Presbyterianism did not establish a foothold in the escheated counties in the early seventeenth century. Whereas in Antrim and Down a significant number of Protestant ministers espoused Presbyterian views on church government and discipline, which eventually led to their expulsion, clerics in the escheated counties of Ulster on the whole conformed to the canons of the Church of Ireland. There were a number of exceptions.

One minister in County Donegal who was noted for his refusal to fully subscribe to the rules and rubrics of the Church of Ireland was a Mr Pont. His background is not known and it is not certain in which parishes he ministered. However, it seems likely that he was eventually based in Ramelton in Tullyaughnish parish. In the mid 1630s he became even more outspoken in his criticisms of the authoritarianism of the bishops.

Pont began to hold religious meetings that did not follow the prescribed form of Church of Ireland services. His wife Isobel was particularly fond of these ‘private assemblies’. Matters came to a head after Pont was accused of preaching a ‘wild sermon’ against the authority of the bishop and in 1638 he fled into Scotland where he died shortly afterwards. His wife was imprisoned in Dublin for three years and it was only after the intervention of the Irish parliament that she was released.

James Seaton Reid’s magisterial History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland remains unsurpassed for its depth of information.

Read Volume I online

Read Volume II online

A contemporary source of huge significance for the study of early Presbyterianism in Ireland is A true narrative of the rise and progress of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (1623-1670) by the Rev. Patrick Adair, edited by W. D. Killen (Belfast, 1866).  Read online