townland of Halftown derived its name in that it was half of
the townland of Ballyclaverty. It contains 432 acres, the
remaining part of Ballyclaverty containing 369 acres. The
Ordnance Survey records of 1830–1840 describe the soil “as
light and gravelly, producing oats, potatoes and flax. There
is no turf bog in the townland”.
The half townland, or the income thereof, was given as a
wedding present to
Matilda Beggs, second wife of William Cairns,
Parkmount, Co. Antrim. He was the father of Sir Hugh McCalmond Cairns, 1st Earl
Cairns 1819-1885 by his first wife. He owned a large area of ground in Co.
Antrim including Halftown. It is reputed that he set up an office twice per year, in
May and November, in the house where Andrew Gawn lived in
order to collect the rents. A lady’s walking stick adorned
with mother of pearl, still in my possession, was, we are
told, a gift from Earl Cairns to Margaret, wife of Andrew
Gawn, my great-great-grandfather. The silver headed cane to
the right supposedly belonged to the Colonel.
Matilda had five daughters and one son. The son was Sir
William Wellington Cairns who became Governor of Queensland,
Australia and after whom the city of Cairns was named.