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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Stewarts of Gransha, Comber, Co. Down


We descend from Joseph Stewart, a farmer of Crossnacreevy in the parish of Comber, immediately south of Belfast in Co. Down.
http://alison-stewart.blogspot.ie/2013/04/the-descendantsfamily-of-joseph-and.html
There was, however, a second Joseph Stewart, who lived in the neighbouring townland of Gransha, Comber, and who are most likely related.

The 1789 Freeholders records for Gransha/Granshaw, viewable on the PRONI website, record two John Stewarts and one Francis Stewart farming in the area.

In the Tithe Books of 1835 Joseph Stewart was listed as farming a substantial 35 acres in Gransha, next to Francis Stewart, his brother, who was farming 7 acres.  Joseph (1790 - 1870) and Francis Stewart were the sons of Francis Stewart Senior and Martha Patterson.

The older Francis Stewart of Gransha made his will in 1838.  By the time of Griffiths Valuation in 1863, his son, Francis Stewart, was farming half a mile away in Crossnacreevy, as was our immediate ancestor Joseph Stewart.

Francis Stewart of Gransha:

On 30th September 1816, Gawn Orr of Moneyreagh wrote back to his first cousin, John Patterson of 4th Street, Philadelphia, informing him, as requested, of the Patterson genealogy.  John Patterson (5th January 1769  - 20th August 1850) was the son of Joseph Patterson and Mary Orr of Moneyreagh. John's sister was Martha Patterson, who had been baptised by Joseph and Mary Patterson in Moneyreagh on 4th May 1758, and who married Francis Stewart (spelt by Gawn Orr in his letter as 'Stuart') in April 1784.

Francis Stewart and Martha Patterson settled at Gransha where they had two sons and four daughters, one of whom - Elizabeth Stewart -  married William Fulton in Bangor in 1815. Gawn Orr also identified a daughter as Mary Stewart who married Robert McDowell of Ballyhanwood in December 1809.  He didn't name the remaining children of Francis Stewart and Martha Patterson, but the two sons were most likely Francis and Joseph Stewart (1790 - 1870) who were farming afterwards in this area.  Joseph Stewart had probably been named after his maternal grandfather, Joseph Patterson.  A third daughter was Margaret Stewart who married, firstly, a member of the Patterson family in the 1830s, but who, by 1839, had married a second time to Robert Petticrew or Pettigrew of Gransha.

The fourth daughter, or perhaps granddaughter, of Martha Patterson and Francis Stewart of Gransha might be Agnes Stuart (sic) of Gransha who married a Robert Corbett and who had Sarah Corbett in about 1850.   On 3rd July 1920, the elderly Sarah Corbett applied for the newly instigated old age pension, which required a search of the 1851 census as proof of her age.  This proved positive, but I've been unable to track down any further information about this Sarah Corbett.

As noted earlier, the older Francis Stewart of  Gransha, husband of Martha Patterson, made his will in 1838 and this was granted on 30th October 1838 to Margaret Stewart, alias Patterson.  There are deeds in the Registry of Deeds in Henrietta Street relating to Francis Stewart of Gransha or Granshaw, Comber.

Deed 1837-22-49 records that Francis Stewart, farmer of Gransha, and Margaret Stewart, spinster, made over land in Gransha to Joseph Stewart, farmer of Gransha, on 1st March 1830.  Deed 1837-22-163 records the sale of land in Gransha on 1st December 1837 by Joseph Stewart of Gransha to Rev. James McCulloch or McCullock.
A later deed was deed 1839-3-157 which was a deed of conveyance dated 29th January 1839, whereby Robert Petticrew of Gransha and his wife, Margaret Patterson, alias Stewart, were selling land to Rev. James McCulloch, including a parcell of land that had once belonged to Francis Stewart, deceased.  This land was to be held by Rev. James McCulloch and his heirs for the natural life of Elizabeth Fulton, otherwise Stewart.  This was witnessed by John McCulloch.

On 19th January 1841, Francis Stewart, son of Francis Stewart and Martha Patterson,  married Catherine Anderson, the only daughter of William Anderson of Crossnacreevy.   The couple were married by Rev. Henry Haslett who ministered at this time in the Castlereagh Presbyterian Church immediately north of Crossnacreevy.  Francis Stewart subsequently farmed in Crossnacreevy. The marriage announcement in the Belfast Newsletter named Francis Stewart of Crossnacreevy as the son of Francis Stewart.
In 1863  Francis Stewart of Crossnacreevy was leasing 27 acres, a house and outbuildings, and subletting two houses to James Floyd and William Anderson, William Anderson being a possible relation of his wife's.
A William Stewart of Crossnacreevy died aged 89 on 5th November 1851. ('Belfast Newsletter', 7th November 1851.)

As noted by Gawn Orr in his 1816 letter to John Patterson of Philadelphia, another daughter of Francis Stewart and Martha Patterson of Gransha was Mary Stewart who married Robert McDowell of Ballyhanwood in December 1809.    Robert McDowell (1782 - 1877) was the son of an earlier Robert McDowell of Ballyhanwood who made a will in 1808.

The children of Mary Stewart and Robert McDowell were:

a) Ann McDowell who married John Goudy, son of Alexander Goudy, in Knockbreda on 7th February 1850.  They had a daughter, Frances Jane Goudy, who married James Shannon McCully.
b) Jane McDowell who married John Morrow, the son of John Morrow, in Knockbreda on 3rd May 1853.  Jane died a widow on 23rd November 1873.
c) Mary McDowell who married James Jamison.
d) John McDowell (1817 - 1910) who married Eleanor Morrow.  Children were Eleanor McDowell, born in Ballyhanwood, on 8th January 1866, and William Robert McDowell who married Mary McQuoid of Braniel.  Eleanor Morrow, the wife of John McDowell, was the daughter of William and Isabella Morrow of Ballybeen.  Isabella Morrow died at Ballymaglaff aged 92 on 27th January 1886, leaving a will in which she named her grandchildren as William Robert McDowell, Francis McDowell, Ellen McDowell and Isabell McDowell.   On 25th November 1890, James McDowell, son of John McDowell of Ballyhanwood, married Rebecca Busby of Braniel, the daughter of Hugh Busby and Eliza White.  The witnesses to the wedding were the groom's brother, William Robert McDowell and a Maggie Patterson.
e) Fanny McDowell.
f) Margaret McDowell.
g) Robert McDowell.
h) Stewart McDowell (1832 - 1889) who married Anna Busby, daughter of Hugh Busby of Lisnaharragh (who died aged 77 on 2nd April 1869) in Belfast on 20th June 1865.  Their children were Rebecca McDowell (1867 - 1950), Mary Jane (1871 - 1946) who married Richard Thomas Morrow, Sarah Kirker McDowell (1875 - 1956), Elizabeth Busby McDowell (1881 - 1969), William John McDowell (1869 - 1909) who married Jennie Boyd, Margaret Anne McDowell (1877 - 1971) who married Andrew Hugh Kennedy, and Hugh Busby McDowell (1893 - 1950).     Stewart McDowell's daughter, Mary Jane, married Richard Thomas Morrow, the son of Thomas Morrow of Ballyhanwood on 7th November 1917;  the wedding took place at the bride's home in Ballyhanwood and was witnessed by John Morrow and a Mary Stewart.  This Mary Stewart was living with the family of the elderly Thomas Morrow in Ballyhanwood who named her as a niece, born circa 1860.  Thomas Morrow died in Ballyhanwood aged 101 on 28th February 1916; son William Morrow was present.   

In 1844, Joseph Stewart of Gransha - the son of Francis Stewart and Martha Patterson - subscribed to 'A Collection of Poems and Songs on Rural Subjects' by local Moneyreagh poet, Robert Huddleston;  William A. Stewart of neighbouring Crossnacreevy also subscribed to this volume of work.  This William A. Stewart was the brother of our great-great grandfather, Joseph Stewart of Crossnacreevy and Dublin, both William A. and Joseph being the sons of Joseph Stewart Senior of Crossnacreevy.

By the time of Griffiths land Valuation, however, there is no mention of Joseph Stewart Junior in Gransha so he was probably living with relations. He can't have gone too far -  his death certificate of 1870 states that he died in Gransha.
Joseph Stewart, farmer, died in Gransha/Granshaw on February 28th 1870; he was 80 years old, therefore had been born in about 1790. Present at death was his son, William Stewart, who was living in the nearby town of Moneyreagh.  The cause of death was unknown; no medical attendant had been present. Joseph's wife was still alive in 1870 but her name is not mentioned on the death certificate. (In fact, women tend to be historically invisible at this time.)
The neighbouring Joseph Stewart of Crossnacreevy, also a farmer, lived from 1793 till April 10th 1876; his son, John Stewart of Crossnacreevy, was present at his death.

Joseph's son, William Stewart, married Mary Abernethy in Granshaw Presbyterian Church on 25th October 1849.  Later their children declared themselves to be Unitarian on the 1901 and 1911 Census so, once again, the Stewarts confound me by not marrying in a Non-Subscribing/Unitarian Church as expected. Why this is so, is beyond me!
Mary was the daughter of Andrew Abernethy - an  Andrew Abernethy married Elizabeth Wallace in Moneyreagh on 3rd February 1830.

The witnesses to the wedding of William Stewart and Mary Abernethy in 1849 were Moneyreagh locals, Hugh Nelson and Matthew Fisher.
Witness Hugh Nelson of Moneyrea was selected by the 'Society for the Promotion and Improvement of the Growth of Flax' to instruct other farmers in their area in flax farming, as was James Stewart of  Crossnacreevy, a possible son of Joseph Stewart Sr. of Crossnacreevy. ('Northern Whig', 20th July 1844.)
Matthew Fisher's son, Orr Fisher, married Sarah Abernethy, the daughter of John Abernethy, in Comber on 5th May 1853.  Matthew Fisher had witnessed the 1849 wedding of William Stewart and Mary Abernethy.

(Other Abernethy records from the Belfast newspapers....
 William Abernethy of Ballycrielly, ie, Ballycreely, married Mary Jameson on 3rd August 1833.
 James Abernethy of Moneyrea died aged 33 on 14th August 1837.  The wife of James Abernethy of Moneyrea died there on 27th June 1848.
 John Abernethy of Ballycreely married Mary Wilson on 29th December 1829.)

On Griffiths Valuation of 1863,  William Stewart was leasing a house only in the town of Moneyreagh from Hugh McCullough.

William Stewart and Mary Abernethy had several children, none of whom had married by the time of the 1911 Census:

  • Andrew, born 1853.
  • William Joseph born 1864 or 1866 according to the Census. (At this time, people were not always sure of their true age.)
  • David, born 1st May 1865 in Moneyrea; his grandmother, Elizabeth Abernethy, was present.
  • Thomas, born 8th January 1868; his civil registration details names his father William Stewart as a land steward.
  • Henry Hobson Stewart, born 5th July 1870 but he died in infancy
  • Mary,  born 1869 according to the Census.


The Northern Ireland Family History society holds a collection of mourning cards, some of which concern the family of William Stewart and Mary Abernethy -  a Francis Stewart (1854 - 1875), son of a William Stewart, died on 5th October 1875 and was buried on 6th October in Moneyreagh.
William Stewart's wife, Mary, née Abernethy, died 11th November 1892 and was buried in Moneyreagh 2 days later.
William Stewart also wrote a mourning card for his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Abernethy of Moneyrea, who died aged 79 on 15th April 1888, and who was buried in Moneyrea two days later.  According to her civil registration of death, her grandson, Andrew John Stewart, was present when she died in Moneyreagh.
Elizabeth Aberbethy might have been the Elizabeth Wallace who had married Andrew Aberbethy in Moneyreagh on 3rd February 1830. I came across an article in the 'Northern Standard' of 9th February 1847 which reported that Elizabeth Abernethy of Moneyrea (and also our great-great-great grandfather, Joseph Stewart of neighbouring Crossnecreevy) had been fined for having illegal weights and measures in her shop.

Mary Stewart, née Abernethy, died aged 61 on 11th November 1892 in Moneyrea, the wife of quarry-owner William Stewart.
William Stewart, son of Joseph Stewart of Gransha, died a widowed landsteward, aged 74 in Moneyrea on 10th June 1897;  his son, William Joseph Stewart, was present and registered the death.

By 1901 the four unmarried children of William Stewart and Mary Abernethy were sharing a house in Moneyreagh.  William Joseph and Thomas were agricultural labourers and David was a grocer. Their brother, Andrew,was a flax-dresser working in Belfast.  The house was a four-room thatched cottage owned by James McCullough.  All four siblings were Unitarian.

Immediately next-door to them was Martha Stewart, a 78-yr-old retired grocer. (Is there a theme developing? Our great-great grandfather, Joseph Stewart of neighbouring Crossnacreevy, was listed as leasing a shop along with his land in 1863.)   Martha Stewart's house was tiled rather than thatched and was owned by James McCullough. She was also Unitarian.
Martha Stewart, grocer, and daughter of Joseph Stewart of Gransha, died of old age in Moneyreagh on 9th June 1906 - she had been born in 1821.  Her nephew, William Joseph Stewart of Moneyreagh, was present at her death.  A mourning card exists for her death - she was buried in Moneyreagh on 11th June, and the card had been written by her relative Andy Stewart, presumably her nephew Andrew, son of William Stewart and Mary Abernethy.

There were other Stewart relatives commemorated by mourning cards.  Isabella Stewart of Moneyreagh  died aged 58 on 30th November 1889 her relation, Mary Stewart, wrote the card for her. Isabella Stewart's death was registered by her nephew William Joseph Stewart.   He also registered the death of another of his aunts, Mary Stewart, a 72-year-old unmarried shopkeeper, who died in Moneyreagh on 11th November 1890.
Martha Stewart, the elderly woman who was living next-door to the Stewart siblings in Moneyreagh in 1901,  also wrote a  mourning card for her sister Mary Stewart of Moneyreagh who died on 11th November 1890.   A retired grocer, Martha Stewart died unmarried aged 85 in Moneyreagh on 9th June 1906 and her death was registered by her nephew William Stewart.


By 1911, the four Stewart siblings have been joined by their brother Andrew.  Andrew seems to have been a name associated with these Stewarts - an Andrew Stewart married a Margaret Orr in Moneyrea on 21st May 1830, although there is no corroborating evidence to link this earlier Andrew Stewart to the Stewarts of Gransha.

David T. Stewart, son of William Stewart and Mary Abernethy,  was the executor of the will of Samuel McCullough of Moneyreagh in 1899.  The will of David Stewart, Moneyreagh retired shopkeeper, who died 9th March 1940 in the District Hospital in Newtownards, was proved by James McClure and David Mitchell, farmers.  James McClure was a farmer of Merrylands, which is the name of the crossroads in Crossnacreevy where our great-great grandfather, Joseph Stewart, was farming earlier. A McClure was farming here next door to our Joseph Stewart in 1863, according to Griffiths Valuation.

The McCullough family of Moneyrea intermingle with both the Stewarts of Crossnacreevy and of neighbouring Gransha, but I haven't deciphered if they are related or merely neighbourly.  However, the results of an Ancestry DNA test have shown me to be related to a descendant of Matthew McCullough of Moneyreagh.
http://alison-stewart.blogspot.ie/2017/04/some-mccullough-families-of-moneyreagh.html
'Belfast Morning News', 9th September 1858 - on 4th September 1858 in Comber, by Rev. William D. Crommelin, Henry, son of Robert Abernethy of Ballycreely, to Rachel, youngest daughter of the late Matthew M'Cullough of Moneyrea.
Robert Abernethy joined Moneyreagh Masonic Lodge No. 556, on 30th March 1835.

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