The Normans and Ballyhalbert
The townland of Ballyhalbert is known as "The Parish of St. Andrews alias Ballyhalbert". To understand where it's name and the origins come from we have to look to the Normans.
To find the origin of the name "Parish of St. Andrews" we must visit the village of Stogursey in Somerset. Originally the area was known as Stokes and was owned by William de Falaise. Towards the end of the 11th Century a parish church was built in Stokes and was called St. Andrews. William de Falaise's daughter married William de Courci who inherited the land and from which it became known as Stokes Courci. Over the years the name has been corrupted to Stogursey as it is known today.
William de Falaise granted the church of St. Andrews and some land to the Benedictine Priory at Lonlay in Normandy, France. Within a few years, a group of monks were living in Stogursey and had built their own Priory which was known as "The Priory of St. Andrews in Stogursey".
For further information on Stogursey in Somerset, visit http://www.stogursey.net
John de Courcy, a descendant of William de Courci, led the Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1177. Over time he captured the Counties of Antrim and Down. Around 1183/84, he granted to the Priory of St. Andrews in Stogursey "Ten Caracutes of land and all it's appurtances in the Country of Lart or The Ardes". In 1204 a Benedictine Priory was built and was called "The Priory of St. Andrews of the Ards". Over the years this Priory became better known as Blackabbey on account of the colour of the clothes worn by the Monks.
With the Norman Invasion in 1177, many families travelled over from England and settled in Ireland. One such family was The Talbots from Herefordshire who settled around Dublin as well as Counties Antrim and Down.
The name Ballyhalbert is a corruption of the name Ball-Thalbot or Talbotstown, taken from the Talbot family who settled in the area following the Norman Invasion.
Over the years, the Taxes and Tithes of Ballyhalbert were paid to Blackabbey. Today nothing remains of the priory. According to Bassetts History of County Down for 1886, "the last remains were removed by a local farmer in recent years".
Today the area is still known as "The Parish of St. Andrews alias Ballyhalbert".