“North Belfast Families- Their Stories”: The Condell Brothers

Last week, we looked at the Dornan family from Agnes Street. Their names appeared in the roll and register books for the Loyal Orange Lodge 1890. This lodge was originally chosen for research as there was a corresponding Roll of Honour displayed on the wall inside Belfast Orange Hall, remembering members who fought during the First World War. One of those names on the roll was William Condell who, along with his two brothers, Thomas and George, were members of the lodge at the same time as the Dornans.[1]

William, (born 1878), and his eldest brother, Thomas (born 1874), were born in Glasgow, before moving to Belfast where his youngest brother George was born in 1881. Thomas married Sarah Douglas in 1898, and together they had four daughters: Isabella (b.1899), Winifred (b.1901), Ethel (b.1903) and Sarah (b.1906). [2]

In 1900, the Condell’s all lived on Hanover Street, which ran perpendicular to Clifton Street and had a clear view of Belfast Orange Hall. According to 1901-1911 census data, the family home was at 92 Hanover Street, with George recorded in the 1901 census as still living with his father Charles, mother Isabella, and sister Elizabeth, whilst Thomas lived a short distance away at 79 Hanover Street with Sarah and their young children. [3]

Thomas is recorded as being a Marine Engineer and was a member of the aforementioned Loyal Orange Lodge 1890, as well as a member of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons.[4] Sarah passed away in 1943, whilst Thomas was admitted to the residential home at Clifton House on the 9th February 1951 before his death on 5th June 1958.[5]

The Roll of Honour for Lodge 1890.

William Condell relocated to Belfast with his family before he was 3.[6] A ‘machine man’ or mechanic by trade, William married Elizabeth de Winter on 17th April 1900 in Donegal Square East Methodist Church.[7] His address on the marriage certificate shows he was living in Hanover Street prior to his marriage, before moving to Churchill Street in the Dock Ward of Belfast with Elizabeth, and later relocating to Annalee street.[8] William and Elizabeth had 3 children: Alice (b.1901), Charles (b.1904) and Catherine (b.1914). William would later find himself in the trenches of France during the First World War as part of the 14th regiment Royal Irish Rifles.[9] This regiment made up part of the 36th (Ulster) division. The 36th division would suffer heavy casualties during the early fighting at the Somme, with over 2000 men lost in the first few days.[10] William was one of the lucky ones, and survived the war to return home to Belfast, where he would die in 1944. He is buried in Dundonald Cemetery.[11]

George Condell was the youngest of the three brothers. He was also the only brother to be born in on 27th September 1881.[12] George would work as a salesman in a drapers shop on the Shankhill Road and marry Minnie Stanfield on 3rd March 1909 in St James’ Church. Like his brother William, he also had  3 children.[13] One child unfortunately would be born prematurely and would die shortly after in 1911, whilst Charles (b.1910) and Isabel (b.1913) would live into adulthood.

Photograph of George Condell. Credit: Barry Condell.

George would prove to be a key individual in a number of the institutions of Belfast. A longstanding member of the Orange Order, he would hold roles in various Loyal Orange Lodges, and Royal Black Preceptory.[14] He was also the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Masonic Order Lodge on the Crumlin Road and was Commissioner of the Water Board for 20 years.[15] Furthermore, he was a Magistrate and Justice of the Peace as well as a member of the Committee of Management for Linfield Football Club. He was also an active member of the congregation at Belfast Cathedral, and worshipped there regularly.[16]

Tragically, George was involved in a motor accident in March 1940.[17] When returning home one evening, George and another man, Henry Wilson, were struck by a vehicle when walking along the Antrim Road during the wartime blackout.[18] Henry Wilson recovered, however George never regained consciousness. His funeral was held at Carnmoney Cemetery, with the Dean of Belfast officiating. Representatives of the many organisations were in attendance.[19]

Many thanks to Barry Condell for allowing us to use the portrait of George, and for helping us ensure the story of the Condell brothers is accurate.

[1] Belfast Orange Hall Archive: Roll and Register for Loyal Orange Lodge 1890 (1912).

[2] Irish Genealogy: Birth Certificates. (Multiple).

[3] 1901-1911 Census

[4] Ibid. Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Ireland Membership Registers, 1900-1923.

[5] Clifton House Archives. MS2-2015-006-007 pg. 52

[6] Based on his age whenever his younger brother George was born in Belfast.

[7] Irish Genealogy: Marriage Certificate. 17th April 1900.

[8] Census 1901-1911

[9] British Army World War 1 Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920.

[10] BBC News: Battle of the Somme: Irish Casualties to be commemorated 100 years on. 16th June 2016.

[11] Belfast Council Cemetery Records

[12] Irish Genealogy: Birth Certificate. 27th September 1881

[13] Ibid: Marriage Certificate. 3rd May 1909

[14] Belfast Telegraph: 20 March 1940.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Irish Independent: 21 March 1940

[18] Ibid. Information regarding role of wartime blackout provided by Barry Condell.

[19] Belfast News-Letter: 22 March 1940.

Members Involved

YEAR: 1887

Location: Clifton Street

YEAR: 1904

Location: Donegall Street