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.

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