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In the
history of Ireland History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
, the Penal Laws ( ga, Na Péindlíthe) was a series of laws imposed in an attempt to force
Irish Catholics Irish Catholics are an ethnoreligious group which is native to Irelandhttp://umanitoba.ca/colleges/st_pauls/ccha/Back%20Issues/CCHA1983-84/Nicolson.pdf and its members are both Catholic Church, Catholic and Irish people, Irish. Irish Catholics ha ...
and
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
dissenters A dissenter (from the Latin ''dissentire'', "to disagree") is one who dissents (disagrees) in matters of opinion, belief, etc. Usage in Christianity Dissent from the Anglican church In the social and religious history of England and Wales, and, b ...
to accept the established
Church of Ireland The Church of Ireland ( ga, Eaglais na hÉireann, ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ul ...
. These laws notably included the
Education Act 1695 The Education Act 1695 (7 Will.3 c.4), was an Act of the Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 180 ...
, the
Banishment Act The Banishment Act or Bishops' Banishment Act (9 Will 3 c.1) was a 1697 Act of the Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of I ...
1697, the Registration Act 1704, the
Popery Act An Act to prevent the further Growth of Popery, commonly known as the Popery Act or the Gavelkind Act,Andrew Lyall; Land Law in Ireland; was an Act of the Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) w ...
s 1704 and 1709, and the Disenfranchising Act 1728. The majority of the penal laws were removed in the period 1778–1793 with the last of them of any significance being removed in 1829. Notwithstanding those previous enactments, the
Government of Ireland Act 1920 The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer ...
(coming into force during the
Irish War of Independence The Irish War of Independence ( ga, Cogadh na Saoirse) or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a name used by various paramilitary ...
) contained an all-purpose provision in section 5 removing any that might technically still then be in existence.


Stuart and Cromwellian rule

The Penal Laws were, according to
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title ...
"a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man." Burke long counselled kinder relations by London with its American and Irish cousins, fearing that the punitive spirit fostered by the British was destroying English character, and would spur violent revolt. Initially, the dual monarchs of England and Ireland were cautious about applying the Penal Laws to Ireland because they needed the support of the
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
upper classes to put down the
Gaelic Irish Gaelic Ireland ( ga, Éire Ghaelach) was the Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages ...

Gaelic Irish
rebellion in the
Nine Years War The Nine Years' War (1688–1697), often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, was a conflict between France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a ...
(1594–1603). In addition, a significant section of the Catholic aristocracy was composed of
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
, who had traditionally been loyal to English rule in Ireland. However, the ascent of
James VI of Scotland James VI and I (James Charles Stuart; 19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625) was King of Scotland The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy, constitutional form of gover ...
to both the English and Irish thrones as James I in 1603 and the eventual victory in the Nine Years War saw a series of coercive new laws put into force. In 1605 the ' Gunpowder Plot' was planned by a group of English Catholics, who were disappointed in their hopes that James would relieve laws against Catholics. This provided a further impetus and justification for restrictive laws on Catholics in Ireland, Scotland and England. In 1607 the
Flight of the Earls The Flight of the Earls ( ir, Teitheamh na nIarlaí) took place in September 1607, when Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell Tyrconnell (), also spelled Tirconnell, was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland ...

Flight of the Earls
seeking Catholic help in Europe for a further revolt set the scene for a wholesale
Plantation of Ulster The Plantation of Ulster ( gle, Plandáil Uladh; Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ''Ul ...

Plantation of Ulster
by the Lowland Scots and Northern English. From 1607, Catholics were barred from holding public office or serving in the
Irish Army The Irish Army, known simply as the Army ( ga, an tArm), is the land component of the Defence Forces (Ireland), Defence Forces of Republic of Ireland, Ireland.The Defence Forces are made up of the Permanent Defence Forces - the standing branches ...
. This meant that the Irish Privy Council and the Lords Justice who, along with the
Lord Deputy of Ireland The Lord Deputy was the representative of the monarch and head of the Irish executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of ...
, constituted the government of the country, would in future be Anglicans. In 1613, the constituencies of the
Irish House of Commons The Irish House of Commons was the lower house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from 1297 until 1800. The upper house was the Irish House of Lords, House of Lords. The membership of the House of Commons was directly elected, but on a hi ...
were altered to give plantation settlers a majority. In addition, Catholics in all three Kingdoms had to pay 'recusant fines' for non-attendance at Anglican services. Catholic churches were transferred to the Anglican
Church of Ireland The Church of Ireland ( ga, Eaglais na hÉireann, ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ul ...
. Catholic services, however, were generally tacitly tolerated as long as they were conducted in private. Catholic priests were also tolerated, but bishops were forced to operate clandestinely. In 1634 the issue of the "Graces" arose; generous taxation for
Charles ICharles I may refer to: Kings and emperors * Charlemagne (742–814), numbered Charles I in the lists of French and German kings * Charles I of Anjou (1226–1285), also king of Albania, Jerusalem, Naples and Sicily * Charles I of Hungary (1288 ...

Charles I
(whose Queen
Henrietta Maria Henrietta Maria (french: link=no, Henriette Marie; 25 November 1609 – 10 September 1669) was Queen of England, Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kin ...

Henrietta Maria
was Catholic) was supported by Irish Catholic landlords on the understanding that the laws would be reformed, but once the tax was passed, Charles' viceroy refused two of the 51 Graces, and subsequent bills were blocked by the Catholic majority in the
Irish House of Lords The Irish House of Lords was the upper house of the Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the of the , and later the , from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the and from 1537 comprised ...
. Catholic resentment was a factor in starting the
Irish Rebellion of 1641 The Irish Rebellion of 1641 ( ga, Éirí Amach 1641) was an uprising by Irish Catholics in the Kingdom of Ireland, who wanted an end to anti-Catholic discrimination, greater Irish self-governance, and to partially or fully reverse the plantation ...
and the establishment of
Confederate Ireland Confederate Ireland was the period of Irish Catholic self-government between 1642 and 1649, during the Eleven Years' War. During this time, two-thirds of Ireland was governed by the Irish Catholic Confederation or Confederacy, also known as th ...
from 1642 with Papal support, that was eventually put down in the
Cromwellian conquest of Ireland The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland or Cromwellian war in Ireland (1649–1653) was the conquest of Ireland by the forces of the English Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English g ...
in 1649–53. After the
Act of Settlement The Act of Settlement is an Acts of the Parliament of England, Act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the order of succession, succession to the List of English monarchs, English and List of Irish monarchs, Irish cro ...
in 1652, Catholics were barred from membership in the Irish Parliament, and the major landholders had most of their lands confiscated under the
Adventurers Act The Adventurers' Act is an Act of the Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the mid 13th to 17th century. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation ...
. They were also banned from living in towns for a short period. Catholic clergy were expelled from the country and were liable to instant execution when found. Many recusants had to worship in secret at gathering places (such as
Mass rock
Mass rock
s) in the countryside. In 1666 forty nine Catholics from hiding places in the woods in
county Roscommon County Roscommon ( ga, Contae Ros Comáin) is a Counties of Ireland, county in Republic of Ireland, Ireland. In the West Region, Ireland, western region, it is part of the province of Connacht. It is the List of Irish counties by area, 11th lar ...
signed a letter in support of the Pope and protesting the loss of their 'due liberties'. Seventeen
Catholic martyrs The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's old ...
from this period were beatified in 1992.


1660–1693

Much of this legislation was rescinded after the Restoration in Ireland by
Charles II
Charles II
(1660–1685), under the
Declaration of Breda The Declaration of Breda (dated 4 April 1660) was a proclamation by Charles II of England in which he promised a general pardon for crimes committed during the English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars ...
in 1660, in terms of worship and property-owning, but also the first
Test Act The Test Acts were a series of English penal laws In History of England, English history, the penal laws were a series of laws that sought to uphold the establishment of religion, establishment of the Church of England against Protestantism, Pro ...
became law from 1673.
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the List of longest-reigning mo ...
of France increased Protestant paranoia in Europe when he
expelled the Huguenots
expelled the Huguenots
from France in 1685, and took his policy from the hard-line
Bishop Bossuet
Bishop Bossuet
. Following the flight from England to Ireland by
James II James II and VII (14 October 1633Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.16 September 1701An assertion found in many sources that James died 6 September 1701 (17 September 1701 New Style) may result from a miscalculation done by an author of anonymou ...

James II
caused by the English
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
in 1688, the decisions of the Catholic-majority
Patriot Parliament Patriot Parliament is the name commonly used for the Irish Parliament called by James II during the 1689 to 1691 war in Ireland. The first since 1666, it held only one session, from 7 May 1689 to 20 July 1689. The Commons was 70 members short ...
of 1688–9 in Dublin included a complete repeal of the 1660s land settlements. These were reversed after the largely Roman Catholic
Jacobites Jacobite may refer to: Religion * Jacobites, Jacob Baradaeus (died 578). Churches in the Jacobite tradition and sometimes called Jacobite include: ** Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, autonomous branch of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Kerala, Ind ...
that sided with King James then lost the
Williamite war in Ireland The Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691; ga, Cogadh an Dá Rí, "war of the two kings"), was a conflict between Jacobite supporters of deposed monarch James II James II and VII (14 October 1633Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.16 Sept ...
in 1689–91. His opponents
William III
William III
and
Mary II Mary II (30 April 166228 December 1694) was Queen of England, Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Gr ...

Mary II
were grandchildren of King Charles I, and so the war ultimately decided whether Catholic or Protestant Stuarts would reign. The war ended with the
Treaty of Limerick The Treaty of Limerick ( ga, Conradh Luimnigh), signed on 3 October 1691, ended the 1689 to 1691 Williamite War in Ireland The Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691) ( ga, Cogadh an Dá Rí, "war of the two kings"), was a conflict between Ja ...
agreed by Sarsfield and Ginkel in October 1691. This provided in article 1 that:
The Roman Catholics of this kingdom shall enjoy such privileges in the exercise of their religion as are consistent with the laws of Ireland, or as they did enjoy in the reign of king Charles the second: and their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such farther security in that particular, as may preserve them from any disturbance upon the account of their said religion.Treaty of Limerick
1691
The quid pro quo to attain these privileges involved swearing an oath of loyalty to William and Mary. Many Catholics found this oath repugnant when the Papacy started to support the Jacobites in 1693. A small number of Catholic landlords had sworn this loyalty oath in 1691–3 and their families remained protected. Previous Jacobite garrison surrenders, particularly the agreement at
Galway Galway ( ; ga, Gaillimh, ) is a in the , in the of . It is the of , which is named after it. It lies on the between and , and is the on the island of Ireland and the , with a population at the 2016 Census of 79,934. Located near an ...

Galway
earlier in 1691, specifically provided that the Catholic gentry of counties Galway and Mayo were protected from the property restrictions, though they would be excluded from direct involvement in politics. Articles 2 and 9 required that:
2. .... provided also, that no person whatsoever shall have or enjoy the benefit of this article, that shall neglect or refuse to take the oath of allegiance, made by act of parliament in England, in the first year of the reign of their present majesties, when thereunto required.

9. The oath to be administered to such Roman Catholics as submit to their majesties' government, shall be the oath abovesaid and no other.
At the European level, this war was a part of the
War of the Grand Alliance The Nine Years' War (1688–1697), often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, was a conflict between France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is ...
, in which the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
supported
William III
William III
's alliance against France, and on the news of the
Battle of the Boyne
Battle of the Boyne
a
Te Deum The "Te Deum" (, ; from its incipit The incipit () of a text is the first few words of the text, employed as an identifying label. In a musical composition File:Chord chart.svg, 250px, Jazz and rock genre musicians may memorize the melod ...
was sung in thanksgiving at the Vatican. But from 1693 the Papacy changed its policy and supported James against William, and William's policy also moved from a degree of toleration for Catholics to greater hostility. By then, King James was based in France at
Saint Germain
Saint Germain
, and was supported politically and financially by Louis XIV, the long-standing enemy of William and Mary. Religion eventually became an issue in defining a notable family's loyalty to the crown.


Ascendancy rule 1691–1778

With the defeat of Catholic attempts to regain power and lands in Ireland, a ruling class which became known later as the "
Protestant Ascendancy The Protestant Ascendancy, known simply as the Ascendancy, was the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. I ...
" sought to ensure dominance with the passing of a number of laws to restrict the religious, political and economic activities of Catholics and Protestant Dissenters. Harsher laws were introduced for political reasons during the long
War of the Spanish Succession The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was an early-18th-century European war, triggered by the death in November 1700 of the childless Charles II of Spain. It established the principle that dynastic rights were secondary to maintaini ...
that ended in 1714. The son of James II, the "
Old Pretender James Francis Edward Stuart (10 June 16881 January 1766), nicknamed The Old Pretender by Whigs (British political party), Whigs, was the son of King James II of England, James II and VII of Kingdom of England, England, Kingdom of Sco ...
", was recognised by the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
as the legitimate King of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1766, and Catholics were obliged to support him. He also approved the appointments of all the Irish
Catholic hierarchy The hierarchy of the Catholic Church consists of its bishops A bishop is an ordained Ordination is the process by which individuals are Consecration, consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are th ...
, who were drawn from his most fervent supporters. These aspects provided the political basis for the new laws passed for several decades after 1695. Interdicts faced by Catholics and Dissenters under the Penal Laws were: * Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices (since 1607), Presbyterians were also barred from public office from 1707. * Ban on intermarriage with Protestants; repealed 1778 * Presbyterian marriages were not legally recognised by the state * Catholics barred from holding firearms or serving in the armed forces (rescinded by Militia Act of 1793) * Bar from membership in either the
Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city ...
or the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who u ...
from 1652; rescinded 1662–1691; renewed 1691–1829, applying to the successive parliaments of
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...
(to 1707),
Great Britain Great Britain is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...
(1707 to 1800), and the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some f ...
(1800 to 1829). * Disenfranchising Act 1728, exclusion from voting until 1793; * Exclusion from the legal professions and the judiciary; repealed (respectively) 1793 and 1829. *
Education Act 1695 The Education Act 1695 (7 Will.3 c.4), was an Act of the Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 180 ...
– ban on foreign education; repealed 1782. * Bar to Catholics and Protestant Dissenters entering
Trinity College Dublin , name_Latin = Collegium Sanctae et Individuae Trinitatis Reginae Elizabethae juxta Dublin , motto = ''Perpetuis futuris temporibus duraturam'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Ital ...

Trinity College Dublin
; repealed 1793. * On a death by a Catholic, his legatee could benefit by conversion to the
Church of Ireland The Church of Ireland ( ga, Eaglais na hÉireann, ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ul ...
; *
Popery Act An Act to prevent the further Growth of Popery, commonly known as the Popery Act or the Gavelkind Act,Andrew Lyall; Land Law in Ireland; was an Act of the Parliament of Ireland The Parliament of Ireland ( ga, Parlaimint na hÉireann) w ...
– Catholic inheritances of land were to be equally subdivided between all an owner's sons with the exception that if the eldest son and heir converted to Protestantism that he would become the one and only tenant of estate and portions for other children not to exceed one third of the estate. This "
Gavelkind Gavelkind () was a system of land tenure chiefly associated with the Celtic law in Ireland and Wales and with the legal traditions of the English county of Kent. The word may have originated from the Old Irish phrases ''Gabhaltas-cinne'' or ''Gava ...
" system had previously been abolished by 1600. * Ban on converting from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism on pain of
Praemunire In English history, ''praemunire'' or ''praemunire facias'' () refers to a 14th-century law that prohibited the assertion or maintenance of papal jurisdiction, or any other foreign jurisdiction or claim of supremacy in England England is a ...
: forfeiting all property estates and legacy to the monarch of the time and remaining in prison at the monarch's pleasure. In addition, forfeiting the monarch's protection. No injury however atrocious could have any action brought against it or any reparation for such. * Ban on Catholics buying land under a lease of more than 31 years; repealed 1778. * Ban on custody of orphans being granted to Catholics on pain of 500 pounds that was to be donated to the Blue Coat hospital in Dublin. * Ban on Catholics inheriting Protestant land * Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5 (to keep horses suitable for military activity out of the majority's hands) * Roman Catholic lay priests had to register to preach under the Registration Act 1704, but seminary priests and Bishops were not able to do so until 1778. At least they could register; the English
Popery Act 1698 The Popery Act 1698 (11 Will. III, c. 4) was an Act of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as , are texts of law passed by the of a jurisdiction (often a or ). In most countries, acts of parliament begin as a , which the legis ...
awarded a bounty for arresting a priest. * When allowed, new Catholic churches were to be built from wood, not stone, and away from main roads. * 'No person of the popish religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm' upon pain of twenty pounds fine and three months in prison for every such offence. Repealed in 1782. *Any and all rewards not paid by the crown for alerting authorities of offences to be levied upon the Catholic populace within parish and county. Historians disagree on how rigorously these laws were enforced. The consensus view is that enforcement depended on the attitudes of local magistrates bringing or hearing particular cases; some of whom were rigorous, others more liberal.


The Catholic Committees

From 1758, before the death of James III, ad-hoc groups of the remaining Catholic nobility and merchants worked towards repeal of the penal laws and an accommodation within the Hanoverian system. These were based locally on county lines. An earlier attempt in 1727 had met with strong opposition from the Jacobite movement, which resisted any negotiations with the Hanoverians, being usurpers. By 1760 eminent Catholics such as Lord Trimlestown, Lord Kenmare and Charles O'Conor of Belanagare persuaded the more liberal Protestants that they presented no political threat, and that reforms must follow. Events abroad in the 1760s, such as the outcome of the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
, the death of the
Old Pretender James Francis Edward Stuart (10 June 16881 January 1766), nicknamed The Old Pretender by Whigs (British political party), Whigs, was the son of King James II of England, James II and VII of Kingdom of England, England, Kingdom of Sco ...
(1766), the emerging "
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment); ger, Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie , "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, link= ...
", and the
Suppression of the Society of Jesus The suppression of the Jesuits was the removal of all members of the Society of Jesus , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = Christogram A Christogram (Latin ') is a monogram or combination of letters that forms ...
by Europe's Catholic monarchs, all seemed to confirm their position. The committees' work was supported in London by
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title ...
, who had drafted a speech on reform given in 1762, and "''in 1764 he had prepared a long draft paper on the penal laws''" that was not published, but was influential and widely circulated at Westminster.


Gradual reform and emancipation 1778–1869

On the death of the "Old Pretender" in January 1766 the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
recognised the
Hanoverian dynasty The House of Hanover (german: Haus Hannover), whose members are known as Hanoverians, is a Germans, German dynasty, royal house that ruled Hanover, Great Britain, and Ireland at various times during the 17th to 20th centuries. The house origin ...
as legitimate, and so the main political basis for the laws was removed and the slow process of
Catholic Emancipation #REDIRECT Catholic emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of ...
began, with the repeal of some of the Penal Laws by the Catholic Relief Acts of 1771, 1778 and 1793. However, the long drawn-out pace of reform ensured that the question of religious discrimination dominated Irish life and was a constant source of division. In a show of goodwill,
John Carpenter John Howard Carpenter (born January 16, 1948) is an American filmmaker, actor and composer. Although Carpenter has worked with various film genre A film genre is a stylistic or thematic category for motion pictures A film, also ...
, titular
Archbishop of Dublin The Archbishop of Dublin is an Episcopal polity, archiepiscopal title which takes its name after Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Ireland. Since the Reformation in Ireland, Reformation, there have been parallel apostolic successions to the title: one ...
, technically still an illegal position, was invited to join the
Royal Dublin Society The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) ( ga, Cumann Ríoga Bhaile Átha Cliath) is an Irish philanthropic organisation which was founded as the 'Dublin Society' on 25 June 1731 to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically. The RDS is synonymous wi ...

Royal Dublin Society
in 1773. Visitors from abroad such as Arthur Young in the late 1770s also deplored the Penal laws as being contrary to the spirit of the
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment); ger, Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie , "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, link= ...
, and illogical as they were unenforced. In his ''Tour in Ireland'' (1780), that was sponsored by many landlords, Young mentioned the laws twice: :''.. the cruel laws against the Roman Catholics of this country, remain the marks of illiberal barbarism. Why should not the industrious man have a spur to his industry, whatever be his religion..?'' Talking with Chief Baron Foster, Young commented: :''In conversation on the Popery laws, I expressed my surprise at their severity; he said they were severe in the letter, but never executed. .. His Lordship did justice to the merits of the Roman Catholics, by observing that they were in general a very sober, honest and industrious people. This .. brought to my mind an admirable expression of Mr Burke's in the English House of Commons: Connivance is the relaxation of slavery, not the definition of Liberty.'' An Irish Act of 1774 allowed any subject of George III "''of whatever persuasion to testify their allegiance to him''". The
Quebec Act The Quebec Act 1774 (french: Acte de Québec), formally known as the British North America (Quebec) Act 1774, was an act of the Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification ...
of 1774 was an encouragement outside Ireland, with the London parliament restoring religious rights in the main part of Canada, followed in Britain and Ireland by the Catholic Relief Act 1778. Carlow College was established in 1782. From 1782 reformist Irish Protestant politicians like
Henry Grattan Henry Grattan (3 July 1746 – 4 June 1820) was an Irish politician and lawyer who campaigned for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century from Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom, a sovereign state ...

Henry Grattan
,
JP Curran
JP Curran
, William Ponsonby and
Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol, (1 August 1730 – 8 July 1803), was an 18th-century Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identit ...
(a Protestant bishop), added their voices in support. In the English House of Commons
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title ...
also helped, but was faced with anti-Catholic sentiment which exploded in the
Gordon Riots The Gordon Riots of 1780 were several days of rioting in London motivated by anti-Catholic sentiment. They began with a large and orderly protest against the Papists Act 1778, Papists Act of 1778, which was intended to reduce official Anti-Catholic ...
of 1780. Another reform Act of 1782 sponsored by
Luke Gardiner Luke Gardiner (c. 1690 – 25 September 1755http://www.leighrayment.com/pcouncil/pcouncilI.htm) was an Irish property developer and politician. In the Irish House of Commons The Irish House of Commons ( ga, Teach na gComóntach or ''Teach na ...
removed the remaining limits on Catholics buying land and some petty restrictions such as owning a horse worth less than £5. In 1792
William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster William Robert FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, Order of St Patrick, KP, Privy Council of Ireland, PC (Ire) (12/13 March 1749 – 20 October 1804) was an Irish liberal politician and landowner. He was born in London. Career FitzGerald made his ...
, the eldest brother of
Lord Edward Fitzgerald Lord Edward FitzGerald (15 October 1763 – 4 June 1798) was an Irish aristocrat who abandoned his prospects as a distinguished veteran of British service in the American War of Independence The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), ...
, founded the 'Association of the friends of liberty' whose program sought Catholic members in the
Irish House of Commons The Irish House of Commons was the lower house of the Parliament of Ireland that existed from 1297 until 1800. The upper house was the Irish House of Lords, House of Lords. The membership of the House of Commons was directly elected, but on a hi ...
. They could not persuade most Protestant MPs to effect a bigger change than the Relief Act of 1793, where Catholics were now allowed to buy freehold land, to become grand jurors and
barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at law, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialis ...

barrister
s, to study at
Trinity College Dublin , name_Latin = Collegium Sanctae et Individuae Trinitatis Reginae Elizabethae juxta Dublin , motto = ''Perpetuis futuris temporibus duraturam'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Ital ...

Trinity College Dublin
, and to vote if they held property with a rental value of at least £2 a year (the so-called "Forty-shilling freeholders"). A majority of Irish MPs were still reluctant to reform, and the Irish 1793 Act had to be encouraged by the British government that had already passed the
Roman Catholic Relief Act 1791 The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1791 is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain passed in 1791 (31 George III. c. 32) relieving Roman Catholics of certain political, educational, and economic disabilities. It admitted Catholics to the practice o ...
. Opposition to Catholic Relief ensured that when relief was granted it was often accompanied by what were seen to be unpleasant concessions to the system. Relief in 1793 was accompanied by a widely unpopular Militia Act which removed the ban on Catholics holding firearms to allow for their conscription into the militia, but not their admittance into the officer ranks. However, wealthier Catholics did not oppose this as it was further proof of their gradual inclusion into the establishment. An example was
Daniel O'Connell Daniel O'Connell ( ga, Dónall Ó Conaill; 6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847), hailed in his time as The Liberator, was the acknowledged political leader of Ireland's Roman Catholic majority in the first half of the 19th century. His mobilisa ...

Daniel O'Connell
who briefly joined the militia unit formed at the
King's Inns The Honorable Society of King's Inns is the "Inn of Court" for the Bar of Ireland. The Benchers of King's Inns award the degree of barrister, barrister-at-law necessary to qualify as a barrister be called to the bar in Republic of Ireland, Irel ...
in the late 1790s. Pitt also encouraged a short-lived Catholic Irish Brigade. France declared war on Britain and Ireland in February 1793 and the war took priority over further reliefs. The French government opposed the
Holy See The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome or Apostolic See, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian ...
from 1790. Irish Catholic priests were trained in France, Belgium, and Spain, so the Prime Minister Pitt funded the establishment of
St. Patrick's seminary
St. Patrick's seminary
in
Maynooth Maynooth (; ga, Maigh Nuad) is a university town in north County Kildare, Ireland. It is home to Maynooth University (part of the National University of Ireland and also known as the National University of Ireland, Maynooth) and St Patrick's ...
in 1795. The French republican policies of " Dechristianization" in 1790–1801 were often similar to Cromwell's anti-Catholic policies in Ireland in the 1650s. The Presbyterian Church was granted the
Regium Donum The Regium Donum (Latin: "Royal Bounty") in British history was an annual grant to augment the income of poor Nonconformist clergy. There were separate grants for English Dissenters English Dissenters or English Separatists were Protestant Chris ...
. In 1795 the new
viceroy A viceroy () is an official who runs a polity in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix ''vice-'', meaning "in the place of" and the French word ''roy'', meaning "king". A ...

viceroy
the earl of Fitzwilliam proposed full political emancipation, as suggested by
Grattan
Grattan
, and a prelude to proposals for Parliamentary union. He was removed within weeks by the conservatives in the Irish administration. Many reformers despaired of peaceful change, particularly in the lack of
Tithe A tithe (; from : ''teogoþa'' "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in or s, whereas historically tithes were ...
reform, and this led on to instances of Catholic support for the abortive 1798 rebellion. During the rebellion the Irish Catholic bishops supported the government line. The subsequent passing of the
Act of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to make Wales a part of the Kingdom of England (These laws are often referred to in the plural as the "Acts of Un ...
of 1801 was intended to include
Catholic Emancipation #REDIRECT Catholic emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of ...
, as power was moved from the hands of the
Protestant Ascendancy The Protestant Ascendancy, known simply as the Ascendancy, was the political, economic, and social domination of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. I ...
to the London
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...
. This was agreed by most of the British Cabinet, including
William Pitt
William Pitt
, and they resigned when it was not effected. The personal opposition of
George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on th ...

George III
ensured that no change would be forthcoming during his reign.


Emancipation

The political argument for emancipation to allow Catholic MPs to sit in parliament continued after the 1801 Act of Union, supported by liberal MPs such as
Henry Grattan Henry Grattan (3 July 1746 – 4 June 1820) was an Irish politician and lawyer who campaigned for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century from Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom, a sovereign state ...

Henry Grattan
. Division arose over the "
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...
", the issue whether the government could, or could not, veto the appointment of a bishop where he was approved by the Pope. In May 1823,
Daniel O'Connell Daniel O'Connell ( ga, Dónall Ó Conaill; 6 August 1775 – 15 May 1847), hailed in his time as The Liberator, was the acknowledged political leader of Ireland's Roman Catholic majority in the first half of the 19th century. His mobilisa ...

Daniel O'Connell
launched the
Catholic Association The Catholic Association was an Irish Roman Catholic Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epis ...
and campaigned for
Catholic emancipation #REDIRECT Catholic emancipation Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of ...
which was largely achieved in the Act of 1829, primarily benefitting the middle classes. While this was seen as a late and overdue reform by Irish Catholics, Irish
Dissenter A dissenter (from the Latin ''dissentire'', "to disagree") is one who dissent Sticker art arguing that dissent is necessary for democracy.">democracy.html" ;"title="Sticker art arguing that dissent is necessary for democracy">Sticker art arguin ...
s had only just achieved the same status following the 1828 Test Act, Irish
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...

Jewish
MPs were barred until 1858 and
atheist Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psy ...

atheist
s until 1886. The Act also allowed for Catholic judges and senior civil servants and state officials to be appointed. As with the election of MPs, those who benefitted were the better educated and richer Catholics. The same class took advantage of the reform of town and city corporations in the Act of 1840 and took part in local government. But for the majority of Irish Catholics living in the countryside, the cost of the tithing system had always been the main cause of complaint.


Tithe reform

The obligation by Catholics and other religious groups to pay
tithes A tithe (; from Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are ...
to the Protestant Church remained until its disestablishment by the
Irish Church Act 1869 The Irish Church Act 1869 (32 & 33 Vict. c. 42) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the Unite ...
and Catholic Emancipation was quickly followed by a period of violent resistance known as the
Tithe War The Tithe War ( ga, Cogadh na nDeachúna) was a campaign of mainly nonviolent civil disobedience Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal of a citizen Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the ...
. From 1840 tithes were no longer payable by tenants but by their landlords, who were allowed to increase rents to make up the difference. The Catholic Church became resurgent from the 1840s, uniting with the Protestant churches to oppose the integration of students of differing religion in the new primary or 'National' schools, and in the 1850s a debate arose over whether some proposed universities should be mixed or just for Catholics.


Government of Ireland Act 1920

Section 5(2) of the
Government of Ireland Act 1920 The Government of Ireland Act 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5 c. 67) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer ...
stated: :Any existing enactment by which any penalty, disadvantage, or disability is imposed on account of religious belief or on a member of any religious order as such shall ... cease to have effect in Ireland. This did not affect the
Act of Settlement 1701 The Act of Settlement is an Acts of the Parliament of England, Act of the Parliament of England that was passed in 1701 to settle the order of succession, succession to the List of English monarchs, English and List of Irish monarchs, Irish cr ...
, which prohibited those married to Catholics from succeeding to the throne; these were later repealed by the
Succession to the Crown Act 2013 The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 (c. 20) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations ...
(between 1920 and 2013 there was no Catholic heir to the throne). As a result of Sections 5(2) and 37(1) of the 1920 act, Roman Catholics once again became eligible to occupy the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the British monarch's representative in Ireland. Within months of this legislation passing, Edmund FitzAlan-Howard, 1st Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent, Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent became in April 1921 the first Roman Catholic Lord Lieutenant of Ireland since the penal laws forbade such appointments in 1685. Because of the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and the altered constitutional relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom, FitzAlan was also the last Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.


Mentioned into the 20th century

The memory of the Penal laws remained as a strongly resonant cultural element in Irish Catholicism long after their reform, and they were seen as a social and legal nadir from which the bulk of the Irish population had eventually escaped. In May 1920, Seán T. O'Kelly sent a memorandum to Pope Benedict XV which included: In 1971, responding to news of an importation of Birth control, contraceptive devices from Northern Ireland that could not be sold in the Republic, Thomas Ryan, Bishop of clonfert#Roman Catholic succession, Bishop of Clonfert, said that "never before, and certainly not since penal times was the Catholic heritage of Ireland subjected to so many insidious onslaughts on the pretext of conscience, civil rights and women's liberation."The Field day anthology of Irish writing: Irish women's writing and traditions edited by Angela Bourke; NYU Press 2002, pp. 200–201


References


Notes


Primary sources


Secondary sources

* *


External links

* * *
Laws in Ireland for the suppression of PoperyBBC History Penal Laws in Ireland

Bills 1692–1800 with subject "Popery"
Irish Legislation Database {{Ireland topics Penal Laws in Ireland, History of Christianity in Ireland History of Christianity in the United Kingdom Christianity and law in the 17th century Anti-Catholicism in Ireland Legal history of Ireland Social history of Ireland Religion in the British Empire