Belfast Chronology

1306. The White Church (flow Shankill), with the Chapels of the Ford, noted in the Irish Taxation Roll.
1315. The Scots under Edward Bruce wasted Belfast.
1333. William de Burgo, EarI of Ulster, murdered near the Fords of Belfast.
1476. O’Neill attacked and demolished the Castle of Belfast.
1489. Hugh Roe O’Donnell took the Castle.
1503. The Castle demolished by the Earl of Kildare.
1512. Retaken by the Earl of Kildare, and the spoils distributed amongst his soldiers.
1523. The Earl of Kildare wrote to Henry VIII. that he has “taken a Castle of Hugh O’Neill’s called Belfast, and burned z miles of his country.”
1537. A son of Con O’Neill taken prisoner at Belfast.
1551. Sir James Croft, Lord Deputy, repaired Castle of Belfast, and put there a garrison.
1552. Restored to Hugh McNeiIl Oge O’Neill by King Edward VI. “in the same state as when he first possessed it.”
1553. Lord Chancellor Cusack writes, that Hugh O’Neill has two castles, an old one at
Belfast, and Castell rioughe (Castlereagh).
1556. Lord Deputy Sussex encamped underneath the Cave Hill with his army.
1558. Belfast fortified and “the renowned Capt. Malbie” with 15 horsemen placed in it
by Lord Deputy Sydney.
1568. An important agreement signed here by Lord Deputy Sydney and Sir Brian O’Neill.
1571. Queen Elizabeth granted the castle and town to Sir Thomas Smith.
1573. Belfast granted to Earl Essex, who “huildeth a forte neare Belfaste, whereby he coinmandeth the passages over certain rivers and waters, and cutteth downe wood quyetly to the great discouragement of the Irish.” Earl Essex defeated Sir Brian O’Neill at Ballymacarrett.
1574. Earl Essex writes that the Brewhouse, Storehouse, and Mill are completed. Sir
Brian O’Neill, his father and wife, seized by Earl Essex at a feast in the Castle.
1575. Earl Essex writes:—” I resolve not to build but at one place, namelie Belfaste, and that of little charge, a small towne there will keepe the passage.” An engagement took place between Lord Deputy Sydney and MacNeill Brian Ertaugh at Belfast.
1583. Lord Deputy Perrot recommended Belfast to Queen Elizabeth as a fit place for
shipbuilding, after visiting it.
1597. Shane McBrian took the Castle. As narrated by an eye.witness :—“ One ensigne Puilen had the gyfte of Belfast castell, who in culler of this charge, robbed the people, and took their giides round aboute hym, to mayntayne his drunkeness. And being drunck from his charge at Knockfergus, and a carswose sent hym by Shane M’Bryan, to loke to his chardges, wolde not forsake his wyne poots to serve her Maty; but lyinge still at Knocklergus, drinkinge, his owne man, named John Aloylon, gave the castell of Belfast to the enem’e the xviiith daie June.” Retaken 11th July by Sir John Chichester, who was killed in November by MacDonnell at Ballycarry. The Castle of Belfast a Government possession.
1598. The Castle of Belfast held by Sir Ralph Lane in custodiarn.
I 599. Sir Arthur Chichester appointed Governor of Carrickfergus and the two Clanneboyes.
iów. Cecil wrote to Lord Deputy Mountjoy suggesting Sir Arthur Chichester as governor of Ulster, but blaming his clemency to Con 0 Neill of Belfast.
1603. Con O’Neill sent his servants to bring wine from Belfast to Castlereagh; they
returning without it, explained that the English soldiers had taken it from them.
He ordered them to revenge this insult, and in the fray a soldier was killed. Accused of levying was against the Queen and imprisoned in Carrickfergus, he escaped by the help of Hugh Montgomery, Laird of Braidstane, by whom his pardon was procured in 1605 at the expense of most of his vast estates. The castle and estate of Belfast granted by King James to Sir Arthur Chichester, who wrote to Cecil —“ Albeat when i have it aLt best perfection I wyLl gladly sell the whole landes fo the w others sell, five poundes in fee simple in these pastes of the Kyngdotne.” Sir Arthur Chichester appointed Governor of Carrickfergus and Admiral of Lough Neagh.
1604. Sir Arthur Chichester made Lord Deputy of Ireland, which office he held 10 years.
1605. Fairs and markets first established in Belfast.
1606. Numerous townlands in Malone and the Falls leased to Moyses Hill at 10 yearly.
1607. Town and Castle of Belfast declared forfeited by Sir Thomas Smith’s descendants. Belfast mentioned as a suitable place for a Charter of Incorporation. The flight of the Earls, and the consequent Plantation of Ulster commenced.
1610. Sir Arthur Chichester writes to King James that he “would rather labour with his hands in the Plantation of Ulster than dance or play in that of Virginia.”
1611. The Castle rebuilt and strengthened by Sir A. Chichester. “The towne of Bealfast is plotted out in a good forme, wherein are many families of English, Scotch, and some Manksmen already inhabitinge . . . and one Inn Wth very good Lodgings w is a great comforte to the travellers in those partes.”
1612. Sir Arthur Chichester created Baron Chichester of Belfast. Castle built at Strazi mill is by Moyses lull.
1613. Lord Belfast resigned the office of Lord Deputy. Belfast constituted a Corporation by Charter on 27th April, with John Vesey as first Sovereign. Sir John
Blenner hassett and George Trevillian returned as the two first M.P.’s.
16 14. Lord Belfast again made Lord Deputy, when be caused the Irish Harp to be first quartered with the arms of England.
1618. Con O’Neill died at Holywood, and was buried at Ballymaghan.
1635. Lord Belfast died in London, Feb. 19. Buried in Carrickfergus Church, Oct. 24. Edward Chichester, brother and heir, created Viscount Chichester of Carrickfergus.
1630. The Chichester estate of Manor and Borough of Belfast valued at £400 per annum.
1635. Sir W. Brereton visited Belfast, and noted—” At Bellfast my Ld. Chichester bath another daintie House, w” is indeed the Glorye & Beautye of that Towne al-soe,
where bee is most resident.”
1636. A ship of 150 tons, called the “Eagle’s Wing,” built at Belfast, and 540 persons embarked for New England, but returned. Conference in Belfast Church
between Bishop Leslie and five Presbyterian clergymen.
1637. Lord Deputy Wentworth abolished “the Carrickfergus privilege,” thus freeing the port of Belfast.
1639. A detachment 61 the army raised by Wentworth to assist King Charles I. stationed in Belfast. The Town Hall fitted up to serve as a Court House.
1640. The Assizes held in Belfast for the only Lime till x85o. Maces, Arms, and Town Seal procured by the Corporation. A new grant of their estates given to the Chichesters by the King.
1641. A pestilent fever carried off about 2,000 in Belfast alone. “Not any that escaped this fever but lost all their hair.” A letter sent King Charles at Edinburgh by Lord E. Chichester from Belfast giving the first news of the Rebellion. The town saved from the rebels by the bravery of Capt. Robert Lawson. Arms, including artillery, to defend Belfast, procured in Scotland by Cola. Chichester and Hill.
1642. The town fortified with a rampart and ditch by Cot. Chichester. Gen. Robert Monro, with 2,500 Scotch soldiers, landed at Carrickfergus. The Earl of Leven brought over the remainder, 2o,ooo in all. Some billeted in Belfast. First Presbyterian congregation formed.
1643. Father MacCana visited Belfast, and wrote—” The town which is built there is no mean one.” Cot. Chichester appointed Governor of Belfast, and 2,ooo given by the King to strengthen it.
1644. Belfast surprised and occupied by Gen. Monro on May 14. Thos. Theaker, Sovereign, states that all the free commoners, “except a very few,” had taken the Covenant.
1645. The Parliament’s Commissioners sent to Belfast refused possession by Gen. Monro.
1646. Owen Roe O’Neill completely defeated Gen. Monro at Benburb on June 5. Col. Arthur Chichester created 1st Earl of Donegall by King Charles. The Scotch forces in Belfast refused to admit the soldiers sent by the English Parliament.
1648. Gen. Monro arrested by Cot. Monk at Carrickfergus, and Belfast surrendered to the English Parliament, who directed thanks to be offered by all their ministers in London for “the great mercy of surprising the said garrison, and taking the Scots prisoners.” Lord Edward Chichester died at Eggesford, Devon, in July.
John Milton made his famous attack on the Belfast Presbytery, as “that unchristian synagogue of Belfast,” in his “Observations upon the Articles of Peace with the Irish Rebels, on the letter of Orniond to Colonel Jones and the Representatives of the Presbytery of Belfast.” Lord Montgomery took Belfast for the King, and shortly afterwards Carrickkrgus. Cromwell arrived in Ireland, and sent Cot. R. Venables to Belfast, which surrendered on articles on 30th Sept. after four days’ siege.
1651. The church converted into the Grand Fort and Citadel by Col. Venables.
1653. Belfast included in the proclamation of the Commissioners for Ulster removing certain Scots to the West of Ireland. In Belfast these were—” Lt. Thos. Cranston, Corporal Thos. M’Cormick, Hugh Doke, Robert Cluxton, George Martin, Alexander Lockard, Robert King, and Quintin Catherwood.”
1654. Major Daniel Redmond returned as M.P. for Belfast and Carrickfergus. Essex
Dighy and William Dix appointed by the Government as the clergy of Belfast at 120 each per annum. W. Edmundson, the Quaker, mentions:—” At Belfast that town of great profession, there was but one of all the inns and public houses that would lodge any of our friends, which was one Widow Partridge who kept a public house and received us very kindly.”
1656. Henry Cromwell granted £100 to restore the church, after its use as a citadel.
1657. Col. Cooper, Governor of Ulster, wrote to Henry Cromwell that no Scotchman
should be allowed in Belfast for some years. Population given by Petty as 366
English, 223 Irish.
166o. Great rejoicings at Restoration. Belfast contained 5 streets and lanes with 150
1666. The Duke of Orniond, Lord Deputy, passed through Belfast on his way to quell a mutiny at Carrickfergus. 204 houses rated for hearth money, the Castle for 40
hearths. Loaf sugar, 14d. per lb. ; butter, aos. per cwt.; meal, 7s. 6d. per barrel.
1667. Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor, died at Lisburn.
1672. De Rocheford visited Belfast, and wrote:—” Here is a very fine Castle, and two
or three large streets as in a new built town.” First Presbyterian Church built.
1675. Arthur Chichester, 1st Earl of Donegall, died in Belfast i8th March.
1676. Thomas Pottinger paid £20 rent for all Ballymacarrett.
1682. The foundations of the Long Bridge laid; finished in 1688; cost £8,ooo.
1685. Thomas Phillips surveyed the town for the Government, and advised the building of a citadel at £42,000. The Corporation and inhabitants sent an address to James II. on his accession.
1687. A writ “Quo Warranto” served on Corporation, and the original Charter forfeited. i688. The total amount of the customs and excise, £2o,ooo. The chief place of trade
was Rosemary Street. W. Sacheverell visited here, and noted :—“ Belfast is the second town in Ireland, well built, full of people, and of great Trade.” King James II. granted a new Charter, which became law 16th Oct.
1689. King William and Queen Mary proclaimed in Belfast. Belfast occupied for King James II. by “six companies of Colonel Corniack O’Neal’s regiment and a troop
of dragoons in Malone and the Fall, and they were kept to strict discipline
.’ Duke Schonberg occupied Belfast 17th August. “Whilst the Duke staid at Belfast, there came a letter to him by a trumpet from the Duke of Berwick,
but it was returned unopened, because it was directed For Count Schonberg.”
1690. An Earthquake in Belfast. King William landed at Carrickfergus 14th June; drove from Whitehouse over the Strand, entering Belfast at the North Gate.
A Royal Proclamation issued from “Our Court at Belfast,” 19th June, prohibiting plundering by the army.
1692. In spring, seven arches of the Long Bridge fell in, “having been weakened by Schomberg’s drawing his heavy cannon over it.”
1694. W. Crawford, Sovereign, induced Patrick Neill and James Blow to start as printers.
1696. Corporation sent address to King William and Queen Mary. Swift made frequent visits to Belfast, where he proposed to “Varina,” daughter of W. Waring.
1697. A violent storm threw down part of the Mill Gate and the vane of the Church.
1698. Butter, 305. per cwt.; tallow, us.; salmon, 505. per barrel; beef, 14s. per cwt.
1699. Shaw’s Bridge built. Ship “Loyal Charles,” 250 tons, Hunter, master, launched.
1700. Only ten slated houses in Belfast. P. Neill printed first dated book in Belfast.
1704. James Blow printed the first edition of the Bible in Ireland. New sugar-house built.
1706. 3rd Earl of Donegall killed at the storming of Fort Monjuich, Barcelona.
1707. George Macartney, Sovereign, summoned before House of Commons, but acquitted. Greater part of Lisburn burnt. £54 collected here in a few hours for sufferers.
1708. The Castle burnt, April 25, three of Lord Donegall’s daughters perishing in the flames. A company of militia raised, commanded by the Sovereign. Dr. Molyneux
noted—” Belfast is a very handsome, thriving, well-peopled town; a great many new houses and good shops in it.” Second Presbyterian Church founded.
1709. The greatest flood remembered took place, carrying away Shaw’s Bridge and many others. A public fast observed on account of great scarcity.
1712. Hanover Quay formed by Isaac Macartney on reclaimed ground.
1714.. King George I. proclaimed “by 1oo inhabitants on horseback, all pleased but a few.”
1715. The first independent company of Volunteers formed.
1716. The fishing at Stranmillis let. 1717. Dr. V. Tisdall, vicar, cast in a suit to recover house-money from Corporation.
1720. All the houses in Bridge Street thatched.
1721. Third Presbyterian Church founded.
1723. Ships in Belfast—all craft included—37o, carrying 9,180 tons.
1725. The Corporation petition for a Bill to improve Harbour. Houses in the Parish
2,093. Bleaching machinery first erected at Ballydrain.
1728. A year of great scarcity from failure of crops.
1729. The first Act to improve the Harbour obtained.
1731. The “Playhouse” first mentioned.
1732. The Barony of Belfast contained 4,532 Protestant and 340 R.C. families.
1737. Belfast News-Letter founded by Francis Joy Yearly subscription—town, 4s. 6d.; country, 6s. 6d. The Barracks built in Mill Street.
1738. Lord Donegall granted £1,500 to build a Linen Hall at Ann Street.
1740. A petition from merchants to improve Harbour sent Irish Privy Council. Regular trade between Belfast and West Indies commenced.
1745. The Belfast Cosera,# printed by James Magee on paper made by James Blow.
1748. Primate Boulter wrote—” There are now 7 ships at Belfast carrying off about 5,000 passengers to America.”
1750. The ancient stone coronation chair of the O’Neills of Castlereagh set up in Butter Market by the Sovereign, Stewart Banks.
1751. George Whitfield stayed some days in Belfast. [James] “Blow’s Bible” printed.
1752. The first post chaise brought to Belfast. First Bank established by Thomas Bateson, James Adair, and Daniel Mussenden. Dr. Pococke noted—” Belfast is a considerable town of trade, especially in the linnen manufacture, in which they are all concerned. The town of Belfast consists of one long, broad street, and of several lanes in which the working people live. The church seems to be an old tower or castle, to which they have built, so as to make it a Greek cross.”
1753. The first private lottery held to raise funds to build the Poorhouse.
2754. Donegall Street laid out. A Linen Hall built. 2cc men start work on Lagan Canal.
1756. Serious riots caused by scarcity and distress. John Wesley first visited Belfast.
2757. First Census—1,779 houses, 8,549 inhabitants, 1,5oo able to bear arms, 399 looms.
4th Earl of Donegall died.
1758. Capt. J. M’Cracken established first Ropewalk Company.
1759. James Blow, printer, died. 300 French prisoners kept in the Barracks.
1760. Thurot captured Camckfergus, and requisitioned Belfast. Milewater fortified.
5,000 Volunteers enrolled. Splendid ball given by French and Swiss prisoners.
1763. Thomas Gregg sent first lighter to Lisburn with coals and timber. Customs, £32,9oo.
1764. A lump of ambergris weighing 1 cwt. found at Whitehouse shore. Lime first used in bleaching.
1765. Provisions very scarce; £9o raised monthly for relief; Lord Lieutenant gave £100. A Reading Society called the Belfast Library formed.
1766. A six-days post established between Belfast and Dublin.
1767. A Social Club met at Donegall Arms.
1769. Lord Donegall laid first stone of Exchange (now Belfast Bank); cost £4,000. The foundations of Chichester Quay, 320 feet long, laid by Mr. Thomas Gregg.
1770. The Farset River in High Street covered over.
1771. The Bachelors’ Annuity Company of Belfast formed. David Douglas, of Temple Patrick, rescued from Barracks by “the Hearts of SteeL”
1772. Rev. James Sauna, vicar, died; succeeded by Rev. W. Bristow. At the “Green” was a tenement held by those who managed the ferry-boat across the Lagan.
1773. Computed that “one-fourth of its manufacturing people and cash had emigrated to America from North of Ireland.” Brown Linen Hall erected. tóo linen looms in town.
1774. The old Church in high St. taken down and St. Anne’s begun. Poorhouse opened.
1775. Very high tide; boats plying in High Street. Belfast News-Letter attacked by Dublin Press for its support of American Independence.
1776. Glass manufacture introduced. Arthur Young estimated value of the Chichester estate of Belfast at £2,ooo per annum.
1777. Robert Joy and Thomas M’Cabe started cotton-spinning in the Poorhouse. No rain for 200 days.
1778. January 10. The raising of Volunteers suggested at a family party by Robert Joy. April 24. Paul Jones captured H.M.S. sloop “Drake” off Donaghadee. June 28.“The first Belfast Volunteer Company paraded and marched to church in their uniform, which is scarlet turned up with black velvet, white waistcoat and breeches.”
1779. John Howard visited the French prisoners confined here.
1780. The Amicable Society of Belfast protest against slavery on British soil. Lord
Charlemont reviewed Volunteers for the first time.
1781. First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street, rebuilt; Roger Mulholland, architect.
1782. The Tanners’ Club commenced with 53 members.
1783. White Linen Hall erected on site granted in perpetuity by Lord Donegall. St. Mary’s R. C. Church erected in Chapel Lane. Belfast Mercury issued.
1784. Nathaniel Wilson and Nicholas Grimshaw built first Cotton mill in Ireland.
1785. A Harbour Board constituted by Parliament. The large glass-house at east end of
Long Bridge built. Mrs. Siddons’ first visit to Belfast. Population, 16,000.
1786. Vessels belonging to port, 772; tonnage, 34,287; revenue, £‘553. The old ford at foot of High Street removed by Harbour Board. The Belfast Academy founded; Dr. Crombie, principal. Chief Baron Yelverton commenced a town in Ballymacarrett, but stopped by Lord Donegall. The third edition of Burns’s poems printed in Belfast—the first and second having been printed in Kilmarnock and Edinburgh respectively.
1787. A Bank formed by John Ewing, John Holmes, John Brown, and John Hamilton.
First Methodist Chapel erected in Fountain Street. Sovereign’s Chain presented to Corporation by Lord Donegall.
1788. The Belfast Reading Society formed, now known as “The linen Hall library.”
The two Banks in Belfast issued notes payable in gold. First mail coach commenced to run between Belfast and Dublin.
1789. Nearly 300 houses built in Belfast during this year. A loyal address sent King
George III. on his recovery. Mustard manufacturing started.
1790. Northern Whig Club instituted by Lord Charlemont. Francis Joy died, aged 93.
1791. First shipyard established by William Ritchie. Houses occupied, 2,209, by 18,320 people; 8.932 males, 9,388 females. The Society of United Irishmen founded
by S. Nielson, H. J. M’Cracken, T. Wolf Tone, and T. Russell. Theatre built.
1792. The first number of the Northern Star issued on 4th January. Famous meeting of harpers in Belfast, convened by Dr. J. McDonnell. Petition for Catholic Emancipation signed by Sovereign and principal inhabitants. Old Dispensary, now Royal Hospital, founded. First foundry started. David Manson died, aged 65.
1793. The Volunteers disbanded by Royal Proclamation. A Discount Office opened.

1794. Society of the New United Irishmen formed in Belfast. Lying-in Hospital opened.
[H. Joy’s] Belfast Politics printed.
1795. 72 delegates of United Irishmen at meeting in Belfast framed the “System of
Committees.” The Gaelic Magazine, by Miss Brookes, issued.
1796. Habeas Corpus Act suspended; proprietors of Northern Star arrested. January
25. High tides commenced, which sometimes “ebbed and flowed 3 times in a tide ;“ water 13 inches deep on south side of Arthur Street; boats plied at south end of Bridge Street. First volume of E. Bunting’s Irish Music printed.
1797. The Belfast Yeomanry formed. First Fever Hospital opened, with six beds. Dc
Latocnaye notes—” Belfast has all the air of a Scotch town.”
1798. May 7. Martial law proclaimed by General Nugent, followed by surrender of
Volunteers’ cannon. June 7. Battle of Antrim; no one allowed in or out of
Belfast except to market. June 12. Battle of Ballynahinch, the cannonading at
which was heard in Belfast. June IX. Declaration of Loyalty by Belfast Yeomen.
July 6. Henry Joy M ‘Cracken executed. Thermometer 25° this winter.
1799. 1st Marquis of Donegall died. Marquis Cornwallis presented with a Corporate
Address at Lord Donegall’s house. Great snowstorm; for 7 days there was no
post between Belfast and Donaghadee. Manufacture of vitriol introduced.
18oo. Municipal Act obtained; cost £1,260. Public Bakery opened. “The dear
summer.” 36 tan-yards at full work. Edward May, John Congreve, jun., M. P.’s.
1801. First Union Jack hoisted at Market House and Royal salute fired. Literary Society formed. Typhus very prevalent. Edward May, M.P.
1802. Population, I9,000 houses, 3,197. Mrs. Siddons’ second visit, accompanied by
Montague Talbot. Dr. Alexander H. Haliday, Lord Charlemont’s friend, died.
1803. Two new corps of Yeomanry formed. T. Russel’s abortive rising. Town guarded by sentinels. Belfast Almanac fIrsti. ssued. Anna, first novel written here, printed.
1804. Master Betty, “the Young Roscius,” appeared at Belfast Theatre.
I8o5. The Commercial Chronicle issued by Drummond Anderson. Graving dock erected for two vessels; cost7,684. Valentine Jones died, aged 94.
1806. Belfast Medical Society inaugurated. The Galvanic Society formed. .
1807. Population, 22,095; houses, 3,514; looms—cotton 629, linen 4, sailcloth 35, sacking 5.
Irish Harp Society formed. The first Belfast Directory published
1808. Rev. William Bristow, Vicar, died; Sovereign io years; his funeral was the
largest ever witnessed here. The Belfast Magazine issued; it continued six years.
1809. House of Industry opened in Smithfield. First Ormeau Bridge built.
1810 Daniel Blow, printer and papermaker, son of James Blow, died, aged a. Foundation stone of Royal Academical Institution laid; architect, Sir John Sloane. Belfast ships, 8 (28 armed); seamen, 742; tonnage, 8,335. Coasters, &c., 21; seamen, 44. A Night Watch Society formed.
1811. St. Patrick’s R. C. Church, Donegall Street, built; total, £2,811. First Baptist Chapel built in King Street.
1812. St. George’s Church erected on site of “Corporation” Church. James Sheridan
Knowles bad a school in Crown Entry. Old Market house pulled down.
1813. Population, 27,832; 5,428 families in 4,416 houses. Montgomery’s Market opened.
1814. Royal Academical Institution received Parliamentary grant. Customs duties,
£450,498. Anacreontic Society formed. Sir Stephen May, M. P.
1813. Linen Hall Newsroom opened with io5 members. First stone of Hospital laid.
1816. First Stipendiary Magistrate1 W. H. Ferrar, appointed. Savings Bank established. 1817. Frederick Street Hospital opened, August J. Great dearth. Unprecedented outbreak of typhus fever. The House of Correction, Howard Street, erected, with the inscription, “Within, Amend; Without. Beware.” [H. Joy’s) History of Belfast published.
1818. The Irishman weekly newspaper commenced by John Lawless. A. Chichester, M. P.