Of the family trees that I have been able to compile in recent years, the name Nathan or Nathaniel occurs in three of them, namely those whose earliest members are found in Carnmoney, in Maxwell's Walls and in Island Magee. I think we may reasonably assume from this that somewhere there is a common ancestor named Nathaniel from whom all three come, and who therefore links the three trees into one. The earliest of the three, as we have seen, is Nathaniel McIlhago who was coming to the end of a tenancy in 1770 in the townland of Ballytober, Island Magee, and it is of interest that we do not know of any Nathan or Nathaniel in subsequent generations in that family. So is there one or are there more men of the name who have moved elsewhere from Island Magee?
The next earliest is Nathan McIlhaggar, a generation after Nathaniel of Island Magee, who was born about 1758 in Carnmoney, who married Betty Burney there is 1783 and had a son the following year whom they called Nathaniel. He in his turn had a son Nathan in 1804 who married Ellen Wilson in 1830. Chronologically the earliest Nathaniel in Maxwell's Walls of whom we presently know, was Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga, born 1834, who married Henrietta Wilson in 1866. (I wonder if she was related to Ellen Wilson?) Nathaniel Owen's father was William born about 1810. In Maxwell's Walls there were later Nathaniels born in 1878, 1896, 1907 and 1908, presumably all named for the earlier Nathaniel Owens. The interesting question, to which we do not know the answer is, 'was Nathaniel Owens's grandfather (and William's father) named Nathaniel?' If he was, this would fit the Scottish/Irish naming pattern, and if so was he a Nathan or a Nathaniel who mad 'migrated' from either Carnmoney or from Island Magee? From the evidence we have it would be reasonable to postulate that the clan member or members who moved across the North Channel from Scotland, settled first in Island Magee, and that descendant(s) moved a mere few miles inland to Carnmoney and then subsequently to Maxwell's Walls.
The Nathan and/or Nathaniels about whom I have been writing are as follows:
1. Nathaniel McIlhago, born about 1720-30, possibly father of Samuel and James McIlhaggo, Ballytober, Island Magee;
2. Nathan McIlhaggar, born about 1758-65, married Betty Burney about 1783 in Carnmoney;
3. Nathan McIlhaggar, born about 1804 to Nathan (1758) and Betty in Carnmoney. He married Ellen Wilson 1830 and had eight children;
4. Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga, born 1834 to William McIlhagga, Maxwell's Walls. He married Henrietta Wilson in 1866;
5. Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga, born 1878 to Nathaniel Owens and Henrietta McIlhagga of Maxwell's Walls. He married Sarah Ann Craig in 1916;
6. Nathaniel McIlhagga, born 1896 to Archibald McIlhagga and Agnes Jamieson in Shankill, Belfast, nephew of Nathaniel Owens (1834). He married Charlotte, had two sons, and died in 1937. There is a Will in PRONI and a Memorial Inscription in Connor (Parish of Maxwell's Walls);
7. Nathaniel Owens Minford, born 1907 to Hugh Minford and Elizabeth McIlhagga, daughter of Nathaniel Owens (1834);
8. Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga, born 1908, son of James Wilson and Sarah Jane McIlhagga, and therefore grandson of Nathaniel Owens (born 1834).
NB: There was a Nathan McIlhaggy, married to Sarah, who had a daughter Margaret baptised in 1790 at St.Anne's Church of Ireland, Shankill, Belfast. He must have been born before 1770. There was a Nathaniel McIlhaggo born about 1833 in County Antrim, who clearly could be number one above. There is a Nath. McIlhaggan in the 1880 Belfast City Directory, who was a Gate Keeper, and there were two Nathaniels (McIlhaga and McIlhagga) who signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912.
Finally there are other Nathaniels whose names may have been chosen to honour ancestral clan members, viz: Nathaniel Silvey Adams (1917 Belfast), son of Joseph Adams and Margaret McIlhagga, daughter of Archibald McIlhagga (who had a son Nathaniel); Nathaniel Boyd (1891, Greenock), son of William Boyd and Agnes Nancy McIlhagga, daughter of John McIlhagga and Margaret Stewart. There are also one Nate and three Nathans who are alive today in the USA, Canada and England.