Rev Robert Thompson
1779 - 1812
Sixth Minister of Ballywillan Presbyterian Church
Mr Robert Thompson was ordained on 23rd April 1779. Although he lived during the troubled times of the 1798 Rebellion, little is known of his ministry. Some details of his income are available – stipend during part of his ministry was £50 and as well as this under the new system of classification (1803) he would have received £75 Regium Donum.
Mr Thompson was married and had a family of at least three sons and three daughters.
His son, Joseph was tenant of a farm at Craigmount, the farm being leased from James Hannay – this may earlier have been Mr Thompson’s farm. Two of his sons emigrated to Philadelphia – William emigrated in 1807 and entered the store of his uncle John Thompson (who was the father of Judge Oswald Thompson), but later William and his brother established their own wholesale grocery and tea business. William was an influential merchant, who did much to build up the commercial prosperity of Philadelphia , and was a director of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
In 1815 one of the Rev Thompson’s daughters married the Rev James Wilson, minister of 1stMagherafelt from 1813 to 1854. Mr Thompson’s eldest daughter, Mrs Young, died at her son’s residence, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia , in 1872. Another daughter, Jane, married Mr Charles Logan of Prospect, Magherafelt.
In 1811 it was reported in the Route Minutes that Mr Thompson was ill, and the Presbytery arranged supplies. At the Presbytery meeting in July 1811, John Walker and John Adams, commissioners from Ballywillan, thanked the Presbytery for its care of Ballywillan since ‘their beloved pastor became indisposed’ and for the rest of the year various men were appointed by the Presbytery to preach at Ballywillan.
Mr Thompson resigned in 1812 and died of apoplexy on 10th July 1815. His wife must have predeceased him as it was his family, and not his widow, who received the Widows’ Fund grant. He was buried at Ballywillan.
When Ballywillan Church was rebuilt in 1889 the Misses Thompson of Craigmount presented the handsome stone pulpit, which is still in use today.