THE CATHOLIC RELIEF ACT, 1793
The onset of the French Revolution made it more urgent to redress Catholic grievances. In 1793 the government pressured the Irish parliament to pass this legislation, extending the right to vote to Catholics otherwise qualified to do so. The right to sit in parliament and to hold a number of other public offices was withheld until 1829.
AN ACT FOR THE RELIEF OF HIS MAJESTY'S POPISH, OR ROMAN CATHOLIC SUBJECTS OF IRELAND
Whereas various acts of parliament have been passed, imposing on his Majesty's subjects professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion many restraints and disabilities, to which other subjects of this realm are not liable, and from the peaceful and loyal demeanour of his Majesty's popish or Roman Catholic subjects, it is fit that such restraints and disabilities shall be discontinued; be it therefore enacted ... that his Majesty's subjects being papists, or persons professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion, or married to papists, or persons professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion, or educating any of their children in that religion, shall not be liable or subject to any penalties, forfeitures, disabilities, or incapacities, or to any laws for the limitation, charging, or discovering of their estates and property, real or personal, or touching the acquiring of property, or securities affecting property, save such as his Majesty's subjects of the Protestant religion are liable and subject to; and that such parts of all oaths as are required to be taken by persons in order to qualify themselves for voting at elections for members to serve in parliament, as import to deny that the person taking the same is a papist or married to a papist, or educates his children in the popish religion, shall not hereafter be required to be taken by any voter, but shall be omitted by the person administering the same; and that is shall not be necessary, in order to entitle a papist, or person professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion to vote at an election of members to serve in parliament, that he should at, or previous to his voting, take the oaths of allegiance and abjuration,
VI. Provided also, that nothing herein contained, shall extend to authorize any papist, or person professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion, to have or keep in his hands or possession any arms ... or to exempt such person from any forfeiture, or penalty inflicted by any act respecting arms, armour, or ammunition, in the hands or possession of any papist, or respecting papists having or keeping such warlike stores, save and except papists, or persons of the popish or Roman Catholic religion seized of a freehold estate of one hundred pounds a year, or possessed of a personal estate of one thousand pounds or upwards, who are hereby authorized to keep arms and ammunition as Protestants now by law may; and also save and except papists or Roman Catholics, possessing a freehold estate of ten pounds yearly value, and less than one hundred pounds, or a personal estate of three hundred, and less than one thousand pounds, who shall have at the session of the peace in the county in which they reside,, taken the oath of allegiance prescribed to be taken by an Act passed in the thirteenth and fourteenth years of his present Majesty's reign, entitled An Act to enable his Majesty's subjects, of whatever persuasion, to testify their allegiance to him ...
VII. And be it enacted, that it shall and may be lawful for papists, or persons professing the Popish or Roman Catholic religion, to hold, exercise, and enjoy all civil and military offices, or places of trust or profit under his Majesty, his heirs and successors, in this kingdom; and to hold or take degrees or any professorship in, or be masters, or fellows of any college, to be hereafter founded in this kingdom, provided that such college shall be a member of the University of Dublin, and shall not be founded exclusively for the education of papists or persons professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion, nor consist exclusively of masters, fellows, or other persons to be named or elected on the foundation of such college, being persons professing the popish or Roman Catholic religion, or to hold any office or place of trust, in, and to be a member of any lay-body corporate, except the College of the Holy and undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth, near Dublin, without taking and subscribing the oaths of allegiance, supremacy, or abjuration, or making or subscribing the declaration required to be taken, made and subscribed, to enable any person to hold and enjoy any of such places, and without receiving the sacrament of the Lord's supper, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of Ireland, any law, statute, or bye-law of any corporation to the contrary notwithstanding; provided that every such person shall take and subscribe the oath appointed by the said Act passed in the thirteenth and fourteenth years of his Majesty's reign, entitled An Act to enable his Majesty's subjects, of whatever persuasion, to testify their allegiance to him; and also the oath and declaration following, that is to say, I A.B. do hereby declare, that I do profess the Roman Catholic religion. I A.B. do swear, that I do abjure, condemn, and detest, as unchristian and impious, the principle that it is lawful to murder, destroy, or any ways injure any person whatsoever, for or under the pretence of being a heretic; and I do declare solemnly before God, that I believe, that no act in itself unjust, immoral, or wicked, can ever be justified or excused by or under pretence or colour, that it was done either for the good of the church, or in obedience to any ecclesiastical power whatsoever. I also declare, that it is not an article of the Catholic faith, neither am I thereby required to believe or profess that the pope is infallible, or that I am bound to obey any order in its own nature immoral, though the Pope or any ecclesiastical power should issue or direct such order, but on the contrary, I hold that it would be sinful in me to pay any respect or obedience thereto. I further declare, that I do not believe that any sin whatsoever, committed by me, can be forgiven at the mere will of any Pope, or of my priest, or of any person or persons whatsoever, but that sincere sorrow for past sins, a firm and sincere resolution to avoid future guilt and to atone to God, are previous and indispensible requisites to establish a well-founded expectation of forgiveness, and that any person who receives absolution without these previous requisites, so far from obtaining thereby any remission of his sins, incurs the additional guilt of violating a sacrament; and I do swear that I will defend to the utmost of my power the settlement and arrangement of property in this country, as established by the laws now in being; I do hereby disclaim, disavow and solemnly abjure any intention to subvert the present church establishment for the purpose of substituting a Catholic establishment in its stead; and I do solemnly swear, that I will not exercise any privilege to which I am or may become entitled, to disturb and weaken the Protestant religion and Protestant government in this kingdom.
So help me God! ...
IX. Provided always, and be it enacted, that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend to enable any person to sit or vote in either house of parliament, or to hold, exercise, or enjoy the office of Lord Lieutenant, lord deputy, or other chief governor of this kingdom, lord high chancellor or keeper, or commissioner of the great seal of this kingdom, lord high treasurer, chancellor of the exchequer, chief justice of the court of king's bench, or common pleas, lord chief baron of the court of exchequer, judge of the high court of admiralty, master or keeper of the rolls, secretary, vice-treasurer, teller and cashier of the exchequer, or auditor-general, lieutenant or governor, or custos rotulorum. of counties, secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, lord deputy, or other chief governor or governors of this kingdom, member of his Majesty's most honourable privy council, prime serjeant attorney-general, solicitor general, second and third serjeants-at-law, or king's counsel, masters in chancery, provost, or fellow of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth, near Dublin, postmaster-general, master and lieutenant general of his Majesty's ordnance, commander-in-chief of his Majesty's forces, generals or, the staff, and sheriffs and sub-sheriffs of any county in this kingdom or any office contrary to the rules, orders and directions made and established by the Lord Lieutenant and council, in pursuance of the Act passed in the seventh and eighteenth years of the reign of King Charles the Second, entitled An Act for the explaining of some doubts arising upon an Act, entitled, An Act for the better execution of his Majesty's gracious declaration for the settlement of his kingdom of Ireland, unless he shall have taken, made, and subscribed the oaths, and declaration, and performed the several requisites which by any law heretofore made, and now of force, are required to enable any person to sit or vote, or to hold, exercise, and enjoy the said offices respectively. .
XII. Provided also, and be it enacted, that nothing herein contained, shall be construed to extend to authorize any popish priest, or reputed popish priest, to celebrate marriage between Protestant and Protestant, or between any person who hath been, or professes himself or herself to be a Protestant at any time within twelve months before such celebration of marriage, and a papist, unless such Protestant and papist shall have been first married by a clergyman of the Protestant religion; and that every popish priest, or reputed popish priest, who shall celebrate any marriage between two Protestants, or between any such Protestant and papist, unless such Protestant and papist shall have been first married by a clergyman of the Protestant religion, shall forfeit the sum of five hundred pounds to his Majesty, upon conviction thereof.
XIII.. And whereas it may be expedient, in case his Majesty, his heirs and successors, shall be so pleased so to alter the statutes of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity near Dublin and of the University of Dublin, as to enable persons professing the Roman Catholic religion to enter into, or to take degrees in the said university, to remove any obstacle which now exists by statute law; be it enacted, that from and after the first day of June 1793 it shall not be necessary for any person upon taking any of the degrees usually conferred by the said university, to make or subscribe any declaration, or to take any oaths of allegiance and abjuration....
XIV. Provided always, that no papist or Roman Catholic, or person professing the Roman Catholic or popish religion, shall take any benefit by, or under this Act, unless he shall have first taken and subscribed the oath and declaration in this Act contained and set forth, and also the said oath appointed by the said Act passed in the thirteenth and fourteenth years of his Majesty's reign, entitled An Act to enable his Majesty's subjects of whatever persuasion to testify their allegiance to him, in some one of his Majesty's four courts in Dublin, or at the general sessions of the peace, or at any adjournment thereof to be holden for the county, city, or borough wherein such papist or Roman Catholic, or person professing the Roman Catholic or popish religion, doth in habit or dwell, or before the going judge or judges of assize,
STATUTES AT LARGE PASSED IN THE PARLIAMENTS HELD IN IRELAND, 1310-1800 (1786-1801), vol. xvi, pp. 685-692
Extracted from Edmund Curtis and R B McDowell editors, Irish Historical Documents 1172-1922 Methuen London 1943 pp198-202