Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Children of two Second Marriages

Mary Jane McIlhagga was born on 13th September 1882 to Samuel McIlhagga, Cardriver, and Sarah Jane, of 20 Browns Square, Belfast. As the record says that the Officiating Minister at the Church of Ireland was the Rev. Richard Irvine, we can assume that the second date given, 20th September, just a week later, was a baptism. The parish is called St. Stephen's. As I have explained in an earlier blog (1st April last) the probability is that Mary Jane was the only child of a second marriage, Samuel's first wife having died.

Ruth McIlhagga was born on 18th January 1881 and registered or baptised on 16th February. Her parents were George McIlhagga, a Salesman, and Elizabeth Patterson, of 97 Portingale Street, Belfast. George was also named as the 'witness'. Up to now I have had a record of Ruth born 1881, the fifth child of George McIlhagga and Elizabeth Robinson, Ruth dying the following year on 21 September 1882 at 59 Old Lodge Road, Belfast. I have wondered for some time whether there is a mistaken transcription confusing Robinson and Patterson? However, I have found a marriage date for George and Elizabeth Patterson on 1st February 1879. Was this George's second marriage? Yes, it must have been for I have also found the death of Elizabeth Robinson in 1877 aged 37. George would have needed someone to help bring up his four children, the last of whom, Eliza Ann had been born in 1875. So Ruth was a child of the second marriage.

Finally, to confirm what I have just written (!) I have also received the birth record of George McIlhagga on 29th November 1879, with baptism/registration on 11th February, to George McIlhagga, Salesman, and Elizabeth Patterson of 97 Portingale Street, Belfast. Again, George also signs as 'witness'.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Four more Birth Records

William Robert McIlhagga was born 26th March 1904 and Baptised/Registered on 13th April. The records of the Ulster Historical Foundation tell us he was the son of Robert McIlhagga, a Baker, and Eliza Jane Neeson, of 48 Lawther Street, Belfast. Clearly this William Robert was the older brother of Daniel born in 1906 and whom I recorded in my last blog. The fact that their mother's maiden name differs between the two records, Erskine and Neeson, must I think mean that at least one of them is a mistranscription, unless of course there were two marriages. The witness's name on this occasion was Robert McIlhagga, presumably William Robert's father. This probably means he went to the Register Office to report the birth.

On 1st February 1903 we have another clan son born to another baker. John was born to Daniel McIlhagga and Harriett Jane McCaughtrey of 2 Singleton Street, Belfast. He was registered/baptised on 12th March. The name of the witness was Mary McCaughtrey, maybe Harriett Jane's sister or mother. My own Marriage Index spells Harriett's maiden name Harriet McAughtrey, when she and Daniel married on 12 April 1902 at Frederick Street Methodist Church. As far as I know John was the only child that Daniel and Harriet(t) had. Daniel was one of the eight children of John McIlhagga and Margaret Douglass. Daniel died two years after John was born, in Belfast Fever Hospital. Harriet(t) Jane remarried, to William Robert Girvin, four years later in 1909.

Samuel McIlhagga was born on 7th June 1891 and baptised/registered on 27th. His parents were James McIlhagga, a Flaxdresser, and Rebecca Johnston of 36 Disraeli Street, Belfast. James McIlhagga is also recorded as the 'witness'. Also Wilson McIlhagga was born on 30th December 1880 and baptised/registered on 3rd April 1881. His parents were also James McIlhagga and Rebecca Johnston, Presbyterians, of 59 Preston Street, Eglington, Belfast. As the name of Rev. J. Martin is on this record, I take it that this was a baptism, confirmed surely by the three month's gap after the birth. I wrote extensively about this family in my Blog of 21st September last, 'A Belfast Family'.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Two Comments and three Births

This month I have had two comments submitted to this blog. One I have published after 'More Transatlantic Travel' on 4th October. The second was a request to trace a clan member who I assume is alive today. In accord with my policy of privacy for people alive, unless they give their permission for their name to be published, I have not (for the time being) made this comment public. Fortunately the sender, in Australia, included her name and address, so I have been able to send her what I hope is a helpful reply.

Also this month I have purchased a number of birth details, and I include the first three here. Henry, born 1 October 1906, baptised/registered (the record doesn't say which) 16 October, was son of William McIlhagga, Labourer and Mary Ann Boyd, of 7 Colchester Street, Belfast. There is a witness name of Mary Jane Morgan, unknown to me I'm afraid. William was the son of Henry McIlhagga and Agnes Gardiner. Mary Ann was the daughter of James Boyd and Jane McIlhagga. William therefore married his second cousin, once removed.

The common factor between Henry's baptism (or registration) and Elizabeth Ann's is that the same witness was present, Mary Jane Morgan. Elizabeth Ann was born on 11 June 1906 and registered/baptised on 3rd July. Her parents were William Hugh McIlhagga, also a Labourer, and Maggie Boyd. They lived at 35 Donegall Avenue, Belfast. William Hugh's parents were George McIlhagga and Elizabeth Anne Robinson. Margaret's were James Boyd and Jane McIlhagga. In this case William Hugh and Margaret were first cousins. Elizabeth Ann had an older sister Jane, and would have two younger brothers, James and William.

A third birth in 1906 was that of Daniel, born to Robert McIlhagga, a Baker, and Eliza Jane Erskine, on 26 August, registered/baptised on 15 September. They lived at 30 Lawther Street, Belfast. The witness's name was Eliza Jane McIlhagga. This of course may have been Daniel's mother signing her married name. Daniel had an older brother, William Robert born 1904, and was to have a younger brother Samuel, born 1910. According to the 1911 Census they had moved to nearby 25.1 Lawther Place, Belfast. At present I do not know to which wider family this group belongs.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Killing Times

Setting aside 'Celtic' and 'Medieval' times, our clan records in Scotland date from 1527 in Carrick, in the south west of Ayrshire. Michael Macylhaggow was probably born at the end of the 15th Century. The earliest recorded date in Ulster was 1669 when three men, inhabiting properties in the parish of Doagh Grange in County Antrim, find themselves paying the tax known as Hearth Money. The two with the same name, Alex and Allexander McIlhago were probably father and son, and the third, James McIlhaga, despite the o/a spelling variation, was probably another son or a cousin.

It is a reasonable assumption that these three crossed the North Channel some time in the 1660s, giving themselves time enough to own property with hearths. Presumably the younger two had been born in the 1640s and the father about 1620. Certainly the spelling McIlhago was around in Ayrshire at that time. Robert Mc'Ilhago appears there in 1597. Another Robert McIlhago witnessed his grandson's baptism at Ayr in 1685. He could be a contemporary of either of the younger Ulster men, or indeed the father. One has to add that, though it is a good Scots name, there are no other Alexanders of whom I know in the Ayrshire family, and the next James to appear does so in about 1740.

It is of interest to speculate why three clan members, possibly with their families (or else why were they living in three separate properties in 1669?) may have chosen to migrate to Ulster in that decade. The clue could well be in the nature of the times which have come to be known as the 'Killing Times'. It is a reasonable assumption that the three men in the Hearth Money Rolls were Presbyterians, for the great majority of later clan members in Ulster were. 1660 saw the Restoration of the Monarchy when Charles II came to the throne. After the previous twenty years when Covenanting Presbyterianism was in the ascendancy, there was a violent return to earlier persecution.

It began in 1660 with many arrests and executions, then in 1661-2 came the ejection of hundreds of Presbyterian ministers from their parishes, who then had to preach, on both sides of the Channel, in remote fields and hillsides. In 1665-6 the battles between the royalist troops and the Covenanting bands were fought fiercely, not least in the south west of Scotland before spreading to the east and to Edinburgh. Throughout December 1666 a spate of bloody public executions of Covenanters took place across Scotland, though at Irvine and Ayr the official hangman refused to carry out his task. Although in the early '60s the ejected Ulster ministers and many followers had crossed to Scotland to join the Covenanters there, in late 1666 and early 1667 Ulster again became the refuge for many, especially from the west of Scotland.

This in brief was the background to what was to become known as the 'Killing Times' and perhaps was the main reason why first James McElhago, a sea captain of Irvine, chose to spend the mid to late '60s in America, and also why Alex and Allexander McIlhago and James McIlhaga migrated just across the North Channel to Ulster and to reestablish themselves in the parish of Doagh Grange.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Three more 'Newsletter' Reports

When I put 'M'Ilh...' in to the Index Search of The Belfast Newsletter, in addition to the six references to the ship 'Mary' and her master James McIlhago, it came up with three other references. The first, to Nathaniel McIlhago in 1770 of Island Magee, I have already written about on 1 September last. Its significance is that it takes us back a generation on that peninsula.

The second reference appears to be also in Island Magee. It is in the newspaper of 5 October 1798 (page 3) and simply reads, "notice wife = McIllhagoo, Jennet = Wilson, Jennet goods caution credit + Island Magee 3 = Wilson, Patrick". At present I don't understand whether everything after the first Jennet is relevant and I think I will have to look up the original paper when I next go to Belfast. Hopefully it will help us decide whose wife Jennet was. It may well be that she was the wife of Nathaniel.

The third reference was in the paper 6-9 November 1781 (page 3) and I believe it takes us back a generation in the townland of Maxwell's Walls in the parish of Connor. It is the intriguingly brief notice reading "Stray beef cow = McIllhago, William + Connor 8". It looks as if William, who must have been born before 1760 could have been the father or grandfather of the group of men farming in Maxwell's Walls early in the 19th Century, including Henry, John and William. Father or grandfather William must have had a problem with one of his cows! Again, we may have more information when we see the full report in the paper.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Captain James McIlhago

On 1 September last I wrote about Robert McElhago, who with his whole crew was drowned when his ship capsised in Drogheda harbour. Robert was based in Irvine, on the west coast of Scotland, and was part of our Ayrshire clan family in the 18th Century. He drowned in December 1797 in the ship named 'Industry', and this tragedy was reported in the newspaper called the Belfast Newsletter, on 8th December.

I recently went back to the Newsletter Index and searched for references to 'M'Ilh...'. It brought up six more items of Port News ten years earlier than the shipwreck, between August 1786 and July 1787, all concerning a ship called Mary whose master was McIlhago. Was this Robert, with his surname spelled slightly differently? Fortunately one report, that for 25-29 May 1787 (p.2) included the ship's master's Christian name, James. The ship Mary was a cargo boat carrying a variety of goods, including salt, cork wood, fruit, salmon and linen cloth.

I have for some time believed that James McIlhago who in 1765 was involved in founding a library in the USA (see my blog of 7 Feb 2009) must have been a sea captain, and surely now we have found that indeed he was. He must have returned from the USA to Irvine, Ayrshire and taken over the 'Mary'. The name of the ship might well indicate that either his mother or his wife's name was Mary, though I have to say that we have no proof that he ever married. My belief is that he was an uncle of the Robert who drowned in 1797.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

What happened to the children?

I had an 'out of the blue' piece of information yesterday, for which I am very grateful. It was from someone searching The Belfast Newsletter for 1840 and came across the announcement of a marriage between John Fullerton and Miss McIlhaga, both of Islandmagee. An advanced search produced no more information. The only 'Miss McIlhaga' of the right age in Island Magee was probably the Mary of whom I wrote in my blog yesterday, the Mary who was a school pupil 1826-31. She could have been born about 1820, so by 1840 would have been twenty-ish. The odd thing about this information is that I do have a record of a marriage which took place in Connor Church of Ireland on 8th Jan 1872 of a Miss McIlhagga (either Margaret or Mary), daughter of James and Mary Anne Gardner, to a John Fullerton, son of John Fullerton. Now of course it could be that the John Fullerton who married in 1840 was the father and the John Fullerton who married in 1872 was the son. I wonder.

If this information has made me ask what happened to Mary McIlhaggo who was in the Island Magee school in about 1830, I must also ask what happened to her 'brother', William McIlhago. On the assumption that he was a year or two older than Mary (simply because his name is listed first), we can say he might have been born around 1815. In fact we do know what happened to him. His name is on a gravestone in Ballypriormore churchyard. He was actually born in 1816 and he died aged 23 in 1839, son of Samuel and Ellen McIlhaggo. Here I think is confirmation that William and Mary were brother and sister.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Island Magee Pre-National School

I have been blogging about some things I have found in Dixon Donaldson's History of Island Magee, and I come to the last point of interest. It is a Roll of Pupils enrolled in the Island School during the years 1826 and 1831. This includes two children who are said to live in the townland of Lower Kilcoan, namely Wm. McIlhago and Mary McIlhaggo. Despite the difference in surname spelling there is no reason to think they are not siblings. I must presume that William and Mary were the children of Samuel McIlhaggo and Ellon McWhinney.

In addition to the McIlhag(g)o siblings, of particular interest to us also are three pupils in Carnspindle, two in Gransha, one in Ballymuildre, two in Balle, one in Ballymoney and one in Ballycronan, any of which could relate through future marriage, though this has yet to be demonstrated. The surnames are simply ones which appear to have clan links. They are, Carnspindle: And., Thos. and Saml. Mawhinney; Gransha: Jenny Napier and Hy Brennan; Ballymuildre: Abby Brennan; Balle: John and David Aiken; Ballymoney: James Forsythe; and in Ballycronan: Robert Hay.

The school teacher was John Montgomery. I quote Dixon Donaldson: 'John Montgomery was one of the earliest of the.. pre-national teachers... Born in 1783.. (he was brought up on a) farm at Brownsbay... In those days it was the custom for rural schoolmasters to move about the country from house to house giving a little instruction to individual pupils on their rounds; sometimes, when a suitable room could be found, he resided at that house for several days together, the scholars in the vicinity coming in the day time, and grown-ups attending in the fore-suppers to take advantage of his presence in their neighbourhood to improve their own scant education..... It is also known that at a later period he occupied premises as a schoolhouse on the farmstead of Betty Huggan in the townland of Drumgurland..'.

John Montgomery was also a Justice of the Peace and in the Journal he kept there is a declaration as follows: 'M - M - of Islandmagee cometh before me, one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace in and for the said County [of Antrim] and maketh oath on the Holy Evangelists and saith that she is pregnant with child, and that the father of the said child is R - T - of Islandmagee, and none else'. Dated April 5th 1831. Might this be Mary McIlhaggo? Could the date have been right? By my reckoning she might have been as young as twelve at the time. Or could it have referred to the Mary who had a son John, named in the Will of Samuel McIlhagga who died in 1818? Or might this oath refer to Margaret Montgomery, John Montgomery's own daughter, who married a Robert Templeton? Certainly the initials are right.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Executor Murphy

On 19 November 2009 I wrote about the 1818 Will of Samuel McIlhagga of Island Magee. There is no original in existence and the transcript I received from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) several years ago not only had many gaps in it but was in parts a faded copy. On my recent visit to PRONI I was able to examine the transcript and at least confirm what some of the faded words were. Sadly there are no additions which add anything of substance to my knowledge. However it is of interest to note that one of the named executors was the Revd. John Murphy and I have learned from reading Dixon Donaldson's History of Island Magee that John Murphy was the Presbyterian Minister of Island Magee, ordained there on 15th August 1789. At least this confirms what I have been assuming, though for which I have had no 'proof', that the McIlhaggas of Island Magee were Scots Presbyterians.

Donaldson has a column about John Murphy which includes the information that he was born in Newtown-Limervady. It appears that he did not attend the meetings of the Church Synod too frequently, and in 1821 the Synod ordered the Presbytery of Templepatrick to enquire into his conduct, the result of which was that they found no grounds of accusation. However three years later the Presbytery did suspend Mr. Murphy for being intoxicated at the installation of the minister of Carrickfergus! He was I'm pleased to say reinstated and in 1828 when over 70 years of age he retired. He died in 1842 when 78 years old, as the Belfast Newsletter recorded, 'a worthy and esteemed minister'.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

United Irishmen

Formed in Belfast in 1791 The United Irishmen was formed to get equal Parliamentary representation for all people in Ireland. However, it soon became a 'Republican' Movement, demanding Home Rule for Ireland, and was opposed by the Government. By 1798 the Government had effectively quashed any possibility of insurrection, including winning the 'Battle of Antrim', an attack on the town on 7th June of that year. Fifty to sixty men from middle and lower Island Magee took part. They had assembled at the foot of Knowhead brae, and had set off in marching order. However, we have the following vignette recorded by Dixon Donaldson in his History of Island Magee:

As the company had just disappeared from view, a man, named Andrew McIlhagga was seen hurrying forward from the opposite direction, carrying over his shoulder a long thorn stick to which he had tied one of the blades of a pair of sheep shears, while the other blade, stuck in his belt, "might come in handy", as he said, "at close quarters". While pausing to get his breath, an old "lady of the road", who had been an onlooker, took off her garters and tied the man's trousers below the knee, which, she remarked, would enable him to run easier. She then dismissed him with - "Noo, stretcht yer shanks tae the road and see and fecht for ye're wife and waens the day ma man".

This colourful story may tell us something about the men who determined to 'take' the important town of Antrim, one of whom was for some reason late in joining them, but our main interest is in asking what it might tell us about our clan? Here is a man of whom I have not heard before, who appears to be from middle or lower Island Magee, one Andrew McIlhagga - and note with interest our present-day spelling of his surname. If the woman who lost her garters actually knew him then it appears that he had a wife and children. In any case he was old enough to fight and was possibly in his mid-twenties. If so, he would have been born about 1760-65. He could well have been a son of Nathaniel McIllhago who seems to have relinquished his land lease in Ballytober in 1770, so providing us with a name for a generation between him and siblings James and Samuel, though alternatively he could have been a son of Samuel. Perhaps he was from a separate, though related family on Island Magee or on the nearby 'mainland'.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

18th Century Tenancy

About a year ago (25 Sep 2010) I wrote about an advertisement that was in the Belfast Newsletter on 13 February 1770 which had taken me back a generation on Island Magee. It referred, among other people, to 'McIlhago, Nathaniel' whose lease on land owned by Viscount Dungannon was coming to an end. Nathaniel was releasing a tenancy in the townland of Ballytober. I had not come across a Nathaniel in Island Magee so wondered whether he might be the Nathan McIlhaggar born about 1750-58 in Carnmoney. However, the Island Magee tenants about whom I do know rather indicate that Nathaniel was the father of siblings Samuel and James who had later tenancies, giving Nathaniel a probable birth date as early as 1720-30.

For the past twelve months I have had it in mind to find a book called History of IslandMagee by Dixon Donaldson and one of my aims on my recent visit to Northern Ireland was to find it in the Linen Hall Library. Unfortunately I couldn't fit that into my schedule so I have cut my losses and purchased a paperback facsimile of the book published in 1927. Interestingly in an early chapter Donaldson mentions the Belfast Newsletter advertisement of 1770 without any detail. However, in Article XVI (Chapter 16, page 50) he has a full reference to the newspaper's 'Notice relating to the Islandmagee Tenantry...':

"Out of Lease and to be let for Terms of Years, a large Tract of Land now in the Occupation of the under-named Tenants in Island Magee and County of Antrim. The Lands lie in the rich Corn Country and the Soil is remarkable for producing all Kinds of Grain, such as Wheat, Barley, Beans, Pease, and most excellent Oats. There is a great Plenty of Limestone in or contiguous to every Holding and the whole being nearly surrounded by the Sea, Coals are to be had at a moderate expence; moreover, there are constant Opportunities, in all Seasons, of Water Carriage from the fine Harbour of Larne which adjoins the said Island of carrying Commodities to Belfast and other Markets abroad. Proposals for any of the said Lands may be immediately made to the Lord Viscount Dungannon in Dublin, or to Edward Brice Esq.; in Belfast, who can give all necessary Information, and will direct an understanding Person on the Spot, to show the Grounds. The Proposals shall be kept secret, and shall be answered before the 25th of March. Dated this 5th February, 1770"

The list following includes, in the townland of Ballytober, Nathaniel McIllhago with 7 acres 1 rood 20 perches. If a lease was coming to an end in 1770, when was it taken up? The only earler list of names relating to Island Magee is that of people paying Hearth Money in 1669 which does not include any of our clan, so at some time between 1670 and 1770 Nathaniel McIllhago would have taken over a tenancy, at a guess, perhaps in about 1740-50. The list of people after that of the Tenants is a list of inhabitants of people founding a Christian Congregation (a 'Meeting House', so I take it Presbyterian) in 1772. Sadly there is no clan name there which makes me think that Nathaniel McIllhago did not renew his tenancy in 1770.