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.

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