For at least two
centuries the small coastal town of
Donaghadee served as the Irish terminus of the
sea passage with
Scotland. This was
mainly because it was a 'safe haven' only
twenty miles from the Scottish shore. It was also
visible from Scotland.
At the end of the 16th century,
there was great discontent among the crofters and
in the Scottish lowlands and southern uplands.
In 1606, when Hugh Montgomery and James Hamilton,
Scots who had secured huge land grants in north
Down from King James I and VI, started spreading
that they might make a new life of liberty in the
sparsely populated lands of Ulster, thousands of
gradually became attracted by the prospect.
So, even before the official Plantation began in
1610, there was already a steady influx of farmers
and artisans from Ayrshire, Kirkcudbright, Galloway
of England taking passage to Donaghadee to begin
new lives. More settlers followed these pioneers
during the rest of that century. Many migrants passed
through the small port, some going to the small settlements
of Newtownards, Comber and Killyleagh, and some to
other counties of Ulster. Some of those arriving
just stopped where they disembarked in Donaghadee.
The people of Donaghadee
thus had a great affinity with the sea. Many of them
depended on it for their livelihoods. We find
fishermen and even deep-sea divers in the churchyard
It is known for certain that a church existed on
the site here at Donaghadee in 1622. Although it
is highly likely that the site also had a mediaeval
going back several hundred years before, the date
of the first church isn't known. The earliest dated
gravestones to be found are from 1660 - two of them
" Here lieth William Scott,
Mariner who died December 20, 1660 "
William Roulston (Ulster
Historical Foundation) and Harry
Allen, who's been
attached to this churchyard for many years, discuss
its history here with Caroline Nolan.
Click below to listen to their conversation.
It becomes clear, even after a brief study of the
graveyard here that many of its occupants were
seafarers, largely Merchant Navy and fishermen. The
graveyard itself gives a feeling of being unplanned
with no obvious structure to the layout. The only
sense of order is that mainly the older headstones
are found nearer to the church.
curious inscription reads: "Here underlyeth
the body of Jean Mackgwear, wife to Alixander Milling
Who lived well and died well, January 28 1660".
War heroes have their place
in Donaghadee too. There are two headstones too recent
to be mentioned in the Gravestone Inscriptions book.
Ten feet from Jean Mackgwear’s gravestone near
the east wall of the church there stands a solitary
War Commission grave, dedicated to the memory of
Gunner J. C. B. Harris, a soldier in the Royal Artillery
who fell in 1940 aged 27 years.
Around the corner,
on the south side of the churchyard is the grave
of 21-year-old Lt. William Kenny who joined the
Garhwal Rifles and saw action on India's North West
in WWI. He was killed in action and was awarded the
Inside the church is a memorial to the
to accommodate Lt. Kenny’s glorious death at
Kot Kai in Afghanistan in a known war, it uniquely
dates the First World War as lasting from 1914 until
Other inscriptions around the graveyard
include: "This stone claims three plots north".
This is peculiar to this area, perhaps throughout
At the rear door of the church is found the grave
of James Tedford, famous for his dockside chandlery
in Belfast. Tedford actually began his business as
a sea Captain in Donaghadee in the 1830s, expanding
in 1851 into the Belfast premises.
Harry has a favourite headstone,
the one owned by the Saul family. Francis Saul was
the owner of Donaghadee’s Rope Walk on the
stretch of foreshore immediately south of Shore Street
Church in the early years of the nineteenth century.
We must assume that it was he who composed this wonderfully
nautical poem as a tribute to his father:
Beneath this stone lies Daniel Saul
Who round the world’s terraqueous ball
Has sailed to every land was known
Now under hatches lies at home.
Anchor’d among his kindred mould
Dreads neither storms nor seas that roll
Brought to by death’s correcting rod
Sets sail again to meet his God.
Betty Henry, née Lindsay,
loves Donaghadee and says she wouldn't want to live
anywhere else in the world. Betty has two sets of
grandparents buried in the churchyard. Her grandfather
Lindsay spent 50 years at sea on the 'Headline Boats'.
Her own father sailed along with him from the age
of only 16. The couple were torpedoed on two separate
occasions. She recalls how her other grandfather (Davidson)
used to sell fish door-to-door out of a whicker basket.
Talking to William, Henry and Caroline, Betty explained
that only a few days before this interview she discovered
that her grandfather's headstone had been smashed
Walking through the churchyard in Donaghadee, some
of the prominent names of business or well-to-do
are not in great evidence. That is because
buried in their own tombs beneath the church itself,
indeed many of the pews in the church sit directly
above the bodies of the well-heeled.
Willie Roberts has lived in Donaghadee all of his
life and recalls how one day he ended up locked in
a tomb beside an open coffin...
Angelique Day is a descendant of
the De Lacherois family, well known in these parts.
She explains how
a French name ended up here in Donaghadee and also
the family home
and why it was built.
Grace Neill's pub claims to the oldest in Ireland.
Grace's is therefore possibly one of the best known
names around the area. She was born in 1817 during
the reign of George III. Grace Neill owned and ran
this small pub herself, which was probably highly
unusual in those days, possibly unique in Ireland.
With Donaghadee being such an important busy port,
is also likely
business was rather lucrative. Her husband John was
one of the last captains of the Donaghadee-Portpatrick
Grace was the great great grandmother of Tom
who curious shares the same birthday, albeit 130
years apart! Tom explains some family connections
and how there were deep-sea divers amongst them.
He adds that although he would very much like to
be buried in the churchyard alongside his ancestors
because the graveyard is full!
also shares a glass of Grace Neill's secret recipe
From left to right: Caroline Nolan, Tom Neill,
William Roulston and Gwen, the owner of Grace Neill's
Adele - Aug '08
To Aunty Joan (McPeake)
It's Adele here (Brians daughter)
How are you? It would good to hear from you by separate/normal
Joan Johnson nee McPeake - July
Lovely to read your article. Our family lived in William
Street, Donaghadee. My father was Frank McPeake the
I can relate to Helen Frazer and Jackie Somers, I
now live in Melbourne, Australia but always think
of d/ dee.
M y husband John and I would love to hear from anybody
from or did live in d/dee
regards Joan Johnson
25 07 08
ps sister Sadie
brothers Jack, Bing and Brian
Nella Fanning - Mar
I have just stumbled onto your wonderful site in my
search for ancesters of my G. Grandfather (John Patton).
It seems his Father's name was "William",
who lived in Belfast in 1854. Our John Patton's birth
was about 1839. I noticed two insertions here on
the Patton Family: One from Christine Frewen-June
06. and from Leonie Bingham-April 06.
that you may be able to contact both these Ladies
so that we could compare notes on this Family, hoping
it is the same Family group as ours.
You have our
permission to use our email address to both of these
folk. Thanking you for any help you may be able to
offer me. firstname.lastname@example.org
Audrey Paddy Keith- February '08
I WAS BORN IN DONAGHADEE AND MY GRANDPARENTS ARE
BURIED THERE. MY PARENTS JIM & AUDREY KEITH EMIGRATED
TO THE STATES IN 1954. MY OLDER BROTHER AND SISTER
DAVID AND WENDY WERE ALSO BORN THERE. IT HAS BEEN
QUITE A WHILE SINCE I HAVE MADE THE TRIP HOME AND
I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO MY NEXT VISIT.
Freda Williamson(Lendrum) - Jan
I have loved reading all the information given
above. I find Harry Allen really interesting.
I am a Cub Scout Leader with Donaghadee Sea Scouts
and have arranged many a tour with Harry which I
My family are also from The Dee - Herrons and Cleggs
being the most popular.
Herron's fish shop which was beside the old chapel
would have been my great grandfather's.
Harry Burton - Apr
Re-Lahtl, you might try the Donaghadee Parish Church
website for information through thier guestbook or
link to headstones.
Jane Leslie - Apr '07
I have discovered that my husband's great-grandfather,
Henry Leslie, was born in Donaghadee in August 1834
and joined the Royal Artillery
Regiment, Lisburn in 1852. On his enlistment papers
he said he was by trade a servant and that he held
a second class school certificate.
I wonder if anyone can suggest where I might find
out further information about his parents and family.
Vanessa Lahti -
I am trying to trace my family history. I have information
that leads me to Robert Tedford born in Belfast, Ireland
in 1719. If there is anyone who could help me please
do so. Thank you.
Anne - Feb '07
Re: Hunter in Donaghadee. The Hunter family which
is my family connection are buried in Whitechurch
graveyard Ballywalter and also in the old Greyabbey
graveyard. I am not sure if there are Hunter headstones
Emma Monard - Feb '07
My grandfather lived in Donaghadee his name was Stanley
Hopkirk Monard, his wife Kathleen. Does anyone remember
them I know nothing about my grandparents, and would
like to know alot more.
Can any one help!
Paul Cooper - Nov
My father served in the same regiment as Lt Kenny,
VC. In February 1921 the regiment was awarded the
prefix "Royal...", and it remained the Royal
Garhwal Rifles until the Partition of India in 1947,
when, naturally, the Royal disappeared never to return!
The Garhwal Rifles remains one of the finest regiments
in the Indian Army.
Nancy Herron Schrag
- Oct '06
Was excited to see a comment from William Clegg. My
great-great grandparents, Robert Herron and Elizabeth
Clegg came over to the U.S. from Donaghadee in 1855.
Robert's father, James, was a farmer in the townland
of Ballywilliam. I look forward to the day when I
will be able to visit my ancestors homeland and learn
more about my roots. Thanks for the great website.
Carol Tubbs - Sep '06
Hello everyone. I'm a Donaghadee girl myself so found
this site interesting. My maternal grandparents are
buried in the churchyard. I was born there way back
in 1942. I left for England aged 7 and have lived
in various countries since. Currently I live in Melbourne,
Australia. Next year whilst on holiday I hope to visit
D'dee with my sister. She now lives in Wales. Neither
of us have been back for many years although my son
visited last year for the first time and it sounds
like it hasn't changed a bit! Love to hear from anyone
living there now. My e-mail addy is: ctubbs @ optusnet
Kelley Nelson - Sept
Hello, I'm just sitting here pondering my fathers
side of the family and its history and found out that
his grandfather (Samuel Banks Nelson) is from Donaghadee
and decided to try to trace it. I love this little
I'm wondering if *Dorothea Brown/nee Nelson - Mar
06* is possibly from my family?
From what I know about Samuel is that he moved to
Philly to become a minister at a Presbyterian Church.
Other than that, then moved to Hamilton, Ontario (Canada)
to Knox Presbyterian church.
If anyone knows anything about this man or anyone
who might be related... please feel free to e-mail
me at kasn2fred @ hotmail.com Hope this site brings
some families together! :)
William Clegg - Aug
Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!
Being a ' Donaghadee man ' born and breed, now living
in England, I found this article extremely interesting
and it brought back fond memories of my life in Donaghadee
in the fifties and sixties.
Thank you again, William Clegg
Hugh Macartney - July
In the 1940's and '50's I belonged to the Cultra Yacht
Club near Holywood and Billy Tedford was the man in
charge of looking after launching and painting the
boats. He was one of the Belfast tedfors. I used to
walk to university every morning past Tedford's sail
loft and chandelry which was at the south end of the
Queen's Bridge. Likely Billy is buried in Holywood
Gene D. Lamont, Bloomfield, Michigan, USA
- July '06
My connection with Donagahee dates back to 1844-45,
when my great-great grandparents, John Anderson and
Elizabeth McCutcheon, brought their family to Canada.
John was the son of Alexander Anderson of Ballywilliam
Townland. I came to this website to learn something
of the history of the Donaghadee area and to see if
I could gather further information about my Anderson
and McCutcheon ancestors. If anyone could help me
with any information along these lines, it would be
Christine Frewen -
Leonie this is Christine Frewen [eckhold] your cousin,
I hope you get this message this computer stuff is
all new to me. I have done a Patton family tree and
have a lot of uncle Willies stuff from his childhood.
Also an updated family tree sent to me from Ireland;
well I hope you get this message. please keep in touch.
Leonie Bingham (Patton)
- April '06
A wonderful site. Came across it while trying to find
out about my grandparents Patton, who in 1901 lived
in Church Lane.
We do have family in the cemetery in Donaghadee and
probably living relatives..
Unfortunately I have not had much luck tracing my
family but now understand why my grandfather, who
had emigrated to New Zealand, had often said if he
could have saved the return fare he would have returned
to Donaghadee . From looking at sites like yours and
others I can see why my grandfather loved his homeland.
Keep up the good work, it is a real credit to you.
F. O. - April '06
My Hunter ancestors were from Donaghadee in the early
1800's. I was wondering if the Hunter name shows up
in the early cemeteries of that Co. Down area? I live
in the USA. Love your site and would love to visit
Dorothea Brown/nee Nelson - Mar
I am a daughter of the late Alexander Nelson who lived
in East Street, Donaghadee until he died, aged 82,
11th. March,2006. I attended Donaghadee Primary School
and then Donaghadee High School. The High School was
then an intermediate school. It was with avid interest
I read the articles from some people whom I remember.
Helen Frazer was an aunt to a friend of mine, Mary
Livingstone, and that brought back some memories.
I remamber Helen coming home from Canada on holiday.
I recall herfather playing his piano on the quay during
the days of the pierrots. Harry Allen was a teacher
at school when I was a pupil. Undoubtedly, he will
recall me as a somewhat disruptive girl, nevertheless
I now enjoy reading his work about Donaghadee. This
paticular graveyard has always drawn me to it and
many days have I spent lookingg aroung the old headstones.
A wonderful way to look at the past.
Des Walker - Mar 06
I think it's really exciting to see and hear that
more seniors are communicating their family history.I
was born in Donaghadee in 1936, and connected with
an old school pal Jim mcNarry, who came to Canada
in 1956,and who is now living in St catherines, Ont,
canada. If anyone reads this and has Donaghadee connections
I would be happy to hear from them.
My E-Mail address is: Blana@sympatico.ca. Please identify
yourself as "Donaghadee".
Happy St Patricks'Day!2006
James Tedford - Feb
"At the rear door of the church is found the
grave of James Tedford, famous for his dockside chandlery
in Belfast. Tedford actually began his business as
a sea Captain in Donaghadee in the 1830s, expanding
in 1851 into the Belfast premises." Please any
Tedfords in Ireland that may have information dealing
with the family line forward from this person as well
as before, I would like to have. James is the brother
of My G-G-G-G-G-Grandfather please email me via YP&M,
thank you James Tedford (for real).
William Neill - November '05
Hi my name is William Gary Neill. Cousin of Tom Neill.
Born in East Street Donaghadee. My grandmother Elizabeth
Neill resided in East Street. Grace Neill is also
my great great grandmother. My grandmother told me
about Grace, when she was living at the time. I enjoyed
Toms article on the Neill family.
Susan Tedford - October
Great article. Trying to get info on the James Tedford
Judith Williams and Sue Smith
- October '05
The governess Miss Slipper mentioned by John Walker
was the great aunt of a friend of mine (Sue) for whom
I'm doing some family history research. My friend
recently obtained a copy of her will which she drew
up whilst living at The Mount in the 1930s.
If anyone has any memories of this lady we would
be very pleased if they could get in touch.
Email us at *email@example.com REMOVE
David Hawley - Sept
My grandfather, Robert Hodgson, was the organist of
Donaghadee Parish Church in the 'fifties'. The Rector,
as I recall was the Rev. Martin. I lived at Killaughey
Road and, remember the night the Princess Victoria
sank. My aunt had a very old radio and, in fact heard
the SOS. She went down to the police station, on the
Millisle Road, to inform them but, they doubted what
she was saying. It was a short time after that when
the 'maroon' went off to call the lifeboat crew. The
picture of the crew, that terrible night, used to
hang in 'The Cabin' at the bottom of New Street.
As a boy, I attended the 'Admiral Leslie' school,
on the Millisle Road, at the bottom of Killaughey
Road, and then later Donaghadee Primary and latterly
the Intermediate. Although living in Kent, I sometimes
venture over to Ballymoney, where my Mother lives
and, more likely than not, I venture off to Donaghadee
- a place I will always have an affilliation with.
H.E. (Bud) Doyle -
Note to John Walker.
I am a distant cousin of Gina Stone (de Lacherois),
who was married to Johan Stone. I visited them in
the Manor House in Donaghadee in 1962, but have lost
track. I worked with Hugh Fulton who came from Donaghadee
and was acquainted with the family. I may have some
more genealogical information tucked away. Please
email me at *firstname.lastname@example.org.(remove
the stars from the address).
John Walker - February '05
My family lived in Donaghadee, my father worked for
the De Lacherois family. At the time George was the
Squire and he had two daughters Jaqueline and Jeana,
Miss Slipper was their governess and Mrs Leslie was
the Squires sister. They all lived in the Manor House
on High St. The Mount Alexander and Admiral Leslie
School which I attended was named after the Squires
brother in law. I moved to Canada in 1950. Would Angelique
Day be a daughter or grand daughter of Jaqueline who
married Captain Stone? I would like to know more about
the Manor House and the De Lacherois family's earlier
history. Would anyone be interested in sharing this
information with me?
Harold T Lennon - February '05
Hi Tom, enjoyed listening to you on tape.
Great! Just got this site. Jack and Joyce Somers sent
it to me. Must get to know you better. Want to get
back to Ireland, north that is. See you soon.
Helen Fraser - December
What a wonderful wonderful article about Donaghadee
and reading about Betty Lindsay and other long lost
This letter is from Helen Fraser, Bert Fraser's daughter.
We lived in Meadowbank ave. All the members of my
family have all been taken home and are all buried
in the new grave yard on Millisle road except my grannie
Lizzie and my grandpa Jimmy Fitsimmons who are burried
just as you walk in on the path at the back of the
church. How many memories came back into my mind when
I looked at all the grave stones in the grave yard.
I came to Canada almost 50 years ago and am the only
one of the Frasers that still survive. I now live
on Vancouver Island just outside Victoria.
After living in Donaghadee by the sea I had to live
by the ocean so I found a little village and am now
living once again by the ocean. Jack and Joyce Somers
sent me the article and as I said it is wonderful.
Thanks to all the people who worked so hard to put
this article together.
Mary Delargy - December
This was a really interesting way of finding out about
the history of a particular area. Gravestones have
a great fascination for so many of us because so much
is contained in so few words. It would be great to
see many other areas of Northern Ireland being covered
in the same way.
If you enjoyed this article you may like to read
some of the others in this series, exploring community
history through headstones... click
History from Headstones: http://www.historyfromheadstones.com/
valerie emery - Feb
have just discovered that my paternal grandmother,Annie
Blanche Tomlins was born in donaghadee in the 1800's
(mid to late). would be really interested to hear
if there are still Tomlins living in the area email@example.com