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Pomeroy Presbyterian Church, Co. Tyrone: A History 1763-1981

Extracted from a History of Congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland 1610-1982 (Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland, Belfast, 1982)
Transcribed, Compiled and Submitted by
Len Swindley, Melbourne, Australia
len_swindley[at]hotmail.com

One of the early Secession congregations was at Murree in the northern part of Carland and a minister was ordained there in 1763. Later the congregation divided, one party erecting a cause at Sandholes and the other at Pomeroy, “a romantic little town in a mountainous district which was infested with robbers at the end of the eighteenth century”. The church at Pomeroy was built in 1802 and was for a time supplied every third Sunday by Rev. Lewis Brown, Sixmilecross. Those attending asked the Presbytery of Upper Tyrone on 7 Feb. 1804 to erect them into a charge, and a promise was given that the request would be granted if a licentiate could be found to supply the place, and on condition that £30 stipend be offered, and that the landlord would pay for a seat in the meeting-house and accommodate the minister, when appointed, with a farm, when called. In spite of all it was five years before Mr. William McIlree (lic. Belfast) was ordained on 12 Sept. 1810 On 4 May 1814 he was disannexed for irregularity, upon which he renounced all pretensions to the ministry”.

The second minister was Mr. David Evans (lic. Upper Tyrone). He was ordained on 15 Aug. 1815 and at first proved an able minister. There were 344 souls in 1833 and the congregation for Regium Donum purposes was rated “second class” which entitled the minister to receive £46.3.1 yearly from that source. Unfortunately, like his predecessor he proved unstable and was suspended on 2 May 1837 for intemperance. He resigned from the ministry but later sought to be restored, and he emigrated to Canada. After charges at St. Theresa, Richmond and Kitley between 1841 and 1862 he died at Prescott on 9 Aug. 1864.

The third minister was Mr. David McKinney (lic. Letterkenny). Ordained on 1 Jan. 1839, he saw the congregation grow to 120 families, but its givings dropped to £20 per year. The increased numbers now entitled the minister to a Royal Bounty grant of £69.4.8. Mr McKinney died on 21 Aug. 1868.

His successor was Mr. Robert Evans (lic. Athlone) who was ordained on 23 Sept. 1868 and ministered for 26 years with success and respect from all. He died on 7 Sept. 1894. The congregation next called Mr. Samuel Johnston (lic. Belfast) who only stayed 8 years. Ordained on 8 Mar. 1895, he joined the United Free Church of Scotland, on 5 Jan. 1903. He was followed by Mr. Samuel Oliver Stuart (lic. Derry) “a man of ability and scholarship” who was ordained on 15 July 1903 and who, like his predecessor, resigned on 1 June 1909 to go to Scotland.

A call was then given to Rev. George Kelly of Ahorey whose ministry began on 4 Oct. 1909 and ended on 21 Sept. 1916 when he was furnished with credentials to New Zealand. These short ministries were not good for the congregation and when the Assembly’s Union Commission suggested linking it with another, the Pomeroy people were moved to be a bit more generous and they promised to pay £60 stipend if they were given a minister of their own. They were, after some delay, allowed to call and their choice fell on Rev. Francis Moore of Shercock. He was installed on 20 July 1917, and after a long ministry retired on 31 Dec. 1950. He died on 14 May 1954. The Rev. James Kane of Eglish was next installed here on 9 May 1951. He became Clerk of the former Dungannon Presbytery and of the Tyrone Presbytery, He removed to 2nd Dunboe on 9 April 1975. Mr. Robert James Mattison (lic. Dromore) was ordained as assistant to the convenor on 12 Dec. 1978. He resigned on 28 Jan. 1981 having accepted a call to 2nd Dromara.