Wednesday 2 March 2011

Bayly's History of Lisburn 1834. (part 2)



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The Lisburn Male Free School is built on the south side of the the town, contiguous to the Dublin road. It is, upon the whole, a very handsome structure, with a neat cupola. It is forty and one-half feet, by twenty-four, well lighted with four arched windows in front, each ten feet high, also an arched window over the front door, and two windows in the rere, each eight feet high. The site and grounds of the schoolhouse, and master's house, was the gift of the Marquis of Hertford, who liberally contributed to both. The bell for the cupola, which weighs forty-three pounds, was presented by the late Rowly Hall, Esq., of Lisburn, in 1822.

The school-house, yard, front gates of wrought-iron, and other appendages, cost £387 7s 7d. A few yards from the School stands a neat house for the master, the erection of which exceeded £95. Mr. William M'Cann is the present master, and has filled this situation for the long space of fourteen years, with every credit to himself, and advantage to his pupils.

This excellent institution was opened on the 29th of May, 1810, by Mr. John Crossley, jun., and the Rev. Thomas Cupples, who for some time labored under many difficulties, the principal of which was the want of a suitable place to educate the objects of their care, the children of the poor.

We rejoice to give publicity to the liberal legacy of £100 to the Lisburn Free School, and also £100 to the Female School, by the late George Whitla, Esq. The interest of this sum is appropriated to the purchase of clothing for the most needy of the children in attendance. From the report of this School for the past year (1833) it appears that the funds are rather low, from many of its most zealous supporters having been called off the stage of time. The number of children on the roll has increased, within the last ten years, from 170 to 250. The yearly subscriptions average from 40 to £50.


This is a fine brick building, on an elevated site contiguous to the Dublin road, and forms a pleasing ornament at the entrance of the town. When the contemplated avenue is laid off, and the local appendages completed, the appearance of this edifice, in point of scenographic beauty, will be quite unique. This charitable Institution, for the reception of fever patients, was built by subscription in 1832-3. The cost was £600. The grounds were the gift of the Marquis of Hertford, who also, with his usual liberality, gave £250 towards its erection.


This building stands in an airy place, on the N.W. side of the town, and was erected at the cost of Lord Hertford, in the year 1832, when the cholera (that army of disease) was committing such dreadful ravages over the country. On the occasion of this awful visitation, the usual kindness and paternal watchfulness of the Marquis of Hertford, were particularly evinced. His Lordship, without any application on the subject, gave directions that do expense should be spared in adopting every precautionary measure against its attacks -- that preventive medicines, blankets, warm clothing, and other necessary articles should be distributed throughout the whole estate, and hospitals built whatever needed, entirely at his sole cost. These directions agreeing so minutely with the philanthropic feelings of Dean Stannus, were largely and extensively acted upon; and never did his Lordship's bounty arrive so opportunely, or produce happier effects.


This handsome edifice is situated on Prospect-Hill, a short distance from the town. It has an elegant avenue, and meat porter's lodge. This institution was established in consequence of a bequest from John Hancock, father of the late John Hancock, of Lisburn; the sum being increased by subscriptions from the society, enabled them to erect the present building, on a piece of ground granted them by the liberality of the present Marquis of Hertford's grandfather. John Gough, the great arithmetician, was head master of this school many years. There are at present forty-three children, who are clothed, boarded, and educated.


This most excellent and commodious concern, the New Corn-Market, is conveniently situated on the S. W. of the town, by the Dublin road. It was laid out and built in the year 1826. The Marquis of Hertford very liberally gave £600, the remainder was subscribed by the Manor. In the centre is a large weigh-house, and a spacious area for corn on market days, besides a number of sheds on either side for the sale of potatoes.


The Shambles were erected in the year 1796, on a rivulet in Smithfield, by the late Marquis of Hertford, but have recently been considerably improved, by the front row of shops being taken down, and a neat palisading fitted up in their stead at his Lordship's expense. This alteration adds materially to their respectable appearance, and was planned by Dean Stannus. The Meat Market usually gives a very excellent supply on Tuesdays and Saturdays.


That the Diaper and Damask Manufactory of Lisburn, the property of the Messrs. Goulson, is the most eminent in the world, is universally acknowledged; and now that arts and manufactures, have arisen to such a height of excellence, Irishmen in general, and the inhabitants of Lisburn in particular, should be proud to contemplate and exult in the assertion.

The introduction of the Damask manufacture on an extensive scale in this country, was first accomplished by the late W. Coulson, Esq., father of the present highly-respected proprietors, who established it here in 1776.

Of the incalculable advantages derived by Lisburn, from the number of individuals which this establishment keeps in constant employment, we cannot speak too highly. It holds out that best stimulus to industry -- the certainty of reward: thus fostering and strengthening the spirit of independence. Many grown-up boys who, perhaps, would otherwise be in idleness, are received as apprentices, and paid for their work; the weekly sum they thus earn is a considerable relief to their parents.

Upwards of five hundred workmen, residing in and contiguous to Lisburn, are daily employed, in addition to many persons who reside at Newtownards, and the  districts immediately adjoining Lisburn, viz., Drumbo, Trooperfield, Blaris, and Sprucefield; at the latter place the Messrs Coulson have a bleach-green, for finishing their own manufactures.


Where the weekly sales are made, is a large square court, surrounded by a piazza of brick, and most conveniently situated, and continues to be well attended by merchants. It was erected many years ago at the expense of the late Marquis of Hertford. That which particularly contributed to the rise of the town of Lisburn, was the settlement of many French Protestant refugees here, (after the repeal of the edict of Nantz) who had been bred to the Linen Manufacture. Mr. Lewis Crommelin obtained a patent in 1699, which was afterwards renewed in the reign of Queen Anne, for establishing a manufacture of Linen; and also many 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  manners of these good people were of great advantage to the place; and their skill and industry set an example to those who were concerned in the same business, which soon had the effect of raising the quality of their manufacture to a degree of excellence unknown till then; and the linen and cambrics made in this neighbourhood, and sold in Lisburn market, have, until this day, kept up their superior character. The most eminent Linen Merchants of the County Antrim are established in this town. The Messrs. James Nicholson Richardson and Co. are well known to the commercial world. They have a very extensive concern here, which employs a number of hands. Also Messrs. Jonathan and James Greer Richardson, who carry on the Linen business very extensively; we believe their numerous sales are chiefly confined to the English market, where the character of their cloth, in particular, is much appreciated.


At the junction of the three main streets stands the market-house, a fine well-proportioned building. This useful edifice, with its handsome cupola and clock, was erected, and is kept in repair, by the Marquis of Hertford, for the accommodation of the inhabitants. It has of late undergone many improvements: a wrought-metal railing and entrance gate now surrounds it, which adds much to its appearance. A gymnasium has recently been fitted up in the lower part of the house, and a lending library (under the care of Miss Magdoline Stewart) has the convenience of one of the apartments. Over the market-house is a spacious and elegant assembly-room, where a ball was formerly held every fortnight. As the Lisburn ladies have been long proverbial for beauty, what a splendid and fashionable display must have then adorned the room! Will the days ever come, when the sound of the song and the dance shall make these walls to ring again! Will the bewitching forms -- the soul of symmetry -- and the neat foot and ancle, ever again appear in the mazy dance, when the daughters of Lisburn resembled so many sylvan goddesses, "tripping it along on light fantastic toe!" Oh! will the heaven's blush at close of day be ever again eclipsed by the virgin blushes, 'mid beauty's brilliant throng! Will the minstrel's magic ever again break forth in floods of glory, and will the soul of music ever again fling its enchantments over the lovely and the loved! Is the day far distant, when the poet and the child of song shall string the lyre with a heart of joy, and ravish the listening ear with the numbers of an Amphion or the strains of an Orpheus! Will the day soon come, when the bards of Erin shall no longer hang their harps on the willow by the banks of the limpid Lagan, or string them in silence, sorrow, and solitude, for crushed genius and neglected merit!


This is a suitable building, situate in Castle-street, and is venerable for being erected on the identical site of that place of worship formerly occupied by the French Hugonot Refugees, after the repeal of the edict of Nantz, their minister being the Rev. Saumerez Dubourdieu (Mr. Peter Goyer acting as clerk). It has only recently been rebuilt, at the sole cost of the Marquis of Hertford, and is now an excellent court-house. A bench of magistrates, usually consisting of Robert Williamson, James Watson, John M'Cance, Henderson Black, and Edward Johnson, Esqrs., hold a court of petit sessions here every Tuesday, when all actions for wages, &c., cases of assault, trespass, felonies, and other misdemeanor, are heard and decided. Defendants have the privilege of appeal, in some eases, from this court to the general quarter sessions of the county; in other cases there is no appeal, as appeals from convictions of justice only lie when expressly given by the statute. Mr. Francis Hale O'Flaherty acts as register of the justices.

The manor court is also held here every third Wednesday, by the seneschal, William Gregg, Esq., when all actions under the sum of £20 are heard and determined. Appeals from decrees pronounced here lie to the judges of assize. The cases of attachments are tried as records, in the same manner as at the assizes. The following are practitioners in this court: Messrs. Pennington, O'Flaherty, and Magee, Mr. Wm Dillon, Jr. Regr. The appointment of seneschal is vested in the Marquis of Hertford. On the resignation (from ill health) of our late respected Seneschal, the Rev. Snowden Cupples, D.D., the Manor presented him with an elegant piece of plate, value 50 guineas, as a small testimony of their esteem and gratitude for his uniform attention to his arduous duties, during a period of twenty-two years.

The consistorial court of Down and Connor is held here every second Monday. It takes cognizance of all actions for slander, divorces, accounts of executors and administrators, tithes, &c. The judges are, the Worshipful Snowden Cupples, D.D., the Vicar-General, the Worshipful Edward Higginson, Esq., A.M., is D. Register. The proctors practicing in this court are, Messrs. Dillon, Stephenson, Pennington, and Magee.

The grand jury for the manor of Killultagh assemble here twice a year, being summoned by the seneschal, and hold a court leet. They present sums for repairs of bye-roads, hedges, &c., make regulations for the town, and order nuisances to be abated and removed. Their money presentments, when confirmed by the Seneschal, are levied off the manor, with the county cess. Their Secretary is Mr. Francis H. O'Flaherty. Treasurer, Wm. Whitla. Esq.

This house also accommodates a dissenting branch of the Wesleyan Methodists, as a place for worship on Sundays; the voices of praise and thanksgiving on these occasions forming a curious contrast to the boisterous pleading of the proctors on the Wednesday following.

And here also the Lisburn Debating Society (which, by the bye, has died a natural death) formerly held their literary loquacious meetings, when the eloquence of Cicero or a Demosthenes echoed within its walls. Truly, Monsieur Courthouse, you are accommodating to a French degree. You have religion for your sister, and law for your brother! Farewell to the sanctified spot whore both the law and the gospel are administered!!!


The Post-Office is kept by Mr. Samuel Gamble, at his residence (an excellent house) in Castle-street, the most convenient part of the town for a public office; and it is no more than justice to say, that the most admirable, regularity, care, and attention have always characterised the proceedings and management of this department, during the long period the present postmaster has held the situation.


The favourite place of recreation for the inhabitants (especially the ladies) is the castle garden. It is a large pleasure ground on the one side of Castle-street, and formerly belonged to Earl Conway's noble castle, which was burned in 1707. There is an excellent terrace, affording a most agreeable promenade, and commanding a very beautiful landscape view. These grounds have been elegantly laid off with walks, shrubberies, &c., and are always kept in the best order. The fine lofty plantations (beautifully foliaged in almost all seasons) along the sides of the centre grand walk, give a majesty and sweetness to the whole. We may rail this delightful spot the Mountjoy-square of Lisburn. Dean Stannus has here made many excellent as well as tasteful improvements. Formerly a blank ugly wall inclosed it from Castle-street, over which some huge trees projected, and darkened the street so much at noon-day, that one was reminded of "the valley of the shadow of death!" The trees have been recently cut down, and the walls now superseded by an elegant line of wrought-iron railing, with three fine entrance gates, while the side-path of the street in parallel has been considerably widened. All the improvements have been made at the expense of Lord Hertford, who keeps up those pleasure-grounds for the use and recreation of the inhabitants. A man is appointed at a yearly salary, for the sole purpose of caretaker. Among the many specimens of that so much admired and valuable tree, the elm, those two which grow in the castle garden are very conspicuous: being seen towering above the town from every approach. They stand on a terrace, where the soil has been embanked and supported by a high wall. Those trees (called "the sisters") are in circumference nearly equal, being about eleven feet six inches, and carry their thickness to near twenty feet. Here was once the bower of love and courtship for the lads and lovely lasses of Lisburn. Beneath the outstretched branches of those trees, in the solemn silence of evening, often have the vows of lovers been offered up on the altar of affection. Often has the queen of night witnessed the delights of those joyous moments, when love was all in all!


The County of Antrim Infirmary is a fine spacious brick edifice, having twenty-four windows in front, and is situated in an airy part of the town. This institution was established at Lisburn in the year 1767, pursuant to act of Parliament. Its object is to provide medicines, or medical or surgical aid, for the poor of the county, both male and female. This is effected in two ways, either by dispensing medicine or advice, or both, to extern patients; or by receiving them into the house, when the case requires the immediate care and superintendence of the surgeon. The number of extern patients annually relieved amounts, on an average, to 850 with medicine, and 400 with advice; and the interns to 290. The house contains 42 beds. Tuesdays and Saturdays are appropriated by the surgeon to giving advice and medicine to the extern patients. Persons paying twenty guineas become governors for life; such as pay three guineas annually, are governors for the year. Each governor is entitled to recommend ten extern patients in the quarter, for advice and medicine, and to recommend for interns whenever there is a vacancy, on certifying that the patient is a real object of charity. Recommendations of paupers for advice only, are unrestricted. A Board of governors meet quarterly, to regulate the general concerns of the Institution; and the internal management and economy of the house are placed by them under the superintendance of a weekly Committee, who make a report to the succeeding Board. Reports of the state of the Infirmary, including income and expenditure, are made annually to the Commissioners of Public Accounts, and at each Assizes to the Grand Jury of the county. The governors are declared capable, by the Act, of taking and receiving any lands, not exceeding the annual value of £200, and benefactions to any amount in personal property.

The sum expended for this Institution in the year 1833 exceeded £500 -- that received towards its support, including the Marquis of Hertford's annual subscription of £46 3s 1d and Mrs. Whitla's subscription of £21, as governors for life, amounted to £480 19s 9d.

The duties of the surgeon are skilfully and attentively discharged by William Stewart, Esq., M.D., aided by William Thompson, Jun., Esq., M.D., whose professional abilities and humanity eminently distinguished them.


On the N. E. side-of the town stands the Female School, a very handsome, commodious edifice, with four arched windows in front. The avenue (to which you entered by a neat metal gate) is tastefully laid off in a garden-like manner. Attached to that School is a dwelling-house for the use and occupation of the mistress. This excellent institution, for the education of poor female children was established by Miss Hawkshaw, who is patroness, in the year 1821; the Marquis of Hertford having granted the ground, and paid the cost of building, &c., estimated at £400. The number of children in attendance exceeds two hundred. We must not forget mentioning the benevolent legacy of £100 for the use of this school, bequeathed by the late George Whitla, Esq., of Lisburn. This sum is placed out at interest, which goes to clothe some of the most needy of the children.


This is a neat building, standing a few paces from the one just noticed. It was built by subscription in 1833, aided by a donation of £50 from Lord Hertford. The Rev. Thomas Thompson was one of its most active founders; and in the welfare of this, as well as the Boys' School, uniformly takes the most lively interest. This Institution is for the education of poor children, whose age does not exceed seven years, and is supported by the ladies of Lisburn.


These handsome houses opposite the school just noticed, were built at the expense of the Marquis of Hertford, in 1832; the cost exceeding £120.


This excellent institution was formed about fifteen years since, by the late Rev. Thomas Higginson, the then Curate of Lisburn, under the denomination of the Lisburn Philanthropic Society -- subsequent to that period, its benevolent labors have been crowned with the most important effects. About twelve months since, a change took place the course previously pursued by the Society, and it was deemed advisable, that the system of giving aid by money should be abandoned, and a new plan adopted viz., the distribution of the funds in rations of meal, coals, &c., and the employment of the funds, as far as practicable, for the promotion of industry. The plan has been acted upon with success. The subscriptions for this Society, including Lord Hertford's very munificent annual donation of £92 6s 2d, with the interest of Rev. John Carleton's, and Messrs. Herron and Shanks's legacies, also £20 yearly from William Whitla, Esq., amount to nearly £500 per annum.

(Continued Next Week.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 2 March 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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