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!

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