In almost every part of the bog are found numbers of oak, birch, and fir trees of full growth, which last especially are in high preservation; they are sawn with difficulty, and the timber, said to be more durable than oak, is much used in building. The oaks are large, some measuring 30 feet in girth, and are found beneath the fir at a depth of 26 feet, but in general much decayed.
Florida manor-house, the elegant mansion of David Gordon, Esq., D.L., is the principal seat in the parish.
A court leet and baron is held every third week by the seneschal of the manor, at which debts under 40s. are recoverable, and of which the jurisdiction extends over the whole of this parish and the townland of Drumreagh in the parish of Killinchy. Petty sessions are also held on alternate Saturdays in the manor court-house, a handsome building erected in 1822. During the disturbances of 1798, the manor of Florida raised a battalion of yeomanry; the men still retain their arms and accoutrements, but of late have been seldom called out by government to exercise. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Down, and in the alternate patronage of the Marquess of Downshire and David Gordon, Esq., in the latter of whom the rectory is impropriate. The tithes amount to £151. 12. 8., of which £65. 12. 8. is payable to the impropriator, and the remainder to the vicar. A handsome glebe-house has been erected by the patrons, aided by a gift of £415 and a loan of £129 from the late Board of First Fruits; and Mr. Gordon has given 10 acres of land as a glebe, and endowed the vicarage with a rent-charge of £40 payable out of his estate of Florida. The church, after the dissolution of the monastery of Comber, fell into decay, and the tithes were annexed to those of the parish of Hillsborough, 14 miles distant; but in 1819, the present church, an elegant structure in the later English style, with a handsome tower and spire rising to the height of 120 feet, was erected near the site of the ancient ruins, at the joint expense of the lord of the manor and the Marquess of Londonderry, aided by a gift of £900 from the late Board of First Fruits. The interior is handsomely fitted up with Riga oak; the east window, of large dimensions and elegant design, appears to have been copied from that of Salisbury cathedral, and in the churchyard is a splendid mausoleum belonging to the Gordon family. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms part of the union or district of Saintfield. About 200 children are taught in four public schools; of these one, for which a handsome school-house was erected by Mr. Gordon and the Marquess of Londonderry, is supported by the trustees of Erasmus Smith's charity, who pay the master £30 per ann.; and one at Drumnahirk was built and is supported by Lord Dufferin.
There are also two private schools, in which are about 150 children. A mendicity society has been established, for raising funds to be applied to the relief or maintenance of the poor, which are distributed at their own dwellings monthly; and an extensive religious lending library is kept in the court-house for the use of the poor.
from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837.
The transcription of the section for this parish from the National Gazetteer (1868), provided by Colin Hinson.
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