Presbyterianism in Ballycarry

The story of Presbyterianism in Ballycarry begins with the arrival of the Rev. Edward Brice in 1613. He was then 44 years old and had been minister of Bothkinnar in Dunbartonshire and later of Drymen in Stirlingshire. However, he objected to changes which King James was making in the Church of Scotland - such as the introduction of Bishops - and this made him a marked man with the authorities.

However, the local lairds were the Edmonstone family and in 1609 one of them, William Edmonstone, had leased the estate of Broadisland (or Ballycarry) from John Dalway. At that time very many Scots people were coming over to live in Ireland, especially in the eastern parts of Antrim and Down. Around Ballycarry the inhabitants were almost all Scottish. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that when a minister was needed for this growing community that Brice should be thought of.

In 1613 Brice was appointed to the parish of Broadisland by Bishop Echlin, and he began the task of reviving the Church. In 1622 the ancient church, which had been in ruins, was renovated and re-roofed. Yet it must be borne in mind that Brice was serving as a minister of the Church of Ireland, and in 1619 was promoted to become Prebendary of Kilroot. Bishop Echlin did not mind this Scots Minister running a 'Presbyterian Church' in a Scots parish; but his successor, Bishop Leslie, took a very different view and, on 12th August 1636, Brice and other ministers like him were suspended from office. Brice died a few weeks later and was buried within the walls of his Church.