Friday, 19 June 2009

Families in Lisnacrogher and in Limavallaghan

In the Registers of the First Presbyterian Church, Broughshane, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, there are two baptism entries which I have had the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes. They were within seven months of each other, both with the same variant of the clan surname, McIlhago. The fathers were respectively David and John. David was married to Mary. Their child was Isabella, baptised 13th April 1836. John was married to Jenny and their child James was baptised 22nd November of the same year. The interesting thing is that these two families lived near each other, both just a few miles north of Broughshane. David and family lived at Limavallaghan, Clough, Ballymena. John and family lived at Lisnacrogher, Rathkenny, Ballymena. Now baptisms in 1836 probably put the parents' births in the first decade of the century and makes them among the earliest of our clan references in the 1800s. I think there is a strong possibility that the two fathers, David and John, were twins, or at least brothers.

The existence of these families makes me revisit my earlier blog, 'Who was Mary?' She also lived in Rathkenny, the daughter of William. Admittedly her name is recorded as McIlhager, not McIlhago, but I am wondering whether I was right to be so ready to link Mary with the Ballycloughan McIlhaggas (my own family). Her family may be nearer to the McIlhagos of Lisnacrogher and Limavallaghan. This must be an open question for the time being, but I hope that some new material will one day enable me to return to it.

Sometimes the essential clue to be followed in tracing a family (especially in Ireland where the townlands are often small) is the name of the place where they live, rather than simply a surname which may have different versions for the same person through time. Such I have found is the case with Limavallaghan. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) has a married couple, David (born 1806) and Mary (born 1817) with the remote name variant of McAlhager, in Newtoncromelin, Limavallaghan. In addition the IGI has Eliza, a daughter of David, born 1827. These three are also in one transcription of the 1851 Irish Census together with three other children of David and Mary, namely Isabella (born 1835), John (born 1845) and George (born 1849). I think we certainly have here an identification of David and Mary McAlhager with David and Mary McIlhago.

There is however another transcription of the 1851 Irish Census which is fuller and also certainly of this family, as follows:

Davit McElhager 45 (b.1806 Antrim), Head, Linen Weaver,
Mary McElhager 34 (b.1817 Armagh), Wife, Winding Quills,
Eliza McElhager 24 (b.1827 Antrim), Daughter, Linen Weaver,
Isabella McElhager 15 (b.1836 Antrim), Son (sic), Linen Weaver,
John McElhager 6 (b.1845 Antrim), Son,
George McElhager 2 (b.1849 Antrim), Son,
Jane McElhager (Absent) 27 (b.1824 Antrim), Daughter, Linen Weaver,
William McElhager (Absent) 23 (b.1826 Limavallaghan, Antrim), Son, Linen Weaver, 
Easter McElhager (Absent) 20 (b.1831 Antrim), Daughter, Linen Weaver,
Davit McElhager (Absent) 17 (b.1834 Antrim), Son, Tailor,
John McElhager (Dead) 2 (b.1840, d.1842 in winter). Son.

There is some additional information. There is a column for the level of literacy which is 'Blank' for all adults, possibly indicating an inability to read or write. Second, a marriage date is given for David and Mary of 1843. This implies that only John and George were their children, though Isabella's baptism says David and Mary were her parents. David must have been married twice, even though the Census says that 1843 is the date of his first marriage. This must be an error. It must be the date of his second marriage. Either they had Isabella seven years before they married, or else Isabella is the daughter of the first marriage and David's first wife was also called Mary. The other transcription error is to call Isabella a son! She is clearly entered as a female. And I suspect that 'Davit' should read 'David'.

We are extremely fortunate to have this family record because the 1851 Census is incomplete; in fact we have only a 25% sample of it. It is also extremely fortunate that in two other places we have what are probably the records of where two of the 'absent' members of this family were living and working. A William McIlhagga aged 20 appears to be serving an apprenticeship as a weaving 'servant' to one Thomas Brown, Blacksmith in Craigs Townland, Parish of Ahoghill and Finvoy. Clearly he was working alongside Thomas' son, William (18) who is also listed as a weaver. The discrepancy here is that William is 20 years old and the 'absent' William is 23. This may however be the same William simply not wishing to give his real age to his employer. I have for a long time assumed that this William was the eldest son (who was certainly a William) of my great-great-grandfather in Ballycloughan. I made this assumption on the basis of the 1851 Census spelling his name at Craigs as McIlhagga, and his birth year being about right. I now realize that there were probably two William McIlhaggas of approximately the same age. They could have been cousins.

There is also an Esther McIlhaggart, a servant aged 18, a Linen Weaver at 10 Carnmore Townland, Parish of Dunachy, in the household of William Redmond (30) a Linen Weaver, working alongside another 'servant, Linen Weaver', William Mcgowan. Again there is a two year discrepancy between the age of Esther McIlhaggart (18) and the 'absent' Easter McElhager (20), but despite this and again the name variation we may well have the same person in both records. The 25% sample of the 1851 Census does not unfortunately have any references to the other two 'absent' family members who were also probably in some form of apprenticeship, namely Jane, a Linen Weaver and Davit junior, a Tailor. Neither does it have any reference to John of Lisnacrogher who was possibly the brother of Davit senior. There is more information about these clan families which I will spell out in another blog, but it comes from the other side of the Atlantic!

1 comment:

  1. I have found a Jane McHagger in the 1851 Carnmore Census at Z17 Glenleslie Townland. She is a Servant aged 24, Unmarried, a Linen Weaver, born Antrim, with the McErlane family. There is a three year age difference from the Jane in this blog, but I think she is very possibly the same person.