Saturday, 24 December 2011

Two middle names - and Christmas

When I was searching the Ireland, Civil Registration Indexes, 1845 - 1958 I came across two clan members from the 20th Century, one male and one female, who had distinctive middle names. They were both births in Ballymena. All I have are the dates of the births. Agnes McClurkin McIlhagga was born in the January to March quarter of 1909 and Robert Carroll McIlhagga was born in the July to September quarter of 1916. I have searched the 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses for any clues to which families they come from and have drawn blanks. I have also posted queries on Carroll and McClurkin websites and blogs, again without success. I assume these middle names come from surnames of females who married into McIlhagga families, or they could be the surnames of either the mothers or grandmothers of Agnes and Robert. If anyone has any clues they can offer, please put a note on this blog or get in touch by sending me a message.

Over the Christmas period I'm off to see a Memorial Stone on which I've had my parents' names added to those of my grandparents. I'll publish a photograph when I return. Thank you to all who have sent Christmas greetings to the blog and all its readers. I wish you a happy and blessed time, especially if you are with your family. May 2012 bring more good genealogical discoveries!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

An 18th Century birth/baptism

I'm turning to the birth records from the Ulster Historical Foundation, the earliest of which is for Margaret, daughter of Nathan and Sarah McIlhaggy in Belfast. She was baptised, perhaps on the day of her birth, on 4th March 1790 at St. Anne's Church of Ireland, Shankill, by the Revd Richard Meade. I have more than once referred to this event in other contexts in this blog, but have not looked at it for its own sake. There is incidentally another probable 1790 birth, of a Martha McIlhagga. We know this from the fact that she died in 1875 aged 85, though I do not know if McIlhagga was her birth name or her married name.

Births in 1790 mean that the parents were probably born between 1760 and 1770. There are certainly Nathans of this period born in Maxwells Walls and in Carnmoney. In Shankill at the same time as Nathan McIlhaggy there was also a James McIlhaggey (spelled slightly differently). He and his wife Sarah had a son William in 1792. Two other Jameses were born in Islandmagee in 1755 and 1788. Finally in the 18th Century a John McIlhago was born in 1788 to a James McIlhago. This is known because he emigrated to the USA and his death is recorded there.

The above facts raise a number of possibilities. We have both a Nathan McIlhaggy - Sarah marriage and a James McIlhaggey - Sarah marriage, Nathan having a daughter in 1790 and James having a son in 1792, both in Shankill, Belfast. Were there two brothers, Nathan and James, who both married a Sarah? Or did Nathan die after Margaret was born and did Sarah then marry his brother James? Incidentally the Nathan in Carnmoney was born about 1758 so is of the right age to be the Shankill Nathan, but we know that he married Betty Burney and had a number of children, none of whom as far as we know was a Margaret.

There is also an 'unattached' Nathaniel who ceased to farm in Islandmagee in 1770, so may have been born as early as 1720. He, based on his probable age, also is somewhat unlikely to be identified with Shankill. The Maxwell Walls' Nathaniels are all too late to be considered as being the Shankill Nathan, though of course Nathan of Shankill may be their ancestor, a link we are at present unable to make for lack of evidence. So, despite a fair number of Nathans and Nathaniels in the 18th Century - clearly it was a popular name - we are no nearer to identifying the Shankill family.

Without a surname, I cannot speculate about Sarah. And what of Margaret? There is a Margaret (of unknown birth year) who married James McHag(g)o and had a son James in 1828. A 1790 birth for this Margaret would fit. There is also a Margaret McElhaga who died in 1845 in Ballymena. Again the date fits, but I have to say that both these Margarets seem to offer only very remote chances of finding a real identification. O dear! Let's hope for some new information which will throw more light.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wilson McIlhagga

The next marriage record from the Ulster Historical Foundation that I want to look at is dated 3 Jan 1867 from Buckna Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, Racavan. It is for the marriage of William McIlhagga, a farmer from Racavan to Jennifer Stewart of Craigamoy. Both were of 'full age' so would have been born, say, about 1845. In all probability this gives their parents birth years of around 1820. For a reason unknown there are no parents' names for Jennifer, though the 'husband's witness' was William Stewart, perhaps her brother. My special interest is the name of William McIlhagga's father, which was Wilson McIlhagga, also a farmer

I have one other marriage of an offspring of a Wilson, namely Maria, born 1843, daughter of Wilson McIlhaggo married to Samuel Winning on 12 May 1868 at Antrim Civil Registrar's Office. Maria was from Newpark Antrim, though this may be where she lived as a Servant and her father may well have been the same Wilson, a farmer from Racavan. Her witness, Mary Carnaughan does not I'm afraid add any further clue to this family's identity. We may know who William and Maria's father was, but not her mother as I have no marriage of any Wilson around 1820.

I do have one late birth of a Wilson, son of James McIlhagga of Eglington on 30 December 1880. It looks as if Wilson was the surname of a mother or a grandmother and it is just possible that if we were to go back a couple of generations in the Eglington family we might find a Wilson from Racavan. James of Eglington married a Johnston whose mother was a Greer, so no Wilson there. James was son of Nathaniel and Ellen McIlhaga. It is possible that Ellen's surname was Wilson and that in addition to James she may have had a son Wilson, though at present this is entirely in the realms of speculation. There was indeed a Nathan McIlhaggar, born about 1804 in Carnmoney, who did marry an Ellen Wilson, born about 1809. They married in Carnmoney on 21 May 1830 and they did have a son James. However, to the best of my knowledge neither he nor his parents had a son who was named Wilson, so the temptation to identify the Eglington family with the Racavan family seems to have run into the sand.

There is one other Wilson McIlhagga, born in 1875 to John McIlhagga and Eliza McCullough of Connor. Was he named after his paternal grandmother? Sadly we don't know her name! So we have come to the only other Wilson references I have which are second names. John W. McElhago was born in 1865 and died in 1867. James W. McIlhagga, born 1871 was son of Henrietta Wilson, so must have been named for her and another James W. McIlhagga, born 1894 was a nephew of the 1875 Wilson, so clearly was named after him.

We do have a 'late' female, Jane Wilson born in 1904 to William Hugh and Maggie McIlhagga, who was possibly named after her great uncle, one John Wilson McIlhagga. a farmer who died in 1896. Now he had son William who according to the IGI married a Jenny Stewart on 2 Jan 1868. Time-wise we are in the right ball-park, and I think we have come full circle! I think Jenny Stewart and Jennifer Stewart were one and the same person, and that the IGI's date of 2 Jan 1868 should be corrected by the Ulster Historical Foundation's date of 3rd Jan 1867. Conclusion - William's father was simply using his second name only when he was being 'father' at both William's and Maria's weddings. John Wilson McIlhagga's father was one William McIlhagga, born about 1810 in Maxwell's Walls, in the parish of Connor. John Wilson, known as 'Wilson', was the youngest of nine siblings.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Kirkmichael in 1861

On 8 August last I referred to a Frances A. McHagg who lived from 1857 to 1925, found in Virginia USA, and who may have been related to three McHaggs found in the 1881 English Census, Mary (born 1843), John (1851) and Peter (1856). Frances' father was Thomas (according to the IGI) who married a Letisha Bishop. Frances married a Thomas Bishop in 1874 in Scott County, Virginia. The 1881 English Census tells us that Mary, John and Peter were living at 21 Victoria Terrace, Dudley, Worcestershire, John and Peter being travelling drapers and Mary keeping house for them. Significantly they were siblings who had all been born in Scotland and in August last I was making the assumption that McHagg was a deviant version of our clan name.

I haven't yet found any McHaggs in the 1871 Censuses, but I may have done in 1861. Thomas McHagg is in the English Census living in York, East Riding of Yorkshire. He was 58, so born in 1803. He in all likelihood was the father of Frances whom we find in Virginia, USA. More interestingly, according to the 'findmypast' website, there is a family of McHaggs to which the siblings Mary, John and Peter might have belonged, and they lived in Kirkmichael in Ayrshire, and I had been assuming that all clan members had disappeared from Kirkmichael! The family were John (65), Isabella (61), Isabella (20) and David R. (2). It is unlikely that a 59 year old Isabella would have given birth to a baby, so we may assume that David R. was the illegitimate son of young Isabella when she was 18. The 'R' is probably the clue to the surname 0of the father.

Now I have recorded the above, which I have noted from the 'findmypast' website, in part to show how careful we must be to check our sources. I went to the 'ScotlandsPeople' website to view the original census page for Kirkmichael.. The family's address was 91, New Village, and the surname is clearly not McHagg, but is either McHaig or McHarg. ScotlandsPeople thinks it is McHaig. It could well be of course that the siblings in Dudley are also McHaig or McHarg.

Before I found this original I was going to make a suggestion - which I'll make anyway - that John and Isabella, born respectively in nearby Straiton and Ayr, might possibly have been the only John and Isabella marriage I have on record for that period, namely John McIlhague who married Isabella McCallum who had a daughter Jean on 8 March 1824. Their certain link to our clan is that Isabella's brother Alexander married Elizabeth the daughter of James McElhago and Jane Harvey of Irvine. There is also a possible further link that I have pointed out in a previous blog, that John McIlhague may be the same John who later married a Jean Glen in Greenock. If this were so, then we might assume that Isabella had died, perhaps in chiuldbirth. Had the McHaigs really been McHaggs, I was going to point out this possible second marriage to show that John and Isabella McIlhague couldn't be the same as John and Isabella 'McHagg' in 1861, but of course I don't have to do so now, as the 'McHaggs' were in fact 'McHaigs'!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Rutherglen in 1861

The Internet site called '' has just published the 1861 Scottish Census. There are four places of special interest for us, Tradeston, Irvine, Rutherglen and Renfrew. I will return to the first two on another occasion. The five people in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, are husband and wife, William (45) and Mary (49) McIlhago and their offspring Mary (20), Margreat (sic) (18) and Samuel (16). There is also a Willm McIlhago aged 22 in Renfrew (Burgh), who could be their eldest child.

I believe this couple to be William Gage McIlhago/McIlhagga/McIlhaggie and Mary Houston who would have married about 1835 after the demise of Mary's first husband, William's older brother John. As I have suggested in earlier blogs, John probably fathered three known children, Henry, Eliza and William, Henry being named after his paternal grandfather. It is possible that William is the 'Willm' in Renfrew on the 1861 Census. However, to the best of our knowledge at present William was born in 1834 and 'Willm' in 1839, so they could well be two people. There is no reason why Mary could not have had two sons called William by different fathers, however 'inconvenient' it was to have step-brothers with the same name. And it appears that she also had two Henrys, for there are two half-siblings older than the four listed in Rutherglen in 1861, namely Rebecca (born 1836) and Henry (born probably in 1838).

The 1861 Rutherglen list has added the names of two children to my indexes, namely William and Mary. The fact of a Mary McIlhago living in Rutherglen in 1861 has opened up a further possibility. By 1863 she would have been twenty-two, and I have the record of a marriage on 6th June that year of a Mary McIlhage (an 'easy' variation) to a William Gibb. They had a daughter Mary on 22nd March 1867 in Belfast, indicating that between '63 and '67 they returned from Scotland to Ireland. However not all the family returned. By 1871 Mary senior (now McIllhago) aged 58 was living, apparently alone, in New Monkland and 'Willm', now 36, married to Catherine, 28, with four McIlhago children, were living in the centre of Glasgow.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Harryville family

I have acquired more birth and marriage details from the Ulster Historical Foundation and the first one I want to explore is the marriage of John McIlhagga, a Labourer of 87 Queen Street, Harryville, Ballymena, to Mary Sloan of 103 Queen Street. They were married on 5 January 1894 in Ballychug Church of Ireland. No parents are given for Mary, and as is the case with most marriage records, just the father of the groom is named, who was also John McIlhagga, also a Labourer. Mary's witness was a Mary Matthews. John's witness was William McIlhagga who we may presume was his brother. Both John and Mary were recorded as of 'Full age', so in all probability were born about 1873.

If we now turn to the 1901 Census for Ballymena we do have a husband and wife, John and Mary McIlhagga living at 102 Queen Street, the house either next door to, or opposite 103, the address Mary gave at their marriage. John's age in 1901 was 26 and Mary's 25, giving them possible birth years of 1875 and 1876. If these are correct, when they were married they were in fact 19 and 18 respectively, two and three years under 'full age', not an unusual situation to find, including giving false ages. In 1901 no occupation is given for either John or Mary, and they appear to have no family. If we now turn to the 1911 Census again we find a married couple, John and Mary McIlhagga, living in Ballymena, this time at 115 Queen Street. John gives his occupation as Railway Carter. However their ages are recorded as 30 and 30. If they are the same couple, and there is no reason to think they are not, they have knocked five years off their ages. Once again there are no children recorded, though we do know from the census that they had had three children all of whom sadly had died in infancy.

In the tree for this family I cannot at present go back further than John the father of John. In addition to the possibility that William, John's marriage witness, was a brother, I think it is probable that he had a younger brother Andrew who in 1906 was also married in a Church of Ireland (Ahoghill), to Elizabeth Todd. In 1906 John senior was also described as a Labourer, as indeed was Samuel the father of Elizabeth Todd. In 1906 Andrew was also married from Queen Street, Ballymena, though no house number is given. Andrew and Elizabeth subsequently had a large family of five boys and five girls.

If we ask whether there were any other McIlhaggas living in Queen Street, or nearby in Ballymena and who therefore might well be related, we find in 1901 Robert and Margaret and family at 67 Queen Street. In 1911 Robert and Margaret have moved away to Azamor Street, Belfast. Robert who was probably 42 in 1901, though he said he was 47, could well have been a brother of John senior. If that were the case, then we can take the family with whom we started back a further two generations because we know that Robert's father was James who was son of William a Weaver, who was born at the end of the eighteenth century.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Medieval Lesmahagow

Under George F. Black's entry in The Surnames of Scotland for 'McIlhagga' he says 'See Gilmagu', and there quotes three examples from the 12th and 13th Centuries. They come from the annals of Kelso Abbey in the Scottish Borders, but concern the Priory of Lesmahagow in Lanarkshire, which as 'Lesmahagu' in a King David's charter of 1144 was given by him to Kelso Abbey. In another charter of the same year the Bishop of Glasgow confirms this grant.

The personal name 'Gille Mohagu' appears several times in early charters pertaining to the district around Lesmahagow, spelled 'Lesmagu' in the Kelso annals. This personal name appears in the forms 'Gilmagu' and 'Gilmalagon/Gilmahagou' and in the place name 'Gilmahagistoun', these forms, as W.J. Watson points out in The Celtic Place Names of Scotland establishing the vernacular of the twelfth century, when Gaelic was doubtless spoken in the parish. The earliest reference to the name of a Celtic Saint associated with Lesmahagow is in King David's charter of 1144, but this is in Latin, a fact to which I will return.

The earliest Gaelic name reference in the medieval period was to Gilmalagon, who witnessed a charter concerning land granted by Arnold who was Abbot of Kelso 1147-1160. It was concerning land belonging to the Priory of Lesmahagow and was being given to Theobald (the) Fleming and his heirs. The extent of the land and its rent are detailed in the charter. W.J. Watson thought that the name Gilmalagon had been copied in error for Gilmahagou, the main part of the old topographical name Gilmahagistoun which lies within the parish of Lesmahagow and is mentioned in a charter dated between 1208-18. Watson also suggests that Gilmagu is a shortened version of Gilmahagu. Gilmalagon or Gilmahagou is there given the 'surname' Mac Kelli.

The next earliest Gaelic name reference is during the period 1160-1180 when John was Abbot of Kelso. Gilmagu had a portion of the lands near Lesmahagow, in Glenane, now Kerse, granted to him and his heirs, "bounded by the march which is between him and his brother Saludes, and by the loch which is between him and us (? the Priory of Lesmahagow) and so across from the march of Saludes, thence to the burn at Wenhath, and so by the burn of Gregeref, by the Naithan into the Clyde".

There are two fascinating questions from this charter for our clan. Were Gilmagu and Saludes blood brothers, or were they religious brothers from the Priory? The fact that Gilmagu either had or might have heirs surely implies that he was married or might marry, and so was most likely a 'secular', not a 'religious' brother. If this were so, were the names Gilmagu and Saludes 'given' Christian names rather than 'family' names? The second question is entirely in the realm of speculation. The burn or stream called Naithan which ran into the River Clyde reminds us of one of the earliest anglicised names given in our clan, Nathan. Is the burn Naithan where it came from?

The first question may be answered either by referring back to Gilmalagon/Gilmalagou mac Kelli, or to another charter which refers to Gilmagu Mac Aldic owning a croft in Glenane at some time between 1180 and 1203, when Osbert, the Abbot of Kelso after John, granted some land to Radolphus, a servant of the Priory of Lesmahagow. This land was bounded in part by the burn running between Gilmagu Mac Aldic's croft and the croft of Fretheton. There was certainly a time in Ireland when the name of Saint Mochuda was incorporated into the Christian names of his followers or devotees, and may be this was happening also in Scotland, examples being Mac Kelli and Mac Aldic (see also my blog of 8 Feb 2009).

An important question is whether there is a direct link between the person-names Gilmagu, Gilmahagou, and the place names Gilmahagistoun and Lesmahagow? If the person-names are derived from Mochuda, are the place-names also so derived? It is tempting to think so, but if it is in fact so, the charter of 1144 of King David granting the lands to Kelso Abbey is in error in naming the saint (in Latin) Sanctus Machutus, a Welsh or Bretton saint, despite that charter calling the Priory Lesmahagu. Maybe at some earlier stage there was a confusion between the Welsh Machute and the Irish Mochuda - which to our modern ears, would be easy, would it not? -the Priory dedicated to Machute though the followers of Machuda faithfully following as Gille-Mochudas, Gilmahagous, Gilmagus, and eventually McIlhaggas!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Gaelic Scholar's help

Scottish and Irish authors of books on family names differ on the Gaelic origins of McIlhagga. The Irish have linked the name with McIlhargy and therefore found the derivation from Mac Gille Chairge, 'Son of the Lad of the Rock', or perhaps Mac Con Chairge, 'Son of the Hound of the Rock'. The Scottish have seen its origins in Gille Mo Chuda, literally 'Son of My Heart' from the name Mochuda, otherwise Carthage, the 6th Century Celtic Abbot of Lismore in County Waterford.

I have always favoured the Scottish theory, mainly because the clan 'paper trail' does not come up with the variant McIlhargy, a fact supported by differing DNA results for McIlhagga and McHarg, McHargue, a shortened form of McIlhargy. Following my recent visit to Northern Ireland I have been in correspondence with the historian and Gaelic scholar in Belfast I mentioned in my last blog, who has kindly said she thinks that even from language that the Scottish view is entirely correct on the derivation of McIlhagga and that confusion with McIlharg(y) would be just that, confusion. Her view is that the most quoted Irish author, MacLysacht was terrific on documentary evidence, but less so on etymology. She quotes the more Gaelic-based Irish surname scholar, the Rev. Patrick Woulfe ('Irish Names and Surnames', 1923) who, though he does not deal with Scotland, gives the Irish surname formation Mac Giolla [Mo] Chuda, anglicised as McGillyCuddy (as in McGillycuddy's Reeks) but also in the shortened form as McElcuddy and McElhuddy. She adds 'If you accept that -d- could be changed to -g- (a slight surprise)', but we may suppose the effect of migrating across the North Channel, 'McElhuddy is a good Irish comparison with the Scottish McIlhagga'.

My friend from Belfast also adds that she doesn't know why the personal name Giolla [Mo] Chuda became Gilmagu in Scotland, which is part of the theory propounded by the main 'Scottish' author, G.F. Black, though she admits that 'as a set these Gille / Giolla compound names do get abbreviated in surprising ways'. I will write further about Gilmagu in my next blog.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Family Name UK Project

On my visit to Northern Ireland in October I met a history/gaelic scholar who told me about an academic project based at the University of Western England which is revising the standard works on family names, and she kindly offered to submit the result of my work on our clan name. My attempt to summerise it for her consideration was the following:

The family name McILHAGGA

The surname McIlhagga appears in Surname Dictionaries published in both Ireland and Scotland, though interestingly all known to me refer to it as a Scottish surname. There is however a distinct difference in the way the etymology of the name is discussed on the two sides of the North Channel. This will be obvious if I quote George F. Black, 'The Surnames of Scotland' and Edward MacLysaght, 'The Surnames of Ireland'.

Black has “MACILHAGGA. Most probably for 'son of the gille of Mochuda'. See GILMAGU.” There follows five examples from 1527 to 1715, four in Ayrshire and one in Galloway. He then names three place-names in which the saint is commemorated in Scotland. His entry for GILMAGU has “Ir. Giolla Mo-Chuda, 'servant of (S.) Mochuda (=my Cuda), another name for S. Carthage of Lismore'”. He then quotes two Medieval charters referring to Abbeys in the Scottish Borders which are witnessed by Gilmagu in the 12th Century. He adds 'See also MACILHAGGA'. Black is followed by Diane D. McNicholl in 'The Surnames of East Lothian'.

MacLysaght has “Mac Ilhagga. Mac Giolla Chairge. This Gaelic form is given by MacGiolla Domhnaigh. A Scottish name found in Cos. Antrim and Derry. MacElhargy, MacIlhargy and Maharg are variants of it.” In MacLysacht's Supplement, 'More Irish Families', he has “MacIlhagga, Maharg. At first sight these two names would not appear to be variants, but when we remember that MacIlhagga is also found as MacIlharga, MacElhargy and McIlharg and that in Ulster Mac is frequently abbreviated to Ma the transition becomes intelligible. According to MacGiolla Domnaigh the Gaelic form is MacGiollaChairge which is common to Galloway in Scotland and to Cos. Antrim and Derry. Maharg is also written Meharg”. Further, Maclysacht has an entry under MacHarg, which says “Tyrone name is an earlier form of Maharg. See MacIlhagga”.

In Ireland it appears that MacLysacht has been followed uncritically, e.g. by Robert Bell in 'The Book of Ulster surnames' where he says 'Maharg is a variant of the Scottish MacIlhagga' (p.82), and by the Irish Times Internet site.

It also appears that MacLysaght has 'expanded' MacGiollaDomnaigh, where, in 'Some Anglicised Surnames in Ireland' (1923, p.45) there is no reference to MacIlhagga. He has “Meharg, Maharg – These two names are the shortened anglicised forms of McIlhargy. Other forms are McIlharg and McElhargy; in Gaelic the name is written MacGiolla-chairge, and is mostly found in Galloway and in Ulster, particularly in S.E. Derry”.

I have for the past twelve years done a 'One Name Study' (with the Guild of One Name Studies) of the name McIlhagga and its variants and have compiled Indexes of the name referring to thousands of births, marriages and deaths, and have come across no examples of the so-called variants quoted in MacLysacht, namely MacElhargy, MacIlhargy, Maharg, Meharg, McIlharg, McIlharga or MacHarg. The 'paper trail' appears to demonstrate that these names have a different origin to McIlhagga.

The result of the 'paper trail' appears to be confirmed by recent DNA analysis. A 'MacHargue / McHarg' DNA project has produced one set of results, up to 37 markers, and a McIlhagga DNA project has produced a totally different set of results, up to 37 markers. The McIlhagga results are part of group M269, sub-group R1b1a2* which is very rare.

I am no Gaelic scholar but my best thinking about the origins of the name McIlhagga is that if we go back to the 6th Century we may find our eponymous ancestor as a follower of (Saint) Mochuda Carthach. In Ireland it may be that followers have spawned a number of variants including McGillycuddy and McElhuddy. Parallel to such evolution we have what appears to be a migration to the South-West of Scotland, possibly a very early migration initiated by St. Colmon of Ella, where the name Gille Mochuda, via the Latin form Gilmagu evolved into McIlhago and McIlhagga. It was in Colmonell (named for St. Colmon Ella) in Ayrshire where the clan name appeared in 1527 in its Anglicised form, namely Macylhaggow.

Interestingly an internet site associated with an academic project at University College, London, which maps the whereabouts of Western Names, at, confirms that the name McIlhagga is 'Group: Celtic; Subgroup: Scottish; Language: English'. For the variant McIlhagger it correctly changes the subgroup to 'Irish'.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Timeline for William

I'm sure that the William McElhagan recorded in the Rent Revision Books for Ballycloghan, to which I referred in my last blog, was my great-great-grandfather, otherwise recorded as William McIlhagga at family events such as Baptisms, and Marriages. It is useful to get an overall view of an ancestor's life by making a timeline for him or her. It will inevitably have some unresolved issues in it, and these can encourage further research on that person. A Timeline for William of Ballycloghan looks like this:

1798 Earliest date for birth, if son of James and Sarah of Shankill;
1807-9 Latest date for birth based on probable marriage date;
1828 Ballycloghan Townland Valuation - Applotment Books. Two plots;
1828-30 Probable date of marriage, maybe in Clogh Presbyterian Church;
1831 Son William born, based on 1851 Census, aged 20;
1832-3 Son John born, Co. Antrim;
1834 Daughter Jane born, Ballycloghan;
1835 Daughter Mary born (?Baptised 26.2.1837);
1837 Son Crawford born, Ballycloghan. Baptised 26 Feb 1837;
1838-9 Daughter Ann born Ballycloghan. Baptised 16 Jan 1839;
1841 Daughter Nancy born Ballycloghan. Baptised 17 Oct 1841;
1844 Daughter Margaret born Ballycloghan. Baptised 16 Jun 1844;
1844 Wife Agnes (nee McCosh) died (?in childbirth);
1851 Weaver (William's and John's marriages);
1854 Farmer (Jane's marriage, Broughshane);
1863 Farmer (Nancy's marriage, Broughshane);
1865 Farmer (Crawford's marriage, Port Glasgow);
1866 Margaret's marriage (Port Glasgow);
1879 William still in Ballycloghan (Rent Revision Book);
1889 Death recorded on son William's death record.

It may never be possible to find exact dates for William's birth and death, or indeed his marriage, unless further information is found. From the above evidence he must have died between 1879 and 1889, between the ages of 70 (if born in 1809) and 91 (if born in 1798).

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Plot 21

Plot 21, Ballycloghan

On 25 October in this blog I 'revisited' Griffith's Valuation for the townland of Ballycloghan in the parish of Skerry. I showed a map of Plot 21 in its townland setting and referred to Estate Revision Rent Books. I thought it would be of interest to show a larger scale of the Plot, hence the map above, and to show the detail of what I found in the Revision Books. The list of occupants on Plot 21 were as follows for April 1877-79:

21a Occupier: John Glynn; Immed. Lessor: E(lizabeth) McI.H.Fulton;
House off land. area of land: 59 acres, 3 roods, 35 perches;
Land rent: £35.10.0; Buildings £4.0.0; Total: £39.10.0.;
The other five names listed had no land, simply buildings (house) rent:
21b. Saml. Aungish. Lessor: John Glynn. Rent 15.0 (shillings);
21c. John McElhagan, Lessor: John Glynn. Rent 10.0
21d. Wm. McElhagan, Lessor: E.McI.H.Fulton. Rent 15.0
21e. Jas. McErland. Lessor: John Glynn. Rent 10.0
21f. Edward Mooney. Lessor: John Glynn. Rent 15.0

When I first saw this list I imagined a row of six cottages or perhaps a farmhouse plus a row of five, but when later I found the map on the internet it became clear that the houses are grouped in a 'random' way, no doubt determined by the lie of the land. John Glynn who lived in the main house (at least the house with the land) was also the Lessor for four of the cottages. Cottages one three and five are clearly larger than two and four. William McElhagan (=McIlhagga) lived in number three, paying 15/- rent. John McElhagan (=McIlhagga) was living 'next door' in number two, paying 10/-. In my earlier blog I raised the question whether they were father and son, or brothers. If they were brothers, and both sons of William McIlhagga and Agnes McCosh, they would have been 48 and 47 respectively. If they were father and son, as I believe, then in 1879 they would have been respectively 72 and 47.

Incidentally there were two nearby plots in the name of William Crawford, after whom William and Agnes's third son Crawford may have been named. I know no other possibility for this unusual first name. There was also a Joseph McCosh, possibly a nephew of Agnes. The other surnames of people occupying houses in this Plot 21 'hamlet' do not relate to the McIlhagga clan as far as I know. About ten minutes walk from these cottages there was a National School called Braiduile or Braidujle, exempt from paying rent, which not only means that the landlord, Lord Masserene, was 'community minded', but that all Ballycloghan children of that time had a basic education. Sadly no Braiduile School Records seem to have survived.

The Revision Books tell us what happened to these cottages. In 1897-8 the main house was still occupied by John Glynn. However, by 1905 David McCosh was in residence. The name of William McElhagan had disappeared by 1897. John McElhagan appears to have moved into one of the larger cottages as he is paying the higher rent in 1897, though in the subsequent three years he is replaced by John Glynn (1898), John Gavit (1899) and then David McCosh (1900). The final revision books of 1916 contain no clan names. By 1913 the two cottages originally occupied by William and John were in ruins. The main house was still occupied up to 1923. The National School site was 'vacant' and all the cottages had gone. So it looks as if William McElhagan died between 1879 and 1897, and John in 1897. In fact we know that John died in 1895 and that on his death record is says his father William was also deceased.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Children of two Second Marriages

Mary Jane McIlhagga was born on 13th September 1882 to Samuel McIlhagga, Cardriver, and Sarah Jane, of 20 Browns Square, Belfast. As the record says that the Officiating Minister at the Church of Ireland was the Rev. Richard Irvine, we can assume that the second date given, 20th September, just a week later, was a baptism. The parish is called St. Stephen's. As I have explained in an earlier blog (1st April last) the probability is that Mary Jane was the only child of a second marriage, Samuel's first wife having died.

Ruth McIlhagga was born on 18th January 1881 and registered or baptised on 16th February. Her parents were George McIlhagga, a Salesman, and Elizabeth Patterson, of 97 Portingale Street, Belfast. George was also named as the 'witness'. Up to now I have had a record of Ruth born 1881, the fifth child of George McIlhagga and Elizabeth Robinson, Ruth dying the following year on 21 September 1882 at 59 Old Lodge Road, Belfast. I have wondered for some time whether there is a mistaken transcription confusing Robinson and Patterson? However, I have found a marriage date for George and Elizabeth Patterson on 1st February 1879. Was this George's second marriage? Yes, it must have been for I have also found the death of Elizabeth Robinson in 1877 aged 37. George would have needed someone to help bring up his four children, the last of whom, Eliza Ann had been born in 1875. So Ruth was a child of the second marriage.

Finally, to confirm what I have just written (!) I have also received the birth record of George McIlhagga on 29th November 1879, with baptism/registration on 11th February, to George McIlhagga, Salesman, and Elizabeth Patterson of 97 Portingale Street, Belfast. Again, George also signs as 'witness'.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Four more Birth Records

William Robert McIlhagga was born 26th March 1904 and Baptised/Registered on 13th April. The records of the Ulster Historical Foundation tell us he was the son of Robert McIlhagga, a Baker, and Eliza Jane Neeson, of 48 Lawther Street, Belfast. Clearly this William Robert was the older brother of Daniel born in 1906 and whom I recorded in my last blog. The fact that their mother's maiden name differs between the two records, Erskine and Neeson, must I think mean that at least one of them is a mistranscription, unless of course there were two marriages. The witness's name on this occasion was Robert McIlhagga, presumably William Robert's father. This probably means he went to the Register Office to report the birth.

On 1st February 1903 we have another clan son born to another baker. John was born to Daniel McIlhagga and Harriett Jane McCaughtrey of 2 Singleton Street, Belfast. He was registered/baptised on 12th March. The name of the witness was Mary McCaughtrey, maybe Harriett Jane's sister or mother. My own Marriage Index spells Harriett's maiden name Harriet McAughtrey, when she and Daniel married on 12 April 1902 at Frederick Street Methodist Church. As far as I know John was the only child that Daniel and Harriet(t) had. Daniel was one of the eight children of John McIlhagga and Margaret Douglass. Daniel died two years after John was born, in Belfast Fever Hospital. Harriet(t) Jane remarried, to William Robert Girvin, four years later in 1909.

Samuel McIlhagga was born on 7th June 1891 and baptised/registered on 27th. His parents were James McIlhagga, a Flaxdresser, and Rebecca Johnston of 36 Disraeli Street, Belfast. James McIlhagga is also recorded as the 'witness'. Also Wilson McIlhagga was born on 30th December 1880 and baptised/registered on 3rd April 1881. His parents were also James McIlhagga and Rebecca Johnston, Presbyterians, of 59 Preston Street, Eglington, Belfast. As the name of Rev. J. Martin is on this record, I take it that this was a baptism, confirmed surely by the three month's gap after the birth. I wrote extensively about this family in my Blog of 21st September last, 'A Belfast Family'.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Two Comments and three Births

This month I have had two comments submitted to this blog. One I have published after 'More Transatlantic Travel' on 4th October. The second was a request to trace a clan member who I assume is alive today. In accord with my policy of privacy for people alive, unless they give their permission for their name to be published, I have not (for the time being) made this comment public. Fortunately the sender, in Australia, included her name and address, so I have been able to send her what I hope is a helpful reply.

Also this month I have purchased a number of birth details, and I include the first three here. Henry, born 1 October 1906, baptised/registered (the record doesn't say which) 16 October, was son of William McIlhagga, Labourer and Mary Ann Boyd, of 7 Colchester Street, Belfast. There is a witness name of Mary Jane Morgan, unknown to me I'm afraid. William was the son of Henry McIlhagga and Agnes Gardiner. Mary Ann was the daughter of James Boyd and Jane McIlhagga. William therefore married his second cousin, once removed.

The common factor between Henry's baptism (or registration) and Elizabeth Ann's is that the same witness was present, Mary Jane Morgan. Elizabeth Ann was born on 11 June 1906 and registered/baptised on 3rd July. Her parents were William Hugh McIlhagga, also a Labourer, and Maggie Boyd. They lived at 35 Donegall Avenue, Belfast. William Hugh's parents were George McIlhagga and Elizabeth Anne Robinson. Margaret's were James Boyd and Jane McIlhagga. In this case William Hugh and Margaret were first cousins. Elizabeth Ann had an older sister Jane, and would have two younger brothers, James and William.

A third birth in 1906 was that of Daniel, born to Robert McIlhagga, a Baker, and Eliza Jane Erskine, on 26 August, registered/baptised on 15 September. They lived at 30 Lawther Street, Belfast. The witness's name was Eliza Jane McIlhagga. This of course may have been Daniel's mother signing her married name. Daniel had an older brother, William Robert born 1904, and was to have a younger brother Samuel, born 1910. According to the 1911 Census they had moved to nearby 25.1 Lawther Place, Belfast. At present I do not know to which wider family this group belongs.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Killing Times

Setting aside 'Celtic' and 'Medieval' times, our clan records in Scotland date from 1527 in Carrick, in the south west of Ayrshire. Michael Macylhaggow was probably born at the end of the 15th Century. The earliest recorded date in Ulster was 1669 when three men, inhabiting properties in the parish of Doagh Grange in County Antrim, find themselves paying the tax known as Hearth Money. The two with the same name, Alex and Allexander McIlhago were probably father and son, and the third, James McIlhaga, despite the o/a spelling variation, was probably another son or a cousin.

It is a reasonable assumption that these three crossed the North Channel some time in the 1660s, giving themselves time enough to own property with hearths. Presumably the younger two had been born in the 1640s and the father about 1620. Certainly the spelling McIlhago was around in Ayrshire at that time. Robert Mc'Ilhago appears there in 1597. Another Robert McIlhago witnessed his grandson's baptism at Ayr in 1685. He could be a contemporary of either of the younger Ulster men, or indeed the father. One has to add that, though it is a good Scots name, there are no other Alexanders of whom I know in the Ayrshire family, and the next James to appear does so in about 1740.

It is of interest to speculate why three clan members, possibly with their families (or else why were they living in three separate properties in 1669?) may have chosen to migrate to Ulster in that decade. The clue could well be in the nature of the times which have come to be known as the 'Killing Times'. It is a reasonable assumption that the three men in the Hearth Money Rolls were Presbyterians, for the great majority of later clan members in Ulster were. 1660 saw the Restoration of the Monarchy when Charles II came to the throne. After the previous twenty years when Covenanting Presbyterianism was in the ascendancy, there was a violent return to earlier persecution.

It began in 1660 with many arrests and executions, then in 1661-2 came the ejection of hundreds of Presbyterian ministers from their parishes, who then had to preach, on both sides of the Channel, in remote fields and hillsides. In 1665-6 the battles between the royalist troops and the Covenanting bands were fought fiercely, not least in the south west of Scotland before spreading to the east and to Edinburgh. Throughout December 1666 a spate of bloody public executions of Covenanters took place across Scotland, though at Irvine and Ayr the official hangman refused to carry out his task. Although in the early '60s the ejected Ulster ministers and many followers had crossed to Scotland to join the Covenanters there, in late 1666 and early 1667 Ulster again became the refuge for many, especially from the west of Scotland.

This in brief was the background to what was to become known as the 'Killing Times' and perhaps was the main reason why first James McElhago, a sea captain of Irvine, chose to spend the mid to late '60s in America, and also why Alex and Allexander McIlhago and James McIlhaga migrated just across the North Channel to Ulster and to reestablish themselves in the parish of Doagh Grange.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Three more 'Newsletter' Reports

When I put 'M'Ilh...' in to the Index Search of The Belfast Newsletter, in addition to the six references to the ship 'Mary' and her master James McIlhago, it came up with three other references. The first, to Nathaniel McIlhago in 1770 of Island Magee, I have already written about on 1 September last. Its significance is that it takes us back a generation on that peninsula.

The second reference appears to be also in Island Magee. It is in the newspaper of 5 October 1798 (page 3) and simply reads, "notice wife = McIllhagoo, Jennet = Wilson, Jennet goods caution credit + Island Magee 3 = Wilson, Patrick". At present I don't understand whether everything after the first Jennet is relevant and I think I will have to look up the original paper when I next go to Belfast. Hopefully it will help us decide whose wife Jennet was. It may well be that she was the wife of Nathaniel.

The third reference was in the paper 6-9 November 1781 (page 3) and I believe it takes us back a generation in the townland of Maxwell's Walls in the parish of Connor. It is the intriguingly brief notice reading "Stray beef cow = McIllhago, William + Connor 8". It looks as if William, who must have been born before 1760 could have been the father or grandfather of the group of men farming in Maxwell's Walls early in the 19th Century, including Henry, John and William. Father or grandfather William must have had a problem with one of his cows! Again, we may have more information when we see the full report in the paper.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Captain James McIlhago

On 1 September last I wrote about Robert McElhago, who with his whole crew was drowned when his ship capsised in Drogheda harbour. Robert was based in Irvine, on the west coast of Scotland, and was part of our Ayrshire clan family in the 18th Century. He drowned in December 1797 in the ship named 'Industry', and this tragedy was reported in the newspaper called the Belfast Newsletter, on 8th December.

I recently went back to the Newsletter Index and searched for references to 'M'Ilh...'. It brought up six more items of Port News ten years earlier than the shipwreck, between August 1786 and July 1787, all concerning a ship called Mary whose master was McIlhago. Was this Robert, with his surname spelled slightly differently? Fortunately one report, that for 25-29 May 1787 (p.2) included the ship's master's Christian name, James. The ship Mary was a cargo boat carrying a variety of goods, including salt, cork wood, fruit, salmon and linen cloth.

I have for some time believed that James McIlhago who in 1765 was involved in founding a library in the USA (see my blog of 7 Feb 2009) must have been a sea captain, and surely now we have found that indeed he was. He must have returned from the USA to Irvine, Ayrshire and taken over the 'Mary'. The name of the ship might well indicate that either his mother or his wife's name was Mary, though I have to say that we have no proof that he ever married. My belief is that he was an uncle of the Robert who drowned in 1797.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

What happened to the children?

I had an 'out of the blue' piece of information yesterday, for which I am very grateful. It was from someone searching The Belfast Newsletter for 1840 and came across the announcement of a marriage between John Fullerton and Miss McIlhaga, both of Islandmagee. An advanced search produced no more information. The only 'Miss McIlhaga' of the right age in Island Magee was probably the Mary of whom I wrote in my blog yesterday, the Mary who was a school pupil 1826-31. She could have been born about 1820, so by 1840 would have been twenty-ish. The odd thing about this information is that I do have a record of a marriage which took place in Connor Church of Ireland on 8th Jan 1872 of a Miss McIlhagga (either Margaret or Mary), daughter of James and Mary Anne Gardner, to a John Fullerton, son of John Fullerton. Now of course it could be that the John Fullerton who married in 1840 was the father and the John Fullerton who married in 1872 was the son. I wonder.

If this information has made me ask what happened to Mary McIlhaggo who was in the Island Magee school in about 1830, I must also ask what happened to her 'brother', William McIlhago. On the assumption that he was a year or two older than Mary (simply because his name is listed first), we can say he might have been born around 1815. In fact we do know what happened to him. His name is on a gravestone in Ballypriormore churchyard. He was actually born in 1816 and he died aged 23 in 1839, son of Samuel and Ellen McIlhaggo. Here I think is confirmation that William and Mary were brother and sister.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Island Magee Pre-National School

I have been blogging about some things I have found in Dixon Donaldson's History of Island Magee, and I come to the last point of interest. It is a Roll of Pupils enrolled in the Island School during the years 1826 and 1831. This includes two children who are said to live in the townland of Lower Kilcoan, namely Wm. McIlhago and Mary McIlhaggo. Despite the difference in surname spelling there is no reason to think they are not siblings. I must presume that William and Mary were the children of Samuel McIlhaggo and Ellon McWhinney.

In addition to the McIlhag(g)o siblings, of particular interest to us also are three pupils in Carnspindle, two in Gransha, one in Ballymuildre, two in Balle, one in Ballymoney and one in Ballycronan, any of which could relate through future marriage, though this has yet to be demonstrated. The surnames are simply ones which appear to have clan links. They are, Carnspindle: And., Thos. and Saml. Mawhinney; Gransha: Jenny Napier and Hy Brennan; Ballymuildre: Abby Brennan; Balle: John and David Aiken; Ballymoney: James Forsythe; and in Ballycronan: Robert Hay.

The school teacher was John Montgomery. I quote Dixon Donaldson: 'John Montgomery was one of the earliest of the.. pre-national teachers... Born in 1783.. (he was brought up on a) farm at Brownsbay... In those days it was the custom for rural schoolmasters to move about the country from house to house giving a little instruction to individual pupils on their rounds; sometimes, when a suitable room could be found, he resided at that house for several days together, the scholars in the vicinity coming in the day time, and grown-ups attending in the fore-suppers to take advantage of his presence in their neighbourhood to improve their own scant education..... It is also known that at a later period he occupied premises as a schoolhouse on the farmstead of Betty Huggan in the townland of Drumgurland..'.

John Montgomery was also a Justice of the Peace and in the Journal he kept there is a declaration as follows: 'M - M - of Islandmagee cometh before me, one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace in and for the said County [of Antrim] and maketh oath on the Holy Evangelists and saith that she is pregnant with child, and that the father of the said child is R - T - of Islandmagee, and none else'. Dated April 5th 1831. Might this be Mary McIlhaggo? Could the date have been right? By my reckoning she might have been as young as twelve at the time. Or could it have referred to the Mary who had a son John, named in the Will of Samuel McIlhagga who died in 1818? Or might this oath refer to Margaret Montgomery, John Montgomery's own daughter, who married a Robert Templeton? Certainly the initials are right.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Executor Murphy

On 19 November 2009 I wrote about the 1818 Will of Samuel McIlhagga of Island Magee. There is no original in existence and the transcript I received from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) several years ago not only had many gaps in it but was in parts a faded copy. On my recent visit to PRONI I was able to examine the transcript and at least confirm what some of the faded words were. Sadly there are no additions which add anything of substance to my knowledge. However it is of interest to note that one of the named executors was the Revd. John Murphy and I have learned from reading Dixon Donaldson's History of Island Magee that John Murphy was the Presbyterian Minister of Island Magee, ordained there on 15th August 1789. At least this confirms what I have been assuming, though for which I have had no 'proof', that the McIlhaggas of Island Magee were Scots Presbyterians.

Donaldson has a column about John Murphy which includes the information that he was born in Newtown-Limervady. It appears that he did not attend the meetings of the Church Synod too frequently, and in 1821 the Synod ordered the Presbytery of Templepatrick to enquire into his conduct, the result of which was that they found no grounds of accusation. However three years later the Presbytery did suspend Mr. Murphy for being intoxicated at the installation of the minister of Carrickfergus! He was I'm pleased to say reinstated and in 1828 when over 70 years of age he retired. He died in 1842 when 78 years old, as the Belfast Newsletter recorded, 'a worthy and esteemed minister'.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

United Irishmen

Formed in Belfast in 1791 The United Irishmen was formed to get equal Parliamentary representation for all people in Ireland. However, it soon became a 'Republican' Movement, demanding Home Rule for Ireland, and was opposed by the Government. By 1798 the Government had effectively quashed any possibility of insurrection, including winning the 'Battle of Antrim', an attack on the town on 7th June of that year. Fifty to sixty men from middle and lower Island Magee took part. They had assembled at the foot of Knowhead brae, and had set off in marching order. However, we have the following vignette recorded by Dixon Donaldson in his History of Island Magee:

As the company had just disappeared from view, a man, named Andrew McIlhagga was seen hurrying forward from the opposite direction, carrying over his shoulder a long thorn stick to which he had tied one of the blades of a pair of sheep shears, while the other blade, stuck in his belt, "might come in handy", as he said, "at close quarters". While pausing to get his breath, an old "lady of the road", who had been an onlooker, took off her garters and tied the man's trousers below the knee, which, she remarked, would enable him to run easier. She then dismissed him with - "Noo, stretcht yer shanks tae the road and see and fecht for ye're wife and waens the day ma man".

This colourful story may tell us something about the men who determined to 'take' the important town of Antrim, one of whom was for some reason late in joining them, but our main interest is in asking what it might tell us about our clan? Here is a man of whom I have not heard before, who appears to be from middle or lower Island Magee, one Andrew McIlhagga - and note with interest our present-day spelling of his surname. If the woman who lost her garters actually knew him then it appears that he had a wife and children. In any case he was old enough to fight and was possibly in his mid-twenties. If so, he would have been born about 1760-65. He could well have been a son of Nathaniel McIllhago who seems to have relinquished his land lease in Ballytober in 1770, so providing us with a name for a generation between him and siblings James and Samuel, though alternatively he could have been a son of Samuel. Perhaps he was from a separate, though related family on Island Magee or on the nearby 'mainland'.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

18th Century Tenancy

About a year ago (25 Sep 2010) I wrote about an advertisement that was in the Belfast Newsletter on 13 February 1770 which had taken me back a generation on Island Magee. It referred, among other people, to 'McIlhago, Nathaniel' whose lease on land owned by Viscount Dungannon was coming to an end. Nathaniel was releasing a tenancy in the townland of Ballytober. I had not come across a Nathaniel in Island Magee so wondered whether he might be the Nathan McIlhaggar born about 1750-58 in Carnmoney. However, the Island Magee tenants about whom I do know rather indicate that Nathaniel was the father of siblings Samuel and James who had later tenancies, giving Nathaniel a probable birth date as early as 1720-30.

For the past twelve months I have had it in mind to find a book called History of IslandMagee by Dixon Donaldson and one of my aims on my recent visit to Northern Ireland was to find it in the Linen Hall Library. Unfortunately I couldn't fit that into my schedule so I have cut my losses and purchased a paperback facsimile of the book published in 1927. Interestingly in an early chapter Donaldson mentions the Belfast Newsletter advertisement of 1770 without any detail. However, in Article XVI (Chapter 16, page 50) he has a full reference to the newspaper's 'Notice relating to the Islandmagee Tenantry...':

"Out of Lease and to be let for Terms of Years, a large Tract of Land now in the Occupation of the under-named Tenants in Island Magee and County of Antrim. The Lands lie in the rich Corn Country and the Soil is remarkable for producing all Kinds of Grain, such as Wheat, Barley, Beans, Pease, and most excellent Oats. There is a great Plenty of Limestone in or contiguous to every Holding and the whole being nearly surrounded by the Sea, Coals are to be had at a moderate expence; moreover, there are constant Opportunities, in all Seasons, of Water Carriage from the fine Harbour of Larne which adjoins the said Island of carrying Commodities to Belfast and other Markets abroad. Proposals for any of the said Lands may be immediately made to the Lord Viscount Dungannon in Dublin, or to Edward Brice Esq.; in Belfast, who can give all necessary Information, and will direct an understanding Person on the Spot, to show the Grounds. The Proposals shall be kept secret, and shall be answered before the 25th of March. Dated this 5th February, 1770"

The list following includes, in the townland of Ballytober, Nathaniel McIllhago with 7 acres 1 rood 20 perches. If a lease was coming to an end in 1770, when was it taken up? The only earler list of names relating to Island Magee is that of people paying Hearth Money in 1669 which does not include any of our clan, so at some time between 1670 and 1770 Nathaniel McIllhago would have taken over a tenancy, at a guess, perhaps in about 1740-50. The list of people after that of the Tenants is a list of inhabitants of people founding a Christian Congregation (a 'Meeting House', so I take it Presbyterian) in 1772. Sadly there is no clan name there which makes me think that Nathaniel McIllhago did not renew his tenancy in 1770.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Northern Ireland Will Index

One of the things I did on my recent visit to PRONI, Belfast, was to check the Northern Ireland Will Calendar and found the following were the last five recorded:

2002 Feb 22 (Probate) Elizabeth McIlhagga, widow, died 14 Dec 2001;
2002 Sep 16 (Probate) Jeanie McIlhagga, widow, died 25 Jun 2002;
1996 (Probate) George Edward McIlhagger, died 15 Apr 1996;
1995 Mar 28 (Probate) Jessie Elizabeth McIlhagga, died 21 Jan 1995;
1993 Aug 02 (Probate) David Sherwood McIlhagger, died 13 May 1993.

The Will Calendar foes give more detail, including address, occupation (sometimes), place of death registration and amount of effects.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Land Tenure

The earliest record I have of our clan having become tenants of land or of property in the Province of Ulster is in the mid-17th Century listing of the Hearth Money Rolls. These are followed in the mid-18th Century with some indentures on the Island of Magee, renting from Lord Dungannon. The next records are those listed in the Tithe Applotment Books of the 1820s and 1830s, particularly in the townlands of Ballycloghan and Eglish in the parish of Skerry. These are then followed by the records of the major land valuation in the 1860s by Griffith and as far as we are concerned are wider spread though still only in the part of the County of Antrim approximately between Larne and Ballymena.

We find the clan in four parishes in 'Griffith', two rural with 10 references in Connor and 7 in Skerry, and two each in the towns of Larne and Ballymena. The two Larne references may go back to earlier records of people in Islandmagee which is nearby. They refer to William McHaggar in 1861 in the parish of Ballynure, townland of Clementshill who rented a house and garden of 15 perches from Robert Parkhill, paying 2/- for the land and 13/- for the house. The second 1861 Larne reference is to George McIlhaigh renting a house, office, yard and garden in Newton Street, Townparks, of 23 perches to one Daniel McGonnell, who paid him 10/- for the land and £11.0.0 for the buildings. The first Ballymena reference is to the parish of Ahoghill, townland Tullaghgarley where in 1862 William McIlhagel rented a house for £1.5.0 from Samuel Curry. The second Ballymena reference is to Crawford McIltaggart renting a house and small garden for £1.10.0 at 6 Railway Street, Harryville in the townland of Ballykeel, in the parish of Ballyclug, from his landlord, Thomas Casement. Each of these four has its interest which I will pursue at another time. Do the Larne ones hark back to Islandmagee? Is the property in Townparks a business? Both Tullaghgarley and Harryville crop up in the 20th Century records, so is there perhaps a century of continuous occupation in Ballymena?

When we come to the rural parishes of Connor and Skerry, the basic distinction has to be made between those who rented land and property and those who just rented a house. We have six men who clearly were tenants farming, four in Connor all in the townland of Maxwell's Walls and two in Skerry, one in Kinbally and one in Rathkenny. We have seven people, 6 men and one woman, who are renting a house only, three in the parish of Connor, one each in the townlands of Slaght, Castlegore and Ballymuckvea; and four in the parish of Skerry, two each in the townlands of Killygore and Ballycloghan.

Of the two renting land and property in Skerry I have written about in my last blog, namely James McElhagan in Kinbally and Robert McElhag in Rathkenny. The four in Maxwell's Walls, Connor, were John, William and Henry McElhagga and John McElhaggan, senior, presumably the father of the other John, and may be of William and Henry also. The four 'house only' in Skerry I have written about in my last blog, John and William McElhagan in Ballycloghan and John and Mary McElhagan in Killygore. The three in Connor were James McHaggar in Slaght townland and Francis McIlhagga in both Castlegore and Ballymuckvea. Did Francis have two houses or were there two Francises?

The above is only a summary of Griffith Valuation, and from our clan's perspective it needs further analysis, which I will attempt as time permits, as do any references in subsequent Griffith Revision Volumes.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Griffiths Revisited

Ballycloghan Plot 21

My personal genealogical brick wall surrounds my great-great-grandfather William McIlhagga. On my recent visit to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI, in its wonderful new building in Belfast's Titanic Quarter) and having had the chance to do a bit more work on Griffith's land and property valuation, I will attempt yet another summary of the situation. First, all the references to William indicate that he lived all his married, working and retirement life in the townland of Ballycloghan, in the parish of Skerry, ,just north of the town of Broughshane in central County Antrim. I think he married about 1830 possibly in Clogh where unfortunately the marriage records for the period have been destroyed. His wife Agnes McCosh died in 1844 the year their eighth child was born. The birth and baptism records of his children call him either a Weaver or a Farmer or a Labourer. This probably means that he worked on his own smallholding or worked for another tenant farmer and also had a Weaving loom in his own house. The three records relevant to this are first an entry in the Tithe Applotment Books of 1828-37, second the Griffiths Valuation of 1862 and third any references in subsequent Revision Books kept by the land owner.

In 1828 there were twenty-four small-holding plots in Ballycloghan of which William McIlhaggo had one of modest size, 2 acres, 3 roods and 16 perches. He paid a rent of £2.12.8 in addition to which he paid a tithe of 3/2d. He also had a larger plot of 7 acres and 2 roods in the adjacent townland of Eglish. To the best of my knowledge there is just one other clan member living and working locally at that time, namely James in nearby 'Kenbilly'. It is an open question how James and William relate to one another. By the time we come to the Griffiths Valuation William had not only married and had a family, but three of the six children had been married, William and John in 1851, William on the 14th July and John on the 15th and Jane in 1854.

There were no fewer than six clan names in Griffiths Valuation for the parish of Skerry. It may be a reasonable assumption that all six were members of the same family. Two were in Ballycloughan, two in Killygore, one in Rathkenny and one in Kinbally. The family name is recorded in five cases as McElhagan and in two in the shortened form of McElhag. The one in Kinbally which I'm sure is the same as the 1828 Kenbilly one is still renting in the name of James, though recorded with the prefix 'Rep.', presumably meaning that James paid his rent through a representative, maybe because age had overtaken him. He still had a house, offices and land totalling 3 acres, 2 roods and 15 perches for which he paid £2.15.0 for the land and 10/- for the house. House rents ranged from 5/- (one) to 10/- (three) to 15/- (one) to £1.0.0. (one), so James's was on the small side. His landlord was John W. Fulton.

If we now move to Ballycloghan we find two men named, William whom we may assume was the same William as 1828, who by 1862 would have been at least 55. He was in a 15/- house but no longer had any land. Maybe the potato famine had defeated him and he was relying on whatever weaving he could do. He certainly described himself as a Weaver in 1851 at his sons William's and John's marriages, though three years later at Jane's he is a Farmer. William's landlord was Elizabeth Glynn. She was also landlord to the second clan member in Ballycloghan, John who is living in a smaller 10/- house, which from the map references appears to be next door to William. In fact, as an enlargement of the above map shows, there were six houses grouped together in the Quarrytown area of Ballycloghan, none of the other tenants having any apparent relationship to William or John.

Now, who was this additional John living in the smaller house? William and Agnes' second son was John, born in 1832. He would have been 30 and married to Mary Stewart for eleven years. They and their first four children in fact migrated to Greenock, Scotland, where they had their fifth child on 27 November 1862. They must have left earlier that year if they were the family living next door to William. But no they weren't! When I was in PRONI I was able to examine the Griffiths Revision books for Ballycloghan, and both William and John were in the same group of houses, paying the same rents in 1877, fifteen years later! In fact John was still there in 1897, having moved to one of the larger houses, though his name has been deleted by 1900. By 1897 the name of William had disappeared and by 1913 both houses are recorded as being in ruins. Just one of the six was left occupied by 1923, the latest date I could examine. If John was not William's son, was he perhaps his brother? It is a possibility. By 1877 William would have been 70+ and must have died before 1897. Presumably John was younger.

If however we now move south west from Ballycloghan approximately a mile to the townlands of Killygore and Rathkenny, just north of Ballymena, we meet further dilemmas to complicate our story. In Killygore we find both a male and a female renting separate houses, though neither renting any land. Mary McElhagan was renting a small house for 10/- in 1862. The man is a second John! He too rents a house only but for the much larger sum of £1.0.0. Are both Mary and John 'retired'? And if so are either or both of them the parents of William and/or John of Ballycloghan? Surely both were not their parents or they would have been living together? If we look at the naming pattern of the children of William and Agnes (McCosh) we find that the second daughter is Mary, the one usually named after the paternal grandmother. So perhaps Mary in Killygore was the mother of William and John in Ballycloghan. But, one may ask, where does that leave James of Kinbally? Presumably not as the father of William and John! Sadly the 1862 maps of Killygore and of Rathkenny, unlike those of Ballycloghan and Kinbally do not have the plot numbers and the houses drawn, so we cannot deduce anything from them.

Finally we come to the man who is renting a large plot of land in Rathkenny, namely 16 acres, 2 roods and 28 perches. It is costing him the large sum of £8/5/0. He was Robert McElhag. and his landlord was the Revd. William C. O'Neill. The map references indicate that there is a house on the plot but that Robert did not live in it. He was in fact its landlord and was recouping a (low) rent of 5/- from a John Aull. But Robert must have been living somewhere. Rathkenny is immediately adjacent to Killygore, so is Robert living with Mary, whose husband he is - in which case is Robert the father of William and John? I think this somewhat unlikely. Why is Mary's house not in Robert's name, and why is a man of an earlier generation still farming such a large acreage? It is more likely that Robert was a son of John of Killygore, and was sharing the very large house that was in John's name, and no doubt contributing towards its rent.

Do the above considerations give us a possible extension to what I have heretofore referred to as the Ballycloghan family? William, my g-g-grandfather would have had a brother John (of Ballycloghan). Their mother would have been Mary (of Killygore). She would have been married to a McIlhagga not named above, but whose name was probably William for whom the eldest son of William and Agnes was named. He would have had a brother John (of Killygore) who had a son Robert (of Rathkenny). Robert would therefore have been a cousin of William and John. I have to admit that such a scenario is very tentative, but it is a possibility. Perhaps I have loosened a few bricks in my brick wall, but that is all. I think I'll have to go back and spend a lot more time in PRONI.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Colman Ella of Glenelly

Ten days ago I was on a week's course on Genealogy and Migration organised by the Ulster Historical Foundation. We were based in Omagh in County Tyrone. One day we went into the Sperrin Mountains and at one point passed a bend in the river in the Valley of Glenelly where there was a rectangular mound. A local historian claimed it was the burial place of their 'own' Celtic saint. I pricked up my ears when the siant turned out to be Colman Ella about whom I had written briefly in my blog of 11 February 2009.

In a new Dictionary of Irish Saints which I was shown by a visiting scholar there are entries for both Colman Ella and Mochuda which refer to the link the one had with the other. It isn't clear whether this link was made in the Monastic Community at Rachan in the Irish Midlands particularly associated with Colman, or in Lismore, County Waterford, where Mochuda eventually settled. However, this dictionary confirmation of the link does support the theory I propounded in that earlier blog, that the etymological link between the names Mochuda and McIlhagga may have been taken by Colman Ella in 'Celtic' times from Ireland to Scotland where Colman Ella's name is found in the place names of both Colmonell in Ayrshire and Kilcolmonell in Kintyre. It was in Colmonell in Ayrshire that our clan name appeared in the 16th Century in its Anglicised form.

It is as background to this association that it is of interest to note the tradition I found in County Tyrone. The place of Colman Ella's supposed burial, and indeed birth, is called Goles. The local history makes something of the fact that when in a disastrous cloudburst and flood that devastated Goles in July 1690, when as many as 300 people perished, it would appear that no damage was done to that mound over the saint's grave. A manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin, on the life of Colman Ella states that a grant of land was given to him in about 580 through the influence of St. Columcille (St. Columba) where the church of Lynally in County Offally was founded, and hence the title by which Colman Ella of Lynally is known. It is said that Colman was descended on his paternal side from the chieftain Ui Niall and on his maternal side from the lineage of cinel canal, his mother being a sister of Columcille. Both these lines were of noble Irish families. Like all 'big' missionaries Colman travelled a great deal in both Ireland and Scotland, hence his links with Ayrshire and Kintyre, both made when he was journeying to or from Iona where St. Columba founded his monastic community.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

U.S. 1910 Census 'stray'?

I have written before about the Antrim family who emigrated to Jamestown, Pennsylvania possibly in the 1850s. This was not to the original Jamestown colony in Virginia which now is an archeological and heritage site, but to the Jamestown in north-west Pennsylvania on the border of Ohio State. I have now come across an entry in the 1910 US Census which may well add a couple of generations to the family tree which began in Newtoncromelin and Lisnacrogher and Limavallaghan, County Antrim, Ireland.

The entry is for a woman with the odd variation of our surname, Hanna Mcelhaegg, a widow. She was born in Ohio in 1870 and in 1910 was living with her daughter and son-in-law and grandson in New Castle Ward 2, Lawrence, Pennsylvania. She was widowed and the daughter of a father born in Ohio and a mother in Pennsylvania. The family with whom she was living was Hugh and Mavis E. McCain and 11 month old Eugene R. McCain. Hugh was 28 and Mavis 18. McElhaegg had to have been Hanna's married name, and hence Mavis's surname. Who was Hanna's husband, who we assume had died before 1910? There is only one male of the clan who was of her generation, namely William B. McElhager, son of James an Eliza (?nee Rogers). James and Eliza had three daughters, one of whom. Sarah, married a James Eugene Wertman. The repetition of the unusual name Eugene for the McCain's baby surely indicates a family connection. He would have been named after his great-uncle by marriage. It is also possible that his second name 'R' was Rogers, for his great-grandmother. This Census record is the only evidence I have that William B. might have been married. It is also possible that Mavis's second name 'E' might have been Ella, one of the sisters of her father.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

More Transatlantic Travel

I am continuing to look at the Immigration and Travel results on 'Ancestry' under 'UK Incoming Passenger Lists' and comparing with other lists I have.

Harry, born 1879 arrived from New York to Liverpool on 12 August 1916. There is a Harry born 1879 who arrived at Ellis Island in 1919. Both could be Harry son of William James and Ruth (nee Woods) McIlhagga who married Sara Browne in February 1920. Maybe he came back from New York to get married. There is another Harry, or rather Henry, born 1879 who was son of John and Eliza (nee McCullough) McIlhagga. However, I favour identifying with the first Harry on the slender evidence of him being recorded as Harry rather than Henry and his return date being six months before his marriage, though I have to say I have no firm evidence of either Harry or Henry having emigrated.

My next person to record from the Migration and Travel lists is Annie McIlhagga, born 1880/1 from Ballymena who in 1947 when she was about 66 did the return journey from New York to Southampton, arriving in England on 4th July. It would appear that she was unmarried and travelled alone.

Third, the name Catherine appears seven times and Katherine once. I suspect all these references are to the same person. So who was this well-travelled woman who seven times crossed the Atlantic to and from the USA and once to Canada? Despite a discrepancy of one month between the two full records of her birth date, my guess is that she was Catherine McCulloch McIlhagga (once spelled McIllhagga), the sixth child and third daughter of James McIlhagga and Johanna McCulloch, who was born in the mid 1880s.

It looks as if her first double trip may have been in 1916 when she was 30, and it is very likely that this was a visit 'home' to Scotland and that she therefore emigrated earlier. In the 1901 Census she was a 15 year old Mill Worker and the probability is that she went to the USA in her mid-20s, probably after her father died in 1913. We know that she settled in New York because when her younger brother James emigrated in 1922 he gave his sister's address of 730 Main Street, Buffalo, New York, as his destination. Catherine made the trip to Scotland in 1927, 1933, 1934 and finally in 1957 when she was 71 years old. This was the journey she made via Canada when she returned. By 1948 her sister Ina was also living in New York. Ina had married James Strathearn, though it looks as if Catherine remained unmarried. At some point, perhaps when she considered she had 'retired', Catherine migrated south to the warmer climes of Florida where in 1976 at the great age of 89 she died at Plant City, Hillsborough, where she is buried.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Three 'floating' nuclear families

In the indexes I have compiled I have two or three men with the name Francis but until now none recorded as Frank. An Individual Record on the IGI, of the birth somewhere in Ireland, of Agnes on 4th Dec 1874, records the names of her parents as Frank McIlhaggar and Mary Jane Brown. I have no idea where this nuclear family fits in to any family tree and would be delighted to hear from anyone who does.

A second person for whom the IGI uses the surname spelling McIlhaggar is Eliza Ann who in the 1870s had several children as a single mother, including James (1872), Andrew (1875), William John (1879) and Mary Jane (1879). At present I cannot find a family into which any of these individuals fit. I assume that William John and Mary Jane were twins.

A third 'no family' person is Margaret McIlhago, father Henry a farmer, who married George McClean on 24 May 1849. She was from Kirkinriola, County Antrim, which is just north of Ballymena. George's father was James, a Labourer. Margaret was probably born in the mid 1820s. Again at present I have no positive clue which would enable me to fit Margaret into a wider family. They married at First Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, Margaret's surname is also recorded as McIlhaga. Both she and George gave their occupation as 'Servant'. Their witnesses were John McBride and William Cairns.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

What was it like Grandad?

I believe that at the recent National Family History Fair in Newcastle, England, one of the speakers urged the members of his audience to record something of their own lives for future generations. This is something I have always meant to do but have kept procrastinating. How many times have I started to keep a diary and given up after a short time! However, better late than never! One of my grandsons recently asked me to contribute to his school history project by telling him what it was like during the second World War. The following four paragraphs is what I sent him. It occurs to me that it would be a great contribution to this blog if some of its readers would put pen to paper and send me a paragraph or two or three about some aspect of their early (or just earlier) lives - please!

I was only 6 when the Second World War broke out, so it's difficult to remember things in order. I lived in Wallasey on the River Mersey opposite Liverpool, which was one of the Industrial places that the Germans wanted to destroy, so there was a lot of bombing, which always took place at night. The biggest 'blitz' was in 1941. We could hear the planes approaching from the south and hoped they would miss us. There would be an air-raid siren, a very loud wailing noise which would mean that everyone ran for shelter. People built brick shelters (called Anderson Shelters) in their gardens where we would wait for the 'All-clear' siren, a long single note. The shelters were dark and smelt damp. If there was no shelter available we would hide under the stairs or even under a table for some protection. The next day we would go outside to see if we could see any bomb damage. Sometimes whole houses or whole streets were destroyed. We were very lucky. Our house was never hit. It was on a ridge and after the 'all-clear' you could go outside and look towards Liverpool where the sky was all red with the burning buildings.

Among the things I remember were the Barrage Balloons, like huge Elephants in the sky. I imagined they were somehow there to catch low-flying aircraft or to get them to avoid the area where they were moored by long steel ropes. We were all issued with gas-masks in case we were attacked by gas bombs, We had to carry them with us in a cardboard box slung over our shoulders and we had to practice putting them on. Your chin went in first, then you pulled the mask over your face. You could look through an oval window, until it steamed up. I hated their smell of rubber, and thought they made breathing difficult. We all had Ration Books with tear-out tokens to get all the basic foods. There was a shortage of a lot of things and I was very surprised one day when my father came home from work. He'd visited a farmer who had given him half a pig, which we hung in the pantry. I think it was probably illegal to have it, and we couldn't tell anyone we had it.

My father was a Jute Merchant and his office and factory were in the centre of Liverpool. He often went on the ferry boat across the Mersey until the two boats, the Daffodil and the Iris, disappeared to help the War in the North Sea. After the war they came back and were allowed to be called the Royal Daffodil and the Royal Iris for the good work they had done. At night we had to put blackout material on all the windows so that planes couldn't see us and make us a target. Often my father would then go out as a 'fire-watcher' with the ARP (Air Raid Precautions). He might be stationed on the top of a building and when they saw a fire starting (where a bomb had fallen) they could tell the police and fire service quickly, and go and help to rescue people. The ARP was trained to help with casualties. In the worst blitz there were 300 casualties in Wallasey in one night, and the next day there was no water. Rubble was everywhere and people had to be careful to avoid unexploded bombs.

A lot of children were evacuated to places of safety. I think a lot from Wallasey went to the country villages in the Wirral and North Wales. We were not evacuated until one night my father's office was bombed and he and his partner had nowhere to work. They decided that our family (the four of us) would go and share his partner's house near Southport, which was a safe place on the Lancashire coast. So for a time we went to live in this lovely old farmhouse which had its own swimming pool and lots of grounds to play in. You could walk from the house through some woods on to a golf course then down to the sea. After a few months we were able to go home to Wallasey. Except for that time I don't remember school being interupted. By the end of the war I had started Secondary School (Wallasey Grammar School) and had to cycle nearly three miles each way twice a day, morning and afternoon. In 1945 when the war was over there were great celebrations, with parades in the streets, and at last we could get things which no one had seen during the war, like sweets and bananas!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Belfast Family

A descendant of a Belfast family has written to me for help and to offer her information. I have a number of family trees which have only a very few people on them and I try very hard to find wider links in order to expand them and to link them with other trees. This is what has happened with this Belfast family to a limited degree, though there must be further avenues to explore which may be known to readers of this blog. Please get in touch.

Interestingly my correspondent's information about no fewer than six siblings included three variations of our surname, McIlhaga, McIlhaggo and McIlhagga, and I have another to add myself. The key family which for my correspondent provides the progenitors, James McIlhaga and Rebecca Johnston, had these six children. When I compared the clan indexes I have compiled on births and marriages, and also the documents I have collected, I found that with a high level of probability I could take this family back a generation, albeit only to a man who was born about 1830.

I reckon that James' father was Nathaniel McIlhage who in about 1854 married Ellen. At this stage I do not know where Nathaniel was born, nor do I know Ellen's maiden surname. Below I will reveal how I know her first name. I was not surprised to find the name Nathaniel, partly because it appears in several other trees, and particularly because one of James' children was given the name. And I was not surprised to find a Nathaniel-Ellen marriage for one of the 'founding' marriages in another tree, that from Carnmoney, is of Nathan McIlhaggar to Ellen Wilson in 1830. Now another of James' children was named Wilson, which presumably comes from an ancestor's surname, so it may be that Ellen's Maiden Surname was also Wilson. I realise this would be a coincidence, though the fact that the two marriages are a generation apart makes me ask whether there might be a link that as yet I haven't found.

In 1872 Nathaniel senior was employed as a Gate-keeper, though I don't know where. He and Ellen had (at least) three children, James, Jane and Ellen. James must have married Rebecca Johnston in about 1877 and they had six children, Robert James McIlhaggo born in the Oct-Dec quarter of 1878, Wilson McIlhagga in 1880, Nathaniel McIlhaggo born 2 Feb 1883, baptised 24 February, Eleanor McIlhagga of 20 Liffey Street, Belfast, born 23 December 1885, Jane McIlhaga born 10 Jan 1889, baptised 9th February and Samuel McIlhagga born 7 June 1891 and baptised 27 June. Now Rebecca, daughter of Robert Johnston, a ship's carpenter, had a brother John who married James' sister Jane. So we have a brother and sister marrying a sister and brother, a McIlhagga-Johnston double linking. Rebecca was a witness at John and Jane's marriage while she was still Rebecca Johnston. John and Jane in fact married on 21st July 1873 at Eglinton Presbyterian Church, Jane being still a minor, giving her a birth year of about 1857. John was probably four or five years older. James McIlhage (the fourth spelling!) was John's witness. In 1873 John called himself a Spinning Master. I haven't yet researched whether John and Jane had any children, though one suspects that a reason for a minor getting married might well have been a pregnancy.

James McIlhaga is variously described as a Flax Dresser, A Hackler and a Rougher. Taking his children in order, Robert James at present I know nothing more about. Wilson appears in the 1901 Census, surname McIlhaggo, aged 20, boarding with David Jamison and family in Hillview Street, Belfast. As yet I haven't discovered a family relatiuonship. Wilson was a Sawyer in a factory. Next we come to Nathaniel, whose baptism at 41 Silvio Street, Belfast, gives us an occupation for his father. When Nathaniel was nineteen he joined the Army and from 2 June 1902 to 1 Jun 1908 he was serving with the Royal Irish Rifles, being discharged from what was clearly a six-year engagement, from the 3rd Batallion. In the 1901 Census Nathaniel was boarding with a Hinton family at 13 Fingall Street, Shankill, listed as 'nephew'. If we go back a generation we discover this is no euphamism. Nathaniel senior's other child was Ellen born about 1851. She was in fact the eldest, with James in the middle and Jane the youngest. Ellen married William John Hinton on 5 January 1872 also at Eglinton Presbyterian Church, hence making Nathaniel junior their nephew.

After discharge from 'The Rifles', in the 1911 Census we find Nathaniel junior having returned to live with the Hintons, now at 16 Linwood Street. Belfast. In 1911 he claimed to be Church of Ireland, unlike his siblings who were all Presbyterians and Congregationalists. Perhaps this was the influence of his time in the army. His 1901 Mill working had become 1911 Labouring. One of the documents I have in my possession is a Pension Application by Ellen in 1917 when she lived at 30 Rathlin Street, Crumlin Road, Belfast. Interestingly the application is made in her maiden name of McIlhaga, and on it she declares the name of her mother to be also Ellen, which is how I know that Nathaniel senior married an Ellen. In 1917 she was living in Mountpottinger Street, Ballymacarrett, Belfast. (The Pension Application also gives her married name of Hinton). Her husband, William John was, like James, a Flax Dresser. They had six children, Sarah, Ellen, Archiebald, William, Lizzie and Rebecca.

I have noted that Wilson lodged with the Jamisons. Interestingly in 1912, as revealed by the Ulster Covenant, David Jamison and his wife Sarah were living at 33 Linwood Street, Belfast, and next door at 31 there was Jane Robinson (nee McIlhaga), though there is no mention of Thomas Robinson in the Covenant. They must have been living almost opposite the Hintons and Nathaniel who were at number 16. Jane McIlhaga and Thomas Robinson married on 8 April 1908 at Clifton Park Congregational Church, and in the 1911 Census called themselves Congregationalists. In 1908 Thomas was, like his father James, a Coal Merchant at 6 Waterproof Street, Belfast, moving by 1911 to 20 Ballymena Street. Jane in 1908 gave the same address that her nephew Samuel had been born at 17 years before, 50 Rose Mount Street, Belfast. To the best of my knowledge Thomas and Jane had three children, Jane, Thomas and Nathaniel. My correspondent from this family is descended from Thomas. Most interestingly she has a brother who has been given the middle name of McIlhagga, thus perpetuating the clan link.

The last of James and Rebecca's children was Samuel born in 1891. At this stage I have no other information about him. A brief addendum to this story is the fact that in the 1901 Census there is a Rebecca McIlhagga boarding at Ambleside, Shankill. However this Rebecca is only 20, so was much too young to be the former Rebecca Johnston.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Back a generation in Ayrshire?

In a blog on 4 July last I attempted a 'tree reconstruction' of the family or families that existed in Ayrshire in the 17th and 18th Centuries. This includes Robert McIlhago(w) who married Bessie Johnstone. They had four children, first Agnes who probably married a James Gemill and had a daughter Margaret; second Robert who may or may not have married, third Mary and fourth John. I have just been looking closely at the entry for the baptism of Robert which is in a rather difficult 17th Century script and which I now believe reveals to us a fact that we haven't known until now. It reads:

Robert Mcilhague sone lawfull to Robert Mcilhague fisher in Newton of Ayr and Bessie Johnstone his spouse was born on monday May 30.. 1687 and baptised [ ] after wittness Robert gfather and James Gibson.

In my blog on the Ayrshire reconstruction I said that I was uncertain of the name of the father of Robert who married Bessie. Based on naming patterns I suggested it might be John or Robert. I think we can now say with some certainty that it was Robert. Grandson Robert was born in 1687. I estimate that father Robert would have been born about 1660 and that grandfather Robert would have been born about 1635. It was probably his father who was the Robert M'Ilhago who witnessed a charter in Tradidnel in Ayrshire in 1597.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Clan Documents

This past week I have been attempting to catalogue all the original documents and copies of documents and copies of entries of vital events that I have on file relating to clan members. I have 106 birth documents (plus 88 birth years referred to in other documents), 42 baptism certificates, 183 marriages, 104 deaths (including 15 Wills, 11 gravestones and 5 obituaries), 6 burials or cremations and 137 other documents.

The 'other' documents include an Identity Certificate, Passenger Declarations, Probate Documents, a family letter, a Patent, Census Documents, a Naval Record, a Corrected Entry, Relief Applications, Army Attestations, a Lloyds Register entry, Rent Records, Indentures, Banns of Marriage, an Adoption, Pension Applications, a Kirk Session Minute, an Affidavit, Marriage and Funeral Services, Exam Results, a National Service Record and a Name Change Certificate. All these add vital information about the individuals referred to in the respective documents.

If those who follow this blog think they have documents or copies that I might not have, do get in touch, and I would be very happy to add them to my list.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Death in Drogheda and Birth in Irvine

My Scottish friend who is a descendant of ship's captain Robert McElhago who was drowned in a shipwreck in 1797 has prompted me to try to find someone who will visit the church-yard of St. Peter's Church of Ireland in Drogheda to see whether by chance there is a surviving Memorial Inscription commemorating the shipwreck of the sloop Jenny and in particular of Master Mariner Robert McElhago. Frankly, without much expectation I have written, asking for help, to the Millmount Museum in Drogheda, Co. Louth, and I await a response with interest.

I have recently acquired the birth and baptism details of the last child born to Robert and Elizabeth McElhago of Irvine. I found the Old Parish Record of John, though he is indexed on the Internet as McIlhagor. Having examined the original, I'm sure the name is entered as McLihagor! He was born on 11th and baptised on 19th August 1789. The entry reads, John son to Robt. McLihagor, ship Mr. and Eliz Jameson. This means that John was born 8 months and 5 days after his father was drowned in the tragic shipwreck. John must have been conceived just before Robert set sail on that fateful voyage, and Elizabeth can't have known she was pregnant when she heard about Robert's death.