List of Oldest County Antrim People

I recently spotted, in an old newspaper, the death notice of a very old lady in Cullybackey.  Martha Hanna was a stunning 126 years old when she died in March 1808.

1808 Cullybackey – 126 Year Old Martha Hanna Dies

On Friday last, near Cullybackey, Martha Hanna, aged 126 years. She was born near Dungannon, and remembered to have heard the shots fired in an engagement that took place there in the year 1690; and that she carried the victuals (means: food provisions) to the mafons (masons) and carpenters who built Cullybackey Meeting House, in 1727, she being then 45 years of age. She was married when an old maid; never had children; enjoyed a conflant flafe (constant state) of good health, until a few days before her death. She was a little woman; measuring this last year, 4 feet 7 inches

Saunders’s News-Letter – 19th March 1808

But, holy smoke, it turns out that she wasn’t alone.  A neighbour in nearby Ahoghill, Martha Dunn, was also 126, when she passed away 8 years earlier, in 1800.

list of oldest county antrim people

A little more digging threw up a fascinating old article from the Northern Whig newspaper, from June 1833.  The author listed the centenarians in County Antrim, from as far back as 1685, up until the date of his newspaper’s publication in 1833.

Note, in this old list, the author refers to Martha Hanna as being from Ahoghill (not Cullybackey).  I suspect with Ahoghill being bigger, and a more recognised regional centre, it got the nod.  For all we know, Martha Dunn might well be from the Cullybackey area too.

OK, I have transcribed the original 1833 list and put together an additional list of the ten oldest people in County Antrim (all were 115 years old or over), plus some notes on a few of the people referenced in the list. It’s worth adding, with not having their birth dates, it’s impossible to conclude whether Martha Dunn or Martha Hanna was oldest.  I have ranked them alphabetically, based on surname.

Table 1: Ten Oldest County Antrim People Between 1685 & 1833

Died Name Parish
1800 Martha Dunn Ahoghill 126
1808 Martha Hanna Ahoghill 126
1807 Jane Johnston Belfast 123
A. McCambridge
1758 Catherine Giles Glenwhirry 122
1761 Jane Montgomery Killead 120
Prudence Hare
William Simpson
Kirkinrolia 119
E. Magill
Tickmacreran 116
John Dwyer

Here’s the full list, with the year in which the person died, along with their parish or district, as transcribed from the 1833 newspaper article in the Northern Whig.

Table 2: Old People, County Antrim, of 92 years of age & upwards

1685David WaughAntrim109
1700W. JohnstonBallinderry100
1719John ScottBallynure97
1731Jane HooksBelfast113
1739John McGradyRashee114
1740J. JohnstonBallinderry101
1758Catherine GilesGlenwhirry122
17??William OrrBallymoney101
17??Cor O'ToyBallymoney101
1758Alex WileyDunachy106
17??Jane LynnBallymoney102
17??Nat. PeeblesBallymoney100
17??Edward CreekBallymoney100
1761Jane MontgomeryKillead120
1763John DwyerBallinderry115
1764James WarkBelfast106
1767Marg. CollinsRasharkin109
1768H. McNeillTickmacrevin96
1772J. Dhu. McNeillRasharkin109
1773Pat. DavaghCarncastle106
1774Garret TenchCrumlin104
1775Charles CrymbleBallylinny102
1776Ann TenchCrumlin96
1776John LiggatBelfast101
1778James WattDuncan97
1778Jane O'NeillBallymoney96
1780Edmund McNaghtenBilly93
1780Andrew TenchCrumlin110
1780Margaret HustonRalloo102
1780Sam CrawfordKirkinrolia94
1780Rose BurnsRalloo100
1781Jane DalzellBelfast94
1781John KnoxRalloo97
1782Richard NicholsonLarne110
1783John GreggBelfast95
1786Mary ShawKillead98
1786Daniel McGavockTickmacrevin110
1786Janet CowanTemplepatrick100
1789Margaret SmithCarnmoney94
1790Mary TenchCrumlin100
1790Margaret CampbellTemplepatrick100
1790Francis JoyDrumaul93
1791Janet BrysonCarnmoney113
1792John MansonBelfast93
1792Pat. MulhollandGrange96
1792Neal McCloudBelfast105
1792Andrew MontgomeryTemplepatrick97
1793Anthony CharletonGrange97
1793James CunninghamKillead108
1795John TombBallynure93
1793Peter Masonunknown93
1794Jane DobbinAntrim96
1794John BoydBilly110
1795Richard RiceDerriaghy112
1795Ann BrownTemplepatrick93
1796Elizabeth QuinnDrumaul100
1796Robert McDowellBelfast95
1796T. ThompsonMuckamore96
1797Skeff. BristowRasharkin97
1797Eleanor McCormicAntrim92
1798Robert WallaceBelfast97
1799John YoungKilraughts92
1799R. ParkerTemplepatrick94
1800Martha DunnAhoghill126
1801John DonaldRalloo93
1801Mary ManureBallynure101
1802W. JohnstonAghagallon102
1802Nancy LaughlinDunagore102
1803James IrelandBelfast93
1803James SmithGlenavy93
1803Robert AddusBallinderry93
1803John ForsythBallynure94
1803James NeilsonBallindenry92
1804Wm. SimpsonKirkinrolia119
1805Hugh McCrandleTickmacrevan92
1806John McClellandKillead102
1806Neal McNeillTickmacrevan108
1806William O'ToyBallymoney93
1807Robert Knoxunknown96
1807Jane JohnstonBelfast123
1807Owen CornelBallymoney92
1808John ResideDrumaul102
1808James McCrackenLisburn102
1808James McNeightLisburn102
1808Mary DelapDerriaghy106
1808Martha HannaAhoghill126
1808John MagalleyBallycastle94
1808Jane WallerAhoghill92
1809Margaret BeggsRalloo105
1809N. AlexanderDunagore112
1809James BurnsCorbally106
1809E. GuthrieCarnmoney109
1809Ann WhiteRalloo101
1810H. McNeillTickmacrevan99
1810A. MannBallintoy110
1810Robert GalwayLisburn104
1810William BrownBallymoney99
1811Elizabeth MooreAhoghill103
1811Margaret McNieceGlenavy95
1812John BarronBallylinny104
1812Jane JordanBallymoney100
1812William GardnerBallymoney92
1812William ShielRamoan101
1812Sumarez DuburdieuLisburn96
1812A ManRamoan92
1812Mat. ThompsonLisburn102
18??Sarah McQuillinGlenavy93
18??William LennonGlenavy100
1813Ann CunninghamBallymoney92
1813Thomas ReidGlenarm93
1813George McCegKillead109
1814Sar. JamisonBallymoney105
1814Andrew KinardCarnmoney104
1814Ann CarmichaelDunean96
1814Martha MooreBallymoney96
1814Samuel RockCairncastle93
18??Mary PoagAntrim97
18??John HamiltonAntrim98
1815David JefferyBalloo98
1815Ben. ScottBallynure95
1816A WomanBallintoy104
1816William CarsonAhoghill98
1816Jane BarronBallylinny105
1817Dorothy FrazerLisburn100
1817Edward NeesonDunean105
1817J. CummingBallymena95
1817James WardBelfast97
1818J. MontgomeryKillead105
1818Edward McGivernLisburn114
1819Ab. MoorheadCrumlin110
1819David AdamsCairncastle102
1819Patrick MoneyDrumaul108
1819Jane McGivernLisburn109
1819Elizabeth DundeeBallylinney104
1820Blaney AdairBallymena99
1821Margaret ShannonAntrim103
1821Prudence HareDrumaul119
1822Jane IrvineSkirry103
1822Jane CameronBallymoney95
1822William RavenhillLisburn95
1822John McCurdyBallymoney96
1823Patrick DillonCarnmoney98
1823Angus McKinleyBallymoney104
1823Randal McDonnellCarnmoney97
1823D. McClellandCarnmoney95
1823Hector McNeillGlenarm96
1823Andrew HarperCarnmoney97
1823Ann McKelveyTemplepatrick98
1824Daniel McNeillDerrykeighan110
1824James ChesimCarnmoney96
1824Catherine MageeDunean103
1824William RiceBelfast104
1824Robert PatrickKillead96
1825David DouglassDunagore96
1825Thomas SharpBallynure94
1825O. McMullanRasharkin101
1825M. McAuleyBallymoney97
1825William LoganSkirry100
1826Samuel McCroryDoagh104
1826Malcolm McAffeeAntrim103
1826Alex. McCayRasharkin102
1826Robert PatrickCrumlin96
1827Christopher HudsonBelfast93
1827Ann CrawfordBelfast105
1828D. McQuittyGlenwhirry104
1828Mary McDowellGrange94
1828Bernard KaneRamoan96
1828Mary BoleTemplepatrick99
1828J. McKeenIslandmagee93
1828Adam DickeyAhoghill94
1829Eliza BoydTemplepatrick92
1829Nicholas DelacheroisLisburn92
1829Patrick IrvineSkirry105
1829D. BoydTemplepatrick92
1829G. GrahamConnor107
1829Arthur O'HaraAhoghill103
1829Hugh MagillAhoghill101
1829E. MaxwellDrumaul105
1829M. McMeekinBallyeaston100
1829C. McNeightCarnmoney97
1829Jane McIlweanTemplepatrick95
1829E. ReidTemplepatrick97
1830Roger BoydRamoan96
1830E. ScottTemplepatrick95
1830Mary McLornanBelfast97
1830M. HornerKillead103
1830Nancy MolloyFinvoy109
18??John SheppardLarne93
1830H. MateerIslandmagee100
1831N. AllenIslandmagee93
1831R. McNeillTickmacrervan97
1831John O'MoneyGlenarm99
1832J. McMillanRickamore95
1832John M'CambridgeLayd104
18??E. MagillTickmacreran116
1832Ann BoyleBelfast108
1832Ann ElderBelfast105
1832A. McCambridgeLayd123
1832Mary DuffinGrangepark93
1832Prudence GribbinBelfast92
1833James FosterDrumaul110
1833R. SinclairDerriaghy93
1833M. IngramBallinderry93

Further Notes

Here’s a few more interesting details about some of the above people.

1731, Jane Hooks, from Belfast, was 113 when she passed on.  At 112 years of age, she got a new set of teeth,

17—, William Orr, from Ballymoney, who died at 101, also got a new set of teeth, a few years before he died.

1758, Alexander Wiley, of Dunachy, was 106 when he left this mortal plane.  He was a police constable in Ballymena when the army of James II. passed through the town, on it’s way to the siege of Derry.

1778, James Watt, of Duncan, was 97 when he passed on. James got married at 94.

1790, Francis Joy, of Drumaul, was 93 when he died.  He was the original proprietor of the Belfast News-Letter, and established, at Randalstown, the first paper-mill in Ulster.

1791, I omitted them from the above list, but Robert and Elizabeth Andrews, from near Doagh, died with a combined age of 200.

1793, Peter Mason, was 93 by the end.  He had served as a soldier, during the taking of Carlisle, in 1745.

1802, Nancy Laughlin, Dunagore, was 102 when she died.  She had got a new set of teeth cut, at 98 years of age. She saw her great-great-grand-child, who by the time of her death, was two and a half years old.

1806, William O’Toy, Ballymoney, was 93 when he passed. William was a coroner for County Antrim area, for sixty-one years.

1808, Martha Hanna, Ahoghill, 126, was a very small woman, and carried food to the masons who built Cullybackey Meeting House, in 1727. She remembers, as a child, shots fired in the Battle of the Boyne.  Ahoghill in those pre-famine years was clearly a wonderful place for centenarians. Two other Ahoghill centenarians that died in the early part of the nineteenth century were Arthur O’Hara, who was 103, and John Whitley who was 102.

1809, N. Alexander, of Dunagore, died in her chair at 112.  She claimed that she never had as much as a headache during her lifetime.

1809, E. Guthrie, Carnmoney, was 109 on passing. She was able read without spectacles until within a few days of her death.

1825, David Douglass, Dunagore, 96.  On the 23rd December, 1770, David was rescued by the Hearts of Steel, while locked up as a prisoner in Belfast.

1824, Catherine Magee, Dunean, 108. Even at 100 years of age, she could sing and dance.

Next to the Ahoghill ladies (Martha Hanna and Martha Dunn) mentioned above, who both died at 126, the oldest County Antrim centenarians who died in the pre-famine part of the nineteenth century were A. McCambridge, of Layd, and Jane Johnston, of Belfast, who had both topped 123; W. Simpson, of Kirkinriola, who just missed  out on reaching her 120th birthday when she passed away in 1804, and Prudence Hare, of Drumaul, who had reached the age of 119.

As well as Ahoghill and Cullybackey area being famous for it’s folks living long lives, Tickmacreevan is another County Antrim village well known back then for it’s patriarchial residents. David McGavrock passed away there in 1786, at the aged of 110. Neal McNeill was 108 when he died in the village in 1806, and his brother H. McNeill followed him three years later, at the grand old age of 103.

The village of Killead also rears folks well.  It buried five centenarians in the first twenty-five years of the 1800s, namely: James Cunningham, 108; John McClelland, 102; M. Horner, 103; J. Montgomery, 105; and Eleanor Tate, 111.

By the way, the original 1833 article refers to Dunagore (unsure if the original author misspelt it, or if that was the spelling of that era). I kept it this way in the transcribed table above.  But the modern/proper spelling of the place is – Donegore.

Sources of information

Saunders’s News-Letter, 19th Mar 1808

The Examiner, 27th March 1808

The Scots Magazine, 1st Apr 1808

Northern Whig, 3rd June 1833.

Ballymena Observer – 11th February, 1910; 28th March 1919; 25th January 1924

HELP – If you have any data on old people that lived up the County Derry side of the Bann Valley, please drop me a line. I am struggling to find information.


"I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

2 thoughts on “List of Oldest County Antrim People

  1. William, In my medical education at the university of Amsterdam, which started in 1978, I was told that for various reasons it was not possible to become older then 115 years. If the birth and death certificates of those that exceded 115 years of age are present , a new chapter in genetics can be opened.

    1. LOL! Those two old ladies, who died in 1800 and 1808, were 128, supposedly. In all my transcribing, I do note many anomolies when it comes to ages.

      Even within my own family. e.g. for my paternal great grandmother, who died young, I could not get a definitive age for her. I know she definitely died in 1913 at the Mulholland house in Eden, leaving a young family behind. But every other piece of data, pointed to different ages – ranging from her being 40 to 45 years old. i.e. the death certificate indicated one age – the words on her gravestone indicated a different age – while the two national census polls in Ireland, of 1901 and 1911, both indicated different other ages for the woman! So despite me having four different sources, for her age, not one of them agreed!

      I think back then, they placed less emphasis on keeping track of their age.

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