(from the BBC) John Knox (?1505-1572) was father of theScottish Presbyterian Church. A Catholic priest, converted to Protestantism by George Wishart in 1545/6. Knox joined the rebel Protestant nobles and under French siege in St Andrews Castle made his name as a preacher. After capture he spent 18 months in a French galley, then arrived in England in 1549, preaching and helping Cranmer write the 42 Articles and Second Prayer Book (1552). In Europe during Mary's reign, he wrote 'First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women' (1558) against the Catholic Queens. On returning to Scotland in 1559, he was instrumental in drawing up the Presbyterian body of beliefs and organisation adopted by the Kirk from 1560. Following the expulsion of the French (with English help) he led the Protestants in Edinburgh, condemning the (Catholic) Mary Queen of Scots and helping determine the form of the Scottish Reformation.

Origins of the Presbyterian Church in what we today call "Northern Ireland"

(from the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland)

The origins of the Reformed Presbyterian church in Ireland are bound up with the coming of Scottish settlers to Ulster in the early 17th century. Most were Presbyterians and they soon made a major impact on the religious life of the province. They were naturally sympathetic towards their co-religionists in Scotland, who drew up a National Covenant in 1638 in protest against the autocratic policies of Charles I and who, in 1643, entered into the Solemn League and Covenant with the English Parliament. One aim of this covenant was `to work for the reformation of religion in the three kingdoms' and it was warmly approved and signed by many of the Ulster Scots.

The Revolution Settlement of 1690 was welcomed by most Ulster Presbyterians as a vindication of their struggle for religious freedom. A minority, however, objected to the disregarding of the Covenants and the absence of any specific recognition of the kingship of Jesus Christ. These `Covenanters', ancestors of modern Reformed Presbyterians, stood apart from the Presbyterian Church and began to hold separate meetings for fellowship. They were dependent on visits from Scottish ministers from 1696 until 1757. In 1763 a `Reformed Presbytery' was formed and rapid growth led to the formation of a Synod in 1811.

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