Friday, 15 July 2011

PRONI Wills Index

A correspondent who in his research also includes Samuel Robinson McIlhagga (1872-1941), son of George and Eliza Ann McIlhagga, has kindly sent me a list of references to the name McIlhagga as it occurs in the Wills Index of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. In addition to McIlhagga Wills it records when probate was granted to various clan members. If anyone can confirm further details about these entries I would be most grateful. They are as follows:

Mary Elizabeth McIlhagga of 9 Grand Parade, Belfast; died 1939; probate of will granted to John McIlhagga, retired baker, her husband.

Miss Mary Ross of Tullygarley, Antrim; spinster, d. 1922; probate of will granted to Mary McIlhagga, married woman.

James Sloan, alias James Crawford, of 5 Ailesbury Rd., Belfast, gentleman, d. 1938; probate of will granted to Robert McIlhagga, merchant.

Jonathan Vint of Mount Maon, Greencastle and 96 Patrick St., both in Belfast; wine and spirit merchant, d. 1927; probate granted to Hannah Vint, widow and James Wilson McIlhagga, oil merchant.

James Wood of 3 Maryville Park, retired linen merchant, d. 1929; probate granted to John Leslie Campbell, manufacturer's agent and Henry McIlhagga, linen merchant.

Hugh Craig of Dairyland, Straid, Ballynure and Ballyfore, Raloo, Larne; retired auctioneer; probate granted to William McKinty, tailor, Nathaniel McIlhagga, traveller and Thomas H. Craig, traveller.

Nathaniel McIlhagga, died 1937, of 62 Excise St., Belfast, damask tinter; probate of will to Charlotte, his widow.

Dorothea Crawford, widow, died 1942; lived at 3 Maryville Park, Belfast; probate granted to Harry McIlhagga, linen salesman.

George McIlhagga of 29 North Queen St., Belfast, d. 1914; retired police sgt.; probate to Mary J. McIlhagga, widow.

Samuel Robinson McIlhagga, d. 1941 of Glentaugh House, Annahilt, Hillsborough, Co. Down, dealer, probate given to George McIlhagga, wholesale merchant.

Mary McIlhagga of Newmarket Villas, Whiteabbey, Co. Antrim, d. 1940, spinster; probate to Robert McIlhagga, coal merchant and Rebecca Kennett, widow.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Lateral thinking?

For a number of years my own McIlhagga line's 'brick wall' has been that, although I know the name of my gggrandfather, William (born about 1800), and that he was married to Agnes McCosh (probably at Clogh), I have not been able to find either their marriage record or William's birth/baptism record. At present I do not see any way to break down these barriers, so is there any lateral approach that I might take?

All William and Agnes' children were baptised and some were married at Broughshane First Presbyterian Church. My first thought is, 'were there any witnesses who might indicate that there was a wider family?' I'm afraid not. My next thought is that there were other clan 'vital events' which took place in the same Church. My family lived in the nearby townland of Ballycloghan. The others came from other but still nearby townlands, Rathkenny, Lisnacrogher and Limavallaghan. Surely other clan families, living within a few miles and having baptisms and marriages celebrated in the same Church, were very likely to have been related, most probably first cousins. This would imply that the 'parent generation' in the townlands near to Broughshane could well be siblings of William, my gggrandfather. And surely the high probability is that William was not an only child.

So who were these other nuclear families who may be part of my extended family? First, let me record the register entries from Broughshane of which I have copies (other than those I know for certain to be of my own family) and from nearby townlands. They are all marriages:

25 Aug 1847. John Auld, 21, Bachelor, Weaver of Rathkenny;
Father, Robert Auld, Weaver;
and Mary McIlhagor, 22, Spinster of Rathkenny;
Father, William McIlhagor, Farmer;
Witnesses: William McIlhagga & Elizabeth McIlhagga.

13 Jun 1856. Robert Dickey, full age, Bachelor, Weaver of Randalstown;
Father, James Dickey, Labourer;
and Mary McIlhago, full age, Spinster, Ballycloghan,
Father, Wm. McIlhago, Weaver
Witnesses: Samuel Watt & John McIlhago (made his mark).

31 Mar 1847. Robert McCarley, 19, Bachelor, Shoemaker of Kerbilly;
Father, Robert McCarley, Farmer;
and Eliza McIlhagar, 19, Spinster of Kerbilly;
Father, [Blank], Farmer;
Witnesses: James McGarry & Charles McMichael.
Mother listed as Eliza McIlhagar.

10 Apr 1854. James Graham, 46, Widower, Labourer of Ballygilpatrick;
Father: Robert Graham, Labourer;
and Elizabeth McIlhagga, 30, Widow of Racavan (nee Lowry);
Father, William Lowry, Farmer.
Witnesses: Alexander McAleese & Martha Lowry.
[Ballymena Register Office].

9 Aug 1851. Robert Whiteside, 21, Bachelor, Weaver of Lisnakrogher,
Father, Thomas Whiteside, Weaver;
and Esther McIlhaggar, 21, Spinster of Lisnakrogher;
Father, David McIlhaggar, Weaver.
Witnesses: Thomas Greer & Thomas Taylor.
[Ballymena Register Office].

First, I have written a blog on 14 June 09 which proposes that the Mary in the first two marriage entries is in fact the same person, marrying first John Auld and then as a widow Robert Dickey and that she belongs to my own family tree. Her father William, my gggrandfather was both a farmer and a weaver. She was therefore probably my gg-aunt.

Second, I have done extensive research on a family which emigrated to Jamestown, Pensylvania and have written about them on 22 June 09, 13 Aug 09, 23 May 10, 8 Jun 10, 17 Nov 10, 13 Feb 11 and 16 Feb 11. I have demonstrated that the other three marriages relate to this family. Its progenitor was David McIlhago/McIlhaggar and I now think it is a reasonable assumption that he was a sibling of my gggrandfather William. Clearly David had a brother John and he probably had a sister Elizabeth.

There is also a distinct possibility that the father of David and John was James. There are a couple of reasons why David's father would probably have been James. David's brother John called his first son James and if he was following the Irish/Scottish naming pattern then paternal grandfather would be James. For some reason this does not apply to David whose eldest son was John. However, John was the older of the two brothers, so I'll go along with 'James' for the time being.

I have elsewhere argued that William of Ballycloghan's father was James, possibly the James who rented nearby farming plots to him in both Ballycloghan and Eglish. Of 'both' James we may ask whether either or both were the James McIlhagar of Shankill who married Sarah, and equally whether he was none other than the James Junior of Islandmagee who had brothers Samuel and William. James Senior, father of these three was probably a Farmer and Publican of Larne. It is probable that James had a brother Samuel and that their father was Nathaniel McIlhag(o)/a who was born about 1730. All these persons may be found in my earlier blogs.

This may all be 'lateral thinking' but I'm afraid it is also at present speculation.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Ayrshire Reconstruction

I have been trying to put together the three or four families and several known individuals, all clan members in Ayrshire from the 16th Century onwards, into one 'coherent' family tree. The tree's progenitor is of course Michael Macylhaggow who appears in Colmonell, Carrick, Ayrshire in 1527, so was probably born in the 15th Century. In 1553, probably the next generation, so perhaps a son of Michael, we have Patrick McIlhagon in Kyle, Ayrshire. Carrick and Kyle are today known as South Ayrshire. Next comes Robert M'Ilhago, also in Ayrshire in 1597, surely two generations from Patrick, maybe a grandson. 'Robert' proves to be the name that is handed down, possibly through the generation before the grandfather who witnessed the baptism of his granddaughter Agnes in 1685. We know from the baptism record that 'grandfather' was John, and given that the average generation is about 25 years, he was probably born about 1635, most likely in the town of Ayr itself where his son Robert was a Fisher. This Robert was born about 1660 and married about 1680 to Bessie Johnstone/Johnstoune. They had four known children, all born and baptised in Ayr, Agnes in 1685, Robert in 1687, Mary in 1689 and John in 1691. Given the Scottish naming pattern these names argue for Grandfather being Robert (rather than John) and his wife Mary, and Bessie's parents being John and Agnes. The 'pattern' is not inviolate and father's name seems to have taken precedence for the first son, or perhaps the two grandfathers got 'reversed'. Robert and Bessie's eldest daughter Agnes was to marry James Gemill and have a daughter Margaret in 1714. We do not know for certain whether any of the other three married but I am hazarding a guess that at least one, maybe Robert, did.

When Robert was born and baptised in 1687 for some reason the name variant of McIlhague was used. This variant may then have been carried down the generations because we find a John McIlhague born about 1800 in Dundonald, Ayrshire, who married Isabella McCallum. However, before we reach his generation we must postulate that there must have been at least three generations in the county about which at present we know very little. We can work on the assumption that a son of Robert (1687) or of course John (1691) may have been born about 1715 and that his son could have been born about 1745. Both may have been named Robert, and the second one almost certainly was for both his son and his grandson were Robert, born in Irvine, Ayrshire. We are now moving into the time when the main clan occupation of fishing had given way to seafaring 'up the coast', and though we may not know for certain that the 'Robert' of 1745 existed we do know that a James McElhago of the same generation did exist, who therefore could have been a sibling, or indeed could have been that generation's 'missing link'. He was the James about whom I have written as one of the inaugurators of the Bridgetown Library in New Jersey, USA. So we have reached the Robert McElhago/McIlhagow who was born in Irvine about 1770, a sea captain who married Elizabeth Jamieson/Jamison and had six children. He would have been the 9th or 10th generation from Michael of Colmonell.

I have been 'tracing' the possible path of one of three branches of the clan in Ayrshire and I have done so first because I know that this branch continues for another eight generations to the present day, partly in Scotland, partly in New Zealand, and certainly provides us with the clan line which goes back the furthest. I must however attempt to sketch in the other two Ayrshire lines to complete the 'reconstruction'.

I have said that after Patrick there would surely have been a two generation gap before the Robert who appeared in 1597. Similarly there must have been two or even three generations before the other two clan branches appeared, one with Thomas McIlhagow born about 1610 in Kirkmichael in Carrick, and one with an unnamed (though possibly John) father of another Thomas McElhagow born about 1645, also in Kirkmichael. I realise of course that these two branches, in the same place, are in all probability one. Thomas (1610) had three children, Thomas, David and Agnes. Thomas had a son James (1653). David and Agnes married two Bairds, almost certainly siblings. David (1638) married Katherin Baird in 1655 and had five children, John (1666), Thomas (1669), Jennet/Janet (1671), James (1674) and Annable (1677). John (1666) had a son David (1702) who appears to have married twice, first to Janet Murdock, with a daughter Janet (1732), second to Elizabeth Dunbar in 1740, with children William (1743) and Mary (1744). I have no evidence of Thomas (1669) marrying. Jennet/Jonet married Thomas Craig in 1700. In the Ayrshire Old Parish Records there are 7 children all born in Beith between 1702 and 1722 to a Thomas Craig. No mother's name is given. However from Jennet's sister Annable's Testament we may surmise that by 1733 Thomas and Jennet were childless. Did they have children and did they all die? Was there an epidemic? Or is the Thomas Craig, father of the children, a different person? James (1674) died as an infant. Annable (1677) married James Gibson of Sheoch and had a son James. The second 'two family' marriage was of Agnes McElhagow to William Baird, who had two children, Katherin (1662) and William (1667). Incidentally, the OPRs show that two other Baird siblings married and continued that line, John Baird who had sons David and John; and Gilbert Baird who had a daughter Agnes. Sadly we have no further information on the continuation of the McIlhagow/McElhagow family along this clan line.

We are lastly left with the third possible line a couple of generations down from Patrick. This brings us to the father of Thomas McElhagow (1645) and Jennet McElhagow (1650). Thomas married Janet Murchie in 1669 and had four children, John (1670), Helen (1672), David (1675) and Thomas (1677). I do not know if John married. Helen (1672) married David Mitchell and had three children, John (1699), Margaret (1702) and Isobell (1707). We know from an early gravestone that David had two other siblings, James who married Janet McGren and John who married Agnes McIluray, who had a son John (1701). We do not know if either John or Isobell Mitchell married and had offspring, nor indeed whether David (1675) or Thomas (1677) McIlhagow did.

Finally, to revert to the first Ayrshire line, I have mentioned that on at least two occasions the spelling McIlhague appears and it is of interest to refer to one of the other occasions. A John McIlhague and an Isabella McCallum were the parents of Jean, born in 1824 in Dundonald. Isabella had in all probability a sibling, Alexander, a Master Mariner, who also married into our clan, to Elizabeth McElhago/McIlhaggert from nearby Irvine. They had a daughter Elizabeth in 1851 who in 1877 married William Wylie, a Master Flesher. The mother Elizabeth had been born in 1823 to James McElhago/McIlhaggert and Jane Harvey. James was the first of five siblings, the children of Robert McElhago/McIlhagow and Elizabeth Jamieson/Jamison with whom I concluded my first paragraph above. It is possible that their fifth child John was the John McIlhague above who married Isabella McCallum. The 'two' Johns were certainly born in the same year (1800) and the identification would give us parents for Isabella's husband. However, if the indication is to be made, Isabella must have died soon after their daughter Jean was born (March 1824), for John, son of Robert and Elizabeth married Jean Glen in December 1824 in Greenock.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


I have been thinking a bit more about some entries in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) which I haven't been able to fit into wider families. One such is the marriage of Janet McIlhaggan to William James McDowell in about 1843. According to the IGI William James came from Ballyeaston, so I googled Ballyeaston Presbyterian Church. I was delighted to find that the First Presbyterian Church, Ballyeaston offers a 'Record Search' so I emailed them asking for a search to be made for the marriage. Not only did they do this but they went the second mile and sent me by return a list of possible children from records which have already been computerised. It took a couple of days before someone could go to the Record Office (PRONI) to look up their marriages. Sadly their marriage search didn't produce anything, though clearly the couple related to 'First Ballyeaston' as the following list of births shows:

1. 1844 James (William John McDowell + Janet McIlhagan)
2. 1846 Ellen (William John + Janet McIlhaggan)
NB Ellen was the name of William John's mother. We know this from a baptism entry which appears to be for him: McDowell, M[ale], William John, father Gideon, mother Ellen Elliott, 22 May 1823, place of birth Glenwherry.
3. 1848 Robert (William + Janet McIlhinan)
4. 1850 Robert (William John McDowell + Janet McIlhaggan)
5. 1853 Eliza Jane (William John McDowell + Jane McIlhaney)
6. 1855 Janet (William John McDowell + Janet McIlhagan)
7. 1857 Wm John (Wm John McDowell + Janet McIlhaggan)
8. 1859 Samuel (William John McDowell + Janet McIlhagan)

First, I must say that the kind Elder of First Presbyterian Church, Ballyeaston, went back to the original records in PRONI and incidentally demonstrated that their own computerised records for these entries had no fewer than five mistakes, including the fact that the father was not William James (as in IGI) but William John.

These records raise a number of issues. The spacing of the children is what one would expect in a large family, so we can make the assumption that they are all siblings. Presumably the first Robert died in infancy. The first two boys are usually named after the two grandfathers, though clearly this isn't so if one was not called Gideon. The other, Janet's father, could therefore have been either James McIlhaggan or Robert McIlhaggan. The first two girls would normally be named for the two grandmothers, and given that William John's mother was Ellen, Jane(t)'s mother was probably Eliza Jane. This would give us a clan marriage of about 1820 of either James or Robert to Eliza Jane. Do I have such a marriage? Not in Ireland, though I do have a possible marriage in Scotland. The third son and third daughter would have been named after the parents, which is indeed the case, Janet and William John. This endorses the strong suggestion that the man who married Jane(t) was William John and not William James (as the 1823 baptism record also indicates) and that the marriage 'record' in the IGI is wrong.

Next, we have the variations in the mother's surname: McIlhagan (3 times) and McIlhaggan (3 times). These would all be written by a church official at or after the time of the baptism and maybe by two or more different officials. If the parents were known to be illiterate, or not given to correcting the minister, doubtless the spelling would not have been checked with them. What of the two 'deviant' spellings, McIlhinan and McIlhaney? These are both known Irish names, and again we may put them down to a church official who hasn't been too careful in checking what the mother's maiden name was. Incidentally my correspondent kindly gave me the full dates of all the children's (and the father's) dates of both births and baptisms.

I also sent through to the Ballyeaston record searcher what I thought was another clan marriage, from the IGI, that of Agnes McIlhaggo to John Blair on 30 July 1829 in the Second Presbyterian Church, Ballyeaston. This marriage he did find - but here's the value of checking the original - he says the surname is definitely not McIlhaggo, but is probably McCluggage. So here's one to strike out of my Marriage Index!

So - am I any nearer to fitting this McDowell family into a wider clan grouping? I wonder! I was hopeful that a Ballyeaston search would lead to something definite, perhaps the name of Janet's father. Now Ballyeaston is a village near the town of Ballyclare. I have written about Ballyclare before as it occurs in some of the earliest clan references in Ireland - three times in 1645 in Cogry, a townland near Ballyclare, once in 1713 when a man from Ballyclare Presbyterian Church married a clan member, and several times between about 1820 and 1912, in a family from Ballygallagh near Ballyclare, about which I have written (6 Nov 2010). This family were all born in the same decades as the McDowells. Interestingly one of the siblings of that family, like of the McDowells, was a Janet. One was William James and the father was William John McIlhagga/McIlhaggo/McIlhagar. Janet who married William John McDowell could easily have been a sibling of William John, the weaver from Ballygallough. To have had their father's name would at least have taken us back into the 18th Century! And a last point, there was often more than one marriage between two families, and I do have another McDowall / McIlhaggo link. marriage, Mary McDowel/McDowall married Henry McIlhaggo in about 1800. Their granddaughter Eliza also married a Mat(t)hew McDowell in Ballymena in 1856.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Early English

I have been intrigued by one 'early' clan reference in English records picked up by the IGI (International Genealogical Index), namely the baptism of Elizabeth, the daughter of John and Jane McHagga at Saltwood near Hythe, Kent, on 11th December 1808. On the assumption that this was a first child the parents must have been born no later than 1790, and this is assuming a teenage marriage. The only possible couple this could apply to in my present records, though I do not have a record of their marriage is John McIlhago/McElhager/McIlhagar/McIlhagga (spelled four different ways!) and Jane/Jenny/Jenie McCarley, about whom I know from their part in a family emigration to Jamestown, Pensylvania.

I could find no Internet site with which I could check Saltwood records, so I phoned Canterbury Cathedral, to find that their own archives held both the original and the bishop's transcript. Unfortunately the original had deteriorated too much to be copied, but they kindly supplied me with a copy of the transcript, which reads "Elizabeth Dr of John & Jane Mc hagga / a soldier/ December 11th (1808)". First, this must be the earliest reference to a clan member in the Military. I am trying to find out which Regiment was stationed at Saltwood in 1808. I suspect that the name omits a syllable due to the unfamiliarity of a local scribe with an Irish or Scottish accent. I think that the likelihood is that John and Jane and their family emigrated to Jamestown, PA, at some later stage.