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.

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