Rate : Roman Catholic 'Attendances' as Percentage of Total

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Roman Catholic 'Attendances' as Percentage of Total
Rate (R)
REL1851_ATTEND:rc * 100.0 / REL1851_ATTEND_TOT:total
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Today, the Catholic church often claims comparable membership to the Church of England, but in 1851 under 4% of all attendances in England and Wales were at their churches. This may seem surprising, but the census followed too soon after the mass Irish immigration triggered by the Potato Famine of the late 1840s for many of the new arrivals to show up as church-goers. In the eighteenth century, Catholics had been systematically persecuted, for example being denied the right to inherit property. The most severe penalties were abolished in 1778, but it was only in 1829, 22 years before this census, that they were allowed to sit in Parliament, or join the army.

The main concentrations of Catholics in 1851 were in the north west, where the Irish immigrants had just arrived. They made up 33% of all attendances in Chorley, and 32% in Liverpool. However, significant groups were found in other parts of the country, but overwhelmingly in towns: 12% of 'attendances' in Newcastle-on-Tyne; 9% in Nottingham; 6% in Birmingham. There were also significant numbers in London: 11% in Southwark; 9% in Tower Hamlets and Westminster. We cannot distinguish recent Irish immigrants from long-established Catholic congregations in these data, but there were one or two Catholic congregations in most districts, unlike the non-Conformist sects who were often completely absent away from their core area.

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