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Presbyterianism, unionism, and the Second World War in Northern Ireland: the career of James Little, 1939–46

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 December 2019

Matthew Houston
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Queen's University, Belfast
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Abstract

This article examines the career of the Irish Presbyterian minister and member of the Westminster parliament, James Little, as a case study of Presbyterian clerical responses to the Second World War in Northern Ireland. Establishing a more detailed narrative of contemporary interpretations of the conflict improves our understanding of the functions of religious institutions during the period. It demonstrates that Presbyterian church leaders were largely enthusiastic supporters of the war, employing theological language while promoting the agenda of unionist politics. By juxtaposing clerical politico-religious support for the war with their commitment to conservative moral standards, the article assesses the strength with which these views were held, thereby adding to our knowledge of Presbyterianism in the 1940s. The article also situates the Northern Ireland Presbyterian view of the war within the context of the United Kingdom.

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Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Irish Historical Studies Publications Ltd 2019

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References

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28 Jackson, ‘“Tame Tory hacks?”’, p. 458.

29 Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 22, 23 June, 3 July 1945.

30 Ibid., 27 July 1945.

Ibid.

31 Larne Times, 4 Apr. 1946.

32 Walker, A history of the Ulster Unionist Party, p. 105.

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49 Ibid., ccclvii, 955 (15 Feb. 1940).

Ibid.

50 Ibid., ccclxxxiii, 2218–21 (22 Oct. 1942).

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51 The Witness, 22 Sept. 1939.

52 Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 14 July 1936.

53 Ibid., 16 June 1941.

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58 Private individuals and lay representatives of religious organisations encouraged Little to persist in his efforts. See Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 25 Apr., 24 July 1940.

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63 Hansard 5 (Commons), ccclxv, 1702 (13 Nov. 1940).

64 Ibid., ccclvii, 1522–3 (22 Feb. 1940).

Ibid.

65 Ibid., ccclxxviii, 1509–10 (18 Mar. 1942).

Ibid.

66 Ibid., ccclxxxi, 936 (9 July 1942).

Ibid.

67 Ibid., cdi, 797-9 (29 June 1944).

Ibid.

68 The Witness, 26 July 1940.

69 Ibid., 30 Aug. 1940; Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 26 Aug. 1940.

Ibid.

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78 Ibid., ccclv, 736 (6 Dec. 1939).

Ibid.

79 Ibid., ccclxxi, 1390–91 (20 May 1941).

Ibid.

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81 Hansard 5 (Commons), ccclxxi, 1718 (27 May 1941).

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86 Temperance and licensing reform, 1938–9 (P.R.O.N.I., CAB/9B/33/13).

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98 Hansard 5 (Commons), ccclix, 308–9 (4 Apr. 1940).

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100 The desire of unionists to appease the Americans is noted in McCormick, ‘“One Yank”’, p. 235; Topping, Simon, ‘“Laying down the law to the Irish and the coons”: Stormont's response to American racial segregation in Northern Ireland during the Second World War’ in Historical Research, lxxxvi, no. 234 (Nov. 2013), p. 758Google Scholar.

101 Hansard 5 (Commons), cccxcvi, 171–2 (19 Jan. 1944).

102 Northern Whig and Belfast Post, 16 Oct. 1940; The Witness, 18 Oct. 1940.

103 Hansard 5 (Commons), ccclxxviii, 263–4W (21 Jan. 1942).

104 Ibid., cccxciii, 644 (3 Nov. 1943).

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108 Hansard 5 (Commons), ccclxxiv, 1906 (23 Oct. 1941).

109 Ibid., cccxcvii, 1556–7 (2 Mar. 1944).

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110 Ibid., cdvii, 795–6 (21 Feb. 1945).

Ibid.

111 Extract from Hansard, 29 Apr. 1942 (P.R.O.N.I., CAB/9CD/171/1).

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