Wednesday 29 June 2011

Lisburn Past and Present (1887)



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(From "Northern Whig, 1887).


Taking into account the relative positions of Belfast and Lisburn as they stood immediately after the great Revolution of 1688, the latter noted town, so far as related to dwelling-houses and extent of population, took a much higher position than that then held by Belfast. When Duke Schomberg, as Commander-in-Chief of King William's army in Ireland, made Lisburn his head-quarters, that town consisted of four hundred houses, a large proportion of which were straw-roofed and many were covered with oak shingles, the upper ten alone dwelling in slated mansions. The population numbered two thousand, and, as the principal borough of the county it was the postal centre from whence all letters were despatched to the lesser towns around it, as well as to England and Scotland.

At that time Belfast rejoiced in possessing nearly three hundred houses and a census of fifteen hundred people. Duke Schonberg's chaplain, who wrote a history of the campaign, described Lisburn as one of the prettiest towns he had seen and the most English-like place in all Ireland.

In 1657 Lord Strafford had purchased the maritime rights of Carrickfergus and handed them over in trust to the Sovereign and burgesses of Belfast. That valuable gift gave new life as well to the commerce as to the shipping of the young port and very rapid was its progress.

From the commencement of the eighteenth century Lisburn had been left far in the distance by its junior relative. Still, as an inland town, fair advancement was made in the home of the Huguenots, and during the stirring times of the Irish Volunteers the Population numbered 4,000. According to official returns there were in 1831 670 slated and 320 thatched houses in Lisburn, and 6,000 inhabitants. Thirty years afterwards the figures were 7,400. Within the last 25 years, however, the progress made by Lisburn has been comparatively rapid.


The proprietor of the Hertford estate (Sir Richard Wallace) inaugurated a new system of landlordism by granting on reasonable terms for ever leases for house-building, and the business-like promptitude with which such documents were arranged for and handed over to capitalists by Mr. Capron, agent of the estate, caused considerable satisfaction on all sides, and gave great stimulus to enterprise. Large numbers of dwellings were raised at the different ends of the town, and many handsome villas have been erected in the vicinity.

One of the most indispensable requisites for health and cleanliness in all centres of population is an ample supply of pure water, The late Dean Stannus, who, for nearly half a century ruled as agent of three successive Marquises of Hertford over the property in Antrim and Down, took the utmost interest in the water question. When that energetic gentleman entered upon his agency duties, Lisburn, with its then nearly four thousand people, had from a basin its water supply, carried by wooden pipes through the town. The Dean, foreseeing that in time there would lie a considerable extension of the population, had a large reservoir added to the existing one, and also got metal conveying pipes laid down in place of the old wooden ones.

As the present census of Lisburn exceeds twelve thousand, Mr. Capron some years ago fully provided for the increased requirements of the people by making a third reservoir of very extended dimensions, and of such capabilities that during the past summer ample supplies of the pure element were enjoyed by every household. That state of affairs was all the more creditable to the lord of the soil, in whose hands rest the water rights, when an almost unprecedented drought was felt in many towns and villages throughout the country.

Several years ago the wretched stone pavement which made the pedestrian pathways in Lisburn especially unpleasant to walk over was taken up in certain parts of the town and a handsome flagging laid down in its place. The cost of the work, which amounted to a large sum, was defrayed by the joint contribution of Sir Richard Wallace and the Antrim Grand Jury. Although the flagging made a great improvement on the sidewalks: but one portion of Castle Street -- the local Piccadilly -- still stands inflicted with the "petrified kidneys."

Cotton-weaving, which in days gone by gave work to many hundreds of handloom operatives, has scarcely a name there, flax-spinning, thread-making, power-loom weaving, and rope-making occupying the great bulk of the work-people. The damask factories, established in the early reign of the third of the Georges, and the linen bleachworks which were commenced by Louis Crommelin, flourish in healthy action.

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(From "Lisburn Standard," July, 1887.)

In those times of Lisburn's history when Belfast was emerging from the position of a fishing village, and boasting of a census equal to a couple of thousand, Lord Conway's town had about that number of inhabitants, and rejoiced in the honour of being the centre of Antrim's postal communication. This position was held for many years, and on Thursday, the nineteenth of June, 1690. and during King William's few hours' sojourn, when his Majesty, with his bodyguard, was on his way to meet the army of James the Second the Dublin post-bag is stated to have contained thirty letters, four of which, having bean addressed to the King, were presented to him as he reviewed the troops in the Market Square.

The Rev. Silvanius Haslam was, at the time, rector of the parish; the Rev. Alexander M'Cracken was Presbyterian minister, and the Rev. Patrick Dornan was Roman Catholic priest.

The lord of the soil, who died at the Castle in August, 1683, had held very liberal opinions on sectarian subjects, and, as a resident landlord, he distributed patronage alike to all churches. Some years before his death he enlarged and re-roofed, the Cathedral; he also had a chime of bells set up in the wooden tower. To the Scottish settlers in town, his landlord granted free of rent a piece of ground "On ye Moyrah Roade," as the site for a place of worship, and there the local disciples of John Knox erected the first meetinghouse belonging to that sect. It was very unpretentious -- one storey high, lighted by two windows in each sidewell, and having the roof thatched with straw. About the same time, Lord Conway gave Priest Dornan part of a field that lay on the south side of the road opposite which is now called Antrim Street, on which he built a chapel, and very tiny was the extent of that place of worship. Each of those, buildings stood outside the borough boundary in that direction. The rector of the Cathedral, the parish priest, and the Presbyterian pastor, lived on the most friendly terms, and in times of death and scarcity of food, when the labouring classes suffered much privation, the three led the way with the laity in doing all in their power to alleviate distress. At that period the southern section of the town was said to end with the Sluice River, which ran unbridged across the street. The portion afterwards known as Bow Lane consisted of a few scattered houses; a footway on one side of the river served as the path for pedestrians.

About the year 1687 the Rev. S. Haslam built a row of cottages, which still bear his name. This row was situated at a short distance from the Sluice River, and on the left side of the road leading to the Cattle Market.


One hundred years after the period under consideration Lisburn had become a place of considerable enterprise; the borough proper contained seven hundred and thirty houses, and a population of about four thousand souls. Cotton-spinning, muslin-weaving, and the linen manufacture were largely carried on, Mr. James Wallace employed numbers of operatives at his cotton mill; the damask manufacture, which had been raised to the dignity of a textile art by Messrs. Wm. Coulson and Sons, was patronised by the Royal Family and the leading nobility and gentry; and several branches of the cotton trade gave well-paid labour to many hundreds of hands. The flaxen manufactures were rapidly pushed forward by Mr. John Hancock, Mr. Luke Teeling, and Mr. Jonathan Richardson, and, during the busy season, three thousand pounds were frequently paid away for brown were at a single day's sale in the Linen Hall. Leather-making was in full play; the three tanyards, owned respectively by Mr. Geo. Whitla, Mr. Thomas Beatty, and Messrs. Clegg and M'Collum, turned out goods of a high-class order. The Lisburn Brewery had much celebrity for its superior ales. Such was the business history of Lisburn in the memorable summer of ninety-eight.

Priest Magee.

Reference has been made to the kindly spirit that had prevailed in early times between the people of this town and the clergy of all sects. The Rev. John Magee, who had been curate of the chapel from 1762, and parish priest from 1770, was very popular. When the Presbyterian meeting-house in Market Square was in course of erection, he handed ten pounds to the building fund committee as his own and that of a few of his people's contribution towards the good work. Like the Rev. Edward Kelly, P.P., who has held that position in Lisburn more than one quarter of a century, and while zealously attending the duties connected with the creed of his fathers, never interfered with the private opinions of those of other denominations. Priest Magee delighted in cultivating social harmony with all around him, and by his own followers he was held in special veneration. He took much interest in the Volunteer movement, and, when leisure permitted, was among the spectators who usually assembled in large numbers to witness the parades of the local troops, as the men met for military exercise on Gough's Hill, now a portion of the Wallace Park. And at the tables of Poyntz Stewart, Commander of the True Blues; Thomas Ward, Captain of the artillery; as well as those of other Volunteer officers, Priest Magee was ever a welcome guest. With the popular rector of Lisburn and the Presbyterian minister, he lived on terms of the utmost, friendliness. Among the many unwritten histories of the Irish Insurrection, the following incident, as taken by the narrator from the lips of one of the Orangemen who took part in it, will be read with some interest.

Wild Night in Lisburn.

On the morning of Monday, the 11th of June, 1798, Harry Monro, who had been unexpectedly called upon to lead the United Irishmen in the impending attack on the Royal Army, left his house in Market Square, and travelled on foot to Saintfield, near which town were encamped many hundreds of rebels, formidably armed with musket, pike, and pitchfork. Considerable numbers of Royal troops, arriving in the afternoon, attacked the enemy, who had fled to Ballynahinch. In course of the evening a spy, who had been sent in disguise to watch the movements of the insurrectionists, arrived in Lisburn, and told Major Burdon, the officer left in charge of garrison, that Munro, the rebel general, had determined to steal a march on the town with a considerable number of his followers, and storm the barracks, rout the inhabitants, and set fire to the houses. As it afterwards turned out, there was not the slightest truth in the spy's report, Munro had too much on hands at the immediate scene of anticipated warfare to give slightest thought to such a project. True, it had been suggested by one of his subordinates, but his high sense of honour -- carried away as it had been, by his deluded patriotism -- did not permit him to entertain the proposals.

The effect of the mythological report had, however, created considerable consternation among the inhabitants of Lisburn. Major Burdon despatched a mounted orderly to Blaris camp for the purpose of ordering into town any reinforcements that were to be had there, and Bob Deveney, the trumpeter of the local cavalry, was sent to call out the members of that troop. Before nine o'clock the alarm was general; the horse barracks in Linenhall Street were one scene of bustle in arranging for the defence of the town; Castle Street, Market Square, Bow Lane, and Bridge Street were lined by horse and foot soldiers.

All lights and fires in dwellings, save those in hotels and a few public-houses, were ordered by the military authority to be extinguished at ten o'clock.

The Priest and the Orangemen.

An Orange Lodge was sitting in the front room of a house in Cross Row. Two members of the lodge who had come downstairs to look on the stirring scenes on the street were at the door, and while standing there they recognised the parish priest passing along on the opposite side. Both these Orangemen were well-known to Mr. Magee, and immediately on seeing that gentleman they rushed across the roadway, and, after apologising for stopping him, they added that such was the state of the town, and the excitement of party spirit, it would be very dangerous for him to attempt making his way home, "Gentleman," said the venerable clergyman, "I have been out attending a sick call; one of my people, who lives at Plantation, became suddenly ill, and I have got so far on my return. It is exceedingly kind of you to give me the information about the unsettled state of affairs, but I hope to get on my way without molestation."

"We cannot permit you to go alone," replied the younger of the two; "our lodge is sitting in Jemmy Corkin's, the business of the evening has been settled, and if you come over with us we will arrange for your safe convoy home." It was then nearly seven o'clock: all was excitement in the Square, dragoons were dashing furiously round the Market House, and heavy artillery guns had been placed across the head of Bridge Street. After a few moments' hesitation, the priest said he would place himself in the hands of his friends, and on entering the lodge-room the rev. gentleman was courteously received by the master and members. Having partaken of some refreshments, half-a-dozen stalwart men, well armed, rose and proceeded to escort Mr. Magee to his cottage home, which was situate about a mile distant on the Moira Road. It was nearly midnight when the party arrived at the priest's dwelling. A suitable entertainment followed, during which the hospitable host once again gratefully acknowledged the special attention that had been paid him; and, to the latest period of long life, the old clergyman was wont to relate the romantic story of his having been escorted to his home at Lissue by six Orangemen the night before the Battle of Ballynahinch.

(More "Extracts" next week.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 29 June 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.)

Sunday 26 June 2011

God's Rosebud

It is only a tiny rosebud,
a flower of God’s design.
But I cannot unfold the petals
with these clumsy hands of mine.

And the secret of unfolding flowers
is not known to such as I.
God opens this flower so sweetly,
when in my hands it dies.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
this flower of God’s design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
to unfold this life of mine?

So I’ll trust in Him for leading
each moment of my day.
I will look to Him for His guidance
each step of the pilgrim way.

The pathway that lies before me,
only my Heavenly Father knows.
I’ll trust Him to unfold the moments,
just as He unfolds the rose.

Author unknown

image: Pink Roses, watercolour on paper 

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Lisnagarvagh and its Chiefs 1560 To 1683.



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(From the "Northern Whig, 1887.)

We are indebted to F. G. Bigger, Esq., M.R.I.A., for the two following papers.

The Celtic language, that still forms the only means of communication between the people in some parts of Ireland, is very expressive, and abounds in the very spirit of poetry. Hence we find that in many instances the names of towns, villages, and manors have a significance peculiar to their localities. The original term Lis Na Garvagh -- Anglice, the Fort of the gamesters -- was said to have been given to the ancient home of a powerful sept of the O'Neill dynasty in consequence of the games of chance which were popular amongst the retainers of the respective chiefs of the manor when those servants were not otherwise engaged.

One of the most powerful of the Northern princes that refused all recognition of England's supremacy in Ireland was the captain of Killultagh. That chief and his kinsman Hugh Oge O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone were jealously regarded by Queen Elizabeth.

O'Neill of Lisnagarvagh ruled over twenty thousand acres Irish measure, and in his castle maintained all the feudal dignity of his race. Only a small portion of his landed estates showed any evidence of cultivation, the remainder being nearly covered by bush and bramble, and in many places giant oaks and towering elms had for centuries been undisturbed monarchs of the forest.

As the captain had under his command a host of followers trained in the military tactics of the day, he was a formidable foe of the Queen, and, although that remarkable woman did not permit herself to he easily daunted, she had frequently made conciliatory overtures to the O'Neill of Killultagh, but all the blandishments of Royalty in petticoats failed to cajole the sturdy Celt.

Sir Henry Sydney, a vary pompous personage, was chosen as Irish Viceroy by Her Majesty, and had special instructions to pay court to the lord of Lisnagarvagh. In the autumn of 1585 Sir Henry made the tour of Ulster, and, with his chariots, officers, and servants, travelled like an Eastern potentate. On arriving at the Castle of Lisnagarvagh, he sent an equerry to announce that the Queen's Lord Deputy desired to pay his compliments to the O'Neill.  The Saxon representative of her Majesty had remained sitting in his carriage, and that assumption of superiority roused the captain's blood to fever heat. In reply to the message he said -- "Tell the Lord Deputy that the King of Killultagh is in his castle, where he will be happy to receive him but he would not cross his own threshold to meet the Queen herself."

Dire was the chagrin in which the lessee of Dublin Castle turned away from the gate of O'Neill, and in the story of his tour through Ulster, as written for the high authorities in London, he stated -- "I came to Killultagh, whyche I found riche and pleutifule, after the manner of ye countrye. Ye captain was proude and insolente. Hee would not come out of his castle to see mee, but he shall be payd for this before longe. I will not remain in his debt." That threat of vengeance was not forgotten. The Queen heard of the slight flung in the face of her representative, and royally nursed her wrath, waiting with religious patience for an opportunity of teaching a lesson to the O'Neill in her own mode of educating the Irish.

No very long time had passed until Hugh Oge, Earl of Tyrone, once again took the field against her Majesty's troops, and the Earl's kinsman of Killultagh, not being able to resist the temptation of a stirring campaign, collected his forces and joined the war; and for a considerable period the English army was unable to make any successful way in the struggle.

Then it was that Queen Elizabeth sent over to Ireland Sir Arthur Chichester and Sir Foulke Conway in command of large reinforcements of disciplined soldiers to subdue at any cost the rebellious chiefs. After many months of conflict and great loss of life on both sides, a partial victory was gained by the Royal troops, and the English commanders were liberally rewarded.

The Queen had laid down the regal sceptre, and James the First who succeeded her Majesty, presented Sir Arthur Chichester, with an enormous territory, made up from the forfeited estates of the revolted princes. He also gave him the Castle and town of Belfast.

Sir Foulke Conway was not a mere adventurer, like many of the favourites of Royalty who received large portions of escheated lands, in Ireland. He owned a  handsome castle in Wales and Ragley Hall with its ten thousand acres, in Warwickshire.

The new King of England presented the gallant Welshman with the Manor of Killultagh, and also the castle and village of Lisnagarvagh.

Very imposing was the appearance of the deposed O'Neill's residence, which consisted of an immense pile of buildings situate on a mound that overlooked the valley through which ran the Lagan River, and in its outward aspect seemed rather some place of defence than the home of an Irish prince. In its architecture the leading features were castellated turrets and high-peaked gables, while right above the windows were numerous loopholes from each of which projected the muzzle of a cannon. The interior of the castle, its living rooms, dormitories, and audience chamber, exhibited little, either in form or promotion of comfort of the means of convenience. Oaken floors and carved panellings marked the finish of each apartment, and, as wood formed the principal fuel, the hearths occupied very large spares.

Some improvements were made in the rooms by the Welsh warrior, but respect for his Irish foeman caused him to preserve all the outside brickwork of the building.

Within a few yards of the castle walls stood the chief's masshouse, where the O'Neills' chaplain had celebrated divine worship, the congregation consisting of the captain of Killultagh, his principal followers, and the villagers of the same creed.

Every student of Irish history knows that James the First, in his grants of the Crown lands which had been taken from the Irish princes, conditioned that each undertaker or State lessee should "plant" the thinly-populated lands with immigrants from England, Wales, and Scotland.

Numbers of such settlers came over at Sir F. Conway's request, some of whom were linen-weavers and others connected with the building trade. A few of these people obtained residences in Lisnagarvagh, but the great proportion, having been brought up to farming, was granted leases of lands in rural districts. The number of inhabitants of the village exceeded two hundred, and Sir Fulke had the chapel of the O'Neills repaired and enlarged for the use of the Protestant population. It is quite evident, even by the meagre accounts given of his landlordism, that the gallant Welshman was very liberal as to sectarian belief. He gave the Roman Catholics a site in the southern end of the village for the erection of a chapel, and contributed liberally towards the cost of building.

The rental arrangements made with the farmers were one shilling, half a crown, and in some cases five shillings the acre, Irish measure, and the conditions of tenure bound the tenants to erect at their own expense the farm buildings, cut down trees, clear away the briars and brushwood and improve the soil. As security for such outlay the occupiers had the right of sale in case of wishing to leave the estate, or to bargain with a successor all these improvements and right of possession.

In addition to the property granted him by the Crown, Sir Fulke purchased from Con O'Neill for a very small sum a large tract of land situate in Down, and stretching from Blaris to Ballyskeigh.

In course of a few years the sturdy Welshman seemed to have almost forgotten the land of his youth, and to have perfectly adapted himself to his new home and its traditions.

As each succeeding Christmas came round the yule log was seen blazing on the wide hearth of the castle, and during the holidays hospitality reigned in all its Celtish glory. Barons of roast beef and immense cakes of barley bread were prepared for all followers, strangers, and wayfarers, and barrels of ale poured forth their contents in an amplitude, the bare idea of which would cause Sir W. Lawson to weep for the wickedness of ancient Lisnagarvagh.

Conway Castle, the family seat in Wales was occasionally visited by Sir Fulke, as were also Ragley Hall and the estate in Warwickshire, which property had been under the management of a relative; but, he having reclaimed from the semi-wilderness the lands of Killultagh, they formed the great object of his life, and the Castle of Lisnagarvagh became his favorite residence. The pleasure he enjoyed in the prosperity of the tenants was fully reciprocated by the fealty and reverence with which during his visit through the estate he was treated by those people.

Sir Fulke died without issue in March, 1624, and his brother, Edward, became heir to the property. This gentleman had been one of the Secretaries of State in the Buckingham Cabinet, and the King raised him to the peerage by the title of Baron Conway of Ragley. His Majesty also bestowed on him the Manor of Derrivolgie, Lord Conway followed the footsteps of his predecessor in residing on the Irish estate and carrying out the same course of liberal landlordism. In 1627 he erected a new castle on the site of the old one, and at this day the entrance and some of the walls are in good preservation. His Lordship was created Viscount Killultagh in 1626; but only enjoyed the new honour four years.

The next heir, who had lived with his father and acted as agent of the estate, cultivated the kindly feeling of the landholders, and had his reward in the respect of an independent tenantry.

When the larger migration of Scottish families into lower Ulster took place in 1641, he made favourable terms for farms with numbers of those thrifty and industrious people, and to the present the descendants of some of those North Britons hold land on the estate.

As his fathers had been bound to maintain at their own cost a certain number of horse and foot soldiers, the second Viscount increased the strength of local troops, and during the outbreak of rebellion in November, 1641, his men did good service on the side of England's King.

After a reign of five-and-twenty years over the estate, Viscount Killultagh slept with his fathers, and was succeeded by his son, Edward, who in his day was famed as the personal friend and liberal patron of the learned polemic, Dr. Jeremy Taylor. Charles the First, who so basely deserted his once favoured Minister, Lord Strafford, had himself suffered the terrible punishment similar to that which was inflicted on the martyred Earl, and Cromwell ruled with firm hand the destinies of England.

The tenants on the Conway estate were nearly all opposed to the Protector and in favour of legitimate royalty. Dr. Taylor was induced by Earl Conway to come over to Ulster with his wife and family, and to take the position of minister to the Royalists at a very handsome salary, paid by the lord of the soil. A commodious residence at Portmore was prepared for the learned divine, and also a dwelling house in Lisburn. After the Restoration, and through Lord Conway's influence, with Charles the Second, Jeremy Taylor was raised to the See of Down and Connor.

Lady Conway had the church enlarged and a new tower erected, in which was placed a chime of bells, said to be one of the finest, both as to power and tone, in all Ireland.

The castle, which had been partially repaired by his father, was improved by the third Viscount, and during his reign of twenty-eight years he lived as the patron of agricultural, progress throughout the estate. The rental was nearly ten thousand a year -- say an average of about 5s the acre of Irish measure.

Lord Conway, who was the last of the name, died, without leaving issue, in the Castle, Lisburn, in August, 1683, and after the death of his Countess the Kilultagh and Derrrivolgie estates, together with the Ragley Hall property in Warwickshire, was designed to Popham Seymour, who added the name of Conway to
his own.

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Notes by Rev. George Hill on "Lisnagarvagh and its chiefs."

The intended hero of the foregoing interesting sketch was Hugh MacNeal Oge or, more correctly, Hugh, son of Neal Oge O'Neill. This Ulster lord, like so many of his kinsmen, had "fallen on evil times and evil tongues," but perhaps his crowning misfortune was the fact that his alliance was eagerly sought, and at the same crisis both by Queen Elizabeth and the leader of the great Scottish host then mustering in the Glens of Antrim. He was thus literally placed between two fires, and his position has been pretty accurately described by the celebrated Sir Thomas Cusake in the following passage from his (Cusake's), contemporary "Account of Ireland":-- "And now lately I repaired to his contre to talke further with him, to tract the tyme till grass grow, for before then, the contres being so barren of victuals and horsemeat, no good may be done to destroy him, whereby I perceive that though he was determined, as he said, to meet me and to conclude a further peece, yet he, hearing of the arrival of certain Scots to the Glynnes, refused to come to me, contrary to his writing and sending, and went to Colloe M'Conill (Colla Macdonnell), who landed with six or seven score bows, and thought to bring them with him (Hugh son of Neal Oge O'Neill) to war upon his next neighbours, so as there is no great likelihood in him of any honest conformity."

The fortified residence of this O'Neill has been referred to by Richard Dobbs in a way that may lead to the discovery of its exact site. "Lisburn," says he, "formerly called Lisnagarvey; from an old fort, where now (1683) Major Stroud's house stands, which I have seen by the Irish called Lisneycarvagh -- i.e., the Gamester's Fort, for there they used to meet and play the clothes of their backs at five cards, as I have received it from old people thirty years since."

In Storey's account, written eight year's after Richard Dobb's "Briefe Description" we have the following reference to this well-known locality:-- "We marched towards Lisburn. This is one of the prettiest towns in the North of Ireland. The Irish name is Lisnegarvah, which they tell me signifies 'Gamesters Mount,' for a little to the north-east of the town there is a mount moated about, and another to the west. These were formerly surrounded with a great wood, and thither resorted all the Irish outlaws to play at cards and dice." The Irish form of the name is Lios-na-gcearrbhach, pronounced Lisnacarvah, and literally meaning "Fort of the Gamblers."

The Conways, who ultimately supplanted the great family of O'Neill, of Killultagh, were among the most popular and kindly disposed of the Ulster planters. Not only were they good landlords so for as their own immediate tenants were concerned, but their sympathies were sometimes deeply enlisted on behalf of native Irish families who had come to grief and destitution at the hands of settlers.

A memorable but not generally known illustration of this fact may be mentioned in connection with the O'Neills of Castlereagh, large portions of whose lands had been added by purchase to the Conway estates. Sir Con O'Neill, known as of Belfast, although he dwelt largely at Greycastle, or Castlereagh, had been assigned one-third of his own lands, the remaining two-thirds going to Hugh Montgomery and James Hamilton. Con's portion of the scramble contained sixty-eight townlands, which lie in the present parishes of Drumbo, Knockbreda, Saintfield, Kilmore, Blaris, Lambeg, Killany and Comber. But although he had thus a noble estate remaining, yet, as it happened to all other Ulster Irish of his rank and class, he was prohibited by the introduction here of feudal law from taking up his rents in the old Celtic fashion, and he was thus soon made to feel his total inability of collecting them at all. He believed, therefore that he had no choice but to sell out and retire from the fearful turmoil then going on all around him. No sooner had he got his title deeds perfected than he commenced that hasty and lavish disposal of his property which soon relieved him of his territorial troubles, but left his only surviving son, the well-known Daniel O'Neill, entirely destitute. Of those who had bought up Con O'Neill's sixty-eight townlands at merely nominal prices -- the Montgomerys, Hamiltons, Hills and Conways -- only the last mentioned appeared to have any compassion on his son. The first Lord Conway a younger brother of Sir Fulke, who succeeded on the death of the latter, in 1624, knew all the sad circumstances of the case and pitied the bright and intelligent young man who had lost such a noble inheritance. He introduced Daniel O'Neill at Court, where the latter was appointed as a page in the household of Charles I. The second Lord Conway, who succeeded in 1630, was also a special friend of the young outcast from Castlereagh, and but for the fall of Lord Strafford would have compelled those who were then in the enjoyment of O'Neill's patrimonial lands to disgorge at least to some extent in his favour.

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Referring to correspondence regarding the letters I.H.I. on old stone bearing date 1708, on the front of Messrs. Duncan's premises, it may be mentioned that on a map dated 1726, in possession of Mr. Geo. Sands, the names "Hankins" and "F. Harrison" appear as occupying or owning property in close propinquity to the site of the said premises. -- Editor.

(Lisburn in 1778 next week.)

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Dear Sir -- With regard to the curious inscription of the year 1708 on the premises of the firm of Messrs George Duncan and Sons, Ltd, in Market Square, and to the correspondence of Mr. Francis Joseph Bigger, and Mr. T. W. Kernohan which has appeared in your paper, I incline to disagree, with every respect, with the view of the former, and adopt that of the latter. I think the initials , and the placing of them, would indicate that the then owner desired to perpetuate his own surname and the Christian names of himself and his wife. The property was owned by an old Lisburn family -- the Hancocks -- and even as late as the year 1857 I find by reference to the archives of the Hertford Estate a fee farm grant was made by the Marquis of Hertford to one -- Mary Hancock and Elizabeth White (evidently joint owners) subject to a small perpetual rent.
Yours faithfully,

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 22 June 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.)

Saturday 18 June 2011

A Day's Outing at Messines

Second-Lieut. W. A. Martin


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Sec.-Lieut. W. A. Martin, son of Mr John Martin, Hallstown, Magheragall, in a letter to his father dated 9th inst. gives a graphic account of his experiences at Messines two days previously. He writes:-- I am sitting now under a huge beech tree in a beautiful green field a few miles behind the lines. It is like heaven to be in a peaceful place again after the experience of Thursday. I should like to tell you all my experiences during that terrible day, but if I attempted the task I'm sure it would take me at least a week to write it. However, I will tell you something about it.

At 4-30 on Wednesday morning we got up and started our march towards the lines. During the day we halted for a few hours to give the men a rest and an opportunity for getting a little sleep, but there was neither rest nor sleep for the officers -- we had so many things to look after. At six o'clock we had a united Church of England and Presbyterian service -- and what a service! I never was at anything so impressive in my life. I am perfectly sure there was not a man of the hundreds who knelt in the field that evening who did not rise from his knees feeling himself a better man. We sang "Jesus, lover of my soul" and "O God, our Help in ages past," and I shall never forget that singing -- there was scarcely a man whose voice was not husky with emotion and his eyes dim with tears. After the service there was a celebration of the Holy Communion -- the last celebration for many of those who knelt there. That was a real sacrament. Each man felt that there was only one Arm that could protect him on the morrow and as he drank the cup "showing forth the Lord's death until He come," he thought of the sacrifice which he might be called to make and prayed for those who would be left to mourn at home.

Troops of the Irish Divisions see a mock-up of Messines Ridge before they go to the front

After the service we had our last meal and at ten o'clock started for the assembly trenches -- these are narrow slits about seven feet deep and scarcely wide enough to enable one to turn, but they are a splendid protection against shell-fire, as one is safe unless a shell falls actually into the trench. We arrived at these trenches at mid-night and I felt awfully tired after having been on the move from 4-30 in the morning. At ten minutes past three the show started, and it was half-past three the following morning before I had either rest or food. I think if all the fatigue I ever felt in my whole life before were heaped together it would not be so great as the fatigue I felt at the end of that awful day when we were relieved. Our battalion was to go forward and take the final objective on the Messines Ridge, and we reached it at 8-30 in the morning. We were absolutely exhausted and choking with thirst when we got there, but there was no rest. We had to make our fellows, tired out us they were, dig like mad to make some sort of cover from which they could fire before the Germans launched their counter-attack. About 4 o'clock in the morning the tension was relieved by another division going right through us and driving the enemy back for another mile. It is impossible to realise how one feels after being in action for twenty-four hours. One does not feel hungry much, in fact I did not feel hungry in the least, but the thirst was terrific. Try to imagine being so thirsty that you would give the last penny you possessed for a drink of  water, then multiply that by ten and you will have a sort of an idea what it feels like to lie in action on a broiling summer's day. It was seven o'clock in the evening before water was brought up to us -- it was brought on pack-mules, and you can imagine how we flocked round those old mules. I never in my life tasted anything one hundredth part so delightful as that water out of an old petrol tin. As I look back on that day it all seems like an awful nightmare, and yet it was a glorious day too -- a red-letter day in the history of the war. It certainly was the greatest advance that has taken place yet, and I haven't the least hesitation in saying that the sun never rose on such a scene of conflagration and terror, as on the dawn of the 7th of June. A mine containing about 200 tons of explosive went off on the stroke of 3-10 a.m. about 500 yards from us under the German lines, and several smaller mines went off at the same instant. It is absolutely impossible to describe what the scene was like. The earth rocked and swayed for miles round, and at the same moment ten thousand guns came into action, and the whole earth seemed ablaze, while the roar was simply deafening. Try to imagine the most terrific thunderstorm you have ever seen, with the sky simply ablaze with lightning; multiply that by a hundred thousand, and even then you will have no idea what it was like. There never in any previous battle was such a concentration of artillery. They did their work and the infantry did theirs. My men were simply splendid -- real old Ulster True Blues. Marching up to the Assembly trenches the night before one of them had a flute and he played Orange tunes the whole way up, and another tied an old flag to his rifle and waved it in front. They are the type of Orangemen that I admire -- on their rifles and sleeves they had chalked the words "No Surrender," and some of them died with their Orange scarves round their necks. To Orangemen like that I take of my hat. Before we started they called for three cheers for me, and I can tell you I felt proud to be trusted by such men. The Irish Division fought by our side -- they are John Redmond's Division, but politics do not count out here. Protestant or Catholic, Home Ruler or Unionist, we were all Irishmen fighting side by side for the great cause of Liberty. I had no hesitation in saying that three of the finest divisions in the British Army fought together on that day -- the Ulstermen, the Southerners, and the New Zealanders -- and what they fought for they won.

I had some very narrow escapes. On one occasion I was with a small party (about sixteen men) of my platoon -- the remainder were following behind with my sergeants -- and a German shell fell right in the middle of my lot. Only two of us escaped, and the other chap was killed a few seconds later. This was before we reached the German lines at all. Only about five of them were killed -- the others were more or less severely wounded. My servant and all my runners were "knocked out" at that time too, and really I can't understand how I escaped. Needless to say, I offered up a little thanksgiving before I went to get the remainder of my platoon, and when I got them I found that my best sergeant was knocked out too. I am going to write to-morrow to the next-of-kin of those fellows in my platoon who were killed.

Russel Patey was very slightly wounded -- just a tiny scratch on the shoulder. It scarcely broke the skin, but his name will appear in the casualty list as having been wounded. Isn't he a lucky beggar? Of course he wasn't off duty for a moment.

Lieut. Brattie was wounded. I saw him just a few minutes after he got it and he called me over to him. He was very pale, and he took my hand and looked up in my face with the tears in his eyes. I hadn't time to stop with him as I had to push on but I felt awfully sorry for him. When I was coming away he said, "Martin, I'm knocked out, but you'll go on and do your job, won't you?" He was an awfully fine chap and a splendid soldier. His wound is not very serious I am glad to say.

View of the great crater at Hill 60, the result of the mine detonated by the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company on 7 June 1917 at the opening of the Battle of Messines. [AWM E00582]

This morning we had another beautiful service -- a thanksgiving for victory -- and after it there was a celebration of the Holy Communion. I just wish we could have such services at home. Uncle Sam is very popular in the Division, and in addition to being a padre he is a soldier -- that is what the men like. It is impossible to speak too highly of the work of the chaplains out here. On Thursday, when we had reached our objective and the fighting was keenest, a padre came up to me and asked if I knew where a certain battalion was. I looked at him and said, "My God, Padre, what brought you here?" "Oh," he said, "I just came with the boys." That is the sort of parsons we want after the war.

Our brigade is back now having a rest, and I really think we need it. You can't imagine how one feels after a show like Thursday -- the reaction is terrible.

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An Ulsterman who fought with the Australians to the right of the Ulster Division at Messines has written the following interesting account of hie experiences to a cousin who resides in Lisburn:--
It was a German sniper that caused the trouble and lucky for me that he was suffering either from nerves or bad eye-sight as he was only 50 yards away, and we were advancing absolutely in the open. Though to be hit within 50 yards of our objective was rather hard. Altogether it was a day of excitement, as we went up about 1 o'clock in the morning and helped the New Zealanders take Messines, which was purely and simply a walk over. We left the New Zealanders partly dug in and pulled out to get a little rest for the afternoon stunt. Had a good breakfast -- bacon, mashed potatoes, and steak, that will give you some idea how things were carried out. About 12 o'clock (midday) donned all our war paint (weighed about a ton, I think) as we carried 3 days rations, meat biscuits, and water, also, every man had his pockets full of bombs besides bandoliers of reserve ammunition.

I had the Lewis gun, revolver, and 200 rounds ammunition, and as one of our chaps got hit early I took his bucket of magazines as I thought there might be a chance of us being short. As it was a hot day you can imagine we didn't feel like ice-chests.

It was so absolutely an open fight, and as he had four balloons up I thought we would meet trouble. We advanced through Messines (he was shelling it fairly heavily and we had a few casualties though not as many as I expected. We opened out to extended order as soon as we got over the hill, and I think it was the grandest sight ever I saw. As far as you could see either flank were the lines of khaki figures pushing ahead with shells falling all around, and no one seemed to be getting hit. We had a good deal of rifle fire to put up with as well. As soon as we appeared over the hill, Fritz started to run away, our chaps walked, steadily firing as they went. Though one chap said he doubted if the bullets would catch Fritz, they ran that fast. When we got down on the flat we ran into a strong point, and the rifle-fire was heavy. The bucket of magazines I was carrying got hit with a bullet which set them on fire and they (the ammunition) started to explode. As I had ammunition and bombs all over me I knew if I didn't get if off quick things would be bad. I can assure you I can imagine now how a dog feels with a packet of crackers tied to his tail. Anyhow, our sergeant rushed to help me and just as he got them off he was hit a couple of times in the legs, though not very bad. I wasn't meant to go much further, as I had barely gone another 50 yards when I got my little lot. I was walking along firing the Lewis gun from the hip when I thought a horse had kicked me in the leg. I fell, though looked up in time to sing out to one of our section to come and take the gun. I crawled about 10 yards into a big shell-hole, and Fritz had a couple of speculators at me, but missed. I bandaged up my knee and waited until the rifle-fire got a bit further away, when I crawled to the top and could see our lads a long way ahead. I still had a lot of shells to dodge between there and the dressing station, but managed it alright, hopping and crawling nearly all the way about two miles.

How is that for a day's outing? We don't get much money but we have lots of fun; true, isn't it?

Altogether, our casualties were lighter than expected, and one of the strongest positions ever I saw won with the least fighting.

I am still in bed and likely to be for a few days, although it is a very clean wound and almost healed up when the bullet went in.

(These extracts were originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 22 June 1917.)


Wednesday 15 June 2011

Recollections of Hugh M'Call (part 3)



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Recollections of Hugh M'Call.


Bishop Jeremy Taylor.

In 1658 Edward, 3rd Baron and 1st Earl of Conway, came over to Lisburn, and soon after he induced the author of "Liberty of Prophesying" to accept a lectureship at Lisburn, and from that time he lived alternatively at Lisburn and Portmore. A very handsome cottage was erected for him and as lecturer to the loyalists Taylor settled down there, and his wife and family were delighted with their new home and all its picturesque beauties near the banks of Lough Neagh. It is pretty well known that it was greatly through Lord Conway's influence with Charles the Second that the See of Down and Connor was conferred on Jeremy Taylor. In addition to the pretty residence at Portmore, Lord Conway had fitted up for the Bishop at Maghraleave an exceedingly charming residence. That cottage is still to be seen there, and the study in which the prelate composed some of his later works -- that sacred spot, with its oaken panelings and peculiar look-out; but how few, even of the people of our town, have visited that sacred locality! Here, in the immediate neighbourhood of Lisburn there exists the rural dwelling he delighted in, and where he spent the early part of the last Summer of his life.

John Hancock.

There are still in Lisburn a few inhabitants who recollect John Hancock, son of the philanthropist, who, in 1760, erected the Quaker School that rears its head on the hill above the local station of the Great Northern Railway. Like his father the Mr. Hancock to whom I allude was a sturdy disciple of George Fox, and in his early days was a special friend of John Gough, the celebrated arithmetician, who was principal of the school, and whose remains moulder with their kindred dust in the little cemetery attached to the Quaker Church in Railway Street. I may here state that during the terrible times of '98 and, when Lisburn was the sad scene of outrage and plunder, not one of all the houses of tho people called Quakers was attacked by the mob. Mr. Hancock was an estensive linen merchant, and owned the large bleaching concern which for a long period past has been in the possession of Messrs. Richardson, Sons, and Owden. In the famine year of 1800, when the price of wheat in Mark Lane was 130s. the quarter, and the retail price of oatmeal was 10s the sieve of 20lbs., John Hancock imported from Philadelphia 200 tons of Indian Meal, the first sample of that article ever seen in Ulster. He also brought over 500 barrels of American flour, and both were sold at cost prices to the more distressed families in Lisburn Penal laws were then savage and merciless. The theft of goods to the value of 5s. from any dwelling-house was punished with death. In 1811 Mr. Hancock's bleach green in Lambeg had been broken into and three webs stolen. He refused to prosecute the accused, knowing the penalty, and with the aid of the late Mr. John M'Cance, of Suffolk and other linen merchants, Sir Samuel Romily, M.P., was induced to bring a bill into the House of Commons for the milder punishment of bleachgreen robbers. The measure passed and from that time the crime gradually lessened in Ulster, and is now little known in criminal history.

Workman Family.

Among the Ulstermen who have done much to build up the progress and add to the prosperity of Canada, the members of the Workman family have taken a high place. Benjamin Workman taught school in Lisburn sixty-three years ago. He sailed for Montreal in 1820, And in time became proprietor of the "Gazette," published in that city. Some years afterwards his brothers also crossed the Atlantic. The next eldest, Alexander Workman, of Ottawa, is in his eighty-fourth year, and still busy at work in his large mercantile concern: he has become mayor of that city. William, who died several years ago, was a leading merchant of Montreal, and president of the city bank, and Thomas sat in, the Dominion Parliament for may sessions. Sir James Macaulay Higginson, K.C.B., who some years ago resided at Brookhill, is another of the men of whom Lisburn should be proud. That gentleman, was at school in Mr. Neely's academy, and after finishing his early, education young Higginson got a Commission in the Army then on service in the East Indies, and very soon distinguished himself.

In the educational world Lisburn has had its famous men. The most prominent of these was the late Mr. Benjamin Neely. One of his pupils -- Thomas Spence, writing-master in the Belfast Academical Institution -- had no equal in his day as a professor of penmanship. Mr. Neely also taught A. T. Stewart, Brigadier-General Nicholson, Sergeant Armstrong, Major Crossley, Colonel Garrett, Surgeon-General James Graham, Colonel Joseph Beatty, and other Lisburn Celebrities.

Betty the Actor.

When the house of worship at present known as the First Presbyterian Church of Lisburn was being erected in 1766-67,  no member of the congregation did more to aid in the collection of funds and the right construction of the house than Dr. Betty, an eminent physician who resided in the private dwelling in Chapel Hill. His son, Henry West Betty, was a linen merchant, and lived with his father. He bad a bleachfield near Ballynahinch, and his son, William Henry Betty, famed as the young Roscius, erected in 1804 the greatest sensation ever known in the theatrical world of London. Robert Owenson, father of the celebrated authoress, Lady Morgan, and of the very handsome Lady Clarke, was then manager of a company of players, and had improvised a theatre out of a large hayloft situate at the rere of the house occupied by Mr. Jas. A. Stewart, in Bow Street. Miss O'Neill afterwards Lady Beecher, then a girl in her teens, was one of the Owenson party. Mrs. Betty had a passion for theatricals, and often took her son, then in his twelfth year, to see the play. The lad became impressed with the idea that the stage should be the scene of his future studies. Mr. Atkins, manager of the Belfast Theatre, brought out young Betty, and two years afterwards, when still a mere juvenile, he had an engagement in Covent Garden at £50 a night.

Mark Perrin.

Among the Huguenot settlers in Lisburn was Mark Perrin, grandfather of the Judge, who, when a mere lad, had settled in Lisburn some time before King William passed a few hours in town on Thursday, the 19th of June, 1690. Perrin's son Louis, taught a school in after years in Seymour Street, and besides giving his pupils an English and mercantile education, was famed for the perfection of his mode of teaching French. He published a grammar in that language, which work became a classic in schools. Louis Perrin was much respected by the first Marquis of Hertford; and in September, 1783, when an old man, he voted at the borough elections for Sharman and Jones, the independent candidates. The Marquis never changed his feelings towards him, and in visiting Lisburn, the venerable schoolmaster was not forgotten. During Louis Perrins long period of life he attended the usual Sunday worship in the old French Church in Castle Street. The minister, the Rev. Saumarez Du Bour Dieu read part of the English service and preached the sermon in the Gallic language Peter Coyer was Clerk. Louis Perrin, his son, was born and brought up in Seymour Street, in this town, and after a successful career as a law student in Trinity College, Dublin, was called to the Bar, and became distinguished in the North East Circuit when Judge Burton was in the heyday of popularity as Chief Justice, and Counsellor Holmes stood at the head of the Bar. On one occasion, and some time before having been raised to the Bench, Louis Perrin was leader in a case for Mr. William J. Hancock, then of Castle Street, and had been spending a day with that gentleman. In the afternoon, he took a walk through the town, and in course of the stroll called at the old house in Seymour Street, where he was politely received, and on stating that he had first seen the light in one of the upper rooms, he was taken there, and became very much affected by the old associations of his boyhood.

Methodist Church.

The old Wesleyan Church in Market Street was associated with the celebrated preachers who had exercised great influence over the congregations in Lisburn.

The new sect founded by John Wesley had made considerable in different parts of Ireland, and large numbers of people, collected from the highways and hedges, were found in the ranks of Methodism. As it had been in the early times of the Christian world, there arose to take part in the ministerial duties of the religious fraternity many men who had never passed through any collegiate course, nor even received what might have been considered a fairly finished education at any of the ordinary schools of the day. And yet those followers of the great founder of their creed seemed to have heen specially adapted for addressing with effect the multitudes that thronged the temporary tabernacles in which they preached. It is pretty well known that early in the reign of George the Third, congregational meetings of Methodists, were held in Lisburn, and about the close of 1776 the first house of worship was erected on the borders of the Byewash in the space leading to Smithfield. Originally the building was extremely unpretentious, its height one storey, and seated with forms. But gradually the tiny building was improved, a second storey was added, and about half-a-dozen pews were erected. There, however, in that humble sanctuary Wesley himself held forth. Gideon Ousely preached to crowded congregations; Dr. Adam Clarke also occupied the same pulpit, and the eloquent Richard Watson was one of the last of that race of ministers to which we have alluded, and who conducted Divine worship in the old Chapel in Market Street. Among the more noted preachers who were stationed here within the last thirty or forty years, Dr. Massaroon and the Rev. Daniel Macafee were perhaps the most prominent; the former was a minister of highly-cultivated mind and commanding presence, and the other was known as a rhetorician of great capability.


It has often been remarked that in Ulster there is an extraordinary mixture of races. It is more than probable that most families in the Imperial Province if traced back for three or four generations, would find a strange and varied blend of blood in their composition. The following genealogical survey is by way of of illustration.

During the ruthless persecutions which Louis the Fourteenth of France instituted against his Protestant subjects, upwards of half a million of the most industrious of those people fled for refuge to other countries, in each of which they were hospitably received, and enjoyed the freedom to adopt their own form of Sacred Worship.

William Colbert, a linen weaver, brought up in Cambry, collected whatever portable property he possessed, and, in company with many others of both sexes, escaped to an isolated seaport on the French coast where they found a vessel bound for Waterford, Having engaged passages, they embarked, and the Irish harbour was reached in the Spring of 1690.

Several of the Huguenot families went to Dublin; others journeyed northwards, and settled in Lisburn. Among these was William Colbert who commenced linen weaving in that town. He continued in the same employment several years: and in 1699, when Louis Crommelin made Lisburn his place of residence, Colbert became one of his employes. The famous Frenchman had brought with him a Royal Patent issued by King William, appointing him director of an Institute for the Improvement of Ireland's Linen Manufacture.

Colonel Popham Seymour Conway, heir of the Conway estate, granted that gentleman a valuable plot of ground situated near the County Down Bridge, where he erected buildings for his linen factory, and numbers of the French fugitives found work there.

William Colbert married the daughter of a Huguenot, and with his wife attended worship at the French Church in Castle Street. The Rev. Charles Lavalade was the first pastor, Peter Goyer, a silk weaver, and a native of Picardy, acting as Clerk. Divine Service was read in French, and the sermon preached in the same language. The Rev. Saumarez Du-Bour-Dieu succeeded Mr. Lavalade as second minister.

The intermarriage of the French settlers with the native population of Lisburn who worshipped in the Cathedral so reduced the congregation that in 1780 the worship at the French Church was given up. Many years afterwards the old building was taken down, and the modern erection, rebuilt by the second Lord Hertford, was set apart as the Courthouse.

The Rev. Mr. Du-Bour-Dieu, who first came to Ireland as Chaplain to King William, was at the Battle of the Boyne, and when Duke Schomberg fell he carried the body to the bank of the river.

James, only child of William Colbert, was brought up in the faith of his fathers, and when midway in his teens was employed in the Crommelin factory. He married a Presbyterian, and soon afterwards joined that Church. His family consisted of a son and daughter -- James and Jane; the former resided on a farm near Lisburn; and about 1770 Jane became the wife of John Jacobsen, son of a Norway immigrant The issue of that marriage was three sons, and a daughter named Catherine.

Early in the reign of George the First, William M'Call, a Scottish Highlander, and many other immigrants left their native homes in Argyllshire, and, having made their way to Donaghadee, pushed on to Upper Down, where they found no difficulty in procuring farms. M'Call settled in Kilwarlin, and married the daughter of a neighbouring farmer. The family consisted of a daughter -- Jane -- and three sons -- Henry, John, Charles.

Charles, who had been taught Damask Weaving, found employment in William Coulson's factory at Lisburn. He married and brought up a family of two sons and four daughters. Robert, the second son, married in July, 1804, Catherine Jacobsen, above noted. She died in October, 1816, leaving four children -- Hugh, the eldest is these "Recollections."

Joseph Carson, Kilpike, Banbridge, published in 1831, a small volume of poems. He was a contemporary and friend of James McKowen, the Lambeg and Lisburn poet. In this volume is a poem of fourteen stanzas entitled:--


To Mr. Hugh M'Call, a Brother Poet.

(Four verses only are extracted.)

Lord, man, I think it dev'lish queer,
We've bardies been this many a year,
Baith bustling on in life's career,
     Unknown to ither,
An' neither wrote ae line to cheer
     His rhymin brither.

Had I but known, my cantie blade,
Ye plied sae weel the "rhymin trade,"
I would hae some bit sang convey'd
     To thee lang syne,
Ere friendship's lamp was quite decay'd --
     Dear light divine!

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The dearest blessings o' mankind,
Are no' to rank an, wealth confin'd --
The cottage wight an' labouring hind,
     Fu' aft enjoy them,
While lords to mak an riches join'd.
     As aft destroy them.

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When life's lang toilsome day is o'er,
The question, were ye rich or poor?
Will no be asked, on death's far shore,
     To us poor mortals,
Ere mercy opes the narrow door, --
     Heaven's shining portals.

The Ancient Chiefs of Lisnagarvagh, Next Week.

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 15 June 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.)

Thursday 9 June 2011

Recollections of Hugh M'Call (part 2)



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Recollections of Hugh M'Call.


James M'Knight, 1824, edited the "New Letter," and John Morgan, who in 1830 started the "Newry Examiner," edited the "Whig." The "Chronicle" was conducted by its owner, Drummond Anderson, and appeared without any leader.

Jack Lawless, who wrote a history of Ireland, lived in King Street, Belfast. He owned and edited the "Irishman," a weekly literary paper that ceased to exist soon after the "Whig" appeared in 1824.

James Hope's son Luke, a printer, started in 1824 the "Rushlight," an unstamped weekly paper that had a large circulation.

In those days the unstamped press was not permitted to publish news, but mere literary copy. The British papers paid 3d. each copy of stamp duty and Irish papers 1d each. The stamp permitted them to pass free through the Post Offices.

Luke Hope's paper, consisted of four folio pages, nearly all of which was written by himself.

The "Irishman" (owned and conducted by the redoubtable Jack Lawless) and the "Northern Whig" led the way in high-class journalism. Daniel O'Connell and Richard L. Shiel complimented very highly both papers for the ability with which they fought the battle of social and political progress.

Early Elections.

The policy of the agent of the Hertford estate was to keep all the tenants so dependent that the tenant at election time had the choice of voting for the Office candidate or losing his farm, and perhaps his chances of livelihood. Leases were refused avowedly on this principle, and many men who had extensive business premises possessed no better security than a tenancy from year to year. The tenant who ventured to espouse the cause of progress, or who took part in any social or political agitation which was displeasing to the "Office," was pretty sure to receive a notice to quit.

At the election held in 1847 for the borough of Lisburn, a strong speech was made in favour of tenant-right, and in favour of securing for the tenants the rights their friends then claimed, which were far inferior to those which had been granted by Statutes since 1871, but the slight reforms then desired were regarded as confiscation by the representatives of the landlords. They thought, with Lord Palmerston, that "tenant-right was landlord wrong," and every advocate of tenant-right was marked out for the vengeance that the Hertford "Office" never shrank from administering to opponents.

One of the tyrannical customs that prevailed in that Office was called the "fining system," and against that system he wrote strongly and frequently. It was a most oppressive power for the agent to possess. It enabled him to take from the tenant the capital which was essential to the proper cultivation of his farm. The fines were imposed at the whim of the agent. In 1844 before the Devon Commission, evidence of the practical effect of this injurious system was given, but the system continued to exist till recent times.

Up till 1845 the Marquis of Hertford, who was drawing an income of over £50,000 a year from his estate, had never set foot upon it. Captain Meynell, who was then the member for Lisburn, used his influence with Sir Robert Peel to obtain the vacant Garter for the Marquis of Hertford, but Sir Robert Peel, who was justly impressed with the evils of absenteeism, declined to grant the coveted honour to the Marquis. Some promise was given by the Marquis that he would in future spend part of every autumn upon his estate, and in October, 1845, in pursuance of that promise he paid his first and last visit to the estate from which he had drawn this great income.

Mr. McCall, when invited to meet him, knew he had the reputation of being a great diplomatist. He did not know that his father, the third Marquis, was the original of Thackeray's Marquis of Steyne, and Disraeli's Lord Monmouth. His manner was so gracious, and his sincerity (as he thought) so apparent, that he believed him when he said that "he would rather have the words, 'Good Landlord,' upon his tombstone than the most flattering epitaph in Westminister Abbey."

The Marquis knew who had written the strong appeal an behalf of the oppressed tenants of the Hertford estate, and he readily promised to redress the wrongs of the tenantry, but his sympathy ended with his promises, and during his life his agent was permitted to act as he pleased, and to raise the rents in proportion to the increased value the tenants' toil and capital had given to the land.

In 1847 and 1848 it became necessary to take some steps to rescue the population from absolute starvation. A committee was established in Lisburn, subscriptions were obtained from nearly all the manufacturers. Lord Hertford alone, amongst the great Ulster landlords, shewed no generous sympathy with his starving tenantry, but by the aid of charity and assisted emigration many of the tenants on the Hertford estate were rescued from death. The Marquis of Downshire expended upwards of £15,000 in aiding the poorer classes of his tenants. Lord Hertford gave to his starving tenants about £700.

In November, 1852, there began the first battle of the Lisburn electors to secure the independence of the borough. Lord Hertford had nominated the candidates up to this time, and for this vacancy he sent over the Lord Advocate, Mr. Inglis, who had previously been defeated at Orkney. No opposition was anticipated, but the Independent electors of different creeds thought the time had come when the electors of Lisburn should make an effort to secure their freedom.

After many meetings of his friends, Mr. Roger Johnston Smyth was prevailed upon to become the Independent Candidate.

The tenants at this time were as absolutely in the power of the agent as they had been a century before, and no tenant dared to exercise any right as an elector, or as a candidate, without first obtaining the permission of "the Office," or running the risk of being turned out of his holding.

The battle of independence, was soon to be fought again. Mr. Roger Johnson Smyth, who was returned in December, 1852, died in the year succeeding his election, and Mr Jonathan Joseph Richardson was selected as his successor. In the "Northern Whig" of the 3rd September, 1853, there is a report of a meeting held in support of Mr. J. J. Richardson. The intimidation exercised by "the Office" against the tenants was there denounced in terms no doubt strong, but not stronger than the oppression merited. Qn the 13th October, 1853, Mr. Richardson was returned at the head of the poll.

In 1857 the battle of electoral independence in Lisburn was fought again. Lord Hertford had promised that the influence of "the Office" should not be used in the election, but he had promised the same thing more than once before, and in spite of his promise his agent, in this election, as in other elections, used all his influence to procure the election of the office nominee, Colonel Hogg, afterwards Lord Magheramorne.

In this contest, Mr. Jonathan Richardson, of Lambeg, was returned, and at the dinner given in his honour special reference was made to the subject of electoral independence, and of the services which had been rendered to the trade and improvement of Lisburn by the family of Richardson.

Lisburn Literary Society.

Early in the fifties a movement was started by Mr. M'Call and his old friend, Mr. John Millar, which resulted in the formation of the Lisburn Literary Society. There still exists the record of the meetings of the Council, and of the lectures given. None of the men who took the original and prominent part in the movement are now living. The founders' intention was to aid the cause of education by procuring lectures upon popular and scientific subjects, and by the establishment of a Library and Newsroom. It was necessary in order to secure the support of all classes to exclude all political and religious discussion.

On 4th February, 1858, one of the early lectures was delivered by Mr M'Call to a large audience in the Assembly Rooms, upon the subject of "Our Colonies."

Later he delivered addresses on Burns, Thomas Moore, Byron, and Goldsmith.

The following notice of this society is taken from the columns of the "Lisburn Standard" of June 16th, 1894:--

"For many years before his death, which sad event took place very suddenly on New Year's Day, 1834, Mr. John Rogers, a very benevolent Quaker, had been collecting one of the most extensive libraries in the County Antrim. He resided in the house long known of later years as that of the Bakery and Flour Store of Messrs. Millar and Stevensons', situated in Market Square, where he carried on a considerable business in the tea and general grocery trade. From the commencement of the Lisburn Charitable Society, Mr. Rogers was treasurer. The Committee met every Wednesday forenoon at the store in Wardsborough, and poor householders that required assistance received certain donations in money, meal, and coal, according to their necessities.

It has been stated that Mr. Rogers owned a large library. Among the volumes were all the works of Sir Walter Scott in the original editions, usually three volumes to each novel, the later ones published at half a guinea the volume. Bulwer Lytton Theodore Hook, W. R. Maxwell, Lady Morgan, Miss Landon, and other leading novelists found places in the library, and as Mr. Rogers was most liberal in lending his books to his literary friends, the result was to create in such circles a general taste for high-class works. The lessons so taught had not been given in vain. Seventeen years after the death of Mr. Rogers -- that was on the 17th February, 1851 -- a meeting of those who took interest in adult education, as derived from books and newspapers, was held in Mr. Millar's drawing-room, Market Square, and after considerable discussion relative to the forming of a Literary and Debating Society in Lisburn, the following gentlemen were appointed to act as provisional committee, and by a general canvass of the gentry, merchants, and traders in town, to ascertain how many of them would assist in bringing the proposed institute into practical operation. The gentlemen elected were -- The Rev. Thomas Patterson, Dr. Kelso, Dr. Musgrave, Dr. Campbell, and Dr. Macartney, David Beatty, John Millar, Hugh M'Call, George Major, and Waring H. Seeds.

A respected friend, and one of the most zealous supporters of the Society, has been good enough to lend the Secretary's book, in which are given reports of the proceedings, and as a history of literary Lisburn during the existence of the Society the book abounds in special interest.

The second meeting of the Committee was held on the 24th February in Dr. Kelso's parlour. It was then stated that the institute would be well supported. Messrs. Millar and M'Call were appointed to call on the trustees who had in their hands the £200 for which the former fever hospital had been sold, and to request that the money should be handed over to purchase books for the founding of a Public library. The terms of subscription were arranged at half a guinea annually, and the names of nearly one hundred proposed subscribers were handed in by the gentlemen appointed to collect information on the subject.

At a public meeting of the subscribers, held in the Assembly Room on the evening of the 13th March, 1851 -- Mr. George Stephenson in the chair -- it was resolved that, in addition to the library lectures by the members, professional lecturers should be engaged to give lectures on popular subjects. A ballot for members of the Permanent Council resulted in the election of Rev. Hartley Hodson, Rev. Alexander Henderson, Dr. Kelso, Dr. Musgrave, Dr. M'Harg, Dr. Campbell, and Dr. Macartney; George Stephenson, David Beatty, John Millar, Hugh M'Call, George Major, and Waring H. Seeds, David Beatty was elected treasurer; Dr. Kelso, John Millar, jun., secretaries; and Hugh M'Call and Dr. Macartney, librarians. George Stephenson was appointed president, and the Rev. Alexander Henderson, vice-president. This last resolution was proposed by the Rev. Hartley Hodson, and seconded by John Millar.

At the meeting of the Council, held on the 11th April, 1851, Messrs. Millar and M'Call reported having had a letter from Dean Stannus, who held the £200 for which the Fever Hospital had been sold, and the Dean stated that on second thoughts he did not consider that he should give up the money for the purposes stated. This refusal was a very great disappointment, but so liberally did the subscribers come forward to meet the difficulty, that before the close of the year upwards of four hundred volumes of new and second-hand books, the works of popular authors, had been purchased.

Sir James S. Tennent was member for Lisburn in 1851 and 1858, and in January of the later year Mr. J. J. Richardson, who had been added to the Council, was requested to write to the honourable gentleman with the request that he would aid in the founding of the library. The result of the application was, that in a few weeks afterwards twenty volumes very handsomely bound, and consisting of works of popular authors, were received from London by the librarian.

In the course of the summer and autumn of 1852, Dr. Kelso, Dr. Campbell, and Dr. Macartney delivered interesting lectures, the Assembly Room having been filled to the entrance door by appreciative audiences. Thomas M'Cluskey, the intelligent librarian, who noted the numbers present on each occasion, said that about 380 was the average.

Professor Moffett, of the Queen's College, Galway, who for many years past has beet the very popular president of that seat of education, delivered in the course of the first week in October a series of lectures on "Political Economy," and on each occasion the room was crowded, numbers that could not obtain seats standing in the lobby.

In the year 1863 another election occurred in Lisburn. Mr. Jonathan Richardson retired, and Mr John D. Barbour came forward as the candidate of the Independent party. The battle that was fought, and the victory that was won, are recorded in the columns of the "Whig." But the triumph was short-lived. Mr. John D. Barbour was unseated on petition and the representative of "the Office," Mr.  Edward Wingfield Verner, was elected, and remained member for Lisburn until, on the death of Lord Hertford, Sir Richard Wallace became the owner of the Hertford estate.

In 1863 the disastrous Civil War in America, destroying the cotton crop, produced wide-spread misery in the North of Ireland, and particularly, in those districts where the cotton trade was the staple manufacture. A committee of gentlemen resident in Lisburn was formed to supply the wants of those who were suffering, and that committee appealed, and appealed successfully, to wealthy men in Ireland, in England, and in Scotland, and received large contributions from the charitable in all districts, and particularly, from many successful Lisburn men who had settled in our colonies, in Australia, in New Zealand, and in Canada. One of the most generous was Mr. A. T. Stewart, whose success as a business man, and whose generous sympathy for the starving poor in Ireland is well known.

In 1872 Sir Richard Wallace succeeded to the estate after a long and costly litigation with Sir Hamilton Seymour. The policy of the Office was at once changed. The leases which had been refused to the manufacturers and residents alike were granted upon fair and just terms, and the policy of the Agent of Lord Hertford, which consisted in retaining some hold over the tenants by which he could influence their political or social conduct was at last abandoned. The result is seen in the changed appearance of Lisburn. Since the advent of Sir Richard Wallace building in Lisburn has increased with a rapidity unknown for the previous century.

(To be continued.)

-- -- -- -- -- -- --

Further interesting Correspondence.

Sir -- I was glad to observe that Mr. F. J. Bigger made an attempt to interpret the letters I.H.I. that are still on a house in Lisburn. His suggested meaning is certainly interesting and ingenious. If it is understood that the letter "H" is elevated midway above the other two, will the suggested interpretation so commend itself? We are all familiar with old spoons and gravestones so marked, where the letter surmounting the others represents the surname while the others are the initials of husband and wife. I hope the editor of these valuable extracts will examine a contemporary list, if available, of the inhabitants. I have seen two estate maps of a not much later date, but do not remember if the tenements of the town are set out. -- Yours etc.,
                J. W. KERNOHAN.
Park Road, Belfast.

-- -- -- -- -- -- --

Dear Sir -- I am glad to find that Mr. Carson's extracts from the records of our town are evoking so much interest. I was particularly interested in Mr. Bigger's reference to the book shop of Mr. James Ward in Market Square, and that this gentleman was connected with the eminent firm of Marcus Ward and Co., Belfast, and on referring to Matier's Belfast Directory for 1835-6 (a copy of which I have) he is described as a bookseller and stationer, and agent for the sale of teas, wines, and spirits, and that he resided at Strawberry-Hill, Lisburn. Mr. Ward evidently executed some beautiful printing and engraving as I have in my possession a book -- "A Collection of Sacred Music consisting of Psalms, Hymns, Sacred Melodies," arranged in three parts and adapted for divine worship in families and congregations, selected by L. Neill, precentor to the Lisburn congregation of the Presbyterian Church, which was published by Mr. Ward in 1837. Doubtless, some of the old inhabitants of our town may have other books published by this gentleman, and, if so, it would be interesting to know of them, and I have no doubt Mr. Carson would be happy to get any information from your readers.
-- Yours faithfully,
               JOSEPH ALLEN.

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 8 June 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.)

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Extracts from the Records of Old Lisburn XXXIII.



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28th December, 1895.
(Condensed Extracts.)

Some years before the sad turmoils of 1798, and long afterwords, Mrs. Kelly, who resided in a house at the head of Bridge Street, kept a shop for the sale of books and stationery. She was also proprietor of a lending library. The historic camp of Blaris was then the quarters of five or six hundred soldiers, and that increased demand for farm produce, etc., gave new life to Lisburn markets. Among the best clients of Mrs. Kelly were the rank and file quartered at the camp.

In the course of the month of December, 1835, James S. Major, who then managed the grocery and hardware concern in Bow Street, and of which his uncle, Parker Major, was proprietor, issued a circular addressed to the principal merchants and other traders of the town, requesting them to meet at he King's Arms Hotel -- John Moore proprietor -- to consider the propriety of reducing the then long hours of business houses. From seven o'clock in the morning till ten at night was the usual period of labour. J. S. Major proposed that the hour of closing should be eight o'clock, and, after considerable discussion the resolution was passed.

In January, 1836, the idea of forming a News-room was introduced, and a committee formed, of which William Graham was chairman, John Millar, treasurer; and Hugh M'Call, secretary. The original subscribers numbered eighty-four.


Names of Original Subscribers.

John Chapman. William Halliday.
John Millar. John Roberts.
George Pelan. Henry Mulholland.
John Sitherwood. Alex. Williamson.
William Graham. Henry Bell.
John Jefferson. John Pennington
Richard Jefferson. Jonathan Boomer.
Thomas Beckett. Thomas Gillespie.
Parker Major. J.R.Baxter.
James S. Major. John Lawson.
Hugh M'Call. F. H. O'Flaherty
John Reid. George Stephenson.
Adam M'Clure. Felix Powell.
John Sefton. John M'Lachlin.
John Hicks. J. Bradshaw.
George Boomer. William Elliott.
J. Hennessy. Henry Bayley.
H. J. Mauley. William Barbour.
Rev. Mr. Killen. Robert Neill.
William Shane. Hugh Nevin.
George Major. William Fulton.
John Moore. Rev. E. Leslie.
C. W. Alderdice. Francis Weldon.
Edward Gibson. Dr. C. Cupples.
Henry M'Carry. Dean Stannus.
James Thompson. William Gregg.
H. B. Magee. John Macrecy.
James Magee. John Hanlin.
Alexander Bell. Dr. Weatherhead,
James Patterson. William Hunter.
John Woods. Gilbert White.
William Hicks. Robert Mussen.
John Gillen. William Caldbeck.
Henry Mulholland. John Vernon.
Richard Mulholland. John M'Dowell.
Surgeon M'Donald. John Birney.
George Boomer. Lucas Waring.
David Beatty. Rev. H. Smith, P.P.
H. T. Higginson. James Ward.
John Crossley. W. S. Hunter.
Thomas Johnston. Jos. Caldbeck.
Samuel Kennedy. William Dillon.


This old list of the Maze Races is printed on one side of a single sheet of flimsy paper, measuring nine inches by fourteen. There is a rough racing block at the top of the sheet, and on the reverse side is a poem or ballad entitled, "The Baby's Dream." The printer is James O'Neill, No. 8 Pottingers Entry, Belfast. The names of the owners and horses, with age and weights, given on the list are omitted here.

Monday, July 22.

Hunter's Sweepstakes of 10 sovs. each. P.P. £30 added to the winner, by Mr. Maxwell of Finnebrogue, for the produce of either Turcoman or Robin. To run on Monday of the July Corporation Meeting at the Maze and Downpatrick alternately. Colts 8st. 7lb.; fillies and geldings, 8st. 4lb. To continue for three years. Five entries.

Sweepstakes, 15sovs. each 5ft. for hunters. Race horses admitted, to which the Governor will add £50, second horse to save his stake, and receive £10 out of the other stakes should 6 start. Two mile heats. Highest weighed horse carrying not less than 10st. Eleven entries.

Sweepstakes, 10sovs. each, 5ft. for maiden hunters that never won plate, prize or stakes, previous to the day of entrance. One mile and three-quarters heats; three yrs. old, 8st.; four years old 9st. 10lb.; five years old, 10st. 7lb.; six years old, 10st. 12lb.; aged, 11st. 31b. to mares and geldings. £25 added; second horse to save his stake. Four entries.

Tuesday, 23.

Royal Corporation Plate -- Sweepstakes, 5gs. each, for County of Down bred hunters, that never won a Racing Plate or stake; 50 gs. added by the Corporation to the winner, and 10gs to the second horse, who will save his stake. Two mile heats. Three entries.

Sweepstakes of 10 sovs. each, 3ft. for hunters; race horses admitted; second horse to save his stake. One mile and a half heats; £25 added.

Wednesday, 24.

Queen's Plate of £100 -- late Irish currency [-- ? --] Four mile heats. Three entries.

Hunters Sweepstakes of 15 sovs. each, 5 forfeit for horses foaled in, and bona fide the property of freeholders, or residents of the County of Down. To which will be added the Challenge Cup -- value 100gs. -- given by the Earl of Hillsborough. One round of the Hillsborough course. Heats. Three entries.

Free Handicap -- Hunters Sweepstakes of 5 sovs. each. Race horses admitted, second horse to save his stake. £25 added.

Thursday, 25.

Castlereagh Cup -- Hunters -- Sweepstakes of 10 sovs. each, h-ft. and the Challengeable Cup given by Viscount Castlereagh. To become the property of the winner three successive years. Six entries.

Sweepstakes of 15 sovs. each, 5ft. £10 added, second horse to save his stake. Three mile heats, gentlemen riders. Three entries.

Friday, 26.

Queen's Plate of 100gs. weight for age. The winners of the Queen's Plate on Wednesday to carry 4lb extra. Four entries.

Hunter's Sweepstakes of 5 sovs. each, 2ft. Race horses admitted. One mile, £25 added.

Saturday, 27.

Downshire Stakes -- Sweepstake of 5 sovs. each. P.P. for County of Down bred hunters. £50 added by the Marquis of Downshire. Four mile heats. Five entries

Consolation Stakes -- Hunters sweepstakes of 3 sovs. each. 1ft. for the beaten horses which have run during the week and saved their distance in any race. Second horse to save his stake, to which will be added the Ladies' Purse. To be ridden by gentlemen or jockies as the Governor may please.

The Brownlow Cup and Hillsborough Claret Jugs, are to be challenged before nine o'clock on Monday evening of the meeting.

          Hillsborough, Governor.
July, 18th, 1839.


Mr. Hugh M'Call was born in Lisburn in the year 1805, and died in the town of his nativity in 1897. In politics he was a liberal, of what may be termed, the old school, and an ardent supporter of the rights of the Irish tenant-farmers. He was a most prolific writer and fluent speaker, and his literary attainments were far beyond the average. For over half a century he was a constant and industrious contributor, in prose and verse, to the daily press and other publications. In 1855 was published "Our Staple Manufactures: A Series of papers on the History and Progress of the Linen and Cotton Trades in the North of Ireland," by A Manufacturer. The author was Mr. M'Call. A second and enlarged edition appeared in 1865 under the title -- "Ireland and her Staple Manufactures: Being Sketches of the History and Progress of the Linen and Cotton Trades, more especially in the Northern Province." These were followed by a third edition in 1870, and!* fourth was in preparation, and almost reedy for the press when the hand of death intervened. His other works were "The Cotton Famine of 1862-63, and "The House of Downshire." In 1899 was published "Some Recollections of Hugh M'Call, Lisburn," for private circulation only. Printed by J. E. Reilly, "Standard" Office, Lisburn. This little volume contains some seventy pages and is full of interest to North of Ireland readers. Only items, referring directly to Lisburn and district are extracted and here recorded

Extracts from the "Recollections."

Hugh M'Call was born in the year 1805. His father, Robert M'Call, then resided in Chapel Hill in a small house, which was pulled down many years ago. Some of the adjoining houses were associated with persons of great interest to Lisburn history. Not far away lived Mr. Betty, the father of the celebrated young actor, Wm. W. Betty; and in the month of August, 1803, the boy, then under thirteen years of age made his first appearance on the stage at Belfast.

W. H. Betty, of Chapel Hill, Lisburn, owned a large bleachfield near Ballynahinch. In the course of his business travels in England  he met Miss Staton, daughter of a wealthy landowner -- James Stanton, of Hopeton, County of Salop -- and to that lady he was married in October, 1790. He brought his handsome bride to Lisburn, where she was received with the utmost attention in the homes of the local gentry and merchants.

Luke Teeling, who resided nearly opposite Mr. Betty's house, and who was also in the linen trade, had considerable taste for literature and the drama. He paid much attention to the young matron, and introduced her to his interesting family.

During the autumn of the succeeding year she visited her native place in Shrewsbury, and there, on the 13th September, 1791, "The Young Roscius" was born, and received the baptismal name of William Henry West.

Mrs. Betty and her son returned to Lisburn. At the age of five years the lad was sent to Peter Goyer's School, and after a rudimental course of instruction his future education was altogether in the hands of his mother, who had ample ability to discharge that duty.

His father was an excellent elocutionist and as Mrs. Betty possessed much taste for the drama, the lad became an adept in reciting Shakespeare when in his ninth year.

Bartley Teeling.

Luke Teeling, a linen merchant and bleacher, resided in the house afterwards occupied by Robert M'Call, and which house is situate in the south side of Chapel Hill, immediately adjoining the Chapel. His eldest son, Bartholomew -- familiarly called Bartley -- left his home in 1792 and went over to France, and some time after introduced himself to Napoleon, then First Consul, who appointed him lieutenant in his bodyguard.

Teeling landed at Killala, in the County of Mayo, with the French troops. The British Army met them at Castlebar, and the French invaders chased them out of town. The two armies met several times but at Colooney, Sligo, Teeling was taken prisoner and brought to Dublin. His get-up was perfect, as the six years' resident in Paris had acclimatized him, and he spoke the language like a native.

He was brought before Major Sirr, the chief military authority of the city and who had been in command from 1793 till the time of Teeling's arrest. Sirr could not really assure himself that his prisoner was Teeling, formerly of Lisburn. He had him brought into his parlour, several soldiers' in plain clothes being stationed in the hall to prevent any attempt at escape.

The Major, knowing that in Dublin Linen Hall were often to be seen merchants from Lisburn, sent his servant there to say that a gentleman of that town was anxious to see a Lisburn merchant. The late William Coulson, founder of the Damask Factory, came to Sirr's house, and at once recognised Teeling, and shaking hands with him, thus unquestionably proved his identity.

Teeling was immediately tried and found guilty, as several members of the English Army had seen him leading one wing of the French troops at Colooney, near Sligo. He was hanged next day at Arbour Hill, Dublin.

Thomas O'Hagan married a very pretty daughter of Luke Teeling; she was his first wife. Belfast had the honour of sending two Lords Chancellors to the Irish Woolsack -- O'Hagan and Napier -- and one to the English -- McCalmont Cairns.

Napper Tandy.

Napper Tandy, who was a prominent United Irish man, figured in Paris in 1790, and for some years afterwards. He was the son of James Tandy, a linen manufacturer, who lived in Bridge Street, Lisburn, in a house on the south side and near the entrance to Market Lane. He was called "Croppie" Napper Tandy. The fashion at the close of the last century was to wear the back hair very long, and tie a portion of it with black silk ribbon, the "queue" as it was called, hanging over the coat collar. The United Irishmen cut off the queue, hence the origin of the term "Croppie."

A portrait of Harry Munroe shows that he continued to wear his queue even to the day of his execution in June, 1798.

A school was kept by Mrs. Sweeney in the year 1812, at a house in Chapel Hill. Amongst the pupils there was Francis McNamara, who emigrated to Barbadoes, and rose to wealth and eminence as a sugar planter.

In Castle Street a school was also kept by Mr. Charles Sheals. After the fashion of those days, the master thought that the only incentive to learn was the rod, and the cry of the child was apparently the sweetest, music in his ears.

One of the scholars at that school was Benjamin Workman, who afterwards became a leading merchant in Montreal. John Corken was another, and there were many others whose names afterwards became well known in connection with the Church, the Commerce, and the Politics of Ulster.

In the year 1815 a man called Cunningham was taken in Belfast by the press-gang when he was on his way to his work. For seven years no word was heard of him.

The letters which he wrote to his relatives were supposed to have been destroyed. It is scarcely possible to realise from books or even from statements of the survivors, the difference between those days and the brighter times in which we live.

In 1817 a man was put upon his trial at Carrickfergus for passing a forged note for 35s. The note purported to be a bank note of the Belfast Bank, which was then called the "Black Bank," because the printing of its notes gave them such a black appearance. The prisoner was unable to read. He could not have known whether the note was forged or not. He asked the judge who presided at the trial whether there was no mercy for such as he was, and the judge's only reply was that he was bound to administer the law as he found it, and accordingly the prisoner was convicted and hanged.

In 1798 there were in Lisburn three brothers -- John, Hugh, and Harry Mulholland -- belonging to the family now represented by Mr. J. R. T. Mulholland, J.P. John was a United Irishman, Harry was in the Yeomanry. Both were present at the Battle of Ballynahinch, and Hugh, with Falstaff's discretion, was too prudent to join either party. The "United Irishmen" named the three brothers, "Good, Bad, and Indifferent." Harry Mulholland was buying linen cloth with the unfortunate Harry Munroe at the Lurgan market a few days before the Battle of Ballynahinch.

Harry Munroe.

Mr. M'Call was well acquainted with the history and disasters of Henry Joy M'Cracken, of Belfast, and from him came the traditional story of M'Cracken' sister giving £15 to the hangman, employed bat her brother's execution in order to obtain the body immediately after the execution, but the hangman's work had been done too well.

He used to tell with great animation the story of Harry Munroe and his betrayer -- a farmer named Holmes -- who received the rebel leader, and afterwards betrayed him to the Captain of the Black Troop; and of the unfortunate man who was hanged at Hillsborough on no bettor evidence of treason than that a token was found in his shoe bearing the words "Remember Orr."

Among those who were seized and imprisoned was John Jacobson. He was confined in the Lisburn Guard-room with a dozen others on the night before the fight at Ballynahinch. Sergeant Whyte, of the Lisburn Yeomanry, was placed in charge of the prisoners, together with ten privates, whose carbines were loaded with ball.

About midnight a Dragoon galloped up to the Guard-room and gave an order to Whyte. The prisoners begged to know what the mounted orderly had said. The sergeant did not wish to tell them, but at length replied, "It is rumoured that Munroe and his troops are about to storm the town. A sentinel is placed on the Down Bridge to warn the troops of the barrack of Munroe's approach, and in such a case all prisoners are to be shot."

In these perilous times Mr. McGhee, the Parish Priest, was going out one night to visit a parishioner in Blaris. An Orangeman, who knew the popular priest told him of his great danger owing to the mob of Orangemen on the road, invited him into the house where an Orange Lodge was sitting, where he remained in safety, and was afterwards accompanied by a guard of Orangemen.

As a boy he knew Harry Munroe's mother, and his sister "Peg," of whom it was related that she was present at, and rode her pony in, the fight at Ballynahinch. According to her mother's story, Peg rode a gray pony and wore a grey sash. Another girl of about the same age -- Bessie Gray, of Killinchy -- insisted upon accompanying her lover, who was one of the United Irishmen, to the field at Ballynahinch. Her devotion to her lover, which cost her her life, has been celebrated in a poem by the late William McComb, of Belfast.

Of distinguished Lisburn men the name of the celebrated Captain Flack should not be omitted. He had entered the army as a private, had served through the Peninsular War, rising gradually step by step and gaining on more than one occasion the warm recommendation of his leader, the future Duke of Wellington. With pardonable pride, the soldier told the story of Wellington the night before the Battle of Badajos sitting dictating despatches to two secretaries, and ordering Flack to take up his position upon a neighbouring hill and watch the approach of the enemy. The General said he would take a few hours' sleep, but in less than two hours after Captain Flack had been sent out, and about two o'clock in the morning he saw a cloaked figure approach the spot on which he stood. He challenged, threatened to shoot, and then discovered that his visitor was Lord Wellington. His alertness was rewarded by quick promotion.

At the close of the Peninsular War, Captain Flack retired on a pension, on which he lived for many years afterwards. He spent the remainder of his years in Armagh, and perhaps this accounts for the mistake made by Maxwell as to his being a native of Armagh. He died in March, 1853.

(To be continued.)

-- -- -- -- -- -- --


To the Editor of the "Lisburn Standard."

Sir -- The letter from your correspondent "Veritas," in many respects is most admirable and interesting. It throws light on another phase of the Revival of 1859, and gives a valuable list of names and authorities. An under-current of personal bitterness , however, pervades it, which somewhat distracts from its value.

"Veritas" errs gravely in assuming that I was out "to discredit the great Revival of 1859, and to offend the susceptibilities of some of the readers of the "Lisburn Standard." Nothing was further from my intention. I neither defended nor condemned the Revival. I pointed out that some writers and thinkers looked upon it as "A Year of Grace," others considered it "A Year of Delusion." I passed no opinion on the merits or demerits of either.

M'Cann's pamphlet was treated as a curious relic out of the past, and my notes on it and on the "Physical Manifestations" were never intended as a history of the Revival, but simply a reference to a phase of it as expounded in an old Lisburn document.

Helpful criticism, or new and additional information, regarding any of the articles will always be thankfully received. -- Yours truly,

                      JAMES CARSON.

-- -- -- -- -- -- --


To the Editor of the "Lisburn Standard"

Sir -- In Mr. Carson's notes on Old Lisburn given in yours of the 25th May, a copy of the inscription formerly on the old buildings in Market Square is given commencing with the initials I.H.I, These are somewhat unusual but I have seen them once on a stone of similar date (1708) at Slane. They may mean Jesus Hominum Index (Jesus the Judge of men) and the lettering rather confirms this by their reference to Judgments. The fire was evidently so considered at the time as confirmed by the other inscription and the Australian account.

The Wards had their book shop at the south-west corner of the Square. A portion of the scaffolding on which Henry Munroe suffered was rested on their upstair window-sills, which gave them much annoyance. It was so erected in order that it might be in view of the Munroe homestead.

The Marcus Wards and the late Isaac W. Ward ("Belfastiensis") were of this family. The late James T. Ward, of Cherry Hill, told me that his grandfather was the James Ward mentioned in Bradshaw's Directory (1819)

An old wooden tower on the Cathedral was only replaced by the present beautiful steeple about 1806. -- Yours, etc.,

Ardrigh, Belfast.

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 1 June 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.)