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[71] would but join the English church, could revolt
chap. IV.} 1763.
against his father, and turn his father's estate in fee simple into a tenancy for life, becoming himself the owner, and annulling every agreement made by the father, even before his son's conversion.

The dominion of the child over the property of the Popish parent was universal. The Catholic father could not in any degree disinherit his apostatizing son; but the child, in declaring himself a Protestant, might compel his father to confess upon oath the value of his substance, real and personal, on which the Protestant court might out of it award the son immediate maintenance, and after the father's death, any establishment it pleased. A new bill might at any time be brought by one or all of the children, for a further discovery. If the parent, by his industry, improved his property, the son might compel a new account of the value of the estate, in order to a new disposition. The father had no security against the persecution of his children but by abandoning all acquisition or improvement.1

Ireland, of which by far the greater part had been confiscated since the reign of Henry VII., and much of it more than once, passed away from the ancient Irish. The proprietors in fee were probably fewer than in an equal area in any part of Western Europe, Spain only excepted. The consequence was, an unexampled complication of titles. The landlord in chief was often known only as having dominion over the estate; leases of large tracts had been granted for very long terms of years; these were again subdivided to those who subdivided them once

1 Burke on the Penal Laws.

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