Wednesday, 30 September 2009

McIlhagger Family

Planting Sugar-cane
in Queensland

In my last blog I referred to Robert George (born 1795) and Agnes McIlhagger. They had four children. Agnes was born in 1821, the same year her parents were married. Elizabeth was baptised, according to family tradition, on 8th February 1822, Thomas on 28th December 1824 and David in 1826. David married Mary McCausland/McAusland and produced a most interesting family part of which is still in Ireland and part of which is in Australia. I will write about it over the coming weeks. I know nothing of what happened to Agnes, Elizabeth or Thomas, but David and Mary had two sons, John and George. On John's marriage record his father's occupation is given as Labourer and on George's, Farmer.

The elder son, John, was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, in 1846 and married Jane Mary, daughter of Joseph and Mary Ann (nee Cassells) Hull. They married on 28th February 1870 at Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church, Belfast. They both lived in Belfast at the time, John at 103 Sandy Row and Mary Jane at 102 Charles's Street South. The witnesses at their marriage were Henry McKeown and Ellen McAusland. The couple possibly met at work as both were employed as weavers. Now Mary Jane's sister, Martha, married to Edward Palmer, had emigrated to Australia and perhaps persuaded John and Jane to take their children to Queensland. So a family of seven departed from Plymouth on the south coast of England on 7th November 1883 as 'remittance' passengers on the SS. Goalpara. John and Jane's children were Mary born 9th October 1870, George born 29th April 1872, Agnes born 17th August 1874, Martha Ann born 29th September 1876 and John born 22nd April 1881. They had had two other children who died in infancy, Martha (1874-5) and Rebecca (1878-9). The family disembarked two months later on 5th January at Rockhampton where they were welcomed by the Palmers with whom they lived for a short period before settling in the town of Bundaberg.

This part of the McIlhagger family had a reunion meeting on 1st May 1988 and from that occasion published Palmer-Pidgeon-McIlhagger Family Reunion... a Pictorial Record. There are a number of vignettes in it which are well worth quoting, including, 'John was known as a strong and healthy fellow with a jovial manner, who liked an ale which he bought at The Globe Hotel across Perry Street for sixpence for a quart billy-can'. Such recreation was however after hard work which in Bundaberg was to be found in a Sugar Mill and in farming which was often growing sugar-cane to be processed in the Mills. John got work at Millaquin Mill as did his son George. John worked at Mackay Mill. John senior's daughters, Mary and Martha Ann, married a farmer and a butcher respectively. More next time.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A Double Puzzle

Earlier in the year, on 20th May, I wrote about the clan in Carnmoney. I told of Nathan McIlhaggar marrying Betty Burney in about 1783, possibly in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church. The third of maybe six children of this marriage was George born about 1797. The fifth child was Nancy born about 1800. I explained that George and Nancy present us with a double puzzle. The IGI records that about 1820 George McIlhaggart married Mrs. Agnes McIlhaggart. Clearly this does not mean that Agnes' maiden name was McIlhaggart. This surely was her married name. There is also a documented marriage entry for 25th May 1821 for Agnes McIlhaggart marrying Robert George at Carnmoney. As we know, the names of Agnes and Nancy are interchangeable so it is highly likely that the Agnes who married Robert George was Nancy the daughter of Nathan and Betty. She would have been 21 in 1821.

But what of the record of George McIlhaggart married to Agnes? Has Robert George been persuaded to/decided to use the maiden name of his wife as their married name and also to use his surname as his Christian name? This would have been an unusual thing to have happened, but not unfeasible. To support this possibility we have the baptism of an infant at Carnmoney on 15th April 1822. This is of Elizabeth daughter of George M'Ilhaggart. It is of course possible that this was the daughter of George son of Nathan and Betty, but I have to say we have no known marriage for him, and the most likely thing is that Elizabeth is the daughter of our known marriage of a year before and that she is called after her grandmother Betty.

There is a complication about the marriage recorded between Robert and Agnes on 25th May 1821 in Carnmoney. I have been in touch with a descendant of Robert and Agnes who has told me that the family tradition is that the marriage did indeed take place on 21st May 1821 but that it was in Broughshane Church of Ireland, and that Elizabeth was baptised there on 3rd February 1822. This family also consistently uses the name variant of McIlhagger. Is it too much of a coincidence that the progenitor of this McIlhagger line is Robert George McIlhagger, born about 1795 who married Agnes of unknown maiden name on 25th May 1821, apparently in Broughshane Church of Ireland, and that there is a Robert George, born about 1795 who married Agnes McIlhaggart/McIlhagger on 25th May 1821 in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church?

Are these two separate couples? Are they the same couple who married twice on the same day? Did Robert George take on Agnes' surname after they were married for a reason we cannot now ascertain - a frequent reason for such a name change has been to inherit something. If so, of course, we have a major clan line which has come down to us from the female side, and how interesting is that?! But it is still in the realm of the unknown for I have not yet had an opportunity to verify the facts of the case, and nobody from that line has offered to have a DNA test done. I must pay another research visit to Northern Ireland!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Ballyportery roundup

I come to the last six children of James and Jane (nee Maitland) McIlhagga of Ballyportery. Nancy was born about 1870 and married Joe Clark. They had three children, Robert, Annetta and Maggie who married and had seven children. Next came Margaret (known as Maggie) born 16th October 1870 at Knockahollet and on 17th August 1904 married John Taylor Elliott at Ballyweaney Presbyterian Church. Mary Jane was born about 1874 and emigrated to the USA where she married Charles E. Thistleton on 15th September 1910 in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan. Interestingly Detroit is where Mary Jane's uncle James lived ten years earlier. Was he still there? Lizzie was born about 1876. She stayed in Ireland and married Blacksmith Joseph Adams on 5th November 1897, also at Ballyweaney Presbyterian Church. Her marriage witnesses were her sister Margaret and James Darragh. It is from the Darragh family in Australia that we have had some of our information about Irish McIlhaggas. Lizzie died on 2nd October 1958 aged 82.

Martha was the fifth and last daughter, born 3rd July 1877 at Knockahollet. She married John Thompson, a farmer, at Bushvale Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney, Kilraghts, Corkey. They moved from Ireland to Scotland but unlike their cousins they didn't move to within reach of Edinburgh, but rather to Bellshill near Glasgow. However, like their male cousins, in Scotland John became a shale miner. They had seven children, four boys and three girls. With two of the boys they kept the clan name alive in the names James McIlhagga Thompson and John McIlhagga Thompson. John and Martha have 28 grandchildren and at least 18 great-grandchildren in Scotland. Martha died in Carluke, Lanarkshire on 15th September 1958 aged 81. James and Jane McIlhagga's last child was a son who was I think named William John. I believe he married and had four children though I cannot confirm this. Any information about him would be gratefully received.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

PRONI moving and SROs

Sometimes new things come on to the Internet which give us extra information. This week two things have been published. First the Scottish Statutory Marriage Records have been brought up to date from 1934 to 2006. They include 9 McIlhaggas and one McIlhagger. Of the nine McIlhaggas 8 are from one family, in fact the one I have been writing about recently, descended from James McIlhagga of Ballyportery. They are the marriages of Daniel (1949), Eric Peter (1991), Grahame (1988), James (1952), Neil James (1993), Richard Graham (1982 and 1995) and Roy (1958). The ninth was my own marriage as I married a girl from New Kilpatrick, Dunbarton. The McIlhagger was John David (1980).

The second thing that has been published is from Ireland. The Provincial Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) is moving to a new site next year and is having to close for nine months to do so. They are therefore putting on line some extra searchable things including a number of Directories for Belfast and Ulster generally. These include a few useful references, as follows:

1884 p225: Gresham St, 22: McIlhagga & Co. Mill and Railway furnishers, dry salters and commission agent.

1890 p93: Belfast Homing Pigeon Society: Committee includes J.McIlhagga;
p255: McIlhagga, James, flaxdresser, 36 Disraeli St
McIlhagga, N.O. (of McIlhagga & Co., Great Patrick St)
Lough View Cottage, Cavehill Rd
McIlhagga & Co., Millfurnishers, 84-88 Great Patrick St.
p360: Berlin St, 53: McIlhagga, Eliza
p485: Island St, 92: McIlhagga, John, Labourer.

1892 p159: Cavehill Rd. (Old) Loughview Cottage, McIlhagga N.O., Millfurnisher
p347: Patrick St, Great: 84-88: McIlhagga & Co. Millfurnishers
p408: ? Rd. 102: McIlhaggan, Mrs.

1895 p25: Aughrim St., 5: McIlhagger, G, pensioner.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Third Son

James and Jane (nee Maitland) McIlhagga's third son was Daniel Maitland, was born 21st September 1868 at Castlequarter, Ballymoney. Daniel was a Labourer when he married Domestic Servant Elizabeth Ann Wright born about 1868, daughter of Robert Wright, on 31st March 1891. Although they both came from Presbyterian families they married in Loughguile Church of Ireland (Anglican), Ballymoney. At the time Daniel was living at Knockahollet and Elizabeth at Lavin. By the time of the 1911 Census when they were living at Drumadarrogh, Killagan, in County Amtrim, Daniel working on a farm as a Flax Scutcher, a person who separated the husk from the flax fibres by holding it against rotating paddles, a job which sounds as if it needed quite a lot of skill as well as strength. Between 1893 and 1907 they had nine children, three girls and six boys.

Jeannie was born in 1893. Another girl, the fifth child, was also called Jean, born 1900. We may suspect that their first child died in infancy or as a young child. This is probably confirmed by the entry on the 1911 Census form which says that they had had nine children, eight of whom were still alive. Their second child was Robert W. who we have met before (see blog of 23rd June) born 1895, who was killed in the First World War. The third child, James was born 1896/7, in Ballymena. He married Jean Walker Wallace on 25th April in the Church of Scotland Manse, Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland. James and Jean had five children and there are some 23 grandchildren and at least 21 great-grandchildren. James was a farm servant in 1911 but when the family moved to Scotland he, aka 'Big Huck', became a Shale and Coal miner. In 1962 when James died, aged 66, he was living in Atlantic Avenue, Bathgate. On 11th May he was found dead in bed, having last been seen alive the day before. The fourth child of Daniel and Elizabeth was Samuel, born 1899. In 1911 he was at school but I know nothing more about him. Jean followed in 1900. She trained as a nurse, emigrating to Australia where on 8th August 1929 she married Hospital Attendant, Patrick George William Carr in the Presbyterian Church, Lidecombe, New South Wales.

Daniel and Elizabeth's sixth child we have met before. He was William John who was a Prisoner of War in the Second World War and died in Borneo (see blog of 19th September). Their fifth son was Daniel, born 31st January 1903. He was a Builder's Labourer and married Margaret Willis Crowe in Kirknewton, Midlothian. He died on 3rd April 1985. To the best of my knowledge they had just one daughter who married in Bathgate. The third daughter to Daniel senior and Elizabeth was Mary born 1905/6 who I think lived into her eighties and was, again to the best of my knowledge, unmarried. Their last child was Albert Hugh Wright who was born 6th November 1907 at Killagan, County Antrim. He had also become a Shale Miner when on 20th July 1929 he married Domestic Servant Margaret Pettigrew. They had three daughters, all of whom married. For a time Albert was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery and later worked as a Builder's Labourer. It looks as if he and his wife separated for when he died in Grove Street, Morningside, Edinburgh on 9th October 1979 he was recorded as being 'single'. I believe Margaret moved to Chatham in Kent where she died eight years later in October 1987.

You will have gathered that between 1911 when a Census was taken and 1917 when a Scottish address was given on Robert's army death record, the whole family moved from Ireland to Scotland and went to live first at 104 Main Street, Livingston Station, where Daniel Maitland McIlhagga died in 1948, and then to nearby Bathgate in West Lothian. Some of the descendants of this branch of the McIlhagga clan emigrated to Australia and live in New South Wales, some not very far from Wagga Wagga where Robert enlisted in the army. I have now listed the descendants from the first three of the nine children of James and Jane (nee Maitland) McIlhagga of Ballyportery and I will come to their remaining six children, five girls and a boy, in my next blog.

Monday, 21 September 2009

James of Ballyportery

I have already written three times about a family which moved from Ireland to Scotland about the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries. On 16th April I published a wedding photograph which was kindly sent to me by a descendant in Australia. On that occasion I mentioned a number of the members of their family, the progenitor of which was James McIlhagga (spelled McIlhaggan in the IGI) of the townland of Ballyportery in the civil parish of Loughguile in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Later I have written (on 23rd June and 19th September) about two brothers the first of which, Robert, was killed in the First World War, and the second of which, William, was killed in the Second. They were grandsons of James of Ballyportery.

The first question to ask about this family (as for every family) is whether we have any clues about where our progenitor came from. Ballyportery is north of Ballymena and clearly James could have moved to Ballyportery from anywhere in County Antrim, or indeed from further afield. Have we any clues to who his father was? In my index of clan births there are two other Jameses who might be considered. James McIlhago of Lisnacrogher was born about 1836. He however had emigrated to the USA by 1855, probably ten years before James of Ballyportery married Jane Maitland. I think 'our' James may have been born about 1840 and a James McIlhaggar(t) was born to Nathan and Ellen (nee Wilson) on 25th May 1840. He however was born in Carnmoney and he married and had a daughter Margaret and no Margaret is among the James/Jane children, so it is unlikely that they were one and the same.

The Irish naming pattern might suggest that that Ballyportery James' father was also called James, and that he would have been born before 1815. At present I do not have anyone who fits this bill. We do have two second names given to children of James and Jane, namely Robert Dunlop and Daniel Maitland. Maitland is Jane's surname so we may presume a Daniel was her father. Strangely this is their third son, so we may think the second son was called after the paternal grandfather, who would therefor have been Robert, perhaps adding his wife's surname, Dunlop, as a second name. Calling the first boy James may have been a decision to call him after his father. I'm afraid the 'Dunlop' clue doesn't lead anywhere at present. Our next line of enquiry is to try to find a death record for James in Ireland or perhaps Scotland or even Canada where his eldest son emigrated to. At present this has not yielded any information and unfortunately neither has a search for a marriage record for James and Jane. For the time being we must move on to see what happened to their children.

As I have said, their eldest son James (born 9th September 1865, baptised 29th October) emigrated to Canada. This was in 1899; he is on a passenger list from Londonderry to Halifax in that year. In the 'New World' he married Alwilda Breault who was born 31st August 1866 in Seymour Township, Northumberland County, Ontario. They married on 31st August 1889, for some reason 'over the border' in Wayne, Detroit, Michigan. James may have lived and worked for a time in Detroit for in the 1890/91 Directory for Detroit a James McIlhagga is listed as a carpenter. The 1901 Census for Sarnia Town, Lambton, Ontario, has James born a month later, living with Alwilda. The 1911 Census for Lambton West, Ontario, is badly mistranscribed though fortunately a relation in Canada has submitted a correction with the additional information that Alwilda was known as Wildie. James and Alwilda had two children, William James, born 12th February 1901 in Sarnia, who sadly died in the same year, and Wilda, who I think was adopted. We know that Alwilda was a French Canadian and that they lived in Sarnia all their lives for James and Wilda were buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Sarnia. James died on 23rd February 1932.

The second son was Robert Dunlop, known as Dunlop, born 3rd August 1866. It was his son's wedding photograph I published on 16th April. He was also Robert Dunlop, though known as Bob. 'Dunlop' married Annie Thompson from Corkey on 13th February 1900 at Dunloy Presbyterian Church, Finvoy, Ballymoney. The marriage record says 'Presbyterian' for them both and 'Farmer' for Dunlop. In 1911 their surname is listed with one 'g'. Dunlop and Annie had eight children, five boys and three girls. They were Joseph Thompson (born about 1901) known as Joe who married Jeanie Moore and have three children and three grandchildren; Martha Ann (born about 1903) who married James Redmond and has a son; James Dunlop (born 1905) who married Rachel Burns and has two daughters and three granddaughters; Jeanie (born 1907); Robert Dunlop (born 1909) who married Elizabeth Eaton and have three children, nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren; twins John (born 1911) who married Maureen Mitchell and William (born 1911) who married Elsie Johnson, who have three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; and finally Annie (born about 1914).

This long list of people all descend from the two eldest children of James and Jane (nee Maitland) McIlhagga. There are seven more children and I will name them and list their descendants in a subsequent blog.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Prisoner of War

William John McIlhagga

My recent reference to the M.V. Krait as a vessel which had been captured from the Japanese in 1941 and used to raid Singapore Harbour in 1943 and 1944, has reminded me of our clan World War 2 Japanese Prisoner of War. His older brother Robert was born in 1895 and by dint of giving his birth year as 1892 served in the First World War. I had occasion to write about him on 23rd June. Sadly he was killed in 1917. His younger brother William John was then 16. He was born on 5th October 1900. I wonder how much his brother's death influenced him to join up in the Second world War? Their parents, Daniel and Annie E. McIlhagga had moved from the Ballyweaney area of County Antrim in Northern Ireland to mid-central Scotland. William John was born in the town of Bathgate near Livingston, West Lothian.

William John emigrated to Australia and joined the Australian Army at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. He served in the 22nd Infantry Brigade and became one of over 2000 Prisoners of War held in the Sandakan POW Camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore. The 1494 POWs that made up 'B Force' were transported from Changi on 7th July 1942 on board the tramp ship Ubi Maru arriving in Sandakan Harbour on 18th July 1942. William John died "of illness" as a prisoner of the Japanese on 19th June 1945, aged 44. He is commemorated on the Luban Memorial, Malaysia. This is on a small island in Brunei Bay off the North West coast of Borneo. This information is on the web-site of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, together with the photograph of William John from his pay book which I have produced above. Permission was granted by the War Memorial to print this photo in our Clan Newsletter in 2006 and fortunately no permission is required for reproduction for non-commercial purposes such as this blog. I will write more about this family later.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Richard and horses

To follow up on my last blog, I mentioned Richard, the youngest boy of Samuel Robinson McIlhagga. Some time ago I received a letter from an Australian McNeice descendant of Samuel's grandfather about two Samuels, which said that when Richard was born Samuel Robinson was a Linen Remnants Salesman who used a donkey and cart to peddle his wares. He then referred to an occasion in 1919 when his father visited Belfast and found Samuel trading as a Wood, Coal and Coke Merchant and using a horse and cart for deliveries. There is a newspaper record of a nasty incident in January 1893 in relation to Samuel 'McIllhagga' (sic). He had employed a man named Allen and for some reason Samuel had given him notice to leave his employment. Allen took 'revenge' by cutting off the tail of a pony used in their work. Allen was charged with cruelty to a pony as a result of his 'spite'. He was fined £5 and ordered to pay Samuel £4 compensation. It is said that Richard would not go near his father's horses when he was a lad, which may have had something to do with this incident. However, this is fascinating because later when Richard moved to live in Dublin his career moved into the owning, breeding and training of race horses. He won some noteworthy races and including the Irish Grand National in 1971 with a horse named King's Sprite. My Australian correspondent told me that he was a millionaire when he died. It's a long call from his father's donkeys and ponies to a grand national winner, and I can verify the 'end game' from my own experience! When I was a student in Dublin in the 1950s I went into a shop in Grafton Street to buy a College tie, which I paid for by cheque. The assistant took one look at the signature and said very respectfully, "We do your racing colours, don't we sir?" I said, no, it must be another McIlhagga- in fact the only one in the Dublin telephone book, if I remember correctly. I'm afraid I was too shy a young man to make the phone call, and perhaps meet the racing millionaire! Richard married Madeline Robinson and had six children, four boys and two girls. There are eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren to my knowledge, living in Ireland, England and Spain.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

A baker in Australia

M.V. Krait

Samuel Robinson, son of George and Eliza Ann, born 15th December 1872, married Jane ("Jean") McNeice on 6th December 1897 in the Belfast Civil Registrar's Office. He was first a Linen Remnants Salesman and later he became a Wood, Coal and Coke Merchant. In the 1911 Census, when he and his family lived in Ambleside Street, Shankill, he described himself as a Hawker. He and Jean had eight children who lived, George Robinson, Jane, Esther, Samuel Cecil, Richard, Ruth, Lily and Tilly.

We know a little about George, born 1900, to whom he had passed on the second name of Robinson. He must have been of an inventive turn of mind for in 1934 he took out a Patent for the design of a Razor Blade on behalf of George R. McIlhagga & Company, Belfast. He extended this patent from Great Britain to the USA and Australia. Whether the blade was ever manufactured we do not know. Somewhere I have a copy of the patent, but my filing system has let me down - I can't find it or else I would have illustrated the blade! The Razor Blade Company must have flourished, for when George died in 1977 - he must have still have been taking an active interest in the firm at 77 - the following notice appeared in the Irish Independent Newspaper on 4th January, 'Owing to the death of Richard McIlhagga, proprietor, the premises of Northlight Razor Blades & Co., 26 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2, will remain closed until Monday January 10th.' Interestingly it appears that George had moved the business from Belfast to Dublin. Perhaps this was at the suggestion of his brother Richard, who, as we will see in a later blog, had moved there too.

We know little or nothing about the five girls of Samuel and Jean but we do know something of the other two boys, Samuel Cecil, who liked to be called Maxwell, and Richard. Samuel was born on the 4th of July 1908. He trained as a baker, and became a very good one, eventually winning competitions. Samuel emigrated to Australia, and was possibly the Mr. S. McIlhagga aboard the ship Orama leaving London and arriving Melbourne 6th April 1926. He would only have been 18 years old. Four years later he married Lillian Frances May Scott at Petersham, New South Wales. She was the daughter, born in 1909, of George Ernest David Scott and Emma Maria Borrowdale. She was 'Typiste' (stet) on their marriage certificate. 'Max' and Lillian have three children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren in Australia. Later Max married again to 'B' who lives in the Northern Territories.

Max was clearly the great family 'character'. When he arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, he first visited his McNeice relatives there - his mother was a McNeice. He moved on to Sydney in New South Wales and then to Queensland to work on a Cattle Station for some time before returning to Sydney and once again taking up bakery. Here he won a baking contest organised by the Baker's Association. This, incidentally isn't the only time we'll meet baking in the McIlhagga family. Max was, however, a great romancer! He used to tell how he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in World War 2 and how he saw service in England and in Egypt. He would then tell how, being so upset at the death of his eldest daughter that he put all his RAAF memorabilia in her coffin. It must be true that Jean, born 1933, who married Colin Cormack in 1959, had a tragic death. We can assume this from the fact that they both died on 21st February, 1959. Maybe they were on their honeymoon. However I'm afraid there is no real evidence that Max did enlist in HM Forces in the second world war. In fact Baking was an exempted occupation!

It is certainly true that after the war Max had a 'Corner Store' acting as a Jackaroo, selling mainly groceries, at Balmain, Sydney, for some years. It was during this time that his wife Lillian died. 'Sam' became very conscious of the tragedy of the war and he became a volunteer helping to maintain the only operational War Memorial in the world, the Motor Vessel Krait, illustrated above, a vessel which had been captured from the Japanese in 1941 and used to raid Singapore Harbour in 1943 and 1944. He decided to join the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, an Australian organisation similar to the British Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Great Britain. On Saturday 11th May 1985 Sam was in his front garden at 195 Barrenjrey Road, Newport, New South Wales, when he had an angina attack, a condition he had had for eleven years. It is said that he could not get his tablets from his pocket in time to prevent his death. His death record gives his occupation as 'Area Manager' and his 'other' first name as Robertson! He was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney, with a very large attendance by members of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol. A death notice was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13th May 1985.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


There is a 'last' family from Maxwellswalls. Its progenitor was William McIlhagga, a farmer who must have been born around 1815. We know of him from the record of the marriage of his son, George, to Elizabeth Ann Robinson. As I have noted in a blog on 12th ('Maxwellswalls strays') that George, born about 1845, gave his occupation as a merchant. They were married at Raloo Presbyterian Church, Larne. We must presume that Elizabeth came from or near that coastal town and that they therefore married in her home church. They must however have gone to live in the parish of Connor where the McIlhaggas came from for it was there, interestingly in the Church of Ireland burial ground, St. Saviour's Cemetery, that George was to erect one of the comparatively few clan headstones that we know about. It simply reads:

Erected by
George McIlhagga
in memory of
his beloved wife
Eliza Ann McIlhagga
who fell asleep in Jesus
13 June 1877
aged 37 years

"Lord Jesus Come"

The two references to Jesus may indicate a devout family, so there may well be references to this couple and their children in church records. Eliza Ann died at the young age of 37. Between their marriage on 20th March 1866 and her death they had four children. Margaret Jane came first on 26th September 1868. She may well have been named after Eliza's mother. William was next, born 19th June 1870 and he was certainly named after George's father. Samuel Robinson was third, born 15th December 1872, named after Eliza's father, who like George's father was a farmer. The fourth child was called Eliza Ann, born 5th April 1875, clearly called after her mother, though we may wonder whether she was also called after her paternal grandmother. If so, we have a name for William's wife.

The major remaining problem from this family is how it relates to other Maxwellswalls McIlhaggas. William, father of George, must have been born about 1815 at the latest. I have two other Williams in the same townland, both born about 1815, but neither fit this William. In one case there is no reason to add George to the existing five offspring and in the second case the William concerned had a second name and had moved to Scotland by the time George was born. To revert to George and Eliza Ann's family, we have to say that at present we know nothing of Margaret Jane, William or Eliza Ann. However, thanks to a correspondent in Australia, we know quite a bit about Samuel Robinson and his descendants, which we will share in the next blog.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

M.I. in Marlow

One of my objects in publishing this blog is to show as many old clan photographs and Memorial Inscriptions as possible, though I have to say they are 'few and far between'. Today's Memorial Inscription follows yesterday's blog. Among the third generation of the McIlhagga-McCulloch family we have Esther Loakman who, when she was a widow, married John McIlhagga and lived in London. She is on the headstone as Esther McIlhagga, 29th December 1959.

The other two people on the stone are both her daughters, so they take us into the fourth generation. Esther Caroline Belcher was her daughter with her first husband, John Belcher. She died on 28th February 1980. Eileen Margaret Mary Simpson was her daughter with her second husband, John McIlhagga. Eileen married Charles Colin Simpson. She died 17th May 1979. This simple stone is headed, under a cross, with 'In loving memory of', and has under the names, 'Pray for them'. I believe this stone is in the churchyard of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England. These three women lived long lives: Esther McIlhagga, who died at Mount Alvernia, Godalming, Surrey, 91 years; Esther Belcher, who died at Marlow, Buckinghamshire, 90 years; and Eileen Simpson who died at Scarletts Lane, Kiln Green, Berkshire, 71 years.

Monday, 14 September 2009


John McIlhagga, whose occupation is described variously as General Labourer (March 1901), Ship's Carpenter (December 1901) and Farmer (1902), and who was born on 8th February 1830, married Elizabeth McCulloch on 10th September 1859. Both gave their residence as Maxwellswalls. John's father was Henry and Elizabeth's Samuel. She was the eldest daughter and second child of eleven that Samuel and Eliza (nee Houston) had. At present I don't know if John had any siblings though I would be surprised if he were an only child. John and Eliza also had eleven children, all of whom were baptised in Connor Presbyterian Church, five girls and six boys. Some of these siblings stayed in the north of Ireland, some moved across to Scotland, and one moved to the capital city of London, England.

Their eldest child was Mary, born 29th June 1860, and who died on 14th October 1940 aged 80, in Greenock in the West of Scotland. She doesn't appear in any Scottish Census, up to 1901, so probably she moved after she was forty. However, she is named on a gravestone in Kirkhill Cemetery, Connor, Co. Antrim. The second child and eldest boy you would expect to have been called after his paternal grandfather, but he wasn't. He was named Samuel with the middle name of McCulloch. Later in life he adopted 'Samuel McCulloch' as the name by which he was known. He was born 19th November 1861 and, at a date not at present known, married Agnes Nisbett. They had a son John who in 1920, when he gave notice of his father's death, signed 'John McCulloch'. One begins to suspect a fall out with the McIlhagga side of the family! Samuel died in Dennistoun, Glasgow, Scotland, his residence at the time being Hozier Street, Partick. He died on 11th January, aged 58 (his death certificate says 56) when he was a Ship Caulker. For some strange reason the Edinburgh Register of Corrected Entries changes the surname McIlhagga to McIlhaggan.

The third child of John and Elizabeth was Elizabeth, known as Eliza. She was born on 17th May 1863 and was living in Belfast when on 31st October 1902 she married widower Patrick William Orr who was a Painter. They married in Bethany Presbyterian Church, Belfast. By 1911 she was a widow. She died aged 88 on 5th February 1952. On the Kirkhill Memorial Inscription she is called Elizabeth Orr.

The fourth child and second son of John and Elizabeth was William. He was given the second name of Gage, though this sometimes seems to have been recorded as George. He was born on 30th January 1865 in Connor, County Antrim. He was baptised some three months later. He had become a shipwright by the time he married Jane Todd (daughter of James) from County Tyrone, on 25th June 1890 at the Belfast Registrar's Office. They were to have another large family, probably of nine children. We know something of what happened to them. Lily married George Rush. Ethel Agnes married William McVittie. John may have died young, to be 'replaced' by another John seven years later. James Wilson is particularly interesting because he moved to Wales and married Mary Gladys Jones. Some of his descendants have stayed in Wales and on nearby Merseyside where they are very proud of the McIlhagga name. Lucy probably stayed in Ireland. We do not know what happened to Sarah Jane or the 'second' John. William Gage emigrated to Canada and married Mary Bishop and had two daughters. Finally there was Robert who was a Coal Vendor and who remained single and died aged 80. In 1901 this family were living in a three roomed house at 18 Eccles Street, Shankill, Belfast. By 1911 they had expanded into a five roomed house at number 7 Eccles Street.

John and Elizabeth's third daughter was Agnes, born 20th March 1867. Next came John who I have referred to in earlier blogs (13th January and 2nd February). He became a Ship's Carpenter and married widow Esther Loakman from the south of Ireland, and moved to London. They had six children, one boy and five girls. John Joseph emigrated to the USA where he changed his name to Norman John Darwood apparently to try to get a job in the film industry. He married Margaret Lillian Fink and their descendants still live in California. There are four males at least there who have the McIlhagga DNA. The five girls were Edith Agnes, Eileen Margaret Mary who married Charles Simpson, Irene, Therese and Cissie.

The fourth boy for John and Elizabeth was Robert born 8th June 1870. He lived until he was 80 and died 13th April 1951. It was Robert who put the fine Memorial Inscription in the Kirkhill, Connor, graveyard to this family which I transcribed in my 2nd February blog. Jane followed, born on 17th February 1872. Then Rebecca, born 18th July 1873, who married Charles Kennett on 20th December 1901 in Albert Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast. The last two children were boys, Wilson born on 18th April 1875 and Henry born on 10th June 1879 at Connor. The first son of John and Elizabeth was named for his maternal grandfather and the last son for his paternal grandfather!

You will note that in this family we have names that we have come across before in different contexts. They include Houston, Gage and Wilson. This makes us think that the several families concerned must be linked, possibly only one or two generations back from the progenitors of whom we have information at present. It is frustrating that at this time we cannot prove or even demonstrate those links!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Maxwellswalls strays

I have attempted in recent blogs to link up a number of people who were resident in the 19th century in Maxwellswalls. In the later generations we can be almost certain that the links are correct. In the earlier generations, from the first three decades of the century, we can only say we are making intelligent guesses. A number of 'strays' exist - for example people who claimed residence in the townland when they married. At present I am unable to place them in a family tree with any certainty. There are six such marriages. Five record 'William' as father of the clan member being married. Those five may cross three generations. The first chronologically is William McIlhagge's son Henry marrying Agnes Stevenson in 1854 in Donegore 2nd Presbyterian Church. Henry was born about 1833, so his father William, a farmer, would have been born in or before 1810.

Three of the five marriages are a decade later. They all have a William McIlhagga, farmer, as father, possibly the same William, who must have been born about 1820. Daughter Nancy Betty (born 1843) married Alexander Brownlees in 1865 in Antrim Civil Registrar's Office. George (born about 1845), a merchant, married Elizabeth Anne Robinson in 1866 at Raloo Presyterian Church, Larne. George and Elizabeth went on to have at least four children, Margaret Jane (1868), William (1870), Samuel (1872) and Eliza Ann (1875). Third, Jane (born 1851) married James Boyd in 1872 in Ballymena 3rd Presbyterian Church. The fifth marriage with a William McIlhagga, also a farmer, as father, is a full generation later. His daughter Margaret (born about 1881) married William Kerr in 1902 at Connor Presbyterian Church. This date would give her father a birth year of about 1855.

The sixth and final 'stray' marriage records a John McIlhagga, farmer, as father (born about 1865) whose daughter Henrietta W. (born about 1892) married Matthew McNeilly in 1913, also at Connor Presbyterian Church. From our earlier knowledge of what I have called the 'main' Maxwellswalls family, we would suspect that the 'W' stands for Wilson, thus continuing to carry a maternal surname down the generations. However, I cannot at present place this Henrietta in that family with any certainty. There is a possibility that her father John is the son of Henry McIlhaggo/McIlhaggie who married Agnes McMeekin, though at present I know of no marriage for him which produced a daughter.

In addition to the above 'strays' there is one family about which we know something, which has Maxwellswalls connections, and interestingly one of the witnesses to Henrietta and Matthew McNeilly's marriage, Margaret McCullough, must be a member of it. I referred to this family in my blog on 2nd February when I was sharing the information on a Memorial Inscription. My information about this family comes from two descendants, one in England and one in Australia. I can with confidence here name Neville Darragh from Victoria as he gave permission for an extract from his own Family History to be published in our Clan McIlhagga Newsletter in 2003. It concerned a great-aunt of his, Eliza McCullough, who married into the McIlhago/McIlhagga family.

Eliza or Elizabeth married John who was son of Harry or Henry McIlhago. They married in a Presbyterian Church in Ballymena on 10th September 1859. John McIlhago was of 'full age', so was probably 21. Eliza was 20. The marriage entry includes the following: In the Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, in the Parish of Kirkinriola in County Antrim....Residence: Maxwellswalls. Eliza 'made her mark' before witnesses John Cathcart and Andrew Patterson. Neville Darragh tells us that the Cathcart family lived at Connor and subsequently at Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia. We can deduce that John's probable birth year was pre-1838. In fact the 1901 Census of Belfast gives us a probable date of 8th February 1830. This in turn means Henry, his father, possibly had a birth year of about 1805. Henry was a farmer, as was his son John, and as also was John's future father-in-law, Samuel McCullough. This family has 187 people on its Family Tree and needs a blog entry to itself. The open question is whether its McIlhagga progenitor, Henry/Harry is to be identified with the Henry who appears in the Maxwellswalls Tithe Applotment Book in the 1830s and/or the Henry whose Will I transcribed in an earlier blog.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Lily - Elizabeth

The four brothers about whom I have just written belonged to what we must call the 'main' family from Maxwellswalls. They had two older sisters. We have nothing but a birth date for the eldest Henrietta. We understand that she didn't survive infancy, and we might think that supporting evidence for this is the fact that she was not mentioned in her father Nathaniel's Will. He does however name his daughter Lily and makes very clear provision for her. But do we know what happened to her? Well, not under the name of Lily, but almost certainly 'yes' with the name Elizabeth, a name which often gets shortened to 'affectionate' forms such as Libby, Betty, Eliza, Lillibet and Lily. Now we have an interesting vignette from the first half of the twentieth century concerning an Elizabeth McIlhagga who I think must be identified with our Maxwellswalls family, and who incidentally probably was an Eliza who signed the Ulster Covenant (about which I will write more another time) in 1912, was indeed Lily. Both on this document and on Elizabeth's marriage record the address of Lough View, Old Cavehill Road appears.

Some information came to me from a grand-daughter of an Elizabeth McIlhagga in 2005, following which I did my own research, the result of which is that I can offer what is I think a reasonable conjecture. Elizabeth was born about 1880, as was her husband Hugh Minford (born 30th January that year). Hugh was a farmer and a businessman. He was educated at an Antrim Primary School. He became a member of Antrim Rural District Council and was a founder member of the Ulster Farmers' Union. He became a Justice of the Peace for County Antrim, so clearly had quite a standing in the community. As an Ulster Unionist Member he sat in Parliament for the Antrim Division from the General Election of 1929 until his death on 18th December 1950. Doubtless his wife Elizabeth was by his side in many of these activities, as well of course, as bringing up their three children.

They lived at what my correspondent, Elizabeth and Hugh's grand-daughter, calls 'my mum's family estate', Parkview House, near the village of Parkgate, not far from the town of Antrim, in County Antrim. Apparently this estate came into the hands of the National Trust either from Hugh and Elizabeth or from one of their children, Henrietta Wilson, Hugo or Nathaniel. I have to say that I have failed to verify this interesting fact, despite having written to the Northern Ireland office of the Trust. Henrietta married an Alan John Goldie and had six children. Hugo became a GP, married Jean and had two daughters and Nathaniel became an MP. He and his wife (he married a first cousin) who I understand is still alive, had two sons.

The Rt. Hon. Nathaniel Owens Minford was born at Templepatrick on 2nd December 1912 and was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. A businessman and farmer like his father, he was an Ulster Unionist member. Again, following in his father's footsteps, he sat for the Antrim Division from the bye-electon of 2nd February 1950, caused by his father's death, until the prorogation of the Parliament in 1972. He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Development from 27th September 1967 to 2nd September 1968, then Senior Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Development from 2nd September 1968 to 12th March 1969, then Minister of State at the Ministry of Development from 12th March 1969 to 30th March 1972. He was made a Privy Councillor (NI) in 1969. He was Minister and Leader of the House of Commons from 23rd March 1971 to 30th March 1972 and Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for South Antrim from 1973 to 1974 as a pledged Ulster Unionist. He was Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly. He died 5th September 1975.

From a genealogical point of view it is the Irish Naming Pattern and the names given to their three children by Hugh and Elizabeth Minford that has a special interest for us. According to the pattern, their eldest daughter would have been called after her maternal grandmother, and she was called Henrietta Wilson. Their eldest son (the GP) would have been called after his paternal grandfather, and he was called Hugo. Their next son (the MP whose career we have outlined above) would have been called after his maternal grandfather and he was indeed called Nathaniel Owens. Now we know that when we were considering the farming community in Maxwellswalls we found we had a couple named Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga and Henrietta nee Wilson, who married, and to our knowledge had nine children between 1868 and 1892. The family records did not tell us of an Elizabeth though they did tell of a Lily, of unknown date of birth. Our research shows that it could well be that that Lily was the Elizabeth who married Hugh Minford. It is extremely unlikely that we need to postulate a tenth child born about 1880 whom they called Elizabeth. They did indeed have an Elizabeth about 1880 whom they affectionately called Lily. If our suppositions are correct, then we have brought the Maxwellswalls Family forward two generations on Elizabeth's line, and we have taken the Minford/Goldie family back at least three generations to the townland of Maxwellswalls.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Four Brothers

I wrote recently about the family of Nathaniel Owens and Henrietta McIlhagga who had nine children. No fewer than four brothers served in the First World War in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. John Hutchinson, born 8th July 1880 was granted land in Canada and married Mary Ellen, born 1882. On the 1911 Saskatchewan Census he and Mary are listed as McIllagga, so he must have married before this. He enlisted in the 46th Battalion Canadian Infantry, Saskatchewan Regiment with number 781528. When he enlisted he was living in Outlook, Saskatchewan and was employed as a Labourer. He had served previously in the 134th Company, the Imperial Yeomanry, Irish Horse, gaining the South African Ribbon. Perhaps his experience abroad encouraged him to emigrate, albeit in the opposite direction! According to his attestation paper he was 5'10" in height, had a 37.1/2" chest, fair complexion, gray (sic) eyes, black hair,and was a Presbyterian. His unit set sail for Europe on 15th October 1916. Tragically John was killed in action at Passchendale in France almost exactly a year later on 26th October, 1917. His memorial is at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanden, Belgium. A year later, on 31st October 1918 an In Memoriam 'advertisement' appeared in the North American Lumber & Supply Co. (Magazine?) which simply said, 'Pt. John H. McIlhagga by his wife Mary E. McIlhagga'. John's wife lived on in Canada and died on 16th January 1941 in Vancouver.

Archibald Duncan, born 17th June 1882 in Belfast had set sail from Londonderry to Halifax in 1902 when he was only 19 and had subsequently gone to Moose Jaw, Saskachewan in 1912. He He moved to Swift Current and then to Calgary. His address was 228, 13th Avenue, West Calgary. He both married Mary Isabel and joined up on the same day, 27th May 1915. On enlistment he was 5'9.1/4" tall, had a 43.1/2" chest, fair complexion, grey eyes, dark hair, and was a Presbyterian. He was given the Regimental Number 183956. He became a Corporal in the 89th Overseas Battalion, but sadly something went wrong. At a Court Martial on 30th October 1916 he was reduced to the ranks for desertion when under orders for embarkation and he had to undergo detention for 84 days. May be he deserted in order to see his wife for what could have been a last time. After all he had been married on the same day he had joined the army! However, on the 5th March 1917 he did indeed proceed overseas with the 10th Battalion, and he was eventually discharged on 21st February 1919, three months after the war ended. On a form he filled up on his voyage back to Canada he named Mary I. McIlhagga, his wife, c/o Mrs. Baxter, 440 14th Avenue East, Calgary, as the person to be notified on his arrival. He landed on 20th January 1919 on the ship Empress of Britain. At some date after his discharge he was granted land and he lived there until he was 82 years old. He died aged 85, on 20th December 1968 in West Vancouver. He is buried in Capilano View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia.

The third brother to serve was George, born 14th June 1888. When he emigrated to Canada, as the 1911 Census tells us, he lodged with his brother John and his wife Mary. He also enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His attestation papers are difficult to read, but we can gather that his complexion was 'medium', his eyes hazel and his hair brown/grey. He apparently had become a Baptist. He was 27 years 6 months when he enlisted at Moose Jaw on 19th December 1915. His occupation was 'Carpenter'. He was given the Regimental Number 781419. He embarked ship at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 15th August 1916 and arrived at Liverpool nine days later. He had to spend some time in an Isolation Hospital at Aldershot before he was sent to the 'front line' in France. He was promoted Corporal on 3rd December 1917 and Sergeant on 6th May 1918 in the 128th Overseas Battalion. He was discharged on 17th April 1919. Clearly George did not marry as he made a Will bequeathing all his real estate to his brother James W. McIlhagga, back in Ireland, and all his personal estate to his mother Henrietta. He died in Nanaimo, Canada, aged 70, on 17th June 1959.

The fourth and youngest brother was Joseph, born 5th January 1892. He cannot have gone out to Canada until late 1912 at the earliest as he signed the Ulster Covenant in Belfast in that year. His fine signature is in a copper-plate hand, also recording his parents' address at Loughview, Old Cavehill Road, Belfast. When he signed his attestation papers on 15th December 1915 at Outlook, Saskatchewan, he also said he was a Carpenter. He too claimed he was a Baptist. He was single when he joined up, his description including height 5'11.1/2", chest 39", complexion dark, eyes blue and hair dark brown. On discharge he went to Winnipeg. Later he married Catherine (born 1903) known as Kate, Ross, and lived also in Calgary. The photograph at the head of this blog entry is of Joe, Kate and their three children, Jack, Bob and J. Alan. From this photo we can see from the crown on his arm that Joseph became a Colour Sergeant. I found this photo on the Internet but failed to find the name of the person who put it there. I do hope they won't mind my including it here, and it would be great if they were to get in touch and tell us how they relate to the family. At the moment I know Joseph died in 1974 and Catherine in 1975. I also know that J. Alan, born in 1938, died in 1962, and that they all lived in Calgary, Alberta. Joseph and Catherine are buried in Mountain View Memorial Gardens in that city.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Irish Newspaper Article

John Grenham is a respected genealogist in Ireland who writes a weekly column called Irish Roots in the Irish Times. On May 18th last our Clan got a mention in an amusing short article inspired by a report from the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin. I have to agree with his general conclusion that you can't judge a book by its cover! I've never thought of linking our name with an Arabic form, though I've wondered about the Hebrew prophet Haggai, which means 'festal'. Likewise Haggi in Genesis 46:16 means 'born on a festival' and Haggiah means 'feast of God'. Comments and suggestions are welcome to the Irish Times. This is what he wrote:

'I see that the ESRI has published a report showing that job applicants with Irish surnames are twice as likely to get to the interview stage. So what exactly is an “Irish” surname, and how can you make sure yours is Irish enough?

The first step, obviously, is to stick on an “O” or a “Mc”. Mackiewicz is certainly not Irish enough, but McKiewicz might just get you through the front door. Okechukwu will send your CV to the bottom of the pile, no doubt. O’Kechukwu is unlikely to do much better, however.

So what else can you do? A lot depends on where precisely in Ireland the CV sorter comes from. If they’re from Limerick they might recognise Ebzery and Birhagra and Fizell as perfectly ordinary names. Unless they’re from Antrim, McLuggage will probably sound like a bogus asylum seeker. Vizard, Kyne, Derenzi, Wallox, Mullinax - these are all perfectly familiar surnames in some parts of the country, but could be serious obstacles in job-hunting.

You could always try to disguise the name. Try dressing up Mahmoud El Hagga as Mattie McIlhagga, perhaps? The problem is that for many in the South, McIlhagga (and McEldoon and McClurkan and McIlweel) sounds as foreign as Swahili.

I suspect respectable English or Welsh surnames – Whitaker, Dawson, Jones, Robinson – are unlikely to be weeded out. What's wanted is a white, familiar, Anglophone name, not necessarily an Irish one.

The message for Irish Human Resource departments is that surnames don’t have dark skin and strange accents and funny food and they won’t come over here and take all our jobs. Judging people by their surnames makes as much sense as judging them by their eye colour. A peculiar-smelling surname is not going to marry your daughter.'