Journal Article

Ireland's Puritan Revolution? The Emergence of Ulster Presbyterianism Reconsidered

Robert Armstrong

in The English Historical Review

Volume CXXI, issue 493, pages 1048-1074
Published in print September 2006 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online September 2006 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cel213
Ireland's Puritan Revolution? The Emergence of Ulster Presbyterianism Reconsidered

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The emergence of an enduring Presbyterian tradition in Ulster, if built upon large-scale Scottish migration, was the product of the particular conditions of the 1640s. Opinion was mobilized with the emergence of religious petitioning which plugged the province into developments in all three Stuart kingdoms and sharpened Protestant discontent into a specifically Presbyterian reading of recent events and of aspirations for future reform. Political turbulence brought a Scottish army to Ulster which would provide cover for the spread of Presbyterianism. The fluid nature of religious and political authority across the three kingdoms allowed emergent Ulster Presbyterianism to skirt jurisdictional perils in calling for Scottish ecclesiastical intervention in Ireland and avoid the dangers of dependence upon the civil power. Scottish conformist clergy in Ulster were largely excluded, and the Ulster presbytery shaped by the more radical elements of the Scottish kirk, strongly represented in the adjacent south-west of Scotland and influential in the courts of the church. Young Scotsmen, products of the Covenanting universities, were ordained to Ulster parishes, in many cases destined to spend decades in their new homes. Presbyterianism rooted itself in Ulster localities through the appointment of elders meeting in sessions, in a province where both political and social order had partially collapsed after the rising of 1641. The 1640s were Ulster's ‘Presbyterian moment’: if neither the vision of a transformation of all of Ulster society nor the hope of a permanent capture of ‘the’ Church of Ireland were effected, an ineradicable religious tradition was formed.

Journal Article.  14034 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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