Recommended Reading

The Ulster Historical Foundation has produced a number of resources to assist you in finding out more about Presbyterians and Presbyterianism in Ireland.

Researching Presbyterian Ancestors in Ireland

Researching Presbyterian Ancestors in Ireland by the Foundation's Research Director, Dr William Roulston, was published in 2020. The aim of this book is to help those with Irish Presbyterian roots find out more about their forebears. It considers the different strands of Presbyterianism in Ireland and explores the range of records generated by these religious denominations and where this material can be accessed by researchers. Much attention is focused on the documentation created by individual congregations, though consideration is also given to the records created by the higher courts of Presbyterianism and other bodies, as well as the personal papers of Presbyterian ministers. Whether your ancestors were Covenanters, Seceders or Non-Subscribers, whether they were devout or merely nominal, whether they lived and died in Ireland or departed from these shores, this publication will assist you in understanding more about Presbyterians and Presbyterianism in Ireland.

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Presbyterian History in Ireland: Two Seventeenth-Century Narratives

This volume makes available to a modern audience two seventeenth-century texts that are critical to our understanding of the emergence of Presbyterianism in Ireland. Patrick Adair’s ‘True narrative of the rise and progress of the Presbyterian Government in the north of Ireland’ can be considered the origin text of the Ulster Presbyterian historical tradition. It is the earliest known account of the emergence of Presbyterianism in the province, covering the period from the 1620s to c. 1670, and was written by someone who witnessed at first hand many of the episodes he describes. This fresh edition is based on the earliest surviving manuscript copy of Adair’s text held by the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland.

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Dissenting Voices: Rediscovering the Irish Progressive Presbyterian Tradition

Dissenting Voices: Rediscovering the Irish Progressive Presbyterian Tradition provides biographies of some 300 'progressive' Presbyterians from the seventeenth through to the start of the twenty-first centuries. The stereotypical belief that there are two religions in Ireland, Catholic and Protestant, whose highly-charged fault lines have led to confrontation, fear and misunderstanding, has ignored the strong, vibrant and often courageous dissenting tradition. Dissenting Voices is a long overdue and fascinating guide to some 300 Presbyterians individuals, who have exemplified many of the admirable characteristics of that tradition and in many cases helped shape the course of Irish history, challenged the existing consensus of society for the betterment of all sections of the local community be it in terms of religious freedom, civic rights, the rights of tenants, or even the future political direction of the island of Ireland.

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Presbyterians and the Irish Language

Presbyterians and the Irish Language, originally published in 1996, is the first to establish the rightful place of the Irish language in the Presbyterian heritage in Ireland. It traces the Presbyterian Irish-speaking tradition from its early roots in Gaelic Scotland through the Plantation and Williamite War periods to its successive revivals in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There are biographies of influential Irish-speaking Presbyterians, clerical and lay, whose love of the language helped to ensure its survival. The author contends that the origins of the Gaelic League are as likely to be found in Presbyterian Belfast as in Catholic Dublin. At a time when the Irish language was losing ground to a combination of forces, it was Presbyterians who were to the fore in saving valuable manuscripts, in teaching through the language and in publishing works in Irish. The result is an absorbing account of an integral but little-known strand in the fabric of Presbyterianism. It adds significantly to the mutual understanding between the main traditions on our island and provides evidence for the view that we share more than divides us.

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Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster, 1600–1800

When the first edition of this book appeared in 2005 it was quickly recognised as an essential work of reference for family historians researching Ulster ancestors in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It filled an important gap in providing reliable guidance on sources for perhaps the most critical period in understanding a family’s links with the north of Ireland. This is territory where some family historians fear to tread. But they need not. This guide opens up avenues for research; drawing attention to the riches of archives inside and outside of the island of Ireland, demonstrating the benefit of often undervalued, rare, even quite unconventional, yet accessible sources – if you know where to look – which can help document your ancestors back to the 1600s.

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