Incumbants of Ardstraw
Extracts from the Statistical Account, Or, Parochial Survey of Ireland By William Shaw Mason 1814
The following is the succession of incumbents of Ardstraw, taken from the books of the First Fruits' office:
Richard Winter, institut. et admiss. 11° Februar. 1639, ad Rector, de Ardstragh in Co. Tyrone.
Caesar Williamson, admiss. fuit 15 Febr. 1660, ad Rector, de Ardstray, in Co. Tyrone.
Adam Usher, cler. admiss, et inatitut. fait 19° die August, 1680, ad et in Rector, de Ardstra, Dioc. Derry & Co. Tirone.
Adam Usher, Rector of Ardstra, Com. Tyrone, Dioc: Deny, died 1712.
Reverendus Johaanes Hall, S. T. D. admiss collatus ct Inductus fuit quarto die Septembris, anno domini 1713, ad dictam Rectoriam.
Robert Shaw, Rector of Ardstraw, 1743.
John Pelissier, D. D. Rect. Ardstraw. 16 Mar. 1753, Co. Tyrone.
Thomas Leland collated 24th May, 1781, Rector of Ardstraw, county Tyrone.
Thomas Wilson, collated 28th January, 1786, Rector of Ardstraw, county Tyrone.
George Hall, instituted 27th February, 1800, Rector of Ardstraw, county Tyrone.
Gerald Fitzgerald, collated 27th August, 1806, Rector Ardstraw, county Tyrone.
The climate is damp, and from its mountainy situation, subject to much rain. The diseases are pleurisies, rheumatic pains and weakness in the limbs.
There are some instances, however, of extraordinary Longevity. viz.— the widow Robinson, of Moyle, aged 93;
the widow Flood, of Newtown Stewart, 97;
the widow Lapsley, near Douglas-bridge, 101;
a man of the name of Nixon, near Baron's-court, 102
The yeomanry corps, who contribute much to the security and good order of the parish, should not be omitted in this account; they muster in all 484 men, exclusive of officers, and are stationed in different districts. One of these corps, part of Lord Mountjoy's brigade, consists of 100 men, who are resident in Newtown Stewart and its vicinity, and could, on any emergency, be assembled by beat of drum at a moment's warning. The military spirit, in other respects, has rather abated than increased, except for the artillery and surgical departments, the latter of which is the chief object of ambition to such young men as have been able to acquire a suitable education.
The Education and Employment of Children,
The children of the poorer class are sent to school, until they can read and write; they are then apprenticed to the linen-business, or some other trade: when the parents are unable to pay for their schooling, they are necessarily kept at home, where they soon become useful in the house, or in the field. At the age of eleven or twelve, they usually hire themselves to farmers, but never for a longer term than six months at a time.
There are two stated days in the year, when they assemble at Newtown Stewart for this purpose, viz. on the 12th of May and on the 12th of November. The wages for the half year vary according to circumstances: for girls, from 30s. to 40s.; for boys, from 40s. to £3; and for men, from 4£- to £5. The price of day-labour for men is 6id. and lOd. with victuals, and 20d. in harvest. Mowers get 2s. 6d. and 3s. with victuals. Services are not abolished, nor are they strictly exacted: I have never heard a complaint on this subject.
There is no endowed school in the parish. The Protestant parish schoolmaster teaches in a private house in Newtown Stewart, where there are also two others taught by Roman Catholics. The quarterly salary for tuition, varies according to the progress made by the scholars ; for children it is but 4s. 2d. and 5s. 5d. while they are learning to spell and read; but when taught writing, arithmetic, and book-keeping, they are charged higher, up to a guinea a quarter.
There are several other schools in the parish; the whole number, about five years ago, amounted to 23, and the number of scholars to 807 : of these, 608 were Protestants, and 199 Catholics; the males 611, and females 196. This report I transmitted, on the 5th of January, 1808, to Sir Arthur Wellesley, then Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, by whose order it was made. No variation, of any consequence, has since taken place, nor is there any thing to be regretted, but the want of an endowed Protestant school. However, as Lord Mountjoy has had the goodness to grant an acre of ground near Newtown Stewart, for the purpose of erecting one on it, I expect that the governors of Erasmus Smith's schools will build and endow the same, as soon as the state of their funds will permit: they have been already memorialed on the subject.
There is no public library, nor any collection of Irish.
The poor's fund arises from the Sunday collections in church, and the interest of £100 bequeathed to the parish by old Dr. Hall; both average about £20 a year. Dr. Pellesier, one of its incumbents, who died about 33 years ago, left £50 to the poor, which at first was put to interest, but afterwards, in a year of great scarcity, was divided among them.
There is another poor's fund of a different description; I allude to the Free Masons, who are very numerous in this parish : they meet once a month on an appointed night, and oftener, if business require it; but their grand days are the 24th of June and the 27th of December. They contribute at every meeting from 6d. to 10d. a piece; half of this contribution goes to regaling themselves, the other half to a fund appropriated to the discharge of rent, to the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and to the relief of the indigent brethren, their widows and orphans.
This is the denomination of a townland in the barony of Strabane, and is the seat of Mr. Robert Mc Crae, whose family for some generations have held those lands on the Dunnamanagh estate, late the property of Sir John Stewart Hamilton, Bart.
The lands in Mr. Mc Crae's possession, include a cottage farm in a state of high improvement (on which he and his family reside) with a small estate of several townlands adjacent to it. The soil is said to be composed for the most part, of a light gravel surface, well adapted to oat crops, and producing remarkably early crops of corn when properly cultivated.
The river Dennet passes through these lands, and forms a boundary to them on the south; and, in its progress, it is said to exhibit falls of sufficient force, to effect the movement of machinery for trading purposes.
Londonderry, which has been selected by the proprietor of Glencush, as his post town, stands seven Irish miles north from thence, Strabane five miles S. W., and Glencush is situated on one of various county roads, which open a communication with the mail coach road between Dublin and Deny, from the nearest point of which road it is about two miles distant.