No. 6/19987 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Saturday 23 March 1918 (aged 26)
No known grave
Pozieres Memorial, France (Panel 74 to 76)
McLean family grave headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter
Holywood and District War Memorial
County Cork Book of Honour entitled
A Great Sacrifice – Cork Servicemen Who Died in the Great War
The name J. McLean is inscribed on Holywood and District War Memorial and in 2016 a local man came forward with the following information. He recalled his mother telling a story that, when she was a small girl, a relative (she knew him as ‘uncle’) had visited her parents at 19 North Street, Newtownards and a short time later he was killed in action. He was in fact her first cousin once removed.
The local man’s mother’s maiden name was Annie McLean Wallace Cavan and the local man has in his possession the trio of medals granted to Rifleman John McLean (No. 6/19987) and handed down by his family.
Born on 29 April 1910, Annie McLean Wallace Cavan was a daughter of James and Jane Cavan (nee McLean) who were married on 16 December 1908 in College Square Presbyterian Church Belfast. Jane McLean was a daughter of William Mclean, a gamekeeper. James Cavan, who worked as a grocer, was a son of Robert Cavan. One of the witnesses at their wedding was Jane’s eldest sister, Isabella McLean.
Three McLean brothers who were killed during the First World War are commemorated on a headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery, Ballywalter:
Erected by Alexander McLean
In proud and loving memory
Of his three sons, who voluntarily
Answered the Nation’s call and gave
Their lives for King and Country.
John McLean, R I Rifles
Born 1st June 1891, died 25th March 1918
George Alexander McLean R F Artillery
Born 14th January 1893, died 23rd December 1916
William Robert McLean, Cheshire Regiment
Born 19th July 1894, died 7th September 1918
Also his wife Elizabeth died 6th May 1902
Interred in Templetryen Cork aged 38 years
Also his son Samuel died 16th August 1916
Interred in Deans Grange Dublin aged 18 years
The paternal grandparents of the three McLean brothers who died in the First World War were John and Isabella McLean (nee Wright) who had at least four children, all of whom were born in County Down:
William (born around 1848)
Samuel (born around 1851)
Alexander (born around 1860)
Agnes (born around 1863)
John McLean died of influenza at Mountstewart, Greyabbey on 14 April 1895 (aged 84) and his son William, who also lived at Mountstewart, was present when he died; John McLean was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter.
In 1901 Isabella McLean, a widow (aged 80) and her unmarried daughter Agnes (aged 38) were living at Mountstewart.
In 1901 William McLean (aged 53) was working as a gamekeeper at Mountstewart and he and his wife Annie (sometimes Ann) McLean (nee Tomlinson, sometimes Tomilson) had at least six children:
Isabella (born 19 April 1871, died 31 July 1918 in the townland of Kilsampson, Caledon, Co Tyrone and was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter)
Samuel (born 30 September 1873)
George (born 13 December 1875)
Annie (Fanney, born 29 June 1879)
Mary (born 27 September 1882)
Jane (born 13 August 1885)
John McLean’s widow, Isabella McLean, died of apoplexy at Mountstewart on 22 March 1903 (aged 79) and her son Samuel was present when she died; Samuel McLean was butler to Lieutenant-General Andrew Nugent DL JP and lived at Portaferry House, Portaferry.
Isabella McLean was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter (Section N)
Samuel McLean’s wife, Jessie Ann, died at Cloughey on 5 December 1907 (aged 57) and she was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter. Samuel McLean died on 17 August 1913 (aged 62) and he too was buried in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter.
The parents of the three McLean brothers who died in the First World War were Alexander and Elizabeth McLean (nee Crichton). Alexander McLean was working as a gardener on the Parkhall Estate in the Parish of Muiravonside, Scotland when he and Elizabeth Crichton were married on 16 April 1886 in Fauldhouse Church of Scotland Church, Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland. Alexander McLean (aged 26) was born in County Down and he was a son of John McLean (a land steward) and Isabella McLean (nee Wright). Elizabeth Crichton (aged 23) was born in Scotland, she worked as a domestic servant and she was a daughter of George Crichton (a miner) and Sarah Crichton (nee Sommerville) of East Benhar, Fauldhouse, Linlithgow, Scotland.
In 1901 Alexander and Elizabeth McLean were living in the townland of Dunleckney, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow and they had five children:
Elizabeth (born 15 February 1890 at Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co Waterford)
John (born 1 June 1891 at Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co Waterford)
George Alexander (born 14 January 1893 at Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co Waterford)
William Robert (born 19 July 1894 at Salterbridge, Cappoquin, Co Waterford)
Samuel James (born 1898 in County Cork)
Their mother Elizabeth died on 6 May 1902 (aged 38) and was interred in Templetrine Graveyard, Cork.
In 1911 Alexander McLean (aged 43) was working as a gardener and domestic servant and he and his youngest son, Samuel (aged 12), were living in the townland of Doonass, Kiltonanlea, Co Clare.
Samuel McLean (aged 18) died of pulmonary tuberculosis in the Workhouse Hospital, Loughlinstown, Dublin on 9 September 1916 (16 August 1916 on the headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery, Ballywalter) and was interred in Deans Grange Cemetery, Dublin.
In 1911 George Alexander McLean (aged 18) was working as a journeyman gardener at Castle Bernard, Ballymodan, Bandon, Co Cork.
In 1911 John McLean (aged 21) was working as a gardener at Coolattin Park, Coolatin, Co Wicklow.
Military records show that John McLean served in the 6th Battalion and also the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles before he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion. During the First World War Rifleman John McLean served in the Balkan Theatre of War before being posted to France and he was 26 when he was killed in action on 23 March 1918 during the German Spring Offensive.
Rifleman John McLean has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial in France. He made his will on 25 July 1915 and in it he bequeathed all of his property and effects to his father, Alexander McLean, then living at Newpark, Blackrock, Dublin.
Rifleman John McLean is commemorated on the McLean family grave headstone in Whitechurch Cemetery Ballywalter; on Holywood and District War Memorial and in the County Cork Book of Honour entitled A Great Sacrifice – Cork Servicemen Who Died in the Great War.