Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 July 2009
In August 1646 eleven bishops of the Church of Ireland put their signatures to a remonstrance delivered to the lord lieutenant, James Butler, marquis of Ormond. Their present purpose was to record their approval of the ‘most necessary peace’ recently concluded between Ormond and the Confederate Catholics, ‘the only meanes to continue the great blessings of Religion and Loyaltye amonge us: And to be the only hopefull way to reduce this Kingdome wholly to his Ma[jes]tys obedience’. But they also articulated their gratitude to the lord lieutenant for preserving, in Dublin and its out garrisons, ‘free and full exercise of the trewe reformed Religion accordinge to the Liturgie and Canons soe many years received in the Church … Which with sadd and bleedinge Harts we may say is more than we knowe to be in any part of the three Dominions.’ The Irish capital had become, however briefly, not merely an isolated religious outpost in Ireland, but the last bastion of a form of church order and worship within the Stuart realms.
The 1640s are the lost decade in the history of the Protestant church establishment in early modern Ireland, and not without good reason. Scholarly work over the last thirty years has transformed our understanding of the Church of Ireland in the years before the watershed event of the 1641 rising, as well as the fate of the Protestant establishment in the 1650s and beyond.