Saturday, 29 May 2010

Who was Nancy Betty?

I have written more than a dozen times about the name McElhago, one of the oldest clan families we have, and some of the names can be found in FamilySearch including John married to Jean Glen, James to Jane Harvey, John White to Christina Fowler, Samuel to Janet White and some offspring, Archibald, John White and Adam White. All these belong to the Scottish family with which we are familiar (see for example my blogs of 5 Feb 09, 20 Mar 09, 5 Apr 09, 23 Apr 09, 16 Jun 09, 16 Dec 09, 8 Jan 10 and 28 Mar 10). There was however one birth from Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1811, where the mother's name was given as Nancy McElhago. This was the birth of William John Brownlees on 17th August 1866 at 0013, Randalstown, Antrim. The father was Alexander Brownlees. I first looked for a Agnes McElhago as Nancy is the familiar name for Agnes, but couldn't find one. Then I realised I have on record the marriage on 27th October 1865 of Alexander Brownlees to Nancy Betty McIlhagga at Antrim Civil Registrar's Office, which is clearly the same couple. However, my problem is that whether the surname is spelled McElhago or McIlhagga I have no family tree in which they fit. The marriage record tells me that Nancy's father was a William, but the only William-Nancy father and daughter known to me is William of Ballycloughan whose daughter Nancy married William John McLeery in 1863, so despite her year of birth having to have been very much the same as that of Nancy Betty (early 1840s), they are clearly different people. I am left with an unsolved problem.

Alphabetically McElhagow follows McElhago, but not historically. Both names are from Ayrshire, but if McElhago spans the 18th and 19th Centuries, McElhagow takes us back to the 17th Century, the earliest reference being to John son of David McElhagow born 26th August 1666 in Kirkmichael, at least on the earliest record from the FamilySearch site. In fact if you have seen my earlier blogs you will know that David, who married Katherin Baird in 1655, was born about 1638 and that he in turn was the son of Thomas McIlhagow born about 1610.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

McHago Reconstruction

In a blog on 20th March last year I referred to what I called the very rare surname of McHago, and the possibility of it being a shortened version of McElhago or McIlhago. I raised this when I was trying to find a family context for the lone grave in Pittsburg, Pensylvania, of Margaret McElhago (1803-1875) and was postulating the 'short version' theory as the less likely of two possibilities. I now have to add that this 'lesser likely' solution becomes just slightly more likely by having discovered a Margaret married to a James McHago in Ireland whose dates could well be similar to those of Margaret who died in Pensylvania. I mention this for two reasons, first for the sake of completion as I think the main solution I propounded in March 09 is in fact the better, but second because Margaret married to James is one of a number of McHagos who have turned up in a FamilySearch trawl and who I think may all belong to the same family, all showing up in American sources.

In order to give as complete a picture as we have at present of the name McHago I'll put on record three people I have mentioned in earlier blogs who may well be precursors of the Americans. Helen McHago, born about 1692 in Carnmoney, County Antrim, Ireland, married James Millikin of Ballyclare, in Carnmoney on 20th May 1713. James McHago, who could have been Helen's younger brother, born about 1699 In Dalmellington, Ayrshire, Scotland, married Jean Booll on 1st May 1724 in Kells, Kirkcudbright. I have to say that if Helen and James were siblings it would be one of the few cases of a 17th Century migration from Ireland to Scotland; they were mostly in the opposite direction. Third, Samuel McHago witnessed a Will in New York on 18th September 1777. It may be an unprovable link that James in Scotland was born almost exactly a hundred years before James McHago appears in Ireland who was to marry Margaret, but the continuity of the name James may not be without significance.

James and Margaret McHago were certainly the parents of John born 1828 and probably of Ellen born the year before, in 1827. We have two references to an Ellen and I am working on the assumption that they are related. First, Ellen McHago, born in 1827, and possibly the daughter of James and Margaret, was married on 31st December 1845 to Charles Johnson (born 1819) in, surprise, Colabah, Bombay, India. The groom's father was Joseph Johnson, and another surprise, Ellen's father is named as Gabriel Luttrell. I can only presume that India Marriages, 1792-1948 required a name and that Gabriel Luttrell must have acted for her father who was back in Ireland. The second reference comes from the Wisconsin Births and Christenings, 1826-1926. and is to Ellen, Irish, and to the birth of her son James on 13th February 1877 in Menasha, Winnebago, Wisconsin. His father was C. Frederick Augustine, born in Germany. Given James' birth date we can assume that his mother, our second Ellen was born in the 1850s.

To return to John McHago the son of James and Margaret. Our reference to him is from Virginia Marriages 1785-1940. He married Ann Rieley on 7th September 1856 in Richmond, Virginia. Ann's parents were John and Margaret Rieley. Given that the first Ellen was probably John McHago's sister, I am assuming that the second was his daughter and named after her aunt. I am now left with three people who from their probable years of birth, could well be Ellen's siblings, and also children of John and Ann, namely Tom, Kate and Edward. Tom McHago is in the 1885 Minnesota State Census aged 32 years, giving him a birth year of 1853, in New Jersey. Kate McHago, born in Northfield, is named as the mother of Thomas Ladam, born 27th December 1877 in Burlington, Vermont. The record of Vermont Births and Christenings, 1765-1908 also names Kate's spouse as Frank Ladam of Plattsburg. The third name is not found in FamilySearch. I have mentioned him before in a blog. He was Edward McHago, born in Virginia of an Irish father and a Pensylvanian mother. He appears in the 1880 Census of Iowa where he, with two other men, was a 'hired hand'.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Double 'l' Surnames

Knowing that the Gaelic origin of our surname includes the word ghille, meaning 'devotee', from which we get the syllable 'Il' in McIlhagga, it is perhaps surprising that more often we do not find a spelling with a double 'l'. This said, three variants with this double did crop up in my recent trawl of FamilySearch, namely McIllhaga, McIllhago and McIllhagow. Concerning McIllhaga, there are two instances, first the marriage of Nancy McIllhaga to William John McCleery on 15th May 1863 at Racavan, County Antrim (Ireland Marriages, 1619-1898). WJ's father was Alexander McCleery; Nancy's father was William McIllhaga. However, Nancy was in fact the fourth daughter of William McIlhagga and Agnes McCosh of Ballycloughan. The marriage place of Racavan was the Civil Parish within which was the town of Broughshane where they were married at the First Presbyterian Church. They had two sons, William John and Crawford about whom I wrote on May 1st. The second instance of McIllhaga is the death of James on 29th October 1865 in Ontario, Canada. His birth place was Ireland and his status was 'married' and his parents are given as James McIhaga (clearly an error) and Jennie Maitland. Again, the usual spelling of James' surname was McIlhagga (and incidentally Jennie was Jane). The Ontario Deaths, 1869-1947 record gives James' birth date as 29th October 1865. This was we believe the date of his baptism. He was born six weeks before on 9th September, or so a descendant correspondent tells me.

Next, McIllhaggow: of which there is just one instance in Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1960. This is the baptism of James McIllhaggow, son of Thomas on 30th May 1653 at Kirkmichael, Ayrshire. I dealt fully with the Kirkmichael families last year. Although most of the names in this generation are spelled McIlhaggow, including James' father and grandfather, I have to admit that this primary source reference to James is with a double 'l' is the only reference we have to him.

The third name I'm now considering is McIllhago. There are five instances, four in Scotland and one in Ireland. In date order we have the baptism (28th May 1732) of Janet daughter of David, at Dalmellington, Ayrshire; second, the marriage (22nd March 1740) of David McIllhago and Elizabeth Dunbar; third, the baptism (9th January 1743) of William son of David at Dalmellington; and fourth the baptism of Mary daughter of David, also at Dalmellington. The fifth instance is the marriage of Nancy McIllhago (no spouse named) in 1863 in Ballymena, Ireland. Not surprisingly we find that the first four are all from the same family in Dalmellington. In other places I have found the normal usage for their name to be McIlhagow, but I am pleased to find a 'double l' version for one of our earliest families, maybe harking back to the Gaelic original of Ghille. I wrote about the Dalmellington family on 9th April last year. Of interest here is that the same man David is both the spouse to Elizabeth Dunbar and the father of the three children, though the mother of Janet was not Elizabeth but his first wife, Janet Murdock. Finally, as for Nancy McIllhago married in 1863 in Ballymena, I have no other clues to who she was, unless she was Nancy McIlhagga, daughter of William and Agnes nee McCosh who married William John McCleery on 15th May that year (see above).

Sunday, 23 May 2010


In the Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958 there is just one example of the variant name McIlhaggor. It is the marriage in Ballymena in 1849 of Martha McIlhaggor. Fortunately other Irish records give us a little more information. The full date of the marriage was 15th June, at a church known either as Cloughwater Presbyterian Meeting House or Skerry Presbyterian Church. Martha's parents were John and Jenny nee McCarley. Over a number of records John's surname is variously spelled McIlhago, McElhager, McIlhagar and McIlhagga. Martha, who was born about 1833 married James McCrory born about 1828.

All of the above gives us a considerable amount of detail about Martha McIlhaggor, who may well have experienced a number of name variations in different circumstances through her life. However, if it were not for one more fact, we would not know how to relate her to the wider clan family. That fact is that her residence at the time of her marriage was the townland of Lisnacrocher. There is a very small group of clan members whose origins are in that townland, and almost without exception they emigrated to Jamestown, Pensylvania, USA. In fact most of the information we have about them comes from their American life experience, and I have written about this in blogs on 19th and 22nd June last year. Now there is one Irish reference which establishes that John and Jenny had not one child, Martha, but at least two, namely James who was baptised at Broughshane Presbyterian Church on 22nd November 1836 under the name of McIlhago. In fact the Jamestown records also show us a third child, Elizabeth. In 2009, when I was starting mainly from the Jamestown end, I made no reference to Martha for she seems to be the exception to the emigration rule, and this must mean that the family did not emigrate until after her marriage. However, all the facts about her fit this family, her birth year, the name of her father, the place of her origin. It is probable that she and her spouse James McCrory did not emigrate, or at least not to Jamestown, Pensylvania.

I note that for its 150th Anniversary, Annabel Witherspoon wrote a book entitled Cloughwater Presbyterian Church, 1840-1990. It would be good to know whether it has any clan references in it. I'm afraid I judged that the one copy on sale at Amazon at nearly £24 was too expensive to buy.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

McIlhaggs - Easton

In the Scottish Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 there is one example of an obviously stupid mistake, producing a deviant of our name, McIlhaggs. It is the record of the birth on 10th October 1865 of Catherine Johnston McIlhaggs at Renfrew, Renfrewshire, to William McIlhaggs and Catherine Johnston Easton. It is a simple matter to find the marriage of William McIlhaggo to Catherine Johnston Easton on 3rd July 1863 in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, and indeed the four siblings of Catherine Johnston, namely John McIlhaggo born 15th November 1863 in Rutherglen, William born 29th March 1868 in Old Kilpatrick, Mary Houston born 23rd April 1870 in Old Kilpatrick, and finally Robert Easton on 12th April 1872 in Central Glasgow. Second names are so helpful in suggesting to which family a couple and their children belong. William (father) was the son of John McIlhaggo born about 1800 (hence the eldest son being called John) and Mary Houston. John (grandfather) was the son of Henry McIlhaggo born about 1780 in Maxwell's Walls, County Antrim, Ireland, and Mary McDole or McDowel. William, like his grandfather and father, was born in the townland of Maxwell's Walls, in 1834. He must have migrated across the North Channel to Scotland and met Catherine Johnston Easton about 1860.

I have no records to show what happened to the five children of William and Catherine. There is a possible marriage of John to a Margaret Scott in 1902 in Camlachie, but nothing else as yet. There is however another Robert Easton who crops up a generation later. He was in fact William Robert Easton, born 26th March 1904 in Belfast who married Margaret Malcolm Stewart (born 28th July 1899 in Belfast), in Perth, Western Australia, in 1930. We know that they have descendants flourishing in Australia today. It is reasonable to assume that the two families in which the name Easton occurs, indeed the combined name of Robert Easton occurs, must somehow be connected. I have to say that at this time I do not know what that link is. I wonder whether the Irish 1901 Census, which is about to be published, will throw any light on this problem, and indeed on others too?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

From Henrietta McIlhagga

On 8th May I wrote about Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga, his wife Henrietta and their twelve children. We know all their dates of birth from a letter which Henrietta wrote to 'Joe', their youngest child when, like two of his siblings, he had emigrated to Canada. It appears from the letter that he had asked his mother to provide 'on oath' some fact about himself, presumably his date of birth. This she promised to do, and clearly took the opportunity to put on record all the births, and indeed also the marriages and deaths of the family. Interestingly she says all these records are to be found in her Bible at Parkview, presumably the name of the house she occupied as a widow. She adds 'Your father and me were married in Hyde Park Methodist Church beside Hyde Park Works'. This must have been the name that the church was popularly known by. Its title on their marriage record is Mallusk Methodist Church. There was a famous Linen Works at Hyde Park, Mallusk, to which Henrietta may have been referring. We can presume that the Methodist Church was Henrietta's Church, for most subsequent documents record the family as Presbyterians, Nathaniel's tradition.

The marriage records are interesting for they add to my knowledge. She gives us a date (13th Dec 1916) for the marriage of their son Nathaniel Owens. Sadly she doesn't give spouses names for any of their children. Nathaniel would have been 38 when he married. We know that in 1911 when he was 32 he was single and living at home with his widowed mother and his two brothers George and Joseph. Now, we know from Irish records that a Nathaniel McIlhagga, Manager Linen Merchant, married Sarah Ann Craig, daughter of Hugh Craig, on 11th December 1916 in May Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast. We must presume that Henrietta had the date out by two days! She also gives us a date (20th Aug 1919) for the marriage of George in Canada. I do not have a record of George's marriage though his wife may have been Mary Jane, mentioned in an 'Admon' (Will administration) of a George McIlhagga. This must have been the George McIlhagga who died aged 70 in Nanaimo, British Columbia on 16/17 June 1959. He was a Carpenter. Henrietta does not include Joseph, to whom she is writing, in her list of marriages, so it may have been some documentation relating to his forthcoming marriage which caused him to ask his mother for his birth date 'on oath'. In this case the letter was probably written early in 1927 as Joseph married on 28th June that year. In her marriage list she also includes John Hutchison, in Canada, February 1910 and Archie Duncan, in Canada, June 1912.
In her list of deaths, which is illustrated above, she heads it with that of her husband, 6th August 1905. She then details five of their twelve children before she adds 'John Hutchison, Killed at Pachendaile (sic) France 26th October 1917'. The five children who died young are five of their first six children! William, their eldest, lived for only 6 months. Henrietta lived for only 6 months. Henry lived until he was eighteen. Robert Wilson lived for 16 months, and Margaret until she was eleven years old. One can only try to empathise with a young couple trying to create and continue a family and having five of their first six children die so young, though none actually at birth. They did, however, end up with six children living until after the first world war, with two of them, James Wilson and Nathaniel Owens, continuing in the local Irish business world, James, following his father, as an Oil Merchant and Nathaniel in Irish Linen. And from Henrietta we have a final touch, no doubt in accord with the mores of the time, she signs the letter to young Joe, 'Your loving Mother - H. McIlhagga'.

Monday, 17 May 2010


The FamilySearch internet site has given me three examples of the use of the name variant McIlhaggart. The first is back in the 18th Century and it comes in Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950. Samuel was born on 3rd October 1793 in Irvine, Ayrshire, to Robert McIlhaggart and Elizabeth Jamieson. In the eighteenth century surnames were quite fluid and Robert has also been found as McIlhagow but most normally as McElhago. Interestingly it was Samuel who was to marry Janet White. All their descendants first took White as a middle name and then a generation later, as they emigrated, dropped McElhago.

Now it is possible that our second example may be Samuel's brother; though equally it may be another James McIlhaggart. James appears as the father of the groom at a marriage in Donegore, County Antrim, Ireland. The strange thing, which makes this entry new to me, is that the groom's name is Richey Kennedy. Samuel's brother James married Jane Harvey and they did have a son Richard in 1832. However, although he was a Merchant Seaman, I have no evidence that he went to Ireland, nor that he married. The Ireland Marriages 1619-1893 record names the bride as Ellener Boyd. It is of course feasible that he met an Irish girl - there was a lot of coming and going between Ayrshire and Ulster - and that the marriage took place in her home townland. There is no known Kennedy link to this family but it is possible that Richard changed his surname, or that he was informally adopted by another James McIlhaggart.

My third example I would like to dismiss as another variant for McIlhagga, and it is that, but it is more. In Scotland Births John was born 25th June 1867 in Middle or New Parish, Greenock, Renfrewshire, to John McIlhaggart and Mary Stewart. I know that John senior was the second son of William McIlhagga and Agnes McCosh. John must have used the name 'McIlhagga' as a boy, but perhaps there was an occasion when he was called McIlhaggart and he made a conscious or indeed an unconscious decision to continue to use it. Certainly the variant occurs for John and for his wife in several instances, for example in the 1881 Census, and most clearly at John's death. McIlhaggart seems to be more a deliberate variant than an accidental one.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

McIlhaggan, McIllhagga and McIlhagge

Under the name variant McIlhaggan there are just two occurrences, first the birth of Robert Dunlop on 3rd August 1866 at 0172, Castlequarter, Co. Antrim, Ireland, to James McIlhaggan and Jane Maitland. In the records it is usually Jane's surname which gets mis-spelled, as Metland. However, in this case it is James, in the Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881. He was a McIlhagga. The second occurrence is another birth, of Agnes, in Belfast, in the Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958. This is another case of a slip out of the normal usage. Her parents were John McIlhagger and Mary Hull. Agnes was born just before this family emigrated to Australia.

Likewise there are just two occasions when the variant McIllhagga has been used. The first is on a New York Passenger Arrival List (Ellis Island), 1892-1924. Catherine departed from Liverpool on the ship Saint Louis, arriving in New York on 9th September 1916, when she was 30 years old. Her 'ethnicity' is given as Gt. Britain, Scotch. She was single, and would have been born in 1886. In my indexes there are two people this could be. One was Catherine McIltaggart, daughter of Richard McIltaggart and Mary McArevey on 14th November 1886. The other was Catherine McCulloch McIlhagga, born 17th May 1886 to James McIlhagga and Johanna McCulloch. We know that she remained single and ended up in Hillsborough, Florida, where she died aged 59. We can be sure that this was one and the same as Catherine McIllhagga who was on the ship to Saint Louis. The second McIllhagga documentation is the birth record of Robert in Dublin South, in the October to December Quarter 1941. Oddly a mother's maiden name is given, Robinson, but not a father's name. His mother was in fact Madeline Robinson and his father Richard McIlhagga, a Race Horse Trainer and Owner. So we see that both occurrences of McIllhagga were misreadings of McIlhagga.

It is obviously so easy to mishear a final vowel at the end of a four syllable name like McIlhagga, so that it becomes McIlhagge; or indeed it is equally easy to mispronounce the 'a' to sound like an 'e'. We have three examples of the variant McIlhagge, two of which to my knowledge should certainly be McIlhagga. They both come from the late 19th Century. The first is the birth record of Hannah McCarrol Linton on 14th July 1879, in Ballymena, County Antrim. Her father was Robert Linton and her mother's name is recorded as Anne McIlhagge in the Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881. From other records, I think that 'Anne' should have been spelled without an 'e' and her surname should certainly have been McIlhagga. She was a daughter of William McIlhagga and Agnes McCosh. Hannah was the youngest of eight children who eventually in 1904 married Robert Fersugon. Our second example is of a fairly close relative, Agnes who at the age of 21, on 26th June 1898, married William Graham in Kirkdale, Lancashire, England. She was a daughter of Crawford, a son of William and Agnes above. In the England Marriages, 1538-1973 the surname of both father and daughter is spelled McIlhagge, but again it should have been McIlhagga. Finally, there is another English marriage which I confess I cannot yet put into a family tree. It is the marriage on 23rd April 1889 in Fleetwood, Lancashire of Jane McIlhagge to George Taylor Birkett. Jane's father was Henry who I know was originally from Donegore, a townland near the town of Antrim, and who was married to Agnes Stevenson. I know that a McIlhagga family did move from Ireland to the north-west of England, and Jane may have been part of it, so I suspect this is a third case of 'McIlhagge should be McIlhagga'.

Friday, 14 May 2010

McElhagga, McElhaggo and McHagga

Given that the vast majority of the members of our clan have the surname McIlhagga it is surprising that so few have the variant McElhagga or even McElhaggo, though there are quite a few with McElhago. In the 1911 Irish Census there is one McElhagga family with the head of household being Agnes. There are six children, William (born 1886), Robert (1888), Jennie (1890), Margaret (1892), John (1894) and Nathaniel (1896). From other sources I know that this was in fact the family of Archibald McIlhagga and Agnes Jamieson. There is a Memorial Inscription in Connor New Cemetery to some members of the family. They are part of the Maxwell's Walls farming community that I have written about in earlier blogs.

It is Archibald's cousin Rosey who I 'trawled' this week as a McElhaggo from FamilySearch. She was in a Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881 record as the mother (Rosey McElhaggo) of a female child born 10th March 1864. As there is no name for the child we must assume that she died at birth. I knew of Rosey/Roseanna/Rose and her husband John Warwick, but the child is an addition to my knowledge. Rosey was one of the daughters of John McIlhaggo, another farmer at Maxwell's Walls. He possibly married an Agnes. We may surmise this from an Agnes McIlhaggo signature as a witness at the marriage of Rose's sister Mary, to William Christie on 30th August 1859. The third daughter was Ellen who married Robert Scroggy on 16th March 1868. In the FamilySearch trawl there was one other McElhaggo, a John Wilson, born 1865 who died in 1867 in Antrim District. All other examples of the variant McElhagga which crop up seem to be a simple misreading of McIlhagga, and McElhaggo a misreading of McIlhaggo.

The same thing applies to most uses of the variant name McHagga. All the examples FamilySearch gave me, except two, were already known to me as McIlhagga, and indeed all came from my own family tree! The two exceptions are of some interest. First, Rachel McHagga is named as the mother of John Francis, born 29th March 1866. Rachel's husband was also John Francis. Calculating backwards, Rachel would have been born about 1840. I have no Rachel in my Indexes who would fit this date. The second interesting thing here is that John Francis' birth place is given as Bathgate, West Lothian. A large family of McIlhaggas have lived in Bathgate since about 1900 but 1866 is a very early date to find a member of our clan there. I am wondering if it is a transcription error. I must check.

The other McHagga is Elizabeth, daughter of John and Jane, who was born even earlier that Rachel, on 11th December 1808 in Saltwood, Kent, England. Not only would this give us a very early date, perhaps 1780, for father John's birth year, but to find the family in South East England is very strange. There is a John and Jane McElhager or McIlhago of the right dates - she was Jane McCarley - who are to be found as parents in the Baptismal Registers of the First Presbyterian Church, Broughshane, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, but I have to say that I have no evidence that they migrated over the Irish Sea, or that they became known as McHagga.


In the FamilySearch trawl of clan names ten McHaggarts emerged. I admit that I had previously noted the two who were Scottish based, but hadn't come across the others, one of whom was in Ireland, the rest in North America. At first glance there appear to be five separate families and as I begin to write about them I cannot see any link between them except the surname which I am assuming is a variant on a more common name. It may be a variant on a name quite different from McIlhagga, such as Hoggart, but I have no evidence for that. As I write I may of course find some links.

The oldest date we have is for Bridget born 1827 in Ireland, who died during March 1850, aged 23, in Penobscot County, Penobscot, Maine, USA. Now in Ireland the name Bridget occurs frequently in the Roman Catholic Church, and hardly at all in the Presbyterian Church with which our clan is primarily associated. It may well be that a second Bridget, born a generation later also in Ireland may belong to the same family. An Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881 Index shows us she married a Hugh Starkey and had a son Patrick on 18th April 1876 at Deerpark, in County Tyrone. The name Patrick and the place Tyrone both also point towards a Roman Catholic family. This in its turn of course throws some doubt on a link with our clan, though I must put on record that we do have a few Roman Catholic families.

The next oldest date would be the birth of Donald McHaggart in about 1840, of Lochgilphead in the County of Argyll, Scotland. It is indeed interesting that this is in the Scottish Highlands for we have no other instance of our clan name being attached to a Highlander, which we can assume Donald was, for that is a Highland Christian name. Donald married Christina McCorquindale and had a daughter Bella at Lochgilphead on 25th January 1864. Now Edward McHaggart in the USA, who was the father of Elizabeth born in New York on 4th October 1886, would have had a birth year about 1865. This raises the interesting possibility of Edward having been a brother of Bella and having been born in the Highlands. Elizabeth, his daughter, married Frederick Pothier. It is from the record of Elizabeth's death on 10 February 1911, aged 24, in Springfield, Massachusetts, that we know of the existence of Edward and Frederick. Unfortunately there is no mother's name recorded in Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915. From our trawl there are two other people with birth years very near that of Elizabeth (1886). Mirna Wilhelmina was born in 1882, though sadly died on 8th April 1883 when only 5 months and 13 days old. Roy McHaggart was born in 1884. It is therefore possible that the three were all children of Edward and grandchildren of Donald. However we must add that the places of birth may not support this theory, unless the family moved around rather rapidly. Mirna was born (and died) in East Whitby, Ontario, Canada. Roy was born in Indiana, USA, and Elizabeth in New York. It is of course possible that Edward (and his wife) emigrated from the Scottish Highlands, landing in Canada, then moved south into the USA.

We next have a record of Isabel McHaggart being the mother of Mollie C. Amsberry (born 1891) who married John C. Higbee in Des Moines, Polk, Iowa, USA, on 26th March 1912. He was the son of O.J. Higbee and Mary E. Goode. Mollie's father was M.J. Amsberry of Milo, Iowa. The date of Mollie's birth allows us to calculate a year for her mother's birth in the mid 1860s. This fact raises the possibility that Isabel McHaggart is none other than Bella, daughter of Donald McHaggart in Lochgilphead, for Isabel and Bella are two forms of the same name.

We are finally left with Earl McHaggart born 1892 in North Dakota, being married to Leila, born 1902 in Nevada. We know this from the US Census taken in 1920 in Lyon, Nevada. I cannot see where Earl would fit into any of the above families, for sadly we do not have details of his parents. However, as a result of the above ten McHaggart references I have been able to construct a 'possible' family tree, albeit for only some of them.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

McIllhagah, McIlh... and McHagger

In my recent blog on 39 name variants there were some real oddities. One was McIllhagah. There were just two examples, both coming from a marriage, father and daughter William and Jane. Yes, 'McIllhagah' really is on a marriage record for 16th May 1854, at Broughshane First Presbyterian Church. The surname was in fact meant to be McIlhagga. William was married to Agnes (nee McCosh), and Jane was their eldest daughter who married Robert Wade. I have referred to them several times in earlier blogs. The Ireland Marriages, 1619-1898 (in FamilySearch) also misspells the Marriage Place (i.e. civil parish), Rocavan for Racavan, in County Antrim.

The Sarah McIlha... is a mystery. She was the mother of the groom at a marriage on 17th August 1879 in Manhattan, New York. Her husband was Thos. Colgan and their son Wm. C. Colgan. He married Mary Hanson, daughter of Geo. Hanson and Ann Mooney. Presumably the last bit of Sarah's name was or became illegible. One possibility is that she was a McIlhagga born in the 1830s. I regret to say that I have no Sarahs on record from that decade. The second possibility is that she was Sarah McIlhargey, and I have seen a record of a Mary Sarah McIlhargey born on 31st January 1831 in Marysville, Ontario, Canada - at least on the 'right' side of the pond. She may well have been the Sarah born in 1831 to Archibald and Anne McIlhargey of Canada.

So I come to the McHaggars. FamilySearch contained two Williams, a Janet and a Lily. William and Janet McHaggar, father and daughter are certainly misspellings. This William was the eldest son of William and Agnes (nee McCosh). He married Elizabeth Carson, the mother named on the Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950, recording Janet's birth on 15th July 1862, in Greenock, Scotland. The second William's name is under Marriage for 1851 at Ballymena in the Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958. Although no other information is given, I'm sure this William was son of David McElhager of Newtowncromelin, County Antrim, who married on 29th April 1851 at Ballymena Registrar's Office. He married Mary McGovern, born 1827. It is however the third and final McHaggar who is new to me. She is Lily, recorded as the mother of Chauncey Mitchell who was married on 22nd October 1913 in British Columbia, Canada. Chauncey was 25, so we can estimate a year of birth for his mother of about 1865. I have no further information about Lily, except that when her son was born they lived in Minneapolis.

A Stray Baptism?

Although I have indexes of many hundreds of clan names through the centuries, occasionally I come across a person that I haven't found before. There is a list on the Internet of Carnmoney, Northern Ireland, Presbyterian baptisms which includes that of Mary Jane on 25th March 1847. Her parents are given as John Harvey and Agnes McIlhagga. I have no other record of this marriage (if marriage it was) or of an Agnes McIlhagga who would presumably have been born in the 1820s. However, there is one possible 'fit'. In Carnmoney there was a marriage of a Robert George and an Agnes McIlhagger. There is some evidence that Robert and their children took Agnes' surname, and they did have a daughter Agnes in about 1821. I have no evidence that she married, though it is possible that I have now found that she did!

39 Name Variants

When I registered our Clan name with the Guild of One Name Studies, when I decided to do a 'One Name ' study on it, I was allowed to register only five variants of the name. There is a developing Internet site called FamilySearch which has just added many Irish, Scottish and other genealogical resources, mostly births, marriages and deaths. I wondered how many clan entries there would be and to my surprise I have found 694. I am also surprised by the number of variants of our name. There are no fewer than 39 on this one Internet site.

The greatest number of entries were for McIlhagga (320). Next came McIlhaggo (84), then McIlhagger (42), McIlhaggar (38), McIlhago (32), McElhagow (25), McHagga (16), McIlhaga and McIlhagow (both 15), McIlhaggie (13), McHaggart and McIllhago (both 12) and McElhago (10). So thirteen in 'double figures'. The remaining 27 were in single figures, from seven to one. Clearly some of the variants are really 'deviants' - mistakes made by someone who had misheard or miscopied a name. Interestingly four of the entries were uses of a name as middle names, McIlhagga (3) and McIlhaggard (1).

The little used variants are McIlhagar (7), McIlhague (6), McHago, McIlhagge, McHaggar and McIlhaggart (5), McIlhaggow (4), McIllhaga, McIlhaggan and McIllhagah (3), McIlhagart, McIllhaggow, McElhaggo, McIlhaggert, McIlhagan, McIlhaggs, McIllhagga, McIlagga and McIltaggart (2 each) and a single entry only of McElhagan, McIlhagie, McIlhage, MacIlhaggart, McIlhaggor, McHaggan and McIlha... Clearly the last one was unreadable!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga

Between 14 August and 18 November last I wrote six times about Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga who lived from 1834 to 1905. I have more recently written about his son John Hutchinson who was killed in the First World War. I have explained that a 'widow's medal' was given to his wife, Mary Ellen, and that this medal has come into my hands. I have been trying to establish who today is John's nearest relative in order to pass on this family 'heirloom'. I now think that the person who should receive it is his namesake who lives in Calgary, Canada, the same city to which the medal was originally sent in 1917. Part of the process of coming to this conclusion has been (an ongoing) correspondence with his daughter who is also in Calgary.

She has kindly sent me the document which I have put at the head of this blog and which has added to our knowledge of this clan family. It is part of a letter sent by Henrietta, the wife of Nathaniel Owens, to their youngest son, Joseph McKee McIlhagga, who was the grandfather of my correspondent. In a previous blog I had said that Nathaniel and Henrietta had had nine children. From this letter, which is of course in Henrietta's own handwriting, from perhaps 1920-1930, we know that there were in fact twelve children. The three I didn't know about were Henry, Robert Wilson and Margaret. Now Margaret was the second daughter, so her name might give us, if the Scottish-Irish 'naming pattern' was being followed, the name of Nathaniel's mother. From Nathaniel and Henrietta's marriage record we know that his father was William, a farmer, but at present we have no other clue to his mother's name. Henry is also a name we can find on the McIlhagga side, from the townland of Maxwells' Walls, from which this family probably came. The name Robert may have come from the Wilson side, not least because, like his older brother James, 'Wilson' was given as a middle name. I am most grateful to Nathaniel and Henrietta's great granddaughter who has sent me this document.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

A New Third Cousin

The last week of April was 'new cousin' week. In my family history research there have been a number of instances when registering my interest (in the McIlhagga Clan) with a local Family History Society has paid off. On this occasion it was in West Lothian, Scotland. The second youngest daughter of my great-great grandparents, William and Agnes (nee McCosh) McIlhagga, was Nancy, born in 1841. She was baptised in the First Presbytertian Church, Broughshane on 17th October 1841. I have known for some time that she married William John McLeary on 15th May 1863 at Broughshane, and that they had two sons, William John and Crawford. I also knew that the two sons married, William John to Annie McGrath and Crawford to Agnes Currie. Finally I also knew that each had had a daughter.

I didn't know that through Crawford there was also a male heir, another William John, and through him, who married twice, two males, one of whom produced my correspondent of last week who was therefore my third cousin (once removed). He had discovered my name through the West Lothian Family History Society. He has kindly sent me a Statutory death record for Nancy which shows some interesting facts. Her husband predeceased her. She died on 31st July 1905 having suffered Apoplexy for seven days. Her eldest son gave notice of her death including of course the required information about the names of her parents. Their surname is spelled with only one 'g', McIlhaga, and Nancy's mother is called Ann (no maiden surname). This we know was incorrect. She was Agnes McCosh. Clearly Nancy's son had remembered that she was called something beginning with 'A' and 'Ann' was a good guess because he had an aunt Ann (who married Robert Linton). Nancy's address was 62 Stewartfield, Broxburn, in the Parish of Uphall, in the County of Linlithgow, now West Lothian.

Finding a mistake on a Vital Record reminds us that even the most reliable 'original' records must where possible be verified by checking them with other known facts. My correspondent told me of fond memories of his grandparents, William John McLeary and his second wife Margaret Pringle Hamilton. Both were blind, William John possibly from birth, Margaret in an accident at a Peebles Tweed Mill. They probably met at the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh which William had attended from the age of six.