Wednesday, 30 September 2009

McIlhagger Family

Planting Sugar-cane
in Queensland

In my last blog I referred to Robert George (born 1795) and Agnes McIlhagger. They had four children. Agnes was born in 1821, the same year her parents were married. Elizabeth was baptised, according to family tradition, on 8th February 1822, Thomas on 28th December 1824 and David in 1826. David married Mary McCausland/McAusland and produced a most interesting family part of which is still in Ireland and part of which is in Australia. I will write about it over the coming weeks. I know nothing of what happened to Agnes, Elizabeth or Thomas, but David and Mary had two sons, John and George. On John's marriage record his father's occupation is given as Labourer and on George's, Farmer.

The elder son, John, was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, in 1846 and married Jane Mary, daughter of Joseph and Mary Ann (nee Cassells) Hull. They married on 28th February 1870 at Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church, Belfast. They both lived in Belfast at the time, John at 103 Sandy Row and Mary Jane at 102 Charles's Street South. The witnesses at their marriage were Henry McKeown and Ellen McAusland. The couple possibly met at work as both were employed as weavers. Now Mary Jane's sister, Martha, married to Edward Palmer, had emigrated to Australia and perhaps persuaded John and Jane to take their children to Queensland. So a family of seven departed from Plymouth on the south coast of England on 7th November 1883 as 'remittance' passengers on the SS. Goalpara. John and Jane's children were Mary born 9th October 1870, George born 29th April 1872, Agnes born 17th August 1874, Martha Ann born 29th September 1876 and John born 22nd April 1881. They had had two other children who died in infancy, Martha (1874-5) and Rebecca (1878-9). The family disembarked two months later on 5th January at Rockhampton where they were welcomed by the Palmers with whom they lived for a short period before settling in the town of Bundaberg.

This part of the McIlhagger family had a reunion meeting on 1st May 1988 and from that occasion published Palmer-Pidgeon-McIlhagger Family Reunion... a Pictorial Record. There are a number of vignettes in it which are well worth quoting, including, 'John was known as a strong and healthy fellow with a jovial manner, who liked an ale which he bought at The Globe Hotel across Perry Street for sixpence for a quart billy-can'. Such recreation was however after hard work which in Bundaberg was to be found in a Sugar Mill and in farming which was often growing sugar-cane to be processed in the Mills. John got work at Millaquin Mill as did his son George. John worked at Mackay Mill. John senior's daughters, Mary and Martha Ann, married a farmer and a butcher respectively. More next time.

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