Friday, August 11, 2006

Three Ulster-Scots Revivals: Stewarton, Sixmilewater and Kirk O Shotts

Some of you will know that through my Ulster-Scots Agency role I've been working on a whole range of initiatives to mark 2006 being the 400th Anniversary of what many regard as the foundational event of Ulster-Scots history - the Hamilton & Montgomery Settlement of 1606. Visit the growing web site here

Part of the story is the amazing impact of the early Presbyterian ministers who came from Scotland, and the clear links between three revivals (Stewarton, Ayrshire 1623 - 1630 / Sixmilewater, Co Antrim 1625 - 1634 / Kirk O' Shotts, Lanarkshire 1630) I don't know if anyone has ever seen the connections before, so I'm looking forward to seeing people's reaction to the story when it's printed in the next edition of the Agency's monthly newspaper The Ulster Scot.

At Stewarton (2 miles away from where Sir James Hamilton grew up, and where Montgomery's uncle was once the minister), the ministers involved in the revival were Rev David Dickson and Rev Robert Blair. At Sixmilewater the ministers involved in the revival were Rev James Glendinning, Rev Robert Blair, Rev Josias Welch, Rev John Ridge, Rev Robert Cunningham and Rev James Hamilton(he was namesake and nephew of Sir James Hamilton). At Kirk O Shotts the ministers involved in the revival were Rev Hance, Rev Robert Blair, Rev David Dickson, John Livingstone and Rev Robert Bruce. Just two months after the Kirk O' Shotts revival, Sir James Hamilton invited Livingstone to Ulster to become minister at Killinchy in County Down.

The other amazing detail is that Blair, Hamilton, Livingstone and a part-time minister called McClelland were the four ministers who commissioned the Eagle Wing on the first attempted emigration from Ulster to America. They sailed from Groomsport on 9th September 1636, the morning after Sir Hugh Montgomery's grand Scottish state funeral at the Priory in Newtownards. (for more info on the Eagle Wing, click here and scroll down the page to "Page 102" in blue type)

For me, these demonstrate the religious/spiritual foundation of Ulster-Scots history, which for a variety of reasons is often ignored. I'm neither an historian nor a writer, but I hope that somebody out there is inspired enough by these connections to do some "proper" research on them.


Update: Crawford Gribben has written about the three revivals in his book The Irish Puritans. Order it from


Anonymous said...

Just discovered the blog, you boys are doing a fine job and I wish you every success in your American ventures, hopefully you will be able to spread awareness of Ulster culture to the massive body of interest that there is in America at the moment, as regards American connections, have you considered liaison with the Bob Jones University ? I have a sneaking suspicion you may find many natural born fans on that campus.