The Harland diaspora
Thomas Harland (1819 - 1885)

Thomas Harland – son of John (1784) and Mary (1798)

b. 1819

m. 29 Sept. 1852, at Loughbrickland Presbyterian Church; &

     25 April 1863 at Newry Registry Office.

d. 26 August 1885

   buried in Mullaghglass Old Graveyard.


Old photograph alleged to be Thomas

Thomas Harland (1819 – 1885) is known to have lived in a large house in the townland of Maytown, on the Newry to Mountmorris Road (B133). His grandson Jack (John Herdman Harland, 1885) reported verbally that he had known since his childhood that his grandfather had run a coal importing business, in addition to his farming.  

From 1742 coal had been brought by the Newry Canal from Coalisland Co. Tyrone. Later coal was shipped from England to Newry via Carlingford Lough and the Newry Ship Canal.  Horse-drawn carts then brought it out to Maytown. The only alternative sources of heat for cooking had been the burning of wood or peat. Deforestation was one result; while the turf had to be cut out of the local bog by spade  - backbreaking manual work.





Griffith’s Valuation 1864 records that Thomas leased a house, offices (agricultural buildings), and 34 acres 9 perch of land at Maytown, and a further 14 acres 1 rood 5 perch of land in Mullaghglass; both from Roger Hall of Narrow Water at an annual rateable valuation of £46 and £13.14s.0d respectively.

His grandson Jack Harland (1885) also reported verbally  that this house at Maytown was ‘licensed’ as a public house at one time. This is almost certainly true, as a description of the model village shows:


“Bessbrook: (approx.  pop. 3,000) A village about 3 miles North West of Newry. It is in the parish of Killevy and the barony of Orior Upper. Bessbrook is named after Elizabeth (Bess) Nicholson, wife of Joseph Nicholson, who owned linen mills in the area from 1806 to 1845. John Grubb Richardson founded the village itself in 1846. Richardson was a Quaker and a son of James Nicholson Richardson and a relation by marriage to the Nicholson family. The Richardson family was originally from Gloucestershire, England and had first settled in Ireland, in Loughgall in the 1590's. The town is covered by 3 townlands, which are Clogharevan, Maghernahely and Maytown. The Richardsons built schools, a butchers shop, dairy, a savings bank and several churches. But they refused to build any public houses and also refused permission for any building to sell alcohol. To this day there are still no licensed buildings in Bessbrook and is probably the only dry town or village in Ireland.  Originally they also banned police and pawnbrokers from within the village boundary”.    (Sources)


It is safe to assume that there was alcohol on sale at Maytown, just over a mile away from Bessbrook.  The family did not discuss this openly in later years - possibly because of their involvement with the Methodist Church, which put a cross against such activity.


Thomas Harland (1819) died on 26 August 1885 aged 65 years; but he had lived long enough to meet his first three grandsons.  He had married twice - to Margaret Herdman in 1852 and Sara Herdman in 1863. Sara survived him and died in 1892.  The two wives were also buried at Mullaghglass. It is recorded in the Will Calendar of 1885 that Thomas Harland’s estate was valued at £1,763 6s 9d.