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

Official Website of the Mailing List


Cathcart Family of Ballymuckleheany, Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland

From Original Letters
Submitted by
Julia Holton King Todd
Kirkland, Washington, USA
Transcribed & Formatted by
Jim McKane, Ontario, Canada
Ballymuckleheany Townland, Magherafelt, Co. Londonderry. Courtesy of



Two Cathcart family histories came into the possession of Julia Holton King Todd as she was researching the Cathcart family in Ireland. One narrative came from a distant cousin in California, USA and the other from a distant cousin in Australia. Both accounts seem to reference information that was gathered in 1883, perhaps when William Cathcart, son of James and Elizabeth Cousley Cathcart visited Ireland and Scotland.

Transcriber's Note: Original spellings have been maintained with editor's notes in [square brackets]. The names have been enboldened for ease of reading.

1907 Cathcart Family Narrative: 2 typed pages

Page one, Martin Cathcart’s biography, written by himself in 1907

The second page is a history of the Cathcart family from the 18th century forward.

 Julia Holton King Todd received the document in December 1993 from the wife of Martin Cathcart’s grandson. Martin Cathcart, born on Spring Lane Farm, County Derry, Ireland (1835-1916) wrote the narrative. 


Placerville, Idaho
September 10, 1907


My father's name was James Cathcart. He was born on the Springlane Farm, Ballymucklehoney[Ballymuckleheany] P.O. Address of James Cathcart - Springlane[Spring Lane Farm], Magerafelt[Magherafelt], County Derry, Ireland, Parish of Loonsalin[Barony of Loughinsholan]. Mother was born in the townland of Gortagillie [Gortagilly], one mile from the place of father's birth, under the name of Elizabeth Cousley.

My father's and mother's people were all of Scotch descent, and emigrated to the north of Ireland. My father and two brothers, Francis and Martin, and one sister, Mary, who married a man by the name of Samuel Thompson. Joined farms with father's and sold it to a man by the name of Robert Steel. My father married the second time, a widow by the name of Elizabeth Laurence, and they had several children. He died in the year 1863.

There were eleven of us children: sons Gabriel, Samuel, William, Alexander, Martin and James. Daughters: Margaret Jane[the original placed a comma between these names in error as it is one person not two], Maria, Ellen, Elizabeth and Bella[Isabella]. My father was a well-to-do farmer and had two farms that he cultivated.

I left home on the 4th day of June, 1856 at the age of 20 and landed in Castle Gardens, New York on the 23rd day of July the same year. I stopped with brother, William, in Connecticut at a town called Mystic River until the first of November and started on that day for California. I stayed there until February 1862, then came to Florence, Idaho and in 1863 came to the Boise Basin and have remained here ever since.

My uncle Martin was a doctor in the English army. He did service in the West Indies and amassed a fortune and came to Ireland, bought an estate nine miles from the town of Colrain[Coleraine], County Derry, Ireland called Gortonamey[??]. He had two sons, Martin and John. This is about all I can tell.

(signed) Martin Cathcart


Brother Alexander - A. S. Cathcart, Red Lion Hotel, Londale[Lonsdale] St., Melbourne, Australia

Sister Elizabeth - Mrs. Joseph Berry, Cookstown, County Tyrom[Tyrone], Ire.

Sister Isabella - Mrs. John Hessen, Little Bridge, Ballyloughan, Moneymore, County Derry, Ireland.


[At bottom of the page in handwriting] It is funny. He didn’t give the names of his children or his wife.

End of Page One. View Original Here

Three Cathcart brothers came from Scotland in possibly 1611 (?). One of these settled at Glen Leary near Coleraine, another at Ballybay, County Monaghan, and the third at the Grange near Magherafelt.

From the Cathcarts of the Grange, the Rev. Wm. Cathcart, D. D.’s family came. The old burying ground in which many of our kindred lie is at Kilcrone glen near Tubbemore, County Derry. In Witherow’s "Siege of Derry and Enniskillen", three brothers are mentioned … Captains Hugh, James, and Allan Cathcart – who fought at the siege. It is not unlikely that these are the brothers who are said to have been the first of our name and family in Ireland.

The Glen Leary property was rented land. In the time of James Cathcart (son of Gilbart[Gilbert] Cathcart and Margaret Skill Cathcart 1786-1863) his cousin, William of Glen Leary, held this at a nominal rental.

This William Cathcart of Glen Leary was the father of James, Alexander, Mary, and Nancy Cathcart. This Nancy Cathcart was the last representative of the Glen Leary Cathcarts. In 1883 she was about 80 years old and still lived at the old home, which was but a remnant of the old property.

The Rev. Robert Cathcart, D. D., (Presbyterian) a brother of this William Cathcart of Glen Leary came to the United States about 50 or 60 years before the date this was written (1883). He settled at York, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1851. A son of his Dr. James Latimer Cathcart, died in Washington, D. C., in 1879. He had been for many years connected with the State (Government) Department.

Ballybay [Co. Monaghan] Cathcarts.

Nothing is known of the Ballybay Cathcarts. In the time of James Cathcart (1786-1863), the Rev. Thomas Cathcart, a Presbyterian clergyman, lived at Ballybay. A son of his, a physician in Brooklyn, New York, is the last representative of that family known in 1883.

The Grange Cathcarts.

John (?) Cathcart, father of Gilbart[Gilbert] Cathcart ( ) and two other sons. These last two sons inherited the Grange, While Gilbart[Gilbert] Cathcart bought Spring Lane.

A son of one of these brothers of Gilbart[Gilbert] Cathcart ( ), Samuel Cathcart of Belfast in 1883 still owned 1/2 of the Grange property and a sister of his was still residing on it. The other half descended to Marie Cathcart, a niece of Gilbart[Gilbert] Cathcart, she married and a daughter of hers in 1883 occupied it. Samuel Cathcart who in 1883 still owned 1/2 of the Grange had been in the British Customs for many years.

The Spring Lane Cathcarts.

Gilbart[Gilbert], son of John Cathcart of the Grange, bought it possibly at the time of his marriage, about 1765. It is in County Derry near Magherafelt. (He bought the tenant-right from the Salt-Worker’s Company of London which holds it under the original grant from James I).

The house is far older than the time of the Cathcarts - dating back in all probability to the original colonists of 1611. (Martin Steill is said to have had large iron works some miles from Spring Lane. On Ballinderry Bridge, there is a table bearing his name as builder.)


End of Page Two. View Original Here

1934 – Cathcart Family Narrative: 4 typed pages

Transcriber's Note: Written in 1883 by Florence Cathcart McCurdy, daughter of William and Eliza Caldwell Cathcart, to an unnamed grandchild of Alexander Steele Cathcart and Mary Ann Maloney Cathcart. William and Alexander were children of James Cathcart and Elizabeth Cousley Cathcart. An Australian cousin received the narrative in the early 1990s in the course of her research. The cousin sent a copy of it to Julia Holton King Todd in August 1995.

McCurdy discusses Cathcarts in Scotland with an unknown link to the Cathcart family in Ireland. Then she gives detailed genealogy of Cathcarts descended from Gilbert Cathcart and Elizabeth Cousely Cathcart of Spring Lane Farm, County Derry, Ireland. Dates from about 1765-1934.


Our ancestors for two hundred years past have been Scotch-Irish.

From a village called "Cathcart", six miles from Glasgow, Scotland, they probably migrated. My Father[William Cathcart], who visited Scotland in 1883 wrote - The villages of "Old" and "New" Cathcart, adjacent to each other, in the town of "Cathcart", Renfrewshire, Scotland, are six miles from Glasgow - "Cathcart Road" leads from Argyle Street, Glasgow, to "Old Cathcart". The river Cart runs through the village of Cathcart, the original settlement being upon a "Cove" or bend in the bank. From this, the village was called "Cove-Cart", and, in process of time, Cathcart, which name the inhabitants at one time all undoubtedly bore.

The two villages have at present (1883) a population of about 3000 - Near Old Cathcart is Cathcart Castle, a ruin dating back to the 13th Century - The Keep of the Castle still stands, having been braced intervally by its present owner, Lord Cathcart, to stop the progress of decay. Within a dozen rods [a rod is 16.5 feet] of the Castle, stands "Cathcart House" - for a long period, the residence of the Noble Family of Cathcart. At present it is rented from Earl Cathcart, to a Mr. Steward Lord Cathcart, the soldier and diplomat who commanded the army which served with Nelson’s Fleet in the capture of "Copenhagen", resided in Cathcart House for many years - The Late Lord Cathcart erected a monument not far from Cathcart Castle, to mark the spot where Mary, Queen of Scots stood, when she fought her last battle, before her flight into England.

(It is neither known nor claimed that our family is in any way connected with that of Earl Cathcart. The only link between them is the fact that the same village gave its name to the ancestors of both. Of our early history in Scotland nothing is known).

In the North of Ireland the tradition is :- that the first of our family who came there, were three brothers named "Cathcart", one of whom settled at "Glen Heary"[Leary], near Coleraine, another at Bally Bay, County Managhau [Monaghan], and the other at, "The Grange", near Magherafeet [Magherafelt]. From the Cathcarts of Grange, our branch of the family comes. The old burying-ground, in which many of our kindred lie, is at "Kilcronhaghau"[Kilcronaghan], near Hubbermore[Tobermore], County Derry. In Witherouit[Witherow’s], "Seige[Siege] of Derry and Enniskellau[Enniskillen]", three brothers are mentioned. Captains Hugh, James and Alan Cathcart, who fought at the Seige[Siege] - . It is not unlikely that these are the brothers who are said to have been the first of our name and family in Ireland -.

[Handwritten] Gilbert Cathcart was the 1st of the Cathcarts [back to typing] to come to Spring Lane. The date of his arrival there, was probably that of his marriage - about 1765.

The property is in County Derry - near Magherefeet [Magherafelt] - It comprises of 35 Irish (37 English) acres - The house is far older than the time of the Cathcarts: - dating back in all probability to the original colonists of 1611.

Gilbart[Gilbert] Cathcart married Margret, daughter of Martin Steell - Their children were - Samuel, John, WiIliam, Frances, Martin, James, Mary, Margret, and Jane - . He died April 23rd, 1827. Aged 84. She died too 17th, 1817 [various family trees on Ancestry claim she died in April]. Aged 70. - Of the sons of Gilbart[Gilbert] Cathcart, Samuel, John, William and Martin, spent their lives as Medical Officers in the British Army -. Samuel, was for many years, Chief Surgeon of the 32nd Foot. He died in Halefax[Halifax], and is buried in the Citadel there -. Frances was for many years a Merchant in Newry, Ireland, where he died about 1877.

James Cathcart of Spring Lane, (My Grand Father, your Great Grand Father)

James Cathcart - son of Gilbart[Gilbert] Cathcart of Spring Lane, was born Feb. 6th, 1786 - died 1863 -. His first wife was Elizabeth Cousley, daughter of James and Eleanor (Samipson) Cousley, of Gortagilly - near Spring Lane, whom he married November 11th, 1815.

Their children were : -

1 Gabriel Born Sept. 15th, 1817.
2 Samuel    "     "     16th, 1819. 
3 James    "    Dec. 25th, 1821.
4 Margaret Jane    "    Jan. 12th, 1824.
5 William    "    Nov. 8th, 1825.
6 Eleanor

   "    Feb. 17th, 1827.

7 Marie    "    March 8th, 1829.
8 Elizabeth    "    Jan. 8th, 1831.
9 Alexander    "    Jan. 9th, 1833.
10 Martin    "    Sept. 6th, 1835.
11 Isabella    "    Sept. 28th, 1837.









James Cathcart was an able man. He was a Foreman of the Jury in Maghenafeet[Magherafelt], for many years - A trustee of the Presbyterian Church - And was active in public movements. His first wife, Elizabeth Cousley, was a woman of much wisdom and sweetness of character. Their Daughter, Margaret, married Lyttle Black of Cookstown - County Tyroone[Tyrone]. She died in 1874. Eleanor, her sister, who married Robert Black of Golden Hallow near Cookstown, died about 1868. Maria, married Robert Stewart who lived near Cookstown. Isabella, married John Hisson of Cookstown -. Elizabeth has been married twice - first to Joseph Moore, and secondly to a Mr. Berry of Cookstown, a retired Civil Engineer - who has followed his profession Chiefly in Ceylon and India -. Gabriel married Hester Marchall[Marshall], who is now dead (1883). Samuel married Frances Atherton of Wigan, England, who died December 22nd, 1859. He has since married a Mrs. White. The widow of a Presbyterian Clergyman – and is now (1883) living in Edinburgh. He was graduated at the Royal Academical Institution of Belfast, and studied Thelogy[theology] under Dr. Chalmers of Edinburgh University. He became a Presbyterian Minister. Of the children of this first marriage, his daughter, Mrs. Ewart was married to a distant relative of Gladtstones, and his two sons, Dr. Samuel Cathcart of London, and the Rev. was Atherton Cathcart, Isle of Man. Are graduates of Edinburgh – His brother James, married Mrs. Graham of Dublin. Alexander is married and living in Victoria, Australia. Martin, who is also married – is now (1883) living in Placesville[Placerville], Idalio (Idaho), United States. William, the remaining son, married Eliza Caldwell of Coleraine, Ireland. Mrs. Elizabeth Cousley Cathcart died April, 29th, 1838. James Cathcart married the second time March 27th, 1846. His bride being a widow – Mrs. Elizabeth Lawrence -. The children of this marriage were:-

Hester Born May, 3rd, 1848.
Robert    "    Feb., 13th, 1851.
Lyttle    "    Apr., 24th, 1853.
Richardson    "    Nov., 29th, 1854.
Mary    "    July, 18th, 1856.
Sarah    "    Apr., 9th, 1858.





James Cathcart died in 1863. He is buried at Magherapit[Magherafelt?].

The oldest son, Gabriel, visited my Father, when I was quite little and his son. I think his name was John, came with his bride, when I was about six or seven - on their way to settle in the West - and they reared a family there - some of whom corresponded (or their children, I think) with one of my sisters. I think they live in Tidalia, Missouri -. The oldest daughter was named Florence after me - I cannot remember her married name. He died a few years after her marriage, and I think it is one of her family who writes occasionally - but the family name of Cathcart, still have represent­atives there - descendants of her brothers -. The next son, Samuel was educated for the University - His Grandson, Mr. Ewart, called here at Rochester during the late war and spent the afternoon. They were making a hurried trip through some parts of the United States, and I was the only one in ay Father’s family who had the pleasure of meeting them, their itinerary not taking them near Philadelphia. I liked them very much indeed - They said I resembled his Mother very much (Mrs. Ewart, my Uncle Samuel's oldest daughter). They lived in or near London. His wife has since died - the lady who called on me - I wanted to keep then for a visit but they felt that they could not prolong their stay.

James, who married a lady from Dublin, had two children - Martin, and Rose Graham -. He and his wife died early. Of the children, the daughter Rose, lived for years in my Father’s house. She died about 1896, and is buried in my Father's lot near Philadelphia.

The son, who married and had a daughter, died a few years after Rose.

William, as you know is my Father, he officiated in Churches at Barnesley, England; Mystic River, Connecticut; and the old second Bablist[Baptist] Church of Philadelphia -. In the last, he remainded[remained] as Pastor for 28 years, and his memory is still cherished by the children of those to whom he ministered. He achieved a lasting reputation by his historical and doctoral writings. Married Eliza Caldwell of Coleraine. There were eight children - Four daughters all still living - My oldest brother - William Ledyard Cathcart was for years an officer in the U.S. Navy. After retiring from the Navy he became Professor of Naval Engineering - He died in 1925. Another brother, Gilbert was a Hosiery Manufacturer - when he died in 1887. The only brother living is Alexander, named after your Grand Father, who is living in New York City - There was also a brother Samuel, who died in infancy.

Your Grand Father, Alexander, I think did not keep in touch with my Father, although, there may have been correspondence between them, of which I am ignorant. In my letter, I mentioned Martin a brother of your Grand Father’s - As in these notes it has been stated that four sons of Gilbert Cathcart were medical officers - Of these Martin achieved renown in the West Indies and in India with various regiments.


Received from Mrs. Florence McCurdy (our second cousin on Father’s side) October 2nd, 1934


View Originals Page 1   Page 2   Page 3   Page 4

Further Reading - Extracts from the Londonderry Sentinel