1774 Events BeforeMAJOR EVENTS IN BELFAST PRIOR TO THE BUILDING OF THE OLD ST ANNE’S CHURCH IN 1774
The name Belfast is a corruption of the Gaelic words Beal Feirste meaning mouth of the sandy ford.
1177 City: an Englishman called John de Courcy builds a castle at Belfast.
1595 City: Edward Bruce marches through Belfast.
1603 City: The town is founded on the muddy, insubstantial banks of the River Lagan where it flows into Belfast Lough, an area prone to flooding. It remains an obscure market town inhabited by Lowland Scots settlers until the end of the eighteenth century.
James I grants the Castle of Belfast by Patent to Sir Arthur Chichester who in 1604 succeeds Mountjoy as Lord Deputy of Ireland. During his period in office his influence causes the Irish Harp to be quartered within the Royal Arms. He is of Devon stock. He had sailed with Drake on his last voyage to the West Indies and campaigned with the British army in Europe.
1609 City: The actual town of Belfast begins to grow when King James begins his policy of settling Englishmen and Scots in Ulster. In the early 17th century Belfast is a small town with a population of only about 1,000 but it was busy. Wool, hides, grain, butter and salted meat are exported from Belfast to England, Scotland and France. Wine and fruit are imported into Belfast from France and Spain. Later in the 17th century Belfast trades with the North American colonies. Tobacco is imported from there. Sugar is imported from the West Indies and refined in Belfast.
1611 City: Englishmen, Scots and Manxmen are living in the thriving community.
1612 City: Sir Arthur Chichester is created Baron of Belfast
1613 City: Belfast is made a corporation and afterwards it sends 2 MPs to parliament. However the corporation is partly controlled by the Chichester family,. Belfast is run by an official called a sovereign assisted by 12 burgesses (merchants) in a body called a commonality. Each year the burgesses draw up a short list of 3 of themselves and Chichester chooses one to be the sovereign. Chichester's consent was required for new by laws. Ordinary people had no part in the government of the town.
IRL: A new town is created at Derry (called Londonderry). It receives its charter this year.
1641 IRL: The Irish in Ulster rise in rebellion and kill some Protestant settlers.
1647 City: The nephew of Sir Arthur Chichester is created the first Earl of Donegall.
1680 City: A piped water supply using wooden pipes is installed in the town.
1682 City:The ‘long bridge’ is built across the Lagan. It has 22 arches.
1700 City: By the new century Belfast probably has a population of about 1,500-2,000. It is increased by French Protestants, fleeing religious persecution in their own country. They introduce linen weaving to Belfast. Other industries in the town are brewing, rope making and sail making.
During the 18th century increasing amounts of linen were exported from Belfast. (The linen was woven in people's homes in the surrounding countryside not woven in factories). In 1701 less than 200,000 yards of linen was exported from Belfast. By 1773 the figure had risen to 17 million yards.
1708 City: Belfast Castle burns down. In the 18th century Belfast grows rapidly. The population of Belfast is only about 2,500 in 1700 but it grows to about 8,000 in 1750 and about 13,000 by 1780.
1737 IRL: The oldest newspaper in the United Kingdom is the Belfast News Letter, a morning daily which now reflects unionist political views is founded
1751 - 1757
1768 City: The first theatre in Belfast opens.