In the North of Ireland, the dark religious state of the country began to change with the Plantation of Ulster in the early 1600s. By 1641, 22,000 English and Scottish ‘settlers’ had been sent to live in Ulster. The settlers weren’t particularly godly people, but the ministers who came over with them were. These ministers had had to leave Scotland because they refused to accept the Five Articles of Perth. One of these ministers was Robert Blair. Rather than accept the Five Articles, Blair fled to Ireland and in 1623 became minister in Bangor, Co. Down. Other ministers who came over around the same time included John Livingstone (who became minister in Killinchy) and Josias Welch (who became minister in Templepatrick), the grandson of John Knox. However there was still no organised Presbyterian church and the ministers were soon forced to leave Ireland because their Presbyterian beliefs were getting them in trouble with the bishops. Blair was finally forced to give up his ministry in Ireland in 1634.
Thomas Hamilton, History of Presbyterianism in Ireland (Belfast, 1992 ).
James Seaton Reid, History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, ed. W. D. Killen (3 vols, 3rd edn, Belfast, 1867), i, 70-135.
Robert Blair, The life of Mr Robert Blair, ed. Thomas M’Crie (Edinburgh, 1848)
DSCHT: Robert Blair.
David Stevenson, ‘Blair, Robert (1593–1666)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004