Some years ago I received a request for information about someone who had been a pupil at Lurgan College in the early 1880s. At that time I had to respond to the request by saying that no records of pupils had survived for the years 1873-99. However, the request, along with others that started arriving, started me searching for all the evidence I could find of who had actually attended the College in those far off days.
I found, among a file of old newspaper cuttings dating from the 1880s, a faded notice, giving prize-winners in terminal examinations for the year 1877. A number of visits to the Linenhall Library to consult its files of Newsletter back numbers yielded further such lists. In addition I discovered that it had been the practice for the Newsletter to publish, in full, the Intermediate Examination results for the North of Ireland, along with the name of the school attended. This proved to be a rich source of information for the embryo School Register, although, unfortunately, the Newsletter stopped giving the full list after 1891.
Then, in 1984, I was given a little note-book, which turned out to be the lists of parents of pupils at the school entitled to vote for representative Governors, along with Old Pupils who satisfied the voting criteria (they had to live within 20 miles of the School). These lists were commenced in 1890, and, since we know that no elections for Representative Governors were held until after 1899, it seems unlikely that a great deal of care went into their compilation. On the basis of the above information, I completed a first draft of the School Register, which was published in the 1985 edition of the School Magazine, Ulula.
Since then, a most remarkable series of notebooks has come into the School's possession. These give lists of pupils for the years 1877-1899. and are in the handwriting of Mr. W T Kirkpatrick, who was Headmaster from 1876-1899. They were found with some documents in Watson & Neill's, and I am most grateful for having had the opportunity of perusing them.
It is, I think, appropriate to ask what exactly these books are. There is a letter in the School Archives from Kirkpatrick written in 1900, in which he says, replying to a request for a full list of pupils, that such a list would now be impossible to produce, since no official records were maintained, and such lists as were kept were destroyed when of no further use. Yet here we have 5 manuscript notebooks listing, in Kirkpatrick's own hand, the pupils at the school and clearly written after he had left, since the entry for the second quarter of 1899 says "This was my last in Lurgan".
I can only assume that Kirkpatrick was prevailed upon to put together as complete a list as was possible for the School records, and that this is what we now have. This may explain some of the discrepancies that I have found. Some names that appear in the Intermediate lists do not feature in Kirkpatrick's notebooks, particularly in the earlier years, and I put this down to memory failure!. It is also interesting to note that the notebooks are in two sets. Two have annual lists - that is one list of names for each year - while the other three contain quarterly lists.
The two sets do not necessarily agree - there are names in the quarterly lists that do not appear in the annual. The only explanation of this that I can venture is that the quarterly lists contain everyone, while the annual lists contain only those who attended for at least one school year. It must also be said that the total number of names does not always match the enrolment number which Kirkpatrick gave in his annual report to Governors.
Bearing all these points in mind, I present this expanded School Register. I must, as I did in my earlier register, give some words of caution. I cannot guarantee the completeness of the list, although I am now reasonably confident that there are very few, if any, omissions, at least for the years 1877-99. I must also underline that there are difficulties where there is a number of pupils with the same name. This is particularly, the case with the Allens and Allans, the Bells, the Browns and the Hamiltons. This problem arises from the fact that, in the lists in the notebooks mentioned above, Kirkpatrick did not see fit, on most occasions, to distinguish between such pupils. This I have come across on a number of occasions that most frustrating entry - "Browns-2". I have attempted to unravel these names as far as possible, and based on the assumption that a pupil would have been unlikely to have been more than 7 years at the school.
I must, however, underline that I have some evidence to suggest that some at least of those listed left and then returned. We know of one pupil (G S Darling) who did this, since his return is marked in the School Register that was commenced by Cowan (Head-master 1899-1922) in 1899, and which is still maintained. The same problem exists for the early years of the school, for which our only evidence, at the moment, is the twice yearly honours lists published by Mr. E V Boulger (the School's first Headmaster 1873-76). Boulger adopted the strange method of referring to Hamilton 1, Hamilton 2 and Hamilton 3. Kirkpatrick also produced such lists until about 1882, and this leads to all sorts of confusion, because he used the more usual method of initials. We have no means of telling, therefore, whether Hamilton 1 was Hamilton C, or Hamilton R S G, or Hamilton W M. Again I have done my best to unravel this, but it is difficult to be absolutely sure.
A similar warning must be given about dates. What is shown is the earliest date that I have found in the records, followed by the latest date. I can give no guarantee of the absolute accuracy of these dates. In some cases they simply refer to the first appearance in the Intermediate Examinations lists, and it may well be safe to assume that attendance commenced earlier. There is a number of interesting discrepancies, however, particularly in relation to the Intermediate examination lists, where pupils are shown as "Lurgan College" up to a year after Kirkpatrick's lists suggest they left!
|Lurgan College Register 1873-99|
|Acheson||Frederick W W||1888||1890|
|Allen||Frederick A McC||1890||1890|
|Bigley||Francis W H||1894||1899|
|Boyd||William Arthur A||1883||1883|
|Clendinning||James P C||1882||1883|
|Corbett||Edward StJ HdeB||1888||1890|
|DeCourcy||John E B C||1890||1890|
|Eccles||William R P||1877||1881|
|Fergus||William J B||1893||1894|
|Gardiner||George B C||1892||1895|
|Gore||Arthur H B||1898||1899|
|Hamilton||Robert Smylie Greer||1874||1877|
|Kennedy||William W McC||1892||1896|
|Martin||Henry E F||1885||1889|
|McDonnell||A J P||1883||1884|
|Smith||John W K||1895||1898|
|Watson||Hugh Wesley Allen||1886||1891|
|Wylie||J T R||1879||1881|
After such a long period of time, and without the help of contemporary records in the school, it is difficult to add any details about many of the names on the list. However, I have unearthed some information which may be of interest.
The Acheson family came from Castlecaulfield, County Tyrone. The four boys were the sons of Mr. David Acheson, and one of them, Malcolm K Acheson, became a medical doctor.
H M and W J Agnew were the sons of Dr S Agnew, of Bengal Place, Lurgan, who later became Chairman of the Board of Governors of Lurgan College.
I suspect that many, if not all, of the Aliens were related, and that there is an overlap with the Allans. However, there was an Allan family in Lurgan (William Allan, of Brownlow Terrace), and at least one son attended the College, since Mr. Allan is listed as a Parent entitled to vote for representative Governors in the 1894 list. Most of the Allens seem to have belonged to the Johnston, Allen connection. The most prominent of these was W J Allen (1880-84). He was born in 1866, the son of Joseph and Catherine Allen.. After leaving the College, he went into the family business, then, as many others did, he joined the army at the very start of World War 1 (actually on 14th November, 1914) being posted to France in 1915. He served with distinction, being mentioned in despatches 4 times, and receiving the DSO in 1918. He was also awarded the French decoration of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. He was elected as Unionist MP for North Armagh in 1917, holding the seat until 1922, when the reorganisation of Ulster seats after partition created a new constituency of Armagh County, for which Allen was elected as MP in 1922, holding the seat until his death in 1947. He was knighted in 1921. In addition to all this he was also Deputy Grand Master and Secretary of the Orange Order, Deputy Lieutenant for County Armagh and a JP.
F J Bannon (1897-) came to the College from Portadown, where he lived in Church Street. Leaving Lurgan, he studied for the Christian ministry, becoming a Church of Ireland minister, first of all in Hillsborough, then in Muckamore.
The Best family all came from Richhill, County Armagh. One of the boys, James Patterson Best (1889-91) qualified in law, and went on to become a well known solicitor in Armagh.
Francis Bigley (1894-99) was another Portadown boy - his father was District Inspector in the RIC there. He entered Medical School, and went on to become a GP in his home town. It is interesting to note, as a matter of interest, the number of those on the list who came from some distance to attend the College.
William H Boyce (1897-) was not one of these, being a local from Lurgan. He was one of Kirkpatrick's "High Fliers", with prizes in the Intermediate examinations, and a Gold Medal in Classics from TCD, whence he graduated with a BA degree. He went on to a distinguished career in the Indian Civil Service.
I must confess that I found Browns the greatest problem to unravel. There may indeed be one or two more lurking in the records! I am even unable to say how many families are involved. However, one of the Browns, (James 1877-81) became a medical doctor in Gilford, County Down.
James Chambers (1877-8) was a prominent figure in the legal profession. He was born in 1863, the son of Mr. and Mrs . Joseph Chambers, of Darkley, County Armagh. Leaving Lurgan College, he proceeded to Queen's College, Belfast, where he studied Law, going on to London University to complete his studies. He was called to the Bar in 1885, serving in the North-East Circuit. In 1902 he took silk, and three years later was elected a bencher of King's Inns. Early in 1917, Mr. Chambers was appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland, in succession to Mr. James O'Connor, who became Attorney-General. In addition to his legal career, Mr. Chambers was an ardent Unionist, and from 1910-1917 served as Unionist MP for South Belfast. He died in 1917.
J H Dickson (1876-78) was another outsider. He was born near Ballynahinch, and, leaving Lurgan College in 1878, went to Aspatria Agricultural College, where he qualified in 1881. Returning to Ulster, he became a leading figure in the farming community, and in the work of the Ulster Farmers' Union. He was particularly well known as a pedigree cattle breeder. Following partition, he became a founder member of the Northern Ireland Senate, in which he sat until his death in 1937.
Another Dickson, Robert J Dickson (1886-88) - no family connection!) went on to Queen's in Belfast, where he graduated in Law. After some time in practice in Portadown, he was appointed Secretary to Armagh County Council in 1918, a position he held until his retirement.
George Dougan (1897-98) was the son of Dr George Dougan, of Portadown, and followed his fathers footsteps, qualifying in medicine, and entering General Practice in Portadown, where he is still remembered.
Probably the most eminent of the Old Boys of this period was Winston J Dugan (1887-89). He was born at Oxmanstown, Birr and I can only assume that his attendance at Lurgan College was in connection with a family move, for he stayed only a short time before moving to Wimbledon, where he completed his schooling. Leaving school he entered the army, serving with distinction during the Boer War (1899-1902). In this campaign he was awarded the Queen's Medal, with three clasps, and the King's Medal, with two clasps. In 1900, Dugan was promoted 2nd Lieutenant in the Lincolnshire Regiment, serving as Adjutant in that regiment 1901-4. On his promotion to Captain in 1904, he was transferred to the Worcester Regiment. From 1910-14 he was Garrison
Adjutant, Irish Command, and in 1914, in the aftermath of the Curragh Mutiny, he was transferred to the East Anglican Command as Assistant Provost Marshall. In 1915, Dugan went to France, commanding the 2nd Irish Regiment, being wounded in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. He was mentioned in despatches 6 times, and was awarded the DSO and CMG. In 1918, he was appointed Assistant Inspector-General (Training) in the British Expeditionary Force. There followed spells as Commander of the 10th Infantry Brigade, and ADC to King George V. Dugan retired from the army in 1934, and went to Australia, where he was appointed Governor of South Australia (1934-39). In 1939 he became Governor of Victoria, a position he held until he retired in 1949. On retirement he was given a peerage, becoming 1st Baron Dugan of Victoria and Lurgan. He died in 1951.
W R P Eccles (1877-81), was the son of Mrs Eccles of Turmoyra. He went from Lurgan to Queen's College, where he studied Law, ending up with the degree of LLb.
I have no record of him being in practice, but he was certainly living at Turmoya in the 1920s.
The English's were all related, being the sons of James English, of Lurgan. One of the boys, Howard (1895-99) became a medical doctor.
Charles H Ensor was the son of Charles Ensor of Ardress House, Loughgall. He served with distinction during World War 1, and then returned to manage the family estate.
The Ferguson boys were all related, and belonged to the well known linen family from Banbridge. Stanley (1877-80) became Managing Director of the Ulster Bank, and was Founder President of the Lurgan College Old Boys' Association.
The Fullerton brothers (Andrew and Thomas) were sons of Rev Alexander Fullerton, a Methodist minister. Andrew (1881-2) was born in Dalkey, County Dublin, in 1867, and, leaving Lurgan College, proceeded to Queen's College, Belfast, where he graduated, with First Class Honours in medicine, in 1890. There followed a distinguished medical career, culminating in his appointment as Professor of Surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He was also President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. During World War 1 he served with considerable distinction, being mentioned in despatches and being awarded the CMG (1916) and the CB (1919). He died in 1934.
Another eminent Old Boy was T R Gardiner (1894-6). He was born in Cork in 1883, son of Matthew J Gardiner, Post Office surveyor. In 1896 the family moved from Lurgan to Edinburgh, where Thomas attended the Royal High School, proceeding from there to Edinburgh University, from which he graduated with First Class Honours in History and Economic Science. He joined the Post Office in 1906, and by 1936 he was Director General, a position he held until 1945. Both before and after World War 2, his ability was recognised in the many special appointments that he was given. For instance, in 1939, he chaired the committee appointed by Mr. Chamberlain to co-ordinate plans to cope with air raids. In 1947-8 he was Chairman of the Stevenage New Town Development Corporation, and from 1949-51, the Vice-Chairman and Acting Chairman of the National Docks Labour Board. Of particular interest today is his appointment as Chairman of the Committee set up to deal with the cases of Civil Servants removed from confidential work because of alleged involvement with subversive organisations. He was knighted in 1936.
One of the first sports inter-nationals produced by the College was William Gardiner (1879-85), who was capped 17 times for Ireland in Rugby.
Another Gardiner, Frederick T Gardiner (1884-9), served for a time as President of the Ulster Branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union.
David Graham (1887-91) was the son of Rev Samuel Graham, Presbyterian minister in Moira. He followed his father into the Presbyterian ministry, eventually becoming minister of 3rd Armagh, where he enjoyed a long ministry, until his retirement.
The Hamilton connection was another difficult one to unravel. I have only managed to trace one in any detail.
R S G Hamilton (1874-77) was the son of Rev Hamilton, rector of Drumcree. He, too, followed his father's footsteps, entering the Church of Ireland ministry. After spells in Sixmile-cross, Cookstown and Dundalk, he became Dean of Armagh (1924-28).
Another former pupil to enter Christian service was Herbert Ireland (1898) who became General Secretary of the Belfast YMCA in 1919, and who was largely instrumental in the development of that organisation in the inter-war years.
One of the more remarkable names on the list is Albert T Lewis (1879-80). He came to Lurgan as a boarder to be prepared for admission to a law firm. In 1880 he was admitted to the firm of Malcolm, Boyle and McLean in Dublin. Later, when Lewis was an established Solicitor in Belfast in his own right, he sought out his old Headmaster, Kirkpatrick, to tutor his son for University admission. That son was C S Lewis, the well known Christian apologist, and oxford academic.
The Macoun family were all sons of John Macoun, of Kilmore, one of the proprietors of the Lurgan Weaving Company. One of the sons, William (1884-86) was an Irish International Lacrosse player in the years 1893-97, as well as President of the Ulster Branch of the IRFU.
J G Mahaffy was one of Kirkpatrick's most successful pupils. He regularly featured in the Intermediate Prize lists, and in 1881 gained first place in Ireland in the Intermediate examinations. The story has a sad ending, however. Mahaffy intended to go on to University, but before he could do so, he died, unexpectedly (1883). Kirkpatrick was deeply upset, and arranged for the erection of a memorial to the young man in the Shankill cemetery.
Joseph Mathers (1888-90) was the son of Henry Mathers, of Magheralin. He entered the Methodist ministry, and I have found records of him serving in Lisburn and Lurgan.
The Maxwells were, I think, all related. Joseph (1881-85) became a director in the York Street Flax Spinning Company, while Lowry (1892-6) became a pioneer missionary in Nigeria, translating part of the Bible into Hausa, and producing a grammar of that language.
George T McCaw was the son of Robert McCaw of Teghnevin. He went from Lurgan College to Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated with an MA in 1892. He served for a number of years in the General Valuation and Boundary Survey of Ireland, before going abroad on survey work, which took him to Rhodesia (1903-6), Uganda (1908-9) and Fiji (1911-15). In 1915 he joined the army as a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, and on promotion to Captain, he served on the Headquarters Staff of the Royal Engineers until 1919. From 1919 until his retirement in 1936 he served in the War Office, where he was Secretary of the Air Survey Committee and Joint Secretary of the Colonial Survey and Geophysical Committee. He received the OBE in 1927 and the CMG in 1936.
W R Morrow (1877-78) was another rugby international, winning 9 caps for Ireland.
Possibly the most prominent sportsman ever to come from Lurgan College was James C Parke (1894-99). He was born in Clones in 1881, and I assume he came to the College following the death of his father, since he is shown as having a guardian, rather than a parent. He had a successful academic career in the College, going on to Trinity College, where he studied Law. However, it was in sport that he excelled. Between 1904 and 1909 he was capped 20 times for Ireland in rugby, captaining the side against Scotland and Wales in the 1907-8 season. Unusually, Parke's career spanned two sports, for he was also a top tennis player - arguably the best ever produce by Ireland. He won the Irish Men's Singles Championship eight times, the Doubles four times and the Mixed Doubles twice. He was European Singles Champion twice, and All-England Mixed Doubles Champion four times. On top of all that he was a member of the Davis Cup squad for the years 1908, 1909, 1912, 1913, 1914 and 1920. Parke also had an impressive war record. He was commissioned in the Leinster Regiment, in September 1914. He was wounded twice in action; the first time at Gallipoli in 1915, and again in 1918, while on the Western Front. In 1916 he became a Major, and by 1918 was Battalion Commander. He was mentioned in despatches. The last mention of him I have found was as a lawyer, practising in North Wales in the 1920s.
Two other notable sports-men were the Pedlow brothers (their father was a medical doctor in Lurgan). J Pedlow (1877) was capped twice for Ireland at Rugby, and was, in addition, the Irish 100 yards sprint champion. His brother T B Pedlow was also capped twice in Rugby.
H W A Watson (1886-91) was the eldest son of Hugh Watson, of Lurgan. He was born in 1875, and on leaving Lurgan College he went to the R.I.E. College, Coopers Hill, London. From there, he entered the Indian Forest Service, in 1897. By 1924 he was Chief Conservation Officer (Forests) Burma, a post which he held until 1930. From 1932 until his retirement he was Timber adviser to the High Commissioner for India. He died in 1953. Today he is probably best remembered for the display of Burmese hunting trophies which is still to be seen in the school library.
As can be seen, I have only been able to scrape the surface of the list, and there are still many, many names that I have been unable to trace. I would be most grateful if any reader has information about any of the names on the list that they would be prepared to pass on.