Thursday, 19 December 2013

Memorials - and three for Kate

we can discover some detail about a person's life is to discover where his or her death is recorded. An obvious example is a War Memorial or a plaque in a church. In Britain the famous 'Blue Plaque' on other buildings is another.  Occasionally families may find a more intimate and personal was of making such a record. When my wife Kate died just over ten years ago I did three particular things at the time. I decided to collect together, edit and publish a book of her 'prayer-poems'. This I did under the title The Green Heart of the Snowdrop. It was published by the Ion a Community Press.

Kate was a member of that Community so the two other things I did were associated with it. Together with other members of the family, and in particular our three sons, we have provided a bench in the ground on the Island of Iona in the Scottish Western Highlands, where people my sit and experience and enjoy what George Macleod the Community's founder called 'a thin place, where barely a tissue of gossamer divides earth and heaven'. The bench is in the care of Historic Scotland and has in recent years been found in the grounds of either Iona Abbey or Iona Nunnery, incidentally places also associated historically with myself through my McLean grandmother. On the back rest of the seat is simply reads Remember Kate McIlhagga, nee McCrae, 1938 to 2002.

The third thing I did was to provide a hundred tree samplings, which were planted on the Isle of Mull at a tiny salmon-fishing hamlet canned Camas. Camas is within sight of Iona and is used by the Iona Community as a place where people can experience spiritual renewal in the context of an 'outward-bound' type living together. This is primarily aimed at young people and was near to Kate's heart for she was trained by the Church of Scotland as a Youth Worker before we married and some five years later trained in England as a minister.

The photograph above was taken recently by a friend called Kate on a visit to Camas as part of her training to become a member of the Iona Community.In red on blue you can just discern in a Celtic script the name of the plantation, and the name Kate McIlhagga. For those visiting Iona Abbey and in particular worshipping with its daily morning worship it gives a little context to one of the names read out on the 31st day of the month when all former members are commemorated.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

1920 Scottish Valuation

I have made a correction in the blog of 13 Oct last, thanks to a friend in Co. Antrim, namely to the date of the marriage of Jame McIlhagga and Aaron Scott Crowe.

The Scottish Records in Edinburgh has now digitised the Scottish Valuations of land and property in four years, namely 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920. I have already written in this blog about the first three years, respectively on 1 Jun 2013, 29 Jan 2013 and 1 Apr 2012. In 1920 there are four members of our clan who are recorded as follows:

1. Daniel MacIlhaggar, a Miner and Tenant Occupier of a property at 104 Livingstone Station, Parish of Livingstone, County of Linlithgow. He was paying a yearly rent of £10.1.0. The Valuation reference is VR122/33/253.

2. James MacIlhaggie, a Seaman and Tenant of 22 Blackburn Street, Govan, Glasgow. He was paying a yearly rent of £10.15.0; reference VR 102/1284/153.

[NB. Also at 199 Blackburn Street was a James Haggerty, paying £7.15.0, who may have been related].

3. George McIlhago, a Railwayman and Tenant of 40 Murano Street, Glasgow. He was paying a yearly rent of £12.10.0, reference VR 102/1280/57.

4. Harry McIlhago, a Clerk and also a Tenant of 40 Murano Street, Glasgow. He was paying a yearly rent of £11.5.0, reference VR 102/1280/58.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Another Court Case - in WW2

There is no doubt that this case is influenced by the conditions under which people had to work during the Second World War. William Boyd MccIlhagger was employed by Belfast Corporation at a Pumping Station were sewerage was discharged into tanks where, after the solid matter had sunk to the bottom, the liquid was pumped off before the solid matter was discharged into the sea via barges.

On 16 December 1942, in the midst of a gale and a rain storm, William started work at 6am. During his inspection of the tanks he must have been blown into one of them and tragically was drowned. There was no fence between the path alongside the tank and the tank itself, which protruded just one inch above the path.

William's widow, Eleanor, brought an action for damages under the 1938 Factories Act of Northern Ireland, for negligence at No. 2 Pumping Station in Northern Road, Belfast. William had worked there for many years and when he hadn't returned to the screening house by 7.05am two other employees went to look for him. They found his body opposite to a place on the path where they found his torch and where he would have had to kneel over the tank to see its state. Pre-war (1939) lighting had been switched off and no adequate guard rail had been erected.

The judgement was that Belfast Corporation had failed in its duty in Common Law to its employee. Despite the fact that William had worked under these conditions for some three years and had not complained, the onus was on his employer, and they had failed to protect him. He was not guilty of any contributory negligence. Damages were given under The Fatal Accidents Act of 1846, of £600.

William Boyd McIlhagga married Eleanor McArthur on 6 May 1908 at Lynn Memorial Methodist Church, Belfast. William was the second son of George McIlhagger and Mary Jane Boyd. Two of his brothers predeceased him, David and Henry Joseph. He was survived by John George, Samuel Robert and his sister Mary Kathleen.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Court Case over a drain

Our retired solicitor in County Antrim, in his researches, picked up on a couple of court cases one of which involved a McIlhagga and a second a McIlhagger. The first was a case brought by a Mrs. Sargerson against McIlhagga and Another, on 9 September 1960. Mrs. Sanderson 'sustained personal injuries while walking on the footpath of a street in Belfast when she tripped over an iron gutter which had been cut in the footpath to carry away rain water from premises owned or occupied by the defendants. The top of the gutter had become raised above the level of the pavement and there was evidence that this condition had existed for some time'.

Apparently the Recorder of Belfast had dismissed a claim for damages but Mrs. Sargerson put in an appeal. Although there were no broken bones the knee was bruised and swollen, with continuing pain. Photographic evidence was submitted. The defendants tried to claim a technicality in the Belfast Corporation Act of 1845, making them not liable. However, it was said that 'owners and occupiers must take reasonable care to prevent danger to the public.' It was ruled that it was not a case for large damages and that a fair amount to award would be £20. The appeal was allowed.

The second case is considerably more interesting, which I will summarise in a subsequent blog.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Tulleygarley - the next generation's tragedy

Welcome to the newest signed-up reader of this blog!

The next set of dates researched by our Antrim friend were those of the children of James Spence McIlhagga. They are as follows:

Mary Ann (Mai), 17 Oct 1906 - 2 May 1971;
William, 24 Nov 1907 - 16 Feb 1980;
John, 16 Jun 1090 - 2 Oct 1975 (who married Jean who died 29 Mar 1998);
Samuel, 4 Dec 1910 - 25 Mar 1984 (who married Jessie Elizabeth who died 25 Jan 1995);
Lizzie, 14 Sep 1912 - 29 Sep 1997;
James, 8 Aug 1914 - 6 Jun 1972;
Robert: In my blog of 20 Mar 2010 I referred to Robert, born in 1914 and James, born in 1916. It seems that James was actually born in 1914 and no reference has been found for a Robert, son of James Spence McIlhagga.

We now come to the offspring of the other children of William McIlhagga and Mary Spence / Ross:

We can confirm that the children of Andrew (who married Sarah Pattali Wilson) were:

Liston Burns McIlhagga, 221 Nov 1918 - 20 Jan 2006;
William, 2 May 1922 - 27 Oct 1992.

The children of Robert (who married Annie Lowry) were:

John (Jack), 11 Nov 1914 - 19 Feb 1982;
Robert, 8 Jun 1916 - 6 Jun 1977;
Andrew, 22 Mar 1918 - 15 Jun 1955;
William, 6 Jun 1920 - 6 May 1997;
Samuel Robert, 22 Jun 1922 - 16 Feb 1998;
Jean Crowe (Ferguson), b.c. 1925 - 6 Sep 2007, Ballymena.

The children of Jeanie (Who married Aaron Scott Crowe) were

William Crowe, 18 Mar 1920 - 21 Dec 1985;
Samuel Crowe, 29 Dec 1921 - c.1988.

Finally the children of  Samuel Robert, (married to Kathleen Baillie, who died 29 Mar 1982) and grandchildren of Robert and Annie (nee Lowry) McIlhagga, were:

Robert Ronald (Ronnie), born 28 Jan 1949;
Brian Thomas Charles, 12 Jan 1950 - 14 Mar 1953.

One poignant discovery has been the death of little Brian, above, aged 3. He died tragically in a hayshed fire at the family home at Cromkill, near Ballymena. He is buried in the same grave as his grandparents, Robert and Annie McIlhagga, and his uncle Andrew. Elizabeth (Betty), daughter of Samuel and Jessie Elizabeth McIlhagga and grand-daughter of James Spence McIlhagga, who died 30 Mar 1990 aged 49, is buried with her parents in Ballymena Cemetery.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Gloria Jean Cross McIlhagga

A cousin in Canada has kindly sent me the following obituary from The News-Press published on July 13:

Gloria Jean Cross, 64, of Cape Coral died July 11, 2013. Formerly of Buffalo, N.Y., Gloria was born May 17, 1949, in Buffalo, the daughter of the late James and Magdalena McIlhagga.  She attended Fredonia State University, graduating in 1971, and received her Masters in Education from Canisius College. Gloria began her teaching career at N.Collins (NY) High School, and culminated at Cape Coral High School where she was a cherished mentor and colleague for 15 years. Gloria's impact beyond the classroom included being an advisor for student government, the senior class and the yearbook staff, assisting with events such as prom, homecoming and commencement, and coaching powderpuff football. For the second consecutive year in 2013, Gloria was one of a select group of Lee County teachers recognized as Teachers of Distinction for her excellence in the classroom. Each nominee displays a certain characteristic such as a love of learning in students of all abilities and backgrounds, stimulating thought and provoking student dialogue, challenging students to reach high standards and expectations, understanding the needs of students individually and collectively, and meeting those needs with determination, enthusiast and imagination while involving families in their educational process. She was married to the late Tyler Cross who preceded her in death on 2005. Gloria is survived by her brother, Doug (Jackie) McIlhagga of St. Louis; fiance, Jack Rosenberg of Bradenton, Fla; stepsons Nate (Ashley) Cross of Forestville, N.Y., Josh Cross of Watertown, N.Y.; 3 grandchildren, Anderson, Eliana and Nolan; uncle William McIlhagga and cousin Scott McIlhagga of Buffalo. Memorial services will be held Friday July 19 at 11 AM from the chapel of Coral Ride Funeral Home, 1630 SW Pine Island Rd. Cape Coral. The family will receive friends one hour prior to service time at the funeral home... In lieu of flowers, donations to Cape Coral High School in Gloria Cross' name are greatly appreciated.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Tulleygarley family update

In 2010 I wrote of one of the more extended family trees of our clan. It has a number of extant members, mostly in Canada. It originates with William McIlhagga a Yarn Boiler whose name we know from the record of the marriage of his son William, a Railway Porter, to Mary Spence on 17 May 1878 at Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Recently a retired solicitor from Templepatrick, Co. Antrim got in touch with me to tell me that he too was researching this family and offering to enter into dialogue with me and to share any insights to the benefit of our clan records. This blog is to let folk know that some new information has come to light.

Mary, wife of William, was a key person. She was born about 1861/2 to James Spence, a Farmer, and one Mary Ross. Clearly She used her father's surname though it transpires that her parents were never married. This is clear from the fact that in a Will dated 5 December 1913 mary Ross left "all my lands and property of every nature and kind to my daughter Mary, wife of William McIlhagga of Tullygarley". The Will went through Probate on 22 September 1922. She died on 10 December 1929 age 65 of a 'cavernous thrombosis following cellulitis of the face'. William, described as a Porter, was present at her death.

A calculation from these details would mean that Mary was married at the age of 14! Her marriage record does indeed say that she was a minor, so was certainly under 21 and we know from the fact that she 'made her mark' that she could neither read nor write, so possibly had very little schooling. However it is unlikely that she was as young as 14. An age given at death is of course only as accurate as the knowledge of the informant. The evidence of the 1911 Census is that she was in fact born about 1861 or 1862, which would make her 16 or 17 at her marriage.

Mary Ross died on 22 July 1922 and her daughter Mary was registered as the owner of the lands comprised in Folio 1200, Co. Antrim in the Land Registry of Northern Ireland. This consisted of the valuable nine acres, three roods and eighteen perches of lands at Tullygarley passed to her after the death of Mary Ross, 'spinster', Tullghgarley. How valuable may be indicated by the fact that in recent times there has been a substantial housing development at or near Tullygarley, the name chosen for it being 'The Rosses'.

Among other things I have learned from my Templepatrick friend is about the Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, in which so many of this McIlhagga family were baptised, married or buried. Currently the Wellington Street buildings are for sale as the Congregation has in 2009 moved in to a new Church which has been called Wellington Presbyterian Church. It is at Sourhill Road, Ballymena, just a short walk from Tullygarley Bridge.

William, the retired Railway Porter, died on 14 October 1931 at Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, aged 71 years, making 1860 the probable year of his birth. He died of 'a prostatic urinary obstruction 1 month, shock following operation'. This information was given to the registrar by an inmate of Waveney Hospital.

William and Mary had seven children, the dates, some of which I did not know, as researched by our retired solicitor:

Elizabeth (Eliza), 29 Aug 1878 - 15 apr 1969;
James Spence, 12 Sep 1880 - 15 Apr 1958;
William, 12 Jul 1883 - 2 Feb 1921;
Andrew, 25 Nov 1886 - 27 Mar 1953;
Robert, 7 May 1889 - 29 Mar 1985;
John (Jack), 17 Aug 1894 - 3 Jul 1968;
Jane (Jeanie), 27 Feb 1897 - 8 Jan 1922.

Among the facts new to me are the names of William's and Jane's spouses. William married Matilda Allen, a Weaver from 116 Antrim Road, at Ballymena Baptist Church on 22 September 1910. Tragically only six months later, Matilda was dead. She died of a cerebral haemorrage on 29 March 1911 at Queen Street, Ballymena, age 26. Presumably she and William had set up home in Queen Street and after her death William must have returned to Tullygarley. This is confirmed by the 1911 Census where he is referred to as a widower. Jane married Aaron Scott Crowe on 12 November 1919 at Kells Presbyterian Church, Co. Antrim.

I will continue the story of further discovery in a subsequent edition of this blog.