Vol. 8: Falvey, Jeremiah.

Type: Article

Falvey, Jeremiah. ‘The Church of Ireland episcopate in the eighteenth century: an overview.’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 8 (1993), Pp 103-114..

This article considers the actions of the 123 men who ruled the Church of Ireland as bishops in the eighteenth century. It considers the limitations of episcopal power, despite the position of bishops in the House of Lords, and discusses why the Church failed to play the role of a missionary church in the eighteenth century. “The fact that in Ireland the majority of the inhabitants did not profess their allegiance to the state church was irrelevant to the ecclesiological and theological outlook of the majority of Anglican bishops. For them, the primary consideration was the nature and extent of those temporal rewards of wealth, status and influence which accrued from episcopal office.” The article includes three figures: the first compares the appointment of non-Irish bishops to Anglo-Irish bishops in the eighteenth century, showing non-Irish appointments to be much higher; the second shows that the average attendance of bishops in the House of Lords fell throughout the century indicating a “progressive fall in the political importance of the bench” and the third charts the number of items of ecclesiastical legislation before the Irish House of Lords. Falvey concludes that the episcopal structure and ‘way of life’ of the Church of Ireland in the eighteenth-century was not unique in Europe, and compares it to the situation in France.