Cos. Tyrone, Donegal, Londonderry & Fermanagh Ireland Genealogy Research

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Historical & Literary Memorials of Presbyterianism in Ireland, 1623-(1800)

Thomas Witherow 1880
Surnames Mentioned: Maxwell, Hutcheson, Stuart, Carron, Rodgers, Crawford, Stewart, McCay, Hamilton, Alexander, Black, Love, Hamill, Young, M'Main, Delap
Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by Teena

NOTE: In this document Teena has extracted only sections relative to Co. Tyrone


page 58

John MAXWELL M.A. 1732 -1763 Minister of Armagh

"A Sermon preached in the Meeting house of Armagh December 22 1745 on occasion of the present Rebellion, Published at the desire of the two Independent Companies of Militia belonging to Armagh, to whom it was preached. Prov xxviii 1 12mo pp 15 Armagh 1746 MCD "


John Maxwell was son of the Rev. James Maxwell minister of Omagh 1699- 1750 and was born there in 1700. He was educated in an academy kept by a Mr Sprott at Donaghadee and he graduated at Glasgow. On the 15th of March 1732 he was ordained in the congregation of Armagh, as successor, to the Rev. John Hutcheson.  After his settlement at Armagh, says Dr. Stuart, "he purchased the fee -simple of a tract of land named Eanach- buidhe contiguous to the farm of his predecessor John Hutcheson and two townlands called Balliduff and Taimlaight held under the See of Armagh."


Mr Maxwell married Miss Rose Carron of Strabane, by whom he had two sons and three daughters. At the time, when Dr. Stuart wrote his " Historical Memoirs" 1819, Rosebrook, Mr Maxwell's residence was a delightful rural retreat and was still in possession of his descendants. Among the descendants of the Rev. James Maxwell of Omagh, but not through the Armagh branch of it, may be mentioned the Rev John Maxwell of Brigh and the Rev. James Maxwell Rodgers of Londonderry. Mr Maxwell died on the 13th of December 1763



page 203-204

William CRAWFORD D.D.1766 -1801 Minister at Strabane & Holywood

Dr Crawford was a member of one of the oldest and most respectable Presbyterian families in Ireland being the great- great grandson of the Rev. Andrew Stewart, minister of Donegore 1627 -1634. His great- grandfather was the Rev. Thomas Crawford, also minister of Donegore 1655- 1670. His grandfather was the Rev. Andrew Crawford of Carnmoney 1694- 1726, for a long time clerk to the Synod of Ulster and his father was the Rev Thomas Crawford 1724- 1782, minister of Crumlin. His mother was Anne McCay, sister to the mother of Mrs Elizabeth Hamilton, author of the Cottagers of Glenburnie .


Talent seems to have been hereditary in the family. One of the sons of the minister of Crumlin settled as a physician at Lisburn, another Dr Adair Crawford was one of the most distinguished scholars and physicians of his age, another, the subject of the present sketch was, like his ancestors for many generations, a learned and accomplished clergyman. William Crawford was the oldest son of the family. He was ordained as minister of Strabane on the 6th of February 1766.


His first literary work was occasioned by the publication of the Earl of Chesterfield's "Letters to his Son".  Mr Crawford's "Remarks" are couched in the form of a dialogue between Constantius, a tutor, and Eugenius a pupil, wherein the former points out to the latter the false principles of morality which lie at the foundation of the "Letters" and exposes the art by which a father teaches his own son to practice depravity and to spread the gloss of the world over dark deeds of sin. This work gained the author no small reputation as a moralist and a critic and in some of the colleges, particularly at Oxford, it was put into the hands of the students as an antidote to Chesterfield's work.


In the two following years he published a translation of the "Natural Theology" of the younger Turretine, in two volumes.To those who valued the cold defensive theology of the eighteenth century this work must have been very acceptable, for it gives prominence to the light of nature and the Christian evidences, while it keeps in the background, if it does not undervalue, the peculiarities of the Christian system. The translator merely followed his original and the work itself, is now superseded by better books.


Two Volunteer Sermons, one in 1779, the other the year after, followed his translation of Turretine. These were military and moral orations expressed in good language, very slightly sprinkled with the Gospel element, but profusely filled with exhortations to virtue and valour. Ulster was then excited by the Volunteer movement and gilded visions of national independence and liberty dazzled the eyes of the populace, while the clergy in all the churches shared largely in the patriotic mania of the hour.



pages part of 205 -206-207

In the Minutes of the Synod of Ulster for 1786, we find the first allusion to the Strabane Academy, in the following words -


Resolved -That if any gentleman shall by the approbation of this Synod set up an academy in which Logic, Mathematics, and Moral Philosophy shall be taught, in this case a certificate, from the gentleman conducting the Academy, of six months attendance and corresponding improvement, shall be considered by the respective Presbyteries within our bounds as equal to a certificate of one season's attendance in any University: and that Dr Crawford of Strabane is looked upon as a very proper person to preside in such Academy.


Next year the Strabane Academy was in full operation, as we find from the following reports that year to the Synod -

On reading the Minute of last Synod respecting the Academy, the following reports from the members that the examinations were produced and read -

Report 1st- That they attended the General Examination  l st February 1787 when the students showed such proficiency in the several of Logic, Metaphysics, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the critical knowledge of the Latin language, as was satisfactory to the Committee, and gave the fullest proofs of abilities and attention of the masters.


Andrew Alexander

Robert Black

Joseph Love

Hugh Hamill



Report 2nd Strabane May 1st 1787

We, the under named , attended an examination of the students in the following branches of Moral Philosophy, viz Ethics, Economics, and Jurisprudence of: Natural Philosophy, viz Electricity, Optics, Astronomy, and Magnetism of the Greek language, critically ,and by analysis: of Mathematics, viz Algebra, the Terrestrial and Celestial Globes:- in all which the students gave good proof of their intelligence and application, and of their having studied with profit and advantage under able and indefatigable masters.


Andrew Alexander

David Young

Joseph Love

Robert Black

Hugh Hamill


The Synod expressed the highest satisfaction with the above reports.


How long the Academy was maintained, I have not been able to ascertain, but I suspect it did not live very long, as the annual reports soon disappear from the face of the Minutes. The difficulties in the way were great. It was owing to the enterprise of an individual minister, that the attempt was ever made: his influence and energies, of course ,were limited, and the Church has always preferred to receive service of this nature at the hands of strangers.


In October 1798 Dr Crawford resigned the charge of the congregation and removed to Holywood to take the pastorate of the old congregation there. He died in 1801. His leanings, as well as those of his father, were to New Light views, but he did not make himself a prominent advocate of any school of theological opinion. He was a man of great application and considerable learning and his life was not only blameless but actively employed in doing good.



Andrew ALEXANDER A.M. 1749 -1808 ( d  30th of April 1808) Minister of Urney



Andrew Alexander was ordained minister of Urney, near Strabane, on the 31st of August 1749. He was somewhat late in appearing as an author. His sermon on "Religious Enthusiasm" was not published till 1771, when he was over twenty years in the ministry. In it, therefore, we have the fruit of his mature thoughts on the subject under consideration. He describes enthusiasm as, mistaking for the real impulses of the Divinity those strong inward emotions which are produced by zeal for some particular interest It originates, he thinks, in a weak judgment, a warm imagination and in pride and its effects, according to him, are, that it darkens the understanding, stimulates self esteem, and begets an indifference to the virtues, of the Christian life. The sermon is a dry, cold essay, not devoid of literary merit, but deficient in Gospel truth, Its subject was singularly unseasonable.  At no time since the Plantation was Ulster in greater need of a little religious enthusiasm, than in the last half of the eighteenth century and in any case the preacher, in handling the subject, was dealing with a matter quite beyond the range of his own personal experience.


The year after this sermon was preached, Mr Alexander was appointed Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, which met at Dungannon in 1771 and when laying down office in 1772, he preached a Synodical sermon from the words "The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord"  &c, which was afterwards published. The discourse is written in the clear, cold style which suits the philosopher, more than the Christian minister. He shows that the prophecy was in part fulfilled already, and would meet in the future with a fulfilment still more complete. He dwells on the obstructions to the progress of religious knowledge such as prejudice, immorality, unfair representations given of Christianity and creeds, a subject which no minister inclined to New Light principles and required to address his brethren, officially could allow himself to pass, except on rare occasions, without bestowing thereon a buffet as he went. He improves the subject by showing that Christians and especially, Christian ministers, are bound to remove these obstructions, and to promote the advancement of religious knowledge.



page 327 Minor Writers of the Period

John M'MAIN 1762- 1777 Minister at Donagheady  "A Translation of Ostervald's Dissertations:"

Mr M Main was ordained at Donagheady 15th July 1762 but was deposed on the 15th October 1777. The sentence, having been removed, he relapsed into sin and finally was degraded in 1788.



page 331 Minor Writers of the Period

Hugh DELAP 1751- 1787 Minister of Omagh

"An Inquiry whether and how far Magistracy is of Divine Appointment and of the subjection, due thereunto. A Sermon preached in the Old Bridge Meetinghouse near Omagh the 14th of November 1779 before the Omagh and Cappagh Volunteers 4to pp 23 Strabane 1779 ACB


The writer of this discourse was ordained minister of Omagh on the 5th of June 1751 An act of immorality, from which he did not clear himself, to the satisfaction of all his congregation, was the cause of a number of the people withdrawing from his ministry and forming a second congregation, which was recognised by the Synod in 1752. Mr Delap died on the 12th of June 1787 and was succeeded in his congregation by his son and namesake.



page 335

Hugh HAMILL 1784 -1803 Minister at Donagheady

Ministerial Responsibility considered in a Sermon preached before the Rev. Sub- Synod of Derry, May 8 1787 pp 35 Strabane 1788

Mr Hamill was ordained at Donagheady on the 4th of March 1784, and died on the 7th of December 1803.