Saturday, 4 July 2009

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.


  1. On 13 June 2012, Sandra, ggranddaughter of Maggie Scott/McIlhagga wrote to say the address of the Butter Shop was 23 Gray Street and that Maggie owned two houses either side.

  2. Further to add to Maggie's ownership of houses was the house she lived in at Mackay St. Yarraville which had stables at the back. I am yet to find her will bequeath to her daughter Agnes Scott (Headmistress) Agnes after many years gave number 25 Gray St to Margaret County
    The remaining houses was then willed Anderson Scott.