Wednesday 6 July 2011

Extracts from Hibernian Magazine, May, 1778.



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May, 1778.

A long and interesting article appeared in this magazine, dated from Glenavy, and bearing the simple signature X. The natural conclusion would appear to be that this article was written by the author of "Heterogenea," who was born in 1747 and resided for a time at Glenavy. The internal evidence, however, rather precludes this conclusion, and it is not at all improbable that the article was from the pen of the author of "A Tour in Ireland," 1813 and 1814.

Only short extracts are here recorded, sufficient to give a general idea of the scope and trend of the article.
At present Lisburn consists of three streets centring at the Market Place on the north side of the River, and one on the south side. The houses are generally built of brick in a neat handsome manner, and slated, and are mostly three storeys high. The streets are well paved and kept clean. In the winter season they are well lighted with globe lamps at proper distances, so that doubtless this is the handsomest inland town in Ulster. The whole number of houses in the town and suburbs in 1776 was 654, which at seven to a house contain 4,578 inhabitants.
The church is moderately large, but not elegant in its structure. The steeple is of a tolerable height. The Presbyterian Meeting House is a much more elegant building, it is large and lofty, built of stone, plain on the outside, but remarkable for the neatness and elegance of the inside work. It is about 60 feet by 40, exclusive of staircases. Three large galleries, supported by seven pillars, surround the house. A large genteel congregation is to be seen here on Sundays.

The Friends' Meeting House, the Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic Chapel, the Market House, and the Assembly Rooms are referred to and described.
A few years ago the Market House had a clock and steeple, but, the latter being taken down, the former was removed to the Church steeple. The landlord, who receives annually near £14,000 from this estate, not a shilling of which is spent in Ireland, cannot be prevailed upon to rebuild this steeple.

The building of the Linen Hall, the trade of the town and the markets receive attention and notice.
There is likewise a pretty considerable trade in the manufacture of linen cloth carried on here, and in the shopkeeping way, and of late years in supplying the towns more inland with foreign merchandise such as timber, groceries, spirits, ashes, etc., etc. The River Lagan, which passes by this town, is navigable for vessels of thirty or forty tons from Belfast, several of these vessels are constantly employed in bringing coals, and other merchandise from thence, which, till of late years, belonged to merchants of that town, but the inhabitants of Lisburn began now to see their own interests, several of them having established warehouses in the town, and some being concerned in vessels that carry on foreign trade, now not only supply their own but many of the neighbouring towns with foreign merchandise, and what is yet more surprising, a Quaker gentleman in Lisburn supplies many people in Belfast, which is a seaport, with wines of all sorts.

Right through the article runs a gentle vein of sarcasm that at times is quite refreshing.
Thus, without the aid or encouragement of a landlord, has this town increased in building and in trade. If it had the advantage of a landlord who could either spare the time to visit it now and then in person, or give orders to allow a small matter yearly for necessary improvements, few inland towns in Ireland could equal this. The former we cannot expect, his lordship having so many lucrative employments about the Court, requiring his attendance, and his character for generosity has been so well established in his vice-royalty that few will wonder of his neglecting the latter.

Here follow numerous suggested improvements, a complaint that the town provided no charitable institution, not even a parish-school, and an account of an attempt to establish a poorhouse, blocked by Lord Hertford. The foundation and opening of the Friends' School, Prospect Hill, received due notice. The pride of the ladies of Lisburn comes in for severe criticism. A very long paragraph being devoted to this interesting subject.
The character of the inhabitants of Lisburn is well established, pride being their principal foible, many of those who, from being destitute of fortune, high birth, or education, seem least entitled to vanity, justly deserve this character. The ladies are in general brought up too much in high life for their circumstances the whole business of their lives is dressing and attending balls, domestic concerns are below their notice, and few of them have got an education sufficient to give them a taste for that rational amusement -- reading. By this means, those ladies are too high for tradesmen to look to as future partners, and three or four hundred pounds are much too little to purchase nobility for the daughter of a north country linen draper.

The young men of Lisburn also do not escape scathless, they suffer equally with their gentle sisters, from the caustic humour that flows so freely from the facile pen of X.

He waxes eloquent on subserviency to landlord tyranny --
Though the inhabitants of Lisburn behave thus haughtily to those whom they imagine their inferiors, they are kept in a state of abject slavery by their landlord, and so accustomed have they been from generation to generation to tremble at the frowns of his agents and stewards they look upon him who should act or even think contrary to his will and pleasure, particularly in regard to their most important concern -- that of elections -- as a rebel, and his company is avoided as such, no person would have any communication with him. Thus, instead of endeavouring to maintain their rights, they join their endeavours to confirm their own slavery.

The author grants ungrudgingly than there were, as might be expected amongst the citizens, honourable exceptions. How much truth or foundation, however, there may have been for the severe strictures upon the good inhabitants of Lisnagarvey, a hundred years ago or more, it is now difficult to say. It Is noticeable that in the literature dealing with the period about 1770-1830, reference crops up occasionally to the pride of the ladies and the exclusiveness of the linen drapers. The term, "linen draper," in this connection was applied to a merchant engaged in the linen industry. Harsh judgment should be reserved when it is considered, how many in the North of Ireland, and in Lisburn in particular, sprung into unexpected opulence through the activities of the new industry, the power of the landlord, the living in a small and restricted community, and the power and influence that even comparative wealth then conferred. It is a pleasing contrast indeed, should the picture be only partly true to turn to the Lisburn of to-day with its wider outlook the freedom from petty tyranny, the larger and more general interests, and the more equal distribution of wealth. Possibly no town in the North of Ireland is more happily situated, than Lisburn in regard to the general social status of its inhabitants, and the freedom, from that narrow and soul corroding social exclusiveness, and those petty social distinctions so emphatically condemned by X.

In the same number of the magazine under date, Lisburn, March 1, 1778, appears an account of the death of a Lisburn worthy, and a long and glowing account of his many good deeds and perfections --
This day died Mr. F. Burden, of this place, linen draper, a man whose character approached as near perfection as human nature is probably capable of, his conduct through life having discovered humanity in its most engaging colours and highest degree of excellence, exhibiting to the world a model of strict justice and universal benevolence.

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By an Bye-witness.
Published in 1891.

A Continuation of the impartial History of the Wars in Ireland, 1689-92.
Published in 1693.

Both books are bound in the same volume and combined run to some 500 pages. George Story was chaplain to the Earl of Drogheda's Regiment.

This is a valuable and scarce book. There is a good and well-preserved copy in the Linen Hall Library. The combined works cover Schomberg's operation's in Ireland, the landing of William III. at Carrickfergus, the Boyne campaign, Siege of Derry and other important and interesting events in those momentous years. There is not much bearing directly on the history of Lisburn in either work. The Rout or Break of Dromore is thus referred to --
Early in 1689 the Protestants in Ireland were in daily expectation of arms, ammunition, commissions, and some forces from England, and it's more than probable, that if they had got them, or not hoped to them, the business had cost neither so much blood, or treasure as since it has, yet some advised, not to make any show of discontent, till they had an opportunity, and were in a condition to make their party good, by the arrival of succours from England. But the greater part, impatient of delays begin to lift men, and with what arms they could get, to make a show of forming an army. Against those in the North, Lieutenant-General Hambleton, an official of King James, marched with about one thousand of the standing army and nigh twice as many Rapparees, in a distinct body, they met at Drummore, in the County of Down, and on the 14th March the Protestants were routed with no great difficulty, and no wonder, for they were indifferently provided with arms, ammunition, and commanders, nor was their discipline any better. This was afterwards called "The Break of Drummore" a word common amongst the Irish Scots for a rout.

Reference, is made to Lisburn, which Duke Schomberg's army passed through on it's March South, September 2nd, 1689. "One of the prettiest inland towns in the North of Ireland, and one of the most English-like places in the kingdom." The oft told tale of the "Gamesters' Mount" is also related. Lord Lisburne appears as an officer in the army. Captain de St. Sauvem, a Frenchman, who took part in the defence of Sligo, and a Colonel Langston died of a fever at Lisburn. Schomberg had his headquarters in this town, and an hospital in Belfast. The General at this time did not advance further than Dundalk.
On Tuesday, 3rd September, 1689, Schomberg's Army marched through Hillsborough, a place where the enemy before our coming, had kept a garrison, near which, on the highway side, were two of our men hanged for deserting, that night we encamped at Dromore.

Brass Money.

And now, December 1689, the Irish begin to make the coin of their brass money less than it was at first, calling in the large brass half-crowns and stamping them anew for crowns, they wanting metal to go on with as they first began. They say it was a Quaker that first proposed this movation of brass money, but whoever it was they did that party a great service, since they would never have been able to carry on the, war witbout it.

Convention in Lisburn.

Towards the end of November, 1689, General Schomberg summoned all the gentlemen in the country to meet him at Lisburn, where they presented him with an address, and agreed upon rates for all sorts of provisions which were commanded to be sold according to the Duke's Proclamation, but this was very disagreeable to the country people who had made us pay treble rates before for everything we had from them.

Mention is made, in March 1690, of four prisoners taken at Charlemont being brought to Lisburn. All this time the General in Lisburn was daily sending provisions and stores to the men stationed on the frontiers.

King William landed at Carrickfergus, June 14th, 1690. On June 19th his army passed through Lisburn on its way to Hillsborough, and on that day the King dined with Schomberg at his headquarters in Market Square. On 27th June the army marched through Dundalk 36,000 strong, composed of English, Scotch, Dutch, Germans, Danes, French, and Ulster Protestants.

One of James' officers -- Sarsefield -- speaking of the Boyne said -- "If you would change kings we would fight it once again and beat you."

(More "Extracts" next week.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 6 July 1917 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

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