Friday, 16 December 2011

Harryville family

I have acquired more birth and marriage details from the Ulster Historical Foundation and the first one I want to explore is the marriage of John McIlhagga, a Labourer of 87 Queen Street, Harryville, Ballymena, to Mary Sloan of 103 Queen Street. They were married on 5 January 1894 in Ballychug Church of Ireland. No parents are given for Mary, and as is the case with most marriage records, just the father of the groom is named, who was also John McIlhagga, also a Labourer. Mary's witness was a Mary Matthews. John's witness was William McIlhagga who we may presume was his brother. Both John and Mary were recorded as of 'Full age', so in all probability were born about 1873.

If we now turn to the 1901 Census for Ballymena we do have a husband and wife, John and Mary McIlhagga living at 102 Queen Street, the house either next door to, or opposite 103, the address Mary gave at their marriage. John's age in 1901 was 26 and Mary's 25, giving them possible birth years of 1875 and 1876. If these are correct, when they were married they were in fact 19 and 18 respectively, two and three years under 'full age', not an unusual situation to find, including giving false ages. In 1901 no occupation is given for either John or Mary, and they appear to have no family. If we now turn to the 1911 Census again we find a married couple, John and Mary McIlhagga, living in Ballymena, this time at 115 Queen Street. John gives his occupation as Railway Carter. However their ages are recorded as 30 and 30. If they are the same couple, and there is no reason to think they are not, they have knocked five years off their ages. Once again there are no children recorded, though we do know from the census that they had had three children all of whom sadly had died in infancy.

In the tree for this family I cannot at present go back further than John the father of John. In addition to the possibility that William, John's marriage witness, was a brother, I think it is probable that he had a younger brother Andrew who in 1906 was also married in a Church of Ireland (Ahoghill), to Elizabeth Todd. In 1906 John senior was also described as a Labourer, as indeed was Samuel the father of Elizabeth Todd. In 1906 Andrew was also married from Queen Street, Ballymena, though no house number is given. Andrew and Elizabeth subsequently had a large family of five boys and five girls.

If we ask whether there were any other McIlhaggas living in Queen Street, or nearby in Ballymena and who therefore might well be related, we find in 1901 Robert and Margaret and family at 67 Queen Street. In 1911 Robert and Margaret have moved away to Azamor Street, Belfast. Robert who was probably 42 in 1901, though he said he was 47, could well have been a brother of John senior. If that were the case, then we can take the family with whom we started back a further two generations because we know that Robert's father was James who was son of William a Weaver, who was born at the end of the eighteenth century.

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