§ The Marquess of Westmeath moved for "a Copy of the Petition of Lay Patrons of Advowsons in Ireland to his Majesty, which was put into the hands of Lord John Russell, Secretary of State for the Home Department, in the month of June, 1835, and for any answer which his Majesty may have been advised to give thereto," By the 3 17th and 18th Charles 2nd, cap. 2, sec. 158, and the 2nd Anne, cap. 6., sec. 15th and 25th, Acts passed in the Parliament of Ireland, all Roman Catholics or Papists, patrons of Ecclesiastical livings in that kingdom, were deprived of the patronage and right to present to those livings, and the right of presenting was vested in the Crown as trustee, until such Papists, or their heirs, should take the oaths of allegiance, abjuration, &c, and conform to the Protestant religion, whereupon such right was to be again revested in the person so conforming and his heirs. The Crown having neglected to execute the trust by omitting from time to time to present clerks to the respective churches of the divested Papists, the Bishops should have collated thereto by lapse; but, instead of doing so, they collated to them as of their own right, and still continue to do so whenever a vacancy occurs, thereby putting the heirs of the rightful patrons, who have conformed (and who have consequently reinvested themselves with all their patrimonial rights and privileges) to the expense of the action of quare impedit, to obtain the actual possession of those rights—a state of things which never could have been contemplated by the Legislature when the above Acts were passed; on the contrary, the latter part of the 158th section alluded to, enacts, "That from and after such conformity, the right of presentation shall be again revested in the person so conforming, and his heirs." The subject demanded the serious consideration of his Majesty's Government; he hoped his motion would not be opposed.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, the Crown could have no knowledge of the religious opinions of those who described themselves as lay patrons of advowsons, or as to the nature and origin of their rights. He did not therefore see how the Crown could at all interfere in the matter.
was of opinion, that this was not a case for the Secretary of State to interfere in, and if any noble Lord thought the present law defective, as to the application of relief, such noble Lord should bring the matter forward by a Bill.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
hoped due inquiry would be made into this subject. According to the present form of proceeding by quare impedit, the delay and expense amounted to a denial of justice.
§ Lord Wynford
contended, that already a tribunal existed for such cases, where the expense of the pleadings had been reduced as much as possible. It was impossible to recover this species of property by petition to Parliament.
§ Lord Plunket
said, that the Crown was not in the situation of a trustee for the parties from whom the right of presentation to these livings was taken; for, before the Crown could be placed in that situation, it must know the nature of the right and title which the parties had to these advowsons, and must also know the religion which they professed. You could not say at once that the party from whom the right of presentation was taken was a Papist, and that he was therefore deprived of it; nor could you, on the other hand, say at once, that the heir of that party, who was a Papist, was now a Protestant, and therefore entitled to be restored to the control over these advowsons.
suggested, that by referring to the clause in the Act of Parliament, there would be no difficulty in ascertaining the religion of the party claiming as a right the restoration of these advowsons. How did that clause ascertain the party's religion? By enacting that he should go to Church and take the Sacrament according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England. If a case were to be laid before the Attorney-General, showing that the right heir of the party from whom the presentation was taken was a Protestant, and had gone to Church, and had taken the Sacrament according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, the Crown would be compelled to restore to him the rights of advowson, which had been taken from his ancestor as a Papist.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
contended, that the Crown had neglected to take possession of this species of property, which it had wrested from the right owners, and that it had therefore got, by some means or other, into the hands of the Bishops, who now claimed as a matter of right to present to these advowsons. He denied that there had been any measures recently adopted to diminish the expense which it was necessary to incur in vindicating for individuals of this description.
The Bishop of Exeter
said, that it was too much to suppose, without further inquiry, that the Bishops having not for 5 many years collated to these livings, had collated to that to which they had no light. If the right of presentation to these livings was in the Crown, the Bishops had no right to collate to them; but it was unfair to presume, without examination, that the Bishops had done that which they had no right to do.
The Duke of Cumberland
If I recollect right, it was said on a former occasion, that the Crown had taken possession of the right to the presentation of these livings, and had given it over to the Bishops of the several dioceses in which they were situated.
The Marquess of Westmeath
could not help thinking still, that this was a case of peculiar and remarkable hardship. The noble Viscount at the head of the Government asked, what could the King's Ministers do in this case? He (the Marquess of Westmeath) answered, that the King's Commissioners had the custody of the public records: the King's Ministers could constitute a Commission to inquire into the right of presentation to these livings, and could greatly facilitate the ends of justice. He was not of opinion, as the noble and learned Lords (Plunket and Wynford) who had spoken seemed to be, that it was desirable to plunge a man into that delectable remedy, a court of law, which the noble and learned Lords seemed to consider as the panacea for evils of this case. The noble and learned Lord who sat near him (Lord Wynford) had said, that the expense and delay attending the proceeding by quare impedit had been of late greatly diminished. He (the Marquess of Westmeath) admitted, that such might have been the case in England, but he defied the noble and learned Lord to tell him of one single statute which had been passed with that object in Ireland. The proposition for which he contended was this, that no man with two eyes in his head [laughter] could read the Acts to which he had referred, without being convinced, that it was intended by the framers of that Act, that any Peer if a Catholic, from whom the right of these advowsons had been taken, who had conformed to the Protestant religion, should take possession of that right without being compelled to go to law. And he considered, that the Crown, having the means in its power, by possession of the public records, and other circumstances, ought to afford him every facility in the recovery of that right.
§ Motion agreed to.