Dromara Reformed Presbyterian Church.
THE ORIGIN OF THE CONGREGATION
Readers of the Historical Testimony of the Reformed
Presbyterian Church of Ireland will find in a few lines very brief
details of the circumstances and the dates when some of our
congregations came into being. There is an appropriate reference that
"In Dromara, the majority of the members of a congregation of the
General Assembly withdrew from that body in 1874 and became a
congregation of our Church".
The fifth minister of 1st Dromara Presbyterian Church
was the Rev. William Craig, M.A., third son of Nicolas Craig a farmer of
Skerry, Co. Antrim. He was born in 1790, educated at Glasgow University
from which he graduated in 1811. Mr. Craig was installed minister of 1st
Dromara Presbyterian Church on 26th December 1823 and laboured there
until his death in 1871. Both before and after his death, a theological
student by the name of William Wilson was preaching frequently in 1st
Dromara. A large majority of the congregation became strongly attached
to this student and when the vacancy occurred they entertained an eager
desire to have him for their minister and consequently, were desirous to
have the settlement of the congregation deferred until he would complete
his studies in May 1873, be licensed and be eligible to receive a call.
The majority of the Session with a minority of the people wishing to
have an immediate settlement, withstood the efforts of the majority by
memorials to the Superior Courts. A decision of the General Assembly of
1872 by which the said young gentleman was declared "ineligible for the
congregation, now and hereafter", caused great dissatisfaction to his
friends; and though the Commission appointed by the Assembly in 1873
rescinded that judgment and declared "in so far as that resolution
pronounces said student ineligible hereafter, we consider it to have
been inexpedient, and so rescind the same" � yet, some weeks later the
Session pronounced the said young man who was now a licentiate, still
ineligible, and was sustained by the higher courts in so doing.
It was when the majority party found that there was
no hope of moving the Courts to permit steps to be taken to obtain a
poll for the licentiate Wilson that they handed an ultimatum to the
Commission of the Assembly and which concluded by stating "Should the
Commission refuse the desired answer, we are directed to say that, under
a sense of injustice the majority shall feel bound to adopt another
The Commission rejected the ultimatum and decided to
take proceedings to prevent illegal interference with the Church
property. The majority party had at different times locked the Church
and refused to allow public worship to be conducted by supplies
appointed by the Commission. At the meeting of the Commission on 8th
January 1874 when the Moderator of the General Assembly was present, the
Church was kept locked and they were obliged to meet in the Sexton's
house. On several Sabbaths at the end of 1873 and early in 1874 when the
church was locked, the services were conducted in a barn owned by Mr.
Joseph Bell of Bellfield�a member of the Church of Ireland (now owned by
Mr. Richard McCully).
On Wednesday, 11th February 1874 the majority party
held a meeting at which resolutions were passed renouncing their
connection with the General Assembly and expressing their desire to be
received into the Reformed Presbyterian Church. The following
resolutions were passed at the meeting :-
- "That we meet here today to express our opinion that the
proceedings of the said General Assembly and her inferior courts
with respect to this congregation have been such as to call for a
meeting of this kind; and we do hereby repudiate all their attempts
to deprive the people of their liberty to choose their own pastor.
- That since we consider the acts of our church courts towards the
majority of the congregation to be tyrannical and unworthy of
Presbyterianism, we do hereby renounce our connection with the
General Assembly and annex ourselves to the Reformed Presbyterian
- That we unanimously apply to the Reformed Presbyterian Church to
send us supplies guaranteeing to pay all expenses committed
Samuel Douglas and James Bryson being the movers of
the first two of the Resolutions, were with two others of the majority,
appointed by the said meeting, as a deputation to attend a meeting of
the Eastern Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.
The Meeting of the Eastern Presbytery was held on
Monday, 16th February 1874 and Samuel Douglas and James Bryson expressed
their desire and willingness to know the principles of the Covenanting
Church. They presented a memorial from the majority party asking to be
received into the Church of the Covenants and to be recognised as a
congregation under the Presbytery's care and to be supplied with gospel
ordinances. The Eastern Presbytery after full consideration, agreed to
grant the prayer of the memorial, to supply the congregation with
preaching and appointed a Committee to confer with, instruct and guide
them as to their further action.
As arranged by the Eastern Presbytery the Rev. Josias
A. Chancellor of Belfast was appointed to be the first to supply Dromara
on the following Sabbath, 22nd February 1874. The Commission of the
General Assembly had appointed the Rev. Dr. Russell to officiate on the
same Sabbath morning and he entered the 1st Dromara Church escorted by
twenty policemen. The congregation began to shout and cheer so much that
Dr. Russell was prevented from remaining in the church. After he
cautioned the Rev. Chancellor against holding any service in the Church
as it would be at his peril, he was forced to withdraw to Bell's barn
and there he preached to 100 persons. With peace restored in the church,
the Rev. Chancellor proceeded with the service to a large attentive
On the following Sabbath 1st March 1874 the Rev.
McKee came as the pulpit supply from the Assembly's Commission and
announced his intention to those around the church doors but he was
forbidden to enter as the Rev. Dr. Thomas Houston of Knockbracken R.P.
Church had already arrived. Mr. McKee went down to the barn and
On the next Sabbath 8th March when the Presbyterian
Minister the Rev. W. Todd Martin came to preach, he found members of the
majority party standing shoulder to shoulder outside the Church to
prevent him. After having cautioned the Rev. Thomas Dick of Bailiesmills
R.P. Church that he should not attempt to conduct any service in the
Church, the Rev. Martin retired to the barn at Bell's to his waiting
The Assembly Commission continued to send supplies
each Lord's Day as did also the Eastern Presbytery. There were reasons
why the majority were determined to hold to the church property. They
did not know then the law of the case but they knew that as a majority
they numbered six or eight to one of the minority and they knew that the
church cost upwards of �2,000 and the Manse �600 and not more than a
quarter of which had been raised outside the congregation. They held
therefore that in equity if not in law, that they had a right in the
property six or eight times larger than their brethren and therefore
sought to use the church property till the law of the case should be
At a meeting of the Eastern Presbytery held on 19th
March 1874, the Committee of Presbytery reported that a meeting had been
held at Dromara on Monday, 9th March and that one of the ministers, Rev.
J. A. Chancellor, had explained fully the Terms of Communion and another
minister, Rev. Dr. Thomas Houston, had dealt with the usages of the
Church in connection with worship and our testimony against secret
societies. Messrs. Thomas Galway and John Potts the elders on the
Committee also addressed the meeting which consisted of approximately
300 persons. Afterwards a large majority by a show of hands expressed
their approval of the principles they had had so fully explained. A
member of the audience submitted for the inspection of the Presbytery
the lease of the 1st Dromara Church, also the opinion of counsel on the
law of the case as between the parties claiming the house of worship. A
prolonged debate took place in which most of the members of the
Presbytery took part. Some doubts were entertained as to the soundness
of counsel's opinion. Presbytery saw no reason to doubt the honesty and
soundness of that opinion, and added "but if the people do think
additional advice necessary, it should be obtained immediately. It is
thought better and more honourable not to wait on an injunction or legal
notice of any kind, but immediately on becoming acquainted with the law
of the case to intimate the fact to the minority in the way that may
seem best-probably that may be by the law agent of the majority
corresponding with the law agent of the minority".
Again, at the Eastern Presbytery's meeting on 7th May
1874 the following motion was made and accepted "with regard to the
church property of the Dromara congregation, now in possession of the
majority of the congregation, although we may sympathize with them in
their attachment to the house which was built for their accommodation,
and in which they so long worshipped, and in regard to which they have
the strong opinion that in justice and equity it still belongs to them,
inasmuch as it was leased to the trustees of "the congregation of
Presbyterian Dissenters of Dromara", and, as the great majority of the
congregation, by withdrawing from the General Assembly and connecting
themselves with the Reformed Presbyterian Church have in no sense ceased
to be Presbyterians, yet, inasmuch as it is the opinion of a competent
counsellor that, by a process in the Court of Chancery, the property may
be reclaimed by the minority of the congregation adhering to the General
Assembly, and as such a law process would not only be tedious and
expensive, but irritating and vexatious to all parties, and injurious to
the cause of true religion in the locality, the Presbytery is of the
opinion that, as soon as the property is lawfully claimed, it should be
given up to those entitled to receive it, as we could not consent to
sanction any litigation or prolonged resistance to the claims of the
minority in connexion with the General Assembly in the circumstances.
The Moderator is instructed to bring this motion before the people on
the occasion of the next meeting of the Committee of Presbytery at
Dromara on the 18th May". On the advice of the Presbytery, the majority
decided to withdraw from the 1st Dromara Church building.
At that meeting of the Presbytery's Committee Rev.
Dr. Houston was in the chair and present also were Rev. J. A. Chancellor
and Messrs. John Potts and Thomas Galway (Ruling Elders). In accordance
with previous announcement, the names of such as were formerly
communicants in the 1st Dromara congregation and who approved of the
position and principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and who
wished to become members of the same were handed to the Clerk and these
totalled 269 persons. At that meeting 76 persons were admitted to
membership and were suitably and solemnly addressed by the members of
the Presbytery's Committee.
On the 21st May 1874, Wm. Jones, James Martin, David
Johnston, William Corbett, William Wright, Henry Gregg, Hugh Hainan and
Samuel Blackwood filed a Bill of Complaint in the chancery court against
Robert Gamble, James Hunter, Samuel Douglas, James Bryson, James Kerr,
Richard Copeland, John McGrigor, Hugh Gamble, James Skelly, Rev. Josias
A. Chancellor, Rev. Thomas Dick, Rev. Thomas Houston, Rev. William
Russell, Rev. James R. Moody and the Rev. Robert Allen.
The 1874 Minutes of the General Assembly declare "The
defendants, as soon as they were served with copies of the information
and bill, agreed to surrender the entire property; to do what lay in
their power to secure in its undisturbed occupation the members adhering
to the Assembly, and to pay the costs between party and party in the
case. Your Commission agreed to the settlement on these terms. A deed in
accordance therewith was executed by the parties, and made a rule of
Court. Your congregation thereupon entered into peaceable possession of
their property which is secured henceforth to the General Assembly."
On Sabbath, 7th June 1874 Rev. Dr. Thomas Houston,
Knockbracken preached, examined and admitted to membership 21 persons
and afterwards baptized 13 of their children. These are the first
entries in the baptismal register :
Agnes Jane Bond to Robert and Mrs. Bond, Gransha.
Francis Rankin to James and Mrs. Rankin, Aughnaskeogh.
Sarah Flora Edgar to John and Mrs. Edgar, Lower Moybrick.
Mary Sarah Spratt to John and Mrs. Spratt, Carnew.
Agnes Hamilton to Samuel and Mrs. Hamilton, Upper Moybrick.
Ellen Louisa Rowan to Stewart and Mrs. Rowan, Aughnaskeogh.
Rachel Hunter to George and Mrs. Hunter.
Thomas Henry Downey to Thomas and Mrs. Downey.
Agnes Jane Martin to Robert and Mrs. Martin.
Emily Sarah Hook to Wm. George and Mrs. Hook.
John Alexander Nelson to John and Mrs. Nelson.
Agnes Martin to William and Mrs. Martin.
Margaret Bryson to James and Mrs. Bryson.
Those who had severed their connection with 1st
Dromara and who had signified their desire to join the Covenanting
Church worshipped in the open air during the Sabbaths of June 1874. A
plot of ground at the back of Mcllwrath's across the Artana road from
1st Dromara Church (now at the rear of Mr. Hugh Somerville's) was
temporarily secured by the Covenanters for the erection of a wooden
hall. The necessary materials having been brought to the site, the work
of erection of the hall was commenced on Tuesday, 30th June and it was
completely finished and seated to accommodate almost 600 people and
opened for public worship on Sabbath 5th July 1874. The preacher was the
Rev. Josias A. Chancellor who expounded Zechariah Ch. 6 : 13 "Even He
shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the Glory, and
shall sit and rule upon His Throne; and He shall be a priest upon His
Throne : and the counsel of peace shall be between them both".
On the 13th July 1874 Presbytery's Committee met for
the first time "in the Dromara wooden meeting house". Those present were
Rev. Dr. Houston, Rev. J. A. Chancellor and the Rev. Thomas Dick and a
large congregation. 81 persons were admitted into membership. Rev. J. A.
Chancellor addressed these new members on the position they had so
solemnly and publicly taken up and the spirit they should cherish and
manifest. He also explained the ordinance of baptism and baptized three
children and the entries appear in the register as :-
Hugh Wallace Biggerstaff to John and Mrs.
Eliza Corbett McCalla to William and Mrs. McCalla.
Caroline Cairns to David and Mrs. Cairns.
At this meeting also a Congregational Committee was
formed and the names were William McAuley, John McGregor, Robert Gamble,
Samuel Douglas, James Kerr, James Smyth, Richard Copeland, John Adair,
Samuel Campbell, Robert Kirk, James Bryson, William Thompson, John
Spratt, Stewart Rowan, Robert Bawn, James Hunter (Carnew), Craig
Somerville, William Mcllwrath, James Skelly (Drumadoney), Henry Fulton,
John Kerr (Drumadoney), John Cairns.
The Rev. Chancellor addressed suitable exhortations
to these members of the congregational committee, especially on
proportionate contributions on the Sabbath to provide for the current
necessities of the Church. As Richard Copeland, James Bryson and Robert
Mack had already been ordained to the eldership in the Presbyterian
Church they were commended to the congregation for acceptance and were
unanimously elected. They were installed on Sabbath, 26th July 1874 when
the Rev. Dr. Thomas Houston presided. He also met with the three newly
appointed elders on the next evening and as the overseers of the flock
gave them wise counsel. Mr. Richard Copeland was appointed Clerk of
Session. It had been decided to hold the first communion on Sabbath 2nd
August but owing to the appearance of an early harvest it was postponed
until the 1st Sabbath of October and the Rev. Dr. Houston and the Rev.
Torrens Boyd were appointed to dispense the ordinance. It is worthy of
note that at that date there had been examined and admitted to full
membership 347 persons and approximately 300 were present at that first
A Sabbath School was commenced in the summer of 1874.
The Congregation was now in a position to take steps
to procure a minister of its own. Perhaps some members had hopes that
William Wilson who had been such a favourite with them in his student
days would join the Covenanter Church and become their first minister.
However, he became minister of the Spa Presbyterian Church, Ballynahinch
in 1874, and in 1879 was installed minister of Wellpark Parish Church,
Greenock. As for 1st Dromara Presbyterian congregation which had been
considerably reduced because of "the split" the Rev. William Shepherd,
B.A. was installed there on the 23rd September, 1874.
THE FIRST MINISTER
A unanimous call was issued by the congregation in favour of the Rev.
Torrens Boyd, minister of Ringrash, Co. Derry. Mr. Boyd who was born at
Lismoyle, Swatragh, Co. Derry in 1838, accepted the call to Dromara on
13th January 1875 and was installed as the first minister on the 24th
February 1875. At the installation service held in the wooden hall, an
exposition of Ps. 132 y 13-18 was given by the Rev. Matthew Hodge,
Killinchy. The sermon was preached from Ps. 60 y 4 by the Rev. Josias A.
Chancellor, Belfast. Rev. Dr. Thomas Houston, Knockbracken expounded and
defended Presbyterian ordination. The narrative of the origin of the
congregation was given in great detail by the Rev. William Russell,
Ballyclare and charges to the minister and congregation were delivered
by the Rev. Thomas Dick, Bailiesmills. Concluding exercises of the
service were conducted by the Rev. Robert Allen, Newtownards. The Rev.
Wm. Russell in tracing the steps leading to the installation declared
"The servant of God about to be installed, so singularly guided to this
place has laboured with much acceptance in two congregations already.
Endowed not only with mental, but also bodily strength, and many
excellent qualities besides to commend him in the performance of
pastoral work, we shall hope that by God's blessing, he shall be a
burning and a shining light�eminently a blessing not only to this
congregation but also to the surrounding district". These hopes and
prayers expressed by Rev. W. Russell and the other members of the
Presbytery were fully realised and fulfilled in the life and work of the
Rev. Torrens Boyd.
In the first four years of its existence, the Session
records show that a total of 592 persons were admitted to the
It is regrettable that no congregational committee
records are available regarding the building of our church and manse, or
the exact cost, or how the money was raised. All we know is that the
Rev. Torrens Boyd was largely instrumental in having the Church and
Manse erected. It must suffice us therefore to refer to other records
for some information. In the Eastern Presbytery's Report to the 1876
meeting of Synod it is stated, "The congregation of Dromara has obtained
a favourable site for a meeting house. The house is being erected and is
expected to be ready to accommodate them before Winter. These people are
engaged in a great undertaking and are deserving of the support and
encouragement of the whole church".
The opening services in the Church were held on Sabbath, 25th
February 1877. At the morning service the Rev. Torrens Boyd expounded
Ps. 132 v 1-8 and dedicated the building by earnest prayer to Him who
hath chosen Zion for His Habitation. The Rev. J. A. Chancellor, Belfast
preached from Daniel Ch. 7 v 9-16 and was listened to with marked
attention. In the evening the service was conducted by the Rev. Dr.
Houston, Knockbracken who preached from Haggai Ch. 2 v 7-9. The report
of the opening services in the May 1877 Covenanter makes interesting
reading "In the morning though heavy showers of rain fell, the house was
perfectly crowded with people. It is believed there were twelve hundred
present. Notwithstanding that the evening was still less inviting as
regards the state of the weather, than the morning; the audience was
large, even beyond the most sanguine expectations of interested friends.
The Rev. J. A. Chancellor on the evening of 26th February delivered a
splendid lecture which was highly appreciated by those who were
present�on the subject "The Turks in Prophecy and in Europe". The
collections in connection with the opening, including donations sent by
kind friends who could not be present, amounted to �213. The house is
large and commodious. It is seated to accommodate upwards of 800
individuals. It cost a little less than �1,500. Law expenses, however,
and a costly site raised the sum up to �1,800. Ere the building was
commenced, the congregation subscribed rather more than �1,000. In
addition to that, they carted all their materials free of charge. Had it
not been for economy of such a kind as that, the outlay would have been
much greater. Mr. Boyd and his people feel that they owe a debt of
gratitude to not a few friends belonging to different denominations, at
a less and greater distance, for the most hearty manner in which they
responded to their calls for aid. It is cheering to be in a position to
say that the debt against the building is by no means heavy. At the same
time it will require a considerable effort to clear it away. Four
congregations in connection with the Covenanting Church in this country
have subscribed handsome sums, with the view to the liquidation of this
debt, and it is to be hoped a number of other congregations will take
pleasure in following their praiseworthy example".
In January 1880 a new pulpit Bible was presented to
the congregation by Mr. Robert Somerville, a farmer living at New
Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland. Mr. Somerville was related to our present
Somerville families�being an uncle to Mr. Joseph Somerville and grand
uncle to Mr. Wm. Somerville.
It is interesting to note some of the expenses and
prices over 90 years ago. For example, at each Communion season 2�
gallons of wine were used costing 10 shillings per gallon. The total
collections during the Communion season seldom reached the total of �5
10s Od and that included the collections of preparation Sabbath, the
following Thursday, Saturday, Communion Sabbath and the thanksgiving on
the Monday. The Salary promised the Rev. Torrens Boyd was apparently
�150 but it was not always realised and had to be supplemented usually
from the proceeds of the annual social. The Annual Sabbath School fete
of 13th July 1879 states that 350 persons were served with tea with
sugar costing 12 shillings for 3 stone, 34 pounds of tea costing 11
shillings and 11 pence.
On 2nd May 1884 at a Session meeting with Rev.
Torrens Boyd (Moderator) and other members present being W. Corry, S.
Douglas, R. Mack, James Skelly, R. Bawn and R. Gamble (Clerk) the
revision of the communicants roll was commenced. This task was completed
at a later meeting held on 26th May and the minutes state "It would
appear that from the foundation of the congregation in 1874 up till this
date, 702 had joined the Church, 171 names were removed from the Roll
leaving 531 but this is not to be taken as perfectly correct as there
are many names on the Roll unknown at present to any member of Session.
It is intended during the systematic visitation of the congregation in
townlands that the number and names of all the members shall be
Rev. Torrens and Mrs. Boyd (nee Mary Simms;
experienced much sorrow and grief through the death of their young
daughters who were stricken down with tuberculosis. Their daughters were
born before their coming to Dromara and all died in the Manse. The tomb.
stone was erected by their parents in loving memory of their children.
"Ellen S. born 13th June 1870 died 2nd June 1883.
Fanny M. born 13th March 1868 died 16th April 1887.
Margaret M. born 23rd January 1866 died 6th November 1888.
Annabella M. born 23rd April 1872 died 21st December 1888.
Lizzie T. interred with her grandparents in Tamlaght, Co. Derry."
Their only son Wm. Simms Boyd was born a short time
after his father's installation in Dromara and baptized on 24th May 1875
by Rev. Dr. T. Houston. At the last Communion season to be conducted by
the Rev. Torrens Boyd during his first ministry in the congregation, the
following young people were admitted to membership�Sarah Jane Magregor,
Elizabeth Jones Somerville, Emily Sarah Hooke, William Simms Boyd,
Thomas McBurney, Henry Bell, James Ball and by certificate at the same
time (14th May 1890) John Bell, Nancy Searight.
The Rev. Torrens Boyd having ministered for over 15
years accepted a call to the R.P. Church, Hall Lane, Liverpool and was
installed there on 2nd July 1890.
THE SECOND MINISTER
On 27th November 1890 with the Rev. S. R. McNeilly. Bailiesmills
(Interim Moderator) presiding, a unanimous call was issued by the
congregation in favour of the Rev. John McKee of Penpont, Dumfrieshire,
Scotland. Mr. McKee was installed on Wednesday, 18th March 1891 as
minister of Dromara. He was born in 1842 near Dundonald, brought up in
connection with Knockbracken congregation and baptized by the Rev.
Thomas Houston. Mr. McKee was educated at Queen's College, Belfast and
the R.P. Theological Hall, Belfast, licensed by the Eastern Presbytery
on 9th October 1872 and ordained at Penpont, Scotland on 18th September
At the installation service in Dromara the Rev. James
Patterson, Knockbracken, having conducted opening exercises preached
from Acts 1 : 8. Rev. Prof. Josias A. Chancellor gave an admirable
defence of Presbyterian Church government. Rev. Robert Allen,
Newtownards was responsible for the narrative and the Rev. Alexander
McLeod Stavely, Ballyclare led in the installation prayer. The Rev. John
Lynd, Dublin Road, Belfast, addressed the newly installed minister and
the Rev. S. R. McNeilly, Bailiesmills addressed the congregation. The
Rev. Matthew Hodge, Killinchy concluded the service with prayer and the
Benediction. Afterwards the congregation entertained the members of the
Eastern Presbytery and other friends to an excellent dinner and that
evening there was an enjoyable social to welcome the new minister.
During Mr. McKee's ministry of less than seven years
in Dromara a total of 124 persons were admitted into membership. The
last to be admitted by him and the Session on the 29th October 1897
were�John Wilson, Martha Biggerstaff, Mary Ellen Skelly and by
certificate Mrs. Sarah A. Hawthorne, Wm. John Hawthorne, Rachel
Hawthorne, Anne Eliza Hawthorne and Mrs. Isabella Scott. The death of
Robert Mack, Senior elder took place at his home Mullaghdrin on 21st
October 1893 and an appropriate minute records "He took the deepest
interest in the temporal and spiritual welfare of the congregation. He,
was a man of most consistent walk and sincerely loyal to the principles
and practice of the church of his adoption. His Christian life secured
for him the respect and esteem not only of the congregation but also of
the community" .... R. Gamble (Clerk).
On 17th December 1897 the Rev. John McKee accepted a
call to Wishaw, Lanarkshire, Scotland and was installed there on 27th
January 1898. He continued his ministry there for 32 years, retiring
from active service on 2nd September 1930. Mr. McKee died on 5th
December 1933 at Wishaw in his 92nd year. In the January issue of the
1934 "Covenanter" tribute is paid to the life and ministry of Rev. John
McKee and in reference to his work at Penpont, his first charge, we
read, "There he laboured faithfully for some 17 years in the midst of
scenes which will always be associated with the persecution of the
Covenanters in the seventeenth century. Not far away was the home of the
late Dr. Robert MacKenna of Liverpool, whose admiration for the
character of these heroic sufferers and his sympathetic insight into
their spirit and aims have found vivid expression in his thrilling
The hardy endurance of those noble witnesses for
Christ still survived in their descendants as Mr. McKee loved to tell.
He had hearers who were not daunted by a walk of as much as seventeen
miles each way on the Sabbath Day, and he could tell of at least one, an
elder, who could repeat the texts, heads and outlines of sermons he had
heard for forty years back. It was specially worth while to prepare
carefully for such worthy hearers. Mr. McKee's heart was ever true to
Penpont, and it was his delight to tell of his experiences of the place
and its people". And the tribute in referring to his work in Dromara
declares "by his diligence in ministerial duty, by his simple, clear,
and earnest presentation of the verities of the Christian faith, and by
his blameless and consistent life he endeared himself to the
congregation, and left behind him in the mind of the community an
impression of the dignity of a gentleman and the worth of a Christian
which survives until this day ...". "In Wishaw, as in his previous
charges, Rev. John McKee gained the esteem and goodwill both of
those outside and of those within the congregation.
He was ever a lover of peace and sought to promote peace, shunning
controversy. He was diligent in attending the courts of the Church and
everwilling to give such help as was in his power and to support every
worthy cause. He was a constant in friendship, a genial host and a
friend to those in need. His wife, a daughter of the Rev. Wm. Toland of
Kilraughts, predeceased him. Three daughters survive to cherish the
memory of a father greatly loved and revered".
THE SECOND MINISTRY OF
REV. TORRENS BOYD
On 7th March 1898 a congregational meeting was held and presided over by
the Rev. S. R. McNeilly, Bailiesmills (Interim Moderator) for the
purpose of petitioning Presbytery for permission to make out a call. The
salary promised was �120 annually with free Manse and grounds attached
thereto. Messrs. John Hook and George Corry were appointed to attend the
Presbytery. At another congregational meeting held on 28th March 1898
presided over by the Interim Moderator it was proposed by Mr. Wm. Corry
seconded by Mr. John Hook and unanimously agreed that a call again be
issued to the Rev. Torrens Boyd, minister of Knockbrackell. The
following commissioners were appointed to support the call before the
Eastern Presbytery � Messrs. Wm. Corry, John Martin. Joseph Wm. Adair,
John Fulton and Robert McGregor.
Mr. Boyd who had left Dromara in 1890 on acceptance
of the call to Liverpool, had returned to Ireland and had been minister
of Knock-bracken from 11th January, 1893. He accepted the unanimous call
to return to Dromara Rev. Torrens Boyd and was installed by the Eastern
Presbytery on 18th May, 1898. Rev. Prof. James Dick, Trinity Street,
Belfast preached the sermon from Colossians Ch. 1 : 18, Rev. John Lynd,
Dublin Road, Belfast gave a defence of Presbyterian ordination. Rev.
Robert Allen, Newtownards narrated the steps leading up to the
installation. Rev. S. G. Kennedy, L.L.D., Grosvenor Road, Belfast put
the prescribed questions to the Rev. Boyd and led in the installation
prayer. The Rev. Alexander M. Stavely, Ballyclare addressed the newly
installed minister and Rev. S. R. McNeilly, Bailiesmills addressed the
congregation and concluded the service with prayer and the Benediction.
At the conclusion of the service the members of the
Presbytery together with a large number of friends were hospitably
entertained to dinner in the Manse. A social meeting of the congregation
was held in the church that same evening when the Rev. Boyd was
On Sabbath, 3rd May 1903 Messrs. George Corry, Wm.
George Hook, Alexander Macauley and Josiah A. Archer were ordained to
Rev. Torrens Boyd having ministered for nine years
accepted a call to Newtownards congregation and was installed there on
4th September 1907.