So far we have traced all of Helen’s fathers side of the family, the Caughies, to originate from Ballymena, Antrim, Ireland. Shown on the map below, it is in the North East corner of the now Northern Ireland.
The early history of Ballymena is not well documented, and its importance as the major town in County Antrim is a relatively recent development. The earliest records of the area date back to around 480 A.D. when Christian communities were founded at Connor and Kirkinriola. The Abbey of St. Mary of the Desert was later established at Kells and its ruins, now called Templemoyle, can still be seen. In 831 A.D. Connor was sacked by the Vikings. Over 300 years later the Anglo-Normans, led by John De Courcy, conquered parts of Ulster. During this campaign they built great mounds of earth topped by wooden towers, usually referred to as Mottes, as defensive structures, and as strongholds from which to hold the surrounding countryside. Harryville Motte and Bailey is one of the best examples in Northern Ireland of this type of fortification. Some sources, however, would contend that this fortification was built, not by the Anglo-Normans, but by the local Irish Clan the O'Flynns or O'Lynns, in imitation of the invaders. The neighbourhood of Ballymena was also the location of the Battle of Tawnybrack, fought on 10th September 1315, between the Scottish army of Edward Bruce and the army of Richard De Burgo, the Anglo-Norman Earl of Ulster. Bruce, the brother of the Scottish King, Robert Bruce, wished to make himself King of Ireland and was victorious on this occasion.
Above is a photo of Slemish Hill near Ballymena is where Saint Patrick
is said to have minded sheep when he was a slave in Ireland. It's
actually the "Plug" of an extinct volcano
The Adairs were relatively good landlords and they prospered, as did the growing town of Ballymena. The first Ballymena Castle, built by the Adairs, was burned down in 1720. Work on the second began in 1865, and by 1887 it had been completed, and was ready for occupation. In 1955, this castle, which had been unoccupied for some time, was badly damaged by fire, and in 1956 it was declared unsafe and was eventually demolished.
During the 1798 rising, Ballymena was occupied for three days (7th - 9th June) by a force of around 10,000 United Irishmen, who stormed the Market House (now the Town Hall) killing three of its defenders. There was strong sympathy for the United Irishmen among the mainly Presbyterian population of Mid-Antrim, fuelled by feelings of resentment against the Anglican clergy and landlords. Following the crushing of the rebellion, nine men were hanged on Harryville Motte, and many others received floggings.
The population of Ballymena rose steadily through the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, the prosperity of the town being built on the twin foundations of Agriculture and Linen. In 1626 the population was a mere 500, rising to 800 in 1704, 4,063 in 1834, 8,883 in 1881, to 13,000 in 1939. Now the population of the whole Borough is around 60,000, with more than half of that being in the town.
In 1854 a Board of Town Commissioners was set up to administer the growing town, and in January 1900 Ballymena assumed Urban status. In 1937 The Urban District Council petitioned for Borough status, and the Charter was granted in December 1937. The first meeting of Councillors, as a Borough Council, was held on 23rd May 1939. In 1973 the Urban and Rural District Councils were merged to create the present Borough Council. In 1953 the Borough of Ballymena was granted armorial bearings, based on the Seven Towers. The title "The City of the Seven Towers" was given to Ballymena by Sir Alexander Shafto Adair, less than 100 years earlier. Sir Alexander, who later became Lord Waveney, was walking with friends on high ground overlooking the town when he pointed out seven towers - the tower of the Old Parish Church, the tower of St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, the tower of First Ballymena Presbyterian Church, the tower of All Saints Roman Catholic Church, the tower of the Old Town Hall, the tower of the Braidwater Spinning Mill, and the tower of Ballymena Castle, - he is then supposed to have said, "There's the City of the Seven Towers." There are those who would question the authenticity of this story, but the title stuck, and has been used ever since.
Unfortunately only three of the Towers now remain - the towers of the Old Parish Church, St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, and All Saints Roman Catholic Church. The tower of First Ballymena Presbyterian Church was found to be unsafe in the early 1880s and was taken down. The tower of the Old Town Hall was demolished in 1924 when the site was cleared for the erection of the present building. The tower of Ballymena Castle disappeared with the rest of the building in the late 1950s when it was demolished. The tower of the Braidwater Spinning Mill was demolished in 1990, a few years after the old factory building had been removed.
The earliest Caughie we have traced in Helen’s ancestral line is John, who was born, in Ireland, around 1863, he married Margaret Milligen (or Milligan) on 15th April 1889 in Ballymena, Ireland. I do not have the certificate for this but the entry is recorded on the IGI.
Just after there marriage they must have moved across to Scotland, and settled in Wigtownshire.
Wigtown, from the Martyrs' Monument, 1895
Wigtownshire is a Scottish county, located in the extreme South-West in Galloway. It’s history tells of diverse ancestry. Gaels and Anglicans, Norsemen and Northumbrians, Irish and Cumbrians, Scots and English, all have left a mark on this cornerstone of Scotland. Its history, deep and often hard to find, is etched into its villages, towns and farms and no less into its people and its hills and shores.
Why I do not know but on the 1901 census their first son Mathew is shown to be 11 and born in Inch, Wigtownshire.
Inch, named from the Gaelic "Inis" for an early island site in Castle Kennedy's lochs, is located in a strategic corner of Galloway, where the coast road from Ayr meets the southern route linking Carlisle and Dumfries to Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire. It formerly included Portpatrick - "The Black Inch" - and part of Stranraer, and has taken in the ancient parish of Soulseat. Prehistoric remains are everywhere, from the "Stepping stones of Glenterra" to the many "Auld grey cairns". In Roman times it has been said, the Novantae had their capital, Rerigonium, at Innermessan, but as an inhabited site it declined from former importance to almost complete disappearance by the late 1800s.
The Abbey of Soulseat, a twelfth century foundation of Premonstratensian white canons, was superior to both Holyrood and to Whithorn, but it had fallen into ruin before the late 1600s.
So back to the family, next to be born is Elizabeth or Lizzie as she is shown on the census. Lizzie was born around 1892, and is Helen’s great grandmother. This was difficult to find as I was looking for Elizabeth on 1901 and the one I found was wrong. It took me down the wrong path, until I found a later marriage and parents names were shown and this tied into the 1901 census with Lizzie registered and not Elizabeth.
Next was another son John, born around 1893, then Thomas, 1895, Maggie in 1898 and Annie last that I know in 1900. All of the above were born in Inch, with the exception of the last one Annie who is shown on the 1901 census as being born in Kirkmaiden. So between, 1898 and 1900 the family moved 20 miles south from Inch to the parish of Kirkmaiden.
Kirkmaiden is the southernmost parish in all Scotland, with its twenty square miles in the Rhinns of Galloway. It is bounded on the north by the parish of Stoneykirk, and on its other sides by the sea, and finally it ends in the Mull of Galloway, where earthworks date from 1000 BC. There the lighthouse looks over the Irish Sea to Cumberland, the Isle of Man, Ireland's Mountains of Mourne, and even Argyll's Paps of Jura. The parish once belonged to the monastery of Soulseat, with its oldest church at Kirkmaiden in the south, replaced in 1638 by one at Corsbie. Old fortifications were the round tower at Dunman, and the Gordon's ruined Clanyard Castle. The principal family was the M'Doualls of Logan. Port Logan and Drummore, also a port, being the only large villages.
Agriculture has been the main industry, and black-faced sheep and Galloway cattle were raised, though smuggling was once popular, the West Coast caves no doubt providing safe hiding places. Port Logan or Port Nessock, famous for its sub-tropical Logan Botanic Garden and the ancient sea fish ponds with their still tame fish, was once promoted as an alternative to Portpatrick and Stranraer for the Irish steamers.
A view from Kirkmaiden Church,
The parishioners were reputed to be the
biggest and strongest men of Galloway, and William Todd, the Kirkmaiden
parish dominie or school teacher from 1799 to 1845, collected much of
the region's liveliest folklore.
The family is shown below on the 1901 census, living
next door or on the farm at Garrochtree, in Kirkmaiden. Father John is
shown working as a ploughman, maybe this was on the farm next door. Elizabeth is there aged 4.
Elizabeth’s marriage to Robert McDowall is confirmed below and the certificate shows her mother and father details. Also notice on there, brother Thomas is one of the witnesses.
So back now to Ian Caughie who with Jean Craig had three children. Nora, James and Ian.