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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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Religion
- Dr. David Edwards

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The one area where the Scots do make an impact is in the Church of Ireland. Again, we tend to think nowadays of the Scots all being Presbyterian, but a significant number of them entered into the Church of Ireland, recognised episcopacy, and indeed became bishops themselves. At one stage in the early 17th century, by about 1615 when there’s a convocation, there are six or seven bishoprics held by Scots bishops in Ireland in the Church of Ireland, in the established church.

What’s interesting about these Scottish bishops is their relationship with the Presbyterians: some of them have a blind spot towards the Presbyterians who, of course, are very critical of episcopacy, and allow the Presbyterians to grow; others are not so tolerant. So again to go back to that central issue of the early 17th century, religion, the Scots themselves are divided three ways by religion. There’s the sort of majority of them who are Presbyterian; there’s a small but empowered minority of them who are Anglican or Church of Ireland; and then there’s another group of them who are totally disempowered who are Catholic, mainly in Strabane. It’s not one, sort-of, uniform Presbyterian presence that is introduced into the Ulster Plantation; rather it’s a three-way religious divide.
 

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