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PCIplayer – General Assembly 2017 Video Posts

The video posts of the General Assembly 2017 sessions are available at

Video Posts Business
Monday Evening – 1st Session Draft Daily Minutes of 1st, 2nd & 3rd Sessions
Tuesday Morning – 2nd Session Draft Daily Minutes of 1st, 2nd & 3rd Sessions
Tuesday Afternoon – 3rd Session Draft Daily Minutes of 1st, 2nd & 3rd Sessions
Wednesday Morning – 4th Session Draft Daily Minutes for 4th and 5th Sessions
Wednesday Afternoon – 5th Session Draft Daily Minutes for 4th and 5th Sessions
Wednesday Evening – Celebration  –
Thursday Morning – 6th Session Draft Daily Minutes for 6th and 7th Sessions
Thursday Afternoon – 7th  Session Draft Daily Minutes for 6th and 7th Sessions
Friday Morning – 8th Session Draft Daily Minutes for 8th Session

Daily Posts

Yesterday at the General Assembly – Tuesday

Yestreday at the General Assembly – Wednesday

Yesterday at the General Assembly – Thursday

Yesterday at the General Assembly – Friday


More Information

Annual Reports 2017  (The Blue Book)  on the PCI Website

Supplementary Reports 2017 on the PCI Website

Statement of Accounts 2016 on the PCI Website

General Assembly 2017 Resources on the PCI Website

Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland Report


The Rentouls – a Presbyterian Dynasty

PHSI Programme 2016-17At McCracken Memorial Presbyterian Church,
161 Malone Road,
Belfast BT9 6TA.

The next PHSI lecture will be at 8.00pm on
Thursday 10 March 2016
when the Very Rev Dr John Lockington will present
The Rentouls – a Presbyterian Dynasty
an account of a remarkable family which produced 15 ministers over a period of four generations, including one who was killed in action in France in World War 1.

All are invited to this public lecture.

The Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held at 7.15pm.

Visit the McCracken Memorial website.

PHSI Publications by the Very Rev Dr John Lockington:
Dr Robert Stewart – Cooke’s Lieutenant
Robert Blair of Bangor
Johnston of Tullylish

Also available: Robert Blair of Bangor – an Autobiography.
This publication includes an introduction which is the text of lecture given in 1991 by Dr Lockington.


PHSI Events Programme for 2016-17 Published

PHSI Programme 2016-17Thursday 10 March 2016
McCracken Memorial Presbyterian Church, Belfast
7.15pm Annual General Meeting
8.00pm The Rentouls: A Presbyterian Dynasty
By the Very Rev Dr John Lockington
An account of a remarkable family which produced 15 ministers over a period of four generations, including one who was killed in France in World War 1.

Thursday 21 April 2016
8.00pm Malone Presbyterian Church, Belfast
Symposium on the First World War
with Dr Paul Gray, Mr Nigel Henderson, Mr Philip Orr and Dr Colin Walker
How the 1st World War was commemorated and the effects of the war on society.

Thursday 5 May 2016
8.00pm Union Theological College, Belfast
The Robert Allen Lecture
150 years of the Presbyterian Orphan and Children’s Society
By Dr Paul Gray
From the impassioned pleas of its founders in the 1860s and the groundswell of Presbyterian philanthropy, to its continued relevance today in the field of welfare, the Society’s story is told from sources never before accessed.

Wednesday 25 May 2016
Visit to Magee College
(Details to be confirmed)

Saturday 18 June 2016 9.30am
Society’s Field Trip to the Newtownabbey and South Antrim area

Thursday, 22 September 2016
8.00pm Railway Street Presbyterian Church, Lisburn
Scots Settlement and Presbyterianism in Connaught
By Jack Johnston
Tracing the development of Scots settlers into North Connaught in the 17th century, mainly from Donegal and Fermanagh, the setting up of early Presbyterian congregations and the establishment of the Connaught Presbytery in 1825.

Saturday 15 October 2016 2.30pm
Portrush Presbyterian Church
The Rev Jonathan Simpson of Portrush
By the Rev Dr Joseph Thompson
Mission worker in the south and west of Ireland, biblical expositor and evangelist, leader in the 1859 Revival and Father of Portrush Lifeboat.

Thursday 17 November 2016
8.00pm Belmont Presbyterian Church, Belfast
The Division of Ireland and its effect on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
By Professor Eugenio Biagini, Cambridge University
A fresh look at some of the consequences for the Presbyterian Church and its members of turbulent times and constitutional change.

Thursday 16 February 2017
8.00pm Templepatrick Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church
The Ballycarry Session Book, 1704-68
By the Rev Dr John Nelson
An insight into the working of a Presbyterian congregation in the early 18th century.

Thursday 23 March 2017
Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast
7.15pm Annual General Meeting
8.00pm The Original Secession Church in Ireland 1841-1956
By the Very Rev Dr Godfrey Brown
The beliefs, problems and demise of this group of Seceders who did not join the union of Synods in 1840.

Wednesday 26 April 2017 2.00pm
Visit to Culturlann, former Broadway Presbyterian Church, Belfast

Thursday 4 May 2017
8.00pm Union Theological College, Belfast
The Robert Allen Lecture
Professor J. E. Davey and the Heresy Trial, 1927
By Dr Andrew Holmes, Queen’s University, Belfast
An overview, within a broad cultural, intellectual and theological context, of the heresy trial of J. Ernest Davey, Professor of Church History, Presbyterian College, Belfast, who was accused of being a ‘modernist’.

Saturday 17 June 2017
Society’s Field Trip to Mid-Ulster


The PHSIreland.org blog is being relocated to within the Society’s website – visit www.presbyterianhistoryireland.com/blog/.

PHSI Lecture: Presbyterian Protest and the Pentland Rising, 1666

The next PHSI lecture will be at 8pm on Thursday 18 February 2016 when the Rev Professor Robert McCollum will talk on ‘Presbyterian Protest and the Pentland Rising, 1666’.

It will cover the involvement of Ulster Presbyterians in the turbulent times that followed the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 with particular reference to ‘Blood’s’ Plot, 1663, an attempt to seize Dublin Castle and the Lord Lieutenant, and the Battle of Rullion Green, near Edinburgh, in 1666 when the Covenanters rose in defence of civil and religious liberty.

The lecture will be held in Lisburn Reformed Presbyterian Church, 49 Nettlehill Road, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, BT28 3HE.

image - Lisburn Reformed Presbyterian Church

Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland website – Origins of the Church
For the History and Fasti see The Covenanters in Ireland: A History of the Congregations


Autobiography of a Country Parson – Rev J R Dill

A County Parson - DillNew Acquisition for the PHSI Library

The PHSI library has acquired a copy of the ‘Autobiography of a Country Parson’ by the Rev James Reid Dill, Dromore, Co Tyrone’ (1892).

He was born in 1814 in Springfield, Co Donegal and was brought up by his father as his mother died when he was just 5 years of age. Initially tutored privately by his uncle and cousin he then went to public school at Ramelton which was under the superintendence of the Rev Edward Reid, a brother of the historian, the Rev Dr J Seaton Reid. At the age of 15 he entered Glasgow University and was called to minister in Dromore, Co Tyrone in 1834 at just 21.

This is a most interesting and engaging story of his life and his life-work and covers not only his congregational work but key events of the time including the Union of the General Synod of Ulster and the Secession Synod, the Famine, the 1859 Revival, the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, and the First Home Rule Bill.

The Rev Dill retired in 1887 after 53 years in the ministry.

phsi website header logo

An Interesting Bible Donation to PHSI Library

Bible - Galway Presbyterian Church

Front page of the Bible

The PHSI Library recently acquired a very large family Bible from Galway Presbyterian Church.  It is the Illustrated Family Bible with original notes by John Kitto and introductions to various Old and New Testament books by the Rev Canon Birks, published c. 1860.  While it is interesting in its own right because of the 1200 wood engravings and colour photographs it is the history behind this particular copy that is fascinating.


It was presented in 1875 to the Rev Dr James Gardner Robb who at the time was minister of Cooke’s Presbyterian Church in Toronto, Canada, by many friends unconnected with the with his congregation in recognition of his able vindication of Scriptural truth and bold defence of Protestant principles.  It was then given by his family to Galway Presbyterian Church in January 1929 in memory their father’s ministry in Galway.

The James Gardner Robb was born in 1833 the son of Alexander Robb, a farmer in Scrabo, Newtownards.  Educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Queen’s College, Belfast, and Assembly’s College, Belfast, he was licensed by Belfast Presbytery in 1857 and in the following year was ordained in Clogher Presbyterian Church.  In 1863 he married Martha Hanna, the daughter of his predecessor in Clogher, the Rev John Hanna.

He then emigrated to Canada in 1874 where he became minister of Cooke’s Presbyterian Church, Toronto.  During his ministry there he was awarded a DD from Hanover College, Indiana in 1877, and became known as the ‘Champion of Evangelical Protestantism’.

However, he returned to Ireland in 1879 and became minister of Galway Presbyterian Church and shortly after was awarded an LLD by the Royal University of Ireland (1881).  His ministry in Galway was very short as he died in 1881.

Two of the Rev Robb’s sons held important positions in Northern Ireland society:

Dr Alexander Gardner Robb, 1866-1940, the eldest son,was resident physician at the Union Fever Hospital, Belfast, and became the first Medical Superintendent of Belfast City Fever Hospital at Purdysburn when it opened in 1906.  He devoted his entire life to the treatment and study of infectious diseases.

John Hanna Robb, 1873-1956, was a barrister, Ulster Unionist politician and Stormont MP for Queen’s University from 1921-1937.  He then became leader of the Northern Ireland Senate and Minister of Education (1937-43) and from 1943 sat as a county court judge.

Also, these may be of interest…

Toronto Public Library – Cooke’s Presbyterian Church, Toronto

Archeion – Cooke’s Presbyterian Church, Toronto

Canadiana – Annals of Sixty Years, Cooke’s Presbyterian Church, Toronto



The Chinese Labour Corps – new publication added to PHSI Library

For those interested in the First World War you may be interested in a recent acquisition to the PHSI library.

Book Cover ImageThe Chinese Labour Corps:
The Forgotten Chinese Labourers of the First World War”
is the fascinating and relatively unknown story told by Mark O’Neill of the contribution of thousands of Chinese labourers who supported the Allies war effort.  Largely illiterate they came to Europe to make a better life for themselves, totally unaware of the conditions under which they were going to have to work in.  Many died or were either injured or traumatised as a result of their experiences in digging trenches, working in factories, mines and repair shops and toiling in the fields and forests.

Mark O’Neill was inspired to write this story after learning that his grandfather the Rev WFS O’Neill was one of the missionaries in China who worked with the Chinese Labour Corps alongside the YMCA who organised for Chinese speaking missionaries and others to provide education, recreation and spiritual comfort to the Chinese labourers.

Also by Mark O’Neill:

Frederick – The Life of My Missionary Grandfather in Manchuria
The Rev FWS O’Neill, an Irish Presbyterian Missionary served in Faku, a small town in Manchuria from 1897 to 1942 and witnessed many of the great events that convulsed China including the Boxer Rising, the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty and the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. He also served with the Chinese Labour Corps in France in World War 1 for which he was awarded the Order of the Striped Tiger by the Chinese government.

(This book is available from PHSI  – cost £16.00 plus postage of £2.00 within the UK.)

New Book on the life of Irish Presbyterian missionary Very Rev Frederick W S O’Neill – PCI Mission Overseas news (archive).

Interview with Mark O’Neill on RTHK Radio 3 Bookmarks website (archive).

Other publications available from PHSI.

Go to the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland website