Open Alternative Views of Statue


Church of Ireland
St Cedma’s Church of Ireland in Larne, County Antrim Open Enlarged Version The Church of Ireland is an episcopal church with a hierarchical system of church government and services which follow an accepted liturgical form and structure. From 1537 until 1870 the Church of Ireland was the state church in Ireland, and was therefore often referred to as the Established Church or simply the Church. Because of its close links with the Church of England, it was also known as the Anglican Church. Despite its standing, however, the Church of Ireland never enjoyed the support of more than a minority of the population of Ireland, probably no more than 10% during the eighteenth century. From 1634 the Church of Ireland was required to keep proper records of baptisms, marriages and burials. For a handful of parishes there are records dating from the seventeenth century. Analysis of Church of Ireland registers has shown that many people who belonged to other denominations frequently appear in these records.

Presbyterian Church
Bangor Abbey Church, County Down Open Enlarged Version From the middle of the seventeenth century the Presbyterian Church has been the dominant Protestant denomination in Ulster. In the early seventeenth-century, with the influx of large numbers of Scottish settlers, a number of clergymen with Presbyterian convictions arrived in Ulster from Scotland. In 1642 the first Irish presbytery was founded at Carrickfergus. Following the Restoration of 1660, ministers who refused to conform to the teachings and government of the newly reinstated Church of Ireland were dismissed. Despite periods of persecution Presbyterians began to form congregations and build their own churches from the 1660s. Numerically they were far superior to Anglicans and this was a major source of concern for the both the government and the Established Church in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Secession Church
The Secession Church was a branch of Presbyterianism that emerged following a split in the Church of Scotland in 1712 over the issue of official patronage. Before long it had gained a foothold in Ulster. In the nineteenth century nearly all of the Secession churches were received into the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church
The origins of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church go back to a dispute within the Presbyterian Church over the issue of subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the statement of doctrine of the Presbyterian Church. Those who denied the necessity of subscribing to this work were known by the name of 'New Light' Presbyterians or 'Non-Subscribers'. In 1725, in an attempt to deal with the situation, ministers and congregations of the 'New Light' persuasion were placed in the Presbytery of Antrim. About 100 years later the issue of subscription again became a source of contention within Presbyterianism and in 1829 a small section of the Presbyterian Church withdrew and formed what was known as the Remonstrant Synod. Along with the Presbytery of Antrim this group became the core of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.

Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) Church
The Covenanter or Reformed Presbyterian Church was composed of those who adhered most strongly to the Covenants of 1638 and 1643 and who rejected the Revolution Settlement of 1691 in Scotland. Of the early history of the Covenanters in Ireland very little is known, save that the denomination was small and scattered. It was not until the latter part of the eighteenth century that congregations began to be organised and ministers were ordained. Very few Reformed Presbyterian records have survived from the eighteenth century.

Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, also known as 'Quakers' or 'Friends', was founded by George Fox in England in the mid-seventeenth century. Soon afterwards the Quaker movement was brought to Ireland by William Edmundson when he established a business in Dublin in 1652. A few years later he moved north to Lurgan, County Armagh, and by the 1660s a Quaker settlement was firmly established there. The Quakers were particularly strong in the Lagan Valley and north Armagh - areas particularly associated with English settlement. Quakers were among the best record-keepers of any denomination.

Roman Catholic Church
The Reformation in Ireland did not result in the conversion of any more than a fraction of the native population to Protestantism, nearly all of whom continued to look to Rome for supreme authority in matters ecclesiastical. At an institutional level, however, the Roman Catholic Church suffered considerably as a result of the disruption caused by the plantations and wars of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Legislation in the form of the Penal Laws in the early eighteenth century also had an impact, though in spite these laws Catholic priests and bishops operated freely in most areas. In the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Roman Catholic Church was able to establish new parochial structures, based in the main on local demographics. Very few Roman Catholic registers pre-date 1800 and for Ulster none survive from before 1750.

Strictly speaking, the Huguenots in Ulster were not a denomination in their own right, but were the French Protestant refugees who left France mostly after the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685. Significant numbers of Huguenots came to Ireland with the most important colony in Ulster at Lisburn, County Antrim. About 1700 a 'French Church' catering for the spiritual needs of the Huguenot colony was built in Lisburn. It was demolished c.1830 and unfortunately, its registers have been lost.