HC Deb 13 February 1834 vol 21 cc253-5
Mr. Benett

presented a Petition from the Con- gregation of the Independent Chapel of Warminster, complaining of the grievances to which they had been subjected by the payment of Church-rates—by the want of a proper registration of births and deaths in their congregation—by their inability to bury their dead according to the rules and ceremonies of their Church, and by being obliged in their marriages to conform to certain ceremonies at variance with their conscientious opinions. They complained also, that they were debarred the benefit of having their children educated in the national schools, unless they subscribed to certain articles which would make them members of the Established Church. In the prayer of the petition he fully concurred, and could bear testimony to the respectability of the persons whose signatures were attached to it.

Mr. Finn

begged leave to state, that the demands of this petition were very just, and that the Dissenters laboured under great hardships. The system of registration of marriages had worked well in Ireland, and with regard to burials, the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland had introduced a Bill to allow Catholics to be buried according to their own ritual and forms. That was but the legitimate course, and those who were most anxious for the Established Church would do well to concede the claims of the Dissenters. If the members of the Established Church, or if his Majesty's Government did resist them, the Dissenters might adopt a very easy mode—the same that was some years ago resorted to in Ireland. In Dublin the Catholics established cemeteries to bury their dead in, and the clergy were thus deprived of a great portion of their fees; the result was, that the clergy found it convenient very much to reduce their prices. The adoption of that mode by the Dissenters would have the effect of remedying some of the evils complained of.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

supported the petition. He rejoiced that two great measures had been passed for the relief of Dissenters and Catholics, which were most satisfactory as far as they went, but something further was desired. He must say that the conduct of the Catholics towards the Dissenters was highly creditable to them, it was at the same time but justice to the Dissenters to say that they had been the strenuous supporters of Catholic emancipation. By their powerful aid that triumphant measure, which reflects the highest honour on the justice of a British House of Commons had been carried. In all their reasonable and just demands, therefore, and few that he had seen in the public prints could be considered unreasonable—they should have his cordial support. The Dissenters of England were a most loyal body of men, and in times when the country was in a less peaceable and quiet state than at present, there was no instance of Dissenters having shown any desire to overthrow the established institutions. They had the most indisputable claims to the favour of the House, and he hoped that none of their grievances would go unredressed another Session.

Petition laid on the Table.

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