Genealogist Report – Belfast (County Antrim).

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Genealogist Report – Belfast (County Antrim).

The following Genealogist Report is one in a series of reports that we commission through the year from a professional Irish-based Genealogist. The aim is to give you a look “behind the scenes” on how an Irish Genealogist would approach an piece of Irish Ancestry Research – and an example of a template that you may wish to use when carry out your own research.

Belfast City Hall

This report will be complemented by an Irish Homelands feature to be published shortly.

Genealogist Report – Belfast (County Antrim)

Lyttle Family of Belfast

Client:  Colleen Carpenter

Genealogist:  Jayne McGarvey

Working Hypothesis.

Colleen’s grandmother Mary Elizabeth Hester Lyttle was born in Belfast on 10 February 1898 to James Lyttle and Ellen Elizabeth Wylie.  The family history suggests that Ellen died shortly after her daughter Mary’s birth and that Mary was raised by an unknown relative, possibly a grandmother while her Father James remarried.

Colleen wants to find out more about the second family of James Lyttle and if there are any descendants still living in the Belfast area.

Some work has already been undertaken by Colleen’s cousin Geraldine and she has been able to provide Colleen with the following information:

  • James Lyttle married Sarah McKenna in 1907
  • They had three children
    • Lavinia born 1908
    • James born 1911
    • Austin born 1913
  • James Lyttle died in 1913 of Pernicious Anaemia about three and a half weeks after the birth of Austin. Geraldine has recorded that both the birth of Austin and the death of James were registered on 10 May 1913.
  • Geraldine found James in the 1901 Census of Ireland living with his father in Bentwick Street, Belfast where he was recorded as age 24, a single man working as a Solicitor’s Assistant.
  • Mary converted to Catholisim to marry Robert Lynam on 9 June 1920 in the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Monaghan

Scope of Research

The Scope of Research will begin by seeking the documentary evidence to confirm the above information and will then begin to move the search forward in time to see what additional information regarding the Lyttle family can be located.

A search was undertaken of the Civil Birth Registrations for Ireland[i] for Mary Little, daughter of James Lyttle and Ellen Elizabeth Wylie born 10 February 1898.

Two index records were located for Mary Lyttle born 1898 in Belfast.  These were examined only one matched the exact criteria. Group Registration ID 11376002.

This confirms that Mary Elizabeth Hester Lyttle was born on 10 February 1898 at 18 Dorchester Street and is the daughter of James Lyttle of the same address, a fireman, and Elizabeth Lyttle formerly Wylie.

A search of the Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory 1897[ii] for Dorchester Street provides further evidence that James Lyttle, a fireman, is domiciled at number 18 Dorchester Street in 1897.

PRONI’s Historical Maps[iii] for 1900 to 1907 do not show the name of Dorchester Street, however the street was located between the Donegall Road and Abingdon Street

Although the family are not present at this address by 1901 the House and Building Return[iv] for Dorchester Street shows that these were 2nd class houses of stone/brick/concrete construction with slate/iron/tiled roofs, consisting of 5 rooms each with 2 windows to the front elevation.A search of the Ireland Civil Registration Death Index[v] located a death registration for Elizabeth Lyttle on 22 February 1898 at 18 Dorchester Street, Belfast.  The event records Elizabeth as a married woman, aged 30, the wife of James Lyttle, a fireman of the same address.  Cause of death is recorded as Puerperal Mania.  Her death was reported by W J Wylie (brother).

Mary was just 12 days old when her mother died.

A search of the Belfast and Ulster Street Directory for 1899[vi] shows that James is no longer resident at 18 Dorchester Street, but he can be located, still employed as a fireman at 27 Auburn Street (between Elm Street and Vernon Street).

A search of the 1901 Census for Ireland[vii]  locates a James Lyttle, age 25, employed as an Engine Driver at Auburn Street who is a widower born in County Tyrone.  Also present in the property are siblings Susan, age 27, a housekeeper and Hester, age 22, employed as a Folder.  Along with a boarder Alexander Reid, age 23, a labourer born in County Fermanagh.

Form B1 shows us that the property is also a 2nd class house consisting of 6 rooms with 3 windows to the front of the house.

This information differs from what Colleen had originally been given. (That James had returned to the home of his father in Bentwick Street and was employed as a Solicitor’s Assistant).  In order to be certain that we are following the correct family for Colleen the search was extended backwards to locate James’ marriage to Elizabeth Wylie and his and his siblings’ births.

A search was undertaken of the Ireland Civil Registration Marriage Index[viii] and the marriage registration located.  This shows that James Lyttle of full age, a fireman of Belfast and the son of James Lyttle a Tackler married Lizzie Wylie of Roughan Park, also of full age, and daughter of John Wylie, a Gardener at Trinity Parish Church, Brackaville Parish, County Tyrone on 26 April 1897.  Witnesses to the marriage were recorded as David Wylie and Susan Lyttle.A further search of the 1901 Census for Ireland locates a record for an Elizabeth Lyttle, aged 3, recorded as born in County Tyrone, residing with her grandmother, May Lyttle in Limehill (aka Lime Hill) Pomeroy, County Tyrone.  Mary is recorded as head of house, a widow and farmer aged 56 born in County Tyrone.  Also present are Mary’s children Robert aged 40, Thomas age 38, Sarah aged 20 and Andrew aged 15.The Elizabeth Lyttle recorded above does not entirely match the known information for Mary Elizabeth Hester Lyttle, Colleen’s grandmother – it places her at the correct estimated age but born in the wrong location.  Initially the form has recorded Elizabeth as a niece, this has been scored out and changed to granddaughter.  It is noted that Mary is recorded as being able to read only.  At this stage of the research it is possible to offer a conjecture that the form is likely to have been completed by one of Mary’s children, rather than by Mary.  It is possible therefore that the location of Elizabeth’s birth may have been recorded incorrectly.  However further proof will be required to ascertain if this is the correct record.

Mary is recorded as being 16 years older than the eldest child present, so again this information must be treated with some caution until further information can be obtained.

Form B1 shows that the home is categorised as a second class house of brick/stone construction consisting of 3 rooms with 3 windows to the front elevation.

A search of the 1911 Census  finds this Lyttle family still present in Lime Hill (aka Limehill) Pomeroy, Co Tyrone.  This time Thomas is recorded as head of house aged 49.  Also present is his brother Robert aged 51, their mother Mary now aged 71 and  Thomas’s niece, Mary E Hessie Lyttle age 13.  This time the youngster is recorded as born in Belfast City.

This record is an almost perfect match for Mary Elizabeth Hester Lyttle, Colleen’s grandmother.

Form B1 shows that the property is still recorded as a second class house, consisting of 3 rooms with 3 windows to the front of the house.

Form B2 Return of Out-Offices and Farm Steadings shows that the property as a total of 5 out-houses consisting of one each of a stable, cow house, piggery, fowl house, and a barn.A search of the Northern Ireland Civil Registration Births Index[ix] for the Registration District of Cookstown, sub-district of Pomeroy returns the following birth registrations for Little/Lyttle:

Registration Number          Child              Date of Birth  Gender          Mother’s Maiden

U/1866/100/1009/2/124     Susanna Little          20 July 1866 Female          Miller

U/1867/100/1009/2/320     Margaret Little          6 Jun 1867    Female          Miller

U/1868/100/1009/3/25       [blank] Little              25 Apr 1868  Male               Holland

U/1869/100/1009/3/242     [blank] Little              22 Apr 1969  Female          Millar

U/1871/100/1009/4/196     [blank] Little              7 Mar 1871   Female          Miller

U/1873/100/1009/5/177     [blank] Little              19 Jul 1873   Male               Miller

U/1875/100/1009/6/123     [blank] Little              26 Oct 1875  Female          Millar

U/1878/100/1009/7/94       [blank] Little              27 Mar 1878 Female          Miller

U/1880/100/1009/8/212     [blank] Little              26 Mar 1880 Female          Miller

U/1883/100/1009/9/327     [blank] Little              23 Dec 1882 Male               Millar

U/1885/100/1009/10/143   [blank] Little              17 Aug 1885 Male               Millar

The birth registrations for each of the above events were then sourced through the Ireland Civil Registration Birth Index[x]

Based upon the above information we can see that all of the above children except for the male born on 25 April 1868 are the children of James Little/Lyttle and Mary Miller/Millar.

The above names are unlikely to include those of Thomas and Robert identified in the 1901 and 1911 Census as being potentially too old to have been born after the commencement of Civil Registration.

A further search was undertaken Roots Ireland[xi] to see if a marriage between James Lyttle/Little and Mary Miller/Millar.  A marriage record was located.  A marriage between James Little of Limehill, son of William Little a farmer and Mary Miller of Carnakeeran daughter of James Miller, a farmer took place at Altedesrt Church of Ireland  on 24 February 1859.

The townland of Lime Hill (two words) is situated in Desertcreat Civil Parish, County Tyrone.

The village of Pomeroy is located in the townland of Cavanakeeran in the Civil Parish of Pomeroy.

Altedesrt Church of Ireland located in the Village of Pomeroy was concentrated in 1841.  Early records from 1844 to 1877 were destroyed in the Four Courts Fire in Dublin in 1922.  Records from 1877 forward are held in local custody by the Church.

A restricted search of the Desertcreat Church of Ireland Baptism Records[xii]  between 1858 and 1885 was undertaken.  No records for the surname Little/Lyttle or any variation of the surname could be located during this time period.

In order to attempt to ascertain the names of James Lyttle/Little’s children a search was undertaken of Pomeroy National School No 2 Registers[xiii]

The following children of James Little a farmer of Lime Hill were located in the 2 registers:

Reg # Name                         Entry               Age     Abode            Father’s Occ Est Year of Birth

74       Little Thomas            [blank]                        [blank]            Limehill          Farmer           U/K

127     Little James              14 Aug 1878 4          Limehill          Farmer           1874

259     Little Samuel             10 Oct 1888  5          Limehill          Farmer           1883

286     Lyttle Andrew           4 Jul 1890     4          Limehill          Farmer           1896

71       Little Mary Ann         24 Nov 1873 [blank] Limehill         Farmer           U/K

104     Little Maggie             9 Aug 1875   8          Limehill          Farmer           1867

105     Little Susan               9 Aug 1875   6          Limehill          Farmer           1869

107     Little Lizzie                16 Aug 1875 4          Limehill          Farmer           1871

173     Little Martha              3 May 1880   4          Limehill          Farmer           1876

230     Little Sara(h)             20 Aug 1883 4          Limehill          Farmer           1879

239     Little Hessy               29 Apr 1885  5          Limehill          Farmer           1880

Also located was one daughter of James Lyttle, an Eng. Driver

406     Lyttle Lizzie               5 May 1903   4          Limehill          Eng.Driver     1899

By combining the results of the 1901 Census of Ireland, Civil Registration Birth Registrations and the Pomeroy School Records we can extrapolate the following as the order and dates of birth for the children of James Little/Lyttle and Mary Miller/Millar of Lime Hill townland, (adjacent Pomeroy Village) Desertcreat Parish, County Tyrone:

Mary Ann       (between 1858 and 1864)

Robert            Circa 1861

Thomas         Circa 1863

Susanna        20 July 1866 (question – did Susanna die as an infant before 1869)

Margaret        6 June 1867

Susan            22 April 1869

Lizzie             7 March 1871

James            19 July 1873

Martha           26 October 1875

Sarah             27 March 1878

Hessy             26 March 1880

Samuel          23 December 1882

Andrew          17 August 1885

The school admission records for Lizzie Lyttle daughter of James Lyttle, Eng. Driver along with her presence in the 1901 and 1911 Census with her grandmother Mary are clear indications that in the absence of any information to the contrary that Lizzie Lyttle, aka Mary E Hessy Lyttle is Mary Elizabeth Hester Lyttle, Colleen’s grandmother.

Example Record – Page 1 of Girls register showing Maggie, Susan and Lizzie (about half way down the page)

A search of the Will Calendars[xiv]  located a will for Thomas Lyttle of Limehill who died on 12 June 1928.  The Will shows that Thomas left his house and farming stock (except for one heifer) to his brother Andrew.

The Will also names four sisters, Margaret Archer, Hester Fletcher, Martha Martin and Lizzie May. It also identifies one nephew named John Martin.

Also located was an Administration Package for Robert Lyttle of Limehill who died on 21 September 1925 aged 66 years.  The Estate Duty file shows us that Andrew Lyttle of 32 Rathcool Street Belfast, an engine driver handled the Administration of Robert’s estate.This information provides Colleen with a definitive date of 4 July 1928, location and occupation for Andrew Lyttle, brother of her great-grandfather James Lyttle.

The focus of the search was returned to James Lyttle, Colleen’s great-grandfather, last located at 27 Auburn Street in 1901.

A continuation search of the Belfast & Ulster Street Directories, (available in book format in PRONI (it is not permitted to copy or photograph these records), shows that James Lyttle is still present in Auburn Street in 1902, but is not present in the street directories in 1903 or 1904.  James Lyttle can be located again in 1905 and 1906, where he is employed as an engine driver living at 30 Prospect Street which also runs between Elms Street and Vernon Street, Belfast.

In 1907 and 1908 James can be located at 6 Elm Street.  There is no listing for a James Lyttle in 1909, however a listing for J Liddell, engine driver at 17 Chambers Street (between Donegall Pass and Posnett Street), is the same address where James Lyttle is resident between 1911 and 1912.

The 1913 directory locates James Lyttle, engine driver at 1 Meadowbank Street (off Lower Windsor Avenue) Belfast.

James second marriage to Sarah McKenna was located on 27 November 1907.  The certificate shows that James is an engine driver, domiciled at 6 Elm Street (matching the information located in the Belfast and Ulster Street Directories).  He is recorded as a widower.

James and Sarah can be located in the 1911 Census of Ireland at H17 Chambers Street (again matching in the information in the Street Directories)

The recorded ages for James and his brother Andrew are not consistent with their extrapolated dates of birth but all the other information is consistent with the information previously examined.

Form B1 shows us that 17 Chambers Street is a second class house consisting of 6 rooms with 4 windows to the front elevation.The births of James and Sarah’s children can be located as follows:

Lavinia Adela 17 September 1908

James on 6 March 1911

And Austin on 17 April 1913.

Note James is recorded as deceased. No Probate or Administration could be located.

James’ death occurred on 10 May 1913 of Pernicious Anemia (Vitamin B12 deficiency)

Although Austin was born prior to his father’s death, both certificates were created on the same day (10th May 1913).

A search of Belfast City Council Burial Records[xv] located the grave for James Lyttle

A further search located a potential grave for James’ son Austin, his wife and son and his daughter Lavinia Adela.

A Will and Probate Papers were located for Andrew Lyttle of 27 East Street, Donaghadee who died 28 November 1952.  The will, written on 9 January 1951 identifies two nephews: James Lyttle of 3 Larkstone Street, Belfast and Austin Lyttle of 32 Rathcool Street, Belfast, Andrew’s widow Lavinia, and his niece Adela Hamilton of Hartington Street, Belfast.

Administration Papers were located for Lavinia Lyttle (a widow with no children) of 245 Great Northern Street who died 5 February 1957.  Application was made by Lavinia Adele Hamilton, of the same address, niece of the deceased.

The Will and Probate Papers for Lavinia Adele Hamilton late of 243 Great Northern Street who died on 3 September 1984 at the Royal Victoria Hospital, age 76 were located.  The will identifies one daughter [name and address will be passed to Colleen privately as there is a strong likelihood that this individual may still be living].  Solicitor is noted as Hewitt & Gilpin of 13 Donegall Square North, Belfast.


This is somewhat of an unexpected result for Colleen.  She and her family had been exploring the family of James Lyttle (of Bentwick Street in 1901).  However we can locate this James Lyttle, now a Solicitor’s Managing Clerk, age 34 in House 36 Ligoniel Road, Shankill area of Belfast with his wife Ellen and 4 children in the 1911 Census.  The family is recorded as Presbyterian.  James and his wife Ellen have been married for 9 years.

We can also locate a potentially appropriate marriage of a James Lyttle to Ellen Campbell on 27 August 1901.

The birth of this James’ first child Samuel can also be located on 12 June 1902, clearly showing this James recorded as a Solicitor’s Assistant.

Colleen will now have to undertake some reconstructive work on her family tree.

The above processes and research show just how easy it is to make a wrong turn based on a reasonable (but inaccurate) assumption from a Census Record and family history.

Colleen’s family believed that James was from Belfast.  However the above records prove that while James was indeed obviously located in Belfast at the time of his first Marriage to Elizabeth Wylie he was not born in Belfast.

It is not until a variety of records are explored in conjunction (some of which are not available on-line and would therefore not be accessible to Colleen) and a cross analysation of these records is undertaken that the full picture of both individuals named James Lyttle can be viewed.


As considerable additional time was required within the Report to investigate where and why Colleen was connecting to the incorrect family we were unable to invest additional time to bring the family of James Little further forward than the 1980s.

There are a number of simple steps that Colleen can now take while she is in Belfast to move this research further forward.

Open an account with General Registrar Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI).  Births that are less than 100 years old, marriages less than 75 years old and deaths less than 50 years old that occurred in Northern Ireland may only be accessed in two locations: GRONI and PRONI. (full addresses for both are provided in the citations below).  Self-Service computers are supplied at both locations.  Once an account has been opened, an account holder may view the indexes for free, but each certificate viewed costs 5 credits (currently 50p per credit [September 2017]).  Certificates accessed via the self-service computer may not be printed, or photographed.  They may be transcribed manually (by hand).  Full certificates can be ordered via the on-line system but additional charges apply.  Colleen will need access to a Credit Card to utilise all of GRONI’s services.

To help Colleen along I have identified several indexes where Colleen should start her research:

Because these indexes pertain to potentially living individuals and contain exact dates of birth these will be passed to Colleen privately in order to ensure we maintain appropriate ethical standards in relation to data protection laws and the privacy rights of living individuals.

Note there is more than one child with the same forename – without investigation of the full certificate it will not be possible to determine whether these are appropriate records that pertain to Colleen’s family.

It may be useful for Colleen to explore the Will Calendars at PRONI.  Those for 1858-1966 are available on-line.  From 1966 to 2002 they are in hard back book format, one per Calendar Year, available on the shelves in the Self-Service Search Room.

Some historical copies of the Electoral Register are held by PRONI.  Only the 1983 Copy has a Catalogue Reference – MF5/1/26/1 to 8.  (These are split into Electoral Districts, each has to be viewed separately.)  It therefore may be more convenient for Colleen to use the Subscription Site to explore the on-line Edited/Open Register.

The Current Electoral Register (Edited/Open Version only) can only be accessed by calling in person to the Electoral Office for NI at St Anne’s House, 15 Church Street, Belfast BT1 1ER.  Telephone number 028 9044 6688 website

Colleen may be able to save some money by undertaking a search at the Belfast Newspaper Library in Person, located at Library Street, Belfast (directly behind Belfast Central Library in Royal Avenue).  However this can be a time-consuming process as the papers are either in Microfilm or original newspaper format.  The two newspapers that are likely to be of most value to Colleen’s research are the Belfast Telegraph and Belfast Newsletter.  Up to date editions are not available on-line.  Searching the newspaper office is free, a small fee is charged for each copy.

In addition Colleen may like to spend some time exploring the Ulster Transport Authority Files Ref: UTA.   It is noted in earlier records James Lyttle is recorded as a fireman, while in the later records he is recorded as an Engine Driver.  It may be that James’ employment as a fireman was not with the Fire Brigade but with one of the Railway Companies.  The term “fireman” was frequently used as an alternate term for a “stoker” on both the Rail and Shipping networks.

While there is no indication of which Railway James worked for Colleen may wish to start with the Personnel Records (including Salaries books) of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway found under UTA/11/K/2 to UTA/11/K /4.  There are also extensive records of the Worker’s Pension Fund Society which may interest Colleen. This may help confirm or refute whether James Lyttle was a fireman for the Railway or Fire Brigade.

Colleen should also search the Primary Valuation of Ireland (aka Griffiths Valuation) for the Lyttle/Little family in Lime Hill, Co Tyrone as this will help Colleen identify the exact location of the family farm.  It will also establish what the acreage is that the family hold.  This may help Colleen establish why (possibly too small a farm to sustain a large family) James Lyttle snr appears with different occupations in some records while appearing consistently as a farmer in others.

Also useful to Colleen may be the Tithe Applotment Books (hard copy format at PRONI) and the Valuation Revision Books which should help confirm the head of house coming forwards from the Valuation.

I hope you all found this report of interest.  Please do feel free to post any questions within the forum either regarding the research, sources used, information located or records available in Northern Ireland.

Jayne McGarvey


[i] Ireland Civil Registration Birth Index, 1864-1916, Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltach Affairs, “Civil Records”, database with images, free on-line access, accessed September 2017.

[ii] Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory 1897, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ, “Street Directories” database with images, free on-line access,  accessed September 2017.

[iii] 3rd Edition Ordnance Survey Map, 1900-1907,  Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ, “PRONI Historical Maps”  map image, free on-line access, accessed September 2017

[iv] Census of Ireland 1901/1911 and Census fragments and substitutes, 1821-51, “House and Building Return (Form B1), National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin 8, Ireland, database with images, free on-line resource, accessed September 2017

[v] Ireland Civil Registration Death Index, 1864-1966, Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltach Affairs, “Civil Records”, database with images, free on-line access, accessed September 2017.

[vi] Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory 1899, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ, “Street Directories” database with images, free on-line access,  accessed September 2017.

[vii] Census of Ireland 1901/1911 and Census fragments and substitutes, 1821-51, “Household Return (Form A), National Archives of Ireland, Bishop Street, Dublin 8, Ireland, database with images, free on-line resource,, accessed September 2017

[viii]  Ireland Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1845-1941, Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltach Affairs, “Civil Records”, database with images, free on-line access, accessed September 2017.

[ix] Northern Ireland civil Registration Birth Index, 1864-1916, General Registrar Office for Northern Ireland (GRONI), Colby House, Stranmillis Court, Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5RR, database with images, account access, accessed September 2017

[x] Ireland Civil Registration Birth Index, 1864-1916, Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltach Affairs, “Civil Records”, database with images, free on-line access, accessed September 2017

[xi] Roots Ireland, Marriage Records for Ireland, [Transcript database on-line] Irish Family History Foundation, Main St, Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland, fee paying membership only access,

[xii] Desertcreat Church of Ireland, Baptism Registers, Desertcreat Parish, County Tyrone, Restricted search of Baptism Records 1858-1885, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ, physical archive, Microfiche Reference MIC1/9, accessed September 2017.

[xiii] Pomeroy (No 2) National School Registers, Male & Female 1872-1920, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ, physical archive, Call Reference SCH/896/1/1 and SCH/896/1/2, accessed September 2017.

[xiv] Will Calendar Indexes, District Probate Registries of Armagh, Belfast and Londonderry, 1858-1965, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), 2 Titanic Boulevard, Belfast BT3 9HQ, database with official transcript images, accessed September 2017

[xv] Belfast City Council “Burial Records”, Bereavement Services Office, Ground Floor, Cecil Ward Building 4-10 Linenhall Street, Belfast BT2 8BP, official transcript database, free on-line access accessed September 2017

We hope you enjoyed that Genealogist Research report. Three things:

  1. Please go to this section of the forum to leave any comments and ask any questions you may have.
  2. There is an accompanying Irish Homelands feature with the Genealogist Report.
  3. You can find further Genealogist Reports here.

Mike Collins.


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