Marking Canada Day: The Hutchinson Family of Belfast & Canada

2022-07-01T22:59:13+00:00

In August 2016, we launched a search to reunite families with portraits of their loved ones which had been painted by Tobias Everard Spence between 1940 and 1980. On Canadian Day we thought we should re-share a previous story of  a tremendous journey for one family from Canada in their quest to find out information on their great-great-uncle Thomas Hutchinson. Hilary Tompkins, from Seattle, first contacted Clifton House in December 2016. She had been working with a genealogist from Bangor who had advised her of our search for relations of those who featured in our portraits. Hilary viewed the portraits online [...]

Marking Canada Day: The Hutchinson Family of Belfast & Canada2022-07-01T22:59:13+00:00

Philanthropy Fortnight 2022: Belfast Charitable Society- Philanthropy Past & Present

2022-06-13T09:04:17+00:00

This year (2022) marks 270 years since the foundation of Belfast Charitable Society. Throughout the centuries, the Society has been at the heart of philanthropy, working collaboratively with others since its earliest years. The Charitable Society initially set in motion the creation of a Poor House and Infirmary for the town to provide a safety net to those in distress and to relieve the pressures of paying for medical care. After a number of fundraising campaigns, the Poor House formally opened its doors in 1774. Throughout the years thousands of people, from young and old, to local citizens and passing sailors [...]

Philanthropy Fortnight 2022: Belfast Charitable Society- Philanthropy Past & Present2022-06-13T09:04:17+00:00

On This Day 1754: Dr William Drennan- Physician, Poet & Patriot – was born

2022-05-17T14:12:08+00:00

On 23 May 1754 Anne Drennan née Lennox gave birth to her youngest son, William Drennan. Anne was the wife of the Rev Thomas Drennan, minister of the First Presbyterian Church, Belfast, and William was born in its manse. William Drennan would grow up to become a renowned physician, poet and patriot. Due to the Penal Codes limiting access to third level education in Ireland, many Presbyterian ‘sons of the manse’, such as William, attended university in Scotland. He studied arts in Glasgow (1772) and completed his medical studies in Edinburgh (1778). Dr Drennan was heavily influenced by enlightenment ideas and [...]

On This Day 1754: Dr William Drennan- Physician, Poet & Patriot – was born2022-05-17T14:12:08+00:00

The spark that started Belfast’s Industrial expansion

2022-05-17T12:02:37+00:00

Belfast was once famous the world over for its linen production, but this was not the first textile to be industrialised in Belfast. Robert Joy was a paper producer and proprietor of the Belfast Newsletter, as well as the designer and project manager of the Poor House. Robert Joy, his brother-in-law Captain John McCracken and Thomas McCabe, all of whom sat on the Poor House Board, set out to discover the next ‘big thing’ in manufacturing. Although generous individuals, they were merchants and set sail to Britain to investigate the developing industries there. On their travels they discovered pioneering cotton spinning [...]

The spark that started Belfast’s Industrial expansion2022-05-17T12:02:37+00:00

National Numeracy Day: Mary Ann McCracken and her gift for numbers

2022-05-17T11:59:55+00:00

Today marks National Numeracy Day and who better to highlight than the remarkable Mary Ann McCracken! Throughout her life she was an ardent educationalist, inspired by her childhood teacher, David Manson. David Manson was born at Cairn Castle on the Antrim Coast and settled in Belfast in 1752, the same year that Belfast Charitable Society was founded. He’d been sick as a child and was schooled by his mother, who based his learning around ‘play’, and not as was the wisdom of the time ‘discipline and punishment’. He developed a love of learning from his mother and experimented with his own [...]

National Numeracy Day: Mary Ann McCracken and her gift for numbers2022-05-17T11:59:55+00:00

Children of the Poor House: Transportation

2022-05-16T15:23:54+00:00

This week we are taking a thematic approach to our Children of the Poor House series by looking at one of the more unusual reasons that led to some of the children being admitted to the Poor House. Transportation was a common form of punishment in the past, particularly for the crime of theft. The first ships to 'transport' convicted criminals to Australia from Britain occurred in 1787. By 1868 it is estimated that some 162,000 people had been transported. The Poor House records illustrate the impact that having a parent transported could have on a family, with many seeing the [...]

Children of the Poor House: Transportation2022-05-16T15:23:54+00:00

Children of the Poor House: Mary Lawn & Mount Stewart

2022-05-10T15:19:40+00:00

Mary Lawn was born c.1824 during a time of massive growth in Belfast, both in terms of population and industry. The population of Belfast had grown by approximately 16,000 in the decade before she entered the Poor House! Her father was employed as a bricklayer but tragically lost his life on the job following a fall from a chimney. Mary subsequently entered the Poor House in June 1830, following her father's early death. Mary followed the path of many children who, once they had been given a new set of clothes and assigned a room, were given a well rounded education [...]

Children of the Poor House: Mary Lawn & Mount Stewart2022-05-10T15:19:40+00:00

Children of the Poor House: The Gilroy Brothers & the Belfast News Letter

2022-05-04T15:30:14+00:00

Peppered throughout our records are groups of siblings who entered the Poor House due to changing circumstances at home. One such set of siblings were William Gilroy (aged 11) and his older brother, James (aged 12) who entered our walls within a week of each other in October 1850. William and James were the children of James Gilroy Senior and his wife, Isabella. The Gilroy family were of the Anglican faith, as recorded in our admission book. What is particularly unusual about the Gilroy brothers is the fact that after living in the Poor House for just over four years, the [...]

Children of the Poor House: The Gilroy Brothers & the Belfast News Letter2022-05-04T15:30:14+00:00

From Merchant to Pauper: The burial of John Blackwood, Dromara

2022-04-26T08:46:06+00:00

John Blackwood was born in Dromara, County Down sometime around 1763. John was a provision merchant by trade and lived most of his life in his home town. It is not known why his circumstances changed but in November 1833, at the age of 70, he arrived in Belfast and was admitted to the Poor House. John spent the remainder of his days in the institution, passing away on 26 April 1847. He was recorded as a pauper in the Clifton Street Cemetery burial register  but unlike most who passed away in the Poor House he was buried in a private [...]

From Merchant to Pauper: The burial of John Blackwood, Dromara2022-04-26T08:46:06+00:00

Children of the Poor House: Helena Kelly and her search for employment

2022-04-22T08:40:32+00:00

The third in our Children of the Poor House Series is Helena Kelly- no relation to last week’s Barney Kelly as far as we can tell! Helena Kelly was born around 1805 and lived in Belfast with her family until the age of eight. The Kelly family’s circumstances must have changed as Helena was admitted to the Poor House in August 1813. Unfortunately, the admission book does not provide an insight in to why she was admitted. It would appear from our archive that Helena was a well-behaved child, as she had no transgressions recorded against her name. Helena’s case was [...]

Children of the Poor House: Helena Kelly and her search for employment2022-04-22T08:40:32+00:00
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