Who was Humphry Thomson Breakey? We know when he was baptized; we have records of business transactions; we know his marriage dates and whom he married; we know his lineage, and we know his descendants; we know when he died; we know where he is buried. But, we still know little of the man.
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As this manuscript was about to go to print, it was with much excitement on the 2nd of February that I opened and read my correspondence from Ken Breakey of Portadown, Northern Ireland. The mailing contained Xerox copies of several pages from the book Historical Sketch of Ballyalbany Presbyterian Church – Formerly Second Monaghan – Formerly Belanalbany – Formerly New Monaghan Secession Presbyterian Church by Rev. S. Lyle Orr and Alex. Haslett. I owe my most sincere gratitude to Ken for providing me with the material that more appropriately concludes this volume.
“In the early years of the Sabbath school no roll was kept, and there are no records earlier than 1834. From a number of small roll-books bearing above date, which the late Mr. Breakey, so long a worthy superintendent of the school, had preserved among other papers, and which were handed over by his son, Mr. H. J. Breakey, the following list of teachers and scholars are copied. The books are now nearly 70 years of age, well worn then, and hard to decipher now. Many of the scholars, and all of the teachers are known only in the things of the past: Hence, the presentation of them ought to be very acceptable to the reader…” (Orr & Haslett, p. 127).
Sometime between 1834 and 1840, Humphry Breakey attended the Ballyalbany Church Sabbath school and received instruction from Mr. John Brown, Teacher (Orr & Haslett, p. 128).
“In the years that follow some of the teachers had left, and new ones took their place, and among these we find…Mr. H. Breakey, 1840”(Orr & Haslett, p. 129).
During the years 1862-72 we find Humphry T. Breakey, Townland of Diamond (sic) listed as having subscribed and paid £ 10 to the Congregational Subscriptions to Ballyalbany Manse Fund of Ballyalbany Church (Orr & Haslett, p. 94).
In reference to the Sabbath school of Ballyalbany Church, the book reports, “In 1873 The Rev. James Bodel was ordained, and so the roll-book bearing the date 1874 gives us the following teachers under Mr. Humphrey Thomson Breakey as superintendent…Miss M. K. Breakey, 12 girls (Orr & Haslett, p. 130).
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In conclusion, I wish to include an extract from a letter of William Breakey (Ship’s Chandler, Liverpool) to his brother, Humphrey, dated 28 December 1846 (Murnane to author, 4 January 2000). It will, perhaps, allow us to know even more of that man known as Humphry Thomson Breakey.
I recd your letter which is the first I got from any of you since you wrote before. I am glad to hear you were so good to my mother and hope you will continue to be so as you have no family yourself. I think you need not in so much dread of Mr Watson marrying except you expected to become his heir. I am sorry you sacrificed so much by redeeming Carnaveagh1 as your profit by laying out your money would be enormous but the gain or chance of gain is in my opinion overbalanced by your being for the present an independent landlord and one of the most liberal I have heard of. Not only in the now sad times of famine but from the earliest ages why mean your name will be handed down to posterity not a Daniel Dancer2 as you imagine your brothers and sisters call you but as a real philanthropist, one of the most generous of men who set such an example to all the world. If ever God sends me another son I will certainly call him Humphrey Thomson Breakey in hope that when you and I would be no more he might have the honour of being the namesake of such a man as you, who though sickly and poor not as the other landowners, reduced his rents a small percentage but actually offers to ask no rent for the next year and to pay the chief rent out of his hard earnings. I like to be called liberal but I candidly own I would get all the rent I possibly could for the most of Carnaveagh tenants would rather anyone else than a Breakey was in receipt of the rents…”