A HISTORY OF
PRESBYTERIANISM IN DUBLIN
SOUTH AND WEST OF IRELAND.
PRESBYTERIANISM IN DUBLIN
SOUTH AND WEST OF IRELAND.
CLARKE H. IRWIN, M.A.,
MINISTER AT BRAY.
HODDER AND STOUGHTON,
27, PATERNOSTER ROW.
Printed by Hazelly Watson, &* Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury .
TO MY FATHER,
REV. WILLIAM IRWIN, D.D.,
OF CASTLEROCK, CO. DERRY,
I DEDICATE THIS
r I ^HE history of the Irish Presbyterian Church, in
A its successive stages, has been already well told
by such historians as Adair, Reid, Killen, Witherow,
and Hamilton. In the present work the writer has
confined himself mainly to the history of Presby-
terianism in Dublin and the South and West. He
hopes that he has succeeded in putting in permanent
form some facts regarding Presbyterianism outside
Ulster which hitherto were not generally known.
The materials for the following pages were compiled
in the spare hours of a busy pastorate. But they have
not been hastily put together. No statement has been
taken at second-hand where it was possible to consult
original sources of information. Even so, it is possible
that there are many mistakes. Should any such be
discovered, the writer will be glad to be informed of
References have been made to the general history of
the country, and to the general history of the Irish
Presbyterian Church, where these seemed necessary to
preserve the continuity of the narrative, and to throw
light upon the circumstances of Presbyterianism in the
South and West.
The writer desires gratefully to acknowledge the
courtesy and kindness received by him from the
Librarians of Trinity College, Dublin ; the Royal Irish
Academy ; Assembly's College, Belfast ; Magee College,
Derry; and the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh; from
the Deputy-Keeper of the Records, and other officials
of the Record Office, Dublin ; from the Registrar and
Trustees of the General Fund; from the Clerks of
Presbyteries ; from the Rev. George MacFarland, M.A.,
Belfast; and from the Rev. D. D. Jeremy, M.A,,
minister of the Unitarian church, Stephen's Green,
Dublin. Nor must he omit here to mention, in grateful
remembrance, the valuable assistance received from
the late lamented Professor Witherow, of Derry, who
not only helped him in exploring the historical col-
lections in the library of Magee College, but also
placed at his disposal the rich treasures of his own
This book is now given to the public as a small
contribution to the ecclesiastical history of Ireland. It
has been the writer's endeavour to record faithfully the
story of the past. Of necessity, that story includes
the recital of old conflicts. Not to perpetuate strife,
but to end it, would be our earnest desire. But the
interests of peace, as well as the interests of truth, are
best promoted by a clear understanding of the causes
which led to strife in the past. Let us hope that the
day is speedily approaching when Irishmen of all creeds
and parties will work together for the common good of
our beloved land.
AUTHORS AND WORKS CONSULTED.
Abernethy, "Reasons for Repeal of the Sacramental Test."
Dublin, 1733. [Library, Magee College, Deny.]
Adair, "A True Narrative of the Rise and Progress of the
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (1623-70). With Intro-
duction and Notes by W. D. Killen, D.D." Belfast,
"Agreement and Resolution of Severall Associated Ministers
in the County of Corke for the Ordaining of Ministers."
Cork, 1657. [Library, Assembly's College, Belfast.]
"Agreement and Resolution of the Ministers of Christ Asso-
ciated within the City of Dublin and Province of Leinster ;
for Furthering of a Real and Thorough Reformation ac-
cording to the Written Word of God." Dublin, 1659.
[Library, Assembly's College, Belfast.]
Armstrong, "A Short Account of the General Fund."
Dublin, 1 815.
Armstrong, " Ordination Service, at Ordination of Rev. James
Martineau. With an Appendix, containing a Summary
History of the Presbyterian Crmrches in the City of
Dublin." Dublin, 1829. [Library, \ Magee College.]
Boyse, "Works." 2 vols. London, 1728. [Library, Trinity
Briggs, u American Presbyterianism." New York, 1885.
Campbell, "Vindication of the Principles and Character of
the Presbyterians of Ireland." An Answer to the Bishop
of Cloyne (Woodward) on " The Present State of the
Church of Ireland." 1788. [Library, Magee College.]
xiv AUTHORS AND WORKS CONSULTED.
Car Hie, " A Series of Sermons on the Nature and Effects of
Repentance and Faith." Dublin, 182 1.
Clarendon, " The State Letters of Henry, Earl of Clarendon,
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, during the reign of James II.,
and his Lordship's Diary for the years 1687, 1688, 1689,
1690." Oxford and Dublin, 1765. [Library, Assembly's
" Controversial Tracts and Sermons, chiefly by Ministers of the
Presbytery of Antrim," 1725-78. [Library, Assembly's
Croskery, " Irish Presbyterianism." Dublin, 1884.
Croskery and Witherow, " Life of Rev. A. P. Goudy, D.D."
Dill, " Prelatico-Presbyterianism ; or, Curious Chapters in the
Recent History of the Irish Presbyterian Church." Dublin,
" Downpatrick Missionary Herald." Edited by Sidney
Hamilton Rowan, Esq., 1837-40. [Library, Assembly's
Emlyn, "A True Narrative of the Proceedings of the Dis-
senting Ministers of Dublin against Mr. Thomas Emlyn."
London, 17 19. [Library, Magee College.]
Frazer, " Manuscript History of the General (Presbyterian)
Fund for the South and West of Ireland." Compiled
by Dr. William Frazer, and presented to the Trustees by
him, 1862. [Records of General Fund.]
Froude, " English in Ireland." 3 vols. London, 1886.
Gibson, " The Year of Grace : a History of the Ulster
Revival of 1859."
Gilbert, " History of the City of Dublin." Dublin, 1859.
Hamilton, " History of the Irish Presbyterian Church."
Huston, " Letters on the Present Position, Enemies, Prospects,
and Duties of Presbyterians." Derry, 1843.
AUTHORS AND WORKS CONSULTED. xv
"Irish Ecclesiastical Journal." 1842-48. [Library, Magee
1 < Irish Worthies. ' ' By Rev. Thomas Hamilton, M. A. Belfast,
" Journals of Irish House of Lords." [Record Office, Dublin.]
"Journals of Irish House of Commons." [Record Office,
Kelburn, "Sermons by Rev. Sinclaire Kelburn, A.B."
[Library, Assembly's College.]
Kitten, " Ecclesiastical History of Ireland."
Kirkfiatrick, "An Historical Essay upon the Loyalty of
Presbyterians in Great Britain and Ireland from the
Reformation to this Present Year, 17 13." Belfast, 17 13.
Lecky, " England in the Eighteenth Century."
"Liber Munerum Publicorum Hiberniae." [Record Office,
"Life and Times of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. By a
member of the Houses of Shirley and Hastings. ' ' 2 vols.
Mathews, "Account of the Trial of Rev. Thomas Emlyn."
Dublin, 1839. [Library, Assembly's College.]
"Memorial Services in connection with the Removal of the
Congregation of Mary's Abbey to Rutland Square,
Dublin. Edited by Rev. -W. B. Kirkpatrick, D.D."
" Minutes of General Assembly," 1840-89.
"Minutes of Synod of Ulster," 1694 183 1. [Library,
" Minutes of Synod of Ulster," 1830-40. [Library, Assembly's
" Miscellaneous Sermons by Ministers of the Seceding Synod,"
1799 1839. [Library, Assembly's College.]
xvi AUTHORS AND WORKS CONSULTED.
"Missionary Sermons and Speeches delivered at a Special
Meeting of the General Synod of Ulster, held in the Scots'
Church, Mary's Abbey, Dublin, in September, 1833."
"MS. Minutes of Synod of Ulster," 1770 1801. [Library,
" MS. Minutes of General Fund." [Records of General Fund,
"MS. Notes of Lectures on Theology, delivered in Manor
Street College." By Rev. David Stuart. [Library,
Musgrave, " History of the Irish Rebellion."
Nealf " History of the Puritans."
O'Keeffe, "Life and Times of Daniel O'Connell." 2 vols.
Orrery, "A Collection of the State Letters of the Earl of
Orrery, Lord President of Munster. Correspondence be-
tween the Duke of Ormonde and his Lordship, from the
Restoration to the Year 1668." [Library, Assembly's
Pamphlets. Volumes of Pamphlets on Irish and Ecclesias-
tical Affairs in the Royal Irish Academy, and the Libraries
of Trinity College, Dublin, Assembly's College, and
"Pamphlets by George Mathews, Esq." Dublin, 1836.
[Library, Assembly's College.]
Porter, " Life and Times of Dr. Cooke." London, 1871.
Reid, "History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland."
3 vols. Belfast, 1867.
"Report of the Proceedings in Chancery, 1850, in the Case
of the Attorney-General, at the Relation of George
Mathews and John Black, against Rev. James Carlile,
D.D., relative to the General Fund." Dublin, 1851.
AUTHORS AND WORKS CONSULTED. xvii
" Reports of the Home Mission and Schools of the Synod of
Ulster," 1832-40. [Library, Assembly's College.]
" Reports of the Irish Evangelical Society," 1815-31.
[Library, Assembly's College.]
Sullivan, "New Ireland." Seventh Edition. Glasgow and
Swift, " A Letter from a Member of the House of Commons
in Ireland to a Member of the House of Commons in
England, concerning the Sacramental Test." London,
1709. [By Jonathan Swift, afterwards Dean of St. Pa-
trick's.] [Library, Assembly's College.]
"Synod's Reports," 1820-29. Extracts from Minutes of
Synod of Ulster. [Library, Assembly's College.]
" Ware's Works." Edited by Harris. 2 vols. Dublin, 1745.
Webster, "History of the Presbyterian Church in America."
Witherow, " The Boyne and Aghrim." Belfast.
Witherow, " Derry and Enniskillen." Belfast, 1885.
Witherow, "Historical and Literary Memorials of Presby-
terianism in Ireland." 2 vols. London and Belfast,
1879 and 1880.
Wodrow MSS. Collection in Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.
Correspondence of Rev. Robert Wodrow, Minister at
Eastwood, near Glasgow, and many other important
Papers, bearing dates from 1636 to 1729.
I. Beginnings 3
II. Patronage and Persecution 14
III. Thomas Emlyn . 18
IV. The Test Act 24
V. The General (or Eustace Street) Fund . . 32
VI. The Presbytery of Dublin in relation to Ulster
and America -37
VII. Bishops and Bigotry 42
VIII. Better Days 50
IX. The Subscription Controversy . . . - 54
X. Dublin Presbyterians and Irish Grievances . 62
XL The Seceders 66
XII. Generous Laymen and Reprimanded Ministers . 68
XIII. Presbyterians and the Volunteers . . .71
XIV. Conciliation and Concession 75
XV. Presbyterians and the Rebellion of 1798 . . 79
XVI. The Legislative Union 84
XVII. Lord Castlereagh and the Rev. James Carlile 91
XVIII. Mission Work in the South and West
XIX. Activity and Growth .
XX. Intolerance again
XXI. The General Fund Law-suit .
XXII. The Marriage Question .
XXIII. Church Extension
XXIV. The General Assembly of 1850 and
XXV. The Magee College Controversy
XXVI. The Ulster Revival .
XXVII. Disestablishment ....
XXVIII. The Present Outlook
HISTORY OF CONGREGATIONS OUTSIDE ULSTER.
I. Presbytery of Athlone.
Congregation of Athenry 165
,, Athlone . . . . . 165
,, ,, Ballinasloe ...... 166
Creggs and Roscommon . . . 168
M Ennis . 169
,, Moyvore . . . . . .173
,1 m Tully . ..... 174
II. Presbytery of Bailieborough.
Congregation of Kells, Co. Meath . . . .177
III. Presbytery of Connaught.
Congregation of Ballina . . . . . .179
, Ballinglen .
, Ballymote .
, Creevelea .
, Dromore West .
, Sligo .
, Turlough and Castlebar
, M Westport .
IV. Presbytery of Cork.
Congregation of Bandon 199
, Castlemartyr and Aghada
, Clonakilty .
, M Lismore
, ,, Queen Street, Cork
, ,, Queenstown
, ,, Tralee
, ,, Trinity Church, Cork
V. Presbytery of Dublin.
Congregation of Abbey Street, Dublin . . . .215
, ,, Adelaide Road, I
Congregation of Athy. . . . . . . .221
Ballacolla ... . 223
Birr, or Parsonstown .... 223
,, Bray 225
,, Brunswick Street, Dublin . . . 229
,, Donore, Dublin 234
,, Duncannon 239
,, ,, Enniscorthy 239
,, Greystones and Kilpedder . . . 241
Kingstown . 245
Lucan . . . __.. . . 247
,, Mountmellick 248
Nenagh and Cloughjordan . . . 250
Ormond Quay, Dublin . . .251
M Rathgar, Dublin ...... 261
,, Rutland Square, Dublin . . . 263
H Tullamore ...... 279
Wicklow . . . . . . 282
VI. Presbytery of Munster.
Congregation of Clonmel 286
Fethard . . . . . 288
Limerick . . 290
Congregation of Portlaw ...... 293
,, M Summerhill . . . . 293
VII. Presbytery of Newry.
Congregation of Carlingford 305
,, Castlebellingham .... 307
Dundalk . . . . . 307
The United Presbyterian Church, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 31 1
Some Congregations now Unitarian.
Strand Street, Dublin 313
Eustace Street, Dublin . . 325
Congregations now Extinct.
PRESBYTERIANS, as a separate religious body,
can hardly be said to have existed in Dublin
before the passing of the Act of Uniformity. But
Presbyterianism, in all its distinctive features of doc-
trine, government, and worship, was a powerful factor
in the reformed Church of Ireland long before that
time. Until the Established Churches of England and
Ireland became narrower than they were immediately
after the Reformation, Presbyterians remained within
In Dublin, indeed, the Presbyterian influence was felt
at an earlier date than in any other part of Ireland.
The first elected Fellows of Trinity College were two
Presbyterians from Scotland Fullerton and Hamilton,
the latter of whom afterwards became Lord Claneboy.
The first regular Provost of Trinity College was also
a Presbyterian Walter Travers. It is worth while to
note some facts in the history of Travers, as showing
how little his Presbyterianism prevented him from
occupying a high position of honour and of usefulness
in the Protestantism of Ireland at that time.
Travers was one of the leaders of English Puritanism.
He was the friend and associate of Thomas Cartwright,
Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, who for his Presby-
terianism was deprived of his professorship by the
Prelatical party, and was more than once arrested,
imprisoned, and brought before the Star Chamber and
the High Commission Court. In 1572 was held the
memorable Conference at Wandsworth, near London,
by which Presbyterianism was first established in
England. As a result of this Conference a Synod was
held in London in 1584, to which a Book of Discipline
was submitted, which had been prepared by Travers
and Cartwright. Travers was silenced by Whitgift,
Archbishop of Canterbury, but in 1594 he was invited
over to Ireland by Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin, who
had been honorary Provost of Trinity College, and
whom he succeeded in that important office. Here
Travers became the teacher of Ussher, and exercised
upon him and many others of the rising generation an
influence which bore fruit in the subsequent history of
Irish Presbyterianism. 1
The Plantation of Ulster, by which is meant the
colonization of that province chiefly with Scotch settlers
by James I., was the great event which led to the firm
establishment of Presbyterianism in Ireland. Though,
as we shall see, Presbyterian Churches were formed in
Dublin and the South, irrespective of Scotch or North-
Irish influence, still it was the influence of Ulster
Presbyterianism which mainly preserved from decay
the Presbyterianism of Dublin and the South.
From about the year 1605 there continued a steady
flow of Scotch Presbyterians into Ulster, and in 1642
the first Irish Presbytery met at Carrickfergus. The
earliest Presbyterian ministers in Ulster came over not
as Dissenters at all. All of them who were ordained
between 1622 and 1642 were ordained in the Presby-
1 Reid : History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Briggs :
American Presbyterianism. Neal : History of the Puritans.
terian fashion, the Bishop joining with other ministers
in the act of ordination. They were ministers of parish
churches, and received the tithes and endowments ; they
frequently met and consulted with the Bishops about
matters concerning religion, and some of them were
members of the Convocation in 1634. 1 Yet all the while
they remained Presbyterian, and did not use the liturgy,
whilst they strictly maintained the forms and discipline
of the Church of Scotland. This pleasant state of
matters, however, did not last. They were silenced at
various times by Echlin and Leslie, successively Bishops
of Down, and by Bramhall, Bishop of Derry. Their
people suffered also, many of them being imprisoned
under the authority of a commission of Wentworth, then
Lord Deputy of Ireland. For about four years the
prospects of Presbyterianism seemed very dark in Ulster,
all the ministers, and many of their people, having been
compelled to take refuge in Scotland. But in 1642
several ministers came over with the Scotch troops, and
Presbyterianism once more took root in the northern
The Puritan spirit, so strong in Irish Protestantism
from its earliest days, had not died out in Dublin and
the South. In 1657 was published at Cork a most
interesting little volume, entitled " The Agreement and
Resolution of severall Associated Ministers in the
County of Corke for the Ordaining of Ministers." In
this u Agreement" the subscribing ministers advocate
Presbyterian ordination, and resolve to practise it. In
February, 1658, a number of ministers in Dublin and
the province of Leinster formed a similar Association.
The views which they held, and the objects which they
1 Kirkpatrick's Presbyterian Loyalty (17 13), Chap. iii.
set before them, are stated in a volume entitled " The
Agreement and Resolution of the Ministers of Christ
Associated within the City of Dublin and Province of
Leinster ; for furthering of a real and thorough Refor-
mation according to the Written Word of God"
(Dublin, 1659). This Agreement is of a most practical
religious character. The ministers subscribing it resolve
to cultivate personal holiness, to give themselves zeal-
ously to the work of the ministry, to practise brotherly
love, and to avoid giving offence to one another. They
also resolve to promote a revival of religion in the
families committed to their care, by means of family
worship and observance of the Lord's Day. In order
to promote a reformation in their congregations
generally, they propose and agree to the following
1. Public Catechising of the younger and weaker
sort on the Lord's Days. Their text-book for this
catechising was to be the Shorter or Larger Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly.
2. A public Profession of Faith by the older members.
This was to include a statement that they received the
Holy Scriptures as the inspired Word of God, and
that they resolved to be guided by them as their rule
of faith and life ; that they still retained the Apostles'
Creed ; and that they received and held fast the West-
minster Confession of Faith. The Irish Presbyterian
Church of modern times expects parents to make a
somewhat similar profession when presenting children
for baptism ; but the language used in this Agreement
implies that the profession of faith was to be of a
general or congregational character, the minister and
people joining in the act.
3. Conducting all the ordinances of public worship
as near as possible to the teachings of the Word of
God. They resolved to lay aside u the antiquated
Service Book, and to be guided in their public services
by the Westminster Assembly's Directory for God's
4. Exhorting Christians to more frequent religious
conferences, that thus they may enjoy the communion
5. A restoration in all their congregations of "that
Church government and discipline which Jesus Christ
hath appointed in His Holy Scripture." Here may be
seen the thoroughly Presbyterian character of this
Dublin Association of 1658. In one paragraph under
this last head it is stated " that the ordinary and stand-
ing officers which Christ hath appointed in His Church
for the edifying and perfecting of His body are Pastors
and Teachers, Ruling Elders, and Deacons!' Another
paragraph states that it is the duty of all the churches
and ministers of Christ u to meet together in Synods and
Assemblies of the officers and delegates of the churches,
if need require ; where they have power to determine
difficulties and controversies according to the Word of
Three prominent features of this Dublin Association
may be noticed, as we find them expressed in this,
memorable Agreement and Resolution : 1. Its decidedly
Presbyterian character, in doctrine, worship, and govern-
ment. 2. Its spirit of brotherly love. 3. Its belief
in the advantage and power of Creeds and Confessions
of Faith. The attitude which the Presbyterianism of
Dublin afterwards assumed in the non-subscription
controversy was certainly not the attitude of its early
After the death of Oliver Cromwell, which occurred
the same year as this Association was formed, events
seemed for a time to favour the Presbyterians. They
were still members of the Established Church, and their
ministers received the tithes and other emoluments of
parish ministers. When the Restoration came, and
Charles II. became king, it seemed for a time as if
Presbyterianism was likely to be the State religion of
Ireland. This, at any rate, was the opinion of the Con-
vention which met in Dublin in lieu of a Parliament in
the year 1660. The religious opinions of the new king
had not then been declared, and even the supporters
of prelacy feared that he was likely to take the side of
the presbytery. The Convention accordingly chose
for their chaplain the Rev. Samuel Cox, minister of
St. Catherine's Church, who was reputed the soundest
Presbyterian in Dublin. In the Irish Parliament of
1660 its devotions were conducted every morning by
this Presbyterian minister. Moreover, the Convention
summoned eight ministers, most of whom were Presby-
terians, two from each province, to give advice to the
Convention as to the settlement of the Church in Ireland,
both as to the appointment of ministers and arranging
for colleges and schools. 1
But once again Presbyterian prospects were doomed
to be blighted. In 1662 the English Act of Uniformity
was passed, by which more than 2,000 ministers were
compelled to give up their parishes and leave their
homes. In 1665 a similar Act was passed in the Irish
Parliament, which enjoined the use of the Book of
Common Prayer in all places of public worship, and
required not only ministers, but also schoolmasters and
private tutors, to take the oath of abjuration (declaring
1 Adair's Narrative, pp. 231-233.
it unlawful to take arms against the king, conforming
to the liturgy of the Established Church, and abjuring
the Solemn League and Covenant). No person who
was not episcopally ordained could hold an ecclesias-
tical living, and any minister not episcopally ordained
who dared to administer the sacrament was liable to a
penalty of one hundred pounds. 1