Thursday, 29 October 2009

McIlhaggers in (mainly) Ireland

George and Mary Jane (nee Boyd) McIlhagger had six children between 1779 and 1787. I am going to comment on them in reverse order, from youngest to eldest, as this will move us from 'least' information to 'most'! Of Mary Kathleen I know very little except that at the age of twenty two, when she was living in Belfast, on 21 December 1909 she married James Boyd in Fortwilliam Park Presbyterian Church, Shankill. James was a Constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary, the son of Henry Boyd, a farmer. We will find that she has two nieces named after her.

Equally we know little enough of Henry Joseph, known as Harry. There is a Henry McIlhagger of 29 New North Queen Street, Belfast, who signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912. He would have been twenty by then, and no doubt was a son following his father's political leanings. We know that he never married, but went to work at the great ship building firm of Harland and Wolff. Tragically in his early thirties he was involved in an industrial accident there and was killed on 23rd July 1918. He was buried with his parents in the Belfast City Cemetery.

Samuel Robert may well have worked for the same firm, for he was employed as a Plater when he married Elizabeth Lewis on 17th June, 1919, at Belmont Presbyterian Church, Holywood, Northern Ireland. Elizabeth was the daughter of Blacksmith William and Mary Anne Lewis. Samuel and Elizabeth, like his distant cousins before him, emigrated to Australia. The family arrived in Sydney on 9th February 1926 on board the PS Otranto. On 17th July 1972 The Sydney Herald reported Samuel's death three days earlier, 'late of Kingsgrove'. He had lived until the ripe old age of eighty-seven. His wife survived only a couple of months more, and died in Campsie, New South Wales on 13th September. Samuel and Elizabeth had two daughters who are among the few clan women who served in the Second World War. Both were in the Royal Australian Air Force. Florence Jane, born 14th March 1920 served as an Aircraftswoman. She enlisted on 17th December 1942 at Belmore, Sydney, and was discharged on 3rd December 1945. She married John Drury and had two daughters, one of whom is one of my correspondents on this branch of the family. Florence's younger sister, Norah Georgina, born 24th June 1923 served at a Corporal. She also enlisted at Belmore, and was discharged on 2nd July 1946. Norah also married a couple of years later.

John George, known as Jack, was doubtless the John G. McIlhagger who signed the Ulster Covenant at the same time as his younger brother Henry. Although I have not been able to confirm it, it is said that he had served in the Boer War before working as a joiner in the Belfast Shipyards. He would have been 30 at the time he signed the Covenant when he was living at 104 Mount Collyer Avenue, Belfast. In the following year he married Sarah Miller. Jack and Sarah had three offspring. John, also known as Jack, born about 1913, was an exceptional classics scholar. He died unmarried aged 69 in 1982 after a long illness. Ellen, known as Nellie, married Harry Todd in about 1940, and died childless in 1999 aged 86. Henry was born about 1919 and married Violet Aiken from Aughnacloy, County Tyrone. Henry spent a few years in Australia after World War 2. Interestingly his daughter and two grand-daughters have incorporated the clan name into the surnames by which they are known.

William Boyd, born 8th December 1880 in Belfast is probably the 'W.B.' in the 1901 Census aged 20 listed as a soldier with Sapper 60th Coy, Royal Engineers, born Shankill, Antrim. At the time he was serving at Longmore Barracks, Longmore, Hampshire, England. We can assume this means he had joined up as a regular soldier. His WW1 Medal Card says he served with the Royal Irish Rifles as a Private Soldier. He presumably rejoined to serve in the War, as in 1908 he gave his occupation as Labourer when he married Eleanor McArthur in Lynn Memorial Methodist Church, Belfast. In 1908 he was back home at 29 New North Queen Street. In 1911 his address was Donard Street, Ormeau. Eleanor's father, Charles was an Upholsterer. Her marriage witness was Elizabeth McArthur, maybe her mother. William and Eleanor had four children, three girls, Kathleen, Elizabeth and Elsie, and one boy, William. He married Martha. William died in 1993 and Martha only this year, 2009. I have referred to her passing and to their offspring in another recent blog.

Finally I come to David, the eldest son of George and Mary Jane McIlhagger, born 6th January 1879. He married Elizabeth Louise Sherwood and they had three sons and a daughter, the second infant who was named after her aunt, this one Eva Kathleen. She was born in 1917 and died in 2002 aged 85 in Lisburn. She had married William Charles Clinton Pelham-Fynes. The eldest son, George Edward, born 1909 and named, according to the naming pattern, after his grandfather, though thankfully with a second name, to distinguish him from other Georges! In 1934 he married Nella Irene Kane in Belfast. She died in 1985; he in 1996. David Sherwood came next, born 1911. He distinguished himself as a Nuclear Scientist and sometime worked for the Longman Group in Harlow, Essex. He appears in the International Who's Who in Energy and Nuclear Scientists and in the Dictionary of Ulster Biography which I have detailed in my blog of 7th February last. David married Ida Graham on 15th August 1945 in Belfast. They had a daughter and a son, both of whom are married each with two children, one carrying on the clan name. David and Elizabeth (nee Sherwood)'s third son was James, born 1913. He married Ethel Neville at St. James', Belfast on 8th August 1939, and had two sons. In this sub-branch of the family there are several other eminent scientists. James died on 2nd November 1986 in The Isle of Man.

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