I found this letter this morning tucked into one of our Children’s Admission Books. William John Delaney was admitted to the Poor House on 12th December 1876. His case was considered on 9th December 1876 despite a motion being raised to suspend all child admissions due to lack of funds. The motion was defeated and twelve children were admitted which included William’s sister Sarah Jane Delaney.
Sarah Jane was aged 12 ⅔ according to the Admission book. No reason is given in either the Minutes or the Admission Book as to why it was necessary for Sarah Jane and William to come to the Poor House. Both of their parents were still alive as it was their father John Delaney who applied to have them admitted and it was their mother, Mary Delaney, who requested that they were discharged again. It is noted on their Admission page that the Delaney’s had no relations living locally, so it is possible that it was due to parental ill-health they felt unable to look after them and there was no one else to send the children to.
Sarah Jane was discharged into the care of her mother on 20th October 1877. Mary Delaney told the Poor House Guardians that Sarah Jane would be apprenticed to Mrs Clements. No further information is given.
William came to the Poor House at the age of 8. It was noted on his admission that he was unable to read or write. His behavior was detailed to be very good. William was to remain in the Poor House until 1st December 1877. His mother submitted this letter requesting that William was released into her care after which he would be sent to Liverpool to live with his uncle. On his discharge, the state of his education was recorded as ‘middling’ which was probably the best that could be hoped for in just under twelve months.
The Delaney’s came from Cowan’s Court in Belfast, but they do not feature on any of the census returns for the area. Their story is just one of hundreds contained within the Belfast Charitable Society archive at Clifton House.