The Ulster Land War of 1770



“On 15th–was burned maliciously and feloniously the dwelling-house lately occupied by John Montgomery (out of which he had removed that very day), situate in Tollynagee in the parish of Killinchy, county of Down.
Reward of £50.”
–N. L., 1st May, 1757.

This is an instance where the old tenant had been forced to leave, his land being let over his head, together with “the house lately occupied by John Montgomery,” which he had doubtless built himself and made a home. The undertaker made it a tragedy and the hearts of steel a ruin. These remarks apply with equal force to the following.

“Several unknown persons, on four several nights successively, attempted to burn the house of John Taylor of Lisnegaver, in the parish of Rasharkin, co. Antrim.
10 guineas reward offered.”
23rd August, 1757.

We have read that Thompson was disposing of farms at Rasharkin.

“Whereas on the night of Monday, the 20th of November, the dwellinghouse, barn, and stable adjoining lately possessed by Samuel Wilson, farmer, situate in the townland of Ballycragey, in the parish of Carmoney, in the county of Antrim, part of the estate of the right hon. the earl of Donegall, and held by lease under his lordship by Paul Brown, linen draper, were feloniously set on fire and entirely consumed by some person or persons unknown.
Reward, £90.
Given this 25th day of November, 1758.
THOS. LUDFORD, agent of the guardians ot lord Donegall, and other signatories.”
–N. L., 5th January, 1759.

Paul Brown, the linen draper of Belfast, had taken Wilson’s farm, from which he had been evicted, hence the result. Donegall had become a legal lunatic at the time, and had “guardians,” who played the game equally well.

“On the 17th of September, 1758, 7 stacks of turf, standing near the mansion house of Talleykevy, near Ballywalter, in the co. of Down, maliciously and feloniously set on fire.
20 guineas reward offered by Alexander Allen, of Portavoe.
20 more guineas to any accomplice turning approver.”
–N. L., 9th February, 1759.

The approver was highly encouraged, but was, as a rule, not forthcoming.

“Assault, on 28th of February, 1759, on the dwellinghouse of Henry Carson, in the parish of Killinchy, co. Down, yarn merchant, by 13 or 14 persons, with intent to commit burglary.
Reward, 20 guineas.”

It was probably firearms the 13 or 14 Killinchy boys were after.

“Outrage on the farm of William Russell, of Collinward, in the parish of Carmoney.
5 guineas reward.
Thos. Ludford, on behalf of the earl of Donegall, offers other 5 guineas, because ‘such villainous proceedings are not only detrimental and discouraging to the improving tenant, but thereby the public in general are sufferers.'”
–N. L., 2ist January, 1761.

There had been “clearings” of tenants by Donegall at Collinward; those who had made the farms were dispossessed, and other tenants were accepted and called “improving”– they “improved” Donegal’s interest, but decreased the tenants’. Quite a chapter could be written about Collinward. The Biggers were in the middle of this trouble.

“On l0th December, 1766, Samuel MacNeilly farmer, was robbed of a considerable sum of money, near Templepatrick, in the county of Antrim. Reward, 20 guineas.”
2nd January, 1767.

Samuel MacNeilly was an agent of the Langfords of Crumlin, and this may have been the rent he was carrying off. Some of the starving evicted may have considered it a fair exchange, the land grabbers had so confused the moral question.

“On the l0th of October, 1766, the cornstack in the haggard of Daniel Toole of Ballymacnab, near Armagh, and a turfstack of Thomas McKee, set on fire and consumed. The intention was to burn the dwelling-house and out-offices of Toole.
Reward of £100.”
–N.L., 2nd January, 1767.

This was the work of the evicted.

“Some rogues having broken into the timber yard at Lisburn belonging to Greg and Cunningham, and stolen timber, etc.
Reward, 10 guineas.
Belfast, 23rd February, 1767.”
–N. L., 21st April, 1767.

The oak woods and other timber were being cut and sold at Ballinderry at this time; also the material of Conway’s castle, at Portmore, which may have been the reason for Greg and Cunningham having a timber yard at Lisburn. They were merchants in a big way as well as land-grabbers. They were always considered fair game by the hearts of steel during the land war.

“Dwellinghouse and barn in Ballynagross and county of Down, lately in the possession of John Chambers, on 7th of March, 1767, set on fire, and totally burned.
Reward of 32 guineas.”
–N. L., 7th April, 1767.

These references to burnings of houses lately in possession show that the tenants had been forced to leave, and their lands relet, hence the retaliation.

“Lord Glerawly offers £20 reward for a cowstealer, “and to deter others on my estate from being guilty of such offences.”
5th May, 1767.

Perhaps it was only a bit of a “drive” after all, and the cattle may have left the grazing during the night?

“On 17th of June, 1767, a house in Barnmeen, on the farm held by Kennedy Stafford under right honourable earl of Hillsborough, and which the said Kennedy Stafford fitted up at great expense, was set on fire and entirely consumed; and as said Kennedy Stafford has reason to suspect the persons who formerly held said house and premises to have perpetrated said action.
Reward, 10 guineas.
30th June, 1767.

This is another case of eviction. “The persons who formerly held said house” might reasonably be suspected.

“The horse of John MacAlindin, of Ballykelly, parish of Seapatrick, county of Down, died from wounds inflicted 31st of May, 1767.
Reward, 20.”
–N. L., 19th June, 1767.

This was one of those desperate resorts of an outlawed people.

“Sundry abuses and trespasses having been committed on my demesnes in and about Belfast, by breaking into the gardens, breaking down the garden walls and fences, and the walls between the shambles and the point wood, and by trespassing on the lands of Crumac, the castle meadows, the point wood and meadows, I do hereby forbid all persons from committing any of the like trespasses for the future, otherwise they will be prosecuted as the law directs.
Belfast Castle, 31st July, 1767.”
–N. L., 16th February, 1768.

The Belfast boys were probably trying to bring the discomfort closely home to Donegall.

“Ten landlords in the parishes of Saintfield, Drumboe, Castlereagh and Holywood complain of the destruction of game by tenants, and ask their respective tenants who may have transgressed to desist, and they offer substantial rewards, and threaten penalties prescribed by law.
Dated I2th December, 1768.”

This may have arisen from a desire to punish the landlords this way and to prevent the game from injuring their crops.

“On the 20th of July, 1769, the grand jury of county Antrim applaud the conduct of the high constable of Toome, Hugh Edmonston, for suppressing riots and apprehending, at the risk of his life, those who have for some time past lived in defiance of the laws, and we take this opportunity of expressing our resentment at the lawless proceedings in the town and neighbourhood of Ballymena, and declaring that we will use our utmost power to suppress such licentiousness. –Rowley Heyland, Edward Brice, Clotworthy Upton, Thomas Gregg.”
“Whereas on 3rd of May, 1769, the outhouse of Alexander and Robert Stewart, of Teeregory in the county of Down (in which was a heifer) was feloniously set on fire and burned, and whereas there is just cause to believe the said house was so set on fire and burned because the said Alexander and Robert Stewart had taken part of the lands of Teeregory, which were lately possessed by the cottiers or undertenants of Rowland Savage. Now I, William lord viscount Gerawly, being determined to support my tenants in their just rights and to protect them as far as I am able from such vile incendiaries, and in the hope it may be of service to other gentlemen who may choose to give a preference in setting their lands, and in order to bring the perpetrators of this vile act to justice, I do hereby promise a reward of 12 guineas.”
“Dated this 6th of May, 1769.”

“We whose names are hereunto subscribed, thoroughly sensible that every gentleman has a right to set his land to whom he chooses, and to show our abhorrence of flying in the face of the laws of the land, do hereby, according to our abilities, promise, etc.
Signed by 100 persons.”
“N.B.–By an act of parliament made in the 29th George II., and made perpetual by an act in the 1st of George III. any person who shall discover and prosecute to conviction any such felon, shall be entitled to £10; and if such discoverer and prosecutor be personally concerned in such felony he shall not only be entitled to the full reward of £10 but be entitled to his or her pardon for any felony before that time by him or her committed against this act.”

This was a clear case of eviction to prove that tenants had no rights, and that “gentlemen may choose to give a preference in setting their lands” regardless of any tenant! interest which they thus sought to confiscate.

This was an epitome of the whole struggle the undertake now claimed that the occupiers had no interest in the lands no matter how much they improved same, no matter what houses they built or otherwise expended their money and labour. They have since learned otherwise, but to the hearts of steel is due the credit of having brought such knowledge forcibly home to them. If the Ulster land claimers had not been thus forcibly opposed, and some tenant right established, Ulster would have become another Connacht so far as the future conditions regarding the land were concerned.

“On the 13th of July, 1769, the office houses of John Bill, in the townland and parish of Ballymartin, and valuable contents were burned and consumed to ashes.
Now we, etc., offer a reward of £50.
Dated this 15th day of July, 1769.
Clotworthy Upton, £20, and 45 others at about 11s. 4d. each.”

This was evicted land re-let to John Bill on better terms for the undertaker, Upton. A week later Bill had a further risitation. Templepatrick was in a determined humour at this time. Davy Douglas was moving round.

“John Bill’s out office was set on fire on the 13th, and on the night of the 21st his cow was maimed.
The grand jury of county Antrim offer £50 reward, and Clotworthy Upton adds 20 guineas.”
–N. L., 22nd July, 1769.

“5th December, 1769.
Dwelling-house of Andrew Macllwaine in the townland and parish of Ballymartin, near Templepatrick, burned down and his wife and 5 or 6 children nearly burned to death.
Same as regards dwelling-house of John Douglas situate in the townland of Ballycushin in the parish of Templepatrick.
Reward of £50.

The Uptons had insisted upon treating their tenants as if they had no interest in the land. The above was on their estate. Ballymartin was the scene of a shocking massacre in 1641, when the last of the old stock was swept aside by the planter. A century and a quarter later the new tillers of the soil had to struggle for life on the same spot.

“Whereas in the dead time of the night between Thursday the 12th and Friday the 13th instant [April, 1770], some evil disposed person or persons did most wickedly, maliciously, and feloniously set on fire a turf-stack the property of James Fowler of Carnbane, near Hillborough, standing within a few yards of his dwelling-house, with an intention, as it does appear, to burn said dwelling-house and the family then at rest.
Now we, the undernamed inhabitants of the towns and parishes of Hillsborough and Lisburn, from an abhorrence of so atrocious a crime, and in order to bring to condign punishment the perpetrator or perpetrators thereof, and to support the public peace and security, do hereby promise to pay the sums annexed to our several names, to any person or persons who will, within the space of six calender months from the date hereof, discover and prosecute to conviction, kirn, her, or them who was or were concerned in committing said felony; and if any of the persons concerned in the perpetrating of this shocking outrage against all order and kumanity, will discover and prosecute to conviction his or ker accomplice, or accomplices, in said crime within the space above mentioned, we promise, not only to pay him or her the reward above offered, but all to use our interest to procure the royal pardon to such person or persons so informing and prosecuting.
Given under our hands this l0th day of April, 1770.
James, Down and Connor, £5 13s. 9d., etc., etc.”

Of course there was no “intention” of burning any “family then at rest.” The evicted ones, with their friends, had returned to the old home and rekindled the fire there with a vengeance. The usual effort is made to produce informers.

“Whereas on Wednesday evening, the 9th [May, 1770], there was a lighted turf put into a hayrick standing on a farm in Brefagh, near the Board Mill and parish of Saintfield, the property of Gawin Hamilton, with intent to consume it, which providently had not the desired effect. Now I hereby promise a reward of twenty guineas to anyone who shall discover the person or persons concerned in the above attempt, so that they, or any of them, may be convicted of the same.
May the 15th, 1770.
N.B.–The greatest part of the townland of Brefagh will be out of lease at November, 1771, and will be let from that time.”

The N.B. reveals the whole story. Brefagh had to be “cleared” by the undertaker, as the lease was out, and new lettings were advertised to induce strangers to give higher rents on the tenants’ confiscated farms, and so a lighted turf was placed into Gawin Hamilton’s hayrick. There was no further use for the lighted turf on the hearth of the evicted home.

“Whereas some malicious and evil disposed persons have burned one of the houses and cut down several trees upon Bell’s farm in the county of the town of Carrickfergus, part of the estate of Edward Brice, of the city of Dublin. Now I promise to pay a reward of twenty guineas, to be paid by Edward Brice, in Belfast, to any person or persons who shall discover and prosecute to conviction any of those persons concerned in said felony, so as he, she, or they may be brought to justice within six calendar months from the date hereof.
Given under my hand in Dominic street, Dublin, this 16th March, 1770.”

Bell could probably explain this if he had not sailed away from Larne or Carrick roads.

“22nd of October, 1771, 5 cows, the property of Thomas Holland and John Leckey, were maliciously killed, stabbed, and houghed on the Quarterland of Carryreagh, in the barony of Kilconway, co. Antrim. Reward of £230 offered by Antrim, Dunluce, George Macartney, John Leckey, Thos. Holland.”

Were there no houses to burn or trees to cut on this scene of eviction?

“Whereas on Sunday last, the third [October, 1771] a piece of writing was pasted up on the maypole in Ballycarry, threatening the burning of the old and new mills, kilns, and other houses thereto belonging, all in Broad Island, in the county of Antrim. And whereas on the preceding night fourteen bay of houses in Broad Island aforesaid, the property of the revd. John Bankhead, presbyterian minister in said parish (which houses he had lately purchased), were maliciously set on fire and reduced to ashes. Now we, whose names are hereunto subscribed, in order to bring such notorious offenders to consign punishment, do promise to pay the sums respectively annexed to our names to him, her, or them, who shall, within the space of six calendar months from the date hereof, discover and prosecute to conviction the perpetrator or perpetrators of both or either of these offences; and if any person concerned therein shall discover and prosecute to conviction his or her accomplices, we will use our endeavours to obtain for such discoverer his majesty’s pardon. Given under our hands this 7th day of October, 1771.

The rev. John Bankhead had a good deal of trouble with his people one way and another, and they must have had a grievance or they would not have so harried their minister. How had he got hold of “fourteen bay of houses” in Broadisland? He was an intimate of the undertaker, Edmondstone. Whose were the houses before he got them? Had he become confused in his reading of the tenth commandment? His “steepends” were small, and not too punctually paid. An informer’s meed was more ample.

“On Thursday night, the 13th June instant, three houses situate on the farm of land of Ballygomartin, in the parish of Belfast, in the possession of Shem Thompson, were feloniously set on fire and burnt by some person or persons unknown; and on the same night three cows, the property of James Wilson, grazing on a farm in the same townland, were feloniously maimed, supposed to be done by the same persons who set fire to the above mentioned houses. Any person or persons who will discover and prosecute to conviction, within three months from date hereof, any of the persons concerned in the above felonies, or either of them, shall receive a reward of fifty pounds sterling, to be paid by the said Shem Thompson immediately on conviction. Belfast, 20th June, 1771.”

The three houses were void of tenants, so Shem was establishing a grazing ranch at Ballygomartin, taking on James Wilson’s cattle, when he was disturbed.

“Whereas some evil minded person or persons did, on the night of the first of January instant maliciously set on fire (whereby the whole were entirely consumed) two dwelling houses and several office houses, lately in the possession of Samuel Macartney and Archibald Hamilton, situate in Ballynadrentagh, parish of Killead and county of Antrim, the property of Thomas Jackson the elder, of Holly well, in said county. Now in order to bring said offenders to condign punishment, a reward of thirty pounds will be paid by Thomas Jackson, junior, to any person or persons who shall, in six calendar months from the date hereof, discover and prosecute to conviction the person or persons guilty of said henious offence. Hollywell, January 3rd, 1771.”

Lately in the possession of, but not at the time of the burning. Macartney and Hamilton were on the road or the high seas, and their houses were in flames.

“At the assizes at Carrickfergus for the county of Antrim, which ended on Saturday night last, one man was sentenced to be hanged for robbing Hercules Langford Heyland’s office at Langford Lodge, and another was found guilty of writing and sending a threatening letter, demanding money, for which he is ordered to be imprisoned one year, and pay a king’s fine of £10.”
–N. L., 2nd April, 1771.

This was carrying the war home, recovering some of the plunder from the agent’s office at Crumlin, and formally demanding restitution.

“Whereas some malicious and disorderly persons have at sundry times trespassed on a field in Malone adjoining Holmes’s garden, belonging to Francis Gibboney, of Belfast, and damaging and destroyed a considerable quantity of potatoes and cabbage growing therein. Now I, the said Francis Gibboney, do hereby offer a reward of one guinea to any person who shall discover and prosecute to conviction any one of the said offenders. Given under my hand this 7th day of August, 1771.
“P.S. There is a number of snakes and fox-traps laid in said field.”

Gibboney evidently did not appreciate his potatoes being dug and his cabbages cut whilst his snakes slumbered and his fox-traps were too friendly to snap. We have no record of his one guinea being claimed.

“James Hamilton Clewclow, of Saintfield, advertises the firing of turf stack at glebe house of Saintfield, on 25th July, 1771, and offers a reward of 20 guineas for the discovery of the perpetrator.”
–N. L., 16th August, 1717.

The rector’s turf stack may have been an unwilling tithe. Saintfield was never very much given to paying graciously of tithes, whether in turf or corn or hard cash.
James Hamilton Clewclow was a rector, a rack rent collector and evicter, even as far afield as Carnmoney, and a Carnmoney man shoots far and is not forgetful.

The offering of this big award made a great show at the time and cost little.

“Whereas on Thursday night last, the 3rd [December, 1772], an incendiary letter, containing violent menaces against some of the principal inhabitants of Lurgan in particular, and against the town in general, was found in the shop of Solomon Whyte, directed to his care, ordering, with threats, that said letter should be put up in some public place by John Turner, petty constable. Now we, the inhabitants of the town of Lurgan, being determined to oppose to the utmost of our power, all disturbers of the public peace, and to do all that in us lies to bring such audacious villains to immediate punishment of the law, which in cases of this nature is, by a late act of parliament, felony of death without benefit of clergy, do hereby promise to pay the sum of £90 8s. 7 1/2d. to the person or persons who shall, in six months from the date hereof, discover and prosecute to conviction the writer or writers of said illegal and incendiary letter, or the person or persons who conveyed the same into Whyte’s shop.
We do further promise that if any of the parties concerned in the above atrocious offence shall discover and legally convict his or their accomplices, they shall not only be entitled to the above mentioned reward, but application shall be made to government for his majesty’s most gracious pardon.
Dated this 4th day of December, 1772.”
“N.B.–The above sum of £90 8s. 7 1/2d. will be lodged in the hands of the right hon. Wm. Brownlow.”

(Here follow 100 names and the amounts promised by each of them).

The £90 8s. 7 1/2d. was not claimed, nor was the benefit of the clergy of Lurgan (a very indefinite quantity) denied to anyone. “Steepends” and tithes being paid, it was still extended to all and sundry. The wisdom of Solomon (Whyte) was not equal to the effort, and the “petty” constable evidently shied at his extra duty of posting such questionable literature.

“24th of October, 1772, the house of John Whitley, of Ballynahinch, in the county of Armagh, entered by the black faces, armed with guns and swords, who robbed him of a sum of money and threatened to take his life.”
“Reward of £50.”
–N. L., 1st January, 1773.

Why was the life of John Whitley to be exacted by “black faces, armed with guns and swords?” This advertisement is evidently fencing with the real question at issue.

“On the 6th November, 1772, 3 ‘black faces’ entered the house of James MacAlennin, of Ardrea, near Loughgall, in the co. of Armagh.
They would have murdered MacAlennin only for the pluck of his wife.”

Lucky MacAlennin to have been wed to such a woman. Loughgall was always a stirring sort of place, but why the invasion of the “black faces” into the MacAllennin sanctuary?
Had it been someone elses, or were there arms to spare?

“Whereas Thomas Speer of the townland of Balliscullen and parish of Ballyscullen, in county of Derry, was robbed in the night between the 2Oth and 21st inst., of the sum of £5 13s. 9d. sterling by a set of people called hearts of steel, who also fired at him, the said Thomas Speer and wounded him so that it is feared he will lose the use of his hand. We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, being desirous to bring such villains to speedy and condign punishment, do promise £30 reward for the discovery, etc.”
“Dated 22nd January, 1772.”

Now the hearts of steel were not robbers, nor yet villains, so the only questions that arise are whose really were the £5 13s. 9d., and who robbed Thomas Speer?
–N. L., February 28th, 1772.

“A robbery by four black faces, of Anthony Hopes of Ballinderry, county Antrim, innkeeper, on his way towards Lisburn. He was robbed of 26 guineas, with which he was going to Belfast to buy goods. It took place at 4 o’clock on the morning of the 25th of February, 1772.”

The “black faces” were out early, so was Anthony Hope.
A Hope might have known better in–Ballinderry, too.

“Whereas on the night of the 19th of July, 1772, an incendiary letter, signed ‘hearts of steel’ was dropped near Saintfield, in the county of Down, directed to Francis Price threatening said Francis Price and the rev. James Hamilton Clewclow, their families and properties, with immediate destruction.
Now we, the inhabitants of the parish of Saintfield, having a just abhorrence of such practices, an instance of the effects of such proceedings having lately happened in Ravarra, in the parish of Killinchy in said county, offer a reward.”
“Dated 10th of August, 1772.”

Clewclow’ s turf had previously been burned–he was an undertaker’s agent as well as rector. This was a common position, so he must needs have attention.

“An incendiary paper, on Sunday, the 12th of July, 1772, was posted on the gable of a house near the meeting house at Balloo, cautioning James M’Connell, of Ballymacreely, at his peril, in consideration of the consequences, against attempting to rebuild his house, which had been demolished last winter by the deluded people called hearts of steel; and also all other persons not to take any of the farms possessed by Hugh Wilson, Thomas Nocher, and Andrew Rainey, in Balloo, part of the estate of Steel Hawthorne of Downpatrick, on part of which lands the aforesaid house was built. And whereas there were 4 black cattle, in the dead of night of the 22nd of July, feloniously houghed, cut, stabbed and maimed, 2 of which instantly died, and which were grazing on a farm in the townland of Ravarrah, near Saintfield, in the said county of Down.
Reward offered.”

“N.B.–From James M’Connell’s refusing to sign above advertisement (the person whose house was demolished), and also from his obtaining so large a presentment for the small damages he sustained, the public are left to judge of his conduct.”

This advertisement tells its own story plainly enough, and clearly indicates the position taken up by the hearts of steel, which was when any difficulty had arisen between the tenants and the rent exacter no third party must interfere.

“Charles Glass, a soldier in the 57th Regiment of Foot, now quartered in the barracks of Belfast, was most inhumanely and barbarously maimed by the back sinews of his leg being cut through, on Thursday last, 15th day of May, 1772, at 3 o’clock as he lay asleep in a field near the barracks, with his face downward, by two men, one of whom stated they treated him thus because one of the soldiers had given evidence against some of the hearts of steel.”

Charles Glass was a bit of a fool at this time for mixing himself up with informers and then sleeping in the open in Belfast “with his face downward in a field near the barracks” leaving his hams exposed. He must have been a stranger.

“The house and the malt kiln upon the farm in the townland of Aghenleck, parish of Annahilt, county Down, late in the possession of Thomas and William Jameson, set on fire and entirely consumed.
Reward of £50 offered by William Mussenden.”
“1st January, 1773.”

Late in the possession of the Jamesons. Why had Mussenden been bereft of his tenants? Of their own accord had they flown?

“Whereas on the night between the 17th and 18th of February [1773], the corn mill of Glenstall, in the barony of Dunluce and county of Antrim, was, by some malicious and wicked minded person or persons, set fire to and entirely consumed. And whereas on the 7th instant the corn mill of Rasharkin, in the barony of Killconway in said county, was also set fire to, but happily extinguished before any great injury was done.
For the discovery of such horrid practices, we, whose names are hereunto subscribed, do promise to pay the several sums annexed to our names, to any person who will give legal information against the perpetrator of either of the above mentioned crimes, within six months from the date hereof.
The above mills are the property of George Black of Glenstall.
9th March, 1773.”
“Charles O’Hara, £22 15s. 0d., etc.”

Rasharkin was in trouble. Thompson was re-letting the place, so there was much loose, inflammable material about.

“Whereas on Friday, the 25th of December, 1773, there was found fixed on the meeting house of Cullybackey, in the parish of Ahoghill, a malicious and incendiary paper, tending to excite terror in weak minds, and foment the spirit of riot and rebellion which so lately seemed to exhibit both our neighbourhood and profession very infamous in the view of all good Christians and loyal subjects.
Now we, the protestant dissenters of Cullybackey, and members of that congregation, deeply affected, as well by the profanation of our house of worship, in making it the repository of treason, as by such audacious rebellion against our laws, so mercifully administered, do engage ourselves to each other and to the public, that we will, to the utmost of our power, resist all such daring insults; and if reduced to the unhappy necessity, vigorously repel force by force. And we further, for the bringing to justice the author or authors of the above mentioned paper, or any other incendiary paper of the same nature or purpose that may hereafter, in six months from the date hereof, be fixed up in any public place, or dropped within the bounds of this congregation, do offer the reward of the several sums annexed to our names to the person or persons who shall, within six months, make discovery upon him or them so as they may be prosecuted to conviction.
Given at the meeting-house of Cully backey and subscribed with our hands, this 3rd day of January, 1773.”
“Rev. Alex. M’Mullon, £1 2s. 9d., etc.”
Whatever put “the protestant dissenters of Cullybackey,” of all the people in Ulster, up to subscribing such a paper? It was notorious that they were all in full sympathy with the hearts of steel, so to even pretend that there was anything sacred in the meeting house door of Cullybackey was going too far. There was scarce a member of the congregation who could hold up his right hand and swear he knew nothing of it. Well then might they offer their £1 2s. 9d., etc. It was no papist did it in Cullybackey.

The following indictments for the spring assize of 1772, affecting many in and around Cullybackey, clearly prove the real sentiments of at least some of “the protestant dissenters of Cullybackey”:–

“Samuel Hamilton the younger, of Ballyminstra, yeoman; John Wright of Ballyaafy, linen weaver; Samuel Mark of Markton, John Boyd of Dreen, Archibald Brown of Cullybackey, John Paries of same, Alexander Glenn of Dunnygarren, Francis Nixon of Craigs, Gabriel Stewart of Kiltymorris, all weavers; Charles Mitchell of Galgorm Park, William Osborne of Galgorm, John Gait of same, and Francis Wilson of Craigs, all yeomen; William Rogers of Loan, Henry Wright of Galgorm Park, Robert Buraside of same, Bernard Earner; of same, Alexander MacFadden of Fenagh, all yeomen Thomas Bailey of Broughdoan, and James Hopkins of Dunnygarren, both weavers, all county Antrim; stand indicted that they, on the night between the 20th and 21st March, 12th George III., at Ballyminstragh, county Antrim, set fire to the barn and stable of Daniel MacNeil, gent.; that Osborae and Gait are in Carrickfergus gaol; that the others have not appeared or given security.”
“John Wright of Ballynasy or Ballynafy, weaver; James Galway of same, Francis Black of Tully, John Right of the Glebe, James M’Lyster of Langry, Francis Nixon of Craigs, John Beggs of Carnurny, David Clarke of same, all yeomen; John Sandyton of Ballymena, tailor; and Alexander Walker of Glenan, farmer, all county Antrim; stand indicted that they, on 14th February, 12th George III., at Mount Davis, county Antrim, did, by force, impose an oath on Bryan MacManus, a justice of the peace for county Antrim, that he would issue neither a summons nor warrant against the hearts of steel, in order thereby to compel and engage him to conceal divers unlawful acts done by the wicked and disorderly persons called hearts of steel; that Walker is in custody in Carrickfergus gaol for said felony; that none of the others have since appeared or given security.”


“That on the night of the 27th November, 1776, some wicked and evil-minded person or persons, entered into a field belonging to John Aicken of Seacash, parish of Killead, and county of Antrim, wherein some twenty-nine bullocks, the property of John Allen of Rashee, in said county, and did then and there feloniously kill, hough and maim eight of said bullocks.

Now, in order to discover the person or persons who committed said crime, and bring him or them to condign punishment, we, the undernamed persons, promise to pay the sums annexed to our names, to any person who shall inform against the person or persons that committed said offence and prosecutes him or them to conviction, within six kalendar months; and if any of the accomplices will convict the rest, the money shall be paid to such person, and application will be made for his pardon.”
“Dated this 2nd day of December, 1776.”

Why was Allen of Rashee grazing his bullocks in “a field belonging to John Aicken” in Killead? Whose farm was this field of John Aicken’s in? The Allens made money, it is said, but it came to nought. There is a pompous Allen vault in Kilbride, but no Allen or cash now to keep it in order. Verily they grazed their cattle on other men’s lands for nought, (see page 156).

“Whereas on the night between the 6th and 7th of this inst., December [1777], some wicked and malicious person or persons unknown, did set fire to and burn a barn on the farm formerly occupied by Mary Giffen, being on the lands belonging to doctor Haliday, in the townland of Ballyduff and parish of Carnmoney.
Now, we, the undermentioned persons, in order to show our abhorrence of such wicked and diabolical practices, do promise the sums severally annexed to our names as a reward for discovering and prosecuting to conviction, within six months from this date, the person or persons guilty of said offence.”
Given under our hands at Carmony, December 13th, 1777.
For Dr. Haliday: R. Stevenson, £22 15s. 0d., etc.”

Dr. Halliday had got a grant of these Donegall lands over the tenants heads’ and at once raised the rents, causing a great deal of friction. Of course his tenants would be bound to subscribe, at his request, so their names appear, for small sums, after his. They were satisfied they would not be called upon to pay up. They knew all about it. Mary Giffen had not played the game, so the other tenants believed, and she got into trouble.

“Whereas on the night of Saturday, the 24th inst., an anonymous letter was left at the house of William Parker, of Molusk, parish of Templepatrick and county of Antrim, in the following words, viz.:–

“‘William Parker, we hear that you have given a proposal for a part of the lands belonging to Edward Kelso, but we do give you our advice not to proceed any further in that [afer], or if you do, we do swear by God that we will arect a gallows before your own door, and hang you onit.–We do desire you to take this warning, as you will geat known [none] other. Given under our hands that by God the above is true.’

“For the better discovery of the writer, publisher, or conveyor of such atrocious letter I do hereby offer a reward of twenty guineas to any person or persons who shall give such information so as the writer, publisher, or conveyor of such letter shall be prosecuted to conviction within twelve months from the date hereof. Langford Lodge.
“30th October, 1777.”

The English of the above letter was exceedingly emphatic, but the spelling was shaky. Rowley, the undertaker’s man, had evidently been trying to create a rivalry between tenants, and had got Parker, a decent enough man, to do a dirty thing in offering for Kelso’s farm. This letter stopped the game. Parker recanted, and Kelso held his own, and Rowley was unsuccessful. Such actions as this demoralised a whole district, the bad blood of which is felt to the present day. The Hercules Langford Rowley Packenhams farmed the “four towns” of Molusk, Kilgreel, Craigarogan, and the Barnis in a perfectly unscrupulous way. They had no moral or hereditary claim whatever, but simply lived and grew fat on the tenants’ labour and improvements, without the slightest expenditure on their part; and now, when their unjust rents have been lowered fifty per cent., they are paid off by a beneficent legislature, and the Parkers and the Kelsos live at peace, and bury side by side in old Templepatrick or in the “land of oblivion,” at Molusk, adjoining the farm in question.

“That on the night of Saturday, the 21st [1789], an attempt was made to burn the print house of Patrick Gaw, John MacMillen, and Edward Edwards, at Cogrey, near Doagh, in the county of Antrim. In order to bring the perpetrators of this daring outrage to the punishment they justly deserve we, the undernamed, do promise to pay our proportion of one hundred guineas to any person who will, in the course of six months from the date hereof, discover and prosecute to conviction anyone concerned in the above felony.
Belfast, 26th November, 1789.”
“Robert Johnston, £22 15s. 0d., etc., etc.”

Many of the middlemen had let the tenants’ lands to printers and mill men at much higher rents, without any compensation to the tenants, and they naturally retaliated, there being no other redress or compensation for them at that time.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!