from the Ordnance Survey Memoir for the Parish of Ballymoney, 1832-1834
By the census of 1831 the population of this parish amounted to 11,599 souls. They are a mixture of the Scotch, English and Irish. Hence arises in all probability the greater degree of comfort and cleanliness observable among the inhabitants, compared with other parts of the country. The religious persuasions are various. The Catholics constitute about one-tenth and about the same number of the Established Church. The remainder are of the Scotch church, with a few Methodists and Anabaptists.
General Appearance and Scenery
The general appearance and scenery of this parish is bleak and uninteresting, owing to the lowness and uniformity of its natural features and the large quantity of bog which it contains. If we except the town of Ballymoney and the occasional glimpses of the gentlemen's seats, which in a trifling degree vary its otherwise monotonous aspect, the scenery would be bare indeed. The public buildings are mostly confined within the environs of Ballymoney town, and scarcely a clump of trees is to be met with apart from the plantings which surround the gentlemen's seats.
Potatoes form the preparation crop, followed by barley or oats, flax and oats or two crops of oats in succession. Clover is often sown with the oats and affords excellent pasture after harvest. After the second crop of oats the land is usually laid down in meadow. Flax is yearly raised in large quantities but, owing to the depression of the linen trade of late years, is not so much attended to as formerly. Pork and butter form a great part of the trade at the Ballymoney markets, where the agents of the Belfast merchants attend to purchase such produce. See further note below on the markets.
The earliest improvements in this parish are attributed to the settlement of several English and Scotch families during the time of Cromwell and subsequently (more than a century ago) to the establishment of an extensive linen and bleaching manufactory, which gave employment and encouragement to a great number of the population of both sexes. This establishment has long since ceased to exist. The cause thereof could not be properly ascertained. To the linen trade particularly is the prosperity of this parish attributed. It was the principal stimulus to industry, and it is generally asserted that every change in the linen market was felt by all classes of the working community.
Bleach Greens, Manufactories and Mills
There are no bleach greens in this parish. There are 14 mills in the parish [insert addition: worked by water, 11 of which are situated on the Ballymoney river, 1 on a stream which flows through Stranocum townland near the River Bush, 1 on the Claughey water and another on a stream tributary to the Ballymoney water in the east division of the parish]. [
For locality etc. see the following table. Table gives locality (townland), description of mill, dimensions of wheel, fall of water.]
Habits of the People
Nearly all the old cottages in this parish are either mud or stone, generally 1-storey high, with glass windows and thatched roofs. The number of rooms seldom exceeds 2 viz. a kitchen and bedroom. The cottages recently built and now building are all of stone and are generally slated, and in most cases have 3 rooms. They have little appearance of comfort or cleanliness. The people are generally clean in their persons. The food principally used by them (i.e. the country people) is potatoes, meal and milk. Turf is their sole fuel: it is plentiful, cheap and of a good description. There is no peculiarity in their dress. The attire of the females is generally neat and clean and on Sundays particularly [so]. Scarcely a female is to be met with poorly dressed. There are no remarkable instances of longevity, but in almost every townland there are people to be met with enjoying good health and activity at the ages of 70, 80 and sometimes 90 years. The usual number in a family is 5 or 6. Early marriages are not common.
Amusements: "The Round Ring"
They have few amusements or recreations varying from what is common everywhere else. Ball-playing, hurling and suchlike is what they commonly resort to. During the Easter week the young people of both sexes flock into the town of Ballymoney in great numbers and assemble in a large field on the western side of the town called the Easter Meadow. They form themselves into a series of rings, both sexes mixing indiscriminately. One person is placed outside of each ring, who has to run round it and touch another. The person so touched and the one outside immediately run round the ring and try to gain the vacant place first. Whoever is last in coming round has to remain outside, until superseded by another, whose vacant position is claimed by the person outside by the same course. This innocent amusement is kept up with great activity and eclat for several hours each day during the Easter week. It is called "the Round Ring".
The following sections from the Ordnance Survey Memoir refer mainly to the town of Ballymoney.
Is situated nearly in the centre of the town, at the eastern end of Charlotte Street: it is a very plain stone building 3-storeys high, and has a spire similar to the one on the church. This building consists of 3 divisions. The upper part comprises a gallery which extends around the north, east and southern walls, with 2 jury rooms, 1 on the eastern and 1 on the western side. The entrance to the western room is by the northern side of the gallery only. There are 2 doors to the eastern room, 1 at the eastern side of the northern gallery, the other at the southern end of the room. The central division, which is the principal part of the building, consists of one large room used as a court house, with a smaller one off the western side of it called the barristers' room. The lower part is simply a shed where meal, potatoes etc. are sold on wet market days.
When first built this house was only 2-storeys high and was called the Baronial House, and it was originally intended for no other purpose than for holding the manor courts in. The date of its erection cannot be ascertained, as the records of the barony were destroyed in 1798. In 1796 it was determined that the court of quarter sessions should be held in it and, in order to make it commodious for the purpose, it was raised another storey. The gallery and the 2 jury rooms were then erected. The expense of this enlargement was about 130 pounds, which was defrayed by the county.
This building now serves not only as a court house but as a place for public worship: a Presbyterian clergyman (generally a probationer, there being no regular person for the purpose) preaches in it every Sunday. It is also open for every public assembly. The clergyman generally receives a guinea for his attending on Sunday. The tower, belfry, clocks and steeple are kept in repair by the barony, the remaining part of the house at the expense of the county. Anterior to 1796 the quarter sessions were held in a house near the Mill Town bridge, which is now used as a barn.
Is attached to the west end of the market house and, although condemned and no prisoners are confined in it, a keeper is still paid 2 pounds a year by the barony for taking care of it.
Situated at the west end of Charlotte Street, contiguous to the Covenanters' meeting house: is a stone building commodiously and appropriately divided into cells, yards etc. It was erected in 1830 at an expense of 130 pounds, defrayed by the county. This house is kept very clean and is periodically visited by the rector of this parish and the officer of police. The gaoler is the only person employed in the establishment. His salary is 20 pounds a year.
Situated in Church Street, is the only public school in the town: it is an oblong building erected in 1813. The expense was about 450 pounds. It is under the management of Erasmus Smith's trustees.
Is a stone building situated a short distance to the north of the church: it was built in 1831 by Mr Thomas McElderry, at an expense of nearly 1,200 pounds. Mr McElderry belongs to the town of Ballymoney. This store has improved the corn trade of the parish very considerably and is of very great advantage to the farmers of the surrounding country, affording a good market for the speedy sale of every description of grain. This store can contain 800 tons of grain. The extract below provides more information on this subject.
There are 2 hotels in this town, kept by Miss Neill and Mr Reid. They are both very good, and great attention is paid in them to the comfort and accommodation of strangers.
Assembly or Ballroom
Adjoining Miss Neill's hotel, is a spacious elegant room: Mr James Cramsie has a lease of this room, along with his house, of which it forms a part. Aforesaid Mr Cramsie uses this room for his own purposes, yet it has been so reserved in the lease that Lord Mark Kerr can order it to be cleared out for any purpose he may think proper, as is sometimes the case for balls, concerts etc.
The town contains about 430 houses, of which 400 are inhabited. The greater part of the houses are built of stone, the general height being 2-storeys, and there is very little uniformity in their appearance. There are very few of the houses in the Main street [which] have gateways attached to them or any entrances in their rear, and the consequence is that cows, horses etc. have to pass to their stables either through the halls or kitchens of such houses. Another exceedingly disagreeable habit prevails arising from the same cause. The manure collected in the stable yards has to be removed through the houses into the streets before [being] carried to the fields; and during the months of April and May, when this operation is generally performed, the manure heaps, posited in front of many houses in the same street, at the same time, and suffered to remain until the whole is removed from their yards (which generally occupies each house a week or 10 days with a couple of wheelbarrows), present a very disgusting scene.
The streets are not kept clean and in wet weather particularly it is unpleasant to walk through them. They are either coarsely macadamized or very miry. The footpaths, which are paved, are not kept in good order. The town is neither lighted nor watched. Many new houses have been recently built and are now building, mostly at the upper and lower ends of the town. They are principally of brick and are slated. The greater number now building are 2-storeys high, but some of them are only 1-storey.
Occupations of the People
The population of the town is about 2,200 persons, of whom 1,045 are males and 1,155 are females. The number of males above 21 years is about 550 and may be divided generally into the following classes, viz. employed in wholesale trades and others such as clergymen, physicians etc. 40, employed in retail trade and handicraft 350, labourers employed in agriculture 75, labourers not agricultural 40 and servants 45. The relative proportion of the different trades and occupations is nearly as follows:
There are 2 physicians, 3 apothecaries and 2 attorneys in the town. here are no libraries, reading rooms or savings banks in the town.
There is a branch of the Northern Banking Company in this town. It was first opened in November 1834.