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.

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