Saturday, 13 November 2010

Ormeau Road in the Covenant

Penultimately on the Ulster Covenant we have two signatures from 204 Ormeau Road, Belfast, William J. McIlhagga and Mrs. J.B. McIlhagga. 'J.B.' is the only clan signature to include a title, which shows how the practice must have almost disappeared by 1912. In the 1911 Census there are a William John McIlhagga (48) and a Jane McIlhagga (32) with their family at 161 Ormeau Road. The children have been transcribed as David M (7), William John (6) and Agnes (2). This was a Presbyterian family. We learn from the supplementary 'Form A' that since being married in 1901 or 1902 they had had four children, all of whom were alive, so we can deduce that the fourth child must have been staying elsewhere on Census night, perhaps with grandparents. On looking carefully at this form I am unconvinced about the name David - it could be Samuel! 'W. John', as he signed himself, was a Fruiterer. So, a bit of detective work. Is there another child listed as a grandchild with another McIlhagga family? There is four year old Mary, granddaughter, at 8 Tullaghgarley Lower, Kells, with William (55) and Mary (50) McIlhagga. But how can the child of a 48 year old William John be the grandchild of a 55 year old William? Not possible! So let's go back to the 1901 Census. Where is William John (38)? He doesn't appear to exist! Does a Jane McIlhagga (22) exist? No!

What further clue can we find? Perhaps the fact that 'Mrs. J.B.' signed the Ulster Covenant before her next door neighbour, who was an Anderson. Was there a relevant McIlhagga-Anderson marriage? Indeed there was. The Ulster Historical Foundation has recorded a marriage at Elmwood Avenue Presbyterian Church on 3rd September 1902. It was between William John McIlhagga of Albert Bridge Road, a Tea Packer, son of James McIlhagga, a Farmer, and Jane Burgess Anderson of 60 Jerusalem Street, daughter of Samuel Anderson, a Van Man. So back to the 1901 Census of the year before. Do we have a James McIlhagga with a son William John? No! The only James with a son William John was James married to Jane Maitland in 1865 who are not in the 1911 Census though in 1901 they are at 1 Lavin Upr. (Castlequarter), both aged 65, and spelled McIlhaggar. There is one daughter with them, Maggie (25) but no son. Nevertheless my best guess is that William John McIlhagga of 1912 was the son of James and Jane (nee Maitland) McIlhagga(r) and that their children were Samuel (or David), William John, Agnes and a fourth child.

The last question to be asked is whether the fourth child was perhaps staying with Anderson grandparents? On 18 January last I started my blog with the fact that a David McIlhagga, aged 4, on census night was staying with his grandparents Samuel and Agnes Anderson and their two daughters Eliza Anne and Sarah Agnes at 160 Ormeau Road, Belfast. Clearly, when considering W.J. and J.B. signing the Ulster Covenant and comparing the 1911 Census for that address, I was suspicious that their 7 year old son had been mistranscribed as David. Now we know that their 4 year old son was David, and that in all probability the 7 year old was called Samuel. Before today I have been unsure where this family fitted in to the wider clan picture. I am now pretty confident that they belong to the family we can take back beyond James and Jane (nee Maitland) to Nathan and Ellen (nee Wilson) and then to Nathaniel and Betty (nee Burney) at Carnmoney.


  1. Great information here and other pages,thanks for taking the time.
    Regards David McIlhagga grandson of Samuel McIlhagga.

  2. David, thank you for your comment. It would be good to email you direct. Could you mail me at ?- Thanks. DM.