Tuesday, 22 November 2016

US Presbyterian records join Ancestry

Ancestry (www.ancestry.co.uk) has a useful collection for those of us who have had Scottish and Ulster-Scot ancestors and relatives who emigrated to the United States:

The U.S. Presbyterian Records, 1743-1970 collection
Source: Church Registers. Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

And here's the blurb from Ancestry:

Presbyterianism traces its roots primarily to England and Scotland during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. John Knox, a Scotsman who studied in Geneva with the French theologian John Calvin, is credited with having brought Calvinist teachings back to Scotland. He, along with protestants among the Scottish nobility, led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. While churches of other protestant denominations are typically governed by either an episcopal system (by bishops) or through congregationalism, Presbyterians are governed via representative assemblies called presbyteries.

Early immigrants to America included Presbyterians, who founded congregations in the New World as early as the 1630s. They were an integral part of early American history, and participated in endeavors such as the writing of state and national constitutions. Their belief system was one of the driving forces behind the creation of a new government that included separation of powers as well as checks and balances on those powers.

Topics such as theology, governance, and slavery were all sources of disagreements within the Presbyterian church, and led to the formation of separate Presbyterian denominations during the early history of the United States. In the 20th century, topics such as women's issues, civil rights, and social justice issues have all had an impact on Presbyterian churches as well. Various denominations within the United States have split, reunited, and reorganized on multiple occasions due to internal debates on these and other issues. Today, the largest of the existing denominations is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which formed in 1983 as a result of the reunion of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

As well as baptisms, marriages and burials, the records apparently also contain additional entries such as testificates (certificates or transfer to or from another church) and membership lists. I've not used the US Presbyterian records before, so would be interested to note if any of the entries point to places of origin in Ireland or Scotland for Presbyterian migrants to the States.


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Beginner's Guide to British and Irish Genealogy, A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-books.html.

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