Drumbo Presbyterian Church
A Short History
BY Rev. J. B. Wallace M. A.




The first Presbyterian minister, as far as we know, to come to Drumbo, was Henry Livingstone, a nephew of the famous John Livingstone, of Killinchy, and a licentiate of the Presbytery of Dunblane. He was descended from a family that stood high in the peerage of Scotland. He was ordained-perhaps "appointed" is the word-in 1655. This would be in the parish church and presented by Cromwellian Commissioners.

In 1657, the Cromwellians, who were Congregationalists, would have deposed him, but the Scotch element was too strong, and so the Cromwellians gave in to the wishes of the people. In 1662 an act of uniformity was passed which required every minister to submit to ordination by a bishop. All who refused were deposed and forbidden under very heavy penalties to perform any ministerial office. Livingstone was one of many who refused and consequently ejected from his church.

For alleged complicity in Blood's plot against the Government in 1663, a number of ministers were imprisoned in Carrickfergus and Carlingford, and some, including Livingstone, in Dublin. After investigation it was found that only three of the ministers had known anything of the plot. After release Livingstone went to Scotland, but soon returned to Drumbo. Later he warmly espoused the cause of William, Prince of Orange.

In the minutes of the Synod of Ulster, vol. 1, he is mentioned as being absent from the first Synod at Antrim in 1691, being in Dublin; and as being present at the next Synod in Antrim in 1694, with James Spens as ruling elder.

After a ministry of forty-two years, he passed away in April, 1697, at the age of sixty-six. Several of the stones taken out of the first meeting-house at the present site bear the initials of his name. The Rev. Henry Livingstone, of Ballynahinch (1704-8), and the Rev. William Livingstone, of Templepatrick (1709-58), were his sons.

It is not unlikely that there was worship in Drumbo, according to Presbyterian custom, prior to Livingstone's day, though we have no record of it; nor have we any record as to the site of the first meeting-house. Some of the older people say it was in the Back Road, at a place which bears the name of Kirklands. It was probably erected about 1670, when, relying on the connivance of the authorities, most of our oldest meeting-houses were built. They were undoubtedly rude structures, most of them being rebuilt after the Revolution.


By a rearrangement of Presbyteries in 1697, a Belfast Presbytery was formed, to which Drumbo was assigned, and which ordained the Rev. Edward Bailie on the 13th June, 1699. This seems the correct date, though the tablet in the vestibule of the church has 1697. Mr. Bailie's name appears with Robert Chancellor, as ruling elder, at the General Synod at Antrim in 1703. He died after a brief ministry on June 27, 1703.

His executor, John Martin, appealed from the sentence of the Belfast Presbytery to the Synod at Antrim in 1705, in .connection with what it was alleged the congregation owed Mr. Bailie. To save the time of the Synod a committee was appointed to consider the case, and it was found that the parishioners had fully satisfied all the particulars which Mr. Martin alleged were due to Mr. Bailie, their late minister, except ten bolls of oats, which they engaged to account for.

His remains lie near those of Mr. Livingstone, and the following words appear on his tombstone :-"Here lyeth united to Christ the body of Mr. Edward T. Bailie, ordained minister of the Gospel in this congregation, June the 13, Anno Dom., 1699, who (working faithfully and with good acceptance and success, being while living highly esteemed and desired) died in the Lord much lamented June the 26, 1703, and of his age 30 years.


The next minister was the Rev. Thomas Cowan, who was licensed by the Antrim Presbytery and ordained by the Belfast Presbytery on March 29, 1706. In 1709 the vicar of Killead, the Rev. John Campbell, challenged some Presbyterian ministers in these words, "I desire you to produce a warrant from Holy Scripture for Presbyters ordaining or ruling without a bishop." Mr. Cowan sent an answer, but a considerable time elapsed before he received a reply in the form of a private letter. In 1711 he issued a book entitled, "The Power of Presbyters in Ordination and Church Government." Mr. Campbell appears to have retired discomfited from the field. Mr. Gowan was also the author of "The Religious Education. of Children" in 1712, and "The Necessity of Standing Fast by Our Christian Liberty" in 1714. This last was a sermon of forty-seven pages. He is mentioned as being present at the General Synod at Antrim in 1706, with Mr. Arthur Maxwell as ruling elder, and then with Mr. James McKee in 1707. His father, the Rev. Thomas Gowan, of Antrim, opened a school for Philosophy and Divinity, and published some books for his pupils.

Mr. Cowan ministered to the people of Drumbo for eleven years, and then accepted a unanimous call from the English church at Leyden, in Holland, but continued his relation to the Irish church.

In the library of Magee University College there is a Drumbo Session Book, covering the years 1699-1722. That was during the ministries of the Revs. Edward Bailie and Thomas Gowan, and part of the ministry of the Rev. Patrick Bruce. It would seem that they were very particular about attendance at their meetings. A minute usually began, "Present, minister and elders." Then we have this minute dated 21st March 1702, "Samuel Porter was accused of deserting the Session, James Willson to summons him to the Session." And this dated 20th February, 1706. "The same day it was appointed that the Session is to meet at the Drum at 10 o'clock in the morning, and none to be absent." In those days the Session dealt with cases such as usually come before the Petty Sessions Court. There are instances of two people having quarrelled about something, and the aim of the Session was to bring them together, get them to shake hands and be reconciled. In the case of some scandle or, misdemeanour, the guilty person was absolved if he appeared penitent; and sometimes they were rebuked and had to appear again when called, or the matter was referred to the Presbytery, and sometimes even to the Synod.

It is of interest to learn the names of those appointed to attend meetings of Presbytery and Synod as well as other leading members at that distant date :
Robert Davison, 7th December, 1701, at Belfast.
Alexander McClure, l0th October, 1703, at Belfast.
John Shaw, 7th November, 1703, at Belfast.
Joseph McKee, 1st June, 1704, at Templepatrick.
Robert Carlile, 9th July, 1704, at Carrickfergus.
Robert McKee, 30th July, 1704, at Holywood.
Other leading members:-Robert Anderson, Francis Cunningham, John Dunwoody, John Gowdy, John Graham, William Macartney, George Maxwell, James Nisbet, John Orr, Brice Smith, Patrick Scott, William Scott.


In 1066 Robert De Brus, a Norman knight, accompanied William, Duke of Normandy, to England, and for his services and devotion received from the conqueror extensive estates in Yorkshire. His son, who bore his name, was equally chivalrous and fortunate, and obtained from a Scottish king the district of Annadale in Dumfriesshire. Successive Robert Bruces occupied commanding positions in Scotland, one of them winning the battle of Bannockburn, and gaining the throne. There followed in this line the most renowned of all the Robert Bruces of Scotland. He entered the Ministry contrary to the wishes of his parents, and was in consequence partly disinherited. He was chosen by James VI to crown his queen. He suffered for strenuously resisting the establishment of Prelacy in Scotland by James I and Charles I.

Several of his descendants became ministers and served the church in Ireland. Michael Bruce, of Killinchy, who was more eminent than any of his descendants, was his grandson. James Bruce, of Killyleagh, an eminent minister in his day, was Michael's son, and father of Patrick Bruce, of Drumbo. Patrick was born at Killyleagh on the 11th April, 1692, and was ordained in Drumbo by the Presbytery of Belfast on the 12th June, 1717.

The General Synod, at its meeting in Dungannon in 1725, decided on a new arrangement of Presbyteries, whereby those of Belfast and Down disappeared, three new ones taking their place-Templepatrick, Bangor and Killyleagh. Drumbo was placed in the last mentioned.

In 1727 the Synod again met in Dungannon, when James Clark, from Drumbo, appeared, "Setting forth that it will not be for the peace of that congregation to be continued annexed to the Presbytery of Killyleagh, and earnestly desiring that this Synod may take such measures as may promote the peace and comfort of their congregation." Ultimately it was decided that Drumbo should continue in the Killyleagh Presbytery. And Rev. James McAlpine, of Ballynahinch, was appointed to go to Drumbo on the Lord's Day and read certain letters to the congregation.

On October 1, 1728, a call from Killalen, in the Presbytery of Paisley, to Mr. Bruce, came before the Presbytery. Agents for Killalen were Wm. Hamilton, of Ladyland (i.e., between Killinchy and Killyleagh); Robert Kyle, of Ballybeen; and Hill Hunter, of Newtownards. The elder from Drumbo was James Clagherty (Clotwortby). At a subsequent meeting on the 4th December, 1728, the call having been already placed in Mr. Bruce's hands, the Presbyery argued for and against. The elders from Drumbo, John Shaw, James Clagherty and Arthur Mellveen, demanded a determination without further delay. The Presbytery thought the matter of such importance that some time should be spent considering it. But the Drumbo elders said their instructions were positive. Mr. Bruce replied that he had hoped to live and die in Drumbo, but "of late years something unhappily fell in which gave a great check to his hopes, and gave him fears of being less useful than he could wish to that good people."

He accepted the call, and was appointed to preach in Usher's Quay, Dublin, for four Sabbaths. (Had he Arian views like his brother, Rev. Michael Bruce, of Holywood ?) About two years later he returned to Ireland and was installed in Killyleagh, in succession to his father, where he had only a short ministry, as he passed away on the 9th April, 1732. He was ancestor of the Bruces of Downhill, and great-grandfather of the late Sir Hervey H. Bruce, M.P. for Coleraine.

At the meeting of Presbytery on 31st December, 1728, Wm. Little was present as commissioner from Drumbo, seeking supplies of sermon, and at the next meeting on 29th January, 1729, Wm. Davison and James Thompson were commissioners for a similar purpose. In June, 1729, the congregation applied to the Synod for supplies, as there were no probationers in the Killyleagh Presbytery. At the same time they renewed their request that Drumbo should be put under the care of the Bangor Presbytery. This the Synod granted, with the stipulation that when it was planted it was to be returned to the Killyleagh Presbytery.


Thus it was that Rev. Andrew Malcolm was ordained by the Bangor Presbytery in Drumbo on the 27th November, 1731. Mr. Patton preached, Mr. Alexander gave the charge, and the stipend promised was �65. It was during his ministry that the church was either rebuilt, or the Livingstone one renovated and enlarged. Drumbo was still in the Bangor Presbytery when he died on the 2nd March, 1763. He left a widow to mourn his loss.


Mr. Malcolm was succeeded by the Rev. James Malcolm, who was probably his son. He was ordained by the Bangor Presbytery on the 24th December, 1764. He subscribed the confession of faith and joined the Widows' Fund.

Mr. Malcolm's health failed him, and at the General Synod at Antrim in 1775 there appeared Messrs. Matthew Rea, Wm. Shaw and James Carlisle, who produced a supplication, wherein they set forth that their minister, the Rev. Mr. Malcolm, hath been so much indisposed for two years past that he hath not been able to perform the duties of a Gospel minister, and as there is no prospect of his recovery, they beg this Synod would declare them a vacant congregation. After some discussion, this petition was granted, and some financial claims of Mr. Malcolm, which had to be settled before another could be planted among them, were fully met by the congregation.


At the General Synod of Antrim in 1774, a new Belfast Presbytery was formed. It was to include six men whose names are mentioned, together with such Probationers and vacant congregations as shall choose-presumably from the Bangor Presbytery. Evidently Drumbo decided for Belfast. In the following year, Hugh McKee, student from the congregation of Saintfield was present. He produced certificates from Glasgow College, and was admitted to trials by the Presbytery. He appeared again at Belfast on 2nd February, 1776, and subscribed the following formula,-"I believe that the Westminster Confession of faith doth contain all the important doctrines of the Christian Religion agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, and as such I subscribe it as the confession of my faith."

He was ordained in Drumbo on the 25th September, 1776. But only remained a few years, demitting his, charge on 12th June, 1781.


The congregation being vacant, a supplication was presented to the General Synod at Lurgan 1782, setting forth that as the General Synod had dissolved the relation between them and their former Pastor, Mr. Malcolm, on account of his then bad state of health, but as he is now recovered, they pray this Synod that he may be restored to the office of their stated minister. At the same time another supplication from Drumbo was read, praying that they may have a minister of their own choice, according to the rules of the General Synod, under the care of the Belfast Presbytery, and that a minister may not be fixed among them merely by rescinding the Synod's act of dissolving the former union between them and Mr. Malcolm.

A committee was appointed to take the minds of the Drumbo people on the matter, no one being allowed to vote whose stipend was not paid up to date. Mr. Malcolm was to preach in Drumbo on a previous Sunday. The committee met and found full unanimity for the instalment of Mr. Malcolm. They therefore installed him, and he was considered a member of the Presbytery of Belfast. He continued his labours here until 1794, when he was disannexed on account of indisposition. On October 3, 1805, he passed away, leaving a widow and family.


Mr. Malcolm was succeeded by the Rev. Samuel Hanna, M.A. He was born in Kellswater in 1771, and educated in Glasgow University, where he gained his M. A. in 1789. He was licensed by the Ballymena Presbytery in 1790, ordained in Drumbo by the Belfast Presbytery on the first Tuesday of August, 1795, and on the 11th December, 1799, installed in Rosemary Street, Belfast, which was in a run-down state, but under his ministry it soon revived. He was appointed Professor of Divinity and Church History in 1817.

From the very first his preaching was most acceptable. He was largely imbued with an evangelical spirit, and he was known in the courts of the Church as the assertor of orthodox principles. He was a warm supporter of the Sabbath School Society, and keen on the circulation of God's Word, permitting a portion of his house to be occupied for a considerable time as a depository for Bibles and Testaments. In the course of twelve months he received almost �1,100 for Scriptures sold at a cheap rate to the Presbyterian poor of the north of Ireland. He was also a strong supporter of Foreign 'Missions.

He lived to see a blessed change in the condition of Irish Presbyterianism. When he entered the ministry, Unitarianism occupied the high places of the Synod of Ulster, and otherwise things were in a bad way. He left the Church united in one body and furnished with a staff of Professors firmly adhering to the Westminster standards. When the union was formed in 1840 of the Synod of Ulster and the Secession Synod, he was the first Moderator of the Assembly.

He died in April, 1852, in his eighty-second year. There is a pamphlet in existence containing a sermon preached on the Sabbath after his funeral in Rosemary Street, by the Rev. John Macnaughton, M.A., and a funeral address by the Rev. Professor Gibson.


Dr. Hanna was succeeded by the Rev. James Riddle, who was ordained by the Belfast Presbytery on 3rd September, 1800.

At a meeting of Presbytery in March, 1825, a memorial was presented from the congregation of Drumbo, stating that from the state of his health, Mr. Riddle had become unable to discharge his duties among them. This memorial was accompanied by another from Mr. Riddle, stating that he was labouring under infirmity. The congregation and Mr. Riddle therefore requested the Presbytery to take the necessary steps to obtain leave from the Synod for the congregation to choose an assistant and successor to Mr. Riddle. In this same year Mr. Riddle was fined for absence from the Synod. He died on the 25th February, 1828, leaving a widow and family to mourn his loss. His son, Dobbin Riddle, died at Holywood on 12th May, 1844, after a painful and lingering illness, which was borne to the last with a high degree of fortitude and Christian resignation.

Two things during his ministry are of interest. When in 1804 the King having been graciously pleased to order that the Royal Bounty to Presbyterian ministers of the Synod of Ulster should be increased, and such increase to be distributed in a threefold proportion of �100 to each minister of a first-class congregation, �75 to those in second-class congregations, and �50 to those in third-class congregations, Drumbo was among the first-class.
For the year 1809 it is reported that Drumbo contributed �45 3s 6d to the Synod's Bible Fund, of which Dr. Hanna was convener-thus taking sixth place in the amount contributed by congregations for that year.

It was about the end of Mr. Riddle's ministry that the unhappy division took place which resulted in the formation of a new congregation, and a new meeting-house being built in the townland of Ballycairn. The following comment is taken from the Ordnance Survey, M.S.G., 1937-in the Royal Academy, Dublin, and never printed :-"Ballycairn meeting-house, 60 ft. x 40 ft., erected 1830, seats 400. Drumbo meeting-house, erected in 1750, very much out of repair-would seat all the Presbyterians in the parish, and might have been repaired for one-sixth of the sum it took to build the new meeting-house in an adjoining townland."

"It would appear that there was some bad regulation respecting the appointment of ministers for the Presbyterian Church, as a congregation, when they do not like their minister, enter into a subscription and cause the erection of another house.

"Thus the congregation is divided ,and it is frequently the case that both parties find (too late) their inability to meet the expenses of keeping in repair their respective meeting-houses. "


The Rev. Campbell Blakely, who followed Mr. Riddle. was born in the parish of Killaney, about 1796, the stirring events of the rebellion being among his earliest recollections. He was ordained on the 24th July, 1827. At the Synod at Cookstown in 1828, Drumbo was placed in the Bangor Presbytery, but at the Synod at Derry- in 1834 there was a new arrangement of Presbyteries, and Drumbo was placed in Dromore, of which Presbytery Mr. Blakely was Moderator in 1839-40, and again in 1855-56.

At a visitation of Presbytery in August 7, 1838, the session was represented by Alex. Swan, Daniel Drennan, William Robinson; and Dr. Muns, John Cunningham, and John Carlile represented the congregation. In the finding it is stated, "We have good reason to believe that Mr. Blakely devotes a necessary portion of his time to study and preparation, by the very excellent sermons that he preaches every Sabbath Day. He uniformly preaches the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that there is no other way of salvation but in and through His propitiatory death and sufferings. He frequently warns his hearers of the threats held out in the Word of God against those who engage in those sins forbidden; and also declares the promises held out to those who abstain from them. Public Worship commences at 12 o'clock and generally terminates between 3 and 4 p.m. There are two services in summer and one in winter. We have about five hundred communicants in general attendance at the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Young candidates for communion are examined at least fifteen times before being admitted to the Lord's table."

The Banner of Ulster," dated 2nd December, 1842, contains a report of a splendid Tea Festival of which 620 People took part. After opening exercises the following ministers delivered addresses :

Rev. William Magill, Dundrod, "Presbyterianism."
Rev. Samuel Dunlop, Hillhall, "The sin and evils of intemperance."
Rev. Henry Henderson, "Controversy between the Church of Scotland and the Court of Session."
Rev. John Magowan. "Home Missions."
Rev. Hugh Brown, Carryduff, "Foreign Missions."
Rev. George Shanks, Boardmills; "The state of the Jews."

Mr. Blakely expressed his great delight at the pleasing and cheering manner in which the proceedings of the evening had been conducted. Singing part of Psalm 122 brought to a close an evening long to he remembered.

Mr. Blakely was a most diligent and devoted pastor. During the Unitarian controversy he proclaimed the whole Gospel of God with unswerving fidelity, and stood staunch to the truths that saves. He retired in 1865, and on Sabbath, December 1, 1872, at the age of seventy-six and in the forty-sixth year of his ministry, he passed away in the assured hope of eternal life, desiring to depart and to be with Christ.

It was during his ministry that the present schoolroom was erected. The old National School was built in the year 1836 by the people of the district, on a plot granted by the then landlord, Mr. Calwell, at the nominal yearly rent of one penny which was never claimed. In 1863 the estate was purchased by the late Robert Batt, of Purdysburn. The committee anticipating that the kind treatment they had ever received at the hands of Mr. Calwell, would be continued by his successors, they did not formally lodge any claim at that time. Thus they put themselves at the mercy of the new landlord and his successors for all time.

However, the committee was not interfered with in the management of the school until 1874. During a general election campaign Mr. W. J. Watson, accompanied by the Bailiff, appeared one morning at the school and demanded it for the purpose of holding a political meeting. A member of committee being present at the time referred Mr. Watson to a rule of the Board which prohibited the holding of such meetings in any school receiving aid from the Commissioners. The teacher of the school was afterwards served by Mr. Watson with a notice of dismissal, but the committee refused to part with his services, and were driven to the necessity of dismissing Mr. Watson and appointing another manager in his stead. They were then served with a notice to give up possession of the school. Refusing to do so they were finally ejected, and Mr, Batt entered into full possession of a house towards the erection of which he never contributed a farthing.

"The Morning News" of 18th February, 1876, gave this account of their ejection. "On Wednesday last the Sub-sherriff of the County, accompanied by the agent, Mr. W. J. Watson, and the Bailiff, appeared at the school. The children were summarily dismissed, and the work of disembowelling the school began in true earnest. The old forms, carved with many an urchin's name, were speedily deposited on the public road. The teacher's desk was dragged after them as unceremoniously as if it had been tainted with the leprosy of dissent; and the harmonium, occasionally uttering a gruff note of remonstrance, was conveyed to the shelter of an adjoining hedge. Then followed in quick succession maps and tablets, slates and pencils, clock and ink bottles, etc. The books were flung into a capacious hag and conveyed upon the sturdy shoulders of the bailiff to the nearest public house, and last of all, the very fire was '"ejected' and its smouldering embers thrown into a gutter on the roadside. Meanwhile the simple-minded people of the village ventured out of doors, and stood watching the proceedings with feelings of awe and wonder. "Old age forgot its crutch, labour its task," and all ran to behold the mighty doings of "the office," while now and then travellers passing that way stopped to make enquiry, and old men whose geographical knowledge had become deficient, were afforded the opportunity of examining the maps and tracing out the locality of the Suez Canal. At length, when the school apartments had been thoroughly gutted, and everything movable thrown out, the bailiff paused to wipe his heated brow, and the agent, Mr. William James Watson, stood and looked around him with the air of a conqueror. Their work was done. By this time the sub-sherriff and agent were moving away, and the onlookers expected that the bailiff would also retire from the scene and follow them at a respectful distance. But in this they were disappointed. After a brief consultation, the two former gentlemen returned, and the bailiff, who had imagined his toil was over. was ordered to commence afresh, and to convey the unoffending articles. now bespattered with mud and slush, back to their former resting-places in the schoolroom. When with the assistance of the teacher, who now declares himself only the servant of "the office," this work was accomplished, the interesting proceedings terminated, and the crowd of onlookers dispersed, wondering among themselves at that which had come to pass, and asking the ominous question,. "what next?"

Mr. Watson was then left for a time in undisputed authority as manager of the school. But not being resident in the district, and consequently not in a position to dis charge the duties of manager, the Commissioners decided to have a local manager, and suggested the Rev. W. J. Warnock. But Mrs. Way, the landlady and successor to Mr. Batt, would not agree, being determined to have an Episcopalian, and that in spite of the fact that of 70 Pupils, on the rolls, 65 were Presbyterians. The Commissioners then decided that grants be withdrawn from the school, and with their sanction the school was temporarily transferred to Rokeby Hall, where accommodation was kindly given by Mr. J. D. Dunlop.

The Committee of Drumbo congregation, alive to their responsibility in the matter of providing proper facilities for the educaton of the youth of the neighbourhood, decided to build a new school sufficiently large and suitable for holding the meetings of the different organisations in connection with the Church. Toward this they received the promise of �50 from Mrs. Warnock, and ;�30 from "The DaySchools Fund" in connection with the General Assembly.


Mr. Blakely was succeeded by the Rev. James McNeill, who was ordained in Drumbo on the 7th May, 1867. His, memory is still fresh and will long remain so. After eleven years' ministry in Drumbo, he received a call to First Lurgan, which he accepted. Taking ill, he asked leave to withdraw, and was installed again in Drumbo, where he continued his labours with great acceptance until his lamented death in 1800 in the forty-ninth year of his age.

The following is from the Presbyterian Quarterly Visitor :-"The Rev. James McNeill, B.A., minister of Drumbo, died on February 18, 1890, leaving a widow and eleven children to mourn the loss of a most tender husband and affectionate father, and faithful pastor. He was a preacher of no mean order, and the beautiful church at Drumbo which was erected during his ministry and largely through his exertions, is a monument of his zeal and energy." It was a big undertaking for him and the people of Drumbo, but many friends came to their aid. Mr. John S. Brown, of Edenderry, was one of the first outside the congregation who gave a liberal donation towards it, and he laid the foundation stone. Others present at the important ceremony included, Revs. James McNeill, Adam Montgomery, and Messrs. William Cuming, John Campbell, William Martin, J. K. Miskelly, James Moore. It seats about nine hundred, and on special occasions congregations of well over one thousand have worshipped within its walls.


The next minister was the Rev. W. J. Warnock, who was born on the 14th February, 1863. He was licensed by the Route Presbytery in May, 1888, and ordained in Stewartstown on August 14 of that year. On October 22, 1889, he married Miss Lizzie -Briars. The marriage was by special license at the home of the bride's mother, in Scotch Street, Dungannon. The officiating minister was the Rev, D. Wilson, Dungannon; he was assisted by the Rev. J. Colhoun, Kilrea; Rev. C. C. M. Dickey, Draperstown; and Rev. G. A. Kennedy, Carland.

Receiving a call from Drumbo, he resigned the pastorate of Stewartstown and was installed in Drumbo on the 14th May, 1891. On account of failing health he went to South Africa. The climate seemed to agree with him, and he applied for leave to resign from the congregation. The hope of returning health was soon doomed to disappointment. His illness became worse, and he passed away at Kroonstadt on the 28th November, 1900, at the age of thirty-seven. A pathetic feature of the sad event was the fact that his wife and family arrived at Kroonstadt only two hours before his death.

When in health he was a good preacher and an earnest worker. He was beloved by his congregation, who sympathised with him in his work and failing condition of health. They did all they could to smooth his pathway and to make his life as easy and pleasant as possible He was held in esteem in Drumbo, and enjoyed the confidence and affection of his co-presbyters. He is still remembered for his own sake, and by the fact that his nephew, Mr. Samuel Hanna, of Ballycairn, and his niece, Mrs. James Campbell, of Drumbeg, are still with us.


The Rev. William McNeill, was a son of the Rev. James McNeill. He took his arts course in Queen's College, Belfast, graduating in the Royal University of Ireland in 1896, with honours in ancient classics. He studied theology in the Presbyterian College, Belfast, and in New College, Edinburgh. He was licensed by the Dromore Presbytery on the 9th June, 1899, and on the .16th November of the same year he was ordained in Drumbo, where he laboured with much acceptance for four years.

Receiving a call from Adelaide Road, Dublin, he was installed in that congregation by the Presbytery of Dublin on the l0th December, 1903. This ministry, which lasted for over nine years, was highly successful.
Oil the 22nd May, 1913, he was appointed to the spiritual oversight of Trinity Church, Claughton, Birkenhead, where he laboured with much success for eleven years, when, for health reasons, he accepted a call to Rostrevor, and was installed there on the 27th March, 1924. Failing health compelled him to retire from the active duties of the ministry on the 30th September, 1930. After a. long and trying illness, which was borne with great patience and fortitude, he passed away on the 25th December, 1933.

Mr. McNeill was a man of outstanding gifts. In the pulpit he was equalled only by a few. Having heard him preach, no attentive hearer could ever forget his thoughtful sermons, delivered with such charm and manner. His children's addresses will be specially remembered not only as they were spoken, but by the little volume, entitled, "Come Ye Children," published in 1927. His literary gifts are well known through his other writings.

Had he been blessed with good health, his gifts were such as would have brought him the highest honours the church could bestow. In the long line of ministers at Drumbo, perhaps he was the most outstanding. All who knew him not only sympathised with him in his long illness, but deeply regretted the passing of one so richly endowed, and whose future was still full of promise.


Mr. McNeill was succeeded by the Rev. James Irwin, who was ordained in Drumbo on the 5th April, 1904. He remained exactly seven years, preaching his farewell sermon on the 5th April, 1911. A unanimous call came to him from St. Aidan's United Free Church, Melrose, Scotland. Later he was called to Newhaven United Free Church, Edinburgh. And after a few years there he became the esteemed minister of Dunkeld Cathedral. Now he is retired and enjoying a well-earned rest.


The Rev. Joseph Cordner was the next minister of this long succession. He was brought up in connection with Bellville Congregation. He was educated at the Presbyterian College, Montreal, and McGill University, Montreal, where he obtained the degree of B. D. He was licensed by the Montreal Presbytery in April, 1909.
He returned to Ireland and was assistant to the late Rev. Dr. Pollock in St. Enoch's, Belfast, for two years. He was ordained by the Dromore Presbytery on the 2nd August, 1911, and was appointed to the spiritual oversight of Drumbo Congregation. After fifteen years of fruitful service he went to Canada, having accepted a call from Hamilton Road Church, London, Ontario. Later he was minister of Sherbrooke, in the Presbytery of Montreal. In 1930 he returned to Ireland, and on the 15th May of the same year he was installed by the Belfast Presbytery, and appointed to the spiritual oversight of Clifton Street Church.

Mr. Cordner was a most earnest evangelistic preacher, and an untiring pastor-devoting his whole energies to the work of his calling. When the call of the Homeland brought him back from Canada, he put all his energies into the work of Clifton Street Church. In season and out of season he laboured with a diligence almost beyond his strength. Just before the consummation of his faithful ministry, his health gave way under the constant strain; still he endeavoured almost to the last to keep in touch with his people by letters and personal communications. His courage never failed, and he bore his increasing weakness with truly Christian fortitude and resignation.


The Rev. J. B. Wallace, who succeeded Mr. Cordner, is the sixteenth minister of Drumbo. He was ordained on the 29th December, 1926. The Moderator of Presbytery, the Rev. A. Thompson, M.A., First Dromore, conducted the service; the Rev. W. H. Colvin, M.A., Cargycreevy, preached the sermon; and the charge was given by the Rev. R. Kelso, Second Boardmills and Killaney.

During these years a new manse has been secured, and electrical light installed in both church and manse.

The church has been well served through the years by its Session and Committee. The following are the names of those who held office at that time :-SESSION-Thomas Allen, Upper Ballylesson; T. A. Crawford, Belfast; T. J. Graham, Tullyard; William Innes, Creevy; William Magowan, Ballyaughlis; Hugh Shortt, Ballymacbrennan; W. R. Todd, Drumbo P.E.S.

COMMITTEE-Joseph Bingham, Clogher; Robert Carmichael, Leverogue; John Carlisle, Carr; Samuel Carlisle, Ballylesson; Alexander Crawford, Drumbo; T. G. Connery, Ballycoan; William Cuming, Ballymagarrick; Daniel Drennan, Drumbeg; Robert Ferguson, Ballycairn; John Gillespie, Ballycairngannon; Robert Hanna, Ballycairn; J. A. Harvey, Mealough; W. J. Johnston, J.P., Carr; John Lowry, Edenderry; William Macartney, Lisnod; Arthur Maxwell, Hillhall; William McBride, Ballymacbrennan; William McCormack, Hillhall; R. J. McCormack, Drumbo; Robert McMaster, Tullyard; James Robinson, Ballymagarrick; James Scott, Carr; John Shaw, Drumbo; Robert Thompson, Ballylesson.

It is interesting to record the names of some of the above who have well passed the allotted span and are still with us, men who gave long and devoted service to the Church :-Joseph Bingham filled the post of Treasurer for over thirty years; T. G. Connery was Secretary of Committee for a similar period; T. J. Graham was a member of Committee, and has been a member of Session for thirty-six years; Hugh Shortt, a member of Session, was precentor for many years, is still a member of choir, and was precentor at the old-fashioned type of Presbyterian service which was part of our Tercentenary celebrations, on the evening of 17th July, 1955. We return grateful thanks to these brethren, and pray that they may be long spared to come out and :n amongst us.

This history would not be complete if we did not record with gratitude the names and benefactions, of those whose love for Drumbo, was even unto death:-1858. Thomas Davison, Lisnastrain, �1 10s 0d yearly from trust funds; 1903, James Thompson Morrow, Ballymagarrick, the house No. 22 Apsley Street, Belfast; 1934, Miss Margaret Hogg, Belfast, �l00; 1947, Mrs. J. McClure, Ballycoan, �500; 1954, Mrs. Mary McKeown, Belfast, �100; 1956, James Robinson, �700, and the residue of his estate to provide a "Robinson Memorial Organ" for the Church.

We also record with gratitude the following gifts :--1946, William Dorman, Drumbo, the very handsome gift of �3,000 towards the provision of a suitable church hall, which we hope will soon be an accomplished fact; 1947, D. Dorman, Belfast, �50. Other gifts include a beautiful Individual Communion Service, in 1925, from Mr. and Mrs. T. B. McCormack, Rosebank, Malone Road, Belfast, in memory of his brother, Campbell McCormack, who gave his life in the First World War. In 1935, Mr. and Mrs. James Robinson, Danesfort, Ballymagarrick, gave a much valued Pulpit Desk in memory of his father and mother. On the same occasion they also presented a handsome Pulpit Bible with Psaltery and Hymnary. Further, the late Miss Margaret McMaster, Tullyard, in her testamentary arrangements made provision for the Communion Table which we now use. The chair to match was provided by the choir as part of our Tercentenary celebrations; the Baptismal Font by the G.A., and the Flower Bowl by the W.M.A.

Time passes quickly and brings its changes as the present membership of Session and Committee show :
Session-J. V. Beggs (Clerk), Clogher; George Brown, Drumbo; J. Caldwell, Ball ycairn; T G. Connery, Sen., Ballycoan; W. S. Coulter, Ballyskeagh; William Cuming, Ballymagarrick; H. R. Currie, Drumbo; Robert Ferguson, Ballycairn; Thos. J. Graham, Tullyard; S. L. McIlvenna, Ballycoan; Ernest Patterson, Ballycairn; Hugh Shortt, Ballymacbrennan; John M. Thompson, Ballylesson.
Committee-Joseph Bingham, Clogher; H. S. Burgess, Carr; Joseph Campbell, Ballycairn; Wesley Carlisle, Carr; Samuel Carmichael, Leverogue; T. G. Connery, Jun. (Treasurer), Ballycoan; Jack Cowan (Secretary), Hillhall; Robert Crawford, Drumbo; John Cuming, Edenderry; George P. T. Davis, Drumbo; Cecil Graham, Tullyard; Samuel Hanna, Ballycairn; W. J. Johnston, Drumalig; W. D. Lowry, Drumbo; Kelvin McCormack, Ballyaughlis; R. J. McCormack, Drumbo; T. S. McReynolds, Ballylenaghan; James Martin, Drumbo; W. J. Miskelly, Drumbo; James Swan, Tullyard; D. Suffern, Drumbeg; Robert Thompson, J.P., Ballylesson; H. B. Wallace, Drumbo.

The previous edition of this history concluded as follows :-"There are further improvements occasionally spoken of by individuals, such as a Pipe Organ, a new Lecture Hall with suite of rooms, etc. Will these ever be realised? Or are they only the vain dreams on the part of the few? The future will tell." The passing of the years have told their own tale as this edition makes abundantly clear. All such things, however, must only be considered as means to an end. The great aim of the Church must ever be the extension of Christ's Kingdom, and such things are only of value in so far as they help towards that great goal.

In view of our great history, covering three hundred years, let all members keep this goal ever before them, and by consecrated lives ensure that the future will be even better than the past.