- Catholic Relief Act 1829
The Catholic Relief Act 1829 (10 Geo IV c.7) was passed by the
Parliament of the United Kingdomon 24 March 1829, and received the Royal Assenton 13 April. It was the culmination of the process of Catholic Emancipationin the United Kingdom, and in Ireland it repealed the last of the Penal Laws. Its passage followed a campaign on the issue by Irish lawyer and newly elected Member of Parliament Daniel O'Connell, as well as support from the Whigs and liberal Tories.
The act allowed Catholics to have a seat in parliament. This condition was crucial as Daniel O'Connell had won a seat in a by-election in
County Clarebut under British law he was forbidden (because of his religion) to take his seat in Westminster. Sir Robert Peel, the Home Secretary, who had for all of his career opposed emancipation (and had, in 1815, challenged O'Connell to a duel) was forced to conclude: "though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger." Fearing a revolution in Ireland, Peel drew up the Catholic Relief Bill and guided it through the House of Commons. To overcome the opposition of both the House of Lordsand King George IV, the Duke of Wellington worked to ensure passage in the House of Lords, and threatened to resign as Prime Minister if the King did not give Royal Assent.
The Catholic Relief Act was a compromise, however, and effectively disenfranchised the Catholic peasants of Ireland, the so-called
Forty Shilling Freeholders. The act raised fivefold the economic qualifications for voting. Starting in 1793, any man renting or owning land worth at least forty shillings (the equivalent of two Pounds Sterling), had been permitted to vote. Under the Catholic Relief Act, this was raised to ten pounds.Fact|date=February 2007
* [http://multitext.ucc.ie/d/The_Emancipation_Bill The text of the act]
* [http://www.victorianweb.org/history/emancipation2.html History of emancipation]
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