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Church Records of Ballynahinch Presbyterian

includes the congregations of Dromara, Kilmore & Clough (Druncaw)

Historical Accounts of the Presbyterian Congregations of Ballynahinch, Dromara, Kilmore and Drumcaw now Clough, all in the County of Down, Ireland, with a transcript from the original Registers of the Congregation of Ballynahinch from the 21st August 1696 to 1734.

By the late John Strong Armstrong of 31 Eccles St. Dublin and of Ballynahinch, Co. Down. Transcribed by Julian Armstrong 2004

The initial draft of the Parish Histories was written 1st. June 1822 by JSA's elder brother the Revd. Dr. James Armstrong & completed by JSA over the next ten years, c.1832. The transcription from the original Registers of Ballynahinch was completed by him probably about the same time, and was checked and verified by the Revd. Dr. James

Historical Account of the Presbyterian Congregation of Ballynahinch, County Down, Ireland

Congregation of Ballynahinch, County of Down

The Congregation of Ballynahinch, now under the care of the newly erected presbytry of Down, but formerly and originally under the care of the Ancient presbytry of Down, then of Bangor, Killyleagh, and Dromore.
The Parishes in which the members of the Congregation reside Magheradroll, principally; and surrounding parishes of Magherahamlet, Dromara, Annahilt, Kilmore, and Loughinisland.

In the plantation of Ulster in the reign of James the first, many families from Scotland emigrated to this parish; and having settled therein, formed the first Congregation of Protestants that were ever assembled within its bounds. There is a tradition that the old Church of Magheradroll (the venerable walls of which are yet standing) was
built for their accommodation, and that, for many years after the erection, the religious service performed in it was according to the Presbyterian form of the Church of Scotland. The foundation of this Church was laid in the year 1607. It is also handed down by the same secured to the Ministers of the Scotch Settlements in Ulster, at that
early time, when the great object of Government was to strengthen the British and Protestant interest in this Kingdom. Of this original settlement no record remains. The congregation was broken up in the Irish Rebellion of 1641; and the greater number of the Presbyterian families fled for refuge to Scotland. After an interruption of several years, the rebellion being quelled, and tranquility restored in Ulster, the Scotch settlers ventured gradually to return to their habitations. The congregation of Ballynahinch was then revived.The first place of worship used by them after their return was a large Malt Kiln, in which they held their religious service, about the year 1648. After having been accommodated in this temporary building for a few years, they erected a commodious meeting house. In this meeting house the successive generations of the congregation assembled for worship upwards of a century; when, the roof (which was thatched) falling into decay, it became necessary to erect a new place of worship. Accordingly, in the year 1751, the present meeting house was built, as appears from an inscription on a stone on the front wall thereof) during the Ministry of the Revd John Strong.

The Presbyterian names in this parish and neighbourhood are very numerous; among them may be enumerated as original settlers,

A. Armstrong, Ashmore, Arnott, Aberneathy, Anderson, Alexander, Adinson, Ard, Abbot, Atkinson, Adair, Adams, Aiken, Allen, Allison
B. Blakely, Barnett, Barkly, Barr, Black, Bell, Balie, Beatty, Billandsly, Burges, Brown, Boyd, Blan, Bole, Burns, Burrel, Barret,
Baxter, Brownlee, Brice, Boomer, Blackwell, Borthwick, Biggum,
C. Campbell, Cumming, Curry, Carlisle, Craig, Cherry, Coutler, Cleland, Coals, Croskery, Cook, Clokey, Cain, Chambers, Copeland, Chapman,
Carson, Carothers, Carmichael, Coghran, Chancellor, Crawford, Clark, Corbit, Crooks, Cullum, Cromey, Castles, Cully
D. Dickson, Davidson, Donaldson, Dunwoody, Dobbin, Davis, Dunshee, Dunlap, Dunbar, Dunn, Douglas, Delapp, Dawson, Doak, Delphart, Duke, Dalzell, Donaldson, Duncan
E. Elliot, Ewart, Espey, Edinson, Ellison, Edgar, Edmunson
F. Ferris, Farquhar, Fallon, Formon, Frame, Ferguson, Forsyth, Fluke, Forbus, Frizell, Falls, Finlay, Fisher, Fleming, Fletcher, Forster
G. Graham, Gordon, Gray, Galloway, Gillespy, Gibson, Guttery, Gourley, Groves, Grant, Greer, Garmony, Gough, Gamble, Gardner, Garrett, Gelston, George, Gill, Gilmore, Gore, Gilcreist
H. Hamilton, Hanna, Harrison, Hill, Harpur, Howard, Humphreys, Haliday, Hazlett, Henderson, Herron, Harris, Hunter, Henry, Hughes, Hughey, Haig, Heslip, Hawthorn, Huey, Holmes, Haselton, Hay, Hudson, Hopes, Hutton, Houston, Home, Hogg, Hare
I. Ireland, Irwin
J. Johnston, Jardin, Jelly, Joy, Joyce, Jamison, Jackson, Jones, Jennings
K. Kirkpatrick, Kinley, Knox, Kennedy, Kubbige, Kingon, Kells, Kearns, Kinder, Kelsey, Kid, Kooney, Kewn, Kinner, Kerr, Kincaid, King, Kinsley Kirk, Kyle, Keller, Kendrick, Kernahan, Kirkwood
L. Livingston, Lawson, Lyons, Lewis, Lumon, Lighbody, Long, Lamb, Leiper, Little, Lowery, Lackey, Logan, Laird, Lawder, Lee, Leslie,
Linsey, Louther, Lunn
M. Martin, Mackay, Morrison, Macoubrey, Matteu, Mack, Milligan, Murdough, Miller, Mason, Morrow, Magee, Montgomery, Moore, Mitchell, Melvill, Moss, Morton, Mulligan, Maxwell, Mathews, Malcomson, Mature, Malcom, Marshall, Mahary, Magill, Macrory, Maffett, Manders, Manson, Masterson, May, Mayers, Mayne, Mercer, Merdith, Mickle, Middleton, Moody, Moorhead, Morewood, Morris, Mulhallon, Moulds, Murland, Munrow, Macloud, McClelland, McRobert, McMurray, McIlveen, McCormick, McCaw, McIlwroth, McBirney, McConnell, McIlwain, McKelvey, McDowel, McKie, McMurrin, McClury, McNamara, McWhinney, McCadam, McComb, McNeight,
McKinzey, McKibbin, McCloud, McMaster, McCance, McJury, McCauley, McCammon, McPherson, McNeilly, McCutcheon, McGibbon, McClatchey, McCracken, McCaldine, McMullon, McClean, McClinchy, McCullum, McMillin, McDougal, McCluney, McQueen, McMahon, McBride, McChestney, McBrutiny, McKeag, McAlpine, McCalla, McCaul, McClure, McCrea, McCreery, McCullough, McEwin, McGowan, McKinstry, McQuay, McWilliam, McKean, McFarlane, McKibrick, McMinn, McCammon,
N. Nixon, Newal, Nugent, Neilson, Nevin, Nesbitt, Nicholson, Norton, Norwood, Norris, Nicko
O. Oliver, Oswald, Osburn, Ogle, O'Neil, Ogleby, Ormsby, Orr, Owens, Oxley, Overend
P. Priestly, Palmer, Peebles, Phillips, Patterson, Pollock, Paxton, Purday, Pool, Parker, Pilson, Poag, Porter, Pettycrew, Potter, Parkinson, Parry, Patten, Pepper, Peterson, Power, Priteherd, Proctor
Q. Quin, Quail, Quirk
R. Rupel, Ringland, Rea, Rogers, Robb, Rutherford, Raney, Reid, Robinson, Richards, Ramsay, Rankin, Riddick, Reside, Rickey, Riddle, Roberts, Rider, Ross, Rowley, Rule, Richison, Rankin
S. Smyth, Stephenson, Simpson, Stewart, Skelly, Saintclair, Stitt, Strong, Shaw, Stranaghan, Smiley, Shanks, Smith, Small, Swandle, Sloan,
Steed, Spence, Snowdon, Spear, Sampson, Saunders, Saul, Savage, Sayers, Scott, Searight, Seaton, Semple, Seed, Shannon, Sharply, Sheills,
Singer, Sinnott, Summervill, Sparks, Steele, Studdard, Sterling, Sturgeon, Swan, Swords, Symes, Stratton, Stirling
T. Trimble, Thompson, Tate, Tannihill, Taylor, Tweedy, Turner, Todd, Trail, Tagart, Telford, Templeton, Tennant, Thom, Thornton, Trotter,
Twigg, Trousdell, Trevor, Todhunter
W Williamson, Wallace, Waddell, Waugh, Warnock, Wilson, Witherspoon, Wason, Woods, Wall, Walker, Warring, Watson, West, Withers, Whyte, Warnsley, Welshe, Ward, Watt, Webb, Weir, Wightman, Wray, Wright, Wylie,
Wise, Williams, Whilly, Walkington, Winter
Y Young, Yeats

Though there has been a continued drain from the Congregation, of emigrants to the United States of America, & Canada, and though a considerable portion of the members were induced to form themselves into a separate Congregation of Seceding Presbyterians, about the year 1755, the number of persons in communion still continues highly respectable.The Congregation consists of about eight hundred families, of those, five hundred families have regular sittings in the meeting house, and pay a Stipend.The number of Communicants are from five hundred. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is administered twice a year.There are no Funds or permanent property of the Congregation, except the Meeting house and a small piece of ground enclosed around it. This was granted to the Congregation by the late Right Honorable John Earl of Moira, a lease for 41 years, made out to Mr William Reed of Magheradroll, as trustee for the Congregation dated 26th September 1750 at one Shilling yearly Tent. This lease having expired in the year 1791, the Congregation have remained in the undisputed or disturbed possession of the Meeting house, and adjacent premises ever since, and have now a clearly established right of possession to the same.

The amount of yearly Stipend is about eighty five pounds which is a rent-charge on the sittings or seats in the Meeting house and is collected in the ordinary way. There is no mans or glebe for the minister, or any donation or Congregational fund: So that his support depends on the yearly Stipend, and on the Royal Bounty, which is on the highest Class.Of the succession of Ministers previous to the Irish Rebellion in 1641 there is no record. It is known, however, that the Congregation was frequently edified by the occasional preaching and other pious labours of the Revd John Livingston of Killinchy in the year 1630. To the zeal and ability of this eminent servant of Christ, the Presbyterian interest in the County of Down was greatly indebted, in the time of persecution his integrity and constancy were conspicuous.

Of the succession of Ministers previous to the Irish Rebellion in 1641 there is no record. It is known, however, that the Congregation was frequently edified by the occasional preaching and other pious labours of the Revd John Livingston of Killinchy in the year 1630. To the zeal and ability of this eminent servant of Christ, the Presbyterian interest in the County of Down was greatly indebted, in the time of persecution his integrity and constancy were conspicuous. After his removal from Killinchy to a Congregation in the west of Scotland, instances have been known wherein above five hundred persons, male and female, have crossed over from the County Down to attend his Sacramental services in Stranraer. Great numbers from the Congregation of Ballynahinch used to join these pious expeditions. John Livingston was the son of the Revd William Livingston, and grandson of the Revd Alexander Livingston both of whom were ministers of Moneybrook or Kilsyth in Stirlingshire.

The father of Alexander Livingston was the son of Lord Livingston, afterwards Earl of Linlithgow. He was killed in the Battle of Pinkiefield in the year 1547. William Livingston suffered severely in the persecuting times, for his attachment to Presbyterianism. He was called from Kilsyth to be minister of Lanark, where he died in the year 1641. (Note by the typist: Here is a capital A joined to a capital E, as in a monogram, followed by the number 65. The significance of this is unclear). His son John filled most important Offices in the Church of Scotland, and was one of the three Commissioners appointed to make a treaty with King Charles the IInd at Breda in the year 1649. And afterwards to arrange matters with Oliver Cromwell in the year 1654, on which occasion he was sent for by the Protector himself to London. After the restoration of Charles the IInd, Episcopacy being forced upon Scotland, John Livingston was driven from his parish, and went to Holland, where he died at Rotterdam in the year 1672. The Livingston family being descended from the Earls of Linlithgow, were connected by blood with many noble families viz The Earls of Wigton, the Earls of Eglinton, and the Earls of Monteith. A descendant of the latter Lady Rawdon, mother of the first Earl of Moira, by her interest procured a lucrative situation in the (Note by typist: looks like "revinue") for her relative Matthew Livingston, brother of Henry Livingston the third minister of Ballynahinch, which situation this conscientious man declined, because he would not violate his principles by qualifying in the Episcopal church according to regulations of the Test Act then in force. An instance of high minded integrity that deserves to be recorded, because it is unhappily very rare. His an additional honor to the memory of this worthy man that he was in circumstances of pecuniary embarrassment, when he afforded this noble instance of unflinching integrity and resistance to temptation.


Immediately after the rebellion in 1641, many of the scattered Presbyterian flocks in Ulster being destitute of Pastors, Mr Livingston visited the Counties of Down and Antrim to inquire into the state of religion, to minister and animate the drooping spirits of the people, and to dispense to them the word of life.He took especial care and frequent supplies of able and zealous Ministers from Scotland, among whom his friend Revd Michael Bruce of Killinchy, and his son /nephew the Revd Henry Livingston were the most distinguished.

 

 

The photograph is from a portrait of Revd HenryLivingstone by Jamieson of Edinburgh, at present in the possession of his descendant Johnston Livingstone Esqre of Calendar House Tivoli New York USA. Revd John Livingstone was born 1603, banished to Rotterdam 1663 and died there 9th August 1673.

 

Rev. Henry Livingstone

This Henry Livingston was the first stated Minister of Ballynahinch after the year 1641. He supplied the congregations of Drumbo, Ballynahinch, and Drumcaw, (Clough). To this most laborious Office he was ordained in the year 1655; and he discharged its duties for the space of 42 years with great diligence and fidelity. He died in the year 1697, and was interred in the burial ground of Drumbo Meetinghouse.
The following epitaph is inscribed on his tombstone.
"Here rests in the Lord, the body of that faithful and eminent servant
of Christ, The Revd Henry Livingston, who, after 42 years labour in the
Ministry of the Gospel in this place, did enter into the joy of his Lord
on the 7th April 1697, and of his age the 66th year".

In the month of June 1657, Sir George Rawdon was sent on a Sunday from the Garrison of Lisburn with a Troop of Horse to Drumbo for the purpose of preventing Mr Livingston preaching, and to disperse the Congregation. On his removal Mr Livingston told him that he would serve God rather than Man, being a Minister of Christ & his Gospel. Sir George and his troopers then retired as they came.

"Mista sagax, viri columen vindexque virendus,
"Hic recubut ceatus Deicus eximium;
"Cui morum probilus que, fides cui candor et ordor
"Coelestis, sairi summa vis loque.
"Mutta dies taceat famam; nomenquii beatum
"Atemum fruget, -- queis redolet pietas."

(Typist's note: With apologies to anyone with better knowledge of Latin than I, if I have misread any part of this entry!)

Here lieth mingled with his Congregation the scientific and revered supporter and defender of truth, for the Glory and honor of Almighty God, every day of his life witnessed integrity of conduct and fidelity that powerful torrent of graceful delivery bore testimony of his heavenly sincerity and fervency of devotion. His piety will forever
reflect honor on his blessed character and name. Amen

The Revd Henry Livingston died without leaving any other issue but his son Henry, who became the minister of the Congregation of Ballynahinch. His niece Anne Livingston, daughter of his brother William Livingston who settled in Lisburn, was married in 1701 to David Whyte Esqr of Ballymaglave, then the most opulent and respectable resident Gentleman of the parish.
The family of Mr Whyte had distinguish for their zeal in the cause of King William; his father Hugh Whyte Esqr of Releagh and his neighbour Mr Trail of Drummaticonnor were for the cause Attainted by the Parliament of King James in the year 1689.By his wife Anne Livingston he had several children, of whom his daughter Anne was afterwards married to the Revd John Strong, minister of this Congregation.

The Revd Henry Livingstone was succeeded in the pastoral charge of this Congregation by the Revd William Reid, who was minister for eleven years, from 1697 to 1708. He was brother of the Revd James Reid of Killinchy.
William Reid was cut off in the midst of his usefulness at an early age and was succeeded by the Revd Henry Livingston (son of our former minister Revd Henry Livingston of Drumbo). He was ordained on Tuesday 25th day of April 1704, as assistant and successor to Mr Reid who died 7th May 1708.

He was a man of great learning, piety and talents. He received his education at the Presbyterian Seminary then established at Killyleagh; and his proficiency did great honor to that establishment or Institution. He adorned his profession eleven years and was removed to a better World in the year 1710. His remains were interred in the family burial place in the graveyard Drumbo. After the death of Mr Livingston the Congregation continued vacant for three years; being however occasionally supplied by the following placed Ministers from neighbouring Congregations viz Revd Mr Seaton - Revd Thos Orr - Revd Archd Dickson - Revd Thos Nevin - Revd James Bruce - Revd Mr Ramsay- Revd Alexander Colvill.

At length on the breaking up of the Presbyterian Seminary of Killyleagh the Revd James McAlpine, who had been for several years the principal conductor of that institution, was called to be the Minister of Ballynahinch. Ordained to the pastoral charge on Wednesday the 31st March 1713. He died in the Ministry on the 27th October 1732, greatly loved and lamented by his peopleHe did not leave any Issue, having had but one son who died at the University before his father's decease. Mr McAlpine was interred within the Old Church of Magheradroll.
The Revd Alexander McClain succeeded Mr McAlpine. Mr McClain was Ordained by the Presbytry of Killyleagh on the 18th day of August 1735. He was a member of a very distinguish(ed) Presbyterian family whose character he ably supported. His father was Minister of Market Hill, County Armagh. He was an eminent Minister of the Church of Scotland where he suffered severely for his attachment to Presbyterianism in the persecuting times during the reign of Charles the Second.He was offered a Bishoprick and =A3200 per Ano to be settled on his family if he would conform, which bribe he nobly refused, preferring poverty with a good conscience. He removed to Ireland where he became the Minister of Markethill as above. He had three sons, all Ministers of whom Thomas was settled in Monaghan, Archibold in Banbridge, and the third Alexander in Ballynahinch.

While Mr McClain resided at Ballynahinch, he superintended the education of his nephew Archibold McClain the son of his brother the Minister of Monaghan. This nephew was afterwards the celebrated Doctor McClain of the Hague, the learned translator of Moseheim's ecclesiastical History, and it is a distinction of which this Congregation is not a little proud, that this man received his early education amongst them, Revd Alexander McClain having received an unanimous Call to the Congregation of Antrim in the year 1742. He was married to the daughter of the Revd John Abernathy, Minister of Wood Street (now Strand Street) in the City of Dublin.

The Revd John Strong succeeded Mr McClain. He was born in the year 1720 and was a native of Ballywany in the County of Antrim and of the parish of Killraghts, and was licenced by the Presbytry of Route. He was ordained to the charge of the Congregation of Ballynahinch by the Presbytry of Killyleigh on the 10th October in the year 1744. During his Ministry the present Meeting house was erected in 1751. He married (as before mentioned) Anne Whyte daughter of David Whyte Esqr, descended by the mothers side from the family of Livingstone. By her he left issue two daughters. The Revd James Armstrong, D.D., late Minister of Strand Street Congregation Dublin, was his grandson. During his Ministry, which lasted 36 years, Mr Strong fulfilled his duties both to his own congregation, and to the general Presbyterian Church, with great reputation.He was one of the first who devised and set on foot the Widow's fund; and in the year in which he was Moderator of the Synod of Ulster at Lurgan 30th June 1773, his two meetings of that Body were assembled to carry out that most beneficial plan into effect - the second meeting at Magherafelt on the 2nd February 1773. Thanks of the Synod was returned to him for his exertions in this Business, as appears by the minister of the Widows fund.
Though a man of the most gentle disposition and peaceable habits, he was twice during his ministry under the necessity of assuming a sort of Military command, and in his Congregation; - first in the year 1745 during the rebellion in Scotland, when he headed an armed association of the young men in his Congregation, to support the House of Hanover, and to resist the exertions made for the Pretender; - secondly in the year 1760, when he marched at the head of a large body of his people to Belfast, to oppose the progress of the French troops who had landed at Carrickfergus.Mr Strong was indefatigable in discharge of his duties as a Pastor in catechising, examining, and in parochial visitations, and though, on these occasions, in the course of his ministry, he was called to more lucrative situations, to Dublin Killyleigh, &c., he declined a change conceiving himself bound by an indissoluble tie to the people among whom he had first settled.He composed many hundred sermons, all of which he committed to memory. The greater part of his valuable manuscripts and excellent theological library became the property of his son-in-law Mr John Armstrong of Ballynahinch, and was unfortunately destroyed in the burning of that town during the sanguinary conflict that took place there in the insurrection in June 1798.

He died universally beloved and respected and regretted on the 10th August 1780 in the 60th year of his age. His remains were interred in the church of Magheradroll within the walls, in the grave of his predecessor Mr McAlpine. His character is most justly though briefly summed up in this short sentence inscribed on his tombstone: - "An Israelite indeed in whom was no guile".
Soon after the death of Mr Strong, the Presbytry of Killyleigh dissolved, and the Congregations which had been heretofore connected with that Body attached themselves to other Presbytries.The breaking up of this most respectable Presbytry of Killyleigh (which was formed by the Synod of Ulster at Dungannon year 1725) was to be attributed to the violence of one of its members (Doctr Little) and the passiveness of the rest. This event occurred when this Congregation was vacant, and was a subject of deep regret to all its most respectable members.
Revd John McLelland was the successor of Mr Strong. He was a native of the parish of Magherally in the County of Down, and a Licenciate of the Presbytry of Dromore, to which this congregation now belongs. He was ordained 27th October 1783.He married Margaret Barnet of Ballygherty near Saintfield who, by the mother's side, was descended from the Whytes and Livingstons of this parish. He was immaculate as to politicks and was always looked upon as a truly loyal man, during the troublesome time of the rebellion in the year 1798.

He died March 5th 1818 in the 61st year of his age, and 35th of his Ministry, leaving issue three sons and one daughter. He was buried in the church yard of Magheradroll on the North side of the old church.The Revd James McClelland, son of the Revd John McClelland, was ordained assistant and eventual successor to his father on Tuesday the 25th of August 1812: He died in the month of March 1839.(Typist's note: At this point in the Historical Account is inserted, between the pages, a [Typist's comment: - somewhat unctuous] letter addressed to the Rt. Honble Earl of Moira from the Congregation of Ballynahinch which reads as follows:-
"My Lord,The Congregation of Protestant Defenders of Ballynahinch, fully impressed with a deep sense of gratitude, beg leave to express their thankfulness to your Lordp for the favour conferred on them of anticipating their wishes by an offer of renewal of the lease of their Meeting House."

Your Lords attention to their interest in the terms required is also fresh matter for calling forth their gratitude - terms which they
cannot but highly approve and sincerely comply with. They beg leave therefore to assure your Lords that they will put the Meeting House in thorough repair both outside and inside, and beautify the yard and place about it agreeable to your Lords plan and devise.That your Lords may long live to enjoy the complacency arising from a consciousness of doing good in this world, and at a very distant period receive the reward that awaits the Virtuous in the next is the prayer of your Lordps most grateful people.
Signed by order of the Congregation assembled this 19th day of October 1796.")

The Revd John Shaw, a native of the Parish of Saintfield in the County of Down, and a licenciate of the Presbytry of Belfast, he was
ordained as the Minister of Ballinderry in the County of Antrim on the ___ day of ___ 18__ and was called to this Congregation as Assistant and eventual successor to the Revd James McClelland. He was installed by a committee of Synod on the 10th August 1831.

Elders of the Congregation of Ballynahinch on Mr Strong's coming in, with their successors viz William Cummine, Saunders McClelland, William Reid, David Rea, William Priestly, James Thompson, John Dobbin, James Adinson, John Mason, Arthur Martin, Andrew Gray, John Martin, Samuel Blakely, David McCance, John Thompson, David Adinson, Joseph Tannehill,
John Hanna, William Armstrong, William Smyth, Hugh Boyd, John Kingon.


During Revd John McClelland's Ministry:
James Chambers, Hans Thompson, William Johnston, John Patterson, Sam Davies, Sam Kingon, Francis Johnston, David Watson, Jno Fulton, James Dunwoody, John McClelland.Since the Congregation became connected with the Presbytry of Dromore, the appointment of Elders has not been so regular as formerly. In general there are nine, who are chosen from the most respectable members of the Congregation.Shortly after the Revd Jas. McClelland became the Minister, he ordained nine Elders viz: Messrs William Davidson, John Strong Armstrong, John Smyth, John McClelland, William Patterson, William Tannihill, James Armstrong, John Kingon, James Priestley.

The only ancient record that now remains of this Congregation is an old mutilated Session or early vestry-book lately rescued from destruction, commencing in the year 1696, and ending in the year 1734 (Typist's note: this is the book from which John Strong Armstrong made a handwritten copy checked for accuracy by his elder brother the Revd James Armstrong of Strand Street, Dublin. It is from this handwritten copy that this copy is typed [it has also been microfiched]. The original register still exists but it has largely disintegrated and is unuseable. When undertaking the copying of the original register, he added this History, written in collaboration with his brother James). It contains the registry of Baptisms, and proclamation of Marriages,
with receipt and expenditure of poor money, and of other public collections of the congregation. These collections prove the wealth and respectability of the Congregation at that period.Some of them were applied to the assistance of other Congregations
among which are found Enniskillen year 1704, Betturbell year 1714, and Dromore 1727; one for the relief of the inhabitants of Lisnagarvy now Lisburn, year 1714, when that town was burned: others to pay the expenses of sending Presbyterian Commissioners to Dublin and London in the years 1704, 1705, 1711, 1718 & 1719 to negotiate matters of importance to the Presbyterian interest; one of which commissioners was selected from this parish on four several occasions: There is also
mentioned subscriptions for the Public Fund of the Presbyterians, and the expenses of sending Elders to attend Presbytries. Also for a book of discipline 1710: The book of Discipline here mentioned, and the Presbyterian Public Fund, are at present unknown, and the history of them is forgotten. Perhaps they may be more distinctly traced in the records of some other congregation.

All the other records belonging to this Congregation from the year 1734 to the year 1780, which were kept with great regularity during the Ministry of Mr Strong, were lost in the house of his son-in-law, Mr John Armstrong, in the burning of the town of Ballynahinch in the year 1798. With these were destroyed many valuable records of history of Presbyterians which Mr Strong had taken pains to collect: and particularly of the Presbytry of Killyleigh, which was unfortunately dissolved soon after his decease.The records kept at present are Marriages, Baptisms, with the distribution of poor money, and Congregational accounts.
All the records and accounts of the Congregation from the year 1783 to the year 1798 in the Ministry of the Revd JohnMcClelland were lost in the burning of the town of Ballynahinch, as before alluded.

The following Presbyterian Ministers were born, baptised and bred up members of this Congregation:

The Revds Joseph Martin, Minister of Corby, County Longford;
William Blakely, Minister of Carrickfergus, County Antrim;
John Arnott, Minister of Ballybay, County Monaghan;
John McCance, Minister of Cumber, County Down;
James Armstrong, D.D., Minister of Strand Street, City of Dublin;
Nathaniel Alexander, Minister of Crumlin, County Antrim;
James Davis, Minister of Banbridge, County Down;
John Davis, Master of a Classical Academy, Belfast;
James McClelland, Minister of Ballynahinch, County Down;
John Arnold, Minister of Omagh, County Tyrone;
David Hamilton, Minister of Connor, now of Belfast, County Antrim;
Robert Arnold, Minister of Stratford, County Wicklow.

To these may be added:
Mr James Thompson, Professor of Mathematics in the Belfast College. He was intended for a Presbyterian Minister, and was under the care of the Presbytry of Dromore with this view, when he elected to the situation he now fills with so much credit to himself and to the congregation of which he was a member. He was afterwards called to fill the same situation as Professor in the College of Glasgow with the degree of LLD.
Under the list of Presbyterian Ministers born in the bounds of this Congregation may be enumerated five of the seceding congregation, which was formed in this town
about the year 1755.
Revds John Sturgeon, Minister of Board Mills, County of Down;
John Edgar, Minister of Belfast, County of Antrim;
Alexr McIlwain, Minister of Ballyblack, County of Down;
David Edgar, Minister of Ballynahinch, County of Down;
James Walker, Minister of ________ in Pennsylvania, United States.

There has not been any proclamation of Marriage since the Congregation came under the care of the Presbytry of Dromore.In this and many other respects the affairs of this Congregation have participated in the general relaxation of discipline observable for many years in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. There has been no visitation Presbytry held here during that period. Catechising,
examining and parochial visitations have been in general measure given up.Many of these useful customs have, however, been revived of late by the present Minister, and it is hoped that the interests of religion will be thereby greatly promoted.
The Protestant inhabitants of this Parish are almost all members of this Congregation - or of seceeders which emanated from this
Congregation. These two societies live on terms of great harmony, and intermarriages are very frequent between them.The members of the established church are very few, and intermarriages with them are not very frequent. When they do occur, the females
generally go to worship with their husbands. Intermarriages with Roman Catholics are very rare.Ecclesiastical censure is inflicted by public rebuke for Adultery, Fornication, Slander, and irregular Marriage - not before the whole Congregation but in the vestry, before the Session or Elders.There are six public day schools, in two of which the classics are taught. The inhabitants of this parish have been distinguished for their love of education; and there are few districts of equal extent that have furnished a greater number of excellent scholars in the different learned professions.There is also a female boarding school under the conduct of ladies who
are members of this Congregation.There are Sunday Schools for the numerous poor in the different districts of this extensive parish: These schools are under the superintendence of the Clergymen and members of the Presbyterian Congregations. They are all in a very flourishing state and contain on average from five to six hundred scholars, who are taught gratuitously by the respectable inhabitants of the Parish.

Presbyterian Congregation of Dromara

The Congregation of Dromara is an offset from the Congregation of Ballynahinch, being called the Western Outskirts of that Congregation.The first place they assembled for public worship was in the Stackyard of Mr John Baxter of Crossgare about the year 1711 or 1712.They were formed into a regular Congregation in the year 1713. The first stated Minister was the Revd Jo Campbell who continued with them till his death in the year 1724. Revd John King succeeded Mr Campbell in the ministry about the year 1728. He was a licentiate of the Presbytry of Armagh, and was ordained by them to this charge.It is not known what part of the parish the Congregation held their public worship from the year 1713 till the year 1735, in which year they built their first Meeting house (which was thatched) in the townland of Artanagh, and about the 7th year of Mr King's Ministry. The Genl Synod which met at Dungannon in June 1729, he with the Congregation were joined to the Presbytry of Killyleagh. Mr King did not comply to this order of Synod, and after a remonstrance from the Presbytry why he did not attend their meetings.A letter from him to the Presbytry "stating that his Congregation will not easily consent to their disannexation from the Presbytry of Armagh and that he apprehends it is not at all expedient for him to attend the Presbytry of Killyleigh till his people be further dealt with about it".
The consideration of this letter is waved at present. Mr King was absent from a meeting of Presbytry at Killyleigh 29th July 1730 without sending any excuse, and the consideration of his reasons formerly offered by him for his absence from last meeting is referred till next meeting. Mr King appeared at a meeting of presbytry at Ballynahinch 13th October 1730. He represented at some length the reasons of his absence from the former meetings of presbytry since last Genl Synod, which being considered, it is agreed this matter be waved at present.Meeting of presbytry at Saintfield 24th November 1730. Mr King absent, from whom there is no account. At Synod held Belfast 6th January 1731 .

Mr John King present. Meeting of presbytry at Ballyhalbert 6th April 1731 Mr King absent, from whom there is no return. Meeting of presbytry at Kilmore 18th May 1731, Mr King present. Meeting of Synod at Antrim 16th June 1731, Mr King present, his Elder Mr John Baxter. After this meeting of Presbytry at Synod, it appears that Mr King had obtained liberty of Synod to join his former Presbytry of Armagh and to annex the congregation to it. Mr King died about the year 1762 and the 34th year of his ministry. He left one son and a daughter who afterwards became the wife of the Revd James Birch who succeeded Mr King in the ministry.
Mrs Birch died 22nd December 1796 in the 49th year of her age.

Mr Birch was a licentiate of the Presbytry of Dromore, and was called to the Pastoral charge of Dromara about the year 1776, and during hisministry the Meeting House was enlarged. The Congregation became so numerous from its extending into the Parishes of Garvaghy and Dromore.And after a long and well spent life in the discharge of his several duties amongst the people, both as a Clergyman and Physician, he resigned the care of the Congregation (from age and infirmity) in favour of his Grandson the Revd James Birch Black. Mr Birch died in the year 1820, having had one son, and seven daughters, and was buried in the
Meetinghouse Graveyard. His Tomb Stone as follows: -

Here is interred
The
Revd James Birch,
Presbyterian Minister of the Parish of Dromara
Reader!
If exemplary discharge of his important duties
For 56 years
If a candid liberal Christian Spirit,
If the warmest affections towards his fellow men,
Excite an interest;
His memory will live in your breast,
Then death shall have erased the impressions
So fondly cherished and deeply engaged
Upon the hearts of his Flock.
Obit October 29th 1820, aged 80.

Mr Birch was succeeded by his Grandson Revd James Birch Black, who was a Licentiate of the presbytry of Dromore. He did not survive his Grandfather more than a few years, and died about the year 1823, and was interred in the family burying place in the Meetinghouse yard.He was succeeded in the Pastoral charge of the Congregation by the Revd William Craig, who was first placed in the Congregation of Carmony in the County of Antrim, and received unanimous call to this Congregation. He was installed to the charge by the presbytry of Dromore on the 26th day of December 1825 to which presbytry the Congregation continues in
connexion and during the Ministry of Mr Craig the present substantial and commodious Meetinghouse was erected on the site of the old one in the year 1826.A new Congregation has been established in the village of Dromara under the care of the presbytry of Down. (Typist's note: There follows in pencil two names - those of Mr Pallu? And Mr John.)

Presbyterian Congregation of Kilmore, County of Down

The Presbyterian inhabitants of the parish of Kilmore was called the eastern outskirts of the Ballynahinch Congregation, and was erected into a separate Congregation about the year 1715. The registry of births and marriages of the people of Kilmore were all entered in the records of the Ballynahinch Congregation which is still in existence. The people of Kilmore lying at such distance from Ballynahinch, and being numerous and respectable, determined on building a Meetinghouse for the purpose of Presbyterian worship in their own parish. The sight (site) of their first Meetinghouse was nearly the same as that of the present, in the Townland of Rademon, belonging to the Johnston Family, on the then leading road from Belfast to Downpatrick, and from Ballynahinch to
Killyleagh, by the village of Kilmore. The House at first was small, and far from being of the best materials and workmanship, is proved from the shortness of its duration, a new one being required to replace it in little more than ten years.

A native of Scotland, a Mr Elder, was called to take charge of this new Congregation, and was ordained to the presbytry of Bangor; under this presbytry the Congregation continued, and was under their jurisdiction.As to any minute account of the ministry of Mr Elder, is not known, only that after having been settled in the parish about ten years, he resigned the charge of the Congregation andreturned to Scotland his native country.Shortly after the resignation of Mr Elder, and in the year 1728, an invitation or call was presented by the Bangor presbytry to the presbytry of Killyleagh for Mr Samuel Fergie a probationer within their bounds.
Then from the Congregation of Kilmore appeared Commissioners John McKee, John Dobbin, John Ringland and Divers others, to present their call to Mr Samuel Fergie, and to request the presbytry to do what was proper in order to their speedy settlement of Mr Fergie, and to grant him a dismiss and testimonials and to take upon him the pastoral charge of the Congregation of Kilmore. This invitation was in the same year followed up by the presbytry of Bangor ordaining him to the charge of this Congregation.

Mr Fergie was a native of the Barony of Ards in this County, and then in about the 37th year of his age. Agreeable to the custom of the time, at least in country Congregations, it was stipulated that the annual provision for his support should be partly in money, partly in commodities of domestic use. The quota promised to him and secured by Bond, was =A330 yr ano in cash, two hundred loads of turf, and one pack of meal from each seatholder in the Congregation. Besides this, there was appropriated to the residence and benefit of the Congregation, for the Clergymen, as in several Congregations a farm, containing eighty acres of the best land in the parish, and at a very moderate rent. In the summer of the year 1730 about two years after Mr Fergie's settlement, by order of the Genl Synod which met at Dungannon four neighbouring Congregations were added to the jurisdiction of the Presbytry of Killyleigh viz Revd James Macalpine Ballynahinch, Revd Archibald Dickson, Saintfield, Revd Samuel Fergie, Kilmore, and Revd John King, Dromara, on account of a considerable diminution of its numbers, and in this change Mr Fergie and the congregation of Kilmore was
transferred from the Presbytry of Bangor to that of Killyleigh. At an early period of Mr Fergie's ministry a second Meetinghouse was built, the former one having become unfit for public worship, nor does it seem that it was ever well constructed, having a bad roof which was thatched. It having been necessary in less than sixty years afterwards to replace it by a third. Nothing further during Mr Fergie's ministry deserving of notice. He died in the year 1765 and was interred under the family pew in the Meetinghouse, and a tablet in the wall of the pew as follows.

"Revd Samuel Fergie died 3rd May 1765 in the 82nd year of his age and 37th of his ministry in Kilmore. Jane his Wife died 8th July 1778 in her 75th year of her age. Jane their eldest daughter died 18th July 1779 in the 44th year of her age". He left three other Daughters Mrs Shaw, Mrs Hamilton, and Mrs Macquoid, and one Son, William Fergie Esqr, a Magistrate of County Down, who died at his residence Springfield year 1780 and was buried in the graveyard of Redemon. A Tombstone records the following ;

"Here lieth the Body of William Fergie (late of Springfield) Esqr who died on the 25th day of December 1780 in the 50th
year of his age". He raised a Company of Volunteers, called Kilmore True Blues, of which he was Captain, James McRoberts Lieut., Aron Cleland Ensign.

Mr William Fergie was an active man though corpulent. The day after his Funeral, his remains were weighed in his orchard, and after
deducting the weight of the coffin, his body weighed upwards of 42 Stone, otherwise 5 Cwt. And 1 qrs. which at the time was the arrangement of the whole country.Unfortunately for the Presbyterian society established here, unfortunately for succeeding ministers, due care had not been exercised to secure to the people the property of their valuable parish farm. In this, as in many similar instances of later occurrence, one of these proceedings shows itself, which too often ensue from an ill judged and foolish confidence, and is peculiarly calculated to injure the interests, and respectability of Presbyterians.
The farm having been held by a terminable Lease under Lord Dillifford, and the term of the Lease being nearly expired, Mr Fergie renewed it in his own name, and thus converted what should have been the sacred right of the people, to the benefit of himself and family. This farm lies in the Townland of Ballydian and is now the property of David Stewart Ker Esq.

The Congregation having become the second time vacant, by the death of Mr Fergie. Early in the year 1767, the Revd Moses Neilson was called from the Presbytry of Straban, under whose care he had been a Probationer, to take the pastoral charge of this Congregation, and on the 8th day of April in the same year, was ordained by the Presbytry of Killyleigh. At his settlement the mode of providing in part for the maintenance of a Minister by contributions of turf, meal &c. was relinquished, and in lieu of it a Stipend of =A350 yr annum promised to be paid. For several years after Mr Neilson's settlement, nothing of a public nature affecting this congregation presents itself to claim particular notice.Hitherto the congregation was subject to the guidance of the presbytry
of Killyleigh; the time now arrived when that Presbytry ceased to exist any longer.During the vacancy of Ballynahinch after the death of Mr Strong, which lasted upwards of three years, one of its constituent congregations, certain disputes arose among the members of the Presbytry, or rather some matters relative to that congregation, gave them the pretext to attacks and retorts upon each other, with over warmth and acrimony. The heads of the disputants were Doctors Little and Dickson, and the consequence of this contention was the entire dissolution of the Presbytry, in the year 1788.

In this state of things the members severally joined such other Presbytries as most suited their taste, and convenience. Mr Neilson
influenced by his peculiar esteem for the members of the Presbytry of Armagh, and the liberality and candour of their principles, chose to unite himself and his Congregation to them.In the year 1787, Mr Neilson procured the present Meetinghouse to be
built, as appears on an inscription on a stone in the front wall thereof ;

- "This House was built in the year of our Lord 1787, and in the 21st year of the Ministry of the Revd Moses Neilson." - being the third house erected on the same spot, in a period little more than 70 years.About this time the College of Glasgow conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity on Mr Neilson, without any solicitation on his part. Doctor Neilson was a man of great learning, and a profound scholar. He superintended a large classical Academy at Redeman and had at one time 42 Boarders, the sons of the most respectable families in the Counties of Down and Antrim, besides a large number of Day scholars. His scholars were well prepared ere they entered college. This was acknowledged by the several Professors of Glasgow.For a considerable series of subsequent time, although the country has been agitated by political troubles, yet nothing appears in any particular manner to affect the Presbyterian settlement of Kilmore.Doctor Neilson was Moderator of the General Synod year 1798. The following advertisement which appeared in the Belfast News-Letter of August 10th 1798. -General Synod.


"The members of the General Synod of Ulster will please take notice that Tuesday, the 28th Inst, is the day appointed for the meeting
of the General Synod at Lurgan. August 9th 1798.M. Neilson, Moderator."
"The meeting above mentioned is to take place with my permission; and I desire that every protection and accommodation may be afforded by the military in the Northern district to the members thereof, in passing to and from Lurgan for this purpose.
G. Nugent, Major General Commanding Northern District. Belfast, August 9th 1798.
To the Officers commanding troops and detachments in the Northern District,"
At length in the 73rd year of his age, and 43rd of his Ministry, Doctor Neilson feeling the growing infirmity of age to render him less fit for the active discharge of his duties, thought it expedient to take an Assistant in the pastoral Office. And in the year 1810 Arthur Neilson his younger son, then a Probationer under the care of the Presbytry of Antrim, was called, and on the 10th of June Ordained in this Congregation as Assistant and eventually successor to his father.The Stipend promised Dr Neilson near 55 years since, viz =A350 a year. They each settled with the people as in case of their death, to save the Congregation from the troubles and evils too well known to arise from an accumulated arrear of Stipend, at the Clergyman's demise. Each year, the account of Stipend paid is regularly read in public, and whatever the collection may fall short of the stipulated quota is at once given up, if it cannot be procured, rather than allow to swell into the grievous burthen of a dead arrear

Doctor Neilson
died in the Autumn year 1823, in the 86th year of his age, and 57th of his Ministry, regretted by all good men.He left seven sons, and one daughter, vizJames, D.D. Minister of Presbyterian Congn, Downpatrick,Joseph, an eminent Physician resident in Dundalk,John, a Farmer,William, D.D. Minister of Presbyterian Congn, Dundalk, afterwards Professor of Greek in the
Belfast Academical Institution, where he died,Andrew, a Farmer, held a situation under Government,Robert, M.D. and was Minister of Congregation Ballyclare,Arthur, who succeeded his father in this Congregation and died in the
year 1830,-------- married Doctor Getty of Dundalk, and left a FamilyIt is hoped that for the future due care will be taken to preserve the
records of all Presbyterian worshipping societies, that they may be handed down to future ages, as encouragements to stand fast, in
Christian liberty and independence, and disdain all human impositions. And earnestly hope that a faithful registry may be held of the conduct of Christian Ministers, and of events that affect the state of religious society among them, that whither favourable or unfavourable, they may be so positively striking lessons of the ways of providence, and may be salutary to them, either for their example or their warning.

During the ministry of the Revd Arthur Neilson, he with the other Unitarian Ministers, viz John Mitchel, Newry; James Davis, Banbridge; James Lunn, Carlingford; Arthur Neilson, Kilmore; Samuel Arnold, Narrow-water; Samuel Craig Neilson, Dromore; John Watson, Gray Abbey; John Mulligan, Moira; Henry Montgomery, Dunmurry; Fletcher Blakely, Moneyrea; David White, Ballee; William Porter, Newtown Limavady; Thomas Alexander, Cairncastle; Robert Campbell, Templepatrick; Nathaniel Alexander, Crumlin; Alexander Montgomery, Glenarm; and William Glendy, Ballycarry; -
These all met in Belfast, on the 25th May 1830, with their Elders, and formed themselves into a distinct body, under the name of the
Remonstrate Synod of Ulster.The Revd William Crozier succeeded the Revd Arthur Neilson , in the charge of this Congregation. He was educated at the Revd Mr Shaw's School Banbridge, and afterwards at Redemon Academy, under Doctor Neilson. He was a licentiate of the Presbytry of Dromore, and was called to take charge of the Presbyterian Congregation of Clonmel on the death of the Revd Mr Woral, and was ordained by the Synod of Munster on the 7th day of July 1825. He was then called from Clonmel to the
pastoral charge of this Congregation, and was installed by the Presbytry of Armagh on the 21st day of Septr 1832.

(Typist's note: the following sentence was added in pencil by a different hand - "The Revd Wm Crozier died 22nd May 1873 in the 77th year of his age & 49th of his Ministry. He was interred at Magheradroll".)

In 1785, the Revd Moses Ne(i)lson proposed to the Presbytry of Killyleagh that an Academy should be established in Belfast.
In the minutes of last Presbytry of Killileagh respecting the Belfast Academy resolved that the Clerk be enjoined to write immediately to each member of Presbytry not present this day, suggesting a direct and implicit answer whither and in what manner and proportion he would choose to subscribe or contribute to the subscription mentioned in said minute, and informing that the members contributing mean to attend at Belfast on the day to be mentioned, or appointed by public advertisement, for regulating the affairs of said Academy, and to be prepared to pay their subscription provided the plan meets their expectation.
Presbytry of Killyleigh held at Kilmore 7th March 1786. It appears that Messrs Ne(i)lson and Porter had attended the meeting at Belfast, and paid five Guineas each, as their annual part of said subscription. That the Revd W. McComb had remitted to Mr Ne(i)lson five Guineas which he understood as his subscription.
The following letter of thanks directed to our Moderator Revd Alexr McComb of Cregan and Newtownhamilton, by the President of the aforesaid Academy, was read and ordered to be entered on our minutes.


Belfast January 25th 1786
Sir,
At a general meeting of the subscribers to the Belfast Academy held this day, I am directed to return their utmost thanks to you and the other Gentlemen of the Presbytry of Killyleigh, for that early part you took by countenancing in so friendly and public a manner the intention of opening an Academy in this Town; and also for your generous subscription in aid of same. It is with pleasure I obey these commands,
being with great respect. Sir
Your faithful servt
Alexander Haliday President.

In 1786 the Belfast Academy was opened, and in the hope that it would soon attain distinction as a Collegiate seminary, the Presbytry of Killyleigh subscribed one hundred Guineas towards its support.

Congregation of Drumcaw, now Clough

Drumcaw Congregation was originally under the pastoral charge of the Revd Henry Livingston, with that of the Congregation of Ballynahinch and Drumbo. He was ordained their minister in the year 1655, & continued Minister of this Congregation for 32 years, when feeling his health failing, and it being too great a distance from Drumbo, he resigned the charge in the year 1687. Having to attend the duties of Ballynahinch and Drumbo, he afterwards resigned the charge of Ballynahinch in the year 1696, to the great regret of that Congregation. He continued with the Congregation of Drumbo till his death which took place 7th April 1697.

This Congregation was under the care of the Presbytry of Down, and after the resignation of Mr Livingston they ordained the Revd Thomas Maxwell to the pastoral charge of the Congregation. He died in the year 1705. The Revd Hugh Ramsay succeeded Mr Maxwell, and was ordained by the Presbytry of Down in May 1707, and who died November 1720. Revd Hugh Williamson was ordained by the Presbytry of Down, which Presbytry was afterwards dissolved in 1725, and erected into two Presbytries Killyleigh & Bangor.The Revd Hugh Williamson had a Lease granted to the Congregation in the year 1736 by Francis Annesley Esqr of a piece of ground in the Town of Clough for a Meetinghouse or place of worship, and also a graveyard, to hold to the Trustees therein named viz William Beers, William Blakely, William Maitland, Alexander Hardy, John Johnston, & Andw McNeight, their
heirs & assigne(e)s for ever, at the yearly rent of one shilling. On the completion of the building of this Meetinghouse the Congregation removed from the old Meetinghouse of Drumcaw to that of Clough.The Revd Hugh Williamson during his Ministry was on the 3rd August 1731 suspended by the Presbytry of Killyleigh from the exercise of his Office of the Holy Ministry and every part of it until the ninth day of November next, and on that day the suspension was taken off, and he was then restored to the exercise of his Ministry. Mr Williamson died in the year 1748, and was succeeded by his son the Revd John Williamson, who was ordained by the Presbytry of Killyleigh in February 1752, which Presbytry like that of Down was dissolved in the year 1786. Revd Robert Porter succeeded Mr Williamson, and was ordained by the Presbytry of Bangor in June 1773. Mr Porter became infirm and unable to perform his duties. The Revd William Campbell was ordained as Assistant and eventual successor to Mr Porter in September 1813, by the Presbytry of Bangor. Mr Campbell died in the year 1829, and on his decease the
Congregation split, one party remaining in possession of the Meetinghouse, the Remonstrants joined the Presbytry of Antrim, and had by them ordained to the Ministry the Revd David Watson. They then erected a comfortable Meetinghouse in the town of Clough, in which they have since continued to worship in peace and comfort.

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transcribed by Julian Armstrong