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Hillsborough, County Down


Hill's (surname) + Eng. borough; earlier Ir. Cromghlinn ‘crooked glen’.


5.5km SSW of Lisburn

bar: Iveagh Lower, Upper Half

Hillsborough townland lies west of the Large Park. It almost encircles the townland of Small Park at its northern edge, and the main street of Hillsborough town is in its north-eastern corner.  It was formerly called Crumlin and appears under this name in the Census of 1659.  Since Small Park and Large Park are not listed in the Census, it is clear that these were created out of the townland of Crumlin, probably in the 18th century when they were formed into the estate of the Marquis of Downshire.

The parish was based on a church reckoned as a chapel of Drumbo in 1306.  The 1615 Terrier called it Crumlin, from a church site still recognisable in the19th century ‘near the bridge, at the entrance into the town’ (O’Laverty ii 247-8).  Cromelin appeared on maps c.1580 and 1595, and Brian McRory Magennis asked to be buried in the ‘church or church yard of Crumlyn’ at his death in 1631.  The 1659 Census, which first referred to ‘Hils borrow towne’ (inhabitants 69 Irish, 96 English and Scots) still also included the townland named Crumlin. This name is probably Ir. Cromghlinn, an oblique form of Cromghleann ‘crooked glen’.  The name Hillsborough derives from Sir Moses Hill, whose son Arthur extended control over the parish in the Cromwellian period, having acquired some adjacent townlands in 1611.  Sir Moses had first used the name Hilsborowe for a house near Shaw’s Bridge guarding a ford on the Lagan (O’Laverty ii 243, app. Lx, lxiv-v; 367).  Hillsborough Castle, the residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and an official residence of the British royal family, was built in 1770 by a descendant of Sir Moses, Wills Hill, Earl of Hillsborough, later to become the 1st Marquess of Downshire.  A mansion, rather than a true castle, it is located in the townland of Small Park.

As a townland, the boundary of Hillsborough extends west to include Sion Hill, and it may include the lost land unit of Dromontanty (Ir. Droim an tSean-tí ‘ridge of the old house’) held with Drumatihugh in 1631. The rath beneath the central area of Hillsborough Fort was excavated in 1967.  Large Park also contained Mary’s Fort and Fox Fort and two counterscarp raths (NISMR, ASCD 409-11).


McKay, P. (2007): A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 81; KM, 2009; with additions PT, 2012.;

Additional Information

Historical name form

Old FormRef. DateReference

the Church of Drumboe, with the chapel [i.e. the chapel of Crumlin]

1306EA 45

Cromlin, by a little wood and a river called ----[Blank in MS.], and in the midst of the plain a long stone.

1556Cal. Carew MSS i 262

Capella S[anc]ti Malachie

1622Ulster Visit. Reeves 25

Crumlin, membrum Archidiaconatus, parcella de Drumbo

1633EA 45 (Reg. Vis.)

Cromghlinn uachtrach

1760cMac Cumhaigh (b) 124 l.188

Druim na Tainte ""hill of the flocks""

1834cJ O'D (OSNB) No. 7


1905Post-Sheanchas 76


1989GÉ 81

Cromghleann "" crooked glen""

1999Cel. Ulst. Tds 28

Cromghlinn ""crooked glen""

1999Dict. Ulst. PN 81
Cromelin1580cSE Ulster Map
Crommelyn1595Mercator's Ulst.
Cromline1622Ulster Visit. Reeves 45
Crumlin1657cHib. Reg. Lr. Iveagh
Hils borrow1659cCensus 1659 80
Cromlin1661CSP Ire. 459
Crumlin1661Trien. Visit. (Bramhall) 9
Crumlin Parish1661BSD 81
Crumlin, 3/4 of a Town Land1661BSD 81
Hillsborough1661CSP Ire. 459
Hillsborough1663Sub. Roll Down 275
Crumlin1672cHib. Del. Down
Crumlin1679Trien. Visit. (Boyle) 42
Hill''s borough from Sir Moses Hill1744Harris Hist. 96
Hillsborough antiently called Crumlin1744Harris Hist. 96
Hilsborough, a village1760UJA 3 48 1985 114
Hillsborough1810Wm. Map (OSNB) No. 7
Drumnetantie als Drumnitantie1811Marriage Downshire (OSNB) No. 7
Hillsborough1830cBnd. Sur. (OSNB) No. 7
Iveagh Lr., Up. Half
Parish in 1851
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