HC Deb 01 December 1812 vol 24 cc115-7

Sir William Scott presented a Petition from the chancellor, masters, and scholars, of the University of Oxford, setting forth,

"That the petitioners can never cease to be, in every just and proper sense of the expression, the firm advocates of religious toleration, but that they have always contemplated, and still continue to contemplate, with extreme anxiety, the efforts incessantly made to overturn the defences of our civil and religious establishments, by the admission of persons professing the Roman Catholic religion, not only to offices of the highest trust and authority, but even to the power of framing laws for the government of this Protestant Church and State; and that the Petitioners do verily believe that the restrictions and disabilities to which the Roman Catholics in Ireland are subject, are still indispensably requisite for the maintenance and security of the Protestant government, and especially of the Protestant Church, as it is now by law established in that part of the United Kingdom; and that the petitioners see also much reason to apprehend that the removal of these restrictions and disabilities would lead, and they fear, by direct and necessary consequence, to a removal of all restrictions and disabilities whatever on account of religion, and to an entire abrogation of the oaths, declarations, and tests, by law required of every person admitted to sit or vote in either House of Parliament, or to fill offices of trust and power, which the petitioners still humbly conceive to be essentially necessary to the safety both of our civil and religious establishments; and praying, that the House, in its wisdom, will be pleased to maintain those laws, and preserve inviolate those securities which long experience has proved to be most congenial with the character, and under Divine Providence, most conducive to the stability of our happy constitution in Church and State."

Mr. Atkins

Wright presented a Petition from the mayor bailiffs and commonalty of the city of Oxford, in common council assembled, setting forth,

"That the petitioners are filled with the most serious apprehensions of danger from a renewal of the attempts which have already been so often made by the Roman Catholics of this United Kingdom to obtain the full enjoyment of political power, and to remove all the restraints and incapacities to which they are subject by the laws now in force against them; and praying, that the statutes constituting and establishing those restraints and incapacities may still be preserved inviolate, in as much as those statutes appear to have been devised by the wisdom of our ancestors as the best and surest means of giving permanency and security to the Protestant government of this country in Church and State, and as, in the firm belief of the petitioners, the same, or equally as strong reasons, BOW exist for the continuance of those statutes as when they were enacted."

Mr. Lockhart

intimated that, when the Petition should come to be taken into consideration, he would support the prayer of the Petitioners.

Sir William Curtis

presented a Petition from the London clergy, incorporated by the title of "The president and fellows of Sion College within the city of London," setting forth,

"That the petitioners, having witnessed the efforts repeatedly made of late years to procure further indulgences for persons professing the Roman Catholic Religion, cannot but contemplate with great solicitude the probability of those efforts being speedily renewed; and that the petitioners, therefore, regard it as their bounden duty humbly to express their most serious apprehension of the dangers likely to arise from the removal of those restrictions and disabilities to which the Roman Catholics are now subject, and from enabling them to hold offices of the highest trust and authority, and even to sit in the imperial parliament, to legislate for a Protestant Church and State; and that the petitioners, while they are the firm advocates of religious toleration as recognized by the laws of this country, and desirous that its blessings may continue, cannot but feel alarmed at the evils to be apprehended from depriving the established Church of that mild ascendancy which it now enjoys, and they cannot but deprecate the adoption of measures which would, as they conceive, be a departure, in a leading and important instance, from the acknowledged principles of our constitution; and that the petitioners are humbly of opinion, that the restrictions and disabilities now subsisting with respect to the Roman Catholics, are not in themselves either oppressive or unjust; and that they continue to be no less indispensably requisite than heretofore, for the maintenance and security of the Church establishment, against those whose principles, when carried into effect, have ever been found incompatible with true Christian toleration, and subversive of civil and religious liberty; and that, in stating this their humble opinion, the petitioners cannot but recollect, that the safeguards of which they deprecate the removal have been proved by long experience to be necessary, that they were established by our ancestors at a period when our laws and liberties were fixed-on a solid basis, and the crown of these dominions was limited, by the Act of Settlement, to the Protestant succession; and praying, that the House will, in its wisdom, continue to preserve those safeguards which, under Divine Providence, have been the firm support of our national constitution in Church and State, and of the title of our revered monarch, and his august family, to the throne of this United Kingdom."

And the said Petitions were ordered to lie upon the table.