All Lewis entries for Magherafelt


More information on Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)
Accompanying Lewis map for Derry


CASTLE-DAWSON, or DAWSON'S-BRIDGE, a market and post-town, partly in the parish of BALLYSCULLION, but chiefly in that of MAGHERAFELT, barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 28 miles (N. W.) from Belfast, and 97 (N.) from Dublin; containing 674 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its proprietors, the Dawson family. On the plantation of Ulster, the eight townlands of Mayola were granted by Jas. I. to Sir Thomas Philips, whose sons sold them, in 1633, to Thomas Dawson, Esq., from whom they have descended to the Right Hon. G. R. Dawson. The town appears to have assumed its present form and name in the year 1710, during the proprietorship of Joshua Dawson, Esq., chief secretary for Ireland, and for many years member of parliament for the borough of Wicklow. It is delightfully situated on the two sides of the Mayola, over which is a handsome stone arch, erected by the Dawson family, and from this circumstance the town derived its former name of Dawson's Bridge: it consists of two principal and some smaller streets, containing, in 1831, 129 houses, many of which are large and well built. Here are extensive cotton twist mills, built in 1803, and furnishing employment to about 100 persons in the buildings and about 800 in the adjoining parishes. Near the town are large flour and oatmeal-mills; and in several places in the neighbourhood are manufactories of coarseearthenware, bricks, &c., and a bleach-green in which 800 pieces of linen are annually prepared for the London market. The market is on Saturday, and is well supplied with every kind of provisions; and in the season great quantities of grain, pork, and butter are purchased here, principally for the Belfast merchants: the market-house and grain stores are extensive and well built. Fairs are held on the last Saturday in each month, for the sale of linen cloth, yarn, cattle, pigs, sheep, and pedlery. The eight townlands of Mayola were, by letters patent, in 1712, erected into the manor of Castle-Dawson, with extnsive privileges; and a manorial court is held monthly by the seneschal, in which debts to the amount of £20 are recoverable. Petty sessions are held every alternate week; and there is a constabulary police station. The soil in every part of the neighbourhood is fertile, and under an excellent system of cultivation. Coal is found, but no attempt has been made to work it, the seams being too thin to pay the expense, while turf is abundant. Nearly adjoining the town is The House, the residence of the Right Hon. G. R. Dawson, situated in a beautiful demesne, in which is an ancient avenue three miles in length, opening to a magnificent view of Lough Neagh, to which it extends. On an eminence close adjoining the town stands a beautiful and lofty obelisk, erected by the Earl of Bristol, to commemorate the virtues and benevolence of the Dawson family. There are several other handsome houses in the town and neighbourhood, the principal of which are Fairview, the seat of R. Henry, Esq.; Rowens Gift, of Capt. Crofton; Millbrook, of A. Spotswood, Esq.; Mount Aeriel, of S. J. Cassidy, Esq.; with those of Capt. Bouverie, W. Graves, Esq., and others. The church is small, but very neat; it stands on the western side of the Mayola, in the parish of Ballyscullion. The former edifice was built in 1710, by Joshua Dawson, Esq., and having fallen into ruin some years since, the present structure was erected by the Right Hon. G. R. Dawson, by whom it has been beautifully ornamented; on a brass tablet in an ancient carved oak frame is inscribed the genealogy of the Dawson family; it has also a beautiful window of stained glass. There is a large meeting-house for Presbyterians in connection with the Synod of Ulster, of the second class. A school for boys and girls is supported by subscriptio s; and at Hill Head is a school supported by the London Hibernian Society. Of the castle built by Thomas Dawson, Esq., who was deputy-commissary in the reign of Chas. I., and which stood in the demesne near the church, little now remains, but the foundations of the walls and terraces are still traceable. The castle built by Joshua Dawson, Esq., in the year 1713, is now in ruins; and The House, built in 1768 by Arthur Dawson, Esq., who was member of parliament for the county of Londonderry, and chief baron of the exchequer, is now the family mansion. The present proprietor has made some extensive plantations around it and on other parts of his estate which flourish luxuriantly, and greatly embellish the surrounding scenery: Shillgray wood is very ancient, and contains some remarkbly fine oak and beech trees. Ancient urns, ornaments of gold, spears, celts, and other relics have been found here. In the neighbourhood are some bogs, 30 feet deep, in which four separate layers of timber are imbedded: the lowest is principally oak, in a very sound and perfect state; the next chiefly yew, the third fir, and the uppermost birch, hazel, hawthorn, &c. Nuts, acorns, and the cones of fir are frequently found in these bogs, in very perfect condition.-See BALLYSCULLION and MAGHERAFELT.


MAGHERAFELT, a market and post-town, and a parish, in the barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN, county of LONDONDERRY, and province of ULSTER, 30 Miles (N. W. by W.) from Londonderry, and 96 (N. N. W.) from Dublin, on the road from Armagh to Coleraine ; containing, with part of the post-town of Castle-Dawson (which is separately described), 7275 inhabitants, of which number, 1436 are in the town of Magherafelt. This place suffered materially in the war of 1641 ; the town was plundered by the insurgents, who destroyed the church, put many of the inhabitants to death, and carried off several of the more wealthy, with a view to obtain money for their ransom. In 1688 the town was again plundered, but on the approach of the assailants, the inhabitants took refuge in the Carntogher mountains, and subsequently found an asylum in Derry ; on this occasion the church, having been appropriated by the enemy as a barrack, was preserved. The town, which is large and well built, consists of a spacious square, from which four principal streets diverge at the angles, and from these branch off several smaller streets in various directions ; the total number of houses is 276, most of which are of stone and roofed with slate. The linen manufacture is carried on very extensively by the Messrs. Walker, who employ more than 1000 persons in weaving at their own houses ; and nearly 100 on the premises in preparing the yarn and warps ; the manufacture is rapidly increasing. There is also a very large ale and beer brewery near the town. The principal market is on Thursday, and is abundantly supplied with all kinds of provisions ; great quantities of pork, butter, and flax are exposed for sale. There are also very extensive markets on alternate Thursdays for linen and yarn, which are sold to the amount of £33,000 annually ; and a market on Monday for barley and oats, and on Wednesday for wheat. Fairs, which are among the largest in the county, are held on the last Thursday in every month, for cattle, sheep, and pigs. The market-house is a handsome building of hewn basalt, situated in the centre of the square ; in the upper part are rooms for transacting public business. The quarter sessions for the county are held here in June and December, and petty sessions on alternate Wednesdays ; a manorial court is also held monthly by the seneschal of the Salters' Company, for the recovery of debts under £2 ; and there is a constabulary police station. The court-house is a commodious edifice, and there is a small bridewell for the confinement of prisoners charged with minor offences.

The parish, which is situated on the river Moyola, comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 8290- statute acres, of which the greater portion is very good land, and the system of agriculture is improved. The principal substratum is basalt, which, in the townland of Polepatrick, has a columnar tendency ; limestone of good quality is abundant, and coal is found in some parts. The principal seats are Millbrook, the residence of A. Spotswood, Esq. ; Farm Hill, of Capt. Blathwayt ; Glenbrook, of S. J. Cassidy, Esq. ; Prospect, of the Rev. T. Wilson ; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. T. A. Vesey. Considerable improvements are contemplated, tending greatly to promote the prosperity of the surrounding district. The lands immediately around it belong to the Salters' Company, and are at present leased for a limited term of years to the Marquess of Londonderry and Sir R. Bate son, Bart. ; other lands, in the manor of Maghera, belong to the see of Derry ; some, in the manor of Moneymore, to the Drapers' Company ; some, in the manor of Bellaghy, to the Vintners' Company ; and the manor of Castle-Dawson to the Rt. Hon. G. R. Dawson. The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Armagh, and in the patronage of the Lord-Primate: the tithes amount to £450. The glebe-house was built in 1787, at an expense of £574. 18., of which £92. 6. 1-. was a gift, and the remainder a loan, from the late Board of First Fruits ; the glebe comprises 403a. 2r. 17p. statute measure, valued at £270 per annum. The church, situated in the town, is a handsome edifice built in 1664, enlarged by the addition of a north aisle in 1718, and ornamented with a tower and spire in 1790 ; it has been recently repaired by a grant of £121. 0. 9. from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. In the R. C. divisions the parish is the head of a union or district, comprising also parts of the parishes of Woods-chapel, Desertlyn, and Ballyscullion ; the chapel is at Aghagaskin, about a mile from the town. There are places of worship for Presbyterians, in connection with the Synod of Ulster, and Wesleyan Methodists. A free school was founded here by Hugh Rainey, Esq., who, in 1710, erected a school-house, and bequeathed money to purchase an estate for its endowment ; the estate was afterwards sold under an act of parliament, subject to an annual payment of £175 Irish currency, with which the school is endowed ; it is under the patronage and direction of the Lord Primate and John Ash Reiny, Esq., who resides at the school ; 14 boys are clothed, boarded, and educated for three years, and afterwards placed out as apprentices with a premium. About 400 children are also taught in four other public schools, of which the parochial schools are supported by the rector, the Marquess of Londonderry, and Sir Robert Bateson, Bart. ; and a female work school by the Marchioness of Londonderry and Lady Bateson, by whom the school-house was built : there are also four private schools, in which are about 130 children. A dispensary and a Ladies' Clothing Society have been established in the town. There are several forts in the parish, but none entitled to particular notice.

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