The Belfast Natural History Society was founded on 5 June 1821 by Dr James Lawson Drummond, the Professor of Anatomy at Belfast Academical Institution, and seven young men in their late teens or early twenties. In 1842, ‘and Philosophical’ was added to the Society’s name to reflect its broadening remit. In 1831, the Society opened a museum in College Square North, the first museum in Ireland to be built by voluntary subscription. For more information on the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society, go to the Society’s website:

Three Book Covers

In 1998, the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society initiated a publications programme and subsequently entered into a partnership with the Ulster Historical Foundation to publish monographs on the broad theme of the history of Belfast and Ulster. It was a successful collaboration with the Foundation bringing its expertise in the world of publishing, resulting in the production of a series of handsome books.

In 2000, Nini Rodgers’ Equiano and Anti-Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Belfast and Allan Blackstock’s Double Traitors? The Belfast Volunteers and Yeomen, 1778–1828 were published. These were followed in 2001 by Myrtle Hill’s The Time of the End: Millenarian Beliefs in Ulster; Wesley McCann’s H.B. Phillips: Impresario. The Man who brought McCormack, Kreisler and Robeson to Derry; and John Lynch’s An Unlikely Success Story: the Belfast Shipbuilding Industry, 1880–1935.

In 2002, Captain Cohonny Constantine Maguire of Tempo 1777–1834 by W.A. Maguire was published and a year later Roy Johnston’s Bunting’s Messiah appeared. The final two books in the series neatly complemented each other. They were Raymond Gillespie’s Early Belfast: the Origins and Growth of an Ulster Town to 1750 (2007) and Stephen Royle’s Portrait of an Industrial City ‘Clanging Belfast’, 1750–1914 (2011).

Three Covers 2

Between 2000 and 2011 the Ulster Historical Foundation published a series of academic books and pamphlets in association with the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society.