The year 1818 was tough for the people of Belfast. Many were impacted by the famine conditions and the associated fever. This led some to take drastic actions.
We are not sure what the circumstances were for the young Robert Grainger whose grandfather kicked him out of his home. Whether the grandfather couldn’t afford his upkeep, or he had stolen from the family, or if there was some other sort of family dispute, is something we can never know for sure.
On 7th November 1818 the Belfast Charitable Society however, took pity on young Robert and agreed that he should be admitted to the Convalescence Home. He was not accepted directly into the Poor House, for fear that he may carry the dreaded fever which would spread rapidly in the confines of the overcrowded establishment. The Convalescence Home was effectively a quarantine building to protect the main residents. The Sovereign, an old term for the office of Mayor, was requested to take effectual steps with the grandfather who was a local coal measurer, so that he would take the child back. Whatever steps the Sovereign took however, proved ineffectual as Robert Grainger and Nancy Connor, another deserted child, who were in the Convalescent Home together were admitted into Poor House on 14 November 1818.