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Banagher: A goodly heritage

The nineteenth century


The second minister of Banagher was the Reverend James A. Johnston ordained in 1811. He married Miss Elizabeth Boyle, daughter of Thomas Boyle of Drumcovitt and lived there because the old Manse was occupied by Mr Law’s widow. He was minister for 10 years and gained a reputation for his appearance. He walked to Church from Drumcovitt through Feeny dressed in knee breeches, silk stockings and shoes with shining buckles and became known as the ‘lovely divine’. Evidently he was expected to be less refined and more rustic.


Mr Johnston left Banagher in 1821 to become minister of Holywood, a congregation of the Presbytery of Antrim which at that time accommodated those who had intellectual difficulties in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrinal dispute led to the formation of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church in 1830, so called, because her ministers felt unable to subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith which clearly is Trinitarian not Unitarian in questions about the nature of God.


Mr Johnston died of cholera at the age of 48 in 1832 and his obituary described him as ‘polite, high-minded and agreeable in all the relations of life’.


The third minister of Banagher was the Reverend Thomas Ellison who was ordained in March 1822. The service of ordination was held in Cumber because Banagher Meeting House was badly in need of repair and unsuitable for such an auspicious occasion.

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