Monday, 28 June 2010

Another piece in a Jigsaw?

I have been working through all the surname variants in FamilySearch and have reached the single example of MacIlhaggart. I will suggest that it perhaps provides a new piece in a family jigsaw about which I have written twice already this year. Margaret MacIlhaggart was a widow when in the April Quarter of 1903 (see Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958) she married. This is the extent of the information in FamilySearch. However we know from AncestryIreland that on 11 April 1903 she married Joseph Hills at Kirkinriola Church of Ireland. She used her previously married name so we need next to ask to whom she had first been married. Unhelpfully her father is named as Thomas Luff a shoemaker. However her marriage witness was an Agnes Tuff, so my suspicions were raised that one or the other (Luff or Tuff) could be a misprint. This is indeed confirmed when we find an earlier marriage for a Margaret Tuff, daughter to Thomas Tuff a shoemaker, to John McIlhagga, Labourer of High Street, Ballymena, son of William a Labourer. This marriage was less than two years previously, on 15th July 1901 at Ballyclug Church of Ireland. And again the witness was Agnes Tuff. At this time Margaret was a spinster of King Street, Ballymena. These facts mean that John died between 15th July 1901 and 11th april 1903. Clearly after John died Margaret had continued to work or had gone back to work for her occupation was given in 1903 as a Mill Hand. And incidentally I'm not at all surprised to find her using two variants of the clan name!

The above accords with the fact shown by the 1901 Irish Census which I noted in my blog of 11th June 'Bits and Pieces', that a John McIlhagga aged 58 (so born about 1843), a widower, was boarding with a family at 8 High Street, Ballymena. He was a Timber Labourer. He was a Presbyterian, but the fact that he married in the Church of Ireland probably simply indicates the tradition that a marriage normally took place in the bride's church . So if we now make the assumption that we have the right groom, we can now ask who might have been his first wife, who of course must have died before the 1901 Census was taken on 31 March that year. If John was 58 when he remarried his first marriage could have been up to 35 years earlier. The only record which I have which 'fits' this possibility is the marriage on 14th March 1863 of John, a Timber Labourer, son of William a Weaver, to Mary Ann Atkinson, daughter of John, a Labourer. This is the same conclusion I came to by a slightly different route in my blog of 11th June when I was considering the loan lodger in Ballymena High Street. And as I then went on to point out, John and Mary Ann had four children about whom I had written in an earlier blog, 'Ballyclug to Partick' on 9th February. I think I have found a jigsaw piece which fits pretty snugly.


  1. Regarding Sarah Bell McIlhaggar McPhee who married John McPhee. All of her children were born in Scotland. The oldest John had one son also named John. William Haddow McPhee the second oldest had three sons, John, William and Ronald. The third son of Sarah Edward was single and had no children. The youngest daughter Margaret had three children two daughters and a son. All of Sarah's grandchildren were born in Scotland.

  2. Thank you jmcpscot for the extra information. If you would like to write to me direct, click on 'Sagairt' among the 'followers' above and send me an email and I will reply to you direct.