Elwyn, thank you so much for this fascinating account. It makes the ancestors 
come alive, reading of their day-to-day lives. 
Dorothy in New Zealand 

Sent from my iPad

> On 20/10/2018, at 4:29 AM, elwyn soutter via CoTyroneList 
> <cotyronelist@cotyroneireland.com> wrote:
> 
> 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
> 
>  
> 
> MEMORIES OF DUNGANNON, FLAX, THE BIG WIND, TRAVEL, EMIGRATION, POTATO BLIGHT, 
> 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 on St. 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, in company 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 of flax tow 
> 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, New York 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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