Belfast Civil Parish, County Antrim, Northern Ireland Genealogy

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Guide to Belfast Civil Parish, County Antrim, Northern Ireland ancestry, family history, and genealogy. Parish registers, transcripts, baptism records, marriage records, and burial records.


The following information is a starting point for records about the civil parish of Belfast. The information is based on locations and records before 1922.

Belfast city hall.jpg

History[edit | edit source]

Flag of the city of Belfast
Belfast coat of arms
Location of Belfast in Northern Ireland


Belfast is a sea port, borough, market town, and parish, and the head of a union in the barony of Lower, but chiefly in that of Upper Belfast.

Belfast is the seat of the Roman Catholic see of Down and Connor, and the residence of the bishop. There are more than a dozen places of worship for Presbyterians. There are also two places of worship for Covenanters, two each for Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, and one each for General Baptists, the Society of Friends, and Independents.

The name Belfast is derived from the Irish Béal Feirsde, which was later spelt Béal Feirste. The word béal means "mouth" or "rivermouth" while feirsde/feirste is the genitive singular of fearsaid and refers to a sandbar or tidal ford across a river's mouth.

The parish was anciently called Shankill, now generally referred to as the parish of Belfast. the living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Connor and province of Armagh. It has been occupied since the Bronze Age. The Giant's Ring, a 5,000-year-old henge, is located near the city, and the remains of Iron Age hill forts can still be seen in the surrounding hills.

Belfast became a substantial settlement in the 17th century which was initially settled by Protestant English and Scottish migrants at the time of the Plantation of Ulster.

Belfast blossomed as a commercial and industrial centre in the 18th and 19th centuries and became Ireland's pre-eminent industrial city. Industries thrived, including linen, rope-making, tobacco, heavy engineering and shipbuilding, and at the end of the 19th century, Belfast briefly overtook Dublin as the largest city in Ireland. The Harland and Wolff shipyards became one of the largest shipbuilders in the world, employing up to 35,000 workers.

In 1920–22, Belfast became the capital of the new entity of Northern Ireland as the island of Ireland was partitioned. The accompanying conflict (the Irish War of Independence) cost up to 500 lives in Belfast, the bloodiest sectarian strife in the city until the Troubles of the late 1960s onward. Belfast saw some of the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, particularly in the 1970s, with rival paramilitary groups formed on both sides. Bombing, assassination and street violence formed a backdrop to life throughout the Troubles. The Provisional IRA detonated 22 bombs within the confines of Belfast city center in 1972, on what is known as "Bloody Friday", killing eleven people. In all, over 1,600 people were killed in political violence in the city between 1969 and 2001.[1]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Belfast has 3 active cemeteries, plus manages 5 graveyards that are not now in use. The following website from the Belfast City Council provides basic information on all these units:

Additionally there is one other cemetery that is not used today. It is the Milltown cemetery. The following links can help for this cemetery:

Census[edit | edit source]

The purpose of a census was to gather information about people who lived in an area. While the government began census taking in 1821, only fragments exist before 1901. Censuses for 1901 and 1911 are available. Read more about the records in the Ireland Census article.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parishes[edit | edit source]

Because of the way Belfast was originally settled, there is a large Anglican community.
Diocese website:Connor Anglican Diocese

Specific parishes follow:

St. Thomas' Church
1A Eglantine Avenue
Belfast BT9 6DW

St. George's Church
105 High Street
Belfast BT1 2AG

Non Conformists[edit | edit source]

Belfast's other major Christian Fellowship is the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Peter's Cathedral
8 St. Peters Square South
Belfast BT12 4BU

St. Patrick's Church
199 Donegall Street
Belfast BT1 2FL

St. Mary's
Chapel Lane
Belfast

Other Christian Groups represented in Belfast follow:

  • Antioch Orthodox Church
  • Baptist
  • Church of Christ
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
  • First Church of Christ Scientist
  • Methodist
  • Seventh Day Adventist

Non Christian Groups include:

  • Belfast has an Islamic Center
  • Hare Krishna
  • Hindu
  • Sikh

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Government registration of births and deaths began in 1864. Registration of Protestant marriages began in 1845, with all marriages being registered by 1864. Go to the Ireland Civil Registration article to read more about these records.

Civil registration is the recording of births, marriages, and deaths, in England, and began in 1837. Civil registration records were recorded at the local registration office and the National registration offices. If you cannot find the civil registration in one index, search the other index as they are different indexes.

Directories[edit | edit source]

Land Records[edit | edit source]

The Registry of Deeds started in 1708. Land transactions were recorded, including immovable property passed on in a will and property given to a daughter at her marriage. Read more about these records in the Ireland Land and Property article.

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Occupations[edit | edit source]

As Northern Ireland's capital city, Belfast is host to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, the site of the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. Belfast is divided into four Northern Ireland Assembly and UK parliamentary constituencies: Belfast North, Belfast West, Belfast South and Belfast East. The activities involved in the assembly means that employment is provided to a large part of the population.

In addition to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Belfast City Council offers many employment opportunities.

Belfast has been the fastest-growing economy of the thirty largest cities in the UK over the past decade. Today, Belfast is Northern Ireland's educational and commercial hub. Over the past 10 years employment has grown by 16.4 per cent, compared with 9.2 per cent for the UK as a whole. Belfast's unemployment rate stood at 4.2%, lower than both the Northern Ireland and the UK average of 5.5%.

The Harland and Wolff shipbuilding firm was created in 1861, and by the time the Titanic was built, in 1912, it had become the largest shipyard in the world. Short Brothers plc is a British aerospace company based in Belfast. It was the first aircraft manufacturing company in the world. The company began its association with Belfast in 1936, with Short & Harland Ltd, a venture jointly owned by Shorts and Harland and Wolff. Now known as Shorts Bombardier it works as an international aircraft manufacturer located near the Port of Belfast. [2]

Probate Records[edit | edit source]

Probate dealt with the property of a deceased person. Read more about these records in the Ireland Probate Records article.

Add information about probate records for this parish.

Abstracts of Wills, by many contributors.  List of Heirs from Probate of Rev. William Batt, of Belfast, Co. Antrim, dated 29 Oct. 1851 proved Prerog. 13 July 1855. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. VI, no. 1. 1974 pages 62-63, Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i v5-6.

School records[edit | edit source]

Read more about these records in the Ireland Schools article.

Societies[edit | edit source]

Tax records[edit | edit source]

The valuation of property for tax purposes was started in the 1840s by Richard Griffith. A tax paid to the church, call Tithe Applotments, began in the 1820s. Read about these records in the Ireland Taxation and Ireland Land and Property articles. Add records for this parish that you know about.

Archives[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia contributors, "Belfast," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belfast, accessed 24 July, 2017.
  • Wikipedia contributors, "Belfast," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belfast, accessed 16 August, 2017.