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].

Hall burial plot - http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/community/burialrecords/burialrecords.aspx
Hall burial plot – http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/community/burialrecords/burialrecords.aspx

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.

10 thoughts on “William Hall – Elusive Belfast Irish Ancestor

  1. I am William Hall, my father, and grandfather both William Hall from East Belfast, we did have family that lived and still do on Shankill


    1. Bill, Sounds like we could be cousins somewhere along the line. I have inherited DNA from my Hall side and match others with Hall Belfast roots. It is thought my Hall clan came from Scotland. If you ever get to the Belfast City Cemetery please check if there is a gravestone marker for my William Hall. If you take a photo I will be very grateful! I visited Belfast before I knew where William and Sarah Hall were buried. Thanks for reading the blog! Cheers, Maryann


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