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The STRONG Family Bible

Presented by David SLOANEFamily Bible leather book plate

My family asks why I started this research task? The answer is probably the family bible. The bible remained relatively unopened when I inherited my father's books… until I realised its significance. My great grandfather had entered birth and death dates of his family… he had even written down some regular censuses of his family. Add to this some newpaper clippings and even a cross-stitch sampler with my g-grandmother’s name. See here for an image and a discussion of the sampler. All this information meant a flying start to our family history! However, one aspect of this bible still gives us some conjecture… there is an inscription on leather which says: "Presented by David SLOANE to David STRONG September 1859". Who was David SLOANE?



1886 Census



Front page of Bible

Robert’s Religion in Belfast:

When I was sending our family bible off to the book-binder, I had a look at the preface, written by a Dr John Eadie… initially appearing to be some dour and gloomy Scottish dominie from Glasgow, and the publisher named McPhun, also of Glasgow. The penny dropped at this stage... I should have looked before, since this material gives a pointer to the kind of religion and place in society which my family held in the middle of the 1800's.

Dr John Eadie was probably the noted Biblical scholar who later became a prominent member of the (mainstream) United Presbyterian Kirk described in J.R. Fleming.

Source: Fleming, JR. The burning bush: a story of the Presbyterian Church in all lands. Told mainly for young people. T & T Clark Edinburgh; 1913; 134-135.

The preface of my bible certainly puts forward mainstream Presbyterian views, criticising "Ritualism and Rationalism"… meaning criticism of the liturgy of the establishment Church of Ireland ("Ritualism"); as well as the break-away Presbyterian Church… the Unitarian Church or "New Light" ("Rationalism"). The Rev. Eadie also makes much of the fact that this edition of the bible was used by numbers of working-men... would this mean that these Presbyterians did not see themselves as part of the establishment?

My family did not use the bible to any extent. Just the first few pages were used... which was fortunate for me since the book only needed a re-back and no further work. Perhaps family bibles were only used on special occasions and they had another bible for ordinary use?

At that time, religion in Belfast made a statement of people's place in society, their ethnicity, their political views, as well as providing a welfare net should times go bad…? Small wonder the Presbyterians did not see themselves as part of the establishments… they were persecuted as much as the Roman Catholics!

The 1692 Treaty of Limerick generated penal laws which did not permit Presbyterians burying their dead unless clergy from the Church of Ireland officiated. Presbyterian ministers were heavily fined if they performed a marriage according to the rites of the Presbyterian church. Children of such marriages were denounced as bastards. A 1705 Act made all Presbyterian and Roman Catholics pay a tax for the support of the Church of Ireland clergy. The 1714 "Schism" Act prevented Presbyterian ministers from teaching. It was not until 1782 that an Act was passed declaring all Presbyterian marriages to be valid.... and it was not until 1842 that mixed marriages performed by a Presbyterian minister were legal in Ireland.

Source: McClelland, J. A History of Ireland and Guide to Irish Immigration. James McClelland Research, Emu Plains, Australia.

Perhaps all this this indicates why my g-grandfather Robert STRONG with a Presbyterian father [1825… married in Rosemary Street Presbyterian Church]; a Presbyterian family bible [presented to the family in September 1859]; was then married in Wesleyan Chapels in 1851 & 1862; and his son attended Falls Road Wesleyan Sunday School and why both he and his second wife were later buried in a Presbyterian cemetery in Drury NZ (when it was safe to be Presbyterian).

I have received a query about the Bible from another unrelated family who had the same edition. The very first page of my Bible gives these publication details:

The National Comprehensive Family Bible
with the
Commentaries of Scott and Henry,
and containing also many thousand
critical and explanatory notes
selected from
The great standard authors of Europe and America
The commentaries condensed, and the whole edited
By the
Rev. John Eadie, D.D., LLD
Professor of biblical literature to the United Presbyterian Church
Glasgow and London: W.R. McPhun
Bookseller and publisher to H.R.H the Prince Consort

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