About Us

Founded in 1907 the object of the Society is to explore and promote an understanding of the history of Presbyterianism in Ireland.

This is achieved by various means, including the collection and preservation of historic materials and records of these churches.

View/Download the PHSI Information Sheet.


From its very beginning the Society was made up of the three churches which held the Presbyterian Order in Ireland. These are the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland. This is still the position today.

As the home for thousands of printed and manuscript items it is the first port of call for anyone interested in the history of Presbyterianism in Ireland or in tracing their Presbyterian roots.

The name chosen - the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland - indicates four main things about the Society:

  • Our particular interest is Presbyterian history. However, in our library and archive we also have materials which are of wider ecclesiastical, social and political interest.
  • Our main concern is Historical. We interpret this in the broadest sense in that we are glad to preserve anything relating to our history which we can accommodate.
  • We are a Society which welcomes everyone irrespective of whether you are Presbyterian, especially if you have an interest in Presbyterianism and Irish Presbyterian history.
  • Ireland is the main area of our concern, involving the three streams of the Presbyterian tradition. The stream flowing from the first presbytery in Ireland in 1642 is the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (although some Presbyterians are known to have been in Ireland around 1600). It was formed in 1840 by the union of the Synod of Ulster and the Secession Synod. The latter was itself the result of the union in 1818 of two Secession streams, the Burgher and Anti-Burgher Synods.The Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland was the result of division within the Synod of Ulster in 1725 and a later secession from the Synod in 1829; together with the later accession of the Synod of Munster. The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland was constituted in 1763 with its first presbytery.

Organisational Structure and Funding

The President of the Society is the Moderator of the General Assembly. The Chairman is the Very Rev Dr Donald Patton, who is assisted by Joint Honorary Secretaries the Very Rev Dr Godfrey Brown and Mr James Moffett and Honorary Treasurer, Mr Derek Alexander. All can be contacted through the Librarian and Archivist, Valerie Adams, at Assembly Buildings, Fisherwick Place, Belfast BT1 6DW.

The President, Vice Presidents and office bearers are ex officio members of the Society's Council. The Council is responsible for the planning and carrying out of the various activities of the Society and reports to the General Council of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

The Society is funded through donations and membership fees, together with a valuable financial contribution each year from the Incidental Fund of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and from the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.

Enquiries on membership are welcomed and should be addressed to the Society's Librarian and Archivist, Valerie Adams.

Registered Charity

The Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland is a charity registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI). Its registration number is NIC101056. Information, as required by law, is supplied to the Commission on an annual basis and it is then made available to the general public through the Charity Register Search facility within the Commission's website.

The Society's charitable status is recognised by HM Revenue & Customs. Through the Gift Aid scheme the Society is able to reclaim the tax paid on qualifying subscriptions and donations where the appropriate Declarations have been made.

Society Activities include:

  • the collection and preservation of manuscripts, documents, portraits and other objects of historical interest connected with the churches of the Presbyterian Order in Ireland;
  • arranging lectures at which papers on subjects relating to Presbyterianism are delivered and discussed. Field trips and visits to places of historical interest are also arranged from time to time;
  • the publication of books and booklets, including the annual Bulletin which often features papers delivered at the lectures of the Society;
  • publicising the Society's activities in the press, religious and otherwise;
  • raising interest in the history of Presbyterianism in Ireland;
  • encouraging membership of the Society to help us preserve our Irish Presbyterian heritage and make it accessible.

Genealogical Research

The Presbyterian Historical Society cannot carry out general genealogical research.

If you require research carried out and cannot do it in person you should contact an independent commercial genealogical research organisation. Details on organisations offering this service can be found on the website of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland .