Page images
PDF
EPUB

" if this bill pass into a law, every native of this kingdom, that “ is and shall remain a Papist, is, ipso facto, during life, or his or “their continuing a Papist, deprived of such inheritance, devise, “gift, remainder, or trust, of any lands, tenements, or heredita

ments, of which any Protestant now is, or hereafter shall be “ seized in fee-simple absolute, or fee-tail, which by the death of “ such Protestant, or his wife, ought to descend immediately to “ his son or sons, or other issue in tail, being such Papist, and “ eighteen years of age, or, if under that age, within six months “after coming to that age, shall not conform to the Church of " Ireland, as by law established ; and every such devise, gift, re"mainder, or trust, which, according to the laws of the land, “ and such native right, ought to descend to such Papist, shall, “ during the life of such Papist (unless he forsake his religion), “ descend to the nearest relation that is a Protestant, and his “ heirs, being and continuing Protestants, as though the said Po

pish heir and all other Popish relations were dead, without be

ing accountable for the same ; which is nothing less than rob“ bing such Popish heir of such his birthright; for no other rea“son but his being and continuing of that religion, which, by the « first of Limerick articles, the Roman Catholicks of this kingdom

were to enjoy, as they did in the reign of King Charles the “ Second ; and then there was no law in force, that deprived any “ Roman Catholick of this kingdom of any such their native birth"right, or any other thing, which, by the laws of the land then in “ force, any other fellow subjects were entitled unto.

“ The 8th clause of this bill is to erect in this kingdom a law “ of gavel-kind a law in itself so monstrous and strange, that I

say, this is the first time it was ever heard of in the world; “ a law so pernicious and destructive to the well-being of families " and societies, that in an age or two, there will hardly be any « remembrance of any of the ancient Roman Catholick families " known in this kingdom; a law which, therefore, I may again “ venture to say, was never before known or heard of in the universe !

“ There is, indeed, in Kent, a custom, called the custom of “ gavel-kind; but I never heard of any law for it till now; and “ that custom is far different from what by this bill is intended " to be made a law; for there, and by that custom, the father, or • other person, dying possessed of any estate of his own acquisi“tion, or not entailed (let him be of what persuasion he will), “ may by will bequeath it at pleasure: or if he dies without will

, “ the estate shall not be divided, if there be any male heir to in" herit it; but for want of male heir, then it shall descend in “ gavel-kind among the daughters, and not otherwise. But 5 " this act, for want of a Protestant heir, enrolled as such within

66 dare

" three months after the death of such Papist, to be divided, “ share and share alike, among all his sons; for want of sons “ among his daughters; for want of such among the collateral “ kindred of his father; and in want of such, among those of his “ mother; and this is to take place of any grant, settlement, &c. « other than sale for valuable consideration of money, really, bona fide, paid. And shall I not call this a strange law? Surely “ it is a strange law, which, contrary to the laws of all nations, “ thus confounds all settlements, how ancient soever, or other“ wise warrantable by laws heretofore in force, in this or any “ other kingdom.

“ The 9th clause of this act is another manifest breach of the “ articles of Limerick, for by the 9th of those articles, no oath is “ to be administered to, nor imposed upon such Roman Catho“ licks, as should submit to the government, but by oath of alle“ giance, appointed by an act of parliament made in England, in

the first year of the reign of their late majesties King William " and Queen Mary; (which is the same with the first of those

appointed by the 10th clause of this act :) But by this clause “ none shall have the benefit of this act, that shall not conform " to the church of Ireland, subscribe the declaration, and take and “ subscribe the oath of abjuration, appointed by the 9th clause of “ this act; and therefore this act is a manifest breach of those “ articles, &c. and a force upon all the Roman Catholicks therein “ comprised, either to abjure their religion, or part with their " birthrights, which, by those articles, they were, and are, as “ fully and as rightfully entitled unto as any other subjects what

“ The 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th clauses of this bill (said “he) relate to offices and employments, which the Papists of Ire“ land cannot hope for the enjoyment of, otherwise than by grace " and favour extraordinary ; and therefore do not so much affect " them, as it does the Protestant dissenters, who if this bill pass “ into a law) are equally with the Papists deprived of bearing " any office, civil or military, under the government, to which by “ right of birth, and the laws of the land, they are as indisputably “ entitled, as any other Protestant brethren; and if what the “ Irish did in the late disorders of this kingdom, 'made them “rebels, (which the presence of a king, they had before been

obliged to own, and swear obedience to, gave them a reasona“ble colour of concluding it did not), yet surely the Dissenters “ did not do any thing to make them so; or to deserve worse at " the hands of the government, than other Protestants ; but on “ the contrary, it is more than probable, that if they, (I mean the “ Dissenters) had not put a stop to the career of the Irish army " at Enniskillen and Londonderry; the settlement of the govern.

ever.

ment, both in England and Scotland, might not have proved so

easy, as it thereby did, for if that army had got to Scotland, (as « there was nothing at that time to have hindered them, but the “ bravery of those people, who were mostly Dissenters, and “chargeable with no other crimes since; unless their close ad"hering to, and early appearing for the then government, and « the many faithful services they did their country, were “crimes) I say (said he) if they had got into Scotland, when " they had boats, barks, and all things else ready for their trans“ portation, and a great many friends there in arms waiting only “ their coming to join them, it is easy to think, what the conse" quence would have been to both these kingdoms; and these “ Dissenters then were thought fit for command, both civil and “ military, and were no less instrumental in contributing to the “ reducing the kingdom, than any other Protestants : and to pass “ a bill now, to deprive them of their birthrights, (for those their “ good services) would surely be a most unkind return, and the " worst reward ever granted to a people, so deserving. What“ ever the Papists may be supposed to have deserved, the Dis“senters certainly stand as clean in the face of the present go

vernment, as any other people whatsoever ; and if this is all “ the return they are like to get, it will be but a slender encourage«ment, if ever occasion should require, for others to pursue their " examples.

“ By the 15th, 16th, and 17th clauses of this bill, all Papists, " after the 24th of March, 1703, are prohibited from purchasing

any houses or tenements, or coming to dwell in Limerick or “ Galway, or the suburbs of either, and even such as were under “ the articles, and by virtue thereof, have ever since lived there, “ from staying there ; without giving such security as neither “ those articles, nor any law heretofore in force, do require, ex

cept seamen, fishermen, and day-labourers, who pay not above “ forty shillings a year rent, and from voting for the election of “ members of parliament, unless they take the oath of abjuration, " which, to oblige them to, is contrary to the 9th of Limerick “ articles, which as aforesaid, says the oath of allegiance, and no “ other shall be imposed upon them, and, unless they abjure their “ religion takes away their advowsons and rights of presenta“ tion, contrary to the privilege of right, the laws of nations, " and the great charter of Magna Charta ; which provides, " that no man shall be desseized of his birthright, without com

mitting some crime against the known laws of the land in 16 which he is born, or inhabits. And if there was no law in

force, in the reign of King Charles the Second, against these

things (as there certainly was not), and if the Roman Ca“tholicks of this kingdom have not since forfeited their right

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

" to the laws that then were in force (as for certain they had “ not) then with humble submission, all the aforesaid clauses " and matters contained in this bill, intituled, an act to prevent “the farther growth of Popery, are directly against the plain “ words and true intent and meaning of the said articles, and a “ violation of the public faith, and the laws made for their per“ formance; and what I therefore hope (said he) this honourable “ house will consider accordingly."

Counsellor Malone and Sir Stephen Rice, made discourses on the same side; the latter, not as a counsel, but as a petitioner, likely to be aggrieved by the passing of the said act: but in the course of the reply to the arguments of those gentlemen, it was objected, that they had not demonstrated how and when (since the making of the article of Limerick) the Papists of Ireland had addressed the queen or government, when all other subjects were so doing, or had otherwise declared their fidelity and obedience to the queen.

It was (among other things) observed, that by a proviso at the latter end of the second of those articles, none was to have or enjoy the benefit thereof, that should refuse to take the oath of allegiance.

That any right which the Papists pretended to be taken from them by the bill, was in their power to remedy, by conforming; as in prudence, they ought to do; and that they ought not to blame any but themselves.

The next day the bill was ordered to be engrossed and sent to the lords.

The petitioners having applied to the lords also, for leave to be heard by their counsel against the bill, the same was granted, and the same counsel, upon Monday, February 28th, appeared there, and offered such-like arguments as they had made use of in the other house: they told their lordships, it had been objected by the commons, that the passing that bill would not be a breach of the articles of Limerick, as had been suggested ; because, the persons therein comprised were only to be put into the same state they were in the reign of Charles the Second, and because, that in that reign there was no law in force which hindered the passing any other law thought needful for the future safety of the government.

That the commons had further sayed, that the passing this bill was needful at present, for the security of the kingdom, and that there was not any thing in the articles of Limerick that prohibited their so doing.

It was admitted, on the part of the petitioners, that the legislative power cannot be confined from altering and making such laws as shall be thought necessary, for securing the quiet and

[ocr errors]

safety of the government; that in time of war or danger, or when there shall be just reason to suspect any ill designs to disturb the public peace, no articles or previous obligations, shall tie up the hands of the legislators from providing for its safety, or bind the government from disarming and securing any, who may be reasonably suspected of favouring or corresponding with its enemies, or to be otherwise guilty of ill practices : “ or indeed to enact any “ other law,” said Sir Stephen Rice, “ that may be absolutely “ needful for the safety and advantage of the public; such a law “ cannot be a breach either of these, or any other like articles. “ But then such laws, ought to be in general, and should not

single out, or affect, any one particular part or party of the “people, who gave no provocation to any such law, and whose “ conduct stood hitherto unimpeached, ever since the ratification " of the aforesaid articles of Limerick. To make any law that “shall single any particular part of the people out from the rest, 6 and take from them what had been confirmed to, and intailed

upon them, will be an apparent violation of the original institu“tion of all right, and an ill precedent, to any that hereafter might "dislike either the present or any other settlement, which should “ be in their power to alter ; the consequence of which is hard to “ imagine.”

The lord chancellor having summed up all that had been offered at the bar, the house proceeded thereupon; the bill was read through ; and, to the great mortification of that unhappy party, was passed, and upon the 4th of March obtained the royal as

sent.

NO. LIII.

PROTEST UPON THE SCHISM ACT IN THE BRITISH HOUSE OF

LORDS....PAGE 200.

WE cannot apprehend (as the bill recites) that great danger may ensue from the Dissenters, to the church and state, because, first by law no Dissenter is capable of a station which can be supposed to render him dangerous.

2d. And since the several sects of Dissenters differ from each other as much as they do from the established church, they can never form of themselves a national church ; nor have they any temptation to set up any one sect among them: for in that case,

« PreviousContinue »