Wednesday, 25 August 2010
It is with sadness that I have heard of the death on Tuesday 17th August of Walter McIlhagga, at the Maelor Hospital in Wrexham, North Wales. I recall with pleasure that I visited Walter and his wife a few years ago in Richmond Road, Wrexham when I was made very welcome, and I send Mrs McIlhagga my sincere condolences. The funeral notice in The Leader, Mold, Wrexham, says that Walter was a beloved husband, dad and grandfather, and that he will be sadly missed by all his family and friends. His funeral service is on Friday 27th at Pentrebychan Crematorium. Donations are asked for Nightingale House Hospice. Walter James McIlhagga was unique in that he was the only male McIlhagga who has been born in Wales, in Conway in 1931. His father, James Wilson McIlhagga was born in Belfast but got employment in the Conway District where he met Mary Gladys Jones whom he married at All Saints Church in Caernarvon. James was the second son of the large family of nine children born to William Gage McIlhagga and Jane Todd. William was born in 1865 in Connor, County Antrim, Ireland, also a second son in a large family of twelve children born to John McIlhago and Elizabeth McCullough (the spellings in the marriage register). At John and Eliza's marriage in Ballymena John's father gave his name as Harry. It is possible that John and his father Harry, both farmers, were part of our clan family who farmed in the townland of Maxwell's Walls, in the parish of Kells and Connor, about which I have written a number of times.
Monday, 23 August 2010
It is particularly interesting when parents give a version of our clan name as a middle name and I have noted several instances of this happening. It is also intriguing to know why other middle names are given. Often it is to 'keep alive' the surname of a mother or a grandparent. Perhaps sometimes it is to honour someone else. Often the reason remains a mystery. A case in point is the eldest daughter of Henry McIlhaggo (b. 1821) and Agnes McMeekin. She was Elizabeth Ingram McIlhaggo (b. 1856). Henry's mother's maiden name was Houston. Agnes' mother's maiden name is unknown to me, and it could have been Ingram, and by tradition a first daughter is called after the maternal grandmother. There was certainly an Ingram family in the Maxwellswalls area of County Antrim. A Jane Ingram married John McCullough whose sister Elizabeth married John McIlhagga who was a first cousin (once removed) of Elizabeth Ingram McIlhaggo - not a blood relation, but perhaps a good family friend?
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Although I have a good number of clan records, from time to time I come across a person or a family that I have not heard of and hence cannot place in a wider clan family or in a family tree. That is the case this week. The Ballymena Times newspaper has a column entitled 'Deaths in the Community' and on the 17th reported the death of Jennifer Carol Kerr (nee McIlhagga) in hospital on the 15th August, late of 3 Sperrin Heights, Portglenone. The notice included the name of her husband, four children, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren. Donations were requested for Northern Ireland Hospice Care. Significantly for us mention was made of Jennifer Carol's sister Anne and her brother Alan and their respective spouses. We offer all her family our sincere condolences on behalf of the McIlhagga Clan.
Monday, 16 August 2010
Sketch from "Round 'Kells & Conyer' Part 2; Mid-Antrim Historical Group, 1992
Some of the earliest 19th Century information available to us from County Antrim in the north of Ireland is in the Tithe Applotment Books of the townlands. For the McIlhaggos a significant townland was Maxwellswalls in the Parish of Connor, for that was where Henry, John, James and William farmed. We know from the books who owned the land on which they were tenants, in the case of Maxwellswalls, Viscount Massarene & Ferrard. Now we are fortunate to have some excellent background material about the townlands in a number of Ordnance Survey Memoirs put in train by the House of Commons in 1826. They were published along with 6" maps, the purpose being to facilitate a uniform valuation for local taxation. For the Parish of Connor we have what is called a Statistical Account in 1833 and two further (Aides) Memoir in 1835. Very few names are mentioned and no McIlhaggos, but these are the years when our families were farming land there owned by Lord Ferrard, so it is of real value to note their contents. The 1832 Tithe Books are presently being digitised so we can look forward to knowing our clan details.
The author of the 1833 'Account' can't have been particularly interested in Maxwellswalls as it doesn't get a mention. However the first of the 1835 'Memoirs' tells us that it had a Flax Mill "14 feet by 2 feet, breast water", which indicates that it wasn't driven by the river, Kells Water. Farmers on small plots would spend about 50% of their time working the land (in summer) and 50% working the loom (in winter). Another comment about the townland follows: "The inhabitants of this parish are almost exclusively the descendants of the Scots who came over in the 16th and 17th Centuries... (and) many people seem to inherit the abodes of their forefathers". This comment makes one wonder how many generations of McIlhaggos had been in Maxwellswalls.
There is rather more information about the school in the townland: "Under the Synod of Ulster education Board, in a house built by subscription for the purpose... established 1810; income by a grant from Lord Ferrard, which with money and house and garden [presumably the house in the sketch above] amounts to 15 pounds annually, 15 pounds from pupils; intellectual education: books of the Kildare Place Society, reading, writing and arithmetic; moral education: Sunday School, visits from the minister, Scriptures and Shorter Catechism; number of pupils: males, 30 under 10 years of age, 20 from 10 to 15, 5 above 15, 55 total males; females 23 under 10 years of age, 8 from 10 to 15, 2 above 15, 33 total females; total number of pupils 88, 6 Protestants [ie Church of Ireland] 81 Presbyterians, 1 Roman Catholic; master [blank], Presbyterian."
This information gives us a picture of the kind of education enjoyed by the children of our three of four clan farmers in the townland. At the time of writing the Memoirs there would I think have been only two or three McIlhaggo offspring, though in the following ten years, perhaps another twenty. The information is expanded a little, naming the schoolteacher, in a further paragraph: "Maxwell's Walls, master Archibald Wilson, Presbyterian; pay school, annual income 20 guineas and pay of scholars; schoolhouse stone and lime, cost 40 pounds; number of pupils by the Protestant return: 80 Presbyterians, 44 males, 36 females; by the Roman Catholic return: 23 Presbyterians, 2 Roman Catholics, 17 males, 8 females; connected with Kildare Place Society, Lord Ferrard gives 20 guineas to master". I won't speculate why there are discrepancies between the figures in the different 'returns'. I the third Memoir the comment on schools confirms the '88' &c, earlier numbers and adds the information that the pupils paid 1d per week.
Clearly Scots Presbyterians were numerically in the ascendancy, which is reflected in the second 1835 memoir, in its section on Public Buildings, applying to the whole parish of Connor: "There is a church and a Presbyterian meeting house. The former is a plain stone building 60 feet long and 30 feet broad. It was built in 1814... It will accommodate 200 persons. The general attendance is about 60. The meeting house is a neat stone building 100 feet long and 40 feet broad. It was built in 1815 at an expense of 1,600 pounds, which was defrayed by a levy on the sittings and by subscription. It will accommodate 1,100 persons. The general attendance is 900".
All heating of buildings was by the burning of 'turf', so the local folk must have been grateful that "in Maxwells Walls there is a small bog of good black turf. It is 600 feet above the sea and 260 feet above Kells Water. Fir timber is found indiscriminately scattered over it and oak is found in the margin. About 50 feet of an old fence formed of hazel sticks above 2 inches in diameter was dug up in it a few years ago".
Clearly there is quite a variation in the height of the townland's terrain, which is pertinent to a further comment on climate: "I obtained information of a farmer in Maxwellswalls townland: that there was now no difference in ripening of the crops in the mountains and plains, but in his time he could remember when there was a difference of 2 or 3 weeks. He could give no reason for this but he thought the seasons were milder". Plus ca change... "The crops are oats, flax and potatoes...". The oats and the potatoes provided the basis of most of the food available and their mention is a reminder that in comparatively few years after these Memoirs were written, the people were to face the hardships of the Irish potato famine.
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
All Saints Church, Loughguile, Co. Antrim
I am learning that there are a number of people who chance on this blog 'by accident'. Some get in touch, and this week include a Scot who lives in North Wales. It turns out that he is related to Annie Elizabeth Wright who married Daniel Maitland McIlhagga on 31st March 1891. He is her great nephew (or grand-nephew if you prefer). He has told me that he has a number of documents relating to the marriage of Daniel and Annie, and to the birth of their first six children. This includes a birth certificate of a son of whom I had not heard, namely John Houston Wright McIlhagga. I wonder where the name Houston comes from? Could he possibly be related to John McIlhagga of Maxwellswalls who married Mary Houston? Daniel and Annie in fact had ten children (to my knowledge), three girls and seven boys. My correspondent has not only offered me copies of the documents, for which I am most grateful, but also an obituary of Annie's father which mentions Daniel McIlhagga(r), and also a photograph of the church in which they were married, All Saints Church of Ireland, Loughguile, County Antrim, which I will put at the head of this blog.
He has said that he would like to be in touch with any descendants of Daniel and Annie. I have identified two with whom I have corresponded in the past and have emailed them to ask whether I may pass on their names and addresses. They are, for my correspondent, both second cousins, once removed - that is one generation younger than himself. One lives near Edinburgh and the other near London. There have been a good number of occasions when I have been asked for family contacts and, with care not to break confidences, I have done my best to put people in touch with each other.
The family to which Daniel belongs goes back another three generations to Nathan(iel) McIlhaggar of Carnmoney who was born in 1758. He married Betty Burney whose ancestors can be traced back another three generations to Patrick McBurney who we know was alive in 1686. I am grateful to a correspondent in London for this information.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
A Valuation Map of 1862
Wikipedia gives the following introduction to the land valuation in Ireland in the Ninteenth Century:
'Griffith's valuation was a survey of Ireland completed in 1868. Richard John Griffith in1825 was appointed by Government to carry out a boundary survey of Ireland, by marking the boundaries of every county, barony, parish and townland in preparation for the first Ordnance Survey. He completed this boundary work in 1844. He was also called upon to assist in the preparation of a parliamentary Bill to provide for the general valuation of Ireland; the Act was passed in 1826, and he was appointed Commissioner of Valuation in 1827, but did not commence work in this capacity until 1830 when the 6" maps, essential to the project, became available from the Ordnance Survey. He served as Commissioner until 1868, during which period he also held a number of other public appointments, most notably, that of Chairman of the Board of Works. Griffith conducted two major valuation surveys. First, came the townland valuation, which was completed in the 1840s and second came the more detailed tenement survey which valued each individual property separately for the first time. The tenement valuations of County Dublin were the first to be published on 5th May, 1853 and the last were the valuations of county Armagh on 1st June, 1865. It was in Scotland that he first started to value land and spent two years in 1806-07 valuing terrain through the examination of soils and strata. In this manner he became familiar with what he called 'the Scotch system of valuation' and it was a modified version of this that he introduced into Ireland when he assumed the Office of Commissioner of Valuation.'
There are no fewer than twenty-four certain or possible clan valuations in Griffith's Valuation. They are in the following townlands, all in County Antrim: Andraid, Ballycloghan, Ballykeel, Ballymuckvea, Castlegore, Clementshill, Killygore, Kinbally, Maxwellswalls, Rathkenny, Slaght and Tullaghgarley.
The two adjacent townlands with more than any other, both in the parish of Connor, are Maxwellswalls and Castlegore. There are a number of interesting points to note. The landlord of six of the eight plots concerned was Viscount Masserene and Ferrard. As we will see in a later blog, he had been the landlord of all the McIlhaggo plots in the 1836 Tithe Applotment Book of Maxwellswalls. In 1862 the two exceptions were first one in Maxwellswalls where the landlord was William McElhagga, who rented to Alexander Galloway. William in turn rented two plots from Masserene. The second was in Castlegore where Henry McElhagga rented a small plot including a house and 2 acres 1 rood 5 perches of land from Francis Gardner (or Gardiner) whose large plot of 61 acres 1 rood 5 perches, rented from Massarene, surrounded Henry's. In 1864-6 the annual value of that large plot was £22.11.0 and the value of the house £1.0.0.
An entry in a later Griffith Revision Book for 1867-81 suggests that Francis Gardner's land had passed to Nathaniel McIlhagga and that the farm was being rented by James Boyd (who married Jane, daughter of William McIlhagga) and George Gardiner (sic) who appear to be co-tenants on a 50-50 basis. Henry's small plot, which can be seen in the middle of the map above, was either incorporated into James' half or had been taken over by James. On the farm were two dwelling houses, one for each tenant. This information kindly comes from my friend, the Boyd descendant, with whom I have been corresponding.
My last point for the moment about Maxwellswalls is that in addition, there are two plots for William McElhagga plus one where he is landlord; there is one plot for Henry McElhagga plus the small Castlegore plot that he rented from Gardiner; and there are two plots for John McElhagga plus one for a John whose name is spelled McElhaggan and who is called John Sr, which I take it means 'Senior'. The spelling McElhaggan appears only this once. Incidentally the Spelling McElhagan appears in Ballycloghan, Killygore and Kinbally.
In this situation the distinguishing 'Senior' probably implies two things. First, that whether the spelling is McElhagga or McElhaggan, surely the family is one and the same, but second, that there are two Johns. We can assume that they were not brothers, for it is a very rare thing for parents to give two brothers the same name! Therefore they were either cousins, one being older than the other, or more likely, they were father and son, or uncle and nephew. To the best of my knowledge John who was brother to Henry and William (the father of Jane, wife of James Boyd) had only daughters (Rose, Mary and Ellen). However Henry the third brother, had three sons, the eldest of whom was indeed John who was a farmer and who married Mary Houston. I think we may conclude therefore that of the three plots in Maxwellswalls rented from Lord Masserene by 'John' one was for 'Uncle' John, John Sr. (McElhaggan) and two were for nephew John (McElhagga) son of Henry. This certainly clarifies a couple of uncertainties in the Maxwellswalls Family Tree.
Saturday, 7 August 2010
'Breakthroughs' sometimes come from a chance meeting. Last Monday I accepted an invitation to a lunch party where I met a man who, like me, in his retirement, had taken up the hobby of researching his family. Like me he had joined the Ulster Historical Foundation where he had spotted my surname and apparently had hoped to meet me. The reason is that his mother's family, the Boyds, had twice married McIlhaggas. To add to the interest, I discovered that my new acquaintance's wife had been brought up in Ballymena, near Broughshane, the town in which many of my forebears were baptised and married.
Yesterday I received by email a note from him which, I'm delighted to say, has added to my information and has made me do some rethinking. The Boyds farmed in the townland of Castlegore in Connor parish. Castlegore lies next to the townland of Maxwellswalls where a number of McIlhaggas lived and farmed. My friend's earliest record is for a James Boyd farming in Castlegore about 1828 (date from the Tithe Applotment Book). He probably had two sons, James and Daniel who continued to farm there. The last descendant of James, a Daniel, was still farming there in 1940. My friend is descended from James Boyd. The evidence that James and Daniel were brothers is circumstantial, based on the fact that they had adjacent farms. Now James Boyd married Jane McIlhagga on 17th August 1872.
When I got home from the lunch party I checked the number of Boyd-McIlhagga/er links in my records. I have no fewer than 9 marriages and 25 births. The marriages include that of James and Jane, and also a second one my friend tells me also belongs in his family tree, that of William McIlhagga to Mary Anne Boyd on 27th June 1902. I had no idea that the two were related on the Boyd side. As we have seen, James Boyd was a farmer in Castlegore. Jane McIlhagga's father was William McIlhagga who farmed in Maxwellswalls. At the wedding James Boyd's witness was Margaret McIlhagga. Was she Jane's sister? My recent correspondence with a descendant of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga of Maxwellswalls (see below) raises the possibility that this Margaret could have been either Jane's sister or her mother. Mary Anne was the daughter of James and Jane.
In 1901 James aged 54 was living with Jane in Castlegore. They had five children including Mary Anne, Jane and Barbara. James died in 1909. Mary Anne Boyd was none other than the Mary Anne who married William McIlhagga in 1902. William was then a pit head man in Bonnybridge, Scotland. His father was Henry. Was Henry also from Maxwellswalls? Mary Anne's marriage witness was Henrietta Boyd, her sister. Interestingly, not only had William migrated across the North Channel to Scotland. By the time the 1911 Census was taken he and his family were back in Ireland. Sometimes a move to a new country does not work out. He and Mary Anne were living in Donegall Avenue, Belfast, with their daughter Jane, aged 7, born in Scotland, and a son Henry, aged 4, born in Belfast. Clearly, according to the common Scottish and Irish naming pattern, Jane had been named after Mary Anne's mother and Henry after William's father. Mary Anne's sisters Jane and Barbara were living with them.
In my earlier attempted reconstruction of a Family Tree for the McIlhaggas of Maxwellswalls (see blogs of 11 July 2009 and following dates) I had worked on the assumption that there were four brothers farming in the townland, Henry, John, James and William. I have noted that William was the father of Nathaniel Owens, Archibald, Margaret, James Edwin and John Wilson. On 11th August I had also noted that there were five other McIlhaggas with a father William in the marriage registers, namely Henry, Nancy Betty, George, Jane and Margaret. I hadn't the courage to speculate by including any of them also as siblings. Clearly (I think!) Margaret, with a marriage in 1902, was born too late to be included (unless this is sister Margaret whom I have always assumed remained unmarried), but I have now learned that Jane is indeed William's daughter, and by the same logic, I can now see no reason why Henry, Nancy Betty and George should not also be siblings.
A further question must now be asked. Henry the father of William McIlhagga who married Mary Anne Boyd - was he the Henry of the Tithe Book? A careful look at the dates available persuades me rather that he may have been Henry who died 7th March 1886 and whose Will I have written about (on 12th July 2009). He would only have been a child in the 1830s. He married Agnes McMeekin and had 11 children, the youngest of whom could have been William who married Mary Anne Boyd. There is however a caveat to this theory. William son of Henry had a middle name (G.). William who married Mary Anne didn't on that occasion use a middle name, though the practice of not doing so was not unusual.
My corespondent has reminded me that William, John and Henry, presumably the same three in the 1836 Tithe Book, appear in 1862 in Griffith's Land Valuation Book in Maxwellswalls. In 1836 their surname was spelled McIlhaggo. In 1862 it was spelled McElhagga. William rented a house and just over 25 acres of land, John some 16 acres and Henry some 30 acres. By the 1860s I imagine they would have been in their mid to late 60s. I now note what I have not noted before, that James who was in the Tithe Book does not appear in Griffiths. Presumably he had either moved or died. If the latter is the case perhaps he was much older than the other three and maybe he was the father of the other three rather than being their brother. In my blog of 16th July 2009 I postulated that he may be a James McIlhaggo who had lived in Islandmagee. If this is indeed the case we may have answered the question I asked earlier, from whence did the Maxwellswalls families come? However, as yet, no proof!
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
First, a note to say that I have added an illustration to my blog for 3rd February 2009. 'Celtic Beginnings - Continued'. It's a piece of sculpture from the 16th Century but refers back to the 7th.
Another early blog I am updating is that of 22nd January 2009. I am presently checking all our Irish clan births, marriages and deaths which can be found on the FamilySearch new Pilot website. I was surprised to find a death in the January Quarter of 1909 for Jane McIlhagga of Ballymoney. To the best of my knowledge there is only one clan Jane who died in that quarter and she was my great-great aunt who married Robert Wade. She died on 9th January 1909 in Greenock, Scotland. The Irish record gives her birth year as 1834 which is probably correct for by gg-aunt. Is it possible that she has two entries for her death, one in Scotland and one in Ireland? I had occasion to write about the Scottish record in January 2009 because it has a glaring error in it, giving the maiden name of her mother as Linton when it should have been McCosh. There is in fact an entry in the Edinburgh Register Office Directory of Corrected Entries dated 8th June 1909 which probably corrects this mistake. I'm afraid I do not have a full copy of the Irish entry to verify that it is indeed for the same person, but I know of no other Jane who would 'fit'. Her husband Robert predeceased Jane, so I wonder if for some reason her body was taken back to Ireland to be buried, and if so, whether this required an Irish register entry as well as a Scottish one? And why Ballymoney? She originally came from Ballycloghan near Broughshane.
Sunday, 1 August 2010
The Guild of One Name Studies, to which I belong, has, by collating submissions from its members, compiled a number of indexes which are helpful for advancing our studies and in particular for compiling our family trees. Two in particular are very useful, the Marriage Index and the Probate Index. Having recently contributed to the Marriage Index I decided to compile a clan Probate Index from which I can add to the Guild one. It won't contain many entries, but each entry is potentially valuable to someone. I have collected copies or details of only sixteen Wills or Administrations but they are all fascinating. I have referred to most of them in this blog over the last eighteen months and I thought it might be of interest to list them here, if only to ask that if anyone has any more clan Wills or Administrations (for people who died intestate) I would be only too pleased to add them to the list. So here are my present sixteen:
1667 Inverness, Scotland: Farquhar McIntagairt
1734 Maybole, Scotland: Jonet McIlhagow
1764 Burlington, USA: James McElhago (witness)
1777 New York, USA: Samuel McHago (witness)
1818 Islandmagee, Ireland: Samuel McIlhaggo
1835 Ballymena, Ireland: Margaret McElhago
1886 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: Henry McIlhagga
1896 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: John Wilson McIlhagga
1901 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: Archibald McIlhagga
1904 Belfast, Ireland & Courtrai, Belgium: Samuel McIlhaga
1905 Belfast, Ireland: Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga
1912 Belfast, Ireland: Mary McIlhaggo
1914 Belfast, Ireland: George McIlhagger
1919 Belfast, Ireland: David McIlhagger
1931 Tullygarley, Northern Ireland: William McIlhagga
1948 Northern Ireland: James Spence McIlhagga (Executor).