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Details of all 10 Willighan siblings


- born circa 1842, had a son (Thomas) in 1875, but the birth certificate does not state the father's name.

It does not even mention the child's christian name. I believe Mary-Ann came from Sion Mills or Castlederg in West Tyrone.  

It is unclear why she left this area and moved to Belfast - theories on why are on the Tyrone page.

Mary Ann died on July 19th 1900 and was living at 62 Hooker Street at the time. Link here to the year street directory where she is named as Mary Ann Milligan. Her death certificate states that her son, Thomas, is living at number 16. Note the house is vacant on the street directory, which must have been taken earlier in the year. 

The certificate also states she was a widow of Abraham Willighan -a theory on Abraham is in the Tyrone page of this site. 

Mary Ann was buried at Belfast City Cemetery (plot M200) on 21st July 1900 aged 58 years.


- born November 27th 1875 in the Belfast Workhouse (now the site of the City Hospital).

Thomas was thought to be in the Navy in the 1890s before he married Margaret Burns (also below) - they had 10 children: Mary Ann, Robert, Thomas Jr, Esther, Margaret-Jane, Isabella, Richard, Elizabeth, Hugh and Evelyn.  

Not all children survived to reach adulthood. On Thomas's marriage certificate of July 11th 1898, his father's name is stated as Abraham.

Thomas lived in Hooker St with his wife for a short time before they moved to 86 Cambrai St. He worked in the Crumlin Road mill until his death (died suddenly of pneumonia) on November 15th, 1950, aged 74.

Margaret died three years earlier on April 17th, 1947 aged 68. Thomas and Margaret are buried at plot E5 145 of Dundonald cemetery.

Also in this grave is a one month old baby called Hugh Crawford Willighan (son of Hugh Snr and Ivy) - buried 21 February 1953.


- Eldest child of Thomas and Margaret, Mary Ann was born on March 16, 1899 and named after her grandmother. She married Francis Martin Hamilton on November 9th, 1922 at St Matthews Church of Ireland, Woodvale Rd, Belfast. Francis, the son of Joseph, was a motor mechanic from Lurgan. Their marriage certificate states the witnesses at the ceremony were Thomas Wesley Boyd and Lillie Shane.


Mary-Ann had two children who died at birth before having Margaret. 

Mary-Ann died on March 29, 1962 aged 63. She is buried with her husband Frankie in plot C499 of Roselawn cemetery, Belfast.


- 2nd child of Thomas and Margaret, and born March 15th, 1901. He was named after his father's best friend, a man called Robert Watters. Robert Willighan was my great-grandfather and I've yet to find his birth. For some reason his birth is not entered into the register for 1901. I have checked the register from this year and his name is nowhere to be found.
Robert married Sarah Porter Donaldson on the 28th of December 1928 at Church of Ireland Holy Trinity Church in Belfast. At the time, he was a sergeant in the Royal Ulster Regiment and she was a weaver. Sarah previously lived at 85 Cambrai St, Belfast and the couple lived for a time at the Willighan family home in 86 Cambrai St.
Witnesses at the wedding ceremony were brother-in-law Robert Mullan (Esther's husband) and sister Mary Hamilton.

Robert and Sarah had 6 children - Bobby, Jim, Sally, Ivor, Maureen and Robin.


Robert Watters Willighan died on July 8th, 1963 and Sarah on January 24th, 1985. Both are buried at Cushendall Road cemetery, Ballymena and most of their family still live in the Ballymena area.


- The 3rd child of Thomas Sr and Margaret, he was born on March 1st, 1903. Present at his birth was the midwife, Mary A Lester of 66 Hooker St, Belfast. Thomas became a professional footballer in the 1930s and played for Burnley FC in England. He also had the honour of representing Ireland twice.
On December the 28th 1934 (exactly 6 yrs after his brother Robert), Thomas married Alice Bradshaw.


They had one son and carried on the naming tradition of Thomas.


This son, Thomas the 3rd was born February 1936.  
However, tragedy struck five months after the child's birth. His father died from cancer of the rectum in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. At the time of his death, Thomas had retired from football and was a labourer. His address was given as 106 Cambrai St and his wife Alice was present at his death. Alice returned to Burnley after her husband's death and Thomas Jr lives in the Burnley area with wife Alys and family. Thomas is buried at Dundonald cemetery (F5 604). Also in the grave are Isabella, Jane Burns and Emily Burns.

4. ESTHER (Essie)

- The 4th child of Thomas and Margaret, Essie was born on February 19th 1905.
Present at her birth was Maria Kells of 105 Cambrai St. Esther, who was known as Essie (pron. Ace-y) became a spinner and on April 5th 1926 married a rougher called Robert Mullan. He lived at 96 Cambrai St. They were married at Holy Trinity Parish Church of Ireland in Belfast.
Witnesses were Thomas Willighan (her father) and Jenny Bamford.

Essie and Robert had 3 children - Tommy, May and Robert-John (who died young).

- The 5th child of Thomas and Margaret, Margaret-Jane was born on February 7th 1907. Present at the birth was Emilia McClelland of 86 Cambrai St (the family residence).  Unfortunately the child died five months later on 11th July. She is buried with her grandmother Mary-Ann in plot M200 of Belfast City Cemetery.

6. ISABELLA (teenager)
- The 6th child of Thomas and Margaret, Isabella was born on June 17th, 1908. Again, tragedy struck the family as she died aged just 14. Her death certificate states she died from cardiac failure on April 23rd 1923, 7 days after contracting pneumonia. She passed away in the family home (86 Cambrai St) and the death certificate was signed by her sister Mary-Ann Hamilton.

7. RICHARD (baby)
- The 7th child of Thomas and Margaret, Richard was born on August 12th 1911 and present at his birth was Emily Burns (an aunt?) who lived at 161 Sydney St West, Belfast. Just 4 months later on December 21st he died from meningitis. Richard is buried with others in plot M200 of Belfast City cemetery.

8. ELIZABETH (baby)
- The 8th child of Thomas and Margaret, Elizabeth was born on March 11th 1913. She died on April 8th 1914 aged only 13 months.


- The 9th child of Thomas and Margaret, Hugh was born on February 1st 1916.

He married Edith Crawford, known as Ivy, and they adopted two children, Stephen and Carole.

Before they adopted, Hugh and Ivy had 3 children who died in infancy: one after 10 hours, one at birth and one after 1 month. 

Hugh died in August 1976, Ivy in 2001 and they are buried at Roselawn. 


- The 10th and final child of Thomas and Margaret (phew!), Evelyn was born on January 26th 1919. Present at her birth was Maggie Baker of 90 Cambrai St.

Evelyn married Jimmy Wright and they had 3 children: Margaret, Elizabeth and Jim.

Margaret lives in South Belfast, Elizabeth in Carrickfergus, and Jim in Carryduff. 
Evelyn died in 1992 and her husband Jimmy in 2000. Both are buried at Roselawn cemetery.

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