The Harland diaspora
John Harland (1784 - 1876)

The section of the family annotated in the family bibles was living in quite a different area to that of Lurgan (Genealogist),  between 20 and 30 miles further south, although still within the boundaries of County Armagh. This was a significant distance before the invention of the bicycle. However, it is seems reasonable to assume that there must have been some connection between the two groups of planters.


Such a journey would have been simplified by the building of  the canal between Newry and Lough Neagh which opened in 1742. The main reason for building the canal was the discovery of coal at Coalisland in Co. Tyrone, and the need to transport it quickly and efficiently to Dublin. The coal from Coalisland proved to be of poor quality and was expensive to extract. At its beginning the canal was a sound commercial exercise, and eventually it was used to ship English coal northwards. But the real problem in sustaining the viability of the navigation was the competition from the railway. This runs alongside the canal virtually the whole way to Newry. The last vessel to sail the canal was a pleasure yacht in 1937 and the canal was finally abandoned in 1949


The first Harland in this ancient family  bible database of Ulster origin  is John Harland -  born in 1784 and married around 1817.  Little is known concerning his wife Mary Leadlie (1798 - 1860), except that her relations, Adam, Thomas and John (‘Big Jack’) Leadlie leased farmland in the nearby townland of Derrywilligan. Derrywilligan is the townland immediately to the east of Mullaghglass and to the west of Goragh. Her son Thomas was born in 1819 when she was 21. They had three other children, the youngest being John 1826. (The other names and dates had been entered, but are now illegible). The only other significant record of that era is the marriage by licence of John’s (1784) daughter Margaret Jane Harland to Alexander Clements of Markethill on 8 Jun 1844.


(There is a record in First Newry (Unitarian) Presbyterian Church register of the baptism of a George Harland, son of John, on 21 November 1779. Could this be our John’s older brother? Or was there a wider family circle?)  


John Harland (1784) was recorded as a tenant of the Hall Estates (Narrow Water) in 1856 – his was a yearly tenancy at a rent of 15 guineas per annum. Remarkably for that era, he lived into his 93rd year and died in 1876.


John’s gravestone is to be seen in the Mullaghglass Old Graveyard. This cemetery is to be found on the Armagh - Newry Road - the A28 - some five miles northwest of Newry. The headstone is of comparatively modern construction, and was probably put there by his grandson John Harland (1854).


This headstone reads:

In Memory of John Harland who died in 1876, his wife Mary died 1860 And their son Thomas who died 26 August 1885.  Also his wife Margaret who died in 1860 & their children Agnes Isabella 1860, Robert 1861, Minnie 1878

Also Sara his wife who died 25 August 1892