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THE BELFAST POOR HOUSE

A PART OF BELFAST'S RICH HISTORY

Discover the inspirational story of the Belfast Poor House and its vast impact
on the growing city of Belfast.

December 1798

Henry Joy McCracken

1798 – The 1780s and 90s saw times of great change for Ireland. A list of Belfast reformers and radicals would, in effect, be a roll call of almost all people of property in the town and it would be difficult to find one of them who had not been involved to some degree with […]

February 1795

Society decides to open a cemetery in Belfast

1795 – 1797 – The Society decided to open a cemetery in Belfast primarily as a means of generating income. It was referred to as the New Burying Ground and is now known as Clifton Street Cemetery. Plots were advertised in March 1797 and the committee agreed to set some of the ground aside ‘for […]

April 1791

Spinning Jennies in Belfast

1791 – The success of the cotton enterprise set up by Robert Joy was such that other entrepreneurs followed suit and by 1791, there were 229 cotton Spinning Jennies in Belfast.

June 1782

Dr Drennan & The Small Pox Vaccination

Dr William Drennan was a physician, a poet and a revolutionary.  .  He was a gifted doctor, introducing a smallpox inoculation programme into the Poor House in 1782.  It was 1798 before Edward Jenner published his paper on vaccines and innoculations.  Dr Drennan was a literary man and a prolific poet.  It is said that […]

April 1777

Ireland’s industrial revolution

1777 – It could be said that it was in Clifton House that Ireland’s industrial revolution began. Society member Robert Joy along with Nicholas Grimshaw, a cotton printer, set out on a tour of parts of England and Scotland in search of ideas for finding employment for inmates of the Poor House. On this trip […]

August 1776

A proper place fitted for the confinement of delinquents and vagrants

1776 – The first inmates in the Poor House were well behaved but later some caused trouble. A resolution was passed to ‘have a proper place fitted up as a ‘Black Hole’ for the confinement of delinquents and vagrants’. Payments were made to those who brought in vagrants (beggars) and eventually two full-time beadles, […]

November 1774

Construction of the Poor House is completed

1774 – Construction of the Poor House was completed and its doors were opened to Belfast’s poor. In the same year, the Irish Parliament passed a law to regulate the relief of the poor – a law more concerned with punishing beggars than making adequate financial provision for them.

Under the 1774 Act, vagrants (beggars) were […]

September 1773

Fundraising lottery campaign

1773 – Since the launch of the fundraising lottery campaign, it took over 20 years to raise the full funds needed for complete the building of the Poor House. Eventually, the revenue from ticket sales combined with private donations generated the £7,000 required to complete the construction.

July 1773

20 Years to Fundraise

1773 – Since the launch of the fundraising lottery campaign, it took over 20 years to raise the full funds needed to complete the building of the Poor House. Eventually, the revenue from ticket sales combined with private donations generated the £7,000 required to complete the construction.

August 1771

Foundation stone for the Belfast Poor House is ceremonially laid

1771 – Finally as the Belfast News Letter reported, on August 1771 the foundation stone for the Belfast Poor House was ceremonially laid.

“Yesterday; a large Body of the princial Inhabitants of this Town assembled at the Market-House, from whence they proceeded to the Ground allotted for the Poor-House and Infirmary; where Stewart Banks, Esq,; Sovereign […]