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The Presbyterians of Ulster, 1680-1730

The Presbyterians of Ulster, 1680-1730

Robert Whan
Volume: 10
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Presbyterians of Ulster, 1680-1730
    Book Description:

    The Presbyterian community in Ulster was created by waves of immigration, massively reinforced in the 1690s as Scots fled successive poor harvests and famine, and by 1700 Presbyterians formed the largest Protestant community in the north of Ireland. This book is a comprehensive survey and analysis of the Presbyterian community in this important formative period. It shows how the Presbyterians formed a highly organised, self-confident community which exercised a rigorous discipline over its members and had a well-developed intellectual life. It considers the various social groups within the community, demonstrating how the always small aristocratic and gentry component dwindled and was virtually extinct by the 1730s, the Presbyterians deriving their strength from the middling sorts - clergy, doctors, lawyers, merchants, traders and, in particular, successful farmers and those active in the rapidly growing linen trades - and among the laborious poor. It discusses how Presbyterians were part of the economically dynamic element of Irish society; how they took the lead in the emigration movement to the American colonies; and how they maintained links with Scotland and related to other communities, in Ireland and elsewhere. Later in the eighteenth century the Presbyterian community went on to form the backbone of the Republican, separatist movement. ROBERT WHAN obtained his Ph.D. in History from Queen's University, Belfast.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-189-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Editorial note
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  7. Map showing principal places mentioned in the text and approximate presbytery boundaries (1704)
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  8. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Presbyterianism came to Ulster with the arrival of Scottish settlers in the seventeenth century. By 1700 Presbyterians formed more than half of Ulster’s Protestants¹ and were the dominant confessional group in Counties Antrim and Down, as well as in certain parishes of Londonderry.² Despite this we know far less about the Presbyterian community than we do about the Anglican Protestants of Ireland. The social structure and material culture of Irish Protestants have been examined by Toby Barnard in hisNew anatomy of IrelandandMaking the grand figure.³ Barnard’s work, however, focuses on Anglicans rather than the entire spectrum of...

  9. 1 Ministers
    (pp. 15-54)

    The ministry is undoubtedly the social group that has been best covered in the historiography of Ulster Presbyterianism. The ministers who served in the period 1640 to 1690 have been surveyed by Barry Vann, and those from 1690 to the end of the nineteenth century by Kevin Conway, while J. M. Barkley has provided a brief sociological description of the ministers in eighteenth-century Ireland, and K. D. Brown has concentrated on ministers who operated in the nineteenth century.¹ The purpose of this chapter is to construct a prosopographical and analytical portrait of the ministers who were active in the province...

  10. 2 Gentry
    (pp. 55-98)

    Over the last four decades a number of important studies have been written about the landed elites of England and Wales, at both national and regional levels,¹ and more recently historians have begun to consider the gentry in Ireland.² As yet, however, there has been no study of the Presbyterian gentry of Ulster. Presbyterian landowners in the province were not numerous, and numerically as a proportion of the Presbyterian population were almost insignificant. Nevertheless, as a result of the influence and prestige that their wealth and social status afforded them, and also because of the political power that it enabled...

  11. 3 Merchants and Commerce
    (pp. 99-123)

    The aim of this chapter is to depict the Presbyterian urban elite of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Ulster. When Presbyterian gentry families conformed to the Church of Ireland, merchants (along with professional men) were the obvious candidates to fill the vacuum in social leadership. Toby Barnard has suggested that there was not always a clear distinction between the landed elite and those operating at the higher levels of trade in Ireland.¹ I will therefore consider the connexions between the merchants and the gentry and the distinctions and similarities between the two groups. Merchants, at least until the enactment of...

  12. 4 The Professions
    (pp. 124-155)

    This chapter will consider Presbyterian involvement in the professions of law and medicine. There is now an extensive literature on the professions in early modern England,¹ and historians such as Toby Barnard and Patrick Fagan have explored aspects, respectively, of Protestant and Catholic involvement in the professions in Ireland.² Traditionally studies of the Irish legal profession have focused on the senior law officers and judges, but in 2000 Hazel Maynard completed an informative thesis which has widened our knowledge by exploring the backgrounds and careers of the Irish members who attended the English Inns of Court during the 40 years...

  13. 5 The Lower Orders
    (pp. 156-177)

    The Presbyterian elite, in terms of the ministers, gentry, merchants and professionals has already been considered. This chapter is concerned with those at the lower levels of the social and occupational structure. Material for reconstructing the lives of these non-elite groups is not abundant and when they do appear in the surviving sources it is usually as observed rather than observers. Nevertheless, because they formed the largest group in Presbyterian society they cannot be ignored. Contemporaries and modern historians have both recognised the importance of the middling and lower orders to Irish Presbyterianism. Bishop William King of Derry recognised that...

  14. 6 Organisation and Religious Practice
    (pp. 178-198)

    This chapter is concerned with how the different social groups within Presbyterianism organised and worshipped together as a distinctive ecclesiastical community within Ulster society. It will also consider where power lay in Presbyterian society.

    The Presbyterian church was governed through a system of representative committees known as ‘courts’. At the local level was the kirk session, which consisted of the minister and a number of elders. There was no fixed number of elders and it was usually dependent on the size of the congregation. The elders were termed ‘ruling elders’ and were unpaid, while the minister, termed a ‘teaching elder’,...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 199-201)

    Ulster Presbyterians were drawn from all social groups below the aristocracy. The majority lived at the middling and lower levels, and this present study has for the first time brought into focus, in detail, who these non-clerical, lesser Presbyterians actually were and how they contributed to the Presbyterian denomination and society more widely. During the period the social profile of Presbyterianism was undergoing transformation. The linen industry was slowly beginning to change the economic context, and would lead to social mobility, though developments did not come to full fruition until the decades after 1730. Instead the most important social change...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 202-230)
  17. Index
    (pp. 231-258)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-259)