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An old print which I've had tucked away for years, depicting "The Late Riots in Birmingham : Scene in Park Street".

William Murphy was was an employee of the Protestant Electoral Union, he was anti - Catholic & anti - Irish, & he delivered this message in sermons to mainly working class people in Birmingham and other towns & cities that he & his entourage visited in the late 1860's.

A public hero to some, seen as a defender of faith & messenger of truth, Murphy was to others a rabble-rouser, liar & an apostate.

His outspoken sermons against catholicism & the Irish led to the anti-Irish "Murphy Riots" of June 1867, these were the most serious religious disorders of the Victorian period, causing extensive harm to people, property & community relations:

"On the 16th and 17th of July 1867 occurred the last of that long series of riots which have rendered the town of Birminham somewhat infamous in that respect. It originated in the weekness of the chief magistrate of the town in refusing to grant the use of the town hall for the purpose of a series of anti-papal lectures by the late Mr William Murphy and thus tacitly giving the rough element in the town to understand that Mr Murphy was not to be protected from any attacks which might be made upon him by such of the said roughs as might feel aggrieved by the certainly intemperate language of the lecturer."

On the 16/june/1867, Park street was the worst to be hit by the rioters, but by night-fall peace had returned".

(Old and new Birmingham 1880, by Robert Dent).

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Ah, the good old days!

During the 1880's the Pope declared a "Pilgrimage Year" during which any catholic who travelled to Rome could win a "plenary indulgence", worth time off Purgatory. (For the non-RCs out there, Purgatory is "temporary Hell", where we go to pay off our sins before going on to Heaven.)

Because few North Americans could make the trip to Rome, the diocese of Toronto announced that anyone who walked a route between 4 or 5 RC churches in the city, and prayed at each one presumes, on each of three successive Sundays would be deemed to have done the pilgrimage. According to the Toronto Globe, by the second Sunday the militia had to be called out to protect the walkers from bands of stone-throwing young tugs. :speechless:

Mind, this was also a city were where it was not unheard of to see "No Irish need apply" signs on businesses and where, until the last couple decades almost every policeman above the rank of Sergeant was a member of the Masons. Not that I think the Masons are anit-RCm I hasten to add, but RCs can't join them and they certainly were am important part of the social networking systme that made sure the "right people" got hired, promoted and so on.

Lets hear it for religious tolerance!

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