That was a great read - thanks so much for posting it.
If anyone else on the list has more stories like this, please share! 
Written pictures of our ancestors' lives is much appreciated for those of us 
who have  nothing more than names, dates, and maybe a grainy photo or two.      
Bonus: It also helps put sober perspective into what we consider "problems" in 
our own lives.   


    On Friday, October 19, 2018 12:18 PM, Liz Fitzgerald via CoTyroneList 
<> wrote:

 This was wonderful to read. Thank you. So enjoyable. 
Sent from my iPhone
On Oct 19, 2018, at 11:13 AM, Gail Mooney via CoTyroneList 
<> wrote:

Awesome, thank you so much Elwyn.  For those of us in other parts of the world 
who are challenged in our quests for information about our family members in 
Ireland, you provide a window into their times.  More,please!Gail IRWIN Mooney 
/ xo
From: "elwyn soutter via CoTyroneList" <>
To: " Mailing List" <>
Cc: "elwyn soutter" <>
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2018 10:29:46 AM
Subject: [CoTyroneMailingList] Life in Tyrone in the 19th century

>From a recent post about farming in Tyrone, I sense there is an interest in 
>day to day life in Tyrone in the 1800s. The following document might therefore 
>interest members of this forum. I found it in PRONI and thought it gave a good 
>description of life then. 
| PRONI Reference : | T2279/2 |

FAMINE  Notes and reminiscences dictated to me during the winter of 1904-5 by 
my father James Brown Donaghmore, [Co. Tyrone] [signed] Nora Brown. 'I was born 
on 25 July 1823 in the old house in Donaghmore, now a part of the soap works. 
My father was David Brown, son of John Brown who married Miss McClelland and 
lived in Mullaghmore. Miss McClelland's brother married my grandfather's sister 
and also lived in Mullaghmore. My father had one brother John who lived in 
Irish Street and carried on a bakery. He married Miss Jane McDowell. My mother 
was Betty, daughter of Henry King of Middletown Co Monaghan.' 'When first 
married, my parents lived in a small house in Mullaghmore, since pulled down, 
and afterwards in a house in Donaghmore opposite the chapel. Then they moved to 
the house where I was born. They had ten children. Mary married Richard Tener; 
Henry married Jane Carr; Ann and Thomas who died in childhood. Margaret married 
Henry Oliver; Eliza married Robert Smith; Jane married Thomas Lilburn; Amelia 
married Joseph Acheson; Isabella married John Beatty and myself who married 
Jane Ellen Nicholson.' 'The first thing I can remember is a servant of ours 
Mary Mullen going to America onSt. Patrick's Day 1828. She and the rest of her 
party drove to Belfast in a cart to sail thence to America. They took with them 
provisions for the journey, chiefly oat cakes, as then was the custom. The 
outward voyage averaged 30 days, but occasionally was 6 or 7 weeks and on these 
occasions provisions ran short and the poor people were in danger of 
starvation.' 'Another early recollection is being taken into a darkened bedroom 
to see a little play fellow, who was ill of smallpox, there being little 
knowledge of the risk of infection then.' 'My first teacher was Mr Richard 
Robinson whose school was in the space now planted with trees behind the cross. 
It was then the only school in the village. Later I had lessons at home from Mr 
Stuart who taught the R[oman] C[atholic] school in Dungannon.' 'After leaving 
the village school I was sent to my sister Mary Tener in Perry Street where her 
husband had a grocer's shop and I attended a school kept by two teachers from 
the South of Ireland, Messrs Murphy and Riordan. Afterwards I lived with my 
sister Margaret in Church Street where her husband carried on a saddlery trade 
and I went to Mr Burch's school on the Castle Hill. I remained here until I was 
nearly 13 when in the summer of 1836 I went to the Rev. John Bleckley's school 
in Monaghan. Here I stayed until I was sent for to come to the death bed of my 
father on 17 November 1837. He died on 22 November and I did not return to 
school, but went to business with my brother in Donaghmore.' 'Previous to the 
year 1816 my father was engaged in the linen trade giving out home spun yarn 
and getting it woven in hand looms in the cottages. At that time a good deal of 
the linen trade was transacted in Dublin, not Belfast, probably in consequence 
of better banking facilities. My father used to go to Dublin to sell his linen, 
incompany of other merchants. They rode on horse back, in parties, for 
protection from highwaymen, the journey to Dublin occupying three days. In 
later years when the linen trade in Belfast had increased, buyers for the 
bleachers came to Dungannon every Thursday and took their places on the 
"standings" on the east side of the square where the farmers brought the webs, 
woven by their families and servants. The "standings" were benches with boards 
in front of them, on which the webs were thrown for examination. When the price 
was arranged the buyer put his mark on it and the seller took it to Mr Robert 
Tener in Perry Street who measured it. He got a few pence for each web 
measured, in consideration for which he supplied the buyers with dinner.' 
'Travellers then wishing to go to Belfast, used to leave Dungannon at 4 am on a 
long car which took them by Moy and Loughgall to Portadown. Here they joined 
John Byer's coach, running between Armagh and Belfast, reaching the latter 
place about 1 pm.' 'During the war with Napoleon prices for agricultural 
produce were high, but the peace of 1815 was followed by a time of great 
depression, partly caused by two bad seasons, a very wet summer and a very dry 
one. During the latter the corn was so short it could not be reaped in the 
usual way but had to be pulled. The depression in the linen trade caused my 
father to open a bakery in Donaghmore and I remember his telling me that the 
first flour he used was American and cost 4 guineas[1] a barrel.' 'About the 
year 1820 partly from the wish to find employment for an old and respected 
friend, my father conceived the idea of beginning soap and candle making. This 
being before the days of railways, the materials were brought chiefly by canal 
either to Moy or Coalisland, excepting what was produced locally. In those 
early years of the last century, each market town had one or more tanyards, and 
a candle factory sometimes including a soap works. Now, in the following 
century, the soap trade has left those country towns and settled in the sea 
port, so that the Donaghmore factory is the only country one, still working in 
Ireland.' 'There used to be two tanyards in Dungannon, one in Beragh, three in 
Omagh and several in Strabane and Derry but that business has practically 
ceased in Ireland, after centring in Dublin for a time.' 'Another extinct 
industry is the making of nails which was carried on by the Hodgetts father and 
son until a comparatively recent date. Each nail was made separately with the 
hammer, of small iron rods, supplied for the purpose. These nails cost 4d. to 
8d. per 100 according to size. Now they are made by machinery at a quarter the 
price. The open window of the nailer's shop was a very favourite spot at which 
to linger and "shaunogh", watching him busily hammering and chopping off the 
nails and giving the "cracks" of the village, without pausing at his work.' 
'Few people nowadays would know what a "shilling" (shelling) hill was. This was 
a usual adjunct to the country corn mill of my young day. The oats were dried 
on the kiln and after shelling were filled into a sack. This was thrown over a 
horse's back and taken to the nearest rising ground where the chaff was removed 
by the wind. After this process which is now superseded by the use of fans, the 
winnowed grain was refilled into the sack and taken back to the mill to be 
ground into meal.' 'When I was a boy my father began to make mould candles in 
addition to the dips, which were the first candles made. The old process of 
making dips was a very slow one, one man only making about 20 dozen lbs. per 
day. With improved appliances a man afterwards could make 80 dozen lbs. In 
those days tallow alone was used, but in later years paraffin wax has 
supplanted it and dip candles are no longer made. Rush lights also were made 
and used as night lights. They gave a small slowly burning light, they 
partially peeled rush taking the place of candlewick. A strip of peel was left 
on each side of the rush and the ends of these strips being knotted, they were 
suspended from the dipping rods by this means. The wicks for the dips were made 
offlaxtow which was loosely spun by women and after boiling with alkali was 
bleached on the grass. This made a very rough wick. Later cotton was used, it 
being supplied from Manchester ready for use. Prior to Leblanc's discovery of 
the process of producing alkali from salt, barilla or kelp was used in soap 
making. The kelp was made on the sea shore and brought inland to the 
factories.' 'In Castlefin, where the Messrs Baird had a soap works, in the 
early part of last century, an autumn morning would find the fair green crowded 
with horses, laden with creels of kelp brought from the north-west coast of 
Donegal to supply these works. Russia was the main source of imported tallow 
and barilla was also brought from the Mediterranean.' 'When the soap works was 
started Mr Martin the traveller for the brewery introduced our manufactures on 
his journeys and brought orders from Omagh Enniskillen etc which assisted us 
considerably. Afterwards Mr William Irwin and Mr John Clark travelled for the 
firm, an occupation which I took up about 1842. As this was before the days of 
railways, I drove my own horse and gig once a month through Tyrone and 
Fermanagh, also parts of Armagh and Derry. In this way I became well acquainted 
with these districts and with our customers.' 'During the early years of my 
business career our principal competitors were in Belfast. The chief makers 
there were Mr Finlay Mr Greer and Mr Glenfield. Locally we had Mr John 
Shillington of Portadown and later on Robert McClelland in Dungannon while 
George and Robert sons of Mr John Tener started to make soap and candles at 
Moree [?]. This came to an end in a few months however. Robert McClelland had a 
tannery and also sold tea in the same districts which we visited, so he was a 
serious competitor. He and his nephew Joseph removed to Belfast later on, but 
afterwards returned to Dungannon and built the spinning mill now Messrs Hale 
and Martin's.' 'Up till the opening of the railway in 1865, our goods were 
entirely delivered by our own carters. Until 1830 we had no post office. 
Letters were brought from Dungannon by a messenger to the brewery and he also 
carried those for the village. The mail coach from Dublin to Coleraine brought 
letters to Dungannon. Our first post master had the magnificent salary of £3 
annually.' 'In my boyhood there was no place of worship in Donaghmore but the 
chapel of which Friar Conwell was priest. Rev. Thomas Carpendale was rector of 
this parish and Rev. Robert Fraser was his curate, the parish church being in 
Castlecaulfield. The chapel of ease in Donaghmore was built in 1836 or 1838, 
through the influence of Mr Mackenzie who up till then had been a Presbyterian 
and attended first Dungannon, of which church Rev Mr Bennett was minister. The 
church in Donaghmore was enlarged and altered during Rev James McNeece's 
incumbency about 1866. The levelling of tithes caused a very bitter feeling, so 
much so, that on one occasion, a mob of angry Protestant parishioners 
surrounded the glebe house, threatening to hang the rector on one of his own 
trees. About 1835 the law was altered, so that the landlord paid the tithe, 
being empowered to add it to the rent. Fr McGuckian was the parish priest who 
rebuilt the chapel about 1845. My father always lived on very good terms with 
his R[oman] C[atholic] neighbours. As an instance of this, on one occasion when 
the weather looked threatening, the priest gave him the use of the chapel as a 
temporary store for his corn. A funeral had to take place in the morning before 
his offer could be taken advantage of and as the sky became more overcast, 
Friar Conwell more than once, anxiously went to the top of the hill overlooking 
the road by which the funeral was to come. At last he came back to my father 
"hear the hour" he said "coming as if they were on the way to the gallows!" The 
funeral took place, and the corn was safely housed in the chapel before the 
storm came.' 'In October 1845 came the first potato blight. We had a field of 
potatoes that year on the back lane and in one night they were struck with the 
blight and both tops and roots were blackened. The damage done in [18]45 was 
only partial, that is to say, only a portion of the country was affected and 
the blight did not strike the plants until the crop was almost matured. Only a 
part could be used for food, the rest were given to pigs or used to make 
starch. We put up a small machine to grind them and extract the farina and for 
this purpose they still served very well.' 'On the night of 3 August 1846 came 
the bad potato blight. I remember driving to Bundoran through Co. Fermanagh 
with my sister Bella on August 3rd and as we went seeing the fine crops of 
potatoes in the fields. We spent 3 days in Bundoran and returning found these 
same crops blackened and useless. The same state of affairs prevailed 
practically over the whole of Ireland and in consequence 1847 was the famine 
year. It was felt severely here, but nothing like so much so as in the South 
and West.' 'Indian corn and meal were introduced for the first time from 
America and I remember the poor people coming into the shop and asking to see 
"this yellow male". They would then take some in their hand, ostensibly to look 
at it as a novelty but really to satisfy their hunger with it. It was an 
anomaly of this time, that oaten and Indian meal rose as high in price as fine 
flour, owing to the fact that as porridge, meal could be used more economically 
than flour in bread. A committee was formed in Donaghmore which met in the 
school house at the cross and contributions were raised for the relief of the 
worst cases. In other parts works were begun such as cutting hills on roads, 
but they were found a wasteful and useless means of relief and eventually the 
Government made a grant of several million pounds to be used directly to supply 
the starving people with food.' 'The fever followed the famine and broke out 
even in the emigrant ships in which the poor people were flying to America. 
These were sailing vessels and far inferior in speed and comfort to those now 
used and many of the passengers never reached the other continent. Those who 
did were taken to an hospital near the Battery, NewYork and there numbers died 
of the fever they had contracted before leaving Ireland.' 'The fever was not so 
rife here as further west and south, but I remember feeling nervous about it 
when in Enniskillen for two of our oldest customers there contracted the 
disease and died. They sold meal and bread and probably the poor starving 
people who came to seek for food, had brought the infection.' 'Wages were very 
low prior to the [18]47 famine. Four shillings a week was the usual wages for a 
labouring man. My father always paid his men 5s. 0d. Some farmers gave their 
men food instead of wages and I was told by a man in Omagh of a neighbour of 
his who hired his men on these terms but would not feed them on Sundays and 
gave them a penny instead. Servant girls were paid as low as 5s. 0d. a quarter, 
but from May to November when food was dear, many were glad to work for their 
board without any wages. After the famine emigration increased largely and 
wages have never been so low since.' 'The Donaghmore brewery was owned by Mr 
Alexander Mackenzie who lived in Mullygruen [?] and by my uncle Mr James King 
who lived in the cottage. He was one of my mother's three brothers, Alexander 
who married Miss Trumbell [?] and lived in Monaghan and Henry who became a 
doctor in the navy being the other. James married Miss Trimble of Clogher. On 
retiring from the navy Henry married Miss [ ] and lived in Castlecaulfield in 
the house now occupied by Mr David Acheson. My mother had two sisters one 
married William Scroggie and the other Hugh Weir.' 'The brewery was such a 
prosperous concern that I remember 28 carts loaded with beer and whiskey 
leaving it in a single morning. Mr Colhoun who came as a book-keeper afterwards 
became a partner in the business, together with Mr George Slevin, who was a 
nephew of Mr Mackenzie's and lived in Dungannon, where they had a another 
brewery on the site of the present railway station. In my recollection it was 
not used as a brewery but the buildings were turned into a corn store. Part of 
the premises now used by Messrs Dickson as a weaving factory were then a 
distillery own by Mr John Falls.' 'In 1841 Mr Falls opposed Lord Northland as 
parliamentary representative for Dungannon and although the latter retained his 
seat, a very bitter spirit was roused. The women drapers of Dungannon having 
sided with Falls, the local gentry boycotted them and bought their goods from 
Silas Weir of Cookstown. This boycotting affected some so severely that they 
had to emigrant to America, amongst these being Henry Oliver and Richard Tener, 
and thought this seemed a hardship at the time the families of both succeeded 
much better in America than they ever could have done in Ireland.' 'The 
Presbyterian minister of Castlecaulfield was the Rev John Bridge, who held his 
services in the old meeting house which had been one of the outbuildings of the 
castle. He became very unpopular owing to his having failed to attend the Omagh 
Assizes to give a character to a man called Ritchie, who was tried and 
afterwards hanged for murder. It was a party quarrel, and he was said to have 
struck with a spade shaft the man who was killed. In consequence of this Mr 
Bridge left Castlecaulfield and was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph Acheson who 
married my sister Amelia. He preached at the old castle until he built the 
present meeting house in 1841. The curate of Castlecaulfield at this time was 
the Rev. Robert Hamilton, an excellent man who worked very devotedly for the 
spiritual and temporal well being of his people.' 'John Wesley visited 
Castlecaulfield on one of his tours in Ireland and my grandmother who was a 
godly woman, took my father, then a little boy, to hear him preach there. The 
circumstance impressed him very much and the seed then sown did not fall on 
stony ground.' 'There were two doctors in Donaghmore Dr O'Neill and Dr Corr. 
The former had retired from the navy and did not practice much. He lived in a 
cottage on the site on which Toybank [?] was afterwards built. Dr Corr was the 
general practitioner and an R[oman] C[atholic]. He was followed by Dr McMullen 
and Dr McClean. Mrs McClean and Mrs Corr assisted their husbands in their 
practice and continued it after they became widows. Both were celebrated for 
pulling teeth. Mrs Corr was said to have removed an inch and a quarter of 
Thomas Hodgett's jaw bone, along with a tooth one day! In later years Dr Henry 
of Pomeroy had a considerable practise in this neighbourhood, Dr Neville of 
Dungannon being dispensary doctor.' 'When anyone in my young day required a 
suit, he took the tailor with him to a cloth shop and together they chose the 
stuff and it was taken home by the tailor to make up. In the same way the 
shoemaker went with the customer who required boots or shoes and helped to 
choose a piece of leather of which to make them. In the country there were no 
shops where ready made goods could be had. The shoemaker in Donaghmore used to 
make chief shoes and take them to Dungannon to the market, where they were sold 
on the street. It was a common sight to see the women on a market day, sitting 
down at the foot of the Gallow's Hill to wash their feet in the little stream, 
before putting on the shoes and stockings they had carried so far and which 
they only intended to wear in the town.' 'There was then a court for the 
recovery of small debts called the seneschal's court which was held monthly in 
Donnelly's public house. Daniel McKenzie was the seneschal and he called a jury 
of 12 men to help him to adjudicate and it was said he looked under the table 
to see which man had brogues on, before deciding who should be foreman! The 
fees or costs were largely spent in drink for the good of [the] public house, 
of which there were five in Donaghmore and two at the Back Ford. These courts 
ceased when the County Court was established.' 'People here often date from the 
time of the "big wind". That was the 5 January 1839. It unroofed the brewery 
coolers and did much damage elsewhere. When George Mulholland came to his work 
next morning, someone asked him how he "put in the night", knowing he had a 
thatched cottage "oh! all right" said he "I just slept on the roof to keep it 
on!"' 'About 1845 Dan O'Connell was at the height of his popularity. A comical 
illustration of this I had when talking with a man in Beragh, a small grocer 
who was a great admirer of his. He told me O'Connell had attended Omagh assizes 
as a barrister on one occasion and that he had ridden into Omagh, 6 miles off 
that he might see "Dan". He stood about the courthouse steps until he had the 
opportunity to shake him by the hand. In telling the story to me afterwards he 
held his right hand aloft and said emphatically "and I never put that hand into 
a herring barrel since"! 'Illicit distillation was very prevalent then, so much 
so that my mother told me on one occasion the military came to Middletown and 
seized 22 stills. It is easy to understand what a demoralising effect such a 
state of things must have entailed.'

Elwyn Soutter 
[1] 1 Guinea was 21 shillings, or £1.05 today.
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