Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Catholic Emancipation

Catholic Emancipation. After the Reformation in England it was felony for a foreign priest, and high treason for a native one, to perform the rites of his religion in this realm. A Catholic could not acquire lands by purchase, and was subject to many other disabilities in exercising the rights of a citizen. Some relief from this state of things was given by Sir George Saville's Test Act in 1778, but it was received with great disfavour by the country at large, and was made the occasion of the Gordon Riots. In 1791 further relief was granted in England, and in 1792 and 1793 in Ireland, but in 1800 Pitt was unable to fulfil his promise of further relief to Irish Catholics, owing to the king's attitude of nonpossumus. In 1829 the country was ripe for the repeal of obnoxious acts, and Sir Robert Peel's Bill for this purpose received the Royal Assent in April. This did away with almost all disabilities, and the same path, in spite of an occasional check, has since been pursued. The last right given was that the Irish Lord Chancellorship may be held by a Catholic, but there are still some English offices for which Catholics are ineligible. Sir M. A. Shee was the first Catholic judge elevated to the English Bench since the beginning of the 18th century.