Ulster Star Borough Supplement
Saturday, 27 June, 1964



Wallace Park
On November 20, 1881 Sir Richard Wallace asked the Town Commissioners to accept the town park of 20 acres in trust for the -inhabitants.
Pump Water
Prior to 1861 pumps were relied on to meet the water requirements of the inhabitants of Lisburn.
The Harriers
The Killultagh Harriers were established in 1832.
New Fire Engine
On April 7, 1879, Sir Richard Wallace formally presented Lisburn with a new fire engine with appliances at a cost of 150.
Early Stronghold
In the year 1579 Castle Robin on the White Mountain was re-built by Sir Robert Norton. Earlier a stronghold of the O'Neills stood on the same site.
Vitriol Works
There used to be a vitriol works in Lisburn. It was on an island formed by the canal and the River Lagan and was the property of Messrs. Boyd.

Flourishes in obedience to God's Word

Specially compiled for this supplement by the Ulster Star church correspondent, the Rev. J. McCaughan, Legacurry, this article shows that Lisburn grew up around the church and has always been conscious of spiritual realities and eternal truths.


IT is significant and suggestive that in 1608 when Sir Fulke Conway was granted the territory which included that upon which modern Lisburn stands, he built first a place to live and then a place to worship. The castle was completed in 1622, and the church was consecrated in 1623. The church was built on the site where the Cathedral now stands and was called St. Thomas'. It was really a private chapel to the castle, and not at first a parish church.
This church was destroyed by the rebels in 1641. That was the year of the Irish Rebellion, which had as its aims the overthrow of English rule in Ireland, the recovery of the estates forfeited after the flight of the Earls in 1607 the extirpation of Protestantism and the establishment of Romanism. The town of Lisnagarvey, as it was then called, was attacked by a rebel army in November, 1641, and although the garrison was outnumbered and ill-equipped, so resolute was the defence that a notable victory was gained. The rebels, however, set fire to the town, and the whole town, including the castle and church, was burnt and left in ruins.

The church was speedily restored after the Rebellion. A gallery was added in 1674, and in 1697 it was decided by the Vestry "to raise 60 for the repair of the church and churchyard of Lisburn and also for enlarging the said church." Alas for the sacrifices and schemes of the rector, the Rev. Joseph Wilkins, and his people for the town and church were again destroyed by fire in 1707. The fire began accidentally while the people were at worship, and spread with such rapidity that in a few hours the whole town, with the exception of a few buildings, was destroyed.

Among the buildings destroyed was the First Presbyterian Meeting House. It had been situated in the Longstone area, but after the fire a new site was acquired at Market Square, where a new Meeting House was erected and opened for worship about 1710.

Again the Cathedral was rebuilt; the foundation stone being laid the year after the fire. The spire was added in 1804 and the Chancel was built and consecrated in 1889.

In the year 1662, shortly after the Restoration, Charles 11 established the church "to be forever hereafter the Cathedral Church and Episcopal Seat of the aforesaid several bishopricks of Down and Connor." Some years ago questions were raised as to the validity of the Charter granted by Charles II, and in order to remove all doubts as to the status of the Cathedral the Lord Bishop of Connor (the Rt. Rev. Charles King Irwin D.D.) introduced a Bill at the General Synod of the Church of Ireland in 1952. This measure recognised Lisburn Cathedral as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Connor, known as the Cathedral of Christ Church, Lisburn. The Cathedral is notable for its association with Bishop Jeremy Taylor, who held a lectureship in the Cathedral for a time, and was made Bishop of Down and Connor at the Restoration. he was noted for his scholarship and his writings, his two most popular works being "Holy Living" and "Holy Dying,"

When he became Bishop he set himself to restore the life and discipline of the Church of England in his diocese. He took strong action against Presbyterian ministers and in his first Visitation in 1661. he ejected 36 of them from their churches and residences. He died in Lisburn in 1667, aged 54, in a house in Castle Street, and there is a mural tablet in Lisburn Cathedral to perpetuate his memory.

The Cathedral is also notable for its association with the French Huguenots. The Huguenots had a place of worship, known as the "French Church," situated in Castle Street, on the site now occupied by the Town Hall. Notable Huguenot names associated with the town and Cathedral are Louis Crommelin 'the father of the Ulster linen trade,' whose grave is in the cemetery adjoining the Cathedral; and the Rev. Saumarez Du Bordieu, the last Huguenot chaplain to the Huguenot congregation; master of the Classical School in Lisburn for 56 years; curate of Lambeg and vicar of Glenavy. When he died in 1812 his pupils erected both his grave-stone, and an impressive marble tablet and bust which adorns one of the walls of the Cathedral.

The two volumes of the Scriptures in French, Old Testament and New Testament, which were once used by the Huguenots in worship are still preserved in the Cathedral vestry.

The present rector of Lisburn Cathedral is the Very Rev. Richard Adams, Dean of Connor, who was appointed in 1960, and is sixteenth in a long line of rectors dating back to 1628.

The story of progress

ABOUT the year 1840 the population of Lisburn had increased considerably owing to erection of mills for spinning flax and making thread,and in 1841 there  were 1,071 houses in the town, and a population of 7,524.

Leading Church members felt that a new church was needed in the Parish of Lisburn. which was then served only by Christ Church Cathedral. A committee was appointed to promote the project the rector of the Cathedral, the Very Rev. James Stannus, gave his approval and assistance, and a fine site was obtained. Sir Charles Lanyon was architect of the new building and on November 20, 1842, the church was opened for worship. It cost 4,800 and seated 500 people.

The congregation increased considerably over the years, and following on the religious revival of 1859, the south and north transepts and the gallery were added to the building.

In 1863 Dean Stannus agreed that Christ Church should become a separate 'Parochial Chapel of Ease called Christ Church,' and it was consecrated as such in September of that year.

The story of the parish is one of continued progress under many distinguished incumbents, such as the Rev. A. J. Moore, who became Chancellor of Down in 1811; Rev. Dr. J. I. Peacocke, who became Bishop of Derry, and father of the present Dean of Belfast; the Rev. R. G. Greer, father of the present Bishop of Manchester; the Rev. W. H. Good, formerly Dean of Down, and Chancellor C. J. McLeod, who retired in 1960 after 20 years sterling service as rector.

The story of progress and increased population is continued in further Church developments. In 1961 the parish of Christ Church had plans prepared for a new church at the west end of the parish. Temporary halls were erected, a curate appointed to take charge of the new district, and the foundation stones of the new church laid in 1962. The new Church of St. Paul was consecrated on January 25, 1964 (the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul) by the Bishop of Connor. The church cost 40.000 and has seating accommodation for 500 people.

The rector of Christ Church is the Rev. Arthur Noble, M.A., and the curate-incharge of St. Paul's is the Rev. K. W. Cochrane, MA.

The latest chapter to this history is that of the setting up of a new parish of Derryvolgie, under the care of the Rev. Bertram Cochrane, M.A.

Closely defined streams

The history of Presbyterianism in Ireland begins with the Plantation of Ulster in the opening years of the seventeenth century. This early period of Irish Presbyterian history, 1603-1630, has been described by the late Professor A. F. Scott Pearson, of the Presbyterian College, Belfast, as "Prescopelian." He coined the word to express the fact that during these years .the ministers of the Presbyterian Church were kindly received by the Bishops of the Established Church and inducted into parish churches.

This period of tolerance came to an end, and after a time of varying fortunes the first Presbytery, known as the Army Presbytery, was constituted at Carrickfergus in June, 1642. The country experienced a troubled period of history in Church and State for the next twenty years, with Civil War in England, the execution of King Charles I, and the Cromwellian era, ending with the Restoration of Charles 11 in 1660.

"There were two Restorations," wrote Trevelyan. "In 1660 were restored Parliament and the King, and in 1661 was restored the persecuting Anglican Church." 61 Presbyterian ministers were evicted in Ulster, and the evictions led to a new ecclesiastical situation in that Presbyterians no longer worshipped in the parish churches but formed separate congregations and built meeting houses. So from the Restoration onwards religious life in Ireland flowed in three distinct and closely defined streams Anglicanism, Presbyterianism and Romanism.

The first Presbyterian congregation in Lisburn came into existence a few years after the Restoration, and the first meeting house was a plain building with a thatched roof in the Longstone area.

This building was destroyed in the fire of 1707, and the next church was built on the present site of First Lisburn Church. In 1768 it was rebuilt to accommodate the growing congregation. It is noteworthy that, despite the religious dissensions of the times, contributions to the cost of the building were received from both the members of the Established Church and the Roman Catholic community. The Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr. Traill, and the Rev. Saumarez Du Bordieu, chaplain of the Huguenot community subscribed to the building fund, as did also "Priest Morgan on behalf of his flock" with a donation of  10.

First Lisburn Church has had many notable ministries in almost 300 years of history. The three longest have been those of the first minister, the Rev. Alexander McCracken, 1688-1730, who met King William III during his brief stay in Lisburn in 1690 on his way to the Boyne; the Rev. Andrew Craig, 1782-1824, who lived through the events of the 1798 Rebellion when Henry Munro was hanged in Market Square for his part in the revolt; and the Rev. J. J. Carlyle Breakey, 1886-1927, whose son, the Very Rev. Dr. J. C. Breakey, visited the church in 1955 during his Moderatorial year and dedicated new entrance doors as a memorial to the members of the congregation who made the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War.

The Rev. William Boyd, M.A., is the fifteenth minister of First Lisburn Church. He succeeded the Rev. Dr. David Hay in 1950, and ministers to 530 families attached to the congregation.

When the great religious revival of 1859 swept over Ulster it led to a great expansion of Presbyterian activity in Lisburn and to the erection of two more Presbyterian Churches-Second Lisburn or Railway Street and Sloan Street congregations. The formation of these new causes has been attributed mainly to the evangelistic work of the Rev. John Powell, who had come from Carlow to take charge of a Classical School in Lisburn, and who had been received into communicant membership in First Lisburn Church in 1855.

Mr. Powell began to hold services in a hay loft in Castle Street, and in a short time his supporters desired to be formed into a congregation. This marked the beginning of much difficulty and dissension. A large group formed itself into the new congregation of Second Lisburn (Railway Street), with the Rev. D. J. Clarke as minister, and the smaller group at length was organised into a congregation with Mr. Powell as minister, and received into the Original Secession Synod. The congregation was received into the General Assembly in 1887.

Railway Street Church was opened for worship in March, 1864, and celebrated its centenary by special services earlier this year. The congregation has had distinguished ministers-the Rev. Professor J. L. Bigger; the Very Rev. Dr. R. W. Hamilton, Moderator of the General Assembly in 1924; the Rev. Professor Dr. T. H. Robinson; and the Rev. Dr. J. K. Elliott.

Dr. Elliott was succeeded in 1962 by the Rev. Howard Cromie, M.A., the present minister of the congregation.

Sloan Street congregation met for worship in a building in Sloan Street until 1900, when the present church was opened for worship. In 1955 a major scheme of reconstruction and redecoration of the church was carried through under the leadership of the Rev. James McAllister, who ministered successfully from 1951-1964, and before he was called to Megain Memorial Church, Belfast, he saw the spacious new church hall opened on the site of the original church.

Railway Street congregation now numbers 600 families, and Sloan Street has almost 300 families under its care.

Existed in 500 A.D.

THERE is no record of the date of the foundation of the Catholic community In Lisburn, writes the Rev. Canon McAuley, P.P., V.F., of St, Patrick's Presbytery, Lisburn, "but It appears reasonably certain that it was in existence as early as 500 A.D.
"It is quite certain that in 1750, or thereabouts, the central place of worship was a Mass House in Bow Street, where Robert Young's shop now stands. However in 1786 the then Parish Priest, Father Magee, built a church in Chapel Hill. A later Parish Priest, Father Dorrian, enlarged and almost rebuilt this church in 1841, and eventually it was replaced by the magnificent edifice which stands on the site to-day, and which was erected by Father Mark McCashin, PP., in 1902.
Thanks to the generosity of the Marquis of Hertford in donating land and a subscription of 20, the first Priest's House was built in Longstone Street at the entrance to Holy Trinity Cemetery in 1830. This house was burned to the ground and the present Parochial House in Chapel Hill was erected in its place in 1920.
"At the beginning of the century the Catholic population was about 4,000, but this number was drastically reduced in the early 20.s. During recent years the community has built up again, and is now something more than 3,000."

His ideas were unpopular

THE Society of Friends first carne into being In Northern England about 1652, when the Civil War had broken up the authoritarian Established Church, and all were interested to know what Gospel order would take Its place. The various currents of opinion reached Ireland through the movements of Commonwealth soldiers In Ireland.

The first regular weekly "meeting for worship" was settled by William Edmondson at Lurgan in 1654, and has met every Sunday morning since them without a break. In the Lagan Valley that same year, John Shaw of the Broad Oak near Lisnagarvey was so impressed by Edmondson's selling a cow at a fair, at a fixed price, without bargaining, that he joined the Quakers, and meetings were held at his house.

Some years later, before 1674, the meeting place had been changed to the house of George Gregson, a goldsmith and general merchant who had the lease of two houses in Market Street, and built a meeting house in his back garden. This is surprising, as it is known that after the Restoration, Gregson had been arrested by Sir Edward Conway and spent some time as a prisoner in Carrickfergus and also in Armagh. But Conway's invalid wife found comfort in some Quaker doctrines, and at her request he paid some of their fines and set them free.

Tradition says that King William had lunch at Gregson's house when he passed through Lisburn. This could be true if the Town Major was billeted at the house. That evening or next day the King signed an order that plough-horses requisitioned by the army should be returned to the farmers to get things going again in civil life. The request had been made by Gregson's brother-in-law, James Hunter, on behalf of the Quaker farmers.

A year earlier Gregson's pacifist ideas had made him unpopular; he was suspected of being a Jacobite. Now grown old and infirm, he died in September 1690. Having no son, he left the residue of his property for charitable purposes. The meeting house was left free of rent. The shops should be "set at a reasonable rate to some good honest friend that will keep up the testimony of truth in this place." By this phrase George doubtless meant fixed price selling; no lawsuits between fellow Christians, etc.

Among the tenants who used these shops in the 18th century were Jacob Hancock, Robert Richardson, James Murray and John Hill. In 1763 the Quaker shopkeepers of Lisburn had their windows broken because they failed to illuminate in honour of victory over the French.

In the great fire of Lisburn on April 20, 1707, every house in the town was burned, but the meeting house escaped, in spite of its thatched roof, as it lay on the windward side. It survived until 1793, when it was rebuilt and greatly enlarged. The old house had faced east, approached by a long narrow path between two gardens; a new entrance was made into what was called Schoolroom Lane in 1720, Jackson's Lane in 1774, and is now Railway Street. The graveyard, hidden behind the wall to the north of the meeting house, goes back to late 18th century. The tombstones were not erected until about 1840, and the ground closed for burials after the opening of the town cemetery.

In the 18th century the best-known name was John H. Hancock, whose will caused the founding of the Friends' School in 1774, was partner in a bleachgreen, and a large exporter of linens. A cousin worked the Vitriol Island and gave his name to Hancock Street; his son-in-law is named in Gregg Street. Early in the 19th century these enterprises were taken over by Richardsons.

The Society of Friends has never grown large. It is an amateur body, without highly trained pastors or preachers. Against the expectations of many prophets, it has survived 300 years. Next to the Cathedral congregation, it is the second oldest in Lisburn.

JOHN Wesley attached such significance to Lisburn that he visited it on several occasions, and it Is claimed that the Lisburn Methodist Society was one of the earliest founded In Ireland. During the years it has grown in strength and influence.

Great crowds were attracted by Wesley's preaching, and it soon became obvious that a place of worship was needed. Eventually all obstacles and opposition were overcome and a site was secured in Market Street. A building was erected on the site now occupied by the Christian Workers' Hall, and was opened for worship in 1772. Wesley paid his last visit to Lisburn three years later and, according to his Journal, he lodged with a Huguenot family in Lambeg. His wife, the former Mrs. Vazeille, was the widow of a Huguenot. On his way to Belfast he became so ill that he had to be assisted to the house of Mrs. Gayer, Derriaghy, a member of the Society. It has recently been announced that a chair from the Gayer home, which Wesley is said to have used, is to be donated to the Wesley Historical Society, and will be placed in Aldergate House, Belfast.

Methodism progressed in Lisburn, and a site was sought for a new church. Sir .Richard Wallace gave a plot of ground at the junction of the Belfast and Low roads, and the fine new church, costing 2,700, was opened free of debt in 1875.

The Lisburn Circuit now consists of five churches: Lisburn, Magheragall, Broomhedge, Priesthill and Seymour Hill. It is staffed by four ministers, and the total number of families on the circuit is 610.

The Rev. R. Desmond Morris is Superintendent of the Circuit and minister of Lisburn Church.

LISBURN Congregational Church began with work among children On Sunday afternoons a group of neglected children met in a house in Back Lane and were taught the Scriptures. Before long the parents became interested and began to attend the meetings In such numbers it became obvious that larger accommodation was needed.

It was decided to build a church and a grant of a plot of ground on the Saintfield Road was made by Sir Richard Wallace. The foundation stone of the new church was laid by the Rev. John White, Belfast, in March, 1877, and the church was opened for worship in October of that year.

The first minister was the Rev. T. J. Forsythe, and over the years he was succeeded by ten others. The present pastor, the Rev. T. G. Keery, was installed in October, 1921.

A new church hall was erected in 1957, the opening ceremony being performed by Mrs. T. Chapman, Sprucefield. Sunday School work is still an important part of the church's mission, and it is presided over by Mr. Samuel Dempster, junior. The secretary of the congregation is Mr. John K. Dowling.

New housing estates

Lisburn Baptist Church was formed in 1926 under the leadership of Pastor J. Shields. The members met in a small rented hall in Wallace Avenue, and later in the Good Templar Hall, Linenhall Street. It was decided to erect a church building, and a site was purchased In what was then known as Priest's Lane, Longstone Street The building was opened for worship April, 1930.

The first pastor of the church was Pastor G. E. Priestly, who was inducted in October 1934, and died in 1940.

Marked progress was made during the ministry of Pastor J. McCrea, 1953-1957, when new organisations were established and a church hall opened in 1956.

The present pastor of the church is the Rev. J. J. Baxter, who was inducted in 1957. The increasing population of Lisburn, and the new housing estates adjacent to the church, have resulted in increased numbers attending the services, and the consideration of plans for an extension to the church or the construction of a new building.

Lisburn also has the Church of the Nazarene, the Salvation Army, and a number of halls and assemblies which minister to the spiritual and social needs of their adherents.

The concluding overall picture is of a town that grew up around the Church almost three and a half centuries ago; a town always conscious of the message and witness of the Church; a town, now become a Borough, that is as sensitive as at any time in the past to spiritual realities, and eternal truths. The motto of the bustling City of Glasgow is "Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word." It is assuredly the wish of all Church members that the new Borough of Lisburn may flourish in obedience to the Word of God proclaimed in her Churches.

At Lisburn Cathedral to celebrate the tercentenary of t h e Prayer B o o k of 1662 was the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. Dr. G. O. Sims (pictured second from right). Also in the photograph, left to right, Very Rev. R. Adams, the Dean of Connor, the Rt. Rev. R. C. H. Elliott, and the Very Rev. R. S. Breene.

The concluding overall picture is of a town that grew up around the Church almost three and a half centuries ago; a town always conscious of the message and witness of the Church; a town, now become a Borough, that is as sensitive as at any time in the past to spiritual realities, and eternal truths. The motto of the bustling City of Glasgow is "Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the Word." It is assuredly the wish of all Church members that the new Borough of Lisburn may flourish in obedience to the Word of God proclaimed in her Churches.