HL Deb 04 March 1844 vol 73 cc492-515
The Marquess of Normanby

said, he rose for the purpose of presenting the petition of which he had given notice, and wished to call the attention of their Lordships to the statements which it contained, and the important nature of the subject. It was a petition from John and Elizabeth Ryan, who were the teachers of the Parochial School at Ballysax, in the County of Kildare. The Petitioners stated that for the last twelve months they had not received the annual interest on a sum of 200l. left by a former Rector of the parish, the Rev. Mr. Tew, it having been unjustly stopped for the last seventeen months by the Board of Charitable Bequests in Ireland, in consequence of the introduction of the National System of Education into the School. The importance of the subject was not however to be considered as confined to the interests of the petitioners themselves, or the alleged injustice they suffered in consequence of the stoppage of a portion of what they considered to be a fair reward for their services. They lived in a remote district, and they were individuals who were unknown and obscure, and whose income from their occupation amounted to about 40l. a year; but to those who were Passing rich on forty pounds a year, the stopping of the interest of the sum of 200l. small as it might appear, was of much importance. It was not, however, as regarded the interests of those individuals alone that he brought forward the subject, but in consequence of the course which the Board of Charitable Bequests in Ireland adopted, in order that they might see how far that conduct was likely to gain credit for sincerity on the part of those who professed to support the System of National Education in Ireland. The rev, gentleman, the Rector of the parish in which the school is situated, when he found that the payment of the interest of the legacy to which he alluded was stopped, appealed to the authorities on the subject, and stated that unless it was paid he would bring the subject before Parliament; and the prayer of the petitioners on this occasion was, that their Lordships would appoint a Committee to inquire into the constitution of the Board of Charitable Bequests. They complained that the interest of the legacy was withheld because the System of National Education in Ireland had been introduced into the school, and. they prayed an inquiry into the constitution of the Board. He (the Marquess of Normanby) would make no statements which be could not prove; and if Government did not, after his statement, direct an inquiry into the subject, he would after Easter move for a Committee to institute that inquiry. In the year 1764 a Committee of the House of Lords took upon themselves the examination and control of Charitable Bequests and Donations in Ireland, and they instituted prosecutions with a view to the restoration of sums which had been misappropriated. Just previous to the Union it occurred to the Irish Parliament that something should be done with reference to these trusts, as this Committee would no longer exist, and one of the last Acts of that Parliament was to establish a Board of Charitable Bequests and Donations. That Board was to be composed of the Lord Chancellor, the Judges of the Prerogative Court, of all the Common Law Judges in Ireland, of all the Bishops, and of the nineteen Rectors of the different parishes in Dublin. But its exclusively Protestant character gave rise to many complaints on the part of the Roman Catholics. In 1829, under the Administration of the Duke of Wellington, a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to consider this subject, and much important evidence as to the effect of the Protestant constitution of the Board on the Roman Catholics was given by Mr. O'Connell, among others. That hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned that in the course of his professional practice he had been several times consulted by persons who felt themselves aggrieved by, and distrustful of, this Board in consequence of the circumstance referred to, and that he had every reason to believe that considerable sums had been left away from schools which would have been bequeathed by Roman Catholics for the beneficial effect of education, had they felt more confidence in this Board. The impression made upon the Commit tee by this and similar evidence was such that it presented a Report recommending that the laws regulating the Administration of Charitable Trusts in Ireland should be revised. Nothing, however, was done until 1838, when the hon. Member for Waterford brought in a Bill to alter the constitution of the Board, which Bill passed through most of its stages in the other House, but did not reach the Upper House, in consequence, probably, of the state of public business, the attention of Parliament being then greatly occupied with the Municipal Reform Bill, which was then in the third year of its Parliamentary struggle. The facts of the case now before their Lordships, were simply these. The Rev. Mr. Tew, formerly Rector of Ballysax, by his will, left to the then Rector of Ballysax, and his successors, the stun of 200l., in the following terms:— I leave and bequeath to the Minister of the parish of Ballysax, in the diocese and county of Kildare, and to his successors, Ministers of the said parish, for ever, the sum of 200l. sterling, in trust, nevertheless and to the intent, that the said sum, when paid, shall be vested and laid out by him in the purchase of such Government Stock, as shall at that time be deemed the most eligible and advantageous, and shall yield and bear the highest rate of interest payable at the Bank of Ireland, which interest only it is my will shall be applied by him and his successors, Ministers of the said parish, towards the establishment and support of a Parochial School therein, and to the payment of the salary or salaries of a Protestant schoolmaster and schoolmistress for instructing the children of the poor inhabitants of the said parish, to be nominated and appointed by him and his successors, and the sole management of the said School to be vested in them, or their licensed Curates assistant, on the express condition, however, that they shall at every annual visitation of the Lord Bishop of Kildare, present a report in writing of the state of the said Parochial School of Ballysax, containing an account of the number and names of the children educating therein, and of the receipts and disbursements thereof for the past year, together with any other particulars relating to the same, which may be considered either necessary or interesting. By a codicil to his will, the testator says:— With respect to that part of the foregoing will, which vests the sole management of the Parochial School of Ballysax in the Minister of the parish, I mean thereby, that the sole management of the pecuniary concerns of the said School, and the nomination and appointment of the schoolmaster and schoolmistress should be vested in them; but it is not my intention to preclude such benevolent persons as subscribe towards the support of these schools, from visiting them, or forming such rules and regulations as they may consider conducive to their interest and prosperity, provided they are concurred in and fully approved of before they are adopted by the Minister of said parish. He (Lord Normanby) was well acquainted with the parish in question, having spent much of his leisure time there when he held office in Ireland. At that time he frequented the place it was supposed to contain about 3,000 inhabitants, but by the more recent Population Returns it appeared that the number was tinder 1,300, of whom only 40 were Protestants, and these mostly of the upper class. The present Rector of the parish, Mr. Bermingham, had exerted himself in a praiseworthy manner to make the School what it was at present. The former state of the parish was this—there was a schoolmaster who received the interest of the gift, but there was no school or scholars. At the present period, the school contained seventy Roman Catholic boys and girls, and four Protestant children, all of them educated according to the system of the National Board, to which the parents of the Protestant children made no sort of objection; but, on the contrary expressed themselves as perfectly satisfied. Such was the state of the parish of Ballysax. Now, with respect to the Rev. Mr. Bermingham, he was originally Curate of St. Bride's, the laborious duties of which he always discharged in the most exemplary manner. That gentleman had been appointed Chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant, by the Marquess of Wellesley; he had been continued as Chaplain by his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Haddington) and by himself. Under the present Ministry the appointment to the chaplaincy had been, he was bound to say, of a more exclusively political character, and Mr. Bermingham had been no longer continued Chaplain. Mr. Bermingham had been appointed by him (Lord Normanby) to the Rectory of Ballysax, and had carried out in this School the system of the National Board of Education, which had been attended with the utmost success, and met with no impediment until the spring of last year, when, in reply to a letter wherein upon their application he communicated to the Board of Charitable Bequests, a lease of some lands which had been granted by the proprietors of the Ballysax estates, for the erection of a School-room, he received from the Bishop the following letter:—

"Dublin Castle, April 7, 1843.

"Sir—I have had the honour of laying before the Board of Charitable Donations and Bequests the lease of the land granted by the proprietors of the Ballysax estate for the erection of a School-house thereon, together with your letter by which the lease was accompanied.

"And I have been ordered to communicate to you that it is the opinion of the Board that the trusts of the will of the Rev. Wm. Tew have not been properly fulfilled, inasmuch as the School has not been conducted as a Protestant Parochial School, and the express condition imposed by the testator, that the Minister shall at every annual visitation of the Lord Bishop of Kildare, present a report in writing of the state of the said Protestant School, has not been complied with; and, in conclusion, I am to intimate to you that so long as this state of things remains, the interest in the fund produced by Mr. Tees's bequest will not be paid.

"I am, Sir, &c.,

"WM. MATTHEWS, Secretary."

Now, the Resolution wherein the Board here, for the first time, took upon itself to interfere with this system in that instance of this School, was moved and supported by two personages who had just been admitted members of the Board, ex officio, as being Judges, then newly appointed by the present Government, namely, Mr. Baron Lefroy and Mr. Justice Jackson, men notorious for violent party feelings, who took a strong part in the meeting at the Mansion House in 1837—men looked upon as vehement political agitators. The presence of these persons—these ultra-Protestant agitators—had thus made itself felt at that Board The resolution, in fact, originated with Mr. Baron Lefroy, and Mr. Justice Jackson, and was passed in spite of a strong opposition; the Archbishop of Dublin and the Chief Baron Brady forming part of the minority. He (Lord Normanby) had the very strongest doubt as to whether the decision of the Board, withholding the payment of the interest, was legal. The terms of the bequest would show that the control was limited to the Minister and Clergyman of the parish; for the terms of the bequest stated that it was to be applicable "in such mode or under such plan of education as shall be ordered by such Minister or his successor." He had already expressed his doubts as to the legality of the act of the Board of Charitable Bequests, for he doubted whether they had any such power to interfere. The Act itself, passed in 1800, 40 Geo. III., cap. 75, sec. 2, Irish Statutes, ran thus:— And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the said Commissioners, and their successors, by the name aforesaid, may sue, and they are hereby empowered to sue, in every Court in this Kingdom, either of law or equity, for the recovery of every Charitable Donation or Bequest which may or shall be, withheld, concealed, or misapplied; and to apply the same when recovered to charitable and pious uses, according to the intention of the donor or donors; or, in case it be inexpedient, unlawful, or impracticable to apply the same strictly according to the directions and intentions of the donor or donors, then to apply the same to such charitable and pious purposes as they shall judge to be nearest and most conformable to the directions and intentions of the donor or donors; and the said Commissioners are hereby authorized and em- powered to deduct out of all such charitable donations and bequests as they shall recover, all the costs, charges, and expenses which they shall be put to in the suing for, and recovery of the same. The first section recites that a Committee of the House of Lords had superintended the Charities, but that new provisions was rendered necessary by reason of the Union, and then it constitutes the Board and creates a corporation.

Sect. 3. Quorum Clause, Sect. 4. regulates and prescribes certain returns to be made under an Act mentioned in the title of the 3 George III. The above was the substance of the whole Act. The only expression in this Act establishing the Board which could at all seem to leave the matter within the discretion of the Board was the term "inexpedient;" but here was a case where the term could not apply, the donation being carried out in perfect conformity with the will of the testator and the law of the land. The only way in which it could at all be alleged that the will of the testator had been deviated from was this—the will directed that a statement of the condition of the School should be made to the Bishop on each of his annual visitations. Mr. Bermingham, not being aware of this obligation, neglected, in the first two years of his administration to make this statement; but, in all the three last years, having been made acquainted with the condition he had scrupulously fulfilled it; and, at the very time when the Board of Trusts came to the resolution that this condition had not been complied with, it had received the annual statement supplied by the rev. incumbent, indeed it was upon the Table before them at the very time that they passed this resolution. If this had been the cause of dissatisfaction on the part of the Board, how did it happen that not a word had been heard about it in the two years when the omission actually did take place? How happened it that it was reserved for Mr. Baron Lefroy and Mr. Justice Jackson to discover an omission which occurred so long before they had anything to do with the matter, and three years after the omission had been amply supplied? The next stage of the proceedings to which he must advert was the communications that passed between the Rector of Ballysax and the Bishop of the Diocese of Kildare. He had every desire to show respect to a Rev. Prelate, and more especially to one who, like the Bishop of Kildare, had reached his eighty-sixth year; but, at the same time, there were faults which, proceeding from whatever quarter, exhibiting somewhat of the spirit of oppression, ought to be animadverted upon. The letter would tell its own story, arid needed slight comment. It ran thus:

"June 29, 1843.

"Reverend Sir—On Monday, the 26th of June, inst., the Board of Charitable Bequests and Donations met according to appointment, his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin in the chair, and with Judges Burton, Jackson, and Baron Lefroy, some conversation took place, and Baron Lefroy stated the grounds of the former decision, adding some strictures concerning your delegation of your trust, which you will do well to hear from other persons than myself. A motion having been made the Court broke up, by an adjournment sine die. By the judgment of the Court, as it stands, you will and may soon incur die consequences of this, unless you take timely means of restoring the Parochial School to its proper uses. I refer you in this respect to some other person to expound the Penal Statute of Henry VIII., in his 28th year, Statute 13th, no trifling matter you may be assured.—I remain, Your faithful servant,


"No trifling matter," said the Bishop minaciously. He (Lord Normanby) when in Ireland, had had occasion, from circumstances then engaging much public attention, to pay a good deal of attention to the Statute in question; and, having a perfect recollection that the only section which applied to this particular point was the 9th section, he at once saw that the Bishop had been egregiously misinformed. Those who were acquainted with the Statute would at once call to mind that it was framed with no sort of intention, at that time, of changing the ritual or form of worship; its object was, not to encourage Protestantism, but to promote the spread of the English language. As a proof of this, he need only remind their Lordships, that one section of it commanded the Roman Catholics of Ireland "to tell their beads in the English language." There were other provisions in the same Act against wearing saffron shirts, against the mode of wearing the hair called "glibbs," and against wearing hair on the upper lip; none of these provisions he thought that the Rev. Gentleman in question was likely to violate. He could not conceive, therefore, what connection this respectable but very aged Prelate could have seen between the matter in hand, and "the Penal Statute of Henry VIII., in his twenty-eighth year, Statute 13th," as he quaintly phrased' it. In the course of this letter, it would have been observed, the right Rev. Prelate used the expression, "delegation of your trust." In no respect could this imputation be borne out; in all respects had Mr. Bermingham complied with the provisions of the will. But perhaps, considering the circumstances, this was a mere carelessness of expression—the expression, however, was one which should have been weighed more carefully. He would only read a portion of it, as he did not wish to dwell upon any incautious phrases of the Bishop. The next communication ran thus:—

"July 1st, 1843.

"Reverend Sir—Being desirous of taking the Roman Catholic children of Ballysax parish into the system of our Church Education School as to Religious Instruction, I have opened a negotiation with the parent society in Dublin, and also with our diocesan like society, for providing at my own cost, for one year, a proper master and mistress (the same, if amenable), as already are employed. Provided you resume your proper charge, and rescue the property and place from the hands of the National Board.

"If there were no better system to be had I should not oppose the National Board. So far as they go I am favourable to them. But I can do both with your help; and if you will take prudent and bland means to rescue this School; and add it to our Church Education Society, I shall hope to carry this good measure, without any stringent measures.

"I remain, &c.,


Now, in reference to the expression here, about "rescuing the property and place from the hands of the National Board," Mr. Bermingham distinctly declared that the National Board had no more property in the school than any other of the subscribers, or any more share in the management than was pursuant with that part of the will, which permitted donors, by themselves or their representatives, to act as visitors, and to propose regulations for the management of the School, subject to the approval and concurrence of the incumbent. He had understood that threats had been conveyed to Mr. Bermingham, to the effect that if he proceeded in this way, to bring the case before Parliament, it was very possible that the temporary license for non-residence, which had been obtained on account of the ill health of his wife, the mother of seven children, would be withdrawn by his diocesan; but the character of the right Rev. Prelate rendered it impossible to suppose that he would consent to any such monstrous step. This case of Ballysax presented an epitome of the state of Ireland. Nothing had happened here which might not be predicated of five-sixths of the parishes of that Kingdom. Here was presented a striking instance of the struggle going on there between two principles of Government, or he ought rather to say the struggle between the principle of governing with the concurrence and good will of the great mass of the population; and the other, the principle by which the country can only be held and occupied without the golden link of the affections of the people. The system carried out by Mr. Bermingham was one which tended to the diffusion of Christian knowledge, to the establishment of Christian practice, to the reciprocation of Christian good will; under it preeminently in this instance the priest and the clergyman were seen acting in cordial concurrence, the former not seeking to intrude himself into the School, but co-operating to his utmost in his own sphere. That system, let him remind their Lordships, was not the creation of the late Government, whom enemies had falsely accused of being indifferent on the subject of religion; it was not the work either of Lord Stanley, that prominent champion of the Church: it dated from the 14th report of the Education Commissioners, a report bearing the signature of the late Primate of Ireland, the Archbishop of Cashel, and drawn up by Mr. Leslie Foster, whom no one could accuse of lukewarmness to the cause of Protestantism. It happened most unfortunately, that there was now a Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whose spirit in the matter might be judged not only from all his clerical appointments, but from the warm acknowledgments which he had made in answer to an address from a hot Protestant body, which contained sentiments most uncharitable, most obnoxious to the Roman Catholics: while the Irish Secretary, however good his intentions, seemed altogether disposed to let, "I dare not wait upon I would." Mr. Bermingham, under the circumstances thus stated, had thought it necessary to address a letter to Lord Eliot explaining the whole matter. The answer he received ran thus:—

" Irish Office, July 25, 1843.

"Sir—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th instant.

"I must acquaint you that the Government has no power to take cognizance of a decision of the Board of Charitable Bequests—a Board of which the Lord Chancellor and the Judges are members, The only appeal from it is to a Court of Equity.

I would, however, suggest that you should lay a statement of the case before the Lord Chancellor who might induce the Board to reconsider it.

"I have the honour to be, Sir,

"Your obedient servant,


Acting upon the suggestion of his Lordship, Mr. Bermingham then addressed a letter to the Lord Chancellor, who made the following reply:—

"Boyle Farm, August 3, 1813.

"Sir—I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, with its inclosure. It is not within my province to review the decisions of the Board of Charitable Bequests, of which I am a member; and it would not be proper for me to give an opinion upon any act of theirs. Your point, I observe, is a want of jurisdiction. If you desire to bring this again before the Board, I will willingly attend when the case is heard, and give my best attention to it. This is all I can undertake to do. You will of course exercise your own discretion in appealing to Parliament. There can be no meeting of the Board until the Judges return to Dublin after the vacation.

"I have the honour to be, Sir,

"Your very obedient servant,


"The Rev. J. A. Bermingham."

Here, then, had applications been made to the two officers of the Crown, to whom application was most fitly to he made, and from that time to this no satisfaction whatever had been obtained from this most unjust, and as he felt convinced, altogether illegal proceeding on the part of the Board of Charitable Trusts. The reverend complainant, then, surely could not be charged with having prematurely called the attention of Parliament to this subject, when, after so long a time, nothing had been done to redress those poor people, or to restore to them that annual stipend to which they were entitled. To resist the hostile influences that were constantly at work in Ireland—to thwart the professed intentions of the Government here—required a firm hand and a strong will. And he was sure that at this moment, when they could induce the Roman Catholic priesthood to go hand in hand with the Protestant clergyman of that system of Education by which Christian feeling and Christian precepts could be diffused amongst the people of that country by discouraging those attempts to interfere with that system, the Government would do a great deal to put the people of that country in that state in which they should desire to see them, and an union of opinions on such subjects amongst such a population was the most likely way to confirm their union with the English nation. He was convinced, that after the statement which he had made, the attention of the Government would be drawn to the subject, and that they would take steps to check in time such injudicious attempts to interfere with the system of National Education in Ireland, which he was satisfied that both the Government and the Legislature desired to see carried out in a fair and impartial spirit. He was afraid that he had taken up much more of the time of the House than it was usual to occupy in the presentation of petitions; but the peculiar circumstances of the case must plead his excuse. He left the matter with confidence to the consideration of the Government, knowing as he did that he had said nothing which he was not able to prove. If he found that the Government, after a certain period had elapsed, did not interfere, he should consider it to be his duty to call upon the House to appoint a Committee to inquire into the subject.

The Duke of Wellington

observed that the noble Marquess had truly said, that he had commented at considerable length on the contents of this petition, which he on Friday gave notice that he should present to the House. As was his duty, he (the Duke of Wellington) had taken great pains, since the noble Marquess had given notice of his intention to present this petition, to endeavour to obtain every information on the subject matter of this petition, and he had taken away a copy of the notice given by the noble Lord, so as to prevent delay in his inquiries; but he confessed that he had not been able to obtain much information on the subject; he, therefore, could only give a very short explanation on the present occasion. He rose now merely to state that he had seen a letter from Mr. Bermingham, from which it appeared that the statement of the noble Marquess was nearly accurate as to the facts which he had stated. It appeared that the rev. Gentleman in question became entitled to the administration of certain charitable funds for the education of the poorer children in the parish, in conformity with the bequest of a testator, and he established in his parish, in conformity as he conceived with the instructions of the bequest, a school on the National System of Education; and upon the subject coming under the notice of the Board of Charitable Bequests in Ireland, that body, which had the power, thought proper not to approve of the establishment of this school, thinking that it was not established according to the will of the testator. In consequence of this rev. Gentleman being directed by this Board to apply the funds which were at his disposal in a manner more in conformity with the intentions of the testator, he wrote to the noble Lord the Secretary of the Government in Ireland. Upon this subject, it appeared to him, that he had only done that which he ought to have done when it came under his consideration. He informed the party that if he considered himself aggrieved, he ought to have recourse to a Court of Equity; that there was no other course that could be adopted, and that a Court of Equity alone had control over the Board of Charitable Bequests, which was formed of the Lord Chancellor, the Bishops and Judges, and other eminent persons in Ireland. In the first place, however, he recommended this rev. Gentleman to apply to the Lord Chancellor, who was a member of this Board, to bring the subject under the re-consideration of the Board, and this was stated in the letter which was read by the noble Marquess. The party accordingly applied privately to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and received a reply, dated from this country; and under these circumstances the noble Marquess chose to throw out a taunt against the Lord Chancellor for being absent from Ireland during the vacation in his Court. It should be remembered that this rev. Gentleman did not apply to the Lord Chancellor as the head of the Court of Equity, but applied to him in his private capacity, as a member of the Board of Charitable Bequests, and got an answer accordingly. He (the Duke of Wellington) knew nothing more of the case, but he was informed that the charge against the rev. Gentleman was, that he had not supported such a school with the receipts of this bequest, as it was considered by the Board that he ought to have done, until the bishop of the diocese had ordered him to do so. It was all along said that it arose from ignorance, and not from intention, that the rev. Gentleman had supported an improper school in the first instance, and it was only when he was subsequently better informed on the subject that he made these changes which he was called upon to make. With respect to the decision of the Board of Charitable Bequests, and as to the letter of the Bishop of Kildare, and as to all the other matters which the noble Marquess had thought proper to bring forward on this subject, he had no knowledge whatever; but he contended that the noble Lord, the Secretary of the Irish Government, had done his duty in pointing out to this Gentleman the course which he should take to obtain redress for the alleged grievances which he had stated, and for the complaints which he had made. If this Gentleman did not choose, for some reasons of his own, to follow the advice of his noble Friend, he had no ground of complaint, for it was for him to judge of his own conduct. He did not, however, conceive that while this course was open to that Gentleman, the noble Marquess was justified in calling for a Committee of the House to enquire into a matter of this kind; but he could assure the noble Marquess that if he could furnish him with a copy of this petition, he would take care that the attention of her Majesty's Government should be called to the subject, but the whole matter would be properly investigated if this Gentleman would only adopt the suggestion offered to him by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, and apply to a Court of Equity for a remedy.

Lord Cottenham

said, that if the rev. Petitioner would take his advice, he would not apply to a Court of Equity on the subject. He had had some experience of Courts of Equity in charitable cases, and he would at once declare that the rev. Gentleman would best consult his own interests by not taking any such step. There were also peculiar circumstances in connection with this case which should make parties extremely cautious before they resorted to a Court of Equity; for it appeared by the Act constituting this Board of Charitable Bequests that the Commissioners were authorised by Parliament to pay all charges of any suit in equity in which they might be engaged out of the funds of the charity involved in the case. Now, in this case, where the amount of the bequest was small, all the money would be gone before any proceedings could be brought forward in a Court of Equity, and when it was, the rev. Gentleman might find that he would have to pay his own costs. The question also was, whether, under the Clause of the Act empowering the Commissioners to defray the charges of suits of equity, that it did not give the enlarged power which was supposed, for it had to determine as to the inexpediency of proceeding in the case or not. The Clause in the Irish Statute of the 40th Geo. III., c. 75, s. 2., was— And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid that the said Commissioners and their successors, by the reason aforesaid, may sue, and they are hereby empowered to sue in any Court in this Kingdom, either of Law or Equity, for the recovery of any charitable donation or bequest which may or shall be withheld, concealed, or misapplied, and to apply the same, when recovered, to charitable and pious uses, according to the instruction of the donor or donors: or in case it be inexpedient, unlawful, or impracticable, to apply the same strictly according to the directions and instructions of the donor or donors, then to apply the same to such charitable and pious purposes, as they shall judge to be nearest and most conformable to the directions and instructions of the donor or donors, and the said Commissioners are hereby authorised and empowered to deduct, out of all such charitable donations and bequests as they shall receive, all the costs, charges, and expences which they shall be put to in the suing for, and recovery of the same. It was obvious that the Commissioners had a very despotic power under this Act, and greater, probably, than Parliament would be disposed to confer in the present day; and it was a question whether, under such a case as the present, a Court of Equity or any other jurisdiction could interfere. If it should appear to some parties, that there had been a misapplication of charitable funds, and if an Equity suit were instituted, it would be a matter of difficulty, as he read the clause, to get over the word "inexpediency," with respect to which such a large discretionary power was left with the Commissioners. It was well known, that at present, by a form of suit in equity, termed ces pres, when it appeared that the instructions of a donor could not be carried into strict effect, that a power was given to a Court of Equity to enlarge the authority or province of the trustees; but, as to the "inexpediency" or not of applying the funds of a charity, strictly according to the directions and instructions of a donor, he did not think that it was a power that should be entrusted to this Board of Commissioners. Such a power given by this clause would be equivalent to allowing the Board of Commissioners to defeat the object of the donors of cha- bequests merely on the ground of their determining as to the expediency or inexpediency of applying charitable funds according to the intentions or directions of the donor. It was obvious under this clause the Commissioners could apply the funds of a charity to purposes very different from the intention of the donor. He was sure, that as the attention of the House was here called to this subject, it would consider whether such a power should be entrusted to any Board of Commissioners. After all, he was anxious to caution this Gentleman to well consider the consequences that would ensue before he went into a Court of Equity on this subject, for it was clear that all the funds of this charity would be lost before any advance could be made in the suit. He hoped that Her Majesty's Government would take into its consideration the object and intention of this clause, and determine whether it was not of such an extent, and gave such powers, as ought not to be allowed to stand on the statute book any longer, and which affected not only this but many other cases.

The Lord Chancellor

was anxious to remind his noble and learned Friend, that the clause in the Act of Parliament to which he referred, was in an Act of the Irish Parliament of 1800, and that it was not an enactment of the Imperial Legislature. He agreed with his noble Friend, that it would be hopeless, in a case like the present, to resort to a Court of Equity, for it appeared that the annual funds of the charity amounted to only 7l. 10s. a-year, and such a fund would, long before a decision could be obtained, be exhausted. His noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland, had truly stated the Government had no power in this case, but that the jurisdiction rested in a Court of Equity, but he recommended the petitioner to apply to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, as a member of the Board of Commissioners. Mr. Bermingham accordingly did apply to the Lord Chancellor, who, in his reply, did not say this was a proper case to bring before a Court of Equity, but he told the petitioner to bring the subject again under the consideration of the Board of Commissioners, and he added that he should be at Dublin within a short time, and if the matter was brought forward he would take care to attend the meeting of the Board, and that the matter should be examined into. He believed that the subject had not again been brought before the Board, but if it was, he would venture to say, that his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor of Ireland would pay every attention to it. For his own part, he felt that it would be hopeless to bring the matter before a Court of Equity, not only on the ground of the expense necessarily attending it, but also, as some doubts existed as to the powers given to the Commissioners by the clause of the Act referred to by his noble and learned Friend.

The Duke of Wellington

thought he had better read an extract from the letter of his noble Friend the Secretary for Ireland to the petitioner in this case, as that would prevent any misunderstanding. I must acquaint you that Government has no power to take cognizance of a decision of the Board of Charitable Bequests, a Board of which the Lord Chancellor and the Judges are members. The only appeal from it is to a Court of Equity. I would, however, suggest that you should lay a statement of the case before the Lord Chancellor, who might induce the Board to re-consider it. Such was the reply of the noble Lord, he Secretary for Ireland, to this Gentleman, and he thought that it was a most a satisfactory one.

The Marquess of Normanby

observed, that he had not found fault with the note read by the noble Duke; and Mr. Bermingham had followed the course which was suggested by that noble Lord, and tad applied to the Lord Chancellor, and, subsequently to the communication which he had received frem the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Bermingham had made another application, and he never could get any information as to when here was to be a meeting of the Board.

Lord Wharncliffe

wished to know whether Mr. Bermingham had renewed his application to the Lord Chancellor?

The Marquess of Normanby

was not ware whether he had or had not.

The Lord Chancellor

remarked that it as essential that the House should know whether the petitioner had, since his communication with the Lord Chancellor, lade any further application to the Board of Commissioners, and if he had what had en the result.

The Marquess of Normanby

understood that the petitioner had been informed that the Commissioners had had no further meeting, and that it was not known when there would be a meeting of the board.

Lord Campbell

said, that if the petitioner applied to a Court of Equity, he must do so with very little hope of success if he reflected on the constitution of the Board, and on the powers it possessed to resist his application. It should be recollected that the resolution of the Board respecting this Charity had been adopted on grave authority, and at the instigation of Mr. Justice Jackson, who made the Motion, and of Mr. Baron Lefroy, who seconded it. Since the proposition had been adopted on such authority, was it clear that even on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor the decision of the Board would be revised? With respect to his countryman, the Bishop of Kildare, be would venture to declare that he was a man of the greatest good nature, and that he would not be guilty of any violence or even harshness in the execution of what he conceived to be his duty; and even in this case he was satisfied that the right Rev. Prelate believed that he was exercising a sound discretion, and that Mr. Justice Jackson, and Mr. Baron Lefroy would not give an erroneous decision on the subject. One of the means which the Government had stated that it meant to resort to for the purpose of pacifying Ireland was by increasing the grant for National Education, and he was satisfied that a case of this kind would do more injury to the progress of the System of National Education in Ireland than would be counterbalanced by any public grant which they could propose for the purpose of carrying it out.

The Marquess of Normanby

had just been informed that the gentleman did apply to the Board since he received a communication from the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and that he had not received any satisfactory answer. With respect to the resolution of the Board of Commissioners on which these proceedings were founded, he was informed that he was mistaken when he said that it was proposed and seconded by the two learned Judges who had been named, but it was drawn up by them.

The Bishop of Exeter

would not attempt to dwell on the matters of fact of this case, which had been alluded to by the noble Marquess and the noble and learned Lord, nor would he then go into the consideration of the propriety of the encouragement which the Government was giving to what was called the National System of Education in Ireland, for this was not the proper time to do so; but there seemed to him to have been a very singular omission during the present discussion, of the consideration of an important principle involved in the case. The two noble and learned Lords opposite had objected to the constitution of the Board of Commissioners, without looking to one of the most important points for consideration connected with the Act relating to property left in trust for purposes of Education, and he should take the liberty of drawing their Lordships' attention to it. He believed that the facts of this case were shortly these—that a testator left a certain amount of income to be devoted for purposes of education in the parish in which he resided, and that he left the distribution of this fund to the discretion of the Rector of the parish for the time being. He then put it to the noble and learned Lords, whether any person who was appointed by will to administer a trust, and who was admissible to that trust only as Rector of the parish, in which capacity it was his bounden duty, and he was intrusted with the solemn obligation of promoting true religion, would be in any case justified, in the performance of the duties of such trust in dealing with those funds otherwise than according to the terms of the trust which was confided to him, in converting a Parochial into a National School? Could it be said that, in the course which this Gentleman had taken, he was advancing the interests of that religion which he professed, and that he was consistently administrating this fund in his parish in conformity with the duties of his station? The bequest was manifestly intrusted to him for the purposes of Education according to the principles of the true religion, and, therefore, he was not justified in doing what he had done, and what was afterwards undone, and properly by the Board of Charitable Bequests. He clearly had not administered the fund in the way intended by the donor, as he was bound to have done, because he had not given the children attending the school the description of religious education designed for them by the founder, and, although as Rector of the parish he had a discretion, yet that discretion was only to be exercised under legal control. He put it to the noble and learned Lords to say whether, under such circumstances, the Rector of this parish could deal with the bequest otherwise than in educating the children attending the school according to the religion of that Church to which he belonged; and if they could not, and he believed they could not, then it was evident that the decision of the Board was right, and that this Rev. Gentleman had been guilty, though unintentionally, of a mal-appropriation of this fund. For his own part he was prepared to rest on the authority of the two learned Judges alluded to, that in this case there had been a misappropriation of the funds of the Charity; he was satisfied that they were right in the decision which they had given, and he was gratified that they had so given it. He firmly believed that the law of the land was, that funds so bequeathed, if left to the trust of the Rector, or other ecclesiastical authority in the parish, must be expended for the purposes of education in the Protestant religion; but could it be said that, where money was expended on what was called the National System of Education, that it could be said to be expended in connection with the Protestant religion? He was sure it was not so. The noble Marquess smiled, but he (the Bishop of Exeter), could assure him that he would rather attend to his words than his smiles. He would venture to challenge the noble Lord to get up in his place and say that money so laid out in the National System of Education was expended in connection with the religion of the Church of England and Ireland. If it was not, it was vain to allow such a state of things to continue. It should be in the recollection of the House that the National System of Education did not profess to be in connection with the Protestant religion, but it was a system which had been adopted and was administered on the special ground of deference to the feelings and prejudices of the Roman Catholics, and against the feelings and wishes of the members of the Established Church. He, therefore, considered that this was a grave case of misappropriation of the funds of a charity, and he rejoiced that the two learned Judges who had been alluded to had vindicated the law, and had pursued a course calculated to advance principles which he believed to be correct.

Lord Monteagle

hoped most sincerely that such advice, resting on such authority, would not be adopted by the Protestant Clergy of the Established Church in Ireland. If the law was of the character which was laid down by the right rev. Prelate, it would appear that a clergyman could not accept a charitable trust for the purposes of education, unless he was to carry out that trust in connection with the peculiar principles of the Church of England. He believed that the greatest good might be anticipated from the admixture of Protestants and Catholics in the national schools in Ireland, and the whole object of education would be frustrated and destroyed if they endeavoured to act upon the principles and suggestions laid down by the right rev. Prelate. The right rev. Prelate had asked whether in any respects the National System of Education could be called a Protestant education? Now, in contradistinction to this, he would refer to the highest authorities of the Church, from whom this System had emanated. Among the names of the eminent men who had signed the Report of the Commissioners of Education in Ireland, on which this National System of Education was founded, he found the names of the Lord Primate of Ireland, the Archbishop of Cashel, the Bishop of Killaloe, the Bishop of Cloyne, and several other dignitaries of the Church, as well as the name of Mr. Leslie Foster, and it was not likely that it would have received their support if it had not been Protestant. Such, then, was the System which the right rev. Prelate felt himself called upon to stigmatise, and to which he said that no Protestant Clergyman should lend a helping hand. ["No, no!"] The right rev. Prelate went to the extent of stating that no Protestant Clergyman should take upon himself the execution of a charitable trust unless the funds to be administered were applied to education exclusively Protestant. He (Lord Monteagle) was rejoiced to find that the Government had promised to inquire into the present case, and he trusted that the effect of such inquiry would be to exclude from the administration of charities all who would act in the spirit suggested by the right rev. Prelate. As was stated by his noble Friend there were seventy Roman Catholics and four Protestant children in this school, and by the principle adopted by the Board, and so strongly approved of by the right rev. Prelate, the whole of the Roman Catholic children would be expelled from the school. Previous to the appointment of Mr. Bermingham to this parish, an attempt was made to administer this charitable fund for the school in the spirit suggested by the Board of Commissioners and the Bishop of Kildare, and the effect had been to drive nearly all the children from the school, and to leave them to run wild on the Curragh of Kildare. He was glad that the case was one which would be taken into practical consideration by Her Majesty's Government, for he was satisfied that it could only lead to one result, namely, directing attention not only to this case, but to the whole of the law relative to charitable bequests in Ireland. A Committee of the other House, of which Lord Francis Egerton was chairman, and of which he (Lord Monteagle) was a Member, so far back as 1829, recommended that there should be a reconstruction of the Board of Charitable Bequests in Ireland, but it appeared that nothing had yet been done on the subject. If it were necessary for the Government to make any alteration in the law with respect to charitable bequests in the administration of these charities, he thought the noble Lords themselves would see that the Committee was not very wrong originally; but the necessity was still more stringent now to amend the law. If they wished to make the law practical, and not to leave it a dead letter, they would not allow the administration of all the charities of the country to remain in the Board of Charitable Bequests, which consisted of a variety of persons having other and more important and conflicting duties. He had a great respect for the Judges who formed a part of that Board, but their judicial duties must prevent their attending to those which belonged to the Board. But, passing by the Judges and Bishops, they had the nineteen Clergymen who were Rectors of the parishes in Dublin, and there was, in fact, a Board too large for late had done hint the honour of referring the purposes of responsibility, and too to him, he would state his view of the small for the purposes of deliberation. He matter, but he would not be bound to any hoped to see a Bill that would meet the opinion he gave, without time for further practical objection stated by his noble and consideration. The words of this Bequest learned Friend with respect to the word were, that a Parochial School should be "expedient," and put the charitable bequests of that country on a better footing.

The Bishop of Exeter

said, that the noble Lord had misrepresented what he had said. He stated that he did not mean to go into the question of the policy of the Measure of National Education, so called, in Ireland. He did not say that any clergyman who gave himself to it would do wrong; but this he said, and upon this he rested the whole of his address to their Lordships, that the law of the land required when a bequest was made—and be it remembered, this bequest was made before this National Education scheme entered into the brain of any one—that the education to be conducted by that bequest should be according to the principles of the Established Church. There was a statement of a matter of fact upon which he would be glad to be set right. He meant with respect to that which the noble Marquess supposed to be the original of this scheme of National Education—namely, the fourteenth report of the year 1812, subscribed to which were the signatures of the Lord Primate of that day, and the Archdeacon of Ferns, who lived long enough to express his disapproval of this system of National Education, which was sufficient proof that the scheme was not that propounded in 1812. The Commissioners of 1812 never contemplated that the National Schools should supersede the Parochial Schools, they recommended that the Protestant Schools should be increased in their efficiency, and that these National Schools should be merely supplementary. He maintained that the Parochial Schools were to be exclusively Protestant. As to the law to which he had referred, he might be wrong. He had appealed to the noble and learned Lords, and he would rather have been answered by one of them than by the noble Baron. One of those noble Lords (Lord Cottenham) had left the House while the noble Baron was speaking, but there was one still sitting opposite, whose talents and learning gave weight to his opinions.

Lord Campbell

rose amidst loud laughter, and said, that as the right Rev. Prelate had done him the honour of referring to him, he would state his view of the matter, but he would not be bound to any opinion he gave, without time for further consideration. The words of this Bequest were, that a Parochial School should be founded, not a Protestant School.

The Bishop of Exeter

With a Protestant schoolmaster.

The Marquess of Landowne

Which a great many of the National Schools have.

Lord Campbell

continued. There was not the slightest inconsistency in having a Parochial School with a Protestant school- master, to which the children of Roman Catholics should be admitted. It frequently happened that Protestant schoolmasters educated Catholic children; and be should apprehend the testator, who appointed a parochial school, with a Protestant schoolmaster, if he could now look out of his grave, would not think that his bequest was at all contravened, by seventy Roman Catholic children being educated in the parish along with the four Protestant children. The four Protestant children were educated probably well or better than if they were the sole objects of the care of the schoolmaster: but he would repeat, that the will of the testator did not seem to be contravened by children of another persuasion being educated in that School.

The Bishop of Exeter

said, the noble and learned Lord had so adroitly evaded the question, without giving an opinion, that he would put it again. His question was, not whether seventy children could be educated by a Protestant schoolmaster, but whether they should admit seven or seven hundred Papists into it? He asked him to answer his question. He asked him whether it was his opinion as a lawyer, according to the law, that the clergyman of the parish, the rector who was entrusted with the appointment of the Protestant schoolmaster whether that rector was not bound to have the school conducted according to the principles of the Protestant Church, and had nothing to do with the seventy papist children that came there?

Lord Campbell

said, his noble and learned Friend (Lord Cottenham) having left the House, and he (Lord Campbell) having given his opinion, the greatest authority that now remained was the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, to whom he begged to refer the right Rev. Prelate.

The Bishop of Exeter

said, that at all events his law had not been contradicted. Petition to lie on the Table.

House adjourned.