Monthly Archives: October 2022


A Tale Fit For Halloween: The Murder of Robert Morrison


A brutal stabbing in 1810, which led to a Portuguese sailor being hanged near Carrickfergus, became a sensation of the time. His name was Antonio de Silva, a sailor on board an American ship in Belfast harbour. He allegedly stabbed to death a ship’s carpenter called Robert Morrison, near Prince’s Street, and was subsequently tried and convicted of the crime. The place of execution was a mile outside Carrickfergus, and the apparatus used for the execution consisted of three tall columns, with a cross-beam, to which the rope was attached. They were familiarly known as the ‘Three Sisters’, and stood directly [...]

A Tale Fit For Halloween: The Murder of Robert Morrison2022-11-03T16:33:59+00:00

Belfast Charitable Society & the Belfast Blitz: Return From Garron Tower


Following air strikes in April 1941  those in charge of Clifton House set about making arrangements to get the residents and the staff out of Belfast. They ultimately settled on Garron Tower on the North Coast as a safe refuge. Garron Tower was a quiet, isolated spot compared with life in the city of Belfast. Rationing also had an impact. In Belfast the relatives of the residents could have easily walked there for visits, however with petrol rationed, even those with cars did not have enough fuel to get to Garron Tower. The Matron requested additional games, gramophone records and a [...]

Belfast Charitable Society & the Belfast Blitz: Return From Garron Tower2022-10-25T22:00:52+00:00

Exploring the unmarked graves in Clifton Street Cemetery: Mary Gunning


Burial registers for Clifton Street Cemetery were kept from 1831, recording a wealth of information on people at the time of their death. Of particular interest is 'Black '47' the worst year of famine related deaths in Ireland. Belfast did not escape the affects of the Great Hunger. On this day, 17th October 1847 the body of Mary Gunning was interred in the 'New Burying Ground', to give the cemetery it's original name. Mary had died of fever at her home on Mays Lane, off Queen Street in Belfast. It would appear from the burial register that Mary was an enterprising [...]

Exploring the unmarked graves in Clifton Street Cemetery: Mary Gunning2022-10-25T22:19:48+00:00

The Case of Mary West- an abandoned child


Children were admitted for a variety of reasons to the Poor House, but we have records of a number that were abandoned by their families. Two years prior to Mary West’s admission to the Poor House a volcanic eruption had caused what was known as the ‘Year of No Summer’, which decimated crops and led to the spread of disease. Even in 1818 the effects of famine, fever and poverty were still rife in Belfast. The Poor House was under pressure to cope with demand, and the conditions in the town drove many people to desperate actions in order to survive. [...]

The Case of Mary West- an abandoned child2022-10-25T22:21:13+00:00

Black History Month: Philanthropy, Slavery and Abolition


Today marks the start of Black History Month, an annual observance recognising the important contribution of black people and events in our history and today. The Belfast Charitable Society has not shied away from the fact that its members, back in the late eighteenth century, were a mismatch of those who benefited significantly from the slave trade – either through the ownership of plantations or related business activity – and another group of people who were part of the abolitionist movement and anti-slavery voice of the day. However by focusing too much on these individuals, we too are covering up the [...]

Black History Month: Philanthropy, Slavery and Abolition2022-10-03T14:04:41+00:00
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