Monday, 8 June 2009

Islandmagee Cousins?

One of the resources that can easily be missed in Record Offices is an 'old' Personal Card Index of people. There is a very useful one in the Provincial Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). It contains a reference dated 20th December 1824 to 'Matthew Aikin of Ballymumford, farmer. Counterpart lease for 31 years of 10 acres lately held by Samuel McIlliago in Ballymumford'. There are a couple of transcription errors in this reference. There is no Ballymumford, though there is a Ballylumford, Islandmagee's north-west corner townland which today is the site of a large power-station and is the place from where in earlier days a ferry plied across the sea-lough to Larne. Second, Matthew Aikin is surely the Mathew Aikin who appears as son-in-law and one of the executors in the Will if Samuel McIlhag(g)a: PRONI Will No. 1652, 'Samuel McIlhaga, Islandmagee. Probate granted 28th July 1818'. The other two executors were Revd. John Murphy and Mathew Davis. 

Unfortunately parts of the Will are unreadable but we learn that Samuel left £275.17.3, a tidy sum in 1818, approximately equivalent to £200,000 today. Sadly the Will does not name his wife or any of his daughters, though he must have had three of four daughters for Samuel leaves money to three sons-in-law, Mathew Aikin, Samuel Barnford and Patrick Willson, and implies that there is a daughter married to a man called Napier. After referring to Mathew Aikin he next mentions his grand-daughter 'Mary Noy otherwise Napier' [with money left in trust] and her son John [with money left in trust]. It would seem that either Mary and John were both minors or that Mary had no male to look after her - such were those 'patriarchal' days. If Mary was born Mary Napier we must assume she had either married a Noy or a Noy had fathered a child with her and had disappeared or died. Which surname her son John had we do not know.

If Samuel died in c.1818 he could well have been born in the 1750s and so could be a brother of James Senior of Larne and Islandmagee, referred to in an earlier blog. A marriage about 1770 would give birth years for his children in that decade and a marriage for the eldest (say) to Mathew Aikin c.1890. Samuel's grand-daughter Mary could therefore have been born by 1795 and her son John in say 1810. This is certainly a tight time-scale but is possible, given young marriages or perhaps even single-parenthood for Mary. Now, in addition to Mary, three grandsons are named in Samuel's Will. Unfortunately the first name is missing. The second name is partly readable as ...nuel. We may presume this is Samuel named after his paternal grandfather. The third is John Mc......., presumably McIlhagga which must be the surname of all three. Maybe John was named after his father, who is not referred to in the Will and so for whom we do not have a name. We can only conclude that Samuel's son (?John) had pre-deceased him. It is unlikely that the three McIlhagga grandsons were children of an unmarried daughter as we have the names of three or four sons-in-law, though there is of course the remote possibility that they were sons of one or more of his married daughters and that the Mc.... reference was to a middle name.

The Will says that Samuel had land in the townland of Carspindle on the west side of the peninsula, which we know was later farmed by Mathew Aikin. This fact and the earlier reference to Ballylumford, apart from the date difference, distinguishes Samuel from the Portmuck Samuel McIlhaggo. Lastly in the Will there is money left to two other people. First, to 'my nephew James Mc.......', and second to '.....ney McIlhagga otherwise Willson'. James could well be the 'James Junior', sibling of Samuel and William, son of James senior of the Portmuck family. Presumably '.....ney' was Samuel's daughter who married Patrick Willson.

Finally, before moving on from Islandmagee and to complete our Irish 18th Century references, I must go back to by blog of 20th February where I suggested that James Junior might be the James who married Sarah in Shankill and had a son William in 1798 (probably the same year that William my Great-great-grandfather was born in Ireland!). He had two younger sisters whose births are recorded in the Indexes of the Irish Family History Foundation as Martha McIlhaga in 1803 and Ann McIlhagart in 1809. Their parents James and Sarah had their children baptised at a Presbyterian Church in Shankill. Their dates could certainly indicate that James was 'James Junior' who would have moved from Islandmagee to Belfast. We have no direct evidence to prove that this is what happened. If, however, this link is not made we may wonder where the Belfast family came from. 


  1. I am related the the "Mathew Aikin" his name is Aiken born Millbay Islandmagee 1758 and died Mar 1830. We have several references to the family living at Carnspindle.
    The name Noy you refer to may actually be Hoy as as one of Mathews daughters married a Mr Hoy.

  2. Mathew Aiken was married to Eliza Brennan