1865-1995 Burial Register – Clifton Street Cemetery

1865-1995 Burial Register


In 1790s, the Belfast Charitable Society opened the Clifton Street Cemetery.

Comprised of 14,000 graves including Ireland’s largest Famine graveyard and notable Belfast citizens such as philanthropist and activist Mary Ann McCracken.

This burial register is a valuable record noting the details of thousands of individuals who now rest in this graveyard.

Our Research on the Burial Register

The register records burials in Clifton Street Cemetery from 1865-1995. The 1940s were a difficult time in the area due to the devastation caused by Belfast Blitz in 1941. The basement of Clifton House was originally used an impoverished air raid shelter, but the charity took the decision to evacuate for the safety for the safety of all staff and residents. Those who were bed ridden were taken to their temporary accommodation by the St John’s Ambulance and the others were transported by bus. During the second world war, Clifton House was used as extra accommodation for the Royal Ulster Constabulary with the ‘Black Hole’, the former room where paupers were punished, serving as an armoury. In total, over 50,000 houses were demolished and about 1,000 people died during the course of the Belfast Blitz; remarkably the cemetery avoided damage.

Despite the upheaval caused by the blitz, the Belfast Charitable Society continued to operate Clifton Street Cemetery. The entries of the 1940s record the death of William Bruce Rainey Joy M.C. and his wife, Josephine. William was an active member of the Belfast Charitable Society, and the last Joy to serve on our board.

With his death ended a lineage that could be traced to the mid 1700s with the financing and design of the Poor House by his ancestors. It was also the Joy family who were instrumental in establishing the Newsletter in 1737, which was Belfast’s first local newspaper. The Joy Family headstone in Clifton Street Cemetery also records the death of William and Josephine’s only child Alix Bruce Joy, 3rd Officer Women’s Royal Navy Service who was lost at sea through enemy action in August 1941.

Members Involved

YEAR: 1797

Location: Clifton Street