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 before being apprenticed. Her first apprenticeship to John Heslip of York Lane ended early when Mary was forced to return to the Poor House as she had a ‘rose’ on her hands, most likely a sporotrichosis infection.

Once Mary had recovered, she left the Poor House for the final time to be a servant at Mount Stewart, the country seat of Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. Perhaps there is still more to be uncovered of Mary Lawn’s story in other archives?