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Sir Edward Coey

Mayor of Belfast and Philanthropist 1805-1887
Sir Edward Coey

Sir Edward Coey was born in 1805 in Larne, Co Antrim. He was an apprentice butcher but by the 1830s had quickly established himself as a businessman, and with his brother James, set up a partnership for the Northern Shoe and Boot House in the centre of Belfast. 

Following a period in America, he returned to Belfast and established a provisions and curing business, Coey & Co Ltd in the docklands of the City.  The business flourished and Coey expanded his portfolio into London, Liverpool and the USA.

He represented the St George's ward in South Belfast as  a councillor and later as Alderman of the City.  He was appointed Mayor of Belfast in 1861.  In additon to this in 1861, he was knighted for his public works, and in 1867 was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Co Antrim and High Sheriff for the prefecture.  He also held the position of Borough Magistrate in Belfast, member of the Grand Jury and Belfast Harbour Commissioners.  In 1869, he was one of the 8 founding subscribers of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an organisation which is still in existence today.

He shared his wealth with the less fortunate via various Belfast charities, including the Belfast Charitable Society, Presbyterian Orphan Society and the Presbyterian Sabbath School.  He was Patron of the Belfast Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Belfast Sailors Home in Corporation Street.  He was also Patron of the Malone Protestant Reformery, Governor of the Belfast Royal Hospital and Governor of the Belfast District Hospital for the Insane Poor, and the Belfast Ophtalmic Hospital in Great Victoria Street.  He was also a member of the Belfast Poor Law Union which operated the city Workhouse.

He will be most remembered for the establishment of the Larne Grammar School, which he co-founded in 1886 with John Crawford.