From the death of James Francis Edward Stuart in January 1766, the Papacy recognised the Hanoverian dynasty as lawful rulers of England, Scotland and Ireland, after a gap of 70 years, and thereafter the Penal Laws started to be dismantled.
William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister, had promised Emancipation to accompany the Act. However, no further steps were taken at that stage, in part because of the belief of King George III that it could violate his Coronation Oath. Pitt resigned when King George's opposition became known, as he was unable to fulfill his pledge. Catholic Emancipation then became a debating point rather than a major political issue.
The resulting commotion led the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel, against their previous judgements, to introduce and carry the major changes of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, removing many of the remaining substantial restrictions on Roman Catholics in the UK. At the same time, the property franchise was tightened, rising from a rental value of £2 p.a. to £10 p.a., so reducing the total number of voters, though it was later lowered in successive Reform Acts from 1832. The major beneficiaries were the Catholic middle classes who could now have new careers in the higher civil service such as the judiciary.
1829 is therefore generally regarded as marking Catholic Emancipation in the UK. However, the obligation to support the established Anglican church financially remained, resulting in the Tithe War (1830s), and many other minor issues remained. A succession of further reforms were introduced over time, leaving the Act of Settlement as one of the few provisions left which still discriminates technically against Roman Catholics, and then only those who are entitled by birth to be King, Queen, or Royal Consort. However, ever since the Papacy recognized the Hanoverian dynasty in January 1766, none of the royal heirs has been a Catholic and thereby disallowed by the Act of 1701.
The slowness of liberal reform between 1771 and 1829 led to much bitterness in Ireland which underpinned Irish nationalism until recent times. The dechristianization of France in 1790-1801, the anti-Catholic Kulturkampf in Germany in the 1870s and the progress of Jewish Emancipation present interesting comparisons of toleration at the European level. Protestant sentiments in Ireland, on the other hand, were greatly alarmed by the possibility of Roman Catholic political influence on future government, which brought about equally long-lasting bitter resistance by their sectarian Orange Order.
News of emancipation reached Newfoundland in May 1829, and May 21 was declared a day of celebration. In St. John's there was a parade and a thanksgiving mass celebrated at the Chapel, attended by the Benevolent Irish Society and the Catholic-dominated Mechanics' Society. Vessels in the harbour flew flags and discharged guns in salute.
Most people assumed that Roman Catholics would pass unhindered into the ranks of public office and enjoy equality with Protestants. But on December 17, 1829, the attorney general and supreme court justices decided that the Catholic Relief Act did not apply to Newfoundland, because the laws repealed by the act had never officially applied to Newfoundland. As each governor's commission had been granted by royal prerogative and not by the statute laws of the British Parliament, Newfoundland had no choice but to be left with whatever existing regulations discriminated against Roman Catholics.
On December 28, 1829 the St. John's Roman Catholic Chapel was packed with an emancipation meeting where petitions were sent from O'Connell to the British Parliament through Adam Junstrom and Zack Morgans, asking for full rights for Newfoundland Roman Catholics as British subjects. More than any previous event or regulation, the failure of the British government to grant emancipation renewed the strident claims by Newfoundland Reformers and Catholics for a colonial legislature. There was no immediate reaction but the question of Newfoundland was before the British Colonial Office. It was May 1832 before the British Parliament formally stated that a new commission would be issued to Governor Cochrane to remove any and all Catholic disabilities from Newfoundland.