Sunday, 24 April 2011

Some free information and a McPhee problem

In honour of a certain (Royal) wedding which will take place next Friday one of the commercial genealogy internet sites,, has given free access to certain of its resources. First, it has opened its marriage indexes for England and Wales. I put 'McIlhag*' into the search box and got 61 hits. Having saved the details to my 'Ancestry shoebox', I now have to find the time to check that I have all of these in my clan Marriage Index. These are all marriages of people who are still alive so I will not be commenting on any of the details in this blog.

Second, Ancestry has given free access to some of its Canadian records. Again, I entered 'McIlhag*' and got three hits. All were from the Drouin Collection of 'Quebec Vital and Church Records, 1621-1967'. Two related to a branch of my own family and one contained new information. The first was the birth/baptism of William Neil Duncan McIlhaggie, 1921 at Montreal, Knox Presbyterian Church. It reads, 'Baptism. McIlhaggie. William Neil Duncan McIlhaggie son of Thomas McIlhaggie and Annie Campbell his wife was born in Montreal on the twenty first of December in the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty and was baptized by me on the ninth day of March in the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty one. R.W. Dickie. Thomas McIlhaggie. Annie C. McIlhaggie.' The image is clearly in Mr. Dickie's handwriting, except for the signatures of Thomas and Annie which were in their own handwriting.

William Neil Duncan was the only child of Thomas and Annie who survived. I have known for some time, from William's son in Canada, that there were two earlier births of children who did not survive and whose names we have not known. The second child, a boy, may have been stillborn and not given a name. The first child's name is now known to us from a death/burial record from The Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal. It reads, 'McIlhagga buried 2nd Aug. 1917. Christina Bird infant daughter of Thomas McIlhagga, and of Annie Campbell his wife, died on the first day of August one thousand nine hundred and seventeen, aged nine days, and was buried on the second day of August in the same year. By me, M.B. Johnson, Curate. Witnesses present at Committal, Thomas McIlhagga.' Interestingly Thomas' signature in 1917 was clearly McIlhagga and in 1921 was clearly McIlhaggie. The Ancestry transcription for 1917 states incorrectly that it was McIlhagge. Both these entries derive from the Ballycloghan McIlhagga family.

The third Canadian clan record comes from a different family line. It is another baptism, this time from the Catholic Church Records of Notre Dame du Bon Conseil, Ottawa (1910). It reads, 'B.80. Eliz. McPhee. On the twentieth day of September nineteen hundred and ten, I the undersigned priest have solemnly baptized Elizabeth McIlhaggo lawful daughter of John McPhee and Elizabeth [McIlhaggo crossed out] McMinn born on the twenty first ultimum. The sponsors were myself and Eliz. McIlhaggo. Geo. W.O'Toole'.

Now I have only one McPhee - McIlhagga link, and that is indeed a John McPhee who married Sarah Bell McIlhaggar, daughter of William McIlhaggar (1850-1935) and Mary Jane Bell. William was son of Francis who almost certainly was part of the Maxwell's Walls branch of the family. Sarah Bell McIlhaggar was born in Carmyle, Scotland. The John McPhee whom she married could well have been born a little earlier, perhaps 1860. They had five children, the eldest of whom was also John. He would have been too young to marry Elizabeeth McMinn and have a child in 1910. John born perhaps 1860 would have been the right age, but he was married to Sarah Bell McIlhaggar! Could a marriage to Elizabeth McMinn in Ottawa have been a first marriage? And who was Elizabeth McIlhaggo the baptism sponsor, after whom the McPhees clearly called their child? There was certainly one Elizabeth McIlhaggo in the family from which Sarah Bell McIlhaggar came. She was in fact Sarah Bell's aunt, and a daughter of Francis, so we could have the scenario that I am suggesting. I would be most grateful if anyone can enlighten me further.

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