Isaac Bullick

Vol. 2 No. 3 - 1974

Isaac Bullick

and the rise of Methodism in Lurgan

by T J Malcomson

Britain's role in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) is now remembered chiefly for Robert Clive's victory at Plassey, India, in 1757, and for the capture of Quebec in 1759 by James Wolfe. One of the lesser known victories of the British forces was the capture of Havana, Cuba, by a combined naval and military force, in a siege which lasted from 7th June to 15th October, 1762. Havana, which at that time was part of a Spanish colony, was the strongest fortress on the Atlantic seaboard of the Americas, and the siege was Britain's reply to Spain's belated entry into the war on the side of the French, Russian and Austrian allies. In addition to the naval forces employed in the siege, 16,000 British troops took part, and the composition of the casualty list is of some interest.

Rank Killed Died of wounds Died of sickness Deserted Missing Total
Officers12 488--104
Rank & file2732464,38052 42 4,993
Totals305 2554,70852465,366

In one assault, on a beach in the fortress, sixty men were engaged and, of these, only six survived. One of the six was a Lurgan man named Isaac Bullick, and the ordeal had a lasting effect upon him, giving rise to a nervous disorder which remained with him until his death; he died in the early part of the nineteenth century.

First Methodist chapel opened

Isaac Bullick was one of the first persons in Lurgan to be connected with the Methodist ministry and about 1770 a group of people began meeting, for Christian fellowship, in his home in the Rookery (20 High Street, Lurgan). These meetings continued there until 1778 when, on the morning of 19th June, Rev. John Wesley opened a small dwelling house in Nettleton's Court, Queen Street, as the first Methodist chapel to be opened in Lurgan.

At that time, the house was a single storey thatched building and it still stands, [later demolished in December 1973] but it is now slated and, to part of it, a second storey has been added. In an article in the "Methodist Magazine" in 1827, Rev. John Malcomson, who was present at the opening ceremony as a boy of ten years, mentioned that Mr. Miller had painted a picture of an angel pointing to Revelation chapter 22 verse 17, and that this picture was placed above the pulpit. This was the William Miller whose speaking statue is described in Wesley's Journal.

John Wesley visited Lurgan seven times. On his first visit, on 28th July 1756, he "preached to the largest congregation since he left Cork" and he asked; "Why should we despair of doing good in Lurgan also?" It was on the occasion of his second visit, on 16th May 1758, that he visited Dicky Barton's house on Bird Island, Lough Neagh. On his next two visits, 26th April 1762, and 14th June 1773, he had discussions with William Miller about his speaking statue.

John Wesley
John Wesley

Wesley was ill during his visit to Lurgan on 16th/17th June 1775, and consulted Dr. Law, "a sensible and skilful physician". He described some of his Lurgan congregation, during his visit of 18th/19th June 1778, as "wild as colts untamed".

On his final visit to the town on 13th June 1785, Wesley had attained the age of 82. He preached at 11.00 o'clock in the churchyard - it was on a Sunday -"the sun shone extremely hot" but the gathering "was sheltered from it, partly by the church and partly by the surrounding trees".

New chapel built

By 1802, the Chapel in Nettleton's Court had become too small for the congregation and a new Chapel was built in High Street, parallel with the street and to the rear of where the present church now stands. The present church was officially opened on 24th August 1826.

In 1823, a Primitive Methodist named Robert Ruddy settled in Lurgan and began work there. Before the end of the year, a Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in Castle Lane. This was the building which later became known as the old Orange Hall and which was demolished within the past five years *. A mission of the Methodist New Connexion opened in Lurgan in 1841 but seems to have faded out by 1856. In that year, the New Connexion Chapel was acquired by the Primitive Methodists for £340 and an additional sum of £100 was spent on painting and other improvements. This building is now Queen Street Church. It was estimated that, in this church, one thousand people were converted during the Ulster Revival of 1859. Thomas Elias and Mary Anne Russell, parents of AE, the Irish poet, were members of Queen Street Methodist Church.

The Wesleyan Methodists and the Primitive Methodists united in June 1878 to form The Methodist Church in Ireland.


  • "The Siege and Capture of Havana, 1762" by David Syrett (Naval Records Society, 1970).
  • "History of Methodism in Ireland" by Rev. G. H. Crookshank (3 vols. T. Woolmer 1885-88).
  • "Methodist Magazine" 1827.
  • "Old Times' in Lurgan" Lurgan Mail, 1919.
  • "Lurgan High Street Methodist Church", (Centenary Souvenir 1826-1926).
  • "History of Methodism in Inland" 1860-1960 by Rev. ??? [Name was omitted, presumably in error - Ed.]

* Written 1974