Person:James Alexander (134)

Rev James Alexander, of Rapahoe, Ireland
b.abt 1625
  • HRev James Alexander, of Rapahoe, IrelandAbt 1625 - 1704
  • WMarian Shaw1634 - 1711
Facts and Events
Name Rev James Alexander, of Rapahoe, Ireland
Gender Male
Birth[3] abt 1625
Other No Children
with Marian Shaw
Occupation[1][2] from 1671 to 1704 Rapahoe, Donegal, Ulster, Ireland
Death[2] 17 Nov 1704 Convoy, Donegal, Ulster, Ireland
Burial[3] Rapahoe, Donegal, Ulster, Ireland
  1. Rev. Alexander G. Lecky, B.A. In The Days of the Laggan Presbytery. (Northern Ireland: Belfast: Davidson & M'Cormack, North Gate Works, 1908)
    Page 109, 141-142.

    p. 109
    Persecution of Presbyterians
    The Presbytry of Laggan pointed 17 Feb 1681 a day of fasting and prayer
    4 mininsters, inc. James Alexander of Convoy [Rapahoe] were summoned to Rapahoe and after 3 May taken to Dublin where they were bound over to stand trial, then found guilty and inprisoned for eight months
    p. 142 -- Ministers of the Presbytry of Langgan included Jas. Alexander, 1678-1704 at Rapahoe (convoy)

  2. 2.0 2.1 Rogers, Charles. Memorials of the Earl of Stirling and of the house of Alexander. (Edinburgh: W. Paterson, 1877).

    pp. 94-95
    William Alexander, probable father of James Alexander of Rapahoe Parish, was on the 1662 Hearth Tax in the parish of Clonleigh, County Donegal; in roll of 1665 he is in Rapahoe Parish;
    James Alexander was minister in Rapahoe Parish from 1671 to 1704. In 1681, he, with William Trail, Robert Cambell, John Hart, were subjected to persecution . . . . in August 1681 they were found guilty of injury to the Episcopal Church and imprisoned at Lifford for 8 month.
    James Alexander died 17 Nov 1704. He died without issue. Will dated 13 Mar 1702 name Marion Shaw, his wife, executor and sole legatee. She died 1711 in Rapahoe, name Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of her brother, as her legatee.

  3. 3.0 3.1 Rev James Alexander, Memorial 130197486, Created by: MarthaHopscotch 22 May 2014, accessed 28 November 2019, in Find A Grave.

    Rev James Alexander
    BIRTH 1625
    DEATH 17 Nov 1704 (aged 78–79), Convoy, County Donegal, Ireland
    BURIAL Raphoe First Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland

    Rev. James Alexander (1625-1704) was probably born in the Ulster Province of Northern Ireland.

    Although he had no children of his own, as a minister, he was undoubtedly a father figure for the many hundreds of Presbyterian Scots-Irish emigrants he helped to inspire and guide, during their exodus from Ulster to America.

    All of the books which mention him state his name as James Alexander. His will and his wife's will were summarized by a book author in 1877, but the original will documents filed in probate court for County Donegal appear to have been lost in the Four Courts fire in Dublin, in June of 1922.



    Rev. James Alexander's call came from the congregation of the Raphoe Presbyterian Church, in the Parish of Raphoe, in County Donegal, on the Ulster Plantation of Northern Ireland. His ordination as a "Minister of the Gospel" took place on December 12, 1677, at about age 52. His license to preach as a "Minister of the Gospel" came from the Meeting of Lagan, which was later known as the Laggan Presbytery. A Presbytery was a regional religious organization, which was composed of several different Presbyterian church congregations.

    He served the congregation at the Raphoe Presbyterian Church for 26 years, from his ordination in 1677, until his death in 1704. He was the third minister to serve the congregation at Convoy: Rev. John Crookshanks served as the first minister up until 1666; Rev. Samuel Halliday served from 1664-1677; and Rev. James Alexander served from 1678-1704.

    Up until about the year 1751 the Raphoe Presbyterian Church was located in the town of Convoy, because the government would not permit a Presbyterian church to be founded in the town of Raphoe. A traditional story said that there was already an Anglican church in Raphoe, and the Anglican Bishop named Bishop Knox who preached there, did not care to have any competition on Sunday mornings.

    Since Bishop Knox had been appointed by the King as the leader of the regional government, in addition to being appointed as the leader of the regional Anglican church, he had the proper legal authority to prevent a Presbyterian church from being built in the town of Raphoe, if that was his desire. In a similar fashion, the King of Great Britain also fulfilled a dual role, as both the leader of the national government, and as the head of the Anglican (Episcopalian) church. The Anglican church was, and remains, the official religion of the government of Great Britain. The heart of the matter was that while Bishop Knox was recognized as a regional government and religious ruler in Ulster by the King of Great Britain, the Bishop was not accepted as a religious ruler by the immigrant Presbyterians from Scotland who also lived in Ulster -- much less by the native Catholics. Ulster was infamous for its religious conflicts.



    On February 2nd of 1681, the Presbytery of Laggan met to call for a future day of fasting and prayer. A special paper was to be read from all of the pulpits on February 17th of 1681, discussing the reasons for the fast, and the meaning of some rather serious words such as "heresy" and "apostacy". Some people, including Bishop Knox, interpreted this special paper to be disrespectful of the Anglican Church and of the government. Four Presbyterian ministers from Laggan Presbytery, including Rev. James Alexander, took responsibility for the planned event. They got into a great deal of difficulty over the proposed sermon, to the point that all four ministers were fined by the government. When the four ministers refused to pay their fines, they were all sent to jail. Finally after eight months, the fines were paid by a third party, and the four ministers were set free. See pages 21 and 22 in "The Laggan and Its Presbyterianism" by Rev. Alexander G. Lecky.

    In those years the government of Great Britain kept tight control over what licensed religious leaders, such as Presbyterian ministers, could say and do. Ministers in Ulster were furnished small salaries by the government, which were usually in paid in food stores. Rev. James Alexander was paid a meager salary of 20 barrels of dried corn each year, and his payment was often late.

    By controlling the actions of both Protestant ministers and Catholic priests in Ulster, the government hoped to successfully and peacefully rule the entire population. Uprisings and rebellions were a constant worry for government officials. Great Britain had encouraged the immigration of thousands of Presbyterian Scots into Ulster after 1630, in an attempt to control the rebellious native population of Northern Ireland.

    All Presbyterian ministers in Northern Ireland were required to hold a license from both a Presbytery and from the British government. Presbyterian ministers were fined or imprisoned if they did not follow instructions from the government, pertaining to the proper format and content of religious services and ceremonies. The jails in Great Britain had such poor living conditions that many prisoners either died there, or they suffered from permanent health issues after their release.



    A photo of the current Convoy Presbyterian Church in the town of Convoy, County Donegal, Ulster, can be seen in the link below. The original Presbyterian church building in Convoy was probably a simple thatch roofed house, since it would have been built quickly as new Presbyterian immigrants arrived from Scotland. The current church building in Convoy made of gray stone was probably built in later years. This church is currently part of the Parish of Convoy, as of 2015.
    Convoy Presbyterian Church



    Around the year 1751, a new Presbyterian Church was built in the town of Raphoe, and it took on the title of the Raphoe Presbyterian Church. The original Presbyterian Church located at Convoy was renamed as the Convoy Presbyterian Church. Here in the link below, is a photo of the current church building in the town of Raphoe, which was built in a neoclassical style. This church is currently part of the Parish of Raphoe, as of 2015.
    Raphoe Presbyterian Church



    Rev. James Alexander's wife, who was named Marion (Shaw) Alexander, was about 9 years younger than he was. She died in 1711. "In her will she expressed her desire to be buried in the churchyard at Raphoe, "along with the corps of her dear husband"". See the last paragraph on the printed page 94, and continuing through page 96, in a book entitled "Memorials of the Earl of Stirling and of the house of Alexander", Volume II, by Rev. Charles Rogers, LL.D., published in 1877.

    It is difficult to be sure which churchyard Marion (Shaw) Alexander referred to in her will of 1711. The quotation cited in the paragraph above might imply that Marion (Shaw) Alexander's grave, and her husband Rev. James Alexander's grave, were both located in the Presbyterian churchyard cemetery at the Raphoe Presbyterian Church which was located in the town of Convoy in 1711. On the other hand, it might mean that they were interred in a community churchyard in the town of Raphoe, which could have even been affiliated with the Anglican church. As of 1877, when the book mentioned above was written, no headstone could be found for either one of their graves.

    The same book also stated that Rev. James Alexander and his wife had no issue, meaning that they had no children.



    Rev. James Alexander passed on in 1704. His wife lived for about seven more years, before she passed on in 1711. He and his wife were probably interred side by side, as she requested in her will. If any headstones were ever placed at their grave sites, none can now be found.

    According to her will, they would both have been interred "in the churchyard of Raphoe".

    Like all Presbyterian ministers of his era, he played an important role in history, by supporting the freedom of religion from government control.

    He lived to be about 79 years old.