Wednesday, 22 April 2009

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'.

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