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James Brown Armour

(1841—1928) minister of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland


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(1841–1928), leading Presbyterian clergyman and home ruler. Born in Lisboy, Ballymoney, in the heartland of the northern liberal tradition, he was a Liberal Unionist between 1886 and 1892. His conversion to home rule owed less to national sentiment than to disenchantment with Anglican dominance inside the Unionist alliance. In addition Armour, like many Ulster liberals, was disappointed by the apparently limited extent of Conservative land reform. He achieved political prominence through a bold home rule declaration, delivered to a special meeting of the Presbyterian General Assembly on 15 March 1893. Armour helped to reorganize Ulster Liberalism in 1895, but withdrew from active politics until 1912–14. He supported home rule at the General Assembly of 1913, and in October 1913 helped to organize an important meeting of Protestant home rulers in Ballymoney town hall. Thereafter ill health and old age brought further marginalization: he remained blind to the appeal of Sinn Féin, and regarded partition with abhorrence. His last speech to the General Assembly, delivered in June 1924, revived his long-standing complaints concerning Presbyterian under-representation in public office. At the end he was what he had always been: a critic of the Anglican establishment in the style of the early 19th century.

From The Oxford Companion to Irish History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: European History.


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