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NAMES: Mary Jane OLIVER of Cavananore; James Birch GILLMER; Thomas McCULLAGH; Margaret BRADFORD; PURCELL; Mr. McAULEY; McALISTER; Eliza Jr.; "Molly" Mary JACKSON; Miss ARNOLD; William BARLOW; Sally aka Sarah McCULLAGH of Derryvalley.
Sharon Oddie Brown. October 7, 2009
Update: I have done a fast edit and entered several changes suggested by Wendy JACK (she has great eagle eyes). I will still need to go back to the scan of the original.


1852 June 10


NOTE: The penmanship of this letter was a challenge to decode, so my transcription is incomplete and/or likely inaccurate in some places. Hopefully, the end result won’t be overly misleading. It is the first letter that we have that was part of decades long family feud between the JACKSONs, McCULLAGHs and BRADFORDs. This feud plays out in several of the other letters that are posted on this site. It is also likely why this was one of the letters saved by the family.




Miss Oliver




June 10 1852


My dear Mary Jane[2]

I return you Mr. Gillmers[3] epistle which we all look on as a continuation of the [managing?] system he has practiced. Thomas[4] is still anxious for peace (if possible) and thinks you should again write telling him plainly. You and Aunt[5] were satisfied to hold the chattels at the valuation but that you are wanted an account of the Trusts his Bank to end the year to know what you had to reckon on after settling with any creditors remaining. As for quietly leaving things as they are it would be rather a rich example to those indebted it to you and Aunt to see you cavalier about [losing?] hundreds by a comparative Stranger I think I might be tempted to imagine I was as well entitled to cheat you myself and believe you would not take proceedings against me - jesting apart. I do not know on what grounds you could bring yourselves to give up sust Claims and I am sure a letter from [Purcell?][6] will work a great change in Mr. Gillmer’s ideas as he is too Well advised to subject himself to Chancery Costs ever to let it proceed so far. This is our opinion generally but do you and Aunt judge for yourselves However another decided letter from yourselves and  should that not produce any effect one from [Purcell?] might he tried before quietly resigning even if you should then determine on so doing. - We are all well and enjoyed all the preaching we have had well indeed both Mr. McAuley[7] and McAlister[8] acquitted themselves remarkably well and had crowded audiences to address. I hope your installation may be well conducted We will not part Eliza [9] so soon as I have lots of work for to impose on her and in return think she will enjoy herself as we are reading turn about as we work - which both she and I have always looked on as the height of enjoyment. I hope Aunt will join us as soon as she can after should she wish. Thomas would go for her at any time. Our flax is vastly improved and the other crops looking well. We hope little Molly[10] is better of her cold. Eliza has got a cold in her head which is troublesome. Mamma's old friend Miss Arnold[11] has promised to pay me a visit today, and I will be at once pleased and sorry to have her. What a change with both time and early acquaintance.


Thomas[12] and  Eliza[13] join me in love to your Aunt [?]


I hope your new clergyman[14] now may be able to receive [or receive?] Aunt Donaldson[15] [perspectives?] to the Presbyterian Church and be very useful to you all.


Ever dear MaryJane your attached friend

 Sally McCullagh[16]


June 10, 1852.


On looking at the shortness of the time intervening we think it would on the whole the whole be better to postpone Aunt’s visit till after the assembly as we would not wish for a harrowing one an as I hoped we will have a general [rendering?] in Armagh.

[1] Cavananore, a townland in the Parish of Creggan, Co. Louth. The property was occupied by relations for at least 300 years. SEE: http://www.thesilverbowl.com/maps/Cavananore.htm

[2] Mary Jane OLIVER (1821-1875) was the daughter of Benjamin OLIVER and Elizabeth BRADFORD. Her mother , who had died when she was 4 years old, was the daughter of  Elizabeth BRADFORD née BREAKEY. This grandmother had died in 1844 and her will was proven in 1845.

[3] Mr. GILL  - James Birch GILLMER (1808-1877) - one of the trustees of the will of Andrew Coulter BRADFORD and also executor of the will of Elizabeth BRADFORD née BREAKEY of Cavananore., NOTE: He was described in the will of Elizabeth BREAKEY as a nephew, which could be confusing, but it does apply. He was a descendant of Elizabeth BRADFORD’s mother through her mother’s second husband Alexander GILMORE (who was not Elizabeth BREAKEY’s father). This James Birch GILLMER (aka GILMORE) was the son of Eliezer Birch GILLMER, son of Alexander GILLMER & Elizabeth BIRCH. He married Mary DOAK and had 8 known children..

[4] Thomas McCULLAGH (1793-1877) husband of the letter writer and one of the trustees of the will of Andrew Coulter BRADFORD. He was a successful farmer in Derryvalley as well as a Justice of the Peace.

[5] Margaret BRADFORD (1786-1874) was an aunt to both the sender and recipient of this letter. She never married, but seems to have been a force in the family financial politics.


[7] Mr. McAULEY. A Rev. Matthew McAULEY (1809-1893) was minister of Cahans at this ime. SOURCE: Full Circle David Nesbitt p267.

[8] McALISTER NOTE: I don’t know who this might be.

[9] Eliza - would this be Elizabeth JACKSON (1843-1923)?

[10] Molly? This could be Mary JACKSON (1844-1921)

[11] Mrs. ARNOLD (I think I have some other ARNOLD notes from Ballybay - need to check).

[12] Thomas – I assume this is the husband of Sarah McCULLAGH, the letter-writer: Thomas McCULLAGH (1793-1877)

[13] Eliza?.

[14] William BARLOW was installed in 1852 at Creggan Church. He was also the Vicar of Carlingford. B. 1792, married Catherine DISNEY and had eight children His brother, John BARLOW, was the Director and Governor of the Bank of Ireland. SOURCE: http://www.barlowgenealogy.com/ireland/alexofireland.htm

[15] Aunt DONALDSON – This would be Barbara DONALDSON née BRADFORD (1783-1865), sister of Margaret BRADFORD and wife of William DONALDSON of Freeduff.

[16] Sally aka Sarah McCULLAGH (1816-1857) – she married her cousin, Thomas McCULLAGH of Derryvalley.

·         The Belfast News-Letter (Belfast, Ireland), Wednesday, August 19, 1857; Issue 12847 August 15, Sally, wife of Thomas M'Cullagh, Esq., J.P. Derrysalley [sic], Ballybay

·         "To the beloved memory of Sarah McCulagh w.d.t.l. 13th Aug 1857 a 41 years. Here als lie the remains of her parents Thomas and Mary McCullagh and her husband, Thomas McCullagh and several of her children."

·         Her parents were Mary BRADFORD and Thomas McCULLAGH, hence she was a cousin of Mary Jane OLIVER.

[17] Derryvalley. Parish of Ballybay, Co. Monaghan. In the Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland. Volume 40 Counties of South Ulster 1834-8  is the following entry: Mr. McCULLAGH's farm of Derryvolly [sic] is kept in superior order.



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