Biographical Notes



The following are notes made by Gary Chambers, Great-Grandchild of JF:

My Grandfather's father's name was also Joseph - one of a long line of Josephs. He was born in Belfast in 1876. He was baptised in St Annes Church of Ireland before it was knocked down and replaced with the present Cathedral. His father was described as a "weaver" and they were living in Joseph Street, off the Shankil Road.

Joseph's mother died when he was only a child. It seems that he lived with a half-sister - "Aunt Sarah". She had a shop on the Shankill Road. It was suggested that he may have run away from home. Its possible that his relationship with his father was less than amicable. I'm told that he rarely spoke about his family.

He joined the Ulster Brushmaking Company as an apprentice in 1890. His half-brother Andrew was already a brushmaker. The following is an extract from Joseph's Indenture:

THIS INDENTURE made the first day of April in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Ninety between Joseph Ferris of Belfast in the County of Antrim of the one part and the Ulster Brushmaking Company of 42 Ann Street, Belfast in the County of Antrim of the other part, witnesseth that the said Joseph Ferris by and with the approbation and consent of his father, Joseph Ferris ... doth put himself Apprentice to the said Ulster Brushmaking Company ... to learn the art and trade of brushmaking and with them after the manner of an Apprentice to dwell and serve from the First day of April 1890 for and during the full term and space of Seven Years ... During which term the said Apprentice shall serve, their secrets kept, their lawful commands everywhere gladly do ... He shall not contract matrimony within the sed term ... He shall not play at cards, dice, or any unlawful game ... He shall not frequent taverns, alehouses or playhouses or absent himself from his said masters by day or night unlawfully, under the forfeiture of One Shilling for each day he absents himself, or serving two days for one at the expiry of his Apprenticeship, at the option of his said Masters ... Said Apprentice to find his own diet and lodgings ...

Joseph completed his apprenticeship in 1897. I'm told that he spent some time working in England and Scotland. He was eventually working in Dublin when he married Annie Elizabeth Steele in 1903. He'd met her in Belfast. Joseph was lodging with the mother of a friend of Anne's while in Belfast. They were married in Bloomfield Presbyterian Church, Belfast on 28th November. Joseph was living at 1 Alexandra Terrace in Dublin at the time of his marriage. The newly-weds returned to Dublin - but only for a short time. Annie contracted Typhoid Fever while in Dublin. The couple returned to Belfast shortly after this.

Their first house was at 56 Dunraven Avenue, off the Bloomfielf Road and only a block away from Lichfield Avenue, where Annie's parents lived. Joseph returned to work for the Ulster Brushmaking Company. Their first child, Kathleen, was born in 1905. They moved to "Ivy Cottage" at the top of the Bloomfield Road in 1906. Annie Beatrice ("Bea") was born there. In 1908, the family moved to a shop in Cromac Square, where Elizabeth ("Lila") was born. The Directory for 1908 records a "Mrs Ferris" living at 9 Cromac Square. She ran the shop while Joseph continued working at UBC. He was still with the UBC when the family moved to a shop at 83 Peter's Hill in 1909. The Directories describe Joseph as a "hardware and Delph Merchant" although Annie continued to look after the shop, and their four children. Their fifth child, Irene Francis ("Rene"), was born there in 1909.

Peter's Hill at the lower end of the Shankill Road was once a busy shopping precinct. My Grandfather told me hoe the crowds would throng to the area on Saturday nights. It was definitely the place to be seen! However ner road links and urban redevelopment have meant that Peters Hill has now disappeared in all but name.


Last updated 15th May 2010 Person Reference No: 16