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.

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