Monday, 12 May 2014

Robert James Adgey

Robert James Adgey (1872-1957) was one of the key figures in the unionist operation to arm the Ulster Volunteer Force during the 3rd home rule crisis.  He was a pawnbroker, with a business at 97 Peter's Hill, and he collaborated closely with Major Fred Crawford in importing weapons and ammunition.

Afterwards he wrote Arming the Ulster Volunteers 1914 and in this he described his family background, including some connections with Ballysillan.

I was born in County Antrim in the townland of Ballykennedy, about 10 miles from Belfast, where my father, Robert James Adgey Senior, who was a farmer, came to live in Belfast (Shankill Ward) in the year 1881.  He commenced business in Riga Street, where he kept a number of milk cows and I had to learn to milk at an early age.
In the summer time the cows were put out to graze and I had to go in the milk cart out to the fields.  My father had the grazing of those fields belonging to Ferguson's old Bleach Green from Ardoyne up to opposite Wheatfield House on the Crumlin Road.  He had also several fields for grazing from Mr George Andrews of Ardoyne.  Going to it we had to pass down Ardoyne Village; at that time the old hand-loom factory  was in full operation where work commenced at 6 o'clock in the morning.  We passed through the village about 5.30 when the people were just going to their work.
This reminds us that much of Ballysillan remained rural right through to the end of the 19th century.

We also learn that the old bleach-green of the Ferguson family was roughly the site now occupied by the Abbeydale estate

1 comment:

  1. He was also a member of Royal York LOL 145, Belfast, from 4th August 1920 until his death.