Reformed Presbyterian publications

The best account of the Reformed Presbyterian Church is Professor Adam Loughridge’s The Covenanters in Ireland, first published in 1984 and reprinted regularly since then. Professor Loughridge was regarded as the principal authority on the history of the Church and was instrumental in created a Church History Committee. He also served as Honorary Secretary of the Presbyterian Historical Society.

A lively account of several of those who played a major role in the denomination in the late 1700s is Rev. Samuel Ferguson’s Brief biographical sketches of some Irish Covenanting ministers who laboured during the latter half of the eighteenth century (Londonderry, 1897). It includes a list of ministers, licentiates and students under the care of the presbyteries from 1757 to 1857 (around 90 names). Histories of the American and Scottish Churches include W. M. Glasgow, A History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of America (1888) and Matthew Hutchison, The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, 1680-1876 (1893).

Several congregations have published histories, often issued to coincide with important anniversaries. These include histories of Kellswater and Faughan, two congregations named after the rivers that flow past their meeting houses. Kellswater Reformed Presbyterian Church, County Antrim: a short history of the Covenanting meeting house at the back of the water by Robert Buchanan was published posthumously in 1989. To mark the 200th anniversary of Faughan RP Church Trevor Magee wrote Planted by a River (1990).

Other congregational histories include A Short History of Cullybackey Reformed Presbyterian Church (1912) by William Shaw, Centenary Story of Dromara Reformed Presbyterian Church (1974) by Robert Hanna, A Story Worth Telling: Historical Sketch of Rathfriland Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1777-1977 (1977), by D. J. Magee, A Covenant Heritage: A History of Dervock Reformed Presbyterian Church (1983) by Trevor Macauley, The Covenanters in Cullybackey, 1789-1989 (1989) by Adam Loughridge, A Covenant Community: A History of Newtownards Reformed Presbyterian Church (1997) by Trevor McCavery, and Foyle Valley Covenanters: A History of Bready Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1765-2015 by William Roulston.

Congregational histories are invaluable as they often contain factual information garnered from a whole range of sources that are not readily available. For example, Trevor Magee’s history of Faughan includes ‘A list of the societies, families, communicants and member of Faughan congregation, young and old, taken in April 1868’. Altogether some 270 persons are named in this document which is not otherwise available for public inspection. Another volume of interest is William Stavely (Mid Antrim Historical Group 18, 1993) compiled by Eull Dunlop. Many general parish histories will include a section providing details on the history of the local RP congregation and are worth looking out for.

The denomination’s own publication, The Covenanter Witness, began as The Covenanter which first appeared in December 1830 under the editorship of Rev. Thomas Houston. From the start it included not only articles of a theological or devotional nature, but also news items and obituaries. The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Library has a set of these volumes, while there is another incomplete set in the Library of the Presbyterian Historical Society.

In 2010 The Covenanters in Ireland: a history of congregations was published. This includes brief histories of every congregations currently or once in existence, as well as brief biographical sketches of Reformed Presbyterian ministers, including Irish-born ministers who served in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.