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.)

1 comment:

  1. Most interesting. I'd be interested to learn more about Colonel Joseph Beatty and his parents. I understand he was and engineer and Colonel of the Madras Sappers. His father was David Beatty Esq JP of Lisburn and his wife was called Margaret. Any information on Margaret's family and family name and David's background would be appreciated.