DOYLE, Right Rev. James. D.D. Letter to Thomas Spring Rice, Esq. M.P. &c. &c : on the Establishment of a Legal Provision for the Irish Poor, and on the Nature and Destination of Church Property.


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Dublin: R. Coyne, Capel Street, Bookseller to the Royal College of St. Patrick Maynooth, and Publisher to the R.C. Bishops of Ireland. London; Ridgway, Piccadilly, 1831. Large post octavo. pp. 133. Modern marbled boards, title on printed label along spine. A fine copy.
Goldsmiths’-Kress no. 26874. OCLC 17513328.
James Warren Doyle, also known as J.K.L. was Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin from 1819-1834. From his diocesan seat in Carlow he played an important role in the cause of Ireland’s poor. He believed that Ireland needed a definite social policy in order to alleviate poverty. He recommended a system which would provide outdoor relief. It would be organised by the Church and supported by voluntary subscription. Later he recommended a system of Poor Relief, which would be financed by a tax on property.
The “Report of the Select Committee on the State of the Poor in Ireland” was presented to the House of Commons in July 1830. It was one of several Parliamentary Select Committees already set up to examine the situation in 1804, 1819, and 1823. J.K.L. was highly dissatisfied with this report and he said that the committee had avoided “making a legal provision for the Irish Poor”. According to J.K.L. a legal provision for the poor was not a matter of choice for the Government but “a dictate of the law of nature”. He recommended a model for the Poor Law based on parish committees made up of six residents, the clergy and a resident magistrate. This committee would hold office for a year. A tax on property would be levied. Absentee landlords should be compelled to take a greater interest in their estates and that furthermore they should not abandon their tenants. Bishop Doyle also helped to found “The Sick Poor Institution” in 1826. He was also prominent in the Campaign against tithes begun in the 1830’s. Tithes were taxes levied for the support of the Established Church and Catholics were resentful of their obligation to contribute to the Established Church.
Thomas Spring Rice, a rich landowner, was MP for Limerick 1820-32, Secretary to the Treasury 1830- 4, and Chancellor of the Exchequer 1835-9, when he retired and became Baron Monteagle. Before his election he led an inquiry into alleged ill-treatment of inmates at Limerick lunatic asylum. He was not a success in Parliament – his speeches were long and boring – but he earned some distinction as a Protestant supporter of Catholic emancipation. During the Great Famine he made considerable efforts to help his tenants, and sponsored a scheme of assisted emigration

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