This was written by Jack's
great-grandson Robert Gawn of Ballyboley regarding what he
had been told about his ancestry.
boast of an ancestry that came over the sea with King
William, but I know that my ancestors were living in Ulster
about the year seventeen and eighty.
came from Scotland. One of them settled down in Ballyboley
(near Ballynure) and the other in or about the district of
Donegore. My Great Grandfather was called John (or Jack)
Gawn. He had a small holding in Ballyboley of unbroken land,
which to look at in those early days was scarcely worth the
breaking up. However, that may be, he eked out an existence
in a sort of pleasurable misery.
Grandmother's name was Lawler. They had a family of two sons
and three daughters. Of them I know but little, nor am I
going into details about them except to say that the eldest
son was called Thomas (my Grandfather) and the
youngest boy, John, Thomas or Tom as he was called, learned
to be a nailor to trade, and, in the course of time, married
Sarah (or Sally) Wallace of Kilwaughter. Her Father was a
yeoman under Squire Agnew in the troublesome times of ninety
eight and her mother was a McCullough from the Braid.
Rebellion (1798) started with its horrors, her mother went to her
own people in the Braid, taking the child with her, while
her father went with the "Yeows", as they were called, to
the battle of Antrim.
Gawn was an old Rebel, or, at least he was forced to take
the Rebel ranks, willing or not. The Rebels gathered up in
force as they came from Larne. They forced the peasantry to
go (willing or not) with them.
not my Great Grandfather was willing to go I cannot say, but
I do know that, after the defeat of Antrim, when the Rebels
mustered at Donegore Hill, he thought discretion was the
better part of valour, so he made his escape on that
eventful night. It took him three days and nights getting to
his home in Ballyboley, owing to having to hide in ditches,
and brambles during the day and travelling during the night.
For about six weeks he had to hide with others in a little
scroggy at the foot of a neighbouring field till the times
settled down and quiet began to reign.
to my Grandfather and Grandmother. They had a family of four
sons and five daughters.
Grandfather married he rented a small portion of land, with
a little home on it, from his Father. But alas (the greed
for bettering his own condition) his Father charged him as
much rent for, the small portion as he gave for the whole
farm. On it becoming known to the Landlord he raised the
rent of the farm to more than twice the original price so my
Great Grandfather did not show nearly as much discretion in
the letting of his farm as he did at escaping from the
Redcoats at Donegore Hill. My Father was the second son of
the family. In his early days he was a linen weaver but
wages became so low that he gave it up and, being a handy
man, became a stonemason which trade he followed while he
was able to work.
Grandfather, on my Mother's side, was James Hunter, a man of
fairly good education and great discernment and it is
possibly through his early tuition that I began to try to
study and think out for myself the problems that worried and
vexed me in my early years.
I had three
brothers and one sister. I was put to learn the trade of
boot and shoemaking before I was eleven years of age. I used
to try my hand making rhymes on local incidents and at some
length of time was advised to send some contributions to the
"Belfast Telegraph", which appeared always in the next
issue of the paper. You may be sure I wan elated at my
success, so after some little time I was advised by my well
wishers to publish a little booklet of verse, by
subscription I had five hundred printed which soon all
disappeared among the public. Shortly after this my mother
died and a little time after that I married and gave up
married Isabella Hoey and had four sons and one daughter.
When his wife died he later married Matilda Boyd of
Ballyalbana, Ballyclare. They had two sons and two
daughters. He died in 1930 and his wife died in 1941. A few
years after his second marriage he again took to writing