no small degree of the oppression of their Catholic brethren, and among the first to resist that oppression in 1782; the Catholics constituting at least two thirds of the whole population, and almost the entire peasantry of the country, forming a large proportion of the mercantile interest, yet nearly excluded from the possession of landed property by the tyrannous operation of the penal laws.
Justly has a celebrated Irish patriot (Theobald Wolfe Tone) spoken of these laws as ‘an execrable and infamous code, framed with the art and malice of demons to plunder and degrade and brutalize the Catholics of Ireland
There was no disgrace, no injustice, no disqualification, moral, political, or religious, civil or military, which it has not heaped upon them.’
The following facts relative to the disabilities under which the Catholics of the United Kingdom.
labored previous to the emancipation of 1829 will serve to show in some measure the oppressive operation of those laws which placed the foot of one tenth of the population of Ireland
upon the necks of the remainder.
A Catholic peer could not sit in the House of Peers
, nor a Catholic commoner in the House of Commons.
A Catholic could not be Lord Chancellor, or Keeper, or Commissioner
of the Great Seal; Master or Keeper of the Rolls; Justice
of the King
's Bench or of the Common Pleas
of the Exchequer; Attorney or Solicitor General
's Sergeant at Law; Member of the King
's Council; Master in Chancery, nor Chairman
for the County of Dublin
He could not