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!

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