John Scott At 83 Hanover Street, Belfast

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john scott in front of store at 83 hanover street, belfast
John Scott In Front Of Grocery Store At 83 Hanover Street, Belfast

When I first saw this scanned photo (although I saw it before, perhaps 30 years ago), it was right after some scanned photos of my grandfather Hugh Scott in America. So my brain was focused on that, and seeing the “Sunlight” promotional words and the fact the store window just seemed so… about marketing, I had it in my head that maybe this was a shop in Ohio that my grandfather had decided to take a photo of, for some reason.

Later, I’d learn from my sister who scanned the photo, that it actually had some identifying information on the back of the photo, apparently “it only says “John Scott” on the back written in pencil….so very faint.”

Hmmm. Could this be our great-grandfather John Scott, in front of the grocery store he apparently owned?

No. It’s not.

And I’ll tell you why. For many years, my dad would tell me about my great-grandad, and the fact he was a grocer – he’d often get only 5 or 6 hours of sleep every night, but he’d close his grocery store at lunch time and have a snooze before reopening it. My great-grandad Scott sounded a bit like the way I might like to do things… owning my own business, being able to stay up late while my brain is thinking, and then getting up for work, but hitting that just afternoon brick wall, closing up things, and going upstairs to nap.

They still do that in Greece, by the way…

But I will tell you where the whole story went a wee bit wrong.

John Scott did not own the grocery shop. At least he did not until after 1934, and even after that, I’m still not so sure. I’m still trying to figure out what he did, after 1934.

John Scott did not own a grocery shop in Belfast, but he managed one, owned by Agnes McDowell (brother of John McDowell) up until about 1934. After that, we’re not sure.

What happened in 1934?

John Scott, Grocery Shop Manager

On May 29th, 1934, Agnes McDowell would pass away. In her obituary in the Belfast Telegraph that appeared the next day, it simply read:

“McDowell – May 29, 1934 at her residence, 83 Hanover Street, Belfast, Agnes McDowell dearly-beloved sister of Mary E. and John Scott. Her remains will be removed from above address for interment in Carmoney, on to-morrow (Thursday) at 3-30.”

Soon, I will write more complete biographies of our great-grandfather John Scott, and Agnes McDowell. For now though, it’s important to note that Agnes passed away at 83 Hanover Street, the same address we find at various times, John Scott and his family.

We also find in another newspaper report (thanks to “GenealogyMum”) that there were actually legal issues at one time for both John Scott and Agnes McDowell. I’ll write about that another time, but suffice to say, that it was officially recorded that Agnes owned the grocery shop, while our great-grandad John Scott, was the manager.

It appears that they both resided, along with John Scott’s wife and children, at 83 Hanover Street. So where was the grocery shop?

It’s something I’ve been trying to figure out for a long time. It’s not uncommon in many places of the world, for a residence to also be a business, but for many years, and many searches, and much time spent, I could not say where this grocery shop actually was, although I had an idea Agnes McDowell had some influence in regard to it – but believed that John Scott owned it, according to family stories I had been told. And there was this issue of a shared residence of John Scott and his family, along with Agnes McDowell.

83 Hanover Street – Residence and Business

Some years after Agnes passed away, in 1948, there was an advertisement in the Northern Whig and Belfast Post that 83 Hanover Street, along with some other neighboring addresses, was available for sale by auction. The owner was not related as far as I can tell to our Scott, or McDowell – but, 83 Hanover Street was listed as the “sale of a house and shop” with annual rent of 36 pounds sterling, 16 shillings.

So now we know that the address that John Scott is often found at, 83 Hanover Street, was both a residence and a shop property.

My Confidence That This Is John Scott, and 83 Hanover Street

In the 2020’s, photography is pretty cheap. You can snap hundreds of photos on your phone, and it doesn’t cost you a thing.

Those of us who spent time with old film, and then getting it developed and printed will know that photography was done more economically. You didn’t get prints of something unless it meant something to you. You wouldn’t even snap the photo unless it really meant something to you.

According to my sister, there is an inscription that is a John Scott standing in front of a grocery store.

But is it our great-grandfather John Scott at 83 Hanover Street in Belfast? Take a closer look.

If you look at the window, on the left side, and down below, but above the “Sunlight” marketing, you will see “HA-83” written. 83 Hanover.

I’m not sure when this photo was taken, and there is no indication of that, but we do have other photos of John Scott, at younger years. This photo is unfortunately not as clear, but I’m still very confident it is our great-great grandfather, and at some point, is how the window of the grocery shop he managed at 83 Hanover Street, Belfast, appeared.


Obituary for Agnes McDowell, Belfast Telegraph, May 30th, 1934

agnes mcdowell obituary

“M’DOWELL – May 29, 1934, at her residence, 83 Hanover Street, Belfast, Agnes M’Dowell, dearly-beloved sister of Mary E. and John Scott. Her remains will be removed from above address for interment in Carnmoney, on to-morrow (Thursday), at 2-30.”

Advertisement in Northern Whig, October 18, 1948 – shows 83, Hanover Street as (Shop and Dwelling-house) to be auctioned. At that time, rent for the property was £36.16.

I don’t believe (but am not positive) that John Scott was still at this location at the time of this advertisement.

83 Hanover street belfast ad for sale

Classified ad in the Larne Times, August 8, 1908:

classified ad in Larne Times, 1908

“ELLIS – Information wanted of Alexander Ellis and his wife –Jeannie Graham-and their two girls, Mary and Catharine, who left Ireland and arrived in Melbourne, Australia 3rd May, 1887. Last heard of at Cudges Creek. Reply to Mrs Hugh Montgomery (maiden name, Sarah Graham), c/o Miss McDowell, 83 Hanover Street, Belfast. Australian papers please copy.”

I don’t know if the Grahams were related to the McDowells, or perhaps Sarah Montgomery just lived close to the shop at 83 Hanover Street and it was convenient to collect notices/mail for Sarah Montgomery.

If you have other ideas please leave a comment below, or contact me.
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4 thoughts on “John Scott At 83 Hanover Street, Belfast”

  1. I just received my mothers birth certificate and her family address at the time of her birth in July 1913.
    The address was 87 Hanover Street, Belfast, probably just a few doors away from No 83.
    I am still trying to locate exactly where in east Belfast Hanover was so I would be gratefully for any information you can provide.
    Regards Jim Nulty.

    1. Hey Jim, that’s really interesting that your mother was born a few doors away from my great-grandfather’s shop! What was your mother’s maiden name? I wonder if I have come across the family in my own research.

      So, I had a link to an old Belfast map that showed where Hanover Street was. But I can’t locate it right now. I’ll dig deeper but for now, this may interest you:

      Hanover Street
      Old Lodge Road to Regent Street
      Court Ward, North Par. Div.

      This is from 1918. So it appears at No 87 at least in 1918, it was Harrison, Ed. J., lithographic transferer. I note that at 83 in 1918, it says McDowell, Agnes, grocer – Agnes was the sister-in-law of my great-grandfather – and she was the original leasor of the place, but my great-grandfather and his wife lived there as well. Agnes owned the grocery shop while my great-grandfather managed it.

  2. My Dad died last night, but today i find myself looking back at his life, he was born in November 1937 and resided at No 70 (?) with his Mother Margret Campbell and father Joe Brown. I’m sure he would of visited this shop many times.

    1. My deepest condolences to you, John! So sorry you’re going through this – it’s hard to go through the time when your dad passes away. It would be very interesting to know if your dad had conversations with my Great-Grandfather!

      Take care of yourself.

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