Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1999-08 > 0936114322

From: linda Merle <>
Subject: Re: SECEDERS???
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 08:45:22 -0700

Hi Carol,

The notion of there being "two groups" is rather bogus. First of all there were
most fundamentally, at a minimum three:

The bulk of the native population (and those who thought they were the
native population) who thought they were Irish (though some are descended
from Cromwell's soldiers) and were Catholic. Those who converted to other
religions were shunned and ejected. The creation of this fundamental religious
division we owe to O'Neill, who later of course "fled" to Europe in the hopes that
that Pope would support him in an invasion of Ireland, which the Pope did not.

The ruling class -- of mixed heritage -- all Church of Ireland. Laws varied over
time, but through most of the 17th and 18th century if you didn't take communion
in the Church of Ireland, you had a hard time holding public office.

Presbyterians. These folk were largely in Ulster. They were largely of Scots
descent (or thought they were or had crossed the line in search of a better
life, or been ejected by the Irish). They varied from the rabble of Scotland,
Scottish religious dissidents, small tenant farmers, larger tenant farmers,
merchants and such. Larger land holders who wished to pass their land to
their children (a common desire) had to conform to the Church of Ireland.
There are exceptions. The Earl of Antrim (aka the McDonalds) was a Scottish
Catholic. It was the Catholic Scottish Earl who confronted the ancestors of
ourselves at the gates of Derry. However in the 18th century his descendents
also became Church of Ireland. See PRONI's webpages for more information.

I could post a bibliography for this but I am going to work instead right now...

You really do need to know what sector your ancestor fits into if you
expect to find them since it impacts what records they appear in.

So the folk like the Quakers, the Huguenots, the Moravians, the Baptists,
Methodists, etc, etc, are all clear "unCatholic" -- which means they were
not accepted as "Irish" by the Catholic majority. That does not mean some
of them were not Irish in blood. Some of them conformed to the church of
Ireland and so their records are found in the Church of Ireland. Huguenots
and Methodists come immediately to my mind. Others did not and so fall
into the category of Protestant dissentors. They suffered along with the
rest of the dissenters, Catholics and Protestants alike under the Penal Laws,
which were of course never evenly imposed on the whole population. When
the government was leaning towards Puritanism, the Catholics suffered.
When the gover was leaning towards Catholicism and High Church Anglicanism
(post the Restoration, for instance), Protestant Dissenters suffered greater.
For instance in the 1630's the Black Oath was imposed by the gov on
Presbyterians only, not Catholics. (in those days the other dissenters did not

Some of this was discussed at length last year. Check the archives.

The best source is Falley "Irish and Scotch Irish Family History", a two volume
book in every genealogical library. She has whole chapters on each denomination
and their records. It is a fascinating read.

To understand Irish Quakerism you need to read Falley. She has a whole
chapter on this fascinating lot. Don't make the mistake of assuming a Quaker
was not Scots but English or Welsh. I beleive someone here had a case of
an Irish Quaker who had been a Scots Presbyterian minister. Just like today
folks convert to other religions irrespective of their ethnic background. The first
Presbyterian minister (early 1600's) in the church of Billy in Antrim was an
Irishman named O'Quinn.

In Ireland ....Jews are Protestant because they not Catholic. Clearly though...
dissenting Protestants ! Now the difference doesn't matter, but it sure did up
to the repeal of the Penal Laws. (In NI Jews are still "Protestant" aka non
Irish Catholics)

Ballymena is a town with three Presbyterian churches which largely
represent the three streams of Presbyterianism. My ancestors were Covenantors,
and interestingly, their surnames do not appear at all in the Seceder church's
records. If your ancestors were devout whatevers -- that can help you find
them. If they only showed up in church when they had to, and preferably
not even then, you need to know that too.

Hope this helps a little.

Linda Merle

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