Mackenzie, John (1648?-1686) (DNB00)


MACKENZIE, JOHN (1648?–1696), Irish divine, was born about 1648 at Lowcross, near Cookstown, co. Tyrone, on a farm still in the possession of the family. After such school education as the place afforded he was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Down, of the synod of Ulster. In 1673 he was ordained minister of the congregation of Derryloran or Cookstown, where his stipend was about 15l. per annum (Records of the General Synod of Ulster, i. 3), with a farm valued at 8l. or 9l. He was one of the eight presbyterian clergymen who took refuge in Londonderry in 1688. Remaining there during the siege, he became chaplain of Walker's regiment, and regularly officiated at the presbyterian services in the cathedral. A small volume of Mackenzie's manuscript sermons now belongs to the Rev. J. K. Leslie of Cookstown. Some of them are marked 'Derry,' and were evidently preached there during the siege. In the 'Londerias,' 'Master Mackenzie' is described as having 'taught the army to fear God's great name.' After the relief of Derry he returned to his ministrations at Cookstown and to his home at Lowcross, where he continued to reside until his death in 1696. He was buried in Derryloran churchyard, where his crave, unmarked by any stone, is still pointed out.

Mackenzie is best known by his publications regarding the history of the siege of Derry. George Walker having published his 'True Account,' Mackenzie in 1690 issued his 'Narrative of the Siege of Londonderry, or the late Memorable Transactions of that City faithfully represented to Rectify the Mistakes and Supply the Omissions of Mr. Walker's Account' (64 pp., London, 1690; republished at Belfast, 1861, with an introduction and notes by W. D. Killen, D.D.) In this he gives a totally different version of many of the events of the siege, strips Walker of much of the glory which he had given to himself in his own account, and furnishes a considerable amount of information not elsewhere accessible. Before publishing the 'Narrative' Mackenzie read it over to several of the officers who had taken part in the defence of the city, and obtained their assent to it. An anonymous writer having attacked the ' Narrative ' in a pamphlet entitled ' Mr. John Mackenzie's Narrative of the Siege of Londonderry a false Libel,' Mackenzie replied in 'Dr. Walker's Invisible Champion foiled, or an Appendix to the late Narrative of the Siege of Derry, wherein all the Arguments offered in a late Pamphlet to prove it a false Libel are Examined and Refuted' (13 pp., London, 1690). This terminated the controversy.

[Witherow's Historical and Literary Memorials of Presbyterianism in Ireland, 1st ser.; Reid's History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Preface to the Narrative; information supplied to the writer by the Rev. J. K. Leslie, Cookstown.]

T. H.