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 • Chester County
 • South Carolina
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Rev William Martin
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Birth: 1729, Ireland
Death: 1807, USA

William Martin was the eldest son of David Martin, born May 16, 1729/33, at Ballyspaolen or Eglington, Co. Londonderry. (Bally means settlement.) In 1753 he graduated from Glasgow University and the Reformed Presbyterian Hall where he studied under John McMillan, founder of the Scottish Reformed Presbyterian Church. He was licensed to preach and was ordained in the open air at Vow in 1757. He was then placed in charge of the Presbyterian societies centering in Ballymoney. They associated themselves into corresponding meetings and these into a General Meeting.

He was the first Reformed and first Covenanter minister in Ireland of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. He was also the only Covenanter minister in Down and Antrim at the time. He preached in Antrim, Londonderry, North Down, and Donegal. He lived at Bangor for a time, east of Belfast. He had oversight for societies at Cullybackey, Laymore, Cloughmills, and Dervock. The Presbytery was founded in 1743.
In Ulster Covenanters had first met in societies, then meetings, and then general meeting.

In 1760 Mr. Martin elected to make Kellswater the main centre of his work and a meeting house was created on the site of the present church where formerly a corn mill been converted. It is the oldest congregation in the Irish Church. The congregation met for forty-six years in this simple meeting house beside the river. The Meeting House is situated on the banks of the Kellswater River, on Grove Road near the villages of Kells and Connor, about 4 miles to the south of
Ballymena. It was replaced in 1806 by the present building. However, Covenanters have had a presence in the area since the 1680s when Alexander Peden "the prophet of the Covenanters" was forced to flee from Scotland. {In 2000 there were 35 families as members of the church from scattered areas, and there are no children of Sabbath School age.} There are no records of the congregation for this period in its history but we know that one of its main strengths lay in the regular meetings of the Societies. There was probably one in each townland with an attendance of from 10 to 12 members. The meeting was run under the supervision of an elder who put the question for discussion and led the meeting.

Kellswater is in the townland of Carnaghts, Parish Connor. The village is Kells, but people from the area near there and the Kells River refer to being from Kellswater, even tho' there is no town by that name.
Martin was minister of Kellswater Reformed Presbyterian Church from 1760 to1772, when he left for the English colony SC. In County Antrim Ireland, the congregation of Rev. William Martin, called the "seceders" were a splinter Presbyterian group.

Martin was to minister to the Antrim Congregation of Covenanters, and services were held at Ballyrashane, Kirkhills, Laymore, Kellswater, Donegore, and Roughfort. Under Rev. Martin's leadership, congregations were established at Kellswater in 1760, at Drimbolg and Ballylaggan in
1763, and Cullybackey in 1765. Although he emigrated to South Carolina, two other ongregations were established shortly after he left as a result of his pioneer work - Kilraughts and Dervock in 1783. All these congregations are in existence today.

Adherents, stayed close by their minister, the Reverend William Martin. His work included ministering to the societies centering around Ballymoney (NW of Belfast).

Kellswater is on the Kells River, close to Ballymena. Linen mills drew power from this river. Ballymena today is a predominantly Protestant town that could have been transplanted straight from the Scottish lowlands. Indeed, most of its plantation settlers came from the southwest of Scotland, and the Ballymena accent still retains traces of Scottish lowlands speech. Like many Northern Irish towns, its prosperity derived from the linen trade, while the alleged tightfistedness of its residents earned it the sobriquet of the "Aberdeen of Ireland." It is also known as the "Buckle of the Bible Belt."

In 1727, 50 years before Martin left for SC, there were listed 4 reasons for immigration: Forbidding of the erection of Presbyterian meeting houses; the inability of Presbyterians to occupy public posts; the illegality of Presbyterian marriages; the prohibition of all schools other than those conducted by teachers licenses by bishops of the Church of England. Their taxes supported a church not their own. Most were employed in the textile industry, and business was bad. Rents for farms were too high.
Family links: 
  Mary Martin Cooper (1756 - 1833)*
*Calculated relationship
Martin Family Cemetery
Chester County
South Carolina, USA
Created by: L.F. Randell
Record added: Aug 30, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 41327195
Rev William Martin
Added by: John
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- Linda Lyles
 Added: Jan. 9, 2015

- Randy Martin
 Added: Apr. 26, 2013
Thank you Rev. William Martin for bringing my ancestors across the Atlantic from Ireland in 1772 and your bravery in the sight of adversity.
- Frances Gragg Warren
 Added: Feb. 26, 2013

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