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Chapter Three

Andrew Breakey of Lismagonway & Killyleagh

Andrew Breakey was born circa 1795 to Isaiah Breakey.  Raised in the townland of Lismagonway (Breakey, E., 6), Andrew “attended the Old Presbyterian Church, Ballybay” (McCreery, 291), and received his early education at the   Diocesan School in Monaghan (op. cit). In 1812 Andrew entered college at the University of Glasgow.  Pearson says of her second great grandfather: “…he left Rockcorry and walked to Donaghadee, County Down, crossed to Portpatrick by boat and then walked to Glasgow – over 150 miles altogether.  What an undertaking!” (Personal communication to author, 25 January 1994).

Andrew obtained his MA degree in 1816, and after completing “the additional theological course, was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Monaghan” (op. cit). He was ordained “to the office of the Christian ministry at that place [Keady, County Armagh] on the 10th of August 1819,” later being installed  “as pastor by the Presbytery of Dromore on the 22nd of March 1831” (op. cit).

In 1823 Rev. Andrew Breakey’s residence is noted as ‘Keady –Temple’ 14  in a record of his marriage as printed in the Belfast News-Letter:  "Married: on 20th instant, by the Rev. Jon. Jenkins, Keady, the Rev. Andrew Breakey, Keady – Temple, to Jane, daughter to Mr. Samuel Leslie Drumecanvir” [sic] (The Belfast News-Letter, December 1823).

Rev. Andrew Breakey’s longest tenure in the Presbyterian Church began in 1831 when we was “called to First Killyleagh as Dr. Henry Cooke’s successor” and was installed on the 22nd of March of that year, ministering “there for fifty one years until his death in 1882” (Nesbitt, 106).

Postcard of Killyleagh town - Early 1900s.

Photograph courtesy of Rosalind Davies

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The town of Killyleagh, 15 nestled on the shores of Strangford Lough, provided a natural harbor for commerce.  A high tide of twelve feet permitted vessels of one hundred twenty tons to dock at the 1832 refurbished harbor pier, often as many as twelve to fifteen vessels at one time.  The ships came to Killyleagh hauling coal and limestone, and left the harbor with holds of corn, butter and potatoes. “The trade of the port was limited and consisted principally in the exportation of wheat, barley, potatoes, butter, kelp and cotton goods, and in the importation of cotton, wool, coal, iron, salt and general merchandise” (Rosalind Davies).

In 1833 the small post town of Killyleagh was described as having two streets intersecting in the center of town.  There were approximately 270 houses, being a mixture of one-, two- and three-story houses, and the majority being homes of two stories. The town had three policemen, a large cotton mill, three smithies, twelve public houses, one grain & sprit dealer, six churches, several schools, and hot & cold ‘shower or plunge’ ladies’ baths.  “No baths for gentlemen who were obliged to hire a boat and venture out into the lough.” The people were described as industrious relying primarily on agriculture and spinning sufficient for their needs. During the famine years, most specifically by the end of 1846, thirty to fifty Killyleagh women provided meals each day for the poor of the community.  In 1871 data for family religious affiliations are given: 1089 Catholic and 4821 Protestant families (Rosalind Davis).

*  *  * *

Andrew Breakey was secretary of the Board of Health in 1834.  At that time Asiatic cholera visited the town of Killileagh, as it did once again in 1854.  Each time prominent physicians were brought in from Belfast to assist local physicians; Dr. Hawthorne came in 1834.  McCreery states   “…on both occasions the number of deaths proportionately to the number of inhabitants was large…Some who were going about in the morning were dead before evening” (McCreery, 294-95).  In 1834 “a dispute arose between him [Rev. Breakey] and some other gentlemen as to the amount of fees to be paid to Dr. Hawthorne.  Mr. Breakey considered it necessary to vindicate himself by the publication of a pamphlet which reflected severely on those who differed from him, and served to widen the breach between him and some who opposed his coming to Killileagh” (op. cit).  It is further   reported  “when in 1834 and 1854 cholera visited Killyleagh, and carried off many victims, he [Rev. Breakey] acted a brave and faithful part, and was not deterred by the infectious, virulent, and destructive distemper, from entering the abodes of sickness and bereavement, and ministering aid and consolation” (The Newtownards Chronicle, 16 December 1882).

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In 1840 Rev. Breakey assisted in forming a Total Abstinence Society at Killileagh (The Belfast News-Letter, Tuesday, 3 March 1840).

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Nearly ten years into Rev. Andrew Breakey’s pastorate, after much dissension between members of the congregation favoring either the Remonstrant Synod16 or the Ulster Synod, and with a majority of members favoring their connection with the Synod of Ulster, a separate congregation was formed and built their church at Killyleagh.  The foundation stone of new building was laid on 15 October 1840   with Rev. Breakey participating (The Belfast News-Letter, Tuesday, 20 October 1840).  Loyal members of the congregation showed their appreciation to Rev. Breakey by presenting him with a Bible, a Psalm Book, a pulpit gown, a watch and a horse (The Belfast News-Letter, Friday, 7 May 1841).

In The Presbyterian Ministers of Killileagh, McCreery provides an intimate glimpse into the persona of Rev. Breakey:

Mr. Breakey’s appearance is striking.  His form is round and full; his face large and oval; his head bald and oblong; and small, dark eyes peer from an overhanging brow.  Though weighty in structure, there is no ungainliness in his figure, or irregularity on his features.  Apparently indifferent to dress and manner, he is not wanting in gentility and graceful accomplishments.  An overseer would at first sight suppose him to be of a stolid, phlegmatic temperament, and certainly he is strong-willed, yet he is emotional and easily affected.  When anything deeply moves him, whether in preaching or conversation, his voice falters, and the tears come rolling down his cheeks.

He is shrewd and far-sighted, sagacious and polite; an acute observer and accurate judge of men and things.  His matured judgment, practical wisdom and great experience render his counsel valuable in exigencies.  To the families of his charge he is an adviser in their straits, as well as comforter in their sorrows.  During the visitations of cholera, he acted a brave part, going wherever duty called him, even at the risk of his life.  His opinion on points of law and in medical matters is often sought, and found to be sound and trustworthy.  He has always enjoyed a large measure of public esteem and confidence.  On the 26th of April, 1841, the day after a communion Sabbath, the ladies of his congregation presented to him gifts, varied and costly, as may be seen from the following address and reply…” (McCreery 311-312).

The following is taken from The Downpatrick Recorder, Saturday, 1 May 1841 (courtesy of the Irish & Local Studies Department, Ballynahinch Library, Ballynahinch, County Down):

“Testimonial and Address to the Rev. Andrew Breakey, Killyleagh –

“On Monday last, the Ladies and other Members of First Presbyterian Congregation of Killyleagh presented their Minister, the Rev. Andrew Breakey, with a Bible, a Psalm Book, a Pulpit Gown, a Gold Watch, and a Horse, and with the following Address:

“Rev. and Dear Sir, - The ladies of the First Presbyterian Congregation of Killileagh have, for a length of time, been aware that the members of the congregation felt desirous of testifying their esteem to you personally, and their approval of your talents and assiduity in the holy vocation to which the Lord has called you; and having now enjoyed the advantage of your ministry for the space of ten years, we feel that we have not been disappointed in that choice, which, as Presbyterians, we placed on you, and we desire, in the free-will offering of the congregation, which we have now the happiness of presenting, to record the gratitude we feel for you labours amongst us, and our earnest desire and prayer that the Lord may long spare you to break the Breakey of life to an  affectionate and united people, and that, when it shall please the Great head of the Church to call you from your labours on earth to the ‘rest that remaineth for the people of God,’ you may have many to present to that gracious Saviour whose Gospel you have so faithfully declared.  We beg to present you with a Bible, a Psalm Book, a Pulpit Gown, a Watch, and a Horse, of which we affectionately request your acceptance.

“Signed on behalf of the Ladies’ Committee,

S. Hamilton Rowan


Photographs of gold watch courtesy of Gene Pearson and family


“Dear and very kind Ladies, and Christian Friends – How shall I express what I feel?  How shall I thank you as I ought?  Conscious of my inability to give expression to my feelings, or to speak adequately to the occasion, I should prefer being silent, were it not that it might look like indifference or ingratitude.  I am encouraged to make the attempt, because I know the kindness which has dictated this act of benevolence will draw the mantle of charity over by defects.

“This may well be regarded by me as the happiest moment of my life.  Accustomed to look on myself as a stranger and sojourner on earth, and on the things of this world as vanity and vexation of spirit, from which I have desired to separate my affections, I did not think time could or would afford me a felicity equal to that I am this day privileged to enjoy.  To receive such a testimonial of respect from the numerous, respectable, and intelligent Presbyterians of the parish of Killileagh – to receive it by the fair hands of the ladies – to receive it in the presence of such an assembly, witnessing and approving – and Sidney Hamilton Rowan presiding on the occasion – what shall I say?  The cup of my happiness if full – running over….

“My dear ladies, your present is most appropriate and shows admirable discrimination.  In it I can trace not only the kindness of your heart, but the propriety of your judgment and delicacy of your taste.  A Bible – that blessed book which contains all the measures of wisdom and knowledge, and from which, as God shall enable me, I shall declare His whole counsel of love and mercy.  A Pulpit Gown – a suitable appendage to the solemnity of the ministerial office, and not inconsistent, I trust, with the simplicity of Presbyterian forms.  A Horse – by which my journeyings among the people shall be greatly facilitated, the quantity of my duty increased, and my personal convenience greatly promoted. A Gold Chronometer – at once ornamental and useful, and which, by the inscription to be placed on it, shall tell my descendants of the kindness of the people of Killileagh.  Let this part of your present not only mark the progress of time, but also remind me that I should redeem it by diligence, devote it all to your service, and look forward to its close, and prepare for my account, so that I should give it in with joy.

“Your testimonial is most gratifying.  Ten years have passed away since this Church was pleased to call me to the work of the ministry, a period during which they have had full opportunity of judging of my doctrines, labours, and manner of life.  How gratifying to hear you now say in your address that you have not been disappointed – and, after ten years, to see the Church coming forward to testify approbation of my labours and respect for myself – testifying this, not on paper only, or in empty words, but in a free-will offering, at once most appropriate and valuable….

“But, while this is the happiest, I feel it is the most humbling day of my life.  I am reminded of my short-comings, and feel that your kindness has concealed them how disproportioned to my weak efforts, your uniform kindness, as well as this present expression of your liberality and love!  And when I think how defective my duties are in the sight of Him who searcheth the heart, and whom I am bound to glorify in my body and soul, which are His, I cannot help saying, “Who am I, O Lord God, that Thou has brought me hitherto?

“But while I am humbled, I am greatly encouraged.  I do not say that I can labour more than I have done’ or teach better than I have tried to do.   No obligations can be stronger than those by which I am already bound – no responsibility greater than that I already feel…

“Dear Friends – I have one more request to make – your prayers for me.  These I doubt not I have hitherto enjoyed – I feel that now I need them more than ever…

“And now, beloved people in the Lord Jesus, accept my most heartfelt thanks; and, in conclusion, permit me to remind you of the words of the Lord Jesus, in which he says, ‘it is more blessed to give than receive.’  May the truth of this be experienced today in all your hearts – may you enjoy more happiness in giving that I in receiving, and you shall be happy indeed.

“Yours most affectionately in the Lord Jesus Christ

            Andrew Breakey”

Following the inclusion of the entire testimonial in his book, The Presbyterian Ministers of Killileagh, McCreery continues to speak   of Rev. Breakey (318 –319):

In speaking Mr. Breakey is slow and measured, accentuating the successive syllables of some words, and lowering his voice in finishing sentences.  More solid than brilliant, analytical rather than inventive, he impresses, not so much by the freshness and variety of his illustrations, as by the weight of his assertions, the cogency of his reasons, and the conclusiveness of his arguments.  Not excelling in extemporaneous address, nor given to obtrusive forwardness, he never speaks in the Synod or Assembly, and while he takes an intelligent part in the business of the Presbytery, he is not notable for loquacity and lengthy statements.  Yet, such in his reputation among his brethren, that he was Moderator of the Synod of Belfast in 1858.  On several important occasions he acquitted himself most ably and successfully.  We heard him defending the revival of 1859 against the Dean of Down and nothing could have been more telling and triumphant.

He is a good theologian.  He knows the system of revealed truth, and its adaptation to man’s requirements, and teaches it fully and accurately.  His sermons are lucid in arrangement, Scriptural in sentiment, and faithful proclamations of the Gospel.    His theological ability may be judged from an article on the Trinity in the Orthodox Presbyterian of June 1830.  One passage is this: - ‘I have sometimes wondered how a man, willing to believe as God teaches, could leave a house of worship, after having hearkened diligently to, and joined sincerely in, the prayer contained in the last words that fall upon his ear, and yet return to his home an Anti-trinitarian.’

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1st Presbyterian Church, Killyleagh18

(In Plantation Street)





Top row, left to right – an old postcard; photo taken in 2000

Bottom row, left to right – church interior; headstones around perimeter walls

Photographs courtesy of Rosalind Davies


Davies reports   “the earliest Presbyterian Church was built on the present site in 1670, and was replaced by a T shaped church in early 1700s; this was pulled down and in 1827 the new classical edifice was built at a cost of 2000 pounds which was raised by subscription and contributions.  It is in the usual T shape & holds 1,050 people with the average attendance in 1836 of 800.  It was described in 1836 as a fine, large building with a plain interior.  The minister from approximately 1840 – 1882 was Rev. Andrew Breakey…The graveyard is unusually extensive for a Presbyterian church, with a few 18th century stones scattered on all sides of the church, the oldest dating from 1754.  The area near the gate was leveled during the 1960s and many stones moved to the graveyard wall.  Some stones were destroyed and others uncovered” (Rosalind Davis).  

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In July of 1842 Andrew Breakey wrote a letter to the Editor of The Downpatrick Recorder. Only pertinent excerpts have been provided inasmuch as the letter is extremely lengthy.  [Author’s note:  Courtesy of the Irish & Local Studies Department of the Ballynahinch Library, County Down, the author has a Xeroxed copy of the referenced   page in the above mentioned periodical.  Each column appears to be twenty inches long by two and one half inches wide.   Andrew Breakey’s letter to the editor encompassed one column and approximately one third of another column].


The Races

To the Editor of the Downpatrick Recorder

Sir  - The time is approaching when Down and its vicinity are to be visited with a whole week of horse-racing [sic].  This, no doubt, will be accompanied by all the usual snares, temptations and accidents; and followed by all the usual evil effects and consequences – while effecting [sic] no good.  It will be the fruitful source of much evil.  Believing the practice of horse-racing to be cruel and immoral, situated not far from the centre of this dangerous whirlpool where I have had occasion to know of some of its evil effects; having it for my duty to reprove, rebuke, exhort – and to sound an alarm when danger approaches and to watch for souls as those that give an account, I feel constrained to lift up a testimony against this practice.  I desire to address two letters to the public on this subject – one, to those professing Christians who are race-goers – and one to that class of the community who are the mainsprings of this practice, who countenance it by their presence and support it by their purse. In attempting to oppose this practice, I feel that I am only asking acting in accordance with that divine declaration that ‘ when the enemy cometh in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.’  I have long been accustomed to assail this practice from the pulpit –I now desire through the press to seek a wider range for my observations – I desire to subject the practice to the test of reason and Word of God…It is difficult, if not dangerous, to assail old established customs – those who will not be convinced will be offended.  As I aim only at addressing the cause of religion, morality, humanity, I trust what I shall advance, shall obtain, at least, a candid consideration.  If I am on God’s side, then God be my helper.  And first I address myself to ‘Professing Christians who are Race Goers.’

        Are there such? Can there be?  Is it not a contraction in terms to suppose it? … Now I trust I shall be able to show you race-going [sic] is inconsistent with your profession, duty, highest end.

        Now what are races? …  Two or more horses are started to run, so that it may found out which is swiftest.  In determining this the horses are beaten with whips, goaded by spurs, and driven beyond their power.  Their owners lay down money that one may win and the others lose – so that a race is a contest of speed by horses, to gratify the avarice of man…  The gamblers and swindlers are there with all their apparatus of cheating – the pickpocket is there, several kind of them too.  The polluted inmates of all the houses of infamy are there… the drunkard is there, and the drunkard makers…

        Next, what is a Christian?  One that profess to be God’s servant. To be separated from the world – to seek heaven as his home by denying ungodliness…

        Now, professing Christian, I ask you, are Races a place where you ought to be found? …Will it make your wiser, holier?  …                                            

        Are the motives that bring men to the race ground such as a Christian should admit?  …Call you this exhibition of cruelty and avarice sport?   …To bring the young to see such sport is to inculcate the first rudiments of inhumanity.  Many go there to bet, that is to obtain without value given, the prosperity of others.  Thus is a fraudulent spirit encouraged and idle habits fostered; gamblers, pickpockets, prostitutes, swindlers

all frequent the race-ground as the promising field for their different avocations. Lovers of strong drink go there to find an occasion and pretext for drunkenness, and to find drunken associates to assist them in debauch…

        Is the society there fit for a Christian? …Are employments there such as you would countenance or engage in? …Is your time there spent as it ought to be? …Is the money spent at races usefully laid out? …Is this the example you ought to set others? …Do you pray?

        You say there is no harm in going.  What! – no harm in witnessing, countenancing, taking pleasure in cruelty; wasting time and money – mixing unnecessarily with the most vicious and degraded characters on earth; if you see no harm here, truly your moral vision is dime, and your conscience  blind or partial…        

        Let me tell you, professing Christians, you have it in your power to abate this moral nuisance and to extinguish the barbarous practice of horse-racing altogether, and that too by the simplest means.  Absent yourselves, go not there… Stay away and let jockeys, gamblers, prostitutes and drunkards see themselves, and shrink into concealment.  Let them, like rats, when all other plunder is exhausted, prey upon each other…

Killyleagh, July 4, 1842                                                          Andrew Breakey 

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1856 – Deaths – April 27, at Killyleagh, Jane, wife of the Rev. Andw Breakey (The Belfast News-Letter).

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During the late 1850s a church revival swept across the northern countries of Ireland.  Known as the 1859 Revival, it “led to the reclamation and conversion of vast number of people of careless or debased life; but primarily it meant the kindling afresh of apostolic zeal and enthusiasm, the setting up of magnificent ideals regarding the extension of the Kingdom of God throughout the world, and first and last, the reassertion on a majestic scale of the great basal verities of Evangelical religion” (Cauchi).

Robert Workman, later Rev. Robert Workman of Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church, County Down was a young man during this revival period.  Among his many reminiscences is one particular visit to Killyleagh:

This little town, even now fairly remote, seemed a long way from Belfast and a very long way from the first cradle of the Revival.  They [he and John Arnold] stayed with the Senior Minister, Mr. Breaky [sic], who was an unusual character.  In person he was broad shouldered and large featured, strong in mind and stout in person, his voice was harsh and husky and seemed to be squeezed out of his chest by a series of muscular jerks.  When preaching, after every few words, under the influence of his jerky articulation, a tear would appear on his cheek which he would remove with a short fat finger.  In consequence of this, people with humorous reference to his burly figure, named him ‘The Weeping Angel,’ but he was an interesting preacher and a sound theologian.  A man of the old school and a good specimen of it, hew was, however, cautious and had a fund of natural shrewdness and humour.  Many years after, at the age of 80, his elders nervously suggested that he should have an assistant and successor, and they were disconcerted when he said, ‘I think it would be very difficult to find a young man who has as much experience as myself.’  So it was not surprising that the events of 1859 came as a shock, for he was utterly opposed to anything that savoured of individualism or likely to make himself or religion ridiculous… (Garner, 53).

Following a revival meeting, attended by Mr. Workman and his friend, Mr. Lee, where some in attendance were stricken and crying out in agony and despair, Workman has this say of Rev. Breakey:

Mr. Breaky [sic] seemed now ‘as one that dreamed’ and kept repeating to himself, ‘I never expected to see anything of this kind in Killyleagh.’  Almost as once a messenger arrived crying out that people had been stricken on their way homewards and that some were still lying by the roadside and they were implored to go to help them.  This proved to be the case and the young men spoke and prayed with the people far in the night.  Mr. Breaky [sic] was so disturbed that he left early next morning for Dublin where the General Assembly was sitting.  He had not intended to go, but felt he must have guidance.  Having had time to think over the business and getting favourable accounts from other quarters at the Assembly, he returned to Killyleagh and threw himself into the work with considerable success (Garner, 54-55).

It was reported that “in the days of the doctrinal controversy, he [Rev. Breakey] defended the theology of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms proving its Divine origin and truth from the Scriptures and showing its perfect consistency and sanctifying tendency and influences.  He vindicated the revival of religion in 1859, when it was assailed from learned and influential quarters” (The Newtownards Chronicle,  16 December 1882).  Nesbitt reports that he “wrote a pamphlet in defence of the Revival, and together with Sidney Hamilton Rowan and the Rev. James Alfred Canning of Downpatrick, ‘sponsored’ the first missionary magazine of the Irish Presbyterian Church – The Missionary Monthly” (106).

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Rev. Andrew Breakey’s retirement from his active pastorate was short of two years. He died 17 November 1882.  The following excerpts are from The Down Recorder, 25 November 1882.

“Funeral of the Rev. Andrew Breakey – (From our reporter) –

“On Monday, at twelve o’clock, the remains of the above venerated minister, who died at his residence, The Manse, Killyleagh, on Friday last, we removed for interment in the burying-ground in connexion [sic] with the church where he so long and faithfully ministered.  The deceased gentleman was a native of the County Monaghan, having been born near Rockcorry…  He was greatly beloved by the people of Killyleagh of all denominations, as was shown by the large and respectable concourse of friends who assembled at Monday to pay a last tribute to his memory.  The shops were nearly all closed during the time of the funeral, and the church in which he so long ministered was draped in mourning for the occasion.  The funeral cortege left the Manse at twelve o’clock, the coffin being carried by member of the congregation.  Among those present were:” [Therein follows the names of approximately one hundred and forty men representing clergy from all denominations and numerous locations, majors and captains,    men of  business,  doctors,  lawyers, friends, and members of the congregation].  “The chief mourners were the Rev. Samuel Hamilton, Mr. Walter Hamilton, Rev. G. Raphael-Moore, and Rev. J. Sinclair Hamilton…

“On arriving at the church, the coffin, which bore the following inscription, ‘Andrew Breakey Died 17th November 1882,’ was deposited in front of the pulpit, when the 90th Psalm was sung, after which The Rev. William Witherow offered up a most solemn and appropriate prayer.

“The Rev. A. McCreery then addressed the congregation as follows:  - Fathers and brethren, I have been asked to address you on this occasion,  I was at first very reluctant to comply with the request, not that I was unwilling to do anything that might evince respect for him whose remains we’re met to inter, but because I  felt that someone abler and more competent, and occupying a more conspicuous and influential position in the Church, should have been selected,  It may, however, not be unseemly that the two Presbyterian minister of the place officiate on the occasion, one of whom has for a short time been his assistant, and is now his successor, and the other has from childhood known him and been his co-presbyter and fellow-labourer for thirty years.  Let me, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, indicate some of his characteristics and draw some lessons… Though for so advanced an age, and the subject for some time of bodily infirmities, his head was so sound and clear as ever it was.  I saw him three days before his death, and the only difference in his mental state I discerned as a tendency to lethargy.   Rising to leave him, he stopped me, and asked me to pray for him; and that for which he bade me pray was the mercy of God.  None knew better how that mercy is obtained.  The day before his death, Mr. Witherow prayed with him and for him, and at the close, when it was supposed that he was in an unconscious state, he responded, ‘Amen.’ …

“I have listened to discourses from him, very able in themselves and exceedingly effective in delivery.  His [Rev. Breakey’s] last sermons were in this place on the 4th of September of last year, 1881.  The congregation was in the charge of the Presbytery, and candidates were being heard for the pastorate, and either at his own desire or from other causes, he occupied the pulpit on that day.  His text in the morning was Acts xiv. 32 – ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;’ and in the evening Hebrews xii. 14 – ‘Follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’  I head the sermon in the evening on the latter subject.  It was admirable.  Little diminution of power physically, and none at all intellectually, were apparent …

“Prayer having been offered up, the remains were then borne to their last resting place, and solemnly interred amid the regrets of mourning relative and friends.

The following excerpts are from The Down Recorder, 9 December 1882:

“The Late Rev. Andrew Breakey, Killyleagh – Funeral Sermon by Dr. Murphy

“On Sunday last [3 December 1882], the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church, Killyleagh, was occupied by the Rev. J. G. Murphy, LL.D, Professor of Hebrew in the General Assembly’s College, Belfast, who preached with special reference to the death of the Rev. Andrew Breakey, the late beloved pastor of the congregation.  There was a very large attendance on the occasion, and Dr. Murphy’s remarks were listened to with the deepest attention…

“Your venerable pastor, who has broken the bread of life for you more than half a century, has lately departed to be with Christ, which is far better.  My friend and brother, Mr. McCreery, has delineated his character and career as fully and fairly, that little remains for me but to express my concurrence in his kindly statement.  From a memorandum of his early life I learn that the Breakey from whom he was descended went from Scotland over to Holland, and entered into the service of William, Prince of Orange.  They served during the war in Ireland, and on being disbanded, settled as farmers in the neighborhood of Ballybay.  Andrew Breakey was born in 1795 or 1796.  His father took an interest in the affairs of the congregation.  His mother, whose maiden name was Rogers, was a pious woman, from whom he early learned the principles of the Gospel.  Two events in his early life served to deepen his religious impressions.  His father died when he was a boy.  He appears to have been an only son, as he had to go for medical advice, and perform many other services during his father’s illness.19 He began at this time to go out into secret   corners and pray for his father with great earnestness.  This was the first time he remembers to have prayed from the heart.  The other event was the drowning of a young medical man in an adjacent lake.  While swimming across the lake he raised a cry, made a violent struggle, and at length went down to rise no more.  The people gathered round, but knew not what to do.  At length a raft was made of ladders and hay, on which a young man went out and caught the body with a hook, when the raft was dragged with ropes to land.  All means were taken to restore life, but in vain.  All this was a strange and affecting sight to the thoughtful boy.  Soon after his minister on examining   him gave him a ticket of admission to the Lord’s Table.  His mother, seeing him at her side   at the table, was troubled, and asked him if he had been with the minister.  On learning that he had, she was content and thankful.  After his father’s death he proposed to his mother to conduct worship in the family.  She gladly   consented.  This was done only on the Sabbath evening.  When he soon after, expressed a desire to be a minister of the Gospel, his mother yielded at once to his wishes.  Such is a simple sketch of the boy’s early life.  I have only to add that your departed minister was ever to me a kind brother and a faithful friend…

“On the other hand, I am persuaded that all who have come into closer contact with his spirit will have been led to the conclusion that he was of an extremely tender and sensitive nature, having a keen sense of the distinction between right and wrong, between the good and the evil, the honourable and the base…

“May the God of all grace be with you as a congregation of Christ’s followers; and may the Spirit of wisdom and grace rest upon him who has now taken up the full succession of the ministry of the Gospel among you!”

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Cemetery plot location, description and inscriptions are provided courtesy of Rosalind Davies:

“From Killyleagh Presbyterian – Breakey/ Two white marble tablets in an elaborate surround against the graveyard wall, with a high-railed enclosure/ Erected to the memory   of The Rev. Andrew Breakey, ordained at First Keady 10 Aug 1819, installed at Killyleagh 31 Mar 1831, died 17 Nov 1882.  Jane Leslie, wife of the Rev. Andrew Breakey, died 27 Apr 1856 (personal communication to author, 8 April 2005).

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The following is the last will and testament of Rev. Andrew Breakey (David McElroy to author, 29 September 1980).  McElroy reports, “Both wills I mentioned escaped the fire in Dublin in 1922 even though they were there at that time, but it was fortunate that someone copied them and then handed them in after the situation had quieted down.  If you want me to send the copies I have please let me know (personal communication to author, 2 February 1980).

Author’s note: The will has been transcribed to the best of my ability, and in its entirety.


Extracted from the Belfast District Registry of the King’s Bench Division

Of High Court of Justice (Ireland).  (Probate).

Date of Issue, the 25 day of March 1903

Killyleagh fifteenth July eighteen hundred and eighty two20 I Andrew Breakey, Presbyterian minister, make and publish this my last will and testament in the manner and form following…First I give and bequeathe [sic] to my son Samuel Leslie my interest in my farm in D???taigi Keady, County Armagh next. I give and bequeath to my daughter Anna Sayers my entire interest in the Presbyterian widows Fund next. I give and bequeathe     to my grandson Andrew Hamilton all the shares standing in my name in the Great northern Railway Ireland.  To my granddaughter Caroline Hamilton, I give and bequeathe [sic] the shares standing in my name in the northern Bank, To my granddaughter Mrs. Jeanie Moore, I give and bequeathe [sic] a Bond for four hundred pounds lent to the Waterford and Limerick Railway at 4 ½ percent.  All the rest of what I may die possessed of via cash in hands or in bank on deposit, my dwelling house, stock, furniture, books, all else, gold watch, I may die possessed of I give and bequeathe to my grandson Walter M. Hamilton, he paying all my debts and funeral expenses, paying to my servant Jane Kelly fifteen pounds sterling and paying the cost of erecting a plain very substantial monument at my grave under these conditions he is to have and possess all my property not before disposed of.  Should said Walter or Caroline be under age and unfit to hold property I appoint their father Saml Hamilton Trustee for each or any, and finally  I nominate my son-in-law Revd S. Hamilton21 my friend George R Moore, Saintfield and my grandson Walter Executors of this my last Will and Testament.  In witness I here unto affix my name the day and year first above written – Andw Breakey –

Signed in presence of us, we signing in presence of each other – James G. Murphy – Samuel Magill – see Codicil on next page –

To the foregoing my Will and Testament I hereby add the following Codicil.  The bequest of my shares in the Great Northern Railway, Ireland, to my grandson Andrew B Hamilton.  I hereby revoke and annul and in its room and stead give and bequeath as follows, I order and appoint my Executors to sell said shares and divide the amounts realized into two equal shares, one of which I give and bequeath to my daughter Anna (Mrs. Sayers) and the other I give and bequeathe [sic] to my grandson Andrew B. Hamilton.  In witness whereof I hereby affix my name this thirty-first day of July 1882 – Andw Breakey – done in our presence we signing in presence of each other – William Witherow – Samuel Magill


Extracted from the Belfast District Registry of the King’s Bench Division

Of High Court of Justice (Ireland), (Probate)

Date of issue, the 25 day of March 1903

In the High Court of Justice Probate and Matrimonial Division Ireland, the District Registry of Belfast


Be it known that on the 8th day of December 1882, the last Will and Testament with one Codicil hereunto annexed of the Reverend Andrew Breakey, late of Killyleagh in the County of Down, Presbyterian Minister deceased who died on or about the 17th day of November 1882, at same place and who at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode at same place within the said District of Belfast, was proved and registered in the said District Registry of the said Division, and that the administration of all and singular the personal estate and effects of the said deceased was granted by the aforesaid Court to the Reverend Samuel Hamilton and the Reverend George Raphael Moore both of Saintfield in the County of Down Presbyterian Ministers two of the Executors named in the said Will, they having been first sworn well and faithfully to administer the same by paying the just debts of the deceased, and the bequests contained in his said Will and Codicil, and to exhibit a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the said estate and effects, and to render a just and true account thereof whenever required by law so to do, power being reserved to make the like grant to Walter M. Hamilton the other Executor when he shall apply for the same – J. M. Higginson MP- Dist. Regr – (Seal of Court)

I certify that the affidavit for the Commissioners of Inland Revenue has been delivered duly stamped and that the amount of the gross value of the Estate and Effects as shown by the accounts is [Pounds]3538=19=8    J. M. Higginson Dist Regr

The affidavit bears a stamp of [Pounds] 108=0=0 –Court Fees [Pounds] 6=5=6

Executed by H & W Leeds Solicitors

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Rev. Andrew Breakey’s second great granddaughter, Gene Pearson, took the following photograph when she visited Killyleagh and attended a service at his church. She reports that the photograph in not very clear as it is a ‘photograph of a photograph’ at the church (personal communication to author, 25 January 1994).



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Lineage –

Andrew Breakey was born 1795/6 to Isaiah Breakey and (given name unknown) Rogers of Lismagonway; he died 17 November 1882.  He married Jane Leslie, daughter of Samuel Leslie of Drumecanvir, on 20 December 1823; Jane Leslie Breakey died 27 April 1856.


i       Anna Breakey (Sayers) born circa 1826

ii        Isaiah Breakey born circa   1827 (Nesbitt, 107)

iii       Samuel Leslie Breakey (Brakey) born circa   1830 (Nesbitt, 107)

iv       Elizabeth Breakey (Hamilton) birth date unknown; second daughter of Rev. Andrew Breakey (The Belfast News-Letter, 1857]




14 This most probably is in reference to where he was pastor, and now is known as 1st Keady (Temple) Presbyterian Church, County Armagh.

15 The following two paragraph precis describing the town of Killyleagh is based upon the research of Rosalind Davies and is used with her kind permission (Davies to author, 8 April 2005).

16 Relevant to the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland and that Presbytery that “remonstrated against people being compelled to subscribe the Westminster Confession” (Agnew & McCleery).  Dr. Henry Cooke, Rev. Breakey’s predecessor at Killyleagh, was a staunch supporter of the Ulster Synod (op. cit).

17 Excerpts, only, have been provided here due to the lengthy reply of Rev. Breakey.

18 Spelling variations, Killyleagh versus Killileagh, have been utilized as they appear in reference sources.

19  Glasgow Matriculation Album Records indicate Andrew was the eldest Son of Isaiah; baptismal records indicate that Isaiah Brakey of Lismagonway had four other children born between the years of 1801 and 1809.  Andrew would have only been a boy of 13 or 14 years of age, a brother to younger siblings, had Isaiah died soon after 1809.  Andrew might have had to assume many family responsibilities as he eldest son of the family.  Further, if Isaiah's death occurred soon after August 1809, the following account of Andrew's vocational interest that follows is compatible with his entrance into Glasgow University in 1812.  

20 This will obviously was written within a matter of a few days after Andrew Breakey’s daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Rev. Samuel Hamilton, died on 8 July 1882 (Davies to author, 8 April 2005).

21 Rev. Samuel Hamilton died 22 February 1892 (Davies to author, 8 April 2005).