Tuesday, 14 December 2010

McIlhaggo - Owens farm handover

Several men who were part of the 19th Century Maxwellswalls clan family, all of whom had the first name Nathaniel, also had the second name Owens, and I have often wondered where this second name came from. The most reasonable assumption is that it was a maternal surname or a grandparent surname. Our earliest example is the name of Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga born 28th May 1834. Was his mother an Owens? Or was one of his maternal grandparents an Owens? Or just possibly was his paternal grandmother an Owens? A small clue came to me yesterday from a lady in Sydney, Australia who found this blog by chance when searching on the internet to find where Maxwellswalls is. She writes, 'I have not long downloaded a will from the PRONI site for Patrick Owens who died 28 May 1886. In addition to his farm at Castlegore (which is adjacent to Maxwellswalls) Patrick also includes the following, "I also leave and bequeath all my farm in Maxwellswall known as John McIlhaggo's farm to my son John Owens he paying my daughter Lizzie a principal sum of one hundred pounds sterling and to my granddaughter Margaret Charters McFall the principal sum of Fifty pounds sterling on her coming of age...".'

I think this reference gives us some circumstantial evidence that there probably was a family link between two farming families in Maxwellswalls, the Owens' and the McIlhaggo's. It is indeed interesting that a farm run by an Owens should actually be known locally as 'John McIlhaggo's farm', John having presumably left it sometime before 1886. The John being referred to could be one of two or three, but most probably John born about 1800 to Henry McIlhagga and Mary McDole (or McDowel). He was married to Mary Houston, probably about 1820. It is also probable that he died about 1834 for his wife Mary in 1835 married William Gage McIlhaggie. William was probably John's brother, and as far as we know was not a farmer. So we have a reason for John's farm becoming vacant in (say) 1834/5 and possibly having been taken over by Patrick Owens, an ancestor of whom in all likelihood donated his name to Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga.

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