Thursday, 3 November 2011

Executor Murphy

On 19 November 2009 I wrote about the 1818 Will of Samuel McIlhagga of Island Magee. There is no original in existence and the transcript I received from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) several years ago not only had many gaps in it but was in parts a faded copy. On my recent visit to PRONI I was able to examine the transcript and at least confirm what some of the faded words were. Sadly there are no additions which add anything of substance to my knowledge. However it is of interest to note that one of the named executors was the Revd. John Murphy and I have learned from reading Dixon Donaldson's History of Island Magee that John Murphy was the Presbyterian Minister of Island Magee, ordained there on 15th August 1789. At least this confirms what I have been assuming, though for which I have had no 'proof', that the McIlhaggas of Island Magee were Scots Presbyterians.

Donaldson has a column about John Murphy which includes the information that he was born in Newtown-Limervady. It appears that he did not attend the meetings of the Church Synod too frequently, and in 1821 the Synod ordered the Presbytery of Templepatrick to enquire into his conduct, the result of which was that they found no grounds of accusation. However three years later the Presbytery did suspend Mr. Murphy for being intoxicated at the installation of the minister of Carrickfergus! He was I'm pleased to say reinstated and in 1828 when over 70 years of age he retired. He died in 1842 when 78 years old, as the Belfast Newsletter recorded, 'a worthy and esteemed minister'.

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