Ros Davies' Co. Down, Northern Ireland Family History Research Site
© Rosalind Davies 2001
Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

Magheradroll/Magheradrool parish

Ballynahinch Magheradroll old church and graveyard Ballynahinch Church of Ireland 1st Presbyterian Church, Ballynahinch

2nd 3rd Presbyterian Church in Ballynahinch
called Edengrove

Spa Presbyterian Church Ballynahinch Congregational Church
Ballynahinch Catholic Church The Spa Drumaness village & mill .


Main Street, Ballynahinch
This photo shows the view looking north from the Clough road. This postcard from the 1950s shows Dromore St, Ballynhinch heading west
Courtesy Horace Reid
Old blue Market House
This lovely old photo was taken from a jainting car by a relative of Christy Kreidler (interested in Reid, Patterson & Thompson families of Dromara.) It shows a similar scene to the photo on the right. The photo above was taken coming into town from the south. The Market Square is on the right , painted blue (in 2002) but since renovated to its original colour.

The area around Ballynahinch was a McCartan stronghold in 1600. The town was founded in 1641 by Sir George Rawdon, an ancestor of the Marquis of Hasting and it remained in the familiy's possession until the early part of the 18th century. The windmill on the hill was first leased in 1773.
You can see the old Market house (blue) which was built in 1792 by Lord Moira of Montalto as the centre-piece of the town. It came under cannon fire from General Barbour during the Battle of Ballynahinch in the 1798 Rebellion when 63 houses were burned with 69 left standing. (MOA p226) . In 2001 the paint and plaster was stripped back to reveal the original archways and further restoration is underway.

Ballynahinch is still a market town; the main street is long and many roads from outer lying villages converge here making it a traffic nightmare. There are plans to build a bypass road.

In 1795, Ballynahinch was described as being a post town on a small river. The country about it is extremely coarse full of rocks and hills. The Earl of Moira owned several townlands in the area ( EMLR) & had his residence here and a few miles to the south was an excellent chalybeate sulpherous spa (called Spa). The town had a residentiary house, a charter school and Presbyterian meeting house. David Ker built the town's water whell-powered mill in 1816. (email me for a photo {MO Sep 2002}).The school was endowed with 2 acres of land and financed by the Earl of Moira and William Johnston. By 1836 nothing of the school existed and the land had been resumed by the current landlord Mr. David Ker of Montalto. But there were now 5 new schools in town, a Poor House, a dispensary, a corn & flax mill and much flax grown. The population of the town in 1821 was 884 people with 144 inhabited houses.Poor Law district population was 4097 in 30 Nov 1839. The population in 1846 was 911 people. The railway line from Belfast reached the town in 1858. In 1910 the population was 1512 people. In 2 May 1911 (DR) concerns were raised about lack of space in graveyards- no vacant plots in 1st Presbyterian & only a few in 2nd Presbyterian & parish church & no Catholic graveyard at all .

Click here for a History of the town. If you're visiting the town, call into the old Market House in the Square.

Newspaper articles from Northern Star;
foundation stone of Market House laid 11 Jul 1792; Ballynahinch Volunteers thank residents of Dromore for hospitality 22 Sep 1792; meeting of delegates from 40 parishes 2 Feb 1793; Assembly meeting notice 22 Jan 1795; religious solidairty meeting 31 Oct 1796;

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
estate 28 Jan 1843; tenantry on estate 25 Nov 1843 +: fair description 18 Oct 1851: riot at fair 18 Jun 1853: flax & port market 3 Sep 1853: list of mill owners 10 Sep 1853: infanticide 3 Jun 1854;Literary Society Meeting 19 Jan 1856; flax market 22 Aug 1863; Riot 6 Aug 1864; meeting of tenants 16 Dec 1871; infanticide 15 Aug 1874; pollution in Ballynahinch river, flax water 26 Oct 1878; past & present 29 Mar 1879; article on Battle of Ballynahinch (22 Nov 1902R); email me for a photo of Ballynahinch railway station in 1948 ( 27 Mar 1967R); email for a photo of Ballynahinch c. 1900 showing the view in above photo ( 17 Jul 1936); poor turn out at Ballynhinch Fair 29 Sep 1936*; Technical School needs new accommodation 16 Jun 1939*

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
Conservative Tenant Right meeting 19 Feb 1876 ; horrible murder near Ballynahinch 25 Sep 1886; alleged manslaughter 14 Dec 1889; disturbances on 12th May 18 Jun 1898

I have indexed the listings from the Griffiths Valuations of 1863 into the Surnames Index- for Ballynahinch townland ; Gasworks Road, Ballynahinch ; High Street ; Market Square ; Windmill Street ; Alfred Street ; Lisburn Street ; Bridge Street & Church Street

References;NS; V17 p 99,100, 101, 102, 106, 107, 116 OSM: MOA p226,244; MO 8/11/04*; *; DR; BH; MO 9 May 2001; BMap; GIPR; GV; EMLR ; WAB ; BIT; OBLS p3,4 , back cover (b/w photos)


Magheradroll ruined church and graveyard

Magheradrool old church and graveyard
1km SE of Ballynahinch on the Crabtree Road

This old church was built in 1607 was used jointly by the Church of Ireland and Catholic communities during 18th century . The surrounding graveyard is a mixture of both religions. The Catholics worshipped at 9 am and the Anglicans at 11:30 am
It is situated in the townland of Magheradrool which is 2 km SE of Ballynahinch town and is tucked away up an obscure farm lane. The earliest grave stone is dated 1607 but there would have been a church here much earlier. The earliest recorded mention of it is in 1292. It would have abandoned by the Anglicans around 1772 when their new church was built in Ballynahinch town by Earl of Moira . The Catholics may have continued to use it until their new chapel was built in the town in 1808. The parish priest at that time was Father Alexander McCoy.

Burials continued here for some time.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
problems in joint cemetery
11 Oct 1853; article on graveyard 22 May 1875- in ruins;

gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 9 & 12; email me for a gravestone look-up

References;DR* ;V9 MIs; HMP; DDPP p40; HPM p4


Ballynahinch Church of Ireland

Ballynahinch Church of Ireland
in Church Street

A church was built in 1772 by Lord Moira for £1000but destroyed in United Irishmen Rebellion. It was rebuilt in 1829 by the Ker family & the parishioners with the help of a loan of £850 from the Board of First Fruits. All that remains of this church is the tower. In 1836 the church was described as a plain, rectangular, T shaped building with a square tower and spire with 100 attendants.

It was enlarged again in 1870 by Mr. David Ker, the parishioners & the Ecclesiastrical Commissioners when a new wing was added & a spire costing £1000. Another restoraton took place in 1922 with higher nave walls, a pine pitch roof added & a new organ chamber costing £1600.

Rev. Charles Boyd was vicar (in 1824 & 1836 & 1846) and lived in the 2-storey Glebe House south east of Ballynahinch on the Castlewellan road. The rector in 1910 & 1925 was Rev. T.McCreight & from 1952 was Rev. W.G.L. Walker.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
Charles Boyd vicar; Sunday school 2 Jan 1847

Available records are births 1879-99; marriages 1845-1913, deaths 1879-1912 ;graveyard attached, gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 9; earliest stone in 1836

References; RCDJB p5; V17 p 99, 100, 106 OSM: MS WAG p 2: DR: V9 MIs; GIC; DR 8/8/1925; POD; RCDJB p5; BIT p48


1st Presbyterian Church in Ballynahinch

1st Presbyterian Church, Ballynahinch

This meeting-house is in Windmill Street, to the east of the market square and main street. It's grounds have been reduced due to road widening and the graveyard inside the wall is very small.

The first minister , Rev. William Reid, was installed in 1696 in an earlier church. The present church was built in 1751 by the Rev. John Strong and repaired in 1828. It measures 84 feet by 52 feet. It's the oldest building still in use in the town.

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1836 describe it as a plain, slated, roughcast, rectangular building with 3 galleries; there were 100 regular attendants then when Rev. Shaw was the minister; he lived at The Spa, near Ballynahinch & was minister from 1831-1870. The minister in 1910 was Rev. Noble Huston.

click here for a history of the church from 1696- 1735

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
ordination of John Boyde 7 Feb 1880; bazaar held to heat the church 27 Jul 1901;

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
using unfermented wine 6 Jun 1891

Available records are baptisms 1841- 1859; marriages 1709-1834 (5 only) , try Batch #C700171; graveyard attached, gravestones UHF Vol 9; email me for a gravestone look-up

click here for church records- marriages 1696-1735 & baptisms 1696-1735; records for previous and subsequent years were all destroyed by fire in 1798 rebellion.

Click here for an article on this church's very early Social Welfare Scheme

Some Ministers; Rev William Reid (1697- 1698); Rev Henry Livingston senior 1704-1708 ; Rev Henry Livingston junior (1708-1710); vacant for 3 years; Rev James Macalpine ( 1713-1732); Rev Alexander McClain 1735-1742; Rev John Strong (1744-1780); Rev John McClelland (1783- 1818 ); his son Rev James McClelland assisted (1812-1835; Rev John Shaw as assistant in 1831 then fulltime until 1870 then Rev. John McIlveen 1870-1879; Rev. John Boyd 1880-
References;V17 p 99, 100, 106 SM: DR: DR*: V 9 MIs; GIPR: GIC; NC; POD ; HCPCI p45-46 ; BIT p45


Edengrove Presbyterian Church, Ballynahinch

2nd & 3rd Presbyterian Church in Ballynahinch
in Dromore Street

called Edengrove since 1929 or 1950

This meeting house was formerly the 2nd then 3rd Presbyterian church in Magheradrool parish. It was built in 1774 after a separation with main church, alarmed by the number or liberal and wordly ministers appointed to the area. They formed a Secession church in union with Lissara but separated in 1793 and moved to separate site. There was a further subdivision in 1829 when part of the congregation left to form the 3rd Presbyterian in Alfred Street ( now closed) . This present church was built in 1841. It's in Ballymaglave townland originally on land leased from David S. Ker .

Try their website:

Some ministers are; Rev. Thomas Dobbin Fryar 1774 -1776 (2nd); Rev. John Sturgeon (2nd) 1776- 1793; Rev. Samuel Edgar (2nd) 1793- ; Rev. David Edgar (2nd) 1829-1889 ; Rev. James Gibson Thomson 1830 -1839; Rev. Robert Irvine (3rd) 1840- 1843; Rev. John Davis (3rd) 1844- 1895; Rev. Samuel English (3rd) 1893- 1921; Rev. Robert George Milling (2nd) 1880- 1911; Rev. Samuel Henry Moore (2nd) 1912-1926 . Rev. William Thomas Flack (3rd) 1922-1923 ; Rev. Henry Claerke (3rd) 19243-19825; Rev. Francis Wilson (minister of combined 2nd & 3rd) 1927- 1944; Rev. William Moore Boland 1944- 1951 Rev.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
ordination of Mr. Robert G. Milling 17 Apr 1880

Records available are baptisms 1829-1948 , marriages 1820-1931; gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 9 ; email me for a gravestone look-up

The old b/w photo was kindly sent by Horace Reid . It shows the old school to the left of the church.

References; DR; V9 MIs; POD ;EPC ; WAB p4 ; BIT p48

Wesleyan Methodist Church in Ballynahinch

Wesleyan Methodist Church, Ballynahinch
in Lisburn Street

After John Wesley's visit in 1785 , the Methodists asked Lord Moira's permission in 1795 to use the attic of the new Market House for their services. A few years later, he granted them a free site to build their own church and added ten guineas to the building fund. Most of the churches in Ballynahinch were wrecked and looted in the 1798 battle of Ballynahinch but the Methodists survived with outdoor meetings or home meetings in Ballynahinch, Spa, Comber Bridge, Magheralone, Creevytennant & Magherahamlet. This church (photo) was built in 1856 . Ballynahinch became a separate circuit in 1879 & a manse was built in 1881 on the Crossgar Road. The minister in 1910 was Rev. Robert Jamison.

Newspaper article from Northern Star;
letter to Earl of Moira, dismayed at his departure 2 Dec 1796

Newspaper article from Down Recorder;
opened in Ballynahinch 23 May 1857; harvest festival 15 & 16 Oct 1928*; Sunday School gained prize for fund raising 13 Apr 1937*

Records from 1879; no graveyard

References; MO 10 Nov 2010 p14; DR; GIRP: GIC; DR*; POD ; WAB p2 (sketch of old church) ; BIT p46


Ballynahinch Congregational Church

Ballynahinch Congregational Church
in Dromore Street

From their website;

"Sunday 9th February 1902 was, for many, the last time they would worship in the Presbyterian Churches in Ballynahinch. It was a time of political tension, and many were concerned about supporting Home Rule. Those people who strongly opposed Home Rule could not accept that the three Presbyterian ministers supported it. So on Thursday 13th February 1902, a large crowd attended a meeting which was addressed by Rev. Miskimmin (Congregational Minister in Newry) and Rev. Black (Belfast). The outcome of this was that an independent church was formed which would meet for the first time on Sunday 16th February 1902, at 12 noon and 6.30 pm, in the Courthouse, which was kindly granted for the use of the new church as long as it would be required." The roof of the church collapsed under a heabvy snowstorm 28 Dec 1908 so the congregation met in a temporary building on Montalto Demesne for a few years with this permanent church was built July 1910.

The minister in 2009 was Rev. George Speers.

References; BIT p46 ; OBLS p39


St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Ballynahinch

St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Ballynahinch
in Church Street

There was originally a wooden hut in Dromore St, Ballynahinch on the site of an ancient Mass station. This chapel was started in 1807 when David Ker Esq. offered the site in Church Street for a new church in exchange for the Dromore Street site that he wanted for a linen hall . It was to replace the old church in Magheradrool townland and was not completed until 1812 due to lack of funds . In 1836 it was described as a plain, slated rectangular building with 300 attendants. The roof blew off in the Big Wind of 1839. It was rebuilt in 1868 & refurbished in 1993.

The parish priests; Rev. Francis McKenny 1781-88; Rev Alexander McCoy then Rev. James Moore from 1821 until his death in 1826. Then Rev. Peter Polin until his death in 1832 then Rev. Henry O'Hagan before his death in 1833; Rev. Daniel Sharky was parish priest in 1833 until his death in 1864; the curate in 1846 was Rev Thomas Ryans; in 1864, Rev. Charles O'Hare until his death in 1887; Rev. John McGrath until his death in 1897 then Rev. John Doyle until his death in 1931; Rev Edward McGivern 1931- 1938; Canon Michael McClory 1938- 1967; Canon Alexander McMullan 1967-1975; Canon Patrick Smyth 1975- 1998; Rev Gerard McCrory 1993+

Newspaper articles in Down Recorder;
Consecration of new church at Ballynahinch 4 Jul 1868

Newspaper article from Northern Herald;
Death of Rev. Henry O'Hagan, parish priest Ballynahinch 2 Nov 1833.

Available records ; NLI have free copies of microfilmed baptisms 1827 -1881 & marriages 1829-1864 - ; PRONI , NLI & LDS have baptisms 1827-1880, marriages 1829-1864; UHF have baptisms 1827-1900 & marriages 1826 -1900, graveyard attached

References; OBLS p23 37 (b/w photo) ; V17 p 99, 100, 106 OSM: MS WAG p 2; TIA: GIC; HMP; DDPP p40; POD; BIT p49; HPM p4-8


Spa Ballroom

The Spa, near Ballynahinch

This old postcard was kindly sent to me by Leona Thomas. It shows Charlie McGee outside the Spa Ballroom in his cart in 1906 .
The Spa at Ballynahinch has been a resort since the early 18th century. The popularity of the Spa was due to the supposed medicinal properties of the waters and hundreds flocked to the area between May and October every year. The Assembly Rooms, seen in the photo, were built in 1840 by the Ker family (the local landlords) and were purchased by the adjacent temperance hotel in 1900. In the 1920s the Elmwood Spa hotel was owned by Mrs. W. R. Flinn and advertised that it was ," One of the Finest Inland Hotels in the North of Ireland. Exquisite View; Tennis and Croquet Lawns; Sulphur and Iron Springs; Hot Sulphur Baths; Large Comfortable Rooms. Late Dinner. Adjoining the Golf Links."

Writing on 12th July 1760 Mrs. Mary Delany noted that, " Master Price is much better with drinking the Ballynahinch waters- a chalybeate in this neighbourhood." It was used to station troops in the 2nd World War and is now a Masonic hall.

Bramah pumps were installed at Spa Wells in 1810 by Mr. David Ker of Montalto and a tourist boom occurred. In 1840 his son, David built the Spa Assembly Rooms with a ballroon upstairs reached by an elegant staircase. Magherahamlet Church of Ireland was built in 1815 for visiting tourists convenience. (DR 21/6/2006L)

(The following information was kindly sent to me by Mrs. Isabel Keenan of Spa.) "One of the most famous attractions of Spa as well as the 3 pump houses was the Labyrinth. Many guests wandered around to get to the middle. There was a bell there which they rang. Many parties and tea dances were held in the Elmwood Hotel (now Spa Nursing home). Guests were ferried from the train in Ballynahinch by jaunting car to Spa.

Unfortunately, now the maze has been built on. There are 8 houses on the site. There was an outcry at the time but eventually
permission was granted to build. It is said that there are United Irish Men buried there. Echo Hall just along the road from the Church was where the United Irish Men stayed the night before the Battle of Ballynahinch and there was a prayer meeting held just in front of it." he Assembly Rooms were used by soldiers during 2nd World War.

Newspaper articles from Northern Star;
citizen-soldiers Volunter National Guardians formed here 25 Jul 1792; Volunteers meeting 1 Dec 1792

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
sulphur & iron well here; l article 28 Mar 1840; Protestant ball 9 Mar 1844: article 2 Aug 1845: letter 20 Jun 1846: archery fete 10 Jul 1847: article 2 Oct 1852; article 5 May 1866; golf more popular than the waters 24 Jul 1915*; meeting of Co Down Staghounds in Spa 3 Jan 1936*; imporved facilities at The Spa 16 Apr 1937*; reputation of The Spa 4 Jun 1939*; photo 23/4/2008

Newspaper article from Northern Independent:
article on wells 29 Jun 1872

References;NS; DR; MS WAG p 3; NI; DR 12/12/1936*(photo of Spa Roadhouse) ; OBLS p1a, 3,4,29 ,31,32 (b/w photos)


Spa Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church in Spa

This church is at the crossroads in the village of Spa. The following information was kindly sent to me by Mrs. Isabel Keenan, wife of the current minister (2003)

"In the 1880's The Spa was a fashionable health resort. The waters properties had been values by locals for 200 years before that. In 1873 Robert McQuiston, who was a wealthy merchant from Belfast and a regular visitor , decided to provide a Meeting House for visitors and locals.

The foundation stone was laid by Rev David Edgar on 27th July 1871. The building was designed by Messrs. Young McKenzie of Belfast and the builder was John Russell of Newcastle. On 16th July 1872, the Meeting house was dedicated by The Right Reverend William Johnston, the Moderator of the General Assembly. The following Sunday saw the start of the Sunday School. For 2 years the church had visiting ministers fron the Comber Presbytery.

In 1872 the first baptism took place of John Robert McQuiston McCoubrie, infant son of William and Annie of Mount Pleasant. On 11th December 1873 leave to call a minister was granted and on 5th May 1874 . Rev . William Wilson of Belfast was ordained as first minister. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper (Communion) was first celebrated on 25th October 1874 with 120 communicant present. The manse was built some time between 1874 and 1879. In 1879 Rev. James Knowles was installed as minister. In 1895 Rev. John McAdam was installed. During his time here, central heating was installed and the grounds were enclosed by a wall and railings. (They had been enclosed by trees). The minister in 1910 was Rev. J. McAdam..

In May 1925, Rev. McAdam resigned and the 2 congregations of Magherahamlet and Spa were joined under one minister. In 1925 Rev. S. D. McKee was installed then in 1946 Rev. Munce Drennan was installed following the death of Rev. McKee. In 1955 Rev. Cecil Adams was installed then in 1964 a pipe organ was installed. In 16th April 1987 Isabel's husband Rev. John L. Keenan was installed.

The church hall (The Arnold Hall) was build in 1954 and a major extension and refurbishment was carried out in 1999. The new hall was dedicated by Right Rev. John Lockinton and opened by Mrs. Keenan in January 2000. The Rev. John Keenan died suddenly 19 Feb 2005. Rev David Hyndman was installed in Apr 2007.

Records available 1875-1986; graveyard in the grounds

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
death of Robert McQuiston , founder of the church 19 Nov 1881; service of song 10 Mar 1883

References;HCPCI p229-239; DR; MIs; DR 21/6.2006L


Drumaness village in 1930

Drumaness village and mill
4km SE of Ballynahinch on Newcastle road

This painting of Drumaness was done in 1930 by James J. McKinney (1921-2013) and was kindly given to me by Gerry Rice of Drumaness. The Rice family lived in the end terrace of Red Row c. 1950. The mill buildings are still there today and the old terraced housing but they are surrounded by a modern housing estate (see DR24/11/2004)

In 1659 there were 0 English/Scots & 13 Catholic families here. The proprietor in 1836 was Colonel Forde of Seaforde whose agent was Capt. Gordon. There were 42 landholders in the townland and they were mostly Catholics as the land was poor quality. Their farms were from 3- 24 acres and the rents from 7/6 - 32/6 an acre. The crops were potatoes, corn & barley. Thirty weavers were employed in the mill and a school was established in 1832. There was also William Davidson's corn mill, a wash mill, Johnston's flax mill, McCoobery's flax mill and a bleach mill here. In 1850 James Hurst of Manchester opened a new spinning mill in the village. The Catholic Parochial House and new Catholic chapel were built in 1930 on the western side of Newcastle Road. Drumaness Mills Football Club was formed in 1929.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
new master for the school 24 Feb 1838; J. Nocher murdered 22 Jun 1850; valuable flax mill, machinery & land for sale 24 Jan 1857; stabbing at public house 17 Jul 1858; science class results 13 Jul 1872 ;accident at Hurst's mill 8 Feb 1873; strike at spinning mill 3 Jul 1924*; Drumaness District Summer Football League meeting 4 Jun 1939*

I have indexed the full listings of all the inhabitants in Griffiths Valuations for 1863 into the Surnames Index.

References;TCC p 33; V 17 p 99, 104 OSM: BH; DR; DR*; HMP p 28; DMFC ; DR 4/1/2012 p24 (photo of Mill c. 1910) ; OBLS p33,34,35,36 (b/w photos)

by Ros Davies