Updated 12 July 1999
Submitted by Jane Lyons and posted here with her kind permission.© Copyright Jane Lyons 1999
I begin this series of posts for two reasons. The first being my usual inclination to try and explain the various divisions of Ireland and how records may be found in one place when you think you should be looking in another, and the second being that there are many people whose ancestors converted from one religion to another and again this ties in with our divisions and parochial boundaries...
My belief is that what I have posted is related to genealogy, because if you don't know where you should be looking in records then how can you find people? You can't just throw a name at a list and hope to God that some person will suddenly jump up and say I have them in my tree...and what good is that to you if you can't find the roots, but do find lots of branches and twigs.
While the posts have been general they are leading up to a more detailed breakdown of divisions, the names of parishes and congregations as per county and more importantly the changes in these names after a gap of about 100 years and the increase or decrease absence of parishes and congregations after this time.
The individual county posts can only be done at a certain pace and even at that it will take more than one day to do each county, including whatever information I have for each religion in that county.
I would appreciate it greatly if anyone who ever considers forwarding any post of mine to any other list would ask me first. It may be that the list is one I have been asked not to post to, and I do not want to offend any more listowners than necessary.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (1931)The Presbyterians who are found chiefly in Ulster, are formed into Congregations, each of which is under the ecclesiastical government of a court called a Kirk Session, consisting of the Minister and Elders of the Congregation. An indefinite number of the Ministers of these Congregations, with a Representative Elder or each constitutes a Presbytery, which has the charge of the Congregations represented in it. Delegates from each of these Presbyteries, consisting of all the Ministers, with a Representative Elder, for each, constitute the General Assembly, which is presided over by a Moderator chosen annually and regulates the ecclesiastical concerns of the Body.
The first Presbytery in Ireland was formed at Carrickfergus in 1642, and gave rise t the Synod of Ulster. The Presbyterian Synod of Munster was formed about 1660. The Presbytery of Antrim separated from the Synod of Ulster in 1727, and the Remonstrant Synod in 1829. A number of Seceders formed themselves into the Secession Synod of Ireland about 1780. In 1840 the General and Secession Synods having united, assumed the name of the general Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, comprising in 1930, 546 Congregations, arranged under 34 Presbyteries. The Ministers were supported by voluntary contributions, the rents of seats or pews, and the proceeds of the commutation of the annual Parliamentary Grant called the Regium Donum, or Royal Gift ( first granted in 1672 by Charles II), made by the Church Temporalities Commissioners under the Act of 1869. The Minutes of the General Assembly for 1930 state that in the year ending in December there were 584 Ministers,, (besides 22 licentiates and ordained ministers without charge, 546 congregations and 510 manses.
THE METHODIST CHURCH
The Methodist Society was founded by the Rev. John Wesley in 1739. It is constituted in Ireland under the Methodist Church in Ireland Acts Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State, 1928). The ministers are itinerant, five years being the longest period they can remain in any one circuit under ordinary circumstances. One, two or more are appointed to a circuit which comprises a number of congregations and they are assisted by lay preachers, leaders and prayer leaders. Out of these, with representatives elected By the Societies is formed the Leaders Meeting, at which ministers attend, one of them , called the Superintendent presiding, and this Board manages the affairs of the local society. The Quarterly meeting composed of the same officials together with the Trustees etc. manages the affairs of the Circuit. A number of Circuits forms a District. The Conference meets annually and is the supreme ecclesiastical court. It consists of 150 ministers and 150 Laymen, the President of the British Conference also being the President of the Irish one during its sessions.
The number of Ministers in Great Britain is 2,562. The number in Ireland is 248. At the census if 1826 the number of people in Ireland who returned themselves as Methodists was 60, 217. The Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Society (English) and the Methodist new Connexion are now united with the Wesleyan Methodist Society in Ireland forming the Methodist Church of Ireland
CHURCH OF IRELAND (1931)
There were 33 Church of Ireland Dioceses in 1931. All incumbents on vacancies occurring, were appointed by the several Boards of Nominations, except I some cases of District Churches and Parochial Chapels, where Trustees were appointed previous to the Dis-establishment, and in parishes where , under the statutes of the Church, Donors by Endowment acquired the Patronage.
Until Jan 1, 1871, the Church of Ireland was established by Law and was combined with the Church of England, by the Act of Union (1800). The Bishops and beneficed Clergy had a freehold in their offices, and in the emoluments and privileges belonging to these offices; the resources of the Church were practically all derived from the tithe rent charges, from the annual rents or produce of Church lands, from occasional private subscriptions, and from the income arising out of private benefactions. The lay members of the church were entitled to all the ministrations of its clergy without any liability to support it with their contributions; and they had neither authority nor responsibility in relation to the management of its temporal affairs.
The Irish Church Act, 1869, provided that from January 1, 1871, the statutory union between the Churches of England and Ireland should be dissolved, and that the Church of Ireland should cease to be established by law. Subject to the vested interests of the then existing Bishops, Clergy and other Church officers, all such Church property of every kind was vested in the ‘Commissioners of Church Temporalities’ who were created by the Act and who carried out al the transactions that the Act required - in realising all items of property, selling Church lands to occupying tenants and others and discharging all liabilities imposed by the Act, and, from time to time, as parliament might direct, appropriating the surplus to various Irish purposes.
All the Ecclesiastical Corporations that existed under former conditions having been dissolved by the Irish Church Act, the necessity arose for the creation of a new corporate body to take over from the Church Temporalities Commissioners whatever property and moneys under the e Act were to be transferred to the Authorities of the disestablished Church, and to be the trustee and agent in respect of property and funds subsequently acquired. This was met by the corporation in 1870 of the Representative Church Body. This body was constituted so as to include representatives from every part of Ireland.
By recognising the vested interests of the Bishops, Clergy and other church officers who were in office when the Act came into operation and their rights to receive their respective emoluments during their lives and by making it a condition, that in return they should render the same service as before, an opportunity was afforded by the authorities to make plans for future church sustentation. It was eventually decided that instead of having a general plan for all Ireland , local effort would be stimulated to a greater degree, and other advantages secured by having a separate plan for each diocese or group of dioceses in which the resources of all the parishes under the plan would be pooled, and by which a steady voluntary effort on a uniform principle from the very beginning on the part of all the parishes would eventually secure on the disappearance of the last surviving annuitant, an accumulated capital, the interest on which, with the same regular annual subscriptions from the parishes, would fully meet the Stipends secured to the Clergy of the Diocese under each particular scheme.
At a General Convention held in 1870, it was declared as a general and fundamental principle, that a General Synod consisting of the Archbishops and Bishops, and of representatives of the Clergy and Laity "shall have chief legislative power as may be necessary and consistent with its Episcopal constitution".
The General Synod consists of three orders, the Bishops, the Clergy and the Laity. These sit as two Houses, the House of Bishops consisting of all the Archbishops and Bishops and the House of Representatives, consisting of 216 Clerical and 432 Lay Representatives, distributed among the dioceses and elected every third year by the Diocesan Synods.
The Registered Vestrymen are Church members who either own property or are resident in the parish, or are accustomed members of the congregation of the Church or Churches in the parish. They are the constituency that elects 9a0 one of the Churchwardens - the other being nominated by the Incumbent; (b) members of the Select Vestry which controls the Parochial Charity and Church Funds © the Lay Synodsmen who sit in the Diocesan Synod and (d) the three Parochial Nominators who with the Bishop and the three Diocesan Nominators elected by the Diocesan Synod elect the Board of Nomination with whom rests the appointment of the Incumbent of the parish.
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN IRELAND ( in 1931)
The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland is governed by four Archbishops, whose sees are in Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Tuam, and twenty four Bishops ; they are all nominated by the Pope, generally out of a list of three names submitted to him by the Parish priests and Chapter of the vacant diocese, and reported on by the Archbishop and Bishops of the Province. The diocesan dignitaries are the Vicars-General of whom there are one, two or three, according to the extent of the diocese, who have special disciplinary and other powers; Vicars Forane, whose functions are more restricted; the Archdeacon, and the Parish priests and Administrators. All of these as well as the Curates are appointed by the Bishop. The whole of the clergy are supported solely by the voluntary contributions of their flocks. The Episcopal emoluments arise from the mensal parish or two, the incumbency of which is retained y the Bishop, from marriage licences and from the cathedraticum, an annual sum,varying from £1 to £10 paid by each Parish Priest, Administrator and Curate in the Diocese. The 2,428 civil parishes in Ireland are amalgamated into 1,116 ecclesiastical parishes or unions.
The incomes of the Parish Priests arise from fees on marriages, baptisms and deaths, on Easter and Christmas dues and from incidental voluntary contributions, either in money or labour. The number of Priests in Ireland in 1853 was 2,291 (of whom 1,222 were educated at Maynooth College) and the number in 1873 was 3,157. The Curates of the Parish priests form more than half of the whole clerical strength; and scattered through cities and towns are 70-80 communities of Priests of various religious orders or rules, hence called Regulars who minister to their own churches, and though without Parochial jurisdiction greatly aid the secular clergy. All the places of public worship are built and maintained by subscriptions,legacies and collections. There are numerous monasteries and convents; the latter are supported partly by sums, usually from £300 to £500, paid by those who take the vows in them, and partly by fees for the education of the daughters of respectable Roman Catholics. Various communities of Monks and Nuns also devote themselves to the gratuitous education of the children of the poor. Candidates for clerical ordination, formerly under the necessity of obtaining their education in continental colleges are now chiefly educated at home.
According to the 1836 Catholic Registry and Directory there were 27 Dioceses in Ireland and approximately 3000 Priests: 960-970 Parish Priests, 1500 Curates and 500 Regular Clergy.
Diocese of Cloyne & Ross RC Parishes & Post towns Co. Cork
The boundary of the ecclesiastical provincial area of Cashel equates almost
to that of the Civil Province of Munster. The county of Cork has the
following dioceses associated with it.
1. Cloyne & Ross
5. Ardfert & Aghadoe
In 1931 the same diocese had the following Catholic parishes: the listing is as for two separate dioceses in the directory, as given here. Cloyne: 47 parishes
|Mourne Abbey||Mourne Abbey|
|Rock and Meelin||Newmarket|
|Ardfield & Rathbarry||Clonakilty|
|Clonakilty & Darrary||Clonakilty|
|Kilmeen & Castleventry||Clonakilty|
|Rath, Cape Clear & Sherkin||Baltimore|
|Rath, Cape Clear & Sherkin||Cape Clear|
|Rath, Cape Clear & Sherkin||Sherkin Island|
|Rosscarberry & Lissavard||Rosscarberry|
|Timoleague & Clogach||Timoleague|
All in all 40 parishes can be matched - there are some others which should be included such as the two listed for Cape-Clear in 1836 with Cape-Clear as the nearest post town and two of the parishes listed as being part of Cape-Clear parish in 1931 with different post towns (eg Sherkin Island being part of Cape Clear parish)
PRESBYTERIAN & METHODIST RELIGIONS
There were no Presbyterian Congregations listed as being present in Cork in 1834.Primitive Wesleyan methodists:
The missions were attached to their respective districts as follows: Cork: Youghal, Skibbereen & KerryMethodists in the connexion established by the late Revd. John Wesley A.M. Cork District:
The work of the Methodist Connexion Church was transferred to the Irish methodist Church in accordance with the Resolutions of the Conferences of both Churches held June and July, 1904.
BAPTIST UNION OF CORK
This was not mentioned in the 1834 directory and the following comes from
the 1931 directory
Cork, King Street founded in 1652, settled in 1910
CONGREGATIONAL CHURCHES IN IRELANDCork is listed as vacant in 1931
UNION PARISHESFrom: Sharon Haggerty
In early times parishes were sometimes combined and one parish name was retained and the other/s just disappeared. For example, Ballymoney Parish church is no longer in use and the diocese list of current parishes does not even mention it. Sometimes groups of parishes have been combined and some of the resulting groups are referred to as "unions." For example, Kinneigh Union currently includes: Ballineen, Kilmeen, Desertserges and Murragh. All four of these have churches which are still operating and holding regular services. They are all in the charge of one rector who lives in Ballineen. The old Ballymoney church is within the area covered by the Kinneigh Union, but the name Ballymoney seems to have disappeared from use (although the Kinneigh rector does still have the old Ballymoney parish registers). Just to make it really confusing, the word union is not always used.
For further information on the current parishes in the United Dioceses of
Cork, Cloyne and Ross, see the Church of Ireland website:
For information on accessing Church of Ireland records for genealogical
work, please see:
CIVIL PARISHES VS. RELIGIOUS UNIONS
now, all the books tell us that the Church of Ireland Parishes equate to the Civil parishes that's true. *But* I'm here, I understand all thse maps, particularly Mitchells floating islands or bits of counties as I call them......and they have a great number of Civil parishes listed inthere which do not seem to have a religious parish to go with them..
Someone asked me about the Parish of Creagh the day I posted the parish lists - out there in west Cork it is......and I had no Creagh parish listed in any of the tables I'd made up, for either main religion for any year.
Everyone who reads that Church of Ireland parishes equate to Civil parishes automatically assumes that for each civil parish there is or was a Church of Ireland Parish and maybe even an RC one also. This doesn't seem to be so..not from what i can see. There may have been at one time, and then that parish may have been joined to some other parish. This happened quite a lot with the RC parishes, they grew in number and shrank accordingly depending on the number of Religious and people there were in the area.
So, over the years for each religion it looks like the numbers and phonetic spellings of parishes changed. There may or may not have been an equal number of religious parishes to civil parishes...adn I've checked some of the larger civil parishes listed in Mitchell for Co. Cork against the list of Church of Ireland parishes for 1931...and there is a difference...some of the names I find in 1931 aren't listed as being Civil Parishes in Mitchel.
I took the Dioceses of Cloyne and Ross because they're really 'Cork' Dioceses...
Searchers come along..and they know that their ancestors came from this or that parish. Now, usually it's the civil parish name they know so they home in on that civil parish, looking for records of the religious parish of the same name....and they may be barking up the wrong tree for the time frame they are looking for. There may have been no religious parish in that area at that time, it may have been joined to another parish, it may never have existed......
And how do the descendants know all this...how do they find it out....they don't - for years.....
Go to the OS maps for the mid 1800's and you see little churches all over the place......but there will have been a main parish that these were associated with....and people will look for the records of that parish and maybe find their ancestors listed...but with a funny place name and they don't know that they are theirs....cos they haven't checked the maps or whatever literature is available for that time period showing what churches were around the area then......
And there's tons of information if someone would just sit down and work it all out.....
And then again, when someone says they came from a particular county..and a particular townland, if you look again at Mitchells maps and the Diocesan distribution..adn you decise they belonged to this Diocese or that - they may not have because they could have belonged to the Diocese next door which is always associated with another county. All the counties have a main diocese or two which people automatically assume is where they will get their information.
Sorry for rambling on..it's just that if I can find all this a bit confusing, regardless of my lack of knowledge of how religions work and with my understanding of Irish geography, I honestly can't understand how anyone who comes in green to Irish genealogy can possibly have any hope of not taking years and years to find out which parish their ancestors came from - (if they have not got a positive piece of evidence).
Just another bee in my bonnet......the books are misleading - but that's a personal opinion.Jane