Monday, May 26, 2008

Ballyrashane Presbyterian Church

Imagine you're the minister of a new church plant in north Antrim. It's 1657 and things have been going reasonably well - there's no King to interfere in the running of the church anymore, local congregations are full and so a new church is started. You're only in the job for three years when a new King is crowned and the persecution starts once again. You get two warnings to "toe the line" and preach only what the government approves. Of course you refuse. Then one Sunday a number of Royal troops knock on the door - they have arrived to arrest you.

Well, that's what happened to Robert Hogsherd (or "Hogsyard") in 1661. The plaque on the church says:

Robert Hogsherd
Ordained Minister of the Parish of
Ballyrashane, October 1657, and ejected
by a troop of dragoons
in 1661 for his loyalty to
Christ's Crown and Covenant
of whom the world was not worthy

Jack sent me this excerpt from God's Other Children which tells the story of Hogsherd's eviction:

"...Presbyterians manifested disaffection with the restoration in other ways as well.  Some distributed books reminding readers of Charles’s avowal of the Solemn League and Covenant in Scotland in June 1650, while others refused to let conformist clergymen baptize their children.  At Dromore Presbyterians ‘opposed and abused’ a conforming minister.  At Ballyrashane in 1661, after the Scottish Presbyterian minister Robert Hogsyard had twice ignored citations from ecclesiastical officials to accept Episcopal  ordination or resign, a troop of dragoons surrounded his church, alarming the congregation, but Hogsyard persuaded the officer to allow him to finish his sermon and had the congregation make room in the pews for the dragoons.  The sermon done, Hogsyard descended from the pulpit, shut its door, and struck it with his Bible three times, exclaiming ‘I arrest this pulpit in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as King and Head of his Church, that neither Episcopalian, Erastian nor indulged Presbyterian should ever enter it, or address a congregation in this church until the top stone of this building is as low as the foundation’..."

Hogsherd was sent to Scotland (hardly a punishment at all!) in November 1663 - some records say he escaped there with Crookshank of Raphoe, McCormick of Magherally and some other Ulster ministers. Hogsherd never returned to Ulster, but died in Scotland in 1673.