William Hall – Elusive Belfast Irish Ancestor

St. Anne's Church of Ireland, Belfast, Northern Ireland

St. Anne’s Church of Ireland, Belfast, Northern Ireland

For the last week or so, I’ve been researching one of my elusive Irish ancestors – William Hall. He was born circa 1800, most likely in the Shankill section of Belfast, Northern Ireland. From the few family records that I have found, St. Anne’s Church of Ireland seems to have been the family church. This church has been rebuilt and is now called St. Anne’s Cathedral. I found this picture of St. Anne’s Church at a wonderful blog called Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland. Since this beautiful church above was active from 1775 until 1903, it would have been the structure that my Hall ancestors attended [Source: http://lordbelmontinnorthernireland.blogspot.com/2013/07/st-annes-parish-church-belfast.html%5D.

My great-great-grandparents, William John and Sarah Tierney Hall were married at this church on 13 May 1861. He was 24 years old, and his occupation was baker. His father was listed as William Hall – occupation, pork cutter. Sarah Tierney’s father was listed as James Tierney – laborer.  She was 20 years old, occupation – mill worker. Their witnesses were Hugh and Mary Hall. The marriage had been celebrated after the banns were announced, by the Reverend T.F. Miller [Source: Ulster Historical Foundation, http://www.ancestryireland.com.

From this information I decided to search for Hugh and Mary Hall, because of the possibility of the two Hall men being siblings. Searching at the Ulster Historical Foundation, for a Hugh Hall, with the father William Hall, and the spouse’s first name Mary, I quickly located the correct record. Hugh Hall married Mary McKee on 11 February 1851 at St. Anne’s. Hugh was 23 years old, belonged to the Church of Ireland, and his occupation was labourer. His father was listed as William Hall, with the occupation of pork cutter. Her father was Michael McKee, with occupation listed as labourer. Mary was 25 years old, had never been married before, and also belonged to the Church of Ireland. The witnesses were Samuel and Margaret Fields. The Reverend C. Allen celebrated the wedding by license [Source: Ulster Historical Foundation, http://www.ancestryireland.com.

Looking for a birth or baptism record for Hugh Hall, with a father named William, took me to a baptism record from St. Anne’s for Hugh Hall on 16 March 1828. His mother was listed as Elizabeth Smith. The address was Shankill, Belfast. The Reverend T. Hindes was under Comment 2, but no space was on the record for Comment 1. I’m very excited about finding a maiden name for this Elizabeth, but a bit dismayed that Smith is such a common one. We do know that an Elizabeth Hall was buried with William John and Sarah Tierney Hall, at the Belfast City Cemetery, but her age seems off to be his mother. What our family does know, is that the name of Elizabeth has been handed down generation after generation, from the Hall family [Ulster Historical Foundation, http://www.ancestryireland.com.

In the 1852 Belfast / Ulster Street Directory, I found a William Hall, in pork store, living at 30 William’s Row. From what I have researched, the occupation of pork cutter could mean the person worked in a butcher shop, or a slaughter house, or a grocery. From this listing it makes me think he could have worked in a butcher shop [http://www.lennonwylie.co.uk/1852Historical.htm].

Next, I checked the Griffith’s Valuation, 1847 – 1864 for a William Hall, living in Shankill, Belfast, Ireland, and found a likely match living at 7 William’s Row. Living at 31 William’s Row was a John Hall. The year that came up was 1862 [Source: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1269%5D.

Occupier: Wm Hall
Lessor: Mary Anne Hunter
County: Antrim
Barony: Belfast, Upper
Ward: Dock Ward
Parish: Shankill
Townland: Townparks
Street: William’s Row
OS Page Numbers: 61

Searching for Irish family records from the mid 19th century can be very frustrating. The fire at the Public Record Office in 1922, at the beginning of the Civil War, destroyed census records from 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851. To read more about the Griffith’s Valuation, and to do a free online search (if you don’t have an ancestry.com account) go to this site : http://www.askaboutireland.ie/

In both the 1861 and 1868 Belfast Street Directories, a John Hall, blacksmith, was listed at 31 William’s Row. In the future I will research this John Hall to try and find out if he was a brother to our William Hall the pork cutter, or possibly another son. Whenever you find a cluster of surnames in close proximity of each other it is worth a second look. For anyone researching Belfast ancestors, Lennon Wylie’s website is a very good starting point. http://www.lennonwylie.co.uk/

In the 1990s my brother recorded our father, and our aunt Betty, about their Irish roots. They said the Hall family was noted for being Protestant, in contrast to the Doran family being Roman Catholic. From researching, we now know that the Hall family worshiped at St. Anne’s Church of Ireland, right in the Shankill area of Belfast that the Hall family lived in. I’ve started to look for the baptism record for William Hall, the father of William, Hugh, and also Catherine. Catherine Hall was baptized at St. Anne’s on 6 February 1831, with her parents listed also as William Hall and Elizabeth Smith. Since Hugh Hall was about ten years older than his brother, William John, I now know to look a little further back for the birth of their father. Please wish me luck!

Copyright 2015 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Belfast, Birth, Churches, Doran, Family Names, Family research, Hall, Locations, Marriage Records, Research, Shankill, St. Anne's Church of Ireland, Tierney | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Six Word Saturday – Enjoying the dog days of summer!

Taken around 1960 - Hunterdon County, New Jersey. With Mom and Sis, loving puppies. Copyright 2015 Genealogy Sisters.

With my mom and sister, and puppies. Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Copyright 2015 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Enjoying the dog days of summer! I’m the little one demonstrating the wrong way to hold a puppy, in this family photo from about 1960. Here in southern Virginia, we are having lots of days over 90 degrees with frequent rain showers and humidity. All the crops in the fields seem to be flourishing. I’m remembering how much fun it was to play in the field of corn behind me in this picture. We would ride our bikes up and down the rows, and play hide and seek, and pick a few small ears of the corn to nibble. Hope your summer is going great!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional period of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. These are the days of the year with the least rainfall in the Northern Hemisphere. Source: Wikipedia

For more Six Day Saturday postings please visit Cate at Show My Face.

Posted in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Photo, Six Word Saturday | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Exciting Genealogy News!

The long anticipated release of Irish Roman Catholic parish registers held by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) are now available in digital format! Here is the link: http://registers.nli.ie/

There are over 370,000 digital images online from microfilm held by the National Library of Ireland, from parishes from the 1740s to 1890s. I did a quick search late last night and quickly found a record from my side, and also my husband’s. You see the actual marriage or baptismal record book pages. It helps if you know the parish that your ancestors attended. If you don’t, there is a wonderful map of Ireland, with each county, and it includes both the current Republic of Ireland, and also Northern Ireland. Each parish has a link that shows what records are online. You can pick the year and month, and that is a great time-saver. Many thanks to a genealogy friend, and distant cousin, for sending me the link to the article in the Irish Times last night.


Also, exciting news for our family, is that we have heard from another branch of our Doran Clan! She is the daughter of William John and Rosina Doran, our great-uncle and great-aunt. Many thanks to my sister for sending out a letter! Here’s a photograph of the two Belfast, Northern Ireland brothers – Bernard Doran, and William John Doran.

Bernard and William John Doran, on Hamilton Street, in Harrison, New Jersey, circa early 1940s.

Bernard and William John Doran, on Hamilton Street, in Harrison, New Jersey, circa early 1940s.

And lastly, I received back my autosomal DNA Family Finder results from Family Tree DNA last week. This test finds your relatives within five generations. As expected my ancestry was 100 percent European. The breakdown:  48 percent Eastern European, 47 percent British Isles, and 5 percent Southern Europe. The Southern Europe ancestry was the surprise. This area is from Spain, across to Italy, and on to Greece. We knew our maternal side was Polish, since our two grandparents on that side came from southern Poland, in the area of Poland that was Austrian Galicia until 1918. They both emigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. On the Irish side, our grandfather Barney (shown above) was from County Antrim, and our grandmother was born in Brooklyn, New York, to two Irish parents from possibly County Cork and Dublin.

What is interesting with the test results from Family Tree DNA, is that the closest matches show ancestry in these exact areas. I’ve really enjoyed sharing family research, via email, with some new cousins, estimated to be 3rd to 4th cousins. As a disclaimer, I have no ties to Family Tree DNA. In 2005 I had sent my mitochondrial DNA to test with the National Geographic Genographic Project, which is attempting to trace our common shared deep ancestry to ancient populations. At some point my results were switched (with my permission) to Family Tree DNA, based in Houston, Texas. I thought the DNA sample could be used for the Family Finder test, but because of the age of the sample I was send a new test.

What is really interesting to me is that my 1st degree relatives – parents, children, and full siblings, will only share about 50 percent of my autosomal DNA. If my sister, or another one of my siblings, gets tested we can have some new cousin matches. I also could have matches from some scallywag ancestors, such as my Irish great-grandfather, Bernard Doran (1858-1920). My father’s cousin, Sal, had this quote about their grandfather, “Mama thought there were more illegitimate Dorans in Belfast than legitimate ones.” Good luck researching your family tree!

Posted in Birth, Brick Walls, Doran, Eastern Europe, Family Locations, Family Names, Ireland, Locations, Photo, Poland, Research | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments