Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 2001-11 > 1005440188
Subject: [Scotch-Irish] Dr COLVILLE of Galgorm
Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2001 16:56:28 -0800
Hi folks, today I was wandering through the mythology section of
Borders when there I saw "The Dark Spirit: Sinister Portraits
from Celtic Folklore" by Dr Bob Curran, published 2001 by
Cassell & Co, Wellington House, London. I took it down and opened it
and there was Dr. Colville, with a whole chapter just to himself.
Our Dr Colville dwelled in Galgorm, Antrim in the early 1600's.
Whether we live there today or our ancestors left in the 1700's,
it is hard to get a sense of life then. THings have changed a lot
since the 1600's and no where has it changed more than in Antrim.
The chapter gives us a little history of the village of Galgorm
and surroundings. This area is one that many of our
Scotch-Irish ancestors came from. Galgorm was during the 15th and
16th centuries a stronghold of the MacQuillan clan. It built a
large stone castle there where the village is today. Who were
they? They were originally a Norman-Welsh family who from the
early 14th century were Constables of the Province of Ulster. Their
forefathers came north from Dublin with John de Courcy, who was given
the lands by King Henry II in 1174. Our author says that it has been
suggested (he doesn't state by whom) that these fellas were illegiti-
mate sons of William de Burgo, a former Viceroy of Ireland. The sur-
name was originally Welsh, but taken into the Irish. It was 'sons
of William'. This family, eventually completing Gaelicized, became
one of the most important dynasties in Ulster with many castles
up the northern sector of Ulster. They controled the Route, as
the area stretching from the North Antrim Coast to the valley of
the Sixmilewater, south to Antrim town was called. Their strategic
center was Galgorm Castle.
In the early to mid 1500's they were challenged by others. Among
them were the MacDonnells who had originally settled in the Glens of
Antrim. Their power base then laid in Islay and Kintyre. They began
to sieze MacQuillan territory. IN addition the English were starting
to settle, but they were powerless against the Scots. In the 1550's
the most feared man in North Antrim was James MacDonnell of Red Bay,
who with his brother Sorley Boy raided from Carrickfergus to
Ballymena and beyond. They took Galgorm and other lands of the
Route from the MacQuilliams and gave it to their brother Colla. He
made it into a MacDonnell stronghold with a new, finer castle
'in the Scottish manner', which stands to this day.
In 1565 the MacDonnell power was broken in Antrim when James and
Sorley Boy were defeated at the Battle of Glenstraise, near the
town of Ballycastle, by Shane O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, who
was acting for the English government. The McDonnell lands were
confiscated by the Crown and the English parlied for years with
the MacDonnells and McQuillans about who would hold it. In 1604
Edward MacQuillan, 104 and blind, traveled to London to petition
James I/VI to return Galgorm to his family. The king said yes but
broke his word. He handed the estate over to an English family
named COLVILLE and Galgorm changed its name to Mount Colville.
The most infamous member of that family was a 17th century cleric
named the Rev Alexander COLVILLE. He was very learned and an
Anglican minister. Now at this time there was not Protestants
and Catholics in England and IReland. Nope. There were Catholics
and there was Anglicans, the established and only legal church,
and there were Protestant dissenters of various stripes. In
the North of Ireland many of Scottish settlers were Presbyterian,
the state religion of Scotland. Many of them hated the English
Anglican church. In Ireland the landowners tended to be Established
Church. The Doctor was disliked by his tenants not only because
he was a landlord but also because he was an Anglican and clergy
He was ordained in 1622 and held various posts. He also had much
wealth though no one knew how he got it. He claimed to have sold
land in England but others said he used the black arts to obtain it.
In 1630, the portrait we have of him shows a portly man who was
rather arrogant. He was learned and the author of a number of
pamplets that put forth the supremecy of his church over all others.
That was in the air in 1630 -- the era of Laude and the Black Oath
was at hand. He had a huge library which was said to include books
on witchcraft -- that certainly no PResbyterian would approve of.
It was said that he had a copy of a "Book of Black Earth" penned by
the WOlf of Badenoch under the tutelage of a Highland Cailleach,
as well as other very evil works. No doubt all of these are for sell
today in Borders, just a couple aisles down. The Scots were scandalized
by the doctor who was rumored to have become the Devil's foremost
vassel in Ireland. Many saw him fishing on the River Braid
surrounded by fairies and evil sprites, with whom he conversed
freely and happily.
In the late 1630's and 40's complaints were made of him for being
a Devil worshipper and leading astray members of the community.
He was commanded to apppear before the Synod of the Presbytery
in Belfast, but he ignored the PResbyterians and went fishing.
He was rebuked by them for his diabolical behavior, but this didn't
stop him from roaming the countrisde in the form of a crow and
spying on his tenants in this form. It was rumored he had sold his
soul to the devil as well as stealing money from poor tenants.
Eventually even Dr. Colville died and was buried in a vault in
Galgorm church near the alter. Apparently his ghost still haunts it,
now a ruin. Other accounts find him in the gardens he constructed
around his castle.
His fame continued after his death for a servant girl in the house
of Major-General Montgomerie of Irvine, Scotland, appeared in court
on a charge of stealing silverware. She admitted the theft but claimed
she had been forced to do it after raising the devil by witchcraft.
She shocked all by describing the ritual in great detail. She said
she had learned the black arts while in the employ of Dr Colville
in Ireland and said he had habitually practiced it.
We used to have some possible relations of the Dr on the list --
I know we have plenty of the descendents of his tenants. So now
you know what occupied your ancestors in the early 1600's on those
dark nights: Speculating on whether the Dr was busy raising the
devil up at the castle again tonight!