HC Deb 17 June 1824 vol 11 cc1432-4
Sir G. Hill

presented a petition from the parishioners of Templemore, of which parish the cathedral of Derry was also the parish church. This petition, he said, had been adopted at a vestry lately held, the dean of Derry presiding. The object and prayer of it were, to induce the House to institute an inquiry, whether any economy fund existed applicable to the repair of the cathedral. The petition stated that the parishioners had been for a length of time deprived of the use of the cathedral. This had produced a feeling of soreness and anxiety amongst as numerous and respectable a protestant congregation as belonged to any cathedral in the united kingdom. It had been repeatedly urged by the dignitaries of the diocess of Derry, that the cathedra], with respect to any claim of repair, was no more than any parish church in the diocess; the parishioners had accordingly assessed themselves, in the year before last, to an amount, sufficient to put an entire new roof on the cathedral, but further repairs were necessary, beyond the convenience of the parish to levy all at once. They, therefore, under the authority of an act of last session, proposed to the Board of First Fruits in November last, to rate themselves to the extent of 60l. a year, as a security to the Board, under the provisions of the 13th section of the said act, for an advance to the parish of a capital sum, at 4 per cent, which would have afforded 1,500l. The reply returned by the Board of First Fruits was, that they had not sufficient funds in their hands. In order to provide for the immediate repair of the cathedral and the rebuilding of the spire, the Corporation voted 80l. a year in perpetuity, on which to raise a fund for this purpose. The parishioners likewise voted 60l. a year, with instructions to the member for the city of Derry to bring a bill into parliament to legalise these respective votes, and to provide powers for raising money thereon. Individual subscriptions were subsequently solicited; the bishop subscribed 850l., and the dean 100l. To vest the money which might be thus raised in trustees, and to secure its due application, was the first object of a bill introduced this session. The bill had another object, which was, to create a permanent fund for the future support of the cathedral; by charging, after present incumbency, 500l. a-year upon the deanery of Derry, grounded upon the precedent of the 37th Geo. 3rd, to increase the fabric fund of the cathedral of Lichfield, and upon the precedent of an Irish public act passed in 1790, charging 300l. a-year for ever on the deanery of Down, as a fund to support the cathedral of Down. Petitioners felt themselves aggrieved by the rejection of this bill on the second reading, unless other parties besides the parishioners were liable to the repairs of cathedrals. Amidst the doubts, however, upon this subject, and the difficulty of rendering available various funds which had been recently alleged to have been diverted from their proper purposes, this most respectable congregation had remained without the use of this sacred edifice, to which they were peculiarly attached. Even since the rejection of the bill, it had been alleged by the bishop of Derry, in a return made to this House, that there was not any economy fund applicable to the repairs of this cathedral. The dean and chapter of Derry had lately made a similar return; yet documents moved for, and now before the House, stated the particulars of funds which were at one period at least in existence, and applicable to this purpose. This petition also refers to the Irish Society, who are supposed to have built this cathedral originally, and with some obligation to assist in its permanent support. Under all these circumstances, petitioners felt justified in considering themselves neglected and ill-used, if immediate provision should not be made to relieve them from the difficulties under which they laboured. He was happy to state that, he had the assurance of his right hon. friend, the secretary for Ireland, that a strict investigation should be made into the existence and past application of the funds referred to in this petition. He might be asked, then, why had he brought it forward? His answer should be, that he was urged so to do by these petitioners, his constituents, who were anxious thus to prove to the world, that the bill which they had solicited had been sought for, on their part, with the purest anxiety for the credit of the Church.

Mr. Alderman Wood

charged the petitioners and the lessees of the estates near Londonderry, held under the Irish Society, with great ingratitude. The corporation had been uniformly good landlords. They built schools, and provided, years ago, the money for erecting a stone bridge; but, up to that hour, the foundation of the said bridge was not laid. He took a retrospect of the first connexion of the corporation with these estates. The very first year, the then bishop of Derry embezzled the whole of the money due at the period out of the rents. There were funds amounting to nearly 6,000l. per annum, accruing out of the fisheries, that might be made available to the repairs of the cathedral. These funds were misapplied; and, not satisfied with that, the parties turned round and abused the Irish Society in newspapers, and in a petition which the right hon. baronet had had the courtesy to suppress.

Ordered to lie on the table.