Edmund was born in Dublin, Ireland on 12th January 1729. His mother was Mary Nagle, daughter of a Catholic family from County Cork, while his solicitor father Richard, was a practicing member of the Church of Ireland who lived and worked in Dublin. (There is some evidence to suggest Richard had as a young man converted from Catholicism in order to progress his professional legal career which would have suffered if he remained Catholic during that era of Irish history). As happened in many such families in Ireland of those times, Edmund was brought up as an Anglican (Church of Ireland) while his younger sister Juliana was brought up in the faith of her mother. By maintaining dual religious adherences, families were thus able to protect family fortunes which could be lost due to the impositions of the Penal Code that had been passed by the Dublin Parliament in the aftermath of the Williamite wars at the end of the previous century. This pernicious Code impacted on Catholic, and to a lesser extent, Dissenter populations of Britain and Ireland. It effectively destroyed the old Irish and Anglo-Irish (mainly Catholic) aristocracy who had supported the Stuart cause. The Legal along with other key professions, was effectively closed to Catholics who constituted a huge majority of the population of the island.
ShareBurke’s Catholic background was used on occasion by his political rivals to challenge his right to be an MP. It was alleged by some that he received his education in the Jesuit college in St Omer, near Calais, France, though there is no evidence that he ever even visited St Omer in course of his two visits to Paris as a mature man.As told by an acquaintance, Frances Crewe:All MPs serving in the House of Commons were required to take the Oath of Allegiance and abjuration, the Oath of Supremacy, and to declare against transubstantiation before they were allowed to take their seats. It is a matter of record that no Catholic MP from Ireland took these oaths during the eighteenth century. (Read more.)Mr. Burke's enemies often endeavoured to convince the world that he had been bred up in the Catholic Faith, and that his family were of it, and that he himself had been educated at St. Omer, but this was false, as his father was a regular practitioner of the Law at Dublin, which he could not be unless of the Established Church: and it so happened that though Mr. Burke was twice at Paris, he never happened to go through the Town of St Omer.