Friday, 17 July 2009

Military Medal

In my blog on Robert James McIlhagga I mentioned that he had a younger brother John, who was born 3rd February 1888. He joined the Merchant Navy on the ship Caledonia on 24th September 1903. He would have been 15 years old. After three years as a Machine Boy, he joined up on a 12 year contract on his eighteenth birthday. His attestation document records his height as 5'4". He had brown hair, grey eyes, a fresh complexion and had a tattoo of an anchor and the letters JMC on his right forearm. He had served on six ships with a 'Very Good' character. Unfortunately this dropped to only 'Fair' over the next twelve months and he had two short periods 'in the cells', the second one apparently for 'leave breaking in aggravated circumstances'. He was given a discharge, 'services no longer required' on 23rd November 1908.

What went wrong we do not know, but it was not long before John was to redeem himself. He joined up to serve in The First World War. He enrolled in the First Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers with the Regimental Number 10814 using the name John McFarlane. Perhaps he decided to use a pseudonim in order to avoid comparison with his earlier Naval record. Although technically he remained a Private, in practice he rose to the rank of Acting Serjeant. Sadly he was killed in action on 8th July 1916. And the circumstances on this occasion were far from being 'aggravated'. On the contrary they must have been of considerable bravery for posthumously he was awarded the Military Medal. His name is recorded on page 9209 of the Supplement to the London Gazette on 21st September 1916. He is listed there as Cpl. J. McFarlane, Late Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Although I have tried to obtain the wording of a citation to tell us why he was awarded the honour, this does not seem to exist. It may be possible to discover the circumstances from a reference to the date of his death in a history of his Battalion.

John is buried in a Military grave at Doullens Communal Cemetery, Extension No.1. Doullens is a town in the Department of the Somme, approximately 30 kms. north of Amiens on the N25 road to Arras. The Communal Cemetery and Extensions lie on the eastern side of the town, about 270 meters south-east of the road to Arras. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his memory on a Certificate as follows:

In memory of
10814, 1st Bn., Royal Dublin Fusiliers
who died age 30
on 08 July 1916
(Served as McFarlane), Son of Margaret McElhagga, of 5
Azamar St., Shankhill Rd., Belfast.
Remembered with honour

Not only are there some spelling mistakes: McIlhagga, Azamor, Shankill, but John's age is two years out. Perhaps he said he was younger than he really was when he joined up.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

'Brother' James

In commenting on the four McIlhaggos in the Maxwellswalls Tithe Applotment Book (for 1835/6) I have been putting the word 'brother' in inverted commas because of course I do not know for certain that they were siblings. They could have been cousins or even have come from different generations. My first thought about 'young' Henry (aged 6-13) who eventually married Agnes McMeekin (see blog on Henry's Will) was that he could have been the son of 'brother' James, for he named his own son James in accord with the Irish (and Scottish) naming pattern. However he might have named him after his brother-in-law, and also we have demonstrated that Henry's father was in fact another Henry!

As far as I can see there is only one contender to be 'brother' James. There is a marriage recorded at Templepatrick Presbyterian Church on 15th August 1828 of a James McIlhaggo to a Margaret Mawhinney. This would give us a birth date for James at perhaps the turn of the century or before. This possibility is interesting for a number of reasons. James' surname at marriage is spelled the same as that in the Applotment Book. Second he is said to have come from a place in County Antrim called Biggam's Brae. I don't know where this is (or was) but my best guess is that it might have been in Islandmagee - there are a number steep braes on the east coast, not least around Portmuck. I have driven down them! This would fit with two other things. We do not know what happened to James Junior of the Islandmagee family, born in 1778. If this is he, admittedly he would have been 50 when he married (or remarried), but this is not outwith the possible. Lastly the name Mawhinney was an Islandmagee name. We have a record of Samuel McIlhaggo there marrying Ellon McWhinney. Admittedly I am flying a kite here, but at this stage I have no better suggestions. And we might just have discovered what happened to James Junior from Islandmagee!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

'Brother' John

The second person who appears in the Maxwellswalls Applotment Book after Henry is John McIlhaggo. Who was this? There are three 'candidates', all farmers in the townland of Maxwellswalls. John who married Eliza McCullough in 1859 surely comes on to the scene too late, a generation late. He was in fact the son of a Henry McIlhago, so he is the right age to belong to Henry who married Mary McDole, but we already have a son Henry, married to Agnes McMeekin, in this 'slot', unless of course he should be elsewhere! At present one of these two Henrys can't easily be fitted into a Maxwellswalls Tree. There is a John who married Eliza Spear in 1822. This would surely give him a birth date at or before the turn of the century. Was he therefore the elder 'brother', or more likely the father of the four 'brothers'. Perhaps he is too early!

The third candidate falls in the middle. He is John who married Mary Houston in about 1832, and so may have been born at the end of the first decade of the century. John and Mary had children in 1833 (Eliza) and 1834 (William). Unless some more telling evidence comes our way the three Johns we have noted appear to represent three generations of the clan farmers in Maxwellswalls. Although at the moment we don't know where to place them, we may add an interesting note about John and Eliza. They appear, with the surname McIlhagge in the 1911 Irish Census at 32 Maxwellswalls, the only Maxwellswalls folk left. John was 86 and Eliza was 70, therefore being born respectively in 1825 and 1841. It could be that John died that year for the following year, 1912, Eliza from Maxwellswalls signed the Ulster Covenant and there is no 'John' signature.

So do we know anything about John who married Mary Houston and their family? Eliza could be the clan member who married Mathew McDowell on 17th May 1856 at Ballymena 3rd Presbyterian Church. Rather less likely she could have been Elizabeth who married James Graham on 10th April 1854 at Ballymena Registrar's Office, Kirkinriola. William may have married Catherine Johnstone Easton and had a daughter called after William's mother, Mary Houston McIlhagga, born 23rd April 1870. They also had four other children, John (b. 15th Nov. 1863), Catherine Johnston (b. 10th Oct 1865), William (b. 29th Mar 1868) and Robert Easton (b. 12th May 1872). We have to add an interesting conjecture about Mary Houston. Her marriage to John produced two children, Eliza and William in 1833 and 1834 and we don't know of any further children. However there are further children for a Mary Houston and a William Gage McIlhaggie, all in  subsequent years, Rebecca (b. 1835), Samuel (b. 1844), Henry and Margaret who gave notice of William's death on 12th October 1865. What we may surmise therefore is that John died in 1834/5 and Mary remarried, probably his brother, William Gage. This is how I am presenting this situation in the Maxwellswalls Tree Construction, unless anyone knows better! 

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Ballee, Connor, Ballymena

I have corresponded for quite some time with a clan descendant in Australia and between us we have made some headway with research into her family. The family tree to which she belongs has at present a modest 52 people on it. My information about this branch of the clan has come, over the years, from several people, all in Australia. The main focus of interest has been my correspondent's grandfather who is the person who emigrated to Sydney, New South Wales. His picture and that of his wife whom he met and married in Sydney head our blog today. He was Robert James McIlhagga and she was Nellie Flora Macleod.

The are two records of a Robert McIlhagga sailing to Australia. A Robert accompanied by Margaret was aboard the PS Asturias from Southampton, England, arriving Freemantle 22nd September 1947. There is a much earlier record of Robt. McIllhagga (or McIlhagga) who sailed from London to Freemantle aboard the PS Orsova, arriving 30th April 1929. Robert James was indeed a seasoned sailor. Born 13th May 1885 at Ballee, a townland in the parish of Connor, County Antrim, it is said that he left Ireland at the incredibly young age of 11 years old as a Cabin Boy on sailing ships. He was the third child and second son in a large family of eleven children. We can only speculate as to a reason for leaving home at such an age. It is said that he was never to see his brothers or sisters again as he travelled round the world many times. We have a note of some of the ships on which Robert sailed. They include the following: SS Kwinana 1915; Allinga 1915; Niagara 1917; Suva 1923; Kokiri 1924; Airangi 1925; Rona 1927; TSS Esperance Bay 1928; Time 1933; Orungal 1933; Fiona 1934; Mackarra 1934; Dumosa 1936; Canberra 1937; Cobango 1938; Ngakuta 1940; Wallarah 1946; Mgatoro 1947 and Malaita 1949. He possibly ended up 'down under' as what the Australians call a '£10 Pom', the name for folk who had got an assisted passage.

Robert James remained a seafarer after he married Nellie Flora Macleod (daughter of Roderick Macleod and Caroline Robinson) in Sydney in 1923. They had three daughters. There are now five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. 'R.J' himself was one of a family of eleven children, of whom eight were alive in 1911. This is one of the facts we learn from the 1911 Census. We know who some of them were. Matilda Jane (possibly known as Jean, b. 8th Jul 1877) married Robert Dalzell and had three children. William (b. 1st July 1879) went into the Royal Marines for a time. Elizabeth (b. 1886) married Richard Henry Cleland who was killed in the First World War. John (Jack, b. 3rd Feb. 1888) was in the SNLR for a time. Samuel (b. 1891) married Mary Hunt. Andrew (b. 13th Apr 1896) laboured in a Belfast Iron Works as a teenager, then was a Fireman in the Merchant Navy in his early twenties. Margaret may have been the person who sailed to Australia with Robert in 1947. She was named after her mother, Margaret Craig,  who on 8th April 1876 married Robert McIlhagga senior (b. 1859 in Ballee), in Kirkinriola, Ballymena. They moved to Belfast where the lived at 5 Azamor Street, Woodvale. This is the address that appears in the 1911 Census when Robert, Samuel, Andrew and Margaret were at home. The following year Samuel and Andrew gave the same address when they signed the Ulster Covenant. And it was at this address that Robert senior died on 13th October 1912.

We don't know whether Robert senior had any siblings. We do however know that he was the son of James McIlhagga, born about 1833 who married Jane Middleton in 1853 in County Antrim. For the time being it is James we must consider to be the progenitor of this family line. It is interesting to ask whether there is a James born about 1833 who 'fits the wider picture'. As Ballee is in the parish of Connor it is natural to look to the family in the townland of Maxwellswalls, where there is indeed a James, one of the four 'brothers' who are in the Tithe Applotment book there. However he must be a generation early and unless he or one of the others had a son James we have run down a cul-de-sac! At present I do not know of another James who would enable us to take this line back a generation.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Henry's Will

The Will Calendars in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) reads: 'The Will of Henry M'Ilhagga or M'Ilhaga late of Maxwellswalls, Antrim, Farmer, who died the seventh of March 1886 at the same place was proved at Belfast by Samuel Beggs of Barnish and James McMeekin of Collinview both in the said County, Farmers, the Executors'. Appointing James McMeekin as one of his executors, together with the fact that he mentions his wife Agnes in the Will, I think makes us certain that, from several Henries about at the time, this Henry must be the one who married Agnes McMeekin. She was presumably James' sister; they married on 31st August 1854 or 1855 at Templepatrick, County Antrim - there are two IGI records of this marriage giving different years! Also we know they named their second child and eldest son Samuel McMeekin, so we can be doubly sure of the name of Henry's wife.

Two of their seven children are named in the Will, Jane and James. It is probable that four others had left home: Elizabeth (aged 30), Samuel (28), John (26) and Mary Ann (22). An unnamed female had been born and presumably had died in 1865. But why hadn't Jane (23) or James(19) left? It is clear from the Will that the plan was for James eventually to take over the farm, but in 1886 he was after all still a teenager. And Jane? Well, there is a grand-daughter Sarah Mary named in the Will! We may presume that she was Jane's natural daughter and that Jane stayed at home to look after her. Henry's effects were worth a modest £60.17s, about £5000 sterling in today's money. Interestingly he left farmland, stock, crop and household goods to his wife Agnes and on her death half each to James and Jane. He left £5 from each of them to his grandchild.

A presumption is made on the IGI that Henry was born about 1830, when his name is spelled McIlhaggo, as it is on the IGI record of his marriage. As this is our earliest Irish Will its form, written in a perfect copper-plate hand, is of special interest so I will produce it below. We note that Henry 'made his mark'. Either he could not write or he was too ill to write - he died only eighteen days after making his will. We note that his surname is here spelled McIlhagga three times and McIlhaga four times, due to a lack of consistency by the scribe - a good example of how name variants evolved as late as the 19th Century. Third, Henry had confidence in his wife Agnes managing the farm. Fourth, although Jane was to get half the value of the farm, James only was to succeed Henry and Agnes as the farmer, and presumably as the leasee from the local landowner, Lord Massarene. Fifth, and very significantly, the place of residence was Maxwellswalls.

This is the Last Will and Testament of me Henry M'Ilhagga of Maxwellswalls in the County of Antrim made this 19th day of February in the year of our Lord one Thousand eight hundred and 86. I hereby revoke all wills by me at any time heretofore made. I appoint Samuel Beggs Barnish James McMeekin Collin View to be my Executors and direct that all my just debts and funeral and Testamentary expenses shall be paid as soon as conveniently may be after my decease. I give and bequeath unto my Wife Agnes McIlhaga all my farm of land which I at present hold in Maxwellswalls with all my stock and crop thereon with all my household goods to be held and managed by her during her life and if she can hold it so long at her death I allow the property to go to my son James McIlhaga by him paying one half of the valuation of all the said property made by two competent persons minus all the just debts to my daughter Jane McIlhagga after which division of the property I allow them to pay five pounds each to my grandchild Sarah Mary McIlhagga and if any of my two children die before this division of the property takes place all is to fall to the survivor after the Mother's decease~~~Signed by the said Henry X (his mark) McIlhaga the Testator in the presence of us present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have subscribed our Names as Witnesses: Samuel Beggs..........William Scott........

Probate of the Will of Henry McIlhagga, Deceased Granted on the 11th day of October 1886 To Samuel Beggs and James McMeekin the executors herein named.........

Full Abstract:

The Will of Henry M'Ilhagga or M'Ilhaga late of Maxwellswalls County Antrim Farmer who died 7 March 1886 at same place was proved at Belfast by Samuel Beggs of Barnish and James M'Meekin of Collin-view both in said County Farmers the Executors.

Saturday, 11 July 2009


Kells and Connor are two adjacent villages about five miles south of the town of Ballymena in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. In the parish of Connor in the Barony of Lower Antrim is the Townland of Maxwellswalls. Sometimes spelled Maxwell's Walls this is a farming area of 1419 acres. I have mentioned it once when recording a gravestone inscription in Kirkhill Cemetery memorialising the McIlhagga and the McCullough families. Farmer John McIlhagga had married Elizaabeth McCullough in 1859 in Ballymena. In the Ulster Towns directory of 1910 there were still a Mrs. M'Ilhegga (sic) and an R. McCullough living in Maxwellswalls. But I race ahead...

Chronologically, after the 19th Century clan references in earlier blogs to Carnmoney, Rathkenny, Lisnacrogher, Limavallaghan and Ballycloughan, the next family group is to be found in Maxwellswalls. In addition to the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and recently published Civil Records, much useful information can be gleaned from four Wills, three of farmers in Maxwellswalls and one of a related Industrialist in Belfast. Henry McIlhagga died 7th March 1886. John Wilson McIlhagga died 11th April 1896, Archibald McIlhagga died 14th April 1898. Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga, our Industrialist, died 6th September 1905. However, before considering each of these Wills we must go back a generation and note that in the mid 1830s we find four names in the 1836 Tithe Applotment Book for Maxwellswalls, when Henry above would have been no more than 13 years old. They are each recorded with the surname McIlhaggo - another Henry, a James, a John and a William. Clearly they were all related and the most reasonable assumption is that they were brothers. If so, did their father move into the area from Carnmoney or perhaps Islandmagee? Certainly the spelling McIlhaggo occurs in both places.

It would be helpful to know who was the father of 13-year-old Henry, and whether he was one of the four 'brothers' in the Tithe Applotment Book. Fortunately we know that young Henry's father was also a Henry, married to Mary McDole (or McDowel). We know this from his son's death entry. I think we must work on the assumption that he is the 'brother' Henry. Young Henry, born about 1823, married Agnes McMeekin on 31st August 1854/5 in Templepatrick Presbyterian Church (near Carnmoney!). They had seven children, two of whom are named in Henry's Will. The seven were: Elizabeth Ingram (b. 7th Sep. 1856 at Templepatrick), Samuel McMeekin (baptised 1st Jan. 1859 at the 1st Presbyterian Church, Connor), John (b. 4th Nov. 1860), Jane (bapt. 14th Aug. at Connor 1st Presbyterian Church), Mary Ann (bapt. 1st May 1864 at Connor 1st Presbyterian Church), an unnamed female (b. 1865, Connor) who presumably died as an infant, and James (b. 18th March 1867, Connor). I will look at Henry's Will in detail in a further blog.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Thomas Joseph and Joseph Thomas

A recent note on the Internet told me that the Quinte Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society had recently put a Names Index on line. I checked the surname McIlhagga and got seven results for Edith C (Lynch), Mrs. Edith Christine, Evelyn Vera, Joseph Thomas (Smith), Thomas J. and Thomas Joseph (two). These names reminded me that when I was staying in Canada with a cousin we retrieved a document from Quinte which contained an interesting story. It told me that a Thomas Joseph McIlhagga died in 1970 and was buried in Mount Calvary Roman Catholic Cemetery, Trenton (now the city of Quinte West), Murray, Northumberland, Ontario (Burial Reference LSGS 0 087). This record gives us a birth year of 1897.

I am also reminded that on 24th January last I wrote a blog entry called 'Home Children' which traced my first cousin (once removed), Thomas, born 6th November 1895, to Quebec, Canada where he went after the death of his mother. He had been 'adopted' by a farmer in Argenteuil. However, after a reference to Thomas serving in the First World War the trail goes cold. I said that as his name was not on a War Memorial he probably survived. But what happened to him? I am now asking the question, could my cousin Thomas be Thomas Joseph buried in 'Mount Calvary'? The birth year is two years out, but such errors are common. The additional name of Joseph raises questions. Apparently he married an Edith Christine Lynch. May be she was a Roman Catholic and Thomas 'converted' and adopted the extra name of Joseph either at his (conditional) baptism or his confirmation.

The next part of the story is in some family papers entitled 'Smith Family History' which are lodged with the Seventh Town Historical Society, Ameliasburg in Ontario, and which are available to the public. They tell us that in 1947 Thomas Joseph and Edith Christine McIlhagga adopted a Joseph Thomas, the fourth child of George Joseph and Doris Lillian (nee Ellis) Smith of Peterborough, Ontario. He was born on 18th July 1944 at Peterborough. There seems to be some doubt about 'Joe's' parentage as Gayle (wife of Michael Arthur, George and Doris' fifth child) calls him her (though in reality her husband's) half-brother and confusingly implies some relationship to Edith McIlhagga's sister Madeline. In any case we know his father was not a McIlhagga. It is Gayle who has lodge the Smith papers.

Gayle records that Joseph 'attended public school Queen Alexander in the north part of the town, at 8 Victoria Avenue. After his father [presumably his adoptive father] came home in the war overseas Thomas McIlhagga [ie his adoptive father] worked as orderly at St. Joseph's Hospital... Joe.. spent time in correction school. Worked at the Churchill restaurant as a dishwasher. His [adoptive] parents moved to Trenton in the early 60s. After Joseph's father died [1970] Joseph... lived down in Nova Scotia for about three months. Then he moved to Toronto and lived in a rooming place at 171 Seaton Street near Dundas. He then moved up the street to 200 Seaton Street. This was in 1972. In Feb. 1974 Joseph was at my sister's wedding in Goodrich, Ontario. After that Joseph just vanished out of our lives. Some say he was murder (sic) in the States. But I'm going to keep searching for him'.

We may not know where his adoptive son is, but I think we now know what happened to Thomas who was born in Liverpool, England. At the age of 13 he found himself aboard a ship bound for Quebec. After returning from the First World War he decided not to continue in farming and got himself a job in St. Joseph's Hospital. May be it was the dedication of the hospital which suggested a name to be added when he became a Roman Catholic and married Edith. We may assume they didn't have children of their own, but - perhaps expressing gratitude for Thomas' own 'adoption' - they adopted young Joseph Smith. Thomas died in 1970 and was buried in Trenton, Ontario. It looks as if he lost contact completely with his family in the United Kingdom and it is unlikely that he ever returned to his homeland. So a branch of the McIlhagga clan came to an end.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Scott Memorial Inscription

After Alexander had died so tragically in a Rail accident, his wife Margaret had a Memorial Gravestone erected in the Cemetery on the west side of Yarraville, on the Geelong Road, known as Footscray. Its photograph is above, and it gives us some details which we would not otherwise have. Margaret named on the stone was born Margaret McIlhagga, daughter of William and Agnes (nee McCosh) McIlhagga of Ballycloughan, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. Its full inscription reads:

In Loving Remembrance
the beloved husband of
died October 18th aged 49 years
beloved wife of the above
died 17th July 1922 aged 77. 
also their children
died 6th Oct. 1895 aged 22.
died 9th Jan. 1896 aged 20.
died 15th Oct. 1951 aged 82.
 died 11th Oct. 1952 aged 63.

Thy will be done.

Port Glasgow to Yarraville

In the first decade of the twenty-first century we have clan members or descendants in five of Australia's states, in New South Wales, in Western Australia, in Queensland, in the Northern Territories and in Victoria. In my last blog I referred to part of my own family (cousins) who emigrated to Victoria, and I want to expand on this now. Margaret McIlhagga was born in Ballycloughan, County Antrim and baptised at Broughshane's 1st Presbyterian Church on 16th June 1844. By the time she was seventeen she had moved first to Greenock on the west coast of Scotland where for a time she lived with her sister Jane Wade but by the time she was twenty-two she had met and married Alexander Scott from nearby Port Glasgow. At their marriage she was living in Chapel Lane, Port Glasgow and Alexander in Gillespies Lane. They married in the Church of Scotland with witnesses 'William', her father and Martha McDowell. Alexander was a ship's carpenter and Margaret had got a job as a Mill Worker.

Their first five children, born in Port Glasgow, were Hugh (b. 8.3.1867; d.bef. 1886); Agnes (b. 8.10.1869; d. Victoria 15.10.1951); Elizabeth (b. 24.7.1873; d. Footscray 8.10.1895) and twins in 1875, William (b. 12.6.1875; d. 1896) and Annie (d.bef. 1886). In 1876 the family emigrated to Australia. They landed in Melbourne and found accommodation in Gray Street in nearby Yarraville. There they had the following six children: Alexander (b. 1877, m. Alice Ann Huntingdon 15.7.1903; d. 4.5.1947 Fawkner, Victoria); Margaret (b. 6.11.1879 in Yarraville, m. John Michael County 9.8.1902 in Melbourne; d. 26.1.1951 Footscray); James Crawford (c. 1822 in Yarraville, m. Emily Grant 30.11.Font size1904; d. 13.4.1960 Fawkner), John Wilson (b. 1884, m. Frances M. Williams 20.12.1911); Hugh (b. 8.2.1886 in Yarraville; m. Lily McKenzie Dodds 26.6.1911, South Melbourne) and Anderson (c. 1889 in Yarraville, d.c. 1952 in Footscray). 

A descendant in Australia wrote of this family in our Clan Newsletter in October 2005 as a good example of an application of the Scottish Naming Pattern, 'The first female child was named for her maternal grandmother – Agnes.  This Agnes did not marry and became a school teacher in Victoria, Australia.  She taught at Yarraville, Horsham, Footscray, St.Kild and Kaniva Primary Schools.  She was a devout Presbyterian and every Sunday would find her attending her local Church.  In fact all the Scott children were baptised in the Presbyterian Church, although as they grew to adulthood some chose other spiritual paths to walk.  The next two were twins.  William was named for his maternal grandfather.  Elizabeth for her paternal grandmother.  After that these children were given names from either side of the family.  These being Annie, Alexander, Margaret, James Crawford, John Wilson and another Hugh (as the first had died), then Anderson.'

Tragically Alexander died in an accident on 15th October 1888. A granddaughter of Hugh Scott, who lives in Western Australia, has written of Alexander's accident and of its consequences as follows: 'His injuries[were caused by] being struck by a train at Yarraville.  The impact threw his body against the pillar of a bridge causing massive head and internal injuries.  Margaret was expecting her eleventh child at the time of this accident.  She had a family to take care of and she was the only one who could do it as there were no relatives in Australia. She opened a butter shop next to the house that the family lived in at Gray Street, Yarraville, to provide for her children.  Older family members who knew her said she was a very hard working, strict lady who knew how to save her pennies.  She knew how to keep records and be very precise about it.' 

The photograph above shows the Gray Street house next to which was Margaret’s butter and milk shop, the house in which she died on 19th July 1920 aged 76.  Even in 1920 we are still at a time when names are not as fixed as they are today and Margaret’s death certificate records her as McIlhaggie, though it is McIlhaga on her Baptism Record. Our family ‘contact’ has given us a very interesting piece of information to show how names can be misheard and then misspelled, a frequent occurrence at immigration. On her grandfather Hugh Scott’s marriage certificate his mother-in-law’s maiden name was recorded as Margaret Muckle Hagger.  She was in fact affectionately known as Margaret McIl and the person who recorded the information must have thought that the name sounded like ‘Muckle’!  We also have a photograph of the Scott Memorial Inscription at Footscray.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Agnes and Margaret

It is always of special interest to see old photographs of clan members, and even of the offspring of clan members! William and Agnes (nee McCosh) McIlhagga who were married about 1840 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, had, we think, seven children in the Townland of Ballycloughan near the 'Garden Town' of Antrim, Broughshane. Their youngest child was Margaret who married Alexander Scott on 26th June 1866 in Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Alexander came from Port Glasgow and many of the McIlhaggas had emigrated to nearby Greenock. After having five children between 1867 and 1875 this family emigrated to Victoria, Australia. They settled in Yarraville where they had a further six children. Their second child and first daughter born 8th October 1869 in Port Glasgow was Agnes. Their seventh child and fourth daughter was Margaret born 6th November 1879 in Yarraville. Agnes did not marry. She became the headmistress of Francis Street state school in Yarraville. She died on 15th October 1951 aged 82. The left hand photograph above is of Agnes. Margaret married John Michael County on 9th August 1902 and died in Footscray, Victoria, aged 71 on 26th January 1951 having had a family of 13 children. Margaret's photograph is on the right above. A grand-daughter of John and Margaret has kindly sent us these photographs and has given us permission to publish them. She has also sent us a group photograph of the County family.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

1911 and 1912

Until recently, with Irish Censuses being either wholly or partly destroyed, we had to rely on 'Census Substitutes'. One such is the Ulster Covenant signed in 1912 by both men and women who wanted to protest against the British Government's proposals for Irish Home Rule. We now have on line the 1911 Census and we can compare this with the rather minimal information in the Covenant. One of the interesting things we can do is to compare the signatures on the two documents for we have the originals of both - the Ulster Covenant signatures being on the Internet site of the Provincial Record Office for Northern Ireland (PRONI) - but that is for another time.

The basic statistics as far as our clan is concerned are as follows. The total number of names: Census 114, Covenant 45. The Covenant signatures were all adults, with the probable exception of one working 14-year old boy. The Census is made up of 24 'heads of households', 49 other adults (including 14 teenagers over school-leaving age) and 41 children.  It seems certain (or almost certain) that 21 adults on the Census signed the Covenant, and that another 8 almost certainly did. This leaves 14 Covenant signatures that may or may not be on the Census and two which certainly were not for they gave an address in Belgium. Presumably they had returned to Ulster specifically to make their protest.

What else does the Census reveal? 24 'heads', 17 wives, 42 sons and one grandson, 23 daughters and one grand-daughter, two brothers and one sister, one 'children's nurse' and one 'boarder'. Where were they all born? 93 in County Antrim, 16 in Belfast, 3 in County Derry, one each in Counties Down and Armagh. Everyone declared a Christian denomination: Presbyterian 78; Church of Ireland 10; Plymouth Brethren 9; Baptist 8; Methodist 4; City Mission 3 and Roman Catholic one. What occupations? Farming 8 (Farmer 2; Farm Labourer or Servant 4; Flax Buncher or Scrutcher 2). Railway workers 6 (Clerk, Carter, Porter, Fireman, Engine Cleaner and 'Burling Engine Man'). In businesses 10 (Coal Vendor, Hawker, Oil Merchant, Clerks, Office Boys and girls). Craftspeople 10 (Carpenters, Shipwrights, Weavers, Gas Worker, Seamstresses). In Food 4 (Fruiterer, Bakers, Confectioner). Labourers 7 (Iron, Tobacco, Shipyard, General). And lastly a Child's Nurse to a GP. Finally, in which Registration District did they live? Shankill 26, Killagan 16, Ballymena 13, Kells 11, Belfast 10, Ormeau, Down 10, Clifton 8, Woodvale 6, Duncairn 4, Ballyclare 3, Kilroghts and Connor 2 each; Bangor, Court and Pottinger one each.

What we can learn from the 1911 Census and from a comparison of it with the 1912 Covenant of Ulster about the different families must be left for another day.