REV. HENRY LIVINGSTONE, M.A.
The first Presbyterian minister, as far as we know, to come to Drumbo,
was Henry Livingstone, a nephew of the famous John Livingstone, of Killinchy, and a licentiate of the Presbytery of Dunblane. He was
descended from a family that stood high in the peerage of Scotland. He was
ordained-perhaps "appointed" is the word-in 1655. This would be in the
parish church and presented by Cromwellian Commissioners.
In 1657, the Cromwellians, who were Congregationalists, would have
deposed him, but the Scotch element was too strong, and so the
Cromwellians gave in to the wishes of the people. In 1662 an act of
uniformity was passed which required every minister to submit to
ordination by a bishop. All who refused were deposed and forbidden under
very heavy penalties to perform any ministerial office. Livingstone was
one of many who refused and consequently ejected from his church.
For alleged complicity in Blood's plot against the Government in 1663,
a number of ministers were imprisoned in Carrickfergus and Carlingford,
and some, including Livingstone, in Dublin. After investigation it was
found that only three of the ministers had known anything of the plot.
After release Livingstone went to Scotland, but soon returned to Drumbo.
Later he warmly espoused the cause of William, Prince of Orange.
In the minutes of the Synod of Ulster, vol. 1, he is mentioned as being
absent from the first Synod at Antrim in 1691, being in Dublin; and as
being present at the next Synod in Antrim in 1694, with James Spens as
After a ministry of forty-two years, he passed away in April, 1697, at
the age of sixty-six. Several of the stones taken out of the first
meeting-house at the present site bear the initials of his name. The Rev.
Henry Livingstone, of Ballynahinch (1704-8), and the Rev. William
Livingstone, of Templepatrick (1709-58), were his sons.
It is not unlikely that there was worship in Drumbo, according to
Presbyterian custom, prior to Livingstone's day, though we have no record
of it; nor have we any record as to the site of the first meeting-house.
Some of the older people say it was in the Back Road, at a place which
bears the name of Kirklands. It was probably erected about 1670, when,
relying on the connivance of the authorities, most of our oldest
meeting-houses were built. They were undoubtedly rude structures, most of
them being rebuilt after the Revolution.
REV. EDWARD BAILIE
By a rearrangement of Presbyteries in 1697, a Belfast Presbytery was
formed, to which Drumbo was assigned, and which ordained the Rev. Edward
Bailie on the 13th June, 1699. This seems the correct date, though the
tablet in the vestibule of the church has 1697. Mr. Bailie's name appears
with Robert Chancellor, as ruling elder, at the General Synod at Antrim in
1703. He died after a brief ministry on June 27, 1703.
His executor, John Martin, appealed from the sentence of the Belfast
Presbytery to the Synod at Antrim in 1705, in .connection with what it was
alleged the congregation owed Mr. Bailie. To save the time of the Synod a
committee was appointed to consider the case, and it was found that the
parishioners had fully satisfied all the particulars which Mr. Martin
alleged were due to Mr. Bailie, their late minister, except ten bolls of
oats, which they engaged to account for.
His remains lie near those of Mr. Livingstone, and the following words
appear on his tombstone :-"Here lyeth united to Christ the body of Mr.
Edward T. Bailie, ordained minister of the Gospel in this congregation,
June the 13, Anno Dom., 1699, who (working faithfully and with good
acceptance and success, being while living highly esteemed and desired)
died in the Lord much lamented June the 26, 1703, and of his age 30 years.
REV. THOMAS GOWAN, M.A.
The next minister was the Rev. Thomas Cowan, who was licensed by the
Antrim Presbytery and ordained by the Belfast Presbytery on March 29,
1706. In 1709 the vicar of Killead, the Rev. John Campbell, challenged
some Presbyterian ministers in these words, "I desire you to produce a
warrant from Holy Scripture for Presbyters ordaining or ruling without a
bishop." Mr. Cowan sent an answer, but a considerable time elapsed before
he received a reply in the form of a private letter. In 1711 he issued a
book entitled, "The Power of Presbyters in Ordination and Church
Government." Mr. Campbell appears to have retired discomfited from the
field. Mr. Gowan was also the author of "The Religious Education. of
Children" in 1712, and "The Necessity of Standing Fast by Our Christian
Liberty" in 1714. This last was a sermon of forty-seven pages. He is
mentioned as being present at the General Synod at Antrim in 1706, with
Mr. Arthur Maxwell as ruling elder, and then with Mr. James McKee in 1707.
His father, the Rev. Thomas Gowan, of Antrim, opened a school for
Philosophy and Divinity, and published some books for his pupils.
Mr. Cowan ministered to the people of Drumbo for eleven years, and then
accepted a unanimous call from the English church at Leyden, in Holland,
but continued his relation to the Irish church.
In the library of Magee University College there is a Drumbo Session
Book, covering the years 1699-1722. That was during the ministries of the
Revs. Edward Bailie and Thomas Gowan, and part of the ministry of the Rev.
Patrick Bruce. It would seem that they were very particular about
attendance at their meetings. A minute usually began, "Present, minister
and elders." Then we have this minute dated 21st March 1702, "Samuel
Porter was accused of deserting the Session, James Willson to summons him
to the Session." And this dated 20th February, 1706. "The same day it was
appointed that the Session is to meet at the Drum at 10 o'clock in the
morning, and none to be absent." In those days the Session dealt with
cases such as usually come before the Petty Sessions Court. There are
instances of two people having quarrelled about something, and the aim of
the Session was to bring them together, get them to shake hands and be
reconciled. In the case of some scandle or, misdemeanour, the guilty
person was absolved if he appeared penitent; and sometimes they were
rebuked and had to appear again when called, or the matter was referred to
the Presbytery, and sometimes even to the Synod.
It is of interest to learn the names of those appointed to attend
meetings of Presbytery and Synod as well as other leading members at that
distant date :
Robert Davison, 7th December, 1701, at Belfast.
Alexander McClure, l0th October, 1703, at Belfast.
John Shaw, 7th November, 1703, at Belfast.
Joseph McKee, 1st June, 1704, at Templepatrick.
Robert Carlile, 9th July, 1704, at Carrickfergus.
Robert McKee, 30th July, 1704, at Holywood.
Other leading members:-Robert Anderson, Francis Cunningham, John Dunwoody,
John Gowdy, John Graham, William Macartney, George Maxwell, James Nisbet,
John Orr, Brice Smith, Patrick Scott, William Scott.
REV. PATRICK BRUCE
In 1066 Robert De Brus, a Norman knight, accompanied William, Duke of
Normandy, to England, and for his services and devotion received from the
conqueror extensive estates in Yorkshire. His son, who bore his name, was
equally chivalrous and fortunate, and obtained from a Scottish king the
district of Annadale in Dumfriesshire. Successive Robert Bruces occupied
commanding positions in Scotland, one of them winning the battle of
Bannockburn, and gaining the throne. There followed in this line the most
renowned of all the Robert Bruces of Scotland. He entered the Ministry
contrary to the wishes of his parents, and was in consequence partly
disinherited. He was chosen by James VI to crown his queen. He suffered
for strenuously resisting the establishment of Prelacy in Scotland by
James I and Charles I.
Several of his descendants became ministers and served the church in
Ireland. Michael Bruce, of Killinchy, who was more eminent than any of his
descendants, was his grandson. James Bruce, of Killyleagh, an eminent
minister in his day, was Michael's son, and father of Patrick Bruce, of
Drumbo. Patrick was born at Killyleagh on the 11th April, 1692, and was
ordained in Drumbo by the Presbytery of Belfast on the 12th June, 1717.
The General Synod, at its meeting in Dungannon in 1725, decided on a
new arrangement of Presbyteries, whereby those of Belfast and Down
disappeared, three new ones taking their place-Templepatrick, Bangor and
Killyleagh. Drumbo was placed in the last mentioned.
In 1727 the Synod again met in Dungannon, when James Clark, from
Drumbo, appeared, "Setting forth that it will not be for the peace of that
congregation to be continued annexed to the Presbytery of Killyleagh, and
earnestly desiring that this Synod may take such measures as may promote
the peace and comfort of their congregation." Ultimately it was decided
that Drumbo should continue in the Killyleagh Presbytery. And Rev. James
McAlpine, of Ballynahinch, was appointed to go to Drumbo on the Lord's Day
and read certain letters to the congregation.
On October 1, 1728, a call from Killalen, in the Presbytery of Paisley,
to Mr. Bruce, came before the Presbytery. Agents for Killalen were Wm.
Hamilton, of Ladyland (i.e., between Killinchy and Killyleagh); Robert
Kyle, of Ballybeen; and Hill Hunter, of Newtownards. The elder from Drumbo
was James Clagherty (Clotwortby). At a subsequent meeting on the 4th
December, 1728, the call having been already placed in Mr. Bruce's hands,
the Presbyery argued for and against. The elders from Drumbo, John Shaw,
James Clagherty and Arthur Mellveen, demanded a determination without
further delay. The Presbytery thought the matter of such importance that
some time should be spent considering it. But the Drumbo elders said their
instructions were positive. Mr. Bruce replied that he had hoped to live
and die in Drumbo, but "of late years something unhappily fell in which
gave a great check to his hopes, and gave him fears of being less useful
than he could wish to that good people."
He accepted the call, and was appointed to preach in Usher's Quay,
Dublin, for four Sabbaths. (Had he Arian views like his brother, Rev.
Michael Bruce, of Holywood ?) About two years later he returned to Ireland
and was installed in Killyleagh, in succession to his father, where he had
only a short ministry, as he passed away on the 9th April, 1732. He was
ancestor of the Bruces of Downhill, and great-grandfather of the late Sir
Hervey H. Bruce, M.P. for Coleraine.
At the meeting of Presbytery on 31st December, 1728, Wm. Little was
present as commissioner from Drumbo, seeking supplies of sermon, and at
the next meeting on 29th January, 1729, Wm. Davison and James Thompson
were commissioners for a similar purpose. In June, 1729, the congregation
applied to the Synod for supplies, as there were no probationers in the
Killyleagh Presbytery. At the same time they renewed their request that
Drumbo should be put under the care of the Bangor Presbytery. This the
Synod granted, with the stipulation that when it was planted it was to be
returned to the Killyleagh Presbytery.
REV. ANDREW MALCOLM
Thus it was that Rev. Andrew Malcolm was ordained by the Bangor
Presbytery in Drumbo on the 27th November, 1731. Mr. Patton preached, Mr.
Alexander gave the charge, and the stipend promised was £65. It was during
his ministry that the church was either rebuilt, or the Livingstone one
renovated and enlarged. Drumbo was still in the Bangor Presbytery when he
died on the 2nd March, 1763. He left a widow to mourn his loss.
REV. JAMES MALCOLM
Mr. Malcolm was succeeded by the Rev. James Malcolm, who was probably
his son. He was ordained by the Bangor Presbytery on the 24th December,
1764. He subscribed the confession of faith and joined the Widows' Fund.
Mr. Malcolm's health failed him, and at the General Synod at Antrim in
1775 there appeared Messrs. Matthew Rea, Wm. Shaw and James Carlisle, who
produced a supplication, wherein they set forth that their minister, the
Rev. Mr. Malcolm, hath been so much indisposed for two years past that he
hath not been able to perform the duties of a Gospel minister, and as
there is no prospect of his recovery, they beg this Synod would declare
them a vacant congregation. After some discussion, this petition was
granted, and some financial claims of Mr. Malcolm, which had to be settled
before another could be planted among them, were fully met by the
REV. HUGH McKEE
At the General Synod of Antrim in 1774, a new Belfast Presbytery was
formed. It was to include six men whose names are mentioned, together with
such Probationers and vacant congregations as shall choose-presumably from
the Bangor Presbytery. Evidently Drumbo decided for Belfast. In the
following year, Hugh McKee, student from the congregation of Saintfield
was present. He produced certificates from Glasgow College, and was
admitted to trials by the Presbytery. He appeared again at Belfast on 2nd
February, 1776, and subscribed the following formula,-"I believe that the
Westminster Confession of faith doth contain all the important doctrines
of the Christian Religion agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, and as such I
subscribe it as the confession of my faith."
He was ordained in Drumbo on the 25th September, 1776. But only
remained a few years, demitting his, charge on 12th June, 1781.
REV. JAMES MALCOLM INSTALLED AGAIN
The congregation being vacant, a supplication was presented to the
General Synod at Lurgan 1782, setting forth that as the General Synod had
dissolved the relation between them and their former Pastor, Mr. Malcolm,
on account of his then bad state of health, but as he is now recovered,
they pray this Synod that he may be restored to the office of their stated
minister. At the same time another supplication from Drumbo was read,
praying that they may have a minister of their own choice, according to
the rules of the General Synod, under the care of the Belfast Presbytery,
and that a minister may not be fixed among them merely by rescinding the
Synod's act of dissolving the former union between them and Mr. Malcolm.
A committee was appointed to take the minds of the Drumbo people on the
matter, no one being allowed to vote whose stipend was not paid up to
date. Mr. Malcolm was to preach in Drumbo on a previous Sunday. The
committee met and found full unanimity for the instalment of Mr. Malcolm.
They therefore installed him, and he was considered a member of the
Presbytery of Belfast. He continued his labours here until 1794, when he
was disannexed on account of indisposition. On October 3, 1805, he passed
away, leaving a widow and family.
REV. SAMUEL HANNA, M.A., D.D.
Mr. Malcolm was succeeded by the Rev. Samuel Hanna, M.A. He was born in
Kellswater in 1771, and educated in Glasgow University, where he gained
his M. A. in 1789. He was licensed by the Ballymena Presbytery in 1790,
ordained in Drumbo by the Belfast Presbytery on the first Tuesday of
August, 1795, and on the 11th December, 1799, installed in Rosemary
Street, Belfast, which was in a run-down state, but under his ministry it
soon revived. He was appointed Professor of Divinity and Church History in
From the very first his preaching was most acceptable. He was largely
imbued with an evangelical spirit, and he was known in the courts of the
Church as the assertor of orthodox principles. He was a warm supporter of
the Sabbath School Society, and keen on the circulation of God's Word,
permitting a portion of his house to be occupied for a considerable time
as a depository for Bibles and Testaments. In the course of twelve months
he received almost £1,100 for Scriptures sold at a cheap rate to the
Presbyterian poor of the north of Ireland. He was also a strong supporter
of Foreign 'Missions.
He lived to see a blessed change in the condition of Irish
Presbyterianism. When he entered the ministry, Unitarianism occupied the
high places of the Synod of Ulster, and otherwise things were in a bad
way. He left the Church united in one body and furnished with a staff of
Professors firmly adhering to the Westminster standards. When the union
was formed in 1840 of the Synod of Ulster and the Secession Synod, he was
the first Moderator of the Assembly.
He died in April, 1852, in his eighty-second year. There is a pamphlet
in existence containing a sermon preached on the Sabbath after his funeral
in Rosemary Street, by the Rev. John Macnaughton, M.A., and a funeral
address by the Rev. Professor Gibson.
REV. JAMES RIDDLE
Dr. Hanna was succeeded by the Rev. James Riddle, who was ordained by
the Belfast Presbytery on 3rd September, 1800.
At a meeting of Presbytery in March, 1825, a memorial was presented
from the congregation of Drumbo, stating that from the state of his
health, Mr. Riddle had become unable to discharge his duties among them.
This memorial was accompanied by another from Mr. Riddle, stating that he
was labouring under infirmity. The congregation and Mr. Riddle therefore
requested the Presbytery to take the necessary steps to obtain leave from
the Synod for the congregation to choose an assistant and successor to Mr.
Riddle. In this same year Mr. Riddle was fined for absence from the Synod.
He died on the 25th February, 1828, leaving a widow and family to mourn
his loss. His son, Dobbin Riddle, died at Holywood on 12th May, 1844,
after a painful and lingering illness, which was borne to the last with a
high degree of fortitude and Christian resignation.
Two things during his ministry are of interest. When in 1804 the King
having been graciously pleased to order that the Royal Bounty to
Presbyterian ministers of the Synod of Ulster should be increased, and
such increase to be distributed in a threefold proportion of £100 to each
minister of a first-class congregation, £75 to those in second-class
congregations, and £50 to those in third-class congregations, Drumbo was
among the first-class.
For the year 1809 it is reported that Drumbo contributed £45 3s 6d to the
Synod's Bible Fund, of which Dr. Hanna was convener-thus taking sixth
place in the amount contributed by congregations for that year.
It was about the end of Mr. Riddle's ministry that the unhappy division
took place which resulted in the formation of a new congregation, and a
new meeting-house being built in the townland of Ballycairn. The following
comment is taken from the Ordnance Survey, M.S.G., 1937-in the Royal
Academy, Dublin, and never printed :-"Ballycairn meeting-house, 60 ft. x
40 ft., erected 1830, seats 400. Drumbo meeting-house, erected in 1750,
very much out of repair-would seat all the Presbyterians in the parish,
and might have been repaired for one-sixth of the sum it took to build the
new meeting-house in an adjoining townland."
"It would appear that there was some bad regulation respecting the
appointment of ministers for the Presbyterian Church, as a congregation,
when they do not like their minister, enter into a subscription and cause
the erection of another house.
"Thus the congregation is divided ,and it is frequently the case that
both parties find (too late) their inability to meet the expenses of
keeping in repair their respective meeting-houses. "
REV. CAMPBELL BLAKELY
The Rev. Campbell Blakely, who followed Mr. Riddle. was born in the
parish of Killaney, about 1796, the stirring events of the rebellion being
among his earliest recollections. He was ordained on the 24th July, 1827.
At the Synod at Cookstown in 1828, Drumbo was placed in the Bangor
Presbytery, but at the Synod at Derry- in 1834 there was a new arrangement
of Presbyteries, and Drumbo was placed in Dromore, of which Presbytery Mr.
Blakely was Moderator in 1839-40, and again in 1855-56.
At a visitation of Presbytery in August 7, 1838, the session was
represented by Alex. Swan, Daniel Drennan, William Robinson; and Dr. Muns,
John Cunningham, and John Carlile represented the congregation. In the
finding it is stated, "We have good reason to believe that Mr. Blakely
devotes a necessary portion of his time to study and preparation, by the
very excellent sermons that he preaches every Sabbath Day. He uniformly
preaches the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that there is no other
way of salvation but in and through His propitiatory death and sufferings.
He frequently warns his hearers of the threats held out in the Word of God
against those who engage in those sins forbidden; and also declares the
promises held out to those who abstain from them. Public Worship commences
at 12 o'clock and generally terminates between 3 and 4 p.m. There are two
services in summer and one in winter. We have about five hundred
communicants in general attendance at the celebration of the Lord's
Supper. Young candidates for communion are examined at least fifteen times
before being admitted to the Lord's table."
The Banner of Ulster," dated 2nd December, 1842, contains a report of a
splendid Tea Festival of which 620 People took part. After opening
exercises the following ministers delivered addresses :
Rev. William Magill, Dundrod, "Presbyterianism."
Rev. Samuel Dunlop, Hillhall, "The sin and evils of intemperance."
Rev. Henry Henderson, "Controversy between the Church of Scotland and the
Court of Session."
Rev. John Magowan. "Home Missions."
Rev. Hugh Brown, Carryduff, "Foreign Missions."
Rev. George Shanks, Boardmills; "The state of the Jews."
Mr. Blakely expressed his great delight at the pleasing and cheering
manner in which the proceedings of the evening had been conducted. Singing
part of Psalm 122 brought to a close an evening long to he remembered.
Mr. Blakely was a most diligent and devoted pastor. During the
Unitarian controversy he proclaimed the whole Gospel of God with
unswerving fidelity, and stood staunch to the truths that saves. He
retired in 1865, and on Sabbath, December 1, 1872, at the age of
seventy-six and in the forty-sixth year of his ministry, he passed away in
the assured hope of eternal life, desiring to depart and to be with
It was during his ministry that the present schoolroom was erected. The
old National School was built in the year 1836 by the people of the
district, on a plot granted by the then landlord, Mr. Calwell, at the
nominal yearly rent of one penny which was never claimed. In 1863 the
estate was purchased by the late Robert Batt, of Purdysburn. The committee
anticipating that the kind treatment they had ever received at the hands
of Mr. Calwell, would be continued by his successors, they did not
formally lodge any claim at that time. Thus they put themselves at the
mercy of the new landlord and his successors for all time.
However, the committee was not interfered with in the management of the
school until 1874. During a general election campaign Mr. W. J. Watson,
accompanied by the Bailiff, appeared one morning at the school and
demanded it for the purpose of holding a political meeting. A member of
committee being present at the time referred Mr. Watson to a rule of the
Board which prohibited the holding of such meetings in any school
receiving aid from the Commissioners. The teacher of the school was
afterwards served by Mr. Watson with a notice of dismissal, but the
committee refused to part with his services, and were driven to the
necessity of dismissing Mr. Watson and appointing another manager in his
stead. They were then served with a notice to give up possession of the
school. Refusing to do so they were finally ejected, and Mr, Batt entered
into full possession of a house towards the erection of which he never
contributed a farthing.
"The Morning News" of 18th February, 1876, gave this account of their
ejection. "On Wednesday last the Sub-sherriff of the County, accompanied
by the agent, Mr. W. J. Watson, and the Bailiff, appeared at the school.
The children were summarily dismissed, and the work of disembowelling the
school began in true earnest. The old forms, carved with many an urchin's
name, were speedily deposited on the public road. The teacher's desk was
dragged after them as unceremoniously as if it had been tainted with the
leprosy of dissent; and the harmonium, occasionally uttering a gruff note
of remonstrance, was conveyed to the shelter of an adjoining hedge. Then
followed in quick succession maps and tablets, slates and pencils, clock
and ink bottles, etc. The books were flung into a capacious hag and
conveyed upon the sturdy shoulders of the bailiff to the nearest public
house, and last of all, the very fire was '"ejected' and its smouldering
embers thrown into a gutter on the roadside. Meanwhile the simple-minded
people of the village ventured out of doors, and stood watching the
proceedings with feelings of awe and wonder. "Old age forgot its crutch,
labour its task," and all ran to behold the mighty doings of "the office,"
while now and then travellers passing that way stopped to make enquiry,
and old men whose geographical knowledge had become deficient, were
afforded the opportunity of examining the maps and tracing out the
locality of the Suez Canal. At length, when the school apartments had been
thoroughly gutted, and everything movable thrown out, the bailiff paused
to wipe his heated brow, and the agent, Mr. William James Watson, stood
and looked around him with the air of a conqueror. Their work was done. By
this time the sub-sherriff and agent were moving away, and the onlookers
expected that the bailiff would also retire from the scene and follow them
at a respectful distance. But in this they were disappointed. After a
brief consultation, the two former gentlemen returned, and the bailiff,
who had imagined his toil was over. was ordered to commence afresh, and to
convey the unoffending articles. now bespattered with mud and slush, back
to their former resting-places in the schoolroom. When with the assistance
of the teacher, who now declares himself only the servant of "the office,"
this work was accomplished, the interesting proceedings terminated, and
the crowd of onlookers dispersed, wondering among themselves at that which
had come to pass, and asking the ominous question,. "what next?"
Mr. Watson was then left for a time in undisputed authority as manager
of the school. But not being resident in the district, and consequently
not in a position to dis charge the duties of manager, the Commissioners
decided to have a local manager, and suggested the Rev. W. J. Warnock. But
Mrs. Way, the landlady and successor to Mr. Batt, would not agree, being
determined to have an Episcopalian, and that in spite of the fact that of
70 Pupils, on the rolls, 65 were Presbyterians. The Commissioners then
decided that grants be withdrawn from the school, and with their sanction
the school was temporarily transferred to Rokeby Hall, where accommodation
was kindly given by Mr. J. D. Dunlop.
The Committee of Drumbo congregation, alive to their responsibility in
the matter of providing proper facilities for the educaton of the youth of
the neighbourhood, decided to build a new school sufficiently large and
suitable for holding the meetings of the different organisations in
connection with the Church. Toward this they received the promise of £50
from Mrs. Warnock, and ;£30 from "The DaySchools Fund" in connection with
the General Assembly.
REV. JAMES McNEILL, B.A.
Mr. Blakely was succeeded by the Rev. James McNeill, who was ordained
in Drumbo on the 7th May, 1867. His, memory is still fresh and will long
remain so. After eleven years' ministry in Drumbo, he received a call to
First Lurgan, which he accepted. Taking ill, he asked leave to withdraw,
and was installed again in Drumbo, where he continued his labours with
great acceptance until his lamented death in 1800 in the forty-ninth year
of his age.
The following is from the Presbyterian Quarterly Visitor :-"The Rev.
James McNeill, B.A., minister of Drumbo, died on February 18, 1890,
leaving a widow and eleven children to mourn the loss of a most tender
husband and affectionate father, and faithful pastor. He was a preacher of
no mean order, and the beautiful church at Drumbo which was erected during
his ministry and largely through his exertions, is a monument of his zeal
and energy." It was a big undertaking for him and the people of Drumbo,
but many friends came to their aid. Mr. John S. Brown, of Edenderry, was
one of the first outside the congregation who gave a liberal donation
towards it, and he laid the foundation stone. Others present at the
important ceremony included, Revs. James McNeill, Adam Montgomery, and
Messrs. William Cuming, John Campbell, William Martin, J. K. Miskelly,
James Moore. It seats about nine hundred, and on special occasions
congregations of well over one thousand have worshipped within its walls.
REV. W. J. WARNOCK, B.A., B.D.
The next minister was the Rev. W. J. Warnock, who was born on the 14th
February, 1863. He was licensed by the Route Presbytery in May, 1888, and
ordained in Stewartstown on August 14 of that year. On October 22, 1889,
he married Miss Lizzie -Briars. The marriage was by special license at the
home of the bride's mother, in Scotch Street, Dungannon. The officiating
minister was the Rev, D. Wilson, Dungannon; he was assisted by the Rev. J.
Colhoun, Kilrea; Rev. C. C. M. Dickey, Draperstown; and Rev. G. A.
Receiving a call from Drumbo, he resigned the pastorate of Stewartstown
and was installed in Drumbo on the 14th May, 1891. On account of failing
health he went to South Africa. The climate seemed to agree with him, and
he applied for leave to resign from the congregation. The hope of
returning health was soon doomed to disappointment. His illness became
worse, and he passed away at Kroonstadt on the 28th November, 1900, at the
age of thirty-seven. A pathetic feature of the sad event was the fact that
his wife and family arrived at Kroonstadt only two hours before his death.
When in health he was a good preacher and an earnest worker. He was
beloved by his congregation, who sympathised with him in his work and
failing condition of health. They did all they could to smooth his pathway
and to make his life as easy and pleasant as possible He was held in
esteem in Drumbo, and enjoyed the confidence and affection of his
co-presbyters. He is still remembered for his own sake, and by the fact
that his nephew, Mr. Samuel Hanna, of Ballycairn, and his niece, Mrs.
James Campbell, of Drumbeg, are still with us.
REV. WILLIAM McNEILL, B.A.
The Rev. William McNeill, was a son of the Rev. James McNeill. He took
his arts course in Queen's College, Belfast, graduating in the Royal
University of Ireland in 1896, with honours in ancient classics. He
studied theology in the Presbyterian College, Belfast, and in New College,
Edinburgh. He was licensed by the Dromore Presbytery on the 9th June,
1899, and on the .16th November of the same year he was ordained in
Drumbo, where he laboured with much acceptance for four years.
Receiving a call from Adelaide Road, Dublin, he was installed in that
congregation by the Presbytery of Dublin on the l0th December, 1903. This
ministry, which lasted for over nine years, was highly successful.
Oil the 22nd May, 1913, he was appointed to the spiritual oversight of
Trinity Church, Claughton, Birkenhead, where he laboured with much success
for eleven years,
when, for health reasons, he accepted a call to Rostrevor, and was
installed there on the 27th March, 1924. Failing health compelled him to
retire from the active duties of the ministry on the 30th September, 1930.
After a. long and trying illness, which was borne with great patience and
fortitude, he passed away on the 25th December, 1933.
Mr. McNeill was a man of outstanding gifts. In the pulpit he was
equalled only by a few. Having heard him preach, no attentive hearer could
ever forget his thoughtful sermons, delivered with such charm and manner.
His children's addresses will be specially remembered not only as they
were spoken, but by the little volume, entitled, "Come Ye Children,"
published in 1927. His literary gifts are well known through his other
Had he been blessed with good health, his gifts were such as would have
brought him the highest honours the church could bestow. In the long line
of ministers at Drumbo, perhaps he was the most outstanding. All who knew
him not only sympathised with him in his long illness, but deeply
regretted the passing of one so richly endowed, and whose future was still
full of promise.
REV. JAMES IRWIN, M.A.
Mr. McNeill was succeeded by the Rev. James Irwin, who was ordained in
Drumbo on the 5th April, 1904. He remained exactly seven years, preaching
his farewell sermon on the 5th April, 1911. A unanimous call came to him
from St. Aidan's United Free Church, Melrose, Scotland. Later he was
called to Newhaven United Free Church, Edinburgh. And after a few years
there he became the esteemed minister of Dunkeld Cathedral. Now he is
retired and enjoying a well-earned rest.
REV. JOSEPH CORDNER, B.D.
The Rev. Joseph Cordner was the next minister of this long succession.
He was brought up in connection with Bellville Congregation. He was
educated at the Presbyterian College, Montreal, and McGill University,
Montreal, where he obtained the degree of B. D. He was licensed by the
Montreal Presbytery in April, 1909.
He returned to Ireland and was assistant to the late Rev. Dr. Pollock in
St. Enoch's, Belfast, for two years. He was ordained by the Dromore
Presbytery on the 2nd August, 1911, and was appointed to the spiritual
oversight of Drumbo Congregation. After fifteen years of fruitful service
he went to Canada, having accepted a call from Hamilton Road Church,
London, Ontario. Later he was minister of Sherbrooke, in the Presbytery of
Montreal. In 1930 he returned to Ireland, and on the 15th May of the same
year he was installed by the Belfast Presbytery, and appointed to the
spiritual oversight of Clifton Street Church.
Mr. Cordner was a most earnest evangelistic preacher, and an untiring
pastor-devoting his whole energies to the work of his calling. When the
call of the Homeland brought him back from Canada, he put all his energies
into the work of Clifton Street Church. In season and out of season he
laboured with a diligence almost beyond his strength. Just before the
consummation of his faithful ministry, his health gave way under the
constant strain; still he endeavoured almost to the last to keep in touch
with his people by letters and personal communications. His courage never
failed, and he bore his increasing weakness with truly Christian fortitude
REV. J. B. WALLACE, M.A.
The Rev. J. B. Wallace, who succeeded Mr. Cordner, is the sixteenth
minister of Drumbo. He was ordained on the 29th December, 1926. The
Moderator of Presbytery, the Rev. A. Thompson, M.A., First Dromore,
conducted the service; the Rev. W. H. Colvin, M.A., Cargycreevy, preached
the sermon; and the charge was given by the Rev. R. Kelso, Second
Boardmills and Killaney.
During these years a new manse has been secured, and electrical light
installed in both church and manse.
The church has been well served through the years by its Session and
Committee. The following are the names of those who held office at that
time :-SESSION-Thomas Allen, Upper Ballylesson; T. A. Crawford, Belfast;
T. J. Graham, Tullyard; William Innes, Creevy; William Magowan,
Ballyaughlis; Hugh Shortt, Ballymacbrennan; W. R. Todd, Drumbo P.E.S.
COMMITTEE-Joseph Bingham, Clogher; Robert Carmichael, Leverogue; John
Carlisle, Carr; Samuel Carlisle, Ballylesson; Alexander Crawford, Drumbo;
T. G. Connery, Ballycoan; William Cuming, Ballymagarrick; Daniel Drennan,
Drumbeg; Robert Ferguson, Ballycairn; John Gillespie, Ballycairngannon;
Robert Hanna, Ballycairn; J. A. Harvey, Mealough; W. J. Johnston, J.P.,
Carr; John Lowry, Edenderry; William Macartney, Lisnod; Arthur Maxwell,
Hillhall; William McBride, Ballymacbrennan; William McCormack, Hillhall;
R. J. McCormack, Drumbo; Robert McMaster, Tullyard; James Robinson,
Ballymagarrick; James Scott, Carr; John Shaw, Drumbo; Robert Thompson,
It is interesting to record the names of some of the above who have
well passed the allotted span and are still with us, men who gave long and
devoted service to the Church :-Joseph Bingham filled the post of
Treasurer for over thirty years; T. G. Connery was Secretary of Committee
for a similar period; T. J. Graham was a member of Committee, and has been
a member of Session for thirty-six years; Hugh Shortt, a member of
Session, was precentor for many years, is still a member of choir, and was
precentor at the old-fashioned type of Presbyterian service which was part
of our Tercentenary celebrations, on the evening of 17th July, 1955. We
return grateful thanks to these brethren, and pray that they may be long
spared to come out and :n amongst us.
This history would not be complete if we did not record with gratitude
the names and benefactions, of those whose love for Drumbo, was even unto
death:-1858. Thomas Davison, Lisnastrain, £1 10s 0d yearly from trust
funds; 1903, James Thompson Morrow, Ballymagarrick, the house No. 22
Apsley Street, Belfast; 1934, Miss Margaret Hogg, Belfast, £l00; 1947,
Mrs. J. McClure, Ballycoan, £500; 1954, Mrs. Mary McKeown, Belfast, £100;
1956, James Robinson, £700, and the residue of his estate to provide a
"Robinson Memorial Organ" for the Church.
We also record with gratitude the following gifts :--1946, William
Dorman, Drumbo, the very handsome gift of £3,000 towards the provision of
a suitable church hall, which we hope will soon be an accomplished fact;
1947, D. Dorman, Belfast, £50. Other gifts include a beautiful Individual
Communion Service, in 1925, from Mr. and Mrs. T. B. McCormack, Rosebank,
Malone Road, Belfast, in memory of his brother, Campbell McCormack, who
gave his life in the First World War. In 1935, Mr. and Mrs. James
Robinson, Danesfort, Ballymagarrick, gave a much valued Pulpit Desk in
memory of his father and mother. On the same occasion they also presented
a handsome Pulpit Bible with Psaltery and Hymnary. Further, the late Miss
Margaret McMaster, Tullyard, in her testamentary arrangements made
provision for the Communion Table which we now use. The chair to match was
provided by the choir as part of our Tercentenary celebrations; the
Baptismal Font by the G.A., and the Flower Bowl by the W.M.A.
Time passes quickly and brings its changes as the present membership of
Session and Committee show :
Session-J. V. Beggs (Clerk), Clogher; George Brown, Drumbo; J. Caldwell,
Ball ycairn; T G. Connery, Sen., Ballycoan; W. S. Coulter, Ballyskeagh;
William Cuming, Ballymagarrick; H. R. Currie, Drumbo; Robert Ferguson,
Ballycairn; Thos. J. Graham, Tullyard; S. L. McIlvenna, Ballycoan; Ernest
Patterson, Ballycairn; Hugh Shortt, Ballymacbrennan; John M. Thompson,
Committee-Joseph Bingham, Clogher; H. S. Burgess, Carr; Joseph Campbell,
Ballycairn; Wesley Carlisle, Carr; Samuel Carmichael, Leverogue; T. G.
Connery, Jun. (Treasurer), Ballycoan; Jack Cowan (Secretary), Hillhall;
Robert Crawford, Drumbo; John Cuming, Edenderry; George P. T. Davis,
Drumbo; Cecil Graham, Tullyard; Samuel Hanna, Ballycairn; W. J. Johnston,
Drumalig; W. D. Lowry, Drumbo; Kelvin McCormack, Ballyaughlis; R. J.
McCormack, Drumbo; T. S. McReynolds, Ballylenaghan; James Martin, Drumbo;
W. J. Miskelly, Drumbo; James Swan, Tullyard; D. Suffern, Drumbeg; Robert
Thompson, J.P., Ballylesson; H. B. Wallace, Drumbo.
The previous edition of this history concluded as follows :-"There are
further improvements occasionally spoken of by individuals, such as a Pipe
Organ, a new Lecture Hall with suite of rooms, etc. Will these ever be
realised? Or are they only the vain dreams on the part of the few? The
future will tell." The passing of the years have told their own tale as
this edition makes abundantly clear. All such things, however, must only
be considered as means to an end. The great aim of the Church must ever be
the extension of Christ's Kingdom, and such things are only of value in so
far as they help towards that great goal.
In view of our great history, covering three hundred years, let all
members keep this goal ever before them, and by consecrated lives ensure
that the future will be even better than the past.