Digging in the Past

by Joseph Ryan Glover

On the occasion of my wedding to my wife in October 2004 my late father’s cousin Barbara gave me an envelope that was cryptically addressed “For the future”. Inside the envelope was a Pedigree Chart (courtesy of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, naturally) on which Barbara had filled in the family tree on my paternal grandfather’s side going back several generations. This was a true gift because, due to my grandfather’s assassination at the hands of the IRA in 1976, my father and my grandmother spoke very little if at all about that side of the family. My wife and I marveled at the genealogy of it all and then stored the letter safely with the rest of our wedding cards.

I didn’t think much about Barbara’s gift until today, October 17, 2012, when a chance encounter with a co-worker who hails from Northern Ireland got me talking and thinking about my heritage. This co-worker was quite keen and he dug up several web pages that I had found in the past but also offered some new ones, such as the 1901/1911 Irish Census and the Wikipedia page for the Mayors of Londonderry which clearly notes that Gerald Stanley Glover, my great uncle, was Mayor from 1950 to 1952 and again from 1961 to 1963. I knew he was Mayor at one point, but it’s nice to see the specifics.

When I got home from work my curiosity was fired and I decided to use Barabara’s gift and the Internet to see what I could find. I first checked the 1901/1911 census for William Glover, the father of my grandfather, Joseph Ballantine Glover. Now, grandpa was born in 1916, so he wouldn’t be on the census, but William was born in 1855 and passed away in 1920, so he should be there, and he was. The details are a little scant, but I can confirm it’s him because he’s listed as married to Mary E. Glover or, as she is detailed on my genealogy form, Mary Elizabeth Ballantine. I searched a bit more for my great great grandfather John Glover, born 1818 and died 1907 (so he should have been caught in the 1901 census) but to no avail.

I decided then to research the Ballantine side of the tree, a name my father, brother and grandfather all share. I knew that the Ballantines owned a timber company in Londonderry, and that my grandfather was the director of the timber yard (as confirmed by this somewhat angry article near the bottom).

Having confirmed what I knew I moved up the tree to see if I could find out more about Joseph Ballantine, Mary Elizabeth’s father. I first looked for him on the 1901 census as he lived 1834 to 1905, but to no avail. I then Googled his name and found this web page that details the 1907 Belfast/Ulster Street Directory. It lists several entries for Ballantine, Joseph, Ltd. on Strand Road: once under Steam Saw Mills, once under Timber Merchants and once under Turners.

So this is interesting, but Joseph Ballantine died in 1905 so if his company is going strong in 1907 and is in an Ulster business directory (and was still going strong in the 1970s when grandpa worked there) it must be being run by someone. William Glover is listed as a farmer and since I was unsure if Mary Elizabeth had any brothers I went back to the Irish Census to dig a bit more. I mentioned how earlier I searched for Joseph Ballantine to no avail. That’s not exactly true, I found a Joseph Ballantine but at the time of the census in 1911 he was only 38, far to young to be the Joseph Ballantine born in 1855. But perhaps he was a son and therefore the sister of Mary Elizabeth. Here’s his census listing:

Interestingly, if you click the “Show all information” checkbox on the census it expands to reveal that his occupation was “Timber Merchant”. That pretty much clinched it for me and now I assume that Joseph Glover (junior for lack of a better term) took over Joseph Ballintine Ltd. from Joseph Ballintine the elder or, and this will be explained in the next few paragraphs, it might have been solely his company and not his father’s at all.

What makes me say that? Well, during my Googling for Joseph Ballantine I kept having entries returned from the Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940 so I clicked on the link and found this:

It’s interesting, but perhaps it’s a different Joseph Ballantine. More Googling of the name led me to this page of “Marriages recorded in the Town of Strabane and parish of Camus-juxta-Mourne extracted from the Derry Journal, Londonderry Standard and Londonderry Sentinel 1860-69”. The page is long but if you search for “Ballentine” you’ll find this snippet:

So there he is, Joseph Ballentine, identified as an architect, marrying Anne Wilimina, daughter of Mr Robert Simpson, also an architect. I should mention that Barbara’s gift lists both Anne Wilimina Simpson and Robert Simpson in the appropriate spots. What the gift doesn’t have is their wedding date and for the record, that February 25th was in 1862.

So wonderful, my great great grandfather was an architect. That’s pretty cool. Did he build anything that is still around? I’m so glad you asked. This lovely brochure describes The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in Londonderry and explicitly notes that the builders of the original structure included Joseph Ballantine:

Here is a copy of the brochure from my server in case the other one ever disappears: mem-museum-booklet

And here is a nice Youtube video of the hall:
The Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall in Londonderry

So my thinking is that if Joseph Ballantine senior was an architect he either started a timber company to compliment his work or encouraged his son to do so. I don’t think I have enough details to make a decision either way on it but it’s clear that when William Glover married Mary Elizabeth he also married into a timber business and their son (my grandfather) decided to make the family business his career.

And, that’s all I have for one night. I hope this has been entertaining and educational and I hope that the great, all-knowing Google may find it, index it and make it available for future Glovers to peruse.

Bonus facts:

Joseph Ballantine Glover was the president of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce from 1967 to 1968, and it’s listed on their history page.

On the page he is listed as an FCA, which likely means he was a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants of Ireland or the Northern Ireland equivalent.

While I can’t confirm that it is definitely him, Joseph Ballentine of Londonderry is listed as a member since 1888 in the 1890 rolls of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. The link is a Google Book link and the publication is the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Seeing as how he was an architect it makes sense that he would like antiquities.


The genealogy chart from Barbara has the spelling of Ballantine as Ballintine. When I type Ballintine into Google it corrects me. The Irish Census has it as Ballantine but the marriage note for Joseph Ballantine has him down as Ballentine. The only thing I know for sure is that Word thinks that every variation is a mis-spelling.