Catholic Emancipation: 1760-1829

44 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2013

Date Written: January 9, 2013


This paper will primarily address Catholic Emancipation from the mid-eighteenth century to the passage of the Roman Catholic Relief Act in 1829. Catholic Emancipation serves as an interesting example of a pre-twentieth-century civil rights movement. Part I addresses the rise of Catholic repression beginning with Henry VIII’s split with the Catholic Church and continuing to the Glorious Revolution in 1688. Part II examines the legal impediments imposed on Catholics in the years after the Glorious Revolution, as well as the role that informers played in Catholic repression. Part III addresses the role of an activist judiciary as a crucial first step in the process of Catholic Emancipation. This section also addresses the relief provided by the Papists Act of 1778, and the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1791. This section will also address the Gordon Riots. Part IV deals with the unification with Ireland under the Union with Ireland Act of 1800, the promises made by Prime Minister Pitt to ensure passage in Ireland, and how George III used the Coronation Act of 1688 to refuse Irish Emancipation. Part V addresses the final push for emancipation beginning with the rise of the Catholic Association under Daniel O’Connell and ending with the final passage of the Roman Catholic Relief Act in 1829. Finally, this paper treats briefly the subsequent history of Catholics in the United Kingdom as well as how Catholic Emancipation can be seen as a road map for future civil rights movements.

Keywords: Civil-rights, Catholic, English History, Catholic Emancipation, George III, Pitt the Younger, Wellington, Daniel O'Connell, Catholic Relief Act of 1829, Papists Act of 1778, Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1791, Union with Ireland Act of 1800

Suggested Citation

Frassetto, Mark, Catholic Emancipation: 1760-1829 (January 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Frassetto (Contact Author)

Everytown for Gun Safety ( email )

PO Box 4184
New York, NY 10163

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