JOHNSTOWN (ST.)

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

JOHNSTOWN (ST.), a village (formerly a parliamentary borough), in the parish of TAUGHBOYNE, barony of RAPHOE, county of DONEGAL, and province of ULSTER, 8 ½ miles (N. by W.) from Lifford: the population is returned with the parish. This place is situated on the river Foyle, which is here of considerable breadth and forms a boundary between the counties of Donegal and Tyrone. It originated in the plantation of Ulster, when a grant of the lands of Dromtoolan and Gollanogh, together containing about 210 acres and 80 acres of other lands, was made by James I. to Louis Stewart, Duke of Lennox, and Earl of Richmond, on condition of his settling here 13 families of English or Scottish artisans or mechanics. For the use of this settlement the Earl was to assign 60 acres for the site of a town, to be called St. Johnstown, and to consist of one street of 13 houses, to each of which was to be allotted 5 acres of land, to be held of him in fee-farm at a trifling rent. This settlement was incorporated by charter of James I. in 1618, under the designation of the "Provost and Burgesses of the Borough and Town of St. Johnstown," but never attained the local importance contemplated by the founder; and the corporation seems to have exercised scarcely any of its municipal functions, except that of returning two members to the Irish parliament, which it continued to do till the Union, when the borough was disfranchised.

The village is situated on the western bank of the river Foyle, which is navigable to its junction with the lough for vessels of 50 tons, and consists only of one street containing a few neat houses; it has a penny post to Londonderry. The market granted by the charter is discontinued, and of the four fairs, only one is held on the 25th of Nov. It contains a place of worship for Presbyterians, the parochial school-house, and a dispensary. In the vicinity are some small vestiges of the castle of Montgevelin in which James II. held his court till the termination of the siege of Londonderry.

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