/ aventinus / Varia / Rechtsgeschichte

aventinus varia Nr. 35 [06.07.2012] 


Johannes Kuber 

The Penal Laws and the Catholic Clergy 


1. Introduction: The Penal Laws 

Following the Williamite War (1689-91), a series of penal laws against the Roman Catholic majority was enacted in Ireland. These popery laws, as they were then called, were directed both against clergy and laity, and their reverberations could be felt well into the 18th century. [1] However, there is no general historiographic agreement on their range and implementation. Whereas some consider the penal legislation ‘one of the most persistent legislative efforts ever undertaken by a western European state to change a people’ [2], others reject the view of the laws as a systematic ‘code’, rather calling them ‘a rag-bag of measures, enacted piecemeal over almost half a century.’ [3]

Equally controversial is the actual intention behind the passing of the penal laws. [4] The view most commonly expressed is that the penal legislation served as a political device to diminish Catholic economic and thus political power in order to protect the ruling Protestant minority. W. E. H. Lecky went into roughly the same direction when he suggested that the purpose of the laws was to pauperise the Catholics and transform them into a servile class. Sometimes, revenge has also been cited as a possible reason for the penal legislation. William P. Burke, for instance, held that ‘[n]ot in fear were the laws of William and Anne passed, but in vengeance and in the unbridled licence of triumph.’ [5] It remained for Robert E. Burns to advance the rather uncommon, but nevertheless interesting view that the real intention behind the laws was the elimination of Catholicism in Ireland and its transformation ‘into a Protestant and loyal country in one or two generations.’ [6] In her influential essay on the penal laws, Maureen Wall put forward the exact opposite, namely that the ruling Protestant elite did not want Catholics to convert at all, as ‘it was to [their] material advantage … to maintain the status quo.’ [7]

Whatever the exact intention behind the penal laws was, more is known about their content and operation. Although their main target clearly was the Catholic landowning class, [8] there were also several very strict rulings against the clergy which, had they been fully implemented, would indeed have eradicated Catholicism in Ireland in a short time. [9] Their study will be the main concern of this essay. I shall analyse the relevant laws and the degree of their implementation and in this way try to establish which effects penal legislation had on the Catholic clergy and Irish Catholicism in general. The main primary sources which will be used are the legal texts themselves and the documents which the Catholic priest William P. Burke collected in his singular, but naturally biased book The Irish Priests in the Penal Times. First of all, however, I am going to give a brief account of the precursors of the laws against the Catholic clergy before the 1690s.

2. The Penal Laws and the Catholic Clergy 

2.1 Persecution of the Catholic Clergy before 1695 

Since Henry VIII’s separation from Rome, many harsh decrees had been passed against Irish bishops and other persons exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction. However, their implementation had fluctuated depending on the prevailing religious policy, [10] and powerful Catholics had been able to prevent some of the worst plans. [11] In 1673, a proclamation was issued banishing all persons exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction, i.e. archbishops, bishops, vicars-general, abbots and others, and all regular priests from Ireland. As its enforcement proved problematic – for example, captains refused to take clergy on board, and many of the persecuted went into hiding – a stricter proclamation followed one year later. [12] Another wave of discrimination was caused by the alleged “Popish Plot” of 1678. Under the perceived threat, ‘the persecution hitherto chronic became acute.’ [13] In addition to the banishment of clergy, monasteries and Catholic schools were to be closed. Enforcement of the proclamation continued for several years, particularly against archbishops and bishops. [14]

During the short interlude of the Catholic king James II, most parts of the ecclesiastical hierarchy were restored. [15] After the defeat of the Jacobites, however, the discrimination of Catholics continued. Periodically, members of the clergy, particularly regulars, were imprisoned until the perceived threats of new Jacobite action – such as a French invasion of Ireland in 1692 [16] – were over. [17] But persecution was sporadic, and as William III prevented all too tough action against Catholics for strategic and diplomatic reasons, both regular and secular Catholic priests could still live quite openly up to 1697. [18] As the parliament gained power, however, it was soon able to push through the now infamous penal laws. [19]

2.2 The Penal Laws and Their Impact on the Catholic Clergy 

2.2.1 The Foreign Education Act 

The first regulation that can be regarded as part of the penal legislation was passed in 1695. The ‘Act to restrain foreign Education’ (7 Will. III, c. 4) [20] not only prohibited Catholics from teaching in public, but also and more importantly from sending their children abroad for education in their faith, a practice that had become common since the Irish schools had been destroyed a century before. What might at first only seem an attack on the Irish educational system was, in fact, also targeted at suppressing the fresh supply of future priests from the continent and thus at undermining the Catholic threat in the island. [21] However, the law soon proved impracticable, as young men continued going abroad for their studies, [22] and so its provisions were repeated and amended nine years later in the ‘Act to prevent the further Growth of Popery’ (2 Anne, c. 6) [23].

Although the implementation of these laws was limited, officials regularly seem to have tried to track down cases of violation, for instance by the interception of letters. [24] The impact was perceptible: for want of qualified clerics, priests were frequently ‘ordained when they had acquired enough Latin in some hedge school to enable them to read Mass.’ [25] And while the young men who had still gone abroad often preferred to stay on the continent, many of those who did return to Ireland were ill-prepared for their tasks – without a good command of the Irish language and used to more comfortable lives in Paris and elsewhere. [26]

2.2.2 The Banishment Act 

The 1697 ‘Act for banishing all Papists exercising any Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, and all Regulars of the Popish Clergy out of this Kingdom’ (9 Will. III, c. 1) [27] was the first law directly targeted at the Catholic clergy itself. It did exactly what its title said: in an attempt to bleed Irish Catholicism dry by cutting off its strong head, all Catholic archbishops, bishops, vicars-general, deans and others exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction were ordered to leave the country before 1 May 1698 on pain of imprisonment and subsequent transportation. Although secular priests were spared, the law also applied to the regular clergy, which was considered particularly dangerous due to its ultramontanism. [28] All said persons were told to register in certain towns and stay there while waiting for their transportation. Should any of the expelled return to Ireland, this was to be treated as high treason and punished by execution. Moreover, any such persons who had not been to Ireland before were also forbidden to come into the kingdom after 29 December 1697; those who did would face the same persecution. To deter the population from supporting any of these persons, hiding them was also made punishable with severe fines.

Immediately after the law had been enacted, more than 400 regulars were efficiently transported to the European mainland, mostly to France. [29] A further 300 left of their own accord. [30] They were financially supported in their exile by James Stuart, the Vatican and their French peers. [31] However, these 700 were only the clerics who had chosen to cooperate. And although in the following years, great efforts were made to round up hiding regulars in order to imprison and/or expel them, [32] on the whole, the law did not prove very successful. In an amendment in 1709, it is stated that ‘for want of encouragement to discoverers, [the act] hath proved in a great measure ineffectual’ [33], which suggests that large parts of those persecuted had managed to stay in Ireland by going into hiding. Indeed, many regulars escaped banishment by simply registering themselves as parish priests, who were not affected by the law. [34] Besides, many regulars also returned after having been shipped, as we can learn from the preamble of 2 Anne, c. 3: ‘great numbers of Popish bishops, deans, fryers, Jesuits, and other regulars of the popish clergy, do daily come into this kingdom from France, Spain, and other foreign parts, under the disguise or pretence of being Popish secular priests’ [35]. Even when they were caught, they were “only” imprisoned or expelled to America instead of being executed as traitors, as actually ordered in the law. [36] From about 1720 on, disguised as farmers, regulars even formed new communities and restored their orders. Novices were sent to Irish colleges on the continent for their theological education. The government was informed about these activities and from time to time took countermeasures; yet it was unable to banish all of the disobedient clergy. [37] While the banishment act remained in existence, the government seems to have stopped persecution of regulars on its basis from 1731 on. [38]

Of the mere eight bishops who had stayed in Ireland after the Jacobite defeat, three left Ireland of their own accord, and one was arrested and expelled. The rest were allowed to stay after legal skirmishes or went into hiding. [39] One archbishop fooled the authorities and priest hunters for eleven years in a cat-and-mouse game before finally being caught. [40] The Catholic hierarchy suffered noticeably from the banishment act. Most sees were vacant and administrated by vicars (whose remaining was mostly condoned) [41], and the Church saw a general decline of discipline. For instance, there was a lot of rivalry between competing vicars. [42] Therefore, the law was initially successful in this respect. Yet from 1707 on, the hierarchical structure was slowly restored and new bishops appointed to vacant sees. [43]

On a different note, the banishment act had also prohibited Catholic burials in suppressed monasteries on pain of a fine of £10. However, little attention was paid to this clause. [44]

2.2.3 The Act to Prevent Popish Priests from Coming into this Kingdom 

Up to 1703, no law had been passed against secular priests. This was to change with the ‘Act to prevent Popish Priests from coming into this Kingdom’ (2 Anne, c. 3). [45] It expanded the provisions of the banishment act to include all Catholic clergymen, also secular priests. Harbouring any of the persecuted persons was made an offence, too. This act was first limited to a period of 14 years, but made perpetual in 1709. [46]

The officials in port towns were ordered to look out for suspicious arrivals, who could often easily be identified by documents of order membership or religious profession. [47] Despite this, priests still managed to come into Ireland, for instance on board smuggling vessels, [48] and after new bishops had been appointed, new priests could be ordained in the country again. In the end, instead of declining, the number of parish priests rose from 1,089 in 1704 to at least 1,445 in 1731. [49]

2.2.4 The Registration Act 

In order to secure better control over the number of priests in Ireland and over the enforcement of the last two acts discussed above, an ‘Act for registering the Popish Clergy’ (2 Anne, c.7) [50] was passed in 1704. It ordered all Catholic priests in the country to register their names and details with the authorities and to commit themselves to staying in their parishes on pain of imprisonment and subsequent transportation. Those unwilling to register had to leave Ireland; if they did not, they would be treated and persecuted like regulars. The act further prohibited Catholic priests from employing any assistants and promised £20 maintenance per year to all Catholic priests willing to convert to the Church of Ireland. (This sum was increased to £30 in 1709. [51] However, converted priests ‘were as unpopular with Catholics as the priest-hunters themselves’ [52], so it is not surprising that only eight of them were registered up to 1760. [53])

This law in principle legalised all those priests who registered and provided them the freedom to carry out all their duties without fear of persecution. [54] Small wonder, then, that 1,089 of them took the opportunity and registered – probably pretty much all the priests in the country. [55] However, some of those registered were actually regulars and bishops who thus managed to escape banishment. [56]

It soon emerged that by an oversight, the act did not apply to priests ordained after its passing. Only one year later, therefore, an ‘Act to explain and amend an Act, intituled, an Act for registring the popish Clergy’ (4 Anne, c. 2) [57] was issued and closed this loophole.

2.2.5 The Amendment to the Popery Act 

In 1709, the extensive ‘Act for explaining and amending an Act intituled, An Act to prevent the further Growth of Popery’ (8 Anne, c. 3) [58] was passed. It also contained several provisions that put further strain on the Catholic clergy. Apparently, the Catholic population should be brought to denounce its clergy with the carrot and the stick. On the one hand, the law introduced the “discoverer”, offering large rewards to anybody notifying the authorities of regular or unregistered secular clergymen. On the other hand, it stipulated that Catholics could be forced on pain of imprisonment to declare on oath where and when they had attended mass throughout the preceding 30 days, who had celebrated it and whether they knew of any hidden clergy. Worst of all, however, the law put an end to the relatively peaceful period which the priests had enjoyed since their registration. They were ordered to take an oath of abjuration in open court, declaring loyalty to Queen Anne while denying the right of James III to the throne. Those who did not do so before a certain date would lose their status of toleration and become subject to all penalties enacted against regulars and others exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The same would happen to priests who worked in other parishes than the one they had named when they were registered. Furthermore, ecclesiastics liable to banishment who still remained in Ireland were to be imprisoned and expelled.

This law basically gave the diocesan clergy the choice either to take the oath of abjuration or to be banished from Ireland, on pain of being executed in the case of illegal return. However, a mere 33 priests seem to have taken the oath; [59] henceforward, they had to live with the scorn of the Catholic population. [60] In theory, therefore, almost the entirety of secular priests in Ireland, who united in an act of civil disobedience, became outlawed. What followed was a ‘period of disruption, in which priests in many areas went into hiding and Catholic churches closed their doors.’ [61] Priests went underground, harboured by fellow Catholics or lying down in the wild, always protected by the bulk of the Catholic population. [62] The degree of prudence required is well illustrated by the fact that holy water and other religious requisites had to be smuggled into the kingdom. [63] Besides, numerous letters tell of the lives of clerics in hiding. For instance, Dominic Lynch alias Dominick Deane, one of two vicars who administered the diocese of Tuam, advised his priests: ‘You must keep no sort of a station or meeting, but from village to village serve your people at unseasonable hours.’ [64] Equally illuminating are the following excerpts from letters sent to arrange secret meetings with parish priests:

… be itt timely in the morning, without horses or servants or any sorte of noise … [65]

… we must see you of necessitie and be it tomorrow att ffather Alexander’s mass house after night fall an hour. The way for you will be to call to ffather Alexander and bring him after night fall to the mass house with candle light and wee will be with you punctually there. [Let] noe man know of it. [66]

The clergy had all reason to be cautious. Induced by the large rewards offered, several professional priest-hunters combed the country, sometimes even under the direction of the Privy Council and with military escorts [67]; the most notorious were John Garcia and Edward Tyrrell. [68] There is also ample evidence that individual Catholics, as had been made possible in the act, were summoned and questioned. [69] Various accounts like the following one were sent to the Privy Council:

The Examinacon of Robert Broghill of the Grange in the said County Gentleman, who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists and Examined saith that the last time he heard Mass said or celebrated was on Sunday last at the house of Richard Talbott Esq. He knows not any person that was there present. That Mass then said or celebrated was by one Father Jones a Popish priest who lives in or near the town of Donebate in the said County. [70]

Frequently, however, this sort of involuntary denunciation could be prevented with relatively simple tricks; for instance, curtains were hung between the priest and the congregation so that interrogated Catholics could swear in good conscience that they did not know who had celebrated mass. [71]

In fact, during the first few years after the law’s enactment, the government did not put very much emphasis on its implementation due to political and diplomatic reasons. The period from 1712 to 1715 saw much greater efforts of the authorities to trace regulars and non-juring priests. [72] If they were captured, they were imprisoned and consequently shipped to the European mainland, although they often had to wait for months or even years in jail. [73] However, the actual number of priests brought to trial was minimal, [74] as the government probably realized the sheer impossibility of tracking down and expelling over one thousand priests. Aware that this would cause enormous resistance in the Catholic population, [75] the authorities did not make any comprehensive, long-term attempts to completely enforce the law. [76]

S. J. Connolly rightly notes that this act marked 

an important threshold. Earlier legislation had defined which categories of Catholic ecclesiastic were to be prohibited and which tolerated. Now the whole Catholic church establishment was theoretically outside the law, and more or less enforceable prohibitions had been replaced by what could never in practice be more than a legal fiction. [77]

2.2.6 The Penal Laws and Their Enforcement since George I 

This impracticability was mirrored in a comparative improvement of the Catholic clergy’s situation during the following years. By the 1720s, priests and bishops were mostly able to do their work relatively undisturbed as long as they avoided provocation or attracting interest. [78] As we can learn from a 1714 document, registration continued to guarantee the secular priests a status of toleration, despite their refusal to take the oath of abjuration: ‘the popish priests are registered, and so indulged by law that they exercise their religion without molestation.’ [79] Step by step, they began restoring their hierarchy. By 1731, when an “inventory” of Catholic clergy and institutions was ordered, the Church had managed to rebuild much of its structure, with plenty of churches, schools, and personnel; [80] and by 1750, all dioceses were under the leadership of bishops again. [81]

Nevertheless, the comparative peace could not hide the fact that the penal laws, in the words of Maureen Wall, still ‘hung suspended like the sword of Damocles over the heads of the Catholic clergy, who were thus reminded that they must tread warily.’ [82] Moreover, this new state of toleration did not reflect the attitude of all Protestants. Many of them demanded a tougher enforcement or new, more effective penal laws altogether. This discontent also became manifest in several attempts of the parliament to introduce new anti-Catholic legislation, which were, however, not very successful. In 1719, the House of Commons drew up the heads of a bill that demanded that regulars and nonjuring seculars be branded on the cheek; the Irish Privy Council even went as far as to replace the branding with castration. Luckily for Catholics, this bill was never passed. Four years later, the Commons drew up the heads of another bill which provided that any regulars, persons exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction or unregistered priests should be executed, just like everybody harbouring them. Once again, the English Privy Council did not approve the bill. [83] In the early 1730s, several attempts to introduce new measures for registering seculars and banishing regulars were made, but failed. [84]

From time to time, however, new proclamations against the Catholic clergy were issued. As Burke writes, ‘[s]ometimes it [was] a general order to quit the country; sometimes a proclamation against a particularly obnoxious priest; sometimes a promise of reward for the capture of persons who had rescued a friar or dignitary.’ [85] Just twice more, in 1734 and in 1744/45, really serious measures against the Catholic clergy were taken, with churches being shut down and clerics forced to go into hiding. But in both cases, the stricter enforcement of the laws was only in reaction to specific events and did not last for more than several months. [86]

As we can see, in general, no consistent efforts to implement the penal laws against the Catholic clergy were made roughly from the succession of George I on. From 1695 to 1709, at least one penal law had been passed in every session of the parliament; subsequently, they seem to have been passed only in response to particular problems. [87] In 1726, an ‘Act to prevent Marriages by degraded Clergymen and Popish Priests …’ (12 Geo. I, c. 3) [88] was passed, prohibiting any Catholic priest or degraded or pretended clergyman of the Church of Ireland from celebrating marriage between two Protestants or a Protestant and a Catholic. Contravention was to be punished with death. This law drastically sharpened several other laws concerning marriage that had been enacted over the previous years. [89] Protestants seemed to feel very strongly about this issue, and there are at least two examples of priests who were actually executed for marrying a Protestant man to a Catholic woman. [90] In general, however, all the ‘laws … to prevent popish priest [sic!] from celebrating marriages between protestant and protestant, or between protestant and papist, have hitherto been found ineffectual’, as we can learn in the preamble of an act passed twenty years later (19 Geo. II, c. 13) [91].

From about the middle of the 18th century on, when the last fears of a Stuart comeback had subsided, ‘many of the laws against the clergy were allowed to fall into desuetude.’ [92] Although we know of individual cases where some existing penal laws were still enforced, [93] generally, the Catholic clergy was on good terms with the government and tried to keep its flock in check. [94] After the succession of George III in 1760, no further laws against the Catholic clergy were passed. [95] In the same year, the Catholic Committee was founded, and from 1778 on, several Catholic Relief Acts were passed, finally taking most immediate burdens off the Catholics. [96]

3. Conclusion: Evaluation of the Penal Laws against the Catholic Clergy and Their Impact 

According to Burke’s research, ‘the governments of the time bent themselves with all their strength to the destruction of the Catholic church in this country.’ [97] From examining the documents he has compiled, he comes to the conclusion that ‘the whole executive machinery was put in motion to harass and if possible exterminate the Catholic priesthood’, and ‘that the local authorities, for the most part, actively co-operated.’ [98] However, these findings have to be qualified. Of course, the penal laws against the Catholic clergy were put into practice; yet it is clear that they were never fully implemented. Otherwise, the whole clergy and finally probably Catholicism itself would have been eliminated in Ireland in the course of one or two generations. But this was clearly not the case (neither is it indisputable that this was the intention of the laws) [99]. Clerics continued to come to Ireland from abroad; priests refused to take the required oath of abjuration by the hundreds; and bit by bit, the clergymen managed to restore the ecclesiastical organisation.

One last question may be raised then. What were the reasons for this ultimate failure of the penal legislation against the Catholic clergy? First of all, the government had simply overtaxed itself by introducing laws they would never be able to enforce. For the Irish executive was weak and had many flaws. [100] Up to 1715, Catholics could still be constables – they certainly did not over-exert themselves enforcing the penal laws. Moreover, constables did not receive any wages and were, thus, more than likely to be susceptible to bribery. Also, they had to carry out copious other tasks and simply could not devote themselves exclusively to the persecution of Catholics. Another major problem was the loyalty Catholics showed towards their clergy. Frequently, they were able to physically prevent government officials from carrying out their tasks. They made the life of informers a misery; and more than once, they were able to rescue ecclesiastics from being jailed. In 1703, for instance, Bishop Donnellan of Clonfert was rescued by an angry crowd, as we can learn from the following letter:

Whereas Donelan a titular popish Bishop stiling or calling himself Bishop of Clonfert was on the 30th day of March last with great force and violence and against the known laws of this kingdom, rescued and taken out of the custody of William Elliot, Neale Mountgomery, Edward Jones and William Feddericks … by a great multitude of persons near 300 in number, some whereof were mounted on good horses and well armed and others on foot … [101]

The authorities often simply did not feel strong enough to carry out their tasks in the face of a hostile majority, as another letter (from the mayor and aldermen of Kilkenny) illustrates: 

The Protestants of this City I may say are but a handful in respect of the Popish inhabitants who will not take the Oath of Abjuration, it being refused by the cheife of them though tendered by me. And without the City we are in a way surrounded by that inveterate and implacable enemy. Therefore I do entreate that arms and ammunition may be sent as also the Commissioners of Array. [102]

Further problems the authorities had to contend with were the difficulty of controlling the entire coastline, the efficient Catholic warning system and a frequent lack of witnesses against priests. Besides, the enforcement of the laws depended largely on the prevailing diplomatic and political situation; for instance, England’s Catholic allies had to be taken into consideration. [103]

For all these reasons, the government contented itself with inconsistent, periodical enforcement of the penal laws, as we have seen. Burke rightly observes that ‘[s]ometimes [the trigger] was a threatened descent of the Jacobites, sometimes an unaccountable paroxysm of anti-Catholic fury.’ [104] For instance, when it emerged in 1708 that James Stuart planned an invasion of Scotland with the support of the French, a proclamation was issued which ordered the immediate imprisonment of all Catholic priests until further notice; [105] other phases of intensified enforcement were caused by the Stuart rebellion in Scotland in 1715 or the danger of another invasion of Scotland in 1719, amongst others. [106]

But in general, it is fair to say that the penal laws against the Catholic clergy failed to achieve the desired results, whether they may have been the complete elimination of Catholicism in Ireland or just the reduction and containment of its clergy. Of course, the laws did great damage to the Church’s hierarchy and were responsible for much individual suffering. Yet they never prohibited the actual exercise of the Catholic religion, and registered priests were able to go about their business relatively undisturbed. By and large, the Catholic population’s religiousness seems to have been strengthened rather than weakened by the suppression. In the long run, the common experience of persecution welded the Catholic community, clergy and laity, closer together. As Burke put it, the Catholic church ‘had struck its roots broader and deeper into the conscience and affections of the people’ [107], and so they became ‘the most staunch Catholics in northern Europe.’ [108]

Of course, all these observations only apply to the penal laws which were targeted directly at the Catholic clergy. The question of their enforcement and efficiency in other areas remains to be addressed elsewhere. 

4. Bibliography 

4.1 Primary Sources 

‘An Act for annulling all Marriages to be celebrated by any Popish Priest between Protestant and Protestant, or between Protestant and Papist; and to amend and make more effectual an Act passed in this Kingdom in the sixth Year of the Reign of her late Majesty Queen Anne, intituled, An Act for the more effectual preventing the taking away and marrying Children against the Wills of their Parents or Guardians’ (19 Geo. II, c. 13), 1745, in: The Statutes at Large Passed in the Parliaments held in Ireland (Dublin, 1763-1801) (Stat. ire.), vi, pp. 765-66.

‘An Act for banishing all Papists exercising any Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, and all Regulars of the Popish Clergy out of this Kingdom’ (9 Will. III, c. 1), 1697, in Stat. Ire., iii, pp. 339-43.

‘An Act for Explaining and Amending an Act Entitled, an Act to Prevent the Further Growth of Popery’ (8 Anne, c. 3), 1709, in Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 190-216.

‘An Act for explaining and making more effectual an Act, intituled, An Act for the more effectual preventing clandestine Marriages; and another Act passed in the twelfth Year of his late Majesty’s Reign, intituled, An Act to prevent Marriages by degraded Clergymen and Popish Priests, and for preventing Marriages consummated from being avoided by Pre-Contracts, and for the more effectual punishing of Bigamy’ (23 Geo. II, c. 10), 1749, in Stat. Ire., vii, pp. 42-44.

‘An Act for registering the Popish Clergy’ (2 Anne, c. 7), 1703, in Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 31-33.

‘An Act to explain and amend an Act, intituled, An Act for registring the popish Clergy’ (4 Anne, c. 2), 1705, in Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 71-72.

‘An Act to prevent Marriages by degraded Clergymen and Popish Priests, and for preventing Marriages consummated from being avoided by Precontracts, and for the more effectual punishing of Bigamy’ (12 Geo. I, c. 3), 1725, in Stat. Ire., v, pp. 148-50.

‘An Act to prevent Popish Priests from coming into this Kingdom’ (2 Anne, c. 3), 1703, in Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 5-6.

‘An Act to Prevent the Further Growth of Popery’ (2 Anne, c. 6), 1703, in Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 12-31.

‘An Act to restrain foreign Education’ (7 Will. III, c. 4), 1695, in Stat. Ire., iii, pp. 254-60.

4.2 Secondary Sources

Bartlett, Thomas. The Fall and Rise of the Irish Nation: The Catholic Question 1690-1830. Dublin, 1992.

Burke, William P. The Irish Priests in the Penal Times (1660-1760). Shannon, 1969.

Burns, Robert E. ‘The Irish Penal Code and Some of Its Historians’. The Review of Politics 21, no. 1 (1959), pp. 276-99.

---. ‘The Irish Popery Laws: A Study of Eighteenth-Century Legislation and Behavior’. The Review of Politics 24, no. 3 (1962), pp. 485-508.

Connolly, S. J. ‘The Penal Laws’. In Kings in Conflict: The Revolutionary War in Ireland and its Aftermath 1689-1750, edited by W. A. Maguire, pp. 157-72. Belfast, 1990.

---. ‘Religion and History’. Irish Economic and Social History X (1983), pp. 66-80.

---. Religion, Law and Power: The Making of Protestant Ireland 1660-1760. Oxford, 1992.

Fagan, Patrick. Divided Loyalties: The Question of the Oath for Irish Catholics in the Eighteenth Century. Dublin, 1997.

McGrath, Charles Ivar. ‘The Provisions for Conversion in the Penal Laws, 1695-1750’. In Converts and Conversion in Ireland, 1650-1850, edited by Michael Brown et al., pp. 35-59. Dublin, 2005.

---. ‘Securing the Protestant Interest: the Origins and Purpose of the Penal Laws of 1695’. Irish Historical Studies XXX, no 117 (1996), pp. 25-46.

Osborough, W. N. ‘Catholics, Land and the Popery Acts of Anne’. In Endurance and Emergence: Catholics in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, edited by T.P. Power and Kevin Whelan, pp. 21-56. Dublin, 1990.

"penal laws". The Oxford Companion to Irish History. S. J. Connolly. Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford UP. 03 July 2012 < subview=Main&entry=t245.e1514>.

Simms, J. G. ‘The Bishops’ Banishment Act of 1697 (9 Will. III, c. 1)’. Irish Historical Studies XVII (1970-71), pp. 185-99.

---. ‘The Making of a Penal Law (2 Anne, c.6), 1703-4’. Irish Historical Studies, XII (1960-1), pp. 105-18.

Wall, Maureen. ‘The Penal Laws, 1691-1760’. In Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century: Collected Essays of Maureen Wall, edited by Gerard O’Brian, pp. 1-60. Dublin, 1989.


  • [1]

     "penal laws". The Oxford Companion to Irish History. S. J. Connolly. Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford UP. 03 July 2012 <>.

  • [2]

     Robert E. Burns, ‘The Irish Popery Laws: A Study of Eighteenth-Century Legislation and Behavior’, The Review of Politics 24, no. 3 (1962), p. 485.

  • [3]

     S. J. Connolly, Religion, Law and Power: The Making of Protestant Ireland 1660-1760 (Oxford, 1992), p. 263.

  • [4]

     For the following cf. Thomas Bartlett, The Fall and Rise of the Irish Nation: The Catholic Question 1690-1830 (Dublin, 1992), pp. 18-20; S. J. Connolly, ‘Religion and History’, Irish Economic and Social History X (1983), pp. 73-76; R. E. Burns, ‘The Irish Penal Code and Some of Its Historians’, The Review of Politics 21, no. 1 (1959).

  • [5]

     William P. Burke, The Irish Priests in the Penal Times (1660-1760) (Shannon, 1969), pp. 111-12.

  • [6]

     Burns, ‘Popery Laws’, p. 507.

  • [7]

     Maureen Wall, ‘The Penal Laws, 1691-1760’ in Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century: Collected Essays of Maureen Wall, ed. Gerard O’Brien (Dublin, 1989), p. 5.

  • [8]

     W. N. Osborough, ‘Catholics, Land and the Popery Acts of Anne’ in Endurance and Emergence: Catholics in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, ed. T.P. Power and Kevin Whelan (Dublin, 1990), pp. 22-23.

  • [9]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 8.

  • [10]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 9.

  • [11]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 110.

  • [12]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 38-45.

  • [13]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 51.

  • [14]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 53-109.

  • [15]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 9.

  • [16]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 113-15.

  • [17]

     J. G. Simms, ‘The Bishops’ Banishment Act of 1697 (9 Will. III, c. 1)’, Irish Historical Studies XVII (1970-71), p. 185.

  • [18]

     Patrick Fagan, Divided Loyalties: The Question of the Oath for Irish Catholics in the Eighteenth Century (Dublin, 1997), p. 22.

  • [19]

     S. J. Connolly, ‘The Penal Laws’ in Kings in Conflict: The Revolutionary War in Ireland and its Aftermath 1689-1750, ed. W. A. Maguire (Belfast, 1990), pp. 157-60.

  • [20]

     The Statutes at Large Passed in the Parliaments held in Ireland (Dublin, 1763-1801) (Stat. ire.), iii, pp. 254-60.

  • [21]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 165; Charles Ivar McGrath, ‘Securing the Protestant Interest: the Origins and Purpose of the Penal Laws of 1695’, Irish Historical Studies, XXX, no 117 (1996), pp. 42-44.

  • [22]

     Burns, ‘Popery Laws’, p. 503.

  • [23]

     Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 12-31. For a detailed account of the act’s genesis, cf. J. G. Simms, ‘The Making of a Penal Law (2 Anne, c. 6), 1703-4’, Irish Historical Studies, XII (1960-1), pp. 105-18.

  • [24]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 168-73.

  • [25]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 32.

  • [26]

     Burns, ‘Popery Laws’, pp. 504-06.

  • [27]

     Stat. Ire., iii, pp. 339-43.

  • [28]

     Simms, ‘Bishops’ Banishment Act’, pp. 185-87.

  • [29]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 132.

  • [30]

     Connolly, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 162.

  • [31]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 132-33.

  • [32]

     Connolly, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 162.

  • [33]

     Stat. Ire., iv, p. 200.

  • [34]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 183.

  • [35]

     Stat. Ire., iv, p. 5.

  • [36]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 43-44.

  • [37]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 252-56.

  • [38]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 44-46.

  • [39]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 11-12.

  • [40]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 298-300.

  • [41]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 31.

  • [42]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 267-69.

  • [43]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 29.

  • [44]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 51.

  • [45]

     Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 5-6.

  • [46]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 12-13.

  • [47]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 173-81.

  • [48]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 176-77.

  • [49]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 49.

  • [50]

     Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 31-33.

  • [51]

     Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 199-200.

  • [52]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 32.

  • [53]

     Bartlett, Catholic Question, p. 24.

  • [54]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 13-14.

  • [55]

     Fagan, Divided Loyalties, p. 27.

  • [56]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 13.

  • [57]

     Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 71-72.

  • [58]

     Stat. Ire., iv, pp. 190-216.

  • [59]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 208.

  • [60]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 47. For an example of a satirical poem, cf. Burke, Irish Priests, Appendix IV.

  • [61]

     Connolly, Making of Protestant Ireland, p. 276.

  • [62]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 208.

  • [63]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 48.

  • [64]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 245.

  • [65]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 243.

  • [66]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 244.

  • [67]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 25.

  • [68]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 219-37.

  • [69]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 209-10 and pp. 300-02.

  • [70]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 301.

  • [71]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 198.

  • [72]

     Fagan, Divided Loyalties, pp. 42-45.

  • [73]

     Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 303-05 and p. 311.

  • [74]

     Fagan, Divided Loyalties, p. 45.

  • [75]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 45.

  • [76]

     Connolly, Making of Protestant Ireland, p. 276; Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 18.

  • [77]

     Connolly, Making of Protestant Ireland, p. 276.

  • [78]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 48; "penal laws", Oxford Companion.

  • [79]

     Quoted in Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 48.

  • [80]

     Connolly, Making of Protestant Ireland, p. 288.

  • [81]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 29-31.

  • [82]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 48.

  • [83]

     Connolly, Making of Protestant Ireland, pp. 280-84; Burke, Irish Priests, pp. 198-203.

  • [84]

     Connolly, Making of Protestant Ireland, p. 289.

  • [85]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 191.

  • [86]

     Connolly, Making of Protestant Ireland, pp. 289-92.

  • [87]

     Charles Ivar McGrath, ‘The Provisions for Conversion in the Penal Laws, 1695-1750’ in Converts and Conversion in Ireland, 1650-1850, ed. Michael Brown et al. (Dublin, 2005), p. 35.

  • [88]

     Stat. Ire., v, pp. 148-50.

  • [89]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 187.

  • [90]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 189 cites a case from 1726; McGrath, ‘Provisions for Conversion’, p. 50 cites one from 1740.

  • [91]

     Stat. Ire., vi, pp. 765-66. In 1750, this act and 12 Geo. I, c. 3 were further amended in 23 Geo. II, c. 10 (Stat. Ire., vii, pp. 42-44).

  • [92]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 20.

  • [93]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 193, p. 295 and p. 346.

  • [94]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 55.

  • [95]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 59.

  • [96]

     "penal laws", Oxford Companion.

  • [97]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 452.

  • [98]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. vi.

  • [99]

     Connolly, ‘Penal Laws’, p. 169.

  • [100]

     For the following, cf. Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 20-25.

  • [101]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 136.

  • [102]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 320.

  • [103]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 18-19.

  • [104]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 267.

  • [105]

     Fagan, Divided Loyalties, pp. 29-31.

  • [106]

     Wall, ‘Penal Laws’, pp. 19-20.

  • [107]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 452.

  • [108]

     Burke, Irish Priests, p. 208.

Empfohlene Zitierweise

Kuber, Johannes: The Penal Laws and the Catholic Clergy. aventinus varia Nr. 35 [06.07.2012], in: aventinus, URL:

Bitte setzen Sie beim Zitieren dieses Beitrags hinter der URL-Angabe in runden Klammern das Datum Ihres letzten Besuchs dieser Online-Adresse.

Erstellt: 05.07.2012

Zuletzt geändert: 22.02.2013

ISSN 2194-1971