Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A 37 Marker DNA

I have said on more than one occasion that I have chosen to have my DNA analysed (by in the hope that other male McIlhagga's might follow suit and so possibly establish a recognised DNA pattern for our clan. Of course there is always the possibility that a particular ancestral line (including my own) might have become 'corrupted' by someone in the paper trail who had or has the surname but who has or had been fathered by a man who had a different genetic make-up, and probably a different surname. This chance has to be recognised though of course in one sense the possibility adds to the general interest. The opposite may of course also be true. The McIlhagga genes may have found their way into an ancestral line which has a surname which doesn't appear to be related in any way to our clan. To put it plainly, there may be an illegitimate birth somewhere in the line, an event which is extremely common in many families.

Since I had my DNA analysed four years ago no other male McIlhagga (or other clan surname) has sent their DNA for analysis - until this last couple of months! An analysis is returned with a code on either 12 markers, 25 markers, 37 markers or 67 markers. The advice is that 37 markers are sufficient to establish a very good match, though it is clearly of interest if a lesser number of markers match. The agency that does the analysis lets me know when a 'match' occurs, at any of the levels. In the past four years while I have been waiting and hoping that another known clan member might have his DNA analysed I have been informed of 1068 12-marker matches and 123 12-marker (genetic distance - 1) matches. I presume these are 11 marker matches, or perhaps 13. I have been notified of one 25 marker exact match, that of a Mr. Smith in America. Yes, I know I have here broken my rule of not referring in this blog to someone who is alive, but I do this on the assumption that it would be impossible to identify someone with one of the commonest names in the world! I have corresponded with Mr. Smith and exchanged photographs, in the hope that we might spot a family likeness. I'm afraid I am not sure that we have. I also have the names of two people with 25-marker (genetic distance - 1) matches and 11 names of people with 25 marker (genetic distance -2) matches. I presume these people have respectively 24 and 23 marker matches with my DNA. I do not think that any of these 13 surnames indicate a clan link to McIlhagga.

However, now we have a second McIlhagga whose DNA has been analysed. He happens to be my third cousin once removed. The 'once removed' means that we are a generation apart. The 'third cousin' means that we have a common ancestor who is my GG grandfather and my cousin's GGG grandfather. That person was someone about whom I have written in earlier blogs, namely William McIlhagga of Ballycloghan, County Antrim, who married Agnes McCosh of Clogh, County Antrim. My cousin is descended from their first son and eldest child, William. I am descended from their third son, Crawford. After my cousin sent his DNA sample for analysis first published a 12 marker result, and we were identical! But as we know not much can be deduced from 12 markers. I waited anxiously for the next couple of weeks until the 25 marker result came through. It showed that we were identical!! And then finally this last week the 37 marker result came through on 23rd December. We are identical!!! It was my best Christmas present. Perhaps we now have a DNA analysis against which we can reasonably compare any future analyses which might be done. Thank you, third cousin, once removed.

Monday, 20 December 2010

McIlhagga F - G

I'm back to the Family Search 'McIlhagga's', to see whether there's anything new or needing further research. There is only one 'F', the death of an infant female in the October - December quarter of 1914, in Belfast. With no name given I imagine this was a death at or very near birth. I'm afraid I have no knowledge of which family this birth/death belongs to, and would welcome any further information.

There are three 'Gs', two George's and a Georgina, and they all give us new information. The one with the least is another infant birth/death, but this time with a name, George, again in Belfast in the July to September quarter of 1916. And again I have no further information to be able to fit this birth/death into a family. The other two are father and daughter. George was the eighth of the nine sons of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga and Henrietta Wilson. He had been born on 14th June 1888 in Belfast and in the 1911 Irish Census he was recorded as a Carpenter. By 1919 he had emigrated to Canada where on 20th of August of that year he married Ella Fossey. We know the date from a letter Henrietta wrote to her youngest son, Joseph. For some years George and Ella lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for that is where Georgina Lillian was born on 24th November 1930. Clearly the name Georgina was a feminization of George. Lillian was possible for her aunt Elizabeth who was known as Lily. At some stage, perhaps on retirement, the family moved to Nanaimo, British Columbia. There George died in his 72nd year, on 17th June 1959. His wife Ella outlived him, though by how long I do not know. Their daughter Georgina married Robert Lawrence Wilson. She died at the young age of 35, also in Nanaimo. These records give us (for the first time) the name of George's wife (I had wrongly thought it was Mary Jane) and the facts that they had a daughter, her spouse's name, and the date of her death. I have no knowledge that they had any other children, not whether Georgina had any offspring.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Probate Index update

On the first of August last I listed sixteen clan related Wills or Administrations known to me at that date. Since then a few more have come to my notice on each of which I have commented individually. The list now contains twenty three names and is as follows:

1667 Inverness, Scotland: Farquhar McIntagairt

1734 Maybole, Scotland: Jonet McIlhagow

1764 Burlington, USA: James McElhago (witness)

1777 New York, USA: Samuel McHago (witness)

1818 Islandmagee, Ireland: Samuel McIlhaggo

1835 Ballymena, Ireland: Margaret McElhago

1886 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: Henry McIlhagga

1896 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: John Wilson McIlhagga

1901 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: Archibald McIlhagga

1904 Belfast, Ireland & Courtrai, Belgium: Samuel McIlhaga

1905 Belfast, Ireland: Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga

1912 Belfast, Ireland: Mary McIlhaggo

1914 Belfast, Ireland: George McIlhagger

1919 Belfast, Ireland: David McIlhagger

1927 Liverpool, England: Margaret McIlhagga

1931 Tullygarley, Northern Ireland: William McIlhagga

1937 Belfast, Northern Ireland: Nathaniel McIlhagga

1939 Belfast, Northern Ireland: Mary Elizabeth McIlhagga

1940 Liverpool, England: Margaret McIlhagga

1940 Whiteabbey, Northern Ireland: Mary McIlhagga

1941 Hillsborough, Northern Ireland: Samuel Robinson McIlhagga

1942 Belfast, Northern Ireand: William Boyd McIlhagger

1948 Northern Ireland: James Spence McIlhagga (Executor).

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Application for Relief

If you come across an 'Application for Relief' you might be very fortunate in obtaining information that might not be available from another source. The likelihood is that the interviewing Inspector wrote down what the applicant said and such is the case I think with an application made in the Glasgow area at 12.30 on 20 February 1886. The name of the applicant is recorded as 'Widow George McLean. Mary McElheggo'. It is clear to me that Mary did not check the spelling of her surname as it is spelled differently later on the form, and indeed is different to that she may have learned as a child, but possibly because she couldn't read or write. Mary gave her address as '120 Renfrew Street' followed by what looks like 'sunk flat McCulloch's'. Does this mean what today we might call basement accommodation owned or rented by a McCulloch family? The form records that she was 'in lodgings' in a 'single apartment'. There was a McCulloch - McIlhagga marriage in Ireland. Was there a link to this family Mary was lodging with? The McCullochs were from Maxwellswalls and did move across to Glasgow looking for work. Mary's country and place of birth is recorded as 'Maxwellswalls, County Monaghan, Ireland'. This of course is very interesting as we have many references to clan families in Maxwellswalls, though none to a McLean. So where will Mary fit in?

What personal things are recorded about Mary? First, and most importantly, she is 66, then she is a Protestant, a Widow, she has previously been 'supported by her own efforts' as a Cook, though she has been 'out of a situation since August last', six months, and finally she has 'no family alive'. Certainly this must mean she has no children to whom she can turn, and probably it also means that she has no siblings alive. From a genealogical point of view we are then given valuable information about her late husband and about his and her parents, possibly more information than we would have got from say a marriage certificate. Mary married George McLean in 1846 in Ballymena, by Rev. Dr. Dobin. The Rev. Henry Jackson Dobbin, DD, was minister of First Ballymena Presbyterian Church and in 1848 served as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Mary's late husband George was a Highland Scot '35 years born somewhere about John O'Groats'. I take it that this means he was 35 when they married, which in turn means he was born about 1811. Mary would have been 26.

George was a Coachman and he had died in Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1862 when he would have been 51. His parents were James McLean, a Crofter and Mary Ann Beattie both of whom were deceased by 1886. Mary's parents were Henry McElhaggo, a Farmer and Mary McDowall, both deceased by 1886. This fact confirms the marriage of Henry and Mary; however, here is the most important new information - Henry and Mary McIlhaggo of Maxwellswalls had a daughter. All my records show that they probably had three sons, John, Henry and William Gage, all of whom would have been born before Mary. Mary was the youngest, so when the 'Relief Inspector' recorded 'no family alive' it probably did include 'no siblings' as well as 'no children'. This was the first (and possibly the only) application Mary made for 'relief'. Assistant Inspector M.D. Toner visited Mary the day after she made the application, at 3.30 on 21st February 1886. It is a sadness that anyone had to make such an application, but we can be grateful for the information it reveals.

Stalag Luft 4

Stalag Luft IV

On 28th April last I wrote a blog about a young Pilot Officer W. McIlhagga serving with 156 Squadron of the RAF in the early days of the air service in World War II. He was with 156 Squadron for five months in 1942. I said at the end of that piece that William McIlhagga emigrated to Canada and transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force in which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. I have had no other information about his war service until recently I came across a reference to him in a Forces Genealogy website where he is referred to as Flight Lieutenant W. McIlhagga, with service in the RAF, his regiment being the Royal Canadian Air Force. The reference was to him being a Prisoner of War in the German Camp known as Stalag Luft 4, which was at Tychowo Poland (German Gross Tychow).

This camp opened in May 1944 and appears to have been disbanded in February 1945 when a Russian Offensive was approaching and some 6000 prisoners were forced to leave on foot and undertake what became known as the 'Death March', of some 600 miles spanning 86 days. Most of the prisoners of Stalag Luft 4 were Americans though there were also British, Canadians and others. The general conditions in the camp were reported on by the Red Cross and were judged to be poor in relation to food, health, mail and recreation, though there did seem to be adequate clothing. Although I have searched the Internet I have found no list of prisoners, nor any details about individual prisoners. Therefore I have no knowledge of whether William McIlhagga was transferred to Stalag Luft 4 from somewhere else, nor how long he was there nor whether he was involved in the 'Death March'. We do know he survived the War and at some stage returned to Canada.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

McIlhaggo - Owens farm handover

Several men who were part of the 19th Century Maxwellswalls clan family, all of whom had the first name Nathaniel, also had the second name Owens, and I have often wondered where this second name came from. The most reasonable assumption is that it was a maternal surname or a grandparent surname. Our earliest example is the name of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga born 28th May 1834. Was his mother an Owens? Or was one of his maternal grandparents an Owens? Or just possibly was his paternal grandmother an Owens? A small clue came to me yesterday from a lady in Sydney, Australia who found this blog by chance when searching on the internet to find where Maxwellswalls is. She writes, 'I have not long downloaded a will from the PRONI site for Patrick Owens who died 28 May 1886. In addition to his farm at Castlegore (which is adjacent to Maxwellswalls) Patrick also includes the following, "I also leave and bequeath all my farm in Maxwellswall known as John McIlhaggo's farm to my son John Owens he paying my daughter Lizzie a principal sum of one hundred pounds sterling and to my granddaughter Margaret Charters McFall the principal sum of Fifty pounds sterling on her coming of age...".'

I think this reference gives us some circumstantial evidence that there probably was a family link between two farming families in Maxwellswalls, the Owens' and the McIlhaggo's. It is indeed interesting that a farm run by an Owens should actually be known locally as 'John McIlhaggo's farm', John having presumably left it sometime before 1886. The John being referred to could be one of two or three, but most probably John born about 1800 to Henry McIlhagga and Mary McDole (or McDowel). He was married to Mary Houston, probably about 1820. It is also probable that he died about 1834 for his wife Mary in 1835 married William Gage McIlhaggie. William was probably John's brother, and as far as we know was not a farmer. So we have a reason for John's farm becoming vacant in (say) 1834/5 and possibly having been taken over by Patrick Owens, an ancestor of whom in all likelihood donated his name to Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Wills of Son and Father

I now come to the Will of Nathaniel McIlhagga who died at the young age of 41 in March 1937. As with many of the Wills I have been reviewing there is a slight discrepancy between the date of death recorded on the Will and that recorded elsewhere, in this case on a Memorial Stone in Connor New Cemetery, namely 23rd March and 22nd March respectively. Nathaniel was the youngest son of Archibald McIlhagga and Agnes Jamieson. There are references to his wife Charlotte both on the Memorial Stone and in the Will, but I have as yet found no record of their marriage. It is clear from his Will that when he died he was working in the Linen Industry, on the 'shop floor'. The Will was proved at the Belfast Registry only five weeks after he died, on 30th April 1937. The Full Abstract reads as follows:

McIlhagga Nathaniel of 62 Excise Street Belfast damask tinter died 23 March 1937 at Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast Administration Belfast 30 April to Charlotte McIlhagga the widow. Effects £359 8s. 8d.

Nathaniel was only two years old when his father Archibald died in 1898. He, like his son, died in his mid-40s, a farmer at Maxwellswalls. The full Abstract reads: Probate of the Will of Archibald M'Ilhagga late of Maxwellswalls County Antrim Farmer who died 10th April 1898 granted at Belfast to Agnes M'Ilhagga the widow. I have previously printed this in my blog of 15th August 2009. In Archibald's case there is a full image of the Will which I have also previously printed in my blog of 29th August 2009.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Wills of two Marys

At PRONI there is an abstract of the Will of Mrs. Mary Elizabeth McIlhagga (n0 image) in which we learn her address at death, the place she died and the value of her effects which went to her husband. Mary Elizabeth was the second wife of John McIlhagga who according to her will was a retired baker when she died. I have written about this family in a blog of 8th June this year. John was one of the sons of John and Margaret (nee Douglas) McIlhagga who were buried at Templepatrick Old Graveyard, where Mary Elizabeth herself is also buried. Mary Elizabeth's Will was proved at Belfast Registry on 19 January 1940. There appears to be a four day discrepancy in her death-date, it being 15th November in the Will and 19th November on a Memorial Stone. The Full Abstract reads as follows:

McIlhagga Mary Elizabeth of 9 Grand Parade Belfast died 15 November 1939 at Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast Administration Belfast 19 January to John McIlhagga retired baker the husband. Effects £339. 11s. 8d.

The second Mary was born a McIlhagga on 28th June 1860, the eldest child of John and Elizabeth (nee McCullough) McIlhagga. She remained single through her long life, dying on 25th May 1940, aged 80. She appears to have left her effects, valued at over £900 to two of her siblings, her fourth brother, Robert who was a Coal Merchant and her younger sister Rebecca who was the widow of an engineer, Charles Kennett. Though on second thoughts perhaps these two acted as executors to the Will of which once again we have no image. Miss Mary McIlhagga's Will tells us that at the end of her life she lived at Whiteabbey, County Antrim. The Full Extract reads:

McIlhagga Mary of Newmarket Villas Whiteabbey county Antrim spinster died 25 May 1940 Probate Belfast 19 July to Robert McIlhagga coal merchant and Rebecca Kennet widow. Effects £923 18s. 7d.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Wills of Henry, George and Samuel Robinson

I have added the Full Abstract of the Will of Henry McIlhagga alias M'Ilhaga to the blog of 12 July 2009.

I have also added the full abstract of the Will of George McIlhagga (alias McIlhagger) to the blog of 28 October 2009. In that blog I said that George's widow, Mary Jane, had to pay £130 Estate Duty. The Will Calendars at PRONI make it clear that George left effects worth £130. It was a mistake for me to say she had to pay £130 Estate Duty. In fact she had to pay Estate Duty on £130 which amounted to £1.10s.0.

Another of the 'PRONI Wills' is for Mr. Samuel Robinson McIlhagga. 'SR' was the second son of George McIlhagga, a Merchant in Maxwellswalls, Connor. He had married Elizabeth Ann Robinson, hence Samuel's second name. George had always been a 'white collar' worker, with records of him as a Merchant, then as a Clerk. Samuel Robinson, his son, had also always been in some form of 'trade', with records of him being a Linen Remnants Salesman, A Wood Coal and Coke Merchant, a Hawker and a Dealer, which he was at his death at the age of sixty-eight. His Will not only gives us new information about his occupation, but about his residence and of course the value of his 'effects'. The Will was proved at the Belfast Registry. There is no image of the Will but the full abstract reads:

McIlhagga Samuel Robinson of Glentaugh House Annahilt Hillsborough county Down died 17 October 1941 at The Belfast Infirmary Administration Belfast 6 May [1942] to George McIlhagga [son] wholesale merchant. Effects £319.17s.5d.

Friday, 3 December 2010

William Boyd McIlhagger Will

Among the Northern Ireland Wills that have recently been published is that of William Boyd McIlhagger. I have written about this family in my 2009 blogs of 16 May and 29 October, and in the 2010 blogs of 20 February and 5 June. The new information we have from his Will is the date and place of his death, his occupation and of course the value of his effects which he left to his wife Eleanor. She was the daughter of Charles McArthur an Upholsterer. William died when he was 62, and we may assume from the Abstract below that he was still working. His Will was proved on 29th April 1943 at Belfast Registry. The Abstract, which is found in the PRONI Wills Calendar, reads as follows:

McIlhagger William Boyd of 171 Dunluce Avenue Belfast pump man died 16 December 1942 at York Road Belfast Administration Belfast 29 April to Eleanor McIlhagger the widow. Effects £73.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Back Home

Luban Memorial, Malaysia

Yesterday evening I returned home by ambulance car through horrendous snowstorms, having been in hospital for an operation. After two days in the Intensive Care Unit I found myself in a ward of six men, three of us engaged in serious pieces of historical research. One, back in this country from Zimbabwe, publishes in an international journal on philately. Incidentally he and I had a mutual friend from a professional world. Another, a retired Sea Captain, had done research on the ships used by the East India Company. Another man in the ward and I found we have a mutual acquaintance who has enabled me to further my research into the McLean line of my family on the Isle of Coll. Inevitably my full name on a board behind my bed-head started a few conversations on the origins and spread of such a rare surname as McIlhagga, not least on St.Andrew's Day!

I spent a lot of my time reading three genealogical journals and also getting a sense of what life in 18th Century Scotland was like by reading a biography of Robert Burns, appropriate to the opening of the new Burns Museum in Alloway. I spent a little of my time wondering whether anything of interest would be waiting for me in the midst of nearly 400 unread emails. And indeed there were two things which I will pursue in future blogs. First, a Forces Genealogy site has published a database of Prisoners of War 1939-1945. I knew of the 'only one', namely William John McIlhagga, about whom I wrote on 19th September last. The first surprise is that his name did not come up. He died in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp in Malaysia, and is commemorated at the Luban Memorial illustrated above. I suppose the reason for his omission is that although he was born in the United Kingdom, he had become an Australian Citizen. The second surprise is that another name did come up, of someone who survived to 'tell the tale'. I will reveal his name when I have done a little more research.

The second thing waiting for me was also a new publication on the Internet, from PRONI, The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (which incidentally is to reopen in a new place at the end of March 2011), a list of twelve McIlhagga Wills from 1886 to 1942, with the details of all of them freely accessible, and the images of four of them downloadable. We can assume that the ones where there is 'no image' had been destroyed. I will study all of this information very carefully to see whether there are any new facts to be shared. Watch this space!

Monday, 22 November 2010

McIlhagga - 'E'

The FamilySearch site offers us eight McIlhaggas with a first name beginning with 'E', the first of which is Eliza McIlhagga of Ballymena, daughter of John, a farmer. She married Matthew McDowell of Carniny, a Weaver, son of Robert, a Weaver, on 17th May 1856, at Ballymena 3rd Presbyterian Church. Eliza was a minor when she married, so she had to have been born after 1835. The two witnesses at the marriage were William McIlhagga and Mary McIlhagga. Family search records the birth of four children, all at Ballymena, as follows: Cecilia on 1st February 1864, Robert on 10th Jun 1866, William Houston on 28th Jan 1868 (mother's name Elizabeth) and Samuel on 3rd Jan 1872. It is somewhat surprising that there were no children registered in the first eight years of marriage, though if there were some who did not survive, this may account for the apparent departure from the Scottish/Irish naming pattern. One would look for a first male to be Robert and a second male to be John. Can we decide where this family fits into the wider clan picture? Perhaps the second name of William Houston gives us the clue. Eliza is most likely the daughter of John McIlhagga/o and Mary Houston of Maxwell's Walls, and indeed this Mary under her married name may well have been the female witness mentioned above. Who the second witness, William McIlhagga, was I cannot be sure.

The next three are all Elizabeths, the only information given being place of event and the registration quarter of a particular year. I do however have more information about two of them. In date order they are first Elizabeth McIlhagga who married in Belfast on Oct-Dec 1910. She was the daughter of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga and Henrietta Wilson. She married Hugh Minford on 16th Nov. 1910 at Antrim Road Baptist Church, Belfast. I have written about the McIlhagga-Minford link in an earlier blog. The second record is of the death of Elizabeth McIlhagga aged 76 in Jan-Mar 1913. She was born Elizabeth McCulloch and married John McIlhagga. Again, I have written previously about the McIlhagga-McCulloch link. Third, we have the death of another Elizabeth McIlhagga in Belfast in Jul-Sep 1919. She was only two years old. Unfortunately I don't have a record of an Elizabeth born in 1917, so if anyone can enlighten me, I would be most grateful.

I now come to a marriage in Ballymena of Elizabeth Lowry or McIlhagga to James Graham, son of Robert Graham. This was on 10th Apr 1854 when Elizabeth was 30 (born 1824) and James was 46 (born 1808). Clearly this was a second marriage for Elizabeth, confirmed by the name of her father, William Lowry. Sadly I have no record of an earlier Lowry marriage to a McIlhagga so I cannot determine how she is linked to a Family Tree.

Lastly I come to five children born to couples where the mother's maiden name was McIlhagga, all of them new to me. The first is Robert, born on 15th Feb 1872 in Connor, County Antrim, to Robert Scroggy and Ellen McIlhagga. Ellen was I believe the daughter of John McIlhagga/o, one of three sisters, Rose, Mary and Ellen. John was a farmer in Maxwell's Walls. The next birth is of Ellen Jane on 14th Apr 1876 to John Hinton and Ellen McIlhagga. Now my records spell Ellen's surname McIlhage, from a marriage giving her father as Nathaniel and the event on 5th Jan 1872 at Eglinton Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast. I do not have a record of an Ellen born about 1850 to a Nathaniel, so again I do not know where to place this nuclear family in a Family Tree. The FamilySearch record is unusual in giving a very precise place of birth for the father, John Hinton, namely 57 Everton Street.

Finally there are three children born to Robert Whiteside and Esther McIlhagga. Again my marriage records have the variant spelling of McIlhaggar for Robert and Esther's marriage on 9th Aug 1851 at Ballymena Registrar's Office. On this occasion I can fit them into a Family Tree. Esther's father was David, a Linen Weaver of Newtoncromelin, County Antrim. This is part of the family that emigrated to Ohio and particularly to Jamestown, Pennsylvania, an emigration led by Esther's brother David. William was born on 7th Jun 1875 in Broughshane, County Antrim. The baptism place is given as 149, Broughshane. Elizabeth Jane was born on 9th August 1872 at Broughshane (baptism at Broughshane) and Thomas Alexander was born on 18th Nov 1874 at Skerry, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

McIlhagga - 'C' and 'D'

There are no McIlhaggas in FamilySearch with first names beginning with 'B', and there are just two beginning with 'C', both 'Crawford'. Both are part of the family which goes back to William McIlhagga and Agnes McCosh at Ballycloghan, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Both are marriages, though neither is in Ireland. On 1st September 1865 Crawford McIlhagga married Elise Smith in Port Glasgow, Renfrew, Scotland. He was the third son of William and Agnes and I have written about him in detail in an earlier blog. The second Crawford was 34 (born 1871) who married Margaret Abiah Jones aged 29 (born 1876). They were married at St. Alban's, Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 6 March 1905. Both bride and groom were single, which might seem a little surprising at 29 and 34. I don't know why FamilySearch should give the name of Margaret's father, Richard William Jones, but not that of Crawford's father. He was in fact our first Crawford. Like the father, the son was also the third male child in the family.

There is just one 'D' record in FamilySearch and that is of the death of Daniel McIlhagga of Belfast in the July Quarter of 1913, the age at death being '0'. Again there is a paucity of information. I have no idea to whom this child was born and if anyone has this information I would be glad to add it to the clan indexes.

Friday, 19 November 2010

McIlhagga - 'A'

Having trawled through all the clan name variations and deviations in the FamilySearch website I am now going to work through all the McIlhagga references to see whether they throw up any new information. I shall do so alphabetically, starting with the first names beginning with A.

First we have the marriage of Agnes Ethel McIlhagga of Maxwellswalls, Connor. In the July Quarter of 1915 she married William McVittie. She was born in 1892 to William G. McIlhagga and Jane Todd. Clearly she fits into the Maxwells Walls Family Tree, though I have no information about any descendants from this marriage, or indeed whether there have been any descendants.

Next comes Ann, a daughter of William McIlhagga and Agnes McCosh of Ballycloghan, who married Robert Linton. The FamilySearch site misspells this name as both Linten and Clinton! There are records of the births of four children, the first of which is simply 'female' on 8th April 1865, a birth formally unknown to me. No name must mean that this infant was either still-born or died very soon after birth. I suspect the latter is the case as in all probability stillborn children were not registered; also this conclusion is supported by the record giving us a place for a baptism, namely 146, Broughshane, County Antrim. I don't know whether the 146 indicates the address of a church or of another building. The second child, almost exactly twelve months later, was Robert, born 4th April 1866. The baptism place on this occasion is given as 142 Broughshane. The third child is Mary, born 1st February 1872 with the baptism place of 120, Ballymena. Finally Martha Jane is born on 12th January 1878, this time the birth place being 'Antrim', which could mean either the town or the county, probably the latter.

I now come to the part of a family about which I have written before, but not with quite all the information. Ann Eliza McIlhagga appears in Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881 as the mother of three children, Eliza Jane, Margaret and Hugh Patrick. All the children have the surname Kelly and we know that Ann Eliza married Hugh Kelly on 1st October 1872 at Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena. Interestingly their witnesses were Francis and Agnes Millikin (see my blogs of 18 May 09, 20 Mar 10, 25 Mar 10 and 6 Jul 10). However, the eldest child, Eliza Jane, born 25th May 1876, has the father's name recorded as Joseph Kelly, born Portrush, the place where Eliza got married to Hugh! Now it is possible that Joseph was a brother of Hugh, or that the father was Joseph Hugh who sometimes used one name and sometimes the other. I certainly have no marriage record for a Joseph Kelly. It may of course be a mistaken transcription, though if so, very odd. The Kelly family came from Portrush on the Antrim-Derry border, and Hugh was certainly son of Patrick Kelly, a Fisherman. Hugh was a Gardener. Margaret Kelly was born on 28th June 1880, her father being Hugh, and the third child, Hugh Patrick, born 10th May 1878 must indisputably have been the son of Hugh Kelly. All three children were probably born in Portrush - Hugh Patrick certainly was. Ann Eliza's father was William McIlhagga, a Yarn Boiler. She was born about 1851, so he must have been born before 1830. It is probable that she had a younger brother William who married Mary Spence and had seven children. Like Hugh and Eliza Ann, William and Mary had a marriage witness also of the name Milikin. Again, if anyone can throw any light on the Hugh-Joseph scenario I'd be pleased to hear from them.

The last two 'A's are Annie and Archibald. Annie McIlhagga married in Belfast in the October Quarter of 1909. This is all the information I have about her from FamilySearch. I do however have a probable identification in the shape of a marriage record from AncestryIreland which took place at Belfast Civil Registration Office on 5th October 1909 of Ann McIlhagga of 164 New Lodge Road, Belfast, aged 41 (so born c.1868), widow, daughter of Daniel McIlhagga, Farmer, to James Bingham, widower, aged 42, Labourer, of Upper Charlesville Street, son of James Bingham, Farmer. Their witnesses were Robert and Ellen Do(g)herty. There is an Anne McIlhagga, born 1868 , who in the 1901 Census was married to John McIlhagga, born 1851. It is possible that by 1909 John had died and left Anne a widow, who had remarried James Bingham. However, her maiden name was Ann Kerr and her father clearly was not Daniel McIlhagga (he was David Kerr). Alternatively, if in 1909 Ann gave her father as Daniel McIlhagga, she could have reverted to her maiden name, perhaps the most reasonable assumption, though I have no record of such a father-daughter relationship at or near the relevant date. So again, an unsolved mystery.

Finally Archibald Duncan McIlhagga: from British Columbia records, for some time I have had his birth date (19 June 1882) and his death date (20 Dec 1968). He was one of the sons of Nathaniel McIlhagga and Henrietta Wilson. From the death registration extracted by FamilySearch, the new information I now have is that when he died he was a widower and that his spouse's name was Minnie McNabb. He died in West Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


I am returning briefly to the name variations that I found some months ago by doing a trawl of the FamilySearch website. There was just one reference to Mcelhagan. Maria F. Mcelhagan, born Aug 1838 was resident in Jamestown borough, Mercer, Pennsylvania. This was from the United States Census for 1900 where she was 'head' of what appears to be a single person household. She had been born in Pennsylvania, though her father had been born in Ireland. In 1900 she was a widow. Her husband had been David, a Tailor, born 1834, son of David born 1806 in Newtoncromelin, County Antrim. No fewer than four other variants of our name are on record for this family, namely McIlhago, McAlhager, McElhager and McIlhaggar. David and Maria had three daughters, Minnie Bell who married the Revd. Lewis Winfield Chambers, Anna who died as a teenager and Dolly who died in her thirties. David had died the year before the Census, aged 65. Maria lived for another eighteen years, until she was 79. Both were buried in Jamestown. I wrote more extensively about this family on 22nd June 2009 under the title 'Jamestown'.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The last signature

I come to the last clan signature on the Ulster Covenant for us to consider. It is of Robert McIlhagga of 6 Lawther Street, Belfast. We learn from the 1911 Census that he had been married for seven years to Eliza Jane who was three years older than he. Eliza was living at nearby 48 Lawther Street when they married on 15th February 1904 at Trinity Church of Ireland, Belfast. She was the daughter of James Eston, a Flaxdresser. Both she and Robert are recorded as being of 'MR' age when they married. That indicates that they were minors. Robert was 18 and Eliza must have been just under 21. As their eldest child, William R. was seven in 1911 Eliza must have been pregnant when they married, we may presume with parents consent, as Agnes Eston was one of the witnesses. When Robert married he was working as a Labourer and living at 164 Newledge Road with his father John, a Carpenter. John at different periods was a Carpenter, a Bread Server and a Car Owner. He was married to Margaret Douglas of Templepatrick. The family had moved from 26 Sheridan Street in 1901 to Newledge Road in 1911. The supplementary form 'A' completed with the 1911 Census tells us that Robert and Eliza had had three children, two being still alive. Their other child with them in 1911 was one year old Samuel. We may presume that John and Robert worked together at one period, when John was a Bread Server, for by 1911 John had become a Baker.

On 8th June last I wrote about this family, particularly about Robert's older brother John who was also a Baker, and about his father John. Clearly Baking was something of a family business.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Ormeau Road in the Covenant

Penultimately on the Ulster Covenant we have two signatures from 204 Ormeau Road, Belfast, William J. McIlhagga and Mrs. J.B. McIlhagga. 'J.B.' is the only clan signature to include a title, which shows how the practice must have almost disappeared by 1912. In the 1911 Census there are a William John McIlhagga (48) and a Jane McIlhagga (32) with their family at 161 Ormeau Road. The children have been transcribed as David M (7), William John (6) and Agnes (2). This was a Presbyterian family. We learn from the supplementary 'Form A' that since being married in 1901 or 1902 they had had four children, all of whom were alive, so we can deduce that the fourth child must have been staying elsewhere on Census night, perhaps with grandparents. On looking carefully at this form I am unconvinced about the name David - it could be Samuel! 'W. John', as he signed himself, was a Fruiterer. So, a bit of detective work. Is there another child listed as a grandchild with another McIlhagga family? There is four year old Mary, granddaughter, at 8 Tullaghgarley Lower, Kells, with William (55) and Mary (50) McIlhagga. But how can the child of a 48 year old William John be the grandchild of a 55 year old William? Not possible! So let's go back to the 1901 Census. Where is William John (38)? He doesn't appear to exist! Does a Jane McIlhagga (22) exist? No!

What further clue can we find? Perhaps the fact that 'Mrs. J.B.' signed the Ulster Covenant before her next door neighbour, who was an Anderson. Was there a relevant McIlhagga-Anderson marriage? Indeed there was. The Ulster Historical Foundation has recorded a marriage at Elmwood Avenue Presbyterian Church on 3rd September 1902. It was between William John McIlhagga of Albert Bridge Road, a Tea Packer, son of James McIlhagga, a Farmer, and Jane Burgess Anderson of 60 Jerusalem Street, daughter of Samuel Anderson, a Van Man. So back to the 1901 Census of the year before. Do we have a James McIlhagga with a son William John? No! The only James with a son William John was James married to Jane Maitland in 1865 who are not in the 1911 Census though in 1901 they are at 1 Lavin Upr. (Castlequarter), both aged 65, and spelled McIlhaggar. There is one daughter with them, Maggie (25) but no son. Nevertheless my best guess is that William John McIlhagga of 1912 was the son of James and Jane (nee Maitland) McIlhagga(r) and that their children were Samuel (or David), William John, Agnes and a fourth child.

The last question to be asked is whether the fourth child was perhaps staying with Anderson grandparents? On 18 January last I started my blog with the fact that a David McIlhagga, aged 4, on census night was staying with his grandparents Samuel and Agnes Anderson and their two daughters Eliza Anne and Sarah Agnes at 160 Ormeau Road, Belfast. Clearly, when considering W.J. and J.B. signing the Ulster Covenant and comparing the 1911 Census for that address, I was suspicious that their 7 year old son had been mistranscribed as David. Now we know that their 4 year old son was David, and that in all probability the 7 year old was called Samuel. Before today I have been unsure where this family fitted in to the wider clan picture. I am now pretty confident that they belong to the family we can take back beyond James and Jane (nee Maitland) to Nathan and Ellen (nee Wilson) and then to Nathaniel and Betty (nee Burney) at Carnmoney.

Gilmagu - Carthagus

A correspondent in the USA (he's a McHago-Milligan) has just emailed me the digitised references to 'Gilmagu' in George F. Black's The Surnames of Scotland. Now I have this book because it has his research on the name MacIlhagga (he spells all Mc's as Mac), which refers to the medieval name Gilmagu as both the pre-cursor of our clan name and also as having derived from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic Ghille/Giolla Mo-Chuda, 'servant of (S.) Mochuda (=my Cuda), another name for St. Carthage of Lismore' (in the south of Ireland). Two other authors favour this (or a close) derivation. Diane D. McNicholl, in The Surnames of East Lothian, based on the Old Parish Registers, writes 'MacIlhagga - See McElhago'; 'McElhago - Patronymic from MacIlhagga, Gael. mac/ghille/Mochuda, from Mo chutu, pet form of Carthach, "lover/loving"'. A nineteenth century author Eugenie O'Growney, in an article The Muls and Gils: some Irish Surnames in The Ecclesiastical Record, Vol III, 1898, has a slightly different conclusion. He wrote 'TheGaelic Mochuda = Mo-Chuda = my Cuda was probably his personal name and Carthach or Carthy the name of his clan. The English "Carthage" is borrowed from the Latin form of Carthy or Carthach, Carthagus'.

To sum up my best thinking about the origins of our name and about our eponymous ancestor, we have to go back to the 6th/7th Century Celtic saint 'Mochuda Carthach'. His name means simply 'loving one'. In Ireland his 'surname' or 'clan name' has been anglicised, via the Latin form Carthagus, as Carthage, and also has been abbreviated to Carthy. Followers have spawned a number of variants, such as McGillycuddy and McElhuddy. Parallel to this evolution we have what appears to be a migration to the south-west of Scotland, possibly a very early migration in the same Celtic period, using his 'pet' name Mochuda, via the Latin follower-form Gilmagu, evolving into McIlhago and McIlhagga. The meaning is of course the same, 'son of the devotee of the loving one'.

My American correspondent searched for 'Gilmagu' in Black's Surnames and found of course the MacIlhagga reference that '(p)art of the lands of ffincurrokis were granted to Gilmagu and his heir c. 1160-80', recorded in the annals of the Abbey at Kelso in the Scottish Borders (see my blog of 8 Feb 2009). He also found another relevant historical reference, that the named witness to this transaction was one 'James de Draffon or Drafon, from the lands of Draffon, near Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire. Between 1160 and 1189 he (James) appears several times as a charter witness in the chartulary of Kelso' (Black 220). Black points out that in another charter Gilmagu is mentioned as Gilmagu mac Aldic and he is most probably Gilmalgon (evidently a miscopying of Gilmahgou) mac Kelli, who witnessed Abbot Arnald's gift of the lands of Duueglas (Douglas) to Theobald the Fleming, c. 1150 (again, see 8 Feb 09).

As a final point of interest and comparrison for today, in contrast to the Scottish derivation McIlhagga being one of the rarest surnames in the world, I may quote Edward MacLysacht, in The Surnames of Ireland, that Carthy, or rather MacCarthy, 'the chief family of the Eoghanacht and one of the leading septs of Munster, prominent in the history of Ireland from the earliest times to the present, is the most numerous Mac name in Ireland'.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Records for Armistice

Jean, Agnes & John

Today is Armistice Day (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) and has given free access to its military records. I have been able to access the records of three men, first Pte. James McIlhagga's WW1 Medal Rolls Index Card. He has two Regimental numbers S/28088 and S/30566 respectively for the Seaforth Highlanders and the Royal Highlanders. I have written about him on 23rd January last. The second man was Dvr. John McIlhagga for whom I have two records, the Medal Card and the WW1 Pensions Record. His Regimental Number was 1602, 696562 in the Royal Field Artillery. The Pension Record is a document from 1915 and it is his Attestation for the Territorial Force. The interesting information it gives is his post-war civilian address, 97 George's Street, Whiturch, Glasgow. This is a mistranscription for Whiteinch. I gave my opinion on 9th February last that he became the husband of Jeannie Hay and emigrated to Australia. I have put an early photograph of John and Jean with their daughter Agnes at the head of this blog.

The third man whose documents I was able to access was my own father Lindsay, who was Number 357419 a Sergeant in the Liverpool (Scottish) Regiment. In addition to his Medal Card I have been able to see for the first time his 'Short Service' Attestation document. From this I have learned that he was 22 years 5 months when he joined up on 9th December 1915, and that at that time he was working as a Clerk at J. & T. Wrights at 2 Seel Street, Liverpool. To my surprise the Attestation Form was for the Royal Army Medical Corps. However, on 18th March 1916 he was appointed to serve in The King's (Liverpool) Regiment. For some reason there are two copies of the Attestation Form, one a copy of the other, though with extra information. I wrote about Lindsay's military service on 12th January last.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Neighbours sign together

Neighbours in Donegall Avenue, Belfast, signed the Ulster Covenant together. Maggie McIlhagga lived at number 32 and Mary A. at number 30. Their respective husbands, both William McIlhagga, also signed on different occasions. Were the two William's related? They can't have been brothers. This is clear by comparing the entries for the two addresses in the 1911 Census. William who was married to Maggie was in fact William Hugh aged 39, a Burling Engine Man. William who married Mary Ann was in fact William Gage, aged 35, a Gas Worker. Both households had children. At number 30 there were Henry (4), and Jane (7). They were members of the City Mission. At number 32 there were Elizabeth (4), James (3), Jane (7) and William (0). They were Presbyterians. I hope there wasn't too much confusion having two Janes, both aged seven!

William Hugh and Maggie had been married eight years (1903) and had a cousin Daniel Boyd (29) living with them. So maggie must have been a Boyd. They were married on 1 January 1903 at Belfast Civil Register Office by Licence, the minister being J. Cleeland. I don't understand how a Civil ceremony can have a minister involved, unless he was acting as the Registrar. William and Margaret were both living at 101 Kilburn Street, Belfast. William's father was George McIlhagga, a Clerk. William was a Beetler in the Linen Industry.

William Gage and Mary A. had, according to the 1911 Census been married just one year and had two sisters-in-law living with them, Jane Wilson Boyd (25) and Barbara Boyd (23). So Mary Ann must have been a Boyd. In fact Maggie and Mary Ann, living next door to each other, were sisters. The 'one' year marriage on Census Form 'A' must have been an error, for they were in fact married on 27th June 1902 at Connor Church of Ireland, when Mary Ann lived at Castlegore and William was a Pit Headman at Bonnybridge, Stirling, Scotland. I noted this family in extenso in my blog of 7th August last, and here am going over much of the same ground, though from a different perspective. William's father was Henry McIlhagga, a Farmer. The Boyd girls' father was James Boyd, also a Farmer. One of the witnesses was Henrietta Boyd, another sister.

In the 1901 Census William (Hugh) was a 'Head of Family' living with two cousins, Maggie Boyd (who he was to marry) 24, and Daniel Boyd (20). So we learn that William Hugh and Maggie and her sisters were cousins. However, where was William (Gage) aged 25 in 1901? Was he with Mary A. Boyd? She was at home at 35 Castlegore with her parents James (54) and Jane (54), and siblings Barbara (13), Jane (15), Hettie (21) and Wm. (27). The only William G. (aged 35) was living in Eccles Street, Shankill, head of a family of 6 children and married to Jane Todd. The nearest in age William (28) was at Tullaghgarley Upper, Kells. He was William Sam said to be the Niece (sic!) of Andrew McIlhagga (Head, 50) and his sister Matilda (60), both unmarried. I have come to the conclusion that in 1901 William Gage was not counted in the Irish Census. Perhaps by then he had gone to work in Scotland? Yes, I think he is there. There is only one William aged 25 in the 1901 Scottish Census, and I have wondered for a long time who he might be! He is called McIlhago and is in Hurlford, Ayr, presumably looking for work or in a temporary job before finding work in Stirlingshire. I have for a long time cherished the thought that this William McIlhago might have been the remnant of the much earlier Ayrshire McIlhago family. But apparently not so!

How were William and Mary Ann Boyd cousins? The answer is that Mary's mother was a McIlhagga - Jane, daughter of William of Maxwellswalls. They were in fact second cousins once removed. William Hugh's parents were Henry McIlhaggo/a and Agnes McMeekin. William who married Maggie Boyd was the son of George McIlhagga and Elizabeth Ann Robinson. William and Maggie were first cousins. The two Williams, married to the two sisters in Donegall Avenue, Belfast, were also second cousins once removed.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Was Lizzie alone?

In the Ulster Covenant we now come to the signature of Lizzie McIlhagga of North Street, Ballymena. She appears to be the only clan member who signed from that road. In the 1911 Census there are no fewer than four Lizzie McIlhaggas, two from 4 North Street, mother and a new baby. Lizzie is aged 28 and married to Andrew. And there are two Andrews, father and son (aged 3). Father is aged 32. He is a Flax Buncher, and the family is 'Church of Ireland'. The AncestryIreland website tells us that Andrew McIlhagga and Elizabeth Todd, daughter of Samuel, were married on 7th August 1906 in Ahoghill Church of Ireland. Andrew's father was John McIlhagga, a Labourer. Andrew at the time was a Mill hand. Andrew and Lizzie had ten children, Jeanie, Andrew, Agnes, Elizabeth, Lillian, Samuel, Thomas, William, an unnamed daughter and Clarke. Elizabeth eventually married Hilda Lowry and had five children. There are great-grandchildren alive today. Thomas married Eileen and there are grandchildren today. William married Dorothy May McCormick and their descendants include a great-grandson. Finally Clarke married Winnie and again there are grandchildren.

It is an intriguing matter to think about where this family might fit into the wider clan picture. The 'naming pattern' may not be helpful as the eldest son was named Andrew after his father rather than John after his grandfather. Perhaps John's father was Andrew? But if so I have no such record. It is of interest that no child was named after the paternal grandfather. The first daughter was normally named for the maternal grandmother which would be Lizzie's mother. The second daughter was named for the paternal grandmother which would make John's wife Agnes. But again I have no John - Agnes clan marriage. If Andrew was born about 1880 his father was probably born 1845-55. There were three or four Johns born in the 1840s but none seem to fit this family.

Now Andrew and Lizzie were married in 1906, just 5 years before the Census, and Andrew gave his address as Queen Street, not North Street, Ballymena. Presumably Queen Street was the family home, but the newly married couple moved into North Street. In 1911 we find John and Mary McIlhagga living at 115 Queen Street. Can there have been two clan families living in Queen Street? I think it is probably that John and Mary must have been related to Andrew and Lizzie. Andrew was 32 and John 30. John's father was also John, a Labourer, so surely they were brothers. Also John's witness at his marriage was a William McIlhagga. Was he another brother? Quite possibly. If we now go back to the 1901 Census we find a large McIlhagga family living at 67 Queen Street with whom I can see no link at present, though I would be surprised if there were none. There is also a 26 year old John McIlhagga at 102 Queen Street, married to a 25 year old Mary. Could they be the John and Mary of the 1911 Census who had falsified their ages to give the impression that they were old enough to marry? He was listed as a Carter, virtually the same occupation as 30 year old John gave in 1911, when he was a Railway Carter. The identification is born out by the Census 'Form A' completed in 1911. John and Mary declared that they had been married for 13 years and had had three children, none of whom had survived. John had therefore married at the age of seventeen and in 1901 would have been 20, not 26 as he declared.

There is a final 'clue' from the 1912 Covenant. The signature following that of Lizzie McIlhagga is that of a Maggie McCosh, as I have illustrated above. It is very probable that they would have been friends or even relations and as we have seen in earlier blogs, there is one McIlhagga family which married a McCosh family. William McIlhagga of Ballycloghan married Agnes McCosh of Clogh in about 1830. It is therefore possible that Lizzie and Maggie were (distant?) cousins. This is something we will have to keep in mind as we do further research, but for the present more than this we cannot say.

Old Cavehill Road in 1912

There are the above two signatures on the Ulster Covenant from Old Cavehill Road, a leafy suburb of East Belfast. They were of Nathaniel McIlhagga and of Joseph McIlhagga who entered the name of their house, 'Loughview'. Presumably the house had a view over Belfast Lough towards County Down. These were two of the brothers in the large family of twelve children born to Nathaniel Owens and Henrietta McIlhagga, about whom I have written before. In 1912 they were living with their widowed mother. Nathaniel (whose second name was also Owens), born 1878, later married Sarah Ann Craig in May Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast. Joseph (who had the second name McKeee) was the youngest, born 1892. He would have been 20 when he signed. In 1927 he married Catherine Walker Ross in Canada, and there are certainly descendants in Canada today. I have had the pleasure of corresponding with one of them. I have no record of descendants of Nathaniel. In the 1911 Census he was a Clerk in a Linen Business.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Plus Three Johns, minus One Robert?

The first John McIlhagga who signed the Ulster Covenant lived at 41 Cumberland Street, Belfast. There is no other person from this address who signed, so we must look elsewhere for clues to his identity. Fortunately we have at least three other resources to call on. John and his wife Isabella were living at the same address the year before when the 1911 Census was taken. Also the same address occurs, as I pointed out in my blog of 23rd July last, in a Belfast Directory, where we learn that John was a baker. Next we have an Irish marriage record at St. Anne's Church of Ireland, Shankill, for 11th July 1893 when John McIlhagga, a Baker, married Isabella McKay, a Smoother. She was from 67 Grove Street, daughter of Thomas McKay a tailor. John was from 48 Brussels Street, the 22 years old son of John McIlhagga, a Bread Server. Clearly father and son worked together. John junior had in fact been born on 4th February 1871. I considered this family on 8th June last when I was looking at the 1901 Census. The mystery I noted then, of the identity of John's grandfather, I'm afraid remains, and so of where I can place these people in a wider family.

The second John who signed was from Harryville, Ballymena. The 1911 Census has a Ballymena John living with his wife Mary at 115 Queen Street. He was a Railway Carter. They were both thirty years old. This couple is surely the John McIlhagga and Mary Sloan who married on the 5th January 1894 at Ballyclug Church of Ireland, Ballymena. John, a Labourer, had given his address as 87 Queen Street, Harryville, son of John a Labourer. His witness was a William McIlhagga. Mary lived at 103 Queen Street. The record does not name her parents. Like the first John to sign, a mystery remains about this John. I explored this couple in part in my blog of 21st January last, and again on 14th June when I was considering the 1901 Census. And once again I have to say that I am no further with placing this family in a wider context.

So we come to the third John signature, signed as from 120 Agnes Street, Belfast. As I pointed out on 2nd October last, this is John who signed as one of five men from the same address, Nathaniel, John, William and two Roberts. My first thought was that if there were two Roberts, one had to be the father and the other a son, or at least they had to be from different generations. I then searched other records for such a family. In the 1911 Census I found a family of four sons at 3 Diamond Street, Shankill, Belfast. And they were Nathaniel, John, William and Robert. They were all single and living with their mother Elizabeth who was 'head of the family'. No second Robert! And further investigation, back to the 1901 Census, revealed that their father, who had died in 1898 aged 45, was not Robert, but Archibald! They were part of the Maxwells' Walls McIlhaggas of whom I have written before. So yet another mystery. Who was the second Robert? Is there any further line of enquiry? Yes I think there is - back to the 1912 Covenant, and a careful examination of the two Robert signatures, which I have reproduced above. I have come to the (slightly reluctant) conclusion that they are in the same hand. For a reason best known to himself young Robert appears to have signed the Ulster Covenant twice! Maybe a simple case of over-enthusiasm!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Ballygallough, Ballyclare and the Covenant

Our next signature on the Ulster Covenant is the sole clan member from Ballygallough near Ballyclare. It is that of Jenny McIlhagga, a signature which leaves us in no doubt about how she spelled her surname, a matter which is of some importance, as we will see. If we go back a year to the 1911 Census we find Jenny, a single woman of 64, the sister of the head of the household at 52 Ballygallagh (note the slightly different spelling). He was William James McIlhagga, Jenny's younger brother at 62, a widower and a farmer. There is also a younger single woman, Margaret, aged 34 who William James enters as his daughter. This family adhere to the church of The Brethren.

If we now go back to the 1901 Census we find the same family, slightly expanded, still at Ballygallough, though then at number 45, which I wrote about on 6th June last. It immediately becomes clear why a gap of ten years sees them in a different house. In 1901 the head of the household was James McNeilly who at 58 was eight years older than William. The relationships then were defined in relation to James. William was his brother-in-law who had married his sister Mary, in 1901 aged 65, who had had a daughter Maggie whom James rightly calls his niece. The household was completed by two servants, one domestic and one on the farm. My conjecture is that James and William, both farmers, worked in partnership. William was then a member of The Brethren, though all the others were Presbyterians. Clearly during the decade following 1901 James had disappeared, certainly died, and the Presbyterian influence had given way to that of The Brethren.

Not only had James died, but also his sister Mary, William's wife, who had passed away on 16th October 1901, just a few months before the Covenant was signed. We know this from the fact that Mary left a Will, or rather there is an 'Admon' in her name, that is the abstract of the Administration following her death. It is dated 24th April 1912. What I imagine happened is that James McNeilly, unmarried, as we know from the 1901 Census, did leave a Will, leaving the 'estate' which, as we will see, he had inherited from his father, to his sister. Then, naturally enough, she left all her estate to her husband. The abstract reads:

Administration of the Estate of Mary McIlhaggo late of Ballygallough County Antrim who died 16 November 1910 granted at Belfast to William James McIlhaggo Farmer the Husband.

Interestingly here we have William's full name as in the 1901 Census (abbreviated to 'William' in 1911) and also the 1901 spelling of McIlhaggo changed to McIlhagga in both 1911 and in the 1912 Covenant (in the case of Jenny).

The surname McNeilly in 1901 confirms that in a further document I have, the marriage record of Mary McNeilly to William McIlhagar, took place on 15th March 1875. So we have yet a third spelling of the clan name for one person, showing how folk in the 19th and early 20th Century sat lightly to a 'definitive' spelling. The further details on this record doubly confirm that we have the same people as those who appear on the later Censuses. Both were from Ballygallough. William doesn't use his second name James (as in the 1911 Census); he is a bachelor and (interestingly) a Presbyterian. He was the son of William John McIlhagar, a Weaver. Both he and Mary were 'of full age'. She was a Spinster, a Presbyterian and the daughter of Joseph McNeilly, a farmer. So we can see that the farming was inherited from Joseph to his children James and Mary, who were joined by William, probably shortly before he married Mary. They were married at Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church, Knockbreda, County Down.

At their marriage they had two witnesses, one from each family, James McNeilly and Mary Jane McIlhagar. Clearly James was Mary's brother. Perhaps Mary Jane was therefore William's sister. We know from the 1911 Census that William had a sister Jenny, and it is probable that he had two sisters. This would seem to be born out, as I poined out in my blog of 6th June, by the 1901 Census which recorded two sisters living together in Ballynure, Mary Jane McIlhaggo, aged 58, working as a Muslin Lopper, and Jannet McIlhaggo, aged 50, who is listed as the Home Keeper and Head of the family. It would have been natural for the older sister to sign as witness at the marriage. The fact that the younger is 'head' of the family may indicate that she was judged the more competent, of simply that she chose to keep house.

A few further comments may enlarge the picture that we have been building up of this family. It is quite possible that Jannet was known by the name 'Jenny' and that therefore Jenny who signed the Ulster Covenant and Jannet in the 1901 Census were one and the same. Admittedly Jannet was 50 in 1901 and Jenny was 64 in 1911, but we have seen discrepancies of four years before in Census figures, and of course mistakes. If they were not the same person, then this may mean that William had three sisters. Further, we know that the words 'full age' in a marriage record can sometimes hide an age difference between spouses, and this appears to be the case in this family. When they were married it seems from the ages given in subsequent Censuses, that William was about 24 years old and Mary was about 39 when they wed. When she died in 1910 she would have been 74. If Margaret the daughter was born about 1877, when Mary was 41, it is not surprising if William and Mary did not have other offspring. The only birth record I have found which could be that of Margaret is for a Maggy Meneally born on 17th May 1875 to William John and Mary (Meneally) McIlhagga. The name McNeilly has evolved into Meneally and William's second name has become that of his father. These could easily have been mistakes in giving the notice of the birth, by either the reporter or the registrar. If, despite these two 'discrepancies', this is the correct record, William and Mary in fact married when she was seven months pregnant, and we are given a reason why there was an age gap of fifteen years between them. Finally, I also have to add that at present I have not been able to integrate this nuclear family with a larger family grouping.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Covenant in Londonderry

In the 1911 Census the McIlhagga Clan had no one living in the County of Derry. However, a year later there was one member living at 3 College Street in the city of Londonderry, namely Jeannie McIlhagga. The 1911 Census shows us three families at that address, each employing one or two servants, so presumably Jeannie had moved there to work as a domestic servant. From where did she move? The only Jeannie in the 1911 Census was the eighteen year old daughter of Daniel and Annie Eliza McIlhagga of 4 North street, Ballymena. In 1911 she was listed as a scholar, so either still at school or at a form of further education, perhaps doing a course preparing her for domestic work. I must say that her signature above is in a confident adult hand.

The 1911 Census lists this family as 'Church of Ireland', reflecting probably Annie Eliza's upbringing as she and Daniel married at Loughguile Church of Ireland. This was a large family of ten children amongst whom there was a Jean. She however was too young to be 'Jeannie'. 'Jeannie' was the eldest, named at birth Jane, born on 18th October 1892. Her father Daniel was the third son of James and Jane (nee Maitland) McIlhagga of Carnmoney. Annie was the daughter of Robert and Mary (nee Young) Wright of Lavin. She was the eldest of five children. I have no record of Jane, who moved to Londonderry, ever marrying.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Ulster Covenant in Brantwood Street

Prior to the 1911 Irish Census being published the 1912 Ulster Covenant misled me about two people living at the same address. James Wilson McIlhagga and Lily McIlhagga lived at 4 Brantwood Street in the Clifton or Duncairn District of Belfast. I made the reasonable assumption that they were man and wife. I have subsequently learned that Lily did not marry until 1914 and James until 1930. In the 1911 Census there is a James Wilson and a Lily, respectively 17 and 20, living at 7 Eccles Street, Belfast, the offspring of William G. and Jane (nee Todd) McIlhagga. They were in fact two of a large family of nine children, of which Lily was the eldest and James the fourth. It is of course possible that the whole family had moved from Eccles Street to Brantwood Street in 1911-12, or perhaps Lily had moved to another address and had given a home to her brother. The first is the more likely thing to have happened.

There are a couple of name queries in this family. I am unsure what father William's middle name was. I have seen it recorded both as George and Gage and have corresponded with one person who insisted that the name Gage came down their family line. I am however unsure where it originated. The second query is about Lily herself. The 1901 Census appears to give the eldest daughter's name as Matilda. Was Lily an accepted abbreviation of Matilda, or did she simply prefer to be called Lily? The only other Lily I have come across was an abbreviation of Elizabeth. We might also ask where James got his middle name Wilson? The normal assumption would be that it was his mother's maiden name. But that was Todd. I do know he had a second cousin twice removed, James Wilson McIlhagga, who was the son of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga and Henrietta Wilson. Perhaps the two families had a close and friendly relationship. This may indeed be demonstrated by the fact that both James Wilson McIlhaggas became Oil Merchants!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Maxwell's Walls in The Ulster Covenant

There are just two people who signed The Ulster Covenant as from the townland of Maxwell's Walls. The first was Henrietta McIlhagga, the second Eliza McIlhagga. And again their signatures perhaps reveal something of these two women. Our assumption must be that Henrietta and Eliza were mother and daughter, a fact we know from our earlier references to this family. Henrietta in 1912 was the widow of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga. Eliza was to marry Hugh Minford, a farmer and a future MP. I have compared Henrietta's signature with that on the letter she wrote to her son, to which I referred on the 8th and 19th May, and I am sure the two are written by the same hand. The 'M' is identical. The surprising thing is that clearly on The Ulster Covenant Henrietta signed for both of them, and to make this clear, against Eliza's name Henrietta added her initials. However, I have to add that we have no evidence that any of the offspring of this family could not write, and indeed the indications are that they were well educated. It is certainly surprising that a woman who was to become the wife of a Member of Parliament couldn't write. There are of course other possible explanations for Henrietta signing Eliza's name. Eliza might have been temporarily unable to write for some physical reason. There is however another possible reason. There were no fewer than six signatures together from Maxwell's Walls on the Covenant. The two preceding that of Henrietta were initialled by someone as 'illiterate'. Perhaps Eliza asked her mother to sign for her so as not to embarrass her two friends whose names preceded theirs.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Two Covenant Spelling Errors

The next name on my Ulster Covenant list of clan members is David McIlhagga living at 42 Gainsborough Drive, Duncairn, Belfast North. The two Davids in the 1911 Census are small children and would not have been old enough to vote in 1912. Nor is there a Gainsborough Drive in my 1911 Census list. So no David and no address! Fortunately we have another line of enquiry, namely examining the signature on the Ulster Covenant. Alongside this I know that the family in which the name David occurs down the generations is not McIlhagga but McIlhagger. And yes, when we examine the signature I think it clearly does read McIlhagger. I have included it at the head of this blog. We don't have this David listed in 1911 so it is valuable to have both the name and address recorded in 1912. David McIlhagger was I believe the David born 1879 to George McIlhagger and Mary Jane Boyd. In 1906 when he married Elizabeth Louise Sherwood he was living at the family home at 29 North Queen Street, Belfast. Perhaps he and his new wife moved into Gainsborough Drive soon after their marriage. So once again the 1912 Covenant has given us a new piece of information. And I am gathering a small group of corrections to send to PRONI!

The next name on my Covenant list is the second, and a double transcription error. The North Queen Street address is now copied as 29 North Lucan Street where apparently we find George McIlhagga. We don't. We find George McIlhagger at 29 North Queen Street, Belfast. He was the head of the family there, aged 63 in 1912. My small group of corrections is getting larger!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Covenant at Knockahollet

I am working through The Ulster Covenant alphabetically, so the next person is Annie E. McIlhagga of Knockahollet. Two other people from Knockahollet signed, according to the PRONI Index, James and 'N.D.'. In the 1911 Census Annie Elizabeth, age 43, is the wife of Dunlop at 14 Ballyweeney. Robert Dunlop is age 41 (son of James and Jane, nee Maitland), a farmer. The Census also shows us a son James, age 6, Joseph age 10, Martha age 8 and Robert age 2. So the 1911 Census encourages us to jump to the conclusion that 'Annie E' in 1912 was the wife of Robert Dunlop McIlhagga. She might have been. However, Dunlop's brother, Daniel Maitland, was also married to an 'Annie E'! and they were both known as Annie. So does it remain an open question as to which one signed? With James we are not much more certain. It may have been James the father of Dunlop and Daniel, though it is not certain that he was still alive in 1912. It probably wasn't his eldest son James, who had emigrated to the States by 1907. It could just have been James son of Daniel who would have been 16. But who is 'N.D.'? I have looked carefully at the signature, which I have printed at the head of this blog, which could read 'M.D.', 'N.D.' or 'R'D'. The PRONI indexers think the probability is 'N.D.' but I have no 'N.D. McIlhagga' in my records! So I think the more likely is 'R.D', making it Robert Dunlop and therefore I think, 'Annie E,' his wife.

Who is the Robert McIlhaggar of Knockahollet that I mentioned in the first blog on the Ulster Covenant on 2nd October? On the reasonable assumption that he was from the same family, I think he must have been a brother of James senior. Robert was born in 1838 to Nathan and Ellen McIlhaggar so would have been 74 in 1912. If we didn't have this reference in the Ulster Covenant we would know next to nothing about him.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Genealogical Next of Kin

Recently I did something that 60% of British People never do - I (re)wrote my Will and sent copies to the two people I named as my executors. I have to say that it is couched in very general terms, making it clear how my estate is to be split between my descendants. I did not include bequests of any specific items, though I have written a letter to make clear some of my wishes. As yet these wishes do not include how the considerable quantity of genealogical data I have accumulated and the studies I have done on this data should be preserved and if possible continued. I know that certain arrangements can be made through two societies to which I belong, namely The Society of Genealogists and The Guild of One Name Studies. However, it would be good to be able to name one or more individual(s) who would be prepared to take some responsibility for the material and perhaps who might wish to continue the study when I am no longer able to do so. Sadly at the present time these people do not exist. If anyone has any ideas, do get in touch with me.

The Covenant at Tullaghgarley / Tullygarley

In the last two blogs we met Andrew McIlhagga of Azamor Street, Belfast. Two other Andrews signed the Ulster Covenant, both from a townland just outside Ballymena. One entered his address as Tullygarley Bridge, the other as Tullygarley, Ballymena, both of course the same place; Tullaghgarley is an older spelling. The bridge is an old structure which has been widened in recent years to accommodate a modern road. Also there were no fewer than six other people who gave their address as Tullygarley, namely Jack, Jeanie, Lizzie, Mary, Matilda and William S.. I am disposed to think that all the McIlhaggas who lived in the same townland must belong to the same family, so what does a comparison with the 1911 Census reveal?

First, we have living together Andrew, 62, head, at 21 Tullygarley Lower, a Farm Labourer, and Matilda, 71, Andrew's sister. Clearly Matilda signed a year later (she was the only Matilda), but did Andrew (senior)? As I have indicated above, I believe so. And isn't the signature above that of an older generation who learned to write with a copper-plate hand? We will see however, that there remains some doubt as to where these siblings fit in the family tree. All the others were at 8 Tullgarley, surely not far away from 21. This was a large family. The parents were William, 55, head, a Railway Porter and Mary, 50. The family births were spread over 18 years. Lizzie was 32, a Factory Weaver; William was 27, a Carpinter (sic); Andrew was 24 (the third Andrew to sign the Covenant), a Railway Clerk; Robert 22 was an Engine Cleaner; John, 16, was a Shop Boy and Jeanie 14 was still at school. This Census list omits James Spence (b. 1844 who was married to Elizabeth McGrillis). In addition there was a four year old grand-daughter, Mary, staying at the house. It is interesting that the new Railway Industry gave employment to at least three of this family. As we can see from the list of Covenant signatures one of the sons present at the Census, Robert, did not sign the Covenant. William signed as William S, a middle initial or name we did not know about, presumably Spence, his mother's maiden name. Other information tells us that the granddaughter Mary was in fact the child of son James Spence and Elizabeth (nee McGrillis).

So, where do Andrew (senior) and Matilda fit in? From marriage records we know that William who married Mary Spence had a father also named William. Had he been alive in 1911 we can assume he would have been in his late 70s and so could have been a sibling of Andrew (senior) and of Matilda, and indeed of Eliza Anne (who married Hugh Kelly). Certainly the name Andrew was continued in this family for at least another generation: Robert had a son Andrew.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Ballymena to Belfast

Following my last blog I had an email letter from a correspondent in South Australia who does some very careful research, for which I am very grateful. She is a descendant of the family who in 1912 were at Azamor Street. I was comparing the 1912 Ulster Covenant with the Census of the year before. She has also compared her family with the 1901 Census when they were living at 67 Queen Street, Ballymena. She kindly sent me a photo from Google Maps, not of number 67 which has been demolished in favour of a commercial building, but of 83 Queen Street which would have been a similar property, and which fits the description handed down in the family.

Sometimes, however, one should be cautious about what is 'handed down'. I had included in my last blog that Robert James McIlhagga had 'run away to sea by 1896', when he would have been only eleven. I got this from another member of the family, also in Australia. Clearly it was part of the 'oral tradition'. But not so! The 1901 Census clearly includes him aged 16 and in employment as a machine boy. As my correspondent says, he can't have been on a home visit as his occupation would have been recorded as 'sailor' (or perhaps 'cabin boy') and also because he maintained that he never made contact with his family again after leaving home. Again, the family tradition is that he said he did return to Ireland a few years later but it was too far to walk from Belfast to his home in the few hours he had on shore. He must have meant walking to Ballymena, not knowing that the family had moved to Belfast. My correspondent has calculated they must have moved to Azamor Street between the 1901 Census and when daughter Matilda Jane married from there in September 1903. Robert James probably left for sea not long after the 1901 Census. She points out two other things which are probably true. The 1901 Census includes a child Joseph, aged 18 months, but as he is not on the 1911 Census when he would have been 11, he had maybe died. Second, Robert James spoke in later life of his two sisters Lizzie and Margret. Clearly Lizzie was Elizabeth. Although I have assumed that Minnie and Margret were two people, she thinks Margret, who must have been near Robert's age for him to have remembered her, was known as Minnie. As Robert's and Minnie's birth dates are only about a year apart, I certainly agree with this conclusion.

My South Australian friend has two interesting points about the parents, Robert and Margaret (nee Craig). A comparison of all the available documents offers no consistency about their ages. Her best calculation of Robert's age is from his death certificate. He died at 5 Azamor Street on 13th October 1912 aged 53 years. He had had bronchitis for 10 months. The informant was his son Samuel (see his Covenant signature above). His illness could explain why he didn't sign the Ulster Covenant in the February. There may however have been a second reason. Could he and Margaret write? They both marked the marriage register with an X, though they are both recorded as being able to read and write in both 1901 and 1911. This may not have been true as the signatures on the two Censuses are different, perhaps indicating that they were filled up by another member of the family. It has to be said that we are in the realm of probabilities here as often when a marriage register was being filled in a couple would defer to the minister or registrar and ask him to write their names, simply adding their 'mark' (an X). This said, my correspondent is I think right that the wild ages given for the parents (married for 38 years and only 42 and 40 shown on the 1911 Census!) probably indicates that the forms were filled up by a child.

PS: I have also added the Covenant signature of their son Andrew to my last blog.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Beginning to analyse The Ulster Covenant

The surnames on the Ulster Covenant help us to put together John G. and George and Henry McIlhagger. John lived at 104 Mt. Collyer Ave, a separate address to the other two at 29 New North Lucan St., which may indicate that he had 'flown the nest', which was in fact the case. George was a retired Police Sergeant with the Royal Irish Constabulary. He died two years later in 1914. Clearly Henry (known as Harry) was still living at home in 1912. He was to die at the young age of 33, the result of an industrial accident on 23rd July 1918 at the Belfast ship builders, Harland and Wolf. He is buried with his parents at the Belfast City Cemetery. John George (known as Jack) who we believed served in the Boer War (the only clan member to do so) before working as a joiner in the Belfast ship yards, married Sarah Miller and had three children, John (also known as Jack), an exceptional Classics Scholar, Ellen (Nellie, b. 1913, d. 1999) who married Harry Todd and Henry (Harry) who married Violet Aiken. They had one daughter. Interestingly none of these folk appear in the 1911 Census, so the 'Covenant' has provided us with information we might not have had otherwise.

Lenah (really Norah) and J.W. McIlhaga both interestingly gave an address, on the Ulster Covenant, in Belgium. Clearly they also were not in the 1911 Census. There were folk like the McIlhaggers who had probably moved into County Antrim between the Census and the Covenant, and there were folk like the McIlhagas who came home specially to sign the Covenant. I wrote about this family on 10th November last, and in subsequent blogs, a family whom the flax trade took from Ireland to Belgium and then back to both Northern Ireland and to Merseyside in England.

In 1912 there are two males living at 5 Azamor Street, Belfast South. We might have assumed that Andrew and Samuel were therefore father and son. However other records show this was not so. The Ulster Civil Marriage records show Samuel McIlhagga of 5 Azamor Street, Labourer, age 29, married Mary Hunt, Stitcher, age 26 of 16 Israel Street, daughter of Henry, a Bootmaker. They married at St. Anne's Church of Ireland, Shankill, Belfast. Samuel is the bachelor son of Robert. So Andrew and Samuel are not father and son, so they were probably brothers, which is confirmed by the 1911 Census. However, the surprise is that in 1912 Samuel is 20 and Andrew is only 14. The parents Robert 42 and Margaret 40 are alive, and for some reason didn't sign the Covenant just a few month later. Did Andrew sign it with his parents permission, or encouragement, or perhaps insistence?

There were in fact six offspring of Robert and Margaret who were older than Samuel, all of whom had presumably left home by 1912, namely Matilda Jane, William, Elizabeth, Minnie, Robert James and John (Jack). I wonder if any of them signed the covenant? Matilda Jane had married Robert Dalzell in 1903. William had joined the Royal Marines in 1897 but had left three years later. Elizabeth had married Richard Henry Cleland in 1909. Robert James had run away to sea by 1896 and John (Jack) had joined the army in 1906. There is no signature of a Robert Dalzell, though there is one of Mrs. Robert Dalzell of Down West Division, as there is no signature of a Matilda Jane, though there are six of a Jane Dalzell. There are two Richard Clelands who signed, one from Ballynahinch, Down East, and one from Belfast West. And there is an Elizabeth A. Clelland from Ballynahinch who signed. The 1911 Census shows us these were not husband and wife, but mother and son! Richard Henry and Elizabeth Clelland were in fact living at 10 Ulverston Street, Shankill with their infant son John. They were all 'Church of England'. Robert and Matilda Dalzell were living just three houses away at 4 Ulverston Street with their three children, Robert 6, Mary 1 and infant daughter Elenor. They were all Presbyterians. Perhaps both work and having to look after such young children prevented both couples from coming out to sign.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Ulster Covenant

We all know that researching records in Ireland is not easy, partly because many were destroyed in Dublin in 1922 during 'The Troubles'. We are fortunate to have the 1911 Census now, though before we did, there was the 'Census substitute' of the Ulster Covenant, signed on 28th September 1912 during the reign of King George V. Even since the 1911 Census went on line, the Covenant signatures can give us extra information. PRONI, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has digitised this list of about half a million signatures, about half men and half women. Most signatures have addresses or at least place names, so that although the men and women signed separately it is often possible to know who are related by comparing addresses. The Record Office has written a 'Background to the Covenant', of which the following is a part:

The Ulster Covenant was part of a response by Ulster Unionists to the efforts of successive Westminster governments to settle the running sore of the 'Irish Question' by giving Ireland a limited measure of local autonomy known as 'Home Rule'. The first two Home Rule Bills, in 1866 and 1893 had been rejected by Parliament, following concerted pressure from Unionists in Great Britain and Ireland. In April 1912 Asquith introduced the Third Home Rule Bill (to which) Unionists (at Westminster) put up fierce opposition to each stage and the third reading was not carried until January 1913, after which the Bill received its expected defeat in the House of Lords. The outbreak of World War I then halted further progress.

Clearly the Covenant played its part in 1912 and among the half a million signatures are 45 Clan names, mostly McIlhagga, but also McIlhaga, McIlhaggar and McIlhagger. Three only signed their initials, one a woman from Belfast, Mrs. J.B. McIlhagga, the other two men, N.D. McIlhagga from Ballyweaney and W.J. McIlhaga interestingly from Courtai, Belgium. A woman, presumably W.J.'s wife Norah (wrongly transcribed as Lenah) is also listed from Belgium. 29 signatures are of men and 16 of women.

So where were our clan members in Ulster living in 1912? 18 were in County Antrim Parliamentary Constituencies, one in Londonderry and the rest (26) were from the city of Belfast. Six Antrim villages or townlands are represented, Ballyweaney (one man 'N.D.'), Knockahollet (James and Annie McIlhagga), and Robert with the interesting name variation of McIlhaggar), Harryville (John), Ballygallough (Jenny), Maxwellswalls (Henrietta and Eliza), and no fewer than 7 from Tullygarley (Jack, Andrew, William S., Lizzie, Jeannie, Mary and Matilda). There are 15 addresses recorded in Belfast, 9 with a single signature, 6 with two signatures and one in Agnes Street, South Belfast with no fewer than five, all men (Nathaniel, John, William and two Roberts).

In a subsequent blog I will compare what we can find in the 1911 Census and in the 1912 Ulster Covenant. In the meantime, to what did all these people sign? It was strong stuff. The men signed as follows:

Being convinced in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship and perilous to the unity of the Empire, we whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George V, humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant, throughout this our time of threatened calamity, to stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and for our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. And in the event of such a Parliament being forced upon us, we further solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves to refuse to recognize its authority. In sure confidence that God will defend the right, we hereto subscribe our names.

The women signed a somewhat shorter statement:

We, whose names are underwritten, women of Ulster, and loyal subjects of our gracious King, being firmly persuaded that Home Rule would be disastrous to our country, desire to associate ourselves with the men of Ulster in their uncompromising opposition to the Home Rule Bill now before Parliament, whereby it is proposed to drive Ulster out of her cherished place in the constitution of the United Kingdom, and to place her under the domination and control of a Parliament in Ireland. Praying that from this calamity God will save Ireland, we hereby subscribe our names.