Derrykeighan Old Churchyard Book

This is the third book in a planned series of the graveyards in North Antrim. Derrykeighan Old Churchyard has been quite different from the others in that many of the gravestones are from the 17th and 18th centuries. The people buried there are from many churches in the area. There are burials of people who were members of the congregations of Benvarden, Bushmills, Carnaff, Carncullagh, Mosside, Toberkeigh, Toberdoney and Derrykeighan, these being Presbyterian Covenanter as well as Church of Ireland denominations.

The graveyard has been closed for burials since 1958 and is looked after and maintained by Ballymoney District Council.

Although records of the local churches have been used, much of the research this time has been from many old books and articles. I have kept the family trees shorter this time, but I can provide more detailed information if you contact me through my web site.

There didn’t appear to be a map of the churchyard other than small sketches. I am indebted to Bill Simpson who drew up an accurate scale map. I have used it to divide the churchyard into four sections and added a reference to each gravestone. The positions of the graves are to act as a guide and are not to scale. Some of them had been recorded, but could not be found such as Sarah Boylan 1722, Sarah Hodge 1752, John Poak 1715, John Moore of Kingarve 1770, Matthew Stewart 1752 and James Hamilton 1750. There are also some graves with transcriptions but no numbers which have been inserted throughout the book.

Again most of my research has been done using church records and the sources mentioned below rather than hearsay. I welcome any corrections or additions to my work as no doubt I will have made mistakes.

Sources used for Local Research

1660-1669 Hearth Money Rolls

1740 Protestant Householders’ Returns

1766 Religious Census

1803 Agricultural Census

1827 Tithe Applotment Book

1901 and 1911 Census

Ordinance Survey Memoirs of Co. Antrim 1838

The Hutchinson Bequest by John A. I. McCurdy 2001

The Annals of the Parish of Derrykeighan, by Rev. Hugh McNeill M.A. 1910

History of the Parish of Derrykeighan for Three Centuries, by Thomas Camac 1908

McClay transcription of Derrykeighan Old Churchyard

For those who are not familiar with some of the sources, I will give a brief explanation.

The Hutchinson Bequest was a list of the relations who claimed to be eligible for a share of the money from the estate of Archibald Hutchinson (ca 1659 – 1740) as stated in the Dobbs report of 1790.

The Annals of the Parish of Derrykeighan was published in 1910, some seventeen years after the death of its compiler, the Rev Hugh McNeill, Rector of Derrykeighan C. of I. Church in Dervock from 1876 – 1893.

The History of the Parish of Derrykeighan for Three Centuries, by Thomas Camac was published in 1908 and he openly acknowledges that much of his work came from Rev. Hugh McNeill. He also used a series of “jottings” of local history which are in PRONI. Camac was related to many of the families in the old churchyard.


  1. So much information, which means so much of your time and research. Congratulations on a wonderful resource of the area, Dorothy. It is such a professional work, and much appreciated, Gillian

  2. Love your books. I’m across the pont in USA and all my Maternal ancestors came from Northern Ireland. Your books are amazing and I will have to purchase them one of these days.
    “Ginny” Thompson

  3. Would find it really useful if locations approxiamte road names could be included to locate Graveyards for when we are visiting

  4. Dorothy, Assume this is an active site and just came across this reference. I’m going to visit Derrykeighan Parish in August where I believe my 3rd G-Grandfather, Rev. Charles Douglas, who was Curate from 1773-1833, is buried. Obviously a lot of other family names involved, but can you indicate how many Douglas burials you identified there? Likely should have found the book before I go if there are the number I suspect. Thanks, Bill

  5. Hi Iam visiting Ireland as my ancestors came from Ballymoney. There name was Boyland
    Iam from Australia so it will be so interesting to visit your area.
    Cheers maria

  6. I will be in the area 21-23 looking for Samuel Chestnut (Chesnutt) history. Buried at old church 1734 and 4 sons went to America. We have the complete of those family and looking for the origins. Thank you

  7. 21-23 October 2018

  8. Email me at and I will try and help.

  9. Hi,im James Mckay,my ancestors are buried in the Church, Daniel McCay 1730 as well as his son Hugh Mackay and Daniel Mckay and also a host of others Mckays all the same family.The names where different to identify all the line born from Daniel McCay 1730 to 1801

  10. Hi James,
    Hugh McKay b. 1769 was married to Sarah Douglas, daughter of my 3rd G-Grandfather Charles Douglas (1733-1844) who is also buried in this graveyard. Map was great aid in finding his grave last summer.

  11. I am researching the Allen family associated with the Lisconnan house. I am focusing on the eighteenth century. Any leads to extended family connections in the Ballymoney/Dervock area would be appreciated. I will be visiting the area in mid May 2019. Thanks much, Brian Muller

  12. Hi Mike, my research shows definite family connections to Allen of Lisconnan House in the area. Would be very interested if you discover anything about a “Miss Allen of Lisconnan” possibly married to my 3rd G-Grandfather Charles (above). Church of Ireland records indicate her as one of three wives with no order; I’m descended from his wife Grace Gamble (2nd wife? since this is 23 years after he became Rector of Derrykeighan Church) married 1787. Their son, Edmond Alexander Douglas (1794-1846) married Anne Allen (1807-1890) daughter of Samuel Allen (1778-1835). Another of his daughters, Frances Higginson Allen (1776-1807) married another of my 3rd G-Grandfather’s Archer Bayley (1770-1832), so clearly a family relationship to the Allen’s. Will be most interested in your research results!

  13. Hi Bill, This my web site and my son Mike maintains for me. Apologies I was having a problem recently sending messages.
    I do have information on the families mentioned which I gathered while writing my book on Derrykeighan Old Churchyard. Do you have a copy? You were in touch with me in Sep 2018. I will contact you again through your personal email address.

  14. Hi Dorothy,

    I’m not sure whether to respond through this email or site, so I’ll try this method and see what happens. First, yes, I went looking for a copy when we arrived in Bushmills last year since Rector Anderson of St. Colmans told me that I would only be able to find my 3rd G-Grandfather’s gravesite with the map in the book. It was absolutely true given the overgrowth of the markers in the graveyard. So I am indebted to you for being able to fine the family graves there. I assume that the information on the families you refer to in your message is that in the book. If you have additional information on Grave 86, pages 70-71, I would be very interested in it. I will tell you that the family tree information on page 71 referring to William Grant Douglas (1824-1898) is an error. He is the son of a different Rev. Charles, Rev. Charles Douglas (1791-1857) of Co. Tyrone and was a Royal Navy Captain. His wedding in 1851 was to Elizabeth McCalmont Ingles (1830-1865) and they had three children born in Portballintrae: Bessie (21 Oct 1852), William (18 Dec 1854, and Adalaide (30 Jan 1856). Rector Graham of Dunluce Parish was kind enough to pull up the preceding information from the church records for us during our visit (many of my more recent family members are buried there). Unfortunately, I was really hoping page 71 might be true as this William has a direct tie back to Scotland, and I can find no records of William Trail (1790-1815) despite references to him being RN or Royal Marines (including on the gravestone), and 1815 sounds like Waterloo. Totally different Williams though!

    Grave 184 also intersects with my family and there is an error at the bottom of the family tree on page 169 where Frances, Charles and Letitia are repeated at the bottom. Archer Bayly/Bayley (1770-1832) is my 3rd G-Grandfather and one of the few in the book where I do have a direct DNA connection.

    Again, would be interested in anything else that you may have on Douglas of Dervock in the 1700-1800 period (or earlier). Rev. Charles Douglas (1743/4-1833) is the earliest.

    Thanks again for the book and map – it was remarkable to find the grave markers of family.


  15. Hello from Ontario, Canada:

    I am looking for the burial place of my Stuart/Stewart ancestors. My 3rd great-grandfather was Major-General James Stuart CB, son of James Stewart Esq of Gracehill House and Grace Lynd. James Stewart was the son of Rev. Irwin Stewart. I was told there is a crypt for the Stuart/Stewarts in the Derrykeighan church yard but I was hoping for some sources so I can record death dates for James Sr, Grace, and Irwin. I know that the Major-General died 19 Jul 1859 at Gracehill House but I have no idea where he was buried.

    Thanks for your time,


  16. I have been at the old graveyard at Derrykeighan yesterday. I remember my late father telling me that there was a Chestnutt buried in the graveyard who was killed in the 1641 rebellion. He said there was some mark on the gravestones of those who died in the rebellion. Would this be right? Are there burials from that early date in the graveyard? Has your book been published?

  17. Hello!

    I’m hoping this site is still active. I visited this cemetery in 2016 and was able to find many of my ancestors. I actually have a copy of “The History of the Parish of Derrykeighan for Three Centuries, by Thomas Camac published in 1908. My great Grandfather (James Gamble Camack 1850-1916) was Thomas’ brother who is mentioned on the family gravestone even though he moved to Philadelphia. Dorothy, I would love a copy of your book if it is available. I live in the US but have family in England if it is easier to ship there. Thank you for writing this book!!

    Sincerely, Beth Laird

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