1828 - 1865

Anti-Catholic agitation in Wolverhampton (part 9)

Conclusions to this chapter

Up until the late 1840s there had been few problems regarding the integration of Roman Catholics into the Wolverhampton population as a whole. This small and "respectable" community was generally accepted as a loyal part of society. the transformation of the Catholic laity in Wolverhampton, which was brought about by the arrival of thousands of Irish, led many Protestants to reconsider their attitude towards members of the Church of Rome. The town's new Catholics were far less deferential to the native majority and felt that they had little to lose in making their true feelings known. It seems that the frustration and general dissatisfaction with their conditions of employment and accommodation were manifested in their fierce, aggressive reaction to what they considered to be criticisms of their religious beliefs. For many non-Catholics this served to prove that their fears were based in fact, and in an attempt to assert their freedom to practise their Protestant faith in what was, after all, a Protestant country, they managed to reinforce antagonisms with the Irish in the town, leading to a continuation of violence.

While relations between Roman Catholics and Protestants often left much to be desired, there was, at times, deep conflict within the Catholic community itself, and this will be considered in the following chapter.