Page 25 Helen’s Family: The Hannas

The furthest back I have traced the Hanna line is to a carpenter named Michael Hanna so we will begin with him and come forward in time. Griffith’s Valuation of 1863 shows Michael Hanna living at 7a, Ballymarter (or Ballymarter). He held land and buildings from Elizabeth Calvert. Looking at the Rates Revaluation Books for the 1870s and 1880s we can see that he continued to live there, though now the house reference changed to Aa. There is no number but the one after is 5, so presumably he is at 4a. Michael was paying rates on the property though in 1885 the amount he paid was reduced. The extract below shows his name. Looking at the map shows that 7a and 4Aa are just across the road from each other.

The Rates Valuation Book for 1866 to 1887 shows Michael at 7a in Ballymarter. In 1871 the property was revalued and made more expensive. In total costs rose from £5-10 to £8. Note that 7c below was a house occupied by a James Hanna.

Below is the map showing where Michael lived and worked, presumably at 4a and 7a judging by Griffith’s Valuation of 1863. The map shows modern map under the older one to help find the property on the ground.

In 1844 Michael acted as sponsor for a Marianne Creen whose baptism occurred on 1st April. These are likely to be neighbours as Ballymartyr is given as their address. On 30th April 1848 a Michael Hanna sponsored another child, Eliza Lennon of Craigavodden.

Michael died in 1899. He was said to be 96 years of age but this is not necessarily accurate. The death certificate, copied below, shows that he died of cancer.

Michael had married a woman named Dorothea or Dorathea. This was Dorothea Bryce, as a Catholic Parish registry of such a marriage on 5th August 1852 exists. This was at Ardkeen. Michael appears to have been known as Mick.

We know the couple had at least three children. These were Ellen, Sarah and Edward. Dorothea was still alive in 1899 and the terms of Michael’s will made clear that Edward was required to look after her. Other children have been found on the RC baptismal register for Ballyphilip, as shown below. The priest 9I presume) maintained the register diligently with very precise legible handwriting. Most wills before 1900 have been lost forever thanks to destruction of the Custom House in 1922 during Ireland’s Civil War but we are most fortunate to have this document.

The will implies that Michael actually owned the land held. It will be necessary to check the rates books for the 1890s regarding this. Certainly the 1890s saw a major redistribution of property in Ireland as landlords were obliged to allow tenants to buy their holdings. The Valuation Book for 1885 to 1898 shows Michael occupying the carpenter’s shop throughout that period. Rates of £2-10 had been reduced to £1 only. This was Aa on the map at Ballymarter. He is also shown as occupying a house at 7a. Michael paid rates of £4-10 for the land and £2-10 for the house. The house had been dilapidated but this was scored out. in 1885. The holding covered 3 acres, 3 rods and 5 perches. The extract below shows this.

The will informs us that Ellen was now in America. I have not been able to locate a marriage for her in Ireland and Ancestry has no clear evidence of her passage, though an Ellen Hanna did sail from Cork to USA.

The 1898 to 1897 Valuation Book shows Michael replaced by Edward at the carpenter’s shop in 1900. He continued to pay £1 in rates.

The same is true for 7a:

Daughter Sarah had married John Hampton. John was a carpenter and it is likely that he worked for his father in law. The wedding certificate of 1894 tells us that Sarah was born around 1868. This is useful as often wedding certificates only indicate if they were of full age or not.

Unfortunately John and Sarah did not live a long and happy life together. The 1901 census shows that the family had moved to Belfast and John was no longer a carpenter. Rates Books may tell us who was occupying the carpentry shop. John is not shown living with his wife. Sarah had two children, Ellen and Eileen. The family were living at 17 Susan Street, at the bottom of the Newtownards Road. The girls were born around 1896 and 1898. There is also Mary A Hampton aged 7, apparently, but not listed as being at school so I suspect that she was really 7 months. Wading through the Valuation Books for 1897 to 1905 to P200 shows that the Hamptons were not the registered occupants of that house.

I have also found a Kathleen Eileen Hampton born on 4th December 1896 in Belfast. I cannot read the street name.

Where was husband John? Another census entry shows that he was now working as a railway porter. John died a few months after the census was taken. His brother in law Edward Hanna registered his death from TB and had been present at the end.He died at his brother in law’s home in Portaferry but his home was said to be 208 Templemore Avenue which is close to where his wife was living in 1901.

After his death his widow moved back to the Portaferry area with her children. The 1911 census shows that she was living with (or caring for) her aged mother Dorothea at 60, High Street, Portaferry. It confirms that Mary was indeed 7 months old on the 1901 census.

I have not found evidence of Sarah remarrying before 1921 in Northern Ireland.

The birth certificate of Ellen Jane Hanna show s she was born on 11th July 1895 at Ballymarter.

Her sister Mary Ann Hampton was born on 8th July 1900 at 17 Susan Street in Belfast, as shown below.

Mary Ann must surely have had no memory of her father as an adult and Ellen only knew her father for 5 years.

By May 1914 Sarah and her daughters had taken the decision to cross the Atlantic Ocean but why they chose Chicago, Cook County, Illinois is not explained. Nonetheless, on 1st June they docked at New York and presented themselves to customs and immigration.

They were admitted. Mary married a Northern Ireland-born man, Kieran or Kieron Doherty but I have not found the marriage certificate. It was not before the 1920 census as the 3 girls were living with their mother. Interestingly, Sarah claimed that her parents spoke Gaelic as their mother tongue, ie first language and that it was hers, too.

Circumstances had changed by 1930, however, as Mary was now a Doherty. Kieran was working for himself, it seems. All said they spoke English. Kieran said he had been born in the Irish Free State rather than in Northern Ireland. His Christian name spelling had changed to Kyran. Perhaps this was to help ease pronunciation difficulties in America. Ellen, known as Nellie, was a ticket agent for the E Line, the elevated railway running through the city. Eileen was a sales lady for a retail department store. Kyran was fulfilling a similar role- perhaps they worked together?

A new person in the household was Kyran’s cousin Charles Hinds who had come only the year before.

The Dohertys had two girls, Vivian born around 1924 and Lillian, born around 1927. She was 3 and 3/12 years of age.

The next census was taken in 1940:

Kyran was still a salesman and said he had been born in Northern Ireland. He was now head of household, so mother in law Sarah Hampton nee Hanna was likely dead. There was now a third daughter named Joyce. She was born around 1936. Wife Mary’s unmarried sisters, Eileen and Ellen or Nellie were still living with them but cousin Charles had gone.

Family of Michael Hanna and Dorothea Bryce:

  1. Charles Hanna, baptised May 1853 Ballymarter
  2. Sarah Hanna, baptised April 1855 Ballymarter
  3. Mary Hanna, baptised 31st March 1857 Ballymarter
  4. Ellen Hanna, baptised May 1859 Ballymarter
  5. Edward Hanna, baptised August 1861 Ballymarter
  6. Sarah Hanna, baptised 1864 Ballymarter

Turning to son Edward Hanna, he took to carpentry like his father. Presumably Michael taught him the business. The will may be read in strict way, implying that Michaeld did not fully trust his son as it states explicitly that he must look after his mother and that he is not to sell any of the land. It is possible to see Edward as less diligent than his father from this. Does the reference to using his tools as he did in life suggest humour, an acknowledgement of fact or a sense of irritation?

Two newspaper articles, further below, indicate that Michael did not trust his son and perhaps had good reason not to.

Edward’s birth has not been located, not helped by an inconsistency over his age. I thought it possible that he had been born outside Ireland as father described himself as a ship’s carpenter early on. Edward, however, said on both census entries that he was born in Co Down.

A lot of knowledge about Edward’s family has been handed down orally but the records add detail and a little contradiction of family belief. The 1901 census shows Edward, wife Mary and children Charles, Edward, Ellen and Sarah. They were living with his aged mother Dorathea (fulfilling the terms of father Michael’s will).

Family tradition told how Edward’s wife died young and he remarried. This is borne out by documentation which shows him marrying a Kate or Catherine Savage in 1906. Edward and Kate were living at Church Street in Portaferry. Mother Dorothea was now living with daughter Sarah, of course. Added to the family now were Sarah Catherine (known in the family as Cassie), Michael and Mary. Later Gertrude was added. Family tradition has it that Catherine was a half sister but her birth certificate shows otherwise. She was born to May Ann Hampton in August 1900.

PRONI holds school records for Ballyphilip (St Mary’s) School, labelled SC/1227/1. The boys’ register lists only three Hannas. James J Hanna was enrolled at the age of 6 on 14th September 1895 (though 1896 is more likely). As he was RC and from Ballymartyr he is surely related to our family, though his father is said to be a farmer. James was struck on 23rd October 1903 but his attendance was erratic. He had previously attended Ballyphilip Infant class or school.

The other two Hannas are certainly the sons of Edward Hanna the carpenter. They were enrolled together on April 22nd 1899, their father a Catholic carpenter of Ballymartyr. Charles attended until 30th June 1908, having completed the examination at the end of Class V successfully.

Edward did not successfully complete the Class V exam before finishing school on 30th June 1909.

The family on the 1911 census at their Church Street, Portaferry home.

Edward died young, in 1915. As my wife pointed out, he did not die long after his mother who had lived to such an old age. The cause of death is lobar pneumonia. He was said to be 50, indicating birth in 1865. His age on the 1901 census was given as 34, suggesting 1867. The 1911 census, however, suggests a birth around 1870. In any case I have not been able to locate his birth yet. Edward’s death certificate is copied below. It shows that the family were living at 16 Russell Street in Belfast but the Rates Valuation Books do not list the family there, implying that he (or the family) was subletting.

Edward may have had health issues linked to alcohol misuse. Certainly he had been in court for this in 1897, as the Belfast Newsletter of 28th April 1897 showed:

Edward is listed as occupying 4Aa at Ballymarter on the 1908-1918 Rates Valuation Books. This shows that he paid £1 for the carpenter’s shop. He held this in fee from1912. Another person took over occupancy from 1915 and it became a forge. The same is true of the house, office and land at House 7.

Edward also held house, office and yard at 42 Church Street Portaferry from 1910 to 1914. This was the house his mother was living in until her death. Edward was paying £8-10.

His second wife Kate then remarried in Belfast in 1919. This meant that the children of Edward Hanna and his first wife Mary were now being raised by two people who were not actually blood relations!

Kate married a stone cutter named Patrick Murray at the beautiful church of St Malachy close to their home. They were both living in Joy Street at the time.The registration does not give a house number and neither name is listed as a householder on the 1815-1830 Valuation Book.

Street directories at the Linenhall Library in Belfast may be helpful in tracing the family forward in time.

William Hanna was born to Edward and his first wife. His existence had not been recorded in family tradition. Children who die very young are often not spoken of and the documents available long after may be the first inkling anyone has, especially if they were the eldest child.

William died at 2 Woodbine Cottages in October 1898.

What became of the other children is not at all certain in many cases. Gerard Hanna never spoke of them so perhaps he had no knowledge of them beyond a couple. Certainly the family kept contact with “Aunt Cassie” throughout her life. She never married and ended her days cared for by nuns at Nazareth House in the Rosetta area of Belfast.

Turning to Edward Hanna’s first wife, she was Mary Ann Hampton. They married in 1893 at her RC church in Kilclief. The record shows Edward as being born around 1860 and Mary Ann around 1863, annoyingly just before civil registration began. There is a discrepancy in the name and occupation of Michael’s father but no other Edward Hanna is recorded as marrying a Mary A Hampton so this must be the correct couple. Does it suggest some impropriety or does it suggest that Michael was formally Richard at birth? The witnesses were John Hampton, presumably her brother, and his sister Sarah. They married later, of course.

Find My Past newspaper records include a mention of Edward Hanna in the North Down Herald and County Down Independent of 29th August 1902. It paints an unpleasant picture of a neglectful home life:

The story was also carried in the Belfast Newsletter. It said that the previous appearance had been on 25th March.

Edward and Mary Hampton’s son Edward John Hanna was born on 13th July 1896, as shown below:

Young Edward trained as an apprentice to his father. For whatever reason, he enlisted in the army early in WW1 (4th January 1915), before he was of legal age to do so. Given that this was only a month before the death of his father it is likely linked to his father’s state at the time. He chose to join the Royal Marine Infantry.

His grandson, Alan Hanna, informs me that he maintained a diary, which he described as being excited and positive in tone for much of the time that he was in training and up until the time he arrived at the front line. Hopefully it will be located soon. His service record, unfortunately, shows that his attitude declined as the war progressed in 1918, though this might just reflect the relationship with his officer. However, the decline was sufficient to see him labelled as “fair” upon discharge.

Edward’s description was recorded upon enlistment. Apparently he stood 5ft 4 inches tall (which surprised his grand daughter Helen). He ha fair complexion and grey eyes with light brown hair. Interestingly, he had a scar upon his right knee. This doubtless was as nothing to the injuries acquired in the war.

His service record can be viewed on Find My Past. Edward remained with the colours until April 1919 and then was demobbed. He became a coach-builder. This was his occupation when he married Mary Bradley in 1920. The wedding took place on 14th December. Edward was living at 91 Joy St, in the Markets area of Belfast, very close to the beautiful church of St Malachy’s and to the City Hall.

Edward Hanna was entitled to a military pension upon discharge. To read it in full would require a subscription to Fold 3 on Ancestry, unfortunately. It shows his discharge as being 13th May 1919.

An Edward Hanna featured in the news in 1934 as was one of a group of former servicemen asking for a court judgement to accept that they need not pay rent for their homes, owned by the Irish Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Land Trust.

Mr Justice Megraw found against them and ordered that they pay costs. In evidence, Edward said that he lived at 106 Joy St and paid 7 shillings 6 pence per week for one room. He said he had a pension of £1 a week from the services and earned £3 15 sh a week as a joiner so he had returned to the work in which he trained.

The case was reported in the Belfast Telegraph and Northern Whig of 10th May 1934 as well as the Londonderry Sentinel.

However, despite the name and street this is not “our” Edward Hanna- it is odd that he said he occupied a single room given that “our” Edward had a family by now and as the birth certificate of son Charlie shows, Edward was living in one of the new houses on the Cregagh Road built specifically for ex-servicemen.

The court case provides an interesting juxtaposition as it highlights that Edward was among those fortunate to get a new house quickly after the war as there were still thousands in 1934 who had not been provided for.

Earlier Traces

Parish registers are increasingly the subject of digitisation and many are now freely available on-line. The Hanna family were living in the RC parish of Ballyphillip and Portaferry which is separated by the smaller parish of Ardkeen. Parish registers for Ballyphillip and Portaferry exist from 1843 onwards and for Ardkeen from 1828 onwards. The information recorded is very limited compared to the civil records of 1864 on but it is a potential source of information of value.

The baptisms of Ellen, Sarah and Edward can all be seen, as shown above, and the marriage of Michael Hanna to Dorothea Bryce is confirmed by her maiden name in the baptismal records.

Baptism of Ellen Hanna in May 1859:

Baptism of Sarah Hanna in 1864:

Interestingly, there are a number of Byres listed in the Ballyphilip school registers but no Bryces. Is the name Bryce actually a mistake?

These records also provide a clue to other Hannas in the area at this time. For instance, a Charles Hanna was the eldest child of Michael and Dorothea, baptised on 26th May 1853. Civil records show a Charles Hanna, carpenter, died in 1909 but I cannot verify if this is the same man.

James Hanna and his wife Margaret (no surname) had two daughters baptised, Anne on 31st May 1857 and Margaret on 12th January 1855. It is quite possible that James Hanna and Michael Hanna were brothers.

This same Margaret (or another?) was a witness to the wedding of Alice Hanna in January 1857 to Terence Kelly. A free civil registration index shows an Alice Kelly dying aged 44 in 1867 but this need not be the same person.

Another witness to the wedding of Alice and Terence was a Mary Hanna. This may be the same as Maria Hanna who married William Denvir.

These people are probably a close age to Michael and it is tempting to assume that they must be siblings but they could also be cousins.

There are other Hannas in the parish records between 1844 and 1849.

Parish records do not show the baptism of Michael or Dorothea, unfortunately. There was a Hugh Bryce and his wife Mary Martin in Ardkeen Parish who had two children baptised, Hugh on 17th February 1853 and Mary on 12th December 1860. There was also a Nicholas Bryce (wife’s name not recorded) had a child named “Patt” baptised on 27th July 1854.

An Edward Bryce was tenant at 22 Strand Street in Portaferry. The value for house, office, yard and small garden on Griffith’s Valuation was £38-0. This was at the junction with Castle Street.

Going further back a John Hannay had a nameless child baptised in Ardkeen on 10th March . John lived at Kirkcubbin.

The 1864 Griffith Valuation of Ireland shows a Nicholas Hanna holding 4 adjacent properties in the Ardkeen area. I will upload more on this later.