Clifton Street in Belfast is a name that appears in the news from time to time and it is really the 'gateway to north Belfast'. The postcard above reminds us of how it used to look and sadly many of the fine buildings that once lined both sides of the street have now gone.
St Enoch's Presbyterian Church, Clifton Street Presbyterian Church, Clifton Street United Presbyterian Church and the Sandes Soldiers Home are just some of the buildings that have been demolished or destroyed. Fortunately the Orange Hall survives and the former Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church is undergoing a programme of restoration.
But Clifton Street was not the original name of the street and back in the 18th century, before it was renamed as Clifton Street, the street was known as Buttle's Loaney. So where did that name come from?
The words loanen and loaney are found in both Scots and Ulster-Scots meaning a lane or roadway and this was indeed a path leading from the town of Belfast out to the north and in the 18th century, into the countryside.
The first part of the name was probably derived from a David Buttle who was Sovereign of Belfast from 1702 to 1704 or from a member of his family
According to A History of Congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, he was a son of the second Presbyterian minister in Ballymena, who was a Scottish Presbyterian. After the formation of a presbytery in Ulster, David Buttle was ordained in 1645 and ministered in Ballymena. He was imprisoned under the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell for refusing to take the 'republican engagement' and was not released until 1650. He was also deposed by Bishop Jeremy Taylor in 1661 for refusing to conform. Thereafter he ministered privately to his people until his death in 1665.
This was just one of many loanens and loaneys in Belfast at that time, and they reflect the Ulster-Scots influence in the place-names of Belfast.
David Buttle's term as sovereign ended in 1704 and one source indicates that during that year George McCartney took over as Sovereign. That may have been because David Buttle died in that year or alternatively it may have been because of the Test Act of 1704. The Test Act required all those holding office to take communion in the Church of Ireland. There were very few Roman Catholics in Belfast at that time but there were many Presbyterians and any burgesses who were Presbyterian had a choice of taking communion in the Church of Ireland or being removed from their position. Some conformed to the Test Act but others refused and were then removed.
There is certainly some reading and research to be done to find out a little more about this David Buttle.