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.

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