Thursday, 21 January 2010

McIlhagga - McNeice

My third problem from the 1911 Irish Census is found in a house at 115 Queen's Street, Ballymena, Co. Antrim. There are four residents all aged 30. All four could read and write and all four were Presbyterians. The head of the household was John McIlhagga, a Railway Carter. He and his wife Mary had been married for 13 years. This would have probably been in 1898 but unfortunately I haven't found a record of it. Apparently they had had three children, though none of them had lived. The space for Mary's occupation was left blank, so presumably she was the 'housekeeper'. The second couple were their lodgers, John and Mary McNeice. Both of them had occupations listed, John a Cooper and Mary a Linen Winder. They had been married only shortly before the Census (25th March 1911) though they entered 'one year'. They had been married at Wellington Street Presbyterian Church. John was the son of William McNeice a Labourer. Mary, interestingly was the daughter of John McIlhagga, a Labourer. Her witness was Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Bell.

Now at present I am unable to fit any of these people into one of the Clan Family Trees. I do have the record of a John McIlhagga son of John marrying a Mary Sloan but the date of this marriage was 5th January 1894, which was 17 rather than 13 years before the 1911 Census. If this was the correct marriage, it would have made John only 17 when he married and he had declared 'full age' (ie 21) so stating that he had been married for 13 years on the 1911 Census might have been covering up this discrepancy. Often a marriage witness is a relative and is a clue to the tree, but I'm afraid the name Elizabeth or Lizzie Bell doesn't help in this regard. It is of course very likely that John McIlhagga and Mary (nee McIlhagga) were from the same family. If they were brother and sister they almost certainly must have been twins. I'm afraid this fact doesn't lead me to a Family Tree either. There is one final clue - the name NcNeice. We have met this name once before in my blog on 17th September last, entitled A Baker in Australia. Samuel Robinson McIlhagga had married a McNeice on 6th December 1897 in Belfast. In the 1911 Census he was living with his large family in the Shankill district of the city. Regrettably there is no John or Mary in his family and his wife's father was Henry McNeice, not William, so the McNeice link is clearly not close enough for me to identify the right Tree either!


  1. Samuel McIlhagga's wife Jean or Jane was the youngest of 21 children to Henry McNeice and Jane Houston. My great-grandfather Richard (born 1866) was another child. He migrated to Australia as did their brother James (born 1851) and a couple of sisters. In the 1920s Sam McIlhagga jnr, who was born in Belfast in 1908, migrated to Australia. In the 1970s my father met Sam through an organisation they both belonged to. He died in 1985. James and Richard had a brother William McNeice (born 1870) and John McNeice (born 1861). John McNeice married a Mary, surname unknown but my father had them placed in USA in 1900. I do not have a John in William's family but Jane's father Henry did have 2 brothers so William & John could be down that line.

  2. Wendy, thank you for your comment. It would be good to correspond with you direct. My email address is if you would like to send me yours.