First published in three volumes between 1834 and 1853 and republished here on fully-searchable CD-Rom are the first editions of James Seaton Reid's monumental publication, the History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. In total the three volumes contain more than 1,600 printed pages and are accompanied by an appendix to each volume consisting of various original documents. The third volume was incomplete at the time of Seaton Reid's death and was subsequently completed by his successor, Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Pastoral Theology for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, W. D. Killeen, D.D.
James Seaton Reid was born in Lurgan in 1798 the eleventh son and seventeenth child of a schoolmaster. Educated at the University of Glasgow, he graduated M.A., in 1816 and received his D.D., in 1833. Ordained in 1819, he administered to congregations at Donegore and Carrickfergus between the time of his ordination and 1837, during which time he was appointed as the General Synod of Ulster's first professor of Ecclesiastical History as well as Moderator for the Synod of Ulster. He was subsequently appointed to the professorship of Ecclesiastical History, Church Government and Pastoral Theology at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and took-up the same post at the University of Glasgow, which he held until his death in 1851. He published a number of influential histories, the most notable of which was his three-volume History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
The first volume of Seaton Reid's History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland was published in 1834 and contains some 478 printed pages. Carrying the subtitle 'Comprising the Civil History of the Province of Ulster, from the Accession of James I, with a Preliminary Sketch of the Progress of the Reformed Religion in Ireland During the Sixteenth Century and An Appendix Consisting of Original Papers. Beginning with a lengthy introductory chapter on the general state of religion in Ireland from the eleventh to the end of the sixteenth century, volume one concludes with the inception of the Solemn League and Covenant.
The Second Volume, comprised of just over 500 printed pages, was first published in 1837 and details the history of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent periods of the nation's history. Opening in 1642 with the arrival of Owen Roe O'Neill in Ireland and the Confederation of Kilkenny and detailing the arrival of Cromwell and James II, volume 2 is concluded by the arrival of William III.
The final volume, first published in 1853 is the largest of the three volume history; consisting of just over 600 printed pages, this was first published two years after Seaton Reid's death. Consisting of eleven chapters, Seaton Reid had completed the first seven in manuscript form prior to his death. The remaining chapters were written by his successor W. D. Killeen, D.D., and as a whole detail the History of Irish Presbyterianism and general civil history from the winter of 1689 and William III's arrival at Carrickfergus concluding in 1841 a period which includes Seaton Reid's own part in the history of Presbyterianism in Ireland, notably as Moderator of the General Synod.
With more than 1,600 printed and fully-searchable pages of text, the three-volume History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, originally published between 1834 and 1853, remains one of the standard works on Presbyterianism in Ireland and must appeal to anyone interested in the subject of the Church, but also the general civil and military history of Ireland.