Balteagh parish - a valuable census substitute 1828


There are no surviving pre-civil registration church registers for the parish of Balteagh, Limavady, which makes it difficult to trace early ancestry in the area. For those with Presbyterian roots in this scenic parish, however, the discovery of a petition by the newly formed congregation in 1828 provides wonderful detail on the families attached to the newly formed church. The petition was discovered in the National Archives, Ireland in Dublin in the files of the Chief Secretary's Office papers.

The Official Papers series (OP) is a collection of incoming correspondence to the Chief Secretary’s Office (CSO) and the surviving papers cover the period 1790 through to 1880. The petition from Balteagh is found amongst a bundle of various papers relating to the payment of Regium Donum (NAI: OP1/685/2). 

The Presbyterian congregation of Balteagh was established in 1823 by people originally attached to Drumachose Presbyterian congregation in Limavady (where one of the isles was known as the Balteagh Isle). The petitioners were seeking a share of the Regium Donum Fund, otherwise known as the Royal Bounty.

The Balteagh Regium Donum Petition of 1828 notes details on approximately 200 Presbyterian families, comprising 1,023 individuals, residing in sixteen townlands lying to the south-east of the town of Limavady, Co. Londonderry / Derry.

Attached to the submission is a list of members of the congregation which in total names one thousand and twenty-three people. The Congregation’s meetinghouse was situated in the townland of Lislane. The petition is undated, but as it was addressed to the Marquis of Angelsea it can only date from during the brief first term as Lord Lieutenant, February 1828 and January 1829. 

The original list is arranged by townland and family group, naming the head of each household and the children, though seldom the name of wives. The families reside in sixteen townlands, all identifiable and lying within two miles of the townland of Lislane, just south of Limavady. In the original document the townlands appear in the following order and the names in square brackets are the modern Ordnance Survey names: Ballyness, Maine [Maine North, Maine South], Carrick [Carrick East, Carrick West], Terrydrumond [Terrydremont], Ballylichery [Ballyleagry], Ardmore, Carnet, Terrydoo [Terrydoo (Clyde), Terrydoo (Walker)], Littlederry [Little Derry], Aughinsallagh [Aughinsillagh], Temaine [Temain], Gortnarney [Gortnarne], Cloghan, Drumsurn, Lislane, Drumagoscar [Drumagisker].

The 16 townlands fall into three civil parishes, fourteen into Balteagh parish, one into Dungiven parish (Ballyness) and another into Carrick parish (Maine South).

The Regium Donum Fund was an annual grant of £600 distributed amongst Presbyterian congregations and initially only the Scottish Presbyterians, which from 1690 formed the Synod of Ulster. It was a subvention for the upkeep of ministry and was instituted in 1672 by Charles II, but suspended during the reign of James II. William III re-instated and doubled it to £1,200 and apart from it being briefly suspended in 1714-15 it continued to be paid until the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871.

An article containing the names of all of those listed in this valuable census substitute for the Balteagh congregation can be found in the Irish Genealogist, vol. 13, No. 2, (2011).

Families in Ballyness and Maine 1828


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