Friday, 6 May 2011

Three (or four) Pensioners

Most people know that many Irish records were destroyed. This includes most of the 1851 Census, though for some reason a 2% sample was retained. I consider our clan fortunate that I have no fewer than twenty-four names in an 1851 Census Index for Ireland, though there are a few duplicates because the surname has been spelled in different ways. And I have just found eight extra people for the list from a new Internet site called Ireland Genealogy. This site contains a record of all the people in about the second decade of the 20th Century who applied for a State Pension and needed to prove that they were of pensionable age. One way to do this was to show they were in the 1851 Irish Census. I put 'McIlhag*' in to the site's search box and received four 'hits'. I paid up £2 each and downloaded them. Interestingly all four were women.

First is Mary McIlhagga or Fullerton. I assume this means Mary married a man called Fullerton and interestingly in the clan Marriage Index I have compiled I have a McIlhagga - Fullerton marriage, on 8th Jan 1872 in Connor Church of Ireland. This was of John son of John Fullerton to Margaret (not Mary) daughter of James McIlhagga. I have this record from the Ulster Historical Foundation's Internet site called Ancestry Ireland. The Pension application record says that Mary McIlhagga/Fullerton's father was James, of the parish of Connor. In an 'Observation' note dated 1920 there is a reference to 'Agent, St. Saviour's, Connor, Antrim', which must have been the name of the Church of Ireland which was prepared to vouch for Mary. However, either we have two sisters, Margaret and Mary, who both married a Fullerton, or we have two sisters who serially married the same John Fullerton, or we have a woman who was known as both Margaret and Mary who married John Fullerton.

Perhaps the rest of the 'Observation' note gives us a clue, '1851 Parents married 1843, no Mary, a daughter Mary 7 years died 1850.' I take this to mean that in the 1851 Census there is a reference to the parents of Mary (who is making the application) marrying in 1843 and having a child in 1843 whom they called Mary but who died in 1850. The Margaret who married John Fullerton in 1872 must have been born after the 1851 Census, maybe later that year, in which case she was 21 when she married. Her marriage record simply says 'FA', Full Age, which meant 21 or over. The only conclusion I can draw is that Margaret had by 1920 come to be known as Mary. If she made her application in the name of Mary, I fear that because no Mary was found in the 1851 Census, she may have been turned down for a pension - she would have been 69 in 1920 - but we don't know.

There are two further interesting references in this record. Margaret's witness at her marriage to John Fullerton was Eliza Ann McIlhagga who was in all probability her sister. I will return to this point. On 'Mary''s pension application the names of her parents are given who therefore must have been in the 1851 Census. They are James McIlhagga and Mary Anne McIlhagga nee Gardner. In passing I must say that in my clan Birth Index I do have one Mary born 1843 whose father was James, though the Ulster Historical Foundation records the surname as McIlhagger. There is no such person in my McIlhagger family tree so the reference may well be to the Mary who died in 1850 aged seven. To return to her parents, I'm afraid I have no record for the marriage of James McIlhagga and Mary Anne Gardner. If they were married in 1843 as the pension application says, they would have been born (say) about 1820. The application gives the townland, Slaght, and the parish, Connor, and there was certainly one McIlhagga - Gard(i)ner marriage in that parish. Agnes, a daughter of Francis Gardiner married Henry son of Henry McIlhagga. It could well be that Agnes had a sister Mary Anne who married James McIlhagga, and there was certainly one James in the family which hailed from the parish of Connor, but alas I have no record to back this up.

So from this one Pension record we have one or two unsolved issues. Was Mary Anne Gardner a sister of Agnes Gardiner and a daughter of Francis? Probably. Did James and Mary Anne (nee Gardner) McIlhagga have three or four daughters, Mary (1843-1850), Margaret (?1851-m.1872), ?Mary (?69 in 1920) and Eliza Ann (?sister of Margaret)? At least we can be clear about Eliza Ann for the second pension application was for an Eliza Ann McIlhagga whose parents were given as James McIlhagga and Mary A. McIlhagga of Slaght, Connor, the same townland and parish as those on Mary (Margaret?)'s application. The 'Observation' note is very brief, '1917 - Agent, The Rectory, Ballymena'. This again indicates a Church of Ireland link, presumably the Rector vouching for Eliza Ann. The date 1917 (against 1920 on Mary's application) probably means that Eliza Ann applied for a pension three years before Mary/Margaret, telling us that she was probably three years older than her sister, which is consonant with her being a witness at her sister's wedding. There is no indication that Eliza Ann was married, which accords with references I have in my clan Birth Index to the only Eliza Ann McIlhagga I have come across, as the single mother who had several children, possibly including Eliza Ann (1869), James (1872), Andrew (1875) and twins Mary Jane and William John (1879). The major unsolved question is who was the father of James McIlhagga who married Mary Anne in 1843? We don't know, though if her sister Agnes married Henry son of Henry McIlhagga, it is possible that the two sisters married two brothers, which would make James also a son of Henry.

The third pension application was from Ellen McIlhaga the daughter of Nathaniel and Ellen McIlhaga from the townland of Mountpottinger Street, Ballymacarrett, Belfast in the parish of Knockbreda. The 'Observation' note says '1917 - Mrs. Ellen Hinton, 30 Rathlin St, Crumlin Rd, Belfast', which I take to mean that by 1917 she was married to a Mr. Hinton, and from other Irish records I do have the marriage of John son of William Hinton, on 5th Jan 1872 to Ellen McIlhage/McIlhaggo daughter of Nathaniel, at Eglinton St. Presbyterian Church, Belfast. I also know that she had a sister Jane who was married the following year at the same church. One of the witnesses at both Ellen's and Jane's marriages was James McIlhage whom we may assume was their brother. Beyond this I cannot at present discover further relations.

The final pension application was for a Rachel or Jane McCormick whose parents were James McCormick and Matilda McCormick nee McIlhags, from the townland of Cloghogue in the parish of Drummaul, County Antrim. The 'Observation' note reads '1917 - The Secy, L.G.B., Edinburgh. 1951 James and Matilda McCormic (sic) married 1832, Eliz. 18, Mary Ann 15, Martha 13, Margt. 10, Agnes 7, Rachel 4'. The clan link is Matilda whose marriage, as Matilda McIlhagga, I had known of from the death certificate in 1921 of her daughter Rachel Chesney (nee McCormick), Springburn, Glasgow. Some time ago on 'RootsChat' someone was looking for this James McCormick. I have sent him a message and await a reply.

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