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The Project

Sexuality and Social Control: Irish Presbyterians in the Atlantic World, 1717-1830.



This project explores the relationship between sexuality, religion and migration. It focuses on Presbyterians and investigates the ways that Presbyterian sexuality was policed in Ireland and North America, between the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries. 

Salacious stories of stolen trysts in backrooms, fields and forests; misbehaving ministers riding on horseback, seducing the wives of their church members; and promiscuous Presbyterian youths sneaking around behind the backs of their elders form the basis of this research. What did Presbyterian women and men in past centuries get up to under the sheets? At what point did sexual activity become illicit? How different were Presbyterian communities in Ireland and North America? In tracing this aspect of Presbyterian life, this project asks what we can learn about the family by placing sex and sexuality at the core of our research.

Hear me talk about the project here:



The project is currently funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grants Scheme (2020-21), supported by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Ref: SRG19\190269) and the R.J. Hunter Bursary from the Royal Irish Academy.

Initial funding was received from the Presbyterian Historical Society USA, Research Fellowship Scheme, and the Anna Parnell Travel Grant, from the Women’s History Association of Ireland. 

Header Image: Rural sports. Or a pleasant way of making hay. © The Trustees of the British Museum

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