|THE McClurgs OF TEMPLEMOYLE|
The earliest record of McClurgs at Templemoyle, Limavady is in the 1740 Return to the Irish House of Commons re. Religion by the Hearth Money Surveyors. In the Parish of Bovevagh and in the townland of Templemoyle, there is a Joseph M'Clarrog among nine other Protestant Householders in that townland. In the next return in 1766 to the Irish Lords re. Religion in the townland of Templemoyle is the name Joseph M'Lurg with twelve others of "Scottish" religion and one "papish". In an earlier Hearth Money Roll of 1663 there is no McClurg listed in the three names recorded as liable to Hearth Tax in the townland. This would indicate that the McClurgs came to Templemoyle sometime between 1663 and 1740, possibly towards the end of the 17th century when a great many Scottish tenant farmers came to Ireland after several years of poor harvests and Covenanting persecution in Scotland and the availability of cheaper farms to rent in Ireland, following the ending of the Willamite war in Ireland.
There are receipts of Tithe and rent payments by Joseph McClurg from 1766 to his death in 1772. Receipts for rent continued in the name of David McClurg from 1774 to 1823, and tithe receipts in Davidís name from 1801 to 1825. This gap in the tithe receipts may mean that the tithe was paid in crops rather than in money in those years.
Owners of Templemoyle
Templemoyle was one of ten townlands on the West bank of the river Roe which comprised a Native Freehold which Cowy Ballagh McRichard O'Cahan received in return for his having surrendered Dungiven Castle to Sir Henry Docwra, the Governor of Derry in 1602. These townlands were taken over by the Parliamentary Commission in 1647 when the O'Cahans took part in the 1641 rebellion. A grant of five of these townlands, including Templemoyle, to Hugh Edwards, an Alderman in Derry, was confirmed by Charles H in Letters Patent in 1666. These townlands were divided over the years among descendants of the Edwards families. The Northern half of Templemoyle was sold in 1769 to the Rev. Henry Barnard and was sold again in 1803 to Robert Campbell from whom it passed in 1843 to Thomas Scott of Willsboro. The Tenants of Templemoyle paid rent to Scotts of Willsboro until 1927 when the Landlords were bought out under the Land Purchase Act and the land sold to the tenants on the payment of a Land Purchase Annuity for 70 years. (This amounted to £45: 15s per year in the case of the MacLurg farm.
Letters From America
A manuscript book of Psalm Tunes etc. has survived given to David McClorg in 1766 by his brother John McClorg who later emigrated to America along with three other brothers in the second half of the 18th Century. The earliest of the letters from America to David McClorg which has survived was written in 1787 by his brother-in-law David Pollock in reply to his enquiry whether he also should follow his four brothers who had already gone to Pennsylvania. He was the only member of the family left at Templemoyle. David Pollock writing from Chambersburg in Western Pennsylvania to his sister Ann McClorg and his brother-in-law said that he thought that if he came to America at that time he would live to regret it. David McClorg took the advice and stayed at Templemoyle and thus continued the name there.
David McClurg was involved in an anti-tithe disturbance in 1795 which led to his arrest and a political communal potato digging at Templemoyle which became legend in the district. The Statistical Report on the Parish of Bovevagh in 1821 stated: "on the Induction of the Rector (the Rev. John Harvey) his rate of tithe aroused such opposition that a local insurrection occurred." The tithe, it stated, "was worth a stout contest as Bovevagh was a fat living (£600 a year) and was a sinecure too". The payment of tithe seems to have been made by leaving every tenth stook of corn in the field for the tithe collector to take. In resentment against having to pay this tithe to the established Church of Ireland when they belonged to Presbyterian or Roman Catholic Churches some hooded men called "shakers" would come during the night and shake out the Rector's corn over the hedges. A rumour that a Bryan McCloskey was informing the authorities on the identity of the "shakers" led to a riot in which the house of the informer was burned down with him in it. The Ordnance Survey Memoir of 1834 recording the local tradition of the event says " A few days later David McClurg of Templemoyle was arrested, tried by the Grand Jury and Judge at the Spring As sizes in 1795 and then freed by the Grand Jury. The Northern Star, a Belfast paper supporting the United frislnnen, reported that a David McClurg, after a long trial at the Spring Assizes in 1795 was acquitted by the Jury, in opposition to the instructions of the Judge who repeatedly sent the Jury back to reconsider their verdict. The jury as constantly reaffirmed it which so irritated His Worship that the widow of the victim was persuaded to lodge an appeal. The Londonderry Journal of 15th September 1795 reported that David McClurg was remanded in Gaol for one year to answer any appeal that may be lodged against him. He was removed to the Four Courts in Dublin where he was tried a second time and freed there also. Local tradition is that the trial depended on the evidence of the daughter of the victim who said that she had been able to recognise David McClurg in the light of the moon. One of the Jury was said to be a "pack-man" who remembered the night of the fire as a very dark night as he had fallen into a ditch on his way home from his rounds that night. On looking up the calendar it was found that the event took place in the dark of the moon thus discrediting her evidence. The Ordnance Survey Memoir says that another man was subsequently tried but also freed and that others had since emigrated.
In November 1796 when David McClurg was in Gaol in Dublin pending appeal the United Irishmen organised a meeting of their sympathisers at Templemoyle on the pretext of digging the potatoes of a man who was in Gaol, as all political demonstrations were banned during the disturbed times which led up to the rebellion of 1798.
Sir George Hill reported to Dublin Castle from Derry in November 1796 that the Magistrates had received information of the United Irishmen's plans and that he, accompanied by the Sheriff and 60 men of the Manx Fenceless, had left Derry at 1.00 a.m. and marched the 17 Miles to Limavady to prevent this illegal demonstration. Soon after arriving at Templemoyle they saw an immense crowd of men coming down the hills on the other side of the Roe Valley and fording the river. When they came up to the road they were confronted by the military, the Sheriff read the Riot Act and Sir George Hill ordered them to go home.
The crowd, many of whom were carrying spades, said that they were merely going to dig the potatoes of a woman whose husband was in gaol. Sir George Hill reported that about 2,000 more men had come over the mountain from Coleraine and that he estimated that about 6,000 altogether had come from Counties Antrim and Down as well as Derry. Local tradition said that ladies wearing white kid gloves came in carriages to help. Until recently in the district anything done quickly was described " as quick as McClurg's pratie gathering ". A ballad written about the event was well known until recently but unfortunately only a few lines of it can be recalled by someone who used to sing it at Celeidhs:
"From the Backstrand unto Myroe
Five hundred out of sweet Dunboe
From Ballykelly to Faughanvale
They all assembled without fail
And in five minutes we did them dig and bing
The soldiers stood at hesitation
The Shrive he read a proclamation
And we began to whistle and sing
And then we marched home."
Flax and Linen
About this time The Linen Board of Ireland introduced a scheme to encourage the growing of flax by offering to give a spinning wheel to anyone who grew a rood of flax. Among the list of applicants was the name of Ann McClurg who was carrying on the farming at Templemoyle with the help of her family while her husband was in prison.
The importance of flax on the farm is seen in the survival at Templemoyle of a stone roller five feet in diameter and one foot in width which was used to crush the flax before scutching. There has also been preserved a set of iron teeth used for rippling the seed off the flax. There were on the farm six or seven dams for retting the flax which have recently been filled in. The growing of flax and the scutching and spinning of it into thread and perhaps weaving it into linen was carried on many farms at that time.
Emigration to America
Ann McClurg's brother, David Pollock, who had gone out to America some years earlier, in writing to his sister in 1794 had encouraged Ann's eldest son Joseph, to go out to him in Westmoreland County in Pennsylvania and to take up farming there. Joseph McClurg emigrated in 1796 and took virgin land in Mercer County, which he cleared and brought into cultivation.
A letter from Joseph in 1822 said that he and his wife Mary had a family of six daughters and three sons. Descendants of this family have traced the names of 183 descendants of Joseph McClurg in the first four generations who have spread across America to the West coast.
Four more of Ann McClurg's family went to America twenty five or thirty years later and she carefully preserved the letters which they wrote to her of their progress in their new country. Robert and John sailed from Moville in 1819 and after a voyage of 56 days arrived at St. John, New Brunswick. Robert went on to Philadelphia, another voyage of sixteen days. He says that they had as much provision left over as would have lasted a month longer. Robert obtained positions teaching in schools in various places around Philadelphia and was last heard from in New York State about 1832. John stayed at St. John for the winter getting a job looking after the business of a Mr. Pursley, a member of the provincial Assembly. He came on to New York where he worked in the store of Mr. Dunshee for some years. In 1827 he sent a cask of Long Island Flax seed to his father. A younger brother, William, followed to New York in 1830 where he stayed with John for a week or two but getting no work there went on to Philadelphia where he stayed with Robert for a while. Hearing that prospects were better in Pittsburgh he went on taking ten days to cross Pennsylvania. After seeing friends in Pittsburgh he went on another 79 miles to Greenville to his brother Joseph who had left Templemoyle 35 years before. William wrote that Joseph had by then 80 of his 110 acres in a good state of cultivation, the district having been settled by white people only 34 years. William stayed with Joseph for the winter and visited his uncles who had gone to that country in the preceding century. After working for a while in Cincinnati in Ohio, William returned to New York to work with his brother in Mr. Dunshee's store where he said that he had good wages and had to work only ten hours a day. By 1837 William was married and living about 40 miles up river from New York city. A sister, Ann and her husband, William Forrest emigrated to Philadelphia in 1831. In her last letter iii 1837 she says that she has heard that her father was dead and that her mother was ill. That ended the letters which Ann McClurg so carefully kept, from her sons and daughter in America.
After 1955, the house was renovated by the building of bay windows to improve the outlook from the bedrooms and the installation of electricity when it became available in 1956. The outbuildings were adapted to meet the requirements of a dairy herd and sheds built for silage, cattle and implements. A new well was sunk some distance from the yard to comply with the Ministry of Health Department's requirements, from which the water was pumped by electricity to supply the house as well as the bye. Two hundred and twenty acres of heather-covered cut-over bog land known as the Carrick mountain was purchased, adjoining the top of the farm, of which fifteen acres was ploughed and sown out in grass in 1960 under a government scheme.
Templemoyle as it was about 1900
Templemoyle as it is today