HC Deb 01 March 1854 vol 131 cc141-2

On the question that the House go into Committee of Supply.


said that, not having been afforded an opportunity of speaking in the debate of last night, he was anxious to explain some matters referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. T. Chambers) who introduced the question as regarded the Misses Arrowsmith. He (Mr. Lucas) first heard of that case at the time the nunnery question was before the House last Session, and saw it mentioned in one of the articles of the Morning Herald. He went to the convent where these ladies were, and without any difficulty procured a private interview with them, and conversed for half an hour as to their willingness, or otherwise, to remain in the convent. The case was not one of a couple of girls being sent to a convent to be made nuns, but to be educated and trained as teachers, by which means, their father not being wealthy, they might be able to procure a respectable subsistence. He (Mr. Lucas) explained to those ladies, with their father's permission, that they were perfectly free to leave the convent; and, he should say, he found they possessed a decision of character far beyond their years. They expressed themselves strongly as not being Roman Catholics, neither were they absolutely Protestants—they were in a state of doubt, and required evidence and information before they came to a decision. However, they frankly expressed the happiness they felt at living in the convent—they had not the least wish to leave it, and desired they might be allowed to remain. Not satisfied with that, he (Mr. Lucas) went next day to advise them to go to their father, and not return to the convent unless from a motive of conviction. When he went, he found they had left with one of the nuns, and walked through the street to their father's lodging. They, however, returned again to the convent of their own free will, and without any authority whatever being exercised over them by any party whatever.

Motion agreed to.