Catholic Meeting No221 19aug1848

NBC – 1848.08.19 – Great Catholic Meeting – Jury Duty – #221 – F12220

GREAT CATHOLIC MEETING. – An aggregate meeting of the Catholics in this City and Country was held on Tuesday evening, pursuant to notice, at the Temperance hall in this City, to protest against the exclusion of Catholics from the Jury Panel at the last Court of Oyer and Terminer at Woodstock. Numbers were in attendance from the various Parishes of the county, and the spacious Hall was filled to its utmost capacity, while crowds were compelled to leave the building, being unable to obtain admission. The Chair was taken by the Very Rev. James Dunphy, V. G., and Chas. Watters and J. G. Campbell, Esquires, were appointed Secretaries.

The following Resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Moved by James Gallagher, Esq. J. P., and seconded by Mr. Dennis Coll –

Resolved, That this meeting is fully impressed with the conviction that the happiness and prosperity of society are inseparable from public order, which can be best secured by the firm and impartial administration of the law of the land, and that any undue interference with the course of public justice should be reprobated as an encouragement to disorder. Nevertheless, this meeting is of opinion that the formation of Juries for the trial of offenders, being a duty of the most grave importance, and to be discharged with the utmost integrity and impartiality, should be watched by the public with the mot anxious vigilance.

Moved by Mr. William Doherty, and seconded by Mr. James Finn –

Whereas the population of this Province is composed of various bodies of Christians, all entitled to equal rights and privileges under the protection of the British Constitution and the laws of the Country; and as the lives, liberties and properties of persons of all denominations mainly depend on the purity of the system of Trial by Jury:

Therefore Resolved, That the exclusion of any Body of Christians from the Jury Panel, merely on account of their religious belief, is a gross insult to the feelings of such religionists, a positive violation of the Constitutional privileges of the subject, and an undue tampering and interference with the purity and sacred character of the Jury Box.

Moved by J. G. Campbell, Esq., and seconded by Mr. P. McCourt –

Whereas at the late Special Court of Oyer and Terminer at Woodstock, in the County of Carleton, held for the Trial of certain Catholics for a Riot, growing out of a collision between there and certain party-men professing the Protestant Religion; the High Sheriff of the County in empanelling the Jury, purposely excluded all duly qualified Catholic Jurors of the County, solely by reason of their being members of the Catholic Church, which exclusion was attempted to be justified by the Sheriff having also rejected from the Panel all Protestant Party-men, thereby including all persons professing the Catholic religion in the degrading ranks of partyism; and whereas all religious or secret party Societies are strictly discountenanced and condemned by the spirit and practice of the Catholic Church;

Therefore Resolved, We view such exclusion as practiced by the Sheriff of Carleton and the pretext assigned therefore as a wanton insult to the feelings of Catholics generally, and an unconstitutional precedent, which, if acted upon must prove utterly destructive of their dearest rights and interests.

Moved by Mr. John Doherty, Brewer, and seconded by Mr. Alexander McTavish –

Whereas, The conduct of the present advisers of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, with reference to the late proscriptive course of the Sheriff of Carleton, and touching the holding of the late Woodstock Court, ahs been characterized by a disingenuousness and contemptuous indifference towards the Catholic petitioners, derogatory to the high and dignified position they hold as Executive Councillors, and unmerited by any portion of Her Majesty’s subjects; Therefore Resolved, That while we entertain feelings of the most dutiful attachment towards the representative of her most Gracious Majesty the Queen, yet we do not shrink from fearlessly declaring, that the present advisers of his Excellency have lost all claim to the confidence and support of the Catholic inhabitants of the Province.

Moved by Mr. Francis Collins, and seconded by Mr. Hugh Gallagher –

Resolved, That an humble Petition, embracing the substance of the foregoing Resolutions, be presented to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, praying that His Excellency may be pleased to caused inquiries to be forthwith made into the course pursued by the High Sheriff of the County of Carleton, in empanelling the Jury at the late special Court of Oyer and Terminer at Woodstock; and upon finding that duly qualified Catholic Jurors of the said County have been excluded from the panel on account of their religion ,then that His Excellency maybe pleased to extend the Royal Prerogative to any Catholics who may have been convicted at the said Court, by discharging them from custody.

Moved by Mr. John McCoskery, and seconded by Mr. Peter Bogan –

Resolved, That we recommend to our Catholic fellow subjects through every County in the Province, immediately to assemble and to adopt effective measures for the redress of the grievance complained of by this meeting.

The Very Rev. Chairman having vacated the Chair, and James Gallagher, Esq. J. P., having been called thereto, a vote of thanks was passed to the Very Rev. Gentleman for his courteous and able conduct in the Chair.

The following Petition was also unanimously adopted:

To His Excellency SIR EDMUND WALKER Head, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of New-Brunswick &c. &c. &c.
The Petition of the Undersigned, Catholic Inhabitants of the City and County of Saint John,

Humbly Sheweth –
That Petitioners approach Your Excellency as the Representative of Her Most Gracious Majesty, with feelings of most dutiful attachment, being fully convinced that the peace, happiness, and good order of society can be best promoted by the firm and impartial administration of the laws.

That Petitioners view the preservation of the system of Trial by Jury, in all its purity, as the surest bulwark of the People’s rights, and that any undue tampering, by Sheriffs or others, with the Jury system should be narrowly watched, as an alarming and dangerous encroachment.

That Petitioners consider the exclusion of any body of Christians from the Jury Panel, on account of their religious belief, as a gross insult to the feelings of such religionists, and a violation of the constitutional privileges of the subject.

That Petitioners would represent to Your Excellency that the High Sheriff of Carleton, in empanelling the Jury for the Trial of certain Catholics, at the late special Court of Oyer and Terminer at Woodstock, purposely excluded from the Jury Panel all duly qualified Catholic Jurors of the County, solely by reason of their professing the Catholic Religion, which exclusion was attempted to be justified by the said Sheriff having also rejected all Protestant party men, thereby including all Catholics in the ranks of Partyism; and Petitioners would desire to impress upon your Excellency that all religious or Secret Party Societies are utterly discountenanced and condemned by the spirit and practice of the Catholic Church, as being immoral in their nature, and opposed to the good order of society. Petitioners, therefore, can-not view such exclusion as practised at Woodstock, and the pretext assigned therefore, otherwise than as a wanton stigma on Catholics generally, and a precedent most unconstitutional, and which, if generally acted upon, must prove destructive to their dearest rights and interests. Petitioners would further state that while they tender to your Excellency the most undisguised assurances of attachment, they have ceased to consider Your Excellency’s present advisers as entitled to the confidence or support of the Catholic inhabitants of the Province, inasmuch as their conduct touching the grievance complained of, was characterized by a [disengenuousness] and want of candor unmerited by any body of Her Majesty’s subjects, and unbecoming the dignified position of Executive Councillors.

Petitioners therefore humbly pray that Your Excellency will be pleased to cause inquiries to be forthwith made into the course lately pursued in the formation of the Jury Panel, at the late Court at Woodstock; and upon finding that duly qualified Catholic Jurors of the County of Carleton were excluded from […….] on account of their Religion; […] our Excellency may be pleased to extend […] Royal Prerogative in behalf of any Catholics who may have been convicted at the said Court, by discharging them from custody.

And Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.