Kellswater History

Click Image for History

Rev R. Hanna and Mr W. Allen with a copy of Kellswater Reformed Presbyterian Church Burying ground Headstone Inscriptions which is part of the Borough Council Historic Research project. 46BT48.

 Click image for book details


(22) Erected in memory of Elizabeth Aikin, of Ballymena, who dies 8th Feb. 1845, aged 56 years; also John Aikin, of Ballymena, who died 16th May 1886, aged 80 years. Also their son William John Aikin, who died 28th Oct. 1888, aged 59 years. May Elizabeth, grand daughter of John Aikin, died 8th June 1891, aged 27 years. Their daughters Sarah Aikin, died 28th May 1893, aged 65 years. Margret Aikin, died 11th August 1898, aged 77 years. Also Frances Aikin, died 4th March 1909. And Elizabeth Aikin, died 15th February 1920.

(4) Erected in the memory of James Anderson, of Gilgad, who died on May 1st 1886, aged 80 years.

(23) Erected by Sarah Armstrong, in memory of her dear father William Armstrong, died 21st Aug. 1901, aged 65 years. And her mother Sarah Eliza Murdock, died 2nd April 1901, aged 70 years.

Also the above named Sarah Armstrong, died 16th Sep. 1950, aged 82 years.

(24) Erected in memory of Adam Baillie, of Sharvogues, who died 11th August 1873, aged 57 years.

(30) Erected by John Baillie, Ballycastle, in loving memory of his wife Jane Baillie, who died 17th April 1917, aged 62 years. Also their son Johnston Baillie, who died 19th April 1920, aged 21 years.

 (11) Erected by John Barber of Glenwherry, in memory of Sarah Ann, his beloved wife, who departed this life 3rd September 1818, aged 25 years.

(27) In memory of John Barnett, who died 20th May 1881, aged 53 years. Also his wife Rachael Barnett, who died 23rd May 1915, aged 86 years. Also their daughter Rachel Barnett, died 29th Dec 1928, aged 63 years.

(25) Erected by Thomas Barnett, Randalstown, in memory of his beloved wife Martha Barnett, who died 13th Nov 1870, aged 48 years.

(31) Erected in loving memory of Alexander Beaumont, Ballymena. Born 26th December 1883, died 13th December 1888. And his wife Jane Beaumont born 8th October 1837, died 2nd July 1908. Also their daughter Margaret Thompson, born 11th July 1876, died 8th April 1878. Also their son, John Montgomery Beaumont, Solicitor, born 11th May 1878, died 17th September 1926. Samuel H Beaumont, elder son of Alexander & Jane Beaumont, born 3rd June 1875, died 26th August 1949. John Montgomery Beaumont, only son of above John Montgomery Beaumont, died in Singapore 27th October 1957, aged 47 years. Also Mary Jane Beaumont, died 28th November 1970, aged 87 years.

(39) Erected by Agnes Boyd, Ballymena, in memory of her sister, Maggie, who died 14th March 1916, and was interred here. Also the above named Agnes Boyd, who died 3rd October 1935.

(41) Boyd Annie, died 2nd November 1948. Also her husband James, died 5th Feb. 1991. The Lord is my Shepherd.

 (36) In loving memory of William James, died 17th Nov. 1926. Also his wife Mary, died 30th March 1948. Also his son Hugh Rock Boyd, died 29th Jan. 1925. Also his daughter Jean, died 8th May 1964. The Lord’s my Shepherd. Grey Marble Block Resting on Grave: In loving memory of our dear mother Jean Boyd from Norman, Herb and Evelyn.

(14) Erected by members and friends of Kellswater RP Church in memory of Rev. S M Calderwood MA, beloved pastor of the congregation from 14th December, 1932, until his death, on 2nd October 1973. Also his wife, Jean R Calderwood, died 1st November 1977. Let “God” be magnified.

(9) In loving memory of William Clements, beloved husband of Jane Clements, died 30th October, 1934. Also the above-named Jane Clements, died 14th April, 1949. “Until the day dawn.”

(17) In memory of David Cromie, Loughbrickland, who died November 11 1891, and his wife, Mary who died October 15 1913.

(18) Erected to the memory of Alexander Cussick, of Appletee, who departed this life 20th June 1849 aged 82 years.

(19) In loving memory of William Cussick of Appletee, who died 2nd Jan. 1876, aged 75 years, also his wife Mary Ann Parker, who died 26th Sep. 1908, aged 81 years. Also their eldest son Alexander, who died 31st May 1933. And their second son Newton who died 25th June, 1934.Also their daughter Maggie Cussick, who died 25th Oct. 1945. “Gone but not forgotten”. Also their son William Cussick, who died 25th July 1957. And James Cussick, who died 21st April 1967.

(1) In Memoriam Rev. James Dick AM, Professor of Systematic Theology, Pastor Of Kellswater congregation for 53 years who died 24th May 1880 aged 80 years. Also his son Alexander died November 1841 aged 5 years. Also his mother Frances Dick died June 1849 aged 82 years. Also his father-in-law Robert Wallace died May 1858 aged 80 years. Also his mother-in-law Agnes Wallace died September 1858 aged 74 years. Also his wife Jane Wallace, died 10th April 1890, aged 84 years.

(13) Hope is in the future. Cia 1953-1979 Beloved daughter of Robert Wallace Dinsmore 1905-1980; grandson Daniel Dennis Montgomery Nov. 1980-June 1982 beloved son of Dennis and Tania. Asleep in the arms of Jesus. Frances Elizabeth Dinsmore 1914-1939.

(26) Erected in memory of Mary Jane, the beloved wife of John Gordon, Randalstown, who died 4th Feb. 1872, aged 27 years. Also the above named John Gordon, who departed this life August 1875 aged 34 years.

(40) In loving memory of Archibald Holmes born 2nd July 1862-died 27th Sept. 1932. For over Forty-four years a minister of the Gospel in the Covenanter Church of Ireland. Also of his wife Marshall Holmes, born 19th January 1877-died 26th June 1945. Also of their daughter Gertrude, born 4th September 1905-died 22nd January 1983. They shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads. Rev. 22:4. Also their daughter Edna Letitia Kelso born 23 Nov. 1906 died 5 June 1992

 () Memorial Hall erected by Henry H Houston of Philadelphia, USA, in honour of his kinsman Revd David Huston, MA who was buried by members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Connor graveyard, under the following inscription which has been long since obliterated. “Here lies the body of Mr. David Huston, a faithful minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ who departed this life 8th December, in the year 1696 and of his age the 63rd year.”

 (16) In memory of Ellen A Hyndman, of Ross, died 8th July 1960, aged 88 years. Also her sister Mary A Hyndman, died 17th Sept. 1960, aged 81 years.

 (37) Erected in memory of Thomas Hyndman, of Ross. Died April 13th 1900, aged 67 years. Also his wife Margaret Allen, died 29th March 1919, aged 74 years. Their on William, died 7th May 1875. Aged 1 year & 4 months. Their son John, died 12th March 1943, aged 73 years. Their son Joseph, died 5th August 1959, aged 83 years and his wife Mary Ann, died 8th Jan. 1951, aged 68 years. Also their daughter Margret Allen, died April 1992, aged 74 years.

(7) By Jak Ann Kernohan, Slatt died Aug the 11th 1868 aged XXX 6 not ded slep. On reverse side. One word only: AWKEN

(2) Here rests the body of Margaret McMillan third daughter of the late Revd Wm Stavely. She died on the 26th of November 1872 aged thirty seven years. Also her daughter Mary McMillan who died 4th Sept. 1830 aged 16 years.

(15) McMullan: in loving memory of my dear husband Joseph, died 26th Nov. 1963. His wife Annie, died 9th October 1985. Always remembered.

(10) Erected by Margaret McNaughton to the memory of her beloved husband James McNaughton of Harryville who departed this life 29th October 1818, aged 30 years.

(5) Erected to the memory of William Milliken of Cross who departed this life on the 20th of May 1837 aged 83 years. Also his wife Elizabeth Milliken who died 1684. Also his son Henry Milliken who died 1873. Also his wife Mary Jane Milliken who died 28th Apr. 1897 aged 75 years. Also her sister Elizabeth Gordon who died 5th Dec. 1897.

(12) Erected by John Montgomery, of Ballymena, in memory of his beloved wife Margaret Thompson, who died 20th May 1882, aged 66 years. Also his daughter Lizzie, who died 2nd Dec. 1850, aged 1year and 9 months. Also the above named John Montgomery, who died 27th Sept. 1887, aged 88 years. And Alice McQuitty. And Alice McQuitty, second daughter of his son Wm. Robert who died 8th Jan. 1887, aged 13 months. Also his sons, William Robert Montgomery, born 18th Aug. 1856, died 12th July 1900. And James D Montgomery, died 16th April 1921, at Elk City, Idaho, USA. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.”  Rev. xiv 13.

(20) At rest: erected by Robert A H Morrow, of St John NB Canada. In memory of his father William Morrow, died 20th Sep. 1859, aged 62 years and his mother Margaret, died 26th Aug 1861, aged 55 years. Also of his beloved wife Jane Alexander, who died at Belfast, after a brief illness 14th Aug 1902, aged 64 years. “Be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.”

(8) Erected by Hugh Orr, in memory of his beloved wife Rachel Orr, who depart this life 27th May 1845 aged 50 years.

 (38) In loving memory of my dear husband David Rock, died 25th February 1979. Also his sister Jean, died 4th December 1978. Until the day break.

 (35) In memory of Hugh Rock, Kells, who died 19th September, 1893, aged 70 years. Also his wife Margaret Ann Baillie, who died 26th July, 1891, aged 66 years. Also their daughter Annie Rock, who died 14th February, 1927, aged 67 years. And their daughter Margaret Jane Blair, who died 9th November, 1901, aged 34 years. And her husband Charles Blair who died 11th November, 1923, aged 79 years.

(21) In memory of Matthew Rock, and his wife Mary Wray, also their family Rosanne, Samuel, William, Margaret, and Matthew. “Her very dust to them is dear.”

(3/2) Here rests the body of Ellen, fifth daughter of the late Revd Wm Stavely. She died on the 19th of February 1827, aged thirty-one years. Also his youngest daughter Jane who died 26th Nov. 1850 aged 49 years.

(3/1) In memory of Rev William Stavely who departed this life May 7th 1825 in the 82nd year if his age and 55th of his ministry this stone is erected by the Reformed Presbyterian congregation of Kellswater, to which he was pastor during the last 25 years of his life. “The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance”. Also his wife Mary Stavely who died 3rd Oct. 1848 aged 89 years.

(33) Erected in memory of Margaret Strahan died 22nd December 1896. Her husband Thomas Strahan died 4th May 1912, their daughter Anne McCune died 28th December 1900. Their daughter Eliza Jane Strahan died 14th October 1915 Charles Knox McCune son of R E McCune lost at sea 14th November 1942.

(32) Erected in memory of Newton Thompson of Magherabeg, who died 9th April 1898, aged 66 years. Also his wife Eliza Jane who died 15th April 1898 aged 64 years. James G Thomson, son died 20th May 1920 aged 49 years. Margaret Thomson, daughter, died 5th July, 1938 aged 75. Matilda Thomson, daughter, died 14th Jan. 1940 aged 72 years. Andrew Thomson, son, died 15th July 1949, aged 84.

(6) Erected to the memory of Francis Warrick of Ladyhill who died Nov 18th 1840 aged 68.

(29) St John 5 And 24. In loving memory of our father and mother Margaret Jane Armstrong of Gilgad, beloved wife of James Warwick, Niblock. Mother died April 12 1882, aged 43. Father died Feb 24 1908, aged 77. Brother James died May 1883, aged 12. Margery E Warwick, second daughter of James Warwick, died March 22nd 1944, aged 81 years. Samuel Warwick, fourth son of James Warwick, died 9th September 1946, ages 72. Inscription on card inside glass-covered wreath on Warwick grave: In loving remembrance of Samuel War|w|ick from his brothers John, Willie & Robert. Also his nephew Lindsay War|w|ick, USA.

(28) Erected by Samuel Warwick in memory of his father John, his sister Mary, his brother James, and his children Maynard & Ina. Also Samuel & Isabella, children of James. Also Isabell Weir, wife of John Warwick, died 23rd April 1894.

(34) Erected in memory of Parker Wasson died 9th November 1922. His Wife Mary Wasson died 20th November 1932. Their daughter Jane Wasson BA died 31st December 1949. William Wasson died 21st August 1956. His wife Anne died 10th February 1973.


In loving memory of Samuel McKee Owens born 18th June 1920-died 7 Jan. 1994. The Lord is my Shepherd.

Kennedy, Precious Memories of A Loving Husband, Father and Grandfather, Hugh called Home, 10th July 1997, aged 71 years. The Lord Himself is Thy Keeper Psalm 212.

Templeton, In Loving Memory of Dear Parents and Grandparents Frank died 29th July 2015.  Annie died 24th September 2007. They Were Prepared To Meet Their God.   Are You?


The work on these inscriptions has been completed within the terms of the Historical Imitative undertaken by Ballymena Borough Council, in partnership with Enterprise Ulster. Concern had been expressed that valuable genealogical information in local burying-grounds was likely to be lost. With the permission of the appropriate authority, work was therefore undertaken by staff possessing direct local knowledge.

Described by Rev. Principal Adam Loughridge as the ‘capital of Covenanting’, Kellswater RP Church is situated above the Shankbridge, in the townland of Carnaughts, parish of Connor. Thus another description of it as the ‘Covenanting Meeting House at the Back of the Water’.

A most interesting building, said to occupy the site of a former mill, it has two galleries, one of which opens on to the road. The internal disposition of the building emphasizes the fundamental importance, in Reformed worship, of the pulpit ministry.   E. Dunlop

Report on the Recording of Inscriptions on Headstones In Kellswater Reformed Presbyterian Church Cemetery

This is a small Cemetery with only the area in front of the Church being used. A total of 41 headstones have been erected. As the Church was built in 1806 there are no very old headstones; and the earliest interment recorded is 1818.

The scene is very peaceful-The Church with the graveyard to the front; the stone walls; the mature trees; and the river alongside. It reminds me of the idyllic churchyards that English poets have written about so often.

The most noteworthy points that arose as I worked through the inscriptions IN THIS Cemetery were:

 (a) The inscription on the “Memorial Hall erected by Henry H. Houston of Philadelphia, USA, In Honour of his Kinsman Revd. David Houston, M.A., who was buried by members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Connor Grave Yard.

The tablet on the wall then goes on to quote the inscription which had been carved on the Revd. Houston’s headstone.


(b) There are four Ministers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church buried in this Graveyard-Rev. Professor James Dick, Rev. William Stavely, Rev. S. M. Gladerwood, and Rev. Archibald Holmes. The first three were ministers of the Kellswater Congregation for 53, 25 and 41 years respectively. The Rev. Holmes was “for over forty-years a Minister of the Gospel in the Covenanter Church of Ireland.”

(c) There is one most unusual headstone in this Cemetery. It is a small piece of sandstone about one and a half ft. wide by two ft. high. The name is Kernohan of Slatt. The stone is remarkable for the unusual style of lettering and the inaccuracy of the spelling.

Finally, I found recording the inscriptions in this Cemetery a most restful and congenial occupation. There is a quite unusual atmosphere of peace and tranquility in this Church.

Andrew W. Allen, 1st June, 1988                                                                           

The fourth minister of Kellswater was Mr. James Dick, the son of a merchant from Strabane and ruling elder in Bready. He was ordained in Kellswater, in the open air, on 17th May 1826 and labored faithfully in the one church until he retired in 1879. He who died in 1880 had become the first Professor of Theology in the RP Theological Hall in 1854. Mr. Dick had three sons in the ministry, all outstanding in their day. Mr. Dick during the famous 1859 revival, whose origins can be traced to the Kells area, where Jeremiah Meneely, James McQuilkin, Robert Carlisle and John Wallace were mightily used by God. 

One hundred years ago, when Mr. Dick was the minister, there were two hundred and thirty-five members in Kellswater. He was minister when the Covenants were renewed with great fervor, firstly in the denomination, at Dervock, and then, for the first time in a congregation of the Church. On 2 April 1854, after a special period of fasting and humiliation, the Covenants were renewed in Kellswater. The elders who took part were John Duncan, Samuel Darragh, William Clugston and John Hyndman. Mr. Dick had the longest ministry in Kellswater. For fifty-three years he labored here and here he was laid to rest.…. One of several books of poems have been written by a former member of Kellswater Church, there is a piece that speaks of this beautiful Kells Water. He tells how it flows from beyond Glenwherry, through most of the areas where Covenanters of a by-gone age resided and worshipped in Societies and where, even to-day, some of the congregation reside. Simply called ‘Kellswater’, the poem includes these verses: 

Among the somber mountain
In grand confusion flung,
 first began my wanderings,
When this old world was young.

I reach Glenwherry’s valley,
All clothed in cornfields bright,
How soft their glow at sunset,
Bathed in the mellowed light.

And many a sparkling streamlet,
My heavy bosom swells;
In mighty volume foaming,
In pass by Ross and Kells.

I Wind by Lisnawhiggle,
By New Lodge and Kildrum,
To view my sylvan beauties
What host of strangers comes.

 I marshall all my powers,
And dashing through the plain,
I pour out my silvery treasure,
A tribute to the Maine.

Read more about the Covenanters

Memories of the passed at Kellswater. See anyone ye know?

The lecture Hall at Kellswater RP Church is known as the Huston Memorial Hall and bears the flowing inscription: Memorial Hall erected by Henry H. Houston of Philadelphia, USA in honour of the kinsman, the Rev. David Houston, MA, who was buried by members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Connor Graveyard under the following inscription which has long [been] obliterated; Here lies the body of David Houston, a faithful minister of the Gospel, who departed this life the 8th December, 1696, and of his age the 63rd year.
It is altogether fitting that this labour of love, so painstakingly and efficiently prepared by Robert Buchanan when he was associated with Kellswater Reformed Presbyterian Church, should now be published. It will serve as a suitable memorial to him and to his great love for the Covenanting cause.  Robert belonged to the whole Church. While his heart was in Bready, his broad vision and wide sympathies involved him in many other congregations, not least Kellswater. He preached with great acceptance from our pulpits. He was a well-loved friend and colleague. A few days before his tragic death, Robert Buchanan was very pleased to learn that the history was to be published.  (Foreword by Adam Loughridge 10 April 1989) 

Sadly, the book is now long out of print.

The late Robert Buchanan (Superintendent RUC) and his wife Rhina on the occasion of the marriage of their son William.

Author of the book “A Short History” The Late Mr. Robert Buchanan, Superintendent, Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Below are Some remarks made at his funeral service, by the Rev. Prof. Robert McCullum minister of Lisburn RPC.  

 It is my hope that this brief insight of the man, his vision and work for Christ and Country and as a husband and father, will help show for some of us the nature of the man many of us never got to meet this side of Glory.

Order of Service March 23 1989

Funeral of Rebert James Buchanan (Elder and Superintendent, RUC)

“Superintendent Robert Buchanan was murdered by terrorists on Monday, 20 March, he will be remembered in our congregation for his unswerving loyalty and devotion to Jesus Christ his Saviour. Having committed his life to Christ as a young man, he demonstrated submission to Christ and His Word in every area of his life, “that in all things Christ might have the pre-eminence.” 

1: Personal life

Mr. Buchanan was a gentle, kind and gracious man. In his disposition before others, he was thoughtful, courteous and unassuming. A man of deep piety, his Christian maturity was evident to all who knew him, in that the fruits of the Spirit blossomed in his life: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Robert was a biding in Christ and therefore was a fruit-bearing Christian, bringing much honour and glory to his Saviour.

2: Family life

The many people who had the privilege of visiting the Buchanan home knew that there Christ was His rightful place. This was evidenced by the warm and loving relationship that existed between all the family members and by the generous hospitality experienced by many. Family worship was regular feature in the Buchanan home. Morning and evening Mr. Buchanan led the family in reading the Bible and in prayer, recognising that “his times were in God’s hands”. Visitors staying overnight in the family home cherished these times when they could join in the family devotions. As a husband, father and grandfather, Mr. Buchanan was a pillar of strength and his godly example will be remembered by his friends and loved ones.

3: Church life

It has only been since Mr. Buchanan’s death that many of us have realised the demands and pressures associated with his work. And yet church was always given a priority in his life. Having come to the conviction that the doctrinal standards and practices of the Reformed Presbyterian Church were according to the Word of God, he always sought to worship within the bounds of that church. This took him across the province from Bready in Co. Tyrone, where he was baptised, married and ordained to the eldership, to Drimbolg in South Londonderry, to Kellswater in Mid-Antrim, to Bailiesmills in North Down and then to Lisburn. The congregation in Lisburn began as a Bible study ten years ago in the Buchanan home, when the Superintendent lived on the Nettlehill Road. The Bible study was blessed and Mr. Buchanan had the joy of seeing a congregation formed in 1982 and its suite of buildings on the Nettlehill Road opened in 1985. Not only was he a foundation member; he was also an elder in this new congregation. We won’t forget his commitment to the work here during the years that he was stationed in Omagh and travelled to worship with us every other week-end. Some excuses heard for absence at public worship sound hollow when measured against this commitment. As an elder in the congregation for twenty-four years and in our congregation for six years, Robert set a worthy example before us all. In his oversight he had a pastoral concern for all within the congregation. As a congregation you were always delighted to hear him preach, a privilege also enjoyed by many RP congregations. His leadership of the prayer meeting in the manse was always exercised in a winsome and heart-warming manner. The Wednesday night before his death he led the group in a study of John 19. The theme of this chapter, the death of Christ, related to his favourite text: “we preach Christ crucified” Mr. Buchanan will be remembered by the congregation in many ways, especially for the friendly and gracious way in which he greeted visitors attending public worship.

4: Public life

Superintendent Robert Buchanan served his country through his calling in the RUC. I had the privilege of spending one afternoon with him in the Omagh Station. I was immediately impressed by his quite thoroughness and efficiency. The many tributes paid to him by his superiors confirm what we had always thought, that Robert Buchanan was a police officer per excellence. He did his work wholeheartedly, with concern to win Divine approval; not jockeying for power, but humbly fulfilling the duties assigned to him. And it was in the course of duty that his end came. Involved in an exercise that was intended to make this Province a more peaceful and secure place in which to live, he made the ultimate sacrifice.

 We know that a prince and a great man has fallen from our midst. However we do not sorrow as those who have no hope, for we believe that our devoted elder is now with his Saviour in Heaven.  He leaves a great gap in the life of this congregation. It is the duty of us all to rally round and respond to the challenge of catching the vision and doing the work so close to the heart of this servant of Christ. A similar gap is left in his home and we trust that, in some small way, we as a congregation will be able to help Mrs. Buchanan, William and Heather, and their families, with whom we sympathies today.   

Brief Biographical Sketch of Rev. William Stavely
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11