Monday, 31 August 2009

Last Will from Maxwellswalls

I first came across the name Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga when a grand-daughter of someone she called Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga Junior e-mailed me from the USA seeking some information about her family. My subsequent research showed it to be one of the financially 'better-off' of the families of the McIlhagga clan. 'Nathaniel Junior' turned out to be the grandson of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga of Maxwellswalls who married Henrietta Wilson, and who died in 1905. Some of the information I could pass on to the USA came from his Will from which I could calculate that his 'effects' were worth (in 2006 value) some £110,000. This was the Nathaniel who had been made Executor and Beneficiary of his farmer brother John's Will. Between then and him making his own Will, Nathaniel had moved 'upmarket' from a house in Belfast to a property in the country on the south side of the town, called Loughview, in Old Cavehill Road, presumably overlooking Belfast Lough. A Belfast Directory tells us that Nathaniel (senior) owned McIlhagga & Co., who were Dry Salters and Mill Furnishers at 5 & 6 Albert Square, Belfast. It is particularly interesting to read Nathaniel's Will which reveals him as a person of very definite ideas and of a somewhat controlling nature, certainly the successful entrepreneur of his day. It is written, like the other wills I have recorded in this blog, almost without punctuation, though it is somewhat longer:

I Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga of Belfast Merchant hereby revoke all testamentary instruments heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last Will I appoint my son James Wilson McIlhagga and my friend William John Hutchinson of Ballylagan Ballynure (hereinafter called my trustees) to be the executors of this my Will and trustees of this my Will for the several purposes hereinafter expressed or referred to. I leave to my son James the goodwill of my business carried on at Great Patrick Street Belfast and my interest in the premises in which the said business is carried on together with the shop stock fittings and fixtures therein and the business debts due to me subject to payment of the business debts due by me. And I direct my son Archie to continue in my said business with my said son James and that James pay to him one third of the net profits of the said business yearly until my said son Archie attain Twenty Five years of age and upon Archie attaining that age I direct my said son James to take him into partnership upon the basis of Archie being entitled to one third of the value of the business if both agree but in case they do not so agree then my said son James is to be entitled to keep the entire business upon payment of the sum of Fifty pounds to Archie. I leave devise and bequeath unto my trustees my interest in the property at Skegoneil held from me by Mr. Fred Hughes upon trust for my wife until my daughter Lily shall attain Twenty one years of age or until my said wife shall marry again and from and after whichever of these events shall first happen upon trust for my said daughter free from the control of any husband she may have and without power of anticipation Provided always that in case my said daughter shall die without any lawful issue surviving her then I direct that my interest in the property held from me by Mr. Fred Hughes shall be held by my trustees for the same trusts and purposes as are hereinafter declared concerning my residuary at Skegoniel to my trustees upon trust as regards one half share thereof for my wife absolutely and as regards the other half share thereof for my said daughter Lily absolutely I leave devise and bequeath unto my trustees all the rest residue and remainder of my real and personal property upon trust after payment of my funeral and testamentary expenses and debts (other than debt in connection with my business in Great Patrick Street Belfast which are hereinbefore provided for) for my wife until my youngest child shall attain Twenty one years of age or my wife shall marry again and from and after whichever of said events shall first happen upon trust for my six sons in equal shares Subject to payment thereafter of a sum of Thirty pounds per annum to my said wife for her life Provided that this annuity which I hereby charge upon my residuary property shall only be payable in the event of my said wife remaining unmarried In case my said wife shall marry again I direct that all her interest hereinbefore given in my said property shall cease and determine and thereupon I direct my trustees to manage said property until my said youngest child shall attain the age of Twenty one years and to pay thereout such sums for the maintenance of such of my said children as are then under the age of Twenty one years (not exceeding the income of the presumptive share to which such minor child or children would be entitled) as my trustees in their discretion may think fit I direct my said wife to allow my children to have a home with her at my residence provided those who are over Twenty one years of age contribute sufficient for their support and those who are under Twenty one years of age do so after they respectively attain that age but until they respectively attain that age they are to be supported and maintained by my said wife but in the event of the marriage of any of them they shall not be entitled to remain with or receive further support or maintenance from my said wife I authorise and empower my trustees to make building leases of any undeveloped portion or portions of my property they may consider proper at such rents as they may consider sufficient and such rents shall be considered part of my residuary property and shall be subject to the same trusts as are hereinbefore declared in regard to my residuary property In witness whereof I the said Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga have to this my will set my hand this Thirty first day of July One thousand nine hundred and one..... Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga..... Signed and acknowledged by the above named Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga as his will in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses... John E.H. Wilson, Solicitor, Belfast; James Boyd, Castlegore, Farmer.

Where did the name Owens come from? We don't know, though it is almost certainly a maiden name being 'kept alive' by creating a family tradition. Perhaps the mother of the four Maxwellswalls farmers whom I have called 'brothers' in the mid-19th Century had been an Owens. Nathaniel married Henrietta Wilson on 12th December 1866 in Mallusk Methodist Church, Templepatrick, Newtownabbey, when he was 25, and certainly kept the Wilson name alive with his son's name, James Wilson, though as we have noted in a previous blog, where the 'Wilson' in his brother John's name came from we cannot be sure. It may be interesting to float the conjecture that there could be a link back to a Nathan McIlhaggar who married an Ellen Wilson in Carnmoney or perhaps less likely to the female McIlhagga who married a Patrick Wilson in Islandmagee.

Nathaniel died on 6th September 1905 at the age of 64, he and Henrietta having probably had nine children. We can see from his Will that he clearly intended his son James Wilson to carry on the business in Belfast for he made him Executor of his Will and the chief Beneficiary. He also had hopes that his son Archie would become a partner with James. In the event James probably did continue the business. He was certainly around to sign the Ulster Covenant in 1912. He was living at the time at 4 Brantwood Street, Belfast. His brother Nathaniel Owens living at 'Loughview' also signed the Covenant. James Wilson married Sarah Jane Hoye (or Hayne). Their son, also Nathaniel Owens (born 27th November 1908) who my correspondent from the USA had called Nathaniel Owens 'Junior', emigrated to the New World. The Immigration Records of Canada have him arriving on 23rd April 1927 aged 18 at Quebec aboard the Cunard PS Aluania. He married Marjorie Adele Taylor (daughter of Edwin H. Taylor and Elizabeth A. Evans). She was an artist who illustrated a book for parents entitled Mom, I'm bored (ISBN 0961566191). Nathaniel Owens 'Junior' died on 25th March 1988 in Portland, Clackamas, Oregon. Marjorie died on 31st December 1992.

We will deal with four of the sons of Nathaniel and Henrietta in a separate blog - John Hutchinson, Archibald Duncan, George and Joseph. There were (I think) nine children altogether. Of the others we know very little. William was the eldest, born 13th December 1868. Henrietta was the eldest daughter, born 15th February 1870. James Wilson we have met in Nathaniel's Will, as we have Lily. Lily, baptised Elizabeth, made a prestigious marriage and we will meet her and her descendants in another blog. Nathaniel Owens was probably their youngest son. This of course makes a total of seven sons, although Nathaniel in his Will mentions that he had six. We must assume this means 'six who are alive' with the implication that William had died by 1905.

50 Great Prayers

The last day of August must be favoured for new publications. Fifty of the best-loved prayers of the Iona Community, Scotland, have been gathered together by Neil Paynter under the title 50 Great Prayers. They have been published today and include five by Kate McIlhagga, entitled 'Circuit', 'Birth Blessing', 'Moontime of the Winter', 'Go Gently' and 'The Shadow of the Dove'. Kate (Catharine Anne McCrae), 1938-2002, married into the McIlhagga Clan, and was always very proud of the name. In the last ten years of her life she moved to Northumberland, north-east England, on the Scottish border, where she was inspired to write prayer-poems. A collection of most of her writings is published by Wild Goose Publications under the title The Green Heart of the Snowdrop. Here's one of her pieces that didn't make it into the new 50 Great Prayers anthology.

Touch of Love

As winter trees
stretch out bare arms
to a dark sky,
I stretch out
in the darkness
to find the touch of love.

As snowdrops
turn their gentle faces
to the sun,
I long to find
in that warmth
the promise of peace.

As the forest fire
breaks the shell of the seed,
so may my pain
break the shell of isolation
that protects me
from myself.

In the security of darkness,
the warmth of the sunshine,
the promise of fire,
may I blossom anew
in the miracle
of your saving love
O God.


The Clan must congratulate today's launch of MapSherpa from DM Solutions Group in Ottawa, Canada. 'DM' is Dave McIlhagga. Dave is the son of a teacher who was born in England who married a girl from Wales. Dave's grandfather was Col. William McIlhagga, Royal Canadian Air Force, born in 1922 in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan. He married April Smith who was an officer in the Second World War in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force in England. William's father Andrew lived in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1890-1949. He and his wife Sarah had two sons. The older, Liston Burns McIlhagga will in due course have a blog entry to himself - one of the most interesting men the clan has produced. Andrew's father, William (1857-1931) worked on the Railways in Northern Ireland. He married Mary Spence in 1878 in Ballymena. The progenitor of this McIlhagga line was another William, whose name we know from the marriage record of William and Mary. He worked in the famous Irish Linen Industry. There are 149 people on the Family Tree which contains the above line. Here is the press release for today's launch of MapSherpa:

DM Solutions Group Launches MapSherpa
August 31, 2009

Company: DM Solutions Group
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

MapSherpa delivers personalized print maps of Canada for recreational users

    Ottawa, Canada
      – August 31, 2009 – DM Solutions Group, a leading provider of web mapping products and solutions today launched MapSherpa - an online service that allows users to design personalized high quality paper and printable maps of Canada.

      The primary focus of MapSherpa is to enable Canadian outdoor recreation enthusiasts to create topographic maps that reflect the quality of maps only found in mass print production. MapSherpa’s cartographers have designed the base maps to be appropriate for use in the field by recreation enthusiasts such as hikers, canoeists, campers, skiers and geocachers.

      MapSherpa uses web technologies to allow users to define their exact area of interest, and to add their own content such as camp sites, ski trails, planned canoe routes or a cottage. Once the user has completed all of the specifications for their map – a high quality map is produced, ready for use in the field or to display as a memento of a favourite excursion.

      “MapSherpa’s goal is to deliver maps of equal quality to off-the-shelf paper maps, with the value-add of user defined geography and content,” commented Dave McIlhagga, President and CEO of DM Solutions Group. “The result is single-run map production meaning our users can now produce unique maps that cannot be acquired anywhere else.”

      Consumers can sign up today for a free account at

      About DM Solutions Group

      DM Solutions Group has been exclusively focused on the development of web mapping technologies and solutions since 1998. As a leader in the development of open source web mapping technologies, the company has been able to implement over 100 highly innovative web mapping solutions within numerous vertical markets including real estate, health care, and fleet tracking.

      DM Solutions Group is based in Ottawa, Canada.

      For more information visit

      Dave McIlhagga (
      Phone: 613-565-5056 x15

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The end of a farm in Maxwellswalls

On 15th August I listed the wills of three McIlhagga siblings from Maxwellswalls in the order in which they were proved, those made by John Wilson, Archibald and Nathaniel Owens. This is the order in which those three siblings died, though not necessarily the order in which they were born. There is some evidence from the marriage registers where 'full age' is recorded, that Nathaniel Owens was born about 1845 and Archibald between 1853 and 1864. This could make Nathaniel the oldest sibling. There is some slight evidence from names that John Wilson is the youngest. Where does John's second name come from? The only Wilson family we know is that into which Nathaniel married. I think it is unlikely that one of these siblings would have been given this second name unless as the youngest it was to honour a long standing family friendship. I did say slight evidence.

However, back to the Wills. What do we learn from John's? Here is a transcript of his Will:

I John Wilson McIlhagga of Maxwellswalls in the County of Antrim Farmer declare this to be my last will and Testament I revoke all other wills and Testamentary dispositions heretofore made by me Whereas I and my brother Archibald and my sister Margaret reside in occupy and cultivate and for a considerable number of years past have resided on occupied and cultivated a farm of land in Maxwellswalls held under Lord Masereene and the same and the furniture chattels stock and crop thereon and used therewith have belonged and do belong to me and my said brother and sister in equal shares as tenants in common Now I hereby give devise and bequeath all my share and interest in the said farm and the tenancy therein and in the furniture stock crop chattels and effects thereon and therein and also all my other real and personal estate if any to my brother Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga and appoint my said brother Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga the Executor of this my will In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of March One thousand eight hundred and ninety six......John Wilson McIlhagga........Signed by the Testator the above named John Wilson McIlhagga as and for his last Will and Testament in presence of us both present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as Witnesses...George Gardiner farmer Archibald Duncan farmer.

It would appear that John, Archibald and Margaret lived and worked together on one farm and that they had done so 'for many years'. I wonder how many? Perhaps a quarter of a century? This would only take us back to about 1870. Perhaps the Masereene Estate papers will tell us, if ever I have the chance to examine them. Indeed maybe they had lived on the same farm since they were born and had taken over the tenancy from their father William. In this case the 'many' could be up to fifty years. It is interesting that the family life of William and his wife and children became an 'extended' family when Archibald married Agnes Jamieson in 1885. By the time John died in 1896 Archibald and Agnes had had all six of their children. The place must once again have felt as it did when Nathaniel, Archibald, Margaret and John were children, though this 'extended family' was not to last for long.

Clearly the three siblings were equal business partners. It might therefore have seemed logical for John to have left his share of the farm equally to Archie and Maggie, but he didn't. He left his share to the brother who had left home and had gone into a very different kind of industry, and who, they must have known, was doing rather well in it. Also clearly the three farmed together for quite some time before Archibald got married. They didn't then treat his wife as a 'partner', though when Archibald died only a year later and left everything he had to Agnes, Margaret must have had to treat her as an equal business partner. It is interesting that by the beginning of 1898 the farm was in the hands of the two women, Margaret and Agnes, for we have no evidence of Nathaniel leaving his Belfast business and becoming 'hands on' in Maxwellswalls, though no doubt he kept an eye on his inheritance from John. How long the farm continued we do not know, though it cannot have been very long, as we will see from the evidence of the 1911 Census. Perhaps they left the farm after Archibald's Will was proved in 1901.

Archibald's Will reads as follows:

I Archibald McIlhagga of Maxwellswalls in the County of Antrim farmer hereby revoke all wills and testamentary dispositions heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last will and testament. I hereby devise and bequeath all my real and personal estate unto my wife Agnes McIlhagga absolutely and appoint her sole executrix of this my will. In witness whereof I have hereto set my hand this 24th day of December 1897.... Archibald McIlhagga..... Signed and acknowledged by the above named Archibald McIlhagga as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us both present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses. .........This is the last will of Archibald McIlhagga referred to in my affidavit sworn this 21st day of September 1901. Agnes McIlhagga.

What happened to Agnes and her children after the untimely death of Archibald? The answer is that at some time in the ensuing twelve years they moved into Belfast, perhaps assisted by Nathaniel. The 1901 Census will tell us something when it is available. In 1911 when the Census was taken on Sunday 2nd April Agnes was a 45 year old widow with her six children living with her at 3 Diamond Street, Shankill, Belfast. She had been a minor aged 19 when she married and six months pregnant with William who was born on the 2nd September 1885. He died on 10th January 1968 aged 82. At present I do not know whether he married or had any offspring. Jane (known I think as Jeanie) was born in 1888. In 1911 she was a Linen Weaver. Later in 1911, on 23rd June, she married Thomas Smyth, a Provision Dealer., at the Belfast Registrar's Office. At present I do not know of any offspring. Her witness at the marriage was her sister Margaret. Her address was 9 Diamond Street, so either the family had moved three doors down the road, or Jeanie was lodging with someone else. Robert (known as Bob) was Agnes' third child born in 1890. In 1911 he was a General Labourer. He died on 4th September 1917 when he was 27. I think it is certain that he had served in the First World War and had been killed in action.

The fourth child of Archibald and Agnes was Margaret born two years after Robert in 1892. In 1911 she was a 19 years old Linen Weaver. At present we know nothing more about Margaret. The last two children were boys, both of whom married. John was born in 1894. A General Labourer in 1911, he married Elizabeth Kerr who after his death in December 1946 emigrated to Australia, later going to New Zealand where she died on 11th July 1988 aged 80. John and Elizabeth have eighteen descendants, seventeen of whom are alive today 'down under'. The youngest son of Archibald and Agnes was Nathaniel who in 1911 was a 15 year old Office Boy. Clearly all the family had had to find work and contribute to a household without a main bread winner. Nathaniel married Charlotte and had two sons. Nathaniel died on 23rd March 1937 aged 41. One of his sons, Archibald, born in 1932, died in Belfast on 14th April 1983 aged 51. He had two daughters who we believe live in Northern Ireland today.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

A Problem Solved?

As I set out on 19th June and 13th August, William McElhagger aged 23 (therefore born 1826), a Linen Weaver, and his sister Easter (or Esther) were two of four children of David and Mary McElhager who were 'absent from home' on 30th March 1851 when the Census was taken. Home was the townland of Limavallaghan. William was, I thought, living in the townland of Craigs with the Brown family. We may note that there appeared to be several spellings of this family's surname in use, including McAlhager (IGI), McIlhago (Church Registers), McIlhagga (Census for William), McIlhaggart (Census for Esther in another townland called Carnmore) and indeed McHagger, the name I have just found by chance for a third member of the family 'absent from home', namely Jane who was a servant in Glenleslie Townland with the McErland family.

The problem is this. On 13th August I described the marriages of both William and Esther, and despite William's surname being spelled McHagger and his marriage record saying he was from Limavallaghan, I have assumed he was the William McIlhagga who had been living at Craigs. This was I think a reasonable assumption - his home was Limavallaghan, so who would he not have that on his marriage record, and as we have seen the family surname could have been spelled a number of ways. However, I have now received a marriage record from AncestryIreland for a William McElhagga from Craigs! He is about the same age as William who married Mary McGovan. The record gives his age as 'full' so he was probably 21 and born therefore about 1830. He was a Weaver and a Presbyterian. But clearly he is not the son of David, a Weaver, but of William, a Weaver! He married Elizabeth Carson of Gortfadd at Portglenone 2nd Presbyterian Church. So I must conclude that there were certainly two Williams, and that they married only a fortnight apart - William from Limavallaghan on 29th April and William from Craigs 15 days earlier, on the 14th.

Now the special interest for me is that William who married Elizabeth Carson was my Great-great Uncle! I must now assume that William from Limavallaghan, when he went 'away from home' did not go to Craigs but to some other place which we do not know as we have only 2% of the 1851 Census records. The William at Craigs was indeed also 'away from home', for his home was in the townland of Ballycloughan, just north of the town of Broughshane in County Antrim. There is no 1851 record for the Ballycloughan McIlhagga (or McElhagga) family but there are many other baptismal and marriage records which place it in Ballycloughan. William from Craigs was the eldest son of William McIlhagga who married Agnes McCosh from Clogh, County Antrim.

Three More Wills

A month ago I looked in some detail at one of four Wills associated with Maxwellswalls, namely that written for Henry McIlhagga. Henry died in 1886. It will add to the picture of many clan years in Maxwellswalls if we look at three more Wills, particularly as they are all from siblings. In the order in which the Wills were proved, The Wills Calendar in the Provincial Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) summarises the basic facts as follows:

John Wilson McIlhagga who died 11th April 1896, late of Maxwellswalls, Farmer, left effects valued at £123. Probate was granted on 5th May 1897 at Belfast to Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga of 84 Great Patrick Street, Belfast, Merchant.

Archibald McIlhagga who died 14th April 1898, late of Maxwellswalls, Farmer, left effects valued at £31. Probate granted on 27th September 1901 in Belfast to Agnes McIlhagga, the widow.

Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga who died 6th September 1905, late of Loughview Old Cavehill Road, Belfast, left effects valued at £1480. 18s. 1d. Probate was granted on 25th October in Belfast to James Wilson McIlhagga, Merchant and William John Hutchinson, Farmer.

John's Will makes it clear that his brothers and sister are Archibald, Nathaniel Owens and Margaret. Archibald's Will makes it clear that his wife is Agnes. From AncestryIreland we learn that on 18th June 1885 Archibald had married Agnes Jamieson in Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena. They had only had under thirteen years of married life before Archie died. They did however have six children in that time, William, Jane (Jeannie), Robert (Bob), Margaret, John and Nathaniel. Here I have to add that a re-examination of John's Will makes me withdraw my suggestion in an earlier blog that Archibald's second name was Duncan. One of his witnesses was indeed Archibald Duncan but I assume this was not John's brother but rather a friend (or relation) whose surname was Duncan. As we will note, Nathaniel calls one of his sons Archibald Duncan, and though it is tempting to think this is after his brother Archie, it may well be in honour of their friend, Archibald Duncan. So I will have to rethink my earlier suggestion that William, father of the siblings whose Wills was are looking at, married a Mary Duncan.

Nathaniel's Will makes it clear that his sons are James Wilson and Archibald and that his daughter is Lily. He refers to his 'six sons' though doesn't name them. It seems that in his infirmity he had lost count, for out of nine children, seven were sons, at least as far as I can ascertain: James Wilson, William, Henrietta, Elizabeth (Lily), Nathaniel Owens, John Hutchinson, Archibald Duncan, George and Joseph. It is of course possible that one of his sons had died before he made his will.

Clearly John Wilson, Archibald and Nathaniel Owens were tenants of Lord Massereene for many years in Maxwellswalls. We know that Archie and Nathaniel were married but must surmise that John and Margaret were not. The value of their Wills, apart from learning some details of their Estates, is the fact that they introduce us to people and relationships which we would not otherwise have heard of. They also confirm that people who were born in Maxwellswalls and were still resident there at their marriage also died there. The names of witnesses and of executors are interesting as they are sometimes related to the testators. Unfortunately witness names are unreadable on the Wills of Archibald and Nathaniel (except one who is signing for a firm of solicitors). However on John's they are clearly Archibald Duncan and George Gardiner. William John Hutchinson is an executor for Nathaniel. It would be good if we could demonstrate that Duncan or Gardiner of Hutchinson gives us a maiden name for the siblings' mother, and a wife for William. This however has to remain in the mists of the unknown at the present time. We do have an 1857 marriage of a Henry McIlhagga of Connor to an Agnes Gardiner, so we may well discover a relationship there.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Transcription Errors and Siblings Marry

On 10th August I mentioned that I am busy analysing some marriage records I have received through the AncestryIreland website. After looking at the first few I have two things to report, one negative and one positive. I did not order records that I already have - that would have been a waste of money. Some however have 'slipped through the net'. I didn't immediately recognize that I already had them, being mislead by transcription errors. I have already had to report several serious ones - wrong names and wrong places. Ballycloughan was transcribed as Ballyloughlin (twice), quite a different place. The name Wade was transcribed as Macaide and the name Thomas as John! If I have spotted these errors on just two records of which I happened to have the originals - one of which might have put me off the scent in my own family tree - how many others are there which I have no means of checking? I wonder if they'll give me my money back?

Let me come to the positive information. On 19th and 22nd June I wrote about Families in Lisnacrogher and Limavallaghan, many of whom landed up in Jamestown, Ohio. It appears that not all of them did. I have been intrigued for a long time that two clan members are to be found in the 2% of the 1851 Census that has survived. Two young people were absent from home when the Census was taken on 30th March, William and Esther, both apprentice weavers. William was in Craigs Townland, Ahoghill, with the Brown family. Esther was in the Carnmore Townland Dunachy with the Redmond family. There were also two other 'apprentices', William Brown in Craigs and William McGovern in Carnmore.

From the AncestryIreland marriage records I can now confirm that the siblings William and Esther must have kept in touch with each other and with their home and that serious friendships had grown up between the various families in Craigs and Carnmore. Both William and Esther married in the same year as the Census, 1851, so we can assume that the relationships must have existed from some time before. William married first, just a month after the Census, on 29th April. He is recorded as William McHagger of Limavallaghan Dunaghy, a Weaver aged 21, son of David McHagger, Weaver. This gives us a birth year for William of 1830. His witness was William Redmond, the thirty-year old weaver to whom his sister Esther was apprenticed. And whom did William marry? Why, Mary McGovern of Carnmore Dunaghy who must have been the sister of Esther's co-apprentice, William McGovern. She was three years older than her fiance, having been born in 1827. The McGovern siblings were the children of Henry McGovern, a shoemaker in Carnmore. Esther McHagger was the 'wife's witness'.

Esther married later in the year, on 9th August. She is recorded on this occasion as Esther McIlhaggar of Lisnakrogher Skerry, daughter of David McIlhaggar, weaver. She is aged 21. Her witness was a Thomas Taylor. She married Robert Whiteside also from Lisnakrogher Skerry, a weaver, also aged 21. He was the son of Thomas Whiteside, also a weaver. The 'husband's witness' was a Thomas Greer. On the records of both marriages, under 'Denomination' all parties declared 'Civil Parish' and both marriages took place in Ballymena Registrar's Office in Kirkinriola, Ballymena, County Antrim. This implies that both marriages were entirely 'secular'. What I don't understand is that both marriages were 'by licence Rev. J. Greer'. Perhaps the Revd. Mr. Greer was the Registrar, and brought in a relation to sign as a witness. I'm afraid I have no knowledge at the present about whether either couple had a family.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Maxwellswalls revisited and 'Brother' William

In my blog of 11th July I implied that Henry McIlhaggo born (I thought) about 1823 who married Agnes McMeekin was the son of another Henry. From information on his marriage record just received from AncestryIreland I now know this was an error. The father of Henry (probably born about 1824/5) who married Agnes was in fact a John McIlhaggo, farmer. His place of residence is indeed given as Maxwellswalls; the church in which the marriage took place on 31st August 1855 being Templepatrick Presbyterian Church. Interestingly one of the witnesses was a James Wilson. This could well imply that the family was related to Henrietta Wilson who married Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga ten years later and/or John Wilson McIlhagga who died in Maxwellswalls in 1896 and whose Will we have. So which John is the father of Henry who married Agnes McMeekin? My best guess now is John who married a Houston, possibly Mary, with Henry given a birth year of 1835.

So we come to the fourth clan farmer mentioned in the 1830s Tithe Applotment Book for Maxwellswalls, William McIlhaggo. Can we identify him? Well, we can postulate another conjecture! There appears to have been a family of four or five clan siblings associated with Maxwellswalls who could have been born between 1840 and 1850. They were John Wilson, Archibald Duncan, Nathaniel Owens, Margaret and (possibly) James Edwin. We know for certain from three Wills that John, Archibald, Nathaniel and Margaret were siblings. Now, both Archibald and Nathaniel had eldest sons named William, probably, according to a common naming pattern, named after their paternal grandfather. Usefully the above siblings had second names suggesting that the possible 'grandfather William' married either a Wilson, a Duncan or an Owens. The two with the William grandsons were Duncan and Owens. It would be just about the right time-scale for this 'grandfather William' to be the William in the Maxwellswalls Tithe Book and the best suggestion I have at present is that he was William who married a (Mary) Duncan. He could have been a brother of Henry who married Mary McDole and James who possibly married Margaret Mawhinney.

A blog is for thinking aloud and sometimes for re-thinking relationships. This has been hapening with our Maxwellswalls family and I suspect may happen there again! For the time-being, to complete what has been revealed from the AncestryIreland marriages I must record nine more marriages of clan members claiming Maxwellswalls as their residence, four with a John as father and five with a William. Rose (born 1821) daughter of John McIlhagga, farmer, married John Warrick on 22nd June 1847 in Connor Presbyterian Church. Mary (born 1830) daughter of John McIlhagga, farmer, married William Christie on 30th August 1859 also in Connor Presbyterian Church, when one of the witnesses was an Agnes McIlhagga. Ellen (born about 1847) daughter of John McIlhagga, farmer, married Robert Scroggy on 16th March 1868 in Ballymena 3rd Presbyterian Church. Henry (born about 1833) son of William McIlhagge, farmer, married Agnes Stevenson in 12th December 1854 in Donegore 2nd Presbyterian Church. Nancy Betty (born 1843) daughter of William McIlhagga, farmer, married Alexander Brownlees on 27th October 1865 in Antrim Civil Registrar's Office. George (born about 1845) son of William McIlhagga, farmer, married Elizabeth Anne Robinson on 20th March 1866, in Raloo Presbyterian Church, Larne. Jane (born about 1851) daughter of William McIlhagga, farmer, married James Boyd on 17th August 1872 in Ballymena 3rd presbyterian Church. And finally Margaret (born about 1881) daughter of William McIlhagga, farmer, married William Kerr on 9th May 1902 in Connor Presbyterian Church.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Gathering and Fife

For the last few weeks I have taken a 'blog holiday' for a number of reasons. First, I needed a holiday! Second, I got somewhat b(l)ogged-down in my consideration of the clan in Maxwellswalls - though I hope to return to that soon. Third, Ancestry Ireland has a worthwhile offer on to members of the Ulster Historical Foundation which has enabled me to obtain the details of a lot of nineteenth and early twentieth century marriages (frustratingly with no mothers names) which I have been trying to analyse. And last but not least I had booked to go to the Scottish Homecoming/Clan Gathering event in Edinburgh followed by a few days in the Kingdom of Fife, both of which had Family History spinoffs.

There were well over a hundred clan tents in Holyrood Park for The Gathering. McIlhagga was not one of them! I think the demand would have been too slight. However my sister and I did link on to one of them, for our grandfather William McIlhagga married a Margaret McLean. As you can imagine I have done quite a bit of research into Margaret's family. We may only be one quarter Highland Scottish, but that quarter is very important - thank you William for marrying a highlander - and as we learned from the Maclean tent, the Clan Association is open to those whose grandparents or even great-grandparents were part of that clan.

The McIlhagga Blog is not the place to go into great detail about this research (it has had its cul-de-sacs and its brick walls!) but to cut a long story short, for many years I believed that Margaret, who was born in Liverpool, England, the eldest daughter of Donald McLean a seafarer, came from an Isle of Mull family. The family did indeed farm just south of Tobermory for a full generation in the nineteenth century. However a visit two years ago to both Mull and to its neighbouring island of Coll proved beyond doubt that for many generations the family had been part of the Macleans of Coll. Partly due to the information contained in Nicholas Maclean-Bristol's book From Clan to Regiment, Six Hundred Years in the Hebrides, 1400-2000, I can now trace my McLean/Maclean line back to Allan, the second son of the Fifth Laird of Coll in the late 16th Century, a line known as The Macleans of Auchnasaul, which paradoxically was a settlement on the Isle of Mull just south of Dervaig, in an area owned by the Laird of Coll.

Some superb genealogical work has been done on the Maclean Clan which has several major lines, Coll being one of them. There is good historical record going back to Lachlan, the First Laird of Coll in the early 15th Century and behind that to the Scottish Royal Houses, hence part of my reason to visit Fife to see the tomb of Robert the Bruce in Dunfermline Abbey, which is also the burial place of Queen Margaret of Scotland. I stayed in the beautiful town of Falkland which has one of the Scottish Royal Palaces, originally a Hunting Lodge built for James V and used by his daughter Mary Queen of Scots. There are very fine portraits of both these monarchs in Falkland Palace - well worth a visit.