Tuesday 22 February 2011

Bayly's History of Lisburn 1834.



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A Topographical and Historical
Account of
Also a Poem on Same,


To which is added some
Etc., etc., etc.

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Printed by Thomas Mairs, Joy's Entry, 1834.

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To the
Dean of Ross,
And to the Representative, Seneschal,
Burgesses, and Citizens of Lisburn,

This History is humbly Dedicated

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Henry Bayly was an assistant in a lawyer's office in Lisburn, and the son of a Dublin solicitor. In the preface to his Poems he speaks of himself as "the Lisburn historian" and "the Lisburn poet." The historical part of the book runs to some 69 pages and the poetical to 156. As was to be expected, his historical facts are frequently only a repetition of those given by his predecessors -- Johnston and Bradshaw.

The book contains a list of subscribers. It also gives "in extenso" an account of the Battle of Lisburn, 1641, and a copy of the Charter, 1662, which erected the church at Lisburn into a cathedral and empowered the return of two Members for Lisburn to the Irish Parliament. These two documents have already been "Extracted," and may be found in Article V.


Lisburn is situate in the barony of Massereene, on the river Lagan, in the county of Antrim, and is seventy-three miles north of Dublin, and something more than six south of Belfast. It is acknowledged to be the handsomest inland town in Ireland. It is the second town in the county Antrim, not only for size, trade, and population. but also as regards political and religious supremacy, moral influence, wealth and enterprise.

In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Lisburn was only a small village, and at that period called Lisnegarvy. The town having been fired by the rebels, in 1641, was the origin of the name being changed. The original proprietor of the territory Killultagh, in which it stands, was an O'Neill 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 here. From a plan of the town taken, it is thought, sometime in that reign, and preserved in the Marquis of Hertford's office, it appears that there were then fifty-three 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, the streets still remaining in the same form as when laid out in the reign of James I. 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 was thus described by an English traveller -- "Linsley Garvin, about seven miles from Belfast, is well seated; but neither the town, nor country thereabouts, were planted (inhabited), being almost all woods and moorish, until you come to Dromore. This town belongs to Lord Conway, who hath a good handsome house there."

Lisburn is remarkable for a victory gained over the Irish rebels, commanded by Sir Phelim O'Neil, Sir Co Magenis and General Plunket, on the 28th of November. 1641, a 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 the 1st and 2d, were (by the same patent which erected the church of Lisburn into a Cathedral for the united diocese of Down and Connor) empowered to return two Burgesses to Parliament for ever, the Sheriff of the county of Antrim, upon all summonses to elect a Parliament, being obliged to send his precept to the Seneschal of the Manor of Killultagh, (done at this day) who was made the returning officer, notwithstanding the inhabitants were not a corporate body.

In 1707 the town was burned to the ground by an accidental fire. The Castle, a noble edifice, built by the Earl of Conway, (who died in 1690) shared the same fate as the other houses, and was never rebuilt. The ruins, and the place immediately surrounding, have an antique appearance, viewed from Bridge-street. Mr. Ward's house (next the market-house) was the first built after the fire. It has the following inscription:


"The year above this house was erected,
The town was burnt the year before:
People therein may be directed,
God hath judgments still in store:
And that they do not him provoke,
To give to them a second stroke.

The stone which the Builders rejected,
the same is become the head of the corner."

About 50 years ago, and recently, many new houses have been built in Lisburn, three and four stories high, and well slated. The majority of the houses in Castle-street are, in appearance, equal to some of the best in Dublin. Lord Hertford's mansion, opposite the castle gardens, is a noble one, the rere of which is a most delightful view. Of late years, some public-spirited shopkeepers have made principal in Belfast. Among those who have thus shown a taste for improvement, may be mentioned, Mr. Crossley, proprietor of the Hertford Arms Hotel, Mr. Greeves, Mr. John Moore, Mr. Chapman, &c.


The places of worship are -- 1. The Cathedral. 2. Presbyterian Meeting-house. 3. The Society of Friends Meeting-house. 4. Chapel of the Wesleyan Methodists. 4. Methodist Refuge Chapel. 6. Roman Catholic Chapel.


This venerable edifice is huge and commodious. It was originally built (we believe) early in the reign of James I. and was then called the Church of St. Thomas. It was destroyed by the great fire of 1707, but rebuilt immediately after. In the reign of Charles II. it was by patent "hereinbefore stated," bearing date the 27th October, 1662, erected into a Cathedral for the united diocese of Down and Connor. The architecture is on the plain model and well proportioned. The interior is lighted by six spacious windows, and one great window on the east, of Saxon construction. The entrance is by two fine wrought-iron gates, one on the west, and the other on the north. The beautiful lofty spire of cut stone is admired by all travellers, and accounted the best in Ireland. It forms the principal ornament of the town, being recognised at a great distance on all sides. There is a handsome clock and chimes; likewise, a valuable bell of very superior tone, the gift of the late Marquis of Hertford. The hour is proclaimed very loquaciously with eight tongues. A very splendid organ has been recently erected, by Small, Bruce and Co. of Edinburgh, at the expense of Lord Hertford; the cost was upwards of £300; two excellent stoves have been also fitted up. A magnificent chandelier lights the Cathedral by night. About ten years since, two spacious galleries were erected, and the Cathedral is now capable of accommodating a thousand persons. We suppose the cost of erecting this fine building (including the late improvements) must have exceeded £2000. The congregation is very numerous and respectable; the majority of the population in and about Lisburn, are members of the Established Church. The living of Lisburn, alias Blaris, is a rectory in the gift of the Marquis of Hertford. The parish contains twenty-six townlands. The present rector is the Rev. Snowden Cupples, D.D. Curates, Rev. T. Thompson and Rev. R. Bridge.

Of the monuments erected within the walls of the Cathedral, the following are the most remarkable:--

1. A very elegant marble slab, erected to the memory of the celebrated Bishop Jeremy Taylor, who died at Lisburn.

2. A monument to the memory of the Rev. Saumerez Dubourdieu, who was the minister of the French Hugonots that settled in Lisburn.

3. A neat monument, erected to the memory of the gallant Lieutenant William Dobbs, who was killed in an engagement with the famous Paul Jones, in the year 1778. He was of his Majesty's ship "Drake."

4. A fine monument to the memory of the late Rowley Hall, Esq., who was LAw Agent to the Marquis of Hertford, and who was a man universally esteemed for his worth, integrity, and philanthropy.


This edifice, to which you enter from Market-square by a good wrought-iron gate, was built in the year 1768. It is a large building, well lighted with twenty-three windows, and has three fine galleries. The expense of building was between £800 and £900. Within the last ten years the galleries have been enlarged, and the house is now capable of accommodating upwards of a thousand persons. The cost of this, with other improvements, exceeded £260. The Presbyterian congregation of Lisburn consists of more than five hundred families.

The house opens for divine service on Sundays at twelve o'clock; and for the last eight or nine years, there has been also preaching at six o'clock in the evening of the same day. There is also a religious lecture given every Wednesday evening, and a prayer-meeting held every Thursday, at seven o'clock, p.m. It is the particular practice of the Presbyterian pastors, to visit their hearers through the week, at their houses. They also preach in schools, and other places in the country districts, during the week. The average amount of stipends received by the minister of the Lisburn congregation, is about £150 per annum; which, with the Royal Bounty of £100, makes £250, as the annual income -- a sum moderate enough for the duties and services performed, and the outlay necessary.

In the succession of ministers belonging to this congregation, we find some who have eminently distinguished themselves for their labors, learning, and talents. Doctor William Bruce has been remarkable, as belonging to a family that has produced seven ministers in regular succession, from the Reformation to the present day. Doctor Bruce is now the minister of the first Presbyterian congregation of Belfast, and principal of the Academy, and has acquired considerable reputation as an author. The Rev. James Morgan possesses talents of a very superior order, and is one of our ablest champions of Christianity; he has published several excellent sermons, upon various subjects.

The late Rev. Andrew Craig was minister of this congregation for the long period of fifty-five years. In 1824, after forty-two years active service, the Rev. Mr. Morgan was appointed as an assistant to Mr. Craig. Upon this occasion a deputation from the congregation, consisting of Alexander Williamson, George Whitla, Esqrs., and Surgeon Musgrave, presented to the Rev. A. Craig a very handsome piece of plate, value thirty guineas, bearing the following inscription, and accompanied with a suitable address:--

to the
by the Presbyterian Congregation of
in testimony of their affectionate esteem
for him, as their minister, and sincere
for his attention to their Christian
for the space of 42 Years.

The Rev. gentleman returned a very suitable answer.

In the spring of 1829, the Rev. Alex. Henderson succeeded Mr. Morgan, that gentleman, having been called to Belfast. He is and exemplary clergyman, an excellent preacher, and a man of sterling Christian worth.


This is a plain, neat, commodious edifice, the entrance to which is by a long confined passage, from the main street of the town. Had this building, as well with the Presbyterian Meeting-House, been placed in a parallel line with the front street, and not built so far in the rere, they would add much to the beauty and symmetry of the town. The lower part of this building escaped the fire of 1707, and is still remaining.

Wherever the Quakers have formed their settlements, their persevering industry and undeviating integrity have been highly advantageous to the commerce, the manufactures, and the agriculture of the surrounding country. The people are so much benefited by their labor, and improved by their example, that a debt of gratitude is due by society at large to this invaluable community.

William Edmunson was the first zealous Quaker preacher who settled in Ulster. About the year 1651, he married, left Cromwell's army, passed over from England to Dublin, and from thence to Antrim, where he took a house, in which his wife and his brother resided with him. Shortly after this period he revisited his native country, where, having heard the celebrated George Fox expounding, with his usual eloquence, the principles of the Quaker religion, he was convinced by the spirit of Christianity. On his return to Antrim, in the year 1653, he astonished the officers at the custom-house, in Carrickfergus, by refusing to take the oaths required by law, on entry of his goods, "because," said he, "Christ hath forbidden men to swear."

A.D. 1634. William Edmunson removed from Antrim to Lurgan, (ten miles from Lisburn). He was scarcely settled in his new habitation, when he found himself enabled to form a regular periodical meeting of "the Friends" under his own hospitable roof. This was the first religious assemblage or congregation established in Ireland by the Quakers.

It will reflect eternal credit on the Quakers of Ireland, that from them issued the first censure, passed by any public body, on that abominable traffic, the Slave Trade. This took place at the National Meeting, held in Dublin in 1727, thirty-one years before a similar resolution was passed by the yearly meeting of Friends in London.


The ground on which this place of worship is erected, was granted for ever by Edward Gayer, Esq. of Derriaghy, vested in seven trustees. It was built in the year 1772, and cost about £500. The exterior is plain, though not inelegant. The interior is lightsome, well ventilated, and handsomely fitted up. About the year 1780, the Rev. John Johnson, the then resident preacher, gave £150 (upon certain conditions) towards enlarging the house thirty-six feet longer, so that it is now sixty-six feet in length, and thirty-six in breadth. Under the tasteful superintendence of Mr. Bolton, it has recently undergone many improvements. A neat house has been attached for the convenience of the classes and leaders meeting. A handsome wrought-iron gate has been also added, which much improves the general appearance of the place. These improvements cost about £60.

A Sunday-school has been lately established, and is attended by about fifty children; the members of the congregation acting occasionally as teachers. Public worship is held in this house at eleven o'clock, a.m. every Sunday; also at seven in the evening. A sermon was preached formerly every Thursday evening, but it has been recently changed to Monday. We think the old-appointed time suited the purposes of piety better. The eucharist is administered once a quarter, on the second Sunday in the month. A prayer-meeting is held here every evening in the week (except on Saturdays) and occasionally the members have meetings at one another's houses, for the purposes of prayer, exhortation, and Christian communion. The present preachers are, the Rev. Michael Burrows and the Rev. Edward Johnson.

Methodism was introduced into Lisburn by the Rev. John Wesley, in about the year 1760, when he preached in a small house in Bow-street, since which period it has made a very rapid progress. The average number of members in attendance at this house is 300.


This place of worship is erected on a site opposite the chapel just noticed. It is a neat building, and is occupied by a dissenting branch of the Wesleyan Methodists.


This is a neat handsome building, in a retired part of the town, and was erected about the year 1794, by subscription from all denominations. Since its erection, owing to the increase of its members, there has been an aisle and two galleries add. The Roman Catholics have recently built a good dwelling-house for their clergyman (in the vicinity of the chapel), aided by general subscription. The Marquis of Hertford granted the ground, with a donation of £20. It is owning to justice to state, that, the Rev. Mr. Smyth, the R.C. clergyman, has uniformly distinguished himself, by his philanthropy, in attending and giving advice to the sick poor of all denominations, his vast medical knowledge enabling him to be a physician of bodies as well as souls.

(To be Continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 23 February 1917 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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