Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mapping the Clan

Where did we come from? Where did we go to? These are interesting questions. In this blog I have hinted at very early (Celtic) origins for the Clan in the south of Ireland and still early (Medieval) origins in the Scottish Borders and in Galloway. In 'modern' times (15th Century onwards) the story continues in south-west Scotland, mostly in Ayrshire. People may move, but they don't move very far, unless there is a pressing reason like the potato famine in the mid- 19th Century, or perhaps the search for work. The part of Ayrshire called Carrick certainly had clan members for 400 years from about 1490 to at least 1890, located mainly in four places, Kirkmichael, Dalmellington, Ayr and Irvine. I will take each of these and ask what we know of the folk who lived there.

The earliest person referred to in the Old Parish Records (OPRs) of the village of Kirkmichael is Thomas McIlhagow who had his son baptised there on 11th July 1638. Sadly in those days no reference is made in the record to the mother of a child at a baptism, so we don't know Thomas' wife's name. We do know however that Thomas probably had two female grand-children: Jennet or Jonet and Annable. If they were following the Scottish naming pattern Thomas' wife could have been Annable after whom a second grand-daughter would have been named. The first grand-daughter would have been called after the maternal grandmother.

The second entry in the Kirkmichael OPRs is the baptism of James son of Thomas McIllhaggow, fifteen years later, on 30th May 1653. Is the father the same Thomas as the father of David? It is almost irrelevant that the surname has doubled both the 'l' and the 'g'. The entries were written by two different people. I have (poor) photocopies of both and the scripts are in two distinct hands, one upright and one italic. James had two witnesses, Hew(?) Cambell and John [ ]. Now it is of course possible that there was a fifteen year gap between two brothers, but it seems unlikely as there are no other baptisms recorded between 1638 and 1653. I think it is more likely that we have a generation gap between the two Thomases. And indeed they could have been father and son if the son Thomas had been an earlier child than David, born say 1832 which would have made him only six years older than his brother and indeed a father at 21. Against this identification is the fact that there is no marriage record for Thomas junior, but then his wife (whose name we do not know for the same reason that we do not know the name of Thomas senior's wife) could well have come from a neighbouring parish where they were married and where the records did not begin until a later date. This 'father and son' conjecture would give us a birth date for Thomas senior between say 1600 and 1610.

Happily the other two entries in the 1650s are for two marriages, both in November 1655. They appear to be for a sister and brother marrying a brother and sister. Also one includes David McElhagow who, we must guess, was the David born in 1638. I realise this means he was only seventeen and a half when he married, but as here we have a case of two families celebrating two weddings, and perhaps indeed of twins marrying twins, there must have been a lot of pressure to conform. Agnes McEllhagow married first, 11 days before David, perhaps because she was the older sibling. She married William Baird on 12th November 1655. David married Katherin Baird on 23rd November. Both families were from Kirkmichael so banns had been called for both marriages during the previous month, October. Sadly the records at this time were very brief and parents names were not recorded, as neither were the occupations nor the addresses of the brides and grooms. Our assumption is however, that if the 'first generation' of the clan that we can name in Kirkmichael includes a Thomas (senior), the second generation includes three people all of whom were probably his children, in probable order of age, Agnes, Thomas and David.

At the time of writing we do not know if William and Agnes Baird had any children. We have already seen that Thomas (junior) had a son James who was baptised in 1653. David and Katherin appear to have had no fewer than five children, including the two grand-daughters of Thomas senior I've mentioned above. We have to note that according to the records they do not start a family for eleven years, until 1666, which may have something to do with David marrying at such a young age, though it is always possible that there were children who did not survive infancy. Their known children, or rather the children we assume are theirs, are recorded as John son of David McElhagow baptised 26th August 1666; Thomas son of David McElhagow baptised 24th January 1669; Jennet daughter of David McElhagow baptised 12th November 1671; James son of David McElhagow baptised 14th June 1674 and Annable daughter of David McElhagow baptised 4th April 1677. After this date there are no further baptisms of a David. I will return to this family in a subsequent publication.

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