Wednesday, 25 February 2009

McAlhager / MacAlhagga

Variations in the spelling of a name often originate in speech rather that writing. I have a personal example. I stayed in a B&B in Belfast in order to spend some time in the Record Office. I thought I pronounced my surname distinctly - McIlhagga. The bill I got two days later was addressed to Mr. McElhagga. I had said one thing but my hostess had heard something slightly different because she wasn't used to my accent. In the Record Office I had enquired about a Townland called Eglish. I was quickly told that Eglish is pronounced Aglish! Is it therefore surprising that McIlhagga could become McElhagga and even McAlhagga?

The 'A' form of our Clan name is in fact very rare, though there are a few examples. The 1776 Religious Survey of Rathlin Island off the coast of Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, has an 'A' form of a not dissimilar, though in fact unrelated, name, McAhargey. There are two Census examples of the Clan name. In 1851 the County of Antrim, Parish of Newton, Townland of Limavallaghan, lists the following family: David McAlhager, head, 45, Linen Weaver (so born 1806); Mary, wife, 34, winding spools; Eliza, daughter, 24, Linen Weaver (so born 1827); Isabella, son (sic), 16, Linen Weaver; John, son, 6; George, son, 2. Another 19th Century family with the same variant name appears in the 1881 Census in Chertsey, London, England.  Benjamin (born 1824) and Mary Ann McAlhager had three children, Frederick B. (born 1877), Florence Mary (born 1880) and Algenon (born 1881).

Finally there are just two instances of the variant MacAlhagga, which I have found on the Internet, both linked with the Scottish Boghall Masonic Lodge, known as Lodge Kirton Hall, No. 1614. Bro. C. MacAlhagga appears in the minutes of its first meeting in 1964 as one of five people appointed to collect subscriptions. Bro. J. MacAlhagga, MM, FM, appears on the Lodge's Memorial Roll. In the Family Tree I have built which contains all the members of the Clan who live in or originate from the Bathgate-Boghall area of West Lothian, there are no obvious candidates to determine who these two men were. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Linking people

One of the most interesting and rewarding things about researching the McIlhagga/ McIlhagger/ McIlhaga/ McElhago Clan is being able to link up people. I mean this in two very different ways. Sometimes members of a family lose touch with each other for a whole range of reasons, and, for example, a father doesn't know where his son is or a daughter doesn't know where her father is. I have had two fairly recent approaches 'out of the blue' to ask whether I could help people get in touch again. If I can provide any helpful information without breaking any confidences then I am happy to do so, especially if it is already in the public domain. If the information is sensitive, as in one case it was - there had been a recent death - then I will take whatever precautions I can to protect people's feelings and privacy, though such instances are very rare. I hope the outcomes are good and that being in touch again is good, though this cannot be guaranteed.

The other way is quite different. One way of keeping the research into a clan family history in some sort of order is to build up 'mini' Family Trees, maybe of just two or three generations. Then suddenly a piece of information comes along which links together two or more 'mini' trees, and either I or others find there is a much bigger family than was known about the day before! It happened this week when I learned that James Wilson McIlhagga (1870-1952) of Belfast married twice and had had offspring from both marriages. I admit that in this case it was I who learned to link step-children from a generation back, though others also have learned that the two branches of a family were larger than they had known before. And if the people who have been in touch to share their knowledge want to make a present-day link, then this possibility can be explored.


Friday, 20 February 2009

Brick Wall

Each generation that we go back in our Family Tree we double the number of lines that we can attempt to trace. So our parents give us two lines, our grandparents four and our great-grandparents eight. One of my grandparents (my paternal grandmother) gives me a Scottish Highland Clan which I have been fortunate to take back into the mists of time (and early Scottish Royalty!). My equivalent maternal grandmother's line, despite a very rare surname, fizzles out in the fields of Norfolk in about 1760.  However her mother's (so one of my eight great-grandparents') line goes back through Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire to Worksop Priory in about 1588 - not bad.  Both my 'long lines' have been traced more by the good work of others than myself, though I have had to do quite a lot of research to be able access their work. I have then been fortunate to find good research done by individuals and societies set up to trace the two names concerned.

However, as for most people the two lines in which I am most interested are those of my parents. My mother's maiden name, possibly with a French origin, finds me in Yorkshire, but at present only back to 1775.  The search goes on.  My father's line is what is known as Ulster-Scots and is of course one of the McIlhagga lines. Clearly this is the one I hand on to my sons and grandsons. But there is a 'brick wall' at the turn of the 18th/19th Centuries, in Ulster.  My great-great grandfather was William McIlhagga who married Agnes McCosh somewhere between 1828 and 1835. They probably married in Clogh Presbyterian Church, though I have yet to find the record, the original of which is possibly lost. They lived for most of their adult lives in the townland of Ballycloughan in the Parish of Skerry in County Antrim, near Antrim's 'garden-town' of Broughshane.  All their children were baptised in the First Presbyterian Church in Broughshane.  But the question is, can we get back earlier than about 1830?

What evidence am I working with?  First, William appears in the 1828 Townlands Land Apportionment book for both Ballycloughan and for its neighbouring Eglish (pronounced Aglish).  His surname there is spelled McIlhaggo. Other variants of his name are used in other records, like McIlhaggie (daughter Margaret's marriage certificate) and McElhagga (Griffith's Land Valuation in the 1860s).  Most usually he is McIlhagga.  Now the first interesting thing is that not only do a couple of neighbouring farmers have his wife's maiden name, McCosh, but another was a second McIlhagga, James. We can make the reasonable assumption that two people with such a rare surname and living and working in close proximity were related. William had no son James, so was he a brother or possibly William's father?  The next question must be whether we have any clues from any other James-William relationships which might possibly identify with the Ballycloughan men?  There are indeed two possibilities, though we must admit they are speculative at this stage.

First, there is a McIlhagar family living around the turn of the century in Shankill, Belfast.  We know this from records held by the Ulster Historical Foundation. The parents are James and Sarah, who had three offspring. In different documents we find their surname spelled variously, McIlhagar, McIlhaga and McIlhagart. Their son William (McIlhagar) was born in 1798. Martha (McIlhaga) was born in 1803 and Ann (McIlhagart) was born in 1809. There was also an earlier William born in 1792 to James and Sarah of Shankill, though this time with the spelling McIlhaggey. He may well have been an earlier son who died.  We must ask whether the second William, born 1798, was of the right age to be the future spouse of Agnes McCosh of Clogh?   Yes, he certainly was. For him to have married at the age of 36 would not have been all that unusual, though sadly we have no supporting evidence, for example from the naming pattern of William and Agnes' children, to claim James and Sarah as his parents, but it does remain a possibility.

Also, we might say that against this identification is that it is an unlikely thing that an urban family from Shankill would become a rural family in Ballycloughan. This however would not apply to a second possible identification.  There was a farming family of Samuel, James, James Junior and William McIlhaggo living on the peninsular between Belfast and Larne called Islandmagee.  If there was a James Junior, then the other James was 'senior', and father to Samuel, James (Junior) and William.  We know that these three were all farming near each other on the peninsular because leases exist for their respective plots of land, all leased from Lord Dunganon's estate.

From a gravestone in Ballypriormore Cemetery on Islandmagee we can calculate that Samuel was born about 1780.  James Junior was probably born a couple of years before, giving us an approximate birth year for James Senior, their father, about 1755.  But when was William, son of James Senior, born? The land leases imply he was the young brother, putting a birth year at the earliest about 1782.  But could he have been born as late as the turn of the century, the more 'reasonable' date for the birth of my great-great-grandfather?  If he had been this would make his mother in her late thirties, which is not impossible, especially if she had had other children, girls who are not recorded, though we must admit that the long gap of almost 20 years between Samuel and William makes it a bit unlikely.  However, rather than suggesting that it was James Senior (who probably had never farmed - he worked in the Linen Mill in Larne) and his son William who turned up in Ballycloughan in 1828 (and when after all James would have been in his mid-70s), a more likely scenario is that James Junior (born about 1778) had married and had had a son William (in say about 1798) and both had turned up 30 years later on plots in Ballycloughan. Against such a theory is that we have no evidence that James Junior did marry - unless of course he is the James married to Sarah in Shankill, who did indeed have a son William in 1798, and who, despite moving into Shankill's urban setting for a time, had Islandmagee's farming in his blood!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Vital Indexes

As part of a One-Name Study of our Clan Name and its variants in which I am engaged, it is necessary to analyse the statutory references to the name in the national records.  Also, apart from this, I often need to find a reference quickly to a particular member of the clan.  For both purposes I have been engaged recently in compiling Indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths.  The task has been more complex than at first I thought, though it has already begun to be useful.  As a preliminary exercise I decided to list all clan references in Censuses and in what are sometimes called census substitutes, particularly useful in Ireland where so many of the 'regular' censuses were destroyed.  This produced 242 entries as follows: 1669 Hearth Money Rolls, Ireland 2, Scotland 3; 1847-64 Applotment Books and Griffiths Land Valuations, Ireland 27; 1851 Census Ireland 5; 1881 Census Scotland 6, England 7; 1891 Census Scotland 1, Canada 1; 1911 Census Canada 2, England 7, Ireland 114; 1912 Ulster Covenant Signatures 45 and 1930 USA Federal Census 3.

These entries, together with as many Statutory and Parish Records as I could find, have up to the present found 811 births, 451 marriages and 266 deaths.  These include many variations of our clan name: 38 in the Birth, 32 in the Marriage and 29 in the Death Index!  Of the 811 births 501 are for McIlhagga, 79 McElhago, 71 McIlhagger, 42 McIlhaggar, 16 McIlhago, 14 McIlhaggo and 11 McElhagow.  15 more name variations account for 61 more births (with more than one for each name) and there are 16 for name variations with just one birth each.  Of the 451 marriages 283 are for McIlhagga, 49 McIlhagger, 18 McIlhaggar, 17 McIlhago, 15 McElhago, 13 McIlhaggo and 10 McIlhaga.  Nine more name variations account for 30 more marriages (with more than one for each) and finally there are 16 for name variations with just one each.

To be certain about numbers of deaths is much more difficult because in early times and in some places such as Scotland people didn't think it so important to keep such records, though other than book records do help, like the hiring of mort cloths, the proving of Wills and of course Memorial Inscriptions on graves or plaques.  At present I have 201 for McIlhagga, 33 McIlhagger, 13 McElhago, 9 McIlhaggar, 4 McIlhaggo, 2 McIlhaga and one each for McElhagow, McIlhaggan, McIlhaggie and McHaggie.

These Indexes are very much a work in progress and in the coming months will no doubt be expanded considerably.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Sixteenth Century

When I started tracing my own McIlhagga family I quickly realised I had little hope of going back beyond the end of the eighteenth century.  But would I get anywhere if I tried some tracing in the opposite direction, forwards from the earliest references I could find?  All the advice is against such an approach - start with yourself and work backwards - but with a 'rare' surname it might produce something interesting anyway!  For the time being I think I've done all I can by rooting around in Celtic (Saxon) times and Medieval times, witness my earlier blog items.  And I haven't found anything specific in either the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, though I live in hope that something will turn up.  There are however three valuable references in the sixteenth century that may have links both back to earlier times and forward to more contemporary times.

The first 'modern' anglicization of the original Gaelic clan name is as a Charter witness at Colmonell in Ayrshire, today a beautiful Conservation Village in Carrick.  It can be found in John Anderson's , Calendar of the Laing Charters AD 854-1837, where Michael Macylhaggow is found as a witness in 1527.  He would of course only have had to be twenty-eight years old to have been born in the previous century.  His is the only version of the name which uses the letter 'y' as the vowel in the abbreviation of 'Ghille'.  Now, on a visit to Colmonell about eight years ago I was surprised by the beautifully carved sign at the entrance to the village which referred to St. Colmon of Ella (hence the village's name) who, it is said, built a cell there about 555 AD.

St. Colmon of Ella was reported to be a nephew of St. Columba of Iona (who of course came from Ireland to Scotland) and was none other than the St. Colmon Elo who had persuaded our own clan 'originator', Mochuda, to settle in Rahan, before he moved on to Lismore!  However fanciful it may seem, it would indeed be serendipidous if Colman had brought the clan name, 'Devotee of Mochuda' with him when he ventured from Ireland to Colmonell in the sixth century.  Perhaps he brought with him a companion who had been a follower of Mochuda and who was known as such.  Maybe when we meet Michael in the 16th century the clan had existed in Carrick, Scotland, as long as it had in Lismore, Ireland!  Incidentally a stone plaque over the door of the present much later church reads 'Heir is ane hous bult to serve God in 1591', indicating an earlier stone church taking us back physically to a time fairly soon after the time of Michael Macylhaggow.

Our second sixteenth century reference is in The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, 'Registrum magni sigilli regum Scotorum'.  On 18th September 1553 Patricius McIlhagon witnessed a charter to Kennedy of Bargaltoun at Balmacclanoquan in Kyle in the 'sheriffdom of Air'.  The charter concerned the transfer of land between two Kennedy cousins and was confirmed by Queen Mary.  Colmonell is in fact home to the Kennedies of Bargany. Given the time-scale we may just have a link from Michael in 1527 to Patrick in 1553, for they must have been but one generation apart.

The third and final reference in sixteenth century Scotland is to a Robert M'Ilhago in Tradidnell in 1597.  It is interesting to note that all the earliest examples of the clan name have a final long 'round' vowel, as in Gilmagu, Gilmalagon, Macylhaggow, McIlhagon and M'Ilhago.  G.F.Black in his The Surnames of Scotland thinks that the final 'n' of McIlhagon (as also in Gilmalagon) has been miswritten for an original 'u', thus maintaining more clearly that long vowel.  As we see when we move into the next century the name Robert is one which is inherited through a number of generations, as is the form of his surname, McIlhago/McElhago.

We may never know whether there was a succession 'Michael - Patrick - Robert', but there may have been, and we may have a Scottish progenitor who was born in the fifteenth century!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Clan History: Medieval Times

Gilmalagon is a witness

We have discovered that the most probable original Gaelic form of our name is Mac Ghille Mochuda, literally son of the devotee of Mochuda. (See the blog piece on Celtic Origins). In the year 1112 AD one Gilla Mochuda O'Rebhacain became the 39th Abbot and Bishop of Lismore in southern Ireland, in succession to the 6-7th Century Mochuda (St. Carthage). He was abbot and bishop for just one year. Now interestingly as Gilla Mochuda was relinquishing his post, the clan name appears in the Annals of another Abbey, this one across the Irish Sea, in the south of Scotland.

G.F. Black, sometime the Librarian of New York's Central Library, who wrote the authoritative book, The Surnames of Scotland, thinks that the earliest reference to the anglicised name McIlhagga is in the 12th Century and comes from the Gaelic Giolla Mo-chuda through a Latinised form, namely 'Gilmagu'. This is found in the Latin charter relating to Kelso Abbey known as Liber S.Marie de Calchou, the 'Book of St. Mary, Kelso'. Kelso Abbey is in the Scottish Borders, a monastery founded by the sainted King David (1085-1153) and in precedency only second to the Priory of St. Andrews. The charter grants to Gilmagu and to his heirs a specific portion of land which the charter describes in detail, though in such a way that might make it very difficult to identify today! The charter states the conditions on which the land will be held and the rent to be paid, twenty shillings a year. Gilmagu is probably the same person as Gilmalagon who witnessed another gift of land in Kelso, from Duuglas (Douglas) to Theobald the Fleming in 1150. About this time other possible variants of the name Gilmagu appear first in the history of Glasgow Cathedral (Gillemachoi) and in Dumfriesshire where we find Michael McGilmocha and Achmacath McGilmotha among the chief men of the lineage of Clen Afren in 1296.

Where did Gilmagu hail from? What happened to the land which he and his heirs were gifted? I'm afraid these must remain open questions. There may however be a clue to Gilmagu's origins in another place. Interestingly, in another Border Abbey, that of Melrose, we have the probable anglicised clan name as one witness to yet another gift of land, this time a gift to the Abbey. Among these witnesses were Duncan, son of Gilbert, Earl of Carrick and also the Steward of Carrick, one Gillescop MacI(l)hagain. The Steward of Carrick would no doubt have been responsible for Earl Duncan's household and the management of his lands. Significantly Carrick is the part of Ayrshire where we find, 300 years later, our next clan appearance in the villages of Colmonnel and Kirkmichael. Was there a link from Gilmagu of Kelso to MacIlhagain of Carrick? Was Gillescop, the Steward of Carrick the founder of a dynasty in the West of Scotland from which many of us hail today? I'm afraid these questions must also remain unanswered so many years 'down the line' of clan descent.

A last word on the Medieval Period must be a reference back to Ireland. As with the 39th Abbot and Bishop of Lismore, the name Giolla Muchuda was being adopted as a Christian name, another example of which is the earliest known Cassidy poet, Giolla Mochuda Mor O'Caiside. In 1147 O'Caiside composed Benshenchas, literally 'The Lore of Women', which contains a list of famous married women in the ancient world and in Irish history and literature. But not only did the adoption of our clan name as a Christian name become popular. It was also adopted in another way. St. Mochuda's fellow Kerryman, Ailinn O'Sullivan became bishop of Lismore in the mid-thirteenth century. He initiated the practice of the O'Sullivans paying particular devotion to 'our' saint. As a result the practice grew up among one of the leading families of the O'Sullivans of using Giolla Mochuda as a kind of title. A famous recorded use of Mac Giolla Mochuda in this way was by Conor, who is recorded as having slain Donal O'Sullivan Beare in 1563. His family, unlike much of the old Gaelic aristocracy, has a clear line of descent right down to the present day, holding the title in the slightly evolved form of 'The MacGillycuddy of the Reeks'. The present holder of this title is Richard Denis Wyer MacGillycuddy who is we believe resident in France.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

A Captain, a Will, and a Library

The other day I wrote about a late 18th Century family who lived in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland. Robert and Elizabeth (nee Jamieson) McElhago had three sons, James (born 1791), Samuel (born 1793) and Robert (born 1796). If they were following the Scottish naming pattern, a third son would be named after his father, and Robert was. A second son would be named after his maternal grandfather, which probably means that Elizabeth's father was Samuel Jamieson. A first son would be named for his paternal grandfather, which gives us the possibility that the progenitor of this family in the middle of the 18th Century was a James McElhago. If father Robert married Elizabeth about 1790, he may have been born about 1765. His father, possibly James, could have been born about 1740.

At present we have no documentary evidence for this succession but we do have some circumstantial evidence. Robert was a sea captain and all his three sons became sea-farers. The probability is that this was a long-established family tradition and that grandfather 'James' was also a ship's captain. Now a James McElhago, a man of some standing and substance, turns up in 1763 and 1765 on the East Coast of North America. We have no evidence that a James McElhago emigrated about this time, so he may have been there on one or more occasions as the captain of a brig.

James' first appearance in New Jersey offers us a vignette from a place called Mount Holly. He appears as one of three witnesses to the will of a widow, Elizabeth Jackman. Maybe he had been lodging with her, a way for her to earn money that clearly she needed. The Calendar of New Jersey Wills reads: 1763, Dec.20. Jackson, Elizabeth, of Mount Holly, Burlington Co., widow; Will of.:

'Daughter, Hannah Stapler, bed and such clothing as my friend, Elizabeth Ross, shall think proper for her. Friend, Elizabeth Ross, my gold ring. Friend, Mary Hopewell, cloak. Said Elizabeth Ross to take care of my daughter, Hannah Stapler, who is incapable to care for herself, but, if my friend Elizabeth Ross do not live, then Sarah, the wife of Daniel Jones, to care for my said daughter. After the death of my daughter the amount that is left I give to my friend Stephen Stapler, of Philadelphia, and my friends, Alexander Ross and his wife, Elizabeth Ross.' Executors - said Stephen Stapler and John Clark, of Mount Holly. Witnesses - Ann Sharp, Daniel Jones, Jr., James McElhago. Proved April 19, 1764.

It would be nice to know more about the relationship of James McElhago to the Jackson-Stapler family. He must have been a trusted friend to be asked to witness Elizabeth's Will. And he must have had some standing in the Mount Holly community, as just over a year after the Will had been proved, he is involved in a major community project there. A new library is established. The Bridgetown Library, Mount Holly, was chartered by King George III on June 11th, 1765. Among the incorporators is one James McElhago. Again, we have no detail about him, but surely he must have been respected as a man of substance and standing to be so recorded in the annals of this prestigious library.

We have postulated that James, father of Robert, if such he was, could have been born as early as 1740. If he and the 'James of Mount Holly' are one and the same, maybe we can push that date back by ten years. We are talking of events that took place 250 years ago and from that time to the present there can be as many as ten generations. It is an extremely remote possibility, but we must ask whether there could be a link from 18th Century Irvine, Scotland, to the only McElhago of whom we know today. It would be good to have information about his ancestors.

Eminent Engineers

It's quite something to be an entry in a Dictionary of Biography.  The Dictionary of Ulster Biography was published in 1993, edited by Kate Newmann of The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast.  On my last visit to PRONI (the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland) I found they didn't have a copy.  I hope they took up my suggestion to buy one.  It contains a short biography of David Sherwood McIlhagger (1911-1993):

'David McIlhagger was born in Belfast and at the age of sixteen was apprentice with the Belfast Omnibus Company, during which period he attended evening classes at the Belfast School of Technology.  In 1933 he graduated in electrical engineering from Queen's University, Belfast and in 1935 was appointed lecturer at the Belfast College of Technology.  In 1942 he gained his doctorate from Queen's University and became lecturer there in 1955 and senior lecturer in 1960.  In 1970 he was given a readership.  He was a senior research fellow in Civil Engineering after retirement, and in 1977 joined the wave power research group.  He contributed to the rebuilding of St.Barnabus (sic) Church, Belfast, after the war, and in 1963 was lay representative from Connor diocese at the Anglican Congress in Toronto.  He was chairman of the local branch of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, and was the Northern Ireland Representative on the Council of the Benevolent Fund'.

The McIlhagger branch of the Clan is very well documented.  Half of this family emigrated to Australia where sadly the name has died out, though some descendants there keep in touch with us.  The name has very much survived and flourished in the British Isles, mostly in Northern Ireland.  Robert George, born in 1795 had four children, the last of whom was David. David's son  John emigrated to Australia, but his son George remained in Ireland where he became a Sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary, serving mostly in County Galway. He retired to Belfast where in 1912 he signed The Ulster Covenant and had his name entered in a number of annual Belfast Directories.  George's eldest son, David (named, according to the Irish naming pattern, for his grandfather) married Elizabeth Louise Sherwood.  David Sherwood was one of their sons.  He certainly set an academic trend for a nephew of his is now a Professor of Engineering in the University of Ulster and several of the next generation are similarly distinguishing themselves.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

New Zealand Family

Some time ago a correspondent from New Zealand sent me the above photograph from about 1880-90 of his forebears who had emigrated from Scotland.  This week a distant cousin of his (4th cousin, once removed) emailed me from the Isle of Skye, Scotland, wanting to know who all the people in the photo are - we put it in the recent Clan Newsletter without any names!

The family hails from Irvine in Ayrshire.  The progenitor was possibly a James McElhago or McIlhagow (the oldest versions of the Clan name).  He may have been the James McElhago who in 1765 is found as one of a number of 'incorporators' of The Bridgetown Library, Mount Holly, Burlington County, New Jersey, USA.  The library was chartered by King George III on June 11th of that year.  We have no evidence that he emigrated, though he must have stayed for some time as he appears on the Calendar of New Jersey Wills as a witness to the will of a widow, Elizabeth Jackman of Mount Holly. One possibility is that he was a sea captain between voyages.

The next generation down from the possible James is a certain Robert born about 1770 in Irvine, who was indeed a Sea Captain.  He married Elizabeth Jamieson and they had three (maybe four) sons, James, Samuel and Robert.  (A fourth, John, has not been proved, as yet, to be theirs). They all continued the seafaring tradition.  As far as we know only Samuel's descendants come down the male line beyond another generation.   Sometime I'll write a note about each of the lines.

In the meantime here's the list of those in the photograph taken in Dunedin where we know this family was involved in carriage-making.  The parents are John White McElhago, second on the right, middle row, and Christina (nee Fowler) second on the left.  John was the eldest son of Samuel mentioned above, who had run a Mill in Edinburgh.  His father had married a girl, Janet White, from Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland and had brought up two sons there. John and Christina had nine children, including on the back row from the left: Christina ("Teen") who married a McCullock, John Ormiston ("Jonny"), eldest son, who managed the carriage-making factory, Betsy Ann who married a McMillan and Sam, possibly the second son. At the end of the row there is "Maggie" Darlinson (nee Fowler) a half-sister on the mother's side - mother Christina was married twice and was a widow when she met John.

On the middle row is William Adam, who continued the male family line.  He was born in Tasmania, married Jane Elizabeth Gloag and had six children. He was a saddler by trade.  After mother Christina comes the youngest daughter with the remarkable name of Maria De Los Santos Eschobar.  She was known as "Tot" and married a Mr. Jones, son of a whaler.  Maria was apparently named after the wife of an uncle by marriage in the Pacific, a Plantation Owner who was said to have been murdered by natives.  After father John we have Thomas ("Tom") who was a carriage trimmer.  As yet we do not know if he was a family member.  The man reclining at the front certainly was.  He was Robert Cameron who became an Electrical Engineer and a Gold Dredge Manager.  Robert had had a twin sister, Alice, who died of rheumatic fever aged 16, in 1883. This fact probably indicates that the photograph was taken after that time.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Celtic Beginnings - Continued

I ended the blog on 9th January by saying that the meaning in Gaelic of 'McIlhagga' may be 'devotee or follower of (Saint) Mochuda'. John MacQueen in an article about Gaelic speakers of Galloway and Carrick, in the south west of Scotland, has pointed out that 'it is probably safe to assume that a surname that included the name of a saint originally belonged to a family in some way connected with the service of the saint's church. Names compounded with "gille" offer particularly good evidence of this relationship'. Well, we know that 'Il' in our name is the Gaelic 'gille'. Interestingly he goes on to say that 'the status of men with such surnames was frequently far above the servile'.

Well, Mochuda was the 'familiar', maybe the nickname of St. Carthage, as Mungo was the nick-name of St. Kentigern. Carthage became the Abbot and Bishop of Lismore in the south of Ireland in 635AD. He was one of the leading figures in the Celtic Church in Ireland, and there are probably some place names there which commemorate him, though I have yet to find them. There was always a strong link from Ireland to Scotland and the name Mochuda is thought to be part of the place names there: Kirkmahoe in Dumfriesshire, Kilmahoe in Kintyre and Kilmahow in Cardross, Dumbartonshire.

It is recorded that St. Carthage, Mochuda, was born 'of a good family' in what is now County Kerry about the year 555. He spent his youth as a swineherd near Castlemaine and became a monk in a neighbouring monastery under the guidance of St. Carthage the Elder. In 580 he became a hermit for a time and in about 590 founded the monastery of Rahan. He was consecrated Abbot-Bishop of the Fercal District. In 635 he was given a 'foundation' by the Prince of the Decies and thus was begun the episcopal city of Lismore in County Waterford. There he left a famous Abbey, Cathedral and infant University when he died on 14th May 637, after spending the last eighteen months of his life in contemplation in a cave near the present St. Carthage's Well.

Marion Kearney in a little book, Celtic Heritage Saints writes 'The main section of Lismore Monastery was situated in a dramatic position on a high crag. Today there is little trace of St. Carthage's famous monastery. Lismore Castle was built on the site and the monastic ruins were incorporated into the general construction'. There seems to be some dispute about which is the feast-day of 'our' saint, either on May 15th or August 19th.

2 Aug 2010: I have added the illustration above from an article on St. Carthage in Wikipedia. It is of the North side of the altar tomb of John and Catherine McGrathin in the nave of St. Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland. The tomb was carved in 1543. The carved saints are from the left to right, St. Carthage (Mochuda), St. Catherine and St. Patrick. Photographer: Andreas F. Borchert. Published under the GNU Free Documentation License, The Free Software License.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Two Johns

This last week I have heard from two people who were following up earlier items in this blog.  'Death in Sheffield' referred to John (Jack) McIlhagga aged 72 who died on 9 January.  Sadly a first cousin of his, June Millar (nee McIlhagga) died later in the month, on 27th.  Our informant is a niece.

My second correspondent is a great-grandson of Esther Belcher (nee Loakman) later McIlhagga mentioned in '1911 Census'.  He was asking for more information about the father of Esther's second husband, John McIlhagga.   We can say for certain that her husband was a carpenter who probably became a shipwright in the Merchant Navy.  The reason he was not on the 1911 Census in London was probably that he was at sea.  According to the marriage entry for John and Esther John was 31 and his father was also John, a farmer.  We always have to ask whether people gave their right age.  May be he said 31 to be near Esther's age of 32.  So we are looking for farmer John with a son John born about 1870.

We have some information from a correspondent in Australia which gives us the possibility that Esther's John was the son of a farmer John McIlhagga who married Elizabeth (known as Eliza) McCullough at Maxwell's Walls near Connor, Ballymena, Northern Ireland.  He was their sixth child of ten or eleven.  One of their sons, Robert, erected a fine headstone in Kirkhill Cemetery, Connor (grave No. 86) which includes a father and son both John, the son perhaps being the spouse of Esther.  The Memorial Inscription reads:

Erected by Robert McIlhagga, Belfast
In Loving Memory of His Father
John McIlhagga,Who died 4th Feb 1912 
and His Mother Elizabeth McCullough McIlhagga Who died 6th March 1913.  
Also his uncle Robert McCullough, Who died 14th October 1919.
Also His Brother John McIlhagga Who died 18th Sept 1922
And his sister Mary who Died 14th Oct 1940.
And the above Named Robert McIlhagga, Who died 13th April 1951
Also his sister Elizabeth Orr, Who died 5th February 1952.

Elizabeth and Robert McCullough were sister and brother, the children of Samuel and Eliza McCullough.  Robert never married.  Clearly we have here a death date on the tomb for the son John of 18th September 1922.  We know that John who married Esther was dead by 1926.  If we can find a certain death date for him, we will have a certain identification.