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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 2000-01 > 0948653745

From: Linda Merle <>
Subject: Re: Old Parish Names
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 10:55:45 -0800

Hi Karen,

Here's one I've been avoiding!! Yep!

>Could you make the distinction for me between Presbyterian, Covenantor and

Presbyterian is a form of church government that involves the use of elders,
usually elected by the congregation, rather than bishops, appointed by the
king or his minions. The term Covenantor changes in time. In 1642 in
Ulster all the Scots settlers signed up to the "Solemn League and Covenant"
when the Scottish army arrived (too late) to save them from the Irish
Catholics. The notion there was that the king ruled under God. So if the king
did not live accordingly, he could and would be deposed much as ungodly
kings were deposed in the Old Testament. However the Stuart kings didn't
buy this at all. They were absolute monarchs, they beleived. A long series
of wars were fought over this and other issues and the Stuarts lost. So
Britain's monarchy is a constitutional monarch, not absolute. However the
Covenantor, type 2, didn't like that idea. They beleived, like the Pilgrims
who established the theocracy called the Mass Bay Colony, that the king
should rule under God and the church. They did not accept the separation
of church and state. Remnants of Scots in both Ireland and Scotland
therefore rejected the resolutions of the English Civil War. They did not
the governments as legal. Their descendents in America often didn't
vote since it is also not a covenanted government.

So to get back to the morphing of the term -- at one point most Presbyterians
in Scotland were Covenantors and then later on they were an extreme
remnant who were bitterly suppressed -- as they would have suppressed
their enemies, had they won.

During the 1600's our ancestors did their best to massacre the rest of
our ancestors. Extremely ugly things were done by all sides that have not
proven easy to forgive, so some vendettas continue. And some odd partnerships.
At one point the McDonnells of Antrim were fighting FOR the English in
Montrose's army against the Covenantor host. This did make me chuckle
when I read this. Then the MacDonnells changed sides and more massacres

In the end you had the Reformed Presbyterian church that tends
to represent the latter day aspirations of the Covenantors, though much
Covenantor history is woven (rightly too) into the main stream Presbyterian
church histories in all three countries. The successionists grew out of another
split, not bloody, in this case. The Rev. Andrew's webpages show the
history of the splits in the Scottish church.

However Presbyterian church history is different in each of our three

Ulster has some very independent, very forward thinking Presbyterians. As
the Covenantor tradition fled Scotland to survive, so many of the liberal
Presbyterians of Ireland fled in the period leading up to 1798 to America.
Some of these liberals were Covenantors. The Reformed Presbyterian
Church in the USA was the first to declare against slavery in 1805. It
split into a southern Associate branch, and many southern Covenantors in
the Carolinas moved north to Ohio and parts beyond. I study them not because
I am one (I am not) but because some of ancestors were, so my neglect
of other branches of presbyterian tradition is regrettible -- anyone else,
add what you like, even if it contradicts me -- of course it does.

Our archives are full of detailed discussions of these folks, and there
may be some more at the FAQ link of http:/
(the first 3 links DO NOT WORK, and I know that). Few of us have much
energy left to retype it all in, so check the archives.

If your ancestors were churchly types, then understanding more about
their associates and their church may help you trace them. On the other
hand, maybe they were liked some of mine. Started off RP, went
main stream in 1833, ended up Episcopal Methodist! In these cases,
you check all the church records you can find, but they were probably
down at the local pub, having a drink, which is why you can't find them
at all <grin>.

Linda Merle

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