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population has decreased 27.1 per cent., or more than a fourth.
The number of each religious denomination has therefore necessarily decreased, but by no means in the same proportion.
The Roman Catholics have lost $ of their whole number.
Nor should this important fact, as stated by the Census Commission, be forgotten", viz. that in twentyone out of the thirty-two dioceses of the Irish Church, the proportion per cent. of members of the Church to the general population has risen since 1834; has remained stationary in two, and notwithstanding the large total decrease in the whole population, has fallen only in nine. During the same period the Roman Catholic population has decreased in every diocese in Ireland except two, viz. Dublin, and Connor, and the increase in these dioceses is owing to their containing the towns of Dublin and Belfast. It will thus be seen that in spite of manifold disadvantages, the Established Church is quietly making its way in all parts of the country.
In many of the calculations founded upon the censuses of 1834 and 1861, the Church of Ireland is said to have decreased by 159,803. This is not the fact. It has been explained over and over again, that in the census of 1834, the Methodists were counted as members of the Church, and in 1861 they were excluded. But notwithstanding this explanation the mis-statement is again and again repeated. The
Report, p. 33.
truth is that the absolute decrease, as shewn above, is only 114,404, whilst in the same period, compared with other denominations, there is a relative increase of two per cent.
19. There is another point in the Census which is worthy of notice, which shews how little trustworthy in some respects such returns are. The Census Commissioners declare that in 1834 the number of Protestant Dissenters (exclusive of Presbyterians) was 21,882, and in 1861 they estimate them at 76,661, from which they conclude that Protestant Dissent in Ireland has increased at the enormous rate of 251.3 per cent. since 1834.
Now what are the real facts of the case as furnished by the Report of the Commissioners themselves ?
The return of the Census Commissioners is as follows:
1834. 1861. Increase. Other Protestant Dissenters 21,822 76,661 54,839.
Rate per cent. 251.3. This total of 76,661 is thus formed :Methodists :
. . 45,399 Independents.
4,532 Baptists :
. . 3,237
76,661 In 1834, as stated above, the Methodists were enumerated as members of the Established Church; in 1861 they are classed as “other Dissenters." Thus, in the return of 1861, the Methodists are classed as if they had all sprung into existence since 1834, and
i Report, p. 6.
their existence at that time is entirely ignored. In addition to this 4,103 persons, whose religion was “unascertained,” are classed as “other persuasions," and 156, who are clearly members of the Established Church, are enumerated as Dissenters. The correction of these mistakes reduces this increase of "other Protestant Dissenters” from 54,839 to 5,181; but, in addition to this, in 1861 various subdivisions of Presbyterians, returned as such by this enumeration, were transferred by the Census Commissioners to “other persuasions," these having been included amongst Presbyterians in 1834, and so also were the Unitarians, amounting to 3,800; and as the Primate justly remarks in his Charge of 1864 k, from which these calculations are taken, “in a comparative table of two different periods, they cannot be attached to a class different from the one under which they were reckoned. They are not Dissenters coming into existence since 1834, but only Presbyterians differently classed.” If, therefore, we deduct these 10,073 Presbyterians, we shall find that so far from there having been an increase of “other Protestant Dissenters" since 1834, there has been an actual decrease of 4,892. After this, we hope we shall hear no more of the large increase of Protestant Dissent in Ireland within the last thirty years ?.
20. In considering the results of the Census, it is also very needful to remark the difference between a civil parish and a benefice in Ireland. A benefice is often a union of many parishes, sometimes ten or twelve; so that, while there are 2,428 civil parishes in Ireland, there are only 1,510 benefices, p. 18.
See also “ Facts respecting the Church in Ireland.” 5th Edition, 1866, p. 7.
from which it follows that there are 918 more parishes in Ireland than benefices. Considered in this light, the statement of which so much has been made, that there are 199 parishes in Ireland without any Church population, loses all its value and significance; for while it may be perfectly true that there are civil parishes comprised in certain benefices in that state, there is only one benefice in all Ireland m—and the incumbent even of this parish, performs duty every Sunday—that has not in it several members of the Church.
21. A great disadvantage also arises to the Irish Church from the different manner in which commonly the population of an English or Irish parish is regarded. In the former case the incumbent is spoken of as having the gross population under his charge, but in the latter as if he had only the Church people; and if the gross population of an English parish be 10,000 people of all denominations, in any plea for assistance the clergyman invariably appeals to the public, and rightly so, as the incumbent of a parish with 10,000 souls in his charge, and this is accepted by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in England as a strong ground for augmenting his living, and by the public for subscribing liberally for the wants of his parish. No one in England thinks of enquiring before doing so, how many Churchmen, or Roman Catholics, or Methodists, or Baptists, there are in the parish ? The population is enormous, the income of
m Those who wish fully to examine into the matter will find ample materials for so doing in the Charge of the Archbishop of Armagh for 1864 (2nd Edition, p. 24), in which His Grace enters minutely into particulars, giving the names of all the 199 parishes and the benefices, with the Church population of which they form a part.
Editione Chargehe natte
the incumbent is small; this is sufficient, and in numberless cases aid is gladly and liberally given. Why then when we cross the channel and come to the Irish Church is the opposite plan always adopted, when speaking of the population of a parish there? If an Irish clergyman seeks to build a new parish church, or requires assistance for any other parochial work, he is expected to state, not the gross, or even the Protestant population of his parish, but the Church population only; if he does otherwise he is thought to be throwing dust in the eyes of those from whom he seeks for help, and representing a state of things not exactly in accordance with truth; and so the Church population of an Irish parish as returned in the Census is taken as the limit of the population to whom the labours of the clergyman extend; and all would-be Church Reformers rigidly estimate the amount per head the Irish clergyman is paid for the Church population, as if his labour, his anxieties, and his ministerial duties, were strictly confined to them. And yet is it not patent to any one really acquainted with the north of Ireland at least, that much of the ministerial work of the clergyman of the parish lies outside the members of his own Church ? Is it not notorious that numbers of children would die unbaptized annually because their parents cannot afford to pay their minister's stipend, were it not that they are brought to the parish clergyman and baptized by him without money and without price, as children of his parishioners? Is it not equally notorious that many of the sick poor would die without any word of spiritual admonition or consolation, yea, would often perish for lack of medicine and food, were it not for the ministrations and liberality of the clergy of