolent intervention of Lord Townshend’ O’conor attributes the defeat of the measure. More likely it is indicative of the government policy of the day. any attempt to shut the majority out of full participation in commercial pursuits would run contrary to the principles of toleration and enlightment stated by George III at the outset of his reign. [68]

See n.79 (p.177 infra): Dublin Mercury, 23 Jan. 1768, ‘Viscount Taaffe waited on their majesties in St James’s, being just returned from Germany.’

In arguing the case for the guilds, Lucas put the matter in a strongly protestant light: the ‘good credit of our trades and manufacturs, the support of the protestant religion, and the very existence of this [Dublin] and other cities and towns corporate in this kingdom depend on such a law’ (Records of the corp. of barber-surgeons, Minute Book, 25 Oct. 1769) [68]

In 1771, further heads of quarterage bills were introduced. The Catholic Committee, which had almost certainly organised the previous petitions, paid Owen Hogan, a Dublin notary, to apper as counsel against the latest bill, which was nevertheless passed and sent to the lord lieutenant [Townshend] but not transmitted to England [69]

The Public Journal presented 22 reasons why the heads of a quarterage biull should not be passed. Written with heavy irony, it should quarterage and the guilds to be products of conditions that no longer existed, and that the money obtained was squandered on banquets. [69]

In a quarterage bill of 1773, as published in the Hibernian Journal, the charge on non-freeman was lower, and a charge on freemen actually specified in the same terms as ‘intrusion money’. The assumption is that the aggregate of Catholic quarterage, though individually lower, would make up the bulk of guild funds. [~70]

[?Lucas] During the discussions of this bill, the Freeman’s Journal (15 Feb. 1774) printed a virulent attack on the Catholic Committe, alleging that papists were fromed into clubs and societies, that they had bribed the house of lords and the prevy council, &c., in order to break up all united protestant bodies. [71]

CONCLUSION: The remnants of the guilds were rapidly vanishing in most countries in the atmosphere of a more liberal age. They had become oppressive oligarchies … In Ireland, where they could represent the infiltration of catholic non-freemen into the commercial life of the towns as a threat to the ‘protestant interest’, they were able to maintain some roots in the economic system longer than in most western European countries. Still by the end of the eighteenth century, the guild system had broken down in most cities and towns with the exception of Dublin. [PARA] the chief importance of the quarterage dispute … is that it provided catholics with the opportunity of organising … this stood them in good stead in political struggles of the catholic relief movement. [72]

BIBL. of histories describing quarterage as a levy on Catholics under the penal laws: Cornelius Nary, The case of the Roman Catholics of Ireland humbly represented to both houses of pariament in 1724 in relation to a bill now under consideration (appended to Hugh Reily’s Genuine History of Ireland,, 1762), pp.127-8; ‘Tracts on the popery laws’, in The Works and Correspondence of the Rt Hon. Edmund Burke (London 1852), vi, 10; WT Wolfe Tone, The Life of Wolfe Tone (Washington 1826), i. 483; Matthew O’Connor [sic], The History of the Irish catholics, p.329. T. Wyse, Historical sketch of the late Catholic Association of Ireland, i. 85; Lecky, Ireland &c., ii, 195. [p.174, n.1]; and note also, n.80: Matthew O’Conor [sic], MS continuation of the history of Irish Catholics (in the possession of Rev Charles O’Conor Don SJ) [p.178].

Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), Chp. 4: The Rise of a catholic middle class in eighteenth-century Ireland (pp.73-84)

There can be little doubt that the considerable expansion of Irish trade which took place in the last quarter of the 18th c. and which is generally attributed to the granting of legislative independentce, owed much to the fact that Catholics in 1778 were again permitted to take long leases, and in 1782 were placed on the same footing as Protestants in the matter of property rights. [75]

Catholics enjoyed opportunities in commerce [because] it was held in considerable contempt in Ireland in the eighteenth century. Samuel Madden, who made such efforts to promote the country’s prosperity, was much perturbed by this attitude. Writing in 1738, he instanced Italy, Holland, China and other lands ‘where merchandise is held highly honourable’ and ‘where they never retire from business, to buy lands and turn country gentlemen as we do’ (Reflections, &c., pp.162-63).

Young complains to the same effect. Trade is held in contempt ‘by those who call themselves gentlemen.’ Commerical people are ‘quitting trade and maufactures, when they have made fro five to ten thousand pounds, to become gentlemen’; he considers ‘this is taking people from industry at the very moment they are best able to command success’ and recommends the Irish who are so ‘ready to imitate the vices and follies of England’ to imitate her virtues instead, especially ‘her respect for commercial industry’. (Tour of Ireland, ed. A Hutton, London 1892, ii 247-8.)

Sir William Petty: ‘Nor is it to be denied but that in Ireland, where the said Roman religion is not authorised, there the professors thereof have a great part of the trade.’ (‘Essays in political arithmatic’, in Tracts relating chiefly to Ireland, Dublin 1769, p.229.) Petty quotes as further instances of the rule jews and Christians among the Turks, jews and non-paosist merchant-strangers in Venice, Naples, Leghorn, Genoa, and Lisbon. (Ibid p.228).

Archbishop King, in 1718: ‘I may further observe that the papists being incapable to purchase lands, have turned themselves to trade, and already engrossed almost all the trade of the kingdom.’ (Letter to Archb. of Canterbury, 6 Feb.; in A Great Archbishop of Dublin, William King DD, ed. Sir CS King, p.208.)

[Among Catholic gentry turning to business] the Bellews of Mount Bellew in Galway were successful flower millers, credited with #5,000 p.a. (See Tone, i, 230.) … the branches of the Bellew family provide an interesting example of the contribution of Catholic landed gentry to home and foreign trade. Michael Bellew of Mount Bellew Galway - the wealthy Catholic landowner and miller already mentioned - had a brother Patrick, a merchant of 42 Abbey St in Dublin. Patrick was a partner also in thye firm of Lynch & Bellew of Cadiz which carried on an extensive trade with Ireland. [A lengthy discussion of the merchantile ways of the Bellew family, based on the Bellew papers in the NLibrary, follows [80]. And note’ on p.182, n.50:Among other documents in this collection is a manuscript catalogue of the extensive library at Mount Bellew [in the eighteenth century].

On Edward Byrne, merchant. Details - possibly apocryphal - in WJ Fitzpatrick (Ireland Before the Union, 1867, pp.188-90); also in Sir John Gilbert, History of Dublin, i, p.354. Byrne’s son lost everything in speculation in Liverpool.

Savage attack on John Keogh in Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 29 March 1792; other charges in Watty Cox, Irish Magazine (1812), p.404. Keogh claimed to have 2,000 tenants on his estates in 1792; see his speech printed in Report of the debate at a general meeting of the Roman Catholics of the city of dublin held at the Music Hall, Fishamble St., Friday 23 1792; and also speech of Keogh, in which he defends his self-made status with the assertion that it is no disgrace to be without ‘a hereditary estate in a country where robbery, under the form of confiscation or the penal code, had deprived all the ancient Irish of their property’ (see Francis Plowden, History of Ireland, 1801-10, iii, app., p.43.). Though he refers to himself as ‘the humblest of Milesians’ (Keogh to Charles O’Conor in The O’Conor’s of Connacht, p.298.), it is interesting to note that his land purchases were mostly in and around the ancient seat of the Keogh [mac Eochaid] family in Co. Roscommon [see Edward Lysaght, Irish Families].

William Drennan, in 1801: ‘the Catholics still keep one at the head of the professions of their country, degraded as they are; at least the first physician, the first apothecary, and the first merchant [Byrne] in Dublin are Catholics.’ (Drennan Letters, p.311.)

~In sum, this essay shows a large proportion of trade in Catholic hands, with little disadvantage to them; on the contrary, the advantages of greater incentive, greater freedom from the constraints of snobbery, and a greater propensity to associate in business with each other, as well as a greater inclination to seek commodities and markets abroad in countries - predominantly Catholic - where Irish emigrations had established a traditional foothold.


Nary’s Case of Roman Catholics &c (1724) gives a detailed account of the grievances of traders and shopkeepers but does not mention the apprentice rule. [179, n.9]

2 Anne c.6, an act to prevent the growth of popery, expressly forbidding Catholics to inhabit Limerick and Galway after 24th March 1703. [81, n.34.]

Vindication of the catholics of Ireland, Dublin 1793, arising from charges of riot and tumult levelled at the general committee: ‘They [catholics] know too well how fatal to their hopes of emancipation anything liek disturbance must be; independent of the danger to those hopes, it is more peculiarly their interest to preserve the peace and good order than that of any body of men in the community - they have a large stake in the country, much of it vested in that kind of property which is most peculiarly exposed to danger from popular tumult: the general committee would suffer more by one week’s disturbances, than all the members of the two houses of parliament.’ (p.20; a copy of this pamphlet under a variant title is in Tone, Life, i., 411-35.)

Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), Chp. 3: Catholics in Economic Life (pp.85-92)

This is a short paper recycling material in the preceding essay.

Penal laws [had] effect of channelling Catholic enterprise into industry and commerce … prevented from buying or inheriting land … acreage in Catholic hands fell from 22 to 5% between 1691 and 1775 … did not emigrate in great numbers to America … [where] Catholicism would have been almost as much a liability as in Ireland … could take leases for no more than 31 years … [85] … this law chief obstacle faced by Catholic traders and manufacturers [86]

Popery acts of 1704 and 1709 restricting ownership … [86]

Archbishop King in 1718:’I may futher observe that the Papists being mde incapable to purchase lands have turned themselves to trade, and already have engrossed almost all the trade of the kingdom.’ This was alarmist … Protestants controlled Dublin, Derry, and Belfast. [86]

Heads of [i.e. draft] quarterage bills passed in 1767, 1771, 1773, 1778 … cushioned by Irish privy council and never sanctioned by law. [88]

Thomas Wyse granted £4,000 to expand a plateware industry in Waterford [89]

Catholic apologists - among them Charles O’Conor of Belanagare - [who] wished to make a case for repeal of the popery laws continually asserted that the severe restrictions on Catholics in regard to mortgatges and leases aggrevated economic distress by discouraging capital investment among Catholics … [who] held a considerable share of the available money [89]

an act of 1768 to encourage Catholic investment in navigation regarded all shares as ‘personal estate’ not subject to popery laws; ditto, in canal companies and insurance companies, 1772. [90]

Denis Scully, Catholic spokesman before O’Connell, published his Statement of the Penal Laws (1812), advancing the typical pro-Emancipationist propaganda of the period:’All Catholic merchants and artizans … are under necessity … of resding in these cities and towns, and under the yoke of corporate power. … some hundred thousand of the most unseful, laborious and valuable citizens of Ireland … such persons in any well-regulated state, would be deemed fit objects of favour and encouragement, at least of protection … in Irealnd … They are debased by the galling ascendancy of privileged neighbours … depressed by partial imposts … undue preferences … uncertain and unequal measure of justice … fraud and favoritism … daily practised to their prejudice … every species of Catholic industry and mechanical skill os checked, taxed, and rendered precarious.’ [91]

Scully (1812), further: ‘.. the peculiar misery of Irish corporate towns; the general ignorance and unskilfulness of their tradesmen; their dear charges for labour; their irrational combinations; their abject poverty; their saqualid exterior … are solely attributable to this perverted and unnaturl system of penal laws, which confounds all ordinary principles of human action, and frustrates the most helpful projects of benevolence and patriotism’.

Wall comments: the truth is that the misery and squalor of Dublin in 1812 was no more attributable to the penal laws that they were a hundred years later, at the time of the lockout of 1913 … [and concludes]; the Catholic middle class used the unrest generated by poverty and economic grievances of the mass to advance the social, economic and political aspirations of a relatively small number of wealthy Catholics … energy was dissipated in sectarian struggle … better used had leaders on both sides [sought] a solution to the country’s economic problems. [92]

Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), Chp. 5: The Position of Catholics in mid-eighteenth century Ireland

Charles O’Conor and Dr John Curry had met in 1756 and remained close friends for the remainder of their lives … of Gaelic stock … they both accepted the conquest and they combined loyalty to the old faith with loyalty to the house of Hanover. Theirs was the argument from history - a defence of the ancient Irish race and Irish Catholics against Protestant polemicists and historians of earlier times and their own day. … furnished material for the lengthy speeches of those prepared to support Catholic relief … but also had the effect in a pamphleteering age of stimulating opponents … [lending accidental support] to the ‘two nations’ theory of their day [94].

O’Conor lent heavily on the argument from expediency to elicit Protestant support [94] ... Much of the argument in The Case of the Roman Catholics of Ireland (1755), probably his most important pamphlet, stresses the economic advantages of relaxation of property laws. At the same time he was convinced that Catholics should demonstrate their loyalty … by swearing a test oath. He concluded this pamphlet: ‘Let them acquit themselves, not of guilt (for they have none to answer for) but of the most distant suspicion of guilt, with regard to our political government; and let them not incur the blame of such an omission in this reign, the mildest and happiest, and the longest we enjoyed, since the commencement of the sixteenth century.’ A copy of this pamphlet was presented to the Marquis of Hartington on his arrival as lord lieutenant in 1755, and dedicated to him and the lords and commons. [95]

Letter of Charles O’Conor of Belanagare to John Curry, Aug. 1756. ‘The present set of men either in the adminstration or in parliament impose no bondage on us … When those laws were passed, there was a recent change in the properties, as well as great rage in the minds of the people … Violence had its day. Time gave at last the security which force gave at first. … The prosperity of both parties are now in a different situation; and difference of sitation will undoubtedly more or less beget a difference of principles, and dispose consequently to a difference of conduct. With regard to the administration, I believe you will allow that none can be more indulgent than the present; and if those who sit in parliament permit the operation of laws, whichthemselves would not pass, I think motives could be assigned for such a circumstance, distinct from those prejudices which still have a great share in it. … Many … willchoose to let those evils remain, rather than expose themselves to the odium of unpopular motion … And let all this [93] account for the continuation of party, not national laws, such as anger finds much easier to establish than moderation to repeal.’ [94] FURTHER: ‘Will the expression of our gratitude for the relaxation of many penal laws be of no weight at court? Will it offend the monarch on the throne to find his Popish subjects at this time joining in a testimony to the equity of his adminstration, the lenity of his government?’

Wall: Later generations were to sneer at the efforts mde by Catholics to prove their loyalty … but viewed in the light of previous history and of the situation in the 18th c. it seem the logical course if they were ever to be freed from legal disabilities. … O’Conor and Curry realised that there could be no qustion of granting legal redress … until Catholics were prepared to give satisfactory proof of their political orthodoxy. [95]

On the outbreak of war in 1756,Curry, O’Conor and George Faulkener [sic] were in correspondence on the question of publishing a declaration of Catholic civil principles. Catholic vicars general in Dublin were unwilling to acceded to tha principle that ‘no act of the Roman court, no spiritual power of the Roman See can dispense with legal obligations to legal government’. This O’Conor attriubted to ‘personal ambition, foreign connexions, subservient maxims, and future prospects’ overriding ‘the general good of the poor people who [95] support them and every other burden they lie under’.

NOTES: No adequate biography of this remarkable man (O’Conor); see DNB, HMC, rep. 8, app. i, 441-92; Charles O’Conor, Memoirs of the life and writings of the late Charles O’Conor of Belanagare (Dublin 1796); Charles Owen O’Conor Don, The O’Conors of Connaught (Dublin 1871); Matthew O’Conor, The History of the Irish Catholics (Dublin 1813); portions of his diaries, written in Irish, have been published in two articles: ‘Dha leabhar notaí le Searlas Ó Conchubhair’ and ‘Dialainn Ó Chonchuir’, in Galvia I and IV, ed., Sile Ní Chinnéide. Also Walter D. Love, ‘Charles O’Conor of Belanagare and Thomas Leland’s “philosophical” history of Ireland’, in Irish Historical Studies, XIII. [184, n.3]. TO THESE, notes to Essay-chapter 8, add: Charles O’Conor Don, SJ, ‘Charles O’Conor of Belanagare[‘; ‘]A Scholar’s Education’, and ‘George Faulkner and the Irish Catholics’, in Studies vol 23 (1934) and vol 28 (1939). Also Fr. O’Conor’s thesis on ‘The lifeof Charles O’Conor of Belanagare 1710-1791’, MA thesis NUI 1931.

Already in 1745 and 1749 O’conor had published pamphlets in repuly to polemical writings of Henry Brook and Sir Richard Cox. In 1747 Curry had published A brief account from the most authentic Protestant writers of the causes, motives and mischiefs of the Irish rebellion on the 23rd October 1641 … Curry was to enlarge the scope of this research in two other works on the same theme - Historical memoirs of the Irish rebellion … (1758) and An historical and critical review of the civil wars in Ireland (1775). O’Conor and Curry … tried to give the impression that the author’s of these early works were liberal Protestants … in the hope that they would be more widely read … [and in the belief on O’Conor’s part] that Curry might suffer in his profession (see O’conor to Curry, 17Feb. 1759; HMC rep 8, app i. 463). For some account of such pamphlets, see RB McDowell, Irish Public Opinion, pp.10-16 and pp.265-91. [184-5, n.5]

Berkeley’s A Word to the wise: or the Bishop of Cloyne’s exhortation to the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland (Dublin 1749): ‘You are known to have great influence on the minds of your people. Be so good as to use this influence for their benefit. Since other methods fail, try what you can do. Be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort … Raise your voices, reverend sirs, exert your influence, shew your authority over the multitude, by engaging them to the practice of an honest industry … Certainly if I may advise, you should in return for the lenity and indulgence of the government, endeavour to make yourselves useful to the public … See you are obnoxious to the laws, should you not in prudence try to reconcile yourselves to the favour of the public; and you cannot do this more effectually, than byco-operating with the public spirit of the legislature, and men in power’ (pp.1, 3, 13). [97].

~Lord Clanbrassil (who examined Michael O’Reilly, archb. of Armagh in 1756) urged a bill of registration which was seen as threatening the extirpation of Catholic ecclesiastical organisation, in conjunction with a reform programme for the ministry of the established Church in Ireland. The bill was opposed by Archb. Stone, the Protestant Primate. O’Conor believed his opposition was less due to liberal principles than ‘on principle of persecution, that he represented it not as an indulgence only, but as a toleration of popery by law, which he thought should never be admitted.’ (O’Conor to Curry, 23 Dec. 1757; HMC pre. 8, app. i, 460.Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), Chp. 6: Govt. Policy towards Catholics during the Viceroyalty of the Duke of Bedford 1757-61 (pp.104-06).

It is generally thought that the penal laws, enacted against Irish Catholics at the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries were primarily aimed at maintaining the absolute ascendancy of the members of the established Church and at securing the land settlement. They were, however, modelled on laws already enacted in England, and legislators in both countries justified them on the grounds that those who did not belong to the state Church could not be loyal subjects, and were therefore not entitled to the rights of subjects … the active assistance given by the pope and by Catholic Continental powers during the Irish wars of the 16th and 17th centuries did not serve to strengthen their case. [107]

There is no evidence to show that instructions had been issued to Bedford (anymore than they had been to Lord Chesterfield) as to what policy he should pursue towards Irish Catholics … questions of inteernal Irish policy were considered by him largely in the context of British war effort [in the 7 Years War]. [104]

CATHOLIC PETITION: Ever since the outbreak of the war Charles O’Conor and Dr Curry had been endeavouring without success to launch a representative committee of catholics and O’Conor had frequently advocated the need for assuring the government of their loyalty … early in Dec. 1759 the address, signed by four hundred names, was given to the Speaker of the House of Commons for presentation to the lord lieutenant. [n.5: letter, Anthony Dermott to Charesl O’Conor, 15 Dec. 1759, RIA O’Conor MSS; Matthew O’Conor, History of the Irish Catholics, pp.254-5; Curry to O’Conor 24 Nov., 1 Dec. 1759, RIA O’Conor MSS.] [PARA] It began by tendering congratulations on ‘the glorious successes, by sea and land, which have attended his majesty’s arms, in the prosecution of this just and necessary war’, and expressed thanks for the protection afforded to Catholics by the king and by his late father. Now that ‘a foreign enemy is meditating desperate attempts to interrupt the happiness, and disturb the repose, which these kingdoms have so long enjoyed’ the Catholics are ready ‘to assist in supporting his majesty’s government against all hostile attempts whatsoever.’ [n.6: Dublin Gazette, 15 Dec 1759; the address and a reply are published in Ploweden, An historical review of the state of Ireland, I, 269-70.] With attacks from the French expected in Munster, Cork, Limerick and Waterford Catholics subscribed to declarations of loyalty disowning the ‘attachments of our deluded predecessors’. Charles O’Conor was savage in denunciation of these criticisms of the French, ‘the asylum of our poor fugitives, lay and clerical, for seventy years past, and thought France would not be much to blamed if she decided to ‘stop up those fountains [104] from which our exiles derived their existence.’ [n.7: O’Conor to Curry, 25 Dec. 1756, HMC rep. 8, app. i. 464 [105]

PLACE OF PRESBYTERIANS: The address was well received, Bedford supplying a graceful answer commending the Catholics on their timely obeisance, and various other grandees of the Undertaker class publically associated with the liberal Catholics. But behind the scenes, Bedford comparative liberalism was being snubbed by Pitt. When the Meath Liberties weavers rioted due to economic privations in the worst event of its kind, December 1759, he reported to the English ministry that many of the trouble-makers were ‘New light Presbyterians or swaddlers’, much given to republicanism and ‘avberse to English government, and therefore they are at leat, equally with the Catholics, to be guarded against.’ Pitt reproached him: he was sorry that Bedford should thingk ‘any one class of Presbyterians … equally with Papists to be guarded against’; nevertheless ‘it highly imports government to reflect … that the Presbyterian Dissenters in general must ever deserve to be considered in opposition to the Church of Rome, as a very valuable branch of the Reformation; and that with regard to their civil principles, that respectable body have at all times showed themselves, both in England and Ireland, firm and zealous supporters of the glorious revolution under King William.’ [105] Bedford accepted the rebuke so far as to tell Pitt next that among those arrested were many Catholics. [n. 4: Corr. II, 386-93.; and see Froude, Ireland, I, 622-30.] [106]

Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), Chp. 7: Catholic Loyalty to King and Pope in Eighteenth-century Ireland (pp.107-114). NOTE THAT THIS ESSAY IS WITHOUT NOTES, AND SO OVERLOOKED [WITHOUT CEREMONY] IN THE NOTES SECTION OF THIS EDITION.

Reprints oath of abjuration (1702), and discusses the difficulties that it presented to Catholics, even if they acknowledged the temporal supremacy of the Hanoverian dynasty. [107-08]

Catholic peers and gentlemen presented George II with a loyal address at his accession in 1727: ‘.. Give us leave to affirm that our resolution of an inviolable duty and allegiance to your majesty, proceeds not only from our inclinations and the sincerity of our hearts; but also from a firm belief of its being a religious duty, which no power on earth can dispense with.’ [109]

From 1751 Charles O’Conor wrote several pamphlets … in 1755 with war threatening between England and France, he published his Case for the Roman Catholics of Ireland: ‘The Roman Cathlics revere our constitution, and have been long obedient to this government by principle as well as practice; or, if there be any among them in enmity to either, a legal test may be framed to distinguished the elect of government from the reprobate.’ [109]

While the pope continued to recognise James III as king, the Irish bishops were slow to give their support to any movement for obtaining a legal test oath for Catholics. [109]

In 1768, Viscount Taaffe and prominent members of the Catholic Committee were in consultation with the Earl Bishop of Derry on the wording of a test oath; the Earl had the formulary printed, with four Gallican propositions of 1682 included to which the French clergy subscribed. Copies of the formulary were sent - probably by Dr. Thomas Burke, bishop of Ossory - to the papal nuncio Monsignor Ghilini at Brussels, who threated public censures. He took particular exception to the formulary that declared abominable the ‘pernicious doctrine that teaches we must not keep faith with heretics or that princes excommunicated by the pope may be deposed or murdered by their subjects’. He said this doctrine had been propounded and defended by the Apostolic See. Dr. Fitzsimons replied asking why the Irish Catholics could not subscribe to the formula which was in use in France, and got no satisfaction. To the consternation of many Catholics, Monsignor Ghilini’s letter was printed in full in Dr. Burke’s supplement to Hibernica Dominicana which appeared in 1772. Many feared that the publication of the letter would destroy all hope of a relief act. Charles O’Conor, in a letter to Dr. Curry accused Burke of leaguing with the most hardened eneies of hte Catholics to prevent a relaxation of the penal laws. ‘doctrines,’ he says, ‘unknown in the past millenium of God’s Chruch, and reprobated … among all modern Catholic nations, are trumped up in this poor country, and fastened upon as true principles.’ [111]

In June 1774 was passed an act to enable his majesty’s subjects of whatever persuasion to testify their allegiance to him (13 & 14 Geo. III c. 35). The original on which it was founded was drawn up by the Catholic Committee and found to be orthodox by Dr. Carpenter, Archb. of Dublin. The act passed, however, has additions, marked by Wall in italics [111]. The revised version included, notably, an abjuration of the ‘authority of the see of Rome … although the pope, or any other person or persons, or authority whatsoever shall dispense or annul thesame, or declare it was null and void from the beginning’ [112]. Dr Carpenter and Dr Burke condemned it. O’Conor spoke despairingly of emigrating to Canada, but soon recovered his usual optimism. Lord Trimleston led a party of 60 jurors, including Curry, who took the oath at the court of king’s bench, following a meeting at the Musick Hall in Fishamble St., on 28 June 1775. The Catholic Committee, split between jurors and non-jurors, ceased to function for 3 years. [112]

A convention of Munster bishops in July 1775 declared the oath ‘contains nothing contrary to the principles of the Roman Catholic religion’, but Drs. Carpenter and Burke sought a condemnation from Rome, and forwarded the oath to Ghilini, complaining that it was causing the scandal of a fatal schism. Nevertheless many of the bishops, including presumably almost all the Munster bishops, took the oath; and a total of 1,500 clergy and gentry also. [113]

Shortly after the Munster bishops had taken the oath, Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Burke received there answer from the Congregation of Propaganda: it was considerd prudent not to condemn the oath but the faithful were to be warned privately against it. When Dr. Butler, bishop of Cork, who had sworn the oath with others, made appeal to Rome he was rebuked in a letter saying that in a ‘business of such magnitude’ it was to be expected that ‘the usual respect due to his Holiness’ required that he should have ‘consult[ed] [113] the sovereign pontiff … It was this that gave no small pain to his Holiness and this sacred congregation.’ [114]

In 1776 Dr Burke died. The Munster bishops tried to install an opponent of his, Dr. Molloy, a juror who had quarrelled with him. Another Dominican and non-juror, Dr. John Thomas Troy, was appointed, in spite of the eleventh-hour protestations to Propaganda from Dr. Butler. There is no evidence that the Vatican every gave approval of the oath, or outwardly condemned it. The Catholic relief act of 1778 being conditional on swearing the oath, however, ended the controversy when Dr. Carpenter at the head of seventy of his clergy subscribed to it in Nov. 1778. [114]

Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), Chp. 8: The Quest for Catholic Equality, 1745-1778 (pp.115-33).

One constant aspect of British policy was the old one of maintaining divisions between the colonists and the natives … there was no attempt to find a long-term solution to the problems arising out of religious differences [115]

.. it is significant that constitutional and international difficulties formed the background against which the Catholic relief acts of 1778, 1782, 1792, and 1793 were passed. [Even] the relief act of 1829 maybe considered as conciliation since it was conceded largely because five-sixths of the infantry forces of the UK were by then occupied in maintaining peace in Ireland. [116]

Chesterfield inaugurated the policy of conciliation when he assured the nobility and gentry of protection during the Stuart rebellion of 1745 as long as their behaviour merited it. [116]

The Seven Years War broke out in 1756. In Oct. 1759, Bedford told the commons that the king relied on the ‘zeal of his faithful protestant subjects’ to rally to the country’s defence. Charles O’Conor and Dr. Curry were dismayed, and set about drawing up the petition duly submitted with 400 Catholic signatures in Dec. 1759. (The petition was called ‘the humble address of the Roman Catholic gentlemen, merchants, and citizens of the city of Dublin’.

NOTE on CURRY: little come to light about his family background; O’Conor’s account of him, prefixed to the 1786 ed. of Curry’s Historical and critical review of the civil wars in Ireland provides but meagre information -which forms the basis however of the DNB notice, adopted by all writers on the Catholic committee. A professional man in Dublin, educated in France, he formed a bridge between the Catholic nobility and landed gentry and the middle class. [187, n.12]. SEE also infra: Curry devoted years to the study of the history of the rebellion of 1641, bringing out his first work on the subject in 1747; Historical memoirs of the Irish rebellion … in 1758 and An historical and critical review … in 1775, but never succeeded in laying the ghosts of the many thousands of Protestants allegedly massacred in 1641. ALSO: On the arrival of the earl of harcourt as lord lieutenant (1772-6), some of the Catholics, led by Curry, presented him with an address of welcome, expressing eagerness to affirm their loyalty by a test [oath] which would engage their civil duty without interfering with their religious conscience. [123]

Discussing the differing responses of Gaelic poets such as Liam Dall Ó hIfearnain (‘A Phadraig an nArainn’) and Fr. Liam Inglis, on the one hand, and the catholic middle class, on the other, to Thurot’s abortive landing at Carrickfergus in Feb. 1760, Wall summarises the ‘national’ issue in these terms: ‘It may be noted that both these points of view are typical of the 18th c. to the extent that they recognise the jurisdiction of an English king. One hopes for the return of a Stuart king, while the other is loyal to the house of Hanover. It is fairly clear howevre that support for the Stuart goes hand in hand with a strong Irish national consciousness, while whose who support the house of Hanover are prepared to accept the conquest, with all that it implies. [187, n.17]

The founding of the Catholic committee by Wyse, Curry, and O’Conor, hoping to combine elective and hereditary principles [118]

Proposal by Lord Trimleston to raised regiments for the king, which were welcomed and assigned to duty with the king’s ally in Portugal. Anti-popery storms in Ireland in 1761. The great undertakers Shannon and Ponsonby who had been patronising the catholics now sabotaged the raising of the regiments. [119]

Agrarian disturbances in Munster treated as popish rebellion, ignoring similar troubles from the Steelboys in Ulster; edition of Sir John Temple’s Irish Rebellion and Archb. King’s State of the Protestants of Ireland printed in Clonmel in 1766 for sectarian reasons. The publishers J and P Bagnell’s brother played a significant role as a magistrate in the events in Tipperary. The Catholic clergy denounced the Whiteboys, but among the victims of repression were Fr Nicholas Sheehy in 1766. [119-120]

In 1766 John Curry published A candid enquiry into … the late riots in … Munster, exonerating the Catholics. O’Conor’s Observations on affairs in Ireland made the case as usual for relaxation of the popery laws. Both these pamphlets appeared under the name of Viscount Taaffe. [120]

Taaffe’s own Observations on affairs in Ireland (1766), appearing at this date, castigates the suggestion that the Munster troubles were stirred up as part of a French or a Jacobite conspiracy. [120; 188, n.31].

NOTE, 189, n.47: Sir James Caldwell, pamphlet, A brief examination of the question whether it is expedient … to pass an act to enable papists to take real securities for money which they may lend (1764), instances a rich Catholic in Cork - Justin McCarthy - who, he alleges, had so many Protestants debotrs that the popery laws had not been put in force for several years (p.2-3).

The attempt to gain passage for a bill entitling Catholics to rights of mortgage and lease gained supporters, but aroused as many enemies, among them churchmen and merchants concerned with the advance of ‘popish religion’ and competition in town properties. The Protestant case against mortgages and leases was made by George Ogle, member for Co. Wexford, when he said that Catholics had hitherto received only toleration, but the passing of a lease bill would mean that popery ‘would be established by law’. (Reported in Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 8 Feb. 1774). [122]

In a spate of propaganda at the time of the entry of France into the American War of Independence, when Irish Catholic recruits to the army were being summoned, the Freeman’s Journal reprinted the papal bull of excommunication against Queen Elizabeth as an awful warning against popery. [124]

The entry of France into the war in 1778 intensified Protestant fears, but when George Ogle, chief exponent of militant Protestantism, proposing the establishment of a Protestant militia, declared that if the French landed they would be joined by the disaffected Catholics, the law officers of the crown hastened to pay tribute to their loyalty and fidelity; the prime sargeant, Hussey Brugh, going so far as to say that Protestant and paist alike were men and brothers. [Nevertheless] a motion for leave to introduce a bill to enable catholics to take long leases on 12 March 1778 met with such opposition from Ogle, Richard Longfield, John Foster, and others that it had to be withdrawn. AND SEE NOTE: Ogle, MP for Wexford, was lampooned in the Dublin Evening Journal, 25 April 1778, for his opposition to long leases and Catholic recruitment: ‘We’ll toast our own Shorsheen, who drove us from the land, Who refused us long leases and red cloth on our backs.’ [192, n.75]

NOTE also, in the discussion of the British-sponsored Catholic relief bill [introduced as a motion by Luke Gardiner], George Ogle went so far as to enunciate the principle that government by taking sides was exercising undue influence in a question of church and state in which they had no right to interfere. [130] On Barry Yelverton arguing the urgency of Catholic relief for the peace of the country, Ogle responded that if the bill was founded on fear, it was unreasonable to invest those they feared with unnecessary power. …

Napper Tandy presiding at a meeting of the ‘Free Citizens of Dublin’ in 1775, ordered an address of thanks to the lords who had voted against ‘the establishment of popery in Canada’. Among toasts drunk was ‘the fate of Laud to every bishop’ who voted for the bill. Hibernian Journal, 19 July 1775.

A letter to the chief secretary professedly on behalf of the Catholics of Ireland, and signed by John Curry and others, tendered their duty, zeal and affection to the king and delcared their abhorrence of the ‘unnatural rebellion’ among his American subjects, promising further to ‘exert themselves strenuously in defence of his majesty’s most sacred person and government though from their ‘particular circumstances and situation’ they were ‘restrained within passive and inactive bounds.’ [124]

A long petition of 1778, bearing the signature of Curry et al., published in full in Curry’s Review of the civil wars (3rd ed. 1810), involved help in composition from Edmund Burke some years before, as revealed by a letter, Curry to Burke, 18 Aug. 1778 (Burke Correspondence, 1852, i. 376.)

Lecky accepts Charlemont’s explanation for the passing of the Catholic relief act of 1778 in the basis of increasing liberalism towards Catholics, fiscal debt to Catholics, and the conversion of some Catholic to protestantism hence becoming members of the house. (See Lecky, Ireland &c., ii. 208-09). Wall however shows that no such liberal sentiment was abroad in the patriotic party, while even Grattan - regarding whom Lecky accepts Charlemont’s statement (in Charlemont MSS), that his ‘transcendent abilities’ played ‘an effectual part’ in the legislation - used his influence to curtail some of the provisions of the measure. [126] NOTE also 193, n.90: during the debate on the relief bill in 1778, Grattan accused the British government of wishing to balance Papists against Protestants as they had done in Canada, and of deepening the existing sectarian divisions in Ireland. [See Burns, ‘the Catholic relief act ... 1778

Thomas Campbell was among those who believed in the lessened influence of the Vatican on the European stage: ‘Let it be considered that the influence of the pope is now lost in some popish countries, and that it is diminished in all. The Jesuits are suppressed, the world is enlightened, France is tolerant.’ [192, n.77]

An interesting note in Life of O’Leary, pp.138-39, quotes Lord Tyrawley as saying to Lord Kenmare in 1779, that Grattan voted against the Catholics in 1778 at the behest of Lord Charlemont, his borough patron, but he added: ‘In future you will have him with you; and he will be a powerful champion in your cause.’ [NOTE that the Life of O’Leary is also cited in Wall, 195, n.11, giving Lord Kenmare’s opinion of Fitzgibbon as chief opponent of the relief act of 1782.; and see also 139 infra, (195, n.11).]

In October 1777 Charles O’Conor was suggesting to Curry a mass emigration on the lines of Lord Baltimore’s scheme in the 1620s, at a time when Charles Carroll, a catholic member of the American Congress was distribting handbills promsing land and religious toleration. [NOTE that, by 192 n.87, quoting a Curry/O’Conor letter (1 Oct. 1777) at Clonalis, it is clear that Maureen Wall has been a visitor there; ditto 189, n.44 , et al.]

At the same juncture, Frederick Augustus Hervey, Lord Bristol, then in Rome, was bombarding politicians with warnings of a general exodus of Catholics. He claimed to have knowledge of a planned invasion, with Irish Brigade officers; and later claimed that his information transmitted to Lord North and Lord Hillsborough determined the British government’s policy on Catholic relief. [127]

A letter in Clonalis shows O’Conor aware that the catholics held the balance (coinciding with the British policy to free the catholics as a counter-balance to the protestants of Ireland, so that the country would not go the way of America); ‘Should the Puritans of the present time, continue their republican publications … government should be confirmed in the important idea, that a passive party among us, deserves protextion, not only from the moral justice due to all parties, but from the political justice due to the nation, who must be interested in some counterbalance to our modern Republicans’ (30 Dec.1776; Clonalis MSS.)

NOTE: Burke MSS at Sheffield Public Libraries.

Wall shows that it was the predicament of Britain, with enemies in America and France, and Spain pending, which obliged the ministry to seek security and recruits from Catholics at home; and further that the English catholic gentry were unwilling to stick their necks out (anticipating the backlash of the Gordon riots). Lord North addressed the Irish establishment, saying: ‘the penal laws of ireland were the consequence of apprehension, whoch however groundless, always adopts the most cruel and severe policy. The Irish complained, and complained with justice; but it must be left to the candour of their own parliament to grant such indulgence to the Roman catholics as their loyalty deserved.’ Burke declared the barbarous severity of the penal laws would lead to heavy emigration to America. The passage of the English bill, orchestrated by the government, passed both houses without a single division and received royal assent on 3 June 1778, setting an example to the Irish parliament. Burke wrote that the English bills (including the reapeal of the bar on Catholic purchase of forfeited estates of 1702) were ‘ultimately intended’ for Ireland: ‘The whole was laid together for that purpose. Parliament wished to speak its sense, as clearly as it could without using authority, to Ireland.’ (Corr., iii. 455-56) [129]

Wall names the persistence of Irish Catholic leaders regarding the lack of confidence in their loyalty as one factor among others [130]

Sir Hercules Langrishe, in the the relief debate of 1778:’If you take away persecution, the Established Church will of necessity swallow up the rest.’ [131]

Ogle failed to carry a proposal to reduce the scope of the measure to that of permitting Catholics to have leases of forty-one years or three lives, but he scored a major triumph on 16 June when on a division of 111 to 108 he carried a motion to remove the right to purchase and outright ownership [leaving the lease period at 999 years]; he was supported on this by Grattan and Fitzgibbon. The motion to repeal the gavel act was passed without a division. [131]

When the draft bill was passed by commons on 20June and sent to England, agitation against it was transferred there; Burke in communication with Curry urged the North adminstration to treat it as a Government measure, and to return it unaltered to Ireland; the bill was returned shorn of the repeal of the sacramental test (which repeal the Irish bishops in the House of Lords were likely to reject) and Ogle presented a motion to reject the whole on the grounds that it had been altered. (It was his strategy to make it as obnoxious to the Bishops as possible.) When his motion was defeated by 127 votes to 89, the Freeman’s Journal reported: ‘the shoal of papists in the gallery was so elated with their success, that they clapped and shouted, as in a play house.’ (Aug. 4 1778).

Wall comments: the great mass of Catholics received no benefit rfrom the act, and the penal statues against the Catholic ecclesiastics remained unaltered. The Bishop of Derry was furious on this latter account because he considered that ‘the people of that persuasion … hold everything cheap in comparison with their religion’ and that the masses and clergy would consider the catholics ‘gentlemen sacrificed liberty of religion to the security of property.’ O’Conor thought it unlikely that anyone would materially benefit from the 999 year lease, since these were generally unobtainable even by Protestants in practice (letter to Curry, I Oct. 1777, Clonalis.) In so far as it effected Catholics in general, it slightly increased the exploitation by graziers of co-religionists. [133]

Even before that act was passed, the lord lieutenant Buckinghamshire, was writing: ‘There are those who think it may ultimately tend to bring on a union of the two kingsdom, an expedient to which the Protestants may deem it necessary to resort, as a protection against the numbers and formidable influence of the Roman Catholics.’ [133]

Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the 18th c., ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), Chp. 9: The Making of Gardiner’s Relief Act, 1781-2 (pp.135-48).

Ogle declared that he had opposed the earlier bill of 1778 ‘because its introduction had been sprung as a surprise on the house’; he was now ready ‘to do everything for the Papists of Ireland consistent with the safety of the constitution, and their Protestant fellow-subjects’ (Parl. Reg.) ~This was, however, patriot politics, not a change of heart. [136]

Grattan, addressing the mutiny bill, Nov. 1781, said: ‘We are free, we are united, persecution is dead - the Protestant religion is the child of the constitution - the Presbyterian is the father - the Roman Catholic is not the enemy.’ (Parl. Reg.) [136]

Opposition to relief in 1778 can be construed as resistance to an imposed measure; support in 1782 reflects the wish to appear united behind the demand for an independent parliament [~1236]

Fitzgibbon, who played a cat and mouse game - beginning by pointing out that the first clause of the bill threatened property established by the act of settlement - was considered the chief opponent of the measure by the Catholic party (see letter from Lord Kenmare to Burke: ‘Fitzgibbon at their head), [137]

The Dungannon Convention passed on 15 Feb 1778 these two resolutions: “that we hold the right of private judgement in matters of religion, to be equally sacred in others as in ourselves.” “That as men and as Irishmen, as Christians and as Protestants, we rejoice in the relaxation of the penal laws against our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, and that we conceive the measure to be fraught with the happiest consequences to the union and prosperity of the inhabitants of Ireland.” This was orchestrated by Grattan and Charlemeont, the concilatory gesture being drafted by the former the preceding evening and forwarded to Dungannon. His biographer writes: ‘Thus was the junction with the Roman Catholics effected.’ (Life, II, 204-06) [137] Archbishop Butler described Grattan at this time as being ‘all in all with the Catholics’ [Life of O’Leary, 281].

The outstanding exception to patriot support for the Catholics at this time was Henry Flood [137]’The Making of Gardiner’s Relief Act, 1781-82’, Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century: Collected Essays, ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), pp.135-48 [cont.]

Flood intervened again and again [in debates on the Catholic Relief bill of 1782] to question the wisdom of a clause which, he feared, went far beyond toleration and gave Catholics a power in the state. This fear had some foundation. The remaining Catholic landowners had been in a position all during the eighteenth century where they could if they wished create Protestant freeholders and thus influence elections, and so make friends for themselves in the House of Commons. There numbers were very few, but … if the bill were passed … would increase accordingly [138]. … he asked ‘could a Protestant constitution survive?’

Grattan recalled that he had resisted the granting of fee simple in 1778, but the conduct of the Catholics sinnce then had convinced him. ~He argued that they had been ‘found among the foremost’ in the ‘free trade’ movement, and when it was thought necessary to ‘assert a free constitution’ they did not ‘endeavour to make terms for themselves’ with the administration. In a speech which must have misled many Catholics into believe that they would soon [be] on equal terms once legislative independence was won, he declared: ‘the question is now, whether we shall grant Roman Catholics the power of enjoying estates; whether we shall be a Protestant settlement or an Irish nation … So long as the penal code remains we can never be a great nation; the penal code is the shell in which the Protestant power has been hetched, and now it is become a bird, it must burst the shall asunder, or perish in it. … The question is not, whether we shall show mercy to the Roman Catholics, but whether we shall mould the inhabitants of Ireland into a people; we may triumph over them, but other nations will triumph over us … Will you go down the stream of time, the Roman Catholic sitting by your side unblessing and unblessed, blasting and blasted? Or will you take off his chain, that he may take off yours? Will you give him his freedom, that he may guard your liberty?’ [139] … He hoped that Protestantism ‘will become the religion of the Catholics, if severity does not prevent them.’ (Speech of 20 February 1782). [139]

the issue of crown nomination of Catholic bishops raised by Primate Robinson of Armagh.

The fact that legal toleration was given to Catholicism in 1782 without any strings attached [i.e., nomination] is due, in great measure, to the competition between the government and the opposition for Catholics support [141]

The registration of the ordinary clergy was intended in the measures; the registration or curtailing of the regular orders was also planned. [~142]

Bushe, Yelverton, Ogle, and Hely-Hutchinson favoured the admission of Catholics to Trinity - and a prposal that the king assent to a statute admitting them - in preference to their continuing to be going abroad to ‘regions of bigotry and superstition … to imbibe every idea hostile to liberty’ (as Fitzgibbon put it, on 1 March), opening another aspect of the question. [142]

Gardiner’s proposal regarding permission for mixed marriages (also 1 March 1782) defeated.

in a letter to Lord Kenmare Edmund Burke savagely attacked the proposal to establish sizarships at Trinity for aspirants to the Catholic priesthood, and expressed the hope that until institutions suitable for the purpose were provided at home they would not be prohibited from availing of ‘cheap and effectual education in other countries’ (21 Feb 1782; Curke Corr., iv. 421-22). this letter was shown to the chief secretary, Grattan, Pery, and Gardiner, and Kenmare reported to his that it had stopped ‘their proceeding on a crude and ill-digested plan for home education’ of the Catholic clergy. [143]

The interval between the dispatch of the heads to England and their return saw the fall of Lord North’s government and the coming into office of teh Rockingham administration. [143]

On 16 April, before they were reintroduced in the Commons, Grattan’s famous address to the king asserting the independence of the kingdom of Ireland was passed unanimously. At the outset … he sought to derived maximum advantage from the Catholic bills; ‘She [Ireland] was not now afraid fo the French; she was not now afraid of the English; she was not now afraid of herself. Her sons were no longer an arbitrary gentry, a ruined commonalty, the Protestants oppressing Catholics, Catholics groaning under oppression; but she was now an united land. [PARA] This house agreeing with the voice of the nation passed the popery bill, and by doing so got more than it gave, yet found advantages from generosity, and grew rich in the very act of charity. Ye gave not, but ye formed an alliance between the Protestant and Catholic powers, for the security of Ireland. What signifies it, that three hundred men in the house of commons; what signifies it that one hundred men in the house of peers, assert their country’s liberty, if unsupported by the people. [144]

~By the Relief acts of 1782, Catholics gained the right to own land, but not much land became available for ownership until the encumbered estates’ act was passed in 1849 [145]; the practice of Catholicism was legalised, but many of the acts introduced to confirm the English stateues at legislative independence also reaffirmed the exclusion of Catholics from political power; [146-47]; also, a charter excluding catholics from directorships on the new Bank of Ireland (1782), and others excluding them from the Society of King’s Inns (1782) and from the College of Physicians (1785) were introduced.

Grattan: ‘We are willing to become one people - we are willing to grant you evbery privilege compatible with the Protestant ascendant’ (15 Feb. 1782; Parl. Reg. 1, 242-43). Grattan knew well that this ‘one people; would not be equal one with another, and the ‘Protestant Ascendancy’ was ten years later to become the watchword of militant Protestantism. [148]

‘The Catholics and the Establishment 1782-93’, Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century: Collected Essays, ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), pp.149-62.

Note that there was an Irish Brigade in the Volunteer Movement, with members such as John Keogh and Thomas Braughall, some of them holding commissions, and with Fr. Arthur O’Leary as chaplain (see Hibernian Journal, 22 May, 30 Sept. 1782; &c.)

Charlemont, who tried to exert a moderating influence on the Convention, and Flood who sponsored the reform bill which emanated from it, were both strongly opposed to giving Catholics the smallest share of political power. [150] AND NOTE: Rutland wrote to Pitt instancing their resistance to emancipation: ‘In England it [reform] is a delicate question, but in this country it is difficult and dangerous to the last degree. The views of the Catholics render it extremely hazardous; and though Lord Charlemont and Mr Flood seem to exclude them from their ideas of reform, yet in some late meetings, and in one particularly held lately in this city, the point ran entirely on their admission to the vote ..’; he further eugrd that something must be done to disband the Volunteers, and argued that ‘without a union Ireland will not be connected with Great Britain in twenty years.’ (Rutland to Pitt, 16 June 1784). Wall remarks: Rutland was obsessed by fears of popish plots. [153]

Sir Boyle Roche, who one newspaer referred to during the Convention [of 1782] as ‘the pack-horse which the Castle has loaded with its lumber of division’, wrote to several prominent Catholics [in Feb. 1784, at the time of the appointment of Duke of Rutland as viceroy] saying that he was convinced that government would further ‘extend its indulgences’ to them if the heads of that body could be induced to present an address to the new lord lieutenant on arrival, ‘not only of loyalty to the king, but of attachment to the present constitution, without innovation.’ (See Freeman’s Journal, 22 Nov. 1783; England Life of O’Leary, 114 [sic].) [151]

~Rutland secured Grattan’s support in the move to disband the Volunteers, ad especially to disarm the Catholics, while Fitgibbon was talking in the house about the folly of Protestants to admit Catholics to ‘the use of arms’. Ignoring Grattan’s reference to the volunteers as now ‘a disgrace to the name’ since ‘a cankered part of the dregs of the people’ were associated with it, (Parl. Reg., IV, 285-8), the Catholic Committee considered a motion from Archbishop that they should withdraw from the Volunteers in order to show themselves willing to take seriously the legislature’s assurance that the protection of the state was no longer necessary. An account of the preceedings is to be found in Matthew O’Conor’s manuscript continuation of his History of the Catholics. According to him, John Keogh was summoned by the Castle and threatened with a renewal coercion - in short, ‘new penal laws’. He counterthreatened that the Catholic gentry would conform to the established Church (a ‘menace of conformity’), and in that character would seek to ensure that the Catholics ‘receive some share in the constitution’. [160]

‘John Keogh and the Catholic Committee’, Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century: Collected Essays, ed. Gerard O’Brien (1989), pp.163-70.

John Keogh, b. son of a Connaught spalpeen; apprenticed to an Isle of Man smuggler (possibly apocryphal), then employee of Mary Francis Lincoln, and next her partner when she moved from Francis St. to the eagle in Dame St., in the 1770s. Keogh set up as a silk-mercer on his own account at the Sign of the Peacock in Dame St., in 1772; he made money from brewing also; and by 1775 he leased 3,000 acres in County Sligo, later adding property outright in Sligo and Leitrim after the first relief acts. Made his first appearance as representative to the Catholic Committee for the town of Enniscorthy, in July 1782. He occupied a mansion at Mount Jerome. He quickly showed himself of a different metal from the founders, who had confined themselves more cautiously to pamphleteering (pseudonymously) and to preparing addresses and petitions placating lords lieutenant and the king. When the newly constituted and less obsequious Catholic Committee decided to refer their cause directly to the English government in 1791, John Keogh went to London and formed a front with Edmund Burke. The evidence they presented convinced Pitt, who pressed the lord lieutenant to make concessions, so necessary in the context of growing French influence. The Irish establishment - Fitzgibbon, Foster, and Sir John Parnell - dismissed Keogh as an upstart; the Catholic Committee set about constituting itself a a fully representative body, or parliament, and petitioned the king in 1792. Wolfe Tone was now acting directly for Keogh as secretary of the Committee, in succession to Richard Burke. Keogh travelled the country stirring up enthusiasm and - as Tone put it - ‘converting’ Catholic bishops to the idea of a Catholic Convention in Dublin. Under the name of ‘Gog’, Keogh comes alive in Tone’s diary; ‘gog is jealous of everybody … Gog is insufferably vain and fishing for compliments … Gog determined to shine … Gog has not the strength of minde to co-operate fairly; he must do all, or seem to do all, himself.’ Self-effacement was to be Tone’s role: ‘It would not be to his advantage to be thought wiser than Gog. Much Better to stand behind the curtain and advise him.’ in spite of government dissuasion, the Catholic delegates to the number of three hundred assembled in the Tailor’s Hall in Back Lane - the so-called Back Lane Parliament. John Keogh was one of the five delegates sent to London to present the petition asking for complete emancipation which emerged from their week of debate, speeches, and resolutions. Crossing to London via Belfast, they were feted by the United Irishmen. Keogh was engaged in private by the English ministers, and would not divulge what had passed, causing bad feeling. On their return to Dublin, he advised accepting a diluted proposal. Tone recorded: ‘And so Gog’s puffing has come to this. I always though, when the crisis arrived, that he would be shy.’ Keogh was warm for revolution when the Dublin government passed the convention Act of 1793, preventing further gatherings of representative Catholic bodies after the weak relief measure of 1793 which gave franchise but not right of membership of parliament. A Castle record shows however that he ‘made his peace with government’ in 1797, although he was probably preening himself for the role of head of the provision government if Hoche’s landing had come in 1796 as first intended. Keogh disociated himself completely from Tone’s mission to France, and was the only one of Tone’s old associated to come through the events of 1798 unscathed. Keogh emerged from Mount Jerome in 1805 when talk of a pertition to parliament was again mooted, but his insistence that he alone understood diplomacy was dismissed angrily by the younger generation led by Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell, however, never failed to flatter him, calling him ‘the venerable father of the Catholic cause’. By 1809 O’Connell succeeded in challenging his pre-eminence in the Catholic councils. It was Keogh, however, who conceived the plan of putting up a Catholic candidate in the Clare election of 1829. [163-69]

NOTE: In 1784-85, Napper Tandy was involved in the open demand for votes for Catholics, which served only to stiffen Protestant resistance and alarm. [~165]

As far as aims went, the two men had much in common. Neither was a nationalist in the modern sense of the word. Neither was a republican. Both paid frequent and fulsome tribute to the Crown and to the British Constitution, asking only to be admitted to all the priveliges guaranteed to subjects under the constitution. They did not desire to separate the two countries. What they desired for Irish Catholics was what today would be called integration. It had been the constant demand of Irishmen since the twelfth century and of Irish Catholics since the Reformation - a demand for English law, or for the equality of all the inhabitants of Ireland before the law. [.... END] [169-70]

Biblography (Maureen Wall)

  • ‘The age of the penal laws, 1691-1778’, in TW Moody & FX Martin, The Course of Irish History (Cork:Mercier 1967), pp.37-51.
  • The Penal Laws, 1691-1760 [Dublin Historical Assoc.] (Dundalk 1961), 72pp.
    ‘Partition: the Ulster question’, in The Irish Struggle, 1916-1926, ed. TD Williams (Routledge & KP), pp.79-93.
  • ‘The United Irish Movement’, in Historical Studies V, ed. JL McCracken (Routledge & KP 1965), pp.122-40.
  • ‘The background of the Rising from 1914 until the issue of the countermanding order on Easter Saturday 1916’, in The Making of the Rising, ed. KB Nowlan (Dublin 1969), pp.157-97.
  • ‘The plans and the countermand: the country and Dublin’, in The Making of the Rising, ed. KB Nowlan (Dublin 1969), pp.201-51.
  • Documents relating to Ireland, 1795-1804, ed. JT Gilbert, intro. Maureen Wall (IUP 1970, rep. of 1893 1st ed.), xvii+250pp.
  • ‘The Whiteboys’ in Secret Societies in Ireland, ed. TD Williams (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1973), pp.13-25.
  • ‘Catholic loyality to king and pope …’, in Proceedings of the Irish Catholic Historical Committee, 1960 (Gill 1961), pp.17-24.

Others cited:

  • Moran, P, The Catholics of Ireland … in the eighteenth century [?]
  • ife of O’Leary
  • Wilson, Charles Henry, A complete celebration of the resolutions of the volunteers, Grand Juries, etc. … which followed the first Dungannon Diet (Dublin 1782).
  • Connell, M, Irish Poliics and Social Conflict in the Age of the American Revolution (Philadelphia 1965).
  • Power, Canon, A Bishop of the Penal Times
  • Burke, Edmund, ‘Tracts on the popery laws’, in The works and correspondence of the Rt Hon Edmund Burke (London 1852), vi., 10
  • A Paul Levack, ‘Edmund Burke, his friends and the dawn of Catholic emancipation’ in The Catholic historical review [n.d.]
  • Nary, Cornelius, The case of the Roman Catholics of Ireland humbly represented to both houses of parliament in 1724 in relation to a bill [on quarterage] now under consideration (appended to Hugh Reily’s Genuine history of Ireland, (1762) [pp.127-8]. [‘It is well-known that the Roman Catholic merchants carry on more than half the trade of the kingdom, and pay more custom and duty for imported goods than all the protestants in it.’ n.p.] And see note, 1881,41: Nary was fighting the battle of the clergy not the laity when he referd to their wealth in this pamphlet (1724).
  • O’Conor [or O’Connor], Matthew, The history of the Irish Catholics (1813) [‘The constant degradation lowered them in their own estimation, and rendered them crouching and pusillanimous. Sorrow and dejection were stamped in their foreheads; their timid gait and cautious reserve marked their abject condition. They did not dare to look a protestant in the face, they avoided the side of the street he walked, just as the slave evades the countenance of the master.’ pp.329-30.]
  • O’Conor [or O’Connor], Matthew, MS continuation of The history of the Irish Catholics (in the possession of the Rev. Charles O’Conor Don, SJ.)
  • MacAnally, Sir Henry, The Irish militia 1793-1816 (Dublin 1949)
  • Life of Thomas Reynolds by his Son
  • Preservation of the memorials of the Dead in Ireland
  • W. Ernst, Memoirs of … Earl of Chesterfield, 279.
  • M. Maty, ed., Miscellaneous works of the Earl of Chesterfield (Dublin 1777)
  • Lord Mahon, ed., The letters of Lord Chesterfield
  • Burke, WP, The Irish priest in the penal times
  • An alarm to the unprejudiced and well-minded Protestants of Ireland: or seasonable queries upon the rise, danger and tendency of the Whiteboys (Cork 1762), refers to rumour of Protestant massacre planned for Good Friday.
  • Plowden, History rev. Ireland
  • Ross JS Hoffman, Edmund Burke (1956).
  • R.B. McDowell, Irish Public Opinion 1750-1800

Miscellaneous Notes
The rolls of membership of the guilds were destroyed in the Public Records office fire, so it is impossible to determine how many catholics were members of them [179]

James Wiseman, grandfather of the cardinal, settled in Seville in the middle of the eighteenth century. Sir James Caldwell wrote that ‘there is not a family in the island that had not a relative in the church, in the army, or in trade in France and Spain’ (A brief examination of the question whether it is expedient either in religious or a political view to pass an act to enable papists to take real securities for money which they may lend (Dublin 1764), p.27, [183]

Charles O’Conor wrote to Curry approving an address to the new lord lieutenant, adding: ‘Should the Puritans of the present time, continue their republication publications … government should be confirmed in the important idea, that a passive party among us, deserve protextion, not only from the moral justivce due to all parties, but from the political justice due to the nation, who must be interested in some countrebalance to our modern Republicans’ (30 Dec. 1776; O’Conor MSS, Clonalis)

Note: Sir Patrick and Michael Bellew were leaders of the Catholic Committee in the 1790s.

Editorial remarks: - MacMillan for Macmillan. Whereas the date of the Matthew O’Conor’s History of Catholics is not divulged until the fourth of these essays, and the Life of O’Leary is referred to passim without date at all, the title while Maureen MacGeehin’s essay on quarterage and the Catholics is trotted out in full, together with its host, Irish Historical Studies, twice in one essay [179]. We are never told - what possibly every qualified historian knows - what HMC stands for. The edition quite gratuitously reprints the whole of the ‘test act’ (13 & 14 Geo. 111, c.35) in the text of one essay, and the footnotes of the next. [BS]


[ back ]
[ top ]