Committees for Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts: Minutes, 1828 (nos 212-74)

Pages 86-106

Committees for Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts: Minutes 1786-90 and 1827-8. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1978.

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212. [p. 74] The following letter from Lord John Russell was read.

Middleton January 6th


Having seen in the newspapers a resolution or proposal of the Roman Catholics of Ireland to ask the co-operation of the Dissenters in their mutual objects, I unite to offer my opinion that they ought not to make any formal junction of the kind proposed. At the same [p. 75] time it may be right to thank the Catholics for their votes in favour of the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts.

Your obedient servant,
J. Russell

Robert Winter Esq
16 Bedford Row, London

Resolved that a letter be written to Lord John Russell in answer (under the direction of the subcommittee of publication) informing him that this committee have adopted and acted upon the principle of not forming any union with the Catholics, and that when the committee receives any official communication of the resolutions passed by that body and referred to by Lord John Russell, such a vote of thanks will be passed as his lordship has suggested.

213. The secretary produced and read a letter he had received from the Reverend William Chaplin of which the following is a copy.

Bishop's Stortford January 1st 1828

Dear Sir,

I thank you for the printed circular dated December 14th and shall be happy to do anything in my power to promote the object proposed.

With a view to ascertain how far a general movement might be expected [p. 76] here, I had some communications with the vicar of the parish and submitted to his consideration the printed forms. He declined having anything to do with the business, expressing however his goodwill towards such measures as the higher powers may judge expedient for the interests of liberty in connection with the welfare of the country at large. But he seriously objects to the views given in the form of petition suggested for members of the Established Church. I have endeavoured to remove his objections, but still he thinks he knows better than I do how the case stands. It would be a pity for him to retain and circulate among his connections the idea that the committee had put forth erroneous statements and given a false colour to facts in order to serve a purpose. And I submit to you whether it would be desirable to do anything further by way of explanation, either privately or by the Test Act Reporter. I will just give you a short extract from his last note.

'The minister who refuses to administer the sacrament to a notorious evil liver would have little to fear from an action for damages, if in obedience to injunctions which were sanctioned before the Test Act [p. 77] was thought of, he performed his duty to the Church and his conscience. It would be strange if there were so great a contradiction in legislation as to require the clergy to perform a duty which is elsewhere forbidden as a fault. If therefore the clergy are chargeable with corruption and the Church has its ordinances desecrated, there is no plea of necessity or perplexity to excuse the abuses which are alleged. So far as their personal responsibility is affected, they are protected from harm by the authority of the injunctions which the Church has the power to decree, and need not on that ground desire the repeal of the statute which regulates the test.'

The proper reply to this is obvious enough. But as it refers to a public statement by the committee, I have thought it right to make this communication to you, leaving you to judge whether any or what notice should be taken of it.

I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant, William Chaplin

P.S. I open this letter to add that in a former note to me he had said, 'I must deny that the Church is disgraced by the act of its ministers in suffering a notorious evil liver to present himself unadmonished to the altar. A fearless obedience to conscience will ever preserve [p. 78] the Church from the injury and disgrace of the compromise which the printed form imputes to its ministers. It would be impossible to concur in this part of the petition without admitting what is certainly not true, and pleading guilty to a heavy charge which ought to be repelled with disdain.'

To Robert Winter Esq

16 Bedford Row

Resolved that a letter be written to Mr Chaplin in answer (under the direction of the subcommittee of publication), noticing the observations of the clergyman alluded to in Mr Chaplin's letter, with a view to prevent the circulation of the erroneous opinion expressed by the clergyman in his notes to Mr Chaplin on the subject of the form of petition circulated for the adoption of members of the Established Church.

214. [pp. 79-99; TAR 438-45] On 7 January 1828 the special subcommittee appointed to produce an accurate list of congregations in England, Wales and Scotland resolved to send a list of congregations to the secretaries of several ministerial associations in the country, asking that the lists be revised.

215. The main topic discussed at a committee meeting on 14 January 1828 was a letter from John Wilks, secretary to the Protestant Society for the Protection of Religious Liberty, to the United Committee containing six resolutions calling for greater co-operation between the two bodies in the Repeal campaign. The letter also named the following six persons as delegates to the committee: George Collison, Thomas Hayter, Thomas Pellatt, John Wilks, Thomas Walker and James Young. The committee then resolved to appoint a deputation to meet with the Protestant Society's delegates to discuss the proposed co-operation. Such a conference took place on 16 January, when the two following resolutions were approved: [p. 82] 'That all monies which may hereafter be raised in aid of the application to parliament for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, and which shall be received by the United Committee, shall form a separate fund, distinct from the present funds of the Deputies, out of which all expenses incurred either by the United Committee or by the Protestant Society immediately preceding and during the last session of parliament, and since, and also all future expenses and charges connected with the application to parliament, shall be paid; and in case the amount of [p. 83] the subscriptions shall be insufficient to pay such past and future expenses, the Protestant Society shall bear one-fifth part of the deficiency, but in case there shall be any surplus of the subscription after the Repeal has been obtained, the Protestant Society shall be entitled to receive a fifth part of such surplus.

'That the Protestant Society or their committee will not adopt any measures relative to the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, either by publications, correspondence, conferences with members of parliament, or otherwise, separately from the United Committee, except that the committee of the Protestant Society are forthwith to address a circular letter announcing their junction with the United Committee for the accomplishment of the object in view.'

216. At a meeting on 21 January 1828 the full United Committee approved the two preceding resolutions and resolved that the secretary communicate their decision to the Protestant Society. It was also resolved that Serjeant Charles Bompas be added to the deputation appointed on 17 December to meet with members of parliament to discuss the Repeal motion.

217. On 28 January 1828 Robert Winter reported that at a general meeting of the Dissenting Deputies on 25 January it had been resolved to thank the Corporation of the City of London and Samuel Favell for the Repeal resolution passed in the Court of Common Council; the United Committee was asked to consider whether the resolution of thanks should be published and in what manner. The committee agreed that such a resolution should be passed and referred the matter to the subcommittee on publications. A letter was read from Thomas Rees, in which his congregation had passed a resolution thanking the United Committee for its efforts and had agreed to submit a petition in favour of Repeal. William Smith reported that he and a deputation had met that morning with the Marquess of Lansdowne, who had promised his support. The committee resolved that the deputation appointed on 17 December should meet with members of parliament whenever it appeared advisable. The secretary was asked to purchase a copy of the Parliamentary Review and fifty copies of the World newspaper, one copy for each committee member.

218. On 30 January the publications subcommittee met and resolved to recommend to the United Committee that the individual organizations sending delegations to that body refrain from publishing separate resolutions concerning the Repeal campaign. They also drafted resolutions to be published praising the Corporation of London for its decision to petition the houses of parliament for Repeal and thanking Samuel Favell for sponsoring the repeal petition before the Court of Common Council and Walter Anderson Peacock for seconding the motion. It was also resolved to acquire the Votes and Appendix of the Commons during the present session and to subscribe to the Mirror of Parliament.

219. On 4 February 1828 the United Committee approved the recommendations of the subcommittee on publications regarding the resolutions of thanks to be submitted to the Corporation of London and resolved to print the resolutions in London's daily newspapers and in the World. Henry Waymouth reported that he and a deputation had met with Lord John Russell that morning to discuss the impending Repeal motion.

220. The secretary reported on a sequence of events that had begun on 29 January when a Mr Northhouse had visited him, claiming to represent the British Catholic Association, to ask whether the Protestant Dissenters would be willing to hold a joint public meeting with Roman Catholics [p. 91] 'with the view of aiding the applications to parliament, now being made by those bodies respectively, for the removal of their civil disabilities'. Winter had replied that he was not authorized to act on such a proposal but would place the matter before the United Committee if the proposal were received in writing. That evening he had received a letter from Edward Blount, secretary to the British Catholic Association, that recounted a meeting of the Association's General Committee on 29 January [p. 92] 'convened for the purpose of taking into consideration an overture on the part of the Dissenters for a joint public meeting'. The Association had appointed Blount, Mr Silvertop, Mr Fitzgerald and Colonel Stonor to meet with Winter to discuss the matter, and Blount asked about a convenient time and place for such a meeting. Winter had then brought the subject to the attention of the publications subcommittee at their meeting on 30 January and had sent a response to the Association that afternoon, stating that there had obviously been a misunderstanding: [p. 93] 'I am anxious to state without delay that some most extraordinary mistake has occurred. No overture or communication whatever has been made by me to any person whatever on this subject save that yesterday afternoon a Mr Northhouse called upon me to ask me whether the Dissenters would be disposed to unite in a public meeting with the Catholics, to which I answered that I should be happy to lay before the United Committee to which I am secretary any communication with which I might be favoured.' On behalf of the Catholic Association, Mr Blount had written regretting the misunderstanding.

221. Because the New Times had reported on 31 January that Dissenters were asking the Roman Catholics to unite with them in seeking legislative relief from civil disabilities, Winter had sought the advice of a subcommittee of Dissenting Deputies, who recommended him to send a letter denying the report to the editor of the New Times. They also advised that Winter and Henry Waymouth should meet with Blount and, while stressing that Dissenters were in no way hostile to Catholics, ask if he would publicly contradict the newspaper report. Blount disavowed any knowledge of the report and said that it had appeared without the authority of the Catholic Association, [p. 96] 'but thought it probable that Mr Northhouse was the author of it'. Blount had refused to contradict the report because it was anonymous but had approved of Winter sending a letter, of which he was shown a copy, to the editor of the New Times. A similar letter was sent to the editor of the Courier, which had also printed the report.

Having heard Winter's account of these matters, the United Committee resolved that their earlier decision not to unite with Catholics had been based on the committee's best judgment and the advice they had received from parliamentary friends. Although a common campaign had been and still was deemed inexpedient, the committee repudiated the inference that they had any hostile feelings towards the Catholic claims. The committee also resolved to send copies of the resolution to Lord John Russell and to John Smith, requesting them to explain the background and intention of the resolution to members of the Commons.

222. On 11 February 1828 the committee agreed to a request from John Wilks of the Protestant Society that the Reverend John Styles be added to the committee in place of Thomas Hayter. The committee also resolved to add John Wilks and George Collison to the subcommittee on publications and requested the deputation appointed to meet with members of parliament to confer with Lord John Russell and others to discuss details of the Repeal motion. In addition, each M.P. was to receive from the subcommittee on publications a letter containing a brief summary of the Dissenters' arguments for Repeal and an outline of how they expected the Repeal debate to proceed.

[The following extract from the minutes of the meeting of 11 February was not printed in the TAR.]

223. [p. 98] Letters from the Reverend Messrs Kepworth of Faversham, Matheson of Durham, Hine of Ilminster and Hemming of Market Rasen on the subject of petitions for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts were read.

Resolved that the letters from Mr Matheson and Mr Hemming be answered by informing them that Lord John Russell's motion for the [p. 99] Repeal cannot be postponed beyond the 21st and therefore urging them to send up as many petitions as possible.

224. [pp. 99-102; TAR 445-6] On 13 February 1828 Robert Winter reported to the subcommittee on publications that he had met with Lord John Russell, who had announced that he would introduce the Repeal motion with the exact words used by Charles James Fox on 2 March 1790. Lord John Russell had also asked for an estimate of the number of Protestant Dissenters in the kingdom and for a statement to be sent to each M.P. explaining the reasons for Repeal. Winter's draft of the statement was referred to Robert Aspland, Edward Busk and Dr Brown for revision, and Busk and Brown were asked to prepare an abstract of all the statutes affecting Protestant Dissenters for inclusion in the letter sent to each M.P. Benjamin Hanbury offered his estimate of the number of Dissenters in England.

The subcommittee also resolved that the secretary circulate Repeal petitions among M.P.s and that he arrange a meeting of a deputation from the United Committee with Lord Althorp, Lord Milton, Henry Brougham, George Tierney, George Byng, John Calcraft and Thomas Spring Rice before the Repeal motion was introduced. Winter was also instructed to arrange with the editor of the Mirror of Parliament for a verbatim copy of the Repeal debate to be taken on 21 February, to secure seats at the debate for a deputation from the United Committee, and to send Lord John Russell statements regarding the civil disabilities of Dissenters and the number of Dissenters in England and Wales.

225. [p. 102] 18th February 1828. At a meeting of the committee appointed to conduct the application to parliament for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts held at the King's Head Tavern. Present: William Smith Esq, M.P., in the chair; Reverend Mr Aspland, Mr Busk, Mr Serjeant Bompas, Mr Bowring, Mr Bickham, Mr Bentley, Dr Brown, Mr Cordell, Reverend Mr Collison, Mr Favell, Mr Fisher, Mr Gale, Mr T Gibson, Mr Hale, Mr Hanbury, Reverend Dr Humphrys, Mr Hornby, Mr Hood, Mr Lee, Reverend Dr Newman, Mr Pewtress, Reverend Dr Rees, Mr Richmond, Mr Stephenson, Reverend Dr Styles, Mr Walker, Mr Wilson, Reverend Dr Winter. [p. 103] The minutes of the meetings of the 11th and 13th instant were read and confirmed.

Dr Brown reported the result of conferences between the deputation and several members of parliament (viz.) Lord Althorp, Mr Tierney, Mr Calcraft, Mr Denison and Mr Byng, all of whom had expressed themselves strongly in favour of the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts.

The secretary produced and read letters he had received from Lord Holland, the Reverend Mr Carpenter of Nottingham and Mr Barrow, the editor of the Mirror of Parliament.

Mr Hanbury read his report of the number of Dissenters in England and Wales.

Resolved that such report be entered on the minutes and that it be referred to the subcommittee of publication to make such use of it as they shall think proper.

Resolved that the thanks of this meeting be given to Mr Hanbury for the great pains taken by him to obtain information as to the number of Dissenters and for his able report of the result.

226. Copy of the report referred to:

Full three fifths of the Dissenting population attend public worship in the course of each Sunday.

If the change of individuals be considered as contributing to form one congregation, though assembled on two parts of the day, at least the average number of individuals forming the respective congregations throughout England alone may be reasonably estimated at 300.

[p. 104] The ascertained amount of places of worship represented by the United Committee being 2,324, that number multiplied by 300 produces 697,200.

When to this sum are added two fifths who cannot attend public worship (five individuals being understood to be the average of a family), their united number will stand thus: 697,200 with 278,880 produce 976,080 —the number of individuals represented by this committee. When, again, is added the like produce of congregations ascertained to belong to parties not represented by this committee—namely Wesleyans 2,597, Quakers 376, Swedenborgians 39, Moravians 21—making together 3,033 and multiplied by 300 being 909,900, with two fifths more or 363,960, they make 1,273,860; then the former total of 976,080 and this make 2,249,940 or a Dissenting population of more than two millions and a quarter.

To all these must be further added a miscellaneous description of places, whose numbers cannot be ascertained, some being buildings appropriated for public worship (as Surrey Chapel, the Reverend Rowland Hill's) and a very great number being private houses licensed for worship. If now the average of the individuals connected with these descriptions of places be merely a third of what has been produced by the above calculation, it would appear that there is in England alone an avowed and ostensible Dissenting population of three millions! Or, a fourth of the whole population of England exclusive of Catholics and Jews.

227. [pp. 105-15; TAR 447-50] On 25 February 1828 the committee heard a report from their delegation that had met the previous week with various members of the House of Commons. (fn. 1) All but one of the twenty-one members consulted had pledged their complete support of the Repeal motion; the one who had not was expected to vote in favour of the motion. Winter read letters supporting Repeal from Dr Lushington, Michael Angelo Taylor, Lord Normanby and Alderman Robert Waithman.

228. On 27 February 1828 the committee met to discuss the proceedings of the Commons on the previous evening, when Lord John Russell had moved that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House to examine the Test and Corporation Acts in so far as they required a sacramental test for offices and places in corporations, a motion that had been carried 237 in favour and 193 against. (fn. 2) Aware that the Commons would discuss the issue the following day (28 February), the United Committee listened to a Repeal resolution drafted by William Smith. He was also appointed to prepare a Repeal bill with the assistance of Henry Waymouth, Edward Busk, Samuel Gale, Christopher Richmond, Edgar Taylor and John Wilks. The committee resolved to send their cordial thanks to Lord John Russell for his introducing the Repeal motion, to John Smith for seconding it, and to all the members of parliament who had spoken in its favour. A deputation was asked to continue meeting with M.P.s to seek their support. The publications subcommittee was instructed to circulate newspapers with the best report of the previous night's debate in the Commons.

At a meeting of the publications subcommittee on 27 February, the secretary was asked to purchase one hundred copies of the Morning Herald, the Morning Chronicle, the Globe and the World and to circulate them among Dissenting ministers in small towns and villages. The newly appointed subcommittee for drafting a Repeal bill also met on the same day. Christopher Richmond was asked to prepare a bill, which would be discussed with him at noon the next day (28 February).

229. At a committee meeting on 3 March 1828, Robert Winter reported on a meeting he had held with Lord John Russell to discuss a Repeal resolution, which had been subsequently passed by the House without a division on 28 February. The resolution introduced by Russell to the Committee of the Whole House read as follows: [p. 113] 'That it is the opinion of this Committee that so much of an act of the 13th Charles II entitled "An Act for preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants" and of another act of the 16th George II amending the last mentioned act, as require the person or persons in the said acts described to take or receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper according to the rites or usage of the Church of England for the purposes therein expressed, or impose any penalty, forfeiture, incapacity or disability by reason of any neglect or omission so to do, ought to be repealed'. Winter also reported that Christopher Richmond had drafted a Repeal bill and that it was now in the hands of Russell, who intended to introduce it in the Commons the following day.

230. William Smith reported on a meeting he and a deputation had held with Lord John Russell that morning and on a subsequent conversation between Smith and the Marquess of Lansdowne regarding the rumoured intentions of the Duke of Wellington's ministry to suspend the Test and Corporation Acts and to require certain oaths or declarations in place of the sacramental test. The United Committee addressed a resolution to the Home Secretary, Robert Peel, stating that they would be satisfied with nothing less than the outright repeal of the sacramental test laws and that they would not accept any other type of religious test for civil offices. Copies of the resolution were given to Lord John Russell, John Smith and William Smith.

231. Another delegation, composed of the following committee members, was appointed for watching the proceedings in parliament on the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts: William Smith, Henry Waymouth, Robert Aspland, Edward Busk, Charles Bompas, James Brown, Samuel Gale, John Wilks, Thomas Hornby, Edgar Taylor, James Collins and Christopher Richmond.

[The following extract from the minutes of the meeting of 3 March was not printed in the TAR.]

232. [p. 114] That Lord John Russell had recommended that the chairman should seek an interview with Mr Peel in order to allay any irritation which may be felt by him and his friends in consequence of what passed in the debate of the House of Commons on the 28th ult., and to intimate generally the willingness of Dissenters to consider any modification which may be proposed which should not involve a compromise of their principles.

233. [pp. 116-17, 120; TAR 450] At a meeting of the committee on 10 March 1828 the secretary reported that he had, as instructed, presented copies of the resolutions of 4 March to Lord John Russell, John Smith and William Smith and that on the evening of 4 March, Russell had moved in the Commons to bring in a Repeal bill pursuant to the resolution of the House passed on 28 February. 'A Bill for repealing so much of several Acts as imposes the necessity of receiving the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper as a qualification for certain offices and employments' had received its first reading and was to be read a second time on 14 March.

The committee also noted Sir Thomas Acland's instruction to the House committee on the Repeal bill, that the committee had the authority to substitute an oath or declaration as a requirement for office in place of the sacramental test.

[The following extract from the minutes of the meeting of 10 March was not printed in the TAR.]

234. [p. 117] The chairman reported that since the last meeting he had had an interview with Lord John Russell and Mr Peel, at which the latter said he had no objection to converse on the subject, but that he had no proposal to make; that the resolution passed at the last meeting of this committee was shewn to him, upon which he expressed his wish to know the meaning of the concluding sentence, to which the chairman answered that it meant that Dissenters would not consent to anything like a religious test of fitness for civil office. Mr Peel also said he did not mean to make any opposition to the bill in its present stage and that if he should determine to oppose it he would certainly give notice of his intention. The chairman also reported that he had conversed much with Lord Althorp (a very warm supporter of the cause) on the support of the [p. 118] Repeal; that he (the chairman) had also had much conversation with Sir Thomas Acland, who had begged not to be hurried but promised to make known to the chairman everything he proposed to do; that he meant to consult all parties in order to ascertain what they would be contented with; that Lord Althorp had stated that there were many in the late majority who, if a plausible and reasonable proposal were made and rejected, would not be sorry to have it in their power to say 'these Dissenters are unreasonable and we will not now vote for them' and that his lordship therefore thought it would be impolitic to refuse anything that should not involve a compromise of the principle contended for, such, for instance, as a moderate declaration 'that no use shall be made of any power which may be obtained by entering into office for the purpose of subverting the Established Church', and that if some such plan could be devised it would be wise to accept it. The chairman concluded by saying that this was the present state of the matter with Mr Peel, Sir Thomas Acland, and our own immediate supporters.

A conversation having ensued, it was understood by this committee that the chairman should hold communication with Sir Thomas Acland; and that as soon as he has ascertained what Sir [p. 119] Thomas has to propose, he will immediately cause this committee to be summoned. And the chairman is requested to endeavour to obtain Sir Thomas's decision as early as possible.

235. [pp. 119-20; TAR 450-1] At a meeting on 14 March 1828 the committee heard part of a letter to Sir Thomas Acland that had recently been published. They resolved that the secretary purchase 150 copies, to be distributed to each member of the United Committee, to their parliamentary friends, and to others designated by the secretary.

[The following extract from the minutes of the meeting of 14 March was not printed in the TAR.]

236. [p. 119] The chairman informed this committee that he had seen Sir Thomas Acland but had not yet obtained [p. 120] from him anything definite as to a form of declaration to be proposed as a substitute for the sacramental test.

237. The secretary produced and read a copy of a letter he had received from Mr Daniell of Colchester, stating that a petition of the mayor and corporation of that town against the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts had been prepared and was about to be presented to parliament; that the mayor opposed such petition and that only twenty-two members of the corporation (out of forty-eight) were present when the petition was agreed upon. The secretary further stated that he had handed Mr Daniell's letter to Mr W Smith, to be used by him in the House of Commons as he might think proper.

238. [pp. 121-4; TAR 451-2] On 15 March 1828 the chairman reported to the committee that he and a deputation had attended a meeting of the Commons the previous evening and heard, with very little discussion, the second reading of the Repeal bill and that the debate would take place the following Tuesday night in a Committee of the House. Smith and the deputation had met with Lord John Russell on the evening of 14 March and again the following morning, when his lordship had presented to them a copy of the declaration that Acland hoped to insert in the Repeal bill to replace the sacramental test: [p. 121] 'I, A.B., do solemnly declare that I will never exercise any privilege, to which I am or may become entitled, to subvert or disturb the present Church Establishment of the United Kingdoms or either of them, and this I declare on the faith of a Christian'. Smith also reported that Acland wanted to add the phrase 'in virtue of the office' after the word 'entitled'. Russell had contended that without some type of moderate declaration, the Repeal bill would certainly be thrown out by the House of Lords; consequently, a meeting had been arranged for the following Monday with Russell and Althorp, at which time the deputation from the United Committee was to have ready a declaration to which the United Committee [p. 122] 'would (if found absolutely necessary) be willing to assent'.

Having discussed Smith's report, the committee resolved to rely on their parliamentary friends to determine whether such a declaration was necessary, although the committee clearly believed that the insertion of such a clause was objectionable, unnecessary and a violation of the principle of removing all religious tests as a requirement for civil employment. If, however, a declaration was deemed essential, they would propose the following: [p. 123] 'I, A.B., being about to enter upon the office of [MS blank] do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will not exercise any power or authority to be vested in me by virtue of such office for the subversion of the legal rights and privileges of the United Church of England and Ireland or of the Church of Scotland as such churches are established by law'. In two further resolutions, the committee stated their belief that any declaration adopted should be uniformly required of all persons entering an office and that the only penalty for not taking the declaration should be the loss of the office. The subcommittee for attending parliament was instructed to watch the declaration issue closely and to inform the United Committee.

239. Later on the same day (15 March), the subcommittee appointed on 27 February to draft a Repeal bill met and resolved to ask Christopher Richmond to prepare appropriate clauses for insertion in the bill should they be deemed necessary.

240. [p. 125] 17th March 1828. At a meeting of the committee appointed to conduct the application to parliament for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts held at the King's Head Tavern. Present: William Smith Esq, M.P., in the chair; Mr Bentley, Mr Busk, Reverend Mr Collison, Reverend Dr Cox, Mr Cordell, Mr Favell, Mr Fisher, Mr Gale, Mr Thomas Gibson, Mr Hanbury, Mr Hale, Mr Marten, Reverend Dr Newman, Mr Pewtress, Reverend Dr Rees, Mr Stephenson, Mr Waymouth, Mr Wilson, Mr Wilks, Mr Young. The minutes of the meetings of the committee and subcommittee on the 15th instant were read and confirmed.

The deputy chairman reported that pursuant to appointment the deputation had waited on Lord Althorp, at whose chambers they also met Lord John Russell and Mr Fergusson; that the secretary placed in their hands the resolutions of the last meeting of this committee, whereupon a long conference arose; that Lord John Russell stated that Sir Thomas Acland had requested Mr Sturges Bourne to undertake the conduct of his motion in the committee; that Lord John Russell had seen Mr Sturges Bourne; that there was no objection on his part to admit of alterations in the declaration suggested by Sir [p. 126] Thomas Acland; that upon the whole, Lord John Russell thought some declaration essential, unless we were prepared to suffer a complete defeat; that Lord Althorp and Mr Fergusson concurred in this opinion; that Lord John Russell was to have an interview with Lord Sandon and Mr Sturges Bourne again at one o'clock this day, after they had seen Mr Peel, when it was expected they would have some distinct proposal to make from him; that he (Lord John Russell) therefore wished the secretary to see him again at three o'clock this day, when his lordship would report how the matter stood; that the clause proposed to be added to the bill, in connection with the declaration, was read to Lord John Russell, Lord Althorp and Mr Fergusson at the above meeting and approved by them.

241. The chairman stated that since the deputation had left Lord Althorp's, he had seen Mr Tierney, who had informed him that in a certain high quarter there was a strong feeling against the proposed measure being passed into a law; that many of our friends were gone out of town, and that he (Mr Tierney) thought it probable there would be a majority in the House of Commons against the bill in case any division should take place.

242. [pp. 126-34; TAR 452-5] The committee then passed resolutions expressing their objections to any declaration calling for the protection of the Established Church; any such declaration would be [pp. 127-8] 'unnecessary', 'unreasonable', and 'a stumbling block to the consciences of Protestant Dissenters'. After repeating their customary arguments against religious tests for civil offices and against the principles that approved the alliance of church and state, they reluctantly agreed that Dissenters would rather, for reasons of political expediency, accept a carefully worded declaration than see the Repeal bill defeated. The committee insisted, however, that the circumstances affecting their acquiescence in a declaration be publicised, viz., that the declaration had been imposed upon them against their will, that their acceptance was contingent upon the bill's becoming law, and that they would not [p. 130] 'assent to any form of declaration . . . imposed upon them as Dissenters and not upon the rest of the community.' Furthermore, special care should be taken in the wording of the declaration, [p. 129] 'in reference to [p. 130] the Established Church, as to imply only the disavowal of all illegal designs against it, and not by any possible construction to be made to apply to those acts and proceedings in which the Dissenters are already protected by the law for the maintenance of their religious principles'. Before adjourning, the committee studied a copy of the bill [printed in the TAR] which had received its second reading in the Commons on 14 March.

243. [p. 135] 18th March 1828. At a meeting of the committee appointed to conduct the application to parliament for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts held at the King's Head Tavern. Present: William Smith Esq, M.P., in the chair; Reverend Mr Aspland, Mr Busk, Reverend Mr Collison, Mr Christie, Mr Fisher, Mr Gale, Mr Thomas Gibson, Mr Hanbury, Mr Hornby, Mr Hale, Mr Hood, Mr Lee, Reverend Dr Newman, Mr Pewtress, Mr Richmond, Mr Stephenson, Mr Wilks, Mr Wilson, Mr Waymouth, Mr Young. The minutes of the last meeting of this committee were read and confirmed.

The secretary reported that according to the appointment referred to in the preceding minutes, he waited on Lord John Russell, who informed him that Lord Sandon had seen Mr Peel, who stated that he wished a declaration to be adopted; that if such an one were agreed to as would meet his views, it would be distinctly understood that no difficulty should be raised [p. 136] in the upper house; that Mr Peel had no objection to the words 'by virtue of the office' but that he thinks the declaration should be absolutely given on admission to the office and not only when required; that Mr Peel wishes the debate to come on tomorrow night and would prefer whatever might be proposed on either side should be brought forward in the house and not privately; that except as above mentioned, Mr Peel did not state what his expectations were as to the form of the declaration. Lord John Russell thought it would be well if two or three gentlemen saw Mr Sturges Bourne and thought it essential that notes should be sent round apprising members that the debate will certainly come on on Tuesday, as a report was prevalent yesterday that it would be put off.

That in consequence of this information, the deputation who met at the House of Commons at four o'clock did not think it expedient to endeavour to seek an interview with Mr Peel, and that they deemed it better on the whole not to see Mr S Bourne.

244. [pp. 136-41; TAR 455-6] Robert Winter reported that he had sent word to all the members of the Commons who voted in favour of Repeal on 26 February, informing them that the next debate would take place on Tuesday night; he had sent to twenty-six members copies of the committee's resolutions, passed on 17 March and revised by the subcommittee, regarding the proposed declaration.

245. On 19 March 1828 the secretary reported to the committee the proceedings of the Commons on the previous evening. Lord John Russell had begun proceedings and Sturges Bourne had proposed the declaration, with slight alterations, which had been agreed by the United Committee on 15 March. In the subsequent debate, Russell, Althorp, Robert Cutlar Fergusson, Thomas John Wynn and William Smith, among others, had spoken against appending the declaration to the bill. Robert Peel, [p. 138] 'in a speech calculated to conciliate all parties', had then proposed several amendments and clauses which had been subsequently ordered to be printed with the Home Secretary's amendments.

Winter, who had obtained copies of the amendments, read them to the committee. Clause A set forth the following declaration for office holders: [p. 140] 'I, A.B., do solemnly declare that I will never exercise any power, authority or influence which I may possess by virtue of the office of . . . . . . . . to injure or weaken the Protestant Church as it is by law established within this realm, or to disturb it in the possession of any rights or privileges to which it is by law established'. Clause B listed the individuals, such as two Justices of the Peace, in whose presence the declaration could be made. Clause C stated that any individual who refused to make the declaration would forfeit the office or place to which the person had been elected or named. Clause C also required the declaration to be taken by recipients of crown appointments. The committee, after a short deliberation, decided to postpone further discussion of the amendments until 21 March; before that date the secretary would send each member of the committee a copy of the declaration proposed by Peel.

[The following extract from the minutes of the meeting of 19 March was not printed in the TAR.]

246. [p. 138] The chairman reported the result of an interview with Mr Peel, which took place immediately after the debate, at which Lord John Russell was present; that Mr Peel expressed it to be his earnest [p. 139] wish that the declaration should be so framed as that the House of Lords should not have any inducement to meddle with it; that if the bill should pass the House of Lords without much observation, there would be no ill feeling in the country excited; that some opposition would most probably be raised but that he (Mr Peel) thought he had secured a satisfactory feeling in favour of the measure; that he thought the words now used would induce the leaders in the House of Lords to accede to the measure, but that he could not be answerable for the consequences if those words were altered.

247. [pp. 142-54; TAR 456-61] On 21 March 1828 the committee discussed the amended bill and Peel's proposed declaration. They concluded that despite their objection in principle to the idea of a declaration, they would accept it in order to get the bill through both houses of parliament, particularly since they would at last have achieved their goal of abolishing the sacramental test. At the same time, however, they expressed their inability to acquiesce in the declaration unless it was understood in both houses of parliament that the declaration could not be used to restrict the Dissenters' freedom of conscience in religious matters. The committee's deputation for waiting on members of parliament was asked to convey these sentiments to their parliamentary friends.

Edgar Taylor read a paper he had written containing several suggestions regarding possible improvements in the wording of the bill. The committee took no specific action on his four points, but referred them to William Smith to use as he saw fit in any future meetings with Peel. Taylor's points included limitations on elected and appointed offices that would require the declaration and a time period for making the declaration; he also thought the word 'influence' in the declaration was, from a legal viewpoint, too vague, and he preferred the words 'power or authority'.

248. At a committee meeting on 31 March 1828, Robert Winter reported on meetings he had held with Lord John Russell and Lord Althorp to convey resolutions from the last meeting and Edgar Taylor's suggested improvements on the wording of the bill. Both lords had approved the amendments and predicted that Peel would do the same. On the same day, 24 March, Winter and a delegation had attended a meeting of the Commons during which Peel had proposed additional amendments to the bill before it was sent back to committee for further consideration. Winter read the new amendments to his committee and then laid before them comments by Christopher Richmond on five clauses that had been added to the original bill. Most of his detailed comments concerned verbal ambiguities and inconsistencies in the clauses, but he concluded: [p. 152] 'The modifications above suggested evidently concern the public generally and not Dissenters in particular, but it is undoubtedly desirable to send the bill to the upper house in as consistent and technical a form as may be.'

Winter also reported on a conference he and a deputation had held at the House of Commons on 28 March with William Smith, Alderman Matthew Wood and John Bonham-Carter to discuss the amendments to the Repeal bill; nothing came of that meeting, as the amendments had been accepted by a Committee of the Whole House and the third reading of the bill ordered before any use could be made of Richmond's observations.

249. William Smith reported on a conference he had held on the morning of 31 March with Lord Holland, who had expressed his satisfaction with the progress of the bill and agreed to support it in the Lords. Before adjourning, the committee resolved that the secretary should pay £20 to the editor of the Mirror of Parliament for furnishing copies of the debate that had taken place in the Commons on 26 February.

250. At a committee meeting on 14 April 1828, Robert Winter reported on a conference he had held on 31 March with the Solicitor General, who had accepted the Repeal bill amendments with [p. 154] 'some few alterations'; Winter had then informed Lord John Russell of the meeting. The bill had received its third reading and been passed by the Commons on the evening of 31 March; on the following day the bill had received its first reading in the Lords and 17 April was appointed for its second reading. Winter also read to the committee a letter from Lord Holland.

251. [p. 154] (fn. 3) Berkeley Square 3rd April

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for your papers. They will be very useful. I have got better reasons than I had when I saw you to suspect that there will be a formidable opposition to the details of the bill, not only that part of it which relates to the declaration, but even to the repealing part, in which Lord Eldon threatens to find omissions of the greatest importance, and such as will produce contradictions and incongruities without end. This sort of warfare is, I know by experience, very formidable in the Lords, especially under so able a guerilla chief as the ex-Chancellor. We must be prepared for him, and if we can discover any of his reasonable and corrigible objections, [p. 155] forestall him by announcing our intention to amend the particular faults or supply the particular omissions in the committee. Do you know who drew the bill, and to what experienced and accurate lawyer versed in this particular branch of penal statutes do you advise me to apply? Serjeant [Samuel] Heywood is unluckily on the circuit, and though I shall send him a bill tomorrow and have no doubt shall have a very useful and satisfactory answer to any questions I suggest, it is hardly possible to be provided on all points without more intercourse than a fortnight's correspondence at a distance can supply, especially as the Serjeant has neither his books nor his notes with him.

You mention Mr Richmond as counsel to the committee; I wish you would direct his attention to the following point: how far the words or provisions of subsequent statutes (the Acts of Indemnity included) in which reference is made to the sacramental test confirm, re-enact or alter the provisions regarding the sacramental test either in the Corporation Act or the Test Act, i.e., in the 13th or the 25th Charles II, and also how far, after the present bill shall be passed, any of the provisions of those subsequent acts, so confirming, re-enacting or altering the 13th or the 25th Charles II, will be in force.

I should like, before the holidays are over, to have a few minutes conversation with Mr Richmond, after he has considered these points. [p. 156] I go out of town for two days on Saturday, shall be in Berkeley Square all next week and at the beginning of the ensuing week at Holland House, and shall at any time be happy to see any of the committee or their friends who can give me information on the details of the bill and the manner in which its present form or phraseology can be either amended or are to be defended against Lord Eldon's assaults.

I am, sir, yours ever obliged,
Vassall Holland

[Postscript] Whatever petitions you can procure, without resorting to any questionable or obnoxious means, should be poured in on the first days of the House meeting after the holidays. I suspect we shall have more counter-petitions from the clergy than we have hitherto heard of, and our friends should not appear to relax their exertions at the moment the enemy seems inclined to redouble his.

252. [pp. 156-64; TAR 461-4] Having received a copy of Holland's letter, Christopher Richmond wrote for the committee a detailed reply dated 8 April, citing his opinion on a number of parliamentary statutes; on how the Repeal bill would affect them; on ways of countering some of Eldon's expected attacks; and on the relationship between the Indemnity Act (which provided officeholders additional time to take the sacramental test) and the declaration in the Repeal bill. Winter reported on a meeting attended by himself, Lord Holland, Christopher Richmond and Edgar Taylor on 8 April. Holland requested Richmond to prepare a clause for the bill that would allow for the declaration to be an acceptable substitute for the sacramental test specified in the current Indemnity Act. Richmond's draft was entered in the minutes, with his comments. Elaborating on the legal difficulties involved in writing a comprehensive and precise clause, Richmond added, [p. 162] 'I cannot help thinking that Lord Holland will upon further consideration be disposed to regard the introduction of the clause as of minor importance, although his lordship being prepared to bring forward such a clause if the committee should consider its absence a defect in the bill may disarm Lord Eldon of one of his weapons of attack'. The secretary provided Holland with a copy of the clause and Richmond's commentary.

253. Winter also reported on a meeting he had attended on 9 April with Samuel Favell and the City Solicitor, and later with the Committee for General Purposes at Guildhall, to discuss a proposed amendment to the Repeal bill concerning the taking of the declaration in the City of London. It had been decided to present a case to the Solicitor General, the Recorder and the Common Serjeant; Winter said he would attend another meeting on 16 April to hear the opinion offered on such a case.

254. The secretary informed the committee that he had sent to about eighty peers copies of the Statement of the Case of Protestant Dissenters (complete and abridged editions), the abstract of the statutes affecting Dissenters, and a reminder that the second reading of the Repeal bill would take place in the House of Lords on 17 April; he had done so [p. 163] 'in pursuance of advice from Lord Holland and Lord Rosslyn' [omitted from the TAR].

255. [p. 164] 18th April 1828. At a meeting of the committee appointed to conduct the application to parliament for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts held at the King's Head Tavern. Present: William Smith Esq, M.P., in the chair; Mr Busk, Mr Serjeant Bompas, Mr Bowring, Mr Cordell, Mr Gale, Reverend Dr Humphrys, Mr Hood, Mr Hale, Mr Hornby, Mr Pewtress, Mr Lee, Reverend Dr Rees, Mr Stephenson, Mr Waymouth, Mr Wilks, Reverend Dr Winter. The minutes of the last meeting of this committee were read and confirmed.

The secretary reported that, in consequence of an invitation from the City Solicitor, he attended a consultation (immediately after the last meeting of this committee) with the Recorder, Common Serjeant, City Solicitor, and Remembrancer, and at which Mr Edgar Taylor also [p. 165] attended, when the following clauses were approved by the Recorder and Common Serjeant as suitable to be introduced into the bill and as desirable for the convenience of the City of London.

Provided always and be it further enacted that the Mayor, Aldermen and Sheriffs of the City of London hereafter to be elected shall make and subscribe the said declaration in the presence of the court of Mayor and Aldermen of the said City to be holden in the inner chamber of the Guildhall of the said City, or before the Mayor of the said City for the time being, within one calendar month previous to or at the time of taking his or their respective oaths of office. And every citizen of the said City hereafter to be elected into the office of Common Councilman for any of the wards within the said City or Liberties thereof shall make and subscribe the said declaration within the space of one calendar month next after his election into the said office, or at any time previous to his taking the oaths of office, in the presence of the Mayor of the said City for the time being or of the Alderman of the ward in which he shall be elected to serve the said office, which said several and respective declarations shall be forthwith filed with the Clerk of the Peace for the said City.

And be it further enacted that any person hereafter to be elected into any corporate office who shall neglect or refuse to make and subscribe the declaration hereby required shall not, by reason of such neglect or refusal, be exempted or discharged from any fine or penalty imposed or to be imposed by any bylaw, custom or usage of any such corporation for not taking upon him or them or not serving any such office.

256. That on Tuesday last the secretary received from Lord Holland a letter requesting to see Mr Richmond [p. 166] at Holland House, in consequence of important suggestions which his lordship had received from Lord Plunkett; that accordingly the secretary procured the attendance of Mr Richmond and proceeded to Holland House, when Lord Holland read a letter which his lordship had received from Lord Plunkett enclosing his proxy, expressing much regret at being unable to attend the House on the second reading of the bill, and also enclosing the draft of a bill for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts which he considered better adapted in some respects for the purpose than that which had passed the Commons house of parliament and less likely to be open to the assaults which Lord Eldon had threatened to make.

The secretary added that the variations between Lord Plunkett's bill and that which had passed the House of Commons were, for the most part, on the points noticed in the observations of Mr Richmond on the clauses of the bill and entered on the minutes of the meeting of this committee on the 31st ult.; Lord Holland expressed a wish to be furnished with such amendments as Mr Richmond should think it expedient to prepare after considering Lord Plunkett's bill more attentively, so that he (Lord Holland) might adopt such of those amendments as he might find necessary or think advisable in the progress of the bill now before the House of Lords.

257. A long and interesting conference took place with his lordship generally as to the important measure and the probable issue of the debate on the second reading, in the course of which his lordship stated the line of argument he intended to pursue. His lordship also said that he expected so considerable a majority as to be able to give up the [p. 167] 58 votes which he thought were doubtful. The secretary then explained to Lord Holland the nature of the clauses proposed to be introduced by the City, when his lordship expressed his willingness to move the first but objected to the second clause.

258. [pp. 167-9, 170-1; TAR 464-6] The secretary then presented to the committee several revisions and amendments to the Repeal bill prepared by Christopher Richmond. According to Richmond, his proposal for a repeal clause, which was based in part on a suggestion by Lord Plunkett, would be more effective by [p. 168] 'separately referring to the Corporation Act in the Repeal clause and adding a few words to make the reference to the various clauses of the Test Act still more pointed'. In so doing, Richmond said he hoped to overcome objections to the bill by Lord Eldon, whose suspected opposition also caused him to suggest an additional clause that would indemnify all persons who, at the time of the Repeal bill's passage, occupied offices, places or trusts without having qualified by taking the Anglican sacrament. He also offered several stylistic revisions to the bill for the purpose of greater clarity.

The chairman reported on the debate in the Lords held the previous evening, when the Repeal bill had received its second reading without a division and the following Monday had been fixed for the Committee stage. The Duke of Wellington and the Marquess of Lansdowne had subsequently told the chairman of their satisfaction with the bill and with the declaration as it now stood.

[The following extracts from the minutes of the meeting of 18 April were not printed in the TAR.]

259. [p. 169] The secretary also reported that on the 16th instant he attended again on the Committee for General Purposes in the City, and upon the proposed clauses being read, he stated, as the reasons why the second clause should not be pressed, that there was not the slightest [p. 170] probability of any Dissenter attempting to evade the fine upon the ground implied by that clause; and that if such an extraordinary case were to occur, it would be impossible for him to defend any action which might be brought against him by the City upon the principle which governed the decision of the case of the Chamberlain of London v. Evans, as it would be found wholly inapplicable to such a case as that supposed, and it was difficult to imagine that a defence upon any other ground could be set up. The City Solicitor and Remembrancer having both acquiesced in the correctness of the foregoing remarks, it was resolved that if the Recorder and Common Serjeant advised the City to withdraw the second clause, it should be withdrawn accordingly, and that in that case Lord Holland should be requested to propose the first clause as an amendment. The secretary then reported that he yesterday attended another consultation with the City law officers, when he repeated to the Common Serjeant (the Recorder being absent) the reasons above mentioned why the second clause should be withdrawn; that after a very lengthened conversation, the Common Serjeant said he should not hesitate, upon the ground stated, to advise the City to withdraw the second clause. It only remained, therefore, for the Recorder to state his opinion.

[p. 171] The secretary having, during this sitting of the committee, received a message from the City Remembrancer requesting an immediate interview, went to him accordingly and on his return informed this committee that the Recorder had concurred in the opinion of the Common Serjeant that the second clause proposed by the City should be abandoned and had signed an opinion to that effect; that the Committee for General Purposes had requested the City Remembrancer to wait personally on Lord Holland in company with the secretary of this committee to request his lordship to propose the first clause and that the secretary had appointed to accompany the Remembrancer to Lord Holland tomorrow morning if such should be the wish of this committee.

Whereupon it was resolved that this committee, mindful of the prompt and liberal manner in which the Corporation of London have supported the measure for which this committee is appointed, will cheerfully consent to the introduction of the clause proposed by them and which they deem expedient for their corporate convenience; [p. 172] and that the secretary do apprise Lord Holland of the acquiescence of this committee with that clause. Adjourned to Tuesday 22nd instant at twelve o'clock.

260. 22nd April 1828. At a meeting of the committee appointed to conduct the application to parliament for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts held at the King's Head Tavern. Present: William Smith Esq, M.P., in the chair; Reverend Mr Aspland, Mr Busk, Mr Bowring, Mr Bickham, Mr Christie, Mr Fisher, Mr Thomas Gibson, Mr Hanbury, Reverend Dr Humphrys, Mr Hornby, Mr Hale, Mr Lee, Reverend Dr Newman, Reverend Dr Rees, Mr Reid, Mr Stephenson, Reverend Dr Winter, Mr Walker, Mr Wilks, Mr Young. The minutes of the last meeting of this committee were read and confirmed.

The secretary reported that in pursuance of the resolution of the last meeting, he wrote to Lord Holland stating the acquiescence of this committee in the first clause proposed by the City and proposing to call on his lordship the following morning with a copy of the clause. That in pursuance of a letter from Lord Holland, the secretary sent letters on the 19th instant to eighty-five peers requesting their personal attendance in the Committee of the House on the 21st [p. 173] as proxies could not be received. That on the 19th instant the secretary attended the City Remembrancer to Lord Holland, when his lordship promised to move the introduction of the first clause proposed by the City, either in the Committee or on the third reading. Lord Holland then desired the secretary to furnish him with four copies of the indemnity clause prepared by Mr Richmond, and also that the secretary would meet Lord Holland at Lord Rosslyn's on the 21st instant at half past three when several peers would be present; that the secretary attended with Mr Richmond at Lord Rosslyn's accordingly and found assembled there the Marquess of Lansdowne, Lords Rosslyn, Holland, Auckland and John Russell; that it was then determined that no amendment should be proposed by those who supported the bill, and Lord Holland desired the secretary to inform the City Remembrancer that he understood the Solicitor General objected to the clause proposed by the City and that therefore Lord Holland did not intend to move that clause in the Committee but would hand it to the Lord Chancellor, requesting him to communicate with the Solicitor General thereon, and that if no difficulty arose, he (Lord Holland) would move the clause on the third reading of the bill; that the secretary accordingly immediately afterwards informed the City Remembrancer (whom the secretary met in the House of Lords) precisely what Lord Holland had said.

261. [pp. 173-5; TAR 466-7] Winter reported that after the meeting at Lord Rosslyn's, he had attended the debate in the Lords; several divisions had taken place on proposed amendments and most of the clauses relating to the persons required to make the declaration had been accepted. The declaration itself, which had been amended and accepted, and the Lords' minutes for 21 April were entered into the minutes of the United Committee.

262. At their meeting on 28 April 1828, the committee expressed their dissatisfaction with the words [p. 175] 'on the true faith of a Christian' being introduced into the declaration, primarily because it was viewed as another religious test for civil office, albeit a verbal rather than a sacramental one.

[The following extract from the minutes of the meeting of 28 April was not printed in the TAR.]

263. [p. 176] The following letter from Lord Holland was read

28th April 1828

Dear Sir,

I send you the orders, and together with it a paragraph, which it would be well to insert in some newspaper of general circulation—that a fact which would soften the prejudices of many Churchmen and academical persons to our measure should be more generally known.

Vassall Holland

To Mr Robert Winter

Paragraph alluded to:

It is gratifying to reflect that such of our greatest orators and statesmen as were prevented by absence, illness or accident from taking a personal part in the late discussions on the repeal of the Test [p. 177] Act were nevertheless anxious to support that just and salutary measure. The proxies of Lord Grenville, the Marquess of Wellesley and Lord Plunkett were given in favour of the bill, and the two last mentioned noblemen had confided theirs to Lord Holland, the mover of it. Thus the two late representatives of the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin, viz. the Lord Chancellor and Lord Plunkett, voted for the bill, and the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lord Grenville, from his dignified and honourable retreat, sent the sanction of a name equally revered in Church and State to a work of charity, wisdom and justice, which has been long desired but till this propitious year almost despaired of by the friends of religious freedom.

The secretary was then directed to insert the above paragraph in several newspapers. Adjourned to Thursday next at one o'clock.

264. [pp. 178-85; TAR 467-8] At a committee meeting on 1 May 1828, the secretary reported that he had asked Christopher Richmond to treat the question of the indemnity clause according to Lord Holland's suggestion, and that Winter had discussed the question with Holland on 24 April. Winter also reported that he had attended meetings of the House of Lords on 24 and 25 April, when the Repeal bill had been debated, amended and ordered to be read a third time on 28 April. Once the bill had received its third reading in the Lords, it had been sent to the Commons, where the amendments had been ordered to be printed and further discussion postponed until 2 May.

265. Winter read a letter from the Reverend Thomas Raffles of Nottingham, dated 18 April 1828, containing a resolution of gratitude passed by the Lancashire County Union of Congregational Churches, to Lord John Russell for his support of the Repeal bill. Raffles asked that copies of the resolution be printed in the Congregational Magazine, the Evangelical Magazine and the Test Act Reporter.

266. The committee also resolved that the subcommittee on publications should thank their parliamentary friends for supporting the bill and decide on the best means of celebrating its success.

[The following extracts from the minutes of the meeting of 1 May were not printed in the TAR.]

267. [p. 178] The secretary reported that on Wednesday the 23rd ult. he received a letter from Lord Holland, of which the following is a copy.

Wednesday 23rd April

Dear Sir,

We shall get our bill through, not without some unseemly encumbrances, but yet without any that can practically aggrieve any Protestant Dissenter or indeed anyone else in the present state of the [p. 179] law. I know not Mr Richmond's direction, but I will thank you to hand him the enclosed and to ask him whether the omission of the words in the margin is liable to any objection and whether the words are not taken from an act of George I. I will thank him for an answer to these questions, together with a reference to the act, either at the House of Lords tomorrow by half past four, or by a twopenny post letter directed to me here, No. 33 South Street, Park Lane. The motive for omitting the words of the indemnity clause is, Mr Richmond will observe, merely that of brevity, but that object is yet more desirable when a clause is moved as a rider on third reading than in an amendment in Committee. I suspect there will be more difficulty about the City clause than I foresaw. The Solicitor General, I am told, has objections. I have left it with the Lord Chancellor and shall know if he will agree to it tomorrow; if not, I should really recommend both the committee and the City not to present it; probably they would not succeed and certainly not without the risk of delay. Have the goodness to communicate this also to Mr Richmond and to the gentlemen in the City.

The bill is reported tomorrow. I am afraid the House will not let me read it a third time on Friday, but I have no doubt we may get it through that stage on Monday. I should like another copy of the City clause, for I have given mine to the [p. 180] Lord Chancellor.

I am, etc.
Vassall Holland

To Mr Robert Winter

268. [p. 180] [On 24 April Winter met with Holland and discussed the City clause] and met at his lordship's house Mr Lyon Goldsmid, who handed a petition to his lordship on behalf of himself and his brethren of the Jewish persuasion, relative to which a lengthened conversation took place, but Lord Holland declined presenting it.

269. [p. 180] That a letter was then addressed by Mr William Smith to Mr Butler requesting him to state what was the practice of Catholics with reference to the oath of supremacy on occasion of entering into corporate offices; that on the following day the secretary attended Mr Butler, who handed to him the letter of which the following is a copy.

Bryanstone Square
25th of April 1828

Dear Sir,

In reply to your note, we inform you that Catholics do not ever take the oath of supremacy, and never can without a satisfactory legislative interpretation, and are therefore completely excluded [p. 181] by the present oath from corporate and other offices.

But they would deprecate the insertion of the word in question [Protestant] as unnecessarily wounding their feelings, and we are inclined to think it would seriously injure our Question.

We are, &c.
Charles Butler
Edward Blount

To William Smith Esq, M.P.

270. That a letter was also received by Mr Edgar Taylor from Mr Rosson on the same subject, of which the following is a copy.

11, King's Bench Walk, Temple
25th April 1828

Dear Sir,

In answer to your enquiry, Catholics have never taken the oath of supremacy, either that prescribed by Queen Elizabeth or that which is used at present, nor can they take it without renouncing their religion.

Therefore, if the sacramental test be repealed, Catholics will still be effectively excluded from entering into corporations, unless they succeed in repealing or altering the oath of supremacy.

See Mr [Charles] Butler's Historical Memoirs of the English Catholics, Volume One, page 297, second edition, where the Question is mooted and the conclusion as above stated, unless parliament by a public act annexed a declaration of the sense in which the oath was to be taken.

Yours very truly,
John Rosson

To Edgar Taylor Esq

271. [p. 182] The secretary further reported that he attended Lord Holland with Messrs. Butler and Blount's letter and met at his lordship's the Marquess of Lansdowne and Lord Rosslyn, who recommended him immediately to send copies of the first paragraph of that letter to the Duke of Wellington, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Chester, which the secretary accordingly did and delivered that to the Duke of Wellington while he was attending a council in reference (as Lord Rosslyn stated) to this subject.

272. [p. 182] That on Saturday the 26th ult. the secretary attended (with Mr Busk) on Lord Holland with the view of ascertaining what his lordship's expectations were as to the amendment which the Bishop of Llandaff had stated his intention of moving on the third reading of the bill, to the effect that the declaration should be made by Dissenters only. In reply Lord Holland said he was perfectly satisfied with the result of the preceding evening, that he did not expect the bishop's amendment would be moved, but that certainly it would not be entertained by the House. His lordship also stated that he did not think it necessary that any step should be taken to obtain the postponement of the motion on the Catholic claims, which stands for Tuesday next, and also that no notice should be taken of chartered companies in the exception [p. 183] to be proposed by the Lord Chancellor.

273. [p. 183] The secretary produced the following letters (viz.) from AntiTest proposing that a subscription should be raised in every congregation through the kingdom for the purchase of a service of plate to be presented to Lord John Russell and to be an heirloom in his family, and from the Reverend Franklin Howorth of Rochdale, stating various objections to the form of declaration contained in the Repeal bill.

274. [pp. 185-300; TAR 468-512] The committee members, who continued to meet periodically until 15 December 1828, devoted most of their time to passing resolutions thanking Dissenters and M.P.s for their support of the Repeal campaign and to planning the guest list and lavish menu for a celebration banquet attended by approximately 400 persons on 18 June 1828 at Freemasons' Hall. Both the committee minutes [pp. 185-91] and TAR 468-71 contain copies of the Repeal bill. On 17 May 1828 the cost of the Repeal campaign was estimated by the committee to have been £3,000. In addition, TAR printed the repeal debates that took place in both houses of parliament, the names of the 237 M.P.s who divided in favour of Lord John Russell's repeal motion in the Commons on 26 February 1828 [TAR 501-2], the names of the towns and villages which had sent repeal petitions to the Commons and to the Lords [TAR 485-500], and a number of resolutions passed by various societies in support of repeal.


  • 1. The M.P.s consulted were: James Abercromby, Lord Althorp (John Charles Spencer), Alexander Baring, John Bennett, Henry Brougham, Charles Brownlow, Sir Francis Burdett, George Byng, John Calcraft, John or William Denison, Lord Ebrington (Hugh Fortescue), Joseph Hume, Sir James Mackintosh, Lord Milton (Charles William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam), Sir John Newport, Lord Nugent (George Nugent-Grenville), Serjeant Arthur Onslow, Thomas Spring Rice, George Tierney, William Ward and Sir Robert Wilson (TAR 447).
  • 2. The names of 237 M.P.s who divided in favour of the motion were printed in the TAR, 501-2.
  • 3. This letter was heavily edited when printed in the TAR. The first paragraph and the postscript were omitted, as was Lord Eldon's name in the last paragraph.