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!


  1. MC Ilhagga
    However I also am a Mc Haggie/Mc Ilhagga
    my gggrandmother was Margaret Mc Ilhaggert
    she married Alexander Scott her parents
    were William Mc Hagga m Agnus Mc Cosh
    Any relation ?
    Other surnames Wilson,Scott,Mc Cosh,

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  3. shilo, you and I are sort of related. Margaret Scott who married John Michael County was my second cousin once removed.

  4. O dear, no that's wrong. It should be first cousin twice removed!