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

Newtownards Parish

Newtownards town St. Marks Church of Ireland Old Church of Ireland Movilla Abbey & Graveyard 1st Presbyterian church Old Light
Regent Street Presbyterian Church 1st Presbyterian Non Subscribing Church 2nd Newtownards Presbyterian Strean Presbyterian Church 4th; South Street Presbyterian Church
Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Ballyblack Presbyterian Church Milecross Quaker Church St. Patricks Catholic Church Scrabo Tower


8km SE of Belfast on the Donaghadee road

Old Cross, High St, Newtownards Newtownards Town Hall



This lovely old postcard showing the Old Cross in High Street, Newtownards in 1903 was kindly sent to me by Marion McCall. This ancient cross was erected in 1636 but was defaced by rebels in 1653 and restored by the town's inhabitants in 1666.

References; POD 1852

The Town Hall in Market Square, was erected in 1770 by the 1st Marquis of Londonderry. It contains an elegant suite of assembly rooms and other apartments. Underneath are the market offices and shambles.
This lovely photo was kindly sent to me by Sandra Gilpin.

References; 1852 POD

In 1244, Walter de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, founded a monastery here. The town was founded by Sir Hugh Montgomery in 1606 at which time there was not a cabin in or about the place. Sir Hugh Montgomery got his estate by townlands, by reason of his agreement with Con O'Neill, whereas other undertakers of plantations in Ulster had several sections ( of feofes) of lands admeasured to them. Each contained 1,000 acres, mountains and bog not reckoned in the number. Newtownards was erected into a borough town and constituted a body politick and corporate under the names of a provost, 12 free burgesses and commonality, by patent dated the 25th March 1613. Sir Hugh Steward was nominated the first provost.

In the spring of 1606, Sir Hugh was obliged to take up his residence in the stump of an old castle which was upon a portion of ground that now contains the town of Newtownards. Sir Hugh having brought over in good measure new carpenters, he caused the erection of some booths and cottages, since which period the town has been gradually improving and there may be seen on many of the old houses, dates of the early part of the 17th century. In 1659 there were 87 English/ Scots & 59 Catholic families here. In 1764 there were 60 Anglicans, 4750 Presbyterians & 50 Catholic in the parish (TMUOP p88 ;MOA p22)

The United Irishmen Movement was active in Newtownards in 1798. In 1824 there were 6000 people in the parish. (POD)

The houses in 1836 were generally good. About 665 one-storey houses with 20 thatched, 469 two-storey houses, 17 three-storey houses and 1 four-storey house- all slated and built of freestone. Freestone is freely available in the area. The Marquis of Londonderry granted leases on the houses for 60 years or 3 lives, at a rate of 1 shillings per foot. In the town there were a market house, 7 churches 2 schools, a Masonic Hall, a large hotel, a branch of the Belfast Bank, and one poor house called House of Industry in Pont Street. The rent of it was paid by the Marquis of Londonderry and there were about 20 inmates in 1836. A Library was established in 1831, in the Square, which contained 500 volumes. There were 4 Friendly Societies, with the first one establish in 1809. The object being one of subscriptions to help each other in time of need. There was one magistrate and 6 police men. The manor court was held in the court house every third Saturday. There were 12 monthly fairs held on a Saturday and 3 large fairs held quarterly.

In 1836 there were extensive, rich lead mines in the vicinity which were owned by English companies. 27 May 1848 several public works programs were instigated for famine relief with the upgrading of the road to Donaghadee (FCD S2 p 8).The Catholic Parochial House is here. In 1846 the population of the town was 745 people. In 1863 the Freemasons Hall , Bridewell ( Petty Sessions & gaol) & Erasmus School were in Regent Street & the North Down Militia Barracks & yard & Union Workhouse were in Church Street; a National School in Mill Street & National Model School in Belfast Road; another National School in Movilla Street & another in Ann Street; Police Barracks in High Street; the Railway Station was in Corporation North; the Dispensary was in Great Francis Street; the Belfast Bank was in Regent Street; the Gaslight Company was in Court Street.

In 1852 the weaving of muslin employed a large number of the male population and the embroidering of the muslin, occipied the females. There were 2 lead mines near the town . The Union Workhouse and a dispensary looked after the needs of the poor. (POD)

The Post Office Directory of 1886 says that tapes are manufactured here; there was a mineral spring factory; 4 factories for knitting & weaving woollen yarns; 2 weaving factories and one bleachery; a printing works in connection to the handkerchief factory & a shirt & collar factory; a stone quarry nearby. There were 800 hand loom weavers in the vacinity.(probably working at home for agents). The population in 1910 was 9110 people. (POD)

Newspaper articles from Northern Star;
a strong notice posted against poaching 21 Jan 1792; a malt kiln to let 6 Oct 1792; meeting of inhabitants 12 Jan 1793; the Down Hunt meeting in Newtownards 9 Jan 1794; Newtownards and Comber Cavalry, reward for information on murder 17 Mar 1797

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
starch manufacturing, attack: 26 Jan 1839: potato riots 16 Jun 1839: depression in trade 11 Jun 1842; 2000 people have left the area to go to USA 14 Apr 1849*; loyal demonstration 13 May 1848: incendiarism 20 Jan 1849: riots 17 Jul 1852: W.S. Crawford at Frederick’s Hotel 4 Sep 1852: Hotel for sale at Railway station 31 Mar 1855; Riotous conduct of Militiamen 21 Apr & 28 Apr 1855; tenant right meeting 26 May 1855*; seven burned to death in Dobbin's Row, South Street, 5 Jun 1875; destitution among hand loom weavers 13 Jan 1866; death from hydrophobia in workhouse 3 Jul 1880;

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Independent;
Good Templarism 29 Jul 1871; Horticultural Show, 16 years old 9 Sep 1981; Volunteer Fire Brigade; 27 Jan 1872; weaving trade 16 Mar 1872; Ball in Market House for Royal North Down Rifles 18 May 1872; attempted rioting 14 Sep 1872; rifle contest 19 Oct 1872

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Chronicle;
Newtownards as a military centre 23 Aug 1873; the progress of Newtownards 11 Oct 1873; Horticultural Society, annual show 5 Sep 1874; amateur theatricals, North Down Rifles 12 Dec 1874; employment of the destitute 2 Jan 1875; dissolution of the gas light company 20 Feb 1875; appeal for the poor 27 Feb 1875; seven persons burnt to death in South Street 5 Jun 1875; editorial on street preaching 12 Jun 1875; formation of the Choral Union 26 Jun 1875; erection of Good Templar Hall, short history of Templarism 28 Aug 1875; spelling bee 23 Oct 1875; increasing police force 6 Nov 1875; the late riot 13 Nov 1875; death from exhaustion & exposure in Movilla St. 20 Nov 1875; outdoor relief 4 Dec 1875; Choral Society entertainment 19 Feb 1876; dreadful tragedy in Mill St., 19 Aug 1876; fire in Gas Works 22 Sep 1877; industries- mines & bleachworks 19 Jan 1878; new slaughter house 13 Apr 1878; fire in Belfast Warehouse, 57 High St., 15 Jun 1878; Irish Temperance Hand Bell Ringers 15 Jun 1878; new coffee house in Regent St., 31 Aug 1878; new flax market 14 Sep 1878; gypsies in town 2 Nov 1878; concert for the distressed 18 Jan 1879; death by burning in East St., 8 Mar 1879; Royal North Down Rifles Grand Ball 28 Jun 1879; visit of Signor Box, conjurer 5 Jul 1879; heavy rain & destructive floods 26 Jul 1879; Stag Hunt 8 Nov 1879; industry & lead mines 29 Nov 1879; meeting of ratepayers for reduction of local taxation 13 Mar 1880; hemstitching factory opens in William St., 13 Nov 1880; memorial stone in Protestant Institute 25 Dec 1880; great demonstration of the tenant farmers of Londonderry estate 25 Dec 1880; list of subscribers to Protestant Institute 26 Feb 1881; Choral Society concert 5 Mar 1881; breach of promise case 5 Mar 1881; fire in South St., 22 Apr 1882; Bicycle Club 17 Jun 1882; infanticide 23 Sep 1882; Newtownards man convicted in Carlisle UK 11 Nov 1882; flax steeping in South Street a health hazard 11 Aug 1883; serious fire 3 Nov & 15 Dec 1883; Workhouse Band 12 Jan 1884; fatal quarrel in Workhouse 23 Feb 1884; military disturbances 8 Mar 1884; new hosiery manufacturer in Regent St., 10 Jan 1885; Elocution class 28 Mar 1885; Gordon Memorial Bible School 4 Jul 1885; military rowdyism 22 Aug 1885; Athletic Club 26 Sep 1885; meeting of workingmen 28 Nov 1885; New Year in Workhouse 9 Jan 1886; Philharmonic Society 13 Feb 1886; distress as many out of work 20 Feb 1886; Loyalist meetings 27 Feb 1886; suicide near Newtownards 3 Apr 1886; building improvements 29 May 1886; alleged attempt to shoot wife 17 Jul 1886; sudden death of young lady 11 Sep 1886; Farmers' Assoc- defects in 1881 Land Act 20 Aug 1887; Christmas in the Workhouse 31 Dec 1887; Farmers' Assoc. 28 Jan 1888; gambling hells in North St., 3 Mar 1888; opening of Railway Ave. 17 Mar 1888; melancholy occurrence 7 Apr 188; Toronto Lacrosse team in town 5 May 1888; inquiry into Workhouse management 20 Apr 1889; embroidery finishing works in West St., 1 Jun 1889; progress in Temperance 4 Jan 1890; Vice regal visit 18 Jan 1890; Farmers' Assoc 8 Feb 1890; presentment sessions 10 May 1890; Plasterers & Masons labourers meeting 10 May 1890; painters' strike 10 May 1890; Cooke Centenary Church foundation stone 12 Jul 1890; exhibition of gas heating & cooking stoves 10 Jan 1891; YWCA concert 7 Feb 1891; sanitary affairs 11 Apr 1891; census, 9339 in 1891 9 May 1891; demonstration of Rechabites 5 Sep 1891; carpenters' strike 5 Sep 1891; gypsies in town 26 Sep 1891; re public walks 24 Oct 1891; proposed removal of military 5 Mar 1892; Model Building Society meeting 12 Nov 1892; fire in Ann St, 10 Dec 1892; Farmers' Assoc annual meeting 14 Jan 1893; Ards Recreational Society 1st annual meeting 4 Mar 1893; proposed trained nurse for town 13 May 1893; house accommodation 24 Jun 1893; serious rioting, disgraceful conduct by militia 12 Aug 1893; proposed new railway route 28 Oct 1893; Gospel Temperance Mission 25 Nov 1893; early cling movement 16 Dec 1893; Society for Nursing of Sick Poor 3 Feb 1894; breach of promise case involving a gentleman & £1,000 10 Mar 1894;weaver cuts his throat 7 Apr 1894; proposed reopening of lead mines 2 Jun 1894; work of labouring men 9 Jun 1894; suicide in Movilla St, 21 Jul 1894; fire in Old Cross Bar 21 Jul 1894; new clock for Newtownards 28 Jul 1894; YWCA 27 Oct 1894; care of lunatics in Workhouse, inquest 3 Nov 1894; Unionist Club, lecture by Rev L. Pooler 10 Nov 1894; violent storm 29 Dec 1894; Unionist Club annual meeting 12 Jan 1895; Literary & Debating Society, lecture 19 Jan 1895; new public library 2 Feb 1895; Society for Nursing the Sick Poor 2 Feb 1895; soap manufacture in town 27 Apr 1895; fisheries inquiry 8 Jun 1895; Land Bill meeting 2 May 1896; meeting of Mechanical Engineers Institute 1 Aug 1896; Reading Society 80 years ago 28 Nov 1896; Nursing Society 30 Jan 1897; fire, Glen Print Works destroyed 13 Feb 1897; Duke & Duchess of York in Newtownards 11 Sep 1897; new coachbuilding factory 27 Nov 1897; new soap factory in Shore Road 25 Dec 1897; Free Library Committee 8 Jan 1898; Philharmonic Society 15 Jan 1898; District Nursing Assoc, annual meeting 29 Jan 1898; Postman's Federation 8 Oct 1898; inspection of Boys' Brigade by Lord Londonderry 11 Feb 1899; Philharmonic Society concert 18 Feb 1899; reopening of Good Templar Hall 27 May 1899; a new sect in town 7 Oct 1899; opening of Guild Hall 18 Nov 1899; fancy dress cycle parade 1 Sep 1900.

Try & ; for lots of photos of Newtownards, try Bill Haggan's website- & For old photos of the area try John Hanna & Des Quail's book Old Newtownards , published by Stenlake

References;NS: V17 p 120, 123 & V7 p 104, 105, 109 OSM: DR; GIC; NI; NC; PNNI V2 p 197, 215;GV; POD; MOA p20; ON p1,3


The town square, Newtownards

Newtownards Priory - Church of Ireland
in the Main Square

Anglicans worshipped in The Old Priory in Castle Street built by Sir Robert Colvill in 1632 on the ruin of the Dominican Priory. The tower is the only remains of a Dominican Friary founded in 13th century and burned in 1572. Services were then held in a small chapel at the east end of the church. The steeple was finished in 1636 and a large bell place there by Lord Viscount Montgomery. The entrance arch has the names of many Montgomerys carved and a large tomb of the Colville family stands in the aisle. In 1764 there were only 60 Anglicans in town. But it got badly into disrepair by end of 17th century .The walls were repaired in 1836, but refurbished as a church & consecrated 27 Jan 1860. Its dimensions are 63 by 46 feet. The rector 1789- 1809 was Rev John Cleland followed by Rev Mark Cassidy. The church was used until St. Marks was built in 1817.It then served as a court house.

no graveyard, burials at Movilla Abbey

Now in the care of Department of the Environment Historic Monuments.

References;V7 p104, 107, 113 OSM; GIC;NAHN p80-81, 109; SG;HMNI p106 ; MIs; GV


St Marks, Newtownards

St Marks Church of Ireland
in Church St, Newtownards in the west of town

The rector before his death in 1789 was Rev. Hugh Caldwell. There were 1000 Church of Ireland adherents in Newtownards in 1816 so a new church was built in 1817 in the Gothic style. This church replaced an older church (Priory, above) in the south of the town. Rev. Mark Cassidy was rector for 31 years until 1839. It was described in 1836 as the prettiest building in town. It cost £5446 of which £831 was a gift and £3692 a loan from Board of First Fruits. The rest came from Lord Londonderry . The rector in 1846 & 1852 was Rev. Townley Blackwood & in 1860, 1862 Rev. James/ Hugh McCormick & in 1910 Rev. W.L.T. Waltham with Rev. C.P. Fisher as curate.

Burials in Movilla graveyard

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle:
proposed 2nd Church of Ireland for town 27 Jun 1885

The above photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References; MIs; V7 p 104, 105, 106, 109 OSM ;NAHN P80,81,87,109; POD; NC; GV; MC; MIs ; POD


Movilla Abbey, Newtownards parish

Movilla Abbey
East of Newtownards town

Movilla Abbey was one of Ulster's most important monasteries and was founded by St. Finian in 540 AD. There was a school here in 543 (St. Finians) which was attended by St. Columba. . The Abbey was plundered by Vikings in 824 AD and refounded in the 12th century by Augustinian Canons. It is supposed to have subsisted until the general dissolution of abbeys by King Henry 8th. Most of the spiritualities and temporalities of the townland belonging to it were at that time seized and granted to Viscount Claneboy, from whom it passed to Hugh, Viscount Ards.

Only one pre-Norman stone remains in the graveyard. Built into the north wall of the graveyard is a collection of 13th century coffin lids. There are some gravestones from more recent times and it was used as the parish graveyard. Email me for a photo of the modern Movilla Church of Ireland church.

Movilla was granted to Hugh Montgomery in 1618.

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
editorial on Movilla burying ground 31 Aug 1872; Movilla Ghost 3 Apr 1886

Gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 11 ; email me for a gravestone look-up; currently the cemetery is maintained by Ards Borough Council ; or Parks & Cemeteries Manager, Ards Borough Council, 2 Church Street
Newtownards,Co. Down BT23 4AP;
for gravestone photos try &

References;V7 107, 108 OSM ; HMNI p106;SCPC p5; ON p30 (b/w photo)

1st Presbyterian Church

1st Presbyterian Church, Newtownards
in Great Francis Street, Newtownards

A congregation of Presbyterians emerged in the town when the Earl of Eglinton's Regiment was stationed in town in 1642. The first minister was Rev. David Kennedy who was deposed then reinstated 14 Aug 1641 then Rev. John Maclellan from 1642. They advertised for a preacher and Rev. John Greg from Carrickfergus became the minister in 1650. He was deposed but continued on a private basis until his death in 1670. A low, thatched meeting house was erected in 1670 . Rev. Greg was suceeded by Rev. Thomas Kennedy from 1671 til 1688 then Rev. Alexander Hutchinson c. 1690 then Rev. John Smith until 1704.

The old meeting house was replaced in 1720 when Rev. John Mairs (1706-1718) was preacher. He was seceeded by his son Rev. John Mairs from 1720 until he joined the Non Subscribers and Arians and formed the New Light Church in 1725 . Rrv. James Moorhead was minister in 1726 then Rev, James Smith 1739-1740 then Rev. James Huey from 1742 who became infirm and needed an assistant Rev. James Simson in 1790 . He was involved in United Irishmen Rebellion of 1798 & left for USA in 1799. He was suceeded by Rev. James McCullough in 1800 but he became infirm and was replaced by his son Rev. Julius McCullough 1834-1865.

The church was rebuilt in 1815 in Frances Street after a split with New Light sect. The costs involved were £3,000 which was paid for by the congregation. Attendance was on average 700-100 people. It was described in 1836 as extremely large & plain with an average attendance of 800 people. It had seats and a gallery & its dimensions were 106 by 50 feet. Rev.Matthew McAuley was minister 1865- 1879 followed by Rev. William Wright from 1879 to 1919.

Article from Northern Star newspaper;
death of Rev James Huey, minister for 52 years 24 Oct 1794

Articles from Newtownards Chronicle;
call to Mr. W. Wright as minister 5 Jul 1879; death of Rev. M. MacAuley 15 May 1880; Rev. H. Moore, 60th anniversary as minister 12 Mar 1887;death of Rev. Hugh Moore, minister 4 Mar 1893; ordination of Rev. J.J. Magill 18 Aug 1894 ; lecture on Armenia 7 Nov 1896; unseemly proceeding when Rev A. Gordon accuses wrong man 29 Dec 1888

North of Ireland Family History Society ( has baptism from 1831-1921 & marriages 1833-1921

no graveyard; try

References; HCPCI p207-208; MIs; SG; NS;V7 p104,105,106 OSM; NAHN p 68,80, 81,75, 94-95, 109 ; NC; GIC;GV; POD; ON p6,7


Francis Street (photo left) then Victoria Ave (right), Newtownards
Old Non Subscribing Presbyterian Church 1st Newtownards Presbyterian Non Subscribing Church

1st Presbyterian Church Non Subscribing
-New Light - in Windmill Row, off Francis Street (now Victoria St, Newtownardss

The first Non Subscribing congregation was founded in 1742 in Frances Street and the church was built at the expense of the congregation after a split with Old Light sect . The minister, John Mairs, from the Old Light church was its first preacher. It was capable of holding 500 people with dimensions of 72 by 44 feet. The minister in 1836 was Rev. Hugh Moore. The present building (colour photo) dates from 1924 in Victoria Avenue. The old building was converted into a cinema then a shopping arcade.

List of ministers;
David Kennedy (1634-1638); John Greg (1650-1670); Thomas Kennedy (1671- 1689); Alexander Colvill (1696- 1699); John Smith (1700-1704); John Mairs/Mears senior (1707- 1718); John Mears/Mairs junior (1720-1735); Hugh Scott (1735-1736); Robert MacKewan (1737-1756); James Dobbin ( 1756- 1782); William Sinclair ( 1784- 1798); John McIlwaine (1799-1799); Joseph Osborne ( 1800- 1827); Hugh Moore (1827- 1880); George Lansdowne (1888- 1891); John Joseph Magill (1894- 1896); Robert Maxwell King (1897- 1923); William Henry Townley Tilson (1923- 1953); Albert Horatio McElroy ( 1954- 1975); William Fairbairn Rowan (1975- 1978); William John Wharton from 1979; the late Rev. Wharton Brian retired in 1983 ; Brian Stuart Cockroft (1991-2013) and Roger McKee (2017-)

North of Ireland FHS has baptisms 1827 -1913 & marriages 1827 -1919 & burials 1898-1923

The above photos were kindly sent by Sandra Gilpin.

References; V7 p105, 106 OSM; GV; GIPR ; NAHN p81; SG; ON p7; Sandra Gilpin


2nd Ards Presbyterian Church

2nd Presbyterian Church
in Upper Mary St, Newtownards

Although called 2nd Presbyterian it was the third Presbyterian Church built in the town and opened in 1771. The congregation was Anti-Burgher Seceder. They were a conservative group who split from Seceders over an oath to be taken by burghers in Scottish towns. Most of the congregation cane from Conlig. Many services were held in the open air in what was Bangor parish and this Bangor congregation became known as Second Newtownards. A temporary, humble building was erected. The first minister was Rev. James Martin from 1753 until 1776. A few meeting house was built in his time in 1771. Next cam Rev. Francis Archibald 5 Aug 1777 until Aug 1780 then there was a long vacancy until Rev. Jasmes Bigger was ordained 13 Apr 1785 & stayed until 1797. He was succeeded by Rev. James Gardner from Nov 1801- Jan 1812 then Rev. David Maxwell Sep 1812- Oct 1859 then Rev. James Young from June 1860 to at least 1910.

This photo was kindly sent to me by Sandra Gilpin.

References; HCPCI p208; POD ; NAHN p87; PR


Presbyterian Church, South Street, Newtownards

South Street Presbyterian Church (4th)

This congregation started in 1854 in Court Street, and became the 4th Presbyterian congregation in town . It moved to South Street in 1859 at the time of the Great Revival. The minister for 40 years before 1899 was Rev. George Hughes. It was eventually abandoned because there were too many Presbyterian Churches in Newtownards & used as a Technical College. In the 1970s it was turned into a centre for Youth Work officers with a new hall built with sports facilities; it is now known as Ards Arena.

North of Ireland FHS has baptisms1854 -1906 & marriages 1855-1905 ; no graveyard;

This photo was kindly sent to me by Sandra Gilpin.

References; GIC; GV ;NAHN p146-148l NC 15/7/1899

Regent Street Presbyterian Church-
in Regent Street, Newtownards

This church was erected over a division among the congregation about the selection of a minister. Rev. James McCullough had been minister of 1st Presbyterian Church since 1799 and in 1834 his son, Julius was ordained as his assistant and successor. This attempt to establish a dynasty upset many people who obtained permission from the Synood of Ulster to establish a new congregation. The first met in the Court House but then leased land in Regent Street from Lord Londonderry. This Meeting House was erected in 1834 at a cost of £1,000 which was raised by subscriptions. Lord Londonderry gave £20 & the late Lord Dufferin £10. It has an ornamental front & is capable of holding 800 people with an average attendance in 1836 of 200 people. The minister , Rev. Mr. Thomas Watters was ordained in 1835 and stayed until 1892) . The Rev. J. Salters was minister 1892 & in 1910.

Article from Newtownards Independent newspaper;
presentation to Rev. Watters 14 Dec 1872 (NI);

Articles from Newtownards Chronicle newspaper;
renovations 9 Nov 1889;death of Rev. Thomas Watters 30 Apr 1892 ; installation of Rev. J. Salters 10 Dec 1892 ; presentation to Mrs. Adair 20 Oct 1894; cinematographic exhibition 4 Dec 1897

North of Ireland FHS has baptisms1835 -1922 & marriages 1835 -1920 & burials 1892- 1901 ; no graveyard

References;V7 p 105, 106 OSM; NI; NC ; NAHN p120-121; GIPR: GIC;GV; POD


Strean Presbyterian Church, Newtownards

Strean Presbyterian Church
in West St, Newtownards

This congregation formed as a result of the 1859 Great Revival and a disagreement with the 1st Presbyterian Church over the appointment of a minister . Thomas Strean, a wealthy merchant, held a meeting with dissenters to discuss setting up a new congregation . The first meetings were held in the Market House with preachers from Comber. Thomas Strean gave £5000 towards buying land at Brooklands .The church opened in 1866. The preacher at the dedication service was horatius Bonar and its first minister was Rev. William Todd Martin. By 1869 the congregation had grown to 114 families.
The minister in 1910 was Rev. D.H. Maconachie.
Newspaper article from Down Recorder;

opened 1 Jun 1867

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;

visitation 5 Jul 1890

records from 1867; North of Ireland FHS has baptisms1888-1921 & marriages 1867 -1921
This photo was kindly sent by Sandra Gilpin

References;DR; GIPR; NC; NAHN p146-148; POD ; ON p4 ,16 (b/w photo)


Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church


This congregation grew out of the ministry of William McIlwrath who established a meeting place in the back of his father-in-law (Wallace's ) house in High Street . There was Sunday School house here in 1863. A site was found in the poorer part of town in Greenwell Street in 1869 with his wife, Eleanor, donating £750 for the building. The congregation grew to 500 in 1877 and the building was enlarged to take another 200 people . The minister in 1884 was Rev. W. Mitchell & in 1902 & 1910 Rev Thomas McIlwrath .


Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
Its origin and growth 5 Jan 1878

records from 1869; North of Ireland FHS has baptisms 1866-1921 & marriages 1870- 1921; also try

This photo was kindly sent by Bill Haggan References; GV; NAHN p146-148; NC; GIPR; POD ; ON p17


Ballyblack Presbyterian

Ballyblack Presbyterian Church
on the Newtownards to Carrowdore road

The original congregation met in the home of Francis Boal, at the rear of the present church. A Meeting House was built in 1811. The minister in 1818 was Rev. James Wright. Rev. Alexander McIlwaine was the minister 1820- 1854. The present church was built in 1872 during the ministry of Rev. William Mitchell 1854-1902. Local farmers carried the stones in wagons. James Brown, a skilled carpenter, created the ceiling. The minister 1902-1908 was Rev. Samuel James Clarke & Rev. Thomas Roulston in 1924 & the minister 1938-1949 was Rev. Robert Usher Gordon William when renovations were carried out.

Article from Newtownards Chronicle;
reopening service 10 Jan 1874

baptisms from 1854, marriages from 1845; graveyard attached, gravestones UHF Vol 12; only 6 stones,oldest stone 1847; email me for a gravestone look-up; North of Ireland FHS has Baptisms 1854-1921; Marriages 1845-1921

This photo was kindly sent by Bradley Boal

References;NC; CSO; GIPR: GIC; V12 MIs; PR; church booklet


Milecross Quaker

Milecross Quaker Meeting House
on Belfast Rd, Newtownards

20 Quakers lived in Newtownards in 1764 & there were 400 in 1797. This meeting house was built in 1796 by The Bradshaw family .

A cemetery of the Society of Friends lies to the left of the entrance to the Kiltonga Bleach Works. There is nothing
to indicate the names of the departed members. (written 1886)


This photo was kindly sent by Bill Haggan.

References; GIC; FSFD p5; NAHN p 81-82


St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Newtownards

St. Patrick's Catholic Church
in Ann St , Newtownards then North Street
Parochial House 71 Upper North St, Newtownards BT23 4JD Tel; 9181 2137 Fax; 9181 5200

Father Patrick Curran was brought to the parish in 1811 to tutor the family of Lord Londonderry. He used his influence to obtain a site for a chapel in Ann Street. A church was erected in 1815 at a cost of £80 & paid for by public subscription The priest 1814-1817 was Rev. Hugh Smith then Rev. Bernard Magee by 1822 the priest was Rev. Arthur McGlew & Rev. Patrick Curoe in 1831-1832. In 1831 there were 236 Catholics in Newtownards which quickly rose to 574 . The chapel was described in 1836 as a small, plain building 40 by 20 feet and capable of holding 160 with an average attendance of 60 people. A new church was built in 1845 to accommodate the larger congregation by Rev William McLea/McAlea (1842- 1856) ) . It was used until 1877 & finally demolised in 1994 . The above church in North Street was built in 1875-1877 and cost around £4000 . Lady Londonderry had converted to Catholicism in 1855 and paid for all construction and fitting out.

20th century priests: Rev. Peter McKenna until 1903; Rev. George Crolly 1903- 1912; Rev James McAuley 1912- 1927; Rev. Arthur Kennedy 1927- 1936; Rev. John Murphy 1936- 1949; Rev. Leo McKeown 1949- 1969; Rev. Robert Murphy 1969- 1973; Rev. Patrick McFerran 1973- 1983; Rev. Francis McKenna 1983- 1989; Rev. Daniel Whyte 1989- 1994; Rev Edward O'Donnell 1994+

Newspapers article from Down Recorder;

Board of Guardians & Catholic chaplain 26 Feb 1870

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Chronicle;
new chapel cost £4,000 8 May 1875 & 7 Aug 1875 ; dedication service 27 Oct 1877

no graveyard; has registers to view baptisms 1864-1881; PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1864- 1880; UHF has baptisms 1818-1900 & marriages 1825-1900;

This photo was kindly sent by Sandra Gilpin

References; GV; V7 p105, 106 ,109 OSM; LM 1994 p61,62, 63,68,72 ; POD; DR; NAHN p87,111,121,148; TIA; GIC; NC; PE;GV


Scrabo Tower

Scrabo Tower
a townland of 316 acres & a sandstone hill & tower
2km SW of Newtownards, overlooking Strangford lough

The hill was formed by lava with a thick dolorite/ basalt sill which protected the sandstone underneath from being ground away by the ice layer during the last ice age This tower was erected in 1855-7 as a memorial to General Charles William Stewart- Vane, 3rd Marquis of Londonderry, in recognition of his concern for the plight of his tenants during The Famine. The original plan was like a Bavarian Castle (architects were Charles Lanyon & W.H. Lynn) but was considered too expensive. The cost of the revised tower was £3000. It has 122 steps leading to a viewing platform. in 1938 & 1994 a geologist found footprints of pre-historic 3 & 4 toed reptiles (early forms of dinosaurs). It had tea rooms run by the Millin sisters until 1966. Open regularly with the nature exhibitions nowadays.

In 1659 there were 4 English/Scots & 3 Catholic families in the townland. The railway line was here in 1863.

Newspaper Articles from Newtownards Chronicle;
stone quarry here 20 Apr 1878; accident at Glebe quarry 21 Feb 1885; sad & fatal accident 17 Jul 1886; Staghound hunt 28 Feb 1891; fatal accident at quarry 22 Oct 1898

References;V7 p 30, 66, 103 ,111 OSM ; SP; NC; ON p32l; PNNI V2 p 235; NDM p3;GV; TOOC p18; MO 12/9/2007 p27; ON p32,33 (old photos) see Ards Council website for information

by Ros Davies