Monday, 27 June 2011

Celtic, Wounded and Warriston

I have referred before to the value of a small journal on Scottish historical research called West Highland notes and queries. In its current issue an author called Ronald Black has written on 'Personal names...' and made a comment relevant to our clan name in the Celtic period. I have printed it following my blog of 3rd February 2009, Celtic beginnings - Continued.

There is an excellent internet site in which an amateur genealogist collects references from Irish newspapers, mainly from Belfast I think. It is called Eddies Extracts. There are just two McIlhagga references. The first I have written about on an earlier occasion. In Eddie's Extracts it is under Ballyweaney Presbyterian Church, 'Pte. Robert McIlhagga, of Knockahollet, killed in action' in the 1914-1918 War. The second also refers to the First World War and is under Townsend Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast, 'Samuel McIlhagga, of 12 Castleton Gardens - Wounded'. This address does not occur with a clan name either in the Ulster Covenant of 1912, nor in the Irish Census of 1911. Does anyone know to which family this Samuel belonged?

There is another excellent internet site called on which you can access burial records, cremation records, grave maps, &c. It has just added more Edinburgh records from Seafield Cemetery, Seafield Crematorium and from Warriston Crematorium. There are just two clan records at Warriston. The first is for Daniel McIlhagga who died 3rd April 1985 and who was cremated on 5th April. Daniel was the son of Daniel Maitland McIlhagga and Annie Eliza Wright. He was born on 31st January 1903 in County Antrim, Ireland and died at 11 Gleneagles way, Livingstone, Scotland. He married Margaret Willis Crowe in Kirknewton, Midlothian. To the best of my knowledge they had one daughter. The second record is for Jean McIlhagga who died on 25th December 1970 and was cremated on 29th December. Although I am not sure, I think this could have been Daniel's sister, though it may have been another of the Jeans in this extended family. If anyone can let us know the true facts, I would be most grateful.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Death in Calgary

The following notice appeared in the 'Find a Grave' website today. The "Jack" referred to is the person I included in my recent blogs concerning a World War One Widows Medal on 20 Feb 10; 8 May 10 and 23 Jul 2010. I send my sincere condolences to his family.

Birth: Sep. 5, 1928
Alberta, Canada
Death: Jun. 9, 2011
Alberta, Canada

McILHAGGA – John Owens "Jack"
September 5, 1928 – June 9, 2011

Jack McIlhagga, beloved husband of Myrna McIlhagga of Calgary, went to be with his Lord and Saviour, on Thursday, June 9, 2011 at the age of 82 years.

Jack was born in Elnora, AB and raised in Calgary. He had worked with Midwest Surveys and retired from Dicksons Food Services. He spent many years volunteering at the Mustard Seed and enjoyed gardening, and was an avid sports fan.

Jack is survived by his loving wife Myrna; two daughters, Jodi McIlhagga and Jill (Troy) Hickling; three grandchildren, Danika, Tessa and Benjamin. Jack is also survived by Myrna's family, numerous nieces and nephews as well as his adopted family, the Doerksens.

He was predeceased by his parents Catherine and Joseph, two brothers Ross and Allan.

Funeral Services will be held at the Beddington Pentecostal Church (16 Bermuda Drive N.W.) on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. Forward condolences through If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Mustard Seed Street Ministry, 102 – 11 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 0X5 Telephone: (403) 269-1319,, or the Missions Fund c/o Beddington Pentecostal Church, 16 Bermuda Drive N.W., Calgary, AB T3K 1H7, Telephone: (403) 275-7133

In living memory of Jack McIlhagga, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park Cochrane by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH Telephone: (403) 276-2296.

Created by: K
Record added: Jun 10, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 71100610

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Nanaimo Passenger Project

The Nanaimo, Canada, Family History Society has published a Ships Passenger List of people arriving at Quebec Ports during the period 11 June 1904 and 13 October 1910. It includes four clan members, the first of whom to arrive was Saml. McIlhaggs aged 22, born Ireland, who disembarked from the ship Victorian on 14th July 1906. His birth year would have been 1884. The 'nearest' Samuel I have in my clan Birth Index is the son of John McIlhagga and Margaret Douglas, born 1883, though there is a Samuel Robert born to George McIlhagger and Mary Ann Boyd on 23rd September 1884. However this Samuel emigrated to Australia, not Canada. The first of these two is in the 1901 Irish Census but not 1911 so may well have been in Canada by then. However, he must have returned to Ireland for he died on 30th November 1944 aged 61 and is buried in Templepatrick Old Graveyard. His occupation, Night Baker, was the same as that of his father John, so he may have returned to take over the baking after his father died.

The second to arrive in Quebec was Lizzie McIlhaggo aged 25, on the ship Lake Manitoba. She arrived on 22nd May 1909. She would have been born in 1874. Again, I have no-one in my indexes for 1874. The third immigrant was Thos. McIllhagga aged 13 who sailed on the ship Corsican and arrived a week after Lizzie, on 28th May 1909. I have written about Thomas in earlier blogs, on 24th Jan 09, 11th Apr 09, 8 Jul 09 and 16th Jan 10. It is ironic that in all probability Lizzie and Thomas never met. So near and yet so far.

Finally, arriving on 1st august 1910 we have Samuel McIlkagga on the ship Lake Champlain. He was 27 so born probably in 1883. On the assumption that his name has been mis-transcribed, the only candidate I have in my indexes is the Samuel above, son of John and Margaret. Maybe he made two journeys, first in 1906 and then again in 1910. If anyone has any further information about any of these four migrants I would be very pleased to hear from them.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A question of accent?

Generally speaking the variations of our clan name can be divided either by the first vowel following 'Mc' or by the last vowel of the name. The first distinction appears to give us an evolution from 'E' to 'I' and we can probably account for this as a modest change in accent as the clan moved from Scotland to Ireland. The evolution of the last vowel may be accounted for by the same process, that is the change from 'o' to 'a'. Thus, putting the two parts of the evolution together, though they may not have happened at the same time, we have the shift from what may be its earliest form in Scotland, namely McElhago to its latest form in Ireland, McIlhagga. It seems to me that all other variants, which have been many, are secondary to these.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Evidence from Armagh

The above photograph is of Andrew McIlhagga when he was twenty-two and about to become a Fireman in the Merchant Service. The number in the picture above him, 448498, was his Identity Number in the Service and is in fact the number of the Identity Certificate given to him, which also gives his date and place of birth, 13th April 1896 in Ballymena, Ireland. It states that both he and his father were Irish. His parents were Robert McIlhagga (1859-1912) of Ballee, County Antrim and Margaret Craig, both of whom are buried in Dundonald Cemetery, Belfast. His paternal grandparents were James McIlhagga, a Weaver, and Jane Middleton, and one more generation with William takes us back into the 18th Century.

Andrew had nine siblings and the grand-daughter of one of them, Robert James, has done some excellent research including identifying Andrew's wife, Elizabeth May Walker. There have already been several references to Andrew in this blog, on 14 July 09, 7Oct 10, 23 Mar 11 and recently on 2 June. The last of these references included my postulating that he may well have been the RUC Constable who was involved in a 'Border Incident' in County Armagh. I am delighted to say that we now have a piece of circumstantial evidence which supports my hypothesis. His wife Elizabeth's family was from Armagh, so the probability is that he met her when he was serving with the RUC in that county. Perhaps he lived in Lurgan where Elizabeth's mother was living when she married and where she was still living during the 1911 Census. It may even be that Andrew lodged with the family.

Elizabeth May McIlhagga, nee Walker, came from an Army family. Her death certificate identifies her birth date and place as 20th April 1908 in Hounslow, England. Her sister gave notice of her death. Her father was a Private soldier serving in the Inniskilling Dragoons, though he, Thomas Walker had married Margaret Ann Connor back in Armagh in 1899. They were born respectively in Dublin and Cork, in the south of Ireland, as the 1911 Census makes clear. The evidence appears to be that Elizabeth and Andrew did not have any children.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Irish Land Records

The best known of the Irish Land records, which act as a census substitute, are of course the Griffith Valuations of the early 1860s. Our clan references are nearly all dated 1862. In addition to the main valuations there are two supplementary sources, the Griffith Revision Book for 1867-81, which I think is not on line, and some Court Records. I have mentioned the twenty-four clan references in 'Griffith' in my blog of 10th August last, and one entry in the Revision Book on the same date. There is a new internet site called which also lists Court records which seem to refer to sales of land. There is just one clan name in them, though it appears three times, John McIlhaggart, under Landed Estates Court Rentals 1850-1885.

It is uncertain whether John McIlhaggart appears in the 1862 list in which there are several clan Johns but no McIlhaggart. In the period July-October 1872 he was living at 101 Charles Street, South where he was a tenant paying a yearly rent of £7.3s.0d, due on Monday in each week. The tenure of the tenancy, which was the same as that of the other tenants on the same plot of land, was described as "Weekly tenant, tenancy determinable on Monday in any week". It appears that this 'Parcel of Ground on the West side of Charles-street South, Sandy Row', was up for sale. It was 'Lot 3' so presumably it was to be auctioned. The description was, "(s)ituate in the town, parish and barony of Belfast and county of Antrim, with the Houses and Premises thereon in Charles-street South and Glenburn Alley, held under lease for lives renewable for ever, dated 30th July, 1839, at the yearly rent of £20. 6s. 0d". On the page (10) on which John McIlhaggart's name appears there are twelve names in Charles Street and four in Glenburn Alley though there may well have been further names on adjacent pages. In the Court records on findmypast there are three references to this 'Lot' which all appear to be the same.

As no John McIlhaggart appears in the Griffith Valuation for 1862, and presuming that John in 1872 would have been a married man, he may well have married before 1865-70 and so have been born before, say, 1845. In my clan indexes I have no such marriage. A John whose dates do fit, who by 1881 was using the spelling McIlhaggart, was married to Mary Stewart (as McIlhagar!) but by 1862 had moved to Greenock, Scotland, so couldn't, one would have thought, have been living in Belfast in 1872. There is however one rather remote, though unlikely, possibility. This John did indeed move to Scotland in 1862 - we know this from the places of birth of his children - but clearly did not settle to work in Greenock immediately, and in 1881, when his wife and family were in Greenock, he was working temporarily in West Ham, London! Did he also temporarily return to Belfast for work in 1872 and live for a time at 101 Charles Street, South? If this be the case, then from my knowledge that he was born in Ballycloghan, it also raises the possibility that he was after all in the 1862 Griffith Valuation (presumably just before he left for Scotland), listed there as John McElhagan.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A Border Incident

One of the most interesting clan stories from Twentieth Century Ireland comes from the mid 30s. On the 5th July 1935 one Constable McIlhagga was seriously wounded when on duty in the townland of Skeriff, Newtownhamilton, Co. Armagh. A Belfast Telegraph Newspaper report said the incident took place on the border (between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) at Cullyhanna, South Armagh. The full record is in the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin. Constable McIlhagga was in fact on a Royal Ulster Constabulary Customs Patrol about a mile from the border and an animal was involved. The Constable's superintendant, M.J. Glynn, took some photographs of a cow that had been seized, and had circulated them to the border stations in the hope of tracing its owner. However, despite distinctive marks on its head and sides they had had no luck. The fact was that cattle were purchased in fairs in the south and west of Ireland and were then railed to Castleblaney where they were divided into small lots and were smuggled across the border. Constable McIlhagga had been part of the constant task of attempting to prevent cattle smuggling.

About 2am two Customs Patrols, each of two men, were due to exchange positions, when an animal was sighted on the public road coming from the direction of the Border, followed by one man who was intercepted by the Patrol that was in ambush. The first patrol consisted of Sgt. Napier and Constable Lowe. They pursued the drover along the public road. The second patrol, with Constables Todd and McIlhagga were approaching along a lane at right-angles to the road. But who was the drover?

Suspicion fell on a member of the 'B Specials' named Albert Burns of Skerriff. He was no less than a Sergeant in the Special Constabulary! Some members of the RUC were suspected of cooperating with him, and it was known that the two RUC Constables Todd and McIlhagga were friendly with Burns. It was suggested that the two RUC Officers, Sgt. Napier and Constable Lowe, when they arrived on the scene, fired at the decamping drover. Unfortunately Constable McIlhagga was in the line of fire and got wounded. He received a bullet wound a few inches beneath the heart. Unfortunately it was not able to confirm who fired the shot as the RUC members "became rather reticent about the subject". In the mellee the drover escaped. The light was not sufficiently clear to identify him.

The RUC dropped any attempt to act in a way which would have implicated any of their members. All known smugglers condemned the 'outrage' very vociferously. Moreover everyone said they wanted to avoid friction on the Border. The official report of the incident concluded that the incident did not have any political or territorial significance and that it was in everyone's interest to have the smuggling continue under peaceful conditions!

Unfortunately we do not know whether Constable McIlhagga fully recovered, nor do we know with certainty to which clan family he belonged as his Christian name is never mentioned. The fact that he did survive is evidenced by a report in 'The Straits Times' on 3rd May 1936 (p.15) which said, 'A special rate is to be levied on twelve Ulster border towns to raise the £475 Compensation which was awarded at Armagh to Police Constable McElhagga (sic) who was shot last July while on Customs duty on the border of Northern Ireland. A patrol was passing a cattle rustler at two o'clock in the morning when the constable was shot through the stomach. The bullet lodge near the spine and an extremely delicate operation was necessary to remove it'.

To the best of my knowledge there are only two clan members who have been RUC Constables. One was George McIlhagger who served in Co. Galway and who by 1935 had been dead for some years. The other as Andrew McIlhagga who from 1918-25 was a Fireman in The Merchant Navy and who died in 1971 as a retired Police Constable. In 1935 he would have been 39. If he is to be identified with the 'border incident' then it looks as if he might have been in the service for upwards of 25 years.

Permission to cite from an Irish Department of Justice file, NAI, D/Justice, 8/416. has been given by the National Archives of Ireland and by the Director of the National Archives of Ireland, dated 17th November 2010.