Author Topic: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s  (Read 345 times)

Lizzie58

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HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« on: February 14, 2020, 03:49:30 AM »
Dear Forum Members

I am trying to trace my great-grandmother's parents (James HANNA and spouse name unknown - of Belfast) and any associated history.  I know the history of both of their daughters and most of their descendants (see below) but I cannot readily find out anything about the parents and am seeking any insights that other forum members may have.

What I know is as follows:

Daughter, Emily HANNA (also recorded on one of her children's birth records as Emily Elizabeth HANNA) was born in Belfast about 1863-1865.  I believe she was born into a Presbyterian/Church of Ireland family.  On 20 February 1882 she married Charles COWAN in Aghlisnafin RC Chapel in the Parish of Clough, County Down.  I am assuming she converted to Catholicism at this time.  Their Marriage Certificate states that she was resident in Belfast at the time of marriage and that her father was James HANNA whose profession was Publican.  Charles came from Castlewellan, County Down, where his family ran a Posting Establishment.  The couple had children in this order - James; Rachel Mary; Emily Catherine; Margaret Mary (my grandmother); Mary Eliza and Ellen Teresa.  Emily HANNA/Cowan died on 5 March 1923 and is buried at Dundonald Cemetry.

Daughter, Rachel (or Rachael) Annie HANNA was also born about 1863-1865 in Belfast.  On 5 September 1883 she married Nathaniel McCalla Brown (1854-1919) at Magdalen Church of Ireland, Belfast.  The Marriage Certificate gives her residence as 40 Virginia Street, Belfast.  Her father is James HANNA and his profession is given as Merchant.  A witness to the marriage is Ellen HANNA (relationship unknown).  Rachel and Nathaniel had children - with family name BROWN in this order: William; John; James Hanna; Jane Cowan McCalla; Nathaniel McCulla (sic); Rachel Annie; Robert Lionel Gordon.

I know that Emily and Rachel were sisters as I have DNA matches with descendants from Rachel's line (as well has having commmon photos of Rachel ending up with me in Australia and her descendants in the USA).  I have included their children's names above in case these give any clue as to likely grandparents' names (I know the Irish naming conventions if they were followed here - but this hasn't helped me progress my efforts to find out more about James HANNA and spouse).

I am assuming that James HANNA's profession as described in the two marriage records of Publican variously Merchant mean the same thing in the context of such proximate marriage dates for the sisters (merchant possibly being a more diplomatic rendering).  Family anecdotal history, which may be apochryphal, also describes James as a Bank Manager and holding a senior office in one of the Belfast Masonic Lodges.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

 

CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2020, 08:18:11 AM »

... Daughter, Emily HANNA (also recorded on one of her children's birth records as Emily Elizabeth HANNA) was born in Belfast about 1863-1865.  I believe she was born into a Presbyterian/Church of Ireland family.  On 20 February 1882 she married Charles COWAN in Aghlisnafin RC Chapel in the Parish of Clough, County Down.  I am assuming she converted to Catholicism at this time   


A transcript of a Castlewellan RC parish record shows an Emily Hanna being baptised on 20 February 1882 (same day as the marriage to Charles Cowan), the sponsor was a Mary McCann (the same name as one of the witnesses to the marriage) and a note to the record says that she was an 'Adult Presbyterian Convert'.  There is no other detail.

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CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2020, 08:43:20 AM »
From the Belfast street directories that are available online, the following entry is shown for Virginia Street in both 1884 and 1887:

40 Hanna, James, agent
 
This looks like James Hanna's death in 1890 (note the informant 'N.M. Brown Son in Law'), James was described as a Commission Agent and his wife was still alive ('Married'):

https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/deaths_returns/deaths_1890/06099/4740632.pdf

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CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2020, 08:53:30 AM »






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Lizzie58

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2020, 09:56:30 AM »
Dear CMcG

Thank you so much for your responses - I have spent a year trying to make progress and clearly am showing my inexpertise in these matters (I blame distance Sydney-Belfast but it's obviously not a good excuse)!  I am absolutely delighted and very grateful for your information as I have been getting rather desperate/frustrated. 

Lizzie

CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2020, 08:45:40 AM »
It wouldn't be unusual for someone responding to this sort of query to come back reasonably quickly with something fairly definitive, but in this case I've struggled to gain much traction on the Hanna ancestry. I suspect that this hasn't been helped by the fact that both of the main protagonists in this family tale (Emily Elizabeth and Rachel Annie) were born before the start of civil birth registration in Ireland, for notwithstanding their ages cited in various census records, the earliest (and usually most reliable) indication of birth year comes in their description of 'full' age in their respective marriages (ie. having attained the age of 21), which would place their births in the region of 1861-1862 at the latest. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any online baptisms for them. And of course there are loads of questions, for a starter, how does Emily, residing in Belfast, end up marrying and living well to the south in Castlewellan?

But I have a theory. It's inconclusive at the moment, however it is based on a couple of interesting co-incidences, so definitely worth noting for now, until something comes along to confirm it or blow it out of the water as a piece of speculative nonsense.

The first co-incidence comes in the guise of John, the son of Nathaniel McCalla Brown and Rachel Annie Hanna, for in among the repetition of the names Cowan and McCalla in this couples' childrens' names, it jumped out for me that John's birth and death were both registered in the name of John Cecil Her(r)on Brown:
https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/birth_returns/births_1887/02563/1947928.pdf
https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/deaths_returns/deaths_1908/05482/4535190.pdf

Where did the Her(r)on come from? The co-incidence, is that I can see a transcript of a marriage that took place between a James Hanna and Elizabeth Herron that has several interesting features:
- it took place in St. Anne's Church of Ireland Belfast on 9 September 1859, which would slot into the timeline very nicely, if Emily Elizabeth and Rachel Annie were indeed born in the early 1860s;
- James' address was recorded as Kilmegan parish in County Down, which, wait for it, is in the immediate  Castlewellan vicinity;
- James' occupation was given as agent, which resonates with the occupation mentioned in the 1880s street directory entries and the 1890 death registration I previously mentioned;
- James' age was given as 32, giving an indicated birth year of 1827, which, allowing for the general 'looseness' in such information for that era, isn't too far removed from the birth year of 1832 indicated by the 1890 death registration I previously mentioned.
 
Other details in that 1859 marriage are that James' father was given as James Hanna a farmer, Elizabeth Herron's address was given as Belfast, her age as 25, her occupation as milliner and her father as James Herron a farmer, and the witnesses were Patrick MacDowell and Anna Heron (the name Herron and Heron seem to be interchangeable, in this instance both appearing in the very same marriage record). 

BTW, I searched civil birth registrations for the immediate period after 1864 for Hannas born with a mother's maiden name of Her(r)on and couldn't find any.

More anon, but the speculative proposal for now is that the parents of Emily Elizabeth and Rachel Annie were James Hanna and Elizabeth Her(r)on.

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CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2020, 10:04:14 AM »
I'll cut to the chase and state the second co-incidence up front, it's a death of an Elizabeth Margaret Hanna on 1 December 1913 at hospital (51 Lisburn Road), her address was given as 4 McMaster Street, she was described as the 74 year old widow of James Hanna an artist, and the co-incidence is that the informant was recorded as one Jane C Brown, Grand Daughter, also resident at 4 McMaster Street:
https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/deaths_returns/deaths_1913/05321/4480927.pdf

What I'm surmising for now is that the person informing the Registrar about the death of her Grandmother was Jane Cowan (McCalla) Brown.  Looking at what is recorded there, the age indicates a birth year c. 1839, which is a bit light for the Elizabeth Her(r)on in the 1859 marriage (which indicated a birth year of 1834), but not overly concerning to me, given my experience of the general 'looseness' in age of that era.

Why the two of them would be living at 4 McMaster Street is unknown to me, the 1911 Ireland census and the nearest available street directory online (1912) show a Sarah Harcourt (nee Little) and sons living there, but I can't readily see a familial connection. Maybe they moved on after the census and Elizabeth Margaret Hanna and Jane C Brown took over residence...

What threw me initially about that 1913 death registration of course, was the word 'artist' to describe James Hanna.  But I have a theory about that also, to do with the wider context.

The indications are that James was a man of several business talents over his lifetime, variously described as merchant, publican, agent and latterly as commission agent. Merchant and publican aren't mutually exclusive, indeed I noticed a James Hanna listed as a grocer on the Falls Road in one of the earlier street directories and wondered if this was him as a spirit grocer extending into a small bar, but I couldn't find anything to corroborate this.  Commission agent can mean an unlicensed bookmaker, but in this case I believe he was selling, ie. commission on sales.  Going back to the death notice I posted for the James Hanna who died in 1890, the son-in-law N. M. Brown described him as 'James Hanna, of Royal Avenue'.  The only contemporary street directory entries I could find for someone of that name in Royal Avenue were as follows (bear in mind that elements of a street directory could be up to a year out of date, ie. the lead time for compilation):

1887: LIBRARY CHAMBERS, HANNA, JAMES, London and Paris Photograph and Portrait Co.
(he is also listed against his residence at 40 Virginia Street in this directory)

1890: 114. Library Chambers ...
   "    (first floor) McCloy, Joseph, commission agent
   "    Hanna, J., agent for London & Paris Portrait Co.

In the next available online street directory (1892), James Hanna is no longer shown against that Royal Avenue Library Chambers address.

Now I don't know exactly what James was doing, but given that Jane Cowan McCalla Brown never knew him (he died before she was born), and given that when Elizabeth Margaret Hanna died in 1913, Jane's mother Rachel Annie (Hanna) Brown was already dead (the previous year), it's not too huge a leap of faith to see how Jane translated some family lore about James being involved with 'portraits' into him being an 'artist', when she went to inform the Registrar about her Grandmother's death.

So yes, all quite speculative, but the Her(r)on linkage and that 1913 death make for two interesting co-incidences.

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CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2020, 05:14:16 PM »




Just throwing in some random stuff now, for I'm still struggling to find anything else.

In addition to the 1890 street directory corroborating the occupier of this Falls Road address above (which I had already checked, ie: 17. Brown, N. M., mill manager), I've also just noticed that this address, cited at the time of James Hanna's' death in July 1890, matches that for the birth of a son almost exactly 3 months later to Nathaniel McCalla Brown and Rachel Annie Hanna (presumably later christened James?), so it all hangs together nicely:
https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/birth_returns/births_1890/02411/1899036.pdf

I also noticed that the informant of (and present at) the birth of John Cecil Herron Brown in 1887 was an E Hanna of 40 Virginia Street, it could of course be Ellen Hanna, the (as yet unidentified) witness to the 1883 marriage of Nathaniel McCalla Brown and Rachel Annie Hanna, but there again, I wondered if it was 'E' for Elizabeth (...Margaret, the mother), I posted the link before but will do so again below for convenience:
https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/churchrecords/images/birth_returns/births_1887/02563/1947928.pdf

I also wondered about a small run (6?... 7?) of Belfast newspaper notices in the period May - August 1890 (ie. the summer season), the point of interest being that it mentions the address 114 Royal Avenue (as previously mentioned) and the name Hanna. The notices relate to a property in Whitehead County Antrim, I've posted (below) the advert published on 19 July 1890, which was the day after James Hanna died, several subsequent notices refer to a Mrs Hanna rather than a Mr Hanna:



The only reason I mention it, is that John Cecil Her(r)on Brown died at Whitehead in 1908, so I'm just throwing it out here to see if Whitehead in County Antrim rings a bell for you.

Slim pickings I know, but maybe fresh eyes from another reader will open something up for you.

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CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2020, 01:51:10 AM »

... Daughter, Emily HANNA (also recorded on one of her children's birth records as Emily Elizabeth HANNA) was born in Belfast about 1863-1865.  I believe she was born into a Presbyterian/Church of Ireland family.  On 20 February 1882 she married Charles COWAN in Aghlisnafin RC Chapel in the Parish of Clough, County Down.  I am assuming she converted to Catholicism at this time.  Their Marriage Certificate states that she was resident in Belfast at the time of marriage and that her father was James HANNA whose profession was Publican.  Charles came from Castlewellan, County Down, where his family ran a Posting Establishment.  The couple had children in this order - James; Rachel Mary; Emily Catherine; Margaret Mary (my grandmother); Mary Eliza and Ellen Teresa.  Emily HANNA/Cowan died on 5 March 1923 and is buried at Dundonald Cemetry ...


Charles Joseph (b. 1885), Elizabeth (b. 1890) and Charles Patrick (b. 1897) make up the figure of 9 children confirmed by the 1911 census return, all 3 sadly died young, as did Ellen shown in the 1901 census return.  Emily (Hanna) Cowan died on 20 October 1928 at Castlewellan, described as a 66 year old widowed caretaker, her daughter Emily was the informant. I don't know where Emily senior is buried.

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Lizzie58

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2020, 02:57:37 AM »
Dear CMcG

Thank you again for your invaluable assistance and “fresh eyes” and your information has prompted me to look at what other information I might have to add to the narrative.

1.   Who was Mrs James HANNA

I believe that your proposition on the evidence that this was Elizabeth Margaret HER(R)ON is persuasive.  As you say, this fits nearly with the naming of John Cecil Herron BROWN (and somewhat answers my niggling thoughts that John BROWN was rather a plain name compared to that of his siblings).

2.   Birth years of Emily Elizabeth and Rachel Annie HANNA

I agree with your conclusion that they are more likely to have been born around 1861/62 if the above are indeed their parents, based on the year of marriage.  I finally thought to have a good look at a very faded original family photo of what I am convinced are the Hanna family.  It was taken at the studio of John Gibson, 20 Castle Lane, Belfast.  The Lennon Wylie website information on Belfast photographers says that this studio only operated from  1858-1870.  If 1870 is indeed the upper end for when photos might have been taken, and given that the girls standing next to their seated parents are clearly about 8-10 years old, then this entirely supports birthdates around 1861/62.

3.    How did Emily Elizabeth HANA and Charles COWAN meet

I have no idea whether inter-faith marriages were common at the time.   I have always had an inkling that Emily may have married somewhat below her status (no direct evidence of that of course and I have no insight into class/social attitudes at the time.)

The charming family account is that Emily was engaged to tutor music at Annesley Castle and travelled by train from Belfast to the closest stations (which might have been Ballynahinch at the time?) whence travellers to Castlewellan were collected by horse and carriage.  Charles, being a coach driver for Cowan Brothers Posting Establishment in Castlewellan, therefore had opportunity to convey Emily regularly to and from the Castle.  (My aunt told me this story many times and said that she had it straight from her mother, Margaret Mary COWAN daughter of Emily.) 

A more prosaic suggestion is that the historical accounts of Castlewellan and its traders
does show that there were HANNAs and HERRONs (and obviously also COWANS although the posting establishment is not listed among the “traders” – perhaps being somewhat below that status in the overall scheme of things?), namely:

Hanna, James, haberdasher and sewed muslin agent.
Hanna, James, grocer, haberdasher and woollen draper.
Hanna, James, corn and flax buyer. (above p's in book)
Hanna, Wm., agent for D, McDonald.
Henan, Peter, publican.
Herron, Samuel, baker and publican.
Herron, Eliza, straw bonnet maker.
Herron, Wm., grocer, haberdasher and ironmonger.

So, it might simply have been the case that Emily visited family members in Castlewellan frequently (perhaps close family likely grandparents/aunts/uncles) and therefore met Charles; although, this would surely have to be quite frequent/regular to allow for courtship?

4.   “Artist” in context of the HANNA family

Curiously, in 2010, my late father transcribed for me some old notes of a conversation that he had had with his cousin, Hugh John (Jack) FEGAN (1910-1998).  Jack was the son of Rachel Mary COWAN (1884-1912) who was the daughter of Emily Elizabeth COWAN nee HANNA. 

Jack had migrated to Australia as an adult and was discussion with my father, presumably around 1997, his memories of growing up in Castlewellan and knowing extended family.  Given that Jack was very eldlerly at the time of this discussion, I accept that some memories may be jumbled or confused.

Jack recalled that he had visited his mother’s BROWN family cousins in Belfast when he was about 14, when they lived in a rather grand house in Holywood (with a servant). 

Jack recalled that one of the cousin’s, Jane Cowan McCalla (Girlie) BROWN (1892-1956), daughter of Rachel Annie BROWN nee HANNA, was an artist who had painted a mural in the Belfast home of a former Governor-General of Australia.  (While there are early GG’s of Australia who had Northern Ireland links, I am wondering whether this more likely referred to a Governor of Northern Ireland – in any event, I have had no luck finding out anything about any such mural.)

With the above in mind, and noting that Janes C M Brown was the informant for the death of Elizabeth HANNA nee HER(R)ON, would you think it possible that the informant’s profession was incorrectly recorded here?  Or perhaps Elizabeth HANNA herself was an artist and this was the link between her and her grand-daughter, Jane BROWN?

5.    And I have just noted your response filling in my records for the early-deceased children of Emily and Charles COWAN – thank you very much for this.

Again, I am indebted to you for your assistance in my research endeavours.

CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2020, 08:03:41 AM »

... Jack recalled that one of the cousin’s, Jane Cowan McCalla (Girlie) BROWN (1892-1956), daughter of Rachel Annie BROWN nee HANNA, was an artist who had painted a mural in the Belfast home of a former Governor-General of Australia.  (While there are early GG’s of Australia who had Northern Ireland links, I am wondering whether this more likely referred to a Governor of Northern Ireland – in any event, I have had no luck finding out anything about any such mural.)


Jack was on the right line... as are you, for the painting was for Lord Wakehurst, who was the last British Governor of New South Wales (1937–46), whereupon he returned to the UK and later became Governor of Northern Ireland (1952–64), my parents once met him.

Belfast Newsletter, 25 September 1956

 
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Lizzie58

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2020, 08:12:16 AM »
CMcG

This is incredible - the story is actually true!  I am astounded that you could find this - very pleased and thank you again.

CMcG

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2020, 08:21:27 AM »
Given the quite distinctive name for these parts, I imagine that this is her:



For the same reason, the following watercolour auctioned in Belfast a couple of years ago must be a possibility (it's of the Mountains of Mourne):



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Lizzie58

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2020, 08:47:00 AM »
Yes it must be her's - how lovely.  Thank you

beresford

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Re: HANNA Family - Belfast - 1800s
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2020, 12:19:53 PM »
well Hello Cousin

my Gt Grandfather was called William Hanna and I think he was born about 1863 but sure where ---

it's a bit of a complicated family history --- me married my Gt Grandmother Jane Moore in 1894 at the time they put their address as Henry St Belfast -- William's father was James Hanna and his occupation was Publican ---i'm hopping that there were not too many James Hanna -Publicans in Belfast at that time 

when my Gt Grandparents married they already had at least 5 children --birth dates ranging from 1876 - 1885

William 1876----- Robert 1878-----Margaret Jane ( my Grandmother ) 1880---- Rachel 1882 and David 1885

I am getting William's date of birth from his wedding certificate which states that in 1894 he was 31 years old and Jane Moore was 40 years old ----you can see this on irishgeneoalgy.ie

in know it makes him very young when he had the first child

by the 1901 census Jane was down as a Widow and only had David and Margaret Jane living with her plus Margaret's 2 yrs old son Willam John Hanna
- I still have  not as yet found my Gt Grandfathers death certificate or any info on him after 1894

My grandmother married Thomas Alexander Beresford in 1901 and had another 11 children with him ,

I do have a little more in the family if you would like it

take care
Mo