Thursday, 27 October 2011

Northern Ireland Will Index

One of the things I did on my recent visit to PRONI, Belfast, was to check the Northern Ireland Will Calendar and found the following were the last five recorded:

2002 Feb 22 (Probate) Elizabeth McIlhagga, widow, died 14 Dec 2001;
2002 Sep 16 (Probate) Jeanie McIlhagga, widow, died 25 Jun 2002;
1996 (Probate) George Edward McIlhagger, died 15 Apr 1996;
1995 Mar 28 (Probate) Jessie Elizabeth McIlhagga, died 21 Jan 1995;
1993 Aug 02 (Probate) David Sherwood McIlhagger, died 13 May 1993.

The Will Calendar foes give more detail, including address, occupation (sometimes), place of death registration and amount of effects.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Land Tenure

The earliest record I have of our clan having become tenants of land or of property in the Province of Ulster is in the mid-17th Century listing of the Hearth Money Rolls. These are followed in the mid-18th Century with some indentures on the Island of Magee, renting from Lord Dungannon. The next records are those listed in the Tithe Applotment Books of the 1820s and 1830s, particularly in the townlands of Ballycloghan and Eglish in the parish of Skerry. These are then followed by the records of the major land valuation in the 1860s by Griffith and as far as we are concerned are wider spread though still only in the part of the County of Antrim approximately between Larne and Ballymena.

We find the clan in four parishes in 'Griffith', two rural with 10 references in Connor and 7 in Skerry, and two each in the towns of Larne and Ballymena. The two Larne references may go back to earlier records of people in Islandmagee which is nearby. They refer to William McHaggar in 1861 in the parish of Ballynure, townland of Clementshill who rented a house and garden of 15 perches from Robert Parkhill, paying 2/- for the land and 13/- for the house. The second 1861 Larne reference is to George McIlhaigh renting a house, office, yard and garden in Newton Street, Townparks, of 23 perches to one Daniel McGonnell, who paid him 10/- for the land and £11.0.0 for the buildings. The first Ballymena reference is to the parish of Ahoghill, townland Tullaghgarley where in 1862 William McIlhagel rented a house for £1.5.0 from Samuel Curry. The second Ballymena reference is to Crawford McIltaggart renting a house and small garden for £1.10.0 at 6 Railway Street, Harryville in the townland of Ballykeel, in the parish of Ballyclug, from his landlord, Thomas Casement. Each of these four has its interest which I will pursue at another time. Do the Larne ones hark back to Islandmagee? Is the property in Townparks a business? Both Tullaghgarley and Harryville crop up in the 20th Century records, so is there perhaps a century of continuous occupation in Ballymena?

When we come to the rural parishes of Connor and Skerry, the basic distinction has to be made between those who rented land and property and those who just rented a house. We have six men who clearly were tenants farming, four in Connor all in the townland of Maxwell's Walls and two in Skerry, one in Kinbally and one in Rathkenny. We have seven people, 6 men and one woman, who are renting a house only, three in the parish of Connor, one each in the townlands of Slaght, Castlegore and Ballymuckvea; and four in the parish of Skerry, two each in the townlands of Killygore and Ballycloghan.

Of the two renting land and property in Skerry I have written about in my last blog, namely James McElhagan in Kinbally and Robert McElhag in Rathkenny. The four in Maxwell's Walls, Connor, were John, William and Henry McElhagga and John McElhaggan, senior, presumably the father of the other John, and may be of William and Henry also. The four 'house only' in Skerry I have written about in my last blog, John and William McElhagan in Ballycloghan and John and Mary McElhagan in Killygore. The three in Connor were James McHaggar in Slaght townland and Francis McIlhagga in both Castlegore and Ballymuckvea. Did Francis have two houses or were there two Francises?

The above is only a summary of Griffith Valuation, and from our clan's perspective it needs further analysis, which I will attempt as time permits, as do any references in subsequent Griffith Revision Volumes.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Griffiths Revisited

Ballycloghan Plot 21

My personal genealogical brick wall surrounds my great-great-grandfather William McIlhagga. On my recent visit to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI, in its wonderful new building in Belfast's Titanic Quarter) and having had the chance to do a bit more work on Griffith's land and property valuation, I will attempt yet another summary of the situation. First, all the references to William indicate that he lived all his married, working and retirement life in the townland of Ballycloghan, in the parish of Skerry, ,just north of the town of Broughshane in central County Antrim. I think he married about 1830 possibly in Clogh where unfortunately the marriage records for the period have been destroyed. His wife Agnes McCosh died in 1844 the year their eighth child was born. The birth and baptism records of his children call him either a Weaver or a Farmer or a Labourer. This probably means that he worked on his own smallholding or worked for another tenant farmer and also had a Weaving loom in his own house. The three records relevant to this are first an entry in the Tithe Applotment Books of 1828-37, second the Griffiths Valuation of 1862 and third any references in subsequent Revision Books kept by the land owner.

In 1828 there were twenty-four small-holding plots in Ballycloghan of which William McIlhaggo had one of modest size, 2 acres, 3 roods and 16 perches. He paid a rent of £2.12.8 in addition to which he paid a tithe of 3/2d. He also had a larger plot of 7 acres and 2 roods in the adjacent townland of Eglish. To the best of my knowledge there is just one other clan member living and working locally at that time, namely James in nearby 'Kenbilly'. It is an open question how James and William relate to one another. By the time we come to the Griffiths Valuation William had not only married and had a family, but three of the six children had been married, William and John in 1851, William on the 14th July and John on the 15th and Jane in 1854.

There were no fewer than six clan names in Griffiths Valuation for the parish of Skerry. It may be a reasonable assumption that all six were members of the same family. Two were in Ballycloughan, two in Killygore, one in Rathkenny and one in Kinbally. The family name is recorded in five cases as McElhagan and in two in the shortened form of McElhag. The one in Kinbally which I'm sure is the same as the 1828 Kenbilly one is still renting in the name of James, though recorded with the prefix 'Rep.', presumably meaning that James paid his rent through a representative, maybe because age had overtaken him. He still had a house, offices and land totalling 3 acres, 2 roods and 15 perches for which he paid £2.15.0 for the land and 10/- for the house. House rents ranged from 5/- (one) to 10/- (three) to 15/- (one) to £1.0.0. (one), so James's was on the small side. His landlord was John W. Fulton.

If we now move to Ballycloghan we find two men named, William whom we may assume was the same William as 1828, who by 1862 would have been at least 55. He was in a 15/- house but no longer had any land. Maybe the potato famine had defeated him and he was relying on whatever weaving he could do. He certainly described himself as a Weaver in 1851 at his sons William's and John's marriages, though three years later at Jane's he is a Farmer. William's landlord was Elizabeth Glynn. She was also landlord to the second clan member in Ballycloghan, John who is living in a smaller 10/- house, which from the map references appears to be next door to William. In fact, as an enlargement of the above map shows, there were six houses grouped together in the Quarrytown area of Ballycloghan, none of the other tenants having any apparent relationship to William or John.

Now, who was this additional John living in the smaller house? William and Agnes' second son was John, born in 1832. He would have been 30 and married to Mary Stewart for eleven years. They and their first four children in fact migrated to Greenock, Scotland, where they had their fifth child on 27 November 1862. They must have left earlier that year if they were the family living next door to William. But no they weren't! When I was in PRONI I was able to examine the Griffiths Revision books for Ballycloghan, and both William and John were in the same group of houses, paying the same rents in 1877, fifteen years later! In fact John was still there in 1897, having moved to one of the larger houses, though his name has been deleted by 1900. By 1897 the name of William had disappeared and by 1913 both houses are recorded as being in ruins. Just one of the six was left occupied by 1923, the latest date I could examine. If John was not William's son, was he perhaps his brother? It is a possibility. By 1877 William would have been 70+ and must have died before 1897. Presumably John was younger.

If however we now move south west from Ballycloghan approximately a mile to the townlands of Killygore and Rathkenny, just north of Ballymena, we meet further dilemmas to complicate our story. In Killygore we find both a male and a female renting separate houses, though neither renting any land. Mary McElhagan was renting a small house for 10/- in 1862. The man is a second John! He too rents a house only but for the much larger sum of £1.0.0. Are both Mary and John 'retired'? And if so are either or both of them the parents of William and/or John of Ballycloghan? Surely both were not their parents or they would have been living together? If we look at the naming pattern of the children of William and Agnes (McCosh) we find that the second daughter is Mary, the one usually named after the paternal grandmother. So perhaps Mary in Killygore was the mother of William and John in Ballycloghan. But, one may ask, where does that leave James of Kinbally? Presumably not as the father of William and John! Sadly the 1862 maps of Killygore and of Rathkenny, unlike those of Ballycloghan and Kinbally do not have the plot numbers and the houses drawn, so we cannot deduce anything from them.

Finally we come to the man who is renting a large plot of land in Rathkenny, namely 16 acres, 2 roods and 28 perches. It is costing him the large sum of £8/5/0. He was Robert McElhag. and his landlord was the Revd. William C. O'Neill. The map references indicate that there is a house on the plot but that Robert did not live in it. He was in fact its landlord and was recouping a (low) rent of 5/- from a John Aull. But Robert must have been living somewhere. Rathkenny is immediately adjacent to Killygore, so is Robert living with Mary, whose husband he is - in which case is Robert the father of William and John? I think this somewhat unlikely. Why is Mary's house not in Robert's name, and why is a man of an earlier generation still farming such a large acreage? It is more likely that Robert was a son of John of Killygore, and was sharing the very large house that was in John's name, and no doubt contributing towards its rent.

Do the above considerations give us a possible extension to what I have heretofore referred to as the Ballycloghan family? William, my g-g-grandfather would have had a brother John (of Ballycloghan). Their mother would have been Mary (of Killygore). She would have been married to a McIlhagga not named above, but whose name was probably William for whom the eldest son of William and Agnes was named. He would have had a brother John (of Killygore) who had a son Robert (of Rathkenny). Robert would therefore have been a cousin of William and John. I have to admit that such a scenario is very tentative, but it is a possibility. Perhaps I have loosened a few bricks in my brick wall, but that is all. I think I'll have to go back and spend a lot more time in PRONI.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Colman Ella of Glenelly

Ten days ago I was on a week's course on Genealogy and Migration organised by the Ulster Historical Foundation. We were based in Omagh in County Tyrone. One day we went into the Sperrin Mountains and at one point passed a bend in the river in the Valley of Glenelly where there was a rectangular mound. A local historian claimed it was the burial place of their 'own' Celtic saint. I pricked up my ears when the siant turned out to be Colman Ella about whom I had written briefly in my blog of 11 February 2009.

In a new Dictionary of Irish Saints which I was shown by a visiting scholar there are entries for both Colman Ella and Mochuda which refer to the link the one had with the other. It isn't clear whether this link was made in the Monastic Community at Rachan in the Irish Midlands particularly associated with Colman, or in Lismore, County Waterford, where Mochuda eventually settled. However, this dictionary confirmation of the link does support the theory I propounded in that earlier blog, that the etymological link between the names Mochuda and McIlhagga may have been taken by Colman Ella in 'Celtic' times from Ireland to Scotland where Colman Ella's name is found in the place names of both Colmonell in Ayrshire and Kilcolmonell in Kintyre. It was in Colmonell in Ayrshire that our clan name appeared in the 16th Century in its Anglicised form.

It is as background to this association that it is of interest to note the tradition I found in County Tyrone. The place of Colman Ella's supposed burial, and indeed birth, is called Goles. The local history makes something of the fact that when in a disastrous cloudburst and flood that devastated Goles in July 1690, when as many as 300 people perished, it would appear that no damage was done to that mound over the saint's grave. A manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin, on the life of Colman Ella states that a grant of land was given to him in about 580 through the influence of St. Columcille (St. Columba) where the church of Lynally in County Offally was founded, and hence the title by which Colman Ella of Lynally is known. It is said that Colman was descended on his paternal side from the chieftain Ui Niall and on his maternal side from the lineage of cinel canal, his mother being a sister of Columcille. Both these lines were of noble Irish families. Like all 'big' missionaries Colman travelled a great deal in both Ireland and Scotland, hence his links with Ayrshire and Kintyre, both made when he was journeying to or from Iona where St. Columba founded his monastic community.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

U.S. 1910 Census 'stray'?

I have written before about the Antrim family who emigrated to Jamestown, Pennsylvania possibly in the 1850s. This was not to the original Jamestown colony in Virginia which now is an archeological and heritage site, but to the Jamestown in north-west Pennsylvania on the border of Ohio State. I have now come across an entry in the 1910 US Census which may well add a couple of generations to the family tree which began in Newtoncromelin and Lisnacrogher and Limavallaghan, County Antrim, Ireland.

The entry is for a woman with the odd variation of our surname, Hanna Mcelhaegg, a widow. She was born in Ohio in 1870 and in 1910 was living with her daughter and son-in-law and grandson in New Castle Ward 2, Lawrence, Pennsylvania. She was widowed and the daughter of a father born in Ohio and a mother in Pennsylvania. The family with whom she was living was Hugh and Mavis E. McCain and 11 month old Eugene R. McCain. Hugh was 28 and Mavis 18. McElhaegg had to have been Hanna's married name, and hence Mavis's surname. Who was Hanna's husband, who we assume had died before 1910? There is only one male of the clan who was of her generation, namely William B. McElhager, son of James an Eliza (?nee Rogers). James and Eliza had three daughters, one of whom. Sarah, married a James Eugene Wertman. The repetition of the unusual name Eugene for the McCain's baby surely indicates a family connection. He would have been named after his great-uncle by marriage. It is also possible that his second name 'R' was Rogers, for his great-grandmother. This Census record is the only evidence I have that William B. might have been married. It is also possible that Mavis's second name 'E' might have been Ella, one of the sisters of her father.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

More Transatlantic Travel

I am continuing to look at the Immigration and Travel results on 'Ancestry' under 'UK Incoming Passenger Lists' and comparing with other lists I have.

Harry, born 1879 arrived from New York to Liverpool on 12 August 1916. There is a Harry born 1879 who arrived at Ellis Island in 1919. Both could be Harry son of William James and Ruth (nee Woods) McIlhagga who married Sara Browne in February 1920. Maybe he came back from New York to get married. There is another Harry, or rather Henry, born 1879 who was son of John and Eliza (nee McCullough) McIlhagga. However, I favour identifying with the first Harry on the slender evidence of him being recorded as Harry rather than Henry and his return date being six months before his marriage, though I have to say I have no firm evidence of either Harry or Henry having emigrated.

My next person to record from the Migration and Travel lists is Annie McIlhagga, born 1880/1 from Ballymena who in 1947 when she was about 66 did the return journey from New York to Southampton, arriving in England on 4th July. It would appear that she was unmarried and travelled alone.

Third, the name Catherine appears seven times and Katherine once. I suspect all these references are to the same person. So who was this well-travelled woman who seven times crossed the Atlantic to and from the USA and once to Canada? Despite a discrepancy of one month between the two full records of her birth date, my guess is that she was Catherine McCulloch McIlhagga (once spelled McIllhagga), the sixth child and third daughter of James McIlhagga and Johanna McCulloch, who was born in the mid 1880s.

It looks as if her first double trip may have been in 1916 when she was 30, and it is very likely that this was a visit 'home' to Scotland and that she therefore emigrated earlier. In the 1901 Census she was a 15 year old Mill Worker and the probability is that she went to the USA in her mid-20s, probably after her father died in 1913. We know that she settled in New York because when her younger brother James emigrated in 1922 he gave his sister's address of 730 Main Street, Buffalo, New York, as his destination. Catherine made the trip to Scotland in 1927, 1933, 1934 and finally in 1957 when she was 71 years old. This was the journey she made via Canada when she returned. By 1948 her sister Ina was also living in New York. Ina had married James Strathearn, though it looks as if Catherine remained unmarried. At some point, perhaps when she considered she had 'retired', Catherine migrated south to the warmer climes of Florida where in 1976 at the great age of 89 she died at Plant City, Hillsborough, where she is buried.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Three 'floating' nuclear families

In the indexes I have compiled I have two or three men with the name Francis but until now none recorded as Frank. An Individual Record on the IGI, of the birth somewhere in Ireland, of Agnes on 4th Dec 1874, records the names of her parents as Frank McIlhaggar and Mary Jane Brown. I have no idea where this nuclear family fits in to any family tree and would be delighted to hear from anyone who does.

A second person for whom the IGI uses the surname spelling McIlhaggar is Eliza Ann who in the 1870s had several children as a single mother, including James (1872), Andrew (1875), William John (1879) and Mary Jane (1879). At present I cannot find a family into which any of these individuals fit. I assume that William John and Mary Jane were twins.

A third 'no family' person is Margaret McIlhago, father Henry a farmer, who married George McClean on 24 May 1849. She was from Kirkinriola, County Antrim, which is just north of Ballymena. George's father was James, a Labourer. Margaret was probably born in the mid 1820s. Again at present I have no positive clue which would enable me to fit Margaret into a wider family. They married at First Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, Margaret's surname is also recorded as McIlhaga. Both she and George gave their occupation as 'Servant'. Their witnesses were John McBride and William Cairns.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

What was it like Grandad?

I believe that at the recent National Family History Fair in Newcastle, England, one of the speakers urged the members of his audience to record something of their own lives for future generations. This is something I have always meant to do but have kept procrastinating. How many times have I started to keep a diary and given up after a short time! However, better late than never! One of my grandsons recently asked me to contribute to his school history project by telling him what it was like during the second World War. The following four paragraphs is what I sent him. It occurs to me that it would be a great contribution to this blog if some of its readers would put pen to paper and send me a paragraph or two or three about some aspect of their early (or just earlier) lives - please!

I was only 6 when the Second World War broke out, so it's difficult to remember things in order. I lived in Wallasey on the River Mersey opposite Liverpool, which was one of the Industrial places that the Germans wanted to destroy, so there was a lot of bombing, which always took place at night. The biggest 'blitz' was in 1941. We could hear the planes approaching from the south and hoped they would miss us. There would be an air-raid siren, a very loud wailing noise which would mean that everyone ran for shelter. People built brick shelters (called Anderson Shelters) in their gardens where we would wait for the 'All-clear' siren, a long single note. The shelters were dark and smelt damp. If there was no shelter available we would hide under the stairs or even under a table for some protection. The next day we would go outside to see if we could see any bomb damage. Sometimes whole houses or whole streets were destroyed. We were very lucky. Our house was never hit. It was on a ridge and after the 'all-clear' you could go outside and look towards Liverpool where the sky was all red with the burning buildings.

Among the things I remember were the Barrage Balloons, like huge Elephants in the sky. I imagined they were somehow there to catch low-flying aircraft or to get them to avoid the area where they were moored by long steel ropes. We were all issued with gas-masks in case we were attacked by gas bombs, We had to carry them with us in a cardboard box slung over our shoulders and we had to practice putting them on. Your chin went in first, then you pulled the mask over your face. You could look through an oval window, until it steamed up. I hated their smell of rubber, and thought they made breathing difficult. We all had Ration Books with tear-out tokens to get all the basic foods. There was a shortage of a lot of things and I was very surprised one day when my father came home from work. He'd visited a farmer who had given him half a pig, which we hung in the pantry. I think it was probably illegal to have it, and we couldn't tell anyone we had it.

My father was a Jute Merchant and his office and factory were in the centre of Liverpool. He often went on the ferry boat across the Mersey until the two boats, the Daffodil and the Iris, disappeared to help the War in the North Sea. After the war they came back and were allowed to be called the Royal Daffodil and the Royal Iris for the good work they had done. At night we had to put blackout material on all the windows so that planes couldn't see us and make us a target. Often my father would then go out as a 'fire-watcher' with the ARP (Air Raid Precautions). He might be stationed on the top of a building and when they saw a fire starting (where a bomb had fallen) they could tell the police and fire service quickly, and go and help to rescue people. The ARP was trained to help with casualties. In the worst blitz there were 300 casualties in Wallasey in one night, and the next day there was no water. Rubble was everywhere and people had to be careful to avoid unexploded bombs.

A lot of children were evacuated to places of safety. I think a lot from Wallasey went to the country villages in the Wirral and North Wales. We were not evacuated until one night my father's office was bombed and he and his partner had nowhere to work. They decided that our family (the four of us) would go and share his partner's house near Southport, which was a safe place on the Lancashire coast. So for a time we went to live in this lovely old farmhouse which had its own swimming pool and lots of grounds to play in. You could walk from the house through some woods on to a golf course then down to the sea. After a few months we were able to go home to Wallasey. Except for that time I don't remember school being interupted. By the end of the war I had started Secondary School (Wallasey Grammar School) and had to cycle nearly three miles each way twice a day, morning and afternoon. In 1945 when the war was over there were great celebrations, with parades in the streets, and at last we could get things which no one had seen during the war, like sweets and bananas!