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Dissenters in the Parish of Ahoghill, County Antrim, 1766

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In March and April 1766, Church of Ireland rectors were instructed by the government to compile complete returns of all householders in their respective parishes, showing their religion: Church of Ireland (Episcopalian), Roman Catholic (termed 'Papists' in the returns) and Presbyterians (or Dissenters), and giving an account of any Roman Catholic clergy active in their area. Some of the more diligent rectors listed every townland and every household, but many drew up only numerical totals of the population.

All the original returns were destroyed in the Public Record Office in 1922, but extensive transcripts survive. Copies of nearly all of the Ulster returns can be found in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. One of the few exceptions is the return for the parish of Ahoghill. A typescript copy of it is available in the National Archives (ref. M 2476), National Library (MS 4173) and Representative Church Body Library (MS 23). In 1766 Ahoghill was a much larger parish than it is now for it included Craigs and Portglenone, parishes created out of Ahoghill in the early nineteenth century.

Three 'Dissenting Teachers' are named in the return. These are James Cummin, Alex. McMullin and Robt Kilpatrick. Cummin or Cuming was the minister of Ahoghill (now 1st Ahoghill) Presbyterian Church from 1760 to 1809. Alexander McMullin was minister of Cullybackey Presbyterian Church from 1758 to 1772 when he emigrated to America. Kilpatrick or Kirkpatrick was the minister of Portglenone Presbyterian Church from 1762 until he resigned in 1772, again to emigrate to America.

The name of the Church of Ireland rector at this time was William Evelyn, DD, while his curate was Humphrey Babington. The Catholic priest was Stephen Grant.

From National Archives of Ireland, compiled by David Keane and William Hull.

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