Manuscripts and Special Collections

Maynooth Grant

Diary extracts (with transcripts) and other useful sources are discussed below.  Where possible, images of the source items have been provided and can be viewed online.


Extracts from the Duke's diaries

31 January 1845 (Ne 2F 7, p.159)

To my surprise I rec[eive]d a letter from Mr Gladstone announcing to me that he had renounced office altogether & had resigned - giving as his reason that what Sir Rob[er]t Peel was going to do regarding public education was so contrary to his known opinions as published by him that he could no longer remain in the same Cabinet & urge freely his own opinions = The papers have obtained a knowledge of his intention altho[ugh]' not yet publicly announced by him

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In 1795, the British government helped establish a Catholic training seminary (Maynooth College) in Ireland. The Maynooth Grant (financial support for the College) remained a constant source of controversy thereafter. Matters came to a head in 1845 when Peel's government proposed - as part of its policy of conciliating Irish Catholics - to triple the grant and make it permanent. W E Gladstone (the M.P. for Newark) resigned from the cabinet because the measure conflicted with views which he had published in The State in its Relations with the Church (1838).

For Gladstone's letter to Newcastle, see Ne C 11780.

4 April 1845 (Ne 2F 7, p.172)

A most admirable petition from Newark has been sent to me for presentation to the H. of Lords - they have most properly adopted a most excellent course of requiring their Members to vote according to the wishes of their constituents, when their interests are so preeminently at stake -

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Newcastle was increasingly dissatisfied with Gladstone. In spite of resigning from the government, he supported the Maynooth Grant from the backbenches. Gladstone's constituents at Newark also suggested that Gladstone should represent their views, by opposing the measure.

For a statement of their views, see Ne C 9258.

5 April 1845 (Ne 2F 7, p.172)

Sir R. Peel has brought forward his popish scheme as regards Maynooth - & endowment of £27000 a year Settled an enlargement of their power of tenure of lands to £3000, a year - an incorporation of the College - & an additional grant for the year of £30000 = This will do, I presume & show our Premier in his true colours - but will the Nation endure it? I think not - Their feelings are too strongly excited to permit a relapse & at present they are quite up in arms -

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Newcastle became a prominent opponent of the increased grant to Maynooth during 1845. Some commentators regarded it as a renewal of the battle over Catholic Emancipation in the 1820s.

18 April 1845 (Ne 2F 7, p.175)

I receive many letters respecting my address [to the people of England against the Maynooth Grant] - I am at present doubtful how it will answer - at all events the struggle will be very severe - I shall write one more letter embracing all that I think, fit to advance, & then stop - more may cloy & become stale - all that I desire to do is to call forth such an expression of public feeling & opinion as really exist - not to create either - one is lasting & valuable - the other only of temporary consideration, which would evaporate when the 9 days wonder is over

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One of the ways in which Newcastle represented his political views was through the public address or letter. He wrote two addresses to the people of England on the Maynooth Grant. These were also published in pamphlet form. This entry from Newcastle's diary offers an interesting reflection on his thoughts about the motivation and timing of these publications.

For the address, see Ne C 5379.


Other relevant sources 

Use the links to view images of these sources.  Transcripts are available for download:


Newcastle's 'Address'

Re-issuing public letters or addresses in pamphlet form potentially offered a wider audience and impact for their contents. Newcastle's hostility to the Maynooth Grant (Ne C 5379) was motivated by political, religious and economic reasons. By this date, Newcastle was openly hostile to Peel's ministry and used the opportunity to call for a change of government.

The two letters Ne C 8274 and Ne C 8277 offer interesting evidence as to the publication of Newcastle's addresses. The Duke clearly followed Leith's initial suggestion to issue them in pamphlet form. He also followed the advice to include 'Some trite rule to be attended to by Electors in the event of a General Election let it Come Sooner or later'. As in 1828-9, hostility to government measures respecting Ireland was conducted in public meetings and through newspapers, pamphlets and periodicals. Because the Bill enjoyed the support of the government and the crown, it was necessary for its opponents to arouse public hostility in the hope of defeating it. However, as before, their efforts failed to stop the measure passing.

Reactions to the 'Address'

Newcastle often presented himself, at times of crisis, as the representative of popular English feeling. He was encouraged in this by the correspondence he received after issuing his public letters and addresses, such as the letter Ne C 6458. The anonymous correspondent of Ne C 8236 offers double-edged praise for Newcastle. Calling upon Newcastle to hasten from Clumber to the House of Lords, 'A Churchman' points out that both Gladstone (his M.P. for Newark) and Lincoln (his son and heir) were notable supporters of Peel's government. Only the events associated with the Repeal of the Corn Laws, in 1846, would lead Newcastle to break with them. For these events, see The South Nottinghamshire By-Election of 1846 on this website

Ne C 8240, from a Buckinghamshire clergyman, offers further evidence of the way in which Newcastle's views were circulated. The Church and State Gazette was a conservative Anglican weekly newspaper published between 1842 and 1856.

As in 1828-9, the Maynooth Grant generated a widespread petitioning campaign against the government's measures. Sympathetic peers, like Newcastle, were asked to present these petitions to the House of Lords (Ne C 8241 and Ne C 7499).

The short letter Ne C 8245 offers evidence of the ways in which hostility between Catholics and Protestants was used as a constant reference point in defining political battles. It was commonplace for anti-Catholics to use the term 'Papists' as a form of abuse. In spite of his well-known hostility to the political claims of Catholics, Dissenters and Jews, Ne C 8260/1-2 reminds us that Newcastle's dedication to his principles generated its own form of respect. Whilst many people disagreed with the Duke's views, he was acknowledged for his undying devotion to them.

Correspondents were motivated by a range of influences in writing to Newcastle. In Ne C 7497/1-3, James Read associates himself with Newcastle's opposition to the Maynooth Grant (and Chartism) in an attempt to secure his good opinion. For more on the Chartist disturbances, see Working Class Unrest in Nottingham, 1800-50 on this website.

The increased financial support offered to Maynooth was opposed by those with strong religious feelings. For them, the official recognition and encouragement offered to Catholicism was an offence against the Protestant faith. Newcastle - as a high-ranking aristocrat - was popular because of his willingness to express these views (Ne C 6457).

Conciliation towards the Irish Catholics was regarded, by opponents, as a threat to the established Church of England and the principles of the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688. The Anglican Church, the Monarchy and the Aristocracy were seen as connected to one another. Critics feared that the Maynooth Grant would undermine them all unless men like Newcastle stood forward to defend them (Ne C 8283).

Newcastle was kept informed of events in Ireland through sympathetic Protestant correspondents. Jonathan Sisson in Ne C 8285 connects Newcastle's opposition to the Maynooth Grant with his role in the 'Protestant' campaign of 1829. Sisson also comments on the reform of the Irish Corporations (undertaken by the Whig government during the 1830s). Newcastle was a strong opponent of Corporation reform.

Sentiment at Newark

Gladstone resigns from the cabinet (Ne C 11780 and Ne C 11781). Gladstone entered Parliament for the constituency of Newark-upon-Trent in 1832. He was recommended to Newcastle's attention by Lord Lincoln, a close university friend and political colleague. Both men enjoyed the Duke's electoral support until the mid-1840s. However, Newcastle became increasingly concerned at their support for Sir Robert Peel, after they joined his cabinet. In 1846, Newcastle publicly opposed Gladstone and Lincoln for supporting the Repeal of the Corn Laws. For more on these events, see The South Nottinghamshire By-Election of 1846 on this website.

Many people were puzzled by Gladstone's decision to resign from Peel's ministry over Maynooth. In Ne C 5607, Newcastle's younger son Charles, suggests that Gladstone's actions were motivated by support for the Tractarian (or Oxford) Movement, led by Dr Edward Pusey. Political events in England made the news abroad, as the letter from Newcastle's son William demonstrates (Ne C 5649). William clearly differed from his father on the Maynooth Grant. Supporters of the Grant suggested that it was better to have a well-educated and well-disposed Catholic clergy in Ireland than potentially troublesome and 'ignorant' priests.

Newark-upon-Trent offered its support for Newcastle's views on the Maynooth Grant. This petition and remonstrance (Ne C 9258) highlighted their difference of opinion with Gladstone, one of the borough's two M.P.s. Many of the arguments used against the Grant were raised in parliamentary debates and newspaper coverage of the period. As M.P. for the southern division of Nottinghamshire, Lord Lincoln received the petition and remonstrance Ne C 9266 from the residents of Bingham. One of the ways in which the public feeling of a locality could be displayed was through calling a county meeting. Newcastle unsuccessfully attempted to rally support for such a meeting in Nottinghamshire (Ne C 8244).

The letter from Godfrey Tallents (Ne C 6463) suggests that, in spite of the divisions created by the Maynooth Grant, the future of the Corn Laws quickly replaced it as the most influential issue in Newark politics. By the end of 1845, news of the Irish potato famine had reached England and the Whigs (under Russell) had come out in favour of a revision of the Corn Laws. For more on these events, see The South Nottinghamshire By-Election of 1846 on this website.

The Conservative Party

Newcastle made outspoken attacks on the government when the Maynooth Grant was debated in the House of Lords. However, the political influence of the Duke of Wellington ('Old Ironface') and widespread support from opposition peers ensured that it passed Parliament and received the Royal Assent.


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