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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: September 2009

2 - Raising up the Church of Ireland: John Bramhall and the beginnings of reconstruction, 1633–1635

Summary

THE TEMPORAL ESTATE OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND UNDER JAMES I AND CHARLES I

There is little agreement about what actually happened at James Ⅵ & I's Hampton Court conference of January 1604. One thing is certain: the king used Ireland as a rallying cry. It was scary, it was irreligious, it made him but ‘half a king’ and it needed preachers. By March of 1610, in the wake of the previous year's rebellion, James was telling the English parliament that a plantation was the only way to solve the great problem. As it turned out, the Ulster plantation was the first great opportunity to radically revive the fortunes of the Church of Ireland. In these escheated counties the prospect of sweeping away the pre-reformation jumble and starting afresh presented itself. Endowing the church handsomely was to prepare it for serving the expected influx of Protestant settlers who themselves would act as leaven in the dough of the ‘benighted’ natives.

James had reached these conclusions largely because of a series of reports compiled by George Montgomery, then bishop of Derry, Clogher and Raphoe. This Scot, who, tellingly, retained his deanship of Norwich for most of his episcopate, saw Ulster as the chance to start afresh. He envisaged a church firmly founded on a generous allotment of lands to a vigorous British episcopate whose prosperity would be assured by excision of all unassimilable Gaelic customs and structures.

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