Robert Mercer

Robert was a Schoolmaster at Ellon in Aberdeenshire.
He moved to Ireland where he became Minister of Mullaghbrack.
He was killed in 1641 during the Irish Rebellion.
He left three children.

Mullaghbrack and The Irish Rebellion

In 1609 King James Ist of England and 6th of Scotland initiated “the Plantation of Ulster” – the colonization of the northern part of Ireland by Scottish and English Protestant settlers. Some of the settlers restored the church building at Mullabrack and used it as their place of worship. The indigenous population meanwhile were made to surrender their lands to the new ‚ÄúPlanters.”Nowadays Mullabrack is a quiet, rural area unlike the wild, desolate land settled by Protestants four centuries ago. It was then part bog and part forest and wolves roamed at night. The Planters worked hard to build their solid farmhouses and to clear, drain and cultivate the land. In 1617, Archibald Acheson erected a castle one mile from the church and around it settled 36 Scottish families. On the other side of the church, another Scots landlord, John Hamilton, built a fortified mansion house or “bawn.” The Church at Mullabrack was the place of worship for both families as well as for their servants and tenants.A rebellion by the native population in 1641 came as a great disaster to the Ulster settlers. The general aims of the rebels were to turn out Protestant settlers, regain confiscated estates, overthrow English rule in Ireland, remove and root out Protestantism and secure freedom for the Roman Catholic faith.

That year, Sir Phelim O’Neill on his march from Newry to Armagh, ordered Mulmory MacDonell ” . . . to kill all the English and Scots within the parishes of Mullebrack, Logilly and Kilcluney”.

Among the properties destroyed were Archibald Acheson’s Castle, John Hamilton’s Bawn and the Churches at Kilcluney and Mullaghbrack where the Irish used the oldest memorial in the church (to Sarah, wife of John Hamilton) for target practice. Robert Mercer, who was curate of the parish at the time, was murdered by the Irish. – Rev. Burns at Loughgilly was also killed while the Rev. Michael Berkhead (Berket) of Kilcluney was taken prisoner.

The present church at Mullabrack is surrounded by many old grave stones which are indecipherable or bear no inscription. Shot marks can still be seen on the base of Sarah Hamilton’s memorial. A pre-Reformation altar slab used in one of the earliest buildings on the site was unearthed by workmen in the church yard in the 1940s. It is now on display in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh.

(Source material: http://website.lineone.net/~dlol10/history2.html and http://1mullabrack.boys-brigade.org.uk)

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