Monday, 30 November 2009

The William Descent

We will stay with the descendants of the eldest son of the Ballycloughan family. William son of William, as we have seen, had six children. From the youngest: Elizabeth lived until the age of 37. She married William Baxter who was the person trusted to give notice of both his father-in-law's and his mother-in-law's death, despite the fact that she is wrongly recorded as his mother (see The Greenock Telegraph for 27th April 1900)! Janet is absent from the 1871 Census so she may well have died before she reached double figures. Agnes also gave notice of her mother's death in 1900. She was by then married to Samuel Stewart, a Journeyman Baker, son of Alexander Stewart and Elizabeth McLelland. Matilda, like her younger sister Janet also died before her tenth birthday (1868). James, when he was twenty, married Johanna McCulloch by whom he had sixteen children. I will dedicate another blog to him and his descendants. Finally William son of William son of William, when he was twenty, married Rachel McLelland, daughter of John McLelland and Rachel Anderson, by whom he had eight children: William, Matilda, Andrew, James, Rachael, Eliabeth, Martha and Thomas. It is interesting how often the McLellands crop up in relation to the McIlhaggas. I imagine them from one family.

William son of William son of William was born 1852/3 and was given a second name, to 'keep alive' his mother's maiden name, Carson. On 31st December 1873 he married Rachel in the Greenock Free Church Manse in Ratho Street, after banns had been called according to the custom of the Free Church of Scotland. His address was of course that of his parents, 12 Terrace Road. This was also Rachel's address, though she only hailed from the next town along the coast, Port Glasgow. However, her parents were both deceased so maybe she had been lodging with the McIlhaggas. It looks as if William's young sister Agnes, aged only thirteen, was his witness at the marriage, though admittedly it might have been his Aunt Nancy who was using her 'proper' name. In either case, she 'made her mark'. William, a Sugar-House Labourer like his father, was 21; Rachel, who was a Steam Loom Weaver in a Flaxmill, was 19. By 1881 they were living with their first two children, William and Matilda, at 108 Drumfrocher Road, Greenock. Later in life he got the better job of Donkey Engine Driver. He died in 1932 aged 80, one imagines after some years in retirement. By 1891 the family had moved to 130 Maclean Street, Plantation (Govan), the five children then being William (of course!), Matilda, James, Elizabeth and Martha. The three others are clearly elsewhere on Census night, Andrew, Rachel and Thomas. Let us meet each of the eight in turn.

William son of William son of William son of William (!) was born on 4th June 1875. When he was only eighteen, as the eldest son, he had registered his mother's death in 1893. In 1891 he is on the Census as an apprentice to a sail maker. He may be the William McIlhago at Hurlford, Ayr, in the 1901 Census. He was boarding there and is listed as a Labourer. He may have been on the Ayrshire coast in order to work at his trade of sail-making, though his birth place of 'Ireland' may be against this identification. He is however the only clan William in Scotland in 1901 with the 'right' birth year. Matilda (b. 1877) moved by 1891 to 'Plantation' (Govan) from where, on 31st December 1898 she married Alan Woods McLellan, a Blacksmith, in St. Margaret's Hall, according to the rites of The Free Church of Scotland. She died in 1938 in Tradeston aged 61. Andrew (1879) who was given as second name his mother's maiden name, McLelland, sadly died as a two-year-old on 13th February 1881.

James (born 19th August 1882) is probably the James McIlhaggie in the 1901 Census on board Prince George First Class Battleship in Gibralter Bay; aged 18, born Scotland, single, with an 'undefined' employment but listed as a member of the crew. There were 745 others in the vessel. On 30th October 1908 aged 27, as a Merchant Seaman, he married 26 year old Mary Young, daughter of John Young a shipwright, and Mary McNeilage, at 8 Bellahouston Terrace, according to the rites of the Church of Scotland. A year later they were to have a son, John Young, who became a Quay Labourer and who on 25th September 1931 married Margaret Smellie Allan at Union Church of Scotland, Maryhill, Glasgow. They had a daughter, Margaret Allan in 1934 who sadly died three years later of Whooping Cough and Broncho Pneumonia. Her father John Young McIlhagga died in 1940 aged 31. His father, James McIlhagga died in 1921 aged 38.

William and Rachel's fifth child was Rachel who also died as an infant (1884). Next came Elizabeth (1886) who lived in Govan until she died in 1951, aged 65. Martha was born in 1888, about whom we have no more information at present. Finally Thomas Norris was born on 6th December 1891. The long line of first sons, all William, had come to an end. Thomas was the survivor of this large family, but his story must wait until another blog.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Sugar-refining in Greenock

Berryyards Sugar Refinary, Greenock
shown with permission of
The McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Inverclyde Council.

Progenitor William McIlhagga of Ballycloughan was a weaver and a smallholder - he called himself a farmer. He and Agnes must have married about 1828 and have had their first child, a boy they also called William, about 1830. We have already established (see blog for 15th August, 'A Problem solved?') the he was the William McElhagga aged 20 named in the 2% sample of the 1851 Census of the townland of Craigs. He worked for Blacksmith Brown as a servant-weaver, along with Brown's own son. Later that very year, on 14th July he married Elizabeth Carson from Gortfadd, a townland in the village of Portglenone, 8.5 miles west of Ballymena. She was the daughter of farmer James Carson and Matilda McEwan. They married at Portglenone Second Presbyterian Church. William had attained his 'majority' between the census and the wedding for he is recorded as 'full age' in July; however, as we know from later records, Elizabeth was six years older than him, so was about twenty-six at their marriage.

William and Elizabeth were to have six children, but only the first, also William, was born in Ireland (about 1852). By the time number two, James, came along (about 1855) they were living in Greenock on the south west coast of Scotland. In the next ten years William and Elizabeth had had three children, and are recorded in the 1861 Scottish Census with the surname McIlhaggan. After James came Matilda (1 March 1858). We know that James and Matilda were named after Elizabeth's parents, so they were following the 'naming pattern' very strictly. Their fourth child and second daughter Agnes was born on 7th February 1860. Janet came along two years later on 15th July and finally Elizabeth on 23rd September 1864. In the 1871 Census they were 'McIlhaga', in 1881 'McIlhagga' (except James who was 'McIlhaggart') and in 1891 'McIlhaggart'. Such variations were surely due to the misspelling of the enumerators rather than to the family deliberately making such changes. Father William died at 6.30am on 20th September 1899 of a malignant tumor of the throat. One wonders whether this was work related. He was registered as a 69 years old Labourer. His wife Elizabeth died only seven months later, at the age of 75 of a Heart Disease. Both died at the house they had lived in all their time in Greenock, at 12 Terrace Road.

It is clear that William moved across to Scotland in order to find work, and possibly to escape the potato famine. He found work in the sugar-refining industry and was labouring in one of the many Greenock sugar houses by the time the 1861 census was taken. Technically he was a Sugarbaker. The job of Sugarbaker has been well documented by Bryan Mawer in association with the Anglo-German Family History Society. The title of his book, Sugarbakers - from sweat to sweetness says a lot. Work in the 19th Century Refineries in places like Greenock or Liverpool was hot, hard and often for long hours. They mostly employed men escaping from lack of work on the land who, like William, were therefore exchanging an outdoor life for 'stoking fires, unloading raw sugar, ladling boiling syrup, pouring bullocks' blood, grinding animal charcoal, cleaning filters, filling moulds with hot sugar, loading ovens, etc.' (p.6). Heat permeated the whole building such that men worked 'naked but for a covering for their legs and some sort of apron' (p.49, from an article by G. Dodd in the Penny Magazine). Doubtless working conditions improved as time went on, but the basic 2-3 week process of refining meant day and night working to produce the prized 'sugar loaf'. The intense heat meant that not only were there many personal injuries but also that many 'Sugarhouses' went on fire. Also heat produced intense thirst and where water was impure, as Bryan Mawers sums it up, doubtless with social and family consequences we can only imagine, 'so it was beer throughout the working day, beer in the evening, and they had Sundays off for church, rest... and a beer' (p.64).
Perhaps 'our' William was fortunate to reach his seventieth year, and not to die of anything worse than he did.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The Ballycloughan Naming Pattern

It's ages since I've spent time working on my own McIlhagga family tree though I often think of the fact that my brick wall is there with my great-great-grandfather William, born at the turn of the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries. In a blog on 20th February I toyed with the idea that William's father was James who farmed a plot of land in the next townland to where William lived and farmed, but I'm not convinced I've found the way back to the previous generation. So where do I go next? Can I do a bit of lateral thinking? I sat down today and made a family time-line from 1800-1890 with the names of children and grand-children. Would it reveal anything of interest? It certainly reminded me of the Scottish and Irish naming pattern. I think that William and Agnes must have reminded their offspring in no uncertain terms of the 'proper thing to do' when naming their children.

Let's see what they did. Two of the three sons (William and Crawford) called their first son William, after their paternal grandfather. The third son John called his second son William. The second son of daughters 'should' also have been named William. Two out of three were (the second sons of Jane and Margaret) and with the third (Ann) it was the next boy who was William. First daughters of daughters 'should' be named after the maternal grandmother. Three out of three were; Agnes was the name of the first daughter of Jane, Ann and Margaret. We don't think that either of the other two daughters (Mary and Nancy) had daughters. In the case of sons the second daughter 'should' have been Agnes. Two of the three were (William and Crawford) and in John's case Agnes was number three. All this leads me to think that William and Agnes themselves must have 'inherited' the traditional pattern from their parents, which means that in all probability William's father was also William. By the same token, further analysis makes me think that William's mother may have been Mary, that Agnes' father may have been John and that her mother may have been Jane.

Can we extrapolate from any of this? Let's start with Agnes McCosh. We don't have a marriage certificate, so we don't know for certain her father's name, but two McCoshes, David and John, rented land in Ballycloughan. There are no Davids in the Ballycloughan McIlhagga family so our guess would be that she was daughter of John, or perhaps there was a John McCosh who was also father of David and John. This would accord with John McIlhagga's second son being called John. Maybe we will discover whether her mother was Jane in accord with William and Agnes' first daughter being Jane. It is the fact that their second daughter was Mary which leads me to think that William's mother may have been Mary. So does the idea that William's parents were William and Mary? Not yet, I'm afraid. We will keep the possibility in mind!

Is there any more to be said about the family names? One special thing. The family has clearly inherited the unusual name of Crawford (possibly first a surname). Naming their third son Crawford wasn't a 'one off' as the name keeps cropping up in succeeding generations. We can surely assume that William, born about 1795, was not an only child. It is quite likely that he had a brother Crawford, but does a Crawford exist who might fit this slot? There is just one reference that we know about. In 1833 Margaret McIlhagger was born, who incidentally doesn't seem to relate to any other 'McIlhaggers'. We know of her existence from the record of her marriage to John Hill on 1st November 1854 in Kirkinriola Church of Ireland, Ballymena. Margaret's father was called Crawford. He was a shoemaker in Harryville, Ballyclug. He could well have been born in the first decade of the century which could certainly make him William's younger brother. And just maybe their father was also William. So have we learned anything from the Ballycloughan McIlhagga's naming patterns? Just possibly!

There are some other common names among the eight offspring of William and Agnes: James (2), John (3), Thomas (3), Robert (2); Matilda (2), Janet (2), Elizabeth (5), Margaret (3). The names Thomas and Robert, Matilda and Elizabeth were brought in by marriage, which leaves James, John, Janet and Margaret, any of which could also have been siblings of William or Agnes.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Ballycloughan Family: An Overview

First Presbyterian Church, Broughshane, Co.Antrim

William and Agnes (nee McCosh) McIlhagga of Ballycloughan had eight children. The eldest was William. The first boy in Ireland was often named for the paternal grandfather, which raises the question (against my earlier mooting the possibility of James) whether both William's father and grandfather were also William? This is just a possibility to be kept in mind for the future. We have already met the eldest son, William, in the 2% sample which has survived of the 1851 Census (see 'A Problem Solved? on 15th August last) where he is William McElhagga. He is the ancestor of two branches of this family, one based in Canada and the other in the United Kingdom. He was a Weaver and a Presbyterian who, on 14th July 1851 married Elizabeth Carson of Gortfadd, daughter of James Carson and Elizabeth McEwan. They married at Portglemone Presbyterian Church. We can calculate that he must have been born about 1830 and hence that his parents probably married at the end of the 1820s, giving them birth years around the turn of the Century.

William and Agnes' second son John was born a couple of years later. He was to marry Mary Stewart at Broughshane Presbyterian Church on 15th July 1851, the day after his brother married a few miles away at Portglenone! Mary came from Ballygarvey. Both she and John 'made their mark' during the marriage ceremony. William and Agnes' third child and first daughter was Jane, born about 1833. Like her father and two older brothers, she too became a weaver. She married Robert Wade of Ballycloughan at Broughshane on 16th May 1854. Two years later the marriage took place of the family's second daughter, Mary, to Robert Dickey, yet another weaver, on 13th June. He brother John was her witness at the wedding. Mary was probably born in 1835. Next came the third son, Crawford, who was to become ancestor of the second branch of the family now to be found in England. He was born about 1837 and on 1st September 1865 married Eliza(beth) Smith of Port Glasgow at The Free Church of Scotland there. Ann was the third daughter to be born 1838/9 and be baptised 16th January 1839. She married Robert Linton on 8th October 1864, moving afterwards to live first in Ballymena. Interestingly she chose to be married at Clogh which is where her mother came from. Nancy, fourth daughter was born and baptised (on 17th October) in 1841 and when she was twenty-one, on 15th May 1863 married William John McCleary in Broughshane. Both the Lintons and the McClearys moved to Central Scotland. Finally William and Agnes' fifth daughter and eighth child was Margaret, baptised 16th June 1844. She married Alexander Scott from Port Glasgow on 26th June 1866, in the Church of Scotland there. They became ancestors of a large Australian branch of the family.

Most of this family were baptised and married at what is now called the First Presbyterian Church in Broughshane. The minister who baptised all the McIlhagga children was the Revd. Dr. Robert Stewart (1783-1852). S. Alex Blair in his County Antrim Characters (3), Mid-Antrim Historical Group: 36, 1997, writes of him, '...Stewart was one of the great personalities in the Irish Presbyterian Church of the last century. A noted conversationalist and debater, as well as a famous preacher, he.. "excelled in quick repartee, in clear discrimination and in far-seeing sagacity" (Prof. W.D.Killen). He was a native of Tullybane, near Clough.. in [1816] he [was] Moderator of the General Synod [and of] the General Assembly in 1843... "Mr. Stewart [was] rough in appearance... [but] celebrated for wit, humour and logical acumen.. an original genius whose arguments were elaborated from facts by his own mind, and not borrowed from books, of which he had very few in his possession". (W.T. Latimer)... In his own congregation Dr. Stewart was greatly beloved... To his pastoral duties he added unwearied efforts in the cause of secular and scriptural education, erecting appropriate school houses, selecting well-qualified teachers and watchfully superintending the progress of the rising generation.'

Friday, 20 November 2009

Problem solved?

The problem posed in my last blog has I think a probable and simpler solution that the ones hinted at earlier. I searched the IGI for any references and found an Islandmagee (mistranscribed Islandmager) marriage of Eliza Acken to 'Hoy' born in Ballypriormor(e) on the peninsula. I admit this is a marriage which has been submitted by an individual after 1991 and such entries are notorious for their errors, but this one looks as if it has a sound basis in fact. I think it would make total sense if Eliza's parents were Mathew Aiken and his wife (Samuel McIlhaggo's daughter). It is very frustrating that we do not have her name. So I think that the Aiken family tree, kindly shared with me by my correspondent, may be missing out a generation. Mathew didn't marry Eliza and have a daughter Mary. He married Samuel's daughter and had a daughter Eliza who had a daughter Mary, and if this were the case the age gap of 16 years between Mathew and his wife disappears.

A time-line would then look like this:

1758 Mathew Aiken born;
1774 Mathew Aiken married daughter of Samuel McIlhaggo (although he was only 16. They realised she was pregnant);
1774 Eliza Aiken (Acken) born to Mathew and daughter of Samuel;
1792 John Aiken born to Eliza Aiken (Eliz aged 19. Born out of wedlock, which is why he has the surname Aiken!);
1794 Eliza Aiken (Acken) (aged 21) married Hoy (born Ballypriormore). Marriage on IGI. [Was her middle name Brennan?];
1795 Mary born to Eliza Hoy (nee Aiken);
1810 John born to Mary (aged 15) Hoy. The father was Napier;
1810 Samuel makes his Will. His daughter, granddaughter (Mary) and ggrandson (John) are all alive;
1815 Mary Hoy died end of July, aged 20;
1818 Samuel dies. Will proved end of July. John aged 9 inherits his mother Mary's interest in Carspindle;
1830 Mathew Aiken dies aged 72;
1838 Eliza Hoy (nee Aiken) dies aged 64. She is called Eliza Aiken on the Ballypriormore grave - it was very common to revert to a maiden name as a widow.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

The McIlhaggo-Aiken Problem

My correspondent about Islandmagee has set me a problem. Our clan member who farmed in Portmuck was Samuel McIlhaggo. He left a Will in which he makes one of his three sons-in-law Mathew Aikin (or Aiken) his Executor and indeed a beneficiary. Unfortunately the original copy of the Will is damaged and many words are indecipherable. These include the name of his granddaughter who married a Mr. Noy or Hoy. My correspondent tells me that Mathew Aiken who is on his family tree married an Eliza Brennan. He gives their respective dates as 1758-1830 and 1774-1838. He also says their daughter Mary, born 1795 married a Mr Hoy! I am wondering if Mathew married twice, first to Samuel's daughter and then to Elizabeth Brennan. This might be indicated by the fact that Eliza was 16 years younger than Mathew. I suppose another possibility is that Eliza was Samuel McIlhaggo's daughter and that she had been married first to a Mr. Brennan and that she married Mathew Aiken as a widow. A third, but I think remote possibility, is that Eliza's middle name was Brennan. Unfortunately Samuel's Will doesn't give us her name, but it does make quite clear that Mathew was his son-in-law.

There is an additional reason to think that Mathew Aiken may have been married twice. On the Aiken family tree Eliza Aiken (nee Brennan) had a daughter Mary who married a Mr. Hoy. The (1818) Will of Samuel McIlhaggo named a son-in-law Mathew Aikin (or Aiken) and a granddaughter Mary whose son John appeared to be fathered by a Mr. Noy (Hoy?) otherwise Napier. However no son John appears on the Aiken family tree, so maybe there were two Marys, one the daughter of Eliza Aiken (nee Brennan), one the daughter of the daughter of Samuel McIlhaggo. She (ie the second Mary's mother) was possibly a first wife of Mathew Aiken or else the wife of one of the other two sons-in-law named in the Will. There is of course a further possibility that she was and remained unmarried and had a child by Mr. Noy/Hoy. We need some more evidence, but where will it come from?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Back to Islandmagee

I wrote about families at Islandmagee between 4th and 12th June last. Yesterday I received a comment from a descendant of the Aiken line which Mathew Aikin (or Aiken), whom I mentioned on 8th June, belongs. My correspondent has a full family tree of the Aiken family which I have been able to consult, for which I am very grateful. I will write about a problem this has raised for me next time. He kindly also sent me the URL for a number of County Antrim graveyards which include Ballypriormore on Islandmagee. This includes a McIlhaggo family, the MI which I quoted on 4th June. The transcription gives a different age for the death of Samuel McIlhaggo, 53 rather than 57, so I may have to revise his birth year to 1833 (from 1837).

I checked the other graveyards which have been transcribed and found two McIlhaggas in Connor New Cemetery and one in Kirkhill Cemetery, Connor. I already knew about the Kirkhill MI and I quoted it on 2nd February. The two in Connor New are new to me and they both add to our knowledge. They read as follows:

1849. McIlhagga. In loving memory of Nathaniel Owens 1834 - 1905; His wife Henrietta 1849 - 1939; Their daughter-in-law Sara Jane 1886 - 1913; Her son Robert 1911 - 1930.

1937. McIlhagga. In loving memory of Nathaniel McIlhagga, beloved husband of Charlotte McIlhagga, died 22nd March 1937 aged 41 years.

In addition to the McIlhaggo grave in Ballypriormore the Internet site provided me with the grave there of Catherine whom I believe to be a daughter of Samuel and Ellon McIlhaggo and sister of William. She married Arthur Forbes. Her MI (Memorial Inscription) reads:

Erected in memory of Arthur Forbes who departed this life 5th Mar 1873 aged 75 years. Also his beloved wife Catherine Forbes who departed this life 27th June 1882 aged 76 years.

One of Arthur and Catherine's daughters was also Catherine who married a Napier. Good fortune also provided the following MI which surely must be hers and that of their seven children (and so great-grandchildren of Samuel and Ellon McIlhaggo):

Napier. Erected by Catherine Napier in memory of her husband John Napier who died 14th Oct 1900 aged 71 years. Their daughter Maggie who died 27th Aug 1888 aged 20 years. Their son Robert who died 23rd Mar 1898 aged 17 years. Their daughter Catherine who died 25th Feb 1902 aged 35 years. Their son James who died 8th May 1904 aged 30 years. Their son Arthur Forbes who died 30th Aug 1908 aged 43 years. Their son John who died 26th Nov 1916 aged 46 years. The above-named Catherine Napier who died 8th Apr 1921 in her 83rd year. Their daughter Eliza died 6th Feb 1952 in her 89th year. Their daughter-in-law Margaret Jane, wife of John Napier, died 16th Oct 1953.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Three Mistranscriptions

Today I have had a closer look at the 1911 Irish Census. There are a good number of McIlhagga families and a few McIlhaggers. There are also three families apparently with other name variants - McIlhaggo, McIlhagge and McIlhaggart. I first looked carefully at the signatures on the Household Returns completed or at least signed by the heads of these families and I came to the conclusion that two and maybe three transcriptions are misreadings of McIlhagga. However, each of those families revealed other clues which led me to their respective places within family trees which I have compiled over the years.

First, Robert McIlhaggo, at 44 Glenfarne Street, Upper (Shankill, Antrim) was listed as brother of the head of house, Elizabeth Orr. I found them as part of the McIlhagga-McCulloch family about which I wrote on 14th September. Elizabeth (McIlhagga!) married Patrick William Orr in 1902. As I said in September, she was a widow. Her young brother Robert, a Coal Vendor, was now living with her in 1911, as was a lodger George Clements. No doubt as a way for her to make ends meet. Both siblings seemed to have 'upped' their ages; I wonder why?

Next came the 'McIlhagge' couple at 32 Maxwell's Walls, John aged 86 and Eliza 76. They turned out to be none other than Elizabeth's and Robert's parents! The Census says that they had been married for 52 years and that they had had eleven children. That was the big give-away. The 1901 Census had rightly called her Elizabeth McCulloch but noted that she was known as Eliza! And in 1911 McIlhagge should certainly have read McIlhagga. John was to live just one more year and Elizabeth two years. One day I'll work out whether their marriage of 52 years is a McIlhagga record.

The third mistranscription was James McIlhaggart head of a household of three. He was 77, John Elliott was his son-in-law aged 26, a farmer, and Margaret Elliott was his daughter, aged 30. They had been married for six years but had no children. Now here's the exciting part - I found them in two family trees! Which must mean that the two trees are really one, and that scores of folk in both trees are related to each other, a fact that I haven't know before. One tree went back to Nathan born in Carnmoney in 1758 and the other to James (McIlhagga / McIlhaggart) who in the past I have known as James of Ballyportery born 1840. Now I had not only written a blog about the McIlhagga-McCulloch link but also about James of Ballyportery (21st September) and I hadn't spotted that only four days later I had contradicted myself! On 21st I had said that James McIlhagga of Ballyportery and James McIlhaggart in the 1911 Census couldn't be the same person, despite both being born in 1840, because one had a daughter Margaret and the other didn't. Stupid me! One had a daughter Margaret and one had a daughter Maggie!! How we can miss the most obvious things. Of course they were the same person. Which means that the family tree of James of Ballyportery can now be taken back to Nathan in 1758. One thing that we can't yet demonstrate, but hopefully will one day, is that James moved from Carnmoney where he was born and baptised to Ballyportery where he worked, married and brought up a family.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


Over the past ten months since I started this blog I have deliberately not focused on my own family, my own branch of the McIlhagga Clan. It has however cropped up in about 10% of the blogs I have written as and when my attention has been drawn to different people or places. With any certainty I can only trace my McIlhagga line back through five generations to about the turn of the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries. The certain progenitor at that time was William. We do not know who William's father was. If we had either his birth certificate, baptism record or his marriage certificate we would know and it is frankly bad luck that we have none of these. We think he married in Clough Presbyterian Church but that Church's records for this time have been lost or destroyed.

We know that William and his wife Agnes McCosh lived all their working lives and indeed through their 'retirement', if such they had, in the townland of Ballycloughan just north of the mid-Antrim town of Broughshane. Various records describe William as a weaver and farmer, and those records vary the spelling of his surname, including McIlhaggo and McIlhaggie. The earliest reference we have which probably dates to the same time as his marriage is in a document called The Townlands Valuation Book of 1828. It appears to have William in twice, as McIlhaggo, first in Ballycloughan and then in neighbouring Eglish. Ballycloughan has twenty four plots of rentable land of which number 32 (!) is Wm. McIlhaggo 2.3.16. This is a measurement which means two acres, three roods and 16 perches. Its value per acre is 18s/6d, giving an Amount of £2.12.8. His portion of the tithe due to the Church of Ireland was 3s/2d. For a Presbyterian to have to pay a tithe to another Church must have been a bitter pill to swallow! William's plot was the smallest in Ballycloughan where the average size plot is just over 12 acres. He made up for this somewhat by also having a plot in the townland of Eglish. There are 19 plots there of which number 60 is again 'Wm. McIlhaggo, 7 acres, 2 roods, 0 perches. Value per acre 15/-. Amount £5.12.6. Portion of the tithe 7 shillings'.

I have pointed out in an earlier blog, Brick Wall, on 20 February, that it is of interest that in another adjacent townland called Kenbilly we have land being farmed by a James McIlhaggo, and I explored the possibility that James was William's father and that their relationship might be found earlier in Belfast springing from a generation earlier in Islandmagee. This remains an open possibility. However against it is the fact that William did not name any of his sons James!

William and Agnes had all their children baptised at the Presbyterian Church in the nearby 'Garden Village of the County of Antrim', Broughshane. The church is known today as First Presbyterian Church. The minister who baptised the children was the Revd. Robert Stewart. At the baptism of their first five William's wife is recorded as Agnes and thereafter as Nancy, the common 'diminutive' for Agnes. Their attachment to the Presbyterian Church is what makes us think that their marriage would have been in the Presbyterian Church at Clogh, where Agnes came from. The IGI gives a marriage year of 1844 but this is an error. A possible date is 1828. In Ballycloughan land was also rented by John and David McCosh, possibly siblings of Agnes, or indeed brother and father. Sadly there is no McIlhagga Memorial Stone in Broughshane so perhaps we may borrow a little reflected glory from a generation later when a McCosh stone was erected in Broughshane graveyard: "Erected by Jane Ann McCosh in memory of her beloved husband David McCosh of BallyCloughan who departed this life 29th July 1871 aged 35 years...". Next time I will move on to the eldest son of William and Agnes.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Name Variant McIlhaga

Main Square, Courtrai, Belgium

So what of our surname spelled with one 'g'? It can be argued that the Gaelic original of the name and some of the earliest anglicised versions, especially in Scotland, had only one 'g'. However, by the 19th Century in both Scotland and Ireland the spelling found most frequently had two 'g's. Mostly where there is one 'g', as in the Scottish 1871 Census, this appears to be part of the evolution of the name within a family. For example, the 1871 family is spelled McIlhaggart in 1881 and then McIlhagga in 1891. There is however one consistent exception, a family from Ireland which is found first in records on the Continent, and then in England.

This particular family is an interesting example of the importance to genealogists of the 1912 Ulster Covenant. There are no McIlhagas in the 1911 Irish Census but there are three 'one g' names just a few months later signing the Covenant. First there is a Nathaniel McIlhaga, and to be honest I don't know where he fits in. He lives at 33 Linwood Street, Belfast, an address which does not appear with a clan name in 1911. Then we have a husband and wife who interestingly give an address in Courtrai, Belgium. According to the PRONI transcription they were 'W.J.' and 'Lenah'. 'W.J.' must be William John Marrs McIlhaga and 'Lenah' is a mistranscription for Norah his wife. 'W.J'. was in fact a flax buyer who was certainly from a family which originated in Ireland. He had followed his father Samuel who had also been a flax buyer. Samuel had died eight years before and it was from the maiden name of his wife Grace Marrs that their son got his third name.

We know of this father-son relationship and of the flax connection in Belgium from the reference to Samuel's Will in the PRONI Calendars:

Will proved in probate 17 May 1904 Dublin Registry (1902-8). MCILHAGA, SAML. Belfast Adm. 1904. "Administration of the estate of Samuel McIlhaga formerly of Belfast and late of 10 Boulevard du Midi, Courtrai, Belgium, Flax Buyer, who died 28th March 1904 at latter place granted at Dublin to William J. McIlhaga, Flax Buyer. Effects £2,789. 14s. 7d."

William John Marrs was born on 26th August 1877. He was almost ten years older that Norah Wellwood, born 15th April 1887 whom he married on 2nd January 1908 in St. Columba's Church of Ireland, Knockbreda, Belfast, County Down. William gave his place of residence as Courtrai, Belgium and his occupation as Merchant. Norah's father was John Edwin Wellwood, also a Merchant. Interestingly her marriage witness was Isobel McIlhaga. We must presume she was William's sister. The Sarah, daughter of (a possible Samuel McIlhaga), mentioned in my last blog, probably born about 1875, was of an age to be another sibling. I also have a note of another possible sister, Margaret, born 16th October 1870. It is possible that she was the eldest sibling, giving us in turn a likely marriage date for Samuel and Grace at the end of the 1860s, and therefore a birth year for Samuel at the end of the 1840s.

William and Norah had three children, two of whom moved to Merseyside, England and one back to Northern Ireland. Noreen Wellwood McIlhaga married George Claude Havelock Siggins. She died in 1977 in Donaghadee, County Down. Dorothy Helen died in 1988 in Birkenhead on the Wirral, Merseyside. Their brother David also moved to the Wirral where his descendants still live. In this rapid survey of 'one g' surnames there remains a nuclear family and I do not know if they are related to those already mentioned. The father, Alexander, could have been a sibling of Samuel. Alexander was resident in the townland of Ballycloghan near the mid-Antrim town of Broughshane where he was married to Nancy and where on the 10th February 1866 their daughter Margaret was baptised.

Monday, 9 November 2009

A Middle McIlhaga

Every few months I go through the Google results when I put clan names in the search box. Occasionally I find something new of interest! Today it is the use of McIlhaga as a middle name for Samuel aged 6 in the 1911 Census of Ireland. He is the middle child and second son of William and Sarah Johnston living at 33 Jersey Street, Shankill, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. I would expect a second son to be named after his maternal grandfather. If this was the case we are looking for a Samuel (probably McIlhaga) who had a daughter Sarah who married a William Johnston. Sarah was 36 in 1911 so was born about 1875. William and Sarah's eldest son (Robert) was born in 1904 so they were probably married about 1903. Do we have anyone who fits any of these criteria? I'm afraid not, so if anyone out there has any clues to Sarah's of Samuel's identity, please get in touch.

PS. William and Sarah's third child was a girl called Evelyn. Was she called after Sarah's mother? And what about the surname McIlhaga, spelled with one 'g'? I'll explore that in another blog.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A name speculation: Francis

Sometimes a first name crops up in a family and nobody (at least a generation down the line) knows why it has been used. My own father's name was such. He is the only Lindsay I have come across in all the clan families I have researched. Then there is the first name which stands out because it is so unusual in clan families. In our clan such is the name Francis, and it is a name which is immediately interesting because in Celtic lands it is a name more associated with Roman Catholic than with Protestant families, and most of our clan were Presbyterians. So in the background there could have been what used to be called a 'mixed marriage'.

The name Francis crops up in two places in mid-19th Century Ireland and despite different surname spellings I think we may conclude that the references are to the same person. In the Griffith's Land Valuation which took place between 1847 and 1864 there is a Francis McElhagga who leases a house valued at 15 shillings (a year?) from an Alexander Brownlee in a townland called Ballymuckvea. There is one other clan member also listed as leasing property in Ballymuckvea, this time a house and garden, for £1.0.0, though from a different Lessor. He is Samuel McIlhaggart. It may or may not be that Samuel is directly related to Francis.

Now Ballymuckvea is a townland in the Civil Parish of Connor, near Ballymena, County Antrim, where we know that clan families lived at quite an early date. Another townland in Connor is Maxwell's Walls where we find one of the most extensive early settler families. The Presbyterian Church in Connor was formed in the 1650s so there may well be some family records there. Another item for my next visit to Northern Ireland. These townlands are relevant to the second Francis occurence. We have a reference to a Francis McIlhaggar, a weaver, being married to a Nancy Fletcher. No doubt the house he leased in Ballymuckvea had a room with a loom in it.

Francis and Nancy appear to have had five children. I say 'appear' because there is a large eleven year gap between the births of number three and number four, though of course there may have been other births of children who did not survive. The eldest we think was Mary Jane, born about 1831. She married William Devlin on 27th August 1861 in Ballymena Registrar's Office in Kirkinriola. The second was Rachel who was born 1836/7 at Ballymena. On 12th August 1858 she married John Francey in the Third Ballymena Presbyterian Church. There her surname was spelled McIlhaga and her address is recorded as Ballymacrea. Ballymacrea is near Portrush on the Antrim coast and not near Ballymena! There is probably here a transcription error for Ballymuckvea, where we know Francis lived. This is very likely as Ballymuckvea is given as the residence of daughter number three, Jane(t) when on 12th April 1859 she married Thomas Francey, presumably John's brother, a farmer, at Connor Presbyterian Meeting House.

The eleven year gap is between Jane(t) and William who was born 1850. He married Mary Jane Bell in 1872 in Ballymena. There is a strong pointer to Jane(t) and William being siblings as one of the sons of William and Mary Jane was called Francis, clearly after his grandfather. Early in their marriage, about 1875, this branch of the family moved to Scotland and settled in Pollockshaws near Glasgow. The next generation has one example of the continuing use of the first name, though in the 'Frank' version. After William there is another daughter who probably belongs to Francis and Nancy, namely Elizabeth, born 1853 in Ballymuckvea.

If Francis' and Nancy's first child was born in 1831 they could well have been married in 1830. If they were in their early twenties at the time, Francis could have been born as early as 1809. Francis' only (surviving) son was William. Was he named after his paternal grandfather? We know of at least thirty seven descendants of William.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Two more M.I.s

I have added a photograph to my blog of 23rd June entitled Royal Irish Rifles: Robert W.. I mentioned then that a correspondent on The Great War Forum had said that Robert W. McIlhagga's name is on the War Memorial in Livingston kirkyard, Mid-Lothian, Scotland. I found the photograph on the Internet. It had been put there, I think, by a local History Society. Robert's name is very clear and is the fifth name from the top.

Local History Societies and Family History Societies do a superb job, often recording and publishing family information. The Newtownabbey branch of the North of Ireland Family History Society has recently published a book called The Hidden Graveyard a copy of which I received this morning. I sent for it in the hope that there might be a clan name in it - and there is one! The book is the result of a lot of hard work in clearing and then recording the M.I.s (Memorial Inscriptions) in one of the three graveyards of the Church of the Holy Evangelists, Parish of Carnmoney. It is in Church Road, Newtownabbey. In Section A, near the entrance to the road, there is a metal plaque with metal railings, in position A/H5 (see the diagrams on pages 26 & 27). The book simply records 'The family burying ground of Samuel McIlhaga, Belfast, 1886' (see page 31).

I wrote about Carnmoney in a blog of 20th May last. Mostly it was about Carnmoney of a century before the death of Samuel. I did however mention one Samuel born July 1842 and baptised at Carnmoney Parish Church on 27th November that year. He was the seventh child of Nathan and Ellen (nee Wilson). If he was the Samuel buried in The Hidden Graveyard he would have been just 44 when he died. However, at this time I have no more information about him. My own records do not spell his surname 'McIlhaga', rather 'McIlhagger', but spellings were very fluid about this time. Hopefully there are some burial records which might tell more. I do have records for one Samuel McIlhaga (one 'g'), not necessarily from Carnmoney, but he died in 1904, so clearly he's not the one buried in The Hidden Graveyard.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Two souls

Fifty and more years ago Presbyterians didn't hold much with saints days, though in some parts they did celebrate All Saints Day (1st November). In the Christian tradition All Souls Day (2nd November) has been celebrated at the same season when our own departed loved ones have been remembered. Yesterday I came across the Internet site 'Find a Grave' and put 'McIlhagga' into the search box. Most of the results were references to military casualties from the First and Second World Wars, which I will acknowledge separately, but two were not. I knew of their deaths but hadn't such good photos of the grave stones, one in Canada and one in the USA.

The first grave commemorates Archibald D. McIlhagga, 1882 - 1968 about whom I have written in my blog of 8th September where there is a photograph of him and his family. The plaque is in Capilano View Cemetery, West Vancouver, British Columbia. The record has been created on 'findagrave' by someone who calls himself 'Mountainrain' and who added the photo on November 11th, 2007. He says "I am not related to any of the individuals that I post here. I am posting for information purposes only... to help people further their genealogical research and/or learn more or reminisce/remember their family member(s)".

The second grave has been recorded quite recently on June 10th this year. It is for Thomas N. McIlhagga, 1891 - 1949, about whom I have not yet written, though will do so in due course. This stone is in Daytona Memorial Park (formerly Cedar Hill Memory Park), Daytona Beach, Volusia County, Florida (Plot: Section B). This photo was taken by Robert Stanley Orrell who writes, "I live in Port Orange, Florida and have been researching my family since 1977. I enjoy prowling cemeteries and taking photos of the graves. Some of the older stones are rapidly deteriorating... I firmly believe we all should learn more of our ancestors and share this information with anyone interested".

I am grateful to 'Mountainrain' and to Mr. Orrell for their diligence and kindness in sharing and will email them both to tell them so. We are also grateful to those who created and who maintain the 'findagrave' website.