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Hillsborough Parish, County Down


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


Hillsborough 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 a 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. Hillsborough townland lies west of the townland of 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.


KM, 2009; with additions PT, 2009.

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