The following extracts are published on this site by kind permission of the Director,
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. PRONI reference no. is D/626/2/1.
The Diary of Guy Stone (Extracts)
Guy Stone (1808-62) was a prosperous farmer who lived just outside Comber at Barnhill (sometimes known as Stone’s Plantin’) on the Belfast Road. From 1832 to 1838 he kept a diary, and in it are contained interesting snippets about Comber, as well as details of family life and the activities on the farm. It is a fascinating insight into a bygone era.
Having from 1st April 1832 to 1st August 1838 kept a regular journal of the farming operations and of my principal doings, I after that date ceased doing so. And having use for the backs and covers of the books in which I had made these entries, I in 1848 cut out the manuscripts, but before destroying them took the following memoranda of anything which had happened out of the usual course. This I have done for my own reference so at some future day that I may indulge in the reflections to which that reference will give rise. Many and strange have been the reflections which a reperusal of the entries at the end of 10 years and more has given birth to. So great changes have taken place in my own family, and still more in the circle of my acquaintances. God knows if I may live to read them 10 years hence from this Christmas evening of 1848, on which I set myself to make the following extracts or memoranda.
[Fortunately Guy did not destroy the volume covering the period October 1835 to June 1838].
5 April 1832
Finished the planting of trees in the large planting on the hill, having been occupied in it for a fortnight previously.
During June and July the Cholera was very bad in Belfast, Donaghadee, Bangor, Portaferry, Ardglass etc. No case in Comber or its vicinity.
25 July 1832
Wm and Chas Andrews and I went to the top of Slieve Donard. I had been on it before on 17 August 1830 with Tom Taggart.
10 November 1832
Whilst Tom Taggart and I were going in my gig after dark to Knocknagoney, the Comber coach ran against us and he was thrown out of the gig
21 November 1832
A great steeplechase at the Cairn to which Tom Taggart and I went.
8 January 1833
Bought and partly by exchange of old coins etc from Grays of Belfast sauce ladles, gravy spoon, silver skewers etc., and also a small bloodstone seal whereon my crest and motto were engraved.
7 February 1833
Commenced cutting down the old ash trees round the garden and slashing the thorn hedge. Finished on 13th February.
12 March 1833
Bought at Gilmer’s auction at Maxwell Court the 4 spirit decanters and 2 wine decanters.
19 March 1833
Guy had panjams and frock for the first time.
11 April 1833
George Andrews died.
12 May 1833
My hair having for some time past been growing very thin, I this day got my head shaved, and put on a wig, which I wore for about 4 months, having had my head shaved for the last time on 16 August.
During July built the corner walls in the garden when the hedges were cut down.
30 September 1833
Died honest and faithful old John Graham aged 87 – 65 years of which he had lived about Barnhill.
11 November 1833
At Alex Dugan’s funeral got cold which affected my ears for several winters and left them always tender and liable to be affected by cold winds.
12 December 1833
Commenced the breaking up by plough of the Broomfield which had lain in grass since the year 1791.
24 December 1833
Cut down 4 large silver fir trees which grew round the well in the garden.
17 January 1834
Took Guy to a puppet show in Ferguson’s barn in Comber. The first thing of the kind he had ever seen and at which he was much pleased.
21-27 March 1834
The trial of the Ralph will case at Downpatrick.
12 June 1834
The canaries in the room off my aunt’s (as the house formerly was) were killed by either rats or weasels, which had found their way up between the lathing and walls of the drawing room.
5 July 1834
Took Guy to the sands at Strangford Lough where he gathered cockles.
21 September 1834
Our daughter Fanny was born at ¼ before 10 o’clock in the evening.
During Sept my ears were very ill and a violent pulsation in my head. They had been more or less out of order since I bathed on 7 July.
16 November 1834
Our daughter Anne, 3 years and a fortnight old, taking suddenly ill, was quite delirious this evening. It turned out a violent inflammation and all her back and loins came out in boils.
8 January 1835
Was on my way to England in the Chieftain when she ran aground on the rocks near Ballywalter and we got ashore in boats.
31 January 1835
Covered the garden well with flags.
17 March 1835
Fowl stealers attempted to get into the yard. They stole Robt Porter’s fowls same night.
25 March 1835
Tom Taggart and I went to the Downpatrick Assizes, where he had to prosecute a man for stealing a sheet.
19 May 1835
Guy was nearly choked by a sixpence which he had put into his mouth, and which I had great difficulty in getting out. This was the first day he was ever in Belfast.
24 May 1835
Heard Tom Taggart preach for the first time at Dundonald. He was ordained on the 10th.
3 July 1835
For the first time heard the proceedings of the Synod at their meeting in Belfast.
12 July 1835
Riots between Orangemen and Catholics in Belfast when a woman was killed by the firing of a party of the 46th Regt.
24 July 1835
Joseph Andrews died.
3 October 1835
On my way home again I overtook a decent stranger from the Co. Antrim who took weak on the road and was going to faint. I got him into Henry Headly’s to rest himself.
5 October 1835
Charlie in coming home met our 3 heifers at Graham’s Bridge where they had wandered to after breaking out of Mrs Kennedy’s field; if he had not chanced to be in Belfast we would never have seen them again.
24 October 1835
At about 12 o’clock George drove me into Belfast that I might go to the dinner to be given to the Lord Lieutenant, who has been in Belfast these last 3 days..….. He was most enthusiastically received. The Band of the Regiment were in attendance in the Gallery, which as well as the Upper Boxes were crowded by the ladies who were admitted on Subscriber’s tickets. The dinner was good and the wines, champagne, claret, Madeira, Hock and sherry were excellent and abundant, considering the price of the ticket, which was a guinea. Robert James Tennent was in the Chair and acquitted himself very well. Lord Mulgrave’s personal appearance was not in my opinion very prepossessing as I think he has a remarkably disagreeable expression of eye, but he has a very pleasant manner of speaking, elegant action and a pretty fair style of language.
1 November 1835
Mr. Miller was here for some time speaking to me about a meeting about to be held in Comber shortly, to take into consideration the law of Landlord and Tenant and the present state of the Grand Jury laws.
3 November 1835
R.Beatty and George moved the bed from old wing into the little nursery where Annie and the children are going to sleep for some time until the old wing is studded, the door changed and a new fireplace put into it.
4 November 1835
Another constant day’s rain; the floods have never been so high as they were this morning for the last 30 years. From Ballyrussell down to Comber was all one sea.
17 November 1835
Got my breakfast early and went into Comber to attend the meeting called to petition Parliament in favour of Mr. Crawford’s Landlord and Tenant Bill. I was for some time at Mr. Miller’s, and Mr. Sharman Crawford, Mr. Blakely and some others met there. At about quarter past 12 we went to Barry’s Store where there was a very small assemblage consisting of about 50 persons. I was called to the Chair and after the Resolution Petition was moved Mr. Crawford addressed the meeting and explained his views and objects in endeavour to get his Bill passed through the House of Commons. All was over by half past 2.
2 December 1835
After dinner I walked into Comber and Dr. O’Neill came back with me to see Guy who had been ill and feverish since Saturday and who we were afraid was taking the measles, which are at present very prevalent. He could not say as yet what was the matter with him but desired that he should lie low and get the warm bath frequently.
5 December 1835
Mrs Andrews of Comber [the former Frances Glenny, wife of James Andrews] died this morning. She had been very delicate for a long time and never was better since her son Joseph’s death in August last. She had not been expected to live for the last fortnight.
12 December 1835
We had breakfast early and were in Comber by 10 minutes past 10, and after waiting until after 11 attended Mrs Andrews’ funeral to the Churchyard. It was large. Wm. Andrews came home from England about 10 minutes before the funeral left the house. They had given up expectation of his coming home. Mr. McCance delivered an oration at the Vault, which occupied about 20 minutes. After the ceremony Wm. Taggart and I went up to the Old Distillery, the machinery of which he wished to see.
14 December 1835
Took Guy and Anne a walk round by Knocknasham where they were in the Mill some time, and by Haw John’s and across the water and home by Jimmy Dugan’s fields. Guy is 6 years old this day. He has been for some time very delicate looking but is better these last few days. I think it must be worms that ail him, although for some time we thought it was measles was coming on him. His education has not been paid much attention to as yet but I think it is time enough. He is very quick and ready in comprehending.
19 December 1835
Our black horse, which I had at Knocknagoney, was very ill this morning with some sort of foundering. He was all trembling and could scarcely stand. We gave him some beer and pepper, and about 1 o’clock I brought him slowly home in the gig.
25 December 1835
This day was very fine with a smart frost. My aunt went to church. I took little Anne down to the Broomfield. Poor Guy was too ill to go out. He got the warm plasters put on him this morning. We threw stones on the ice for Lion [the dog] to run after them. I held her hand and let her walk on the ice for the first time. She thought it was glass. I was rest of day drawing off into a jar the last of the 30 gallons of whiskey I got about a year and a half ago from the Old Distillery.
29 December 1835
After breakfast George drove me as far as the Quarries, from which I walked into Newtownards, where I had been summoned as a Juror to the Sessions. I was for about half an hour at Mrs. Birch’s and then went to Court House, where I was called the 5th man on the Grand Jury. We were engaged all day until after 4 o’clock in finding bills, when we went to Saunderson’s, where 20 of us dined.
16 January 1836
My father is eleven years dead this day, a period which appears to me as yesterday. I wonder if I shall live to see eleven years more. Guy by that time will be in his 18th, Anne in her 16th and Frances in her 13th year. God grant they may be a blessing to me as they grow up as they are a source of happiness, delight and amusement to me now.
22 January 1836
Settled for the price of the 2 cows with Gaffikin the butcher, whom I charged with having given me a quarter of beef not of our cow as he had agreed to do; but that he had given me some of an inferior quality as part of ours. He was very angry and denied the same and followed me to the yard of the Donegall Arms where he gave me a Declaration signed before Skinner the magistrate that it was a quarter of my cow. As however I felt the most certain conviction, both from experience of the qualities of stall-fed meat and also from the knowledge of the fatness and size of bone in our cow, I did not pay any attention to his Declaration and told him that it did not signify whether I believed it or not as it was my intention to have no more dealings with him. He then began to give me the greatest abuse, calling me a rascal and no gentleman. However he did not attempt to assault me and I fortunately kept my temper with him, which only enraged him the more. But he soon got tired and walked away.
29 January 1836
I had not altered my will since the birth of Frances, and having thought it necessary to do so, I have been for this and the 2 preceding days drawing up and copying out a new one with the requisite alterations.
31 January 1836
Was the most of day in the house with little Anne, who took a sore eye on Friday, which had extended to both this day, and she could not open them. It was very pitiful to see her groping about for her playthings and at the same time so good and well tempered, which she always is in any illness.
5 February 1836
The cow called Comber Fair who calved on Sunday last took very ill this morning and we thought through the day she would have died and she was very little better all night.
6 February 1836
John O’Neill called here on his way from Belfast and gave me a Bulletin with a copy of the King’s Speech, which was delivered at the opening of Parliament on Thursday. In it he recommends for Ireland the speedy settlement of the Tithe Question, an introduction of a system of Poor Laws and a Municipal Corporation Reform…. Little Anne, whose eyes had been shut up completely since last Sunday and whose sight I had almost began to despair of ever seeing restored, suddenly opened them this afternoon, which we attributed to her having got her hands on a box of eye ointment and rubbed it so plentifully on her eyes as to soften some parts, which had been previously too hard and inflamed to suffer her to open them. When she did get them opened they were very bloodshot and inflamed but not so weak as I expected they would be.
15 February 1836
I walked into Comber after breakfast. Was at the Andrews’ office paying interest of Poor’s Money to Mr. John Andrews, to whom I also spoke about my taking the trees along the road down. Was at Crawford’s the wheelwright’s bespeaking a new swing-bar for the gig and then walked up the Glen Road and across the fields to the Haw Quarry and came home by the Knocknasham Road.
17 February 1836
I had my breakfast early and walked into Comber, where I had agreed to meet Dr. O’Neill and go with him round by Lisleen to the Stye-brae. We went up the Glen and by Granshaw Meeting House, where we turned up through Lisleen for the purpose of seeing some clocks, which a country clockmaker named Corbitt makes, and we then went on to the Stye-brae where he had a patient to see.
23 February 1836
This day Bob Donaldson and Hugh Dugan commenced cutting down the row of ash trees along the road, which I have contracted with them they shall do, and also cross-cut them into lengths for 26/0d.
7 March 1836
Was for some time engaged in writing to Mr. Blakeley my reasons for not going to a meeting to be held tomorrow at Moneyrea to petition concerning the granting of Poor Laws to this country.
15 March 1836
I was from after breakfast dressing and packing up to go to the Assizes by the mail car….. Got to Downpatrick about 5. I was walking about the streets until dark and was then at dinner in Denvir’s and for some time reading the papers in the newsroom. Went to bed at my lodgings at half past 10. On account of Denvir’s being so full I had to get a bed for the Assizes at the house of a person named McAlinden.
16 March 1836
Went to the court house where it was expected the Chief Justice Bushe would commence about 12. But it was after that time before he came into town. Was for a long time in the Crown Court listening to the trials. Bushe entered the Record Court about 2 o’clock and until near 6 was occupied in hearing appeals. I was on 2 juries, which were sworn for the purpose of deciding 2 horse cases and in which are found in both cases for unsoundness.
17-19 March 1836
These 3 days I was in constant attendance in the Record Court; the most important cases in which I was on the jury were in an action of Lord Dufferin for the purpose of establishing a right to the Quayage of the port of Killileagh, in which I was foreman of the jury and in which after a trial of 5 hours and a debate among the jury of above half an hour we found for Lord Dufferin. Also a case concerning a seizure of horses for arrears of rent, which it has been alleged were tendered and refused and in which, although 8 of us were for the defendant and 4 for the plaintiff, and although 3 of the 4 came round to our opinion, yet the one man, a Boyd of Newry, stood out against us and we were discharged without coming to a decision. I was generally when not on the juries in the court listening to the other cases, which were generally very uninteresting. On Saturday morning a young man, not 20 years old, named David Anthony, was hung for the murder and robbery of a man near Newry.
29 March 1836
George Donaldson, who has lived with me for four years and three quarters viz. since August 1831 gave me notice this day of his intention to leave me on the 1st of May, he having heard of a place where he could get more wages than I can afford to give him. He has been a most excellently well-conducted servant and I am sorry that my means will not allow me to retain him with me. He has hired with Cleland of Rathgael at 13 guineas a year and his clothes etc. I had offered him 10 if he would stay.
10 April 1836
Heard that Mr. McCance, the minister in Comber, had got a paralytic stroke yesterday.
13 April 1836
I was very unwell all day with a severe headache and pains in my jaws and ears, and with a rheumatic feel all over me, having caught cold yesterday. I therefore got myself bathed in a large tub and went early to bed, taking some spirits of nitre.
18 April 1836
They this day opened the breast of the old nursery chimney to give it a better draught, and they set up in the little room the marble chimney piece and grate, which we took out of the front room last winter when the stove was set up. They completed all their jobs and as far as trial has yet been made they have improved the chimneys, especially the large parlour, which never could previously be brought to draw but which does so now with great regularity.
21 April 1836
We have commenced to thresh the wheat with 3 flails, which is the speediest and makes the straw so much softer that the cattle are more willing to eat it.
26 April 1836
I walked into Comber and drank tea at Dr. O’N’s, where old Mr Morrow was. He had been at Barry’s (of Comber) funeral, who died on Monday after a very lingering illness brought on in a great degree by his intemperate habits. [Mr Barry owned Barry’s Inn, now Northern Bank in Killinchy Street].
2 May 1836
I went into Belfast on the outside of the conveyance. …… called at Robert James Tennant’s, whom I was told was up at the Academical Institution where I went to enquire of him concerning a railway, which they were intending to carry from Belfast to Downpatrick through Comber, and which I understood he was concerned in disposing the shares in and of which I would have been a holder. He informed me that the thing was mentioned but that nothing decisive could be done until it was further organised. He promised to let me know as soon as that should happen.
4 May 1836
T. Taggart came here for dinner and having met Mr. Graham, the Presbyterian minister of Dundonald, at the gate, he introduced me to him and I asked him up for dinner. I found him a simple and unaffected young man, yet clever and very zealous about religion when the subject is introduced, but never intrudes it unasked.
6 May 1836
(The conveyances) were so crowded I set off to walk but got on one when near the Glass House. There were 14 outside and 12 inside, and in coming down Clancy’s Hill the conveyance went at such a rate that it went over 2 pigs which were on the road and left one almost dead and the other with one of its legs broken. The conveyance was as near as possible being upset, which if it had happened would have caused the death of several of us on account of its being so very much crowded.
8 May 1836
I was most of the evening down at Ballyloughan with Willie Graham, who until this day was very dangerously ill. He had been copiously bled 3 times and had also 12 leeches on his breast yesterday, yet withal was in a highly feverish state. This day he got on a blister, which relieved the pain a little, and was altogether in a better way, so that I concluded the complaint had passed its crisis.
15 May 1836
Was reading and going through the plantings with the children until near 2 o’clock when the eclipse of the sun commenced to be visible. It was at its greatest obscuration about 3 o’clock when the sun appeared like a ring. The darkness was about the same as an hour after sunset, but there was a peculiar cold-like and blue shade over everything, which is never observable in twilight. The birds stopped singing and the bees all came home to their hives. …..The obscurity was quite away by a little after 4 o’clock. Tom Taggart came here unexpectedly just before dinner as he had to go to Comber to have evening service for Blake who is in the Isle of Man.
25 May 1836
Got the marquee pitched in the Green, which I had not pitched for the last 3 years.
31 May 1836
Yesterday Jack Todd and I marked off the foundations of the 2 cottages, which he has contracted to build for me at the Old Garden. [Ready for occupants by 1 November].
8 June 1836
After dinner Robt. Beatty and I commenced to paper the bedroom in the old wing, where Annie and the 2 little girls will in future sleep.
14 June 1836
We went by Castle Espie and arrived at Scatrick just in time to get in as the tide was almost coming into the bottom of the gig in going across the causeway. Stopped at Stewart’s, whose 2 sons came with us in a boat to row, which we found too small when we got outside the island and we returned for a larger yawl. The water was middling rough and Guy, who had never got a row in a boat before was a little frightened at first but soon got reconciled and was very delighted. We rowed to Trasnagh Island, where we only staid a short time and then came to Island Roe, where we took some sandwiches I had brought and then went to where there were some men cutting wreck for kelp and gathered a basket full of limpets and wilks. We then rowed back to Scatrick where we got some dinner from Stewart and then came home by the Downpatrick Road.
21 June 1836
I was the foreman of the Grand Jury and we were the greater part of the day engaged in finding bills.
22 June 1836
We got through the Grand Jury business early in the day and I sat listening to the trials, especially one of 2 men, father and son, named Russell for stealing potatoes near Bangor, who were condemned by circumstantial evidence alone. The younger Russell was supposed to have been implicated in the murder of McMurray near Bangor about 2 or 3 years ago and had a very bad character. He was therefore sentenced to 7 years transportation.
26 June 1836
This day one of our large pigs was noticed as being unwell and very shortly after it began to turn quite purple, having been seized with the complaint which has lately become so very prevalent among pigs and which has all the symptoms of the cholera. As it got gradually worse and was almost dying I got Jimmy Robson to kill it, and although its flesh will be useless the chandlers will buy the lard.
29 June 1836
Neither young W.D. or R.T. here and Johnny not quite capable of attending his work, all being drunk last night at the fair.
4 July 1836
About half past 11 I drove in the gig with Guy and little Anne by the quarries, where I had to stop to get some nails in the horse’s shoes, through Newtownards and Crawfordsburn and on to a small farmhouse near the Greypoint where I had understood lodgings were to be let. Put up the horse there and I took the children down to the shore, which is one of the best bathing places I ever saw both on account of the smoothness of the sand and the depth of the water at the lowest time of tide. I took off their shoes and stockings and let them wade in the water, into which Guy tumbled and wet all his trousers. They then gathered shells along the shore for above an hour and we ate some beef sandwiches I had brought with me. We came back to the farmhouse kept by a man named Glass and I thought so much of the shore that I intend to take his rooms for some time and send the children down to be bathed. The accommodations however are very poor, but I told him I would let him know farther on Saturday.
20 July 1836
Guy went down to Ballyloughan without being allowed, for which I had to give him a slight whipping, he having committed the same offence once before.
22 July 1836
At half past 9 W. Graham and I set off with the cart to the Greypoint. Guy and Anne and Eliza the servant who is to attend them went on the cart. We went by Dunlady, up which the children walked. I went down by New Road whilst cart went by Ballyleidy. I was there a long time before them, and young W.G. and I had all prepared for dinner, except boiling potatoes, by the time they arrived. It took us a considerable time after our dinner to get all the luggage put into its proper place, after which we were for a short time at the shore and then the 2 W.G.’s and I came home in the empty cart. Left Eliza and the children who, poor things, were quite disconsolate at my leaving them, it being the first time that either of them were ever a night from home.
23 August 1836
The calf which got its shoulder knocked off joint when it was young and which since it was put out to the field though still lame was getting better, was found this morning dead in the well and its ears and part of its nose eaten off, but whether it had fallen in and was drowned or whether it had been hunted in and worried by dogs cannot be said.
29 August 1836
I went into Belfast in the conveyance..…. I was then attracted by the crowd going into Cooke’s Meeting House and went in also. It was a meeting of the Brown Street School Subscribers ostensibly but in reality only as affording an opportunity of running down the National Education Plan and the Roman Catholic religion. Heard speeches from McNeill of Liverpool, Dr Cooke, and Emerson Tennent, the Member for Belfast. The former evidently spoke for theatrical effect, the second was plain and passionate and Emerson was anything but at his ease. It plainly appeared that in talking of religious education he was quite out of his element.
1 September 1836
About quarter past 7 we bade farewell to the lodgings at the Greypoint where the children had been for 6 weeks and where they had altogether very bad weather and they all took severe colds.
18 September 1836
John O’Neill called here on his way to Dundonald Church and also on his way back when he informed me that the bishop had suspended T. Taggart from preaching on the complaint of McIlwaine the curate in Belfast concerning some girl in the Penitentiary there. When McIlwaine was called on by the bishop to substantiate his charges he declined proceeding farther and the bishop then told Tom that as matters stood he might be blamed should he ordain him to priest’s orders and that he advised him to commence an action against McIlwaine for defamation until which was decided he must be under suspension.
20 September 1836
Finished the reaping of all our grain this day. …… At about 7 they all gathered for the churn in the new barn, which we had fitted up with seats etc. There were several strangers and Bruce’s son-in-law and young Brice Baxter played the fiddle for the dancers. There were between 40 and 50 persons. It was after 3 o’clock before they broke up.
5 October 1836
Took Guy and Anne out to walk to the Kennel Bridge, which Guy had a great curiosity to see. There was a heavy shower, which caused us to stop under shelter of a hedge for a long time.
14 October 1836
At about half past 10 Tom with his sister Jane and Clara Dyce in their jaunting car and Bessy and I in the gig went to see the Cave Hill. …... It was about 12 when we got to the foot of the Hill where we put up the horses at a small farmhouse and went up the Hill on foot. Only went into the lowermost cave and then up to the top of McArt’s Fort and then to the back of the hill and down by the eastern extremity. The day was clear and sunshiny so that we had a very good view of all places within 10 or 12 miles but beyond that the view became hazy. …... We came back by the Shore Road.
19 October 1836
This was Comber Fair day. Accordingly I sent W. Graham into the fair and soon followed him and we bought 2 young pigs and I then went through the cows to buy some for stall feeding. Bought 2 from young Jack McConnell, 1 from Tom Ingram and 1 from McGannon.
28 October 1836
I took Guy and Anne to walk for a short time this morning and we went by Knocknasham and up the river side to Bruce’s where we stopped about half an hour for the children to see him weaving, an operation that neither of them had ever seen before and which seemed greatly to excite their curiosity.
5 November 1836
Little Anne was 5 years old this day. She is very large of her age. She is a rather giddy but excellently tempered child and is not a very good scholar as much attention has not been yet paid to her teaching, but she is very quick at taking up anything which is taught her and will soon learn once she begins.
9 November 1836
Was engaged in writing a letter to Major Beauclerk at Ardglass, who is MP for Surrey, in favour of Dr O’Neill, bespeaking his interest for him to procure him promotion to a better Post Office. [Dr O’Neill was the Postmaster in Comber].
13 November 1836
After I had dressed I took Guy with me to the Ballyrainey fields, through which I had not been for a fortnight. We then walked up to McConnell’s Windmill and from that home. I was engaged all night in writing an answer and attempt at refutation of an article by young Bryce of Belfast on the subject of coals being found in the neighbourhood of Strangford Lough, which he asserted did not exist, grounding his argument on the assertion that the limestone of Castle Espie is not of a secondary formation. I argued that from the position of the strata in the basin of which Scrabo is the centre that coal might be found below the limestone, which I endeavoured to prove should be classed with the Magnesian limestone.
18 November 1836
I was in Belfast by 2 o’clock. …..went to the Theatre for the purpose of seeing Clara Fisher, once so celebrated as a prodigy of a juvenile performer. She is now but a very moderate so-so actress. It made me half melancholy to look at her as the thought occurred that the change must be as great, if not greater, in myself as was visible to my eyes in her since I last saw her perform, which as well as I can recollect was in 1821 when I was a happy boy of 13 years old. ……. The play this evening was Man and Wife, which is to my taste a very heavy comedy and which was very heavily acted, the performers not having their parts well and not acting with spirit, which may be accounted for by the wretched attendance in the house. Until half price there were only 9 persons in the boxes. The German Boai who performs music on his chin by sticking it with his fists, but which noise it is evident must be produced by his tongue and lips, exhibited after the comedy. The only quality that his performance has to recommend it is its novelty or oddity for it has not the least pretensions to music.
19 November 1836
Shortly after we had our breakfast Mrs Andrews sent across the way to the Academy for Mr Jas. Bryce, to whose remarks concerning coal I had replied in the News-Letter of yesterday and introduced us to each other. I found him a very clever and agreeable young man and who immediately pointed out and convinced me of some erroneous views I had taken of the Castle Espie limestone. He took me over to the Academy and showed his valuable collection of fossils, minerals and specimens of Natural History. I staid with him upwards of an hour.
30 November 1836
I was at home all day except that Guy and I walked to the Ballyrainey fields and up to the Sight Hill, the effect produced on the view from which was very good by the frosty mist and the sun near setting.
6 December 1836
I was engaged rest of day in getting things ready for dinner. T.T. came about 4 o’clock. Mr McCulloch and Mr Douglas, who is come lately to live at Camperdown, dined here. Mr Reid had come to dine but got a letter saying that one of his acquaintances in Killinchy was very ill and as the gig which had come for him was waiting at the door he had to go away. Mr Miller also was to have dined here but had to go away unexpectedly to Dublin on Sunday about some important revenue trial, in which all the Distillers in Ireland are engaged.
14 December 1836
This is Guy’s birthday when he completes his 7th year. He is not very large for his age and is thin but healthy. He is able to read in words of 3 syllables, but has as yet received no instruction except what I give him for about an hour in the evenings. But he is quick in comprehension and will make up for lost time when sent to school, which I purpose doing as soon as the days get somewhat longer.
22 December 1836
Jacky was up early and got a quantity of various cuttings of evergreens to dress off the room where the dinner to Mr Crawford will be, and at 9 o’clock he took them in a cart to Newtown. I went in it also. …... About half past 3 Mr Crawford and his family and Mr Brady were shown into the room and the company admitted immediately afterwards. There was a great crowd (about 260) and the room soon got insufferably hot. Bradshaw was chairman and acquitted himself excellently. Johnston, Warnock of Portaferry, D. Lindsay of near Dromore and myself were croupiers. The speeches were all very fair. The speakers were Mr Crawford and his 3 sons, Mr Brady, Robt Jas Tennent, Counsellor O’Hagan, Counsellor Allen, Finlay of the Whig, Quin of Newry, Revd Mr Moore, Rev Mr Blakely, David Lindsay, Johnston and myself. The company broke up about 11 o’clock.
25 December 1836
Another very hard frost. My aunt went into church in the gig and when it was going back for her I went in it and took it as far as the Glass Moss from which I walked to Newtownards to attend the funeral of Dr Kennedy who died yesterday. He was buried at Movilla graveyard. The body was taken into Moore’s Meeting House where a very good discourse was delivered by McAlister of Holywood. Mr Campbell and I walked to the Burying Ground and back to Newtown together. ….In the death of Dr Kennedy another of those warnings of the uncertainty of all human events has been given to all his acquaintances. He was one of the strongest and healthiest young men to be found anywhere, yet was cut off in less than a fortnight’s illness. He had walked from Newtown to Ballyleidy to see a patient in fever and had overheated himself, the day was very cold and he got on a jaunting car to drive to Bangor for additional medical advice and thus caught cold and the infection of the fever at the same time and in a few days it ended in the most malignant Typhus from which his frame was too much reduced for him to recover.
30 December 1836
I had intended to go into Belfast this day but the frost was so hard and the ice so strong that I went down to the hole between Donaldson’s field and ours and skated there 2 or 3 hours and then slided for a long time to recover the use of my feet, which were greatly cramped by the straps. Being so long (I think either 3 or 4 years) out of the habit of skating I found the exercise very fatiguing for the first hour. Guy was with me all the time and was greatly delighted at getting walking on the ice and he was very cautious and did not fall. He had never walked on it himself before.
31 December 1836
Yesterday morning when my aunt went into the wing off her room 6 out of the 7 canaries were lying dead in the cage, a most surprising circumstance and quite unaccountable except it was the coal smoke (which sometimes blows down) which had suffocated them; but then why would one escape? And besides on the previous evening the room had been remarkably clear of smoke. However it was a very extraordinary event and one which I cannot venture to give any conjecture as to the cause.
1 January 1837
Having for this long time past been greatly annoyed by I. Graham Junr, who attends to the cattle and the other business of the yard, getting into drinking and tippling habits and leaving his business without obtaining my leave and also his habit of going away to his own house occasionally in the middle of the day, I came to the determination of hiring an unmarried man to attend to the yard and live in the house and accordingly sent in two advertisements this day to Comber for a properly qualified person.
4 January 1837
A lame man who goes about the country on an ass selling stockings etc and making straw chairs etc came here today to make 2 of the large straw armchairs, which it will take him a fortnight to make.
12 January 1837
This was a most incessantly wet day. My old tenant and neighbour Jack McConnell died yesterday and as he was to be buried at Holywood I intended to meet the funeral at Dundonald, go with it over the hills and return to Knocknagoney to dinner. I accordingly walked from Knocknagoney to Dundonald and got there thoroughly soaked from my knees down. I waited in Young’s the churchwarden’s for nearly 2 hours, when as there was no sign of it I concluded it must have gone the low road and returned to Knocknagoney, where I had to change shirt, trousers and stockings.
17 January 1837
In this day’s paper was a report of proceedings on Friday and Saturday at the General Association in Dublin, in which O’Connell abused Mr Sharman Crawford for not giving in to his views on the Irish Tithe Bill. The consequence of this was that Mr Crawford went up to Dublin and defended himself in the Association on the 19th and 20th when O’Connell gave him and the Northerns in general great abuse. On the 25th Mr Crawford wished to have a meeting of his constituents at Dundalk in order to explain his views to them and take their sentiments but on the previous day some of the influential of them had a meeting and passed resolutions calling on Mr Crawford to give his support to the Tithe Bill, which he declined doing and most honourably and most praiseworthily gave in his resignation. O’Connell by this action of his for all may be traced to him has in my opinion completely destroyed the confidence of all Liberal Protestants in him.
19 January 1837
The epidemic called the influenza, which attacks the chest, throat and nose, has been raging everywhere for the last fortnight and in some places has been very fatal especially to old people. In Belfast many have died. I was attacked with it this day. I felt it coming on me gradually and by evening I was so stuffed in my chest that I was quite feverish. I had then no idea I would be as bad as I did become.
1 February 1837
I was up at 7 o’clock. T. Taggart came, having walked here from Knocknagoney, just as I was rising. The 2 of us went into Comber in the gig at 8 o’clock to attend the funeral of Mrs O’Neill. Parke read the funeral service, Mr Blake being unwell. She was buried at the north side of Montgomery’s vault nearly at the feet of old Jack and Molly Graham. We were back here for breakfast about half past 9.
14 February 1837
Annie took unwell about half past 9 and we immediately sent for Tom Ingram’s wife who was at the bridge and into Comber for Dr O’Neill, and about 12 o’clock at night she had a daughter. [Guy’s third daughter called Mary]. It is a small child but lively enough looking and is as yet liker to little Anne than to Guy or Frances.
16 February 1837
This was my birthday when I complete my 29th year. I am now getting forward in years; how many, or will any, more recurrences of this day happen to me? I somehow feel as if I was foredoomed to a premature death, not but I have reason to be thankful for a generally good state of bodily health and that my lot is cast among worldly means sufficient to enable me to guard myself from any of the accidents and complaints to which poorer men are liable.
12 March 1837
Tom Taggart came here for dinner. He got a letter from the Bishop yesterday re-installing in his office as Curate of Dundonald and he preached today. His suspension continued 6 months exactly.
18 March 1837
Was at Mr Blake’s for above an hour talking with him concerning the proposed enlargement of the churchyard. I then called on the Miss Mackays the schoolmistresses with whom I had been in correspondence concerning sending Anne to school, and made arrangements with them that she should go in to them on Monday.
25 March 1837
I went into Comber with Guy in the covered car when Ritchie was going for Anne and took him to Mr Reid who tried him in reading and spelling and I intend putting Guy under his care from Monday next.
31 March 1837
James and I went to hear a Mr Wilson, a Scotchman, lecture on phrenology. It appeared to me a very vague, imaginative, speculative business and I do not put any faith in it. He lectured about an hour. He then came to James Andrews’s and drank tea. He measured my head at Mrs A’s request and told me a parcel of nonsense.
2 April 1837
This day was fine, but it came on to snow heavily in the evening. I was not out much, until I walked into Comber to dine at Miller’s. Had on a suit of my new clothes. Dined at half past 3. Dr Montgomery of the Belfast Institution dined there and Mr Blakely of Moneyrea. Dr M was to preach in Barry’s Old Barn, which has been fitted up, and there are to be a series of preachers professing New Light principles to preach there every Sunday evening throughout the summer. The preaching began at 5 o’clock. Montgomery preached 2 hours. It was more a historical and comparing sermon than a doctrinal or controversial one, chiefly showing the causes of difference and separation between the Synod of Ulster and the Remonstrant Synod. The place was very crowded, about 300 must have been there. I was home by 8 o’clock.
8 April 1837
Dr Goudy of Comber died this morning of fever, which he had caught in attending some patients. He was only 9 days unwell. He was a very promising professional man and was getting a very great deal of practice in this district of country. He has been another warning to me concerning the uncertainty of life.
17 April 1837
I walked into Comber after breakfast to attend the Vestry, which having been adjourned on Easter Monday was called for this day. Acted as secretary and the business was got through without much disputation. £40 were assessed for the enlarging of the Churchyard.
25 April 1837
When I went down to where the men were stripping the potato binn this morning, I found Robt Todd filling a bag with potatoes, and on asking why he was doing so he said that they were for the house in order to make starch. On my enquiry in the house I found that no directions had been given that any should be brought in for that purpose and in the evening I turned him away for stealing the potatoes and as Wm. Todd and Billy Robinson were present with him and saw him take them, although I felt that they were aggrieved by my doing so, I felt bound in my own defence to turn them off also. Telling them that I was ready to take them back if they would make affidavit that previously to my seeing the action that R. Todd told them the same story as he did to me, otherwise I must infer that they were aware that he was stealing them for his own use.
27 April 1837
…was then along the Quays [in Belfast] and as far as Dunbar’s Dock calling on various ship brokers and agents enquiring the particulars of ships sailing to the United States, and the charges for passage etc. For having made the offer to Johnny Graham to send him, his wife and family out to America, as on account of her laziness, extravagance and disorderly acquaintances he is never going to do any good here, and he having accepted it, his brother Willy and his sister Betty both expressed their desire to go along with him, and I consented to advance the money for their passage to be repaid in small instalments by them for their mother. Did not come to any final engagement for their passage on account of none of the vessels being at present in Belfast, which are to go to New York, and I did not like the idea of sending them to Liverpool on account of the uncertainty of the time of vessels sailing from that.
7 May 1837
After dinner I walked into Comber and went to the temporary place where the Remonstrant Synod preach, and heard Blakely, in whom I was somewhat disappointed, not so much by his matter and language, which was very fair, but by his style of delivery and tone of voice. …. The little girl born on the 14th February last was sent into Comber church today to be christened by Mr Blake. It was called Mary.
11 May 1837
The little kitten, which came here by chance about a month ago and which had become a great pet, died quite suddenly today. It had been seen about half an hour before it was found dead, playing about quite well.
14 May 1837
This day was very fine. I walked to Dundonald to church. …..After church I rode T. Taggart’s mare home here and on into Comber to the Post Office, where I waited until the mail car came in to hear the result of the Westminster election on Thursday last. Sir Francis Burdett was re-elected by a majority of 515, a result which it is generally supposed was unexpected by all parties.
25 May 1837
I drove from Knocknagoney into Belfast after breakfast. Tom went in with me..… My principal business was to see about taking the passages of the Grahams to America by the Rosebank. I accordingly went to Shaw’s, the agent for her and went down to Dunbar’s Dock with him and went all through the vessel, which is very roomy and appears to be a good vessel. I then came back to his office and paid him £27, being £4-10-0 a head for Johnny and his wife, Betty and Willy, and half price for the children. They are to be prepared to go on the first of June.
21 June 1837
J. Ritchie put me to within half a mile of Newtownards in the gig and I walked in and was all day at Sessions. Finished the Grand Jury business and was then listening to the trials until 6 o’clock. Was called on to give a character to Tommy McCormick, whose father worked here and died 6 or 7 years ago, who had been when a boy occasionally employed here. He was tried for putting a watch case into his pocket. He says it was when he was so drunk he did not know he was doing so. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment and hard labour. I think he got off very safe.
23 June 1837
I was for some time at the newsroom [Belfast] reading in the papers the account of the King’s death, which came this morning. He died on the morning of Tuesday last about 2 o’clock and wanted only 6 days of completing the 7th year of his reign. He had not been more than 3 weeks seriously ill and it is supposed it was a regular breaking up of his system and terminating in dropsy of the chest. He is succeeded by the Princess Victoria, whose reign I will venture to predict will be a turbulent and consequently an eventful one, for as parties are so equally balanced all sorts of intrigues will be practised to which the court of a Queen and a young one will offer many facilities.
24 June 1837
A great number of Freemasons were assembled at Crawfordsburn today and Guy’s curiosity was a good deal gratified by their insignia, flags and music, as they had to pass through the most crowded parts of them in the car.
3 July 1837
After breakfast got the loan of Bell’s boat to go to the Black Head. Guy being frightened by his short voyage on yesterday week would go for no persuasion. However he began to repent before we were long away. Anne declared herself willing to come but changed her mind when she came down to the boat and stayed at home. …The day was very calm and no sunshine so that it was a pleasant row. We rowed first to the Black Head where I never had been, except passing in the steamboat to Glasgow. It is a curious volcanic production, and there are 2 caves, into one of which we got. It went 46 yards, as far as the height of a man would allow us to go. We then rowed leisurely back to the White Head, passing Castle Chichester Bay. We landed at the Head and went up the banks to a stream of water in a field where we ate a snack and took a glass of wine and grog. We spent a short time in examining the rocks, some of which I broke and got some petrified shells. We rowed up the shore to Kilroot and then struck across to save the run of the tide against us.
8 July 1837
Drove into Belfast after breakfast. All the shops were shut and business suspended in consequence of this being the day of the King’s funeral.
17 July 1837
This was a very wet morning. ….. It cleared up a little about 12 o’clock and my aunt and Guy and I went in Bell’s yawl accompanied by Shanks and his son and Bell himself to the Copeland Lighthouse. It came on very wet shortly after we set out and it rained with little intermission all day. We landed there and sat some time in a house drying ourselves. We then went up to the lighthouse, which we saw. It is a very pretty sight, everything being kept so clean. I had been in it once before, 11 years ago and remembered very little about it. We left the island as the tide began to flow and the current was so much against us until past Ballycormick Point that it took very severe pulling and in addition the wind was right ahead. It was 8 o’clock when we reached Bangor Lime works where we put in as Bell wanted some lime. My aunt’s feet were very wet and she was complaining of the cold so she and Guy and I walked slowly home to Crawfordsburn.
25 July 1837
On my arrival I found lying for me a letter from Dublin from a Mr Marshall, who had shortly before arrived from Demerara and who had a letter of introduction from Adam Birch to me. He announces the arrival in Dublin of the Morgiana from that Colony and communicates the news of the death on board her of James Birch on the 18th June when she had only 8 days sailed. I was greatly astounded by thus unexpectedly learning the melancholy news of the death of one of my earliest companions and the friend of my younger days. I had been unaware of his having fallen into bad health and of his intention of coming home. He was just one day younger than myself and was of very excellent abilities with a good education. He determined on account of domestic circumstances to go to Demerary where his brother Adam had preceded him about 3 years previously. He accordingly left Comber in June 1829, and from that time he and I carried on a regular correspondence, about 3 letters passing between us every year, besides my seeing Capt. Agnew and others who were acquainted with him in the Colony. I had not heard from him for some time and was beginning to get uneasy and dreaded some evil, which has been confirmed by the receipt of the news of his death today.
2 August 1837
I was up at the courthouse [Belfast] for a short time where the election was going on. There was a good deal of shouting and groaning from the mobs on both sides, but owing to the excellent arrangements of the military and police there was no fighting.
5 August 1837
I went into Belfast after breakfast on the mail car. Was nearly all the time I was in town at the courthouse where the election concluded by the return of Gibson and Lord Belfast, the former with 40, the latter with 21 of a majority over Emerson Tennent. The 2 new members addressed the crowd from the windows of their Committee Rooms and after that the crowd peaceably dispersed.
8 August 1837
We rowed through the islands to Dunnoneil, on which we landed and rested some time and ate some bread and beef we had with us. We then rowed across to Ardkeen where we landed and saw the ruins of an old family seat of the Savages and the old church and churchyard. Then we rowed back to Scatrick. Went up to the top of the old castle and then set out for home well pleased with our day’s excursion.
11 August 1837
We got our breakfast over early and exactly at 10 o’clock we went on board of Bell’s yawl. There were my aunt, Annie and myself with Guy and little Anne, also Bell the owner of the boat, Shanks and his two boys. The day was very warm and the sea as smooth as glass. We rowed direct past the Black Head for the Gobbins, which I had never seen close. We went above a mile along them and they are very well worth seeing, being equal for height and sublimity to many of the headlands along the Causeway coast and very like those between Carrickarede and Ballycastle.
14 August 1837
This was Belfast fair day. I drove into town after breakfast. ……. Was kept dallying a long time about the Exchange Rooms where Gardner and Lee’s ballot of silver and jewellery was drawn. I had been induced by Annie to buy a ticket for Guy. And the servants J. Ritchie and Eliza each bought one, and I had to wait to see them all drawn, which they were, all blanks, at which I was neither surprised nor sorry, as I think such robberies should be discouraged.
21 August 1837
… Ritchie drove me into Belfast where I got on the Larne coach at 10 minutes before 7. Mrs McCracken went inside, Clara Dyce, Jane Taggart, Tom and myself outside on the seat behind the coachman. The day was very windy and there was a good deal of dust flying. ….. At Larne the others got on an outside car and I on a two horse car, the rest of it being all occupied, and so went to Glenarm, they being detained a short time behind us by a trace breaking. The new line of road from Larne to Glenarm is very handsome, passing through the limestone rocks close to the shore. I had beside me on the car a German and his wife, the latter of whom could speak English very imperfectly. At Glenarm we found Mr Jebb, the clergyman of the Parish, formerly of Holywood, waiting for us, Tom having written him of our intention, and after we had got our breakfast, he took us up to the top of the tower of the gatehouse of the castle, which had the day been favourable we would have had a very good view. We then went to see the church and after that the ladies went on Mr Jebb’s car and we walked up to the Glebe and from that through the Deerpark, which did not come up to my expectations from the account I had heard of it. ….
22 August 1837
Mr Jebb and his car and ponies were down at the inn and we left Glenarm at 10 o’clock. I drove them as far as Cushendall and certainly had no easy work, it being the first time I had ever attempted to drive tandem and the wheel horse was sulky and lazy. Notwithstanding, I found time to enjoy the beauty of the drive, which to my taste is the prettiest part of the scenery along that shore. I remember thinking so the first (and last) time I saw it, now ten years ago, and am still of that opinion. We stopped at Cushendall about an hour and half and fed the horses. Then went on to Ballycastle by the new road, which has been made and is making during the last 3 years. Some of the views from it up Glendun and over the sea are very pretty. It was 6 o’clock before we reached Ballycastle. We had bought a salmon in Cushendall and it was fortunate we had done so or we would have had but a poor dinner as it was the fair day and the inn was in an uproar. After dinner we walked out in the dark through the streets and to the quay where the surf was very loud although the night was calm. The moon rose whilst we were on the beach and had a very pretty effect rising from the water. Jane Taggart was greatly delighted, it being her first touring expedition, and was highly amused by hearing the Rathlin people talking and singing in Irish.
23 August 1837
We were all up by 7 o’clock, bid goodbye to Mr Jebb and went on an outside car to Miss Henry’s New Hotel near the Causeway, going by Carrickarede, which we all went down to see but none went over the bridge, and by Dunseverick Castle, which Jane, Tom and I went up to and saw. Arrived at Miss Henry’s at 11 o’clock. Got breakfast and then got a car and went through Bushmills to Dunluce Castle, which we all went into and saw every part of. We then went down into the cave below the castle, the climbing down into and out of which heartily tired the ladies. Went on the car to the near end of Portrush Strand where we got off and the car went back to meet us at the end of the White Rocks. We stayed some time on the strand watching the surf, which was coming in very heavy. Went into 2 or 3 of the caves. Mrs McCracken having sat down at the mouth of one of them to wait until we should explore it, on her coming away forgot her reticule, in which she had nearly a £1 of silver and which must have been snapped up by a little boy who was following us. We walked along the white rocks until we met the car, on which we came back to the Hotel. Bushmills is greatly enlarged and improved since I was last in it.
24 August 1837
We were up at 7 and before breakfast Jane and T Taggart, Clara and I walked down to Port Coon and went into the cave where we stayed a considerable time admiring it. After breakfast Tom and I went to inspect the boats, which are kept at the port behind the hotel and made choice of one. Got our bags and cloaks put on board and at 11 o’clock we started with 4 rowers. The day was favourable although rather cold. We went first to see Dunkerry Cave, which none of the others had seen before and with which they were all in great admiration, and it did appear to great advantage from its being low water and the sea calm and clear. We then went on to the Causeway where we landed and stayed some time examining it. Then rowed close along all the headlands and across the bay at Ballintoy to Carrickarede. Jane, Tom and I went ashore on the island. Found some difficulty in getting out of and into the boat and climbing up the rock. We stayed about quarter of an hour and then went on along the heads to Ballycastle where we arrived at half past 4 after a very pleasant and interesting day’s excursion. It was 10 years last June since I undertook the same expedition when there with William Benn and it had lost none of its interest with me but rather acquired more from my having since that time attained a little knowledge of geology.
25 August 1837
This morning was very windy and rainy and we were afraid we would be storm staid, but about 11 o’clock it faired and we went down to the quay where we hired a boat to take us to see Fair Head. Rowed round to the back of it. After all it is by far the grandest sight on all the coast. Tom, Jane and I landed and went up the Grey Man’s Path, an adventure which few men undertake and ladies scarcely ever, but which Jane accomplished in high style. The ascent was troublesome owing to the slipperiness of the ground in consequence of the rain. We walked along the top of the cliffs admiring the tremendous chasms and fissures, which are in the rocks and into which we dropped stones and heard them rumbling a great way down. A very smart shower caught us on the top of the heads and went us through. The boat in the meantime had pulled back and met us at a large rock called Carrigmore, where we got on board and were back in Ballycastle after a four hours trip.
26 August 1837
We were all astir at 6 and at quarter before 7 leave Ballycastle on the mail car. One young man who was a travelling agent for some Bible Society was our only companion as far as Glenarm. We breakfasted in Cushendall and on our arrival in same had to get stuck as well as we could on the back seats of the outside of the coach, all the rest being occupied. We arrived in Belfast without any adventure at quarter past 6. I engaged a hack car and was home here at quarter past 7.
30 August 1837
Mr Blake called here yesterday. He has just returned from England where he had been for the last 3 months. He had been very ill whilst there and appears greatly shaken. He called concerning the subscription to the building of a new church in Comber, which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have promised to build forthwith as soon as a definite sum is subscribed. I gave him £15, being more than I should have give either from income or in comparison with other subscribers who have a far greater interest in the Parish than I have.
31 August 1837
Intelligence was in Tuesday’s paper of the arrival of the Rosebank, in which the Grahams sailed for America, at her destination. But in this day’s paper appeared a copy of a letter from Perth Amboy to the mayor of New York saying that she had arrived with the smallpox on board, of which one had died and there were then ten cases, that she was in quarantine and that the Board of Health was to sit to consult about. This paragraph from its uncertainty, and the possible delay and expense which the circumstances if not exaggerated may cause to the Grahams, gives me a good deal of uneasiness, but I hope that things are not so bad and am in daily expectation of a letter from some of them as they promised to write as soon as they made the shore.
5 September 1837
[Mr Marshall] and I walked up to the Lead Mines above Newtownards, a place I had often determined to see but never had an opportunity of doing so. We examined the process of raising the ore to the surface and of washing it, but had too much regard for our clothes to go down any of the pits, which were very dirty.
15 September 1837
John O’Neill called here after breakfast and went into Belfast in the gig with me. … was at the Flower Show in the rooms of the Commercial Buildings. There were at it a very great crowd, principally of ladies, so much so that one could scarcely get on in it at all. I was buying, after having stayed there above an hour, various things through town. Was a short time at newsroom, then went to the Exchange Rooms to the dinner of the Horticultural Society. There were between 50 and 60 dined. The evening went off pretty well. John Kane of Turf Lodge was in the chair.
9 October 1837
Took down the ceiling and the studding of the porch, which were in a dreadful state of rottenness and decay. And yet it is only 8 years since it was erected. ….. Commenced on Saturday evening to teach Guy to write by setting him a copy of strokes. His hand promises to be steady.
19 October 1837
This was Comber Fair Day. I went into it and bought 4 cows for feeding and 2 young pigs. Came home at 3. Got dinner and then walked in again to the Fair with Guy. Took him through it. Dr O’N was with us. Went in to see a show, in which was tumbling and some puppets.
22 October 1837
Mr Johnston of the Old Distillery in Comber died this evening, after being not more than a fortnight ill, of very acute rheumatic fever. However he had previously had several violent attacks of same. He was a man who was universally liked, by all classes, for his good humour and kindness. Although not very intimate with him, I knew him pretty well and liked him greatly.
29 October 1837
The Rosebank, the vessel in which on 6th June last the Grahams sailed for New York, came back to Belfast some day last week, and as we had heard no word or received no letter from any of them since their departure, Jacky went into Belfast and saw the cook of the vessel, who was some way acquainted with them. He reports that the vessel was only 10 days out when the smallpox broke out. Johnny’s youngest child, little Elizabeth, was the first attacked and she died. Willie had it and was unwell for 3 weeks, the others escaped. Betty got a high character from all on board, as did Willie. Catherine, Johnny’s wife, was the same pilfering, drunken, lying wretch on board as she had been here and continued to keep Johnny as usual drunk whenever she could procure whiskey. They had to be 15 days in quarantine and from the time they sailed from Belfast to they landed in New York was 9 weeks and 4 days. Consequently they were hard pressed for provisions before all was over.
6 November 1837
Having intended to take Guy and Anne into Belfast to the Theatre to see the wonderful Arabs, we got dinner at 4, and at quarter past 5 Ritchie drove us into town in the covered car. Bought some cakes for them and then went to the upper boxes. The house was very thinly attended. The actors are very bad, except the new manager (Skerrett?) but the Arabs are most surprising. They perform feats of activity that I would have believed impossible if I had not seen them. Guy and Anne behaved themselves very well and were much pleased with the Arabs, but thought the performances very heavy, as in truth they were.
13 November 1837
Our neighbour Henry Douglas was thrown by a young horse on his way home from Newtown on Saturday night and is so hurt, it is feared with concussion of the brain, that his life is despaired of.
14 November 1837
About 3 o’clock this day Henry Douglas died and forms an addition to the numerous instances which have occurred within this year of the awful uncertainty of human life among my friends and acquaintances.
14 December 1837
This is Guy’s birthday when he is 8 years old. He is not a large boy for his age but is healthy in general and is a very good and gentle disposition and appears to be tolerably quick at learning to read.
30 December 1837
On last Sunday intelligence came of Civil War having broken out in Canada, which had been expected for some time; but the accounts were very contradictory; however in this day’s papers the official despatches are given, by which it appears there were 2 encounters with the King’s troops, in one of which the latter were successful and in the other were obliged to retreat, having lost about 10 or 12 men, the Canadians having lost a considerable number. These are nothing but mere skirmishes and the next news is looked for with considerable anxiety. In my judgement and it is a very general feeling England would gain in every way if she would throw up the Canadas to their own guidance whilst it would be a sufficient punishment on them if left to their own resources. If both parties persist in going to war the consequences will be a tedious and protracted warfare and through perseverance alone the ultimate success of the Canadian party.
11 January 1838
I was at home and took Guy a walk with me by the Ballyrainey fields and up to the Quarry. Took him down to dam at Knocknasham and showed him the Iron Spa there.
10 February 1838
On Tuesday 30th January I went up to Ballyrainey to see Mrs Kennedy who is just lately returned from Dublin and on the same day accompanied old Peggy Donaldson’s funeral to Comber. From that day to the 10th February my mind was so harassed and kept in such a state of alarm for the life of my dear Annie that I scarce remember how time went. For a few days previously she had complained of pains in her breast, side, shoulders and throat but thought it was rheumatism or severe cold. On Tuesday 30th January she complained so much that I got a blister and put it between her shoulders but without any good effect. The pains in her chest increased and on Friday 2nd February she was bled for the 2nd time and a large blister put on her chest, which gave her some relief, but on Sunday the 4th the inflammatory attack became general and she was in a high state of fever by the evening. Dr O’Neill then bled her the third time and I got her removed to my room – the better ventilation and for attending her more conveniently. The ensuing 2 days I did not expect her to be alive any time. But on Tuesday the inflammation appeared to be settling in her throat. Accordingly a blister was put on it and on the next day she was better but reduced to deplorable state of weakness, in which she continued until this day when all feverish symptoms appear to have left her but the bodily weakness still continues. However, I trust a few days more will restore her to us again. Since the illness of my beloved father, which terminated so fatally, my mind has not been in the same state of torment and I trust to God a long period may elapse before I may be called on to suffer the like misery again.
13 February 1838
I walked into Comber to see the market, and called for Guy and Anne at their schools and brought them home. It was a very fine frosty day. The frost has been very keen for some nights past. Took the children down to the pond in the Broomfield where I slided for some time and Guy made his first attempt at it, which was very good.
20 February 1838
News came in the paper this morning that the Belfast Election Committee had unseated Gibson on the grounds of not having the sort of property specified by law to qualify for a Member of Parliament.
22 February 1838
After breakfast I rode the new mare to Knocknagoney to see Tom [Taggart], who having been a long time complaining of a cough and pain in his breast is got greatly emaciated and having over-exercised himself skating, spat some blood. He looks ill and I am afraid has but a slender chance of living long, except some decided improvement takes place in his system.
15 March 1838
This day little Mary was nearly killed, having fallen down the 2nd flight of stairs except 2 steps. She overbalanced and tumbled heels over head that far before her mother could catch her. However she has received no further apparent injury than a blow on the nose, which bled some after she fell.
19 March 1838
Another awful instance of the uncertainty of life occurred this day in the death of Mrs Blake of Comber [wife of Rev Blake] who died shortly after giving birth to a still born child, having not been out of her usual health previously. It was only on Thursday last that Mr Blake when here seeing my aunt was speaking of the mysterious visitations or dispensations of Providence and saying we should submit to them with patience and humility of heart. He little thought perhaps how soon it should be his own fate to be put to the trial, which in the most awful form he was doomed to experience.
1 April 1838
I went into Comber church where Parke preached a funeral sermon on the death of Mrs Blake. There was a considerable crowd came in from the Meeting House. He preached for an hour and eight minutes and his discourse was very good. He is also greatly improved in his manner of delivery since I heard him last, which is 6 or 7 years ago.
7 April 1838
Davis the Incumbent of Holywood died sometime last night or this morning. He had been unwell but not seriously for some time and died of apoplexy, having had 2 or 3 attacks of it in the course of the evening preceding his death. About 2 years ago he got himself hurt and had to get his leg cut off and since that time has constantly employed a curate.
10 April 1838
I walked into Comber after breakfast and was at Andrews’s office paying up Poor House subscription.
20 April 1838
I set off in tax cart taking Guy with me, his first journey from home, and also J. Ritchie to take care of the mare etc., and went by Saintfield to Ballynahinch where we stopped to feed. Had brought my double-barrelled gun with me to get the flintlocks replaced by detonators. Took it to Stewart, formerly of Scatrick who has set up in Ballynahinch, and stayed some time with him. I then took Guy to see the lake in Montalto Demesne, on which were swans, wild ducks and water hens. Left Ballynahinch about 11 o’clock, stopped a few minutes at the Spa to let Guy taste it and going by Seaforde arrived in Clough at about quarter to 1 o’clock. Received the rents from Mrs Birch’s tenants and went down to Craigduff and walked over the farms. Got some dinner in Clough and we then drove by Dundrum to Bryansford where we arrived at 5 o’clock. Guy and I walked about Tollymore Park until 7. He was greatly delighted with the river and rocks and the fine timber. We had our tea and went very early to bed.
21 April 1838
We were up at half past 5 and went into the Park at 6 taking J. Ritchie with us. Saw the sawmill at work; it is the first time I have seen vertical saws driven by machinery and the mechanism is very ingenious yet simple. We then walked up to a place in the Park called Parnell’s View, from which there is a very pretty prospect but the morning was rather hazy. Had our breakfast over by half past 9, then drove off to Newcastle and beyond it to Armor’s (?) Hole, which we saw. Then back through Newcastle and Guy and I got out at the Strand, up which we walked whilst Jimmy took the gig round by the road to the Ford. The day had become very stormy and threatening rain, so that the shore was unpleasant and when we had gathered a few shells we came across through the sand banks to the road where we found the gig waiting. Guy thought the sandbanks, which are in reality very desolate and singular looking, the most curious place he had as yet seen. We stopped in Clough and got some dinner and left it at 3 o’clock. It rained on us, but on our back, all the way by Crossgar to Tom Ingram’s at Kilmood where we stayed an hour and got some tea. Tom is a great deal worse than when he was down here and in my opinion has but a short time to live. He, however, converses with as much apparent strength as ever. We were home by 8 o’clock. Guy was very well pleased with his trip. He saw in Tollymore Park this morning an eagle, which was chained opposite the house, and also some gold and silver pheasants.
2 May 1838
In the evening took Guy to the Hemphole in Cumming’s Meadow to try a fishing line and pike hook we had, but caught nothing.
8 May 1838
This was the day of the Road Sessions in Comber and I was noticed as a cess payer to sit with the magistrates. Although I had got notice frequently before I had never attended any of them; but as an attempt was to be made to alter the line of road past this place and to make a nearly new line to Downpatrick at an enormous expense, I determined to go and to use every effort to oppose the project. The place was very crowded and a great deal of business was gone through. The proposed road was postponed for the present, it having appeared that some of the notices to the occupiers on the line were not properly served.
10 May 1838
Dined at Mr Miller’s. The party was not very large. There were showmen exhibiting in the Square in the evening and we watched them from the windows. After tea they had an exhibition of conjuring tricks in the Inn at a shilling admittance and several of us attended. It was worth all the money.
27 May 1838
This day must remain impressed on my heart until it shall no longer beat. The most melancholy day that ever dawned on me, except that which witnessed the decease of my darling father. At 3 o’clock this morning poor Tom breathed his last. And I remain, how short perhaps may be my sojourn in this dream of life, this vision of existence… I cannot give expression to my feelings, they are of the most intense misery, and I regret to say in a great measure as is all grief for the departed, selfish. For where can I, how can I ever find a friend to supply his place. …. My dear boy, my Guy, must henceforth be my companion and friend but never never can he replace in the same degree the place in my affections occupied by Tom Taggart.
28 May 1838
After breakfast, I was going into Belfast on the Mail Car when opposite Turf Lodge the horse tripped and fell and the driver and 3 of us passengers were thrown off but none seriously hurt. Both the shafts were snapped clean asunder, so had to walk into Town.
29 May 1838
At about 9 o’clock this evening Thomas Andrews died of typhus fever, which had succeeded to a bilious fever. He had been only a fortnight ill. The last day he was out was on Newtownards Fair day, the 14th, on which day I spoke to him and he was apparently as well as usual. He was the most obliging, best tempered and friendly of that family in Comber and I liked him very well, as I believe did everyone who knew him. He was barely 40 years of age.
13 June 1838
J. Ritchie drove Annie with Guy and Anne into Belfast for her to buy things for them, but were home in time for me to take them in the car into Comber to the Dancing School, the dancing master Mr Fielding having called on me last week to see if I would send them. There were 10 girls and 5 boys. I sat some time in the dancing room and then walked about the Square with Mr Reid. He came into Lowry’s Inn, where the school was held, with me and we drank some punch. Mr Fielding joined us when his lesson was over.
14 June 1838
This was Anne’s last day for being at school with Miss Mackay who has given up her school in Comber and is going to Newry. She will be a very great loss in Comber. I was very well satisfied at the manner in which Anne was a teaching.
24 June 1838
Went into Comber to church. Young Orr of Newtownards officiated. He promises to be a capital preacher but rather too evangelical in his opinions. After church I went up to Dr O’Neill’s fields where he was in order to come to some explanation with him as to the coolness which he had shown since last March. He had observed that my aunt was displeased as she had heard some story, which she believed, that the Dr had said that Jane had caught the fever off his clothes when he was attending here, and he did not like to come for fear of any further dispute. We became quite reconciled and I asked him out for dinner on Tuesday. I dined at Miller’s along with 4 or 5 others and went up from it to hear Doherty the new Unitarian minister of Comber preach whose style of language and mode of delivery did not please me although his matter was pretty good. Came back to Miller’s and got some tea and after a glass of punch came home.
Stone Family Memorial Tablet in St Mary’s Parish Church, Comber Square
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