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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0886794578

From: Edward Andrews <>
Subject: Re: Where were the Churches in the Famine?
Date: Fri, 06 Feb 1998 19:49:38 +0000

What was the role of the
> churches (RC, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian or whatever else there was) in
> famine relief during the potato famine?
This is done from the top of my head so I don't swear by it.
You must remember that the famine to a greater or lesser extent
affected everyone in Ireland. The local poor law authorities were
overwhelmed so obviously there was not that much surplus in the local
Roman Catholic Church, and it was really before the days of things
The Church of Ireland was part of the trouble - it collected a church
tax, and were part of the whole government system which was only
prepared to do very little about the crisis. Queen Victoria when asked
gave a very small donation for relief, and then sent more to a dog's
While there may have been individual acts of charity, it was local
Perhaps the worst feature were the soup kitchens which were used to
proselytize. People who gave in and took the soup were often
remembered in the district as Soupers.
The Religious Society of Friends - the Quakers did provide relief,
collected in England.
As usual they come out of the crisis best.
The Free Kirk in Scotland did I do know send money to the PCI. The
Highlands remember also were suffering from the blight. Ulster was not
as badly hit as many other places.
I don't think that any of the others did much except for their own
You have to remember that we are talking about the mid 19th Century.
There had been bad harvests throughout Europe. The Corn Laws were
still in operation in the UK. The belief was that charity only
produced a dependency culture - where have we heard that before?
Those Churches which had the interest to provide relief, E.g. Roman
Catholic and to a lesser extent the PCI & the Methodists) did not have
the resources.
Those who had the resources did not have the motivation.
Edward Andrews
St Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church Dalkeith
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