skip to main content
  • Familia1990article
  • Familia1990article
  • Also available to buy as:

"Back to Bonnie Kellswater" - Glimpses of Emigration from the Home Country of Samuel Hanna

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 06, 1990


List Price


Please note this is available in electronic format only. It will be sent to you via email when your order is complete.

by Eull Dunlop

Glimpses of emigration from the 'home country' of Samuel Hanna, first Moderator (1840) of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

"There is no record in this parish ... of its having given birth to any remarkable person."

"In this stark assertion, the Ordnance Survey Memoir (1835) for the parish of Connor, County Antrim, was typical of its kind. But some local claim to modest fame emerges, if, in this year (of several Ulster anniversaries) which marks the sesquicentenary of the Union of Synods, to form the Irish General Assembly, we apply Presbyterian criteria.

The district of Kellswater, in the parish of Connor, County Antrim, introduced, if imprecisely defined, in Familia in 1989, can claim the esoteric distinction of having pro­duced three theological professors. All named with a praenomen that is still familiar, they were men of very definite opinions.

Earlier in our own century, Samuel Angus (1881-1943), who has attracted the interest of Guild member 3288 (Dr J. L. Russell of Belfast), caused some doctrinal excitement in Australia, while, long before Angus was born, Samuel Davidson (1806-98) had also provoked controversy.

After seven years as professor of Biblical Criticism in Belfast, he moved in 1852 to the Lancashire Independent College in Manchester; but even there he had his difficulties, as his tortured Autobiography (1899) discloses. Samuel Hanna (1771-1852), on the other hand, remained 'impeccably orthodox', as Principal R. F. G. Holmes has put it, throughout all the doctrinal disputes of the early nineteenth century.

That he, the Synod of Ulster's first theological professor (1817), was also elected Moderator of the first General Assembly, in preference to even the influential Henry Cooke, was final con­firmation of his patriarchal status."

This article looks at Samuel Hanna, first moderator of the Presbyterian church in Ireland, who was born in the district of Kellswater.