Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Ulster Covenant in Brantwood Street

Prior to the 1911 Irish Census being published the 1912 Ulster Covenant misled me about two people living at the same address. James Wilson McIlhagga and Lily McIlhagga lived at 4 Brantwood Street in the Clifton or Duncairn District of Belfast. I made the reasonable assumption that they were man and wife. I have subsequently learned that Lily did not marry until 1914 and James until 1930. In the 1911 Census there is a James Wilson and a Lily, respectively 17 and 20, living at 7 Eccles Street, Belfast, the offspring of William G. and Jane (nee Todd) McIlhagga. They were in fact two of a large family of nine children, of which Lily was the eldest and James the fourth. It is of course possible that the whole family had moved from Eccles Street to Brantwood Street in 1911-12, or perhaps Lily had moved to another address and had given a home to her brother. The first is the more likely thing to have happened.

There are a couple of name queries in this family. I am unsure what father William's middle name was. I have seen it recorded both as George and Gage and have corresponded with one person who insisted that the name Gage came down their family line. I am however unsure where it originated. The second query is about Lily herself. The 1901 Census appears to give the eldest daughter's name as Matilda. Was Lily an accepted abbreviation of Matilda, or did she simply prefer to be called Lily? The only other Lily I have come across was an abbreviation of Elizabeth. We might also ask where James got his middle name Wilson? The normal assumption would be that it was his mother's maiden name. But that was Todd. I do know he had a second cousin twice removed, James Wilson McIlhagga, who was the son of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga and Henrietta Wilson. Perhaps the two families had a close and friendly relationship. This may indeed be demonstrated by the fact that both James Wilson McIlhaggas became Oil Merchants!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Maxwell's Walls in The Ulster Covenant

There are just two people who signed The Ulster Covenant as from the townland of Maxwell's Walls. The first was Henrietta McIlhagga, the second Eliza McIlhagga. And again their signatures perhaps reveal something of these two women. Our assumption must be that Henrietta and Eliza were mother and daughter, a fact we know from our earlier references to this family. Henrietta in 1912 was the widow of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga. Eliza was to marry Hugh Minford, a farmer and a future MP. I have compared Henrietta's signature with that on the letter she wrote to her son, to which I referred on the 8th and 19th May, and I am sure the two are written by the same hand. The 'M' is identical. The surprising thing is that clearly on The Ulster Covenant Henrietta signed for both of them, and to make this clear, against Eliza's name Henrietta added her initials. However, I have to add that we have no evidence that any of the offspring of this family could not write, and indeed the indications are that they were well educated. It is certainly surprising that a woman who was to become the wife of a Member of Parliament couldn't write. There are of course other possible explanations for Henrietta signing Eliza's name. Eliza might have been temporarily unable to write for some physical reason. There is however another possible reason. There were no fewer than six signatures together from Maxwell's Walls on the Covenant. The two preceding that of Henrietta were initialled by someone as 'illiterate'. Perhaps Eliza asked her mother to sign for her so as not to embarrass her two friends whose names preceded theirs.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Two Covenant Spelling Errors

The next name on my Ulster Covenant list of clan members is David McIlhagga living at 42 Gainsborough Drive, Duncairn, Belfast North. The two Davids in the 1911 Census are small children and would not have been old enough to vote in 1912. Nor is there a Gainsborough Drive in my 1911 Census list. So no David and no address! Fortunately we have another line of enquiry, namely examining the signature on the Ulster Covenant. Alongside this I know that the family in which the name David occurs down the generations is not McIlhagga but McIlhagger. And yes, when we examine the signature I think it clearly does read McIlhagger. I have included it at the head of this blog. We don't have this David listed in 1911 so it is valuable to have both the name and address recorded in 1912. David McIlhagger was I believe the David born 1879 to George McIlhagger and Mary Jane Boyd. In 1906 when he married Elizabeth Louise Sherwood he was living at the family home at 29 North Queen Street, Belfast. Perhaps he and his new wife moved into Gainsborough Drive soon after their marriage. So once again the 1912 Covenant has given us a new piece of information. And I am gathering a small group of corrections to send to PRONI!

The next name on my Covenant list is the second, and a double transcription error. The North Queen Street address is now copied as 29 North Lucan Street where apparently we find George McIlhagga. We don't. We find George McIlhagger at 29 North Queen Street, Belfast. He was the head of the family there, aged 63 in 1912. My small group of corrections is getting larger!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Covenant at Knockahollet

I am working through The Ulster Covenant alphabetically, so the next person is Annie E. McIlhagga of Knockahollet. Two other people from Knockahollet signed, according to the PRONI Index, James and 'N.D.'. In the 1911 Census Annie Elizabeth, age 43, is the wife of Dunlop at 14 Ballyweeney. Robert Dunlop is age 41 (son of James and Jane, nee Maitland), a farmer. The Census also shows us a son James, age 6, Joseph age 10, Martha age 8 and Robert age 2. So the 1911 Census encourages us to jump to the conclusion that 'Annie E' in 1912 was the wife of Robert Dunlop McIlhagga. She might have been. However, Dunlop's brother, Daniel Maitland, was also married to an 'Annie E'! and they were both known as Annie. So does it remain an open question as to which one signed? With James we are not much more certain. It may have been James the father of Dunlop and Daniel, though it is not certain that he was still alive in 1912. It probably wasn't his eldest son James, who had emigrated to the States by 1907. It could just have been James son of Daniel who would have been 16. But who is 'N.D.'? I have looked carefully at the signature, which I have printed at the head of this blog, which could read 'M.D.', 'N.D.' or 'R'D'. The PRONI indexers think the probability is 'N.D.' but I have no 'N.D. McIlhagga' in my records! So I think the more likely is 'R.D', making it Robert Dunlop and therefore I think, 'Annie E,' his wife.

Who is the Robert McIlhaggar of Knockahollet that I mentioned in the first blog on the Ulster Covenant on 2nd October? On the reasonable assumption that he was from the same family, I think he must have been a brother of James senior. Robert was born in 1838 to Nathan and Ellen McIlhaggar so would have been 74 in 1912. If we didn't have this reference in the Ulster Covenant we would know next to nothing about him.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Genealogical Next of Kin

Recently I did something that 60% of British People never do - I (re)wrote my Will and sent copies to the two people I named as my executors. I have to say that it is couched in very general terms, making it clear how my estate is to be split between my descendants. I did not include bequests of any specific items, though I have written a letter to make clear some of my wishes. As yet these wishes do not include how the considerable quantity of genealogical data I have accumulated and the studies I have done on this data should be preserved and if possible continued. I know that certain arrangements can be made through two societies to which I belong, namely The Society of Genealogists and The Guild of One Name Studies. However, it would be good to be able to name one or more individual(s) who would be prepared to take some responsibility for the material and perhaps who might wish to continue the study when I am no longer able to do so. Sadly at the present time these people do not exist. If anyone has any ideas, do get in touch with me.

The Covenant at Tullaghgarley / Tullygarley

In the last two blogs we met Andrew McIlhagga of Azamor Street, Belfast. Two other Andrews signed the Ulster Covenant, both from a townland just outside Ballymena. One entered his address as Tullygarley Bridge, the other as Tullygarley, Ballymena, both of course the same place; Tullaghgarley is an older spelling. The bridge is an old structure which has been widened in recent years to accommodate a modern road. Also there were no fewer than six other people who gave their address as Tullygarley, namely Jack, Jeanie, Lizzie, Mary, Matilda and William S.. I am disposed to think that all the McIlhaggas who lived in the same townland must belong to the same family, so what does a comparison with the 1911 Census reveal?

First, we have living together Andrew, 62, head, at 21 Tullygarley Lower, a Farm Labourer, and Matilda, 71, Andrew's sister. Clearly Matilda signed a year later (she was the only Matilda), but did Andrew (senior)? As I have indicated above, I believe so. And isn't the signature above that of an older generation who learned to write with a copper-plate hand? We will see however, that there remains some doubt as to where these siblings fit in the family tree. All the others were at 8 Tullgarley, surely not far away from 21. This was a large family. The parents were William, 55, head, a Railway Porter and Mary, 50. The family births were spread over 18 years. Lizzie was 32, a Factory Weaver; William was 27, a Carpinter (sic); Andrew was 24 (the third Andrew to sign the Covenant), a Railway Clerk; Robert 22 was an Engine Cleaner; John, 16, was a Shop Boy and Jeanie 14 was still at school. This Census list omits James Spence (b. 1844 who was married to Elizabeth McGrillis). In addition there was a four year old grand-daughter, Mary, staying at the house. It is interesting that the new Railway Industry gave employment to at least three of this family. As we can see from the list of Covenant signatures one of the sons present at the Census, Robert, did not sign the Covenant. William signed as William S, a middle initial or name we did not know about, presumably Spence, his mother's maiden name. Other information tells us that the granddaughter Mary was in fact the child of son James Spence and Elizabeth (nee McGrillis).

So, where do Andrew (senior) and Matilda fit in? From marriage records we know that William who married Mary Spence had a father also named William. Had he been alive in 1911 we can assume he would have been in his late 70s and so could have been a sibling of Andrew (senior) and of Matilda, and indeed of Eliza Anne (who married Hugh Kelly). Certainly the name Andrew was continued in this family for at least another generation: Robert had a son Andrew.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Ballymena to Belfast

Following my last blog I had an email letter from a correspondent in South Australia who does some very careful research, for which I am very grateful. She is a descendant of the family who in 1912 were at Azamor Street. I was comparing the 1912 Ulster Covenant with the Census of the year before. She has also compared her family with the 1901 Census when they were living at 67 Queen Street, Ballymena. She kindly sent me a photo from Google Maps, not of number 67 which has been demolished in favour of a commercial building, but of 83 Queen Street which would have been a similar property, and which fits the description handed down in the family.

Sometimes, however, one should be cautious about what is 'handed down'. I had included in my last blog that Robert James McIlhagga had 'run away to sea by 1896', when he would have been only eleven. I got this from another member of the family, also in Australia. Clearly it was part of the 'oral tradition'. But not so! The 1901 Census clearly includes him aged 16 and in employment as a machine boy. As my correspondent says, he can't have been on a home visit as his occupation would have been recorded as 'sailor' (or perhaps 'cabin boy') and also because he maintained that he never made contact with his family again after leaving home. Again, the family tradition is that he said he did return to Ireland a few years later but it was too far to walk from Belfast to his home in the few hours he had on shore. He must have meant walking to Ballymena, not knowing that the family had moved to Belfast. My correspondent has calculated they must have moved to Azamor Street between the 1901 Census and when daughter Matilda Jane married from there in September 1903. Robert James probably left for sea not long after the 1901 Census. She points out two other things which are probably true. The 1901 Census includes a child Joseph, aged 18 months, but as he is not on the 1911 Census when he would have been 11, he had maybe died. Second, Robert James spoke in later life of his two sisters Lizzie and Margret. Clearly Lizzie was Elizabeth. Although I have assumed that Minnie and Margret were two people, she thinks Margret, who must have been near Robert's age for him to have remembered her, was known as Minnie. As Robert's and Minnie's birth dates are only about a year apart, I certainly agree with this conclusion.

My South Australian friend has two interesting points about the parents, Robert and Margaret (nee Craig). A comparison of all the available documents offers no consistency about their ages. Her best calculation of Robert's age is from his death certificate. He died at 5 Azamor Street on 13th October 1912 aged 53 years. He had had bronchitis for 10 months. The informant was his son Samuel (see his Covenant signature above). His illness could explain why he didn't sign the Ulster Covenant in the February. There may however have been a second reason. Could he and Margaret write? They both marked the marriage register with an X, though they are both recorded as being able to read and write in both 1901 and 1911. This may not have been true as the signatures on the two Censuses are different, perhaps indicating that they were filled up by another member of the family. It has to be said that we are in the realm of probabilities here as often when a marriage register was being filled in a couple would defer to the minister or registrar and ask him to write their names, simply adding their 'mark' (an X). This said, my correspondent is I think right that the wild ages given for the parents (married for 38 years and only 42 and 40 shown on the 1911 Census!) probably indicates that the forms were filled up by a child.

PS: I have also added the Covenant signature of their son Andrew to my last blog.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Beginning to analyse The Ulster Covenant

The surnames on the Ulster Covenant help us to put together John G. and George and Henry McIlhagger. John lived at 104 Mt. Collyer Ave, a separate address to the other two at 29 New North Lucan St., which may indicate that he had 'flown the nest', which was in fact the case. George was a retired Police Sergeant with the Royal Irish Constabulary. He died two years later in 1914. Clearly Henry (known as Harry) was still living at home in 1912. He was to die at the young age of 33, the result of an industrial accident on 23rd July 1918 at the Belfast ship builders, Harland and Wolf. He is buried with his parents at the Belfast City Cemetery. John George (known as Jack) who we believed served in the Boer War (the only clan member to do so) before working as a joiner in the Belfast ship yards, married Sarah Miller and had three children, John (also known as Jack), an exceptional Classics Scholar, Ellen (Nellie, b. 1913, d. 1999) who married Harry Todd and Henry (Harry) who married Violet Aiken. They had one daughter. Interestingly none of these folk appear in the 1911 Census, so the 'Covenant' has provided us with information we might not have had otherwise.

Lenah (really Norah) and J.W. McIlhaga both interestingly gave an address, on the Ulster Covenant, in Belgium. Clearly they also were not in the 1911 Census. There were folk like the McIlhaggers who had probably moved into County Antrim between the Census and the Covenant, and there were folk like the McIlhagas who came home specially to sign the Covenant. I wrote about this family on 10th November last, and in subsequent blogs, a family whom the flax trade took from Ireland to Belgium and then back to both Northern Ireland and to Merseyside in England.

In 1912 there are two males living at 5 Azamor Street, Belfast South. We might have assumed that Andrew and Samuel were therefore father and son. However other records show this was not so. The Ulster Civil Marriage records show Samuel McIlhagga of 5 Azamor Street, Labourer, age 29, married Mary Hunt, Stitcher, age 26 of 16 Israel Street, daughter of Henry, a Bootmaker. They married at St. Anne's Church of Ireland, Shankill, Belfast. Samuel is the bachelor son of Robert. So Andrew and Samuel are not father and son, so they were probably brothers, which is confirmed by the 1911 Census. However, the surprise is that in 1912 Samuel is 20 and Andrew is only 14. The parents Robert 42 and Margaret 40 are alive, and for some reason didn't sign the Covenant just a few month later. Did Andrew sign it with his parents permission, or encouragement, or perhaps insistence?

There were in fact six offspring of Robert and Margaret who were older than Samuel, all of whom had presumably left home by 1912, namely Matilda Jane, William, Elizabeth, Minnie, Robert James and John (Jack). I wonder if any of them signed the covenant? Matilda Jane had married Robert Dalzell in 1903. William had joined the Royal Marines in 1897 but had left three years later. Elizabeth had married Richard Henry Cleland in 1909. Robert James had run away to sea by 1896 and John (Jack) had joined the army in 1906. There is no signature of a Robert Dalzell, though there is one of Mrs. Robert Dalzell of Down West Division, as there is no signature of a Matilda Jane, though there are six of a Jane Dalzell. There are two Richard Clelands who signed, one from Ballynahinch, Down East, and one from Belfast West. And there is an Elizabeth A. Clelland from Ballynahinch who signed. The 1911 Census shows us these were not husband and wife, but mother and son! Richard Henry and Elizabeth Clelland were in fact living at 10 Ulverston Street, Shankill with their infant son John. They were all 'Church of England'. Robert and Matilda Dalzell were living just three houses away at 4 Ulverston Street with their three children, Robert 6, Mary 1 and infant daughter Elenor. They were all Presbyterians. Perhaps both work and having to look after such young children prevented both couples from coming out to sign.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Ulster Covenant

We all know that researching records in Ireland is not easy, partly because many were destroyed in Dublin in 1922 during 'The Troubles'. We are fortunate to have the 1911 Census now, though before we did, there was the 'Census substitute' of the Ulster Covenant, signed on 28th September 1912 during the reign of King George V. Even since the 1911 Census went on line, the Covenant signatures can give us extra information. PRONI, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has digitised this list of about half a million signatures, about half men and half women. Most signatures have addresses or at least place names, so that although the men and women signed separately it is often possible to know who are related by comparing addresses. The Record Office has written a 'Background to the Covenant', of which the following is a part:

The Ulster Covenant was part of a response by Ulster Unionists to the efforts of successive Westminster governments to settle the running sore of the 'Irish Question' by giving Ireland a limited measure of local autonomy known as 'Home Rule'. The first two Home Rule Bills, in 1866 and 1893 had been rejected by Parliament, following concerted pressure from Unionists in Great Britain and Ireland. In April 1912 Asquith introduced the Third Home Rule Bill (to which) Unionists (at Westminster) put up fierce opposition to each stage and the third reading was not carried until January 1913, after which the Bill received its expected defeat in the House of Lords. The outbreak of World War I then halted further progress.

Clearly the Covenant played its part in 1912 and among the half a million signatures are 45 Clan names, mostly McIlhagga, but also McIlhaga, McIlhaggar and McIlhagger. Three only signed their initials, one a woman from Belfast, Mrs. J.B. McIlhagga, the other two men, N.D. McIlhagga from Ballyweaney and W.J. McIlhaga interestingly from Courtai, Belgium. A woman, presumably W.J.'s wife Norah (wrongly transcribed as Lenah) is also listed from Belgium. 29 signatures are of men and 16 of women.

So where were our clan members in Ulster living in 1912? 18 were in County Antrim Parliamentary Constituencies, one in Londonderry and the rest (26) were from the city of Belfast. Six Antrim villages or townlands are represented, Ballyweaney (one man 'N.D.'), Knockahollet (James and Annie McIlhagga), and Robert with the interesting name variation of McIlhaggar), Harryville (John), Ballygallough (Jenny), Maxwellswalls (Henrietta and Eliza), and no fewer than 7 from Tullygarley (Jack, Andrew, William S., Lizzie, Jeannie, Mary and Matilda). There are 15 addresses recorded in Belfast, 9 with a single signature, 6 with two signatures and one in Agnes Street, South Belfast with no fewer than five, all men (Nathaniel, John, William and two Roberts).

In a subsequent blog I will compare what we can find in the 1911 Census and in the 1912 Ulster Covenant. In the meantime, to what did all these people sign? It was strong stuff. The men signed as follows:

Being convinced in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship and perilous to the unity of the Empire, we whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George V, humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant, throughout this our time of threatened calamity, to stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and for our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. And in the event of such a Parliament being forced upon us, we further solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves to refuse to recognize its authority. In sure confidence that God will defend the right, we hereto subscribe our names.

The women signed a somewhat shorter statement:

We, whose names are underwritten, women of Ulster, and loyal subjects of our gracious King, being firmly persuaded that Home Rule would be disastrous to our country, desire to associate ourselves with the men of Ulster in their uncompromising opposition to the Home Rule Bill now before Parliament, whereby it is proposed to drive Ulster out of her cherished place in the constitution of the United Kingdom, and to place her under the domination and control of a Parliament in Ireland. Praying that from this calamity God will save Ireland, we hereby subscribe our names.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Stray U.S. Marriage?

The Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Marriage Indexes and the FamilySearch Pilot Website both have a reference to a 19th Century marriage of Robert Dunlap McIlhagga to Lizzie Jane Patterson. The US names Robert and the FS Pilot names Lizzie and the date 5th January 1894. 'Dunlap' is clearly an American version of Dunlop and the only Robert Dunlop McIlhagga of an age to marry in 1894 was born 3rd August 1866 at Castlequarter, County Antrim. He would have been 28. However, we have no evidence that he went abroad and we have a marriage for him on 13th February 1900 in Ballymoney, County Antrim, to Annie Thom(p)son, who subsequently had eight children by him. Robert may of course have married twice and his first wife could have died, causing him to return to Ireland. At his marriage to Annie he would have been 34, somewhat old we may think for a first marriage.

We do know that Robert's older brother James emigrated to the New World, settling in Canada, though he did get married in the USA, in Wayne, Detroit, Michigan. It is quite feasible that Robert joined his brother in the States, married there also, and sometime between 1894 and 1900 returned to Ireland.