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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Other Protestant Exodus

It is fairly well known about the emigration of Protestants (mostly Presbyterians) to America in the 1700s. However, a later emigration took place in the 1800s. Whether the figures below are taken seperately or inclusively there was still around 100,000 who emigrated in this period.

Some of the Protestant clergy,said his Lordship,were suffering the greatest privations,others were assassinated in open day; in many parts of the country the houses of the Protestant gentry and farmers were fortified against the attacks of midnight murderers; and arms were plundered at hours when suspicion herself was off her guard - when men were engaged in the labours of the field or attending on the worship of God.

The Roman Catholics had become armed. The Protestants scarely dared to venture from their homes after sunset;they feared to transact their business in the fair or market;they were waylaid,insulted,beaten and robbed,or assassinated on their return. To such an extant had these sufferings pressed on the people of the Reformed Churches in Ireland that more than 60,000 of them had fled to America since the passing of the Emancipation Bill. Yet,the loyalty of  Protestants and Orangemen was unimparied and unimpeachable,and for the Protestant successor of William of Glorious Memory they would have joyfully laid down their fortunes and their lives. Finally Lord Roden urged English and Welsh Protestants to petition the Throne on behalf of their brethren in Ireland. The appeal was generously responded to; and numerous petitions were presented to Parliament. This was the sad picture of Ireland three years after the Emancipation Act! VOL 2 Page 89 Emancipation Act was in 1829

The reign of terror was,indeed so great that in the three years from 1829 at least 94.000 Protestants fled from Ireland to Canada and the United States of America. They had no resource bur emigration,for in addition to the reign of terror they were badly treated by the Government. The practice,too,of many landlords was to value a tenant not because of his loyalty and industry,but according to the amount of rent he promised to pay,let him be Whiteboy,Blackfoot,Steelboy or Ribbonman. 1 Dublin University Magazine, May 1832. VOL 2 Page 108


The Methodism Connection in Ireland comprehends forty-nine Circuits,and eighteen mission stations; one hundred and sixty Preachers,including the Missionaries,and those who are on the supernumerary list; and twenty-six thousand two hundred and forty-four members of society. To some persons this number will appear small;but the reason is obvious..incessant political agitation. There is another cause to which few people duly advert. In many parts of Ireland the law is comparatively powerless,and fails to afford adequate protection to either the lives or the property of the Protestants, Hence the frequency of Protestant emigration. Within the last fifteen years no fewer than ten thousand members of the Methodist societies in Ireland have left their native country,and sought a more safe and quiet residence in other lands mostly in America. Not a few of these were as the life-blood of the societies to which they belonged. They were generally men of property,the support and stay of the cause in their different localities; and in several instances their removal has led to the withdrawal of the preaching,and the consequent dissolution of the societies and congregations. These upright and devoted men have meekly endured privations and opposition;but their ''judgement is with the Lord, and their work with their God. Pages 173-174