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.

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