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Gilbert M. Stack

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Today in History: Catholics Gain the Right to Vote in the UK

Posted by Gilbert Stack on April 13, 2018 at 4:55 AM

On this day (April 13) in 1829 Great Britain passed the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 granting its Roman Catholic citizens the right to vote and to serve in Parliament. Catholic emancipation was bitterly opposed by many in England, including King George IV and the House of Lords. It only passed because of the strong support of the Duke of Wellington who threatened to resign as Prime Minister if these basic rights were not given to the Catholics. (Wellington feared that a major uprising would occur in Ireland if something was not done to address the civil rights issue.) The Act also repealed the Test Act of 1672 and the remaining Penal Laws in Ireland which were designed to coercer Catholics into converting to Protestantism. As a compromise with opponents of Catholic emancipation, the property requirements for voting in Ireland were raised from two to ten pounds, disenfranchising many less wealthy Catholics and Protestants.

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