Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Black Ribbon and A Famous Lisburn Murder


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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From "Pearson's Magazine," May, 1907.

Of the strange old legends told of the early days of many of our historic houses, most have come down to us with such obvious additions and exaggerations as to make them, though always interesting, quite incredible. But of the Beresford ghost short, hereafter narrated, this is not so. Alter a lapse of over two centuries, it remains one of the few true ghost stories incapable of any material explanation; special value attaches to the present version of the story, as it has been compiled from the family records, and authenticated by the present representative of the family, the Marquis of Waterford.

The Irish Beresfords are a family of great antiquity. Among their family portraits is one of a certain Lady Beresford, clad in the picturesque dress of the latter part of the seventeenth century, and wearing round her right wrist a broad band of black ribbon.

Thereby hangs the following story:--

In the month of October, 1693, Sir Tristram and Lady Beresford, of Curraghmore, were the guests of Lady Macgill, at

Gill Hall, Dromore, County Down,

the present seat of Lord Clanwilliam.

One morning Sir Tristram awoke early and went out for a long walk before breakfast, leaving Lady Beresford still asleep in bed.

On his return the family sat down to breakfast. Lady Beresford was still absent, and as the meal progressed Sir Tristram became anxious, and a servant was sent in search of her. Presently she entered the dining-room, showing plainly by her looks and manner that something serious had happened.

Sir Tristram inquired the cause of her agitation, and then, noticing that she was broad piece of ribbon bound tightly round her right wrist, he asked anxiously whether she had met with an accident.

Lady Beresford begged him in an undertone not to make any remarks about the ribbon, adding in a vehement whisper, "You will never see me without it again."

"Very well," said Sir Tristram, "since it is a secret then I will make no more inquiries about it."

Lady Beresford then asked whether any letters had arrived for her, and Sir Tristram asked her if she had any particular reason for so doing.

"Yes," she replied, "it is because I am expecting to hear of the death of Lord Tyrone, which took place on Tuesday last."

As Lord Tyrone, who was a family friend, was then supposed to be in his usual health, Sir Tristram at once concluded that his lady had had a bad dream, which had evidently preyed upon her mind. At that moment, however, a letter with a black seal was handed to Sir Tristram, and the moment Lady Beresford saw it she exclaimed, "it is to say he is dead!"

The letter, which was from Lord Tyrone's steward, was indeed found to contain the sad news of his lordship's death. Lady Beresford, although greatly grieved, declared she felt almost relieved for now she knew the worst. She then informed her husband that the child that was soon to be born to her would be a boy, a fact of which she said she felt quite as certain as she had done respecting the news about Lord Tyrone.

In the following July a son was born, and about six years afterwards Sir Tristram Beresford died. Lady Beresford then withdrew herself from society, and taking her two children with her, retired to one of the family seats in County Derry, where she proceeded to lead a simple country life of secluded calm.

Among her neighbours were some connections of the family, a Mr and Mrs. Jackson, who had a house at Coleraine. Mrs. Jackson had been formerly a Miss Gorges, daughter of Dr. Robert Gorges, and her brother, Richard Gorges, often stayed with her. While on one of these visits to her sister he promptly fell in love with the still young and comely Lady Beresford, and in 1704 they were married.

The marriage turned out an exceedingly unhappy one. Two sons and a daughter were born to the ill-assorted couple, but soon after the birth of the second son they parted. Through all these years Lady still wore the band of black ribbon round her wrist, and no eye ever beheld her without it.

When Sir Marcus Beresford, her eldest son, was a lad of about twenty, his mother invited him, and also her daughter, Lady Riverstone, to be present at some celebration in honour of her birthday. Dr. King, the Archbishop of Dublin, and an old clergyman who had christened Lady Beresford, were also present. The latter was specially honoured by his hostess, and in the course of conversation she said to him: "You know I am forty-eight today."

"Nay," he replied, "I can assure your ladyship that you are only forty-seven."

"Then," said Lady Beresford, "you have signed my death-warrant. Send my son and daughter to me immediately, for I have much to do before I prepare for death."

When alone with her two children, Lady Beresford told them that she had something of great importance to communicate to them, and forthwith proceeded to disclose the mystery of the black ribbon by relating the following weird story.

She and Lord Tyrone, she said, had been educated together as children, and the greatest sympathy and love ever existed between them. They were both brought up as Deists, but had strong leanings towards Christianity, and being greatly doubtful and perplexed, they made a solemn promise that whichever died first should, if permitted, appear to the other to declare which religion was more acceptable to God.

One night, she went on, as she was sleeping in her bed at Gill Hall, near Dromore, County Down, she suddenly awoke and saw Lord Tyrone standing by her bedside. Terribly frightened, she was about to scream and awaken her husband, but at last she found courage to address him.

"Tell me why are you here at this hour of the night?"

"Have you forgotten our compact, pledged to one another years ago?" he replied "I am allowed thus to appear to tell you that the Christian religion is the one by which you will be saved."

The ghost then informed her that she would be blessed with a long-wished-for son, that she would survive her husband and marry a second time, and that she would die at the age of forty-seven. "I myself," he added, "died on Tuesday at four o'clock."

Lady Beresford then begged the apparition to give her some sign so that in the morning she might know the whole episode had not been a dream.

"Reach out your hand," said the spirit.

Lady Beresford did so, whereupon he laid his hand, which was cold, like marble, heavily upon her wrist. Immediately the nerves withered and the sinews shrank, leaving a broad red scar.

Next morning Lady Beresford bound her wrist with black ribbon, and as time went on all the prophecies were fulfilled in a most remarkable manner, except, apparently, that of her death, for she was congratulating herself that she had passed her fatal forty-seventh birthday, when the old clergyman disillusioned her by informing her that she was really only forty-seven at present.

Lady Beresford added that she wished her son and daughter to untie the piece of black ribbon after she was dead. They left her quite calm and about to sleep, but an hour later her bell rang hastily, and all was over.

Before she was put in her coffin, however, Sir Marcus Beresford and Lady Riverstone knelt solemnly by her bedside and removed the black ribbon as they had promised. They found the wrist marked and scarred exactly as their mother had described.

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The Rev. Classon Porter, in his article "Witches, Warlocks, and Ghosts," reprinted from the "Northern Whig," 1885, gives a lengthy and detailed account of the Lord Tyrone ghost story. He states that when Lady Beresford asked the spirit to prove to her by some physical act that the vision apparently before her was real and not a phantom of her brain, the figure drew aside the curtains of the bed, and also wrote a few words in her pocketbook, which was lying on the table. Even this did not satisfy Lady Beresford, when the spirit asked her to hold out her arm, with the result as detailed above.

The article also contained an account of the Islandmagee Witches; Dr. Colville, Galgorm, Ballymena, and the Evil One; and the Haddock Ghost Story, investigated and certified by Bishop Jeremy Taylor.

The Rev. Classon Porter was minister of the Unitarian Church at Larne. Born 1814, died 1885. He wrote at considerable length on Presbyterian Church history and biography. His articles, "Jeremy Taylor at Portmore, before he became Bishop," and "Bishop Taylor at Portmore and the Neighbourhood" are interesting and valuable.

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(From the "Northern Whig.")

In Lisburn in 1813 there lived a baker named Adam Sloan, and among his employees was one Barney M'Cann (paid, it may be remarked incidentally, 6s 6d a week), a slight slip of an active lad, who had previously worked in Dromore and who was a native of Newtownhamilton. He was, as they, say, a bit of a playboy -- we do not get much money but we do see life -- and the Maze Races coming on, he duly went to the Maze.

But not alone.

He had found a fellow-townsman, Owen M'Adam, a cattle and horse dealer, who had got a sheaf of notes, a pony that would carry him from Belfast to Dundalk in less than a day, a very peculiar watch, and a great deal more drink than was good for him.

They had no doubt a pleasant day and a pleasant return to Lisburn, and M'Adam then thought that he would go about his business.

In the evening he mounted his famous pony, and, accompanied by M'Cann, passed on towards Hillsborough. They were seen together in many public-houses. In one M'Adam pulled out his sheaf of notes, in another his watch, whose dial was extraordinary in that it had the figures of four soldiers on it. At the Warren gate, Blaris, they stopped at yet another spirit shop to get half a pint of whisky, and when the proprietor objected that M'Adam had had enough, M'Cann replied that it would only sober him. The last that was seen of them was that instead of taking the coach road to Hillsborough they went up the banks of the Lagan.

Nothing more was heard of the traveller for a day or two, when some lightermen found a body near the edge of the water. It seemed at first the victim of an accident, but when the medical evidence showed that the man had been strangled or choked before the boy was thrown into the water; when there was no watch, no money, and no pony; it was seen to be the victim not of accident but of murder, and people began to ask where was M'Cann.

Where was M'Cann? He had come quietly back to Lisburn, and, telling his master that he had got a better job in Dromore, took his clothing and all he owned and as quietly moved on.

Meanwhile the inquest was held, a verdict of wilful murder returned against M'Cann, a warrant issued for his arrest, and the police -- such police as they had in those days -- put in pursuit. For a time they could find his traces. Here a man sold a watch whose dial had four soldiers on it. There a man left a pony to be called for later. M'Cann was known to have a hairy cap -- a leather cap half-covered with rabbit skin -- and they arrested every man with such a cap, but none of them covered the head of M'Cann. So the days passed, the weeks and months, and M'Can had utterly disappeared.

It is an object lesson on the difference that modern means of communication have made. Dr. Crippen might well have envied his predecessor.

Ten years afterwards he was discovered. Not near Lisburn but in Galway, not a baker but a butcher, not a stripling youth but a man of seventeen stone, no longer with 6s 6d a week but with 28 acres of land and £1,500 in the bank, with a wife and five children, and, it appears, the respect and even affection of the people of Galway.

Who discovered him does not appear in the evidence.

The story runs that it was a tinker or pedlar, one of those peripatetics who scour the country and know everybody and everybody's business better than they do themselves. As he was passing down William Street, Galway, the butcher began to chaff him about the purchase of a joint, one word leading on to another till "How do you come to be trading in twigs?" said the butcher; "it's in hemp you ought to be dealing." Then something jogged the pedlar's memory. "If every man got his due," said he, "more nor me would be dealing in hemp, Mr. M'Cann." There is a very suspicious ring about that story. It is rather too neat.

Anyhow, James Hughes was denounced as Barney M'Cann, and Mr. James Burke, the Mayor of Galway, arrested him.

The story goes that he asked M'Cann into his parlour, where he had a file of soldiers, but that is nonsense. He in reality went to the meat market, told M'Cann that he had a very nasty charge against him, and invited him to explain it.

Then Mr. John Reilly, J.P., brother of Mr. William E. Reilly, agent for the Marquis of Downshire, also came into the hearing. Hughes insisted that he was Hughes, and denied that he was M'Cann. He consequently denied that he was a native of Newtownhamilton. He came from Dungannon, he said; but he did not know the name of Northland or Knox, of any magistrate, the parish priest or clergyman, or even of the innkeeper; and he further remarked that even if he had been drinking with M'Adam nobody could prove that he murdered him.

Tried at Downpatrick, the evidence against him was overwhelming.

Unlike the Tichborne claimant, M'Cann could not find anyone who knew him as Hughes before 1813, and even those he produced as witnesses could only swear he was M'Cann.

The verdict was never in doubt, and the judge speedily pronounced the savage verdict of those days:-- "You shall be removed from where you stand to the place from whence you came, the common gaol, there heavily ironed and placed in solitary confinement until the day of your execution. You shall then have your irons struck off and be taken to the place where criminals are usually executed, and there be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and may the Eternal and Omnipotent God have mercy on your soul. And after you are dead your body to he taken to the County Infirmary, there to be dissected and anatomised. The sentence to be carried into execution on Thursday."

This, be it noted, was Wednesday. Prisoner called for a "long day" -- a term forgotten now, a longer respite between sentence and execution -- but it was refused.

The next day dawned, and at twenty minutes to two in the afternoon M'Cann appeared on the scaffold in front of the gaol before a multitude of people. He acknowledged his guilt, he prayed for ten minutes, pulled the cap over his face, and stood calmly to he pinioned. Suddenly the trap was shot, and M'Cann fell; not to his instant death. Under his great weight the rope snapped and he fell twenty feet to the ground. He lit on his feet, but pinioned as he was, collapsed on his back and the soldiers, we read, "with rapid humanity" carried him within the gaol gates. In a few minutes he sat upright upon his own coffin and asked for a drink of water.

There are two stories of what happened then, the penny plain and the twopence coloured. According to the first he cried "My life's my own," for there was a common and rooted idea that such an accident was equivalent to an execution. In the second version, "I have been sentenced to be hanged," he said, "and I have been hanged. We hare satisfied the law's requirements and I suppose I may go."

"Oh, no," replied the sheriff. "It is true that you have been hanged, but it is also true that my orders are to hang you by the neck till you are dead."

Real or apocryphal as that may be, it is a fact that M'Cann remained sitting on his own coffin for an hour and a half. Then he walked steadily again to the scaffold, appearing more afraid of another fall than of his death. This time there was no accident, and soon, with an escort of the 77th Dragoons, his corpse was on its way to be dissected and anatomised.

He was executed at Downpatrick on July 29th, 1823.

(Next week: Some Old Maps.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 29 November 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Christ Church and the UVF in Lisburn


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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The Parish of Lisburn, alias Blaris, covers a wide area, and contains a large Church of Ireland population, and prior to the year 1843 the Cathedral was the only place of worship for those of that persuasion.

In the year 1843 it was felt that an additional church was required to provide for the spiritual wants of the people, and accordingly a site was obtained on the Dublin Road and a church was erected as a parochial chapel of ease or district church to the Cathedral, and designated by the name of "Christ's Church, Lisburn."

The first incumbent of Christ Church was the Rev. John Nash Griffin, who was appointed in the year 1842, and continued in the position about three years, when he was succeeded by the Rev. J. Hudson in 1845, but that clergyman remained only a very short time, as the Rev. Hartley Hodson (a former curate of the neighbouring parish of Derriaghy) became incumbent in the year 1846, and continued in charge of the parish for seventeen years -- 1846-1863 -- when the Rev. W. D. Pounden was appointed, and ministered for the long period of twenty-one years -- 1863-1884.

During the incumbency of the Rev. Hartley Hudson a wave of religious fervour spread over the country, especially in Ulster, known as the Revival of 1859, and as an outcome the congregation determined to enlarge the church so as to accommodate the growing number of parishioners, with the result that the two transepts and gallery were erected.

In 1874 the Nicholson aisle was added. A brass tablet commemorating the building was placed in the south side of the aisle, and reads as follows:-- "October31st, 1874. For the glory of God and remembrance of Mrs. Clare Nicholson, long a constant worshipper in this church, and a munificent supporter of its charities this memorial aisle is raised by friends who knew and felt her work. She fell asleep February 17th, 1874. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord."

Mrs. Nicholson was the mother of Brigadier-General John Nicholson, the victor of Delhi.

The Rev. Geo. Chamberlain was appointed incumbent in 1884, Rev. A. J. Moore 1886, Rev. J. J. Peacock 19896, Rev. R. Ussher Greer, 1902, Rev. R. H. S. Cooper 1912.

Memorial Tablets in the Church.

In memory of James Bolton, Commander R.N., "one of the earliest and most energetic promoters of the interests of this church." Died 1867, aged 72 years.

In memory of Eliza Matilda, wife of James B. Whitla, of Lisburn, Captain 88th Regiment Connaught Rangers, who died in Manitoba, 1899.

Robert Crawford, J.P., Lissue, Captain 86th Regiment of Foot, died 1848.

St. Clair Kelburne Mulholland, Eglantine, died 1872.

Memorial Windows.

Major T. R. Johnson Smyth, 1st Durham L.I. Killed in action at Vaal Krantz, Natal, 1900.

Ensign Robert Smith, 38th Regiment, accidentally drowned in the Punjaub, India, 1868, aged 20 years.

Brevet-Major Stuart Smith, R.A., killed in battle, Isandhula, Zululand, 1879, aged 34 years.

Erected by their mother, Henrietta, wife of Rev. Stuart Smith, Co. Cavan, and daughter of William Graham, Lisburn.

The Nicholson Memorial School, adjoining Christ Church, was built in 1864 by Mrs. Nicholson in memory of her children. Her illustrious son, Brigadier-General John Nicholson, of Indian fame, who fell at Delhi, September 23rd, 1857, aged 34 years, and three of his brothers, all died in India.

On the front of the building is a memorial tablet bearing date 1864:-- "Erected for a Sunday School by Mrs. Nicholson, in memory of her children, James, Alexander, William, John, Lily, Charles."

Inside the school is a tablet:-- "The Nicholson Memorial School House, erected by Mrs. Nicholson in memory of her six children."

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or, as it was more generally known, the U.V.F., was actively engaged during 1913 and 1914 in drilling and preparing to resist, if necessary by force, the imposition of Home rule on the Imperial Province. The Lisburn contingent -- 1st Battalion South Antrim Regiment -- was commanded by Adam P. Jenkins -- later Major Jenkins, wounded at Thiepval, and for several months a prisoner in Germany -- and numbered about 800 men. Their drill hall was a large shed in Graham Gardens, now occupied by Messrs. Donaghy as a boot and shoe factory, and afterwards in Sprucefield Mill.

On the night of Friday, April 24, 1914, the "Mountjoy" made Larne harbour and discharged her cargo of rifles and ammunition. Hundreds of motor cars and motor lorries were in readiness, and these distributed the munitions all over Ulster before breakfast-time the next morning.

On Friday evening about 7-30 the mill horns in Lisburn hooted their loudest; at the signal the Volunteers hastily donned their equipment and made for the rendezvous on the Belfast Road, closely followed by the constabulary. E. A. Sinton took command, Major Jenkins having gone earlier in the evening to Larne. The force formed up on the Belfast Road [--?--] "Woodlands," and detachments sent out to Derriaghy, Lambeg, Hilden, and other places in the vicinity, where the men were occupied practically the whole night, with the exception of the officers knowing nothing whatever of the important work in progress on the other side of the town.

About 11 o'clock James Carson, in charge of a small body of specially-picked men, proceeded quietly in the direction of Pond Park, on the Stoneyford Road, having previously despatched men to arranged positions on the Moira Road, at Troopersfield, and at Stoneyford, to await the arrival of the cars from Larne and assist in disposing of the munitions.

The long, anxious night wore through. About five o'clock -- even then there was little sign of the dawn -- far up at a break in the Stoneyford hills the weary watchers at Pond Park saw the reflection of light in the sky, a few moments after the headlights of motor cars came into view, and soon some half-dozen cars, heavily laden, drew alongside. With a sigh of relief the waiting men cried, "Thank God all has gone well," and from the cars, through the crisp morning air, came the cheery reply: "Yes, all has gone well; look out for the Lisburn motors, they are close behind," and away into the ghostly morning light sped the cars on their way to their destination at Dunmurry. Soon afterwards, through the stillness and quiet of the morning, far up the mountain side was heard the thunder of the first heavy Lisburn motor approaching, laden with equipment for almost half a battalion. For a moment only it delayed, while Major Jenkins, who was in charge, delivered a despatch which was at once forwarded by motor cycle to Mr. Sinton on the Belfast Road, instructing him to call in all his outposts and dismiss the battalion. It was only on Saturday evening, when the papers appeared, that the men understood what their night's vigil meant, and that they had been used as a decoy on the Belfast Road.

It was almost an hour after Major Jenkins passed when the second motor arrived in charge of J. C. Gowan.

George Duncan was in charge of a motor conveying munitions to Ballinderry. His experience was rather interesting. They lost their way, and on a lonely byroad reached a hill that the motor, with its heavy load, could not climb. Mr. Duncan and the driver unloaded in the dark at the foot of the hill half the rifles, ran the remainder of the load up to the top, unloaded it there, returned to the foot of the hill for the half they had jettisoned, and after loading up again proceeded cheerfully on their journey.

Mr. C. C. Craig, M.P., afterwards Captain Craig, wounded at Thiepval and for almost two years a prisoner in Germany, tells how when waiting at Ballinderry Corner for the arrival of Mr. Duncan and others he grew anxious as the night wore on. Then just as the first grey of dawn was tinging the sky he saw, far away on the long, straight stretch of road down which the "gun-runners" must come, the headlights of a car, then another, and another, and another, then scores and scores of them, till the long road was covered with moving lights and the air filled with the singing and cheering of men as the cars sped on with their freights for Monaghan, Armagh, Tyrone, and Fermanagh.

The Lisburn rifles were received and hidden away towards the end of April, 1918/ [--?--] June they were taken out of their hiding-places and stored publicly in an armoury, fitted up in a disused church in Antrim Street. This church was situate on the left-hand side of the street, advancing from the railway bridge, a short distance from the end of Bachelors' Walk in the Bow Street direction, with its rere abutting on M'Keown Street. An armed guard was always maintained on the premises. From this time forward the battalion when out marching or drilling drew the guns from the armoury, returning them again at the close of operations. As the days passed matters political became more acute and threatening, and it was believed a final crisis had arrived, when out of the blue, early in August, the thunderclouds of war broke over Europe. The call of Empire did not sound in vain in the ears of the men of Ulster. They were prepared to fight for their homes and rights at home. When the call came they were also prepared to forget past slights, past wrongs, past injustice, and to remember only that the Empire was in danger, and that the flag they loved called to them to come. Within three months after the opening of hostilities the Ulster Volunteer Force had practically ceased to exist. The vast majority of the young and fit had answered the call to arms. Many U.V.F. officers over military age joined up in order to set an example to the men. Only the old and unfit and a small residue of others were left.

The armoury was dismantled and the arms again secreted. In 1918 they were -- well, it is rather soon after the event to say where they are now; that may be left to some future historian to disclose.

(Next week: The Black Ribbon.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 22 November 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Lisburn Banks and Other Notes


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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was established in Lisburn in the year 1830. The first premises were situated in Bow Street, it is said in the house afterwards occupied by the Ulster Bank; later they removed to Castle Street; and about the year 1870 the present building at the corner of Railway Street was erected and occupied. The name of the first manager is not now available. H. J. Manley was appointed in 1842, and remained in office till his death in 1875. R. H. Bland only reigned for three years, when he retired in 1878 in order to take up the position of sub-agent on Sir Richard Wallace's (the Hertford) estate. John Preston followed in 1878, and continued to act till his death in 1910, when he was succeeded by William Young, the present manager.

The firms of Robert Stewart &. Sons, Ltd., yarn and thread manufacturers, and George Duncan & Sons, Ltd., drapers, Market Square, were established in 1835, the same year in which the Northern Bank came to Lisburn.

The site on which the bank now stands was for many years occupied by the Hertford Arms Hotel, and on the opposite corner of Railway Street stood Dr. Musgrave's house.

Railway Street was originally known as Jackson's Lane, and it was only after the railway had reached Lisburn in 1839 that it became known by its present name. In those far-off days the only approach to Prospect Hill from the town was through Jackson's Lane, and for long after the of advent of the railway at the end of he street was a level crossing.

King William III., in 1690, on his march to the Boyne, when passing through Lisburn, dined with Duke Schomberg and Captain Johnston in the house of George Gregson, a Quaker, that stood on the present site of the Northern Bank.


opened in Lisburn -- Market Square -- in the year 1865; John E. Morton, manager. Removed to Bow Street premises in 1871. George G. Tew appointed manager in 1876. He emigrated to America in 1887, when his successor, J. H. Vint, was appointed. Mr. Vint was transferred to Donegall Place branch, in Belfast, in 1889, and was succeeded by David Strain. Mr. Strain was transferred to Carlisle Circus branch, Belfast, in 1894, and afterwards to Donegall Place. James Carson was appointed manager in 1894, and on his removal to Omagh branch in 1900 was succeeded by Thomas Malcomson, the present manager. Mr. Malcomson, a native of Lurgan, has spent the whole of his business life in the Lisburn branch of the bank, rising through the various grades to his present position. The new bank premises in Bow Street erected in 1913 at a cost of some £5,000.


The section of the Ulster Railway between Belfast and Lisburn was opened for conveyance of passengers on August 12th, 1839. The first train started from Belfast at 7 o'clock in the morning. Early as the hour was, the extent of public interest was that a very large crowd of people assembled to witness the first starting. At various parts, also, along the line, multitudes were collected, and at Lisburn the train was greeted with enthusiastic cheers by a numerous concourse of people. The section connecting Lisburn with Portadown opened a few years afterwards.


In 1906 the new drainage works and filter beds at New Holland were completed. Prior to this date the drainage of the town passed through the bywash into the canal. This stream passes through the Wallace Park, Railway Station, creases Bachelors' Walk, passes through the Ulster Bank garden, crosses Bow Street quite close to the bank, and then via the Gasworks to the canal. Up to a comparatively modern date the stream was open for almost its whole course. One hundred years ago it was open in Bow Street or Bow Lane, being crossed by a small bridge known as the Sluice Bridge. Harry Munro's mother lived for many years after his execution in 1798, and supported herself by keeping a little shop situated near the Sluice Bridge in Bow Street. In 1796 the Marquis of Hertford built a very good shambles on a small stream -- the bywash -- in Smithfield, where a great number of black cattle were exposed for sale every Tuesday.


may be said to date from the advent of Sir Richard Wallace, as owner of the Hertford estate, in 1872. Under his regime the town prospered, new buildings were erected, and a general improvement in conditions supervened, that has continued to the present day. The whole estate benefited similarly under his generous and liberal sway. The benefits of the Land Purchase Acts were early availed of on the estate, and later the head-rents and town parks were sold to occupiers on terms most advantageous to them. Bachelors' Walk prior to 1872 was only a narrow lane or path connecting Railway Street and Antrim Street, bordered on both sides by trees, the fields between the path and railway being frequently occupied by travelling shows and forms of entertainment. The tent of the evangelist was also often to he seen there.

Wallace Avenue, Clonevin Avenue, and Graham Gardens were opened for traffic about the year 1900.

Wallace Avenue, which connects Railway Street and the Belfast Road, runs through what were the private grounds of Sir Richard Wallace's castle, built in 1880. The castle in 1914 was converted into a Technical School.

C[l]onevin Avenue connects the Magheraleave and Antrim Roads, and was constructed by Mr. Hugh Kirkwood.

Graham Gardens - or as it is also called, Wardsborough Road -- runs from the new Post Office, Railway Street (built in 1894), to Bow Street and Bachelors' Walk. They take their name from the Graham family, owners of the property. Wardsboro' was the name of a cul-de-sac containing a number of small houses opening into Railway Street, close to the Post Office, and was in existence long before the opening of the Gardens and when Railway Street was known as Jackson's Lane. At the Bow Street end of the Gardens there was also a cul-de-sac known as Tan Yard Lane, so called from the ancient tanyard adjoining, belonging to the Beatty family.

Longstone Street, or the Longstone, derives its name from a long stone which stands at the entrance to the Sandy Lane at the upper end of the street.

Bow Street, or, as it was known, Bow Lane, is so called from the semi-circular formation of the street.

The Linen Hall, erected by the first Marquis of Hertford, was located at the junction of Linenhall Street and Smithfield, opposite the lower end of Market Street, and now converted into a butter and egg market.

The Fever Hospital is now the Manor House, opposite Christ Church, on the Dublin Road, occupied by a branch of the Stannus family.

The Cholera Hospital was on a plot of ground on the Antrim Road opposite where the Intermediate School now stands.


Lisburn was originally known as Linsley Garvin or Lisnagarvey -- Gamesters' Mount. It was twice destroyed by fire -- 1641-1707 -- and gradually came to be known as Lisburn. The tradition as to now it received the name of Lisnagarvey runs thus:-- A little to the north-east the town there is a mount, moated about, and another to the south-west. These were formerly surrounded with a great wood, and thither resorted all the Irish outlaws to play at cards and dice. One of the most considerable amongst them, having lost all, even his clothes, went in a passion in the middle of the night to the house of a nobleman in that country, who before had set a considerable sum on his head, and in this mood surrendered himself a prisoner, which the other considering of, pardoned him, and afterwards this town was built, when the knot of these rogues was broken, which was done chiefly by the help of this one man.


Article 70 contains a sketch of his life. His ancestors for several generations resided at Kilcorig, Magheragall. On his decease in 1913 his collection of Irish Books and Pamphlets passed under his will into possession of the Linen Hall Library, Belfast. Between the leaves of an old book was discovered a copy of a memorial, dated 1863, presented by him to the British Government complaining of the treatment he received, when in America, from the officials of the Southern States. Proceeding, he says:--
I shall respectfully request your Lordships' attention to a brief summary of the outrages to which I, in common with several other British subjects, have been exposed in the States of Alabama and Tennessee.

The summary was far from brief, as what is left of it runs to five closely-written pages of large foolscap, interspersed with poetic quotations and other irrelevant matter.

He explained that he sailed from Glasgow for New York in the year 1852, and lived seven years in Brooklyn,
Where, amid inducements to the contrary, I remained true in my allegiance to my country's flag.
The flag that braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze.

In 1859, on the decease of an only surviving brother, he removed to Montgomery, Alabama, to administer the estate. Mr. Belshaw appears to have settled in Montgomery, as we find him there later in the jewellery and watchmaking business. On the opening of the war several men employed by him received threatening letters and had to leave his employment. He tells how he saw in the public square, in front of his business premises, an alderman of the city burning works of doubtful morality, including several volumes of Spurgeon's sermons. Crowds attacked and entered his premises. All this evidently on account of his British leaning, and also from the fact that it was known he sympathised with the aims of the North. His troubles, however, grew more acute when the conscription law came into force.

In August, 1862, on the advice of Lord Lyons, he and other British subjects took out certificates of British nationality. Soon after he was called up to join the army, but declined to go. When a guard came to his house to arrest him he took refuge at the top of the house, and his sister with a loaded revolver defied the soldiers to follow. The soldiers did not follow, but retired gracefully in face of superior force.

After this he appears to have never been out of trouble with the conscription officers, till finally he was arrested, notwithstanding his certificate of nationality, and, after being detained three days, released. Soon after he was again arrested and dispatched to Camp Watt, where he was detained for a considerable time under very disagreeable conditions. He states that when at Camp Watt he saw conscripts, British subjects, put in chains with iron collars.

The narrative ends abruptly here.

(Next week: Christ Church.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 15 November 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Railway Presbyterian Church, Lisburn (1910) (pt2)


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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Extract from Address delivered
at the Jubilee Meeting
of the Congregation,
November 16th, 1910.


In the year 1889 unfermented wine was first used at the celebration of the Communion. In 1894 the name of the church was officially changed from 2nd Lisburn to Railway Street. Instrumental music was introduced into the service of the church, and an organ installed in the year 1908.

The Lecture Hall was built in 1887. Side galleries erected in 1897. In 1900 James E. Sloan generously presented to the congregation a free site for the new manse on the Fore Hill lands. The building of the manse was preceded with and completed at a cost of about £1,400. In 1909 Mr. Sloan made a further grant of land at the rere of the manse for a garden. and, thanks to his and Miss Brownlee's generosity, the congregation now possess a manse and grounds second to none within these bounds of the Church. Numerous valuable bequests have at various times been made to the congregation.

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The Brownlee Memorial National School, Wallace Avenue, opened August, 1913, was erected at the cost of some £3,500. Towards this amount the Board of Works made a grant, the Brownlee Trustees paying the balance. The school is under the control of the Church Committee.

The E.M.B. Memorial Hall, Hilden, was erected in 1911 by J. Milne Barbour, D.L., J.P., in memory of his wife, and placed under the care of the congregation.

The organ installed in 1908 proving inadequate, James Crossin, J.P., in 1914 presented the congregation with a new instrument costing some £700.


Session -- Rev. R. W. Hamilton, M.A.; John Butler, W. J. Fraser, David Kilpatrick, H. G. Larmor, David M'Cluggage, J. M'Clung, J. M'Kittrick, J. L. Rentoul, M.B.

Committee -- H. Adams, J. Archer, J. Alexander, B.A.; J. Crossin, J.P.; S. Cowan, G. Duncan, H. Fraser, R. Garrett, J. Graham, W. J. Hanna, W. J. Heron, F. Duncan, David Erwin, J. Hunter, C.E.; C. Magill, M.D.; H. Maybin, B.A.; A. J. Morrow, A. M'Clelland, H. Ritchie, W. Ritchie, James E. Sloan, J. Stalker, H. S. Whitfield.


Session -- Rev. R. W. Hamilton, M.A.; Edward Finlay, W. J. Fraser, J.P.; James T. Lamont, B.A.; LL.B.; John M'Kittrick, John H. M'Elderry; J. L. Rentoul, M.B., J.P.; James Shortt, Geo. Watters, Hugh G. Larmor, J.P., clerk of Session.

Committee -- James Archer, A. E. Boyd, James Carson, James Crossin, J.P.; Geo. Dunlop, Frederick W. Duncan, George Duncan, David Erwin, Hugh Fraser, James Hunter, C.E.; W. J. Larmor, A. M'Clelland, R. D. Morrison, C.I.; Wm. Ritchie, J.P.; D. B. Simpson, John Stalker, H. S. Whitfield.

Treasurer -- George Duncan.

Secretary -- D. Barbour Simpson.

Memorial Tablets in the Church.

William Barbour, J.P., Hilden.
"One of the first members and the most munificent contributor to the funds of the church."
Died 1875, aged 78 years.

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Rev. David J. Clarke.
First minister and for seventeen years pastor of the congregation.
Died 1878, aged 43 years.

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Rev. James Lyle Bigger, M.A., B.D.
Second pastor, for six years.
Died at 1890, aged 36 years.

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Frederick Duncan.
Elder for 37 years.
Dave 1905, aged 63 years.

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Miss Isabella Brownlee,
"The last of a much-respected family."
Died 8th January, 1909.

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James Edgar Sloan,
Plantation house.
Died September 20, 1910.

(Next week: local banks.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 8 November 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Railway Presbyterian Church, Lisburn (1910)


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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Extract from Address delivered at the Jubilee Meeting of the Congregation, November 16th, 1910.

Practically almost all those who, fifty long years ago this very month, banded themselves together to form a new church, have passed away to their eternal rest. If we could bridge the years -- those fifty years so full of life and action and change -- and transplant ourselves in vision back to those days of the birth of this church, what should we find? We would see a small but ardent band of men and women, still glowing with fires of the great Revival of 1859, going out from a large and crowded congregation, seeking a place where they might assemble themselves together to worship their God.

Their first place of meeting was in the hall in Castle Street -- granted by the kindness and consideration of Jonathan Richardson, of Killeaton, all honour to his memory. Here for almost three years our forefathers worshipped -- and while in these humble surroundings, and struggling under difficulties and opposition, they give a call in 1861 to the Rev D. J. Clark, the first minister, who for seventeen years faithfully served his church and people, and died in the year 1878.

A permanent building in which to worship was now a first requisite. Pastor and people resolutely set about procuring a suitable site. Here, almost insurmountable difficulties confronted them. Deputations waited on, and influence was brought to bear on the then authority who practically controlled the land of Lisburn. Even Drs. Cook and Morgan intervened on behalf the people. All, however, was of no effect; the fiat had gone forth -- "From Dunmurry to BAllinderry not one foot of ground shall be granted for such a purpose." But Presbyterians are a dour race, and not easily beaten. Thwarted in one direction, the congregation at once turned its attention in another. The present site, fortunately, was in the market, being one of the few sites in the town uncontrolled by the territorial autocrat, and this small and comparatively poor body of men actually purchased at a cost of £350, or £6 5s per foot. On March 29th, 1863, the foundation stone of the new church was laid by John Lyttle, Mayor of Belfast, and the church was completed sufficiently the same year to enable worship to be celebrated theirin. The cost of the building amounted to some £2,000.

During these early years Wm. Barbour, of Hilden, was a tower of strength to the young church. His assistance was practical and personal. As an illustration, when the people were making a special effort to lighten the burden of debt hanging over them, he made the generous offer of that for every pound raised for this purpose he would contribute another; this resulted in a cheque from Mr. Barber for £456.

The first session was appointed in 1868, when the following accepted office:-- Henry Colvin, Frederic Duncan, John Ellison, David Graham, Robert Henry. In 1871 a further appointment was made of John Neill, Alexander Davidson, John Sloan. John Ellison was appointed clerk of session in 1868, and faithfully served another office for a quarter of a century. His successors in office were John Butler, H. G. Larmor, and W. J. Fraser. In 1883 there were further additions to the session -- Thomas Dickson and James Kerr; in 1888 John Butler and J. H. Vint; in 1894 James R. Boyd, S. M. Greer, David Kilpatrick, John M'Clung, H. G. Larmor; in 1904 John Dunlop, John L. Rentoul, M.D.; W. J. Fraser, D. M'Cluggage, John M'Kittrick.

When Mr. Clarke died in 1876 he left as his monument and the temporal fruits of his ministry the new church, the schools at rere of same, the manse in Railway Street, and the house adjoining. Notwithstanding the strenuous and successful efforts made by Mr. Clarke to lighten the burden of debt on the congregation, there was handed over to his successor liability of some £1,260.

The first committee was appointed November 13th, 1860, and consisted of -- W. J. Harvey, John Anderson, Francis Smith, David Graham, Andrew Todd, Henry Colvin, James Meneilly, Hugh Brownlee, Wm. Beggs, Wm. Innis, John M'Clung, James Chambers, Robert Edmondson. Francis Smith, secretary; W. J. Harvey, treasurer; David Graham, chairman of committee.

On the 17th March, 1865, John Sloan, junior, was appointed secretary, and George Pelan treasurer. For reasons which do not appear, they only remained in office a few months, when Stewart Sloan was appointed secretary and William Paterson treasurer. In 1870 Alexander Davidson appears as secretary and John Neill treasurer. Mr. Davidson, of his demise, generously left £100 towards church repairs. John D. Hamilton's name appears jointly as secretary with Alexander Davidson from 1873 to 1888, followed by James R. Boyd in 1889, James E. Sloan in 1899, J. L. Rentoul, M.D., 1903, George Duncan, 1906.

In 1875 John M'Clure was appointed treasurer, succeeded by Hugh Shaw, who held the office for twenty years, and the present treasurer, H. G. Larmor, who has acted since 1900.

The Rev J. L. Bigger's pastorate extended over six years -- from October, 1879, till July, 1885. He was a man greatly beloved, and his transference to a professorship in Magee College, Derry, was felt, at the time, as a serious loss to the congregation. At the date of his installation in Railway Street -- 1879 -- he fell heir to congregational debt of £1,260.

when he resigned the charge in 1885 the debt was reduced to £290. During Mr. Bigger's ministry the wall round the church property was built and some other minor improvements made, amounting to £400, so that some £1,400 was raised for reduction of debt and church extension in his time.

The present pastor, the Rev. R. W. Hamilton, M.A., was installed October 8, 1885, coming from Burt congregation, Co. Donegal. The congregation has been in existence for 50 years, and Mr. Hamilton has been in charge for exactly half of that period.

(To be Continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 1 November 1918 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week for several years. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)