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Session Book of Aghadowey, 1702-1725

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AgahadoweyIn 1905, J. W. Kernohan, Secretary of the Presbyterian Historical Society in Belfast, Ireland, transcribed the beginning years of the session book for Aghadowey, County Londonderry, Ireland at the request of a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The member subsequently donated Mr. Kernohan’s transcription, which covers the period 1702 – 1725, to NEHGS. The manuscript begins in 1702, since the earlier years are lost.

In the summer of 1718, a number of ships bearing passengers from Coleraine and Londonderry, Ireland arrived in Boston - the first organized mass migration of Irish and Scots Irish people to America. Among these passengers were Presbyterians from the area of Aghadowey, County Londonderry, Ireland, and their minister, Reverend James McGregor. Many of the Aghadowey immigrants eventually established the community of Londonderry, New Hampshire. A good history of this migration is available at The 1718 Migration.

A session was composed of the ministers and elders of a congregation. Session records cover financial, legal and disciplinary matters. A good discussion of the types of topics that may be addressed by the session is located in Short History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland by Prof. John M. Barkley, M.A., Ph.D., D.D., F.R.Hist.S. Many session books have been microfilmed and are available at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. However, the Aghadowey Session Book has not been microfilmed and is available only at the Presbyterian Historical Society, Church House, Fisherwick Place, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Charles Knowles Bolton, in his book Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America [Boston: Bacon and Brown, 1910], described the acquisition of the Agahadowey Session Book by the Presbyterian Historical Society and the contents of the book. Bolton’s description is available online at Scotch Irish Pioneers in Ulster and America.

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