Andrew, here are some things I have in my notes regarding the Agnews, that might help you sort out your family:
Copy of ratification by the said Sir Patrick and Andrew Agnew, his son and
apparent heir, to Patrick Agnew in Ballikeill / Ballykeel, (Parish of
Kilwaughter, co. Antrim)of his lease of the quarter of land of Ballikeill, a parcel of the townland of Drwmnedonachie / Drumadonaghy in Learne (Larne, co. Antrim, N. Ireland)
The following entries are taken from the Congregational Memoirs of the Old Presbyterian Congregation of Larne and Kilwaughter:[R.H. McIlrath and J.W. Nelson, Larne, 3rd March, 1775]
March 26, 1721 - Public intimation was given to the Congregation that Mr. Patrick Agnew, James Ramsay, and Thomas Neilson were to be taken into the Session to be members thereof.
April 7, 1721 - The aforesaid appearead in the Session, but for some reasons which Mr. Agnew offered, their being constituted at that time was delayed.
April 30, 1721 - James Ramsay and Thomas Neilson were constituted Elders.
June 20, 1721 - Mr. Patrick Agnew was constituted Elder, and appointed to go to the General Synod, to meet in Belfast the 20th instant.He did go."
Jan. 10, 1722 - Captain Agnew appointed a Commissioner to the Presbytery at Belfast, with a supplication to have bounds set for our Congregation, but reason fo Enver's encroaching still upon us.He did go, but it had no effect.(Note)--Both Congregations belonged to the same Presbytery.)
April 13, 1722 - Captain Agnew and John Finlay were commissionated to appear at the Presbytery to meet in Glenarm, and lay our grivances before them, occasioned by Enver's daily encroachments.The Presbytery appointed their next meeting to be in Larne, where they would inquire into the affair.
June 3, 1722 - The Presbytery met at Larne.Brice Blair attended as Elder.The Commissioners were Captain Agnew, James Glasgow, John Torbet, James Boyd, Mohn M'Brown, and John Finlay;yet the Presbytery did no more in the affair than only desire the Congregation of Enver to receive no more of ours until bounds should be set.
Also from the Congregational Memoirs of the Old Presbyterian Congregation of Larne and Kilwaughter:
1755 - 1769 - "From the above date of 1755, to this date of 1769, no Elder hath been appointed to attend a Presbytery, nor no meeting of the Session appointed for prayer or conversation as formerly."
In the absence of a record, I [Classon Porter] venture to give the following Congregational legend relating to this period, which the reader may take for what he thinks it to be worth.It is affirmed, then, on the authority of tradition, that about the time of which we are now speaking there occurred a harvest, when the weather for several successive weeks had been exceedingly wet, and the grain was rotting in the stooks.At length there came a particularly fine, drying, "birling" day.Unfortunately, however, it happened to be also a Sunday.The people were all collected in the meeting-house, and Mr. Sinclar was about to begin the service, when the Old Squire (Mr. W. Agnew) addressing him in the pulpit, said it would be better for him to have no sermon that day, but to let the people go home to put in their grain.The minister acted on the suggestion of his patron, and dismised the Congregation with a short prayer and benediction.Most of his hearers proceeded to act on their landlord's hint and to put in their grain;but some of them could not be induced to do what they considered evil in order that good might come, and by these latter people it was long remarked and remembered, that the man who first yoked his horse on this Sunday for the purpose of putting in his grain, lost that horse by desath before the close of the year.
But to return to history, proplserly so called, Mr. Sinclair, as we have seen, was ordained in 1755 as assistant and successor to Mr. Clugston.The latter minister, however, did not die until 1775, so that Mr. Sinclair was for no less than twenty years an assistant minister.But he was much more fortunate than have been most persons similarly situated.During the whole of his lengthened period of expectancy, in lived in the Kilwaughter Castle, or, as it was then called, Kilwaughter House, and acted as tutor to the Squire's son, whom (I have heard) he even accompanied, in this capacity, to College in Scotland, and stayed with him the entire Session.How the flock were fed on these occasions in the absence of their proper pastor I cannot say.Perhaps Mr. Clugston, the senior Shepherd, kindly resumed the crook for the winter months.But indeed at this period religion was at a very low ebb throughout the entire province of Ulster.As compared with politics, it occupied a very subordinate position.In 1760 the French landed at Carrickfergus.On this occasion several corps of the Militia assembled at Bellahill, the residence of Robert Dalway, Esq., to repel the invaders, and amongst others arrived from Larne, Lord Antrim's regiment, amounting to 115 men, arms and in uniform, commanded by Captain Adama Johnston, and Lieutenants James Agnew and James Blair, all of whom were, I am sure, members of our Congregation.Some of the corps had their ministers amongst their office, e.g., "Lieut Rev. James Dunbar" (Islandmagee) and "Ensign Rev. Thomas Reid" (Glenarm).Indeed, on occasions of public danger, the Presbyterian ministers of Ulster have never shewn a dispotiion to hide themselves behind the horns of the altar.They have rather been too ready to take the front of the battle.And, therefore, if, in the case of the Larne regiment, the name of Rev. Mr. Sinclair should be missed, I am bound to give the following explanation of its absence, which I heasrd shortly after I cam to this neighbourhood.It is stated then, that at this period of national dander, Mr. Agnew, of Kilwaughter, collected a body of the most efficient of his tenantry, and having armed them as well as the circumstances of the case mpermitted, marched them, accompanied by his and their minister towards Carrickfergus to meet the enemy.But whether, before their arrival, the French had already been beaten back to their ships, or whether, from being a comparatively irregular levy, their names do not appear on the list of Militia given in M'Skimin's History of Carrickfergus, as musting at Bellahill, I cannot say.But certainly at this time the Kilwaughter men did turn out to repel the foe, and certainly, also, their minister was in his proper place, at their head.
Continuing to be political, according to the character of the times, I have now to mention that in 1792, our Congregation had the honor of furnishing a representative for the County Antrim, on the Independent or Whig interest, which was then predominant in the County.THis gentleman was Mr. Edward Jones Agnew, grandson of the old Squire, William Agnew, whose only son, Mr. Sinclair's pupil, had died during his father's lifetime, young and unmarried.Preparatory to Mr. Jones Agnew's election, meetings were held in his favour in various parts of the county, and amongst other places at Kilwaughter, where (we are told) "a very respectable number of freeholders having met to consider the merits of the man who should represent this county in Parliament, Mr. Alexander Nelson in the chair," adopted and published resolutions in which I think we may recognize the hand of Mr. Agnew's minister, Mr. Sinclair.After stating the qualifications which, in their opinion, a candidate for a seat in parliament ought to possess, the Kilwaughter electors finally "Resolved--That these qualities, being prominent and conspicuous in Edward Jones Agnew, Esq., force him upon our minds as the fittest person to fill the vacant seat in Parliament for this county.As a humane, moderate landlord, he stands unrivalled in this country, as a benefactor to the poor, his charity and munificence are without a parallel, so that, if the blessings of a numerous and happy tenantry, if the prayers of the aged, the fatherless, and the widow, take effect, he must be the successful candidate.And we are bold to declare that this our eulogy of Mr. Jones Agnew does not proceed from prudential constrain, fear, or necessity;for we would oppose him if he were on the wrong side;nor is it the servile fawning of teneants on a landlord--thought we glory in that connexion--but a just tribute to the numerous virtues of a well-earned reputation."
Mr. Agnew was triumphantly returned, with scarcely the shadow of a contest, and without even the shadow of a poll.
1769 The “Hearts of Steel” set fire to a house adjoining the present Castle Gardens [of Kilwaughter House], from which the Squire had ejected a worthless tenant, who invoked, at the hands of these rustic lawgivers, “the wild justice of revenge,” and also afforded them an opportunity of punishing the man who had had the audacity to take a from from which a tenant had been expelled.
1775 – William Agnew died, father-in-law of Edward Jones Agnew.William was the son of Patrick Agnew of Kilwaughter Castle.
1834 – Death of Edward Jones Agnew.In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Kilwaughter's landlord, Edward Jones Agnew, had granted his tenants leases of twenty-one years and two "lives," one of which was his own; thus his death in 1834 meant that the expiration of most leases would coincide with the onset of the potato blight. Margaret Jones, Agnew's successor as proprietor, enjoyed a benevolent reputation and apparently did not evict head tenants during the crisis. However, the prior collapse of cottage spinning, the introduction of power looms in Belfast factories at mid-century, and the overcrowded and impoverished conditions that characterized Kilwaughter's smallholdings made the parish highly susceptible to the same demographic processes which operated in the poor, mountainous districts of mid- and South Ulster during the Great Famine. Whether forced or "voluntary," wholesale clearances of subtenants, cottiers, and weavers must have occurred, for between 1841 and 1851 the populations of both Rory's Glen and Kilwaughter parish declined by a remarkable 36 percent (compared with merely a 15.5 percent decline in County Antrim, generally), and by the latter year a consolidation of holdings had radically altered the local landscape: in 1851 nearly half the farms were over thirty acres in size and over three-fourths of the parish's arable land had been converted to grazing. Perhaps few of the inhabitants actually perished from malnutrition or disease during the famine, but out-migration from the parish--hitherto rare--was extensive. If Alexander Murphy had indeed been butler at Kilwaughter Castle, one can only speculate how or why he lost or relinquished his position, but apparently he suffered the same fate as his poorer neighbors. Given the family's size, the Murphys could not afford to emigrate overseas, but with many others they moved to the growing industrial city of Belfast.[The famine's scars: William Murphy's Ulster and American odyssey - 19th-century Irish famine]
1849 – 1851 – Potato famine affecting County Antrim.Whether forced or “voluntary,” wholesale clearances of subtenants, cottiers, and weavers must have occurred, for between 1841 and 1851 the populations of both Rory’s Glen and Kilwaughter parish declined by a remarkable 36 percent (compared with merely a 15.5 percent decline in County Antrim, generally).1854 Population of Larne 3,076.
1848 - Margaret Jones, proprietor of Kilwaughter Castle, died of disease during the winter.