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[Bann Valley] Downing family

I am one of a group of researchers trying the establish the extent and antecedents of the Downing family who signed leases on the Vintners' Propertion at Bellaghy in 1569.They are probably descended from George Downing who held leases at Ballykelly from about 1618, but moved to Bellaghy in 1569. We have a Victorian record of uncertain authenticity that he had a son George, probably of Rocktown, who was the Comptroller of Customs for Co. Londonderry. He seems to have had a brother Nicholas of Drumard, whose will was proved in 1698, and there was another brother William. It would seem that George Jr. married Jane Montgomery, the daughter of Hugh Montgomery of Gransheogh, who held estates at Maghera. They had at least five sons of whom the best known was Captain Adam Downing (later Lt. Colonel) who fought at the siege of Londonderry and married Anne Jackson of the Coleraine Jackson family. There were also John, George ,Samuel and Bernard. We have identified a considerable number of Downing names in the vicinity of Bellaghy, but apart from Adam's and Samuel's descendants, we have not been able to link them into the family. The problem is made more complicated, because several Gaelic families adopted the name Downing when they anglicised their names, but it is likely that several of the later Downing names were kinsmen of Adam. For example there are families with the given name Stratford and Hertford, and we are aware that an Anglo-Irish family with the the surname, Stratford, also lived locally. There is also a grouping at Dreenan, who may be of Gaelic origin.

We are at present grasping at every possible straw, and I can provide such information as we have unearthed (and its source) to anyone who is interested. I would prefer to focus on records or leads that date back prior to about 1800.

Robert Stedall