§ Mr. Daly having, at the request of Mr. Secretary Peel and several other members, consented to postpone until next session his promised motion on the subject of tithes in Ireland,
§ Mr. Hume
immediately rose, and said, that as the hon. member for Galway had declined proceeding, it was his intention to avail himself of the opportunity to bring the subject of Tithes, and the Church Establishment of Ireland before the House. It was well known, that he had long ago given notice of a motion on this subject; but he had delayed it in deference to his majesty's ministers, till he should see what measures they would bring forward.
1148 So little commensurate, in his opinion, were the proposed measures of government with the deplorable evils for which they were offered as remedies, that he now called on the House, and particularly those members of it connected with Ireland, to lose no time in the adoption of some more efficient plan for the relief of that unhappy country.
The state of inquietude produced by bad government, and the consequent misery, which so generally prevailed in Ireland, led to the necessity of keeping up a larger military force than had ever before been employed, except when the people were in open rebellion. If, therefore, the wretchedness of the people was not sufficient to rouse parliament to some exertion for their amelioration, the expense of our present military establishment, amounting nearly to two millions annually, was, he thought, a strong reason why a remedy should be immediately applied, particularly when, it was known that in 1792, and in other years of peace, about 500,000l. was the ordinary annual military expenditure for that country.
In looking to the state of Ireland for many years past, and in attempting to ascertain the source of the constant succession of inquietude, disturbance, and rebellion in that country, be bad observed several powerful causes, all tending to produce these deplorable events, of which the tithe system was certainly one of the principal. Within these few days the evils arising from that system in Ireland had been stated to the House in strong, but he believed not exaggerated terms; and, as very decided opinions had been given on the antiquity and sacred character of tithes, by the secretary of state for the home department, and by the right hon. and learned attorney-general for Ireland, he was anxious to state how far he differed from them. In the first place, he wished to clear his way on the question of the right which clergymen possessed to tithes; and, notwithstanding the taunt of the right hon. gentleman opposite, who accused him of entertaining wild and visionary views, he would fearlessly state his opinions on the subject. They asserted, that tithes and church property were as sacred and as inviolable as any other description of property. Nay, the under secretary of state (Mr. Dawson) had declared, that a clergyman had a better claim, to his tithes than any man had to his own, estate. 1149 From that doctrine he (Mr. Flume) entirely dissented. He contended, that the property of the church and the tithes had no affinity, in many respects, to private property. If a man had an estate, whether by descent, by bequest, or by purchase, it was not in the power of parliament to deprive him of it without the grossest injustice. But, let the House recollect in what situation church property stood, as compared with private property. Bishops and beneficed clergymen may be deprived of their church income, by being deposed from their offices for violation of professional duty, or improper conduct, as other public officers. The bishops and clergymen cannot sell, alienate, or bequeath the church property, as private individuals do. The greater part of church property and tithes had been originally granted by kings, and by parliaments, to support and promote religion. It followed, then, that it was in the power of government to change the disposition of that property, provided such a change was necessary for the support or promotion of religion; always bearing in mind, that those who had vested interests in that property were justly entitled to enjoy them, That was a point on which he wished distinctly to be understood. He would never be a party to deprive the bishops, or any of the clergy, during their lives, of the property of which the existing institutions had put them in possession: but he could see no injustice in parliament making an alteration in its appropriation, after the death of the parties in possession. He could not admit, as had been stated by the right hon. gentlemen opposite, that an interference with church property was robbery and spoliation—he denied it altogether. In fact, church property had been interfered with at various times in almost every country in Europe. It was not at this time necessary, in the view he took of the subject, to look to the origin of tithes in any disposition that was to be made of them. It was well known how Henry 8th had disposed of them in his settlement of the church, and how parliament had sanctioned and confirmed his acts. Had not parliament also taken them from the Catholic and given them to the Protestant church? But, to come to later times. What was the effect of the resolution of the Irish parliament on the 18th of March, 1735? It was virtually the abolishing the tithe of agistment and this had been since con- 1150 firmed by the act of Union. Here, then, was an interference with church property. If that was spoliation and robbery, he would ask the right hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Plunket), who was a member of that parliament, why he had not raised his voice to protest against such enormities? It was not for that right hon. gentleman, who had been a party to that spoliation, to blame others for following the same principle. The fact was, that the acts of the government, not only of Ireland, and of England, but of every country on the continent, interfered with church property and tithes. If parliament had the right, and did take away the tithe of agistment, which was perhaps one-half, or one-third of the whole tithes in Ireland, why might not the present or any subsequent parliament, take away another third, or the whole of the tithe, if they thought it necessary for the good of the country and of religion to do so? It had been stated by Adam Smith, "that in all Christian churches the benefices of the clergy are a sort of freeholds which they enjoy, not during pleasure, but during life or good behaviour;"—and in that he (Mr. H.) agreed. Not only did he contend, that by the practice of our kings and parliaments, both in England and in Ireland, the principle was established that the property of the church was at the disposal of government for its own use, or for the good and proper maintenance of the church itself; but he maintained that Denmark, Prussia, Sweden, and Germany, and, in short, almost every country on the continent, afforded ample proofs of the assertion and of the exercise of that right.
He must also protest against the too common, but mistaken opinion, that the church establishment was a part of the Christian religion. It was not so. It I was only a means to an end. He wished it to be understood as his decided opinion, that if they were to abolish the whole of the present system of church government, they would not violate any rule established by the Founder of the Christian religion. In support of that assertion he could refer to various authorities; but would content himself with one. Dr. Paley says, "that religious establishments form no part of Christianity; they only afford the means of inculcating it." That being the case, the next question to which he wished to call the attention of the House, was, for what purpose the 1151 property which was at present held by the church had been given? It was to promote and to support the religion of the country. Then came the consideration, whether the means at the command of the clergy were precisely commensurate to and applied to that end? Were the revenues and establishment of the church of Ireland too great, or were they too small? He certainly thought that they were much too great. In Ireland, there were twenty-four archbishops and bishops, and 1,270 beneficed clergymen, enjoying a revenue of upwards of a million sterling. This sum, he contended, was by far too large, considering that the clergy of the established church had to administer the rites of their religion to no more than 500,000 persons. Now, to him, so great an allowance appeared altogether disproportionate, to the duties to be performed; and he was of opinion, that the cause of religion as well as sound policy required a reduction of it.—"It may be laid down," (says Adam Smith*) "as a certain maxim, that all other things being supposed equal, the richer the church, the poorer must necessarily be, either the sovereign on the one hand, or the people on the other; and in all cases the less able must the state be to defend itself. In several Protestant countries, particularly in all the Protestant Cantons of Switzerland, the revenue which anciently belonged to the Roman Catholic church, the tithes and church lands, had been found a fund sufficient, not only to afford sufficient salaries to the established clergy, but to defray, with little or no addition, all the other expenses of the state," "The proper performance of every service seems to require that its recompense or pay, should be, as exactly as possible, proportioned to the nature of the service." He (Mr. H.) contended, that such was not the case in Ireland, and that a complete change was necessary. From all he had been able to observe, of the highly beneficial effects on the population in the country to which he belonged, by having a resident clergy, well instructed, moral, and temperate, he should always be desirous of encouraging such arrangements as would produce similar results. No man was more desirous than himself that the clergy of Ireland should be supported in a rank becoming their situation, that they should be enabled advantageously to perform the high and* Book 5, c. 1, pages 241 and 243.1152 sacred functions imposed upon them by their office. He was anxious that they should enjoy an annual income sufficient to maintain them in the class to which they ought to belong—that of gentlemen: But he must at the same time protest against an allowance to the clergy disproportioned to the duty they had to perform, and which might tempt them to neglect it. Between the extremes of a too penurious and a too profuse allowance there was a mean, and it was the duty of parliament to adopt that mean.
Although tithes were a constant and great cause of inquietude, he believed that the enormous church establishment in Ireland, and the very unequal distribution of its large revenues, were sources of equal discontent. The disproportionate distribution of church income, had been noticed by Paley as a scandal; particularly when the clergy were so only in name, and did not perform the duties of their livings.—"When" (says he,!) "a man draws upon the church income, whose studies and employments bear no relation to the object of it, and who is no farther a minister of the Christian religion than as a cockade makes a soldier, it seems a misapplication little better than a robbery." What did the right hon. gentlemen opposite do to prevent that kind of robbery? Was it not a considerable source of dissatisfaction to a population, suffering as the Irish had long been, to see a large portion of its wealth tranferred to the ministers all church, in whose tenets only a small part of them agreed, and of which the duties, he was sorry to say it, were, in too many instances, very indifferently performed? The great disproportion between the number of bishops in Ireland, and the number in England, was a subject which appeared to him well deserving the attention of the House. Was it reasonable, that there should be twenty-two bishops fur a population of little more than half a million in Ireland, whilst there were only twenty-six bishops for many millions in England? Their frequent and long continued absence from their respective dioceses, seemed to show, that their services could be dispensed with, whilst it authorized, and led to the absence of the different rectors and vicars from their livings, and to the placing curates to superintend them, on small and inadequate* Vol. 1, c. 14, p. 181.1153 salaries. They had been told very truly, that a resident clergy, as in Scotland, was of great advantage to the population of a country on many accounts. Of that advantage Ireland knew little or nothing, far, in many instances, their pastors were personally unknown to them, and the income of their livings was spent too often in Bath, or in Paris, or in any place whatsoever, save that from which it was derived. This non-residence of the clergy, joined to the non-residence of the gentry, was one of the evils which had much afflicted Ireland.
There was another evil also, which he could not, in this stage of his argument, over look—he meant the wretched state of the ecclesiastical courts in that unfortunate country. It did appear to him to be contrary to the first principles of justice, that the clergy should have any part in the decision of cases in which their own interest was concerned. Indeed, that grievance was go intolerable, that he should have thought any measure tending to redress it more worthy the attention of the right hon. secretary than the paltry and partial measure which he had just introduced, to authorize the clergy to grant leases of tithes obligatory upon their successors. Another of the calamities under which the population of Ireland laboured was, the manner in which its tithes were collected. Indeed, it was a system which seemed purposely calculated to drive a people to deeds of desperation and violence. The hon. member then proceeded to state several instances of the mischief produced by the mode of levying tithes; and he contended, that though the value of produce and rents had decreased, that tithes had, in many cases, been increased in Ireland. He could state innumerable instances, but should confine himself to one or two. From one of the cases it appeared, that tithes, which in 1785 amounted only to 140l. a year, now amounted to 800l. It was in the parish of Roer, in the barony of Ida, and county of Kilkenny. By the recent census, it consisted of 3,519 persons, of whom 59 are Protestants, and 3,460 Roman Catholics; the former bearing the proportion of 1 to 60. In 1785, the tithes were 140l. a year. In 1796, they were raised to 300l. In 1803, 450l. In 4815, the tithes were charged for wheat and potatoes, per acre 10s.; barley 8s.; oats and meadowing 6s. The tithes were afterwards raised, and application was 1154 made to the rector, the reverend Mr. Kearney, against that increase, but no abatement has been made, although prices have fallen so much. The tithe of wheat and potatoes are now 12s. per acre; barley 10s.; oats and meadowing 8s.; and they amount to800l. a year, being a rise of more than five-fold in 36 years. It Should also be observed, that the present rector does not officiate or reside in the parish, nor has any resident curate. He has an officiating curate, who resides in the town of Ross, and is represented as an excellent man. The parishioners haying made their application to the rector in vain, appealed in March last to the public; in hopes their case would attract the notice of government;—but, alas, as Yet, like many other grievances, it remains unnoticed. He (Mr. H.) then read a letter which he had received form lord Glengall, to whom We said he had not the honour to be personally known, stating that the bishop of Waterford, who had the collection of the tithes of a living in Tipperary, the parish of Caher, had raised his tithes, during the late distress, four pence an acre. A great Majority of the population of that perish are Catholics, and have been much pressed by tithes and church rates. The tithes had been farmed, with the approbation of the parishioners, at 1s. 6d. per acre, to several persons, for a number of years, to prevent the employment of a proctor. These persons gave up their lease without the knowledge of the parish, and after the crops were got in, a demand of 2s. per acre was made, by order of the bishop, who threatened actions, and after much trouble agreed to accept 1s. 10d., being an increase of 20 per cent, although the value of every produce of the soil was much decreased. He had the documents in his hand to prove the whole of that case and he considered it a very objectionable one; and an example of what was doing in the exaction of tithes with the knowledge and sanction even of a bishop. It also appeared (Mr. H. said), by a memorial from the land-owners of the parish of Aglish in Waterford (which he read) dated the 23rd of Jan. last, addressed to the Rev. Wm. Power, "that their tithes were also increased—that, now when wheat is sold at 15s. to 20s. per barrel, and barley at 7s. 6d. to 10s. 6d., it is not reasonable they should be tithed at the same rate as when wheat brought 50s. to 60s. per barrel and barley 1155 sold from 25s. to 31s. 6d.; and that it is still more contrary to reason and justice, that, as prices fall, tithes should increase."—He next proceeded to read an affidavit from James Conway, dated the 22nd of March, 1822, and he had no doubt that it was more deserving of credit than many of the affidavits on which the rights and liberties of Ireland had been frequently suspended and taken away, in which that individual deposed, that the money demanded of him for tithe last year, amounted in value to one-fifth of his whole produce, and that, being unable to pay it, the clergyman had threatened process against him to recover it.—He believed that many of those whom he then had the honour of addressing, knew, that in many cases the expense of such process far exceeded the value of the tithe which it was to recover. As an example, he would state that, in the parish of Aglish, the expenses on a tithe suit for 4 or 5l. had increased the debt to 40l; and it was, therefore, unnecessary for him to point out the ruinous consequences of contending in such cases. If any thing farther were necessary to elucidate the calamities to which that system led in various parts of Ireland, it was to be found in the letter and address sent by the inhabitants of the patent of Ballity, in the parish of Annadown, in Galway, to the grand jury of that county at the Spring assizes of this year. Here the hon. member read the documents in question, which stated, "We suffer wrongs and oppressions beyond measure, and every effort made to redress our evils, has been shamefully suppressed by influence, or baffled by intricacy. To add to our distresses, the payment of our tithes has been intolerable—we are charged much higher for them at present, when our wheat sells from 5s. to 8s. per cwt., than formerly when it sold for 25s. per cwt. For the payment of those tithes, our cattle are stolen away at night, under the sanction of a decree; different instances of which have occurred within this fortnight, at a period, too, when we have no money, several of us have been obliged to sell our little collection of wool, though in process for a coat. The demand for tithes and costs exceeds half the proceeds of our corn—many of us are almost destitute of food or raiment; some amongst us are literally starving, and others subsisting solely on damaged wheat. What to do, or where to apply for relief; we know not; misery is heaped on distress, and we 1156 bear it patiently, rather than forfeit our exemplary character. We thus publicly disclose our misfortunes, in the hope that if there exists now-a-days, virtue, integrity, or justice, something may be done to correct the present destructive system of tithes, and the frauds committed on the poor by a certain class; of high constables." Now, he would ask, whether it was fitting that ministers should leave Ireland in the state in which these documents described it to be? Would they allow such grievances as were detailed in them to remain unredressed—grievances which it was proved did not exist here and there in isolated cases, but prevailed generally throughout Ireland. [Hear, hear!] The facts were beyond contradiction—they were as undoubted as they were distressing. If additional evidence of the fatal influence of the tithe system in Ireland was wanted, he might refer to many official documents—he might refer to a report on the table of that House—he might refer to the testimony of many persons of undoubted veracity.—That man must have a heart of stone who could hear unmoved the forcible and eloquent statement of those evils made on a former night by the hon. member for Sligo; and, had he not known how the House was constituted, he should have expected, that it would have called upon the minister, with indignant voice, to account why he, had allowed such evils to prevail so long without an attempt to remove them. The grievances of Ireland were allowed on all hands, and yet the government delayed all inquiry, and denied all redress. The consequences were horrible, but they were only what might be expected from such usage. The people, unable to, bear up against accumulated oppression, violated the law, and the country became a scene of bloodshed and anarchy.
Passing over, for a moment, the injustice to Ireland, he would ask, was it dealing fairly with the people of England to leave the Irish population in that state.—The people of England, who were obliged to support an immense and expensive military establishment to keep down the wretched population of Ireland, whom this system of abuse, coercion, and oppression was perpetually driving into outrage and rebellion. [Hear, hear! from the ministerial benches.] He said "hear," too, and heartily wished the whole country could hear him, whilst he was denouncing a system which had so long 1157 been the scourge and degradation of the sister island. The secretary of state for the home department (Mr. Peel) and the attorney-general for Ireland (Mr. Plunket), had deprecated inquiry into the grievances of Ireland. The attorney-general was an Irishman, and, judging from his former conduct, might have been expected to feel for the sufferings of his country. The right hon. secretary had been a number of years in that country: He had, on various occasions, talked much and loudly of his regard for it; but how did he show that regard?—by opposing her rights, and by deprecating inquiry into her grievances. It was a sad omen for England to see a minister (Mr. P.), who had long allowed these grievances to continue in unimpaired activity in Ireland, preferred to a high situation in its internal government; but he trusted that Providence would avert the unpropitious omen, and would inspire the administration with an earnest determination to adopt efficient measures to put an end to the causes which had so long produced the sufferings and misery which, desolated Ireland. If the government refused to afford a remedy for these grievances, it ought not to be surprised, that those, to whom it would not do justice, endeavoured to extort it by the last resort of the enslaved and oppressed—force of arms. When grievances became intolerable and redress was refused, resistance became a duty. [Hear, hear! from the ministerial benches.] Surely hon. gentlemen did not intend to deny that doctrine; if they did, he would tell them, that resistance to oppression was the constitutional doctrine of these kingdoms; and what was more, the constant remedy to which the oppressed resorted. It was on that principle that the Stuarts had been expelled from the throne by an abused and irritated people; and experience of the past ought to teach present caution. He would maintain, that if a people were left to the hopeless oppression under which Ireland groaned, they would be less than men if they submitted to it as a permanent system; and the Irish were not less than men [Cheers.] In all the disturbances which had rapidly followed one after the other in Ireland, for the last century, no one would be bold enough to say, that the tithe system was not one of the grand moving causes—one of the principal evils complained of [Hear, hear!].
The hon. member then read an extract 1158 from a pamphlet, entitled, "The Past and Present State of Ireland," the author of which, he stated, was well known, and he (Mr. H.) was anxious to quote it in corroboration of his own opinion on this subject. (P. 43.)—"Tithes, the pretence, therefore, and cause of an hundred insurrections, belong to this part of the subject—a tax more vexatious than oppressive, and more impolitic than either; vexatious, because paid directly, and in kind, at unequal and fluctuating rates; impolitic, because it is vexatious; because a people, unanimous in this alone, declaim against it; because it might be replaced by a more equal, certain, and satisfactory imposition. I disregard, as an obstacle, the divine origin of tithes; and disallow the claims of the church to them as the hereditary property of those whose clerical character is not itself hereditary."—He (Mr. Hume) contended, that nothing but a total and wilful disregard of the wants, the feelings, and the comforts of the people could have induced the government to neglect redressing grievances which had been so long exposed. He then read another extract from the same pamphlet, to show that he was not singular in the view which he had taken of the mischiefs occasioned to Ireland by the non-residence of its bishops and clergy.—"A friend to religion, I am an enemy to salaried idleness—to 2,500 parishes I would have 2,500 parsons: no curates at 50l., nor absentees at 2,000l. a year;—no starving zeal, no lazy affluence. The establishment which laymen are invoked to defend, churchmen should support by their presence, dignify by their piety, and extend by their example." He would say, without the fear of contradiction, that, generally speaking, neither archbishops nor bishops, in Ireland, did their duty. [Hear, hear!]—It was necessary that the truth should he told—the state of Ireland would allow the matter to be minced no longer. [Hear, hear!] Many of them were non-resident themselves, and all of them, permitted the non-residence of their clergy. To illustrate the truth of what he said, and the mischief thus created, he would, as an example, refer to a correspondence between lord Blaney, the parishioners of Castle Blaney, and the bishop of Clogher, respecting the non-residence of the clergyman of their parish. Here the hon. gentleman read the following address:—To the right hon. lieut.-gen. lord 1159 Blayney.—My lord, we, the inhabitants of Castle Blayney, and of the parish of Muckno, beg leave, to represent to your lordship the extremely unpleasant situation in which we are placed, from want of a resident rector, suited, to administer relief or comfort to our families, or to those who are afflicted with sickness or bodily infirmity. We long since petitioned the late bishop relative to the extreme hardship, injustice, and impropriety of the rector not residing in his parish, or among his parishioners. Out complaints; however just, have pot in any respect been attended to—the parish has every thing to complain of,—neglect, indifference, and non-attendance to their infirmities or wants, by, those who are so liberally endowed and provided for, to perform the solemn duties which they have most shamefully, neglected. We do therefore pray your lordship may adopt such measures as to you may appear advisable, to have our grievances redresaed:—For selves and parishioners,(Signed) "E. HUNTER,W. TWIBILL,Churchwardens.The answer of lord Blayney stated as follows:—"It is a sad misfortune, and I may say it is peculiar to Ireland, that whoever attempts to remonstrate or complain of any thing publicly injurious, is sure to be opposed by the jealousy of some, and the distrust of others; while on the other hand, public spirit has not as yet gained sufficient authority to sustain itself against interested combination." "I candidly confess, that I am not surprised to see so many landed proprietors withdrawing themselves from a country in all respects so circumstanced: for be assured that nothing can be more revolting to an independent spirit than the system universally complained of, which appears to have no other object than to banish the gentlemen of property, from their estates, and to deprive their tenantry of the advantages of their yesidence."—The memorial of the petitioners to the bishop complained in bitter terms pf the want of a resident clergyman, who, might be at hand to administer spiritual comfort, in times of sickness and affliction, which they conceived to be as, important a part of the minister's duty, as the performance of church service at stated times: an advantage which their Catholic and Dissenting brethren invariably, enjoyed. Lord Blayney stated, that "the notorious disregard 1160 paid to the earned entreaties of the Protestant parishioners for a resident clergyman, favoured the progress of discontent, and gave rise to various popular predictions unfavourable to the stability of the established church, and was peculiarly mortifying to all who had its interests at heart." He would ask the right hon. secretary, whether lord Blayney's letter did not speak the truth? He would ask him whether the abuses, springing out of the absenteeship of the clergymen, were to be any longer endured? From this correspondence it appeared, that complaints of the incumbent's non-residence had been made, but made in vain, not only to the bishop of Clogher, but to his primate. The hon. member (Mr. H.) asserted, that, from lord Blaney's letter; it was also quite evident, that the to which his lordship had called the attention of the bishop of Clogher were general; and, if they were so; to what fatuity was it owing that the government so long tolerated them? If the non-residence of the gentry was occasioned by the disturbances of the country, was it not, he would ask, the duty of the government to put an end to that system which compelled them to expatriate themselves against their inclinations? If the absence of the clergy was any cause of the disturbances, was it not the duty of the government to compel their residence and thereby remove that cause? It might be all very well for the members of government to lament and deplore the evils produced by the absenteeship of the clergy and gentry, but regret and lamentation was not all that was demanded of them—they were bound to trace the evil to its source, and to remove the causes which led to it. It was sometimes asserted, that the people of Ireland did not exhibit any desire for spiritual assistance. The letter of the parishioners of Castle Blaney to the bishop of Clogher would disprove that assertion, and show that they were more eager to receive, than their pastors were ready to grant them that instruction, for imparting which the established clergy were well paid; instruction which the clergy of every other religion cheerfully ministered. By a return* which had been made to the House in 1819, it appeared that there were 2,259 parishes; 1,270 benefices, with cure of souls, in Ireland; 1,140 churches—192 benefices* Part. Papers, No. 93, of 1820.1161 without churches. There were 763 resident incumbents, 507 non-residents, and 453 unions of two or more parishes. The number of benefices and residents vary in each return. In 1817,* the number of benefices were 1,309, and of these 765 only were incumbents resident. In 1818, there were 1,289 benefices, of which 758 were non-resident incumbents. After these returns, men might talk about religion—and no set of men were more in the habit of canting about the necessity of religious instruction than his majesty's ministers [Cheers and laughter];—but he would ask them, whether the bishops, by allowing non-residence in such a multiplicity of instances, did, or did not, show an unbecoming disregard of their religious functions? With regard to the clergy who held these benefices, he had been told, that, in many instances, they were men of high family placed in the church more, for the benefit of their private fortunes, than for promoting the religion they professed. These abuses naturally grew out of the system which had been all along pursued in Ireland;—that system which provided for the younger branches of the leading families in Ireland—tothe injury of religion—to the lasting discredit of the church. The interests and the honour of both were thereby compromised, and the influence of the church establishment made subservient to the ambition of the aristocracy, and the political purposes of government. This system ought immediately to be put an end to.
Dr. Paley has very properly observed on such practices,† "that by converting the best share of the revenue of the church into annuities for the gay and illiterate youth of great families, threatens but to starve and stifle the little clerical merit that is left among us." [Cries of "Hear!" from the Treasury-benches.] He would repeat, that such was the general mode of its disposal, and such were doubtless the results. He should be able most clearly to prove the fact, if the House would appoint a committee. [Hear!] So great were the abuses which prevailed in the church of Ireland, that there were instances of bishops receiving 10,000l., or 20,000l. a-year, for the performance of their spiritual labours and holy duties, who had remained absent from the country for fifteen or twenty years together. [Hear, hear!]
* Parl. Papers, Nos. 6 & 580 of 1819.† Vol. I, c. 14, page 181.1162 He did not see any reason why he should not mention the name. The late bishop of Derry had remained for fifteen or twenty years with his family in France, and during that time, it was said, that he never set his foot in the diocese. Was that the way the church ought to be governed? Was that the way to uphold the character of the established religion? Would it not be far better for government to resume the whole church property of Ireland (on the death of each incumbent), and, henceforth, to distribute it to those only who would perform the duties of their sacred office: thus restoring it to its original purpose, the promotion of religion.
One strong reason for proposing the inquiry which he had in view, was to be found in a letter of the late archbishop of Armagh to earl Talbot; complaining that "the real state of the church of Ireland was indeed little known, and had been therefore often extremely misrepresented." This letter dated 15 Nov. 1819, was to be found in the papers (No. 93 of 1820) laid before parliament containing import ant returns respecting the Irish church. His (Mr. H's.) wish was, that the real state of the church should be known, and it was with that view he had brought forward this motion. With that view the government of Ireland, in 1806, during the vice-royalty of the duke of Bedford, directed queries respecting the residence of the clergy, the number of churches and glebes, and the state of church property, to be transmitted by the different bishops, for the purpose of affording to his majesty the necessary information respecting their amount, &c. The answers were very inadequate and imperfect, and rendered it necessary to call for farther information in 1819; and the returns he alluded to were made in consequence of these orders: but the information required by them had not yet been given in the satisfactory manner it ought to have been given. The only tolerably full answers were sent by the bishop of Elphin. Out of 1,270 benefices, answers to the principal queries had only been sent from 462; and from 808 of them, the answers were very imperfect. The archbishop of Armagh might, therefore, with propriety observe, that the state of the church was little known, and that certain arrangements were necessary, to secure the attainment of the information which it was the object of government to acquire. Now, if the committee which 1163 he (Mr. H.) meant to move for, was appointed, it might take the steps pointed out by the archbishop of Armagh and any others that would be necessary ultimately to obtain that complete, information which was essential for the proper adjustment of this important subject.—From what was contained in the documents before the House, he might lay the most satisfactory grounds for an enquiry by a parliamentary committee to complete the information; which, be was confident would never be given by the bishops, nor in any other way he obtained than by a committee of the House. On the authority, therefore, of the primate of Ireland alone, he thought the House would be fully warranted in appointing the committee.
It was difficult to know the amount of landed, property belonging to the several Sees of Ireland, but he believed it to be much greater than hon. members had any idea of; and this rendered it the more necessary for it to be accurately known. Dr. Beaufort, in his memoir on the Church of Ireland, estimates the number of acres belonging to each benefice at 11 or 12,000 on an average, but he no where gives the grounds of the estimate. The surface of Ireland had been stated at 11,900,000 Irish acres, or about 18,700,000 English acres. From the best information he could obtain, the church property in Ireland consisted of two-elevenths of the whole of the land. He meant that, as the amount of property, belonging exclusively to the bishop's Sees, for the church had also the tithe of a large proportion of the remaining nine-elevenths of the produce, the precise amount of which it was difficult to ascertain on account of the quantity exempted, under the act of agistment, and what was tithe-free in lay bands. How was, that immense church property disposed of? The archbishop of Armagh had, for example, in money rents, out of his church property, about 14,000l. or 15,000l. a year, but the estates of the See, according to Mr. Wakefield's estimate, would, if let out at rack rents, like other land in Ireland, produce from 140,000l. to 150,000l. a year. The estates of the bishop of Derry, if out of lease, would let for 120,000l. a year; the lands of the bishops of Kilmore and Clogher, at 100,000l. each; those of Waterford, 70,000l.; of Cloyne, 50,000l. &. &c. This property was, given in lease at low 1164 rents to the relatives and connexions of every bishop in succession, or, on political grounds, to particular families. Towards the efficient reform of the church of Ireland, therefore, which he contemplated, the first step ought to be to ascertain the number of acres in each bishop's see, and the value of those acres, if properly and fairly let. When this information had been obtained, a computation, how far the revenue of the bishop's sees would be enough, or more than enough, without the exaction of tithes, to pay the whole of the bishops and clergy of the country might be made. By the assistance of Mr. Mills, the surveyor, who had assisted him and had calculated the number of acres in those benefices returned to parliament as being a certain number of miles square; by the quantity of acres in each county from Dr. Beaufort's account; and by the rental per acre from Mr. Wakefield's statistical statement, he (Mr. H.) had endeavoured to come at a rough estimate. The county of Donegal for example, contained 679,550 acres, valued at 7s. per acre, yielding, in all, a rent of 237,842l. The Catholic population of that county was 116,667; and the Protestant, 23,333. The county of Mayo had 790,600 acres, valued at 21s. per acre, equal to 830,130l. annual rental. The number of Protestants, 1,750 and of Catholics, 138,250. In that manner every county had been estimated separately, making a total of 14,110,601l. sterling, of annual rental for Ireland. How far he was above, or below, the real estimate, he could not tell; but he had given his authorities, that every one might judge for himself. If the church property was two-elevenths of the whole, it followed, that, if properly managed 2,565,564l. might be taken as the estimate of the annual rental of the two-elevenths. Add to this the tithe on a large portion of the remaining nine-elevenths of the land; that tithe taken at from 1s. to 21s. per acre, for wheat and potatoes, and the amount would be enormous:—much too large, in his opinion, for the maintenance of the Protestant clergy. The church property in Ireland, if properly managed, would alone be sufficient to pay handsomely, the expense not only of the established church, but of the Catholic clergy, and pastors of every other denomination, who ought to be paid by the government out of one common fund, as was now the case in many parts of the continent—a 1165 measure which he would warmly support, because he thought the whole of the clergy were entitled to an allowance, and because the payment of them by parliament, would greatly tend to destroy religious distinctions, and to establish tranquillity in that country. Dr. Beaufort estimated the whole population of Ireland, in 1792, at 3,733,320, of which only 522,023 were Protestants. A late census had made the Catholics nearly double that number at the present time, with but little addition to the number of the Protestants. That great disproportion between the Catholics and Protestants should be seriously weighed before any measures were adopted respecting the church property and tithes? [Hear, hear!] England and Ireland were now almost the only countries in Europe in which tithes were collected in so peculiarly oppressive a manner, by one-tenth of the produce of the land bang claimed for the support of the clergy. The clergy were, by the computation of the rev. Morgan Cove, about the one-eightieth of the population; and was it fair they should receive one-tenth of the produce of the land? And why was this done in England and Ireland? Were these countries, under this system, superior in religion or in morals to Scotland under a very different one? Was the Christian religion better taught, and its examples better enforced, by the clergy in these two countries? He thought not; but, on the contrary, that Ireland was inferior in these respects to any country in Europe. The clergy in Ireland were greatly overpaid; and, therefore, they neglected their duty, or did comparatively very little. The government ought honestly to inquire into the church establishment and the tithe system, with the view of reforming both, without being influenced by any political consideration. He knew that the clergy were too much used as a political support to the government; but, in his opinion, the government which could not stand, without the political support of a church establishment, ought not to stand at all. [Cries of "Hear!" from the Treasury-benches.] He was not to be intimidated by those cheers, but would repeat, that the acts of that government must be bad indeed which required the political support of the clergy for their maintenance. [Hear!] He knew that advantage would be taken of his expression; but he begged not to be set down as opposed to the church establish- 1166 ment, when he spoke only of reforming its abuses. What he insisted upon was—that the church of Ireland did not require the large amount of property, which it at present possessed, to support its members in the proper dignity of their important stations; and to enable them to fulfil their sacred duties in a more efficient manner than they now did, both as regarded the true interests of religion and of the people intrusted to their charge. [Hear!] As the right hon. and learned member opposite appeared particularly to cheer the opinion he had given respecting the connexion of church and state, he (Mr. H.) would beg leave to read the opinion of a learned divine on that subject;—The authority of a church establishment "(says Dr. Paley) is founded in its "utility: and, whenever, upon this principle, we deliberate concerning the form "propriety, or comparative excellency of "different establishments, the single view "under which we ought to consider any "of them, is that of 'a scheme of instruction—the single end we ought to "propose by them is, 'the preservation "and communication of religious knowledge.'—Every other idea, and every "other end, that have been mixed with "this, as the making of the church an "engine, or even an ally of the state; "converting it into the means of strengthening or diffusing influence; or regarding it as a support of regal, in opposition "to popular forms of government; have "served only, to debase, the institution, "and to introduce into it numerous corruptions and abuses."—The doctor farther adds, "that it is lawful for the "magistrate to interfere in the affairs of "religion, whenever his interference appears to him to conduce, by its general "tendency, to the public happiness."
There was no other country in Europe, where the, expense of the tithe system, and the expense of the church establishment, had been allowed to continue so great as in England and Ireland: and it might be of use, shortly to enquire, what systems existed in the several European states, beginning with Italy, which he selected, because in the neighbourhood of the of the pope, the head of the Catholic church, to which tithes were first granted in Europe.
In Piedmont, throughout that principality tithe was an object of little account. The greatest part of the lands were tithe-free—the rest paid from 1–20th to 1–50th of the produce.
1167 In Sardinia, certainly, the tithe of corn was heavy; about 1–10th, in many cases, of the produce.
In the Milanese, Venetian, and Ecclesiastical states, the rates all varied, but were very light, and never complained of.
In the duchy of Modena, and Parma, there was no real tithe, but a small modus in lieu of them. Arthur Young, in noticing, the tithe in Lombardy, states, that one observation strongly impressed itself an him, that the patrimony of the church was, under every government in Italy, considered as the property of the state, and taken, or assigned by them accordingly.
In the free countries of Holland and Switzerland, the same principle had been adopted. And it seemed unaccountable that the first National Assembly of France should have been blamed, as guilty of a singular outrage, for doing what almost every country, except England and Ireland had done with their tithes and church property. Spain was at that time an exception, but had lately followed the example of other European states.
In Naples, the clergy were stated to be rich, and were calculated to possess one or 2–3rds of the income of the kingdom, And a considerable share of its soil.
In Sicily, the clergy were also numerous and rich, which explained why the governments in both countries were poor, and the people impoverished.
In Tuscany, the grand duke Leopold gave an example of reform which might be followed with advantage. The property of the Jesuits had been taken and formed into a fund called the Ecclesiastical Patrimony, and placed under the jurisdiction of a separate tribunal, in order to enable them gradually to abolish tithes. This great reform, equally beneficial to all classes of the people, had been in operation for many years, and, as fast as the incumbents died, the tithes of the parishes were abolished for ever, and incomes appointed for the clergy in succession, out of that fund. If the Incomes of the episcopal sees in Ireland were as great as they were supposed to be, he could not see why, whenever they became vacant, they should not, in the same manner, be set aside for the payment of the clergy, and to prepare for the gradual abolition of tithes. In France, it was well known that tithes were abolished, and the clergy paid by the state; the money being voted by Chamber of Deputies, in the same manner 1168 as for the pay of the army and navy.—The archbishops aid bishops were very differently provided for from those in this country. The archbishops had 800l. a year, and the bishops 600l. He did not say that the bishops here should be kept so low; but it would be much better that they should all have an equal allowance (it was of little consequence whether of 4 or 5,000l. each, a-year), than that some should have the enormous incomes which they enjoyed, whilst others had incomes so small as not to be able to meet the expenses of their stations, without holding a plurality of offices and livings, the duties of which their situation precluded them from performing. If the allowances were equalized, the eager desire for translation would be taken away, and with it, the influence of the Crown over the bishops, which now made than notoriously subservient in the exercise of their political functions.
In Germany, the clergy every where received fixed salaries from the government; but the tithes were still in some places levied by the government, or by lay impropriators, at different rates, never amounting to a tenth. In that part of Germany left of the Rhine, tithes had been entirely abolished, as in France.
Prussia, in 1816, contained a population of 10 or 11 millions, of different persuasions—all religious persuasions, as the Lutherans, Catholics, Calvinists, &c. were on an equal footing, and were all paid by the state, in proportion to the number of their congregations. The court were Calvinists, and although the Lutherans and Catholics were 10 or 20 times more numerous, no danger accrued therefrom to the state.
In Prussia, according to the budget, published the 6th June, 1821, the charge for "the ministry for ecclesiastical affairs, and for education and hospitals," was 2 millions of rix-dollars, or about 307,692l. sterling. The clergy of each persuasion were paid by the state; and, he believed, each minister had a house and some glebe land attached to it. In the Netherlands, the population of which were from 5 to 6 millions, tithes had been abolished; and in the budget for 1820, were the following items:—For department of the Reformed and other worships, 1,325,755 florins: for the Catholic worship, 1,826,856 florins: for public education, 1,048,355 florins: In all, about 350,290l. sterling. The seven old Protestant provinces of 1169 Holland had about 2 millions of guelders, or 180,000l. sterling; and the ten Catholic provinces, by the concordat of 1801, were to be paid by the state, in the same manner. In France, the established religion is Catholic, and the concordat of 1801 and 1817, restored the clergy to regular allowances. The bishops at salaries as already stated, and the parochial clergy at 40l. to 60l. a-year. In the budget for 1820 the following sums were stated:—For the Catholic clergy, salaries and pensions, 27,000,000 francs; for clergy of other religions, 600,000 francs; Total, 27,600,000 francs, equal to 1,131,600l. sterling.
In Denmark, the established religion was Lutheran. Staudlin, an author of authority, in his Ecclesiastical Geography and Statistics, in 1804, says, that "the Danish parochial clergy had upon the whole, greater incomes than in most Protestant countries. They enjoy the third part of the former tithes. The other two-thirds belong to the church, or its patron, and the king. The income of the bishops in no case exceeding 7,000, or being under 2,000 rix-dollars."
The same author states, that in Sweden, the constitution of the church bears a great resemblance to that of Denmark. At the diet of Westeraas, in 1527, it was determined, after a long opposition on the part of the bishops, and their adherents,
|The Lutheran Confession||255,472||Victuals converted into Money||288,846,|
|Calvinist Confession||827||Victuals converted into Money||1,226|
|Catholic Confession||188,322||Victuals converted into Money||41,694|
|Stipends to a foundation for females||6,760|
|Together, 786,147 florins, or about 37,348l. sterling.|
§ In the kingdom of Bavaria;—the population, 3,560,000;—religions, Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist, all equal; clergy all paid by the state;—In the budget for 1819 were the following entries;—For worship 1,195,000 florins; For education, 692,000; in all, about 132,777l. sterling.
§ In the grand duchy of Baden; with a population, in 1819, of 1,019,785; religions, Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist, all equal; and the clergy all paid by the state;—In the budget for 1819 were the following entries; viz. for particular institutions for Worship, 33,964 florins; For universities, gymnasiums, &c. 110,978 florins; Salaries of clergy and teachers, 318,000 florins; Support of churches and school-houses, 50,000 florins; in all, 512,942 florins; equal to about 36,333l. 1170 "that the king should have full power over churches and foundations and their revenues, and should appropriate from them as much to the domains of the Crown as he should think proper."
§ In several of the cantons of Switzerland, the religion was exclusively Catholic; and in others exclusively Calvinist: in some cantons both religions were allowed. In all the cantons great changes were introduced by the French Revolution. In most of them, the tithes (where tithes existed), and the church property, were sold, and salaries to the parochial clergy assigned out of the proceeds. Proprietors of titheable lands were allowed to purchase up their tithes at a moderate valuation.
§ In the Austrian dominions the church had large revenues, which the emperors charged heavily whenever they wanted money. The emperor Joseph seized the whole property of several convents, churches, &c.
§ In the kingdom of Wirtemberg;—the population 1,395,462; the Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist religions, all equal, and the clergy all paid by the state; in the budget for 1820, presented by the finance minister to the States of Wirtemberg, the clergy and schools were classed as follows:—
§ sterling. He had been thus particular in stating how the church property had been regarded, and how the clergy were supported, in other countries, in order to do away the impression which the statements of the right hon. gentlemen opposite, might make on well meaning persons, that there would be danger to the religion of the country, by meddling in any way with the tithes or church property in Ireland. Precedents so numerous as to what had been done in other countries, with advantage to the state, and to religion, proved that we might do the same, if we should think proper, without apprehension of any bad consequences: and the more recent example of the tithe a agistment in Ireland deserved particular attention. If the income of the Irish bishopricks were, as he believed it would. 1171 be found, adequate to all ecclesiastical expense, why not abolish tithes, as had been done in other countries, instead of urging the people, by their exaction, to rebellion and ruin? It would be a great relief to the landed interest at the present time to have a moderate commutation of their, tithes, leaving the clergy to be paid from one public fund.
§ The abuses in the distribution of church preferment, in the frequency of non-residences, and pluralities, would be seen by a reference to the returns laid before the House last session. He had made an abstract of each diocese for that purpose, and would state, as examples, some instances in Armagh, Derry, Cashel and Emly, which he considered deserving special notice, and likely to give some idea of the extent of the livings and non-residence; but no public documents, he (Mr. H.) knew of, would afford the House any correct information as to the value of the church property, properly so called, forming the chief income of the bishops and the dignified clergy.
§ In the diocese of Armagh there were 50 resident rectors and vicars, and 11 non-resident; there were 17 curates resident. Of the pluralists, sir Thomas Foster held the union of three rectories in Armagh, of 4,670 acres extent, with 17 acres of glebe and house. He had another living of one rectory and two vicarages in Dublin diocese, containing 12,800 acres, with 30 acres glebe and a house, where the duty was performed by a curate at a salary of only 75l. a-year. He had also, he understood, the mastership of Carysfort-school. Charles Beresford had an entire rectory, but there was no return of its extent; he had however 4,000 acres of glebe, of which 477 were in an improved state. He had also the entire rectory of Kellasher in Kilmore, no extent returned, but 1,300 acres of glebe, where a curate was resident at the salary of 75l. James Graham had two entire rectories, but no extent returned; there were 2 houses, 337 acres of glebe, besides 84 acres of mountain tract. A curate at 75l. a-year was resident at one of the rectories. The hon. Charles Knox, archdeacon of Armagh, had a living of two parishes in Armagh, where he was resident, without any description as to extent or value, but with 1,050 acres of glebe, and a house. He held also the union of Bray of four parishes in Dublin, containing 9,600 acres, with 24 acres of glebe and a house, where 1172 a curate resides at a salary of 75l. a-year. Henry Stewart had the entire rectory of Keady, with 40 acres of glebe and a house where he did duty. He had also the union of Mothel, consisting of three vicarages in Lismore, episcopally united in 1810, and containing 19,200 acres, where a curate officiates for 75l. a year. Richard Stewart had an entire rectory, without quantity stated, and with 527 acres of glebe, and a house. He had also another benefice, but not stated where. There are other very large glebes returned. John Jephson had 1,082 acres of glebe, and house, an entire rectory. James Lowry, an entire rectory, and 946 acres of glebe, only nine of which were unimproved. William Bisset, an entire rectory, with 700 acres of glebe, and house. The average rental of land in the diocese of Armagh is stated, by Mr. Wakefield and others, at about 20s. per acre.
§ In the diocese of Derry, there were 32 resident rectors, and 15 non-resident; there were six curates resident and one absent. James Saurin, the dean, had an union made by patent in the reign of James 1st, of three parishes, of an extent of 89,600 acres, near the city of Londonderry. There were also three perpetual curacies, but no return by which their extent can be estimated. This benefice contains three glebes, one of 600 acres, one of 150 acres, within one mile, and one of 600 acres, within three miles of Londonderry. The duties of that large district were performed by the clean, assisted by 6 curates. The income of that living must he immense. The rev. William Knox had two rectories and vicarages, with 84 acres of glebe, and two houses, but no extent of rectories returned. The duty done by curates, at 75l. a year. The rev. Spencer Knox had two rectories and vicarages, with 428 acres of glebe, and 2 houses; but no extent returned. The duty done by curates on salaries of 75l. The hon. Edward Knox, dean of Down, had tithes of five parishes, of 20,000 acres in that diocese as corps of the deanery.—The duty performed in each parish by curates at 100l. yearly salary. Small glebes have been purchased by the board of first fruits, for three of those parishes. There were also many large glebes added to large benefices in the Derry diocese. Dr. Burrows, the Principal of the endowed school of Enniskillen, had the rectory of Drumragh and a glebe of 550 acres and 1173 a house. Gilbert King had a glebe of 1,610 acres. The absent rector, of Cuppagh, W. Magee, had 930 acres, and a house. The average rental of land in this diocese was given by Mr. Wakefield and others at 18s. per acre.
§ In the diocese of Cashel and Duly there were 23 rectors resident, and 15 non-resident; 7 vicars resident, and 7 non-resident; 4 curates resident, and one absent. R. G. Armstrong had rectorial and vicarial tithes of the union of Ballintemple of four parishes, containing 5,868 acres, a glebe of 20 acres, and a house. He was also vicar of Rathcole in Ossory, and had vicarial tithes of 3,810 acres: the duty was performed by a curate of an adjoining parish for 20l. a year. Richard Bagwell had rectorial and vicarial tithes of three parishes, containing 8,217 acres, as chantor of Cashel, with nine acres of glebe, and a house. The duty of these parishes was performed by three curates at small salaries. He had also, as dean of Clogher, an entire rectory, quantity unknown, with 500 acres of glebe, and a deanery-house. T. B. Gough had the rectorial and vicarial tithes of three parishes containing 7,162 acres, with 13 acres of glebe, and a house; where a curate did the duty for 75l.a year. He had an entire rectory in Leighlin and Ferns, where he resides and does the duty. Joseph Palmer the dean of Cashel, had the rectorial and vicarial tithes of three parishes containing 7,965 acres, with 111 acres of glebe: also three rectories in Killaloe, without cure of souls. He was also precentor in Waterford, and had two other sinecure rectories in that diocese. James St. Leger had four entire rectories, containing 8,835 acres, with 11 acres glebe, and a house. He had also three entire rectories in Cloyne, containing 7,680 acres; and resides, generally, on account of his health, at Bath. The average value of the rent of land in the diocese of Cashel, was stated by Mr. Wakefield and others, at 45s. per acre. The grievance was not alone in giving to one individual, two or three livings in different dioceses, but was greatly increased by uniting several parishes, some of them of great extent, into one benefice. The power of granting dispensations to the dignitaries of the church, and to the clergy, to hold two or more livings, and to be absent from them, rested entirely whit the bishops, who were, therefore, responsible for the abuse This power and patron- 1174 age, he thought, were too great for them to possess. Dr. Beaufort stated, that the bishops had the patronage of appointing to the livings of 1,392 parishes, whilst the Crown had only 293; that 367 belonged to lay patrons; and 21 to the university; that there were 95 parishes impropriate without churches or incumbents. Mr. Wakefield stated, that there were only 118 wholly impropriate parishes in Ireland, and 562 impropriate rectories with vicarial endowments, which lessened the difficulty of making a speedy and proper reform in the value and disposition of the livings in that country. Mr. Wakefield also said, that the livings in the gift of the archbishop of Cashel, were worth 35,000l. per annum. Those of the bishop of Clonfert not so much of Cloyne, 50,000l.; of Cork 30,000l., &c.; and that many benefices in Killaloe, and other dioceses were worth 1,500l. and upwards, a-year. The non-residence was, indeed, a serious evil, and deserving of immediate attention. The want of a church and of a glebe house, with sufficient stipend, had often been the pretence for non-residence; and parliament had voted 7 or 800,000l. within the past few years, in addition to the sum arising from first fruits, for the purpose of removing these objections. By patent of queen Anne, confirmed and amended by the 2nd Geo. 1st, c. 15, and other acts, the first year's profit of every benefice or ecclesiastical. promotion, (which had been annexed to the Crown by Henry 8th), were granted to commissioners, as trustees, to build and repair churches, and increase the stipends of the poor clergy; but, so completely had that intention been frustrated that these Commissioners had only, in the last ten years, received 3,000l., although one year's income of the Sees, and livings vacant in that time had been worth 300,000l. and more. [Hear!] It appeared to him a shameful proceeding, that the people of England should be taxed for such large sums of money for the building of churches, and the increase of stipends for the poor clergy of a church, already so rich, and with such ample provision for these purposes from existing funds. [Hear!] He (Mr. Hume had examined into the application of that money voted by parliament, and found much of it applied in a manner certainly never contemplated by those who voted it. And yet (said Mr. Hume) most of the dioceses call for a farther extension of parlia- 1175 mentary aid for the same purpose; and, as long as this House should so inconsiderately grant funds, so long would the clergy take them, and demand more The attentive investigation of the returns of 1819, even in their present very imperfect state, would, however, clearly show the causes why the income of many of the resident incumbents and curates were too small to enable them to live with comfort. In the diocese of Cork and Ross, the vicarages of Kilmacabea and Kilfaughnabeg, are returned of a value too small to afford comfort to the incumbent; but this would appear to arise from the rectorial tithes of these parishes being appropriated to the archdeaconry, consisting of a sinecure of four entire rectories. In like manner, the vicarage of Agha down in the same diocese was put down as, too small, because the rectorial tithes also belong to the archdeacon. The church in Aghadown was built by aid of the board of first fruits, Whilst the rectorial tithes went to the archdeacon. Temple Michael vicarage, in Waterford, was returned as too small for the maintenance of an incumbent, whilst the rectorial tithes were attached as a sinecure to a prebend. Mr. Lymberry had the vicarage of Kilberry-meaden, which was returned as too small, the great tithes being appropriated to the dean of Cashel, who was also precentor of Waterford. In the diocese of Cloyne, the three entire rectories and vicarages of Inch, Rostellan, and Titeskin were returned as too small for an incumbent, being part of an union of five rectories held in commendam with the see of Cloyne, which union comprised together about 19,000 acres.
§ It was evident from the inquiries which were directed to be made, in 1806 and 1819, that his majesty desired to be informed of the extent of each benefice; but, whether the fourth query was not precise enough, or from some other cause, the bishop of Elphin was the only one, in the 22 dioceses, who had complied with that order. In that diocese the returns appeared to have been taken in acres from the church allotments; but, from not specifying the kind of land, it was impossible to form any estimate of the value of these few benefices returned as too small to afford comfort to the incumbent; for instance, Killion and Killronan, were returned as an union of 6,347 acres, the incumbent non-resident for want of a glebe; and the whole benefice was stated as too small to afford 1176 comfort to the incumbent; but whether it consisted of entire rectories, or only partial endowments was not specified. The next benefice, the union of Clonfinlogh, consisted of the parishes of Clonfinlogh and Clontuskart, of 4,740 acres, held by James Little, a pluralist, who also held another union of five parishes in Killala, containing 35,200 acres, with 47 acres of a glebe, and a house. Mr. Little was placid as a non-resident in Elphin, the duties of which, there being no church, were performed by the clergyman of an adjoining parish for 20l. a-year. And this union was stated as too small, but no denomination was given, whether rectories or vicarages. It would be found that the money voted by parliament had been given, in many cases, by the board of trustees of queen Ann's bounty, to the curates of benefices where there were sufficient funds, but these funds were enjoyed by the absent incumbents, the greater number of them dignitaries in the church, who did not allow enough for the proper maintenance of their curates. Thus the bishops, acting as trustees of first fruits, had actually voted to their own curates, in some cases, an addition to their income from the public money, which ought to have been paid from the income of the benefices which they received. Thus were the people of Great Britain called upon to pay what the absent incumbents ought to have paid out of their large incomes.
§ It was not merely from the benefices being held by the dignitaries of the church, a practice so general in every diocese, that the incomes of the resident clergymen were so small, as to render it necessary to unite several parishes into one benefice, to make up a proper income: But it appeared, by the returns, that several of the bishops still received a proportion of the tithes from benefices. In the report of the bishop of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh this practice was fully explained; where, out of 59 parishes, the whole number in the diocese, 44 paid the quarta pars to the bishop, and so large a portion of the tithes were taken for the bishop and other dignitaries of the see, that these 59 parishes had been formed into 14 unions, for the purpose of supplying a competent provision for the incumbents; and he proposes, for the consideration of the legislature, thee propriety of an allowance being made to him, to enable him to relinquish his share of the tithes to the resident incumbents, 1177 as he understands to have been heretofore done to the other bishops in Ireland. One mischief arising from the union of parishes, as stated particularly by the archbishop of Armagh was, that the churches were suffered to fall into ruins, contrary to the intention of the legislature. Most of the bishops lament their incapacity to regulate the excessive unions which exist, as forming the different corps of dignitaries; and the bishop of Cork and. Ross fully explains these difficulties as arising from the statute of the 21st Geo. 2nd, c. 8.
§ Although, from the vague manner in which the returns were given, it was possible that some mistakes might be detected in the statements he had made, yet sufficient abuses were pointed out to show the necessity of obtaining fuller information on all these subjects. Unless the House went to the root of the evil, it could not obtain the object it had in view. There could be no content in a poor country where the church income was so large, and so unequally distributed; where there were so many non-residents, and, more particularly, where those, who chiefly contributed to that income, did not belong to the church they were compelled to support.
§ He begged pardon for thus long intruding upon the attention of the House; but he felt, that, with the knowledge of these facts, he should have failed in his duty, if he had not proceeded with a specific motion, after the hon. gentleman had abandoned his. Would Ireland be satisfied with a bill, to permit the leasing of tithes, if all parties agreed? Would England be satisfied with it? Was it not then necessary something more efficient should be done, something calculated to pacify that country? It would be vain to expect peace in that unhappy country, so long as this question of tithes remained unsettled; and the first step should be to ascertain the whole revenue of the church establishment in Ireland, the particular value, and state of each See, and by what right the dignitaries of the church were receiving so large a portion of the revenue from the benefices, leaving the poor resident curates, to be provided for out of the public purse. Unless they embarked in this comprehensive inquiry, it would be in vain to hope for any redress of evils which had been centuries in maturing their fruits. He begged once more to guard himself against the imputation of meddling with any man's 1178 property; he proposed to leave every living and See as they now stood for the present incumbents, and it was only upon their death that he desired any alteration in the existing system. [Hear, hear!] Let them remain as interests vested in the parties in possession as private property. It was his intention to have concluded by moving for the appointment of a committee, which would have had ample time to call for documents to render the subject more intelligible, early next session, than it could be if they postponed the investigation until that period; but, having consulted with some hon. members near him, he thought it best, at this time of the session, to move, "That this House, will, early in the next session of parliament, take into consideration the state of the Established Church of Ireland, and the manner in which Tithes are there collected, with a view to make such alteration and improvement as shall, under all circumstances, be necessary."
§ Mr. Ellice
, in rising to second the motion of his hon. friend, could not refrain from the expression of his gratitude to him, for forcing upon the attention of the House this most important questions He came into the House prepared to support the motion of his hon. friend opposite (Mr. Daly), and he regretted that that motion had been abandoned. He knew, indeed, the deep interest which his hon. friend always took in the affaire of his native country, and the integrity of his views; but he lamented that a question so deeply involving the interests of Ireland Should be postponed by gentlemen who were so much more nearly interested in the condition of their own people. He was the more strongly impressed with the necessity of adopting some conciliatory measures for Ireland, when he found they were called upon to re-enact the frightful and odious insurrection bill, for still coercing that unfortunate country. When he saw such a state of things it struck him, as an Englishman, that if his constituents were suffering all the horrors of famine, oppression and misery, which now afflicted that unhappy country, it would become his imperative and uncompromising duty to force upon government, even if he gave his general confidence to any set of ministers, the immediate necessity of instituting an inquiry into the grievances of the people, and at least of affording that redress, which a reform of this odious system promised, while they 1179 were arming the, law against their outrages. If, as an Englishman, such would be his feelings for his own constituents, he at least ought not to withhold his sympathy from his Irish fallow subjects. He confessed he should rather have voted for a more limited motion than the present, believing the more cautious, way in which they approached so momentous and delicate a subject the most likely to lead to good practical results; but he was still prepared to go the length of his hon. friend's motion, rather than suffer the session to pass away without some formal step being taken in the business. It was full time that the State of tithes in Ireland should undergo the most rigorous examination, and he was for from thinking an inquiry into the enormous estates of the church and their application, with a view to such practicable, was either premature or inexpedient. In thus stating his assent to the principle of his hon. friend's motion, he begged to be understood as neither agreeing nor disagreeing in the statements, with which he had illustrated it. The grievances were so deep and manifold, that exaggerations from the sufferer were to be expected; but this did not render inquiry the less necessary. The ready objection to all inquiries of this description was, the danger of touching any part of so venerable a structure, and the same was stated to all reforms in the administration of various offices in Ireland. But the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Peel), it was acknowledged on all sides, had made the serious attempt successfully, without any of the dangerous consequences foretold from it, in other departments; and he had been surprised to hear from his right hon. successor in that office, the present secretary for Ireland, that the most extensive reform the Irish government at, present contemplated in the tithe system, was some removal of abuses in the ecclesiastical courts.—His advice would be, to inquire whether it was not practicable to reform those courts, by removing the system which rendered recourse to them at all necessary. This question had and again been made the subject of parliamentary animadversion, and as often as it was urged, government begged it might be left to them, and that in due time they would be prepared with some plan to submit to the consideration of the House. Year after year had been wasted, without the least approach to a performance of their pro- 1180 mise; and now they had the consolatory declaration of the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Plunket) that, as he could not see his way through the difficulty of any satisfactory arrangement, we were to be content to go on with the present wretched system. There was no difficulty in taking away from the people, the sacred rights which ought to be secured to them by the constitution—in passing Insurrection and Suspension of the Habeas Corpus acts; but when we came to talk of tithes, that, in the consideration of this enlightened statesman, was too intricate a subject for the House of Commons to deal with in the nineteenth century! The right hon. gentleman had laid it down as a maxim; that any interference with, or forced commutation of, tithes, would be an unjustifiable, violation of the rights of private property. There might be some delicacy in this respect with lay impropriators, although where the public good, and the happiness or misery of a whole people was concerned, the legislature would scarcely be more scrupulous than in the case of a common road bill, or some tax affecting a particular class of society. But he utterly denied, that this principle could, with the least justice, be applied to the church tithes, or estates, which were the public property, and liable to be dealt with in such manner as appeared most beneficial to the public interests. To a rational extent, be had no doubt, they were wisely applied to the support of the establishment, and on that principle he alone looked at this question. He must always regret that a case like the present was made out, demanding as it did the most rigid and unsparing reform, and that the object of that reform was our religious establishment, which, in an enlightened country like Great Britain, should be a model of excellence in its constitution and administration. But, look to the statements from all quarters, and confirmed by members of all parties before the House. The management of the church property in Ireland had been one unvaried system of oppression on a people, let it always be recollected, hostile to the religious tenets of the existing establishment; and was in all its parts a source of, endless litigation, contention between the upper and lower classes, and wide-spreading demoralization. He would repeat the question—was an attempt never to be made to remove the cause of all this misery, instead of providing against its 1181 effects by coercion and severity? From documents on the table, the House might judge of the extent of litigation, which this system gave rise to. In Galway alone, and the grievance was general, 47,000 tithe causes had been tried in five years. He would ask any English member, how long they could expect to remain discussing the public interests in that House, if such an enormous and unbearable grievance were suffered to exist in England? His hon. friend had talked of the necessity of resistance to such oppression, if relief could not be found for it in parliament. He knew little either of the spirit and feelings of Englishmen at least, who could calculate upon the submission of the people of Kent, or Surrey, to the extortions of a priesthood, opposed to them in religious feelings and opinions, similar to the exactions of the Protestant church from the wretched peasantry of Ireland; or who could suppose them the tame and subdued objects of 8,000 annual vexatious tithe causes in the ecclesiastical courts. And if, as he thanked God, the people of England would not endure such a state of oppression, ought they to tolerate the continued infliction of it on the suffering and now starving and now starving population of Ireland? What must be the necessary consequence? Other countries, he might now, he believed, say all, since the happy revolution in Spain, had got rid of the oppression of this system, by convulsion. If parliament did not seriously inquire into the subject, and by wise and temperate reform, remedy the abuses of the Irish, and he might add, the English establishment, we might, at no distant day, also be involved in a contest with the people for its existence, the result of which would not be doubtful. It was because he wished to avert such lamentable consequences, that he had risen on the present occasion to second the motion of his hon. friend, and to add his intreaties, in favour of some immediate inquiry into this momentous subject. His hon. friend had most judiciously and wisely, protested against any intention of interfering with present vested interests; and when he referred to the settlement which had so happily taken place in Scotland, the beneficial effects of which were so conspicuous in the moral and religious, habits of the people of that country, he could never despair, that parliament might adopt some mode of commutation, and distribution of the church property of 1182 Ireland, conciliatory and beneficial to all classes of the community He Again thanked his hon. friend for having brought on his motion, and trusted for the support of the hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Daly), although he had declined to press the question himself, from the circumstances in which he found himself placed.
Mr. Dennis Browne
said, he was a warm friend to the principle of a commutation of tithes, but had never heard a speech so well calculated as that of the hon. mover; to destroy those feelings which happily prevailed, for the purpose of promoting so desirable an alteration in the tithe system. He therefore cautioned those who were determined to press that consideration upon parliament early in the ensuing session, how they listened to the hon. member, or associated themselves with the revolutionary sentiments which he had just avowed. That hon. member had disclaimed the principle of commutation, as not being enough for his purpose; but nobody besides himself had ever whole tenure of the church property of Ireland. He earnestly implored his countrymen. To vote against the motion, which was calculated so completely to mar their own word, and utterly to disconnect themselves from any liability of being deemed participators in those revolutionary and monstrous measures which the hon. member had propounded.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that, in the exercise of his duty, he had more than once had to record his dissent from the proceedings of successive governments of Ireland, in consequence of their leaving unremedied many of the evils which agitated the public mind. He was induced to make this remark, because he had heard that evening some gentlemen express their readiness to leave the matter for the present undiscussed, on the sort of promise which had been given on the part of government, to come forward next session, either with a statement of the measures which they might in the mean time have adopted, relative to a change in the system of tithes, or with a fair acknowledgment that none such had been determined upon. His objection to all this was, that upwards of five years ago, the noble earl at the head of his majesty's government had declared in the other House, that government had then for some time had the same subject under their consideration, and that, al- 1183 though the principle of commutation might not be applicable to the existing state of things in England, it might be applied to Ireland. Now, with such an unfulfilled engagement as this before their eyes, was it reasonable for hon. gentlemen to confide in this promise of the government, that it would come forward in the beginning of next session? He was most ready to give the hon. member for Galway full credit for the best intentions, but he thought he had shown rather too much facility in allowing himself to be over-persuaded by such a promise, to abandon his original intention. With respect to the question now before the House, he should confine himself to state the grounds upon which he should offer another proposition for the approbation of the House. Among the many grievances which had been pointed out to the House, the union of parishes had not been sufficiently urged. On the 31st May be had presented a petition from the Protestant inhabitants of two parishes in the county of Mayo, setting forth that the union of those two parishes, which had been made under episcopal authority, had completely shut out the great majority of the parishioners from all access to any place of public worship, according to the rites of the established church. Now, in regard to this parish, two returns had been made to parliament; and if both of them were correct, very extraordinary accidents, indeed, must have befallen the parish in question. In 1806, the bishop of the diocese stated in his return the fact of the union of the two parishes. By the same return it appeared, that the then incumbent was no relation to the bishop; that the dimensions of the parish, as united, were 10 miles in length, and 8 in breadth: and that there were or should be, two churches in the union, one of which was at the time only half built, but had been begun in consequence of a donation of 500l., granted by the first fruits' fund. Now, this return contained no statements either of the completion of such church, or of what had become of the money. The next return made by the successor of this bishop was dated in 1819, and after stating that there was one church, described the parish as being diminished two miles in length and one in breadth since the time of his predecessor. The new bishop bad continued the incumbency in favour of his son, but this return also failed to take any notice either of the 1184 new church, or of the 500l. which had been given towards its erection. These facts might show the House how cautious it should be in giving implicit credence to returns of this nature. Though those returns might not mean to state things falsely, they frequently were so framed as to suppress a part of the truth. No one could deny, that it was the duty of the board of first fruits to have examined what was done with this sum of 500l.; and of the bishop who filled the diocese in 1819, to have consulted the report of his predecessor in 1806. These unions of parishes, were of enormous extent. There were several glebes of from 1,600 to 2,000 acres in extent, without any glebe-house or church upon them. The act passed in the reign of Geo. 2nd, however, expressly declared, that where the benefice was worth 100l. as to glebe, there a glebe-house should be built. The House ought not to allow these infringements of the statute by incumbents who, in some cases, had 1,600 acres of glebe, on which no glebe-house was erected—who were pluralists—who lived in another diocese—who perhaps held another glebe of 400 acres of more profitable land than the glebe of larger extent. Would the House allow this? Was it for a moment to be tolerated? In 1806, as the organ of the Irish government, he had attempted to move that House to institute an inquiry into the state of the church and of Church lands. In 1807, he had brought Forward the same subject; but the previous question—that ready mode of vetting rid of all questions that happened to be disagreeable to ministers—was moved upon it. So lately as 1817, the dower of the lord lieutenant was exercised with respect to the union of parishes. In he early part of the last century, when he greater part of Ireland was under pasturage, the number of parishes united, as compared with the number of those which dad been disunited, was pretty nearly equal. There were 37, or thereabouts, in each class: but now it appeared that n proportion as the country had increased in tillage, the number of these unions had increased, while the disunions had diminished. It would be seen by the re-urns on the table, that in one case five vicarages in the diocese of Killaloe had been united with five rectories; and this union, comprising a district measuring twenty miles from north to south, and ten Prom west to east, was made in 1818. 1185 How was it possible that the established religion could be properly taught or upheld in parishes of this description? If parliament did not look to subjects of such just complaint as those which had now been brought under its notice, could any effectual remedy be hoped for? Could it be expected that the Protestant worship should not sensibly decline and diminish? Bishop Pococke, when he had the diocese of Ossory, had taken great pains to ascertain its population. In that diocese the Protestant population had diminished in the proportion of two fifteenths, while its general population had more than doubled. The same effects would be found to exist at this day, but more extensively. He meant to move an amendment to the motion of his hon. friend, because he thought it was of the greatest importance to direct the attention of parliament to those objects which obviously admitted of amelioration, instead of taking too wide a range in the outset. That amendment would be in these words:—"That, with a view to the tranquillity and happiness of Ireland, this House will, in the early part of next session, take the subject of tithes, as affecting that part of the United Kingdom, into its most serious consideration, with a view of substituting for the present precarious and vexatious mode of supporting, the established church, a full and liberal equivalent, fairly assessed and levied.". In moving this amendment, let him not be accused of favouring spoliation. Spoliation he left to the members of the Union parliament. By the journals of that parliament it appeared, that a bill was brought in there on one occasion, "to quiet and bar all claims for unpaid tithes, &c." That bill was brought into the Irish house by lord Castlereagh on the 26th of March, supported by the attorney general, the solicitor general, and Mr. Prime Serjeant of that day. It was read a second time on the 28th of March; on the 31st of March it was react a third time and passed; and lord viscount Castlereagh was directed to carry the bill up to the lords, and desire their concurrence thereto [Hear!]. Yet only the other night that noble lord was pleased to say, he hoped that be (sir J. N.) did not intend to trench at all on church property. Did this taunt come with a good grace from the man who had trenched, in other times, so largely upon it He did not intend, by his amendment 1186 to give compensation to the clergy for dormant claims. At the same time, he never would be the advocate of spoliation. He did think it essential, not only to the prosperity, but to the safety of the established church, to give a commutation to its clergy for every thing in the shape of tithes which they had customarily received. So long ago as 1731, Mr. Dobbs, in his memorial to the then lord lieutenant, complained, that the collection of tithes was a permanent obstacle to the peace of the country. At the period of the Union, Mr. Pitt had promised that tithes should be commuted. The expectations of those who had been members of the Irish parliament, bud; however, been completely frustrated, and all promises had been forgotten, except the private bargains of those who could descend to make them. The right hon. baronet, after alluding to the danger resulting from the constant agitation iii which, for so long a period, the minds of 7,000,000 of people had been kept, by reason of the existing system, insisted on the necessity of an immediate alteration, and concluded with moving the above amendment.
§ Mr. Goulburn
rose to express his decided disapprobation, both of the original motion and of the amendment. The object of the amendment was to pledge the House to take the subject of tithes in Ireland into its consideration early in the next session, with a view to assign to the clergy a full and liberal equivalent, fairly assessed and levied. He would not then enter into a discussion whether it was possible, considering all the various and complicated interests that were involved in this subject, to come to any satisfactory system of commutation But be was sure that every gentleman would admit, that if such a system were practicable, it would require great and serious consideration; it would demand full and patient inquiry, and that it would be necessary to make provision and arrangements for the equivalents for tithes, which were to be considered in very different points of view, because they were applied to parishes placed under very different circumstances. With regard to the abstract question of the commutation of tithes, if it was proposed to proceed upon the principle of justice—if a full and fair equivalent was to be given for the property to be taken away, and if the offer were voluntarily accepted by the clergv— 1187 to such a system of commutation he should not only have no objection, but if it were proposed, be would give it his warmest support. But a commutation founded upon any other principle, he would resist, as a most unjust violation of the most sacred rights. The question, however, at present, was not whether a commutation was useful or practicable, but whether the House would enter into a pledge with respect to its conduct in the next session. From the knowledge he had of the practice of that House, he confessed he was not aware of any good that resulted from pledges of this kind; on the contrary, it appeared to him that whenever they had been given, they had always been attended with evils or inconveniences of one kind or other. The reason was obvious—the House was called upon to give a pledge generally upon some abstract proposition; but when the period for redeeming the pledge arrived—when the abstract proposition was embodied into shape and. substance—when all its details were presented to view, then it was almost uniformly found that those details so little accorded with the abstract principle to which the House had acceded, that it became necessary either apparently to abandon its pledge, or to assent to measures of which it did not really approve.—But there was another evil resulting from such pledges. It was the duty of the House to bear in mind, in the different measures which it adopted, the light in which those measures were likely to be viewed by the persons for whose benefit they were intended. The right hon. baronet thought that the pledge which he now called upon the House to give was calculated to tranquillize Ireland in the interval between this and the next session, but he begged to ask the right lion. baronet, supposing that he could now induce the House to give the proposed pledge—supposing that when the right hon. baronet came forward next session with his plan of commutation, he could not satisfy the House with the justice of its principles or the practicability of its details, and from the innumerable;difficulties that attended the question, it must be admitted that this was no very improbable supposition—supposing that in consequence the measure should ultimately fail in that House, he would ask the right hon. baronet, whether it was a likely mode to tranquillize a country, first to excite hopes, and then to disappoint tham—to keep the people in a 1188 state of expectation for six months, and then to tell them that those expectations could not be realized? If, on the one hand, the House was bound to look to the advantages that might result from holding out this pledge, it ought not, on the, other, to shut its eyes to the dangers that might ensue from its ultimate failure. But there was another point of view in which he considered this question, and which furnished him with an additional reason for objecting to this proposed pledge. The right hon. baronet had stated, that one of the great objections to the tithe system in Ireland was the mode of collecting theta; that it was attended with so much hardship and oppression, that the people were almost generally disposed to resist the payment. Now, he begged seriously to ask, if this motion were carried, what would be its probable effect upon those who were represented as previously disposed to resist the claims of the clergy? Was it likely that they would be more disposed to pay them if they were told that it was probable that tithes would be abolished altogether? Would they be more inclined to pay them if they found this pledge accompanied by declarations of members of that House that it was their duty to resist the payment? Would it be fair to put the people in that situation, and to expose them to all the serious consequences that must result from their disobedience to the laws? Would it be just to the clergy, either thus to deprive them of their incomes, or to place them in a state of conflict and litigation with their parishioners? Upon these grounds, then, he should oppose the motion.—But, however much he might differ from the right hon. baronet upon the general question, there were some points in which he perfectly concurred with him. He agreed, that it was the duty of government to maintain the respectability of the clergy. He agreed, that if any great extent of country was left without clergymen—if many parishes were united and put under the care of one man, whether absent or present—it was the duty of government to notice it, and as far as they could, to correct the evil; and if upon this subject, the right hon. baronet should wish to move for any information, he would give him all the support in his power. He hoped the right hon. baronet would, in his candour, give the Irish government credit for a sincere desire to correct those evils and as a 1189 proof that they possessed this disposition he begged to state one fact, which was, that in the only case of the Union of parishes which had occurred since the present lord lieutenant had been in Ireland, the Irish government had disunited them.—Upon the subject of the residence of the clergy his feelings were as strong as those of any man. No one could be more convinced than he was, of the innumerable advantages that resulted from a resident clergy; and no effort should be wanting on his part, to promote so necessary an object; because he was convinced, that it was the great source to which they must look for the moral improvement of Ireland. He begged, however, to observe, that the observations which had been made upon unions of parishes, and non-residence of clergy, were not altogether fair or correct. It was undoubtedly true, as a general principle, that the union of parishes was bad, and that the non-residence of clergymen was an evil; but yet, on the other hand, it was indisputably true, that there were cases in which benefits had resulted from the union of parishes, and there were also cases in which the non-residence of the clergy was fully justified. He might have expected, even from the candour of the hon. member for Aberdeen, that when he attacked the clergy for non-residence, he would also have stated that which he must have known from the same source of information, namely, that in many of the cases in which clergymen were returned as non-resident, they resided in the parish adjoining to their own, and that the only reason why they did not live in their own parish, was the want of accommodation. In some instances, the absence of the clergyman arose from age and infirmity; others were absent from a variety of causes, more or less venial; but there were many under circumstances that called for the indulgence of the House. The very case which had been referred to, as one of aggravated guilt, that of the reverend Mr. Knox, was one of this description, his absence being occasioned by an attendance upon his wife, in an illness which required her removal to a milder climate. It would have been but fair, if gentlemen, after enumerating the evils which existed, had also pointed out the improvements which had been made; and when it was broadly asserted, that in many parishes the people were deprived of the administration of the rites of religion, in consequence of the 1190 absence of the incumbents, it should have been stated how generally qualified curates were, who were resident, and fully equal to the discharge of all the duties of religion. In the case alluded to by the hon. gentleman, of the tenants of lord Blayney, it might have been inferred from his statement, that they were left wholly without any religious instructor; but in that case there was a resident curate, whose abilities had never been objected to. The hon. member for Aberdeen had spoken of the great exactions of the clergy of Ireland, Now, it was admitted by every gentleman who was acquainted with Ireland, that the clergy were not severe in their exactions; that, in fact, they demanded much less than they were entitled to; and that the grievance arose from the mode of collection to which they were driven. The hon. member had stated to the House, what he called a series of facts, collected from all sorts of authorities, ancient and modern, authentic and doubtful, anonymous and avowed: he had put them together without investigation or examination of any kind; and, upon such authority, he had felt himself warranted in making a direct attack upon the whole church establishment, not only of Ireland, but of this country. The hon. member had made a statement respecting the bishop of Waterford, whom he had accused of exacting tithes from a parish, in order to add to his own overgrown income. Now, the fact was, that the tithes which the bishop of Waterford had augmented did not belong to him, but to a charity of which he was the trustee. And here he could not help asking gentlemen, whether it was to be considered as a principle to be adopted by that House, that when, within the last thirty years, property of every other kind had increased in value, the property of the church alone was to remain stationary?—for certainly some of the arguments which he had heard that night went to establish that proposition. He begged once more to disclaim any intention of throwing out any insinuation against the gentlemen of Ireland; but he felt himself perfectly warranted in asserting, that the reduction in tithes in Ireland had been fully equal to the reduction of rents.—Having said thus much, he should only trouble the House further with some general observations upon the line of argument which had been adopted, for the first time, in that House, that night—a 1191 line of argument which, he trusted the House would mark with its most decided disapprobation. The hon. member for Aberdeen did not confine himself to the subject of tithes, but he denied them to be the property of the church. Now, in defiance of the hon. member, and of those who supported his opinions, he would maintain that tithes were the property of the church, and he did so upon authority much better than that of the hon. member and his supporters. He might quote the opinions of the first lawyers, of the ablest statesmen, of the first men in that House; but he would content himself with quoting the opinion of sir Samuel Romilly—a man certainly not disposed to over-rate the authority of the church. [Mr. Goulburn here read the opinion of sir S. Romilly, in which he considered tithes quite as sacred as any other species of property.] But the hon. member went further; he said tithes were not property, because they were not hereditary—because they did not descend from father to son.—[Mr. Hume said, "No, no."] He did not know what meaning the hon. member attached to those words, but he certainly used them. In this doctrine, the hon. member attacked other property besides that of the church. Moreover, the hon. gentleman did not confine his attacks to the property of the church of Ireland, but he wished to extend the system of spoliation and robbery to the church property in England. He could easily account for the desire which the hon. member seemed to feel to put all church establishments upon the footing of that in Scotland; but the House, he was sure, would see that the different habits of the two countries—the different situation in which the clergy were placed—rendered it necessary for each to adhere to its own establishment, not for the benefit of the clergy, but because it was the best means of preserving to each the advantages which were derived from the respective churches. But, if the hon. member were to succeed, the spoliation would not stop here. The hon. member was a moderate reformer; he in his liberality, would even allow an archbishop 5,000l. a year; but, when once the race for popularity was begun, and when every man was to found, his popularity upon the quantity of property of which he could plunder the church, the hon. member would soon be left behind: some holder reformer—some future member for 1192 Aberdeen, perhaps, would finish what the hon. gentleman had commenced. If the property of the church was to be attacked, because it was large, upon what principle would the security of all other large possessions rest? The same principle which would justify the taking away the property of the archbishop and the bishop, would place that of the duke and the earl in the most imminent danger. But the system of spoliation might not stop even there: the property of the church was easily identified; it might be followed into other hands; that which had once been an object of plunder, might, upon the same principle, be made so again; and thus the principles which the hon. member had laid down might be acted upon and enforced, until, that general equality of property was produced, which some persons thought so essential to the public good. That the plunder of church property would lead to the plunder of property of every description, was not a matter of speculation. The hon. member had referred to other countries, to show with what facility this violation of all the sacred rights of property could be effected. He (Mr. G.) could also refer to other countries, and in our own times too, for examples, to show that the robbery of the church was always followed by that of the wealthy classes of the community. The church was always first attacked; but it inevitably followed, that, when once the sacred barriers of property were broken down, every species of property that was large enough to afford temptation, shared the fate of that belonging to the church. Trusting that no other hon. member would be found willing to support the hon. member for Aberdeen in doctrines so new, at least in that House, so dangerous, and so subversive of all the principles which had hitherto always been held sacred, he should conclude with giving his decided negative to the motion.
Mr. S. Rice
referred the House to the distinct pledge given by Mr. Perceval on this subject, as well as to a similar one made by the present lord Maryborough some years since, on a question from the hon. member for Queen's county. He 1193 was satisfied that there would be no tranquillity for Ireland until this question met with a full and deliberate consideration. If any thing was calculated to allay the present discontents, it was a pledge on the part of parliament, that they would examine the whole subject. The Irish members were almost all favourable to a commutation of tithes; he addressed himself, therefore, principally to the English members, and he relied upon their justice and generosity, that they would not resist a change of system, which was admitted to be necessary by the great mass of the Irish representation. If parliament threw cold water on this motion, he trusted that every county, town, and hamlet in Ireland would demand it from the justice and generosity of parliament. He was satisfied that a commutation of tithes was the only effectual corrective for the evils of the system in Ireland, and he claimed the adoption of this measure on behalf of that suffering and injured country. If ministers did not exert themselves to pour balm into the wounds of Ireland, measures of coercion would be unavailing.
Mr. Secretary Peel
did not believe, that the present motion was calculated to promote tranquillity in Ireland; for if parliament were to give such a pledge, and should aftewards be unable to redeem it, the worst consequences might result from the disappointment of the hopes which it would excite. He objected generally to the principle of giving pledges in one session as to the course which parliament would pursue in another. He had given much consideration to this subject, and he felt himself bound to state, lest his opinions should be misconceived, that a commutation of tithes was liable, he would not say to insuperable, but to very great objections. He protested against the whole statement assumed in the speech of the hon. member for Montrose. Scraps of newspapers, cases in courts of law, and petitions presented to that House, were not authority to which he was disposed to pay much respect. He entirely protested against the principles laid down by the hon. member.
§ Mr. Brougham
contended, that all the grounds of resistance to the motion stated by the right hon. gentleman furnished the strongest materials on which to found the propriety of its being carried. The ministers of the Crown afforded no hope as to any specific relief. All they pro- 1194 mised was, that during the recess they would consider whether or not in the next session they should propose any measure of commutation. The bill introduced by the right hon. secretary did literally nothing, it met not the paramount difficulties which attended the tithe system, it was almost rejected by those who introduced it; while the stamp of the rejection of the House was already fixed upon it, as not calculated to meet the real evil either in degree or in kind. Was there any thing more to be done? To that question ministers would give no answer. All that they would say was, that they would take six months to consider what should be the direct answer. They would take six months in addition to the 30 years, since which, the same kind of promise was given to the people of Ireland; so that in the fulness of time, after 30 years and six months, the people of Ireland might be again told by the government, that the difficulties were insurmountable, and that nothing could be done. And he in his conscience believed, notwithstanding the blind promises held out, that nothing would be done, unless that House, by its recorded pledge, embarked itself into the investigation. They had precedents for so doing on the Catholic Question, on Slave Trade, and recently on the subject of the Criminal Laws. That something must be done by parliament was as clear as the sun at noon, to every man who considered the frightful state of Ireland. Such was the pressure of the evils that accompanied delay, that they could not afford, not 30 years more, but 30 days, without coming to some resolution on that question. Such an amelioration was a debt due to Ireland for long continued misgovernment. It was not more necessary to the happiness of the people than it was to the security of government; and not more necessary to the security of the government than to the safety of the church establishment.
said, that the right hon. gentleman (Mr. Peel) apprehended danger from the possibility of a premature pledge by that House being misconceived in Ireland. Was there not however a much more aggravated danger to be apprehended, in the state of distraction and despair to which Ireland was reduced, when the people of that ill-treated country learnt that the House had refused the pledge? If that was 1195 his opinion, lord Wellesley held a different one; for in the papers before the House the lord lieutenant dwelt upon the sanction which the pledge of the House of Commons would give to the measures proposed to repress violence and disorder. Was it only in passing measures of severity that the pledge of that House was valuable? He had a very different impression of its value, and was convinced, that the pledge of that House to redress the calamitous abuses of the tithe system would be attended with the most beneficial results.
said, that the amendment proposed by his right hon. friend appeared to him to be both premature and dangerous. His hon. and learned friend opposite (Mr. Brougham) had stated, that the members of that House had placed the stamp of their rejection upon the proposed bill. He knew nothing of such a rejection, but he was sure that if an unjust cry was not raised against it, it would be productive of benefit to Ireland. But he should like to know what measure was to proceed from the wisdom of the gentlemen opposite. What plan were they inclined to bring forward? His right hon. friend (sir J. Newport) admitted that the clergy were not too amply paid; but the hon. member for Montrose denied that, and said that they were too largely and too liberally paid. How could they then agree upon any measure? He maintained that principles both dangerous and alarming had been laid down in that House that night, amounting to nothing less than spoliation and robbery. [Cheers.] He was glad that that position was cheered. What! would it be denied that tithes acted on the same basis as rents? Was the lay impropriator entitled to tithes?—["Yes!" from Mr. Hume.] Then upon what principle deny that tithe to the church which was allowed to the lay impropriator? He wished to address his right hon. friend opposite. His mind was above the vulgar arithmetic which would stoop to countenance such an assertion. He was sure that his right hon. friend was incapable of maintaining such doctrines. If they were true with respect to tithes, they were true with respect to the land-holder, and the fund-holder, and to every corporation: and that which was to be commenced by spoliation and robbery was to be effected by rebellion and resistance. [Cheers.] The hon. members opposite cheered; did they 1196 mean to cheat common sense of that inference? The hon. member for Montrose had said, that, if redress was not given, it was the right and the duty of the people to resist. The tithe was a grievance in its administration; but were not high rents also a great cause of the irritation in that country? At all events, it was only by a determined adherence to the principles of justice that Ireland could be benefited. With that feeling, conciliation and soothing was perfectly reconcilable. He could not support the demand of a pledge, because he felt that it might, in the interval, produce great alarm in the minds of the clergy, and the possibility that the sad reality would terminate in deep and bitter disappointment.
§ Sir N. Colthurst
would also vote for the amendment, but disavowed all participation in the doctrines laid down by the hon. member for Montrose.
§ Colonel French
entirely concurred in the amendment, but conceived that the Irish ought first to be permitted to try the operation of the present measure.
§ Mr. R. Martin
meant to vote against it, because he relied upon the justice and wisdom of the Irish government to investigate with all possible attention this momentous subject. They had already proposed a unanimously admitted good; and he trusted they would not stop their career of benevolent legislation.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he had little to reply to, as he always considered his case made out when, in the absence of arguments, the hon. gentlemen opposite had recourse to hard words. He was, in some degree, prepared for such a course; but he would remind hon. gentlemen, that a man could often see a mote in his brother's eye when he could not perceive a beam in his own. He would remind the hon. and learned gentleman who accused him of spoliation and robbery, that if to meddle with the tithes and to take them away from the clergy was a spoliation and robbery, he himself had, on a former occasion, concurred in the robbery of the church, by sitting in that Irish parliament which took away the tithe of agistment, and also in the British parliament which confirmed that act. So had the right hon. member near him (Mr. Denis Browne). He had 1197 distinctly stated, that he did not propose to meddle with existing rights. It was monstrous how facts had been perverted, in order to raise an outcry against him. He threw back the expression of "vulgar arithmetic" to the quarter from whence it had proceeded. The right hon. secretary (Mr. Peel) had also talked of spoliation and robbery; but although he had not been concerned in the robbery of the church like his right hon. and learned friend, why had he not, during his secretaryship in Ireland, taken some measure to restore the pillage of the church. Let him answer that question, before he charged him with spoliation. He believed that if the matter came to be fairly examined, the only difference between him and the gentlemen opposite would be found to be this—that they had recourse to hard words, because they were unable to answer the arguments he had advanced in support of his opinions. This appeared to be the real balance of the account. He would not take the sense of the House upon his motion, as it appeared that the Irish members, whose opinions in this case he desired to consult, approved at this period of the session rather of the amendment of the right hon. baronet, to whose judgment he was ready to defer, as he believed there was no man in that House a more sincere friend to Ireland.
§ The House then divided: For sir J. Newport's motion 65. For the other orders of the day; 72. Majority 7.
|List of the Minority.|
|Bernal, R.||Forde, M.|
|Brougham, H.||Grattan, J.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Graham, S.|
|Browne, Denis||Glenorchy, lord|
|Browne, Dom.||Grant, J. P.|
|Browne, J.||Griffith, J. W.|
|Benett, John||Hume, J.|
|Butterworth, J.||Hutchinson C. H.|
|Creevey, T.||Hill, lord A.|
|Clifton, visc.||James, W.|
|Colbourne, N. R.||Kingsborough, visc.|
|Cole, sir C.||Leycester, R.|
|Calvert, N.||Lamb, hon. G.|
|Calthorpe, hon. F.||Latouche, R.|
|Cuffe, J.||Lennard, T. B.|
|Colthurst, sir N.||Monck, J. B.|
|Duncannon, visc.||Martin, J.|
|Dundas, hon. T.||Maberly, W. L.|
|Daly, J.||Maberly, J.|
|Ebrington, visc.||Newport, sir J.|
|Ellice, E.||Normanby, visc.|
|Fergusson, sir R.||O'Brien, sir E.|
|Fitzgerald, lord W.||O'Grady, S.|
|Fitzroy, lord C.||Philips, G. jun.|
|Price, R.||Smith, J.|
|Parnell, sir H.||Townshend, lord C.|
|Power, R.||Wood, alderman|
|Palmer, C. F.||Western, C. C.|
|Robinson, sir G.||White, Luke|
|Ricardo, D.||Williams, W.|
|Rowley, sir W.||Whitbread, S.|
|Stewart, W. (Ty.)||Calcraft, J.|
|Smith, S.||Rice, T. S.|