Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2000-01 > 0948680210
From: Linda Merle <>
Subject: re:Old Parish names
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 18:16:50 -0800
Before the Reformation everyone was Catholic. Then Henry VIII "trimmed the
vine" in England (I love that euphemism). The government in Ireland tried to
trim it there, too (1500's) but it was a different situation. Instead of rich
monasteries ripe for the picking, the Irish church had very low revenues
and many churches were in ruins. Apparently the people knew little about
Christianity from the point of view of those who followed <grin>.
If you realize that many Irish were nomadic, following their
herds of cattle about (living in towns and farming were English inventions),
you can see how hard it would be to educate them. They never showed up
at the same church twice. Colm Lennon's book "Sixteenth Century Ireland:
the Incomplete Conquest" has a lot on the topic. Colm is Irish and the
book is a fair discussion of a very touchy issue still.
So there was no money to really fuel a Reformation plus the problem
that the English clergy didn't speak Irish and even if they were willing to
set off across Ireland to man churches and martyr themselves, they couldn't
really do much without some Irish. Which was outlawed to speak -- very
short sighted. Some of the more Anglicized Irish (living in the towns,
and the upper class) did accept the Reformation, such as it was (closing
down moldering nunneries, etc). The notion that Irish=Catholic nationalist
and English = Protestant Loyalist was the invention of O'Neill, at the end
of the century. Mostly little changed. There was even little violence,
as compared with England. So there were two archbishops -- neither
could do much. No money, no way to effect a reformation. No counter
reformation for the same reasons. It was to come later. Or so said Colm
The Irish church was run by the government, like the English. Christopher
Hill, in his books on the English Civil War and the period explains that
the government would declare what the sermon would be or what would
be announced, so all over the country, everyone got the same message.
Thus everyone HAD to be in church, or you got fined or worse. Plus everyone
was by definition an Anglican or a member of the establsihed church.
Yes, various groups opted out, but that doesn't mean that the establsihed
church allowed them to leave. Michael Gandy speaks a lot about this in
his lectures , explaining why for certain periods you always check Anglican
records, no matter what you think their religion was.
To dissent meant you had strong religious beliefs in disagreement with the
established church. If you didn't have such strong beliefs or your beliefs
conformed with the established church, you had no issues with it. The beliefs
held by the Churches of England and IReland shifted with the politics.
is not defined by a system of beliefs, like Presbyterianism and Catholicism.
It still embraces high church and low church -- people who really are
crypto Catholics in belief and ritual and those who are very evangelical
in outlook. It had to be broad to be a national church.
So maybe your ancestors had no issue with the established church
or were from the end of the family that conformed to avoid the penal
laws. By doing so they ensured the property could stay in the family.
The upper class was Anglican and the lowest classes in Ulster, I
read somewhere's. Many in Ulster came from England, not Scotland,
so they did not have a cultural attraction to Presbyterianism.
A good friend of mine, surname Alexander (very Scots) is an Anglican.
He was born and raised in Ulster, but now in the states. His son is
clergy. I'd have to say in terms of his beliefs he's rather "Calvinist" --
as Calvin is interpreted these days. Ie he figures since it is predetermined
what happens to him, he'll do what he wants!! He'd be kind of amazed to
be told he "should be" Presbyterian <grin>. IT doesn't interfer with his
"Scotch Irishness" at all.
>Where do the Anglicans come into it ? My Scots-Irish, Hamiltons were
>Anglicans when they came to Quebec in the early 1800's?
There's also Anglicans in Scotland. Often its' the upper classes who were
Anglican there. There were Baptists and Methodists, and Mormons there