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I am searching for information on John Mackey of Antrim. I have 2 pages from a prayer book which list the following siblings and their birthdates

Isabella 11th August 1811
Samuel 2nd November 1812
Alexander 18th November 1817
William Thomas 16th June 1826
Mary Jane 30th May 1828.

Master Mariner certificates both give Alexander's and William's birthplace as Antrim, Antrim. 

Alexander married in Sydney Australia in 1853 and the marriage announcement  in the Belfast Newsletter says he was the son of the late Mr John Mackey, Antrim, Ireland.

Mary Jane's 1852  marriage announcement in the BNL says she was the daughter of the late Mr John Mackey, Antrim. On the actual certificate he gives his occupation as gentleman. She married in a Presbyterian Church in Belfast.

William Thomas married in London in 1855 and rather strangely gives John Mackey's occupation as "Minister in the Scotch Church" This is definitely the same William Mackey as the birthdate on his Master Mariner Certificate is the same as in the prayer book and the signatures on the marriage certificate and Mariner certificate match.

Isabella died unmarried in 1893 and I can find nothing on Samuel.

I hope to visit PRONI to search the baptismal records of the First (Millrow) Antrim Presbyterian chuch to see if there are any records for William and Mary Jane's baptism that might provide clues. I understand that there are no records covering the earlier period.

Any suggestions where else I might look? All help or advice gratefully received.



Saturday 2nd October 2021, 03:38PM

Message Board Replies

  • Sworddancer,

    Scotch church was often used in Ireland to describe secession Presbyterian congregations.  Presbyterianism was established in Scotland and brought to Ireland by Scots settlers in the 1600s. The links with Scotland always remained strong. All Presbyterian Ministers in Ireland were educated there until the Presbyterian Theological College was established in Belfast around 1845. Many of the Ministers were themselves Scots.  There were several schisms in the Presbyterian church but one led to the creation of Unitarian/Non Subscribing Presbyterians and another to the United Free Presbyterian church. They often got their Ministers from Scotland (often from the Free Church of Scotland) and were known as Scotch churches, presumably to distinguish them from the mainstream Presbyterian church.

    The former United Free Presbyterian Church in Cullybackey is still known to older folk in the town as the Scotch Kirk.

    Secession congregations were not great at keeping records, and it’s common to find there aren’t any that have survived. No easy way round that. There's a graveyard attached to the former Non Subscribing Presbyterian Church in Antrim. I am due to look in it for somebody else. I'll keep an eye out for any Mackey graves there.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Sunday 3rd October 2021, 01:11PM
  • Hi Elwyn,

    Many thanks for looking, hopefully something might turn up on John or his son Samuel.

    I had previously discounted the "Minister in the Scotch Church" as an occupation for John because in the Belfast Newsletter announcements he was referred to as Mr rather than Rev, I thought perhaps William was just a mariner trying to accentuate his respectability. Did Ministers in the Presbyterian churches ever not use the Reverend title? Is there a comprehensive list of Presbyterian Ministers I can check?

    Thanks again



    Monday 4th October 2021, 04:23PM
  • Sworddancer,

    Yes there is pretty comprehensive list of Presbyterian Ministers (of all the various sub-denominations) at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Belfast. E-mail Valerie Adams there and she'll do a look up for you. If he was a Presbyterian Minister he will have obtained his degree in Scotland either at Aberdeen, St Andrews, Edinburgh or Glasgow universities. They keep some bio on past students (even students in the 1700s) and can sometimes provide a little more information.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 7th October 2021, 11:06AM
  • Hi Elwyn,

    Valerie replied very quicky and was helpful regarding my search for John Mackey a minister in the Scotch Church but unfortunately her records do not have a John Mackey as a Presbyterian Minister in Ireland. 

    I did come across a Rev John Mackey (with spelling variations) at Fahan Presbyterian Church conducting marriages between 1843 and 1853 but I am fairly sure that my John Mackey had died by 1852 so almost certainly not him.

    Just wanted to let you know and to thankyou for your help.

    Thanks again


    Monday 18th October 2021, 04:52PM
  • Sworddancer,

    Disappointing result. It occurred to me that "Minister in the Scotch Church" could also mean he was a Presbyterian Minister in Scotland or even in England. There is an on-line source you can search for Presbyterian Ministers in Scotland called FASTI. It gives details of their lives and careers. You asked whether Ministers were ever referred to as Mr. Not commonly, in my experience.

    I still plan to look at the gravestones in the old Unitarian graveyard in Antrim sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'll let you know if I find any Mackey graves there.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 19th October 2021, 08:54AM
  • I visited the Unitarian churchyard in Antrim today. It’s acquired a new name. It’s now the Alexander Irvine Park cemetery. (Alexander Irvine was a local lad made good who became a Minister and writer in the US).

    There was only 1 legible Mackey gravestone. It was for Samuel Mackey who died 2nd August 1792 aged 36 and his wife Mary who died 26.7.1807 aged 45. The grave is in a row of 4 or 5 all with a shared fence round them suggesting they may be connected in some way. There were only 2 legible stones in the fenced off area both were for the Robinson family. One of whom was a Colonel Robinson who died in Dominica (if I have read it correctly).

    As with any graveyard there were plenty of graves with just stumps where a stone had once been, many illegible and some face down. Plus there’s plenty of land with no gravestones at all. So clearly there’s scope for others to be buried there but they no longer have any readable stone.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 5th November 2021, 12:02PM

    Attached Files

  • Hi Elwyn,

    Thanks for looking for me, not sure how or if there is any connection but I will keep this on file for future reference.

    I will forward the picture of the gravestone to my son also a Samuel Mackey.




    Friday 5th November 2021, 06:07PM


    I have been told there is a tree on Ancestry that links the Mackey & Robinson families. You might want to look for that.


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 6th November 2021, 11:00AM
  • Hi Elwyn,

    I have seen the trees on Ancestry and have found Samuel Mackey (1756 to 1792) on two trees.  It is possible that my John Mackey is the son of Samuel. Toby Farmer's Mackey Family Tree shows Samuel's son John Mackey marrying a Martha Robinson and the birth dates for this John would be about right. Interestingly though both Toby and I have done DNA tests and the results show no match. Of course it could be a false negative as we are 5th cousins or alternatively one of our trees maybe wrong or there may be an NPE. 

    Looking at the McDowell Family Tree It is possible that my John Mackey is a nephew of Samuel and that John Mcdowell and I share a common ancestor in the Samuel's father John Mackey who died in 1802 . John McDowell has not yet done a DNA test so we don't know if there is a match or not.

    My next step has to be to check the Baptismal records for John Mackey's two youngest children at the First (Millrow) Presbyterian Church. After that I am struggling to come up with anything concrete.

    Again thanks for your help





    Monday 8th November 2021, 04:37PM