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Dissenting Agitation Continued
Baptist Magazine, xxvi. 255 (June 1834)
Taken from Norman Gash, The Age of Peel (London, Edward Arnold, 1973),
with the kind permission of Professor Gash. Copyright of this document, of course,
remains with him.
With growing Dissenting agitation the government
made unsuccessful attempts in the 1834 session to meet some of their demands.
Two bills - one to transfer the burden of church rates to the land-tax, the
other to allow marriages in dissenting chapels subject to banns being called
in the parish church - were abandoned in the face of dissenting criticism.
A private bill actively supported by several ministers to admit dissenters
to degrees at Oxford and Cambridge was defeated in the House of Lords. The
parliamentary and Anglican opposition encountered
had the effect of hardening Dissenting temper. Public meetings were held in
many large towns and there was criticism of the United Committee for its cautious
tactics. In May a joint meeting of the Committee and country delegates took
the extreme step of accepting in principle the separation of Church and State,
i.e. disestablishment as a basis of policy; though this had not been one of
the six points put forward by the United Committee a year earlier. Edward
Baines sen., liberal M.P. for Leeds (1834-41) was a leading Dissenter and
proprietor of the Leeds Mercury.
At a meeting for Conference between the United Committee appointed to obtain
the redress of the grievances of dissenters, and deputies from various parts
of the country, summoned specially for the purpose, held at the City of London
Tavern, on Thursday, May 8, 1834; Edward Baines, Esq., M.P., in the chair;
It was resolved,
- That this meeting recognizes the great and leading principle of full and
complete separation of church and state as the true basis on which equal rights
and justice can be secured to all classes of His Majesty's subjects.
- That this meeting cannot but express their deep regret that the reasonable
expectations of dissenters, founded on the admission,
by His Majesty's ministers, of the justice of their claims, and on the repeated
assurance of a desire on their part to grant relief, have been frustrated
by Lord John Russell's Dissenters' Marriage
Bill, and by Lord Althorp's propositions
respecting church-rates, - the only measures which the government have hitherto
introduced into parliament for the relief of dissenters.
- That this meeting concurs in the objections which have been made by the
united committee to the marriage bill, and especially to the propositions
respecting church-rates, which they consider fallacious and altogether unsatisfactory,
in as much as, while they change the name, they prolong the duration of a
burden, from which dissenters have already, in many parishes, procured either
partial or entire relief, and also gives new energy to a principle against
which they have strongly protested as impolitic and unjust.
- That this meeting entertains a full conviction that the English episcopal
church possesses in the property now at her disposal, and in the wealth of
her individual members, resources abundantly adequate to defray all the expenses
of upholding the edifices in which her members worship; and feels entitled
to claim the entire abolition of all imposts for that purpose, upon the same
principles of expediency and justice which induced parliament to abolish Church-cess
- That the individuals now present, acquiescing in the declaration made by
one of His Majesty's ministers, that it is a grievance for any class of religious
professors to be taxed for the support of a church to which they do not belong,
engage to take all constitutional measures to oppose the adoption of the proposed
plan respecting church-rates, and to secure the perfect enjoyment of their
- That a deputation from this meeting wait on Lord Althorp, to communicate
their sentiments relative to the measure which his Lordship has introduced
- That the deputation report the result of their interview with Lord Althorp
to the United Committee.
- That this meeting recommends the formation of Voluntary Church Societies
in London, and throughout the country, for the purpose of diffusing the great
principles maintained by such associations among the inhabitants of the United
- That the deputies now present will take immediate measures for personally
communicating with the members of parliament for their respective counties,
cities and boroughs, upon the respective resolutions passed this day, and
that they report the result to the United Committee.
- That the most cordial thanks of this meeting be given to the United Committee
for their valuable and efficient public services, and that they be requested
to continue the same.
- That the deputies from thc country, now present, undertake to interest themselves
in their respective districts to procure contributions to meet the expenses
incurred by the United Committee in prosecuting the important objects of their
formation; and that the monies so collected be remitted to the secretary,
on account of the treasurer of that committee.
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4 March, 2016