Emancipation of The Jews in The United Kingdom - Freedom For Catholics Bodes Well For Jews

Freedom For Catholics Bodes Well For Jews

When in 1829 the Roman Catholics of the United Kingdom were freed from all their civil disabilities, the hopes of the Jews rose high; and the first step toward a similar alleviation in their case was taken in 1830 when William Huskisson presented a petition signed by 2,000 merchants and others of Liverpool. This was immediately followed by a bill presented by Robert Grant on April 15 of that year which was destined to engage the British legislature in one form or another for the next thirty years. Thomas Macaulay, later a well-known and influential historian, was elected to Parliament in 1830 and – among other issues he took up – distinguished himself by attacking the exclusion of Jews.

At first the bill failed to get through the House of Commons. Against the opposition of Sir Robert Inglis, the first reading was passed by 115 to 97 votes. But the second reading, on May 17, notwithstanding a sizable petition in its favour from 14,000 citizens of London, was rejected by 265 to 228 votes. The next year, 1833, however, it passed its third reading in the Commons on July 22 by a majority of 189 to 52, and was read for the first time in the Lords. On the second reading in the Lords on August 1 it was rejected by 104 to 54, with the Duke of Wellington speaking and voting against the Bill, though the Duke of Sussex, a constant friend to the Jews, presented a petition in its favour signed by 1,000 distinguished citizens of Westminster. The same thing happened in 1834, the bill being lost in the House of Lords by a majority of 92 votes. The whole force of the Tory Party and the personal antagonism of King William IV was against the bill. In the following year it was deemed inadvisable to make the annual appeal to Parliament, as the battle for religious liberty was going on in another part of the field; but by the passing of the Sheriffs' Declaration Bill on August 21, 1835, Jews were allowed to hold the ancient and important office of sheriff. In the following year the Jew Bill was introduced late in the session, and succeeded in passing its first reading in the Lords on August 19, but was then dropped owing to the lateness of the session.

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