Tuesday 30 November 2010

Copy of Charter Establishing Lisburn Markets.


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Letters Patent, 3rd Charles 1st, 1628.

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(From Mr. JOSEPH ALLEN'S Collection)

"AND FURTHER of our special grace and of our certain knowledge and mere motion for us, our heirs and successors, WE do grant that the aforesaid Edward Viscount Conway and Killultagh, his heirs and assigns, have hold and keep and may and shall be able to have, hold and keep one market on every Tuesday in each week in and at the aforesaid town of Lisnegarvey, in the aforesaid County of Antrim, for ever, AND also two fairs or marts in and at the said town of Lisnegarvey to be holden yearly and every year for ever: that is to say, one of the same fairs or marts of the said two fairs or marts yearly to commence on the 10th day of July, and to be kept, continue and last all that day and for two days next following. And the other fair of the said two fairs or marts to commence on the 24th day of September (and) yearly, to continue, be kept and last all that day and for two days then next following. Moreover, we will and our intention is, and by these presents for us, our heirs and successors We do ordain and grant that as often as either of the aforesaid days for keeping the aforesaid two fairs or marts or either of them shall fall on a Sunday, that then and so often the aforesaid Edward Viscount Conway and Killultagh, his heirs and assigns in the place of the aforesaid day which shall so fall on a Sunday have, hold and keep and may and shall be able to have, hold and keep the said fairs or marts for the space of one other day after the end of the aforesaid three days next following, Together with Courts of Pie Powdre to be holden there in the time of the said Market and Fairs respectively: And that the said Edward Viscount Conway and Killultagh, his heirs and assigns for ever have, hold and enjoy all and singular tolls, perquisites, profits, commodities, emoluments, liberties, franchises, customs and jurisdictions whatsoever to the aforesaid market, fairs or marts and Courts or either of them appertaining or in anywise belonging: And that this present grant of market and fairs and other the premises be in all things and by all things good and effectual in law against us, our heirs and successors, notwithstanding that our Writ of ad quod dampnum hath not issued before the making of these presents to enquire what damage and what prejudice the said market and fairs or either of them would be to other markets or fairs near adjoining there."

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With a
Directory and History of Lisburn.

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1 Corn Market, Belfast.

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Mr. Bradshaw published 1819 a Directory of Belfast and Lisburn, and embraced within the volume an Historical Account of both towns. The book runs to 270 pages, and contains valuable information regarding old Belfast, as, in addition to the Historical Account and the Directory, it deals with such matters as Population, Trade, Customs, Shipping, Banks, Linen Industry, Lagan Navigation, Markets, Post Office, Churches, Inns, News Rooms, Newspapers, etc., etc.

The book was issued at the price of 5s to subscribers, 6s 8d to non-subscribers. In giving extracts from the work the account of the Battle of Lisburn, 1641, which is narrated in full in the volume, is omitted, as it has already been published in these Notes. A Directory of the Trades and Professions in Lisburn, given in the volume, is also omitted, as the names are included in the Directory of the Inhabitants, which will be quoted.

It may be pointed out that in giving the "Extracts" from the various sources there must, unavoidably, be a considerable amount of repetition, as so many of the authorities deal with the same matters and refer to the same facts.

The Historical Accounts of the Town of Lisburn, the Directory of the Inhabitants, and a Sketch of the Lagan Navigation will be given. Also a number of local names, extracted from a List of Gentlemen, Manufacturers, Bleachers, etc., residing in the neighbourhood of Belfast and Lisburn, not in the Directory of the Inhabitants.


Lisburn, in the barony of Masserene, is for size and population the second town in the county; and was, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, only a small village, at that time called Lisnegarvey. It lies about seven miles south of Belfast, on the river Lagan, which separates it from the County of Down. The original proprietor of the territory of Kilultagh, in which it stands, was an O'Neil of the Tyrone family. In the reign of James I. Sir Fulk Conway obtained a grant of it. He induced a number of English and Welsh families to settle there. From a plan of the town taken, it is thought some time in that reign, and preserved in the Marquis of Hertford's office, it appears that there were then 53 tenements in the place, besides the castle. From this plan it is evident, that the centre of the town (all that was then in existence) has undergone but little alteration in shape, except what has been occasioned by the buildings near the market-house; nor for many years after does it seem to have made any great progress: for in 1635, it is thus described by an English traveller: "Linsley Garvin, about seven miles from Belfast, is well seated, but neither the town, nor country thereabouts, well planted [inhabited], being almost all woods and moorish, until you come to Dromore. The town belongs to Lord Conway, who hath a good house there."

Lisburn is remarkable for gained over the rebels, on the 28th of November, 1641, commanded by Sir Phelim O'Neil, Sir Con Magenis, and General Plunket, little more than a month after the breaking out of the rebellion; Sir George Rawdon, who commanded the king's forces, having arrived at Lisburn on the evening before the battle.

In 1662, the inhabitants of the town of Lisburn, on account of their loyalty to Charles I. and II., were, by the same patent which erected the church of Lisburn into a cathedral for the united diocese of Down and Connor, dated October 27th of that year, empowered, they and their successors, to return two burgesses to Parliament for ever; the sheriff of the County of Antrim, upon all summonses to elect a Parliament, was obliged to send his precept to the seneschal of the manor of Kilultagh, who was made the returning officer, notwithstanding the inhabitants were not a corporate body.

In 1707, this town was burned to the ground. The castle, a fine building, shared the same fate as the other houses, and was never rebuilt. Part of the garden walls are still remaining, and the great terrace affords a most agreeable promenade, being well sheltered from the north by young plantations, and kept in the best order.

French Refugees.

But that which more particularly contributed to the rise of the town of Lisburn, was the settlement of many French refugees there (after the repeal of the edict of Nantz) who had been bred to the linen manufacture. Mr. Lewis Cromelin obtained a patent in 1699, which was afterwards renewed in the reign of Queen Anne, for establishing a manufacture of linen, and also, among other grants, one for £60 per annum for a French minister. In consequence of this, he settled in Lisburn, and many of his countrymen also; the virtuous conduct and civilized manner of these good people, were of great advantage to this place; and their skill and industry set an example to those who were concerned in the same business as they were, which soon had the effect of raising the quality of their manufacture to a degree of excellence unknown till then; and the linens and cambrics made in the neighbourhood,, and sold in Lisburn market, have until this day kept up their superior character.

Between 30 and 40 years ago, many new houses were built in Lisburn, and some have been built since; but at present it seems stationary in that particular; and, though its vicinity to Belfast prevents it from being a place of much trade, there is a great deal of business done in it in various ways. But, from the present imperfect state of the land, it does not derive so much advantage as might have been expected. On market days, it is much frequented, from the quantity of linen and other things brought to it; and it is well known as the first place to meet with oats of the bast quality for seed, There is also a cattle market every Tuesday, besides its two fairs, A few years ago, a fine spire of cut stone was built to the church; and lately a steeple and cupola on the market-house, the rooms of which the Marquis of Hertford has fitted up anew, with some additions, as the place of assembly for the town.

The houses of worship are, a spacious church, a Presbyterian meeting-house, a Quaker meeting-house, a handsome Catholic chapel, and a Methodist chapel.

In the town, is a classical school, kept by Mr. Hudson; and, to the north of the town, is a school for Quakers, built by a legacy from Mr. John Hancock.

Another very laudable institution is, the Humane Society for the restoration of suspended animation in persons who have been either immersed in water (as frequent accidents in this way occur from the nearness of the river and canal) or from any other cause.

The county infirmary at present contains 32 beds, and will soon contain 60, and gives relief to 1,200 externs. It is situated in an airy part of the town, where the duties of the surgeon are skilfully and conscientiously discharged by Dr. Stewart. Each governor can recommend 40 externs per year, and as many for advice as they think fit. They also recommend for interns, whenever there is a vacancy.

Lisburn, in 1780, by a clause introduced into a bill, by the Bishop (Trail) of Down and Connor, was entitled to the same powers granted a few years before to towns corporate, for taking care of the poor, and preventing vagrants from introducing themselves into the town. By the act, a corporation was directed to be formed, consisting of the Rector and others for the time being, and all subscribers of three guineas a year for the purposes of the institution. If the corporation were formed at the time, it soon fell into disuse; but it might readily be revived, in the persons of the subscribers to the Philanthropic Institution, and the powers granted by the act for preventing strolling beggars, if found necessary, brought into activity.

The Philanthropic Society was established in 1810. The design of this institution is, as far as their funds will admit, to prevent mendicity, and to relieve beggars, and especially other necessitous poor by weekly donations, which vary, according to the exigency of the cases, and the strength of the funds, from 5d to 2s 0d a week. Great benefits have been derived from this institution; and at the commencement of this year (1819) exertions were used to procure additional subscriptions, so as to enable the committee to prevent the practice of begging in the streets. The committee meet once a week, to regulate the distribution, which then, take place at the vestry room. The committee have been able to put a stop to the practice of mendicity, with very few exceptions.

To promote an attention to industry, and to inculcate the maxim, that a penny gained by industry is better than double the sum obtained by begging, the committee occasionally give a premium of a penny a hank for good yarn, spun at the institution mentioned in the next paragraph.

Flax Spinning.

In 1817, a Spinning Institution was established, with the design of assisting industry. Flax is purchased, and given out to females, who receive wages for spinning; and the yarn is sold by the superintending committee. A loss has been sustained, a little more than the amount of the salary paid to the manager; and the fund which arose out of a loan for assisting the poor, in the scarcity of the spring and summer of 1817, and afterwards appropriated, by consent of the subscribers to this purpose, is gradually lessening: yet the benefits accomplished by this institution are considerable. The poor, on procuring security for a pound of flax, have employment at all times, without depending on purchasing flax from huxters at the highest retail rate, and selling their yarn to them again, when the pressure of their difficulties prevent them from waiting for the regular market. The freedom from these, and similar impositions, confers advantages; but great care is necessary to guard against the fraudulent practices of some of the spinners, who return bad counted and ill spun yarn, and their securities, in many instances, have had to pay for their deficiencies, in not honestly accounting for the flax. But, with all these drawbacks, the balance of advantages decidedly preponderate!

Ingrafted on this establishment, is a spinning school for teaching to spin with the two hands. This plan, when prejudices shall have been overcome, and the practice become general, promises to be of important advantage in the production of the coarser yarns, at and under 6 hanks in the pound, and perhaps also for the finer kinds, as the mistress of the school has spun very good yarn so fine as 12 hanks in the pound on the double wheel. By using the two hands at once in spinning, the quality is found fully equal to other yarn, and the quantity at least is increased one-half. The practice is general in Scotland, where it has been found to answer; and the new wheel, introduced by William Marshall, of Derry, is a considerable improvement, as well in its superior adaptation to the plan of spinning with the two hands, as also in its comparative less cost. With the double hacks in common with other wheels of this kind, it is moved by a cast-iron rim working under the seat, and is worked with greater ease, while the expense of the wooden rim, made from costly Swedish oak, is saved.

The Marquis of Hertford has directed that part of the sheds in the Linen-hall should be fitted up at his cost, for a school for this purpose; and the Earl of Yarmouth has given £50 to enable the committee to supply the girls on leaving school, with wheels on the new construction. These wheels are granted to them, on their producing security for the repayment of the amount, in small sums, as may suit their convenience. As they pay for them, although in a manner easy to themselves, it is expected they will prize them more, than if they had obtained them more lightly.

Care for Sick and Poor.

During the epidemic fever of 1817, 1818 and part of 1819, a Fever Hospital, adjoining the town, was opened. By cutting of communication between the sick and the well, in ill ventilated and dirty cabins, it aided considerably in diminishing the effects of contagion. Besides, medicine was administered at the houses, when there was not room for admission into the hospital; and allowances were made for the support of the families, in cases when the persons on whom the labour principally rested, were incapacitated by the disease.

An institution has existed for some years, chiefly supported by females, for lending linen to the sick poor. Considerable relief has been communicated by this plan. In some cases of extreme distress, part of the linen has been left with the patients, and soap is always granted for washing the articles before they are returned.

By the several public institutions of this town, a considerable portion of relief is extended to the poor; and with the exception of the money given to the beggars, who by this degrading occupation, soon in general become the most worthless members of the community, the relief is mostly granted on principles of sound political economy. The sums given to beggars may rather be considered, for the most part, as a tax given to get rid of importunity, than as the well applied offerings of benevolence. Most of the funds of the Philanthropic Society are applied to assist the old, helpless, and infirm, rather in aid of industry, than to induce persons capable of working to become idle. Employment in spinning is afforded on most advantageous terms, to those inclined to work, and the spinning school is especially directed to give a stimulus to industry in the young, by instructing them in a new and more productive plan, and affording to them, on easy terms, a well constructed wheel, which, with the instruction communicated, may be a valuable portion in future life.

Care also is taken of the sick, to assist them in seasons of distress, against which the most prudent foresight cannot always enable them to guard. To relieve unavoidable distress, especially in sickness and old age; to promote industry, by affording liberal aid; and to assist in instructing the youthful mind in useful learning -- are among the duties which the richer classes of society owe to their poorer brethren. But care ought to be taken, lest, in attempting to do good, mischievous effects may follow, if industry be relaxed, or an honourable spirit of independence be lost among the poorer classes. In such circumstances, the money of the donors may he wasted, and little real good effected among the intended objects of relief. Dr. Frankland has judiciously remarked, that "the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it: the more public provisions are made for the poor, the less they provide for themselves, and of course become poorer. More will be done for their happiness, by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them."


A school for boys, partly on the Lancasterian, and partly on the Bellian plan, has long been established in this town; although as yet no school-house has been built, but some funds are in bank for this purpose.

Two schools for girls exist in the town, and a Sunday school is held at the Presbyterian meeting-house. One of these schools is supported by the private subscriptions of a few individuals; and, to preserve its independence, public aid has been refused. A school-room, and a house for the teacher has been fitted up, and given for public accommodation. No catechism is taught in this school, nor any attempt made to introduce the subject of religious instruction. While so great diversity prevails on this subject, it appears best to separate religion from the instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, and sewing. Let morality, in which all agree, be inculcated, comprehending its higher duties, as well as the many decencies of life, especially cleanliness, regularity, industry, and the due employment of time; but as to religious distinctions, let the parents, with the assistance of their respective teachers, use their own discretion in judging for their children, till they become capable of judging for themselves; and in this, the important business of life, a good, careful, moral education, will naturally assist.

In 1811 Lisburn contained about 800 houses, which, at six persons to a house, would make the population 4,800; since which time, it has perhaps increased a little.

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The work for making the River Lagan navigable, and opening a passage by water between Lough Neagh and the Town of Belfast, was commenced in the year 1754, and completed in the manner first intended, under the management of the Corporation, for promoting and carrying on an Inland Navigation in Ireland, and local Commissioners, as far as Blaris, about a mile S.W. of Lisburn, including the locks erected in the year 1768, called the Union Locks. Expense, about £60,000 -- £16,000 being granted directly by the Irish Parliament, £10,000 lent by the Marquis of Donegall and others, and the remainder produced by local duties of one penny per gallon on beer, and fourpence per gallon on Irish spirits brewed and distilled within certain parts of the excise district of Lisburn, or brought thereinto; which duties were granted by an act of the 27th Geo. II., chap. 3, and continued since by several successive acts. In the year 1779, it appearing that the produce of the local duties would be insufficient to complete the Navigation from Belfast to Lough Neagh, an act was passed in the session of 1779 and 1780 to incorporate such persons as had advanced money on any former acts, or should advance money under that act, for carrying on the Navigation, under the name of "The Company of Undertakers of the Lagan Navigation." Under this act, the late Marquis of Donegal, who had, under the former acts, advanced £7,815 of the £10,000 formerly subscribed, advanced sixty-two thousand pounds, for which sum the Canal, commencing at the Union Locks, and ending at Ellis's gut, a bay of Lough Neagh, was completed, under the direction of Richard Owen, Esq., engineer. The work was begun in the year 1781, and opened 1st January, 1794. This part of the Navigation is still water, fourteen English miles in length, crossing the River Lagan by a handsome aquaduct of four arches, having 10 descending locks, each of 7 feet fall, 66 feet long, and 15½ feet wide; and 13 public road-bridges. The summit level, which commences at the Union Locks, and extends nearly to the village of Aghalee, is 11 English miles in length; 28 feet wide at bottom, and 52 to 60 feet at top, and 7 feet deep; expanding at Friar's Glen, near Soldierstown, into a beautiful lake, in surface upwards of 46 acres.

In consequence of the injudicious plan originally adopted (contrary to repeated remonstrances at the time, from the merchants of Belfast) of adhering closely to the bed of the river, and the works being thereby much more exposed to injury, than if the Navigation had been carried on out of the bed of the river, and proper care not having been taken to keep them in any kind of repair, this part of the Navigation got into an extremely ruinous state. Besides, Mr. Owens being, from want of funds, prevented from completing works commenced by him, for supplying the summit level with water, this level was always, during summer reduced so low as to render it unnavigable for three months in the year. So that, from the floods in winter, the bad repair of the old works, and the want of adequate supply of water for the new Canal, the passage of boats was so tedious and uncertain as to render the Navigation of little public utility. An anecdote has been told -- of the truth of which there is to but too little reason to doubt -- that when the original Canal was first opened a vessel made a voyage out and home, from the West Indies, during the time that a lighter passed from Belfast to and from Lough Neagh.

Such was the early state of the Navigation, when, with a view to render it useful to the public, a number of persons (principally merchants of Belfast) purchased, in the year 1800, a considerable portion of the interest of the Marquis of Donegal therein, and also subscribed a large sum of money, as a fund for repairs and improvements, which were immediately commenced; and since that period upwards of £20,000 have been expended on the Navigation. In consequence of this, although a full supply of water has not been obtained for the summit level, nor a track way for horses completed throughout, yet, with the exception of a few weeks in the depth of winter, the passage is so regular that this Navigation now enjoys public confidence, and the trade is rapidly increasing.

During the year ending 5th January last, 190 boats, of from 40 to 50 ton's burthen, passed laden from Belfast to Lough Neagh; 63, principally laden with coals and lime, passed from Belfast to the summit level; 202 from Belfast to Lisburn; and 18 from Belfast short of Lisburn. And 63 lighters arrived, laden principally with grain, from the Lake to Belfast; 28 from summit level to Belfast.

The time usually occupied in passing a loaded lighter from Belfast to Lisburn is 14 hours. Do. to summit level, 16 to 24 hours, according to distance. Do. to Lake, 28 to 30 hours. And this season, the average time occupied by a voyage from Belfast out and home, to Moy, Blackwater Town, or Coal Island, is 7 days, including the time, of loading and discharging. One lighter made three voyages this season, with coals, from Belfast to Moy, in three successive weeks. In consequence of the improvement of the Lagan Navigation, lighters are now enabled to pass, drawing six to nine inches more water than formerly, which, together with other facilities, has reduced the rate of freights some 25 per cent.

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 1 December 1916 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

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