Monthly Archives: December 2018


136th Benn Christmas Dinner: the brothers behind the name


Edward Benn Today, 19th December 2018, marks the 136th annual Benn Christmas Dinner. But who were the Benn family and what was their association with the Belfast Charitable Society? Edward (1798-1874) and George Benn (1801-1882), like many who supported the Belfast Poor House combined their keen business sense with a philanthropic spirit. The brothers originally came from Tandragee, County Armagh, and worked in the brewing trade in Downpatrick, County Down. However, it was in the iron ore mining business on their estate at Glenravell, County Antrim, that the brothers made their fortune. Edward and George were both active members [...]

136th Benn Christmas Dinner: the brothers behind the name2018-12-19T08:41:19+00:00

James Irwin, the House of Correction & Clifton Street Cemetery


On this day 185 years ago (15th December 1833) James Irwin was buried in the ‘New Burying Ground’, today known as Clifton Street Cemetery. He died aged 68 of cancer. James was born c.1765 in Wellbrook, County Tyrone and moved to the town of Belfast where he resided with his family at Great Patrick Street. The burial register records his occupation as Inspector of the House of Correction. The House of Correction had been erected in 1817, on Howard Street, near the upper end of Chichester Street. The ominous inscription above the door warned “Within amend, without beware.” By 1822 the [...]

James Irwin, the House of Correction & Clifton Street Cemetery2018-12-15T07:56:28+00:00

Dr Robert Stevenson: Poor House physcian & Benefactor


One of the first doctors in Belfast to offer their support to the Poor House by providing medical care to the poor for free was Dr Robert Stevenson. Dr Stevenson was called on to set broken legs and treat cancers in the Poor House. Dr Stevenson was kept busy with work in the Poor House in addition to his private patients. On 9th July 1776 he was called to the Poor House twice. First, to treat Timothy Gilvin, a native of Dublin and a tailor by trade, who had broken his leg. The Belfast Charitable Society purchased a yard of linen [...]

Dr Robert Stevenson: Poor House physcian & Benefactor2018-12-08T08:19:37+00:00

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery


Today marks International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. The notion of slavery tends to bring us back to African slaves brought to America, however slavery continues as 21st Century problem.  The Belfast Charitable Society of the 18th and 19th centuries found themselves caught in the controversy surrounding this abhorrent trade. Much of the conflict regarding the differing views of slavery happened outside of the Poor House, however, when the freed slave Olaudah Equiano visited Belfast in the early 1790s, he was invited to speak at the Poor House and several other prominent locations in Belfast. Equiano lodged with Samuel Neilson, [...]

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery2018-12-02T12:59:16+00:00
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