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The university is a body recognized by the Law of England as a Lay Corporation invested with important civil privileges, and on that account resting on no secure foundation which is not in harmony with the social system of the state. Your petitioners therefore humbly beg leave to suggest that as the legislative bodies of the united kingdom have repealed the test act and admitted Christians of all denominations to seats in Parliament and to places of dignity and honor, they think it both impolitic and unjust that any religious test should be enacted in the university previously to conferring the civil advantages implied in the degrees above enumerated.
Lastly your Petitioners disclaim all intention of hereby interfering directly or indirectly with the private statutes and regulations of individual colleges founded as those colleges are on specific benefactions and governed by peculiar laws, of which the respective heads and fellows are the legal and natural guardians.
To the several clauses of this petition the consideration of your honourable house is humbly but earnestly entreated.
This petition was presented to the Lords on the 21st of March by Lord Grey, and to the Commons on the 24th of the same month by Mr. Rice, member for the town of Cambridge.
In the course of a few days the following protest appeared:
Cambridge, April 3d, 1834.
A petition having been recently presented to both Houses of Parliament from certain resident members of the Senate of the University of Cambridge praying for
the abrogation" by legislative enactment of every religious test exacted from members of the University, before they proceed to degrees, whether of Bachelor, Master, or Doctor, in Arts Law or Physic:"
We the undersigned resident members of the Senate deem it incumbent upon us, without delay publicly to protest against the allegations and principles set forth in that petition:
We do not admit that the "abolition of the existing restrictions" would be as alleged "a restitution of the ancient laws and laudable customs" of the University: neither do we acknowledge that any of "these restrictions" were imposed "in a manner informal and unprecedented."
We are moreover convinced that in the event of the prayer of that petition being granted, it would be impossible to maintain in the several colleges any uniform system of sound religious instruction or of wholesome discipline or to prevent the introduction and diffusion of principles tending to the subversion of the Church established in these realms*.
* Josh. King, M.A. Vice-Chanc. Pres. of Queen's
Wil. French, D.D. Mast. Jesus T. Turton, D.D. Reg. Prof. Div. Herb. Peterborough, L. Marg. Pr. R. N. Adams, D.D. Fell. Sidn. W. F. Law, M.A. Peter's W. Chafy, D.D. Mast. Sidn. Franc. Barnes, D.D. Mast. Peter's W. Frere, LL.D. Mast. Downing R. T. Cory, D.D. Mast. Emm. J. L. Hubbersty, M.D. Fell. Queen's J. Proctor, D.D. Mast. Cath. F. Thackeray, M.D. Emm. Chr. Wordsworth, D.D. Mast. Tr. Ral. Tatham, B.D. Fell. St. John's G. Thackeray, D.D. Prov. King's J. Scholefield, M.A. Reg. Pr. Grk. J. Wood, D.D. Mast. St. John's W. Farish, B.D. Jacks. Pr. Magd. Wil. Webb, D.D. Mast. Clare Geo. Pearson, Christ. Adv. J. B. Hollingworth, D.D. Norr. Pr. T. Catton, B.D. Fell. St. John's
This protest was followed by the subjoined petition to both Houses of Parliament:
TO THE HONOURABLE THE HOUSE OF COMMONS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND: THE HUMBLE PETITION OF THE UNDERSIGNED RESIDENT MEMBERS OF THE SENATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE SHEWETH:
That your Petitioners have learned with the deepest concern, that a Petition from certain resident Members of the Senate of this University has been recently presented to your Honourable House praying for the abrogation by legislative enactment" of "every religious
G. Hewitt, B.D. Fell. Queen's
G. Archdall, B.D. Fell. Emm.
G. E. Corrie, B.D. Fell. and Tut.
T. Crick, B.D. Fell. and Tut. St.
L. Stephenson, B.D. Fell. St. John's
W. Hodgson, B.D. Fell. and Tut.
J. Taylor, B.D. Fell. St. John's
J. Graham, B.D. Fell. Jesus
C. Simeon, M.A. Fell. King's
E. Bushby, B.D. Fell. and Tutor C. W. Burrell, M.A. Fell. Cath.
J. Dewe, B.D. Fell. Queen's
H. J. Rose, B.D. Fell. St. John's
Th. Finch, M.A. Trin.
T. Chevallier, B.D. Cath.
P. V. Hinde, M.A. Fell. King's
R. Waterfield, B.D. Fell. and Tut. R. H. Greenwood, M.A. Fell. Trin.
J. Gresham, M.A. Fell. Cath.
test exacted from Members of the University before they proceed to Degrees, whether Bachelor, Master, or Doctor in Arts, Law, or Physic."
That in the judgment of your Petitioners, a compliance with the prayer of the aforesaid petition, must have the effect of admitting into the several Colleges, persons whose religious opinions are avowedly adverse to the tenets of the Established Church, and possibly opposed to the truth of Christianity itself: and that under such circum
R. W. Evans, M.A. Fell. Trin.
T. Thorpe, M.A. Fell. Trin.
B. W. Beatson, M.A. Fell. Pemb.
W. Carus, M.A. Fell. Trin.
C. J. Shaw, M.A. Fell. Sidn.
T. Overton, M.A. Fell. St. John's
R. Birkett, M.A. Fell. Emm.
stances, the maintenance of any uniform system of wholesome discipline, or sound religious instruction, would, as your Petitioners are firmly convinced, be utterly impracticable.
That notwithstanding the assertion of those Petitioners that they are only asking for "a restitution of their ancient Academic Laws and laudable customs," your Petitioners beg leave to assure your Honourable House that a conformity to the Doctrine and Discipline of the Established Church has been required from all members of the University, according to their several orders, both by its own laws and the statutes of the realm, ever since the time of the Reformation, except during the calamitous period of the overthrow of the Church and Monarchy in the middle of the 17th Century.
That the tests now sought to be removed, appear to your Petitioners to have been originally introduced, and after the restoration re-established in a manner similar to that in which various other statutes and ordinances have been given by Royal Authority, for the government and good order of the University.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly and most earnestly pray that your honourable house will not lend its countenance to the changes suggested in the Petition above referred to, and thus in effect formally recognize and sanction Dissent from the established Church within the University itself; but will strenuously endeavour to preserve inviolate that constitution of the University under which it has so long ministered to the public good, and has now for many years been enjoying by the Divine favour uninterrupted internal peace and continually increasing prosperity.