They had a close escape. Christy Marmion managed to hide them while The Ancient Britons scoured the countryside searching for them. There is an oral tradition which claims that they were then smuggled out in the direction of Newry but went up a laneway in the townland of Kilfeaghan and once again sought the sanctuary of the mountains.

There is no doubt that this was a desperate action and stood little chance of success. It was quickly forgotten and seldom features in the history of the period. It is only in recent years that a fuller understanding of what happened has emerged. It is frequently dismissed as of little consequence and is largely overshadowed by the events of the following year.

Lowry, Teeling and Arthur McMahon fled to France, where they met up with Wolfe Tone. Magenis, it is claimed, made his way to Scotland. His brother in law, Charles Hamilton Teeling, recounts in his book, ‘History of the Irish Rebellion, 1798’,

‘Magennis was brave, but his heart was stricken with grief: he had just fled from the horrors of conflagration, of torture, and death; he had but a short period before seen his mansion consumed, and had scarce time to rescue from the flames his young and interesting wife, with their infant child. Proclaimed a rebel, with the prices of his political offences on his head, he had no alternative but exile. He bade me an affectionate farewell, struggling to conceal the painful emotions of his soul, and pronouncing in a tone of voice scarcely audible the name of wife and child. I perceived he anticipated that protection which the ties of friendship and consanguinity demanded. Kind, hospitable, and brave, he was the uniform foe of oppression and the friend of distress. The generous heart of Lowry seemed to feel the misfortunes of his friend more than his own; both were equally committed, for neither could view the miseries of his country, and remain an inactive spectator of the scene. We parted with deep regret on either side. A moment, and escape had been impracticable’.

While the event seemed of little importance at the time it was to directly impact on the events of ’98. In the rebellion of that year, particularly in the Co. Down, the lack of men with leadership qualities quickly became apparent. It may also have fractured the alliance which existed between the United Irishmen, largely Presbyterian and the Defenders movement which was largely Catholic.

The ‘turn out’ in June ’97 would appear to have been largely Defender. They were not there in the same numbers in ’98 and their absence has never satisfactorily been explained. It was rumoured that a contingent did turn up at the rebel encampment on Ednavaddy Hill the night before the battle of Ballynahinch under the leadership of Magenis but withdrew following an argument with Munroe who had been chosen as leader the previous day.  

Magenis it was claimed put himself forward as leader but was rejected and in doing so Munroe was alleged to have said that what they were fighting for was the establishment of a ‘Presbyterian independent government’. Magenis, on hearing this withdrew his men and they watched from some distance off.

This information was sent to Edward Cooke at Dublin Castle by McCary, parish priest of Carrickfergus. This cleric was a disreputable character and in the pay of the Castle. Addicted to alcohol his behaviour was so outrageous that the Church eventually suspended him. Most historians dismiss this evidence as being too unreliable and some even doubt that Magenis returned to Ireland at all.

But return he did; on the 16th March 1798 James McKey wrote to Lord Downshire to tell him that John Magenis of Ballelly (sic) had been arrested the previous night with two others in a public house in Belfast. ‘The gentlemen’ he wrote ‘were amusing themselves singing republican songs, not knowing there was (sic) officers in the next room who heard them. I never was better pleased than to hear this morning that the three gentlemen were dragged to the guard room, at some distance, without their hats, and kept there all night. I am sorry for Magenis, as he is an innocent young man, and was led astray by a Mr. Lowry, now from this country --’.

On the 17th March Downshire was again informed that Magenis was arrested at Donaghadee and brought before General Lake who bailed him. Mrs. McTier, a noted letter writer, passed the same information to her brother in a letter dated the 19th. She added that a Mr. Whittle in the company of Magenis was also arrested; this man was a brother in law of Magenis having married Alicia Teeling, his wife’s sister.

On the 27th May Daniel Mussenden a Belfast merchant sent a letter to Stewart Bruce at Dublin Castle in the course of which he claimed, ‘The great leader of the north Magines (sic) is returned from England about ten days ago I suppose expecting this business in Dublin and to be at hand to take the command here.’. The Dublin business referred to was the rebellion which was already underway there.

There were several other sightings of him at Carrickfergus and at Ballyclare fair, all before the rebellion. Samuel McSkimmin who witnessed the rebellion reports that Magennis led the Defenders from Randalstown at the battle of Antrim town and finally James McKey again writing to Lord Downshire, July 1st 1798, dramatically ends his letter, ‘I am this instant told Magenis is brought in a prisoner from Broughshane but have not heard what he was charged with.’

Magenis was held in the old Donegall Arms Hotel which had been converted into the ‘Provost’ prison. In February 1799 in the Court of King’s Bench, Brabazon O’Hara of Broughshane, swore an affidavit in which he claimed that Magenis had been held in military custody from the 28th June 1798 until the 26th November before being released on personal bail of £2000 with a further two sureties of £1000 each. This was a considerable sum of money and gives some indication of how the authorities viewed him.

O’Hara went on to say that Magenis had been rearrested on the 7th January 1799 by order of Major General Thomas Goldie and that he, Magenis, ‘had demanded Tryal (sic) and a Copy of the charges against him’. The court issued a writ of Habeas Corpus and Magenis was brought to Dublin to appear in front of Lord Kilwarden.

Kilwarden’s judgement has not been found but it would appear that Magenis was released despite a number of letters to Dublin Castle arguing otherwise. One signed ‘Tell Truth’ described the events of June ’97 and went on to say, ‘I am strong and confident in the assertion that there is not in the Kingdom a more wicked, abandoned, traitorous incendiary than said Magenis--’.

Brabazon O’Hara who pleaded the Magenis case was a distant cousin. His mother was a Magenis, and sister of the Colonel who chaired the Teeling court martial (see below). While he showed no mercy to young Teeling he petitioned government for the life of Brabazon when the latter was sentenced to be hanged for the murder of his uncle, Oliver O’Hara, in 1801.

Oliver together with several bailiffs had attempted to arrest Brabazon on some charge or other and in a squabble which ensued Oliver was accidentally stabbed to death.
Government ignored the colonel’s petition and Brabazon was duly hanged in 1803.
The O’Haras of the 19th century managed to air brush all trace of this man from the family tree.

Following John Magenis’ release the authorities continued to keep a close eye on him. Lord Annesley, who had burned the Magenis home at Ballymacilreiny seldom let him out of his sight. In 1803 at the outbreak of Robert Emmett’s rebellion he was again arrested and held in custody. He was eventually freed on condition that he live in Belfast.

Following an appeal, in 1804, from the Rev. Tom Beatty, Vicar of the Church of Ireland parish of Garvaghy and in better days a hunting companion of the Magenis family, John was allowed to return home. This family had been renowned for horses, hounds and huntsmen and rectors of the Church of Ireland were no less enthusiastic when it came to the pursuit of the fox. While the parish priest would have been equally keen he could not afford the price of a good hunter!

John Magenis died a relatively young man in 1807. He had been in ill health when the Rector made his appeal, having developed a fever while in prison. Among the executors of his will were his ‘friends the Rev. Thomas Tighe and Alexander Lowry’.

Rev. Tighe, Rector of Drumgooland, is best remembered for gaining the entry of Patrick Bronte to Cambridge University. Patrick, a poor but quite brilliant schoolteacher, gave to English literature three daughters of exceptional literary talent, Charlotte, Jane and Emily.

Following John’s death Betty took her young family to Belfast where her father, mother and other family members resided. Her father, Luke, was finally released from prison in 1802. His imprisonment told on him. He had lost his business and home. In all it was estimated he had lost in the region of £30,000 – a vast sum in those days.
While he was in custody the contents of his Lisburn home were advertised for auction in the Newsletter, 3rd May 1799. Two of his sons, George and Luke, emigrated to America and died there; George in the city of Natchez, Mississippi, in 1822.

Betty’s sons were later to follow her brothers to America. Her youngest, John, died at Santa Fe, Mexico, in 1834 having travelled there from St. Louis for his health. Bartholomew Teeling Magenis was the last to leave, waiting until after his mother’s death and the marriage of his remaining sister Eliza, he sailed in 1849.

Her brother, Bartholomew, following his flight to France in June 1797, joined the French army. He held the rank of captain in Humbert’s expeditionary force which landed on the west coast of Ireland in September 1798 but it was too little too late. The French were defeated at the battle of Ballinamuck, young Teeling was captured, and unlike the other French officers whom the British allowed to be ransomed, he was court martialled and executed. Ironically, the court martial was chaired by Colonel Magennis, a relation of Betty’s husband, John (see above).
The above picture of Mary Anne and one of the Teeling girls is I believe a picture of Mary Anne and a granddaughter of Luke Teeling. The girl depicted is most probably a daughter of John and Betty (Teeling) Magenis (and niece of Jane Marmion) either Mary or Eliza. The artist lived in Belfast for a period during the 1830s. The painting is now in the National Gallery, Dublin.


Betty eventually settled in Donegall Street, Belfast, beside her old friend Mary Anne McCracken, pictured above, and a few doors from her sister Alice Whittle. Mary Anne was a truly remarkable lady. Her story was written by Mary McNeill, and should be read by anyone seeking to understand the ’98 period. She is best remembered for having linked her brother’s arm on his way to the scaffold. Henry Joy McCracken had been principal leader at the battle of Antrim. While his family cowered in their home, understandably afraid of the revenge which was being wreaked around them, Mary Anne stepped out, took her brother’s arm and defiantly walked with him to the place of execution.


Alexander Lowry; friend and companion of John Magenis.
John’s other friend Alexander Lowry had been allowed to return home from Norway after his mother pleaded with government. Her husband had died and her other son had drowned in the mill dam. Government relented and Alexander returned to his beautiful home at Katesbridge; this house is illustrated in one of William Hinks’ ‘Illustrations of the Irish Linen Industry in 1783’.

With him were his pretty Norwegian wife, Mette Christine Zetlitz, and their three children. The couple were to have a further two children in Ireland. Mette was the daughter of a wealthy farmer and business man from Stavanger. Alexander had disembarked from a French naval vessel, Le Merchand, which had put into that port for repairs in October 1798. This ship is something of a mystery. In Norway it was thought she was involved in Napper Tandy’s skirmish with the British of the coast of Donegal, although it must be stressed the ship’s name does not appear in any of the records of the time; she was under the command of a Captain Blavet.

Young Lowry liked the town and became the centre of attention when the locals discovered he was Irish and linked to the Irish revolutionary movement. He decided to stay and adopted the alias, John Barkley Townsend. In no time Alexander was elected chairman of the Det Stavangerske Klubbelskab, a social club which featured the cream of Stavanger society; he was making quite an impression!

In Katesbridge Mette Christine with her flaming red hair created something of a sensation; the locals all wanted an introduction. Rumours soon reached Norway that Mette was unhappy. Alexander was overly protective, he was ten years older and perhaps a little jealous. The atmosphere at home with a mother in law who had been left to run the business and who was used to getting her own way, Mette may have found somewhat stifling.

Besides she had left a young boy at home with her grandfather. Before she married Alexander she had had a child to a young seventeen year old French nobleman called Charles Eugene le Normand de Bretteville. The child was called Christian Zetlitz Bretteville and grew up to be mayor of Christiana (Oslo) and later Minister of Finance in the Norwegian government. During Mette’s pregnancy the father had gone to sea and when he returned to do the honourable thing and marry Mette he found that Alexander had beaten him to the altar.

In 1814 she died aged just 32 years. Alexander it was believed sought solace in the bottle, twice mortgaged the business, and died in 1821.

Ill luck dogged many of the ’98 men!

                                                                                   
below: Linenhill, outside Katesbridge, home of the Lowry family.
Marmions in the 19th Century.

Following the rebellion, the Act of Union,
uniting Britain and Ireland came into force
in January 1801. Sufficient members of
the old Irish parliament were bribed to
enable the passage of this bill.

Former rebels or would be rebels kept
their heads down and struggled on.
Participants in the rebellion were loath
to discuss the roles they played. Even those
who were to put pen to paper kept many
things hidden. Bartholomew Teeling’s brother wrote two books, one to do with the rebellion and the other the ‘Sequel’. This man having been involved from an early age especially in the attempts to unite the Defenders and United Irishmen kept much of what he knew a secret and understandably so.

James and Christy Marmion for some reason decided to lease the mill in 1800. They were still relatively young men, James about 41 yrs., and Christy about 35. The latter was, in 1803, to receive from his uncle Richard a substantial farm, (by Mourne tandards). James also received, from Richard, the Demesne Farm of Bellhill. While we have no definite date for this it may have happened in 1803 when Christopher received his. They still possessed the lower half of Ballymagart, rented out to several tenant farmers, and James lived and also had land at Lurganconary.

In the Newsletter of the 23 September 1800 the following advertisement appeared,

‘An extensive Bleach-Green and Mills to be let in Morne, County of Down from the 1st November next, and immediate possession given, with any quantity of land that may be agreed on not exceeding 70 acres --- and also five acres of excellent Turf Bog, convenient to the Green. On these premises are erected good roomy lofting Houses and excellent Machinery for carrying on the Bleaching Business, together with a new Flax Mill made last year --- All of which have abundance of water in the driest season, having the entire command of that never failing River the Whitewater, and by a final addition of machinery might finish upwards of 15,000 Pieces of Linen in the year --- There is a comfortable Dwelling House with Offices and Garden on the premises. The above Concern is well worth the attention of any Person wishing to go extensively into the Linen Business; it lies contigeous to Carlingford, Newry, Rathfriland and Kilkeel, all good Linen Markets – For further particulars enquire of James or Christopher Marmion at the Premises – Dated near Kilkeel 24th Sept. 1800.
NB. A long lease can be given.’

The brothers had obviously invested quite some energy and expense in developing the mills. To wash, bleach and finish 15,000 pieces of linen per year would also have required hundreds of carts of turf, no other fuel was available.

What the immediate response was to the above advertisement it is not possible to say but by 1809 we find an Edward Cooke, paper manufacturer in occupation. He, about 1811, leased the premises to a William Emerson, also a paper manufacturer.

The bleaching business appears to have ceased about this time. Why this changeover occurred is difficult to say but Cooke and Emerson obviously believed paper making to be a more attractive proposition. Nevertheless the war with France was still underway, the threat of invasion had receded, and while the war lasted the demand for linen held and high prices were paid.

The switch to paper production would have required some modification of the wash mills. The flax mill should also have proved a sound investment. Flax scutching was carried on, with few breaks, until the mill ceased work in the 1950s.

All of this was to change following the defeat of Napoleon. The war time boom came to an end and the economic slump of 1817 caused many linen mills to collapse. With the growing demand for paper Cooke and Emerson appear to have been far sighted indeed.

Farm prices also collapsed and Mourne tenants who had taken land at high rents, during the twenty year war, found it difficult to make the payments. In 1817 they petitioned the Kilmorey family for reductions. There is no evidence to say their request was granted; Mourne Park house and demesne were under development and every penny was needed.

In 1818 Lord Kilmorey hired a young man to design and oversee the work of enlarging the ‘big house’. James Gallagher came from, Proleek, Co. Louth. As mill designers and builders he and his father, Thaddeus, would have been well known to the Marmions. During his time working at Mourne Park, James would have been a frequent guest in Marmion homes. He would have felt very much at home in Mourne, his maternal grandmother’s family, the Taylors, lived nearby in Rostrevor.

Little did he know it then but he was later to settle in New Orleans where subsequent Marmions were also to make their homes. Such was his reputation as a designer and builder that he was engaged to draw up plans and erect some of the most important buildings in the city. Among these were the Merchants’ Exchange, St. Charles Hotel, and the beautiful church of St. Patrick.

He is little known in Ireland possibly because he changed his name from Gallagher to Gallier, a form which he thought was better suited to the local pronunciation. He told his story in the ‘Autobiography of James Gallier Architect’ (republished in 1973 by Da Capo Press, New York). In this book he vividly described the collapse of the bleaching business and the impact it had around his home in Co. Louth.

The Marmions must equally have felt the pinch in those years. Christy worked the Drumcrow farm. He and Mary appear to have had no family, possibly marrying too late in life. James and Jane on the other hand are reputed to have had a large family, some of whose names we know.

While the parish of Upper Mourne did have a priest in those years, there was no church where the children could be baptised. This ceremony was performed in the home and if baptismal records were kept none have survived. The family was raised in Janebrook, the large family home on the banks of the beautiful Whitewater River, in the townland of Lurganconary. This was truly an idyllic place to bring up a family.

The girls’ names are better known than the boys, largely because they stayed and married at home and their marriages featured in the Belfast Newsletter. Some of the boys appear to have emigrated. Emigration was a frequent occurrence in Mourne at this time; economic conditions made it an attractive proposition; the vast majority of those leaving, until about 1840, consisted of Protestant families. Most went to British North America. Many travelled out to join family and friends who had previously gone.

The children of poorer families took ship from Warrenpoint and settled in Liverpool. If, while there, they managed to save the fare they moved further afield. Ships also sailed from Warrenpoint to St. Johns, New Brunswick. Several of the manifests have survived and record many Mourne names. In the 1830s, shortly after the loss of five men in a fishing disaster, several Derryogue families decided it was time to leave and sailed to St. Johns. The fishing there, despite the dangers, was certainly an attraction.

The family of James and Jane Marmion.

The Marmion girls we know of were Margaret, called after her maternal grandmother Margaret Magenis (nee Savage), Jane called after her mother, Charity called after her aunt, now uncle Christopher’s wife, Mary called after her paternal grandmother Mary (Garvey?), Rose who died unmarried and 97 years old in 1897, and Elizabeth, the youngest. We only know of two boys, Arthur called after his grandfather Arthur Magenis and John, the youngest who died at home in 1834. It is not possible to say who he was called after, unless the John who popped up in the agricultural census of 1803, only to disappear again, was a brother of his father’s.
All the evidence points to James Marmion’s father being the Patrick who first leased Ballymagart together with his brother Richard. If this is correct and if the traditional naming pattern had been adhered to, then the eldest boy of James and Jane should have carried this name. According to the oral tradition, James and Jane had a large family. We need, however, to bear in mind that Jane was about 33 years when she married and a family of eight would leave in her 40s when her last child Elizabeth was born. Rose, who may have been the second youngest, was born in 1800/1.
James does not appear in the 1803 census nor is he in the Mourne voters list of 1819, although his home is listed in a directory of 1814 as being at ‘Janebrook’. His son Arthur, who is listed as living at Lurganconary, had the vote, but it was tied to his pub in Kilkeel, the lease of which contained a single life, ‘Jame’ (sic). Why James is not listed is something of a puzzle.

Margaret married Mr. John Pledger Glover in 1819, followed closely by Jane who married a Lieutenant Stevenson in 1820. Both were married in the new Church of Ireland in Kilkeel. Arthur Marmion and Thomas Waring were witnesses for Margaret, and Arthur and Christopher for Jane. Thomas Waring would appear to be the son of John Waring, then in occupation of Bellhill. John’s brother, the Rev. Lucas Waring, lived in the nearby rectory at Ballinahatten.

Two weddings in quick succession may have been a strain on family resources. In 1825 James took out a mortgage. This does not necessarily been he was in dire straits. In those years if money was needed urgently this was very often the only way of getting it. In February 1825, for the sum of £750, James mortgaged to David Moore of Benagh, the Bellhill Demesne Farm containing 86 Irish Plantation acres together with his half of lower Ballymagart, and his half of the mill premises.

Role of Middlemen.
The mortgaging of the mill property would not have affected Emerson who would have carried on business as usual and of course Christopher still possessed his half of all the Ballymagart property. As far as Emerson was concerned until the mortgage was redeemed he paid half his rent to Moore and the other half to Christopher who each paid half of the superior rent to Scott.

The system of holding land was complicated in those Mourne townlands which the Nedhams leased on perpetuity leases in the 1730s. Eighteen townlands in all were leased on the basis of Fee-Farm grants. This early form of lease conveyed, to all intents and purposes, a freehold interest. The land was outside the interference of the grantor. The annual rent was fixed and could not be altered and as inflation took effect it was reduced to a mere pittance. The owners of these townlands, known as ‘fine townlands’, were free to sell however new owners were required to pay, to the representatives of the original grantor, a sum of money known as a ‘entry fine’, hence the name.

In the lower half of Ballymagart, the sub tenants paid rent to the Marmions, who in turn paid to the Scott family of Newry – they had acquired the Pullein Spencer (son of Brent Spencer) interest and had granted in 1789 a 999 year lease to James and Christopher – the Scotts in turn paid to the representatives of Joshua Pulleine who paid to the Nedhams (now the Kilmorey family).
To further complicate matters all those who held long leases could bequeath, sell or mortgage the same. The whole system was a legal quagmire badly in need of reform and throughout the 19th century various attempts were made to do so, with only partial success. Surprisingly this complicated system worked remarkably well until the land acts made provision for tenants to buy their farms from the landlords.

When the Mourne tenant farmers bought out the freehold of their farms under the Wyndham Land Act of 1903 the process was a fairly simple matter for those tenants who paid their rent directly to the Kilmorey land agent but for those who held under and paid to middlemen the legal process was so complicated that the tenant purchase was not completed until the 1920s and in some cases the 30s.

All of the superior interests had to be bought out and it was one of the weaknesses of the 1903 act that it did not sufficiently address this.

To summarise Ballymagart, (and Ballyardle was equally as complicated),
the under-tenants held from the Marmions,
the Marmions held from the Scotts of Newry,
the Scotts held from the representatives of Pullein Spencer,
the Spencer representatives held from the representatives of Joshua Pullein and the
Pullein representatives held from the Kilmoreys.

It is plain to see how under-tenants could be rack rented in such a system.

Sale of Lurganconary.
When James Marmion took out the mortgage he was still living at Janebrook. The deed specified a redemption date but reference only is made to this, as was the case in most deeds of mortgage, and the date was not given.

In December 1825 James sold the farm and buildings of Lurganconary to Robert Davidson of Cranfield. Robert was a member of the Davidson family whose home had been burned by the Mourne yeomen in 1797. The farm was a small one of 30 acres, 1 rood and 4 perches, plantation measure, about 46 statute acres. It was in the occupation of James and two sub tenants, the widow, Mary Flanagan and Richard Rogers.

It was sold for the residue of a 41 lease, taken out in 1793, and the two remaining lives of a ‘three life lease’. The two lives were Charles Lewis and Peter Doran. The deed specified that Davidson was to pay a moiety (half) of the rent. This raised the question, if Davidson was paying half the rent, who was paying the other half?  The farm was obviously held by two parties.

The lease had been made out to Patrick and James Marmion and ‘the survivor of them’. Who was this Patrick, was he the father or brother of James? A lease negotiated in April 1826 threw further light on the matter and revealed a hitherto unknown family.

Owning a farm moiety was of little use to the ambitious Robert Davidson. He moved to buy the other half and in 1826 bought the same from a Marmion family now living in Dundalk. This is an important family and we shall return to it. The lease specifies the same acreage, lives, and period of time as that of James. It states that Patrick is deceased as is William who succeeded him and exonerates the farm from payment of a marriage jointure to William’s widow and a further annuity to his daughter; £400 in all.

On the face of the evidence presented Patrick may have been the father of James and of the William who inherited Pat’s share. From other evidence we know that William married in the late 1700s; he may have been born in the early 1770s. Would James have had a brother old enough to be this mans father? It does not appear so. The will of Bishop Garvey of Dromore, (see later) made in 1766, mentioned the two sons of Patt and Mary Marmon (sic) of Mourne. Since they were not mentioned by name they may have been quite young and possibly the only two sons that Mary and Pat had by that date.

Move to Bellhill
Following the sale of Lurganconary James moved to Bellhill. In 1826 he and his wife Jane agreed a deed of assignment with Robert Davidson of Cranfield. This set up a family trust chargeable on the lands of Ballymagart and Bellhill.The lease stated that Robert was to hold ‘upon certain trusts ---- That is to say upon trust by sale or mortgage or other lawful means a sum of £400 for the uses of the children of the said James Marmion and Jane his wife to be paid to them’ in accordance with the marriage settlement which James had entered into in 1790.

Besides giving some protection to his wife and children in the event of James’ death the trust may have made it difficult for creditors, if there were any, to get their hands on the property. The deed would also have severed the joint tenancy of James and Christopher.

The marriage settlement entered into in 1790 was payable out of the farm of Lurganconnery. James having sold his moiety was now lifting all charges contained in that settlement and chargeable on this farm and was now entering into a new agreement based on the Bellhill and Ballymagart property.

Not only had James entered into a marriage settlement with charges on the Lurganconnery farm but William, now deceased, had done so also. If both men had died leaving widows and young children it is difficult to see how these charges could have been met out of such a small property.

In 1826 James and Christopher, according to a note in the Kilkeel vestry records, were appointed ‘Poor Inspectors’. The parish vestry in those years had responsibilities outside of church affairs. It was responsible for the upkeep of roads and bridges the welfare of orphans, foundling children, the sick, elderly and the poor. All rate payers were entitled to attend but officers were to be Church of Ireland only.

James together with his old adversary Alexander Chesney were assigned to the townlands of Drummond, Corcreaghan and Drummonlane. Christopher and James Twibel who resided at Drumindoney were assigned to Ballymagart, Tieveduff (pronounced Te-doo), Ballymageogh, Drumindoney and Drumcrow.


The marriage of Mary Marmion and Alexander Macdonnell.
Christopher and his wife Mary appear to have had no family. As frequently happened in Ireland the childless couple were allowed to rear a niece. James and Jane’s second daughter, Mary, joined the Drumcrow household. This was often a mutually advantageous situation and no less so in Mary’s case.

Sometime prior to 1826 Mary had met and fallen in love with a young Scotsman, Alexander Macdonnell. Alexander had been born at Fort Augustus, on the shores of Loch Ness, and was described as belonging to the ‘House of Glengarry’. When he married Mary he had a business in Newry and was about 26 years old. He was believed to have arrived in Ireland with a brother of whom nothing is known other than the possibility that he was called Allan.

Christopher having taken a liking to the young man and wishing to sever the joint tenancy of Ballymagart which he shared with his brother entered into a trust and settled the property on the young couple. After his and Mary’s death the property was to go to Alexander and his bride. The trust was established in 1826, Christopher was then about 61 years old and Mary (Charity) about 64. The trustees were named as Charles Lewis of Kilkeel and Andrew Jennings, ironmonger, of Newry.

With everything signed and sealed the old parish priest Father Richard Curoe married the young couple in the Drumcrow home. House marriages were not unusual at the time although the church was keen to put an end to them. The old church of St. Colman’s was a ‘barn church’. It would have had few furnishings with an earthen floor and an enclosed altar raised on three steps, besides even in the month of May it would have been quite cold. Oral tradition claims it had a thatched roof.

The large Drumcrow house with its wide hearth, open fire and spacious rooms was ideal for the wedding celebration which in keeping with the custom of the time, probably lasted several days. Christopher and Jane would have spared no expense to make their adopted daughter’s wedding a day to be remembered and no doubt there were Scots visitors to impress. James and Jane, as guests of honour, observing the proceedings and remembering the day Mary left home must have taken great pleasure at the way things had turned out. Guests, whom Christy could not accommodate, would certainly have been made welcome in their fine new house at Bellhill.

Christopher would have availed of the opportunity to invite valued family friends. Old smugglers, Atkinsons and McNeillys, together with old rebels would have rubbed shoulders with the parish priest, Father Curoe and his brother Patrick a prospering Kilkeel business man. Mary’s Magenis cousins from the ‘back of the Mountains’ and Marmions from Newry and County Louth would have swapped stories with Hallidays, Moores and Davidsons. Sadly, Mary’s three Magenis uncles, John, Rowland and Roger were deceased by this date, having all died young men.

Family relations in America were a constant topic of speculation and concern. Some may not have been heard from in years but parents always lived in hope; next month, next year everything might change. Neighbour’s children often communicated as much about those who travelled out with them as they did about themselves. Ship’s captains, sailing from Warrenpoint to New York and other distant ports, traditionally entertained their friends on board prior to quitting the harbour. These men over the years had established a network of new world contacts and were often entrusted with family correspondence.

No doubt Alexander Chesney would have been a topic of conversation. He was hale and hearty at seventy years of age and living close to James in a fine new house at Ballyardle. Huddled groups in corners discussed the ‘smuggling’ which was still flourishing. Tobacco was fetching big money. As late as 1830 a large French vessel, laden with tobacco, was captured and impounded by the revenue men of the Mourne coast.

Old Isaac Glenny from Newry, with whom the Marmions did much business and who managed to get himself arrested by the Ancient Britons in ‘the days of the lighthorse’, as ’98 was remembered in Mourne, might well have put in an appearance. Christopher would have delighted showing him the Drumcrow farm with its extensive outbuildings and fine view. From the description given in the 1830s Valuation the farm would appear to be that which the Mulligan family later owned for close on one hundred years. The site it occupied was known as Ardnagreine and is so named on certain maps. The valuation remarked on the steepness of the lane leading from the farm to the main road. The Newry Road end of this lane was closed some years ago.

The Macdonnell children.
Alexander’s business interests lay largely in Newry, he frequently advertised herrings for sale at his Merchants’ Quay warehouse; these he obtained from the Scots fisheries. The family lived in Newry in the early years. All the children were baptised in the local Catholic church. The first to arrive was James (…….?); he was baptised on April 1st. 1827 and the sponsors were Mary’s uncle Christopher and aunt Mary. In honour of the occasion and in keeping with his social position Christy paid the priest one guinea, baptismal dues, about eight times the normal amount.

Just over one year later Christopher Marmion Macdonnell arrived. He was baptised on the 1st May 1828 and sponsored by James Magennis and Margaret Cormick. Mary having called her first born after her father called the next after uncle Christopher. Having no children of his own he would have been particularly pleased at the addition of Marmion to the name. Had he known how well this young man was later to prosper in his adopted home in the USA he would have been doubly pleased. Christopher Marmion Macdonnell when he died, a batchelor in 1888, in Loredo, was one of the wealthiest citizens in the state of Texas.

Allan was baptised on July 15th 1829. He was sponsored by (………?) McDonel. It is unfortunate that the Christian name is not legible, this may well have been the elusive Macdonnell brother. In 1856 Allan is listed as a mechanical engineer living in Ballymagart. In later years he worked in Damolly mill, Newry, and lived at Downshire Road with his sister Mary. Following his brother’s death he and Mary sold their properties, including the Ballymagart mill, and went to Loredo.

Maria was born one year later and at baptism, July 26th 1830, was sponsored by two men, James Curoe and Henry Marmion. Curoe is a Co. Down name; the family was based around Downpatrick in the Lecale area but to-day the name has almost disappeared. Father Richard Curoe appears to have lived with his brother Patrick in the townland of Dunavan.

The family is reputed to have given sixteen priests to the church. A son of Patrick’s, Father John Curoe, died aged thirty three years, at St. Paul’s Parochial House, Brooklyn, New York on the 31st March 1854.

The other sponsor Henry Marmion is something of a mystery. He may have belonged to a Marmion family of Newry.

A further child was baptised on April 16th, 1833. Strangely the Christian name was not entered in the baptismal register. This would appear to be Sarah who died June 24th 1861. The sponsors were William Cormick and Maria Marmion. Was this Maria a sister of Henry?

Another child was christened on the 18th July 1835 and named Mary. The earlier Maria may have died in infancy. The sponsors were Charles Murphy, who was later to marry Bessy Marmion, and Jane Magenis. Roger Magenis of Ballella, a brother of John and James Marmion’s wife Jane, had a daughter of this name.

The last of the family, Alice, was baptized on the 11th August 1838. Mary McKay was named as the only sponsor. It was unusual but on occasion it did happen.

James Marmion sells his Ballymagart property.
In 1830 James Marmion was 71 years old. It was time to retire and take life easy and who better to take over than his industrious son in law, Alexander. By deed of conveyance, dated 12th April of that year he granted to the latter all his interests in the lower half of Ballymagart including the mills for the sum of £1,200. Joined with him in the conveyance were David Moore of Benagh Esq., Robert Davidson of Cranfield Gent., and Joseph Glenny of Newry Esq. These men obviously held mortgages on the property. James may not have been left with much money when these were all paid off.

In the 1830s Alexander had several properties in Newry. At New Street he had two dwelling houses with offices and yards and at Canal Quay he had several stores including one for grain and another for herring.

Living at home with James and his wife at Bellhill were his daughter Margaret Glover, now widowed, his other daughters Jane, Rose and Elizabeth (Bessy) and son John. The only other son we know of, Arthur, had a pub in Kilkeel in 1819 but within a short time he disappears from the records.

On the 3rd March 1831 Charity married in the Church of Ireland, Kilkeel, Benjamin Hobart of Errigle Glebe, Count Monaghan. They were married by the Reverend Christopher Usher in the presence of John Haliday and Christopher Marmion. Haliday was one of a number of Kilkeel business men who also had business interests in Newry.

This was the third daughter to have married in the Church of Ireland. Mixed marriages were frowned upon by both Catholics and Protestants. Did James and Jane approve? Interestingly while marriage settlements and dowries can be found for those daughters who married Catholics none have been found for those who did not!
MFT                                                                                                                  www.marmionfamilytree.com