Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A Famous Lisburn Teacher - John Gough

Biography is one of the most interesting departments connected with the republic of literature. The life of Lord Byron, by Thos. Moore, which came out in 1830, and the first edition of which appeared in two quarto volumes at two guineas each, became very popular, and the extracts from it, as given in the newspaper press, were read with an interest that had never before been equalled. Sir Walter Scott's biography, written by his son-in-law, J. Gibson Lockhart, was published in seven monthly volumes in 1837-38, at half-a-guinea each, and was hailed with acclamation throughout the literary world.

Similar works, regarding the lives and labours of lesser lights in the firmament of authorship, have since been published, but how rarely do we meet with any biography of the school Teacher? Yet, who should have a higher seat in the social synagogue than the man or woman that sows the seed of mental thought and general education in the minds of juveniles? A very distinguished member of the old race of schoolmasters was John Gough, the sturdy Quaker, who spent the last sixteen years of his busy life as head teacher of the Friends' School, at the handsome range of buildings situate on the picturesque mound in the immediate vicinity of Lisburn, and known as Prospect Hill.

He was descended from an English family, all of whom for some generations were followers of the creed of George Fox, and first saw the light in the town of Kendal, County of Westmoreland, on the 21st of March, 1721. His father, who was a very well-to-do business man, but not overburthened with brain power, went on his way rejoicing, and as if he considered the turning of a shilling into eighteen pence was an act worthy the special blessing of Providence.

On the other hand, the lady of the house held very different opinions. Possessed of considerable intelligence -- natural and acquired -- she entertained very extended views on mental culture, and determined that her son should have the best education to be had in her locality and, until eight summers had passed over the head of the lad, Mrs. Gough taught him herself. He was then sent to school, where he continued as one of the pupils until he was half-way through his teens. She was very forward in her idea about the dignity of a school teacher, but considered that as her son had all the advantages of a preliminary education he should do the finishing work by careful study.

Young Gough did not forget his home lessons; he was still under twenty when he got an engagement as assistant at a Friends' School in Wiltshire, where he continued till 1750, and had gained a high name, not only as a superior scholar, but for the ability of being able to impart to others all he knew himself. About the close of that year he was induced to cross over to Dublin, and became head master of the Chief School in Dame Street.

The Irish capital was then, as it has continued to be since, the home of sterling hospitality. Its kind-hearted and pleasure-loving citizens delighted in carrying out the National Ceade Mille Failthe in a spirit which the colder blooded denizens of the northern province rarely value its full estimate. For some weeks after having settled in the city watered by the Liffey, the staid sober-minded English Quaker seemed as much at sea as if he had migrated to Timbuctoo.

There was a ray of social sunshine over every face he met, and the musical ring of the Celtic brogue that fell on his ear as he passed through street or square charmed, while puzzling him as that of an unknown tongue. Widely, however, as the society into which he had been thrown differed from any he had ever before encountered, his genial disposition soon led him to value the hearty welcomes he had received, and in some months caused him to feel fairly at home.

At one period of the four-and-twenty years John Gough spent in Dublin, the Earl of Hertford, who had been appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, delighted the gay citizen by the number of entertainments given at the Castle. To one of these the Head Teacher of the Dame Street School was invited. As a man, he felt honoured by the kindness of His Excellency, yet, with his peculiar opinions of society, he could not avail himself of it, but he wrote a reply to the Chief Secretary, requesting that high official to convey his thanks to the Vice-Regal-ruler for his kind attention, but added that the tenets of his Church did not admit of Quakers attending entertainments.

Very peculiar were the ideas of John Gough on the administration of the school room. Corporal punishment was then considered as necessary for the furtherance of education as the reading book or the grammar, but he taught and ruled without the exercise of the rod. Stranger still was his request to the parents of his pupils to let the young people get their lesson at home without coaching, and thus to cause them to depend on self-study and self-reliance.

In the spring of 1774 he accepted the offer of Teacher-in-Chief of the Friends' School at Prospect Hill. We may here state that there was then considerable numbers of Quakers resident in and around Lisburn. George Gregson, a native of Lancashire, had settled there about a century before, and carried on the manufacture of linen in a two-storey thatched house, situate on the site now occupied by the local branch of the Northern Bank. A great many Quaker families that had suffered from persecution in England were living in Lisburn in June, 1690, when William the Third received the troops there, and parsed on to Hillsborough.

John Gough's fame as Teacher-in-Chief at Prospect Hill brought many new scholars to the institute; several of these were from the South of Ireland and a few from England. It was while there that he published his "Teacher of Arithmetic," a work that went through numerous editions, and was the most popular school book that had ever appeared on that subject in Ireland. It was, however, by his final effort in authorship, entitled a "History of the People called Quakers," that John Gough rose to eminence in the literary world.

The work appeared in 1784 in four large octavo volumes, and was hailed with enthusiasm not only by the quiet and worthy people whose annals form its subject but by hosts of readers far outside that sect. It has long been out of print. So far back as 1825 the late John Rogers, who was an extensive grocer, and had a great love of collecting scarce literature, paid two guineas for a copy of the history.

John Gough, in breadth of opinion, and the ability to take extended views on public questions, was considered by some stereotyped members of his church as being rather inclined to heterodoxy in certain subjects outside the Quaker creed. He held a town park, situate on the lands that lay below the schoolhouse, and that field he lent to Captain Ward, of the Second Company of Lisburn Volunteers, where, during the summer season, the men were paraded on Saturday afternoons. For that act of liberality he was severely censured by many of his brethren, who maintained that Quakers should not recognise soldiers, all of whom were only to be looked upon as human instruments of war.

John Gough defended himself by stating that the Volunteers were military citizens, enrolled not as aggressive troops, but as the local power of defence in case of foreign invasion, and in this argument John Hancock, Thomas Lamb, and other Friends joined with him. The field alluded to, now a portion of the Wallace Park, was long known as "Gough's Hill."

About the end of December, 1790, it became evident to the friends of the famous teacher that his end was not far off. Seventy summers had then passed over his head, and illness set in, against which he battled for several months; during that period he continued attending his pupils, as well as to speak at the Society's meetings. In some time, however, he became unable to move about, and in the third quarter of the following year he was attended by Dr. Crawford, the far-famed medical practitioner who resided at the pretty villa near Millbrook. Professional skill, however potent, could not prevail against the fatal disease, and on the 25th of October, 1791, John Gough passed peacefully into the world of spirits.

Three days afterwards a general meeting of the local and many distant members of the Society was held, and the interment took place, in the burial-ground attached to the Meeting-house. Considerable numbers of the inhabitants of Lisburn who were not connected with the people called Quakers attended the funeral; but, as no monumental stone marks where the ashes of the great teacher mingle with their kindred dust, no one at this day knows aught of the spot in the little cemetery sacred to the memory of John Gough.

[Reprinted from the "Lisburn Standard" of thirty years ago.  A memorial stone has since been erected in the Friends' burying-ground, Railway Street. -- Editor.]

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 25 April 1919. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

First Lisburn (Market Sq.) Presbyterian Church


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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If antiquity lends distinction, then First Lisburn may justly claim such, as it is one of the oldest congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The year in which the congregation was founded cannot now be ascertained, but it is known that it existed in 1687, and from the session records, which are practically intact from the year following, it is evident the congregation had a much earlier existence. These records, with baptismal and marriage registers, form a valuable link with the past, and reveal the quaint methods of church management by our forefathers, as well as the strict discipline exercised towards wrongdoers.

The marriage and baptismal registers have proved of great value in establishing the genealogical trees of families of distinction whose ancestors were formerly worshippers, and in many instances have been the means of determining the rightful heirs to valuable inheritances. Letters are occasionally received from different quarters of the globe requesting extracts for various purposes. It is worthy of note that a gentleman now resident in London, Sir Theodore C. Hope, recently visited Lisburn to glean some information regarding his forebears from these old records, and was so struck with their great historical value that he kindly proffered to have them restored and rebound. Through his influence they were placed in the hands of experts in the British Museum, and the result has been eminently satisfactory, as they are now preserved in a number of richly-bound volumes.

The exact site of the original Church or Meeting-House is uncertain, but it was in that part of the town now known as the Longstone, the building being of primitive design, with thatched roof. It is said King William worshipped in it while his troops were encamped at Blaris. This building is believed to have been burnt down in the great fire which broke out on Sunday, the 20th April, 1707, and destroyed the town. The church was rebuilt on the present site at a cost of £400, and in 1768, sixty-one years later, it was again rebuilt on a larger scale, the accommodation having proved insufficient for the membership. The new edifice cost above £600, and it is on record that the members of the Established Church subscribed £120 to the building fund, which is abundant testimony to the high estimation in which the Presbyterians of Lisburn were held by the members of the sister Church. It speaks volumes for the Christian brotherliness existing between different denominations at this period. No further change appears to have been made in the church buildings until the year 1873, when they were enlarged and remodelled.

From 1688 until the present time thirteen ministers have occupied the pulpit of First Lisburn, some of whom took a leading part in the affairs of the Synod and Assembly. The names are as follows:-- Alexander M'Cracken, 1688; Gilbert Kennedy, 1732; William Patton, 1736; Patrick Buchanan, 1747; James Bryson, 1764; George Kennedy, 1775; William Bruce, 1779; Andrew Craig, 1783; James Morgan, 1824; Alexander Henderson, 1829; William Breakey, 1856; John L. Rentoul, 1872; J. J. C. Breakey, 1886. The Rev. Alexander M'Cracken, 1688, was one of the deputation to King William III. at Hillsborough, which was successful in securing an increase to the Regium Donum. It will therefore be seen that this congregation holds a very unique position in the history of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in relation to this National Fund through the personality of one of its ministers.

Session, 1906:-- Rev. J. J. C. Breakey, B.A., T.C.D.; Geo. Wilson, Patrick Gardner, Geo. A. Wilson; Wm. H. Johnston. Committee:-- Jas. Simpson, Geo. A. Duncan, David M'Clements, Joseph Kinkead, W. J. M'Murray, H. Mulholland, T. L. Boyd, J. Kenmuir, T. Malcomson, W. R. Wilson, Jas. Coulter, W. J. Gillespie, S. Coulter, Richard S. Fisher, W. Croskery, H. Kirkwood, M. B. Mackenzie, M.D., J.P.; Jas. Brown, William Patterson.

The Organ.

In 1918 an organ chamber, opening up to the rere of the pulpit through a fine arch, was constructed to receive the "Musgrave Organ," presented to the congregation by Mr. Henry Musgrave, only surviving son of the late Samuel Musgrave, M.D., Lisburn. At the same time a new pulpit was erected and other extensive repairs and improvements in connection with the church carried out at a cost of some £1,700.

Memorial Windows.

There are fourteen windows in the church. The two large ones in south gable, situate on either side of the pulpit, occupy a commanding position. One represents "The Good Samaritan," presented by Henry and Edgar Musgrave, Belfast, in memory of their parents, Samuel Musgrave, of Lisburn, physician and surgeon, who died in 1834, and his wife, Mary Riddell, who died in 1802.

The other represents "Job being comforted by his friends," and was presented by Mrs. J. D. Barbour and Mr. J. Milne Barbour in loving memory pf William Barbour, Esq., J.P., born at Plantation 1797, died at Hilden 1875; also Eliza Kennedy, his wife, born 1800, died 1873.

The window next in order bears the words "The God of Peace," and was presented by Mrs. Houston in memory of her husband, John Houston. Four windows represent "Fortitude," presented by Mrs. M'Afee in memory of Richard and Anne Foote, A.D. 1906; "Faith," presented by John D. Finlay in memory of Eliza Dickson, Anna Isabella, Maria Euphemia, and Frederick Finlay; "Hope," presented by John D. Finlay in memory of John and Christian Finlay; "Charity," presented by Miss Brownlee in memory of Alexander and Elizabeth Brownlee, A.D. 1906. Then follow "The Open Book -- God is Love," presented by Annie and Mary Davis in memory of Mary Davis and Jane Johnston, of Troopersfield. "The Rose of Sharon," presented by Miss Kenmuir, Mrs. Agnes Wilson, and Mr. John Kenmuir in memory of Alexander Kenmuir, 1825-1886, and Susannah Kenmuir, 1826-1885; "The Burning Bush," presented by Lambeg friends; "The Rose of Sharon," presented by Mrs. S. J. Pelan; "One of the Wise Virgins," presented by her daughter, Mrs. MacHarg, in memory of Elizabeth Edgar, 1812-1898. The remaining two windows, the end windows right and left of the pulpit, were presented by James Simpson and Robert Alister, of Lisburn.

In the vestibule of the church is a memorial tablet to the Rev. John Laurence Rentoul, fourteen years minister of the congregation, ordained 1872, called to Sunderland, 1886, died at Wishaw, Scotland, 1900, aged 48 years.

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Notes on Two Old Leases in Existence Relating to the Church Property.

Indenture made in 1751, between the Marquis of Hertford and Henry Bell and Francis Burden, both of Lisburn, gents. It recites a previous lease, 1741, between Baron Conway and William Fairlie, of Lisburn:-- "All that piece or parcel of ground lying on the south side of the Market Place -- the holding heretofore Levingstons -- 70 feet front -- depth backwards 216 feet, adjoining to the last passage leading to the Meeting House, and to the west to the Shambles, together with the front tenement now standing thereon, with backside and gardens and office, houses and holdings thereon, in trust for the sole use and benefit of the Dissenting Congregation of Lisburn."

Indenture dated 1827 between the Marquis of Hertford -- same holding as above -- and Alexander Williamson, Lambeg; George Whitla, and James Ward, Lisburn.

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After over two and a half years of continuous publication in the columns of this paper, "The Records," edited by Mr. James Carson, Parkmount, draw to a close. They commenced in October, 1916, and April, 1919, witnesses their termination. In the process of the work an immense amount of valuable and interesting information regarding the history of the town and district has been collected and collated and presented to our readers by Mr. Carson. Indeed there are few towns in the province, thanks to Mr. Carson's ability and industry, that have so complete a record of their past as that of which Lisburn can now boast.

Concurrently with the closing of "The Records," it came upon us as a shock, and a nasty shock at that, to learn that Mr. Carson was removing from Lisburn and going to reside in Belfast, in order that he might be near his son, Captain J. C. Carson, of the Indian Army, who served in the earlier years of the war with the Ulster Division in France, who has now returned home to resume his medical studies.

Since Mr Carson first came to reside in Lisburn some twenty-five years ago as manager of the Ulster Bank, Ltd., he has been very closely identified with everything that pertained to the advancement and welfare of the town. He was so thorough and practical, that his connection with any movement made for success.

In the later years hie interest in the Technical School was well known. He acted as chairman of committee during the most critical year of the school's career, and to his tact and ability at that time the school owes much.

Only those closely connected with him, for he is inclined to hide his light under a bushel, know the work be has done from the very commencement of the war for the wives and families of the men at the front. For the past two years he has acted as chairman of the local Pensions Committee, and it is enough to say that his idea of chairmanship consists in a great deal more than simply being an ornamental, figurehead. He found the committee possibly one of the most inefficient in all Ireland, and now he leaves it, with the assistance of the secretary, Mr. Woods, one of the most efficient and well managed in the country.

Somehow we do not like to think of Lisburn without James Carson, but we cannot consider him as having gone away, and will look forward with confidence to often in the future seeing his familiar figure in the streets of our town.

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 18 April 1919 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, 11 April 2013

First Lisburn and Sloan Street Presbyterian Churches


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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The ninth minister was

James Morgan,

second son of Thomas Morgan, merchant, Cookstown. He was born on 15th June, 1799, educated at Glasgow University (1814-15), and the old Belfast College, where he graduated (G.C. 1817), licensed by Tyrone Presbytery in 1820, and, after a ministry of four years (1820-4) in Carlow, was installed here as assistant and successor to Mr. Craig on 23rd June, 1824. After an earnest ministry of four years he accepted a call (1828) to be the first minister of Fisherwick Place, Belfast, where he proved himself a model pastor of what soon came to be a model congregation. He was a leader in every good work. Immediately after his installation in "Fisherwick" he established a day and a Sabbath school in connection with his congregation -- the first of the kind in Belfast. He aided in establishing the first Temperance Society, in Europe, and preached the second temperance sermon ever delivered in Belfast, the first having been delivered by Rev. John Edgar.

When the Foreign Mission was inaugurated after the union of the two Synods in 1840, Mr. Morgan was appointed its first convener, and for 33 years he discharged the duties of that convenership with rare devotion and signal success. By his missionary zeal, pastoral fidelity, saintly life, and works of practical piety, he contributed more to raise the spiritual tone of the Church daring his ministry than any other man.

He was Moderator of the Synod of Ulster 1831-2, and of the General Assembly 1846-7. Dr. Morgan (for Glasgow University conferred on him the honorary degree of D.D. in 1847) retired from the active duties of the ministry in 1870, and died on 5th August, 1873.

The tenth minister was

Alexander Henderson,

a native of Belfast and member of a family long identified with the Press. His brother (James Henderson, Newry) was proprietor of the "Newry Telegraph." Another brother (Rev. Henry Henderson, Holywood) contributed letters for many years to the "Belfast Weekly News" under the signature of "Ulster Scot." His nephew (James Alexander Henderson, Norwood Tower, Belfast) was proprietor of the "Belfast News-Letter." Another nephew (Rev. Wm. Henderson) was proprietor and editor of "The Monthly Messenger," 1856-67. He himself was intended for the Press, but at the age of 17 he decided to enter the ministry. He studied at the Old Belfast College, where he graduated (G.C. 1826), during which time he acted as librarian of the Linen Hall Library (1823-9) and interested himself deeply in Sabbath schools and missions to the poor of Belfast. He was licensed by the Belfast Presbytery (1828), and ordained here on 29th June, 1829. After ministering with much diligence and acceptance for about 26 years he accepted a military chaplaincy, and became the first Irish Presbyterian chaplain appointed to the British Army. He died at Warley in Essex on 23rd July, 1868, and was buried, as he himself requested, "in a plain grave and without any monument."

"Mr. Henderson was always distinguished by his great beneficence, exercised mostly in the most private and unostentatious manner. He was a singularly modest and worthy man, and most catholic in his sympathies."

The eleventh minister was

William Breakey,

son of John Breakey, farmer, Drumskelt, Ballybay. He was born about 1819, educated at the Old Belfast College, where he graduated (G.C. 1838), and Free Church College, Edinburgh, licensed by the Belfast Presbytery in 1840, and after a ministry of over 14 years in Loughbrickland, installed here on 3rd September, 1856. He died of consumption on 6th April, 1872, and was buried in Loughbrickland.

"Mr. Breakey had very considerable gifts as a popular preacher, and having been well instructed in the great saving truths of the Gospel, he proclaimed the Gospel in all its fulness and freeness to those committed to his care, and took an active interest in the religious culture of the young and rising generation. Whilst firmly attached to the distinctive principles of his own Church, Mr. Breakey cultivated and maintained the most friendly intercourse with the ministers and members of other communions, and preferred the statement of evangelical truth to the exposition of polemical theology. He did not take an active and prominent part in the business of the Church Courts, but rather he devoted his time and attention to the pastoral work of his own congregation."

The twelfth minister was

John Laurence Rentoul,

son of Rev. John Laurence Rentoul (G.C. 1829), Ballymoney (1837-69), grandson of Rev. JAmes Rentoul, Ray (now 2nd) (1791-1839), great grandson of Rev. Robert Reid, Ray (now 2nd) (1752-88). He was born about 1851, educated at Magee College, Derry, where he graduated (G.C. 1871), and Assembly's College, Belfast, licensed by Route Presbytery in 1872, ordained here on 17th October, 1872.

Soon afterwards (1873) the church building, which had undergone no change since 1768, was enlarged and remodelled to provide accommodation for the membership, which greatly increased. Mr. Rentoul, who was endowed with great oratorical power and popular gifts, received a call to a U.P. congregation in Perth, which he intended to accept, and was released from his congregation on 12th June, 1876, but, on reconsideration, he accepted a call back to Lisburn, where he was installed on 20th December, 1876, and where he remained for ten more years. In 1886 he became minister of St. George's, Sunderland, and afterwards (1893) of the Parish of Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, where he died on 13th July, 1900.

The thirteenth minister is

J. J. Carlyle Breakey,

son of James Breakey, principal of Ballinasloe Academy. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated (B.A. 1878), and Assembly's College, Belfast, where he was awarded the first Magill Bursary for Pulpit Eloquence (1886), licensed by Athlone Presbytery, 1886, and ordained here on 11th November, 1886. Under his able, earnest, and devoted ministry the congregation continues to prosper. The church building has recently been renovated and beautified, and a handsome pipe organ, the gift of Mr. Henry Musgrave, whose family has for long been identified with the congregation, has been introduced.

The following elders represented the congregation at the annual meetings of the General Synod prior to the Union of 1840:--

Edward Adamson, 1691; Edward M'Comphy, 1692; John Clark, 1694; Matthew Rosbotham, 1697; John Smith 1703; John Martin, 1705; Robert Charters, 1706; Thomas Bryson, 1707; Samuel Herron, 1708; Daniel Kinly, 1710; Alexr. Taylor, 1718; Jo. M'Clure, 1719; Wm. Townsend, 1720; Thos. Small, 1721; Richard Colston, 1721; Jas Fulton 1737; Wm. Mitchell, 1738; Wm. Carlile, 1739; Richard Coldstone, 1744; Matt. M'Creery, 1750; John Carlile, 1753; Alexr. Cuthbert, 1754; John Henan, 1755; Jas. M'Kye, 1756; Robt. Nicol, 1757; Jas. Fulton, 1764; Fras. Patten, 1766; Wm. Stitt, 1768; -- Macoghtry, 1769; Alexr. Mercer, 1770; John Dobbin, 1783; Jas. Porter, 1786; Geo. Tandy, 1787; Thos. Potts, 1796; Robt. Smyth, 1797; Jas. Fulton, 1798, Jas. Fulton, 1805; Jas. Ward, 1815; Wm. Wightman, 1816; Henderson Wightman, 1818; -- Thompson, M.D., 1835; Hamilton M'Cay, 1837; Jas. Ward, 1840.

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This congregation had its origin the religious awakening known as the Revival of 1859. About the year 1860, the late Rev. John Powell, who had come from Carlow to take charge of a classical school in Lisburn, carried on Evangelistic services in his spare time, chiefly amongst the non-churchgoers. The result was, that a band of earnest working people gathered around him, and expressed the desire to be formed into a congregation with him as their minister. After  encountering many difficulties, and much discouragement, and after being considerably weakened by the withdrawal of some of their number of the recently-formed congregation of Second Lisburn, the party that adhered to Mr. Powell were at length organised into a congregation, with him as minister, by one of the presbyteries of the Secession Synod. A house of worship then became necessary. Here again great difficulties presented themselves. The then landlord of the Lisburn Estate was an absentee, and sites for additional churches were hard to be got. The best, and indeed the only site that could be procured was a building in Sloan Street, that had been erected for a carpenter's shop, and which was held under a temporary lease. But for the influence of the late Mr. John Sloan, Plantation House, and the active interest he took in the matter, even this modest building could not have been obtained. Funds were raised for the purchasing of the carpenter's shop, and for converting it into a house of worship for One who had Himself been called "The Carpenter's Son."

On the resignation, through failing health, of Mr. Powell, the Rev. J. W. Gamble, the present minister, was called to take charge of the congregation. Mr. Gamble declined to accept the call, but being urged by his Presbytery, he at length consented to give the place a trial. While the congregation improved considerably under Mr. Gamble's ministry, it soon became clear that important changes would have to be made if the Church was to be of any permanent advantage to the district. Accordingly, the important step was taken of transferring the congregation from the Secession Synod to the jurisdiction of the General Assembly. Minister and people were cordially received, and placed under the care of the Presbytery of Dromore. Mr. Gamble handed over to the Trustees of the General Assembly, for the permanent endowment of the congregation of Sloan Street, a sum of about £800 of his commutation capital. As the old house of worship was small and obscure, expansion was out of the question. With the consent of the Presbytery, a new site was procured, and a new sanctuary erected, at a cost, including the purchase of the site, of nearly £3,000.

On the 31st July, 1899, the memorial stones in the new church were laid by Mrs. J. D. Barbour, Conway House; Miss Sloan, Plantation House; Sir James Musgrave, Bart; and Rev. D. A. Taylor, M.A. Moderator of the General Assembly. The building was opened for public worship in October, 1900, by the Rev. Dr. Hamilton, of Dublin, the Moderator of Assembly that year. Other services connected with the occasion, were conducted by the Rev. Andrew Benvie, B.D., Edinburgh; Rev. Dr. Lynd, Belfast; and Rev. Dr. Anderson, West Calder. The Rev. Mr. Gamble celebrated his semi-jubilee, as minister of this church in 1905.

Session 1906:-- Rev. J. W. Gamble, B.A.; H. Thompson, R. Diamond, John Coulter, Wm. Erskine, D. Greenfield, Thomas Leinster, John Campbell. Committee:-- James Alister, Samuel Blakley, Constable Bains, Thos. Campbell, Samuel Carson, Isaac Creighton, senr.; Isaac Creighton, jun.; John Cargin, W. A. Gamble, Samuel Giffen, J. D. Gamble, Thomas Hayes, Andrew Kennedy, M. B. MacKenzie, M.D., J.P.; Alex. M'Clure, Wm. M'Master, H. M'Callum, John Small.

(To be continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 11 April 1919 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.)

Friday, 5 April 2013

First Lisburn (Market Sq.) Presbyterian Church


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 Edited by JAMES CARSON. 
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This congregation was in existence prior to the Revolution of 1688, and was connected with the Antrim Presbytery, or "Meeting," till 1697, when it was placed under the care of the newly-formed Presbytery of Belfast. In 1725 the Presbytery of Belfast was dissolved, and the congregation became connected with the newly-formed Presbytery of Banger. In 1733 the congregation is said to have lost its confidence in the Presbytery of Bangor, and it was transferred to the care of the Presbytery of Templepatrick. Its confidence seems to have been restored in 1745, when it again became connected with the Presbytery of Bangor. It remained connected with that Presbytery till 1834, when a rearrangement of the Presbyteries was made, and it was placed under the care of the Presbytery of Belfast, which had been reorganised in 1774. In 1877 it was transferred to the care of the Presbytery of Dromore, with which it has since been connected.

The first minister was

Alexander M'Cracken.

He is said to have been a native of Scotland, but more probably he was an Irishman. He was educated at Edinburgh University, where he graduated M.A. in 1673, licensed by the Antrim Presbytery in August, 1684, and ordained here on 3rd July, 1688. He warmly espoused the cause of William Prince of Orange, and attended, with eight other Presbyterian ministers, the General Council, or Consult as it was sometimes called, at Hillsborough on 14th March, 1689, to advise the Protestant leaders "as they valued their lives and liberties not to put confidence in Lord Tyrconnell or any of his promises, but, if they possibly could, to defend themselves to the utmost. Soon afterwards he retired to Glasgow, and officiated there till May, 1690, when he returned to his church in Lisburn. The church, which was a humble thatched structure in the south end of the town, and in which King William is said to have worshipped when on his way to the Boyne, was reduced to ashes in the great fire which broke out on Sunday, 20th April, 1707, and totally destroyed the town. The records of the church, which date from about 1688, and which have recently been restored and rebound through the kindness of Sir Theodore Cracraft Hope, K.C.S.I, London, evidently escaped the conflagration, and are of great historical value. The church was rebuilt (1707) on the present site (Market Square), the congregation being aided in defraying the cost (£400) by a general collection ordered by the Synod of Ulster, and by contributions from Scotland.

About this time an Act was passed requiring all persons holding civil, military, or ecclesiastical office to swear an oath that the son of James II., or the Pretender as he was called, had no right or title to the Crown, and towards the close of the reign of Queen Anne the Act was vigorously put in force. This Abjuration Oath Mr. M'Cracken refused to take, not because he was in favour of the Pretender and opposed to Queen Anne, but because he thought that the oath committed him to a declaration that the Pretender was not the son of James II. A warrant was issued for his arrest by two Episcopalian magistrates, and Mr. M'Cracken was obliged to flee for safety to Scotland. On his return he was arrested, sentenced to a fine of £500, and six months' imprisonment, and at the end of his imprisonment he was still held bound to take the oath. He still refused, and was in consequence kept in prison for two and a half years (1713-16). After his release he continued his ministry in Lisburn till his death (14th November, 1730), and published a work (1726) entitled "The Confession of Faith Reduced to Question and Answer." "He was," says Wodrow, the well-known Scottish ecclesiastical historian, "my father's friend, and I had the advantage of his letters more than twenty years. He was a firm, honest Scots Presbyterian, and though he has served his God and his generation long, it's really a loss when such are removed."

The second minister was

Gilbert Kennedy,

son of Rev. Gilbert Kennedy, M.A. (Edin. 1697), Tullylish (1703-45), grandson of Rev. Gilbert Kennedy, M.A. (Glasgow, 1647), Girvan (1651-62), and Dundonald (1670-88), and Rev. George Lang, M.A. (Glasgow, 1656), Newry, (1665-1702). He was born at Tullylish in 1706, educated at Glasgow University, where he graduated (M.A., 1724), licensed by Armagh Presbytery in 1728, and ordained here on 7th June, 1732. His ministry in Lisburn was brief, as he accepted a call in 1733 to Killyleagh, where he ministered for eleven years. He became minister of 2nd (now All Souls') Belfast in 1744, where he remained till his death on 12th March, 1773. He was Moderator of the General Synod of Ulster, 1763-4. His sermon as outgoing Moderator and other sermons of his have been published, and we may infer from them that bis religious views were what were known as "New Light." Certainly they were very different from those held by his father, who was an enthusiastic advocate of Subscription, and by his paternal grandfather, who was ejected from his church in Girvan and compelled to flee from Scotland because of his Puritanism. His wife was a daughter of Rev. Robert Trail, rector of Killinchy, and a granddaughter of his was wife of the Primate of All Ireland (Right Rev. George Beresford).

The third minister was

William Patten,

a native of Ireland, a graduate (M.A., 1708) of Glasgow University, and a licentiate of Dalkeith Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, who had joined the General Synod of Ulster (Route Presbytery) in 1718, and been minister of Ervey and Carrickmacklin, Co. Cavan, for fifteen years (1721-36). He was installed here after considerable opposition owing to his "New Light" principles, on 7th July, 1736. About 280 heads of families in the congregation then memorialised the Associate Presbytery in Scotland, praying "that one might be sent them who would preach the Gospel not in the wisdom of men's words, but in the purity and simplicity thereof."

The prayer of this memorial was not granted, owing to the circumstances of the Associate Presbytery, but it contributed in no small degree to the introduction soon afterwards of the original Secession Church of Scotland into Ireland. Mr. Patton, after a ministry of about nine years, during which the opposition continued, accepted a call (1745) to Plunket Street, Dublin. He was Moderator of the General Synod of Ulster, 1751-2, and died on 22nd April, 1759, leaving two sons -- one a physician in Dublin, and the other Rev. J. Patton, Clonmel. His will was proved in the Irish Prerogative Court, 1759.

The fourth minister was

Patrick Buchanan,

a native of Co. Tyrone, a graduate (M.A., 1736) of Edinburgh University, and a licentiate of Strabane Presbytery (1745). He was ordained here on 29th July, 1745, and ministered till his death on 1st November, 1763. Little is known of his history, but it is probable that he held "New Light" principles.

The fifth minister was

James Bryson,

son of John Bryson, Holywood, and cousin of Rev. Wm. Bryson, Antrim, U.S. (1764-1815). He was born about 1730, educated, probably, at one of the Scottish universities, licensed by Armagh Presbyter in 1762, and ordained here on 6th June, [--?--] (at this point it was obvious a piece of tape had been placed on the original and when removed had taken the text below it away.) During his ministry of nine years the membership of the congregation [--?--] considerably, and the church [--?--?--] enlarged (1768) at a [--?--?--] £120 of which was subs[--?--] [--?--]iers of the Episcopal Church [--?--]

Mr. Bryson accepted [--?--?--] 2nd (now All Souls') Belfast [--?--] [--?--]nistered till 1791, when a [--?--] [--?--] his congregation affecting [--?--] [--?--]ich led to his resignation a[--?--] [--?--]ion of a new congregation [--?--] [--?--] (now Cliftonville), Belfast, of which he became pastor, and where he officiated till his death on 3rd October, 1796.

(Ed. A section of the text in the above paras was obliterated by what looked like a piece of tape.)

He was Moderator of the General Synod of Ulster, 1778-9, and held "New Light" principles. A volume of his sermons was published in 1788, and twelve manuscript volumes of his sermons are in the library of the Belfast Queen's University. He was twice married, and was father of Surgeon Samuel Bryson, High Street, Belfast, and Rev. Andrew Bryson, M.A. (Glasgow, 1783), Dundalk (1786-97), who was an authority on the Irish language.

The sixth minister was,

George Kennedy,

eldest son of Rev. Andrew Kennedy, Mourne (1741-81), and grandson by his mother of Rev. Gilbert Kennedy, M.A. (Edin. 1697), Tullylish (1703-45). He was born at Mourne in 1750, educated at Glasgow University 1767, licensed by Armagh Presbytery in March, 1773, and ordained here on 15th February, 1775. He died, after a brief ministry of little over four years, on 5th April, 1779, at the age of 28. His funeral sermon, which was published at the desire of the congregation, was preached by Rev. James Stouppe, M.A. (Glasgow, 1767), Dunmurry (1772-80), and his principles were probably "New Light."

The seventh minister was

William Bruce,

second son of Rev. Samuel Bruce, M.A. (Glasgow, 1740), Wood Street, and Strand, Street, Dublin (1747-67), grandson of Rev. Michael Bruce, Holywood (1711-35), great grandson of Rev. James Bruce, M.A. (Edin. 1678), Killyleagh (1685-1730), and great great grandson of Rev. Michael Bruce, M.A. (Edin. 1654), Killinchy (1657-89). He was born in Dublin on 30th July, 1757, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated (B.A.) in 1776, and Warrington Theological Academy, licensed by the Dublin Presbytery of the Southern Association, and ordained here on 4th November, 1779. After a ministry of about three years he accepted a call to Strand Street (now Stephen's Green), Dublin, where he officiated till 1790, when he became minister of 1st Belfast N.S. He received the honorary degree of D.D. from Glasgow University in 1786. During his ministry in Belfast he was Principal of the Academy (1790-1822), President of the Linenhall Library (1798-1817) and of the Belfast Literary Society, and took a leading part in all the benevolent institutions of the town. He retired from the active duties of the ministry owing to blindness in 1831, and died at Dublin on 27th February, 1841. Although his principles, which were Arian, and which were openly avowed and defended by him in several publications, were not at all popular, he was throughout a lengthened ministry universally respected.

The eighth minister was

Andrew Craig,

son of Andrew Craig, farmer, Dehomed, Drumgooland. He was born on 4th March, 1754, educated at Glasgow University, 1771, licensed by Dromore Presbytery in September, 1777, and, after a ministry of four years (1778-82) in Moira, was installed here in June, 1782. His ministry was a lengthened one, and his principles, like those of his predecessors, were "New Light." He retired from active duty in 1824, subscribed the Remonstrance presented to the Synod in 1829, died on 9th June, 1833, and was interred in Kilrush.

His assistant and successor (James Morgan) writes:-- "Mr. Craig was a most agreeable man. It was said he held some opinions not the same as mine, but, if so, he did not express them. He was silent on the subject of religious doctrines. He was a man of the old school -- a thorough gentleman, well informed, meditative, reasonable, kind. In many ways he was highly useful to me. He was the best reader I ever heard, except James Sheridan Knowles. He told me he never read a chapter in the pulpit without first studying it, and preparing himself to read it as it ought to be read. When he noticed anything wrong in my reading, or speaking, or pronunciation, he took me aside in the vestry, and taught me how to speak. When he approved of my public appearance he commended me. He never spoke to me about any of my doctrines, on which he might differ, holding that I was free to preach what I believed to be true."

(To be Continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 4 April 1919 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.)