This week’s Irish surname Saturday posting takes a look at my Hall family from West Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The inside of the St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral is shown above in a photo I took of the Baptismal font, looking towards the main altar. All of the children of my great-great grandparents, William John and Sarah Tierney Hall were baptized here except for my great-grandmother, Mary Hall Doran. Mary was baptized at St. Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street in Belfast since St. Peter’s hadn’t been finished yet.
Mary Hall married Bernard Doran (1858-1920) at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in 1884. Her surname was listed as Hull, she lived at 5 Springfield Road, and her parents were listed as William and Sarah Hull. Their first two daughters, Ellen and Elizabeth, were baptized at St. Peter’s and then their other children, Bernard, Mary, William John, and Joseph were baptized at the new church in West Belfast called St. Paul’s, that had opened in the Falls Road area of West Belfast in 1887. The photo below shows the old Baptismal font.
While my daughter and I were in Belfast a few years ago we visited both St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s. We talked to the deacons, and were welcomed warmly, and told to take as many photos as we wanted. While at St. Paul’s we were given a wonderful book, called, Down and Connor – A Short History, by Ambrose Macaulay, that gives the history about the formation of all the Roman Catholic churches in the diocese of Down and Connor. Since we were given the book at Saint Paul’s Church, the first page is all about that church. The parish today has about 10,500 parishioners in Iveagh, Beechmount, Clonard, and Springfield Road districts.
In our predominately Roman Catholic Irish family, the Hall family is noted for having been Protestant. When William John Hall married Sarah Tierney it was at St. Anne’s Church of Ireland ( Anglican) in Belfast. Her first name was noted as Susan, instead of Sarah, and her father was James Tierney. She was 20 years old and a mill worker. Her husband, William, was 24 years old, a baker, and his father’s name was also William Hall. They had at least seven children: Mary (1864-1899); Ann (1865 – ?); Joseph (1867-?); John, also called William John, 1867-?); Agnes (1868- ?); Sarah, also called Sadie, (1873-?); and Elizabeth, also called Lizzie, (1870-1933).
The Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast, Northern Ireland is the source of most of our Hall birth, marriage, and death records. I have belonged to this foundation for quite a few years, and find their on-line databases to be very helpful. They have a yearly publication called, “A Directory of Irish Family History Research,” listing the research interests of the members, and they have an event this year planned for 16 – 21 September called, “Return to the Cradle of Irish Presbyterianism”. How I wish I could attend this!
Most of what my family has learned about the Hall family has its roots in the research of my father’s cousin, Sarah “Sal” Jane Rafferty Meyer (1910-1998). She typed up what she remembered hearing about the Hall, Rafferty, Kelly, and Doran families in the 1970s. My sister and I are so very lucky that the Rafferty family shared this research with us. Sal wrote out her great-grandparents names as John Hall (1838-1878) married Sarah Toomey (possibly Tiernan or Turney 1838-1880). She only listed four children: Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary, and John. Possibly they were the only ones that lived to adulthood. What is fantastic about Sal’s research are the nuggets of family lore that she wrote down, such as William Hall becoming paralyzed while working, and becoming the main caregiver for the children, while his wife worked. Here is one quote from Sal’s research:
Sarah Toomey (or Tiernan) Hall evidently was a strong character. When her husband became an invalid she went to work. She acted like a man toward her children, expecting a great deal from them because of their lack of money. Aunt Lizzie Hall always spoke affectionately of her father. Evidently he was of softer nature than his wife. He was a Protestant, Aunt Lizzie told me, so possibly he was Swedish.
The Hall surname is the 19th most common surname in the United Kingdom. In Ireland it is most common in County Antrim, but it is associated the most in Scotland. Possibly, Sal Rafferty Meyer heard something about Swedish roots, but my sister and I haven’t found any trace of that, nor Scottish roots. What interests me the most about the above passage is the notation of the Protestant faith. We have a family VHS tape of James and Betty Doran, Sal’s cousins, talking about their Irish family from Belfast, and they also mentioned the Hall family were Protestant. Sarah Tierney Hall raised the children as Roman Catholics most likely because that was her faith. Looking at the Baptism Records from the Ulster Historical Foundation, Mary Hall Doran’s father, William, was noted as being a Presbyterian in 1864, and when her sister, Anne, was baptized in 1865, he was listed as a Protestant.
Another Internet website that I found a great information about the Hall family of Belfast is the database maintained by the Belfast City Council. The Belfast City Cemetery has records from 1869 listed, with a very easy search engine that lets you see all the people buried in the same grave. In grave section O number 230, Elizabeth, James, Sarah, and William Hall were buried, and from the information given it is clear that William and Sarah Hall are my great-great grandparents. William Hall was listed as living at 5 Springfield Road, Belfast, when he died age 48 years, on 12 December 1887 of chronic bronchitis. This is the same address as given on the marriage record of William and Sarah Tierney Hall. Below are the two records (click to open the PDF) from the Belfast City Council.
More research is need to confirm the relationship of James and Elizabeth Hall. James Hall was the grave owner and died a bachelor in 1894, at the age of 56, and he also died of chronic bronchitis. Elizabeth Hall died in 1893, at the age of 70, widowed, and both James and Elizabeth Hall had lived at 12 Annette Street in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is possible that Elizabeth Hall (maiden name unknown 1823-1893) was the mother (or stepmother) of James and William John Hall, and the wife of William Hall, Sr.
Surname Saturday is a blogging prompt suggested by GeneaBloggers to help genealogists learn more about the roots of their family names. All photos taken by Maryann Barnes.