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.

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