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).

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