REV. WILLIAM GREGG, KILLYCREEN, THE ANCESTRAL HOME NOTES TO THE GLENKEEN AND KILLYCREEN MAP (1830)
In the collection is a map dating 1830 of the two townlands of Glenkeen near Milford and Killycreen near Ramelton (originally Rathmelton) in County Donegal. Both surveys are in colour including dwellings and boundaries with inserted tenants’ names. The tenants are placed within the homestead boundaries helping to identify occupancy, through rentals, lease agreements or freehold.
The townland of Glenkeen is complete proportionately, whereas Killycreen, though slightly fragmented, is legible in detail.
Glenkeen, is bordered by Aghanursin, Forker, Loughnacry, Lochrus, Glebe of Tullyaghnish, Legmacaduff and Ballygay (Note spellings taken from the map).
Killycreen consisting of 208 acres, is bordered by Cairnhill, Croghan, Carrygalt, Aghnish, Glenleary showing Ballybokeel inserted in the northern portion of the map.
In this instance, these short notes are focused mainly on Killycreen, the ancestral townland of Rev. William Gregg and the revelation of his ancestral home.
Most of the property boundaries which are tinged in red are easily identifiable. There are several tenants’ names in Killycreen which when reading from north to south, are:
Widow Mary Diver
Toal O’ Donnell
John Mc Garvey.
**The outstanding name in this grouping is Daniel Gregg. (Refer to the homestead map extract).
After some initial research I realised this was the father of Reverend William Gregg, the founder of Presbyterianism in Canada.
All recent texts about William Gregg stated that he was born in Killycreen Donegal in 1817 but, let me emphasise that the actual homestead was never mentioned nor was there ever any sketch map to display his father’s home. The map of Killycreen shows indisputable evidence of his birthplace and is the only contextualised proof of the ancestral home in private hands.
The fact that William’s name is spelled Gregg , the surname spelling on the map is Greg , simply shows a variant spelling on the part of the cartographer. This is father and son.
The field numbers of Daniel Gregg’s property range from 1 to 15 (Refer map extract of the farm). Field number 4 is torn with field number 15 in lease. The road or lane turns left coming from Ramelton leading directly into a number of dwellings which tinged in red. One of the dwellings appears to have a semi-circular garden boundary or perhaps the remains of an old fort.
Each field has an abbreviated land description, for example, ‘ ar’ representing arable and so forth. At the rear of the dwellings is another small exit road leading north east.
The name of Daniel Gregg is clearly legible within field boundary number 14.
Daniel, of Scottish descent, became a ruling member of the Presbyterian Church in Ramelton. He married Jane Graham also of Scottish descent and had a large family.
In the Births Marriage and Death notices for Aughnish Parish it revealed that Mr. Robert Spencer married Isabella Gregg eldest daughter of Daniel Gregg Killycreen in 1838.
In 1839 Mr Moses Gregg of Killycreen married Mary Ann Black of Ballgreen and in June 1839 a John Spencer married Martha Gregg the second daughter of Daniel Gregg of Killycreen. This particular family was the only Gregg family resident in Killycreen at this period of time.
The Reverend William Gregg was born in 1817 to Daniel and Jane.
Between 1829 and 1831 Daniel Gregg made an application to register his property as freehold in the Barony of Kilmacrenan. After his son sailed to Canada, Daniel and Jane were still living in Killycreen and were in constant correspondence. (Refer Daniel’s transcript of his letter of 1845 to his son William).
The main records of the Reverend William Gregg are held in the Archives of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
The paper on which these townlands are drawn contains the watermark of John Whatman Turkey Mill which authenticates the approximate dating from the 1800s. The survey is drawn on red squared paper but sadly much of the colour has vanished with age due to the heavy dust marks from previous storage lasting nearly 200 years.
Some of the landed proprietors include names such as Sir James Stewart, Young and Lecky, Dr. James Hamilton and Humphrey Babington.
On March 3, 2011, I visited Killycreen, met a Mr Bert Campbell, a local resident of Ramelton ,in an effort to establish the location of the Gregg homestead but the weather was unkind, so the search was abandoned, although the enquiry is still in progress.
Whilst carrying out some further investigation on the townland of Glenkeen an item appeared on the internet concerning Milford Workhouse. A list of Board of Guardians came up for year 1841 which showed the names of Sir James Stewart, Nathan Stewart, James Hamilton , Colin Reid and to my surprise the name of Daniel Gregg. Later another document containing information on the search for a site for this workhouse indicated that Glenkeen was the choice of the site. It is very likely that the Glenkeen map was the very same one under consideration by the Board. It was offered by Nathan Stewart, a landowner of Glenkeen.
From the Board of Guardians a committee was set up to consider the details. Agreement was reached followed by important relevant signings including the signature of Thomas Brooke whose original surname was Young of Lough Eske.
The map shows the relevant areas prior to the development and is immediately connected to the major decisions for selection of site for the agreed workhouse a much needed amenity for this area.
The surveyor of these two townlands was Gabriel Montgomery from Lifford who was on the Grand Jury panel for Donegal. He may have been requested to present an initial input to the building of a workhouse in the 1830 period.
The Griffiths Valuation of 1857 for Killycreen in the Parish of Aughnish, contained the names of Sweeney, Gallagher, Devir, Moses Gregg and Daniel Gregg. These tenants’ surnames were present 27 years earlier.
It is my strongest opinion that the authenticity of the Killycreen map survey was never in doubt.
I have included, in addition to these short cartographic notes, a copy of a letter dated 1845 sent from Daniel Gregg to his son the Reverend William Greg. Many of the words are unclear but the main outline of the correspondence especially the topics seem easier to understand. For example, mention is made of the potato blight (famine), William’s health, the General Assembly, local parish news and the father’s deep concern about William needing some money. It contains all the worries and fears of a concerned father for his son.
In conclusion to the notes, I must add, that although the reading material on Reverend William Gregg from Killycreen, Ramelton, makes no reference as to where the old homestead was situated, the concrete evidence from this old Stewart Estate Survey map, is finally proof enough.
William Gregg was born in Killycreen July 5, 1817 as the son of Daniel Gregg and Jane Graham both of Scottish ancestry. Having attended school in Killycreen and Ramelton he graduated later from Glasgow University. He was apprenticed to a merchant in Derry but later acquired another degree from Edinburgh University. His licentiate was obtained from the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1845 at the age of 28 years. In 1849 he married Phoebe Holden and they had a family of eleven children
In 1857 he became a missionary in Canada and served as minister of Cooke’s Church in Toronto. From 1867 to 1895 he remained a member of Knox College, University of Toronto and retired in 1895.
He wrote a history of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
He died in 1909, at the ripe old age of 92years. A most remarkable achievement indeed!
*The Monreagh Manse Educational and Heritage Centre celebrated the “achievements of Donegal’s sons, Francis Makemie and William Gregg, as towering figures in the growth of the Presbyterian Church in the United States and Canada.”
The Tithe Applotment Books for the years 1823-1837 lists the following names for Killycreen:
John Mc Garvey
Tole O’ Donnell