Committees for Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts
Minutes, 1790 (nos 100-142)

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London Record Society

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Author

Thomas W. Davis (editor)

Year published

1978

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42-61

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'Committees for Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts: Minutes, 1790 (nos 100-142)', Committees for Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts: Minutes 1786-90 and 1827-8 (1978), pp. 42-61. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=38780 Date accessed: 27 November 2014.


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100. At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Friday the 1st January 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Alderson, Mr Dodson, Mr Shore, Mr Smith, Mr Fuller, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Thomas Hall, Mr Lowdell, Mr Grubb, Mr Rickards, Mr Vaughan, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Mr Rogers, Mr Bogle French, Mr Bond Hopkins, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Towgood, Mr Calamy, Mr Serjeant Adair; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

[f. 45] Resolved that 3,000 copies of the ensuing letter be forthwith printed and circulated without delay and that copies signed by the chairman be sent to the several district committees.

Resolved that Mr Serjeant Adair and Mr Alderson be added to the committee appointed the 4th December for collecting extracts for publication.

Resolved that this committee will dine together at the London Tavern on Saturday 6th February, and that the company of the friends of civil and religious liberty be requested.

Resolved that it be referred to the last mentioned committee to draw up a proper advertisement and make the necessary arrangements.

101. Resolved that the annual income of the fund belonging to the Deputies for taking care of the civil concerns of the Dissenters is insufficient for carrying into effect the objects for which this committee was appointed.

Resolved that the Dissenters at large be called upon for pecuniary assistance for the above purpose and that the committee of Deputies do consider of the most proper methods of carrying it into effect.

[f. 45v] A letter from the Reverend Mr Wyvill stating etc. having been read by Mr Shore,

Resolved that that gentleman be requested to communicate to Mr Wyvill the thanks of this committee for his very liberal offer of co-operation in the cause of civil and religious liberty to which he has always approved himself so sincere a friend, to express the warmest approbation of the sentiments contained in his letter and to assure him that they will pay immediate attention to the hints he has suggested and give them that degree of consideration which their importance deserves. Adjourned to Wednesday January 6th, 1790.

102. [f. 46] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Wednesday the 6th day of January 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Alderson, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Fuller, Mr Grubb, Mr Grigby, Mr Beaufoy, Mr Keene, Mr Dodson, Mr Serjeant Adair, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Rickards, Mr Shore, Mr Barnardiston, Mr Lowdell, Mr Downe, Mr Calamy, Mr Vaughan, Mr Rogers, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Yerbury, Mr Bogle French, Mr John Towgood; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

Resolved that it be referred to the committee for collecting extracts etc. to consider of the best means of procuring the assistance of north Britain, and especially those who are members of the legislature, to support the application to parliament.

103. [f. 46v] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Wednesday the 13th day of January 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Grubb, Mr Bond, Mr Lowdell, Mr Barnardiston, Mr Raymond Barker, Mr Smith, Mr Downe, Mr Fuller, Mr Rogers, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr John Towgood, Mr Bogle French, Mr Alderson, Mr Beaufoy, Mr Calamy, Mr Serjeant Adair, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Dodson, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Vaughan, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Benjamin Boddington; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and the printed resolutions being reconsidered and debated,

Resolved that the 1st resolution be omitted.

Resolved that the 3rd resolution stand 1st and the 4th do stand 2nd and that the 2nd resolution do stand 3rd and the 5th stand 4th, the 6th stand 5th and the 7th stand 6th and the 8th stand 7th and the 9th stand 8th.

[f. 47] Resolved unanimously that the opinions and principles of the Protestant Dissenters have been proved by experience and are well known to be perfectly congenial to the spirit of the free constitution secured to these kingdoms by the Glorious Revolution and friendly to the just authority of the monarchy as established in the illustrious house of Brunswick, to which their loyalty and attachment have ever been conspicuously distinguished.

104. That every test calculated to exclude such men from civil and military offices on account of religious scruples is a violation of their rights as men and citizens of a free state, inconsistent with the principles of the constitution of this country and repugnant to the genuine spirit of true religion, subjecting a large number of deserving members of the state to a species of persecution not more injurious to them than dishonourable to the government of which they are useful and loyal subjects.

That exclusion from the enjoyment of civil rights and incapacitation from holding offices of profit or honour being a mode of punishment well known in many instances, to our law every such exclusion partakes of the nature of punishment and consequently of persecution when applied to religious opinions.

[f. 47v] That the sacramental test of qualification to offices which now stands established by law is liable to this further objection, which must greatly weigh in the minds of serious and religious men of all persuasions, that it is a profanation of a rite held sacred in Christian churches by applying to a purpose unconnected with religion and repugnant to the pious object of its original institution.

That such a test defeats the professed purposes of its own establishment, as from its nature it can only operate to exclude from offices the most sincere and conscientious men, while it leaves the door open to the profane and the hypocritical of all denominations, thereby depriving the state of the services of many valuable members, but affords no security against any one unprincipled individual.

105. That it is a duty incumbent not only on all Protestant Dissenters but on those of the established church and all others who concur in the principles we have stated to exert their united efforts by all lawful and peaceful means to procure a repeal of those laws which tend to subject numerous and deserving bodies of men to unmerited disadvantages, to deprive the state of the services of many of its most faithful and conscientious subjects, to pervert a sacred Christian rite from its proper objects, to violate the principles of the best and freest constitution in the world and to dishonour [f. 48] one of the first Protestant churches in Europe with an imputation of intolerance and persecution peculiarly injurious to the interest and honour of the Protestant religion at a moment when our Catholic neighbours are holding out an example of the most free and liberal toleration.

That we have received with heartfelt satisfaction the testimonies of approbation with which our conduct in the former applications to parliament for the repeal of the test laws has been honoured and perceive with the utmost pleasure that spirit of zeal and unanimity which pervades the whole body of Dissenters throughout the kingdom, which is still heightened by assurances of approbation and concurrence from many respectable members of the established church. Encouraged by such a prospect we will adopt and pursue to the utmost of our power every constitutional means to give effect to that spirit which when firmly and unitedly exerted in the cause of truth cannot fail of ultimate success in a free and Protestant country.

106. That it appears expedient to renew our application to parliament in the ensuing session.

That the thanks of this committee be given to the chairman for the ability, zeal and assiduity with which for the space of three years he has conducted its concerns.

[f. 48v] That the above resolutions be signed by the chairman and inserted in the public papers.

That the 8th, 10th, 11th and 12th resolutions as they now stand amended be signed by the chairman and transmitted to the country districts with the circular letter.

Resolved that it be referred to the next committee to consider of printing and publishing country resolutions.

Resolved that the Reverend Dr Kippis be requested to supply a preface thereto. Adjourned to Saturday January 16th, 1790.

107. At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Saturday 16th January 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Bogle French, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Serjeant Adair, Mr Downe, Mr Dodson, Mr Alderson, Mr Vaughan, Mr Grubb, Mr John Towgood, Mr West, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Shore, Mr Rogers, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Mr Calamy; Mr Jeffries in the chair. [f. 49] The last minutes were read and confirmed.

Resolved that the motion for a repeal of the test laws as affecting the Protestant Dissenters be renewed in the House of Commons in the ensuing session.

A letter from Henry Beaufoy Esq to the chairman was read dated Great George Street, January 15th, 1790, as follows.

Dear Sir: Though the sentiments of an individual on the question which calls for the present meeting of the committee are of little importance, yet as that question from the partiality which I have experienced on two former occasions may seem to involve in it considerations of personal moment to myself, I hope I shall not be thought presumptuous in wishing to address you on the subject. From the time that I first had the honour to participate in the councils of the committee, the only standard by which I have judged of the several measures suggested has ever invariably been the interest of the cause in which we are engaged, and though I cannot be insensible to the honour of continuing to take the lead in recommending to parliament a proposal that is obviously supported by every principle of justice and of the genuine wisdom, yet in comparison with the triumph of the cause all other considerations entirely disappear.

If then in consequence of our having been twice defeated, it shall be thought expedient to vary the channel of parliamentary application and to try in other hands the fortune of suit, I shall be the [f. 49v] foremost to contribute all I can to the success of a measure of the propriety of which the committee are the competent judges, for I am not more incapable of deserting any station than I am [of] forming a wish to retain it at the expense of the service.

I am with the greatest regard, dear sir, your obedient humble servant, Henry Beaufoy. Great George Street, January 15th, 1790.

108. Resolved unanimously that the warmest thanks of this committee be given to Henry Beaufoy Esq for his very able, discreet and respectable conduct of the two late applications to the House of Commons for the repeal of the test laws, for his assiduous attendance upon the meetings of this committee, for his zealous and steadfast attachment to the cause of the Dissenters and of religious liberty, and for that mark in particular of it contained in his letter to the chairman on the subject of the mode of introducing the motion proposed in the House of Commons for the repeal of the test laws in the ensuing session.

Resolved that the chairman, Mr Serjeant Adair and Mr Rogers be a subcommittee to wait on Mr Beaufoy and communicate the foregoing resolution.

Resolved nem. con. that a deputation be appointed to wait upon the right honourable Charles James Fox on the part of this committee, respectfully requesting him to make a motion in the House of Commons in [f. 50] the ensuing session of parliament for a repeal of the sacramental test laws as affecting Protestant Dissenters and, in case of his acceding to such, request that he be desired to give his opinion as to the time most prudent for introducing the said motion in order that the committee may thereby be regulated in their own proceedings.

Resolved that such deputation do consist of the chairman, Mr Serjeant Adair and Mr Rogers. Adjourned to Friday 22nd January 1790.

109. At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Friday 22nd January 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Raymond Barker, Mr Beaufoy, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Mr West, Mr Calamy, Mr Dodson, Mr John Towgood, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Shore, Mr William Smith, Mr Rogers, Mr Keene, Mr Serjeant Adair, Mr Bogle French, Mr Lowdell, Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, Mr Alderson, Mr Vaughan, Mr Fuller, Mr Serjeant Watson, Mr Downe; [f. 50v] Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed. Adjourned to tomorrow (without summons) eleven for twelve, to receive the report of the subcommittee who waited on Mr Fox.

110. At an adjourned meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Saturday 23rd of January 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Vaughan, Mr Rogers, Mr Shore, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr William Smith, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Benjamin Boddington; Mr Jeffries in the chair.

The subcommittee appointed to wait on Mr Beaufoy reported that they had waited on him with the resolution of this committee, and that he had received them very politely and assured them of his continued good wishes and support.

[f. 51] They also reported that they had waited on Mr Fox, who acknowledged the honour the committee had done him, and that he would comply with the request of the committee in making a motion in the House of Commons in the ensuing session for a repeal of the Corporation and Test laws. Adjourned to Thursday 28th January 1790.

111. At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head in the Poultry on Thursday the 28th day of January 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Shore, Mr Beaufoy, Mr Dodson, Mr Alderson, Mr Keene, Mr Vaughan, Mr Calamy, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Mr West, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Rogers, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr John Heywood, Mr Bogle French, Mr Lowdell, Mr Raymond Barker, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr John Towgood; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

[f. 51v] Resolved that this committee will take 100 copies of a pamphlet entitled An Enquiry into the Principles of Toleration by the late Reverend Joseph Townes of Shrewsbury at the price of ten guineas.

Resolved that Mr Samuel Heywood be desired to write to Birmingham for 750 copies of Hoadly's refutation of Sherlock.

Resolved that a deputation be appointed to wait on the right honourable William Pitt to inform him that it is intended to renew the motion for the repeal of the test laws in the present session. That the deputation do consist of the chairman, Mr Serjeant Adair and Mr Rogers. Adjourned to Tuesday 2nd February 1790.

112. At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Tuesday 2nd February 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Dodson, Mr Keene, Mr Shore, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Rogers, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Beaufoy, Mr Alderson, Mr Yerbury, Mr Lowdell, Mr Calamy, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Serjeant Adair, Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, Mr Downe, Mr Grubb, Mr John Towgood, Mr Vaughan, Mr West; [f. 52] Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

The chairman [reported] that he, Mr Serjeant Adair and Mr Rogers had waited on Mr Pitt and delivered him a copy of the resolutions of the last meeting of this committee.

Resolved unanimously that Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, be requested to second Mr Fox's intended motion for the repeal of the test laws.

In compliance with the preceding resolution, Sir Henry Hoghton consented to second Mr Fox's intended motion for the repeal of the test laws.

113. Resolved that the chairman be requested to wait upon the right honourable Charles James Fox to communicate to him the wishes of the committee that as early a notice as is consistent with his conveniences be given to the House of Commons of his intended motion for a repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts; but that the committee do not mean by this resolution to intimate a desire that the notice itself should propose an earlier day for the motion than the purpose of the notice may be thought in fairness to require.

Resolved that the chairman be likewise desired to inform Mr Fox that in pursuance of the unanimous request of the committee, Sir Henry Hoghton has consented to second the intended motion in the House of Commons for a repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts.

Resolved that the chairman be desired at the same time to request the honour of Mr Fox's [f. 52v] company to dine with the friends to the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts at the London Tavern on Saturday the 13th February at four o'clock. Adjourned to February 9th, 1790.

114. At a meeting of this committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Tuesday 9th February 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Grubb, Mr Lowdell, Mr William Smith, Mr Downe, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr John Heywood, Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, Mr Barnardiston, Mr Shore, Mr Fuller, Mr Calamy, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Mr Raymond Barker, Mr John Towgood, Mr Bogle French, Mr Rogers, Mr Keene, Mr Dodson; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

The chairman reported that he had waited on Mr Fox and delivered him with the resolutions of this committee, when Mr Fox informed him he would give notice of his motion for the repeal of the test laws some time in the present week.

[f. 53] Resolved that at the next meeting a subscription be taken into consideration for defraying the expenses of this application to parliament for repeal of the test laws. Adjourned to Tuesday 16th February 1790.

115. At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Tuesday 16th February 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Raymond Barker, Mr John Heywood, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Calamy, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Shore, Mr William Smith, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Lowdell, Mr John Towgood, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Mr Dodson, Mr Beaufoy, Mr Grubb, Mr Rogers, Mr West, Mr Bond Hopkins, Mr Fuller. Country Delegates: Dr Hardy, Mr Clarke, Reverend Dr Kippis, Reverend Mr Urwicke, Mr Milford, Mr Hobhouse, Reverend Mr Grove, Mr Alderson, Mr Cooper, Mr Currie, Mr Moggridge; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

[f. 53v] Resolved that Mr Johnson be desired to print 1,000 copies of the pamphlet The Right of Dissenters.

Resolved that a committee be appointed to examine the list of the members of the House of Commons and ascertain which of them are favourable to our application or otherwise, and that all the returns and information which have been given to the committee be referred to them.

Resolved that the committee consist of the chairman, Dr Hardy, Mr Hobhouse, Mr Shore, Mr Currie, Mr Cooper, Mr Brand Hollis, Reverend Mr Grove, Mr Rogers, Mr Heywood and as many other gentlemen as choose to attend, and that they meet tomorrow at twelve o'clock.

That the committee take 200 (instead of one) of Mr Townes' pamphlet at £18 18s 0d.

116. That a select committee be appointed to procure as complete a list as may be speedily obtained of such persons as within these last ten years have held offices of trust or profit, civil or military, without having qualified as required by the Test Act.

That the chairman, Mr Heywood, Mr Rogers, Mr West, Mr Dodson, Mr Milford and Mr Hobhouse be requested to undertake the business and be empowered to employ such agents as they may think proper.

That it be recommended to the Deputies of the several congregations in and about London to acquaint the respective societies to which they [f. 54] belong of the necessity of a subscription to defray the expenses incurred and to be incurred by the proceedings of the committee for conducting the application to parliament for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and that the manner of the communication be left to [the] discretion of the Deputies, recommending only that it be made as general and as early as possible.

That Mr Jeffries be appointed treasurer.

That the Deputies be requested to collect the subscriptions of their respective congregations in the mode most convenient to themselves and to pay them to Edward Jeffries Esq, the treasurer.

That the secretary be directed to transmit copies of the above resolutions to the Deputies of every congregation.

That the secretary be directed also to transmit copies of these resolutions to the ministers of such societies as have not sent Deputies, requesting their concurrence and assistance in collecting such subscriptions.

That the treasurer be empowered to receive the assistance of such of our friends as may choose to subscribe, though unconnected with any congregation, and to express the satisfaction of the committee at such marks of zeal in the prosecution of our common object. Adjourned to Tuesday 23rd February 1790.

117. [f. 54v] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Tuesday 23rd February 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Lowdell, Sir Henry Hoghton, Mr Shore, Mr John Heywood, Mr Calamy, Mr West, Mr Dodson, Mr Rogers, Mr Beaufoy, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Downe, Mr John Towgood, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Keene, Mr Fuller, Mr William Smith, Mr Vaughan, Mr Serjeant Watson, Mr Grubb, Mr Samuel Smith. Delegates: Mr Currie, Dr Hardy, Mr Nash, Reverend Dr Kippis, Mr Milford, Mr Moggridge, Reverend Mr Grove, Mr Cooper, Mr Hobhouse, Mr Bradbury; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

Resolved that it is the opinion of this committee [that] the Deputies from the congregations in and near London be convened on Friday the 26th inst. to consider of the appointment of a committee to meet and confer with the delegates from the country district, particularly upon the measures necessary to be pursued by the Dissenters at large for the restoration of their civil rights.

[f. 55] Resolved that [a] subcommittee be appointed to wait upon the members of the two houses of parliament in order to express in the most respectful manner the earnest hope of this committee that in any application that may be made to the legislature for the relief of Protestant Dissenters from the sacramental test laws, the Dissenters may be favoured with their countenance and support. Adjourned to Saturday 27th February 1790.

118. At a general meeting of the Deputies at Dr Williams's Library, Red Cross Street, on Friday 26th February 1790; Mr Jeffries in the chair.

Resolved that this meeting be adjourned to Wednesday next at twelve o'clock at noon precisely (and that the summonses be special). Adjourned to Wednesday 3rd March 1790.

119. [f. 55v] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Saturday 27th February 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Downe, Mr Barnardiston, Mr Shore, Mr Serjeant Watson, Mr Calamy, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Lowdell, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr John Heywood, Mr Dodson, Mr Vaughan, Mr John Towgood, Mr Grubb, Mr Martin. Delegates: Dr Hardy, Reverend Mr Bradbury, Mr Harris, Mr Hobhouse, Mr Milford, Mr Currie, Reverend Mr Wood, Mr Clark, Mr Cooper, Mr Hudson; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed. Adjourned to Monday 1st March 1790.

120. [f. 56] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head in the Poultry on Monday the 1st March 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr John Towgood, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Grubb, Sir Henry Hoghton, Mr Dodson, Mr William Smith, Mr Vaughan. Delegates: Dr Hardy, Mr Hudson, Reverend Mr Wood, Mr Milford, Mr Currie, Reverend Mr Bradbury; Mr Jeffries in the chair.

The subcommittee appointed to inspect the list of the representatives in parliament and make a report how they are severally disposed to vote on Tuesday the 2nd inst. recommend to the committee that upon a future occasion a similar subcommittee be appointed for the same purpose, at least three months previous to the next application to parliament. Adjourned to Wednesday 3rd March 1790.

121. [f. 56v] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Wednesday 3rd March 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Vaughan, Mr Lowdell, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Shore, Mr Dodson, Mr Grubb, Mr Calamy, Mr Bogle French. Delegates: Reverend Mr Bradbury, Mr Clark, Mr Nash, Mr Currie, Mr Watson, Dr Hardy, Mr Milford, Dr Kippis, Reverend Mr Grove, Mr Hudson, Mr Hobhouse, Mr Cooper, Mr Moggridge, Reverend Mr Wood, Mr Palmer; Mr Jeffries in the chair.

At a general meeting of the Deputies by adjournment at Dr Williams's Library in Red Cross Street on Wednesday 3rd March 1790; Mr Jeffries in the chair.

[f. 57] Resolved that the committee of twenty-one gentlemen already chosen by the Deputies be appointed a committee to meet and confer with the delegates in London from sundry districts in the country and report the same to this meeting to be convened for receiving the said report. Adjourned to [MS blank].

122. At a meeting of the committee appointed by the Deputies to confer with the delegates from the country at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Thursday 4th March 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Rogers, Mr Fuller, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr Lowdell, Mr Hall, Mr Benjamin Boddington. Delegates: Dr Hardy, Mr Hobhouse, Reverend Dr Kippis, Reverend Mr Robinson, Mr Palmer, Mr Moggridge, Mr Hudson, Mr Nash, Reverend Mr Grove, Reverend Mr Wood, Reverend Mr Bradbury, Mr Watson, Reverend Mr Hammond, Mr Harris; Dr Hardy in the chair.

[f. 57v] Resolved nem. con. that it is the opinion of this meeting that an union of the Protestant Dissenters is desirable.

Resolved nem. con. that it is the opinion of this meeting that a standing committee composed of delegates from different parts of the kingdom be appointed to meet in London as soon as convenient for the purpose of concerting and pursuing measures for obtaining relief from the legislature on the subject of the test laws, and that the proportion of delegates in this committee be as follows, viz. twenty-one on the part of the Deputies of the congregations in and near London and forty-two on the part of the congregations in the remainder of the kingdom.

Resolved nem. con. that a subcommittee consisting of nine gentlemen be appointed to digest further particulars respecting the above plan and to make a report thereon to this meeting, which shall be adjourned to eleven o'clock tomorrow morning to receive such report.

Resolved nem. con. that this subcommittee be composed of the following nine gentlemen, viz. Dr Hardy, Mr Nash, Mr Watson, Mr Cooper, Mr Jeffries, Mr West, Reverend Mr Wood, Mr Vaughan, Mr Hudson. Adjourned to 5th March 1790.

123. [f. 58] At a meeting of the committee appointed to meet the delegates at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry, 5th March 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Bogle French, Mr Rogers, Mr Lowdell. Delegates: Dr Hardy, Mr Palmer, Mr Cooper, Reverend Mr Bradbury, Reverend Mr Hammond, Mr Watson, Mr Currie, Reverend Dr Kippis, Mr Hudson, Mr Nash, Reverend Mr Wood; Dr Hardy in the chair. The minutes of yesterday were read and confirmed.

Resolved nem. con. that the following will be a convenient distribution according to which the forty-two country delegates or agents may be chosen, and that it be recommended to the Dissenters of the different counties in each division to choose their respective delegates jointly or separately, according to the counties as shall be most agreeable to themselves.

Northumberland 3 Nottinghamshire 2
Cumberland Derbyshire
Westmorland Lincolnshire 2
Durham Leicestershire
Yorkshire 2 Rutlandshire
Lancashire 2 Northamptonshire 1
Cheshire
[f. 58v] Oxfordshire 2 Sussex 2
Berkshire Surrey
Shropshire 2 Kent
North Wales Essex 1
Warwickshire 2 Hertfordshire 1
Staffordshire Bedfordshire 2
Worcestershire 2 Bucks
Herefordshire Suffolk 2
Gloucestershire 2 Norfolk
Monmouthshire Cambridge 2
Somersetshire 2 Huntingdonshire
Wiltshire South Wales 4
Devonshire 2
Cornwall
Dorsetshire 2
Hampshire

124. Resolved nem. con. that it be recommended to the several meetings of Protestant Dissenters in the country to choose their respective delegates in the standing committees to meet in London on or before the first day of June next.

Resolved nem. con. that whenever forty-two delegates or agents, including those from London and its neighbourhood, shall be appointed to meet in London, the standing committee shall be considered as formed, and that nine such delegates shall constitute a quorum to transact business.

[f. 59] Resolved nem. con. that one third in number of the above committee be empowered to call a special meeting of delegates resident in the country when they shall see it expedient.

Resolved nem. con. that the agents in the standing committees appointed on the part of the country shall be suspended whenever the delegates resident in the country shall appear (on being summoned) at a special meeting.

Resolved nem. con. that at such special meetings the number of suffrages on any question shall not exceed forty-two on the part of the country delegates and twenty-one on the part of the London delegates to be apportioned as in the standing committee.

Resolved nem. con. that no person shall be agent or delegate for more than one district or have more than one vote.

Resolved nem. con. that the thanks of this meeting be given to the chairman. Adjourned to Wednesday 10th March 1790.

125. [f. 59v] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Wednesday 10th March 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Dodson, Mr Lowdell, Mr Vaughan, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Grubb, Mr Downe, Mr Thomas Boddington, Mr John Towgood, Mr Hall, Mr Bogle French, Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Calamy, Mr Bradney, Mr Raymond Barker, Mr Keene, Mr Rogers, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Yerbury, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Mr Shore, Mr Rickards. Delegates: Mr Watson, Mr Moggridge, Reverend Mr Wood, Reverend Mr Bradbury, Reverend Mr Walker, Mr Cooper, Dr Hardy, Mr Hudson; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

Resolved nem. con. that an address to the people of England be drawn up and published upon the application of the Protestant Dissenters for a repeal of the test laws.

[f. 60] Resolved nem. con. that a subcommittee consisting of the following gentlemen be appointed for that purpose, viz. the chairman, Reverend Mr Walker, Reverend Mr Wood, Reverend Mr Bradbury, Mr Cooper, Mr Vaughan, Dr Hardy and Mr John Towgood.

126. Resolved unanimously that our very grateful and respectful acknowledgements be given to the right honourable Charles James Fox for his inflexible perseverance in a cause which from a principle of well-founded conviction he first embraced by introducing a motion in favour of the Protestant Dissenters in the House of Commons on the 2nd instant for exonerating them from the grievance of the sacramental test laws, and for the singular ability and energy which he displayed on that occasion when the superiority of reason and truth consoled us for the triumph of numbers, and that he be assured that the Protestant Dissenters never will desert a cause which has invited such a defender and which they are convinced must ultimately prevail in defiance of all opposition.

That the chairman, Mr Shore, Mr Smith and the Reverend Mr Walker be a committee to wait on Mr Fox with the above resolution.

127. That our warmest thanks be conveyed to Sir Henry Hoghton, Mr Beaufoy and Mr William Smith for their steadfast and able support of Mr Fox's motion in the House of Commons on the 2nd instant, and that Mr Martin, Mr Samuel Smith, members [i.e., member] for Worcester and Mr Tierney also be informed that we are particularly sensible of the generous testimony which they bore on that occasion in favour of the Protestant Dissenters.

[f. 60v] That our respectful thanks be conveyed to the members of the House of Commons who, in the face of a very formidable opposition, have adhered to their first conviction of what was right by voting in favour of Mr Fox's motion on the 2nd instant. Adjourned to 18th March 1790.

128. At a special meeting of the committee summoned by order of the chairman at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Thursday 18th March 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Keene, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Vaughan, Mr Shore, Mr Dodson, Mr Bogle French, Mr John Towgood, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Fuller, Mr Calamy, Mr Lowdell, Mr Raymond Barker. Delegates: Mr Watson, Reverend Mr Bradbury, Mr Moggridge, Reverend Dr Kippis; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

[f. 61] The chairman reported that the subcommittee had waited on Mr Fox, who received them very politely and assured them of his attachment to the cause of the Dissenters.

129. The delegates from the country upon the subcommittee for drawing up the address to the people of England being returned home,

Resolved that the following gentlemen do form a new subcommittee for that purpose, viz. the chairman, Reverend Dr Kippis, Mr Dodson, Mr Vaughan, Mr Calamy and Mr John Towgood.

Resolved that it be referred to the same subcommittee to consider of a report to be made from this committee to the Deputies on the subject of its proceedings respecting the great objects entrusted to its care.

Resolved that a copy of the minutes of the proceedings of this committee and a collection of the various publications and printed accounts of the proceedings held in the present controversy respecting the repeal of the test laws be made and deposited at Dr Williams's Library, and that similar copies and collections be made and respectively deposited at the college at Hackney and at the academy at Homerton. Adjourned to 13th April 1790.

130. [f. 61v] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Tuesday 13th April 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Vaughan, Mr Dodson, Mr Fuller, Mr Yerbury, Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, Mr Grubb, Mr Benjamin Boddington, Mr John Towgood, Mr Calamy, Mr Serjeant Watson, Mr Bogle French, Mr Lowdell, Mr Samuel Smith, Mr Martin; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

The chairman reported that he had given directions to Mr Johnson to collect the different publications relative to the repeal of the test laws as soon as possible.

Resolved that the subcommittee for the address do meet here on Saturday next at eleven for twelve o'clock, and that Mr Serjeant Watson, Mr Martin, Sir Henry Hoghton, Mr William Smith, Mr Rogers, Mr Samuel Heywood and Mr Beaufoy be added to such subcommittee. Adjourned to Tuesday 20th April 1790.

131. [f. 62] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Tuesday 20th April 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Grubb, Mr Raymond Barker, Mr John Towgood, Mr West, Mr Lowdell, Mr Dodson, Mr Alderson, Mr Fuller, Mr Shore, Mr Martin, Mr Vaughan, Mr Bogle French, Mr Keene, Mr Samuel Smith; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

Resolved that the address be referred back to the subcommittee and that they do meet on Friday next at eleven precisely and make their report here on Tuesday next.

The draft of a report from this committee to the Dissenters being read, resolved that the same be approved.

Resolved that the Deputies be summoned to meet at Dr Williams's Library on Thursday the 29th inst. at twelve o'clock. Adjourned to Wednesday 5th May 1790.

132. [f. 62v] At a general meeting of the Deputies at Dr Williams's Library in Red Cross Street on Thursday the 29th April 1790: Mr Jeffries in the chair. The minutes of the last general meeting were read and confirmed. Adjourned to Thursday 13th May 1790.

133. At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Wednesday the 5th May 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Yerbury, Mr Samuel Heywood, Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, Mr Vaughan, Mr Dodson, Mr Raymond Barker, Mr Calamy, Mr Lowdell, Mr Shore, Mr Bogle French, Mr Rogers, Mr Grubb. Delegate: Mr Nash; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

[f. 63] Mr Yerbury reported that the congregations at Salters' Hall had raised the sum of £56 14s towards the expense of this committee, which he paid to the treasurer.

The draft of the address to the public being read and several corrections made therein,

Resolved that it be referred to the subcommittee to revise and complete it. Adjourned to Friday 7th May 1790.

At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern in the Poultry on Friday 7th May 1790. Present: Mr Rogers, Mr Lowdell, Mr Grubb, Mr Fuller, Mr Shore; Mr Rogers in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed. Adjourned to Tuesday 11th May 1790.

134. [f. 63v] At a meeting of the committee at the King's Head Tavern on Tuesday 11th May 1790. Present: Mr Raymond Barker, Mr Lowdell, Mr Rogers, Mr Boddington, Mr Yerbury, Mr Brand Hollis, Mr Vaughan, Mr Fuller, Mr Samuel Heywood, Mr Calamy. Delegate: Mr Alderson; Mr Rogers in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

Resolved that the address as now altered be approved.

Resolved that it be signed by Edward Jeffries Esq, the chairman of this committee, and inserted in the public papers as soon as possible. Adjourned.

135. [f. 64] At an adjourned general meeting of the Deputies at Dr Williams's Library, Red Cross Street, on Thursday May 13th, 1790. Present: Mr Jeffries, Mr Hall, Mr Rogers, Mr Stiff, Mr Keene, Mr Stevens, Mr Dawson, Mr Child, Mr Fuller, Mr Field [from] Newington, Mr Grubb, Mr James Smith, Mr Calamy, Mr Dell, Mr D Rogers, Dr Johnson, Mr Chatfield, Mr Turner, Mr Lowdell, Mr Hillier; Mr Jeffries in the chair. The last minutes were read and confirmed.

The chairman then reported that in consequence of instructions received at the general meeting on the 3rd of March, their committee of [f. 64v] twenty-one annually appointed by the general meeting had held a conference on the 4th and 5th of the same month with the delegates from the country, Dr Hardy of Northampton being in the chair, when various resolutions having for [their] object the formation of a standing committee of the whole body of Dissenters of the three denominations for the purpose of concerting and pursuing measures for obtaining relief from the legislature on the subject of the test laws were agreed to at the said conference, nem. con., as follows.

136. That it is the opinion of this meeting that an union of the Protestant Dissenters is desirable.

That it is the opinion of this meeting that a standing committee composed of delegates from different parts of the kingdom be appointed to meet in London as soon as convenient for the purpose of concerting and pursuing measures for obtaining relief from the legislature on the subject of the test laws and that the proportion of delegates in the committee be as follows, viz. twenty-one on the part of the Deputies of the congregations in and near London and forty-two on the part of the congregations in the remainder of the kingdom.

That the following will be a convenient distribution according to which the forty-two country delegates or agents may be chosen, and that it be recommended to the Dissenters of the different counties in each division to choose their respective delegates [f. 65] jointly or separately, according to their counties as shall be most agreeable to themselves.

Northumberland 2 Somersetshire 2 Sussex 2
Cumberland Wiltshire Surrey
Westmorland Devonshire 2 Kent
Durham Cornwall Essex 1
Yorkshire 2 Dorsetshire 2 Hertfordshire 1
Lancashire Hampshire Bedfordshire 2
Cheshire Lincolnshire 2 Bucks
Nottinghamshire 2 Leicestershire Suffolk [2]
Derbyshire Rutlandshire Norfolk
Warwickshire 2 Northamptonshire 1 Cambridgeshire 2
Staffordshire Oxfordshire 2 Huntingdonshire
Worcestershire 2 Berkshire South Wales 4
Herefordshire Shropshire 2
Gloucestershire 2 North Wales [Total less than 42]
Monmouthshire

137. That whenever forty-two delegates or agents including those from London and its neighbourhood shall be appointed to meet in London, the standing committee shall be considered as formed, and that nine such delegates shall constitute a quorum to transact business.

That it be recommended to the several meetings of Protestant Dissenters in the country to choose their respective delegates in the standing committee so [f. 65v] as to meet in London on or before the 1st day of June next.

That one third in number of the above committee be empowered to call a special meeting of delegates resident in the country when they shall see it expedient.

That the powers of the agents in the standing committee appointed on the part of the country shall be suspended whenever the respective delegates resident in the country shall appear on being summoned at a special meeting.

138. That at such special meeting the number of suffrages on any question shall not exceed forty-two on the part of the country delegates and twentyone on the part of the London delegates to be appointed as in the standing committee.

That no person shall be agent or delegate for more than one district or have more than one vote.

139. The chairman then read the third report of the committee for conducting the application to parliament for the repeal of the test laws as follows.

London, King's Head Tavern, April 20th, 1790. The third report of the committee for conducting an application to parliament for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts presented to the general body of Deputies.

Gentlemen: Pursuant to your last instructions, we have continued to devote our attention to a renewal of the application to parliament for the repeal of the sacramental test laws [f. 66] by which we have been so long and unjustly aggrieved.

The issue of the motion in the House of Commons last session on this subject, which was lost only by the small difference of 124 votes to 104, together with other circumstances having encouraged a repetition of it in the present session, your committee came to a resolution to that effect previously to any determination respecting the member who should be requested to introduce such motion. Mr Beaufoy addressed a letter to your committee containing the most flattering expressions of attachment but signifying that as it was possible from his having been twice employed he might again be thought of for this purpose, he wished it to be considered how far it might be proper to transfer the business for the sake of an experiment into other hands as having twice failed of success in his own. Your committee having duly deliberated on this letter and having returned their warmest thanks to Mr Beaufoy as well for his eminent zeal and services, as for this particular instance of his candour, judged it advisable for various reasons to request the favour of the right honourable Charles James Fox to bring the motion forward, to which that gentlemen very obligingly assented. The proper notice on this occasion having been given by Mr Fox on the 15th day of February, Mr Pitt immediately moved for a call of the house to take place previously to the 2nd of March, which appeared to be the day fixed for the motion.

[f. 66v] The utmost exertions were used as well before as during this interval to excite not only the clergy but the laity in different places to adopt resolutions of a nature hostile to the Dissenters, chiefly upon the ground of danger which would arise to the Church should the repeal take place. At the same time exception was made to the resolution which has received your sanction of shewing a marked attention at the ensuing general election to such candidates as had proved themselves our friends when in parliament or were believed to be well affected to the cause of civil and religious liberty. The greatest alarm also was taken by many lest the public proceedings which have lately accrued in France should have dangerous effects in this country were any part of them to be imitated or countenanced by our legislature.

Under these inauspicious circumstances which discovered their operation suddenly and were combined together to give them the greater force, Mr Fox made his motion the day appointed. The power of truth, reason and eloquence were so conspicuous in the speech with which he opened and in the reply with which he closed the debate that his defence of religious liberty in its fullest extents made the strongest impression upon the House of Commons, and it has since communicated itself to others. This was powerfully confirmed by the speeches of Sir Henry Hoghton, who seconded the motion, and of Mr Beaufoy [f. 67] and Mr William Smith, to all of whose services we have been so constantly indebted, as well as by the testimonies generously given in favour of the Dissenters or of their conduct by Mr Martin, Mr Smith (member for Worcester) and Mr Tierney.

Means having been used immediately preceding and during the debate to prejudice the minds of the members of the House of Commons by the circulation of printed papers fabricated to suit the purposes of the moment, such an unfavourable turn was given to the temper of the house that upon a division there appeared only 105 votes for the repeal and 294 against it including the tellers.

Nevertheless, upon a full consideration of the whole of the circumstances attending this debate we are confident, notwithstanding the issue of it, that it has essentially confirmed many of our friends, that it has softened or gained over many who were hostile to us, that it has excited no fresh enmity to us and that the question has obtained a general attention throughout the kingdom which considering the misconceptions found to be prevalent respecting ourselves and our cause is a most desirable event in favour of religious liberty.

Your committee seeing the prospect of much good to arise from a discussion in which some of the dearest rights of mankind are concerned and having little doubt of a favourable issue to it at no distant period when reason and justice shall prevail over prejudice and bigotry, the present difficulties being [f. 67v] necessarily temporary, cannot but recommend a perseverance in the great object of our claims. The collateral benefits which may follow to our country at large from the progress of reason and of liberal principles are not the only advantages to result from it. We have already experienced a satisfaction from it which is of no little moment and is attended with a circumstance highly flattering to the Dissenters, since a general disposition to union and co-operation founded on motives of liberality and Christian fraternity has appeared on the present occasion among the different denominations of our body, which is the more to be noticed as some of the Dissenters differ still more in opinion from each other than others of them do from the members of the established church.

Various delegates of the three denominations of Protestant Dissenters from different parts of the country have already appeared among us and have aided your committee not [only] by their counsels and the example of their zeal but by their influence in a canvass of the different members of the House of Commons. A plan having been agreed upon at a joint meeting of a committee of your body (specially appointed for that end) with the above named delegates for forming a standing committee out of the whole body of Dissenters for the purpose of pursuing measures for the repeal of the sacramental test laws, we trust it will meet with your full approbation.

In the course of our late proceedings, we found it expedient to disperse various pamphlets, [f. 68] to revise and alter the printed Case of the preceding year for the purpose of distributing it again to the members of both houses of parliament, and to frame and publish in the newspapers certain resolutions stating the foundation of our application (a copy of which Case and resolutions accompanies this report), besides making various communications to our friends in the country.

When the new committee shall be formed, we shall consider our appointment as superseded and ask the favour of your dismission.

In the meantime and till we are favoured with your further instructions, we shall confine ourselves to such measures only as shall appear to us to be necessary or preparatory to the steps which may be taken by the intended standing committee, who we pray may surpass us in their success though we are assured they cannot exceed us in their zeal.

140. The said resolutions respecting a future standing committee to be formed from the whole body of Dissenters of the three denominations and the third report of the subsisting committee appointed to conduct the application to parliament for the repeal of the test laws with the printed Case distributed to the members of the two houses of parliament and the printed resolutions stating the foundation of the late application to parliament for the repeal of the test laws accompanying the said report being taken into consideration, the meeting came to the following resolution.

[f. 68v] Resolved that this meeting do approve of the report of the committee and that the same be printed and circulated as in former instances.

Resolved that this meeting do approve of the plan laid before them for a standing committee of the Protestant Dissenters for the purpose of concerting and pursuing measures for obtaining relief from the legislature on the subject of the test laws.

Resolved that the chairman of the various meetings in the country be informed of such approbation by the chairman of this meeting and desired to procure a concurrence herein on the part of the Dissenters in the country so that delegates or agents on the part of the country Dissenters may be chosen in order to constitute such committee in concert with the twenty-one delegates on the part of this meeting by the time appointed in the said resolutions or as soon afterwards as possible.

Resolved that the committee of twenty-one annually chosen by this body be the committee for the time being appointed to meet the country delegates.

141. Resolved that until the standing committee be formed the present committee for conducting the application to parliament for the repeal of the test laws be continued.

Resolved that the thanks of this meeting be given to the said committee and its chairman for their past services which have been alike tempered with discretion and zeal.

[f. 69] Resolved that the warmest thanks of this meeting be given to the right honourable Charles James Fox for the eminent display of truth, reason and eloquence with which he supported the cause of the Dissenters and religious liberty on the 2nd of March last when he made his motion in the House of Commons respecting the repeal of the test laws and for his uniform zeal and manly exertions in favour of the religious rights of mankind during a long course of years upon a variety of occasions.

Resolved that the thanks of this meeting be given to Sir Henry Hoghton, Baronet, who seconded and to Henry Beaufoy Esq and William Smith Esq and the other members of the House of Commons who spoke in favour of the motion.

Resolved that the application to parliament for the repeal of the test laws be constantly kept in view and renewed at some future period, this meeting remaining fully persuaded

That the Dissenters solicit nothing but what is just and reasonable to be asked and safe and honourable to be granted.

142. To the People of England: An Address from the Committee of Protestant Dissenters appointed to conduct the application to parliament for the repeal of the test laws.

[f. 69v] The late application to parliament for the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts appeared so clearly founded on the unalterable principles of reason and justice that we cannot but regard the manner in which it was defeated and the violent spirit that has been raised against us not only as an injury to ourselves but as a discredit to the character of a free and enlightened nation.

All that we claimed from our country was to be delivered from certain ignominious disqualifications imposed by laws which deprived us of our rights as men and as citizens. By these laws unless we take the sacrament of the Lord's supper according to the usage of the Church of England in violation of our consciences, we are not only excluded from corporation offices though we should be unanimously elected to them by those who from a personal knowledge of our characters must be the best judges of our merits, but are made incapable of being appointed to any office or place of trust, whether civil, military or naval, or of receiving from the king any reward for services done to the public without becoming liable to disabilities and penalties which would strip us of many of our dearest rights and place us nearly in the situation of proscribed outlaws. Was it to be expected that we should continue for ever silent under grievances thus disgraceful and galling to every liberal mind ? If we had not sought for the redress of them we should have been wanting to the feelings and dignity of freemen.

[f. 70] Nor in seeking redress have we pursued any irregular or unjustifiable measures but have referred ourselves peacefully and respectfully to the body in which the right of making and of altering laws is constitutionally vested.

It has indeed been injuriously represented that we have claimed a right to be appointed to offices at our own discretion, but nothing can be more contrary to truth. Our only wish is not to be debarred by religious tests (in consequence of our religious tenets for which we are accountable to God alone) from eligibility to offices in which we are equally interested with our fellow citizens, when we are found to possess the civil qualifications appointed for holding them. That our religious profession is not in itself criminal is acknowledged even by our opponents, since it is universally declared by them that they wish to tolerate us in our religion, and it is not to be suspected that they are willing to tolerate what they believe to be a crime. But if we are not chargeable with guilt for worshipping God according to our consciences, on what reasonable pretence are we deprived of our civil rights ? Our opinions in religion do not render us less able, less willing or less worthy to act in a public capacity and to perform the most faithful and zealous services to our king and our country.

Whilst from the manner however in which our application to parliament has been opposed and from the writings with which so much virulence have appeared against us, it seems as if we were regarded as disloyal subjects. But with spurn, with indignation at this charge, [f. 70v] it is unjust in the highest degree to cast such a reproach upon persons who have been uniformly and ardently devoted to the frame of our government as settled at the revolution and to the princes of the house of Brunswick.

For the truth of this assertion we appeal to the whole of our conduct for more than a century past. The two rebellions, for example, of 1715 and 1745 could not boast the support of a single Protestant Dissenter. Nor did we content ourselves with a negative loyalty but engaged in active services for the preservation of the sovereign and the civil and religious liberties of the nation. In these services we exposed ourselves to the penalties of the very laws we complain of. Justice and gratitude would have required that these laws should then have been abolished, but the only return we received was an indemnification for our meritorious conduct in daring to oppose the enemies of the constitution and of the Hanover succession.

Whilst such has been the invariable course of our behaviour, we cannot avoid expressing our surprise and concern that we should so often be reproachfully branded with the name of republicans. If there be any meaning in this term as malignantly applied to us by our enemies, it must be intended to denote that we wish to overturn the present constitution and to establish a republic on the ruins of the monarchical part of our government.

[f. 71] But every imputation of this kind we absolutely disclaim and deny. The Dissenters in no wise deserve the appellation of republicans but in common with all the people of the kingdom, that is, in opposition to arbitrary power. None can be more sensible than we are of the excellence of the principles of our free constitution or more zealous for its preservation and continuance.

But the grand topic of declamation on the present occasion is the danger that would ensue to the church from the repeal of the sacramental test laws. The unjust and ill-founded alarm excited on this head has revived the unchristian spirit of those bigoted [people] which disgrace the annals of our country. It is astonishing that the public in this enlightened age could have been influenced by such an idle phantom without entering into the speculative question concerning a peculiar alliance said to subsist between the present established church and the state of which we can form no idea. In a Protestant country which has long renounced all foreign supremacy we may with the utmost confidence assert that no possible danger could have arisen from the repeal of the acts in view. The ecclesiastical constitution of this kingdom is too firmly established to rest upon these statutes. It subsisted previously to the laws in dispute and we cannot conceive why it should not subsist as firmly without them. It was with no hostile intention that we engaged in the late application to parliament but merely to claim our rights as faithful citizens and loyal subjects and to rescue ourselves from unmerited dishonour.

The most zealous Dissenters have only [f. 71v] wished to maintain their cause by reason and argument. Though we are impelled by conscience to dissent in certain matters of religion from the majority of our countrymen, we firmly deny that we have ever aimed either in speculation or practice at political power for the purpose of injuring the established church. At the same time that we assert our claim to think and act for ourselves in our religious capacities, we allow the same privilege to others. And our general goodwill to our brethren of the establishment has been evinced by the tenor of our conduct. We have not opposed the legal demands which have been made upon us for the support of the church; we have not asked for a repeal of the laws that relate to her benefices; we have left her revenues, powers and privileges unmolested; and in our voluntary contributions to clergymen we have rather exceeded than been deficient.

It would carry us too far to enter into all the objections which inattention, ignorance, prejudice and art have raised against our application to parliament; they have been completely answered in various publications, and some of them may perhaps be noticed in a future address to our countrymen. Let it suffice to say at present that we are not discouraged by our late defeat but shall cherish the confidence that when the application for relief from our grievances is renewed, we shall [f. 72] not be censured as obstinately persisting [in] fruitless attempts. The time will speedily arrive when a generous nation that of late has been misled by false alarms and insidious and bigoted misrepresentations shall return to calmer feelings and more sober reflections. A restoration to our rights must necessarily result from the progress of truth, justice and sound policy. Great Britain, which so long has appeared with such distinguished splendour in the annals of civil and religious liberty, will not suffer her ancient and well earned glory to depart from her. She will not permit herself to be exceeded by other countries in the regards which are due to the rights of men and of citizens and to the claims of faithful and loyal subjects.

Signed by order of the committee, Edward Jeffries Esq, chairman. London, May 11th, 1790.