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The History of Ballyhagan and Richhill Meetings 1654 - 1793 - 2004
Chapter 5
Visiting Friends

One of the factors which helped to build up and consolidate the Meetings of Friends in the early days, not only at Ballyhagan, but throughout the country were the visits of well concerned Friends. Many of these visitors were known as Public Friends who had laid on them the desire to give expression to vocal ministry amongst those they visited. Most brought with them a Minute from their home meeting which besides identifying them, also expressed unity with their concern. Some of these visiting Friends appointed public meetings, at which points of Friends' doctrine were enlarged on and expounded. These visits were usually carried out by two men travelling together; it was not infrequent for two women Friends to undertake similar pastoral visitation. Some felt specially drawn to visit the homes of local Friends, and sought opportunities with families when they would have "sittings" (49) where conditions were spoken to. Frequently the visitors journeyed on foot, others travelled by horseback.

Thus it was that isolated communities were kept in touch with what was taking place in the wider Quaker world outside and Friends in smaller meetings were being constantly encouraged to individual faithfulness in maintaining their testimonies and in living consistently before their neighbours.

If a visiting Friend arrived unexpectedly and required someone to act as companion and guide, within the bounds of the meeting, provision was made for this eventuality, by having a panel of Friends appointed, who were willing to act if called on. The following minute of the Monthly Meeting sets up such a body -

"There being many times some trouble in prevailing with Friends to be in readiness to accompany Friends that travels in Truths service. Therefore it is the conclusion of this Meeting that there be a list of all such Friends of this Meeting thats capable to be serviceable in that case by which everyone of them knowing their turn may be in readiness upon such occasions when need requires to avoid such ,tedious work that some times happens upon such account." (50)

It would not be possible to list all the visiting Friends who came to Ballyhagan over the years and who contributed in their own way to the growth of the Meeting.

Rutty gives an exhaustive list of Friends who came as visitors to Ireland between the years 1654 - 1751. (51) Many of those listed must have found their way to this Meeting, as it was one of the most important in the North in the seventeenth century and was on the well defined route either from or to the Co. Cavan Meetings.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was usual for Friends to keep journals, in which they described their experiences throughout life.

A selection has been made from the journals and from other sources of those who visited Ballyhagan and who left a record of their impressions.

There is a touching reference to Joshua Bunion, a ministering Friend, from Ipswich, England, who came to preach the Gospel in Ireland in 1696. "He was remarkable for his extraordinary innocency in his conversation …..He was taken sick going from Dublin to the North of Ireland and coming to Ballyhagan was so weak he could scarcely alight off his horse without help, yet his zeal was such that be bore a Faithful Testimony for Truth, in the public meeting the same day; afterwards he went to bed, continuing very ill about two weeks .....

The day before he died, sitting on a chair, desired that another be set before him, on which he leaned and prayed fervently and powerfully to the Lord. The next day he departed this life the 23rd fourth month 1696 aged about forty years. He was buried in Friends' Burying place near Ballyhagan aforesaid." (52)

John Fothergill visited Ireland in 1724 and has this to say about his visit to the Meeting - "The 3rd of 7th month, 1724, I rode to Ballyhagan and had a meeting there, where the Lord's power was so plentifully with us and the gospel testimony spread in a prevailing manner its warning and awakening the indifferent; in consolation and holy encouragement to the well minded and the glorious name was magnified." (53)

John Churchman, from Pennsylvania, who visited Ulster in 1752, has this to say about a Province Meeting he attended at Ballyhagan. "We then went to Ulster Province Meeting at Ballyhagan, which held two days. The elders and other concerned Friends here enquire into the state of things among their members in the Province, and it was in the main a satisfactory meeting." (53A)

Among one of the most interesting visits paid to Ballyhagan Meeting was the one paid jointly by Samuel Spavold from Hitchin, Herts, and Thomas Carrington from Pennsylavinia. They arrived at the end of January 1779, and spent over two weeks in visitation of families and attending both the mid week and first day meetings for worship. In the course of their visitation they rode over sixty miles on horse back, as the families were so scattered.

What makes their visit so interesting to us is that someone (probably a local Friend) had prepared for their guidance, a roughly drawn map of the district, indicating the location of each family. Together with the map a list of the families to be visited had been compiled under two headings.

First, those in unity (in membership) and secondly those not in unity (not in membership) but having some links with the meeting, such as being attenders or having lost their membership by disownment, either by "marrying out" as was so prevalent at this period or through some other disciplinary action. Another piece of information given on the lists was the number of persons in each household including children.

The number of families in unity are given as 34, consisting of about 140 persons. The number of families not in unity are given as 62 families, consisting of 198 persons.

We are thankful that this map and lists is now preserved in Friends' Historical Library, Dublin. (See Centre Pages for Map and lists of names).

What is known of the two visiting Friends? Who were they and where did they come from? Thomas Carrington was an acknowledged minister and came from Pennsylvania; he does not seem to have been very prominent and not much is known about him apart from the fact that he visited among Friends in Scotland in 1777. (54)

Samuel Spavold, from a sketch by Samuel LucasSAMUEL SPAVOLD
From a sketch by Samuel Lucas

Samuel Spavold (1708 - 1759) was a well-known Friend Minister. (55) In earlier life he had been apprenticed as ship's carpenter and joiner and worked at Deptford and Chatham. He was reputed to have been a skilled cabinet maker and some of his work is still in existence in the Hitchin district. (56) As a young man he had a spiritual experience after which he was called to the Ministry. He was a well travelled Friend and on Truth's account and had journeyed to America in 1757, where he met John Woolman, who refers to him as `my beloved Friend". (57) He had already visited among Friends in Ireland on three previous occasions, where he is reported as having visited extensively amongst the Southern Meetings and where he had exercised his prophetic ministry, warning Friends that difficult days lay ahead. In appearance he is described as "Tall in person, of a thin habit, and latterly of a genteel appearance, the figure of this fine prophetic Soul was familiar in Meetings far and wide." James Jenkins in his records presents a contemporary picture of this Friend as "A man of great sweetness of disposition. I have often been in his company." (58) Such was the Friend who visited the scattered membership of the country meeting of Ballyhagan early in February, 1779, just over 200 years ago. Allen Pearson has gone to some trouble to obtain a copy of Rocque's Map of Co. Armagh made in 1760. (59) The roads shown on this map were the roads in existence when the two Friends made their pastoral visit to members of the meeting early in the year 1779. Allen has also visited the sites of the homes of the families listed on the rough map which has been preserved. Friends were mostly located in an area around Ballyhagan, such as Kilmore, Stonebridge, Battlehill, Loughgall, Mulladry, Cranagill, etc, with one or two families living in Richhill village. Many of the present main roads were not in existence and some now are overgrown tracks. It has been an interesting exercise trying to trace the various Friends families shown on the rough map. In a 'number of instances the houses have completely disappeared and in 4 others replacement houses have been built on the sites.

Map showing the distribution of Quakers around Richhill in 1779Map redrawn by Bob Sinton July 2003

Samuel Spavold and Thomas Carrington visited the families of this Meeting from 31st of 1st month, 1779, to the 15th of 2nd month, inclusive being 15 days attended the first and week - day Meetings ?and ? rode about 60 miles -

In unity 34 families consisting of about 140 persons.

Out of unity 62 families amounting to about 198 persons.

On back of map is written "A Rugh Draft of the situations of the famelys belonging to Ballyhagan Meeting 2 mo. 1779 and in the corner at top map of the dwelling."

  Total in
  Total in
1 Wm. Richardson 2   20 Sarah Wetherald 4
2 Elizabeth Richardson 2   21 (James?) King 7
3 John Nicholson 5   22 Joseph Wetherald 2
4 Joshua Marsh 2   23 James Haddock 8
5 Wm. Mackey 2   24 Henry Allen 5
6 Francis Robinson 3   25 John Hanshaw 2
7 David Person 3   26 John Millen 3
8 Wm. Williamson 3   27 James Allen 3
9 Fra Cherry 4   28 Benj Sinton  
10 Benjn Mackey 7   29 Sara Sinton  
11 Joseph Brownlow 5   30 John Sinton  
12 John Creeth 2   31 - Chapman  
13 Widow Creeth 3   32 Mary Hewet  
14 Robert Johnston 8        
15 Thos Topin 3   96 James Morison lives about  
16 Michiel Clegg 4     4 miles from No. 28 and  
17 Daniel Chapman 6     about 7 miles from  
18 Mark Hewet 4     Meeting  
19 John Mackey 3   91 Mathew Person  
  Total 140
  Total in
  Total in
33 Robert Maxwells wife 5   66 Thos. Person 4
34 Ann Jackson 1   67 Jacob Person 4
35 James W (children) 2   68 Wm. Delap 2
36 T. Wicklow     69 Joss Person Jnr. 2
37 … Nicholson 1   70 Joshua Person Jnr. 2
38 Sarah Hoope 1   71 Abram Person 3
39 Wm. Fraizer not visited     72 Lewis Owin 3
40 Martha Jackson 1   73 Jacob Hewet 6
41 John Eliots wife Loughgall 1   74 Hoope Hewet 5
42 not visited     75 Robt. Hewet 4
43 Jonathan Richardson 1   76 Thos Hewet 2
44 John Taylors wife 1   77 Widow Hewet & Son 2
45 Widow Gibson 1   78 Joseph Hewet 6
46 Widow Whitside 1   79 Robert Chapman 2
47 James Towell 5   80 Ruth Williamson 1
48 Benjn. Hobson 8   81 Sarah Rodgers 1
49 Robert Delap 8   82 James Kigins wife 2
50 Rich Boyse 4   83 John Williamson 5
51 John Johnston's wife 1   84 Widow Kells 1
52 Peter Hagans wife
(he is a papist)
1   85 Sam Winter 3
53 Joseph Mackey, Richhill - not visited     86 Hanah Maginess 5
54 James Stephson Richhill     87 Sam Winter 2
55 James Rowntree, Richhill - not visited     88 (Dan?) Winter 5
56 Torn     89 Widow Allen maried  
57 Wm. Blair 3     children and grandchildren  
58 Mary Blair 6   90 ? Hides wifeM 7
59 John Softly 6   60 Joseph Chapman 1
60 name deleted (see no. 91) 4   91 see list in unity  
61 John Blair 7   92 Abigaii ?  
62 John Rowntrees wife 7 ch   93 Thos Person 1
63 Sami. Gray 8   94 James Creeth  
64 Isaac Person Jnr. 2   95    
65 Isaac Person 7   96 see list in unity  
  Total 198

(49) A Quaker term used to describe such occasions.
(50) Minute Monthly Meeting 12 month 21st, 1722.
(51) Rutty Pages 351 - 363.
(52) Piety Promoted - Sam Fairbrother, Skinners Row, Dublin, 1721.
(53) An account of the life and travels in the work of the Ministry of John F0thergill - London 1753.
(53A) An account of the Gospel Labours and Christian Experiences ofe Faithful Minister of Christ - John Churchman, deceased, Dublin Reprinted 1781.
(54) J. F H. S. Vol. 13 Part I Page 11.
(55) Piety Promoted IX Part by Thomas Wagstaff 1796 Page 210 - 213.
(56) A Mirror for the Society of Friends - Reginald L. Hine.
(57) J.F.H.S. Vol. X No. 4 Page 253 - 4.
(58) Records and Recollections of James Jenkins - Friends Reference Library, London.
(59) See map.

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