Sheltering under the Covenant: The National Covenant, Orthodoxy and the Irish Rebellion, 1638–1644

Langley, Chris R. (2017). Sheltering under the Covenant: The National Covenant, Orthodoxy and the Irish Rebellion, 1638–1644. The Scottish Historical Review, 96(2) pp. 137–160.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3366/shr.2017.0333

Abstract

The Irish rebellion of October 1641 drove large numbers of clerical migrants across the Irish Sea to Scotland. These ministers brought news of protestantism's plight in Ireland, petitions for charitable aid and, in many cases, requests to work as preachers in Scotland. Historians have long recognised the social and religious links between Ireland and Scotland in the mid-seventeenth century and have seen these men as part of a wider effort to establish presbyterianism across Britain and Ireland. Such an argument fails to understand the complexity of mid-seventeenth-century presbyterianism. This paper explores these petitions for work and the less-than-enthusiastic response of ecclesiastical authorities in Scotland. Rather than automatically embracing Irish ministers as fellow presbyterians, the covenanted kirk leadership was aware that the infant presbyterian congregations in Ireland had followed a very different course to their own. Rather than fellow sufferers for Christ's cause, or part of a wider covenanted network, kirk leaders needed to assess Irish ministers for their godly credentials.

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