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The History of Ballyhagan and Richhill Meetings 1654 - 1793 - 2004
Chapter 6
Emigration to the New World

It has been estimated that by the year 1700 40% of the population of Ulster was engaged in full time working on the land. In 1800 this figure had been reduced to 30% and by 1906 to 9% and in 1978 it was 5% or less.

If we accept these figures it is a fair assumption that the greater part of the membership of Ballyhagan Meeting were farmers or engaged in agricultural pursuits. As we know, Irish weather is unpredictable and famine conditions threatened during several seasons of the 18th century. Things seemed to come to a head in the year 1729 as famine and sickness prevailed in that year throughout the whole of Ulster. Aid was sent by their brethern in England and from the other provinces of Ireland to Friends but the suffering was considerable. (60)

Of course these conditions were not confined to Friends only but were felt by all and this may have been one of the reasons to accelerate emigration. An estimate shows that many thousands of Presbyterians left their native Ulster for the American Colonies during the eighteenth century. This emigration was hastened owing to religious intolerance against dissenters; other contributory factors were economic, occasioned by restrictions on trade, high rents and a succession of disappointing harvests. (61) In some instances Ministers went with their congregations from all over Ulster, sailing from the five ports of Londonderry, Belfast, Newry, Larne and Portrush. The exodus, which began as a trickle, became a stream. (62) It is a well-known and established fact that some of these settlers (or their descendants) played an important part in the history of the United States, a number of the Presidents being of Ulster descent. (63)

Friends in Ulster were increasingly aware of the opportunities awaiting those who settled in the Province of Pennsylvania which had been granted to the well-known Quaker, William Penn. Some Irish Friends had gone to settle there, as early as 1682. Reports of life there had filtered back home, and the more adventurous were stirred by these accounts. It was a land where there was relief from persecution and prospects for better economic conditions existed for those who were prepared to be pioneers. Land was cheap and easily obtainable. The early Quaker emigrants were attracted to leave home not primarily in search of wealth, but to find a country where they had freedom of worship and conscience. Already Friends Meetings had been set up and they were assured that there would be no break in the fellowship of worship, which existed at home. (64)

If any Friend contemplated emigrating they were expected to inform the Meeting of the circumstances and obtain its blessing. It was a basic principle that no Friend should avoid persecution by emigration and if they did go, all outstanding debts and commitments should be discharged and no marriage engagements left unfulfilled. Those who left were expected to carry with them from their home meeting certificates to this effect, saying they were in good esteem with the Friends in the meeting they were about to leave, and were clear of matters referred to above.

A list of those Friends who emigrated from Ballyhagan Meeting between the years indicated has been prepared based on the information contained in Albert Cook Myers book. (65)


John and Joseph Low, dated 5th month 31. 1682.

Guian Stephens, unmarried of Loughgall, Co. Armagh. "hath from his childhood been brought up amongst us" - Received 2nd month 25. 1701.

John Peell young son of Luke Peell of Loughgall - received 11th month 28. 1708.

William Johnson has served apprenticeship to a merchant within bounds of Lisburn Meeting - received 1st month 26. 1753.

Ann Millcurn (Malcum or Milcome) certificate dated 1st month 31. 1682 with her daughter, Jane Greer, of Loughgall, laid intentions of removal before our Meeting 4th month 9th last where the said Meeting enquired of them the reason why they had a mind to go such a long journey, having no man in their family except they might get a servant or servants, and having no want of things necessary for a livelishood; the said Ann Milicum replied that her daughter Jane had a great desire to go and being not willing to part with her, after such a manner, was willing to take her adventure with her other daughter and so go all together being accompanied with another daughter of hers, and her husband and children, with several neighbours also, and seeing it was her resolution to go as aforesaid.

Patrick Henderson - received 11th month 3. 1708. Two certificates received, one from Ballyhagan Ireland and one from Long Island.

John Cane (or Kane) and wife Ann - received 10th month 5.1713.

John Allen from Ireland (may have been from Ballyhagan) - received 2nd month 3rd 1713.

Thomas Christy - received 9th month 4. 1735.

Mabel Anderson, unmarried - received 1st month 4. 1737-8. ("with ye consent of her mother and relations consent she goes in company of her Uncle William").

Sarah Pringle - received 11th month 4. 1734-35.

Samuel Morton - received 6th month 30. 1729.

James Smith and wife Jane - received 9th month 24. 1733.

Robert Smith and wife Jane - received 6th month 28. 1736.

John Blackburn, wife and children - received 8th month 30. 1736.

Robert Boyes - received 1st month 26. 1737.

Elizabeth Crainer, unmarried, dated 7th month 7. 1754.

William Delap and wife Ruth - received 11th month 16. 1747-8.

Daniel Winter - received 3rd month 21.1748.

Thomas Blackburn and wife - received 3rd month 19. 1750.

Francis Hobson and wife Ann - received 1st month 12. 1765.

Joseph Hewitt and family - received 9th month 12. 1772.

Jonathan Wood, wife and children, "he being a weaver by trade, hath followed that employment until it did soo fale that he and his family could not live comfortably of it and being his stock but smale and farme lytie", two daughters and one son dated 5th month 8. 1683 from Ballyhagan.


(60)History Rise and progress of Quakers in Ireland - Rutty Page 316

(61) Ulster sails West - W.F. Marshal], Belfast 1943.

(62) Ulster Settlers in America - Howard Cromie, Belfast 1976.

(63) American Presidents of Ulster Descent - George McBride, Bangor 1969.

(64) Emigration of Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania, 1682 - 1750. Albert Cook Myers. Swarthmore 1902.

(65) ”Emigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania" - A.C. Myers 1902.

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