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Legacurry Presbyterian Church.
Our Story

By J. M. Magowan





The 1830's were good years. The Napoleonic Wars were long over, there was an earnest young Queen on the throne, cottage industries were thriving and the potato famine with its Workhouse horrors were, as yet, unimaginable.

The people of Legacurry, our forefathers, although quite numerous, were far from affluent, nor were they destitute by the standards of those days. Most were small tenant farmers and hand loom weavers; others were labourers, millers, shoemakers and carpenters. Many, especially women, were unable to write their own names. The main priority of everybody was the `Rent' due to either the Marquis of Downshire or the Marquis of Hertford, their landlords.

For almost two hundred years generations of these folk had walked, on the Sabbath Day, to either Anahilt or Drumbo Presbyterian Church.

However, the men of the 1830's were tiring of the long walk and were beginning to consider the possibility of having a Church of their own. To-day, and with hindsight, we can say they had great foresight, great courage and great faith. One hundred and fifty years ago we might not have been so sure - we might well have said, "We have no building skills, no tools, no prospects, no site, no minister, no money, no wit!" Fortunately for us we were not there! Nevertheless, the seventy brave men led by Robert Gardner and Thomas Davidson must have spent many anxious and prayerful days early in 1840 when they decided to try to form a congregation and build a Presbyterian church in their own district.

On 3 March that year the Belfast Presbytery was asked to provide ministers to conduct services on five consecutive Sabbaths. The first of these services was held on 7 June at 5.00 p.m. No record exists of where they were held. Very likely they were open air services in a field belonging to one of the founder members, perhaps Mr. Robert Morrow (of Legacurry House) and just possibly on the present Church site.

The young licentiates who conducted these services were Messrs. Bellis, Campbell, Hammy, Morgan (or Musgrave) and a Dr. Reid. The Rev. Alexander Henderson from 1st Lisburn and the Rev. Adam Montgomery form nearby (old) Ballycairn were appointed by the Belfast Presbytery to make the arrangements for the five services and measure the extent of local support for a separate congregation. Mr. Montgomery was Clerk of the Presbytery and Mr. Henderson was no stranger to the Legacurry area. For some years he had regularly inspected Deneight Day and Sabbath School where 103 Presbyterian children were on the Sabbath School roll. Our founder members were fortunate to have the goodwill and recommendation of their neighbours, the Rev. Thomas Greer of Anahilt and Rev. S.M. Dill of Hillsborough.

The first stumbling block came early in 1841 when the request to the Marquis of Downshire for a Church site was not successful. His reluctance was very disappointing as all the land around Legacurry formed part of the Marquis' Estate. By this time there were about one hundred families in the area who were anxious to have a Pastor of their own, and the Presbytery recommended that a minister be chosen and ordained with speed.

Two licentiates were considered by the newly formed congregation, known at that time as the Congregation of Lisnastrean, Mr. Phineas Whiteside and Mr. Simpson. Mr. Whiteside was the unanimous choice of the people. He was a Tyrone man born at Albany in 1810. A student of the Old College, Belfast, where he gained the General Certificate in 1836, he was licensed by the Tyrone Presbytery in 1840 and ordained on 19 August 1841.

Oral tradition tells us that the platform that day was a farm cart and the service was held in a field near the site of the present Church which was built some two years later. We are not told whether Mr. Whiteside's parents and two sisters Martha and Mary were present on that historic day - we can only hope it was a glorious August day and not wet! The many guests, Presbytery Representatives and neighbours arrived by saddle horse and pony trap from Lisburn, Anahilt, Hillsborough, Drumbo and Boardmills, with their own grooms and drivers. In our minds' eye we can see horses unyoked and tethered, glad to nibble the grass, their traps upended in rows in the fields, their occupants walking around in tall hats and tails or best costumes, feathered hats and buttoned boots. The Committee (wives) provided evening entertainment; were they up from dawn making fresh griddle bread, slicing currant loaf and packing up their china? We can easily imagine the sounds of the horses, the scent of the new bread, the crowds, the excitement, the stresses, strains and nerves that all played a part in that big day.

An excellent record of the Ordination exists and is quoted in full as follows:
"On Thursday the 19th August, 1841 the Rev. Phineas Whiteside was ordained to the pastoral charge of the Congregation of Lisnastrean in connection with the Presbytery of Belfast. Owing to the unavoidable absence of Dr. Henry Cooke, who had been appointed to preach on the occasion, the services of the day were commenced by the Rev. William Gibson, Belfast, who preached an eloquent and impressive discourse from 1st Corinthians Chapter 1 verse 23, But we preach Christ crucified. 'At the conclusion of the Sermon the Rev. A. Montgomery explained and defended Presbyterian Church policy in an animated and convincing manner; and, after the usual questions being put to the young Minister, he was set apart to sacred office `by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery , with a solemn and fervent prayer from the Rev. H. Simpson of Saintfield. Dr. Coulter then delivered an impressive and affectionate address to Pastor and people, and the entire services o f the day which were listened to with the deepest attention by an immense audience, were concluded with prayer and benediction by the Rev. Samuel Dunlop of Hillhall. In the evening, the members of the Presbytery present, and others, were entertained by the Committee of the Congregation, on which occasion Mr. Whiteside spoke for some time in a beautiful and eloquent strain of language. He alluded to the importance of, and the difficulties involved in, the Ministerial trust, contrasted, in a very, felicitous manner, the surrounding fields, which were almost white unto harvest, with the spiritual, field, which, said he, was white already, and, after having declared his resolution o f entering into the harvest, and dedicating himself to the work of the Ministry, he concluded in words nearly to the following effect. `If these determinations meet with the response of God, and be rendered a blessing to the souls of men, then I trust it will be no presumption to expect many a crown o f rejoicing. To return, from the harvest laden with many sheaves, and present them faultless before the presence o f His glory with exceeding joy. To win souls to Christ was the grand design in the appointment o f a Christian Ministry, and if any exertions I may use be in the least degree subservient to the, furtherance o f that design, the consciousness that 1 had neither run in vain, neither laboured in vain, will superabundantly repay for past exertions, and the solemn reflection that the great Master himself has shone on the undertaking, will more than counterbalance the many difficulties incident to such a work, and will inspire me with love and zeal and renewed exertions, that we may all come in unity of the faith and the knowledge of the son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. "'

Our first Pastor, our own Pastor, had made a very impressive beginning. The General Assembly provided a Grant, and the Congregation of Lisnastrean operated as a Mission Station until 1844 in Cabra new bridge school house, known locally as Purg. There the Rev. Phineas Whiteside held services each Sabbath, and his Sabbath School in the afternoon was well attended by the poorest of the district, as well as the not so poor.
An early photograph shows us a handsome and confident young man. Perhaps we should spare a thought on how he might well have felt as he faced his first charge. Tyrone and home were far away and an awesome responsibility was ahead of him. Our founder members had chosen well, they had their own Minister who shared their pioneering spirit. They suited one another. Together they had made a commendable beginning, a beginning from where there was no foreseeable ending, and together they had brought an end to our `Beginnings'.
Thus far hath the Lord led us.

REV. PHINEAS WHITE SIDE  Born at Killycopy, Slewartstown, Co. Tyrone 1810. Educated at Bedfast Academical Institution  Ordained First Minister of Legacuny,19 August  1841. Died 7 September 1865 Mr. George Cruihshanks conveying Rev. C. McMullen and party from Purg Lane on 1 September 1991 as the congregation remembered the coming of the first minister over 150 years ago.



The Mission Station at Purg had served our forefathers for nearly two years when, in the spring of 1843, Mr. Robert Morrow of Legacurry House made a gift to the congregation of Lisnastrean of a site for a Church and graveyard situated in the townland of Legacurry. Hence we were to become the Presbyterian Church at Legacurry. We might well have become the Presbyterian Church at Cabra or Crossan. The Marquis of Downshire consented to the gift; perhaps his previous reluctance wilted when he realized the determination of this new congregation resident on his Estate.

No records exist of the building of our Church - the architect is unknown, the builders are unnamed, there are no plans and no estimate of costs. However, there is an account which tells us, "The first stone was laid on Friday, 28th July, 1843 by William Graham, Esq. of Lisburn. The introductory services were commenced by the Rev. P. Whiteside, minister of the new congregation; and, after the laying of the stone, the Rev. David Hamilton of York Street, Belfast, delivered a very solemn, touching and interesting address to the assembled congregation. `It is nearly three years since the congregation was formed; yet, strange to say, they could not procure a site for the Church until a few weeks since, although it is situate in one of the most Presbyterian districts in the County of Down."' A second account tells how "On 27th March, 1844 the new Presbyterian Church at Legacurry was opened for Divine Service by the Rev. Dr. Cooke. The sermon on the occasion was a powerful and eloquent exposition of Divine truth, and was listened to with deep attention and delight by a numerous and respectable audience. The collection amounted to nearly �60, including �21 from the Marquis of Downshire; �1 from Andrew Cowan, Esq., JP. and 6s from John Henderson, Esq. who was unable to attend."

A brief eight months separated these two events. Eight months of hard labour by our first Pastor, and founder members, yet any praise or thanks to them goes unrecorded - instead we hear of the prowess of the visiting clergy!!

Labour was cheap.

Oral tradition tells us that men and women, old and young, shared in the building work. The women drove the horses and carts laden with stones from their own fields for the foundations. The men built as the women and children carted. The masonry was let by the perch and all the families were expected to pay a share. How lovely it would have been for us had some literate and long-sighted labourer hidden his diary somewhere in the building. More likely he was far too busy getting through a day at a time, looking forward to seeing the roof on - not the 150th anniversary.

It is fitting that we should reflect on that band of men and women who built their House for us, with a will that enabled them to bear aching backs and aching limbs, hurts of mind and body, through long hours of cold, wet, and heat from summer 1843 to spring 1844. At the same time they had to maintain their own means of livelihood, and the rent had still to be paid. There were no mechanical aids -just picks, spades and shovels, wheelbarrows and horse drawn vehicles; maybe a mule or a bullock for site work. Fortunately the technical input was good if the source unknown; a good, sound `Barn Church' was built, whitewashed and plainly glazed.

Many of these labourers are resting a few feet from their House, their graves often unmarked - they are dust. Their living memorial is the Presbyterian Church at Legacurry, the Church at the Crossroads.

Neither do records exist for the building of the schoolroom at the end gable of the Church around 1858. The first teacher was either James White or a Mr. Entwistle. The `Master' in those days had many duties apart from teaching. He was responsible for lighting the fire, cleaning the schoolroom and providing a bucket of fresh drinking water each day. Whatever the privation the teachers managed to educate the children of the locality for 68 years.

Session Minutes exist from 1845 to 1858, then are missing until 1908. The first entry in the first Session Book is 24 August, 1845 reads: "This day the names of Robert Gardner, William Gardner and William McVicars were read out by the presiding Minister of the Congregation as persons qualified to act as Elders in the Church and to constitute the first Session in this Church."

Robert Gardner and William McVicars, our first two elders, were ordained by the Presbytery (of Belfast), but "William Gardner did not have full confidence in himself as to his fitness for the office" and declined. After this minute comes a beautiful record of our very first Communion Service. It reads, "The first time the Communion of the Lord's Supper was administered in this Church was on Sabbath, 28th October, 1845. The following persons were admitted to the Lord's Table for the first time at this Communion after a lengthened course of instruction and examination by the Minister, viz John McKeown, James Todd, Samuel Brown, Hugh Calderwood, James McMillan, Mary Jamison, Eliza Baily, Mary Long. The others who communicated on this occasion were admitted by Certificate from other Congregations". What a pity their names were not recorded too, and what a lovely word is "communicated"!

The next minute reads, "Sabbath, 10th May, 1846. It being resolved that there should be two Sacraments in the year in this place the Communion was held here this day. There was a good attendance". Thus we joined in the old Presbyterian custom of a May Communion Season which was to continue for 145 years.

Apart from the minutes which record the Sacraments, occasionally there is a minute of a special meeting of Minister and Session when members, presumably the young, who had sinned, "were instructed, exhorted and prayed for by the Minister and admitted, or restored, to full membership of the Church".

David Fullerton was appointed Precentor to the Congregation in 1846. In 1850 a compliment to the first Sunday School teacher mentioned by name reads, "Peggy Harvey regularly attended the Means of Grace and was useful in the Sabbath School as a teacher".

There was a visitation of Presbytery in May 1848 and a second in May 1853. On the second visit the Rev. John McNaughton of Belfast "expressed the satisfaction of the Presbytery with the ministerial fidelity of Mr. Whiteside and general state and management of the Congregation". He also offered some practical help with a local problem. The Unitarian controversy was raging and Unitarian ministers were preaching in the neighbourhood. The Session was worried. Mr. McNaughton offered to deliver a course of Lectures commencing on Sabbath, 8 May at 5.00 p.m. and continuing throughout the summer.

The marriage Registers open on 14 October 1845 with the marriage of Elenor Brown of Cabra and James Young, of Belfast, weaver. Then on 30 April 1846, Sarah Maor (probably Moore) of Deneight marries Richard Watson, labourer, of Magheradartin; and David Goudy of Ballymacbreen, weaver, married Elisabeth Russel of Tullyard on 3 July 1846. These young people were aged from 18 to 23 years and all of them were unable to write their own names, making a simple `x'. Of the 54 marriages recorded in Mr. Whiteside's time, 39 people were unable to write their names and others managed to write theirs only with great difficulty. Perhaps their illiteracy prompted the building of the School Room. Of the 54 brides only 6 had an occupation or `rank', 2 were dressmakers and 4 were weavers. Most of the grooms were labourers, weavers and small farmers but there were some others-John Robinson, a bleach green overseer from Keady married Sarah Davidson of Lisnastrean. The Rev. Samuel Priestly, Presbyterian Minister of Poyntzpass, married Mrs. Annie Ward, a widow from Lisburn; and George Henderson, "Newsletter" editor from Newry, married Catherine Ward of Largymore whose father was a "Gentleman".

Then on 1 June 1855, halfway through the Crimean War, John Moore of Newry, who was in The Militia, married Mary Armstrong of Legacurry. Both were 17 years old. John's father was a weaver, Mary's a miller. Let us hope John survived the horrors of that war.

The Baptismal Register opens in 1854, and records 112 baptisms until 1865. The first baby mentioned is "Elen Harvy, daughter of William Harvy and Mary Hawthorne of Townland of Cabra (who) was born upon 21st March 1854 and was introduced into the Christian Church by baptism on 26th day of April 1854." All baptisms up to 1865 were recorded in this way; sadly we will never know who, or how many, were baptised between 1841 and 1854.

Baptisms and Marriages were happy occasions for both people and Pastor. A study of the early gravestones around the Church tells us something of the less happy side of life at that time, particularly for parents of young children:
"Samuel Brown, Ballymacbrennan, remembers his beloved children, John, Francis and Margaret who died in 1864."
"John Brown, Lisnoe, died 1850 aged 70 years."
"Martin Boyd remembers his beloved mother Mary Ann who died 1849 aged 41 years, his brother Robert died 1850 aged 11 years, his father died 1856 aged 50 years, his sister, Agnes died 1860 aged 21 years, his infant child died 1860."
"William Clarke, Crossan, died 1863 aged 3 years, Martha died 1873 aged 12 years."
"William Craig died 1860 aged 22 years and William John died 1863 aged 2 years."
"Rachel Davidson died 1853 aged 17 years and Rev. Thomas Davidson died 1865 aged 31 years."
"Mary Jane Morrow died 1852 aged 3 years."

All these corteges, and many more, unnamed and forgotten, but known to God, passed through the Church gates. How sad and difficult were those times for their families and for their Minister.

The hardships of the Potato Famine were felt in the Lisburn area. In 1847 the number of destitute people admitted to the Workhouse trebled to almost 1,000 souls. Our forebears were much affected by the famine, their survival depending on a good potato harvest. A letter from Thomas and Mary Hull, local emigrants, writing from Pittsburgh in 1847 to James Clarke, Deneight, reports that the "disease of the potatoes is as bad here as it is there ... what way are the farmers in Ireland getting along, the potatoes will not assist in making up the Rent ... have the landlords lowered the Rents ... the united states of America can send plenty of India meal to keep down the price of provisions." Thomas Dawson, Deneight, replied in 1848: "The potatoes are looking well so far, I hope they are coming back, they were very scarce, there is a great deal set this season and looking well."

The young Phineas Whiteside had a lot to contend with in the early years of his Ministry.

Oral tradition tells us that our first Pastor was a handsome man, of a good disposition, and good with children. We know that he remained unmarried and that his stipend did not exceed �40 per year. He lived in the townland of Deneight, probably in the original part of Deneight House where his landlord was Robert Morrow of Legacurry House, and later in the townland of Lisnoe, in the present home of Cecil and Dorothy Woods, where his landlord was Henry Hart.

Apart from his signatures in the Marriage Register he left us nothing in writing. History tells us he was strongly opposed to the invalidation of mixed marriages, a vexing question in 1844. The only record of his spoken word is an abridged version of his Ordination address to the Congregation of Lisnastrean. When he died on 7 September 1865 at 55 years of age he was mourned by his sisters Mary Whiteside and Martha Macky, wife of the Rev. David Macky of Albany. His grave is at the front of the Church - which he often referred to as the Meeting House. He left behind him his Church visible to those who "Stand at the crossroads and look" - the House of God made with the labour of willing hands. He left us, too, that other Church, "The House of God not made with hands", his Congregation. It is that Congregation which has provided us with a past, a present and a foundation for the future.

Borne at Ballynenagh House, Moneymore. 4 November 1838.
Scholar of Queen's University and Assembly's College.
Ordained in Legacurry 31 May 1866. Resigned active duties 11 June 1907.
Minister of Legacurry Congregation.
August 1907-November 1910. ' ' Moderator o f the General Assembly, 1935.
Born at Seacor, Letterkenny, 1 February 1884.
Scholar of Magee College, Derry and Royal University of Ireland.
Ordained in Legacurry, 27July 1910.
Died 21 April 1949.

The euphoria of the early years was over. Our first Pastor and many of our founder members had gone to their reward. Ahead were the settling down years and the Depression of the late 19th century when we survived the most financially difficult years of our history. Despite serious monetary problems great progress was made - the property was maintained and constantly improved, a farm and manse were purchased and a school residence built. At the same time the day school needed furniture, maps, books and fuel.

At the Committee meeting in September 1865, the first following Mr. Whiteside's death, some tough decisions were taken:

(1) Thomas Dawson, junior, was to collect all stipends due, plus arrears, and any member in default would not be allowed to vote for the new Pastor.
(2) The pew rents were to be increased.
(a) The two corner pews at each side of pulpit �1.10.0 each.
(b) The sixteen pews nearest the pulpit �1.0.0.
(c) The remaining pews to reduce from 19/3 to 13/3 each.
(3) Single lettings to be made only to single people and no seatholder to rent less sittings than suitable for his family. A sum of �52.5.0 could be raised by this arrangement.

Later that year Mr. Robert Morrow and Mr. William Weir were nominated to attend the November meeting of the Belfast Presbytery to obtain a Hearing of twelve men plus one other to be chosen by the Presbytery. They were empowered to offer a stipend of �40 per year (�1,800 in 1993).

For a time Mr. David Gordon from Carrickfergus and the Rev. William Johnston from Newtownlimavady were favoured, but agreement could not be reached. More men were heard. At last on 5 June 1866, "it was agreed unanimously that we moderate in a call to Rev. William Browne from the Presbytery of Magherafelt."

The Rev. William Browne, a farmer's son, was born 1838 at Ballynenagh House near Moneymore. As a boy he attended Crooks Academy in Moneymore, later transferring to Royal Academy, Belfast then to Queen's College and Assembly's College. He was licensed to preach on 3 May 1864 and on 31 May 1866 he was ordained to the Pastoral Charge of Legacurry Presbyterian Church. The newspaper report of the day reads, "A large number of ministers of the Belfast Presbytery were present, and the church was completely filled. The Rev. James Crawford, Hillhall, preached an appropriate sermon, and the Rev. Dr. Murphy, Belfast, defended Presbyterian ordination and doctrine, after which Mr. Brown was set apart for the ministry with the usual solemnities. Prayers were offered up by the Rev. Mr. Montgomery, and the young minister and people were addressed, at considerable length by the Rev. Dr. Given. The ministers and members of the congregation were afterwards entertained at dinner by Mr. Robert Morrow, Legacurry, and in the evening a soiree was held in the church, when addresses were delivered by the Rev. Mr. Brown and several other ministers."

By October that year congregational life was back to normal. A new Committee of 15 men was elected, a start made on reducing the Church debt of �145 (about �6,500 to-day), plans prepared for altering the schoolroom to provide a Session Room, and to make a door from the Session Room into the Meeting House. All the sittings were let, more pews were needed, discussions took place on ways to enlarge the Church.

Jonathan Norwood carried out the work on the schoolroom for �19.10.0 but the enlargement of the Church had to wait for two years. Meantime George Waterworth was appointed Sexton at �2 per year. James Woods became Precentor receiving �5 per year, and a new schoolmaster was appointed. A table and four chairs were purchased in time for the Sacrament (November 1867) and communicants were asked to sit in the middle rows. Communicants sat in the middle rows until the 1970's when they outgrew the space and spread to the side pews. The House was insured for the first time in 1868 to the value of �600, the premium being �1.1.0.

The same year saw the Ordination of the second group of Elders - Mr. Thomas Dawson, senior, and Mr. Thomas Dawson, junior, father and son from Deneight, and the co-option of Mr. George White from Ballyhomra who was formerly a member of Session in Loughaghery. The original Minute exists with the signatures of the three elders and the Rev. Adam Montgomery.

Early in 1869 the burying ground was marked off in rows and "any seatholder taking ground at the front of the house had to guarantee to put up a respectable headstone and paling"

There was much discussion about how best to provide the extra seating so urgently needed. The Committee wanted a gallery, others wanted a porch. "At last they agreed to build a porch, remove the inside wall and make new seats back to the wall." This time they decided to use some professionalism - Mr. Browne had plans drawn up and specifications prepared. Mr. Robert Morrow invited estimates from local builders. The successful contractor was William McNally, his price �37.10.0. Soon Mr. McNally hit a snag, because he had forgotten to allow �12 for the new seats and he had forgotten about a door for the new porch which cost another �3. Then he realised that nobody had thought about stone finishing which cost another �5.5.0. Altogether the porch as it is to-day cost �57.15.0 (about �2,500 to-day). There was another problem, which meant that the seats had to be raised by five inches.

Professionalism wasn't the whole answer!

From the 1870's money was extremely scarce. Up to the end of the 1890's the Minutes record: "Mr. Browne's stipend not paid for 2 years ... Mr. Browne wrote asking for payment of stipend ... no money to pay stipend ... Secretary lent one year's stipend... ask Mr. Browne to accept �40 for this year, will try to find full stipend for next year." Money was borrowed from Committee members who, in turn, were repaid by money borrowed from other Committee members. The lenders were usually William Davidson, Thomas Dawson, James Gardner, John Dawson and Joseph Gilliland, the rate of interest 5%.

In the summer of 1870 money was borrowed to whitewash the Church, repaint and reglaze as necessary, put up spouting, buy furniture for the schoolroom and for "a little house to be builded of Convenience for the Day Schollars." The Annual Report that year listed 120 seatholders contributing a total of �49.18.9. Mr. Robert Morrow, Treasurer, included a letter expressing "the regret of the Session and Committee being unable to carry out necessary improvements ... their Pastor having no manse ... collections not keeping pace with the increased number of seatholders ... many could afford to give more ... the poor should give something ... the Committee had stopped giving `only a halfpenny' ...all should do likewise ... seatholders would be given an envelope each half-year so they could bring their stipend to Church thus avoid paying poundage to the stipend collectors."

The Assembly's New Sustentation Fund was introduced in 1870. In September 1872, after a two year wait, "the little house got builded" by Hugh Irvine, who charged �10. A year later heating stoves were purchased for the Meeting House, and the Committee decided to take advantage of the New Glebe Loan Act to help finance a manse for which Mr. Browne had been collecting funds for some time.

In February 1874 Mr. Browne reported to the Committee that, with their approval, he had purchased a 25 acre farm with a dwelling house and byre at a cost of �705. The property was in the townland of Largymore and formed part of Sir Richard Wallace's Estate. Legal formalities and renovations were to take two more years. At last, ten years after his Ordination, Mr. Browne was able to move out of his lodgings into the comparative comfort of his own home.

Immediately the farm was bought the greatest fund raising event in our history was organised in the form of "The Sermon", the popular entertainment of the day. The Rt. Rev. William Johnson, Moderator of the General Assembly, preached. Subscriptions were solicited far and wide from Businesses, Linen Merchants, the Clergy, Doctors and the Gentry. Last in that list came the plain Esquires. There were also Titled people, justices of the Peace and Army Officers. Miss Mary Whiteside and `Friends across the Channel', all contributed.

The morning Sermon was held in Legacurry and the evening Sermon in Market Square (First Lisburn). There were 21 special collectors, 11 in the morning and 10 in the evening. The gigantic sum of �506.10.0 was received - about �22,000 to-day. The Rev. William Browne was a very happy man as he thanked the Moderator for his esteemed discourses, the Rev. J.L. Rentoul for the loan of his church for the evening sermon, the Rev. DJ. Clarke of Railway Street and the Rev. J. Powell of Sloan Street for closing their Churches for the occasion and lastly, but specially, all those friends who had contributed so cheerfully and liberally.

Church life was busy in 1876. The Belfast Presbytery made its last Visitation. The following year the Congregation was transferred to the Dromore Presbytery. The books were audited and "dinner and coffee" for 40 people, at 2s per head, was ordered from Mr. Bailey of Lisburn. The Congregation was unable to meet the bill, so the Committee paid the �4 themselves.

The new Committee of 1876 passed a set of 10 resolutions which would have graced any modern boardroom. A couple of months later they added rule 11 which stipulated that "Any person addressing the Chair should occupy no more than 10 minutes." Eloquence alone was not enough, as it was money which was needed to talk! Therefore resolution number 12 was passed "That on election, or re-election, to the Congregational Committee it is to be understood that they become security for debt against the manse, otherwise, they will not be eligible to act on Committee."

The three aspects of Church life which set the pattern for the next 25 years were:
(1) The mundane and everyday matters.
(2) Property and its problems.
(3) Sermons.

The second Sermon was preached on 26 January 1878 by the Rev. John Macnaughton of Rosemary Street. Part of an advertisement for that Sermon reads "Within the last eight years the Congregation of Legacurry found it necessary to enlarge, repair, and heat their Church, overhaul the Schoolhouse and provide a Residence for the Minister at a cost of above �1,100. Although the Minister and members have made several efforts, there remains a debt of �350 pressing heavily on the Congregation and minister, hampering their influence for good." This moderate effort raised �72.4.3.

The mundane matters went on normally. The Church roof was repaired - the Committee met the expense. The Church and Schoolroom were whitewashed. Collection ladles and collecting boxes were "set aside", and plates were introduced because they looked better. A new byre was built at the manse which necessitated the road being moved on to Mr. R.H. Clarke's land. He had no objection "provided he was given a present of �5."

A new pitch pine pulpit and choir seat were installed in 1884, the Session Room was pink washed and the ceiling papered, a small hall was made to separate the coal room from the Session room and the Committee room was ceiled.

The running of the Sabbath School was a continuing and serious problem. In good times there were Sabbath School soirees and the young people received `Premiums'. In bad times it closed down completely for a year or two at a time, then started again. Sometimes it was held in the Church, sometimes in the Schoolroom, sometimes on Sabbath evenings only, sometimes in the mornings. Mr. Thomas Dawson, senior, was Superintendent. Occasionally he had help from Mr. John Knox and some Committee members as well as the Rev. W. Browne. He resigned in 1884 but was asked to resume his duties. He died in harness in 1891 at 88 years of age. The word `children' does not appear in the Minutes until 1900, when they were entertained to 12 dozen of oranges. Perhaps `children' were not catered for in our earlier years.

When the Presbytery of Dromore visited in 1890 they were complimentary about the Sabbath School, the scholars having taken the highest places in the Presbytery examinations. The Choir was praised too, for the efficient way it conducted the Psalmody. The trainer at that time was likely a Mr. Walker and the Precentor, Mr. John Woods. The `Visitors' were greatly pleased to find the church property in such nice order and free from debt. Had they `Visited' more thoroughly they would have found Mr. Browne had had no stipend for nearly two years. The Committee members were seriously out of pocket, so much so that Mr. Browne paid their hospitality account of �14.8.0 out of his own purse.

What might our Pastor's thoughts have been as he "preached an excellent sermon" (in the presence of the Moderator) from St. Luke Chapter 23 verse 42: "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom."

The choir trip of 1892 was an exciting event. A brake and luncheon were supplied by the Committee. Any extras were to be provided by "the honoured gentlemen invited by the young ladies of the Choir as a friend and escort." The Misses Hillis, Woods, Brown, Harvey, McIlveen, Dawson, Clarke, Reid, Scott, Armour and Watson were the young ladies of the 1890's. Their `honoured escorts' were unnamed, and rightly so, for they failed in their duty! Once again the long suffering Committee picked up the bill for the extras.

Some extremely onerous duties were laid upon the Sextoness of those days. Her name is not given but she may have been Mrs. Jameson. A yardstick was supplied to her to ensure that all coffins were buried at least 3' deep. If not, she was forbidden to open the gates to admit the cortege. Also, if the 5s interment fee had not been paid, she was forbidden to allow the funeral to proceed. When the Sextons were men yard-sticks and fees were not mentioned.

The mundane and everyday occurrences of these years were not all dull. In 1888 ways to improve the entrance to the schoolroom were discussed. One brave man suggested "a porch" only to have his idea rejected as "an unnecessary appendage and a shed." Then Mr. William Harvey suggested that they "adhere to the existing triangularism." His phraseology was more acceptable, hence we have a Church porch and a Schoolroom porch which are look-alikes. The scholars may not have been pleased, as they had enjoyed sliding down the muddy slope outside their school door. The Committee decided to raise as much as possible of the cost amongst themselves without appealing to the public.

History was made in 1893 when the first water borne Central Heating System in the district was installed in the Church. Messrs. Musgrave and Company sent out their representative "to meet the Committee, draw up plans, explain the workings of a small pipe system of heating, advise on safeguards in time of frost, prevention of chemical deposit in bore of pipes, the lifespan of the apparatus, advise the Sextoness on fuelling and examine the suitability of the chimney."

Consultation one hundred years ago was excellent. The complete installation cost �43.17.6 (about �2,000 to-day). It worked well for fifty years but it did not get there by itself. A work scheme was planned down to the last detail. Messrs. Harvey, Morrison and Gilliland drew sand, Messrs. McConnell, White and Dawson drew loads apiece of brick. Messrs. Brown, Armour and McIlveen drew cement. The plum job went to Messrs. Brown, Milligan and McClelland who drew the apparatus from Lisburn Station.

Then the Church was newly distempered. Mr. Robb, the painter was allowed to choose the colour of the cornice himself. At that time there was a very nice, slightly ornate plaster ceiling. Finally all was in readiness for the re-opening in December 1893.

Down the years our forefathers had managed to provide a Church, a burying ground, a schoolroom and a manse, but, as yet, there was no Residence for the School Master. A site adjoining the Deneight road was considered and rejected. At the end of 1889 a one acre site costing �50 in Mr. Ball's point field was chosen. A Memorial was prepared by the Rev. William Browne and laid before Colonel Mussenden who seems not to have heard their `prayer'. However, the document is worth reading:

The Memorial o f the Committee and Congregation o f Legacurry respectfully sheweth:
Than an, effort is on foot to provide a Residence for the Principal of Legacurry National School and to take advantage of the facilities offered by the Board of Public Works and the Education Board to secure the money at a cheap rate of interest i.e. 2 % per annum for 35 years when all will be cleared o ff thereby. For that purpose an acre of land in fee farm at a nominal rent is necessary. Your memorialists have, fixed on a site on your property and have come to terms with the tenant.
They now approach you with the request that you, in the interest of the education of many of your tenants, be so generous as to grant us the site. Your memorialists as in duty bound will ever pray. "


Another four years were to lapse before more efforts were made to procure a site for a Residence. Six sites were considered:
(1) Mr. Andrew Morrow's site of one acre known as Jenny Ferguson's. At �50 this was thought to be "out of all reason."
(2) Deneight School site.
(3) Mr. John Clarke's field.
(4) Mr. Mateer's field.
(5) Mr. Jameson's field.
(6) Mr. Ball's point field known as Moore's corner.

Number 6 was the preferred option. Mr. Ball was willing to sell 1 acres for �50, a price deemed reasonable (more reasonable than they could have foreseen). By 1982 sites were sold off it to the value of �14,850, which gave the foundation to the New Church Hall Building Fund.

Tenders were received from three builders, Messrs. McVernan, Coulter and Quinn. Mr. McVernan's tender was accepted and he built the Residence for �245 (about �13,000 today including the site). The architect was Mr. Hunter and the Trustees, Messrs. S. Brown, A. McIlveen, J. Gilliland, L. Milligan, C. Gardner and J. Ferguson, all farmers. Again the money was borrowed from Committee members, as well as through the New Glebe Loan Act, plus �125 to buy out the Head Rent on the Largymore manse from Lady Wallace.

Borrowing alone could not meet all the expense involved in the more major projects down the years, so Sermons were arranged as necessity dictated. A third sermon was preached in October 1884 by either Dr. Johnson or Mr. Lyons.

There was a long list of preparations; many items were bought, some were borrowed. The shopping list read:
(1) Oil cloth and mats for the Church.
(2) New lamps for the pulpit.
(3) Grey and white stripe blinds for the House windows.
(4) A table cloth and 2 towels.
(5) A pair of coal buckets.
(6) Half a ton of coals.
(7) Refreshments. The borrowing list was shorter:
(1) Lamps for the Church.
(2) Collection plates. (3) Crockery.

Our forefathers were surely disappointed with the outcome when only �71.5.6. was raised.

The fourth Sermon preached by the Moderator, Dr. William Clarke, BA, on 29 September 1889 did much better raising �103.3.11.

The Minute writer tells us a lot more about the fifth Sermon preached on 17 December 1893 to defray the cost of the heating system. "Sermons in Contemplation" was the topic chosen by the Rev. Dr. James Heron, DD. Some 400 plain tickets, 200 complimentary tickets, 200 circulars, 200 addressed envelopes and one receipt book were ordered. Mr. Hugh Kirkwood, Lisburn, offered to lend his shop lamps; Joseph Gilliland fetched and returned them in his pony and trap. A labourer "was to be got" to repair the fences and clean up the walks, and `the women' were to wash the floors - (sexual discrimination!!). However, all the efforts (and offences) were worthwhile when �109 was raised.

The sixth and last mentioned Sermon arose from a remark made by the Rev. Josias Mitchell of Anahilt in June 1900 when he said, "The only thing required was money, the Committee should obtain some even at a sacrifice to themselves." A comment likely to be more hurtful than helpful! The outstanding debt at the time was �300. We know nothing of the actual Sermon, but we do know how the outcome was used:

To Glebe Loan Act �80. 3. 1
Principal and Interest 55. 5. 0
Rev. W. Browne's expenses 4. 0. 0
Rev. Duffs hotel bill 1.14. 6
Cost of manse pump 13. 0. 0 �154. 2. 7
Cash in hand 141. 5. 5
Income from Sermon �295. 8. 0

Before leaving the 19th century a quick ramble through the Minute book shows life at the grass roots. We read that "There was a friendly consultation between the members present about different matters and everything in general ... After a little confidential chat the members separated for their respective homes ... A great deal was said and very little done ... Whitewasher's stipend to be deducted from his pay ... It was noted that the Trustees were deceased, new ones were needed ... At last they agreed ... Manse gates to be hung ... Nothing was done about anything."

On amore serious note, "The members present were but few... only five members present ... Secretary to write to absentees in as nice way as possible ... Committee's interest in the House can be judged by their attendance at meetings ... Sabbath collections poor, some attend rarely, some never appear. These things must remain a reproach on a Christian country ... Tidy up for the Presbytery meeting ... Whitewash for the May communion."

The worst of the bad times were left behind in the old century. Better times came with the new century. Its birth was celebrated with a "Cinematograph Concert", a new venture with new technology for a new age.

Early in the new century all the Church accounts were completely clear of debt for the first time in our history.

During Mr. Browne's 40 year ministry 38 marriages were solemnised. The first on 13 April 1868 between Thomas Carlisle, weaver, from Tannabrick and Eliza Jane Crothers, Lisburn. The last was between William James McIlveen, farmer, and Lydia McIlveen, both from Crossan on 20 November 1906. He baptised 561 children in their own homes. Oral tradition tells us Mr. Browne loved visiting in the homes of his flock where he was made very welcome. (They provided him with ample reasons to visit).

He retired in June 1907 becoming our Senior Minister and continued to live in the manse paying frequentvisits to the family home near Moneymore. Tradition takes the Browne family back at least to the 17th century when they established their farm at Ballynenagh. Since those times they have farmed intensively and, in most generations, have produced sons for the Ministry and Medical profession. To-day the farm is run by the Rev. William's grand-nephew Norman and his son David.

Our second Pastor died on 5 December 1914 in the house in which he was born. He is buried in the family grave at the side of Saltersland Presbyterian Church. His congregation and his neighbours were represented at his funeral by the Rev. T J.K. Rankin, Campbell Gardner, Archibald Harvey, William George White, Matthew Morrow, James McCloy, Samuel Brown and Robert Hugh Clarke. They travelled by train from Lisburn to Magherafelt where they were met by Mr. Welsh who had an hotel in the town. He conveyed them to the funeral and on returning to his hotel they were entertained by the Browne family before being escorted to the Railway Station for the return journey to Lisburn.

In 1907 the Rev. Andrew Frederick Moody, MA, BD, a Coleraine man, was assisting temporarily in Chester Avenue, Whitehead, and was available to come immediately to Legacurry. He was installed on 28 August 1907. He stayed until 29 September 1909 when he accepted a call to Cliftonville, Belfast. Our previous Pastors were both unmarried but Mr. Moody brought with him his wife Lucy (Giles) and baby son Henry Laurence born on 1 March 1907. In 1935 he became Moderator of the General Assembly.

Our third Pastor's stay was short but eventful. By 1909 our simple barn-like Church had been transformed. The whitewash finish had gone, instead we had the stonewash finish as it is to-day. The plain glazed windows were replaced by the beautifully coloured glass windows which rest our eyes on Sabbath mornings. The plaster ceiling had disappeared being replaced by the lovely timbered ceiling of to-day. A gallery was added and both floors were fitted with pitch pine pews. Beautiful brass bowled oil lamps were suspended along both aisles. The present pulpit lamps, now electrified, date back to those years. The pitch pine and the lamp light blended beautifully. Stables were erected in the graveyard on part of the site presently occupied by the Church Hall of 1970.

Written records of these major improvements are non-existent but our two oldest members have personal recollections. Miss Frances Gardner, great grand-niece of our first Elder, Robert Gardner, remembers standing in the Session Room doorway and surveying the havoc within, the lovely plaster ceiling lying on the floor in pieces! Mrs. Lily McComb, nee Caughey, recalls playing with little bits of the lovely coloured glass and taking them home to show to her mother. She also recalls the whole family's tremendous pride in the wrought iron entrance gates at the front and side of the Church which were made and donated by their father, James, whose blacksmith shop was a little way up the main road. Lily tells how they didn't have much money to spare but a lot of loving labour went into the making of those gates. The congregation subscribed around �500 towards these renovations and another �500 was raised by other means.

In Mr. Moody's time there were 8 marriages and 24 baptisms. The first child baptised was Phineas Browne Caughey (a tribute to Rev. William Browne), the son of James and Lizzie Caughey of Legacurry, the blacksmith family.

Early in his ministry six new elders were elected-Messrs. John Clark, (Deneight), Archibald Harvey, William George White, Robert Armour, Campbell Gardner, and John Clarke (Lisnastrean). The Presbytery visited a few months before Mr. Moody left and commented on the thriving Sabbath School and Bible Class, the happy state of things and the beautifully renovated Church.

The Rev. A. F. Moody's years were good years.

The Rev. William Browne saw us through the bad years when we lived a hand-to-mouth existence. He showed great patience and generosity particularly when the stresses of those years created serious personality problems for himself and one or two of the older members. We can be thankful that he recovered from the serious and prolonged illness which followed those days and was spared to enjoy, with his Congregation, a few of the better years of the 1900's.

Ordained Minister of
Cremore and Tyrone's Ditches United Congregations, 4 June 1943.
Installed Minister of Legacurry, 6 October 1949 Retired, 10 November, 1983.
REV. WILLIAM McBRIDE CAMPBELL, B.A., B.D., Dip. Ed. Minister of Legacurry Congregation September 1984 - March 1990. REV. CHARLES JOHN CARSON McMULLEN, M.A., M.Litt., B.D.
Minister of Legacurry Congregation March 1991-