Monday, 29 March 2010

James of Sarnia, Ontario

On 21st September last I wrote a blog entitled James of Ballyportery. James McIlhagga married Jane Maitland and in 1865 they had a son James, who trained as a Carpenter and emigrated to Canada when he was twenty four years old. There very soon after his arrival he met and married Alwilda Breault from a French-English background. Her father was Levi Breault (French) and her mother Patience Wood (English). Up to now all I have known about James's occupation is that he was a Carpenter. That is, until last week. I have now heard from a great-great niece of his wife Alwilda, who lives in Ontario. Alwilda's sister Agnes was my correspondent's great grandmother. She has kindly sent me the information she has learned about James.

The 1901 Census for Sarnia City listed James as a Carpenter. He had arrived in Canada two years before. My correspondent tells me that there are two memorial stones in Sarnia Cemetery with the McIlhagga name, one of which is for James with a birth date of Nov. 29, 1865. This differs by a month from the date on his death registration, October 29th. His age was recorded as 66 years, 3 months and 24 days. He had been living at 208 South Vidal Street, Sarnia for the previous sixteen years, and had been in the Province for forty-five. He died at Sarnia General Hospital of myocardial failure, and having had bronchial asthma for three months. The Sarnia Canadian Observer published an obituary for James on February 24th 1932, the day following his death. The obituary reveals for us what happened to him following his training as a Carpenter.

James had built his career from Carpentry into a business as a Contractor and Builder in the city. At some point he took on the Superintendancy of School Buildings throughout the city. It is said that he became very popular with and a friend of both teachers and pupils, so much so that when he died school flags flew at half mast. Generally James was a well known and highly respected citizen and was held in great esteem by many friends. He was a member of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church for a number of years but when the United Church of Canada was formed some Presbyterians stayed out of the Union and James continued with what became St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in which he became a member of and then chairman of its Board of Managers. He was also known in 'fraternal circles' and was a member of St. Simon of Cyrene Preceptory No. 37 Knights Templar and Tuscan Lodge No. 437 A.F. and A.M.. The heading of his obituary was Death of James McIlhagga is much regretted, which surely sums up so much about his life and character. He was survived by his wife, two brothers in Ireland and one in Scotland and two sisters, one in Ireland and one in Scotland. No mention is made of his two children and I suspect they had both predeceased him.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

McElhago - Harvey

Occasionally one comes across a detail which adds not only to the substance but even more to the information surrounding a particular line in a family tree. Such is the case with the McElhagos of Dundonald shown in the 1841 and 1851 Censuses. The Internet site 'FreeCen' has now published a full 1841 and a 94% 1851 Census for Ayrshire, Scotland. In addition to what I have recorded earlier about this family I have now noted first that throughout the 19th Century they were living in the hamlet of Fullerton. This is now the part of the town of Troon bordering its Municipal Golf Courses. The family lived in Friars Croft Street which still exists and now contains the large Ayrshire Municipal Buildings. I wonder if any old photos of it exist? In addition to James and Jane McElhago and their children there lived with them Francis Harvie aged 65, born in Ayrshire. Although 'Francis' is of course the male spelling of the name, the Census (wrongly) records him as female, clearly an enumerator's error. Fortunately he was still alive ten years later and still living with the family. In 1851 he is listed as Francis Hervey, Uncle, aged 73, a shoemaker born in Irvine, Ayrshire, and this time he is male! He may be the Francis who married an Elizabeth Hay, though if so, she must have died before 1841.

Now James' wife, Jane, was a Harvey, daughter of James Harvey and Elizabeth McDonald. Note that we already have three spellings of this surname! Clearly Francis (aged 73) would be Jane's uncle, so brother to her father. It is always a good idea when looking at Census records to look at the nearby households. In 1841, also in Friar's Croft, two doors away, lived Jane's parents, James Harvie, aged 70, a Cabinet Maker, Eliza Harvie, aged 70, Eliza Harvie aged 35, together with three youngsters, in all probability grandchildren, Agness (sic) Reid 10, Jamima (sic) Reid 8, and John Longwill, 2. So Jane had a sister Eliza who was approximately five years her junior. In nearby Fullerton Street is the only other Harvie family in the 1841 Dundonald Census and who therefore may be related. They are listed at Mrs. Robert Havie (sic) 55, Mary Harvie 10, and two women who may have been lodgers, Jean Hunter 25 and Janet Hunter 30. If Robert was a brother of Jane and was either working away or deceased, his wife (Mrs. Robert) would have needed lodgers to bring in an income. While we are building up a picture of the Harvey family, we should note another McElhago who I'm not sure where to fit into the picture. John McElhago, Seaman and Jean Glen, both of the New Parish in Greenock, had banns called on 6th December 1824. This would likely have meant John was born about 1800, and of an age to make him a sibling of the Dundonald McElhago children.

Do the 1851 entries elucidate matters at all? Indeed they do. First, the McElhago family, in addition to Francis the shoemaker, have staying with them, Jane Martin, granddaughter aged 3, born in Irvine. We know that the eldest daughter, Elizabeth married Philip Martin and had a daughter Jane. For some reason she was staying with her grandparents on Census night. We also learn in 1851 about people's occupations, including that of daughter Jane, aged 21. She was employed as a Muslin Sewer, and she was not the only one. Jane's father had died in the decade between 1841 and 1851 and her mother was now head of the household, still at Friar's Croft, aged 81, a 'Joiner's widow'. Interestingly we learn that she was born in Bute, in the Isle of Arran. Two daughters are living with her who are, like Jane, both Muslin Sewers. Eliza, whom we met in 1841, is now 47 and Catherine Semple is aged 42. Clearly Catherine had married a Mr. Semple for her daughter Janet Semple aged 15 is part of the same household and is listed as a granddaughter, as is Jemima Reid aged 18, another granddaughter whose occupation is given as House Servant. As we have seen, she was there in 1841. I wonder if this means she was the illegitimate daughter of Eliza who had been given her father's surname? Her sister Agness (sic) would have been 20 in 1851 so must have left home, perhaps to marry. Finally also in Friar's Croft as a separate household there are husband and wife James and Jane Hervey who may well be related to the other Herveys. Possibly James is another sibling. They are 52 and 55 respectively. James is listed as Ship Captain and House Proprietor, born Stevenston, Ayrshire. I have to admit that his birth in Stevenston may mean he was a cousin rather that a sibling.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

James Spence McIlhagga

John and Adelaide McIlhagga's Wedding

James Spence McIlhagga, son of William McIlhagga and Mary Spence of Tullygarley, was born on 12th September 1884. On 13th December 1905 he married Elizabeth ('Bessie') McGrillis at Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, County Antrim. Although he was only 21 years old his marriage record says that he was a widower. It would appear from the Ulster Civil Marriage Records that James had first married an Agnes Wilson when he was only eighteen. They married on 28th January 1903 at Ballymena First Presbyterian Church, Kirkinriola. We must presume that Agnes died tragically, perhaps in childbirth.

We have seen previously that when he married in 1905 James was a Locomotive Fireman, but as we will discover James appears to have had a major career change, though at what stage in his life this happened we do not know. It is highly probable that it came about through his involvement in local Community Politics. In the middle of the 19th Century when the population of Ballymena was only about 5000, the oversight of town affairs was in the hands of Town Commissioners. Lists of them still exist for 1854-1899 in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI). Thirty or forty years later there were elected people who were called Councillors and from 1940 the town's several Wards each had an Alderman. 'Aldermen' constituted a kind of 'upper house' of local government, often elected by the Councillors, though usually not acting separately from them.

The Belfast and Northern Ireland Directory for 1939 shows James McIlhagga elected Councillor for Harryville Ward, an area that was to gain a 'wild' reputation. In the following year James is listed again, but with the title 'Alderman', the first time this title had appeared. So it looks as if the town had created 'Aldermen' in 1940 when James S. McIlhagga became one of its first. James remained an Alderman for eighteen years until 1958. The town records show that the position for Harryville Ward was vacant the following year and was not refilled until 1960.

In the Directory for 1940 James is listed as working at the Belfast Savings Bank. We know from the existence of a McIlhagger Will in which he is named as an executor that by 1948 he had become a Bank Manager. From Railways to Banking was a big career change, but it appears to have occurred through his involvement in serving the Community in local politics. James died on 11th November 1959 in Ballymena. The photograph at the head of this blog was taken at the marriage of James' younger brother John (Jack) to Adelaide in Dublin. James Spence is the fourth person from the right, standing on the bride's left.

A Baker's Shop

A Baker's Shop in Ballymena

In an earlier blog we came across 'Max' McIlhagga who emigrated to Australia where he won a baking competition near Sydney. I wonder if there is any link to another McIlhagga baking enterprise? My last blog named Elizabeth McGrillis who married James Spence McIlhagga. Her brother was Jimmy McGrillis who teamed up with two McIlhagga sisters in the 1930s to run a Baker's shop in Lower Mill Street, Ballymena, County Antrim. They are all photographed in front of the shop above. Jimmy, who was the baker, is on the right. It is of course very much a photograph of its time - we may doubt whether Health and Safety would countenance such a shop advertising and presumably selling cigarettes today!

The sisters were Mary (May) and Elizabeth. They were daughters of James Spence and Elizabeth McIlhagga. May was born in Coleraine, County Derry, in 1907 and died in Belfast on 1st May 1971. She left a son and two grand-daughters. Elizabeth was born on 14th September 1912 in Ballymena and died there on 29th September 1997. Jimmy McGrillis and his sister Elizabeth came from Coleraine, where their father John was a 'Car Driver'.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

A Tullygarley Family

The family about which I have written most recently appears to have originated in Tullygarley, Ballymena, County Antrim. The furthest back I can go along their ancestral line is to the early 1830s when we find William McIlhagga, a Yarn Boiler, which would be a job in the Linen Mills. There are two siblings living together in Tullygarley on the 1911 Census who are of an age to possibly be siblings of this William. They are Matilda (born 1840) and Andrew (born 1848). Certainly the name Andrew occurs again in the following generation. There is a further probable sibling, Anne Eliza of Tullygarley, whose father was also William, a Yarn Boiler. He is the father on the marriage certificates of both Anne Eliza who married Hugh Kelly, a Gardeneer (sic) who came from Portrush, where his father was a Fisherman, on 1st October 1872 at Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, and also William who married Mary Spence on 17th May 1878 at the same church. There is another name which surely links Anne Eliza and William into the same family. Members of the Millikin family were official witnesses at both weddings.

We have reached the age when the Railways were becoming a major employer, and by 1905 William Junior was a Railway Porter. He and Mary had I think seven children, though I am uncertain about the order in which they were born. Birth records and Census records do not quite agree. We can however be certain of their names: Elizabeth, James Spence, William, Robert, Andrew, John (Jack) and Jeanie. Elizabeth was born about 1879. On the 1911 Census she is a Factory Weaver and may have lived into her nineties. James Spence was born in 1884 in Tullygarley and married Elizabeth (Bessie) McGrillis in 1905 at Wellington Street Church. James was a Locomotive Fireman when they married. He and Bessie had seven children, Mary Ann, William (Willie) born in 1907 Tullygarley, who died in the 1980s. He married Lily Shaw. John, born 16th June 1909 in Coleraine, died 2nd October 1975 in Belfast, married Jane Laverty, born 27th May 1907, died 29th March 1998 in St. John's, Newfoundland. They have three sons and two daughters, have 12 grandchildren and 18 grandchildren known to me. Samuel was born about 1910 in Coleraine and died in the 1980s. He and his wife (Bessie?) had eight children. There are 5 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren known to me. James and Bessie's fifth child was Elizabeth. Their last two children were boys, Robert in 1914 who died as a young child, and James born about 1916 who died about 1980 in Ballymena. It is possible that this James served in the Royal Navy after World War II. More of the sisters Mary Ann and Elizabeth next time.

I now come to William and Mary (nee Spence)'s third child, William. This is the man who I believe became the Firefighter in Manitoba and who was killed in 1921 in a fire in Winnipeg. Then came Robert, born about 1886, died about 1980 in Ballymena, who married Annie Lowry on 30th March 1914 in Ballymena 3rd Presbyterian Church, and who had six children and who to my knowledge have five grandchildren. Then came Andrew about whom and about whose descendants I wrote in my blog of 16th March. He and his wife Sarah had two sons, five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. William and Mary's last two children were John (Jack) who married Adelaide in Dublin. She died in 1956 and was buried in The Friends' Burial Ground in Blackrock. Interestingly she is one of the few Quakers who are associated with our clan. Jack returned to Northern Ireland after his wife's death. He died in 1968 and is buried in Ballymena Cemetery. Jeanie was the youngest child of William and Mary, born in 1897. William died on 14th October 1931 in Tullygarley where he was born. His Will is in the Northern Ireland Calendar for 1988 which records his occupation as 'Railway Employee Administration (DBH) Belfast'. Administration on the Will was given to Samuel Crowe on 16th August. The value of William's effects amounted to £20,000. A former Will grant had been made on 24th August 1964.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Liston Burns McIlhagga (Senior)

Liston Burns McIlhagga

Liston Burns' nephew and names-sake contributed the following to our Clan Newsletter in 2006 under the title 'Actor to TV Executive', to add to the tribute we paid in 'Winnipeg's Navy':

Liston Burns McIlhagga was born November 21, 1918. At an early age he displayed his dramatic talent and his prodigious memory. An early poster headlines him performing in various halls in Winnipeg as an elocutionist (reciting difficult passages from English literature) at four and a half years old. At the age of six he toured western Canada and the United States in the same role. He continued to perform with various dramatic groups around Winnipeg and in 1928 performed in his first live broadcast on CNRW in Winnipeg. Between 1935 and 1940 he worked as a freelance actor for CRBC and CBC attracting enough attention that Hollywood showed interest in him. Then came the war.

After the was (1946) Liston joined the International Service as an announcer/producer and within a year was made the chief announcer. From 1948-1952 he was the U.S. Prairie regional representative for the CBC. From 1953-56 he was the Director for that region. In 1960 TV operations were added to his duties and in 1965 he moved to headquarters in Ottawa as National Director of Regional Programming. In 1971 he moved to Toronto as head of features and special events. In 1975 he became the supervisor for international relations and program exchanges where he served until his retirement in 1983.

Some of the highlights of his career include: Broadcasting the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill for the CBC; a year after his retirement he combined his naval knowledge and broadcasting skills when he co-hosted the CBC special on the arrival of the Tall Ships in Quebec City harbour; accompanying royal visits in Canada in the 1950s and 60s for the CBC. He was responsible for the hiring of many of the broadcasting personalities in Canada over the last thirty years, the most famous being Lloyd Robertson.

In his role in the Naval Reserve he and others successfully campaigned across Canada to allow the navy to keep its own flag when the armed forces were amalgamated.

Within the family and friends, memories that stand out include his kindness, listening skills, incredible feats of memory, vast knowledge of the English language, storytelling and legendary meals (the best cook I ever met). We miss him.

Winnipeg's Navy

In our Clan Newsletter for 2006 we included two articles to commemorate Liston Burns McIlhagga (born 21st November 1918 in Ballymena). The following is the first one:

Yes, unlikely as it may seem, Winnipeg's Navy! As you can see from our illustration it is the title of a recently published book. Three years ago Chief Petty Officer Mark Nelson helped to celebrate eighty years of the Navy in the Canadian Prairies by writing 300 pages of fact and lively anecdote which illustrate why some 100,000 people from the vast internal prairies of Canada, who had been brought up never having seen an ocean, were attracted to Her Majesty's Senior Service.

In this remarkable story, our Clan member Liston Burns McIlhagga (senior) has an honoured place. Born in Winnipeg he attended Gordon Bell High School and in 1939 as an Ordinary Seaman in Winnipeg Division RCNCR he was loaned to the Royal Navy for the duration of the Second World War. From December 1940 to March 1941 he was with the Destroyer HMS Jupiter in the English Channel and the Mediterranean.

In March 1941 he was promoted Sub-Lieutenant and underwent six months Officer Training with the Royal Navy. He then served on three RN Motor Gun Boats as First Lieutenant. In August 1942 on MG Boat 609 he took part in an engagement with six German R-Boats. Three of the German boats were sunk and 36 Germans were taken prisoner. Liston was wounded in this action and was mentioned in dispatches, "For good service engagement with R-Boats", and he was returned to Canada.

After recuperation, in January 1943, he returned to the UK as Commander of a Motor Torpedo Boat. By May that year he was CO of MTB 258 and Executive Officer of an MTB Flotilla operating off India, in the Bay of Bengal. From May to August 1944 as Senior Officer of the 16th MTB Flotilla, he was based in Trincornake, Ceylon. By December 1944 the time had come for him to join the Winnipeg Naval Reserve Division and he became Executive Officer of HMCS Chippawa, as the WNRD had become known. From April 1946 to April 1949 Liston was the Recruiting Officer for HMCS Dannacona, RCH(R), Montreal. During this time he was promoted Lieutenant Commander RCN(R). He returned to HMCS Chippawa in May 1951 as its Executive Officer and on February 7th 1952 he became its Commanding Officer.

Mark Nelson puts this event into context:

"In October 1951 a young Princess Elizabeth and her husband Philip spent five weeks in Canada, travelling from coast to coast by train. On October 16th the Royal Party visited Winnipeg... (with) Chippawa's 96-man Royal Guard... It would be soon after the Princess's visit when her father, King George VI passed away... and the Princess would become Queen. Simultaneously, at CHIPPAWA, there were changes... It was decided that a colourful change of command ceremony would be planned for Thursday February 7th, 1952 where... Liston Burns McIlhagga would become the new Commanding Officer... (However) considering the sudden death of the Monarch, the gala ceremony and parade at CHIPPAWA was cancelled. The changeover of command then became a more modest affair and was held without a formal ceremony. When sworn in as Commanding Officer, Liston McIlhagga was the first of the Commanding Officers to swear allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II".

Except for a year's Staff Training Liston remained the CO of HMCS Chippawa until September 27th 1960 and thus ended a long and honoured naval career. In civilian life he became Director of Radio for the Prairies for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He worked in both Radio and Television for many years. In August of 1970 Liston, drawing on his naval experience, hosted a tree-part historical series entitled 'The Restless Wave'.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A family in Newfoundland, Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba.

On 31st August last I promised that Liston Burns McIlhagga would have a blog to himself. He was the eldest son of Andrew, the third or fourth son of William who married Mary Spence. Three branches of this family have been in Canada for upwards of a hundred years. Among the many grandchildren of Andrew, two sisters were the daughters of James and Elizabeth (nee McGrillis). Their son John's wife, Jane died in Newfoundland where one of the sisters was living (who has two children and two grandchildren). The other daughter has two children and three grandchildren in Ontario. Andrew - very likely the Andrew who signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912 - is to be found on a passenger list, aged 34, to Canada in 1923 (Belfast to Montreal), together with his wife Sarah (27) and children Liston (4) and William (9 months). He married Sarah Patillo Wilson on 19th June 1918 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, so clearly they had been visiting in Ireland to introduce their children to the family 'back home'. A correspondent tells me that a relative remembers Andrew re-visiting Ballymena in the mid-1940s, soon after which he returned there as a payroll clerk and stayed until he died in 1949.

The younger of Andrew's two sons was William who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and rose to the rank of Colonel. When he was in England during the Second World War he married April Smith in March 1942, in Westminster, London. She had been born on 18th December 1915 in the North of England. When she died on 17th August 2003 in Victoria, British Columbia, her obituary in The Victoria Times recorded that she had served as an Officer in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force in England 1939-1943. After her marriage to William, between 1944 and 1947 she took part in a cross-Canada tour for the Canadian Victory Loan Campaign. She held positions within the National Film Board, Computing Devices of Canada, and in Boaz, Allen and Hamilton, Management Consultants, and then in Carleton University before retiring to Victoria in 1980.

During her 'retirement' years April travelled abroad, learned new languages and continued to edit and type documents for people around the world, in addition to papers for post-graduate students at The University of Victoria. The Internet site Questia records April's involvement in a book, Trading beyond the Mountains: The British Fur Trade on the Pacific 1793-1843 by Richard Somerset Mackie, University of British Columbia Press, 1997. William and April have children and grandchildren in both Canada and England. William married a second time but predeceased his first wife, as he did also his older brother, Liston.

Andrew's elder son, Liston Burns was born on 21st November 1918 in Ballymena. He married Alice Ruth Dobrescue (born 1925, died 1981) on 28th October 1950 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and they have two sons. Liston settled in Winnipeg, but before I record his life in some detail, I must first note an early twentieth century settler in Manitoba, with the 'slightly misspelled' surname McIllhagga. This was another William born 1885, who I am presuming from his year of birth, was an older brother of Andrew the father of Liston and William, and so their uncle. He became a firefighter in Winnipeg in 1916 when he was 30 years old. On 2nd February 1921 he was part of a team which fought a fire in a large commercial building called Dingwall Block at 62 Albert Street. Although not much damage was done to the building, sadly William was killed during the operation. A report of the incident is in The Manitoba Free Press on 4th February (page 3). William had served full-time for five years and six months, and is commemorated by the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

William Gage

In the 1861 Scotland Census we found William McIlhag(g)o aged 22 lodging in Renfrew. I postulated that he was the son of John who married Mary Houston. I wrote on 15 July and 8 February last suggesting that John was the elder of two brothers, who both, in their turn, married Mary, and that his son William had two siblings, Henry and Eliza and four half-siblings, Rebecca, Henry, Samuel and Margaret. The two brothers, John and William Gage were the sons of one of the 18th Century farmers in Maxwell's Walls, County Antrim, namely Henry who married Mary McDole/McDowell. Son William married Catherine Johnstone Easton, probably in Scotland for their five children were John born 1863 in Rutherglen, Catherine Johnstone born 1865, William born 1868 in Old Kilpatrick, Mary Houston born 1870 in Old Kilpatrick and Robert Easton born 1872 in Glasgow. This family were in Glasgow by 1871. The only possible evidence I have for the following generation is the marriage of a John McIlhaggo to a Margaret Scott in Camlachie in 1902, and I am presuming this John was the son of William and Catherine. However the really interesting thing is that this whole family seems to have disappeared from all the Scottish Censuses after 1871. Did they return to Ireland? Perhaps they emigrated?

The second interesting thing about this family from a genealogical perspective is that we have an example in it of a distinctive name, William Gage McIlhaggo/a - one of the brothers who married Mary Houston. And there is a second 'William G', son of the brother John, though at present I have no firm evidence that the 'G' stands for Gage. I assume that the name Gage was the maiden name of a clan wife, perhaps a couple of generations back, or even the name of a maternal grandmother.

Now some time ago (in 2003) I had a letter from a lady who told me her father was a William Gage McIlhagga born in 1904, and was I think wondering where the name came from. He had been married to Mary Bishop and was one of the nine children of another William Gage McIlhagga (1865-1930) who married Jane Todd in 1890. This William was a shipwright who worked on the building of the Titanic at the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard in Belfast. He was one of twelve children of John McIlhagga (1830-1912) who married Elizabeth McCulloch. We know from their marriage record that John's father was Henry who must have been born about 1805-10. The frustrating thing is that we have here two families in which the distinctive name of 'Gage' occurs at least twice, though we have no certain link between the two families. It is however reasonable for us to think that the two families must be linked, and to speculate where the link might be. What we can say tentatively is that Henry the father of John was clearly of the same generation as the brothers John and William Gage. If all three were in fact brothers, then they were all sons of Henry and Mary McDole/McDowell and possibly all grandsons of a female Gage who had married Henry's father. Unfortunately at present we do not know the name of the mother of John (who married Elizabeth McCulloch), nor of the father of Henry.

To complete the picture of the second family as we have it at present, we can list the siblings of each of the William Gages. The siblings of William Gage who married Jane Todd were Mary born 29 June 1860, died 14th October 1940; Samuel McCulloch born 19th November 1861 who married Agnes Nisbett and had a son John, and died 11th January 1920; Elizabeth born 17th May 1863 who married Patrick William Orr and died 5th February 1952; [William Gage]; Agnes born 20th March 1867; John born 28th September 1868 who married Esther Loakman and had six children and died 18th September 1868; Robert born 8th June 1870 and died 13th April 1951; Jane born 17th February 1872; Rebecca born 18th July 1873 who married Charles Kennett; Wilson born 18th April 1875; Henry born 10th June 1879 and Sarah born 1882. The siblings of William Gage who married Mary Bishop were Lily/Matilda born 1891 and who married Robert H. Rush on 13th July 1914 in Crumlin Road Presbyterian Church, Shankill; Agnes Ethel born 1892 and who married William McVittie on 27th October 1915 in Crumlin Road Presbyterian Church, Shankill; John born 12th September 1893 who probably died before 1900; James Wilson born 1894; Lucy born 7th August 1895; Sarah Jane born 1897, John born 1900, [William Gage born 1904] and Robert born 1905/6.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

1861 Scotland

What happened to the Dundonald - Dunbar family who were in the 1841 and 1851 Censuses? There is no one in Dunbar but there are four people in Irvine, Ayrshire, with the variant name McIllhago: James 68, 'head', Jane 60, 'wife', Eliza 34, 'daughter' and Jameson 2, 'granddaughter'. This is clearly the same family who were in Dundonald, but without children Jane, Richard and Jamieson, who do not seem to be recorded in the Census elsewhere. Is Jameson really a two year old granddaughter or has their son Jamieson, who would have been 28, simply been recorded incorrectly? I attempted a solution to this problem on 16th December last under the title 'A Census anomaly'. I still think the probability is that Jamieson McElhago (4 male) in 1841 in Dundonald (named after 'his' grandmother) is Jameson McElhago (14 female) in Dundonald in 1851, is Jane McH McElhage (24 female) in Tradeston in 1861, is Jane McElhago (52 female) in Anderston 1891. I also think the probability is that Jameson McIllhago (2 female) in 1861 is Jemima McElhago (12 female) with Elizabeth 49 in Tradeston in 1871. In addition to what I wrote on 16 December, the only explanation I can think of for Jane's middle initials in 1861, McH, is that her mother's maiden name was Harvey and that Jane knew 'Mc' meant 'offspring of' and she adopted the middle name McHarvey. In 1861 with Jane were Elizabeth McElhago and Robert McElhago. Robert was I believe Jane's cousin who had married Elizabeth Boyd. They had no children of their own and it would have been very reasonable for Jane to have been living with them.

In 1861 this leaves us with one other family living in Greenock and a single man, William McIlhago, in Renfrew. This William was 22 so had been born about 1839. The print-out of the Census entry shows he was one of two lodgers with a Dierny family in Conel Street. He was a 'Ship Carpenter' born in Ireland. I believe this to have been the William McIlhaggo who two years later on 3rd July 1863 married Catherine Johnston(e) Easton in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire. They were to have five children in Scotland. William's parents were John McIlhagga and Mary Houston of Maxwell's Walls on County Antrim. The family of six in Greenock were William McIlhaggan, 28, his wife Elizabeth, 36, sons William 8 and James 6 and daughters Matilda 3 and Agnes 1. This was part of the 'Ballycloughan' family that we have met in earlier blogs. William was the eldest son of William McIlhagga and Agnes McCosh, so the Census surname is one of the enumerator's 'mishearings', possibly due to an accent to which he was not used.

The most interesting thing we find in analysing the references to the Clan in the 1861 Scottish Census is that no longer do we have just one family, albeit in two places, with its origins in Ayrshire, Scotland, but also the beginning of an influx of people into Scotland from Northern Ireland. This must have begun to happen in the middle or late 50s. In one case a single man came looking for work and found it in one of the major industries of the Scottish Central belt, shipbuilding. In the other case a whole family moved into the West Coast town of Greenock where work could be found with another major employer there, the Sugar Industry.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

1841-1851 Scotland

In the 1841 Census although 6 of the 7 Clan names were McElhago and the 7th was McIlhago they were in fact all one family. The six were in Dundonald, Ayrshire: James and his wife Jane (nee Harvey), two daughters, Eliza 15 and Jane 10, and two sons 'Richd' 8 and Jam(i)eson 4 - they had given him a version of his mother's maiden name. Eliza had been named after her grandmother, the 'Widow McIlhago' whom we met in the special 1820 Irvine Church Census, and who, we must assume, had died by 1841. The 1820 Census told us that Elizabeth had two sons living with her, and it might appear from 1841 that they were James and Samuel who is listed in Dunbar in East Lothian. Both give their age as 45 (so a birth year of 1796) and it might seem that they were twins. This however is not correct. If we move to the 1851 Census they are both still there, Samuel still in Dunbar but a year older that James, still in Dundonald. This time the are 59 (so 1792) and 58 (so 1793) respectively, from which we must conclude that for a good or not so good reason in 1841 they declared that they were some four or five years younger than they really were!

In 1841 Jane was 40 and in 1851 she was 58, the same age as her husband James. She had knocked 8 years off her age ten years before! They do seem to have been accurate with the ages of their children - Eliza 15 and 25, Jane 10 and 21, Richard 10 and 19, Jameson 4 and 14. By 1851 Samuel in Dunbar had married Jean, ten years his junior (49) and they had a son John, 16, who would of course have been 6 in 1841, when neither he nor his mother seem to have been 'at home'. Maybe they were with grandparents, though if so they were not recorded. Strangely Samuel's wife Jean is recorded as Gend! One can understand how their surname could become McElhagie, but how could Jean have become Gend?!

One has to be very careful to double check what one can easily assume were facts from the 'evidence' of the Censuses. The two sons (unnamed) in the 1820 Irvine 'Census' were not James and Samuel, but James and his younger brother Robert. Samuel had already left for East Lothian. Grandmother Elizabeth's husband was Robert, and it might seem odd that the youngest rather than the eldest son was named after him, and so the Scottish naming pattern not followed. In fact it was. There had been a first child named Robert who had died young, hence another son born later taking the name. It is quite possible that the first Robert had not died until after James and Samuel had been born. We know from Old Parish Records that James was in fact born in 1791 (on 9th December) and Samuel in 1793 (2nd October). He died the year after the 1851 Census, aged 58, when his son John was only 18. Fortunately John's mother lived another 3.1/2 years, so was able to see her son married in 1854 and become established in the Milling Industry in Edinburgh. James and Samuel were both Master Mariners. The further details of both the Dundonald family and the Dunbar family, who emigrated to New Zealand, I have outlined in earlier blogs.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Nineteenth Century Scotland Overview

Once we move from the 18th into the 19th Century in Scotland we have the advantage of a framework for our family history provided by the censuses. Although they were taken from 1801 every ten years, those up to and including 1831 only provide us with general statistics, very few personal names having been kept. I have already noted in my blog of 8th April last the single exception of which I know, the mention of Widow (Elizabeth) McIlhago in the special 'extra' 1820 Census taken in the town of Irving in Ayrshire. All the censuses from 1841 to 1901 are fully searchable on the 'ScotlandsPeople' website and we look forward to the 1911 Census being published there next year. We must of course recognize that there may be people who were missed from the censuses, perhaps because they had arrived in Scotland and then left in the intervening years between censuses.

What can we learn from a comparison of the facts as we have them? In 1841 we have 7 names (6 McElhago and one McIlhago). In 1851 we have 9 names (3 McElhagie and 6 McElhago). In 1861 we have 14 names (one McElhage, 2 McElhago, 6 McIlhaggan, one McIlhago and 4 McIllhago). In 1871 we have 21 names (3 McElhago, 6 McIlhaga, 5 McIlhaggie, 6 McIlhago and one McIllhago). In 1881 we have 23 clan names and in addition four people known to be related living in a 'clan household' (one McElhago, 7 McIlhagga, 8 McIlhaggart and 7 McIlhaggo). In 1891 we have 22 Names (2 McElhago, 11 McIlhagga, 3 McIlhaggart, one McIlhaggo, 4 McIlhago and one McIllhago). Finally in 1901 we also have 22 names (13 McIlhagga, 3 McIlhaggie and 6 McIlhago).

We know that, as in the 18th, so in the 19th Century, there was movement between Scotland and Ulster - both ways. There was also movement south to England. There are 16 clan names in 1881 and 6 in 1901. There was also movement abroad to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. Also we cannot assume that spellings continued within families unchanged from decade to decade. Changes can be due to a number of reasons, not least the fact that some people may not have been able to read and write and so check what had been recorded by an enumerator, and most probably due to pronunciation in one country in the accent of another, with an enumerator writing down what he heard rather that what might have been spelled out to him. I will look at family continuity in a subsequent blog.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Donald "The Pilot"

One is always tempted to record any 'reflected glory', albeit two or three times removed, when one is writing about family history. There are a number of stories linked to my paternal grandmother's Scottish Highland Clan history which come into this category, though I have no evidence that she knew of them. She was Margaret McLean who married William McIlhagga in 1892. Her father was Donald McLean, an eldest son, who had been born in 1826 at Portnaluing and lived for the first twenty years of his life on the Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides. One such story has come to light from the neighbouring Isle of Tiree because of the excellent research done recently by Louise MacDougall, and the copyright of any facts or opinions below belong to her, March 6, 2010, She has published the story in a brief and in an extended form and I recommend the longer version. The brief version is as follows:

Donald McLean, a young man from Tiree, achieved local fame as a Jacobite hero in the autumn of 1746 when he was kidnapped by a French ship to serve as the navigator in their risky rescue of Bonnie Prince Charlie who was then a hunted man with a price of 30,000 pounds on his head. Donald agreed to act as their pilot to get them to their secret rendezvous with the Prince in Morven under the condition that they would return him home to Tiree.

The skill of Donald's seamanship was quickly proven by the fact that the Prince, with a retinue of 130 loyal followers, did indeed set sail from Loch nan Uamh on the mainland in the dark early hours of September 20, with Donald and his kidnapped companion, Neil McFadyen, on board.

But when Donald realized that the Prince's course was set, not for Tiree, but directly for France, he and Neil jumped ship under gunfire and managed to escape by boat to the Isle of Coll. Maclean of Coll did aid their escape, but kept the prized boat. By the time Donald arrived back on Tiree, it was clear that he himself was now a hunted man guilty of treason for which the penalty could be death.

Donald avoided capture by hiding in a cave for nine long months, while the authorities harassed his father (Ewen McLean) at home hoping to apprehend "the traitor" by surprise. The rigors of Donald's fugitive life eventually took their toll, and as his health and spirits failed, his father finally convinced him to come home and then took him to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull to surrender.

Though a pardon had just been announced, "The Pilot" was still forced to serve two years in the government militia before his release was arranged by Maclean of Drimnin, an influential and compassionate relative. Donald was quick to return to Tiree where he and Effie McNeill eventually raised a large family with eight known children: Lachlan, Kirsty, Mary, Charles, Katherine, Margaret, Anne and John.

There are many known descendants of Donald "The Pilot" scattered around the world and of course there are many more related people (like myself) who can bask a little in the glory of being associated with a daring rescue of Bonnie Prince Charlie. My great grandfather, also Donald McLean, born on Coll, must have visited the site of his namesake's home at Ruaig on Tiree, from which one can see across to Coll. Indeed my Donald's maternal grandfather was the ferryman who plied between Portnaluing on Coll and the Isle of Tiree. My great grandfather Donald McLean and Donald McLean "The Pilot" were in fact 8th Cousins. Being of the same name, I imagine the story about Bonnie Prince Charlie must have been one my Donald's mother (Flora McKinnon) told her eldest son as he was growing up!

It is of interest that apparently Maclean of Coll kept the boat in which Donald "The Pilot" escaped. This was in 1746. One of the Macleans of Auchnasaul (my line), Allan, was living on Coll in 1776 with his nephew Donald at Totronald. Allan had come from the Small Isles to look after the Laird's Birlinn (his Galley ship) maybe quite some time before 1776. Presumably he was also in charge of any smaller boats in the Laird's possession, including the one he had 'acquired' from Donald "The Pilot". Allan was my 5th Great Uncle.