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

Donaghadee Parish

Donaghadee town Donaghadee Church of Ireland 1st Presbyterian Church 2nd Presbyterian Church
Donaghadee Methodist Church Carrowdore Church of Ireland Carrowdore Presbyterian Church .
Millisle village Millisle Presbyterian Church Millisle Seceeders Presbyterian Church, Ballycopeland .


Donaghadee Harbour c. 1900

Donaghadee town
A church was founded here by St. Patrick in 5th century AD. In 1603, James Hamilton came into possession of Donaghadee, but it was granted to Hugh Montgomery in 1606. He was anxious to improve the Donaghadee Port so brought masons, carpenters and smiths with him from Scotland to begin the building of dwellings and work on the port in 1626. He controlled Portpatrick, Scotland and wanted to dominate travel between Scotland and Ireland.

The Scottish settlers came from Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Stirlingshire, Argyllshire, Bute, Arran, the Borders, Kirkardbrightshire and Dumfries and brought their cattle with them. People with the following surnames appear to have settled the first dozen years: Adair, Agnew, Aicken, Allen, Anderson, Barkley, Bracklie, Boyle, Cathcart, Catherwood, Cowper, Craig, Crawford, Cunningham, Fraser, Harvey, Harper, Hunter, Kelso, Kennedy, Logan, Martin, Maxwell, McDougall, McIlveen, McMackene, Moore, Mowlen, Neil, Orr, Peacock, Sempill, Shaw, Spiere, Thompson, Williamson, Wilson, Wylie and Wymis. In 1659 there were 83 English/Scots & 63 Catholic families and the proprietors of the village were Roger Crymble, Robert Brearely,Henry Cresans, Archibald Mullen & William Brown.

In the 19th century, Donaghadee passed to the Delacherois family. (HN)

The Religious Returns of 1764 show that there were 100 Church of Ireland families in the parish with 1848 Presbyterian and no Catholics. The harbour was rebuilt in 1821 when the town consisted of 2 long curving streets, one running along the shore & the other inland. The houses on the shore were stone, plastered & whitewashed with slate roofs & neat. The population of the town was 3,000 and the people were described in 1824 as peaceable and industrious. The whole town in 1837 was described as neat & tidy. There were 650 houses, mostly of one-storey, with some two & three-storey, mostly stone but some of mud, 160 were thatched roofed. There was a large fish pond near the town, a lighthouse on the southern pier & a coastguard station which had seven men & an officer in 1836. There was also three policemen ,and a newsroom for the middle classes. Most men at that time had maritime occupations, whilst the women were employed in ornamental needlework.

In 1837 there were six fairs held annually, a savings bank, 5 schools ,a powder magazine & old barracks; smuggling was popular but the people otherwise peaceable. The population of the parish in 1846 was 8557 people with 3151 living in Donaghadee town. 28 May 1848 a public works program was instigated for famine relief with road works from Newtownards to Donaghaee (FCD 8) . The principal imports in 1852 were coal & timber and the exports were live cattle & pigs (POD). The railway was here by 1863. The coastguard station & lighthouse were in The Parade; the Petty Sessions house was in New Street; the Police Barracks was in High Street; the Gas Company in Railway Street ; the Dispensary in Bow Street in 1863. The population in 1910 was 2073.

This lovely old postcard c. 1905 was kindly sent by Noel Lavery. Donaghadee Harbour c. 1900. This photo was kindly sent to me by Jeff Hampton.
Donaghadee Lighthouse c. 1900
These lovely old photos (c. 1900 )of Donaghadee were kindly sent to me by Jeff Hampton. Left : Millisle Road, Donaghadee & Right; The Lighthouse in the Harbour.
Donaghadee Harbour 1890 Donaghadee Promenade 1908
These lovely old postcards were kindly sent to me by Rev. George E. Jenkins formerly of Donaghadee. The one on the left is dated 1890 and on the right 1908. They show Donaghadee Harbour and Promenade.

Newspaper articles from the Northern Star;
sea passage from Donaghadee to Portpatrick only takes 2 hours 23 Mar 1793 ; 4 armed vessels off the shore 27 Apr 1795; experiments re a telegraph between the town and Portpatrick 17 Aug 1795

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
meeting of Donaghadee Volunteers 29 Dec 1792; a murder Mrs. McCready 22 May 1852; railway extensions 26 Nov 1853; Lifeboat of 'Mary Blane' picked up. Fears for vessel and Crew 21 Oct 1854; regatta 22 Aug 1857; discovery of hematite iron 20 Dec 1873

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Independent;
New hotel & baths 5 Aug 1871 & 30 Mar 1872; the origins of Donaghadee or the 2 wishes , a legend 2 Sep 1871

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Chronicle;
Donaghadee races in the Warren 10 Jan 1874; regatta 26 Aug 1876; boating accident 28 Oct 1876; loss of Donaghadee steamer, 8 drowned 3 Feb 1877; extraordinary elopement case 1 Dec 1877;Temperance Meeting 28 Aug 1880; melancholy case of drowning 28 Jul 1883; right-of-way dispute at Warren Gents Bathing Place 14 Jun 1890;dynamite explosion 3 Jan 1891; shark caught 1 Aug 1891; two men drowned whilst boarding smack in harbour 6 Jan 1894; new Masonic Hall 1 Oct 1898; opening of new Orange Hall 8 Jul 1899; opening of Golf Links 5 Aug 1899; sensational robberies 20 Jan 1900; fatal fire 10 Feb 1900; explosion & fire at lighthouse 19 May 1900.


For gravestone photos try

References;NS: V17 p 124 & V7 p 45-51 OSM; SP; POD; DR; PNNI V2 p 179; TMUOP p88;GV; POD ; MOA p20,92


Parish Church c. 1900
Donaghadee Church of Ireland

Donaghadee Church of Ireland
just to the W of Main Street in Church Lane

A Catholic congregation was flourishing on this site in 1306 along with churches of Haytona (Ballyhay), Ralfetona ( Ballyrolly), Templepatrick & a chapel of St. Colman (Grangee).
This Church of Ireland parish church was built in 1626 by Hugh, Viscount Montgomery . Rev. Nevin from Scotland was rector in 17th century. A stone uncovered behind the pulpit says it was repaired in 1641. The Congregation of Scots and English settlers had an interesting disregard of the doctrinal details. In Donaghadee and Bangor Parishes at that time, Presbyterian clerics served as rectors. It was rebuilt 1833 and again in 1880.
It was described as a very old building in 1837 and still undergoing repairs then. It is in the form of a cross, measures 166 feet by 85 feet and is capable of holding 350 people. The rector in 1824 was Rev William Boyd & in 1830, 1843 & 1846 was , Rev. John Hill In 1910 it was Rev. R.H. Coote.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
reopening of parish church 9 Jul 1881

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Chronicle;
Address & presentation to Rev. R.H. Coote 16 Mar 1889; row amongst congregation makes it to Petty Sessions 9 Nov 1889

Baptisms & burials from 1771 , marriages from 1772; North of Ireland FHS ( ) has baptisms 1771-1900 & marriages 1772-1921 & burials 1771-1923; UHF ( ) has baptisms 1771-1845 & burials 1771-1786 & 1817--1841; have baptisms 1771-1845 & burials 1771-1786;1817-1818; 1820-1841
graveyard attached; gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 16; email me for a gravestone look-up; also try &

References;V7 p46, 47 OSM ; LM 1985 p6; POD;NC; GIC; V16 MIs;GV; POD


Carrowdore Church of Ireland- Christ Church
in Woodburn Rd, Carrowdore

This church is on a small road between Carrowdore Castle and the sea. It is in the townland of Ballyrawer There was a chapel of St. Kolman in 1306 in nearby Grangee townland , but was ruined in 1622. The church was built in 1843 & paid for by Lord John George Beresford, uncle of Mrs. George Dunbar of Woburn and built on land given by Nicholas De Lacherois Crommelin of Carrowdore Castle. The nave alone was opened in 1843 and the chancel, vestry and spire added in 1859. On the spire is inscribed:- "To the Glory of God and in memory of a beloved niece Harriette Isabella Delapoer, daughter of Lord George Beresford and wife of George Dunbar, Esq. This tower and spire were erected by John George, Archbishop of Armagh, with whom she resided from her childhood until her decease 18 Apr 1859."
The minister in 1863 was Rev. Andrew George Gilmore .
The original registers from 1841-2 were destroyed in the Four Courts fire in Dublin in 1822 and present registers are:- baptism from 1873 , marriage from 1846 and burials from 1875. North of Ireland FHS ( ) has baptisms 1870-1921 & marriages 1846-1923 & burials 1868- 1999 ; gravestones UHF Vol 14; photo in Vol 14; email me for a gravestone look-up

This photo was kindly sent to me by Brian McCleary.

References;; MIs; GV


1st Presbyterian Church, Donaghadee

1st Presbyterian Church
in the centre of Donaghadee town in High Street next to the Town Hall

First Presbyterian, Donaghadee, traces its post-Reformation origins back to 1642. The first minister Rev. Nevin was formerly a Church of Ireland minister. He was suceeded by Rev. Andrew Stewart in 1658. After the religious disruptions in 1661 a new 'Meeting House' was built at Killaughy (just outside the town), followed in the early 18th Century by a move by the congregation to another new building in what is still called Meeting House Street, in the town centre. The Congregation of Scots and English settlers had an interesting disregard of the doctrinal details. In Donaghadee and Bangor Parishes at that time, Presbyterian clerics served as rectors.When this confusing practice ended , the non-conformists built their own church at the south end of Meetinghouse Street.

The minister in 1701 until his death in 1730, was Rev. Henry Hamilton. He was followed by Rev. James Maxwell Stewart from 7 Mar 1733 until his death in 1743. He was suceeded by Rev. William Warnock from 1747 until his death in 1768. Then Rev. John Adams from 1772 until his death in 1779 and Rev. Alexander Goudy from 1780 until he emigrated to USA in 1791. He was suceeded by Rev. James Knox from 1794 until his resignation in 1798 . He was suceeded by Rev. John Arnold from 1799 until his death in 1811. Next was Rev. William Skelly from 1812 until 1819 when he was suspended for immorality. next was Rev. John McAulay from 1822 .

But part of the congregation still adhered to Rev. William Skelly so a split occurred and the other Presbyterian built in Shore Street . The meeting house (left ) in High Street, was built in 1824 at a cost of £815 which was defrayed by subscription. The old meeting house was described in 1824 as being in a ruinous condition. It's of the usual ornamental construction. It is capable of holding 500 people. Rev. James McAuley continued as minister but became infirm and Rev. William Witherow took over from 1874 until 1882 . There was a National School adjacent in 1863. The next minister was Rev. Samuel Walker from 1882 until at least 1910

North of Ireland FHS ( ) has baptisms 1793-1921 & marriages 1805- 1936 & communicants 1879-1916 ; no graveyard have a copy of the church booklet of 1925 with a church history on subscription

References; V7 p 47 OSM ; HCPCI p111-113; GIPR: GIC ;GV; NC; POD

2nd Presbyterian Church,
at the northern extremity of Donaghadee town in Warren Road/ Shore Street, on the sea shore

This Meeting House was built in 1822 after a split with the other Presbyterian church in town . It cost £600 which was paid by subscription. It measured 60 feet by 50 feet and held 450 people in 1837. A Sabbath School was held here in 1826. The first minister was Rev William Skelly until his death in 1875 then from 1876-1893 was Rev. William Weir Hamilton. In 1899 & 1910 the minister was Rev. Robert Andrews. There was a National School & sexton's house adjacent in 1866.

Article from Newtownards Independent newspaper;
a short history of Donaghadee Presbyterians 4 Jan 1873

Article from Down Recorder newspaper;
article 31 Jul 1852; presentation to Rev J.S. McAuley

North of Ireland FHS ( ) has baptisms 1849-1921 & marriages 1850-1921; no graveyard; try

References; V7 p 46, 47 OSM; HCPCI p113; DR ; NI: GIPR; GIC; MIs;GV; POD


Donaghadee Methodist Church

Methodist Church
in Mount St., Donaghadee town across from Church of Ireland

A local tradition claims that the Methodists, converted by John Wesley on some of his many recorded visits to Donaghadee, constructed their place of worship on the site of his open air pulpit near the Parish Church. In 1836 this church was described as neat inside and capable of holding 300 people .The minister in 1843 was Rev. James Tobias and in 1863 Rev. Robert Hazleton. There was a National School adjacent in 1863. The minister in 1910 was Rev. J.W. Carrothers.

North of Ireland FHS ( ) has baptisms 1825-1921 & marriages 1839-1921; graveyard separate; gravestones UHF Vol 17

References; V7 p 47 OSM; POD; GIC; GV ; POD



Millisle village
3km S of Donaghadee town; on the coast

This postcard of Millisle c. 1938 was kindly sent to me by Tom Courtney.

Millisle means 'town of the mill'. It's a village in the townlands of Ballymacruise & Ballycopeland . In 1837 there was contains a pond, a Presbyterian meeting house, and a school. There were 67 one-storey houses & 7 two-storey houses with about half with slate roofs, a corn mill & stores, 7 grocers & spirit sellers, 1 cooper, and 1 smithie. Most houses belonged to fishermen who held small farms as well.

Newspaper article from northern Herald;
anti tithe meeting 30 Nov 1833 )

Newspaper article from Down Recorder;
David Carmichael Esq.- Lecture on a trip to America 9 Jul 1881

Newspaper articles from Newtownards Chronicle;
horse races 27 Jan 1877 & 31 Dec 1881 ; Tenant Farmers' Defence Assoc 17 Jun 1882 ; melancholy result of a quarrel 8 Oct 1887; fire at Spion Kop 15 dec 1900

References;V7 p 45, 50 ,51 OSM: NH; DR; NC; GIPR; PNNI V2 p 194


Millisle Presbyterian Church
17 Ballywalter Rd, Millisle village, Ballymacruise townland

The original meeting house was built in 1773 and the first minister was Rev. Andrew Greer from 1771. After he became infirm he was replaced by Rev. John Walker 1810-1814. Next minister was Rev. John Hanna 1815 until he became infirm and chose an assistant in 1848, Rev. John McAuley.

In 1836 the church was described as being capable of holding 476 people with an average attendance of 150. It had two small galleries & measured 60 by 42 feet in a T shape.

records from 1773; baptisms from 1773 , marriages from 1838; gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 16, oldest stone 1850; photo in Vol 16; email me for a gravestone look-up; also try
For gravestone photos try

References; HCPCI p195; V7 p 51 OSM; POD; GIPR; V16 MIs;GIC


Millisle Seceeders Presbyterian Church
in the village in Ballycopeland townland

The congregation was organised in 1773 in the Anti-Burgher Secession Synod & reunited in 1906. The minister 1823-1832 was Rev. Isaiah Steen. It was described in 1836 as a small building of insignificant appearance , measuring 50 feet by 27 feet and holding 100 people.The minister in 1843 was Rev. T.D. Moore & until 1845 was Rev. Samuel James Moore .

North of Ireland FHS ( has baptisms1773 -1930 & marriages 1838 -1936; the Presbyterian Historical Society has Baptisms, 1773–1818 ( ; graveyard attached; gravestone inscriptions available UHF Vol 15, oldest stone 1847; email me for a gravestone look-up; also try
For gravestone photos try- &

References; V7 p 49 OSM ; GIC; V17 MIs


Carrowdore Presbyterian Church
on a small road near the castle in Ballyrawer townland

This meeting house was built in 1843 by Lord John George Beresford, uncle of Mrs. George Dunbar of Woburn, on land given by Nicholas Crommelan of Carrowdore Castle. There was an earlier church here since 1828. The minister from in 1854 was Rev. David Parke & 1883- 1899 was Rev. Dr. Megaw.

article from Newtownards Chronicle newspaper;
installation of Rev. R. Hastings Smythe 28 Jun 1879

Baptisms from 1873, marriages from 1846 & burials from 1875; North of Ireland FHS ( has baptisms 1861-1940 & marriages 1845-1936

References; NC; GIPR; V14 MIs; MC; GIC


by Ros Davies