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.

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