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Test Oath


A. D. 1605. a distinction between the two classes of his

Roman Catholic subjects here described, and King

observing that in the Italian supremacy, as unof Allegi

derstood by the former, there was comprehended "an imperial civil power over kings and emperors, to dethrone and decrown them at the pope's pleasure,"* he was led to bestow much pains on the preparation of a test oath, which without asserting on his part a claim to spiritual supremacy, should contain a full admission of his being a rightful sovereign prince, notwithstanding any denunciation passed or to be passed by the Church of Rome, or in accordance with the heretical de

posing doctrine then so popular. occasions a The publication of this famous test gave controversy occasion to much dissension among all classes followers of of the adherents of the Romish religion, and the Romish while from some it called forth the strongest

opposition, others willingly consented to accept it as a fair and lawful acknowledgment of the

civil obedience due from a subject to his tempoDecision of ral sovereign. To end the controversy however, the Popesna Pope Paul V., in a brief addressed to "the Urban, Sept. Catholics of England and Ireland,"I pronounced 22, 1606, &c.

the king's test unlawful ; and while warning them to refrain from incurring the anger of God by attending the heretic worship, he at the same A. D. 1606. time admonished and required them to refuse the Oath of Allegiance, and all such oaths; eshorting them rather to submit to all tortures, and even to death itself, than to consent to take them. This goodly advice was in the year following confirmed in a second brief of the same pontiff,* and afterwards again repeated and enforced by the succeeding pope, Urban; † and it was also adopted and acted upon by some of the misguided followers of such counsellors, not however without a protesting voice of remonstrance from the more temperate supporters of the religion of Rome. The acceptance of the king's Oath was on the other hand enforced by an act of the Gunpowder Plot parliament, which began to sit at Westminster on the 5th of November, 1606, and was continued on to the month of May following.

• Leland ii. 420. + See the Oath of Allegiance of King James, in the Appendix, No. 59, inf.

* See the Appendix, inf., No. 60.

About this time there occurred a circum- Case of stance worthy of being briefly noticed here, as

Lalor, prosethrowing some light on the penal statutes which cuted for had been recently enacted against the authority foreign juof the Bishop of Rome, and showing that they formed no new feature in the constitution of the realm, but were only a re-enactment, with a new sanction, of laws already passed at a much more ancient period. The republication of the • lb. No. 61.


| Ib. No. 71.

risdiction in Ireland,

A. D. 1606. Act of Uniformity of the second year of Queen

Elizabeth by the authority of the Lord Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester, was followed, as we have seen, by a proclamation ordering the papal clergy to leave the kingdom. This act, however severe in appearance, was administered so mildly as to produce but little effect. One person, however, named Robert Lalor, who was claiming for himself, by the pope's authority, the title of Vicar General of Dublin, Kildare, and Ferns, was apprehended in 1606 for disobedience to the proclamation here mentioned, and indicted upon

the statute of Elizabeth, for upholding foreign Mis volun- jurisdiction within this realm. But he humbled nition of the himself to the court, and made a voluntary conroyal, suprofession upon oath, that he was not a lawful vicar on oath, general in the dioceses aforesaid, that the king Dec. 22,

was supreme governor in all causes ecclesiastical and civil in this realm, and that no bishops made by the pope's authority had any rightful power

to resist the lawful prelates of the country. His duplici

On this confession the court, adopting a milder ty, and se disposition towards Lalor, would have proceeded cond trial.

to give orders for his liberation; but his friends, to whom he denied in private what he had done publicly, raised now “a religious cry” against the government, and extolled Lalor as a confessor who was undergoing persecution for the sake of conscience and the faith; whereupon, “to



satisfy the Irish how grossly their credulity was A. D. 1606. imposed upon,”* the prosecution on the statute of the second of Elizabeth was quashed, and a new prosecution instituted on the statute of Pramunire (as it was called,) passed in the sixteenth year of Richard II. c. 5; and on this new indictment he was once more tried and found guilty. But the sentence of the law, though pronounced upon him, was never, it appears, carried into execution.

The plan of indicting Lalor a second time of the occaupon the Act of Præmunire, rather than upon meaning of any new statute, passed since the Reformation, this new was adopted, as we are informed by Sir John Davis, the Attorney-General of that day, in order to convince the Irish, “that even popish kings and parliaments thought the pope an usurper of those exorbitant jurisdictions which be claimed,” and of those unreasonable encroachments, “which tended to nothing less than to make our kings his lacqueys, our nobles his vassals, and our commons his slaves and villains." As for the individual whose case is here noticed, he,” says a learned Roman Catholic writer," was justly prosecuted, not persecuted, on the Catholic statute of Præmunire, enacted in the Catholic reign of Richard II., for the

• O'Conor's Historical Address, ii., quoted in Phelan's Policy, Pp. 203, 209, notes

A. D. 1607, security of a Catholic state.” “ Never,” adds

the same respectable authority, “ did man incur the penalty of the law more deservedly than

Lalor."* Visitation In the summer of the year 1607, the Lord counties of Deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester, accompanied by the north by certain other members of the Irish government, Deputy, &c. and attended by a sufficient military guard, set A. D. 1607. out (on the 17th of July) to make a visitation of

three counties in Ulster, namely, Monaghan, Fermanagh, and Cavan; which, comprehending the wildest and most unsettled parts of the north, appeared to require special attention at that time. A letter, still extant, written by Sir John Davies, who was one of the party, contains an account of the expedition, and furnishes us at the same time with some interesting particulars relative to the state of the Church and

country in those places which they visitedot Ruinous This letter, first mentioning incidentally the condition of the parish state of the churches of Ireland in general, churches at informs us that so little care had been taken for this time.

the re-edifying and repairing of them, that the greatest part, even of those within the Pale, were lying still in ruins, “ so as the common people, whereof many, without doubt, would

O'Conor, ut sup., and Cox, ii. 10, 11.

+ Letter from Sir John Davies to Robert Earl of Salisbury, 1607. Tracts, p. 722, Dublin, 1787. Mant, i. 353, seqq.

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