Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Reverend E.F.G. McIlhagger

Some three years ago a member of Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, asked a question on the Internet: 'What role has pacifism played in... Australia? Have any men taken "Conscientious Objection" stands?...'. A reply came from a retired minister of the Churches of Christ. This is a small denomination with historical roots in both Baptism and Presbyterianism. His reply included the following: '...during and after World War II there was in our Australian churches considerable discussion and debate on conscientious objection, Christian pacifism, and war as contrary to the mind and teaching of Jesus Christ. Many ministers, particularly in Victoria and South Australia were... "prominent pacifists". They included E.F.G. McIlhagger... . (Their) names appeared with anti-war statements... collated from time to time in the publication The Peacemaker which was founded by... the Church of England Brotherhood of St. Laurence (sic) 1939...'.

'E.F.G.' also appears in a publication, Ballarat Churches of Christ, 1859-1993, A History, by Graeme Chapman, published in Victoria State, Australia. In chapter 15, entitled Peel St. and York St., 1949-1975 we read that from 1950-1952 Peel Street church was without a minister and that in October 1952 the church organised a Mission led by E.F.G. (Ern) McIlhagga, BA, the minister of Esseden, with Roy McLeod as the song leader.

As I have said in an earlier blog, a correspondent and descendant in the McIlhagger family sent me a copy of a short publication, Family Reunion: Palmer-Pidgeon-McIlhagger... A Pictorial Record, in which Ernest Frederick appears. He was the son of George who at the age of 11 emigrated from Ireland with his parents John and Jane Mary (nee Hull) McIlhagger. The family of (then) four children departed from Plymouth, England, on November 7th 1883 on the SS. Goalpara and arrived at Rockhampton, Queensland, on January 5th 1884. They settled at nearby Bundaberg. George became an Engine Driver at a local Sugar Mill, married Elizabeth Deoberitz and brought up six children of which Ernest was the youngest. He attended the local South Bundaberg State High School. He obtained his BA Degree from Queensland University and a Theology Degree from Glen Iris Bible College, Victoria. He married Margaret Coventry in 1942 in Melbourne and they had three daughters. Ernest died in Fairfield, New South Wales aged only 51 and is buried in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney.

It will be noted from this and from my previous blogs on the section of the McIlhagger family from Ireland that emigrated to the antipodes that there are no remaining descendants with the clan surname. This is also true of the one son of John and Mary Jane of whom I have not written anything. He was John, born 22nd April 1881 in Belfast, and emigrated aged just two. He like his older brother George, became an Engine Driver at a Sugar Mill (at Mackay). He married Catherine Magnus who was a widow with a young daughter. Her first husband had been killed in a tragic accident. John and Catherine had two further daughters. Catherine died in 1946 and John on 7th May 1955 in Mackay.

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