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.

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