HC Deb 04 May 1865 vol 178 cc1521-3

Order for Committee read.


said, he would explain the object of the measure. Within the last few months in Ireland one of Her Majesty's Judges, Baron Hughes, had sentenced a man for the offence of vagrancy to seven years' penal servitude. The Judge said that the poor man having been presented by the grand jury under a penal law, and having been convicted of begging, he had no option but to sentence him to penal servitude, and the man was sentenced accordingly. That took place under the 6th of Queen Anne, c. 11, being an Act for the suppression of Tories, Robbers, and Rapparees, and one of the penal laws that is still remaining on the statute book, which he now sought to repeal. The word "Tory" came into our legal phraseology about the reign of William III., but it was of still older date as applied to the Irish Roman Catholics. The usurping assembly which in the time of Oliver Cromwell called itself a Parliament took cognizance of these Tories. In the diary of Mr. Thomas Burton, Member in the Parliaments of Oliver and Richard Cromwell, he found the following record:— Wednesday, June 10, 1657.—On the Motion of Mr. Downing for a three years' assessment on Ireland, Major Morgan said—'We have three beasts to destroy that lay burdens on us—1st is a public Tory, on whose bead we lay £200, and £40 upon a private Tory's. 2nd beast is a priest, on whose head we lay £10; if he be eminent, more. 3rd beast, the wolf, on whom we lay £5 a head if a dog; £10 if a bitch. The term Tory was said to be derived from "For," a bush, because in those days there were bush-rangers; but its real origin appeared to be two Irish words, "Tor" and "re," which were equivalent to the Cavaliers' cry of "Long live the King!" for in the days of Charles I. the Tories fought for that Sovereign. Again, in the reign of Charles II. they were brought under the notice of Parliament. In 1678 the English House of Commons committed the Secretary of State Williamson to the Tower for countersigning commissions to M'Carthy and other Irish Popish Tories. King Charles II. immediately ordered the release of his Secretary, and a serious dispute arose thereon. The King said these Roman Catholic gentlemen were without money and in great want, and that they had fought for him. However, by stopping the supplies the Whig House of Commons compelled the King to cancel the Commissions to these Tories. The first Act of Parliament relating to Tories was passed in the reign of William III., and the preamble of that statute showed that they were political in their origin. It set forth that Tories were concealed, harboured, and countenanced by the inhabitants of Ireland, and that for the purpose of settling the kingdom it was desirable to pass that penal law. The Act went on to say that— Any person may be presented by the grand jury as a Tory, and if such person does not render himself to the justices within the county, he shall be proclaimed by the Lord Deputy, or other chief governor of Ireland, and shall thenceforth be convicted of high treason, and suffer accordingly. After that statute of William III. came one of Queen Anne, and then the Act which he proposed to repeal, continuing the former Acts. In Committee he would insert an Amendment which would remove an objection taken to the Bill by the hon. and learned Member for Wexford, and prevent any useful provision being repealed.


said, there could be no doubt that under Oliver Cromwell's rule "the condition of Ireland" problem had been to a great degree solved, and that the prosperity of Ireland had attained a wonderful development. At no period had Ireland been more prosperous and happy, and his policy showed the true spirit in which that country should be governed. He hoped, therefore, that it was not without consideration that the Government had consented to the repeal of this Act, which was an ancient relic of that system.


said, he believed that since the world began there had never been a more cruel Government than that of Cromwell in Ireland. He might refer to the massacres of Drogheda and of Wexford in proof of that statement. Those massacres had hardly ever been paralleled, and the government of Cromwell in Ireland could only be regarded as an unmitigated evil.


said, it was not very long since a man had been sentenced to seven years' transportation at the Cork assizes because he happened to call begging at a stipendiary magistrate's. He thanked the hon. Gentleman for moving to repeal this Act, and he hoped some hon. Gentleman would undertake the task of endeavouring to prevent criminal justice being administered in Ireland in the present harsh and oppressive manner.

Bill considered in Committee.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.