Thursday, October 15, 2009

Scottish Bishops and Ulster-Scots apples

Over the years there's been a fair bit of comment about Ulster-Scots being "too Orange", or indeed of Orangeism being affected by the emergence of Ulster-Scots (funding). There are both overlaps and distinctions between these two cultural traditions, and major discussions could be had about these issues, but not on this post. But never mind oranges, what about apples?!

When King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England and Ireland in 1603, he began to appoint Scottish bishops in Ireland:

Denis Campbell was appointed as Bishop of Derry, Raphoe and Clogher in 1604, but he died in London in July 1604 before he took up his post.

• Shortly after, the same bishoprick was given to George Montgomery, Sir Hugh Montgomery's younger brother. Montgomery arrived in west Ulster around Spring 1607 and began to bring lowland Scots from Ayr, Glasgow and Irvine into Derry, Donegal and Killybegs. His portrait is in Clogher Cathedral.

• In 1610 Montgomery's bishoprick was changed, with Raphoe being replaced by Meath. His job at Raphoe was filled later that year by yet another Scot - Andrew Knox. He was related to the famous John Knox (possibly a nephew?) and therefore also related to Josias Welsh.

• When Montgomery died in 1620 his position at Clogher was taken up by another Scot, James Spottiswood, brother of John Spottiswood, the archbishop of St Andrews.

On 4 March 1613 Robert Echlin from Pittadro in Fife was appointed by King James I as the new Bishop of Down and Connor. He was the same age as I am now - 37. He graduated from St Andrews University in 1596 (during the time that the mighty Andrew Melville was one of the Professors there). The previous Bishop was also a Scot - James Dundas - he had been appointed in 1612 but died just a year into his appointment. Echlin (initially at least) tolerated the arrival of the Presbyterians and compromised with them in order to ordain them into service in Ulster. However, he later turned against them...

...anyway, Echlin set up home at Ardquin (between Portaferry and Kircubbin - it is said he chose the location because it reminded him of the landscape of Fife) and built an Abbacy there beside the old church. The church has recently been refurbished and the Abbacy ruins have a house built inside them - quite a remarkable thing to see! Echlin died in 1635 and was buried at Ballyphilip in Portaferry, an old graveyard that's now very badly overgrown and locked up most of the time. When Echlin died, he was succeeded as Bishop of Down and Connor by yet another Scot, Henry Leslie.

Some of Echlin's descendants who remained on the Ards Peninsula invented the Echlinville / Ecklinville cooking apple. The description of the variety is:

"...the tree is vigourous and has decorative blossom. It is a cooker or sauce apple. It was popular with the victorians and widely grown in gardens also recommended for an 'artistic' orchard. It was popular in Worcestershire. No longer planted by 1930s, as fruit bruised easily..."

Saplings are available from the National Fruit Collection in England, costing about £45 per tree. This is what the fruit looks like: