In 1778, while the United States was trying to retain the Independence it had declared in 1776, the American frigate "Ranger" under John Paul Jones, opened fire on the Castle if Carrickfergus [Belfast] and attacked the British warship "Drake" putting it out of action. This attack by John Paul Jones and the fact that the French had allied themselves to the colonists in the American revolution, caused alarm in Ireland which at that time was practically bereft of British forces. This led to a demand for the local volunteers, a citizen's militia, recruited mainly from the protestant middle class and led by the aristocracy, at their own expense, to defend the coast of Ireland and guard life and property. Leslie Hill was used as a bivouac and for drilling purposes. The estate was of considerable acreage and a progressive farm, but much of the land was sold to the tenants under the Act of 1903.
Not all the Leslie's of Northern Ireland remained there, in 1718 a James Leslie of the Coleraine area came to New England to settle with the Scots Presbyterians in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Later in 1729, another James Leslie and his wife Margaret Sheerar, left Coleraine to settle in Topsfield, Massachusetts, he also is a lineal descendant of the 4th Earl of Rothes and his wife Agnes Somerville. There is a book published by the Essex Institute about the members of this family.
It is of some significance that another James Leslie, and his wife Agnes Ramsay and their children left Ballymoney for the long voyage to America. They left the linen mills of Balnamore, near Leslie Hill to join forces with the large working world of the great Amoskeag Cotton Mills of Manchester, New Hampshire.
Agnes Leslie, one of these children, was my mother and it was because of the memory of her childhood at Balnamore that I became interested in the history of Leslie Hill.
Agnes Grady. Courtesy of Clan Leslie Charitable Trust.
The Griffin Reprints, First Series No 2.