Monday, 14 June 2010

More Bits and Pieces from the Irish 1901 Census

There is a young couple, John (aged 26) and Mary (25) McIlhagga, husband and wife, who lived at 102 Queen Street, Ballymena and belonged to the Church of Ireland. John's occupation is 'Carter'. There is no further information about them. They would have been married about 1896, when John was 21. I have checked my Irish marriages and there is just one possibility of identifying John, in a marriage in 1894, when he would have been 19 and Mary 18. This was in the Church of Ireland in Ballyclug, Ballymena, between John McIlhagga, 87 Queen Street, Harryville, Ballymena, a Labourer (son of John a Labourer) and Mary Sloan of 103 Queen Street. Ten years later (1911 Census) a John and a Mary were still living in Queen Street at number 115 when John was a Railway Carter. They still had no children so I am not going to find them from any descendants. One final piece of information. At their marriage John's witness was William McIlhagga. He could have been John's brother or possibly his uncle. So who was John, father of John, who also had a son William or possibly a brother William? John senior would have been born about 1850.

There is a small household at 21 St. Mary's, Shankill, Belfast, of three single people. The head of the household was William McIlhagga aged 30 whose job was as a Linen Beetler. A Beetler operated the Beetling machine used for embossing textiles and giving a shiny surface to the cloth, part of the 'finishing' process. His two companions at home were both cousins and presumably siblings, Daniel Boyd, also 20, a Pork Curer and Maggie Boyd, 24, their Housekeeper. Now there are three or four clan families who have married Boyds. Which one was this? The only clue I have is William's age. As a 30 year old he fits into the family of George McIlhagga who married Eliza Anne Robinson. I have never known anything about him, but now I do. My thinking is confirmed because we find that on 1st January two years later (1903) William married his cousin Margaret. He was still a Beetler. By then they were living together at 101 Kilburn Street. Margaret's father was James Boyd, a farmer; William's father was George, a Clerk (who at his own marriage called himself a Merchant). I wonder what happened to Daniel, the Pork Curer? He wasn't one of the marriage witnesses. They were Alexander and Agnes Jane Hunter. William had three siblings, Margaret Jane, Samuel Robinson and Eliza Ann. Samuel married Jane McNeice, a family which ended up in Australia. One further point: if William and Maggie were cousins before they married, there must have been a McIlhagga-Boyd marriage in a previous generation. I must research this.

My third query from the 1901 Census concerns Rebecca McIlhagga who was a boarder with the Sinclair family (no relations that I know of) at 50 Ambleside, Shankill, Belfast. She was working as a Damask Weaver, and gave her age as 20. There are very few Rebeccas in my indexes and none who had a birth year of 1881! I am persuaded however that she was Rebecca who was to marry later that year, on 20th December 1901, Charles Kennett, an Engineer, son of Charles Kennett, a Wood Turner. They married in Albert Street Presbyterian Church, Shankill. The marriage record gives us her father's name, John, who married Elizabeth McCullough. John gave his occupation as a Ship's Carpenter. Knowing who her parents were we can now find Rebecca's birth and baptism. She was baptised on 16th September 1879 at Connor Presbyterian Church. If she was baptised soon after her birth, then when she said she was 20 on the 1901 Census, she was really 21 or 22. There is a McIlhagga-McCullough grave stone in Kirkhill Cemetery, on which a number of Rebecca's eleven siblings are named, though not she. Perhaps that was because she was still alive when it was erected. After all, she was the ninth of the twelve children in her family.

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