Old Families of Larne and District (Gravestone Inscriptions, Co. Antrim Vol. 4)

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Larne and district can claim to be the cradle of the Ulster-Scots connection. It has been for centuries a main arrival point for immigrants from Scotland and a port of departure for emigrants, particularly transatlantic migrants.

Its strong links with the sea-going trade are clearly reflected in the prominent families represented in Larne’s graveyards. The most notable include the Chaines, Dixons, McGarels and Smileys who were not only successful merchants but were also generous benefactors of the town of Larne.

One of the features of East Antrim graveyards which illustrates the Ulster-Scots interest is the remarkable collection of coats of arms on the headstones. St Cedma’s in Larne has about 40 of these, most of which had rubbings taken around 1900 when they were sharper, and which are reproduced in this volume. They are not official and registered armorial bearings, but rather arms which the Scottish families who settled in the vicinity have claimed and used down the centuries.

In addition to the gravestone inscriptions, Old Families of Larne and District includes records of nineteenth century wills and biographical notes on the prominent figures, as well as a general guide to historical sources. Each of these will be equally valuable for the research of family and local history.

R. S. J. Clarke

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