University of Hertfordshire


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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalGender & History
Early online date6 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jul 2022


This article explores how Presbyterian religious belief and practice shaped the operation of the sexual double standard in Ireland. It argues that reputation continued to have a public element into the nineteenth century and highlights the role of religion as a locus around which male reputation was validated, restored and safeguarded. Through a system of surveillance, and underpinned by the gossip network, the Presbyterian church courts in Ireland held men to account for lapses in sexual conduct. Presbyterian men, too, were concerned to maintain clear characters. In their efforts to keep sexual indiscretions private and silence their accusers, some men even resorted to bribery, threats of violence and extortion. Others turned to the church courts to validate their reputations, recognising the place and power of the church as a source of moral authority.


© 2022 The Authors. Gender & History published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs License,

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