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!

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