The textile industry in Lambeg
The graveyard contains many tombstone monuments bearing the names of families who helped to establish and develop the textile industry in the parish. Some of those tombstones, especially those made of sandstone, have weathered badly and as a consequence some names or even whole inscriptions are no longer legible. However, fortunately, William Cassidy made a record of the inscriptions in the churchyard in 1937 although he noted, even then, that many headstones were in an advanced state of decay. Three inscriptions which are now illegible or have disappeared since that date provide valuable, if somewhat limited, information about early families. These inscriptions recorded the 17th century deaths of ‘Margret (sic) Willson, wife to Daniel Savage, died 24 April 1626’ and ‘John Markes, died 30 August 1689, aged 34 years’ and the later deaths Richard Simpson (1788), Anne Simpson (1789), possibly his wife, and George Simpson (1817), perhaps their son.
The earliest documentary evidence of the textile industry in the parish records the setting up of a bleach green in 1626 by John Williamson. Unfortunately there is no Williamson family burial ground in the churchyard comparable in size, information or chronological spread to those of the other linen families. In 1937 Cassidy recorded a family burying ground with only one name, ‘John Williamson’ on the inscription but it cannot now be found. Limited details of this very old family can be found on gravestone inscriptions on five separate burial plots but, disappointingly, they only contain enough information by which a few members of one mid nineteenth century family can be related. The male line of the family came to an end in the 1830s and their textile business was taken over by the Richardson family which had expanded into Lambeg from its original 18th century base in Lisburn.