Thursday, 30 April 2009

Scottish Strays

There are problems in 'doing genealogy'. The obvious one is the 'brick wall'. How do you get around or over the obstacle that won't let you go any further in researching an ancestral line? I have described one of my own 'brick walls' in this blog on 20th February. Another problem is what might be called 'loose cannons', or perhaps better, just 'strays'. You know about the existence of someone and you may even know something about them, like where they lived, but you don't know how they fit into the rest of the picture. I have written about all the information I have on our clan which fits into to some kind of 15th to 18th Century pattern in Scotland. There are however, just a couple of 'strays'. 

The dominant version of the clan name over that period was McElhago. But who was Mary McElhago born right at the end of the eighteenth century and who died in 1870 at Roseneath, Argyll? Her death record has the alternative name of Erskine. Did she marry an Erskine or was she an Erskine who married an McElhago? Her marriage, if there was one, does not seem to be in the Scottish records. In an earlier blog I have mentioned John McIlhague of Dundonald who married Isabella McCallum and had a daughter Jean. But we don't know how this 'nuclear family' relates to other Dundonald families in the 18th Century. There is however one question we can answer. Who was Robert McAlhago (sic) born on 10th October 1789? He was in fact the first-born son of Robert (McElhago) and Elizabeth Jamieson.  He has never been recorded with the spelling McElhago and he must have died before May 1796 when Robert and Elizabeth had a fourth son they named Robert. Clearly Robert number two 'replaced' their first child who must have died an an infant.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Dundonald Family: Part 3

The third son in a Scottish family was often called after his father. Robert and Elizabeth (nee Jamieson) McElhago's third son was indeed Robert. He was born on 1st May 1796 in Dundonald and baptised on the 4th. Sadly we know very little about him, except that he did have a son whom he also called Robert, born about 1821/2. Fortunately we do know something about him. On 12th November 1849 he married Elizabeth Boyd in Dundonald: 'Robert McIlhago and Elizabeth Boyd, both in this parish, gave in their names for proclamation on the tenth, were regularly proclaimed and were married by the Revd. David Wilson, Irvine, on the twelfth of November, eighteen hundred and forty nine'. Robert and Elizabeth don't appear to be on the 1851 Census but by 1861 they were living in Govan, then a fishing village on the Clyde, when as we might expect, Robert gave his occupation as 'Seaman, Merchant Service'. Robert was 40 and Elizabeth 39. They were sharing a tenement with another seaman and his family who were their lodgers. Though we cannot yet demonstrate it, we may presume that Robert followed his father in the Merchant Navy.

We have three interesting pieces of information which illustrate Robert's time as a seaman, from 1851, 1862 and 1870. In 1851 Robert appears in court in Edinburgh as the 'victim' of a theft from the brig Stata of Kinkardine, which was in Leith harbour. Robert, though he was only 30, was a Sea Captain. Four Edinburgh men were 'the accused'. On 28th January Robert was staying at No.2 Dockgate, Leith, with Robert Liddle, a Spirit Dealer. Presumably he was temporarily away from his Dundonald home while his ship was in dock. There was a court case at which he stated that he had brought two casks of Composition Nails from Lima to Leith, arriving on 3rd January. About a week later he went to Irvine, returning on 23rd. He was then told by the ship's mate, Charles Stewart, that some of the nails had been stolen. He said he expected to leave Leith for Port Philip about a month later. On this 'Precognition' he gave his age as 30, confirming for us his birth year of 1821/2.

From this 1851 Court Case we learn two interesting things. Between voyages he managed to get home to Irvine to see his wife for about ten days. Also the journey he had just completed was from Lima, Peru in South America, and the journey he was about to undertake was to Port Philip, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Robert was certainly a long-haul mariner. This fact is also demonstrated by both of the other instances we happen to know about. On 11th August 1862 the Scotsman Newspaper in its Shipping News, on page 4, records the ship Nile arriving at Alexandria, Egypt, from the Clyde on 20th July, and on 25th August, page 4, records the Nile leaving for the Clyde on 12th August, with Captain McElhago. Although in an earlier blog I had thought this referred to Robert's uncle James, I am now persuaded otherwise. I am grateful to a descendant of James who lives on the Isle of Skye for this suggestion. Incidentally I think this proves the value of this blog! Two minds are better than one!

The third incident, about which we have no detail, though we do have the fact, is sadly the record of Robert's death at the young age of 48. The fact is carved on a tombstone in Irvine Old Graveyard. Robert died on 22nd May 1870 at Taganrog, a port in the south west of Russia on the Anov Sea. Whatever happened, at least his body was brought home for burial. The tombstone reads as follows:

22ND MAY, 1870, AGED 48 YEARS.
6TH JULY, 1832, AGED 42 YEARS,
21ST MAY, 1863, AGED 74 YEARS.
IN 1865, AGED 37 YEARS.
1880, AGED 54 YEARS.

Elizabeth, Robert's wife, appears in the subsequent three Censuses, in Govan and finally in Tradeston, Glasgow. She died on 11th April, 1895. We know that there were no further descendants in this branch of the 'Dundonald family' for we have Elizabeth's Will (of 1895) in which she leaves all her Estate to her niece Jessie Montgomery Rankine Howie, who was the person who gave notice of her aunt's death. The possibility is that Jessie was the daughter of Elizabeth's sister Agnes. Elizabeth left an Estate worth £422.12.4 which included cash, household furniture, a British Linen Company Bank Account and shares in the Caledonian Railway Company.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Dundonald: Second Branch

The second part of the family which hailed from Dundonald has as its progenitor the second son of Robert and Elizabeth McElhago, Samuel, born on the 2nd October 1793, who was baptised the very next day at Irvine. The register entry simply reads, 'Samuel McIlhaggart born to Robert & Elizaberth at Irvine'. Samuel maintained the seafaring tradition of his grandfather, father and older brother. For some reason, possibly a romantic one, he found himself in the town of Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland. Doubtless his ship had landed there. He may well have been there by 1820 when the Irvine town census had recorded his mother as 'Widow McElhago', with two sons. Samuel was probably the one who was missing. In Dunbar, County of East Lothian (Haddington) he had met Janet White, and he married her on 1st June 1825: 'Samuel McElhago of the Parish of Dundonald and Janet White of this parish were regularly proclaimed three times this day [29th May] being a seafaring person married by the Revd. Mr. Jeffrey on 1st June.'

If Samuel had had the incentive to move from west to east, it was one of his sons who was to move north to the country's capital. Two sons were born in Dunbar, the eldest being Adam White McElhago, born 20th April 1831. His second son John White McElhago was born 16th July 1834. I understand that family tradition gives both John and his son John another middle name, that of Ormiston. Although this is not documented for John senior it may indicate that he lived for a time in the village of Ormiston about ten miles east of Edinburgh. Family tradition likewise says that he became a Provost of Edinburgh, though this has not been verified. Regrettably we have no further information about Adam but John certainly moved to Edinburgh to capitalise on the training he had undertaken in Dunbar. What this was we learn from the 1851 Census.

The 1841 Census of Scotland names Samuel McIlhago in East Lothian, born 1796 in Scotland. The 1851 managed to change Samuel's birth name of McElhago even more. It has a family of McElhagies. But in Dunbar we find there are only three of them. Perhaps Adam hadn't survived, though of course at 18 he may have left home, maybe to go to sea. Samuel McIlhagie is given the birth year of 1792! His wife's name, Janet, is bizarely transcribed as Gend or Gurd! She was born in Dunbar, Haddingtonshire, in 1802. Their son John, who was 16, was apprenticed to a Miller, and it was a Miller he became when he moved to Leith near Edinburgh. On 24th August 1854 when he was just 20, there he married the widow of a shoemaker, Christina Fowler (or Pollock). They married at Leith South Parish Church, carrying on the tradition of membership of the Established Church of Scotland to which John's grandparents had adhered back in Dundonald: 'John White McElhago, Miller, residing at No 10 Cables Wynd, Leith, and Christina Fowler or Pollock, residing at No 40 Yardhead, Leith, daughter of the late William Fowler, and relict of Charles Pollock, Shoemaker, Leith, were three times proclaimed in order to marriage, in the Parish Church of South Leith, 20th August 1854, and married at Edinburgh 24th August by the Revd. G.D. Cullen, Leith'.

John and Christina, together with their family made two major decisions which may or may not be connected. We don't know why either decision was taken and we don't know in which order they were taken. The 'internal' family decision was to adopt the grand-maternal surname of White, which the 'offspring' already had as middle names. To some it is a matter of regret that as a consequence the McElhago version of the clan name has almost disappeared from this branch of the 'Dundonald' family, and not least because in the first branch the name died out naturally. However we may note with pleasure that in the Antipodes the name McElhago has recently crept back as a middle name, thus reviving the clan memory. The second decision was to leave Edinburgh and Scotland and to emigrate to the Southern Hemisphere. We have yet to document their route and where they landed, but their final destination was New Zealand. We are privileged to have a nineteenth century photograph of the family taken after they had settled in Dunedin. I have listed the names of the 11 people in the photograph, and the work they undertook in the blog I wrote in 5th February.

This family's eldest son, William Adam White, married Elizabeth Gloag and continued the line. No fewer than 70 members of this branch of the 'Dundonald' family have lived in New Zealand and 10 in Australia. Those alive today can I think claim to be the representatives of the longest traceable line of our clan, that of the McElhago-Whites.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A Seamstress, a Sailor and the Poorhouse

So what did happen to the four children in the Irvine/Dundonald, Scotland Censuses of 1841 - 1861? Neither Eliza nor Jane McElhago married. Eliza died aged 40 in 1866 of Cancer. Jane moved north looking for work, sometime after 1851 when she became 21. In 1861 she was lodging at 24 Cook Street, Govan, with three other women, when she was working as a 'Cap Maker'. Her age is wrongly given as 24. She would have been 30. For the next 18 years she worked as a 'Sewer', living in a variety of lodgings. Clearly she kept contact with Dundonald as on 30th August 1879 she was admitted by Dundonald Poor House, and she is presumably the Jane McIllhago, aged 47, in the 1881 Census at Cunningham Combination Poor House in Irvine. Maybe it is the same place. 

Later that year, claiming to be 48, at Govan 'Combination' she is applying for 'Relief' as she has a 'Cardiac Disease'. On 1st October at 10 35am she is sent 'to the city' but is back by 11.55. Four days later Dundonald is admitting liability for her, as that is her place of birth, but is asking 'do not send her here till I write as she likes a trip by rail to Glasgow now & then'. In a harmless way she was 'playing the system'! Over the next ten years her 'partial disability' became 'wholly disabled'. She had become 'nearly blind', presumably the result of all the sewing she had done, probably in poor light conditions. She had in fact been employed for the previous 23 years with one firm, Arthur & Company's, William Street, Anderston, Glasgow. The 'Relief Report' says 'she was obliged to leave with her eye sight'. Mr. I. Chisholm, an Assistant Inspector of the Poor, paid her a 'home visit' and found 'no one to assist her'. She had been taken in by her niece, Mrs. Tennant at 126 Plantation Street, a widow with 7 children. This was in March 1893, a situation which seemed to continue for a year. What happened between March 1894 and Jane's death at the age of 69 on 19th December 1900 we don't know, though by then she was in the 'Old Women's Home, Glasgow'. The informant of her death was Elizabeth Wyllie, her niece, possibly the 'Mrs. Tennant' re-married. The cause of death of this 'Seamstress' was 'Malignant disease of womb, one year'. 

That leaves Richard and Jam(i)eson. I'm afraid we do not know what happened to Jameson after his 14th (or perhaps his 24th) birthday. Maybe he emigrated. Is he a McElhago who went to Pensylvania (see 20th March blog)? We do know what became of his older brother Richard, part of whose story parallels that of his sister Jane. He was born on 9th April 1832 at 'Friar's Croft', his parents home in Dundonald. He must have followed his father into the Merchant Navy for in 1855 he is a 22 years old seaman (named McElhaga), one of the crew on the passenger ship Melbourne which had sailed from Liverpool to Sydney, Australia, arriving on 21st February under Captain Henry Morris. Twenty-four years later he is again recorded on the ship Ethiopia, though this time as a passenger to New York on 15th March 1878, when he was 46. He must have returned when he was 54 in 1886 when he moved in with his niece at 50 West Street, Govan.

He was with his niece for 9 months before, on 29th November (at 12.15pm) as a single Protestant man and a partially disabled seaman, he applied for admission to the Govan Combination Poorhouse. The reason he gave was that his niece was unable to keep him. He was certified as suffering from 'paralysis' which we may presume was the reason he was unable to get any work and look after himself. He said his sister Jane could prove his birth. The Govan Combination Parochial Board did contact Jane for such proof and Richard was 'given relief' on 10th December, being admitted 'from Dundonald'. The Poorhouse Committee met on 20th December and decided to admit him because he had 'no home'. The Assistant Inspector's Report says that on 20th December 1886 he left the Poorhouse and went in again on notice to Dundonald on 21st December. On 17th January 1887 Dundonald 'admitted liability' for him. He seems to have been accommodated between Dundonald and Govan until December 24th of that year when he was 'discharged'. We may wonder where he spent Christmas Day. Where and how he spent the last four years of his life we do not know, though he must have returned to the place of his birth, for his death is recorded in 1891 in Irvine.

There are three problems remaining about this branch of the 'Dundonald Family'. We know that Richard and Jane were brother and sister. Both, in their separate submissions to the Inspector of the Poor mention a niece, we may presume the same one. Jane names her as 'Mrs Tennant'. A William Tennant married Jane Martin in 1866, who was the daughter of Philip Martin and Elizabeth McElhago. Who was this Elizabeth? Jane and Richard's sister Eliza never married, so was there an older sister Elizabeth who did not appear on the Dundonald Census returns, maybe because she had left home before 1841? It would have been odd to call one child Elizabeth and two or three years later a second child Eliza, but perhaps these were seen to be quite different names. The only other possibility is that the word 'niece' is being used to mean another relationship like 'second cousin', but there does not seem to be a known person to fit such a relationship. 

The second remaining problem is that there is another marriage of an Elizabeth McElhago, to Alexander McCallum, a Master Mariner. She had a daughter Elizabeth who married William Wyllie, a Flesher, on 30th March 1877 and lived at Holmfield, Langbank, Glasgow. Were the two Elizabeths one and the same? Did she marry twice, first to Philip Martin, and second as a widow to Alexander McCallum? When Jane mentioned her niece 'Mrs. Tennant' she said she was a widow with 7 children, and as it was an 'Elizabeth Wyley' who gave notice of her death, the circumstantial evidence is that they were indeed the same person, though I have failed to find documentary evidence of either marriage.

The final remaining problem is that there is a known marriage (though without a date) of a John McIlhague to Isabella McCallum, who had a daughter Jean on 8th March 1824, baptised at Dundonald on 13th October, when John and Isabella were called 'spouses'. Was Isabella a sibling of Alexander McCallum above? Was John possibly a fourth son of James and Jane McElhago? We just don't know.

Dundonald Family: Part 1

I have written blogs about various places in Ayrshire, Scotland: Colmonell, Kirkmichael, Ayr and Delmellington. Around 1750 official records for our clan disappear until 1790 when they reappear in the coastal town of Irvine and Dundonald, a village just a couple of miles inland. Fishing in Ayr had given way to seafaring in Irvine. The 40 year 'gap' is not however a complete blank for as we have seen there is a James McElhago turning up in New Jersey in the USA in the 1760s (see my blog of 7th February). The likelihood is that he was a seafarer and the father of Robert who married Elizabeth Jamieson in Ayrshire in about 1790. I wrote about Robert's widow on 8th April. She appears, though isn't given a first name, in a town census in 1820. Two sons are mentioned in that census though we know they had at least three, James, presumably named after his paternal grandfather, Samuel and Robert named after his father. Samuel could well have been named for his maternal grandfather. It is from their birth/baptism records we know that their father was a Sea Captain ('Ship Master' on Samuel's and James' records). 

James, the eldest son of Robert and Elizabeth, was born on 9th December 1791 and baptised at Irvine ten days later: 'James, son of Robert McIlhaggert, shipmaster & Elizabeth Jamieson'. On 27th March 1819 at the age of twenty-eight he was to marry, also at Irvine: 'James McElhago & Jane Harvey parishioners'. I have written about his professional life between 1825 and 1862 in the 'Shipping News' blog on 25th March. James and Jane lived all their lives in Irvine and Dundonald where they both died, James on 4th September 1862 and Jane on 17th December 1864. James was 70 when he died of 'Apoplexy' at his home 'Friar's Croft' in Dundonald. His daughter Eliza McElhago gave notice of his death and signed the parish register. Likewise she gave notice of her mother's death from 'General Debility'. She had been living at 'Waterside' in the parish of Dundonald. Eliza was one of four or five children born to James and Jane. She remained single and when she herself died of cancer of the womb, only four years later (13th May 1866) her sister Jane McElhago said she was 40 which gives us her birth year of 1826.

The Irvine / Dundonald Censuses for 1841, 1851 and 1861 show this family with four children as follows:
1841 James 45 1851 James 58 1861  James 68
        Jane 40          Jane 58           Jane 60
        Eliza 15          Eliza 25           Eliza 34
       Jane 10           Jane 21
        Richard 8       Richard 19
         Jameson 4     Jameson 14       Jamieson 2

The surname was McElhago in 1841 and 1851 and McIllhago in 1861. There is no entry for this family in the 1871 Irvine Census or later. We know the parents died in 1862 and 1864. Clearly by 1861 Jane (30) and Jameson (24) had left home unless Jamieson age 2 in 1861 is an error for Jameson 24. This is the most likely possibility, though 'Jamieson aged 2' could have been an illegitimate son of Eliza or of Jane who in 1861 was in fact pregnant with Archibald who was born on 6th July that year but sadly died soon after.

So what happened to the four children in the Census, and can we resolve the question of the size of the Dundonald family in both the generations we have noted? That must be the topic of 'Dundonald: Part 2'.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

A Wedding Photograph

The above photograph is of Robert (Bob) McIlhagga and his wife Elizabeth (Lizzie). You may be able to tell from the style of their clothes that the picture was taken in 1940. It was taken by a firm called Thompson of Ballymena, Northern Ireland, after Bob and Lizzie had been married at Clough Presbyterian Church on 26th September. Lizzie was in fact Elizabeth Eaton from Clogh. Bob's best man was his brother William. They were brought up in Ballyweaney. Robert and William were two of seven children born between 1901 and 1921 to Robert Dunlop and Annie (nee Thompson) McIlhagga. Robert Dunlop senior was known as Dunlop and was born at Castlequarter, County Antrim. He became a farmer at Ballyweaney.

It is interesting that William had a twin brother John. William and his wife had twins, a boy and a girl. Dunlop, who also had twins, was one of the eight or nine children of James and Jane (nee Maitland) McIlhagga. James was born about 1840 in Ballyportery, County Antrim. He was a farmer and a butcher. Their eldest son, James, emigrated to Canada. Robert Dunlop was their second son. Some of his family emigrated to Australia and I have to thank his grand-daughter Mary there for the photograph. James and Jane's third son, Daniel Maitland, moved to Scotland where his many descendants now live. James and Jane also had five daughters, the third of whom, Mary Jane, emigrated to the USA. At present the Family Tree headed by James and Jane has 390 known people on it, in three Continents. Comments from anyone in this family would be most welcome.

Monday, 13 April 2009

17th Century Ireland

Before I continue to write about 18th Century Scotland I want to ask whether we have any more 17th Century information. It was during the 17th Century that there was in influx of Scottish settlers to Ulster in Northern Ireland. This happened as early as 1605 and went on, in phases, through the century. There are three Irish references to pick up. First there is an interesting name which crops up in Derry. An 'Inquisition' taken between 1601-9 for James I includes reference to 'lands.. now in the possession of Will. McItegart the last dean [of Derry] by the pope's authority..'. In another Inquisition taken at the same time at 'eniskilline' (sic) there is reference to 'ClanmcIteggart', which appears to be the same name. A commentary on the State Papers in which these references occur gives the translation of the name as 'son of the priest'. However surely this omits any translation of the 'I' which has to be an abbreviation of 'Ghille', giving a meaning the same as that of McIlhagga, 'son of the servant of the priest'. The same form of the clan name (if indeed it is such) is found in a Scottish Will in Inverness in 1667 for Farquhar M'I(l)ntagirt. 

The second Irish reference occurs in a 1659 'All Ireland Census', which was taken during the 'reign' of the Commonwealth Protector, Richard Cromwell. It includes the Gaelic name MacGiolla Chairge which at least one author (MacLysaght) thinks is the Gaelic version of McIlhagga, though as I've made clear elsewhere, not the one to be preferred.

Third, and most significant because we clearly have here the Anglicised use of our name which has come down to us, as in Ayrshire there were three references to the Hearth Tax, so there are also three to the Hearth Money Rolls for a Townland called Cogry in the parish of Doagh Grange, in Antrym Barony in the present County of Antrim in 1669. The three clan members referred to are Alex McIlhago, Allexander McIlhago and James McIlhaga (our first 'a' ending). All three living in the same small place would imply that they all belong to one family. Two Alexanders may well mean a father and a son, and hence one of them brother to James. What we would hope for, of course, is a clear link back to a West of Scotland family. At present our fairly extensive knowledge of the clan in 17th Century Ayrshire has no Alexanders at all and only two Jameses. One James is too late to be considered (James son of David McElhagow born Kirkmichael 1674) and the other is extremely unlikely. He was James, Son of Thomas McIllhaggow, born 1653 in Kirkmichael. Admittedly there are no further references in Scotland to this James and we do not know what happened to him. He could have gone to Ulster but by the time the Hearth Money Roll in Cogry was compiled he would only have been 16 years old and we need to ask whether he would have had time to establish himself and to own a property with a fireplace on which he was charged tax. It is, I regret to say, somewhat unlikely.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Argenteuil, Quebec

On 24th January I wrote a blog piece on 'Home Children'. Today I'm able to follow it up. There is a good genealogy network called 'Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness' (RAOGK) to which I belong. I get a request about every other month to do a bit of research for someone. Last week it was for Margaret  in Nevada, USA. She kindly offered to reciprocate by looking up Thomas McIllhagga (from my 'Home Children') in the 1911 Canadian Census. She found him despite the enumerator mangling has name as Mc?llaggs. But he is where we expect to find him, in Mille Isles, Argenteuil County, Quebec: 'Mc?llhaggs, Thomas; M; Domestic; S; 1895; 16'. He is 16 years old, born 1895 (Day and Month omitted), single and his relation to the family is 'Domestic' (read 'servant'). The family consists of only three people: Frances 70, Mother; Thomas 45, Head; and Elizabeth, Wife; There do not appear to be any children, though 'next door' there was a large Patterson family with 9 children, aged 16 down to one. They are headed by Mary 40. Unfortunately the 1911 Census in Canada does not seem to give people's occupations.

My guess is that Thomas and Elizabeth Patterson took a 'Home Child' because they had no children of their own. 1911 may well have been before there were any formal adoption procedures in Canada. My guess is confirmed by looking back to the 1901 Canadian Census, before Thomas went out to Canada. Then Thomas and Elizabeth had a 12 year old 'Domestic', probably another 'Home Child' - John Acherley. By 1911 he would have been 22 and no doubt 'flown the nest', though I have failed to find him anywhere in Canada. Interestingly in 1901 Thomas Pattersons' parents lived 'next door' when clearly his father was still alive - another Thomas (aged 70). With Thomas and Frances (Fannie) were five younger siblings of Thomas who had married Elizabeth, namely Robert, Andy, Sarah, Richard and Edmond.  Thomas McIllhagga found himself in a large extended family. Let us hope they took him to their heart and that his experience as a teenager in Canada was a good one. And thank you, Margaret in Nevada.

Thursday, 9 April 2009


The last entry in the Old Parish Records (OPRs) of Scotland which relate to our clan in the village of Kirkmichael, Ayrshire, is dated 20th September 1702. About the same time the clan name appears in nearby Dalmellington. One, possibly the earliest, entry there is for a remote variation of the name. In 1st May 1724 James McHago married Jean Booll in Kells in the adjacent county of Kirkcudbright. Banns were called in Dalmellington because that was his parish. He must have been born around the turn of the century.

On the same page of the parish Marriage Register is the first of two other marriages, these with more recognizable variations of our surname. First, 'David McElhagow and Janet Murdock having been proclaimed orderly now married ffebry 16th 1725'. Following this, in the Baptism Book we have one record in Dalmellington before we find the next marriage record, and it is reasonable to believe it is for a child of David and Janet, despite yet another surname variant: '1732. May 28th. David Mcillhago had a daughter baptized named Janet'. The name given to the child may also be a clue to the parentage, especially if, as we will suggest, the mother may have died in childbirth.

The other marriage is also of a David, and the question is whether this is the same or a different David: '1740 March 22d. David Mcillhago and Elizabeth Dunbar both in this parish gave in their names for proclamation on Sabbath next in order to marriage'. At least David's surname is spelled the same both times, presumably by the minister who filled in the Register. Did Janet die, possibly in childbirth, and did her widower David remarry? This is a distinct possibility though there is no record of a burial of a Janet Murdock in Dalmellington Kirkyard and no Memorial Inscription. She may of course have come from another parish and have been taken back there to be buried. Finally there are two more births that we must assume are children of David and Elizabeth: '1743. Janry 9th David Mcillhago had a fon bapt. William', and '1744. March 26th David Mcilhaggo had a daughter bapt. Mary'.

It is a reasonable assumption that a clan family moved from Kirkmichael (see blogs for 25 & 27 March and 6 April) to Dalmellington, so can we identify a link back from, say, David who married Janet Murdock? A marriage in 1725 would have been of people who probably had been born around the turn of the century, and there was indeed one David who was born in Kirkmichael on 20th September 1702, which as we have noted above, is the date of the last entry in the Kirkmichael Registers. He could be the man who moved the family from one village to the other. However, the problem of who David's father was is somewhat more intractable. David's baptism entry says he was son of John: 'David son of John McIlhagow baptised Kirkmichael'. But there were two Johns! So of which of the two was he the son? The two candidates are John son of Thomas McElhagow baptised 1670 and John son of David McElhagow baptised 1666, both of course in Kirkmichael. It is tempting to prefer the later date, to bring us nearer the turn of the century, of a John who was probably the eldest of four children of Thomas and Janet Murchie. However, in the latter case the John was probably the eldest of five children of David who married Katherin Baird. All we can say is that if the second scenario is in fact the case, then the name David would have been continued from grandfather to grandson, a 'normal' Scottish naming pattern.

To summarise:  the most likely scenario is that David son John son of David married twice, first to Janet Murdock and second to Elizabeth Dunbar. By the mid 18th Century we would probably have found a nuclear clan family living in Dalmellington, of parents David and Elizabeth with three children, a teenager Janet (aged 18 in 1750) and two half-siblings, William (aged 7) and David (aged 6). At present we have no clues about what happened to them in the second half of the century, though we may suspect they were closely related to the family which flourished in Dundonald, Irvine some 15 miles away on the coast.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

1820 Irvine Census

An article in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of the Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society, on Ayrshire Archives, alerted me to the fact that 'some churches in the 1820s carried out censuses or church surveys of names, occupation and where parishioners were born'. The article said that two examples have survived in Ayrshire, for St. Quivox dated 1821 and for Irvine and Halfway, 1820. I recently got around to sending a research fee to Ayrshire archives and this week received a photocopy of the beautifully (copperplate) written page containing the one reference to a clan member. It is of course interesting that there is only one. There may be a female somewhere who married into another family, but if so I don't know about her.

The relevant section of the Irvine and Halfway Census is headed 'Twenty Eighth Quarter, Return by William Tweed Deacon', and it is in line 20 in which there is some valuable information. The head of the Irvine family is 'Widow McIlhago'. We know from the Old Parish Records (OPRs) of the baptisms of her three sons that she was Elizabeth and that her late husband was Robert. We have no certain birth, marriage or death dates for them, though we may deduce from the same OPRs that they were born about 1760 and married about 1790. We now know that Robert had died by 1820 at an age under 60, not unusual for the hard working Sea Captain that he was.

The 1820 Census unfortunately does not tell us places of birth, but does say that our particular household included two males and one female. Judging from other entries on the page, the female is Elizabeth herself, and as we will see the two males were two of her three sons. In the column headed 'Occupation' we read 'supported by her sons'. Clearly they were in work and as I will spell out on another occasion they had followed in their father's footsteps. In the column headed 'Religion', we have 'Establish Scots'. This means that the family belonged to the Established Church of Scotland. The column contains other churches in addition, Relief, Burgher and Church of England. The Established Church appeared to have about half the population, the Relief about a third and the Burgher an eighth. Finally in the column headed 'Remarks' we have the one word 'Comfortable'. It is good to know that 'Widow McIlhago' was left 'comfortable' and that her sons cared for her, as no doubt she did for them. In an earlier blog (April 5th) I explained that one son from this family had left Irvine to live in Dunbar on the East Coast. We know he married there in 1825. As there are only two sons still at home at the time of the Census we may now presume that he left Irvine before 1820.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Ayr family

Our earliest Ayrshire clan references are in the village of Kirkmichael which is some nine or ten miles inland from the nearest coastal town, the capital of the county, Ayr itself. The families in Kirkmichael and indeed in Dalmellington, to which some moved, must have been employed in agriculture. This was not so in Ayr where we find the second earliest Old Parish Records (OPRs) for the clan. It was not agriculture but the sea which provided employment, and we know this from the earliest Ayr baptism, of Agnes daughter of Robert McIlhago and Bessie Johnstone. The OPR reads 'Agnes Mcilhago daughter lawful to Robert Mcilhago, fisher in newtoune of Ayr and Bessie Johnstone born the 5th October 1685 baptized on Sunday thereafter; Witness John Mcilhago grandfather to the child and John Gibson, Couper in Ayr.' This is a particularly valuable entry as it names three generations of the family. We can assume that Robert and Bessie were married no later than 1685 and so were probably born around 1660. If we assume that Robert's parents were married about 1655, they would have been born not later than, say, 1630, which means that John, Agnes' grandfather was born earlier than the earliest Kirkmichael OPR. Did he move to the coast from Kirkmichael? Perhaps he was the son or the grandson of Robert M'Ilhago who at the end of the previous century (1597) was found in Tradidnell, further south in Galloway.

Robert and Bessie had three more children, all baptised in Ayr, and in each case one of the witnesses was John Gibson. He may simply have been a family friend, though he may have been related. Perhaps his wife was a sister of either Robert or Bessie. Sadly grandfather John does not appear again, which may indicate that he died before the second child was born in 1687. The three OPR entries, with interesting surname variants, are as follows. 30 May 1687 Robert son of Robert and Bessie McIlhague baptized Ayr. A first son would usually have been named for his paternal grandfather, but that 'honour' was reserved for their second son. Maybe Bessie's father was Robert or perhaps they were remembering that great-grandfather (from 1597) was Robert. After Agnes and Robert came Mary: 'Mary Mcilhagow, Dau.t law.ll to Robert Mcilhagow fisher in Newtoune and Befsie Jo.nstoune spouse born April 20 Baptized 28 dito by Mr. Robert Hamilton Jibland min.t. Witness James Hutcheson baker and Jo.n Gibson, Couper'. Their fourth child was John: 'John Mcilhagow, son law.ll to Robert Mcilhagow fisher in Newtoune and Befsie Johnstoune spouse was born on friday June 12th 1691 Baptized on Sabbath 21 of June.. by Mr. Enlos (?)'. At present we have no references to any of the four offspring of Robert and Bessie marrying, though approximately three generations 'down the line' we have our next coastal family appearing about eight or nine miles to the north at Irvine, which may well be a continuation of the Ayr family. At least one of those generations is bridged by the references we have to our other inland location, the village of Dalmellington.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Ayrshire females

On 14th March in this blog I included a photograph of a Memorial Inscription and on 22nd and 25th March I listed the earliest clan members in Ayrshire. I can now add a few details which almost certainly expand our earliest Scottish family by asking whether the female clan members who married local lads had any children. Helen who is named on the gravestone certainly had children. She and David Mitchell married in Kirkmichael and then moved to the next village, Straiton, a separate parish. There they had three children baptised: John on 1st January 1699, Margaret on 6th December 1702 and Isobell on 9th February 1707. They are all recorded there as children of David Mitchell and Helen McIlhagow. On the Kirkmichael gravestone, in addition to Helen there are two John Mitchells, possibly the same person, though possibly uncle and nephew. First a 'John Mitchel' is named as spouse to Agnes McKluray (McIluray?) who is buried in the Kirkyard. Then at the end of the inscription is added 'Iohn Mitcel' with the only death date on the stone, 'Febr 13th 1738 age 37'. This age gives us a birth year of 1701. However, given that often at that time people would be uncertain of their birth year and hence how old they were, this could refer to John the eldest son of David and Helen who was actually born in 1699.

We also know of two earlier and one later marriage of clan females. On 15th December 1655 Agnes McEllhagow married William Baird in Kirkmichael. It is highly likely that two children born to 'William Baird' and baptised at Kirkmichael are theirs, though in this case the mother isn't named in the Registers. On 29th June 1662 we have Katherin Baird and on 6th January 1667 William Baird. Another Ayrshire female, Jennet McElhagow, also of Kirkmichael, married James Lochart there on 26th January 1673. There are three children in the Old Parish Records (OPRs) with James Lockart as father, the first two in Kirkmichael: William on 12th April 1672 and Margaret on 2nd December 1673. The third child was born in Mauchline, a town some 20 miles to the north to where, presumably, they had moved. He was John, on 6th February 1677. Finally we have the marriage of Jennet McIlhagow and Thomas Craig on 26th November 1700. Now we know from the Will of Jennet (or Jonet)'s younger sister Annable that by 1733 she and her husband had no surviving children. However the OPRs do record no fewer than seven children with a father Thomas Craig in Ayrshire between 1702 and 1722. Six are in the parish of Beith, quite a distance north of Kirkmichael, and one in Galston in mid-Ayrshire. We cannot tell whether any of these children were born to 'our' Jennet but there is a possibility that they were. They are Thomas, 8th November 1702; Margaret (of Galston), 31st December 1704; Thomas, 3rd June 1708; John, 27th August 1710; Janet, 26th June 1713; Mary, 6th December 1719 and William, 11th February 1722. The fact that there are two Thomases is likely to mean that the first died in infancy and the fact that by 1733 Thomas and Annable had no surviving children raises the possibility that tragically all had died. The other possibility is of course that there were two or more Thomas Craigs and that Thomas and Annable were in fact childless.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Irvine to Dunbar

This last week the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh has put on line for the first time records of deaths to be found in the Old Parish Records (OPRs), that is records prior to 1855. A search for our clan name in all its variants produced only two entries of interest. The first is regrettably almost unreadable, for a Peter McHagan who died on 6th February 1786 in Edinburgh. I think this is possibly an entry for a child and doesn't link up with any other information we have. Any other McHagans are later and are in the USA. Of course an Edinburgh family may have emigrated.

The second is certainly known to us. In this blog on 5th February I wrote about a family who emigrated to New Zealand. I named a Samuel McElhago son of Robert and Elizabeth, of Irvine. Samuel was born in Dundonald, Irvine, but moved to Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland where he married Janet White on 1st June 1825. It was John the son of Samuel and Janet who emigrated to New Zealand, and it was Samuel whose is the second OPR death published last week. Although son John moved first to Leith near Edinburgh, probably in the early 1850s, from where he emigrated, his parents initially remained in Dunbar. Samuel died there on 24th June 1852. The one line entry in the Dunbar Register simply reads 'June 24. Samuel McElhago. Old pauper'. He was in fact 58 years old! I wonder when and why he ceased being the 'seafaring person' which is his occupation stated in the Dunbar Marriage Register? We may speculate that some physical condition, perhaps caused by an accident at sea, deprived Samuel of his living and that he found himself a 'pauper', reliant on local charity. His wife Janet died four years later, on 25th April 1856 at Cable Wynd, Leith. She was 54 and clearly had gone to live with her son John and his wife Christina whom he had married two years before.