Saintfield All
Ros Davies' Co. Down, Northern Ireland Family History Research Site
© Rosalind Davies 2001

Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only

Saintfield Parish

Saintfield town Church of Ireland 1st Presbyterian Church
2nd Presbyterian Church old Catholic Church 'new' Catholic Church
Rev.Thomas Ledlie Birch of 1st Presbterian Church . .


Saintfield town
13km S of Belfast

The majority of buildings in the town were built in the early 19th century. In 1802 the Price family, who built Saintfield House in 1750, converted their orginal house into a 'commodious inn'. Called McRobert's public house in 1910.

The original name for the village was Tullach-na-neve or Tonoughnieve , meaning' hill of the saints'. The town became famous when on 9th June 1798, a brisk skirmish occurred between the rebels (United Irishmen) and a company of York Fencibles. The rebels took advantage of the soldiers and made great slaughter. The soldiers were buried in a small island in the lake, north of the town, which is called York Island.

On 4 Apr 1766 Rev. James Hamilton Clewlow stated that there were 420 Protestant familes and 65 Catholic families. In the Census of 1871 there were 4167 Protestant and 554 Catholic people.

In 1837, Saintfield was described as one of the most flourishing towns in the county due to the efforts of the lord of the manor, N. Price Esq. There were 199 houses, of which 28 were 3 -storeys in height, 160 were 2-storeys and the remaining were cabins. There were 24 public houses and spirit shops, 17 grocers, 3 bakers, 7 cloth shops, 3 apothecaries, 4 tailors, 3 shoemakers, 2 watchmakers, 1 blue dyer, 2 ironmongers, 2 crockery shops, 2 reed makers, 2 blacksmiths, 1 spinning wheel and 6 provisions shops, 4 carpenters, 1 chandler and 4 milliners. The market house was built in 1803 and is in the centre of town and contains 2 cells for prisoners. There was a market every Monday which sold potatoes, flesh meat, butter and yarn and 12 monthly fairs. A bench of magistrates sat once a fortnight. Education was raken seriously with 9 public schools and 11 private schools and 11 Sunday Schools. DR

This photo of Main St, Saintfield was kindly sent by Bill Haggan

In 1837 there were 464 males & 592 females living in and around the town. The land was of the best quality and the farms in the townland were from 5 - to acres with a rent of 30-35 shillings an acre; the proprietor was Mr. Price, who owned most of the land in this parish. The seat of the lord of the manor ( the Price family) is situated in a beautiful demesne, about a mile north of the town; as is also the seat of the late Rev. G.R. Moore , Rowallen, who expended many thousands of pounds in planting trees and shrubs. The parish population in 1846 was 7156 with 909 residents in the town & by 1851 there were 501 males & 603 females in the town(POD). By 1910, the parish population was 3073 with 554 in the town.
Public works were instigated 27 May 1848 for famine relief with road upgrade from Saintfield town to Crossgar Bridge (FCD p 8)

In 1892, Petty Sessions were held on first Tuesday of each month and the market was held every Monday and the fair on the last Wednesday of each month. Catholic Parochial House here . Saintfield Cricket Team 1906 (photo DS 2008 p69)

Click here for more information on the schools here in 19th century.

Click here for a photo & story of the railway station.

Newspaper article from Northern Star;
letter resisiting the raising of a militia in the area 3 Jul 1793

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
improvements at school 6 Feb 1847: coal mine 15 Jul 1848: coal distributed to the poor 19 Feb 1853: skeleton found 24 Dec 1853 Murder of Peggy Withers 15 Mar 1856: Ragged School 10 Jan 1857: meeting of the unemployed 24 Jan 1857; rioting 2 Jan 1858; flax & grain market 23 Oct 1858: lighted gas for the first time 29 Sep 1860; Saintfield football team started 1904 (11/8/2004); memoiral service for Rev. S.I. Grahan, vicar 11 Dec 1926*; piped water supply & new sewerage system 3 Jan 1936*; Saintfield Milk Recording Society meeting 16 Apr 1937*

Newspaper article from Newtownards Independent;
Saintfield Choral Society, 1st annual concert 4 May 1872

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
resolutions of Tenant Farmers' Assoc. 29 Jan 1876

References;V17 p 120 & V7 p 114-120 OSM;POD; DR 5/11/03 ; SHM '86 p 4,5; O'L V1 p 371, 409; WAS ; DS


Church of Ireland, Saintfield

Saintfield Church of Ireland
in Main Street on the northern side

The Saintfield Church of Ireland is in Main Street, right in the centre of town on the north side and has the graveyard surrounding it. The church was built in 1776 to replace an earlier church in Tonaghmore townland and repaired in 1812. Its dimensions in 1837 were 70 by 36 feet with a small square belfry. The bell was hung in 1830 at a cost of £60. The clergyman in 1837 was Rev Joseph Grant whilst Rev. Henry Wolsely held the Vicarage at a living of £280 a year. He paid the curate £80 a year.

There is an old stone set close to the door near the tower which reads "Patrick VR9V" . Tradition says it formed part of an older church and was placed in its present position to preserve it. It is said to come from the old church of Lisnegarric, 1 kilmotre away, which was burned down in 1641. This old church was dedicted to St. Patrick. Tradition also says that the stones from the old Tonaghmore church were used in the building of the new church in 1776.


Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
death of vicar Mr. Edmundson 16 Oct 1858; school fete 22 Aug 1863;new organ installed 26 Apr 1926*

Records available are; baptisms 1724- 1754, marriages 1724- 1750, burials 1724- 1750 ; graveyard attached , gravestones UHF Vol 3; email me for a gravestone look-up

The vicars of Saintfield:

1633; James Ferguson
1658-1661 ; Alexander Hutcheson (deposed by Bishop Jeremy Taylor but continued as Presbyterian minister until 1708)
1661: Hugh Graffan
1706- 1755; Vere Essex Lonergan
1756- 1782; James Hamilton Clewlow
1782- 1809; James Clewlow (son of James Hamilton Clewlow)
1810- 1841; Henry Hilbert Wolseley
1841-1871; George Edmundson
1871-1873: Townley Blackwood Price
1873-1890; Robert Dalzell Knox
1890-1912: Cosslett Herbet Waddell
1912- 1915: Randolph Reginald Muir
1915- 1926: Samuel Irvine Graham
1926-1930: Percival Reginald Cosgrave
1931- 1953: Charles McMurtry Gordan
1953- 1964: James Alexander Donnelly
1964- 1993: Norman Wilson Woodrow
1993- Allen Stephen Delamere

There has always been a very close connection between the Price family and the Saintfield Church of Ireland:
- circa. 1744; General Nicholas Price had the old and ruinous church rebuilt
-in 1776; Francis Price lent the money for the rebuilding of the church in its present form
-in 1724; Dorcas, wife of General Nicholas Price gave the church its chalice, one of the earliest surviving chalices in the diocese
-in 1871, Archdeacon Townley Blackwood- Price was at one time curate and late vicar of the parish
in 1929, the east window was given as a memorial to Nugent and Alice Blackwood-Price, designed by Mr Parsons as an excellent example of stained glass construction.

References;MS WAG page 5: DR; 7 p 114, 115 ,119 OSM; SHM '94 p37,39 & '86 p 9, 29 & '98 p 58 & '90 p 29; GIPR: GIC; O'L V1 p 372


1st Presbyterian Church, Saintfield 1st Presbyterian Church
in Main Street, Saintfield

The 1st Presbyterian Church of Saintfield is set back from Main Street. It was built in 1777 to replace and earlier meeting house built 1692 in the area of Tonaghneave near Fair Green ( sketch available) The first known minister was Rev. Alexander Hutchinson/ Hutcheson in 1661- 1711 (with some breaks in between) thrn Rev. Archibald Dixon 1709-1739. The old church was stone built, 75 x 20 feet and had an earthen floor, a thatched roof, its timbers being of oak. The minister from 1743-1745 was Rev. James Rainey then Rev. Richard Walker 1747-1774. During a severe wind storm on Christmas Eve 1775, the entire roof was destroyed. Since the congregation as growing it was decided to build a new and larger one. It was opened and dedicated in 1777 during the ministry of Rev. Thomas Ledlie Birch who had been ordained the previous year, 1776.

In 1792, the minister, Rev. Thomas Leslie Birch, formed the first Society of United Irishmen in Co. Down in his manse, which he renamed Liberty Hall. Many parishioners objected to his political sermons and left to join Boardmills church & others formed the Secession Church in 1796 (now 2nd Presbyterian Church). Rev. Birch took an active part in the 1798 Rebellion, preaching to the insurgents on the Sunday before the Battle of Saintfield (June 1798) when the rebels were defeated. Click here for an account of Rev. Thomas Ledlie Birch. Two of the United Irishmen who fought and died at the battle are buried in the graveyard, which is behind the church. They were John Lowry of Ballyhorran and James McEwan of Ballymacreeley. Click here to see an invitation to new minister Mr. Henry Simpson in 1799.

The dimensions of the new meeting house were 50 by 70 feet and capable of holding 900 people. There was scarcely enough room to hold the increasing congregation. Rev. Henry Simpson, whose salary was £100 a year from the government and £81 a year from the congregation remained until 1843 then Rev. James Wallace until 1846 then Rev. Robert McEwen 1846-1853 then Rev. Samuel Hamilton 1854 until his death in 1849.

The new pulpit erected in the church in 1890 was constructed by a local craftsman names James Stevenson, though commonly called Jamie Steenson. He lived alone in a small stone cottage which he built himself in a little glen, now in Mr. John Beattie's farm at Carsontown Road, Lisowen. He owned two fields there and his cottage , now in ruins, consisted of a sizeable workshop having a very large doorway with glass panels and a living room above which was a bedroom.
Apparently the minister , the Rev. Stewart Dickson and his Church committee were consulting expert pulpit makers from Belfast and had asked bearded Jamie along. They smiled when they saw him, but when their plans for a pulpit and quarter spiral staircase to it, were compared with Jamie's, the latter won the day and he got the job. On completing the construction of the pulpit in his workshop, James Stevenson placed it on a long- barrow and wheeled it into Saintfield, a distance of four or five miles; though looking at the size of the pulpit, it was probably brought in in sections.
At one time James Stevenson was a joiner in Hurst's Mill at Drumaness , a distance of about twelve miles from his home. He walked to and from his work every day . (David Ellison & John Beattie)

In 1892 the Rev. Stewart Dickson (minister for 56 years) organised a guild which professed to foster a healthy and stimulating fellowship, to be educational and to afford opportunity for an exchange of views on matters religious and social. The Guildhall was opened on 20th November 1901, beside the 1st Presbyterian Church, to accommodate all the members of the Guild. It is a large, two-storey building which now serves as the church hall.

Here is a list of the 10 ministers up to 1837. Names are:
Alexander HUTCHESON b.1632; Archibald DICKSON b. 1682-; James RAINEY b. ? d. 1745; Richard WALKER b.1720; Thomas Ledlie BIRCH b; b. 1753; Henry SIMPSON b:? d.1848; James WALLACE b.1822; Robert McEWAN (appointed assistant 17 Oct 1846 then minister later) ; Samuel HAMILTON b.1812 ;Stewart DICKSON

Newspaper article from Northern Star;
thanksgiving for the Revolution in France 4 Dec 1792;

Newspaper article from Down Recorder;
ordination Rev. Wallace 3 Jun 1843; reopening 2 Jan 1850; sustenation Fund 9 Nov 1878; meeting 'the state of the country" 13 Feb 1886; celebration of Rev. Stewart Dickson's ministerial jubilee 22 Feb 1937*

Newspaper article from Newtownards Chronicle;
Dispute over pew rights 18 Apr 1891

Records from 1851, graveyard attached , gravestones UHF Vol 3; email me for a gravestone look-up ; For a history see

References;HCPCI p227-228; NS: MS WAG p 6, 7 : DR; V7 p 114, 115, 119 OSM; GIPR: GIC: POD; SHM '94 p 57, 58,10,56 & '86 p 9, 29 & '98 p 23, 27, 28, 29; NC; DR*

1798 Rebellion & Rev Thomas Ledlie Birch

The tablet on 1st Presbyterian Church, Saintfield reads;
Consider that ye here worship in the Presence of Him who seeth your Actions and will shortly be your Judge. Built in the year 1777. Thomas L. Birch A.M., Minister.

I am of the option that most people worshipping in Saintfield Presbyterian Church since its erection in 1777 have paused and read this inscription on what is the original gable wall and further have pondered over its truth and application.

But what of the man, Thomas Ledlie Birch, Dissenting Minister of Saintfield and United Irishman?
Born about 1754 Thomas Birch grew up in troubled and anxious times. The Land War of the 1770s created terrorist groups such as the 'Hearts of Steel' and 'Whiteboys' opposing the increasing tithes and rents, evictions and rack-renters. Emigration to North America during the 18th century was great, many emigrants being Presbyterian. When the American War of Independence broke out in 1775, followed by the American declaration of Independence on 4th July 1776, public opinion in Ireland became more radical.

During these eventful years Thomas Birch had decide, like his older brother , to enter the ministry and so in 1770 he became a student at Glasgow University, graduation in 1772. When the minister of the Presbyterian Church in Saintfield, Rev. Richard Walker, died in 1774, the congregation applied for a hearing of Mr. Birch. It was not until 21st May 1776 that his ordination by the Presbytery of Belfast took place in Saintfield , one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in Ireland at that time.

A young man aged 21 he entered vigourously into his pastoral work. Within a year he had encouraged his congregation to build a new church costing £700, a debt not cleared for some seven or eight years. In 1783 Birch married his second cousin, Isabella Ledlie of Arboe. The following year he bought a farm at Ballycloghan and named it Liberty Hill, a name it bears to this day. His choice of name indicated his interest in political affairs. In the same year, he was associated with a congratulatory address to George Washington expressing satisfaction that American had cast off the yoke of slavery.

The French Revolution broke out in 1789 and its ideals of 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity' aroused Irish radicalism anew. Catholic emancipation and parliamentary reform were the political ideals central to the thinking of the 'Society of the United Irishmen' founded in Belfast in 1791. Within a year the Society had launched a newspaper, the 'Northern Star' to disseminate the views of the movement.

Birch was enthused by this and formed "Society of United Irishmen' on January 16th 1792. In the pulpit he preached freedom and liberty and through his influence most of the congregation became enthusiastic supporters of his radical ideas. His congregation on Christmas Day 1792 held a meeting and passed resolutions that Government should be by the people and that the form of government in being at that time had many errors because of the lack of representation of the people in the Commons House. Birch frequently wrote a "Letter from Saintfield' to be published in the Northern Star. His opinions and statements became more extreme as revealed in a sermon preached to fellow Masons in 1795 in which he declared 'kings to be the butchers and scourges of the human race, revelling in the spoils of thousands, whom they had made widows an orphans.'

Britain went to war with France in 1793 and as a consequence the Societies of United Irishmen were soon being suppressed as they were regarded as traitorous- the administration of the oath becoming as capital offence. The societies or clubs were driven underground and soon armed revolt was being considered. Many left the movement on seeing it move towards a republican extreme; those remaining being more militant.

By 1795 , a number of Mr. Birch's congregation, who either disliked his political sympathies, or his preaching, along with a group from Boardmills, sent a partition requesting 'supply of sermon' to the Associate Presbytery of Down. This was approved and so was formed a Burgher Secession congregation (now 2nd Saintfield); the Church building being completed in 1796. Mr. Birch was enraged and he poured his wrath into a pamphlet entitled 'Physicians languishing under disease (Luke 4 v 23)- An address to the Seceding or Associate Synod of Ireland.' This polemic is so outrageous that one can gauge how extreme his opinions had become.

Birch's actions and opinions were not going unnoticed. In April 1797 Squire Nicholas Price of Saintfield Estate ,a magistrate and loyalist intent on hounding the United Irishmen, had Mr. Birch arrested in the courtroom at Down Assizes on a charge of high treason ,a capital offence. Birch was attending a trial of eleven of his congregation who were acquitted of attacking the home of Hugh McKee, a local loyalist. After three days confinement Birch was released on bail to appear at the Autumn Assizes, the charge being reduced to misdemeanor, a crime punished by transportation.

John Curragh, who owned the neighbouring farm to Mr. Birch, declared on oath Mr. Birch had made seditious statements to him on two occasions. This was disproved by the prisoner's witnesses and Curragh's integrity and character were impugned in spite of Squire Nicholas Price and the Rev. James Clewlow, vicar both stating to the court that Curragh's oath was creditable. Birch was found not guilty.

The years 1796-1798 were perilous tears. Arson, assaults, intimidation and even murder were commonplace. Any person proved to having administered the United Irishman's oath was hanged. William Orr of Farranshane, Co. Antrim, hanged in October 1797, was the most notable case.

It was not long before Birch was again in court. This time he was accused of offering Joseph Harper £50 not to prosecute United Irishmen and also with an assault on Harper's son. He appeared at the Assizes in April 1798 but the prosecution was dropped as Joseph Harper was dead, having been shot the Tuesday previous on the Belfast Road. Birch was again discharged.

Birch, it is believed, took part in the Battle of Saintfield on Saturday, 9th June, 1798, when the Untied Irishmen of North Down, who had gathered at Saintfield, forced the government troops to retreat to Comber. On the following day Sunday, 10th June, known as Pike Sunday, the main body of the insurgents was at Creevy Rocks and Birch is reported as preaching to them from the text Ezekial 9 v1. It is strange that in the subsequent court-martial of Birch, 18-20 June, although evidence is given that he was at Creevy Rocks, no mention is made of him preaching a sermon. Indeed Birch brought evidence that he was attending the funeral of a child on Sunday afternoon. From evidence given at the court-martial, Birch on Monday 11th had spent the early part of the day in burying dead soldiers. An insurgent passing through Saintfield

watched the dead soldiers being buried was was horrified to see their bodies 'thrown on a cart like dead dogs and cast carelessly into a large pit.' Their burial place is known as York Island, immediately at the foot of the Church graveyard (photo of this gravestone available) I am of the opinion that this, no longer an island, is on the river side of the trees below the two rebel graves. The bodies of the rebels killed in the skirmish were either taken to their more distant home or buried in Saintfield on the Sunday. It is interesting to note in the evidence given in the court-martial that Mr. Birch took his sexton and others helping o bury the dead soldiers to McCreery's shop [ where he purchased liquor as refreshment for them.

The United Irishmen's army was routed at the Battle of Ballynahinch on Wednesday, 13th June. There followed a brief period of terror as rebels were ruthlessly hunted down and vengeance executed. Birch was not free for long, being arrested on Saturday, 16th June and court-martialled in Lisburn as already stated on 18th June, a trial lasting three days.

The Rev. Thomas Birch had a brother, Dr. George Birch of Newtownards, a staunch Royalist and Commander of the town's Yeomanry Cavalry. Dr. George Birch was fortunate in being a great friend of Lord Castlereagh and using his influence he could assure his brother that he would be acquitted if he would voluntarily offer to go into exile. Birch followed his brother's advice and addressed the court in a conciliatory manner saying he would quit his Majesty's Dominions. The court found that the evidence was not strong enough to affect the prisoner's life and therefore acquitted him of the crimes of treason and rebellion laid to his charge.

He was kept in custody in Lisburn where a disgruntled party of Yeoman were intent in taking him out to hang him but were prevented from doing so by dragoons. Presumably this threat to his life hastened his transfer to Belfast two days later where eventually he was incarcerated in a prison ship on 19th July, 1798. On the same date he sold his Ballycloughan farm to another brother, Rev. James Birch for £500. The following March his brother sold the farm for £1,111 to a Listooder man. Conditions on board an overcrowded ship with no headroom, poor food, hot summer weather and little light and ventilation must have been intolerable. Undoubtedly it was a relief to be released on 16th August 1798 and allowed to sail to New York where he arrived in September.

His life in America was not without setbacks and strike. He settled in Washington, Pennsylvania, but found the local presbytery would not accept him. Further attempts were unsuccessful, even an appeal to the general Assembly proved inconclusive. Litigation in the Supreme Court in an action of slander against another Presbyterian clergyman resulted in defeat for Birch. However he was finally accepted as a member of the Presbytery of Baltimore and presumably became a minister of a congregation in or near Washington, Pa, as he had purchased a farm a few miles out of the city.

He died in April 1828. His widow died in November 1836 and a son Hamilton died in March 1847. Another son, Thomas Ledlie, remained in Saintfield and is buried in the graveyard behind the church. His headstone is inscribed 'Thomas Ledlie Birch, son of the Rev. Thomas Ledlie Birch, once the faithful beloved pastor of Saintfield, in whom there was no guile. 1820."

by James McIlhinney- published in "Saintfield Heritage " in 1998 pages21-25

Call for a new Presbyterian minister- 1798

Following the defeat of the United Irishmen at the Battle of Ballynahinch in the 1798 Rebellion, the Rev. Thomas Ledlie Birch, the Presbyterian minister in Saintfield and a prominent United Irishman, had to leave the country and went to America. The letter reproduced below was an invitation to Mr. Henry Simpson to replace Rev. Birch. The letter had over 100 signatures, all, except for the Widow Fleming, male and quite a few of the names still exist in the Saintfield district today.

To Mr. Simpson, preacher of the Gospel.

We, the members of the Presbyterian congregation of Saintfield, being seriously affected with the great loss which we and out families have sustained from the great want of a stated Gospel minister amongst us, to dispense God's Word and Ordinances, and being satisfied as to the propriety of your moral conduct and , convinced from our own experience, of your abilities to preach and enforce the truths of the Gospel adapted to our capacities, we do call and invite you to take upon you the pastoral charge over our souls in the Lord and we promise the most dutiful submission to your ministry and such a decent maintenance as is suited to our abilities
. Done at our meeting-house at Saintfield, this 23rd of Septem. in the year of our Lord 1799, nine.

Signed by:
Samuel McBurney; John McBurney; Andrew Todd; William Walker; John Barnett; Francis Breeze; Robert Skelly; William Anderson; James Donnen; William Malcomson; John Mayne; William Shaw; Jno Mayne; Samuel Burns; Richard Macoubry; James Shaw; John Geoarge; Williams Kerrons; William McDowal; Alexander Calwel; James Bealley; Joseph Couthers; Hugh Russel; Hector Allen; Samuel Boyd; Samuel Burns; Adam Strahan; Joseph Herison; William Thompson; Samuel Moffet; Hugh Anderson; William Minies; Hugh Hamilton; James Camblin; Thomas George; Samuel Irwin; John Lacquey; Hamilton Blakeney; William Clemens; James Porter; John Rown; William Daben; Samuel Brown; Andrew Bennet; William (illegible); John Thompson; James Douglass; John Frame; Widow Fleming; Samuel Robinson; Thomas Lindsay; John George; John Deals; John Hunter; David Ball; James Quin; Adam Cross; James Climens; James McAlley; David Camlin; James Moffett; William Marshal; Thomas Shaw; William Dodds;Samuel Skelly; Francis Wilson; Hugh Wilson; David Shaw; Samuel Jackson; Samuel Crawford; Hugh Crawford; Hugh Crockard; James Donnan; John Demster; John Rea; James Jordan; James Trimbel; Lorance Scott; Charles Lindsay; Thomas Smith; William (illegible) John Price; Francis Lindsay; William McGibbon; James Hamilton; Samuel Raney; John Shaw; David Morison; John Smith; William McKee; Robert McBride; William Cardwell; James Camblin; Alexander Hamilton; John Dick; David Cleland; William Smith; John Breadley; William Byers

I was present when the within call was unanimously subscribed.
Samuel Watson
SHM 1994 p57,58

2nd Presbyterian church, Saintfield 2nd Presbyterian Church
on the Ballynahinch Road

This church is in the Ballynahinch Road, at the western end of Saintfield. It is in that part of Saintfield known as Fairview and in the past was known as Cow Fair as a monthly fair was held where the road is now. It was in this area that the first houses were built in the town.

The original church on this site was built around 1796 by a disaffected part of the congregation from 1st Presbyterian Church who disliked the political sermons being preached by Rev. Thomas Ledlie Birch, founder of the United Irishmen movement. Along with part of the Boardmills congregation they sent a petition requesting 'supply of sermon' to the Associate Presbytery of Down. This was approved and so they formed a Burgher Secession congregation. Rev. Birch was outraged and poured his wrath into a pamphlet entitled "Physicians languishing under Disease (Luke 4 v 23- An Address to the Seceding or Associate Synod of Ireland".

It was described in 1837 was a plain, oblong building 70 by 24 feet broad. The minister then was Rev. Walter Moffet. The minister in 1852 was Rev. John Mecredy & Rev. George R. Moor in 1870, in 1892 it was Rev. Robert McElney & Rev. W. Dickie in 1920 .

An Account of Church Discipline in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, in 1868

In the year 1868 the Session of the Reformed Church not far from Saintfield had before it a case of Church discipline. The record reads as follows.....

"The case of ............ was brought before the Session charged with gambling. It was stated he had publickly engaged in a game of chance some weeks past on his return home from a fair in Saintfield. The charge was admitted and the details of the case given by him most candidly. He professed his sorrow for the sin into which he had inadvertently been drawn and his willingness to submit to whatever might be the decision of the Session in his case. Being requested to withdraw, the Session after mutual consultation, agreed that on account of the nature of the offence and the publick manner in which it had been committed that publick censure should be administered. This was done accordingly by the Moderator of Session at the close of the first publick service, accompanied by an exposure of the evils of gambling in its manifold forms and warning both the offender and all others present against it."

"The same Session in 1882 , gave its approval to efforts to preserve the purity of religious worship and keep out the unscriptural innovation of Instrumental Music in the publick praises of the Sanctuary."
Mr. W. J. Finlay of Saintfield

During a special service in 1890 it was noticed that the balcony was swaying. Rev. Robert McElney, who was minister at the time, set off to the United States of America, armed with the names of those who had emigrated from the Saintfield District. He visited these people and was able to return to Saintfield with sufficient donations to enable the new church to be erected on the site of the old building. The foundation was laid in 1892 and the church was known as Second Presbyterian Church, also as the Meeting House.

Newspaper article from Banner of Ulster;
sermon preached by Rev. W.M. Hertherington of Scotland & collection taken up to help deduce the debt incurred in erecting the gallery & new flooring 30/9/1842

Records from 1831 (baptisms) & 1837 (marriages); graveyard attached, gravestones UHF Vol 3 (oldest stone 1803)

References;V7 p 114, 115 ,119 OSM; GIC: GIPR ; POD; SHM '94 p60 & '86 p 31, 9 & '98 p 23; MIs


old Catholic church, Saintfield town

Old Catholic Church
in Main Street near the Post Office

Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church was built in 1787 by Rev. Hugh Green (still there in 1811 POD) . The parish priest/ curate in 1796 was Rev. William Teggart. The church measured 45 by 21 feet and had two galleries and contained seats for 300 people. The average attendance in 1837 was 150 people and the priest then was Rev. John Fitzsimmons whose salary was £35 a year. He also had charge of Killinchy chapel parish. The parish priest 1837- 1846 was Rev Richard McLogan/ McGlogan. He built the Parochial House. The priest in 1870 was Rev. Rowland Magill who enlarged the church at a cost of £300. The Parochial House attached to the church was built by Father McLogan c. 1850. The priest in 1852 was Rev. Rowland Magill & in 1892 was Rev. R. Smyth & in 1920 it was Father Shields.

This church was abandoned when the new church was built just outside town on the Downpatrick road in 1920 and it is now painted bright blue and serves as a Youth Hall.

List of 20th century priests: Rev. William McCourt until 1907; Rev. Michael Leahy 1907-1908; Rev. John Shiels 1909- 1955.

Newspaper articles from Down Recorder;
fete at Parochial school 27 Aug 1864 has registers to view 1845-1883; PRONI & NLI have baptisms 1837- 1881, marriages 1845-1883; UHF has baptisms 1837- 1900 & marriages 1845-1900

References;KCB p 30; V7 p 114, 115, 119 OSM; LM 1994 p59, 60, 71 ; DR; TIA; POD; SHM '94 p 10, 60; & '86 p 9, 36 & '98 p 29; O'L V1 p 377, 380; WAS p9 (sketch)


Saintfield Catholic Church

The 'new' Catholic Church in Saintfield-
Church of Mary, Mother of the Church
on the southern outskirts of town on the Crossgar Road
Parochial House- 33 Crossgar Rd, Saintfield BT24 7JE Tel: 9751 0237

The 'new' Catholic Church, Mary Mother of the Church, was built in December 1890, just outside Saintfield on the Ballynahinch road.

List of 20th century priests: Rev. William McCourt until 1907; Rev. Michael Leahy 1907-1908; Rev. John Shiels 1909- 1955; Rev. Robert Rogan 1955- 1964; Rev. Hugh O'Neill 1964- 1972; Rev. John McCarroll 1972- 1981; Rev. Ernest McCaughan 1981- 1986; Rev. Donal Kelly 1986- 1995; Rev Anthony McHugh 1995+

References;SHM '90 p 64  

by Ros Davies