Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A Baker and BreadServers

In the 1901 Census of Ireland there appears to be a lone couple at 45 Wigton Street, Belfast. John McIlhagga, aged 27, was born in Belfast about 1874. He was a Baker. Bella was two years older, born about 1872 in County Antrim. Fortunately I have some Irish marriage records, including that of John McIlhagga to Isabella daughter of Thomas McKay, tailor. Interestingly John's father, also John, is called a BreadServer. Presumably father served the bread to the public that son John baked. John and Isabella were married at St.Anne's Church of Ireland, Shankill, Belfast, on 11th July 1893 when John was 22 and lived at 48 Brussels Street. Isabella was 24, worked as a Smoother, I imagine in the Linen Industry, and lived at 67 Grove Street. Their witnesses' names do not give me any further clues about them at present (Frederick McCullough and Elizabeth Thompson), but John Senior's occupation possibly does.

By good fortune (for us) another marriage of only seven moths earlier, on 23rd November 1892 was of John McIlhagga, son of Robert, BreadServer and Widower, of Belfast to Anne, daughter of David Kerr, Farmer of Belfast. This marriage was at Townsend Presbyterian Church, Shankill. Anne had not been married before. Little did they all know that John Senior's experience of widowhood and remarriage would become John Junior's experience. Isabella died at the comparatively young age of fifty-four and John would remarry Mary Elizabeth. We know this from the headstone commemorating his parents and both his wives which John erected in Templepatrick Old Graveyard. His mother was Margaret, daughter of Paul Douglas and Jane Johnston. The Douglas Records go back to 1763 in the village of Ballycushin on the North Antrim Coast. The Templepatrick Memorial Inscription reads as follows:

In loving memory
of my dear mother Margaret McIlhagga
and my father John McIlhagga
also my dear wife Isabella McIlhagga
who died 19th March 1926
also my dear wife Mary Elizabeth
who died 19th November 1939
also my brother Samuel
who died 30th November 1944.
John McIlhagga who died 16th July 1956.
Peace perfect peace.

The Memorial Inscription is in Medium Grey Sandstone with Wrought Iron Metal surround.

The last piece of this jigsaw is the name of John Senior's father as Robert McIlhagga, a Farmer. But herein lies a difficulty! The record of John's first marriage to Margaret Douglas names his father as John, a Labourer. And we know this is correct from the Gravestone. So what are the possibilities? Perhaps John the BreadServer who married in 1892 was not John Junior's father and there were two John McIlhaggas, both Breadservers. Really unlikely! Perhaps the record which says John Senior's father was Robert was wrong. Rather unlikely. Perhaps the father's name was Robert John or John Robert. I certainly have no record of these two names together. One final line of enquiry: John and Margaret had six children, Hannah (1870), Jane (1872), John (1874), Daniel (1880), Robert (1885) and Samuel (undated, probably about 1877). If John was the eldest son he may have been named after his grandfather, which accords with the name of his father's marriage to Margaret. Grandfather John would have had to have been born before (say) 1825. So where do I go from here?

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