About the Vintners Company...
The Vintners Company derives its name from the Wine Tonners, City of London traders and retailers who monopolised the Gascony wine trade from medieval times. By February 1611 the company had decided to take part in the Londonderry Plantation and the lottery to determine which of the twelve major London Companies should be awarded twelve predetermined proportions of land in the county took place on 17th December 1613. While London Alderman Cockaine presided, Rowland Smart, the City's official sword-bearer, drew the lots.
The Vintners Company was allocated over 32,000 acres in the barony of Loughinsholin, in the South-east corner of the county. In a 1609 map this area is shown covered with woods and without much bog. Bellaghy lay in the largest division of this proportion, bounded by the Mercers and Salters Companies and Sir Thomas Phillips' Moyola lands. Pockets of glebe land, reserved for the Protestant church, are shown on Thomas Raven's picture map of the area, drawn in 1622.
A Vintners Company committee appointed Henry Jackson as its agent to begin the work in Ulster but after slow progress, a lease of the lands was agreed with John Rowley on 9th May 1616. After Rowley's death in 1617, a new lease was agreed with Baptist Jones. An Englishman, Jones is recorded in 1611 as a tenant of Sir Arthur Chichester, outside Carrickfergus, and he led the 1614 colonial expedition to plant English settlers at Salterstown. (Jones was knighted in 1621 and died in 1623).
For the first three months of 1619 Captain Nicholas Pynnar, an inspector of fortifications in Ireland, surveyed the progress of the Londonderry Plantation. At Bellaghy - which he called Vintners Hall - Pynnar wrote:
"This is in the hands of Baptist Jones, Esq., who hath built a Bawn of Brick and Lime, 100 feet square, with two round flanckers, and a good rampart, which is more than any of the rest have done. There are also within the bawn two good houses, one opposite the other; the one is 70 feet long, and 25 feet wide, the other is nothing inferior unto it. Near unto the Bawn he hath built 10 good English houses of Cagework, that be very strong and covered with Tiles; the Street is very wide, and is to be commanded by the Bawn. All these are inhabited with English families, and himself, with his Wife and Family, be resident therein."