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.

No comments:

Post a Comment