Ros Davies' Co. Down, Northern Ireland Family History Research Site
© Rosalind Davies 2001
Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

Ballywalter parish

Ballywalter town Ballywalter Church of Ireland Old Parish Church, Whitechurch Ballywalter Presbyterian Church


The town of Ballywalter

Ballywalter town


This photo was taken from the parish church looking south across the strand. You can see the spire of the Presbyterian church in the centre of the photo.

In 1661 the village was described as having 24 tenements and by 1681 there was a water mill, a wind mill, three tenements, a slate quarry and a creek for small boats to land. By 1744 it was described as a pretty little village with a slate quarry and a nearby Presbyterian Church. In 1764, the parish population was 1525 with 97% Presbyterians (MOA p22)

In 1836 the town had one long street running parallel to the coast with 150 houses including a few miserable hovels. Most of the houses had slate roofs and 35 were thatched. All built of stone which was plastered and whitewashed giving a clean and pleasant look to the town. Most were one storey but 60 were 2 -storey. There was scarcely a Catholic in town. Their food was mainly potatoes and their fuel was turf. There were 702 residents in town with the average number in a family of 5. There was also a corn mill and a windmill for grinding the corn and a coast guard station..

The population of the village in 1910 was 694 people with 1114 in the whole parish. It was described as a fishing village.

Click here for information on schools in 19th century for this town and parish.

Newspaper articles from Northern Star;
political meeting for inhabitants 23 Dec 1796

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
Patriotic fund- names of contributors 20 Jan 1855; rumoured land meeting 11 Dec 1880

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Chronicle;
coast guard station 16 Mar 1878; Temperance Society 1 Apr 1882 ; extract from Lifeboat journal 5 Aug 1876; RNLI medal for coastguard chief for resacue of crew of 'Euphemia Fullerton' 31 Mar 1883; opening of lecture hall, short history of Ballywalter Presbyterianism 4 Feb 1893; breach of promise case of Ballywalter minister 25 Jan 1896; sale of Ballywalter Hotel 29 Aug 1896; races 7 Jan 1899.

You can visit the new Ballywalter forum at

References;V7 p 16, 17, 18 & V17 p 125 OSM: DR; NS; O'L B p 328; PNNI V2 p 67; SP ; POD


Holy Trinity, Ballywalter

Ballywalter Church of Ireland- Holy Trinity
Whitechurch Rd, Ballywalter

Ballywalter parish church is just north of Ballywalter town with the Irish Sea across the road. It was built in 1849 to replace the old parish church called Whitechurch which is just a kilometres or two further north. It was rebuilt in 1891. There are some burials surrounding the church but many burials continued at the ruined Whitechurch site. See the main listing for a photo of the ruined Whitechurch and the graveyard. The rector in 1910 was Rev. W.S. Kerr. Later Rev J. H. Osborne was vicar for 37 years until 1950s.

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
consecrated and reopened 31 Jan 1891

Baptisms from 1845, marriages from 1850, burials from 1844; UHF has baptisms 1845-75; used Whitechurch graveyard but some graves surround the church; gravestones UHF Vol 15; North of Ireland FHS ( holds baptism 1845- 1924 & marriages 1850- 1917 & burials 1844- 1918
This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References;GIC ; SBTS p22; V15 MIs; POD; PE


The old parish church of Ballywalter

The old parish church of Ballywalter- Whitechurch
on a small road from Ballyboley to the north end of Ballywalter town

Also called Templefyn. This ruined church is a few kilometres north of Ballywalter town . It was mentioned in papers in 1306 as Alba Ecclesia. The transept was added in the 15th century. It survived the Wars and was still in use in 1657 but with a thatched roof. It was abandoned when a new church was built at Balligan in 1704 to serve the whole area. It was then used just as a graveyard even when the new church "Holy Trinity' was built closer to town. The oldest legible gravestone is dated 1663. The church measured 54 feet by 18 feet. There were 50 Church of Ireland people in this parish in 1764.

Newspaper article from Down Recorder;
Whitechurch parish article 24 Apr 1847;

gravestone inscriptions UHF Vol 15; email me for a gravestone look-up ; for gravestone photos try

References; SBTS p2; V7 p5 OSM; DR; V15 MIs: O'L V1 p 440;GV


Old Ballywalter Presbyterian

Ballywalter 1st & 2nd Presbyterian Church
in Ballywalter village

The Presbyterians from Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert & Greyabbey formed one congregation and worshipped at Whitechurch before 1661. The first Presbyterian church was built in the parish in 1670 on the site of the recent coastguard station. . A replacement church was built in 1715 (see photo on left) . There were 1475 Presbyterians in this parish in 1764. In 1820 the congregation divided over the conduct of Rev. John Duff Gibson who was accused of jilting a woman. The Synod would not agree to his ordination. The majority of the congregation stood by him and he was irregularly ordained in 1820, thus the rift.
A meeting House was erected in 1824 & paid for by general subscription. It was described as an oblong shape 66 feet by 40 feet & capable of holding 500 people. One tenth of the population attended this church in 1836.

In 1836 the old meeting house (left) was described as an old building in the form of a cross which measured 60 feet by 60 feet. It had spacious aisles and including the galleries it would hold 700 people. 9/10ths of the population attended this church in 1836 . In 1844, a Commission of the General Assembly held another hearing and exonerated Rev. Gibson so he was regularly ordained. The new church (right) was built in 1889. The two churches finally reunited in 1925.

List of Ministers:
Rev. James Hamilton 1626-1636; Rev. James Batty 1642-1659; Rev. John Goudy 1688-1733; Rev. Robert Goudy 1734-1802; Rev. James Cochrane 1762-1802; Rev. Andrew Goudy 1802-1818; (the next 6 minister were for 1st Presbyterian) Rev. James Templeton 1821-1856 ; Rev. David H. McMurtry 1857-1859; Rev. Samuel Brown 1859-1861 ; Rev. Dr. David Magill 1862-1885; Rev. Dr. James A. Anderson 1860 1894 ; Rev. Henry MacBride 1895-1925; ( the next 5 ministers were for 2nd Presbyterian) Rev. John Duff Gibson 1820-1861; Rev. Henry Gamble 1861-1865; Rev. David McKee 1866-1868; Rev. John Rogers 1869-1897; Rev. George Heron 1898-1944 (2nd then 1st minister of combined congregation) ; Rev. Samuel James Mcilveen 1944-1979; Rev. Dr. Robert Alan Russell 1982-


Newspaper article from Northern Star;
notice from the congregation re their political principles 9 Jan 1793

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
foundation stone for new church 5 Jan 1889;opening of new church building 7 Dec 1889; opening of Lecture Hall, short history of Ballywalter Presbyterianism 4 Feb 1893


Baptisms from 1824, marriages from 1845; North of Ireland FHS has baptisms 1820-1923 & marriages 1803- 1922

References;V7 p 17 OSM; NS; GIPR; V15 MIs ; O'L V1 p 440;GV; POD ; Wilma Tomerlin (descendant of Rev. Gibson) ; SBTS; NC

The old 1st Presbyterian church was located at the corner of Well Road & Main Road and was built in 1715.

This photo was kindly sent to me by Wilma Tomerlin

Ballywalter Presbyterian Church

above- 2nd Presbyterian Church

by Ros Davies