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The Reverend Patrick Hamilton’s Family Bible: 1722–38

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 23, 2007


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by Sandra A. Millsopp

"In June 2007 I was shown an old bible which had been found in Bangor Parish Church. The first few pages were missing, so there was no information about the name or background details of the

owner. On blank pages at the back, however, the owner had recorded the births of his children between 1722 and 1738, together with the names of their sureties or sponsors at baptism. The names of the sureties suggested a connection with the Hamiltons of Bangor, but the children did not belong to this branch.

Once I arrived home I started to look at some of my books on local history. I thought that there might be a connection with the Hamiltons of Killyleagh Castle in County Down, but when I looked at a booklet on Killyleagh churches, I discovered Rev. Patrick Hamilton. Leslie’s Clergy of Down and Dromore confirmed the identification as it listed children who appeared in the bible. This bible is very interesting in two main ways: for the light it throws on several aspects of the social history of the early-eighteenth century and on the social and familial connections of a man of his class."

This article examines the family bible of Reverend Patrick Hamilton, which records the birth of fourteen children and affords an intriguing glimpse into the world of the Ulster gentry and clergy of the early-eighteenth century, and the perils of childbirth and survival for both mother and child.