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THE REIGN OF GEORGE I. A.D. 1714 TO A.D. 1727.
On the accession of George I. to the throne, the Tories were ignominiously driven from office. It was high time that they should lose their power; for, of late, they had scarcely cared to conceal their attachment to the Pretender. In Dublin, recruiting for his service had been connived at by the Government;' and the Irish Parliament had been abruptly prorogued to stop the progress of a bill for his attainder. The house of Stuart had many friends among the Episcopal clergy; and these adherents of the fallen dynasty could not suppress their vexation when the Elector of Hanover became King
The violence with which such political parsons assailed the religion of the new sovereign in their sermons betrayed alike their ignorance and their folly. George I. had been educated a Lutheran; and the Irish episcopal laity were absurdly assured that the faith which he professed was no better than Popery. King, Archbishop of Dublinnow far advanced in lise—had all along cordially supported the claims of the family of the Prince Palatine :3 but he found
1 Plowden's Hist. Rev., p. 238, note ; Gordon's Hist. Ireland, ii. 205. Ever since the Revolution Irish Romanists had continued to enlist in foreign service. It has been stated that more than 450,000 Irishmen died in the service of France, between 1691 and 1745. Haverty, p. 693, note ; Mitchell's History of Ireland, p. 27. Mitchell remarks that "the statement may seem almost incredible, especially as Spain and Austria had also their share of our military exiles.”
9 Mant, ii. 276, 291.
3 It is very remarkable that this family, which suffered so much on the continent for the cause of Protestantism, became, by its connection with Great Britain, so influential in Protestant Christendom.
it impossible to restrain the extravagance of the incumbents even of his own diocese. Having heard of an inflammatory sermon, preached by a minister named Kearns, immediately after the Queen's death, he deemed it his duty to call his clergy together and give them his advice. "I am concerned,” says he in his account of this conference, "to remember what a spirit appeared in some of them, as I understand several preached last Sunday against consubstantiation : this was construed to have no good aspect towards the King, whom they suppose to be a Lutheran."1 In another letter he laments that the ministers of the Established Church evinced so little anxiety “to distinguish themselves from the disaffected." "To preach up the danger of the Church on His Majesty's accession to the crown, to sing the 137th Psalm, to preach against Lutheranism, or to make it worse than Popery is,” says he, “I am sure not the way” to avoid suspicion. He adds in another letter : “Very few have declared against the succession, because few are fond of being hanged for treason; but if a party of men take all possible methods to obstruct a thing; if they oppress all that were zealous for it and the Revolution ; and encourage the professed enemies thereof, and join with them ; if they shew themselves uneasy and chagrined when it takes place-one may guess at what they mean without any formal declaration.”
As the Irish Parliament was dissolved by the death of the Queen, there was a general election soon afterwards. On this occasion many of the ministers of the Establishment created no little scandal by the intemperate zeal with which they supported the Jacobite candidates in opposition to the friends of the Hanoverian succession.5 Not a few of the Protestant gentry, who held estates by titles guaranteed at the Revolution, felt that their position would be very insecure should the Pretender attain the crown; and they accordingly contended, with all their might, against the Tories at the hustings. The Episcopal clergy often excited their intense disgust by the pertinacity with which they struggled for the Jacobite interest. They were not content to record silent votes ; they appeared prominently in the political arena; they harangued the mob; and they attempted to drive the Whigs from the representation of the very boroughs of which they were themselves proprietors." In several of the northern constituencies, where the Presbyterians preponderated-the contest was carried on with unusual bitterness. Here the repeal of the Sacramental Test was the battle-cry of the Whigs; and, as most of the higher classes were Episcopalians, there was frequently a trial of strength between the aristocracy and the people. In the County of Antrim the excitement was almost unprecedented. The Whig candidate was Mr. Upton, of Templepatrick, an elder of the Presbyterian Church, and a gentleman greatly respected for integrity and piety. His antagonist was a high Tory, supported by the Protestant bishop of the diocese, the noblemen, and most of the gentlemen of the district. But the yeomanry, greatly to the mortification of their landlords, nobly refused to act in opposition to their convictions ; many who held their farms by most precarious tenures, voted for Mr. Upton; and the Presbyterian candidate was returned to Parliament by a triumphant majority.4
1 See his letter quoted in Mant, ii. 275.
2 Ibid. 291.
6 This Jacobite spirit appeared among the clergy till the close of this reign. The Rev. Thomas Sheridan, a noted wit who was chaplain to Lord Carteret, preached once on the ist of August-the anniversary of the King's accession - from the text “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matt. vi. 24.) This discourse gave so much offence in high places that the preacher lost his situation as chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant. Mr. Sheridan was the grandfather of Richard Brinsley
Sheridan, the famous statesman, dramatist, and orator. Brady's Records of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, i. 234-5.
i Mant, ii. 293. The Upton family has since been ennobled. Its present representative is Lord Templetown.
3 Reid, iii. 71. The following Presbyterian gentlemen represented northern constituencies in the Irish Parliament of 1715:—Clotworthy Upton, Castleupton, Templepatrick, and Sir Arthur Langford, Bart., of Summerhill, represented the County of Antrim; Hugh Henry, of Dublin, was one of the representatives of the borough of Antrim ; George Macartney, of Belfast, was one of the representatives of the borough of Belsast; Archibald Edmonston, of Redhall, was one of the representatives of Carrickfergus; and Hercules Rowley, of Summerhill, was one of the representatives of the County of Londonderry. VOL. II.
The accession of George I. marks the commencement of a new era in the history of Irish Presbyterians. The grant of Regium Donum to their ministers was now restored ; and shortly afterwards it received an augmentation to the extent of £800 per annum. From this date the Irish House of Commons—though still far from favourable-began to view them with a rather more friendly eye;? the progress of penal legislation was arrested ; and there was an increasing disposition to relax the stringency of the intolerant laws under which they had so long suffered. Their loyalty to the House of Hanover at a most critical period in the history of the country had revealed their political importance ; for, when George I. came to the throne, they were the only denomination in Ireland on whose support he could confidently calculate. In the year 1715 the standard of the Pretender was raised in Scotland ; 3 and the movements of his party were watched with the deepest anxiety by the authorities in Dublin. The Duke of Ormonde—who had recently been Lord Lieutenant, and who was by far the most extensive landed proprietor in Ireland—joined in the revolt. He was
1 This addition, which was made in 1718, increased it to £2,000 per annum. There were now about 140 ministers connected with the Synod of Ulster, and only twelve or thirteen in Dublin and the South ; but, as the addition of 6800 was equally divided between the Northern Synod and their brethren elsewhere, the Southerns were chiefly benefited by this fresh grant. See Reid, iii. 89.
? The defeat of the Tories at the late County Antrim election seems to have had a salutary influence. The county was now represented by two very earnest Presbyterians.
3 Roman Catholic writers coinmonly represent the Scotch Presbyterians as the great supporters of the Pretender. See Plowden's Hist. Rev., p. 243 ; Brenan, p. 551; Curry, p. 549 ; Haverty, p. 686 ; and Taafe, iv. 9. This is a most ridiculous mistake. The Scotch Presbyterians, as was to be expected, were stoutly opposed to him. See Cunningham's Church History of Scotland, ii. 371-2. Edinburgh, 1859. But, at the time of the Revolution, most of the Protestants in the north of Scotland were Episcopalians, and many of the Highlanders were still Romanists. It was by these Scotch Jacobites that the Pretender was supported. The Scotch Episcopal clergy, who now openly took part with the Pretender, were, in many cases, thrown into prison; and a heavy blow was thus given to Scottish prelacy. See Cunningham, ii. 372.
4 He was the grandson of the great Duke of Ormonde, so distinguished in the reign of Charles II. He died an exile in the south of France in 1745 ; but it would appear that he always continued a Protestant. Haverty, p. 681, note.
in consequence attainted, and his estates confiscated. There was an abortive attempt at insurrection in one district of the North, where the Earl of Antrim possessed influence ;? but, if the rest of the island remained quiet, it was not because the mass of the inhabitants did not sympathize with the insurgents, but because they were overawed, as well by the recollection of past disasters, as by the presence of a large military force. As there had been reason to apprehend that the Pretender would try to effect a landing somewhere on the coast of Ulster, it had been deemed prudent to augment the Protestant militia of the province; and yet here the Government soon found itself confronted by a very grave difficulty. The Presbyterians constituted the bulk of the Protestant population; but the Sacramental Test prevented them from engaging in the service of the Crown; and, though they were most desirous to uphold the cause of the reigning family, they could not consistently give their aid without exposing themselves to formidable penalties. In this emergency a meeting of the most influential of their laity was held in Belfast; and they agreed, at all hazards, to offer their services to the State. At the same time they expressed a hope that the administration would interfere, and save them from the legal penalties which they thus encountered. Their offer was gladly accepted by the Irish Lord Lieutenant; and they were assured that steps would be taken, as soon as Parliament assembled, to protect officers and soldiers from the penalties of the Test Act,
The ministry faithfully endeavoured to make good this promise. At the very commencement of the session of 1715, a bill was introduced into the Irish House of Commons containing a clause of indemnity ; exempting, in all time to come,
i Reid, iii. 72. The Earl of Antrim was a Romanist. Plowden's Hist. Rev. p. 244. See also Hill's Macdonnells of Antrim, p. 363, note.
. At the breaking out of the Rebellion in Scotland there were in Ireland seven regiments of cavalry, of from six to nine troops each regiment; and twenty-three regiments of infantry, of ten companies each, all Protestants or Englishmen. Strictures (Musgrave's) on Plowden, p. 69. London, 1804. It is obvious, therefore, that recent R.C. writers have given undue credit to their co-religionists for not rising in rebellion at this juncture. 3 Reid, iii. 67.
* Ibid, 68.