The Montgomery Manuscripts were written by William Montgomery of Rosemount
between the years 1696-1706. His memoir of the First Viscount Montgomery contains
a vivid sketch of the Scottish settlement in the territory of
Ard-Uladh at the commencement of the Seventeenth Century.
Therefore let us now pause a while, and we shall wonder how this plantation advanced itself (especially in and about the towns of Donaghadee and Newtown), considering that in the Spring time of 1606, those parishes were now more wasted than America (when the Spaniards landed there), but were not at all in combered with great woods to be felled and grubbed, to the discouragement or hindrance of the inhabitants, for in all those parishes aforesaid, 30 cabins could not be found, nor any stone walls, only ruined roofless churches, and a few vaults at Grey Abbey, and a stump of an old castle in Newtown, in each of which some gentlemen sheltered themselves at the first coming over.
But sir Hugh in the said spring brought with him divers artificers, as Smiths, masons, carpenters, etc. I knew many of them old men when I was a boy at school. and had little employments for some of them, and heard them tell many things of this plantation which I found true. They soon made cottages and booths for themselves, because sods and saplings of ash, alders, and birch trees (above 30 years old) with rushes for thatch, and bushes for wattles, were at hand. And also they made a shelter of the said stump of the castle for Sir Hugh, whose residence was mostly there, in the center of being supplied with necessities from Belfast (but six miles thence), who therefore came and set up a market in Newtown, for profit and both the towns. As likewise in the fair summer season (twice, sometimes thrice every week) they were supplied from Scotland, as Donaghdee was but three hours from Port Patrick, where they bespoke provisions and necessities to lade in, to be brought over by their own or that towns boats when ever wind and weather served them, there was a constant flux of passengers coming daily over.
I have heard honest men say that in June, July and August, 1607, people came from Stranraer, four miles, and left their horses at the port, hired horses at Donaghadee, came with their wares and provisions to Newtown, sold them, dined there, stayed two or three hours, and returned to their houses the same day by bed-time, their land journey but 20 miles. Such was their encouragement from a ready market, and their kind desires to see and supply their friends and kindred, which commerce took away the evil report of wolves and woodkerns, which enviers of planters' industry to people their own farms, which they did.
In 1607, after Sir Hugh and his Lady's example, they both being active and intent on the work (as birds, after pairing to make nests for their brood), then you might see streets and tenements regularly set out, and houses rising as it were out of the ground (like Cadmus' colony) on a sudden, so that these dwellings became towns immediately.
Yet among all this care and indefatigable industry for their families, a place of God's honour to dwell was not forgotten nor neglected, for indeed our forefathers were more pious than ourselves, and as soon as the stump of the old castle was repaired, (as it was in springtime, 1606), as might be shelter for that year's summer and harvest, for Sir Hugh and for his servants that winter, his piety made some good store of provisions in those fair seasons, towards roofing and fitting the chancel of that church, for the worship of the God, and therein he needed not withdraw his own planters from working for themselves, because they were Irish Gibeonets and Garrons enough in his woods to hew and draw timber for the sanctuary; and the general free contribution of the planters, some with money, and others with handicrafts, and many with labouring, was so great and willingly given, that the next year after this viz. 1607, before winter it was made decently serviceable, and Sir Hugh had brought over at first two or three Chaplains with him for these parishes. In summer 1608, some of the priory walls were roofed and fitted for his Lady and children and servants (which were many) to live in. Now the harvests 1606 and 1607 had stocked the people with grain, for the lands were never naturally so productive since that time, except where no plough had gone, and where sea oar (called wreck) is employed for dung, to that degree that they had to spare and to sell to the succeeding new coming planters, who came over the more in number and the faster, because they might sell their own grain at a great price in Scotland, and be freed of trouble to bring it with them, and could have it cheaper here. This conference gave great occasion to Sir Hugh's Lady to build watermills in all the parishes, to the great advantage of her house, which was numerous in servants, of whom she stood in need, in working about her gardens, carriages, etc., having them no duty days' works from tenants, or very few as exacted, they being sufficiently employed in their proper labour and the purlieu. The millers also prevented the necessity of bringing meal from Scotland, and grinding with quern stones (as the Irish did to make their graddon) both which inconviencies the people, at their first coming, were forces to undergo.
Her Ladyship had also her farms at Greyabbey and Comber, as well as Newtown, both to supply new-comers and her house; and she easily got men for plough and barn, for many came over who not stocks to plant and take leases of land, but had brought a cow or two and few sheep, for which she gave them grass and so much grain per annum, and an house and garden-plot to live on, and some land for flax and potatoes, as they agreed on for doing their work, and there be at this day many such poor labourers amongst us; and this was but part of her good management, for she set up and encouraged good linen and woolen manufactory, which soon brought down the price of ye breakens and narrow cloths of both sorts.
Now everybody minded their trades, and the plough, and the spade, building and setting fruit trees, etc., in orchards and gardens, and by ditching in their grounds. The old women spun, and the young girls plied their nimble fingers at knitting and everybody was innocently busy. Now the Golden peaceable age renewed, no strife, contention, querulous lawyers, or Scottish or Irish feuds, between clans and families, and surnames, disturbing the tranquility of those times. The towns and temples were erected, with other great works done (even in troublesome years) as shall be in part recited, when I come to tell you of the first Lord Viscount Montgomery's funeral, person, parts, and arts. Therefore, reader, I shall be the more concise in the history of the plantation, and of his loyal transactions; not indeed, of his life, for the memories (out of which I have collected observations thereof) are few, by reason of the fire, February 1695, and other accidents, and by removal into Scotland, since 1688, whereby such papers were destroyed or lost.
Yet I find a fragment (of a second information to the Herald, concerning the Lord Viscount's coat of arms), written by Sir James Montgomery, that in a few years from the beginning of the plantation, viz. in 1610, the Viscount brought before the King's muster-master a thousand able fighting men to serve, when out of them a militia should be raised, and the said Sir H. (for the encouragement of planters and builders) obtained a patent dated the 25th of March, 11th Jan., which is the 1st day of 1613, (Stilo Anglicano,) and but one day more than ten full years after the Queen's death, the 24th March, 1602, being the last day of that year, by which letters patent Newtown aforesaid is erected into a corporation, whereof the said Sir Hugh is nominated the 1st Provost, and the Burgess are also named. This corporation hath divers privileges, the most remarkable are that every Parliament they send two Burgesses to serve therein; the other is that it can hold a court every 2nd Friday for debt, trespass, and damage, not exceeding three score six shillings and eight pence, sterling.
The town hath in it an excellent piece of freestone work of eight squares, called the Cross, with a door behind, within are stairs mounting to the towers, over which is a high stone pillar, and proclamations are made thereon; on the floor whereof at each square is an antique spout which vented claret when King Charles 11 was proclaimed our King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, etc in 1649.
It may be remembered, that I told you, reader, that some of the priory walls were roofed and fitted for Sir Hugh and his family to dwell in; but the rest of these walls, and other large additions of a gate house and office-houses, which made three sides of a quadrangle (the south side of the church being contiguous, made the 4th side), with coins and window frames, and chimney-pieces, and funnels of freestone, all covered; and the floors beamed with main oak timber, and clad with boards; the roof with oak plank from his Lordship's own woods, and slated with slates out of Scotland; and the floors laid with fir deals out of Norway, the windows were fitly glazed and the edifice thoroly furnished within. This was a work of some time and years, but the same was fully finished by that excellent Lady (and fit helper mostly in Sir Hugh's absence), because he was by business much and often kept from home after the year 1608 expired. The whole work was done many months before Sir Hugh and she went to London in 1618, as the dates of coats of arms doth show in the buildings, and as old men who wrought thereat, told me.
His Lordship also built the quay or harbour at Donaghadee, a great and profitable work, both for public and private benefit; and built a great school at Newtown, endowing it, as I am told, with twenty pounds yearly salary, for a Master of Arts, to teach Latin, Greek and Logics, allowing scholars a green for recreations at golf, football, and archery, declaring, and that if he lived some years longer, he would convert his priory houses into a College for Philosophy; and further paid small stipends to a master to teach orthography and arithmetic, and to a music master, who would be also precentor to the church (which is a curacy), so that both sexes might learn all those three arts; the several masters of all those three schools having, over and beside what I mentioned, wages from every scholar under their charge; and indeed, I have heard, in that church, such harmony from the old scholars, who learned music in that Lord's time, that no better, without a full choir and organs, could be made.
The editor of the manuscripts - Rev. Geo Hill - has compiled a list of the earliest settlers on the Montgomery estates. These include the following:
John Wyle of Ballyhay; Nynnan Bracklie Newtown of Donoghdie, Robert Boyle of Drumfad; John Montgomery of Ballymacrosse; Robert Harper of Provostoun; William Caderwood of Ballyfrenzeis; John Barkley of Ballyrolly; Hector Moore of Donan; William Hunter of Donan; Willam Moore of Milntowne; John Thompson of Blackabbey; Charles Domelstone of Provostoun; Walter Logane of the same; Thomas Nevine of Ballicopland; William Wymis of Newtowne; William Crawford of Cuningburn; Andrew Agnewe of Carnie; Gilbert Adare of Ardehine; Robert Wilson of Newtowne; James Williamson of Clay; Claud Conygham of Donoghdie; James Cathcart of Balirogane; Patrick Montgomerie of Ballycreboy; William Cuninghame of Donoghdie; Robert Mongomery of Donoghdie; William Mongomery of Donoghdie; John Peacocke of Ballidonan; John Cuningham of Rinchrivie; Hugh Cunyngham of Castlepick; David Cunyngham of Drumfad; Patrick Shaw of Balliwalter; Hugh Montgomery of Granshaghe; John Maxwell of Ballihalbert; John Montgomery of the Redene; Michael Craig of the Redene; James Cowper of Ballichosta; Thomas Agnew, Greyabbey; Quitene Moore of Aughneill; Thomas Boyde of Crownerstown; John Mowlen, of the same; Patrick Allen of Ballydonane; John Harper, John Fraser, John Moore, James McMakene, and John Aickin, all of Donaghdie; John Harper, Ballyhay; James Maxwell of Gransho; David Boyde, Glasroche; Uthred M'Dowgall of Balllmaconnell; Thomas Kelso, Ballyhacamore; David M'Ilveyne, Ballelogan; William Moore, preacher at Newtown; Thomas Harvie of Newtown; William Shaw of Ballykilconan; Andrew Sempill of Ballygrenie; David Anderson of Castlecanvarie; David Kennedy of Gortvillan; Allen Wilson of Newtown; Matthew Montgomery of Donoghdie; John Marten of Dunnevilly; Alexander Speire of Greyabbey.
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