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 brothers were both apprenticed to the Belfast News Letter under the care of James Alexander Henderson. The News Letter, originally set up by Francis Joy in 1737, was sold by the family in 1795. By 1853 J.A. Henderson had gained proprietorial control of the paper and set about a process of expansion.
The expansion of the Belfast News Letter operations meant that there was an increased demand for skilled workers and the Gilroy brothers were officially apprenticed to the News Letter Office on 11th December 1854. That was the last connection between the brothers and the Poor House, and our records suggest that they went on to complete their apprenticeships under Mr Henderson. The brothers would have worked in Bridge Street, the site on which the News Letter was founded nearly 120 years prior to them stepping through its doors.