Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Correction and More Burials

First, may I say how pleased I am to receive information which corrects something I have written. Often my information comes from a member of the family though perhaps a distant relative and I have to accept it until it is proved wrong. On 17th September 2009, under the title 'A baker in Australia' I recorded the deaths of a married couple, Colin and Jean (nee McIlhagga) Cormack, on the same date and then made the false deduction that their deaths must have been the result of a tragedy. This is not so and a correspondent, a niece of Jean the wife, has kindly put a comment on the blog for that day, not only to record the cause of Jean's death at the young age of twenty six, but to say that Colin lived for many years afterwards.

Second, I had an email from a friend in Australia on the day after I published my last blog to say 'what a nice St. Patrick's day gift' - she could now add a lot of information to her family tree. She also 'claimed' two of the people I said I couldn't identify, namely Andrew and Margaret who may be two of the children of Robert McIlhagga and Margaret Craig who were her great-grandparents. She (I think rightly) also 'claims' Samuel, buried in the same grave as Andrew and Margaret, yet another sibling. However, I'm afraid there are still people I can't yet place in family trees, among whom are Catherine and Henry McIlhagga both of 293 Belmont Road, Belfast, buried in Roselawn Cemetery. Also in Roselawn there are George and Kathleen M McIlhagga. In Dundonald Cemetery is another Margaret McIlhagga who died aged 78 at 27 Kinbayne Avenue, G'Island. Finally there are two deaths in Purdysburn acute care Hospital, one of whom I cannot as yet identify, Robert McIlhagga who died aged 80 in 1980.

Fortunately there are a good number I have been able to identify. Daniel son of John and Margaret (nee Douglas) McIlhagga died in 1905 aged only 25, in Belfast Fever Hospital. He left Harriet Jane a young widow. They had only been married for three years. She was to marry again four years later. I do not know if there were any children. Daniel is buried in City Cemetery. Three people buried in the same grave in Dundonald Cemetery are a father and two of his six children. William John McIlhagga who married Jane Anderson, died aged 81 in 1943. His son William John who died aged 41 in 1946 and daughter Violet who died aged aged 79 in 1989 are all buried together. As a result of the extra information on this family I have become convinced that they belong in an already existing larger family tree going back to Nathan McIlhaggar and Betty Burney of Carnmoney in the mid-eighteenth century.

Next we have no fewer that nine people who belong to one of the two largest clan family trees, that centred on the townland of Maxwell's Walls, again going back to the mid-18th Century. In alphabetical order there were Elizabeth, died aged 63 in 1949, the second wife of James Wilson McIlhagga (Dundonald Cemetery); Elizabeth aged under three whom I mentioned last time; George who died aged 41 in 1882 (City Cemetery) the husband of Eliza Ann Robinson; Henry who died aged 76 in 1981, probably the son of William McIlhagga and Mary Ann Boyd (Roselawn Cemetery); James Wilson who died aged 81 in 1952, husband of Elizabeth above and later of Sarah Jane Hoye (Dundonald Cemetery); Jane who died aged 57 in 1932, wife of Samuel Robinson McIlhagga (City Cemetery); Lizzie Ann aged 7 years, mentioned last time; and finally Samuel Robinson McIlhagga who died aged 67 years in 1941 (City Cemetery).

The last clan family represented in the Belfast City Council Burial Records is that which spells our name with the last syllable 'er', though its first representative is misspelled, namely Henry Joseph McIlhagge, who died aged 32 in 1918. He was the youngest son of George and Mary Jane (Boyd) McIlhagger. He was a shipwright and died as the result of an industrial accident at Harland & Wolf the ship builders. The others, in alphabetical order are first David who died in 1919. He too was a shipwright and Henry Joseph's eldest brother. Elizabeth Louise, nee Sherwood, was David's wife. She died aged 67 years in 1948. George, father of David and siblings, a Police Sergeant, died aged 66 in 1914. John George was a grandson of George and Mary Jane, who died aged 68 in 1980. His father John George died aged 72 in 1954. Martha who died aged 90 in 2009 was the wife of William Boyd McIlhagger who predeceased her aged 79 in 1993. A baby Martha who died in 1875 I have mentioned before, as I have Sarah who died aged 97. Mary Jane (nee Boyd), the wife of George the Police Sergeant, died aged 75 years in 1929 and their grandson William Boyd died aged 79 in 1993. Two other children I mentioned last time, Ruth and Rebecca. Finally, William Boyd McIlhagger, son of William Boyd and Martha, died aged 35 in 1972.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

New Burial Resource

A really useful new free resource has come on line. It is the Belfast City Council Burial Register. It covers a number of cemeteries: City, including the Glenalina Extension, Dundonald and Roselawn. The information is perhaps a bit limited. For each person there is the full name, the last place of residence, sometimes both a hospital and a private address, the age and sex (often left blank), the dates of death and burial, and the name of the Cemetery with the grave section and number, plus the Burial type, in all cases, 'Earth Burial'. Having put in three clan name variants I have received the details of 46 burials. There appears to be quite a lot of new information to add to clan family trees. Two initial comments: some dates are well into the 20th Century, and as a result at least one person has been crossed off my current World Address List! Second, some of the women will have been buried using their married surname and there is no immediate indication of next of kin or of their spouse or late spouse. Also there is no indication of whether a woman was born with a clan name or has 'married in'. Occasionally relationships are revealed by comparing grave numbers. If two or more people have the same number they are buried in the same grave, that is a grave owned by a particular person or family, so it is a reasonable assumption that they are related, whether by blood or by marriage.

In referring to individuals on the list I am sensitive to the fact that there are probably still alive near relations, possibly living at the same address, so I will try to be careful in what I say. The first burial in the list is of an infant just 11 weeks old. None of the records state the cause of death. For that you need a death certificate. However, the 'last place of residence', and therefore of death, may in this case hold a clue for speculation. It was 'Workhouse'. This little girl has a distinctive name, one which I think enables me to identify her family tree, though not at present her mother. This is a case where I won't give any further clues as I don't know whether any living relatives today are aware of where she died. My next comments are also about children. First, 7 1/2 year old Lizzie Ann. This is not quite the name by which her birth was registered. I believe that was Eliza Ann, though clearly Lizzie was the name by which she became known in the family. For a reason I don't know, occasionally a name has a title, Mr., Mrs. or Miss. On this occasion it is wrong. Little Lizzie Ann is listed as Mrs! Clearly a transcription error. Here are the other children. There is a stillborn child with the name 'Wm. Margt.' Presumably the person registering the death or making the funeral arrangements was unsure whether the child was a boy or a girl. The sex is left blank. Next we have three children in the same grave in City Cemetery, so we may presume they were siblings. Elizabeth was 2 7/12 moths (sic). Ruth was 2 years old and Miss Matilda was aged 7 years. Also in City Cemetery there are three other children: Miss Martha aged 15 months, and another Ruth, aged 1 8/12 years and Miss Rebecca aged 17 days.

When we come to the adults a first point of interest is that a couple of people who have ended their lives living outside Ireland clearly wished to be buried 'with their ancestors'. William John who died aged 40 in Tranmere Hospital, Birkenhead (Cheshire, England) and lived there at 6 Suffolk Street, was buried in Dundonald Cemetery. Ninety seven year old Sarah's last place of residence was Fort William Oph. I presume Oph stands for old People's Home. She too was buried in Dundonald. Next, I have to admit that some names are quite new to me, so are folk that I cannot as yet fit into a family tree. These include two people with the same address, Andrew and Elizabeth who lived at 24a Moyard Gdns, G'Island, Carrickfergus. Then at 293 Belmont Road, Belfast, there are Catherine and Henry. Next, in the same grave but with different 'last residence', we have George at 62 Abbey Park, Knock, Belfast and Kathleen M. at 126 Holywood Road, both buried in Roselawn Cemetery. George (57) predeceased Kathleen (74) by ten years, so she could have moved her residence when left alone. Another Roselawn burial is that of James aged 67, who lived at 45 Richmond Park, Belfast.

I will continue my analysis of the Belfast City Council Burial Records in a subsequent blog.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Henrys in Donegore and Maxwell's Walls

I've had an interesting email via the Internet site RootsChat from someone whose family line goes back to the 19th Century Stevensons of Ballywoodock, Donegore, one of whom, Agnes (or Nancy) married a Henry McIlhagge. I have the marriage record of Henry and Agnes from which we learn that he was a Farmer in Maxwell's Walls. I replied to my correspondent to say he was not the only clan Henry in my reconstruction of the Family Tree for the townland of Maxwell's Walls, in the Parish of Connor, but it was only after I had sent the reply that I added up the number of Henrys in it. There are no fewer that thirteen, as follows:

1 A probable Henry who was the progenitor of the clan in the townland, who would have been born about 1755;
2 Henry born about 1780, son of the progenitor and who married Mary McDowell;
3 Henry born about 1800 to Henry and Mary (nee McDowell);
4 Henry born 1821 to Henry, who married Agnes Gardiner in 1857;
5 Henry born 1821 to John and Mary (nee Houston), who married Agnes McMeekin;
6 Henry born about 1833 to William, who married Agnes Stevenson in 1854;
7 Henry born about 1838 to William Gage (McIlhaggie) and Mary (nee Houston);
8 Henry born 1870 to Henry and Agnes (nee McMeekin);
9 Henry born 3 Feb 1870 to Henry and Agnes (nee Gardiner);
10 Henry born 5 Apr 1872 to Nathaniel Owens (McIlhagga) and Henrietta (nee Wilson), who died 5 July 1890 aged 18;
11 Henry born 10 June 1879 to John and Elizabeth (nee McCulloch);
12 Henry born 1893 to George Gardner (McIlhaggo) and Isabella Scott (nee Boak);
13 Henry born 1907 to William and Mary Ann (nee Boyd).

The totally new fact that my Stevenson correspondent shared with me was that Agnes/Nancy's parents were William Stevenson who died in 1815 and Martha Montgomery who died in 1854, both buried in Donegore. Now, if Henry and Agnes were married (as they were) on 12th December 1854, this must have happened soon after the death of Agnes' mother. Furthermore, Agnes must have been conceived before her father died in 1815, making her at least 39 years old when she married. My attempted reconstruction of the McIlhagga clan tree in Maxwell's Walls, made in ignorance of Agnes' true age - I only knew from her marriage record that she was 'of full age' - has assumed that Henry's father, William, would have been born about 1810 and that Henry would have been born about 1833. So do we have an 1854 marriage of Agnes Stevenson aged 39+ and Henry McIlhagge aged 22, a 17 year gap in their ages?

Perhaps they hadn't got married as early as Henry was legally able to, without parental permission, at least a year before, because Agnes' mother was against the marriage. Perhaps they therefore got married as soon as was reasonable after her death and before Agnes had reached 40! My correspondent asked me whether I had any record of children from this marriage? I'm afraid I don't. And perhaps that is no wonder, given Agnes' age. The reason I have listed all thirteen Henrys above is to check that I haven't mixed up two of them. If the Henry who married Agnes Stevenson had been nearer to her age, and conventionally slightly older, he would have been (say) 40-45 in 1854, with therefore a birth year of 1814-1819, but I think there is no other 'free' Henry in the Maxwell's walls Family Tree with whom I could have confused him. How interesting!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Mull flying visit

Baliscate Old Farmhouse (modernised)

I am just home from the shortest visit I have ever paid to the Isle of Mull (Argyll, Scotland). I spent one night there in order to attend the annual dinner of the Mull Historical and Archaeological Society, to hear the speaker, Nicholas Maclean-Bristol who is recognised as the leading Clan Gillean (Maclean) and West Coast Historian. He has published numerous papers and books on the clan's history and its significance in the wider history of Scotland. This indeed was the subject of his talk. He and his wife live at Breacachadh Castle on the Isle of Coll, which he has rebuilt. It was when I was on Coll three or four years ago I bought his From Clan to Regiment, Six Hundred years in the Hebrides, 1400-2000, in which I found my great-great-grandfather John McLean and so found the link back to the Maclean Clan from my grandmother Margaret McLean who married my grandfather William McIlhagga. I didn't meet Nicholas Maclean-Bristol then, so it was a chance to make his acquaintance in Mull. He too is descended from a Coll branch of the clan and is in fact a distant cousin (9th). We had the pleasure of having the Clan Chief, Sir Lachlan with Lady Maclean at dinner. He is an even more distant cousin (11th)!

Since I was last on Mull the farm of Baliscate (see photo above) has been in the news. The television Time-Team has partially excavated a site on the farm where the present owner has discovered the ruins of what turned out to be a Celtic Chapel. Although I have no other firm evidence, the obituaries in the Oban Times of three of my McLean family say that when the above John and his wife Flora and their large family moved from Coll to live on Mull, they first farmed at Baliscate. This would almost certainly have been in 1875. Admittedly they were there only a short time, probably the two years before John died in August 1877, before they moved and son Lachlan farmed at Drumfin, also just south of Tobermory. It was good to meet the present owner of Baliscate and compare notes and to be able to inform her that my family had been part of the farm's history.