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.

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