HL Deb 04 March 1831 vol 3 cc1-5
Viscount Clifden

presented a Petition from the Parishioners of Graig and Ullard, in the diocese of Leighlin, praying for Relief against the System of Tithe Collecting in that parish. He took that opportunity of making a few observations on the subject; and, in the first place, with reference to a statement made by his noble friend (Lord Farnham) the other night, he had received a letter from Dr. Doyle, the Roman Catholic Prelate, in which that right reverend Prelate stated, that the Mr. Doyle to whom his noble friend had referred, was not a nephew or cousin of the right reverend Prelate, but a relation so distant, that he was no relation at all. Dr. Doyle had certainly too much sense to encourage any tumultuous opposition to tithes; nor indeed did he believe that his noble friend had said, that Dr. Doyle had anything to do with the matter. Mr. Doyle denied having encouraged any tumultuous meetings against tithes, and he was a very respectable man. He had, indeed, received a letter from a Magistrate, in which he stated, that many persons had been ready to make affidavits that Mr. Doyle had not harangued the people, nor promoted resistance to the payment of tithes. He also knew, however, that it had been stated, that affidavits of a directly contrary tendency could be produced. But he agreed in the remark made by a noble Secretary of State (Lord Melbourne) the other day, that in a state of so much excitement and irritation, it was not difficult to procure affidavits from either of the parties against the other. In considering the subject of tithes in Ireland, it was necessary to keep in view, that there were two great hierarchies—from the Archbishop down to the Curate. On the me side was the revenue, and on the other he preponderance of property and population. The party with the small revenue envied the party with the large, and the party with the larger feared the party with the small, when backed by property and numbers. It might be said, "Oh, it is not to be supposed that the Catholic Clergy would envy the Protestant Clergy their possession of the tithes, nor was it possible that the Protestant Clergy should hate or fear the Catholic." Well, be it so; but, in the meantime, it was absolutely necessary that these violent courses should be put an end to, otherwise the Protestant Clergy must be reduced to starvation; for he tithes would not be paid. The truth was, that the two parties would never agree well together, until a liberal provision should be made for the Roman Catholic Clergy. This was what was intended to be clone by Mr. Pitt and Lord Castlereagh, when they proposed, thirty years ago, to bring forward the motion which the noble Duke had carried two years ago. But the noble Duke did not undertake to make a provision for the Catholic Clergy by his measure, and he was not surprised at it, for he had enough on his hands, without meddling also with that; but, at the same time, it was a thing that must, at some time or other, be done. Perhaps some might think that the Church property of Ireland ought to be divided between the two hierarchies. But he was persuaded that this could not properly be done. The loudest clamour would be set up against it, and it might be attended with disadvantages, which would more than counterbalance the benefit. The Church revenue, therefore, he apprehended, must be left with the Protestant Clergy, while the Catholic hierarchy was paid by voluntary contribution from their flocks, and both were a heavy burthen on the country. Something, however, must he done to relieve the country from this heavy burthen of a double hierarchy. The Rev. Mr. Alcock, the Rector of Graig, was a man who had reached a considerable age—a very respectable man, and very well behaved. The parish was a large one, and he had perhaps less than his strict dues, when he accepted of 720l.. a year. Mr. Doyle had been priest of the parish, and a Mr. Macdonell was Mr. Alcock's Curate, and against neither of them did he mean to say anything. But they were both clever men, in the prime of life, and of great activity, and it was not perhaps surprising, if they were apt to come into collision. Upon the whole he was convinced, that these disputes could never be put an end to, nor could the parties be pacified, until a liberal provision was made for the Catholic Clergy, and sooner or later the subject must be taken up by the Legislature.

Lord Farnham

thought himself called upon to make a few observations on the statement of his noble friend. He had no sort of doubt but that many letters would be written on the subject, owing to the statement which he had thought it his duty to make the other night, and owing partly, no doubt, to the state of excitement in which the minds of the Irish people were kept on the subject of tithes. As to his statement, he had only said that which he had good reason to believe to be true. He had never stated, nor pretended to state, the genealogy of the Doyle race, about which he had no positive information, although he had been informed that Mr. Doyle, who was, or had been, parish priest of Graig, was a relative of Doctor Doyle, the Catholic Archbishop, who had promoted him. But he had no reason to doubt the facts which he had mentioned, which were, that Mr. Doyle had harangued the people against the payment of tithes, and had suggested measures to resist that payment—that he had encouraged tumultuous assemblies with the same view, and had made propositions to them on the subject, and encouraged them to adopt measures for securing a reduction of tithes —that tumultuous meetings were in consequence held on the subject of tithes, and for the purpose of resisting the payment, or reducing the amount. These were facts which had not been denied, and he was fully authorised in stating them. As for Mr. Doyle himself, he had said, that he was a person of great talent and activity, and he formerly had a very high opinion of him; but since he had been promoted by Dr. Doyle, he had assumed a very different character from that which he bore when he (Lord Farnham) first knew him. As to the proposition for granting a liberal provision out of the public money for the support of the Catholic Clergy, that was a plan in which he could never concur; and if ever it was proposed, he would resist it to the utmost of his power; and the principle on which he did it was this—that he never could con sent to make a Church a member of the State, which he believed to be completely in error. The Roman Catholic Church was founded in error, and ought never to be made a constituent member of a Protestant State. He fully agreed that some vigorous measures "ought to be adopted, to repel the conspiracy which existed in some parts of Ireland, against the payment of tithes, otherwise the Clergy of the Protestant Church there, would be left without a revenue, except through the medium of a distress; for there appeared to be conspiracies existing to refuse the payment of tithes by any other method.

Viscount Clifden

.—The letters which he had received stated, that Mr. Doyle denied these charges point blank, and that he was preparing affidavits in contradiction to them. As to a provision for the Roman Catholic Clergy, they had the best of all titles to such a provision, for they possessed the flocks.

Petition laid on the Table.

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