University of Hertfordshire

"Her husband went away some time agoe": marriage breakdown in Presbyterian Ulster, c. 1690-1830

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-13
Number of pages8
JournalWomen's History
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2020


The history of the making and breaking of marriage in Ireland is underdeveloped, particularly for the period before the nineteenth-century. The destruction of the Public Records Office in Dublin during the Irish Civil War means that Irish historians are restricted in terms of primary sources that shed light on the history of marriage. However, other sources can supplement what has been lost: Irish Presbyterian church court records. These sources are vastly underused by Irish historians. Drawing on the minutes kept by the Irish Presbyterian church courts, this article will explore how women and men in Presbyterian Ulster negotiated the dissolution of their marriages. In doing so, it will demonstrate the rich contribution that their study can make to our knowledge of the breaking (and remaking) of marriage in Ireland.


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