Thomas McCabe was an active member of Belfast Charitable Society and a United Irishman. Thomas was a goldsmith and a watch maker by trade, based in North Street. His house, ‘The Vicinage’ stood on the site of St Malachy’s College on the Antrim Road. Aspects of the Ulster movement of the United Irishmen Rebellion were said to have been planned in his home.

Along with Robert Joy he bought cotton looms for the ‘inmates’ of the Poor House to train on.

Yet it was the welfare of slaves, thousands of miles away which sparked dissension on the Board. Waddell Cunningham wanted to set up a Belfast Slave Ship Company. There was money to be made. McCabe’s response to that idea: ‘May God whither the hand and consign the name to eternal infamy of the man who will sign that document…’.

That changed the minds of many who might have come forward to invest in Cunningham’s scheme and the Belfast Slave Ship Company would never be put to sea.

On this day (22 Jan 1819) Thomas purchased the grave plot where he now rests in Clifton Street Cemetery