Our paternal great-great grandfather, Joseph Stewart, was born in Crossnacreevy townland in the Moneyreagh area of north County Down in 1839, the son of Joseph Stewart a farmer of Co. Down. Tracing the origins of the Stewart family has been difficult, because of the nomadic nature of this particular family in the 1850's/1860's.
I surmised his age from the 1901 census, which gave me both his place of birth and his age. Later, his marriage certificate of 1859, revealed the fact that his father was a farmer named Joseph Stewart. I isolated only three Joseph Stewarts on Griffith's 1863 land valuation for County Down, and, having extensively researched two of them, narrowed my search down to the Joseph Stewart who was farming at Crossnacreevy, Co. Down, just south of Belfast city. Further research into the siblings of the younger Joseph Stewart, revealed links to Crossnacreevy, and also links between the siblings, which confirmed Crossnacreevy as the homeplace of our Stewart ancestors.
Their local church was the Unitarian Moneyreagh Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church but the baptismal records for Moneyreagh are sadly extremely sparse. Granshaw Parish Church is also nearby, but there are no relevant Stewart entries there either.
The younger Joseph Stewart had three known brothers, Robert who married Joseph's sister-in-law, Jane Madine, William A. Stewart who married Margaret Burke, and John Stewart of Crossnacreevy. A sister, Mary Stewart, married Hugh Morrow - although both were living in Crossnacreevy, Moneyreagh, at the time of their marriage, they chose instead to marry in Belfast City. Robert Stewart and Jane Madine married in Kilmood Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church, just south of the Moneyreagh area, while William A. Stewart and Margaret Burke married in the registry office in Downpatrick. Joseph and Elizabeth married in St. Anne's Church of Ireland Church in Belfast city.
At some stage in the 1850s, Joseph Stewart Junior moved north to live and work in Belfast city.
Joseph married Elizabeth Madine in St. Anne's Church of Ireland church, Shankill, Belfast, on 14th May 1859. This church was just south of Donegall Square and was demolished in 1903 to make way for Belfast Cathedral. Joseph seems to have converted to the Church of Ireland upon his marriage to Elizabeth Madine.
Joseph gave his profession as a writing clerk. Although she was born in 1835, Elizabeth Madine gave her birth year as 1838 - either she was embarrassed by the age difference, or wasn't certain of her exact age. Her father was Robert Madine, a butcher of Killyleagh. The witnesses to the marriage were Elizabeth's siblings, John and Margaret Madine.
Griffith's Valuation of 1863 doesn't show up a Joseph Stewart in Belfast city so the family may have been living with relations or in one of the many boarding houses in the area.
Their first child, Emily Jane, was born in 1862, followed by Louisa Helen in 1863/1864, who was born in Killyleagh, according to an 1914 ship's manifest.
There is a registrar's record of a daughter, Mary Ann, born to Joseph and Elizabeth on 12th February 1865 but this child sadly died a few months later on 5th August 1865.
Joseph Stewart makes an appearance in the Belfast Street Directory of 1865, working as an ironmonger's assistant and living at 11 Arnon Street a few streets away from St. Anne's Church. His sister, Mary Stewart, married Hugh Morrow in York Street Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church down the road from Arnon Street in 1865 and the Joseph Stewart who acted as witness to her wedding may have been either Joseph himself or his father.
Our great-grandfather, Robert Stewart, was born to Joseph and Elizabeth on 26th May 1866: the address was still 11 Arnon Street and Joseph was still working as an ironmonger's assistant.
On 9th February 1868 Joseph and Elizabeth had a second stillborn child who they named Joseph. Although the birth was registered in the Cromac area of the city, ie, Belfast No. 6., the family were living at 88 Ann Street in the centre of Belfast at the time of the birth in 1868, and the father, Joseph Stewart, was working as an ironmonger. Joseph's older brother, William A. Stewart, lived a few doors away at 92 Ann Street, where he ran a hostelry and eating house.
The Belfast Newsletter of 19th May 1868 reported that Joseph Stewart, ironmonger, had been declared bankrupt, and that all his goods were assigned to William Ibbotson of Sheffield, toolmaker. This legal transaction took place before the law clerk, James Stewart. I don't know if this James Stewart was a relative, or whether this was a mere coincidence.
By 1870, following Joseph's bankruptcy, the family headed further south to Elizabeth's home town of Killyleagh - just north of Downpatrick - where their daughter Mary Elizabeth was born on 26th August 1870. At this time Joseph was working as a shop assistant in the town.
A Joseph Stewart joined Masonic Lodge 556, the 'Union Band' in Moneyreagh on 21st November 1871 - this was either Joseph himself or his elderly father who was still living in Crossnacreevy, Moneyreagh.
Shortly after this they moved back to the Castlereagh area of Belfast where Joseph worked as an inspector of building works. It was here at 8 Roundhill Street that their next child, John, was born on 12th April 1872. (Interestingly, an Agnes Stewart - 1844 - 1889 - died at this address, 8 Roundhill St., on 27th November 1889, aged 45; I wonder was she a relation?)
Joseph Stewart of 8 Roundhill Street, Mountpottinger, put an advert in the Belfast Newsletter in late May and early June of 1872:
'Grazing to let - about five acres, close to Conn's Water Bridge on the Ballymacarrett Road. Apply to Joseph Stewart, 8 Roundhill Street, Mountpottinger.'
Finally they moved south to Saul Street, Downpatrick where Catherine was born on 13th March 1874 and Joseph on 22nd December 1876. In 1876 they were still living on Saul Street in the town, and Joseph was once again employed as an ironmonger's assistant, possibly at John Tate's Ironmongers. John Tate employed both ironmongers and mechanics and was involved with the installation and maintenance of farm machinery.
Joseph Stewart's father, Joseph Stewart of Crossnacreevy, died aged 83 on April 10th 1876 - his son, John Stewart, was present at his death. His wife was still alive at this point but I have found no documentation relating to her at any point. However, the Proni online records show up a document from the early 1830s, which names a Joseph and Ann Stewart of Crossnacreevy.
Joseph Stewart, ironmonger, may have been in London for the night of the UK 1881 Census - a Joseph Stewart, ironmonger's assistant, was lodging in Hanover Square; he was Irish-born, married, and gave a date of birth of 1841.
The annual dinner of the Dublin Ironmonger Assistants' Association took place in February 1895 in the Central Hotel, Dublin. A Mr. Stewart, who may or may not be Joseph Stewart, spoke: "Mr Stewart replied and said that though the trade had been depressed they looked forward to brighter prospects in 1895. He had no doubt the trade would revive; it had every sign of doing so on the other side of the water, and he thought the trade might come this way. (Applause.)"
Joseph and Elizabeth moved south to Dublin; they appear in the Dublin street directories for the first time in 1887 living at 22 Fontenoy Street in Phibsboro, North Dublin. Living next door was a Thomas Stewart, but I doubt he was related - this Thomas Stewart only appears in the directories in 1887.
Joseph Stewart, ironmonger, stayed at 22 Fontenoy Street for two years before taking up permanent residence down the road at 18 Goldsmith Street. He would live there until his death in 1908.
The family appear on the 1901 Census living at 18 Goldsmith Street - Joseph and two of his sons, John and Joseph, were working as ironmongers.
Elizabeth Stewart, née Madine, of 18 Goldsmith Street, died on 12th December 1901 aged 66. She had been suffering from heart disease for a few years. Her son, John Stewart, was present at her death.
Joseph Stewart, widowed commission agent of 18 Goldsmith Street died aged 68 on 12th December 1908 of influenza, exactly 7 years to the day after his wife, the informant being his son Joseph Stewart of 7 Royse Road.