John Doran, born 1838 – Belfast, Northern Ireland Clan

Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI
Catholic Parish Register from the National Library of Ireland.

The baptism of John Doran, dated 10 March 1838, is shown on this record from St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland. This could be the record of my great-great-grandfather, with his parents listed as Bernard and Ann Smyth Doran [St. Patrick’s, Belfast city; County of Antrim; Diocese of Down and Connor. Baptisms, Feb. 1838 to Mar. 1838; NLI].

I’ve also found the baptism record of another child born to Bernard and Anne Smyth Doran, for a Bernard Doran, born 11 December 1843. With the traditional Ulster naming customs so common in our Irish Belfast clan, I’m very excited that we may now be close in going back another generation. In 1857 our John Doran married Ellen Little, and their first two children were named Bernard and Ann.

Then, this week my sister found a newspaper record at Findymypast, from the Banner of Ulster, dated 26 January 1854 – “The Blanket Case”. It details the case of a stolen blanket from Bernard and Ann Doran of Belfast, reported to the police, and mentions their son, John Doran. This would point to the fact that the John Doran baptized in 1838 lived to maturity.

Alexander McKenzie, charged with abusing the hospitality of Bernard and Ann Doran, by stealing the blanket from their bed, was brought up on remand.  John Doran, the complainant’s son, stated that he had slept with the prisoner on the night in question, and, when he rose, the blanket wasn’t in the bed.

Mr. Tracy committed the prisoner to the Anizes, remarking on the ingratitude evinced by him to his kind and generous hostess.”

Our family’s John Doran would have been about fifteen years old in 1854. It is possible that Alexander McKenzie was a friend of the family, but he also could have been a distant relation, so his name is worth noting and researching. I’m curious to find out more about the blanket thief. It could be Anizes was really Assizes, a court trying criminal and civil disputes.

The Great Famine in Ireland has dates of 1845 – 1852 when over a million people died, and millions more emigrated. During the 1850s many people went to the larger cities of Belfast and Dublin looking for work. Crimes committed in the cities were dealt with severely, and even children were sent to prison for stealing food and clothing. I can’t find any listings of the Anizes of Belfast, in County Antrim, but possibly this was a local name for the Crumlin Road Gaol, first opened in 1846 with prisoners transferred in from the county gaol in Carrickfergus.  This article tells the history:

Our Doran clan were survivors of the famines and many other calamities of disease and poverty in Ireland. They must have been tough to press charges over a stolen blanket – surely worth many long hours of work in the local linen mills. Our John Doran went on to become a flax hackler in the Belfast linen trade, most likely helping to make many blankets!

Doran Irish Crest
Doran Irish Crest

Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

5 thoughts on “John Doran, born 1838 – Belfast, Northern Ireland Clan

    1. I agree, the sentences dealt out were so severe, and young children were also sent to the workhouse for hard labor. It seems like something out of a Charles Dickens novel, when you read some of the Ireland Petty Sessions court records from the 19th century.

      Liked by 1 person

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