Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Neighbours sign together

Neighbours in Donegall Avenue, Belfast, signed the Ulster Covenant together. Maggie McIlhagga lived at number 32 and Mary A. at number 30. Their respective husbands, both William McIlhagga, also signed on different occasions. Were the two William's related? They can't have been brothers. This is clear by comparing the entries for the two addresses in the 1911 Census. William who was married to Maggie was in fact William Hugh aged 39, a Burling Engine Man. William who married Mary Ann was in fact William Gage, aged 35, a Gas Worker. Both households had children. At number 30 there were Henry (4), and Jane (7). They were members of the City Mission. At number 32 there were Elizabeth (4), James (3), Jane (7) and William (0). They were Presbyterians. I hope there wasn't too much confusion having two Janes, both aged seven!

William Hugh and Maggie had been married eight years (1903) and had a cousin Daniel Boyd (29) living with them. So maggie must have been a Boyd. They were married on 1 January 1903 at Belfast Civil Register Office by Licence, the minister being J. Cleeland. I don't understand how a Civil ceremony can have a minister involved, unless he was acting as the Registrar. William and Margaret were both living at 101 Kilburn Street, Belfast. William's father was George McIlhagga, a Clerk. William was a Beetler in the Linen Industry.

William Gage and Mary A. had, according to the 1911 Census been married just one year and had two sisters-in-law living with them, Jane Wilson Boyd (25) and Barbara Boyd (23). So Mary Ann must have been a Boyd. In fact Maggie and Mary Ann, living next door to each other, were sisters. The 'one' year marriage on Census Form 'A' must have been an error, for they were in fact married on 27th June 1902 at Connor Church of Ireland, when Mary Ann lived at Castlegore and William was a Pit Headman at Bonnybridge, Stirling, Scotland. I noted this family in extenso in my blog of 7th August last, and here am going over much of the same ground, though from a different perspective. William's father was Henry McIlhagga, a Farmer. The Boyd girls' father was James Boyd, also a Farmer. One of the witnesses was Henrietta Boyd, another sister.

In the 1901 Census William (Hugh) was a 'Head of Family' living with two cousins, Maggie Boyd (who he was to marry) 24, and Daniel Boyd (20). So we learn that William Hugh and Maggie and her sisters were cousins. However, where was William (Gage) aged 25 in 1901? Was he with Mary A. Boyd? She was at home at 35 Castlegore with her parents James (54) and Jane (54), and siblings Barbara (13), Jane (15), Hettie (21) and Wm. (27). The only William G. (aged 35) was living in Eccles Street, Shankill, head of a family of 6 children and married to Jane Todd. The nearest in age William (28) was at Tullaghgarley Upper, Kells. He was William Sam said to be the Niece (sic!) of Andrew McIlhagga (Head, 50) and his sister Matilda (60), both unmarried. I have come to the conclusion that in 1901 William Gage was not counted in the Irish Census. Perhaps by then he had gone to work in Scotland? Yes, I think he is there. There is only one William aged 25 in the 1901 Scottish Census, and I have wondered for a long time who he might be! He is called McIlhago and is in Hurlford, Ayr, presumably looking for work or in a temporary job before finding work in Stirlingshire. I have for a long time cherished the thought that this William McIlhago might have been the remnant of the much earlier Ayrshire McIlhago family. But apparently not so!

How were William and Mary Ann Boyd cousins? The answer is that Mary's mother was a McIlhagga - Jane, daughter of William of Maxwellswalls. They were in fact second cousins once removed. William Hugh's parents were Henry McIlhaggo/a and Agnes McMeekin. William who married Maggie Boyd was the son of George McIlhagga and Elizabeth Ann Robinson. William and Maggie were first cousins. The two Williams, married to the two sisters in Donegall Avenue, Belfast, were also second cousins once removed.

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