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.

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