John Galt's Diary

Personal diary of John Galt (1767-1837), general merchant and missionary, of Coleraine, Co. Londonderry, covering the period 1796 to 1837. His diary is written in five quarto books bound together into one volume, but there is a gap between the years 1803 and 1817. The entries are usually made at intervals of a week or ten days and are largely of a devotional character reflecting Galt's religious pre-occupations. His main interest was in Methodism, particularly its missionary side. He gives some details of the beginnings of Methodism in Coleraine and district and also records some preaching tours of his own, not only in his own province but in Leinster and Connaught as well. Galt also comments on some of the events and tendencies of the 1790s: the United Irishmen's Movement, the execution of William Orr, the Battle of Antrim and other engagements. He seems to have served as a local volunteer with a body of troops commanded by Lord Henry Murray and to have taken part in some engagement between the royal forces and the rebels advancing on Coleraine from Ballymoney, but his details are very vague. Two rebel leaders were later executed at Coleraine. He also notes bad seasons, scarcity of provisions and their effect on the poor. Galt's business activities as a general merchant in Coleraine are also highlighted in the diary until 1827 when the business failed. After selling his property to meet the demands of his creditors, Galt retired to a cottage in Portstewart. In 1832 there was an outbreak of cholera which in September reached Coleraine. Galt states that there were about 260 cases there and the deaths about 110. On 25 November of that year, Galt, now in Portstewart, wrote: 'We have been busily engaged this week in settling our cholera accounts, Government advanced money to erect hospitals, lay in medicines, apparatuses, etc., to be repaid again by instalments. We had everything of that kind with a doctor (Dr. Lever) engaged at sixty pounds a year with a proper board of health and other officers appointed to meet the disease, but though only 3 miles from Coleraine where it raged with much violence, and hourly communications betwixt the two places, there never has been a single case hereh in Portstewart'. Dr Lever was to become better known later as Charles Lever, the novelist.


It is an excellent source of local history of the North Antrim area for the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries.

Physical characteristics

One bound volume, 1796-1837.

Description or Catalogue

See PRONI reference D/561 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation inPRONI's Public Search Room.


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Added by PRONI | Last updated on: 09 February 2018