One of the strategies I’m always preaching in Scots-Irish immigrant research is to make sure you research the minister of the congregation where your ancestor’s attended. The reason is that during the 1700s, it was common for ministers to bring all or parts of their congregations to North America with them. To find out where the minister pastored in Ireland may be to find out where your ancestors were from in Ulster.
To assist you in this search, there is a source which I would like to bring to your attention. It is Rev. David Stewart’s Fasti of the American Presbyterian Church: treating of ministers of Irish origin who labored in America during the eighteenth century (Belfast: Bell and Logan, 1943). This work contains record of 156 ministers who immigrated to the United States from Ulster. After much hunting, I finally found a copy at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Ireland: www.presbyterianhistoryireland.com. It’s most impressive. It’s a lesser known resource which should be added to the works already in print on Irish Presbyterian ministers.
When consulting this work, or any others, just be aware, just because a minister was born in Ulster, does not mean he actually pastored in Ulster. He may have immigrated as a child and studied in America. This is one consideration. The main reasons you would check Stewart’s work is if your ancestor was the minister or you suspect a congregational migration from Ulster. If this is found to be true, it goes a long way towards solving your immigration problem.
The average Presbyterian register in Ireland begins in the 1820s and 1830s. If your ancestors immigrated in the 1700s, then church registers in Ireland will not help. Books about ministers trained in Ireland or Scotland may or may not help, making Stewart’s work from the American angle extremely valuable. Definitely consult it. Most research guides actually miss this one source.
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