Monday, 30 January 2012


There are very few instances in the history of our clan whee the first syllable of our surname is 'Mac'. I have recently referred to the historically important Michael Macylhaggow. There are a couple of MacAlhagga names in the minutes of Bathgate, Scotland Masonic Lodge, which I'm sure are mistranscriptions. There is a Vicente Adam MacElhaga and his father Samuel and mother Joanna Whete who fascinatingly appear in a baptism record in Rosario, Copiapo, Chile. This event remains totally mysterious to me.

A John MacHaggart appears in the 1881 English Census boarding in West Ham, Essex, and Two MacIlhaggers, John and Archie, appear in the 1906 Canada Census in a place called Assiniboia, Saskachewan. There are two other baptisms, of John MacHaggart and Margaret MacIlhagga both in 19th Century Ireland. Margaret, daughter of Archibald, married Joseph Adams in Belfast in 1915. Another Margaret MacIlhaggart (a widow) married Joseph Hills in Ballymena in 1903. However, I know this to be a mistranscription.

And now, in the 'findmypast' website I have found June MacIlhaggie who in the April-June Quarter of 1963 married David W. Howes in Chelmsford, Essex, and I have to confess that I have no idea how June fits into a clan family. There is only one 'June' in my Birth Index, namely June McIlhagga, daughter of Samuel who died in 2009 and whose burial in Ballee Cemetery, County Antrim, was reported in the Belfast Telegraph. At the time of her death she was June Miller (nee McIlhagga) and must I think have been born in the 1930s.

If anyone knows of any other instances, I would be interested to know about them. There is of course no difference between 'Mc' and 'Mac', and neither is more 'correct' than the other, and both get abbreviated in documents, especially in old handwriting, to M'.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A Summer in Canada

On the 'findmypast' website there are three McIlhago references to visits to Canada, first by Sarah aged 54 of 119 Brassey Street, Glasgow, to Halifax, NS, departing 30 June 1950 on the ship Georgia. The other two are on the ship Saxonia departing 11 April 1956 to Montreal, of both Harry and Sarah, from the same Glasgow address. From the '' Incoming Passenger lists, 1878-1960, I know that Harry and Sarah returned home, leaving Montreal on 6 September 1956. Harry gave his occupation as Clerk, and we may imagine they had been saving up for quite some time in order to be away from home for six months. Who were they and why did they go?

I believe this couple to be Henry McIlhago and Sarah nee Lyon who married in Kelvin, Glasgow in 1916. On the 1911 Census Henry is entered as Harry and was employed as a Railway Bookings Clerk. In the 1920s they had two daughters, Elizabeth Isabella McIntyre in 1924 and Sarah Alexander Lyon in 1927. I have GRO records of both these daughters marrying in Possilpark, Glasgow. Sarah married William John Lyons on 28 February 1945. He was 26 and she was 18. Elizabeth married Knut Allan Lundmark on 26 November 1945. He was 29 and she was 21. Perhaps they both waited until they could see that the war was ending before marrying. Although at present I have no evidence from migration records, perhaps one or both daughters emigrated to Canada. Their mother's first visit was only five years later, perhaps for the birth of a child. Then six years after that both Harry and Sarah paid their long visit. I wonder whether a 'return' visit was able to be made when Harry died in 1969 aged seventy five?

Henry (1893-1969) was the second child and eldest son of George Gardner McIlhago (b. 1862/3 in Ireland) and Isabella Scott Boak (b. 1869 in Chryston, Lanark, Scotland). George was the second child and eldest son of Henry McIlhaggo (1821-1889) and Agnes Gardiner (1836-1889). Both had been born in Ireland but died in New Monkland, Scotland. Henry had started as a 'small farmer' in Maxwell's Walls, Connor, County Antrim, which is where his father Henry was also a farmer. There is a Family Tree for Maxwell's Walls going back to William McIllhago born about 1750. He was reported in the Belfast Newsletter in November 1781 as having a stray beef cow in Connor on 8th November that year!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Three Marriage Queries

I have spent some time recently searching the resources offered by and have found a few references that were new to me and I would be interested to know if anyone can throw any more light on them.

1. In the GRO Consular Marriages (1849-1965), number 110 is for Isabella E.M. McIlhaggo, at Antwerp, Belgium, 1906-10. Isabella usually spelled her surname McIlhaga and her middle names were Emily Marrs. I believe she married Samuel Bowden and last year I was pleased to hear from one of the Bowden family, with the above photograph which it is believed is of Isabella. The new information is that her marriage was registered with the British Consul.

2. Jane McIlhagge was married in Fylde, Lancashire in 1889 to George Taylor Birkett. I am wondering was she possibly the Jane McIlhaggie/McIlhaggo born in Connor in 1863 to Henry McIlhaggo/McIlhaggie and Agnes McMeekin? Does anyone know if this marriage had any offspring?

3. Alan McIlhaggen was married in Fulham, London in 1971 to Heather A. Henderson. I am wondering whether this was Alan McIlhagger son of William Boyd McIlhagger and Martha? Also, by the way, I have no record of Martha's maiden surname. Also Alan had a brother, William Boyd McIlhagger. Does anyone know whether he ever married or had a family?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Blog Correspondents

I have recently had two interesting messages, which I have published following the blogs for 'Belgium-twice in two days' on 3 May 2011 and 'Christchurch and Great-gran' on 26 Feb 2011. This blog asked for a positive identification of someone in a photograph and my new correspondent has identified the lady as his or her great grandmother. Brilliant! I will be able to pass on the information. The other comment did not give a contact address but he (David) did join as a blog follower, so I wrote to him via that route. However he has not got back to me as yet. If he does I might be able to put him in touch with the correspondent mentioned on 3 May last. Such a 'stop' in corresponding has happened once before and I am wondering if there is some fault in the blog system of communication, though it seems to me to be working. Perhaps one of our other blog followers could try it out and write to me as a 'test'?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Family Occupations

Yesterday I said I'd make a comment on the occupations of my own line. This is the other half of what I said at our Family History meeting yesterday morning. I think the last five or six generations illustrate what is an interesting sociological phenomenon, a not uncommon progression through the 19th and 20th Centuries, creeping up the social scale.

My GG grandfather was variously described as a Weaver, a Labourer and a Farmer, I suppose the old category of Ag(ricultural) Lab(ourer). I visited Ireland last October and found evidence, on a map, of the cottage he lived in, in about 1840, by searching the land records for the townland of Ballycloghan. I imagine he had a loom in one room, something I've seen in the Scottish Highlands, and he was a tenant of a modest 22 acres from the local landlord, Lord Masereene.

My Great grandfather, his son, emigrated first to Greenock in Scotland then down to Liverpool, Lancashire, where in both places he was a Sugar Baker, the job that was done in such heat that often men worked naked and produced the largest percentage of alcoholics in any industry of the day. Beer was a safer drink than water. Basically labouring , though if family tradition is right, he was said to have won a prize for being part of a team which discovered how to crystalize sugar.

My grandfather started as an Office Boy in the same Sugar Refinary, I think of Tate and Lyle, but moved into Fish and Poultry. He became a traveller on what was known as the Oyster Track. I take it this means he was a Wholesaler in this trade, at times quite (fish) smelly if I remember the comments made by my mother. I guess you might call him Lower Middle Class, 'in trade'.

My father started as a Clerk in a Jute firm which had moved down to Liverpool from Dundee. Soon after he joined up and served in the First World War as a Sergeant Signaller with the Liverpool Scottish Regiment. He wore a kilt right through the war, though I never saw him in one later in life, perhaps part of the fact that he never talked about the experience. He went back into the Jute firm and by the time of the Second World War was its Managing Director. I guess you might call him 'aspiring Upper Middle Class'.

I was the first generation to go to University and ended up in what is called a 'profession'. So you have a family which is quite an interesting example of 'pulling yourselves up by your boot laces', gradually rising from labouring, through trading to 'professing'. I suppose the really interesting question is 'what is the next generation doing?' Answer: I have three sons who are all self-employed, running their own businesses, and all of whom I would put in the category of 'entrepreneur'! And I'm watching my grandsons with interest!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Clan Occupations

This morning we had the monthly meeting of our local Family History Group with the theme of 'the occupations of our ancestors'. I spoke first about our clan in a way I thought would interest the group and then I spoke about my own McIlhagga line. Here's part one:

One of the things members of the Guild of One Names Studies is encouraged to do is to publish a Name Profile. Anyone can read the profile of any of the 2000 registered names on the Guild website. One of the sections of the Profile is called 'Historical Occurences', and it's your opportunity to come up with any notable people with your surname, or one of its registered variants. I prefaced my list of seven people with the sentence, 'Very few of the "clan" have any claim to fame'. This is very true of my own McIlhagga line (I'll comment next time). In fact none of my seven are (to the best of my knowledge) in my own ancestral line, but you might like to know who I included. I'll list them, then add a word about each of their occupations.

1. [I have to say that some doubt has been cast on my first one since I published the profile, which is a pity, as] Gillescop McI(l)hagain was Steward to the Earl of Carrick in 1196;
2. Michael Macylhaggow was a witness to the Laing Charters in 1527;
3. James McElhago was an Incorporator of The Bridgetown Library in New Jersey in 1765;
4. John McElhagga won the Military Medal in the First World War;
5. Lt. Cdr. Liston Burns McIlhagga was mentioned in despatches in World War II;
6. James Spence McIlhagga was one of the first Aldermen elected for the town of Ballymena;
7. Robert McIlhagger has been Professor of Engineering in the University of Ulster since 1991.

Only numbers one and seven tell you what their job was or is.

1. The Steward of Carrick, as he was called, I imagine looked after all the household and land owned by the Earl of Carrick, whose name in 1196 was Duncan son of Gilbert. Incidentally a century later Robert the Bruce was the Earl of Carrick.
2. Interestingly it was in Carrick, in the same part of Ayrshire, that Michael Macylhaggow appears 300 years later. I have no idea what his occupation was, but his surname has three points of interest for me - see my last blog!
3. Jame McElhago in New Jersey. I haven't known for certain until very recently what his occupation was. I have recently discovered he was a Sea Captain by finding his name in a 1787 Belfast Newspaper as Captain of a Cargo Boat plying between Scottish and Irish ports. He lived in Scotland. His boat was called 'Mary' which is the only clue I have to the possible name of his nearest female relative, whether that was his wife or his mother. His trip to New Jersey must have been a young man's adventure before he returned and settled down to carrying a variety of goods on his boat, including salt, cork wood, fruit, salmon and linen cloth.
4. John McElhagga wan a Military Medal while he was in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. I've looked for a citation to tell me why, but haven't found one.
5. Lt. Cdr. Liston Burns McIlhagga was mentioned in Despatches when he was a humble First Lieutenant. In 1942 he was in command of a Gun Boat in an engagement with 6 German R-boats. Three were sunk and 36 Germans taken prisoner. Liston was wounded and returned home to Canada where he had an illustrious career as a radio and TV announcer and producer. Apparently he got to produce Royal Visits from 1971 to 1983. It is said he had an amazing memory and was a fantastic story-teller, and was also an extremely good cook.
6. James Spence McIlhagga, one of the first Aldermen of Ballymena was a Manager for the National Savings Bank, and was a Councillor for many years in the toughest area of the town, called Harryville.
7. Finally Prof. Robert McIlhagger. The 'er' branch of the clan claims a lot of academics, all scientists. This branch is particularly interesting because it goes back not to a male progenitor, but to a female progenitor born in 1795. In addition to engineer Robert, it includes a Nuclear Scientist and two present day textile scientists.

Next time I'll comment on my own line.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Michael Macylhaggow

I have referred before to Michael Macylhaggow (11 Feb 09, 14 Mar 09, 4 Jul 11, 15 Nov 11 and 3 Dec 11). Michael is important for us as he is the first clan member with an anglicised form to our name who is referred to in an extant document. His surname is of special interest for three reasons. He is the only historical person known to me where 'Mac' is used rather than 'Mc'. He is the only example of 'y' being used instead of 'I', a common enough practice in the 16th Century. And the ending of his name, 'ow', is nearer to the Gaelic original than our present day 'a' or 'er'. He appears in 1527 as a witness to one of the 'Laing' Charters, number 359 in a publication known as the Calendar of the Laing Charters, AD 854 - 1837, published by J. Thin of Edinburgh. The authors were David Laing, 1793-1878 and John Anderson, 1845-1911. The Charters are held by Edinburgh University Library.

I have not before shown the full entry, the form of which some will find strange, but for completeness, here it is. It tells us nothing about Michael Macylhaggow, except that he existed in 1527. We may try to deduce something about him. We may wonder how old he was and so when he might have been born, and where he was resident.

359. 17th August 1527.] Charter by John Kennedy of Bardrochet and laird of Clachrydow and Clachrybayne, granting to his beloved Elizabeth GiiAHAJtE, sister to Robert (Jrahame of Knokdoliane, the 40s. lands of Clachrydow and Clachrybaj'ne lying in the earldom of Cai lyk and sherittUom of Ayr: To be held to her in liferent and to the heirs to lie born betwixt her and the granter in fee. Reddenchj, one penny Scots as blench. At Colmanell, 17tli August 1527. Signed, 'Jon Kenedy of Bai'drocht w' my hand.' Witnesses, John Cathkert of Glendowis, Michael Macylhaggow, William Hardy, and Sir Patrick Bard, curate of Colmanell and notary public. [497, Box 15.

We may judge that the transcriber had some difficulty in reading some words, which we can make guesses at, including perhaps Graham, Carrick, Sherriffdom, &c. The only thing that we may perhaps add is that as Michael signed second, he might have been considered second senior after John Cathkert. John signed as 'of Glendowis'. As no place name appears after Michael I think we may assume he was from Colmanell.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Bootle M.I. revisited

As I intimated before Christmas, last week I visited Bootle Cemetery in Liverpool to see the result of the work my sister and I had commissioned on the Memorial Stone which I inherited from my father, on which were the names of my paternal grandparents and their daughter, my aunt. There have now been added the names of my parents who are not buried there but who were both cremated at a place called Landican on the Wirral Peninsula, just south of the River Mersey. This extra wording is obvious from the photograph above which looks as if just the new wording has been gilded. In fact the whole stone is gilded but to my surprise the gilding on the upper part has deteriorated rapidly over recent months. If you are interested you can compare with the photograph I published on 15th April 2010.

The complete inscription now reads:

Loving Memory of
beloved wife of
who died 19th May 1927
aged 59 years.
beloved husband of the above
who died 18th January 1938
aged 71 years.
dearly loved daughter of above
who died 31st December 1940
aged 43 years.
son of the above
who died 16th February 1954
aged 60 years
and his wife OLIVE MILDRED
who died 13th March 1989
aged 91 years
both cremated at Landican.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Another ScotlandsPeople update

First, a Happy New Year to all who follow this blog! On 1st January each year ScotlandsPeople updates the births, marriages and deaths available on line. This year they are the births for 1911, marriage for 1936 and deaths for 1961. There are no new McIlhagga births or marriages, but there are three 1961 deaths. The first was a male who died aged '0' in Springburn, Glasgow City (GRO 644/04/1006). The second was Margaret McC McIlhagga, also known as Haggarty, aged 80 of Bridgeton, Glasgow City (GRO 644/02/0105). The third was Marion McIlhagga aged 84 of Greenock, Renfrew (GRO 564/00/0885). Finally there was the birth of Jane Young McIlhaggie in Govan (GRO 646/01/0774).

The infant male death was of a three day old premature baby, who died on August sixth at 4.45am. He was the son of Roy and Jane Darg (nee Smith) McIlhagga of 2334 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow. This was Roy and Jean's third son. Roy was the fourth child and third son of James McIlhagga and Jean Walker Wallace of Ballymena, and grandson of Daniel Maitland McIlhagga and Ann Eliza Wright of Castlequarter, Co. Antrim. This line goes back to the birth in 1758 of Nathan(iel) McIlhaggar of Carnmoney, and on the female side (Nathan's wife) to Patrick McBurney there who was flourishing in 1686.

Margaret McCulloch Haggarty, formerly McIlhagga was a single nurse of 8 Balvicar Drive, Glasgow, who died at 9pm on February fifth at Belvidere Hospital. She had Bronchia Pneumonia. Her younger sister Elizabeth McIlhagga of 13 Boclair Road, Bearsden, gave notice of her death. Although for a reason which is not known Margaret had changed her surname, clearly Elizabeth did not. Margaret's death record says she was 'about 80 years' old. In fact she was seventy nine. She would have been 80 five weeks later, on 17th March. She was the third child and second daughter of James McIlhagga, a Riveter, and Joanna, nee McCulloch. James was my first cousin twice removed, being the son of William and Elizabeth (nee Carson) McIlhagga. Margaret was born in Greenock but at some time had moved to Glasgow, no doubt taken there by her profession as nurse.

Our third death, of Marion McIlhagga was in fact that of Margaret and Elizabeth's eldest sister, also single, though with no stated occupation. She, who was also born in Greenock, also died there on 3rd November 1961 at 11.40 pm, at 14 Wellington Street. She was 84 years old. I had already recorded this date from the Greenock Cemetery records, though not the time or the address. Notice of Marion's death was given by her sister Catherine McIlhagga.

Finally, the birth of Jane Young McIlhaggie took place at 8.30am on fifteenth November 1911 at 22 Blackburn Street, Govan, Glasgow, to James McIlhaggie, a Seaman in the Merchant Service, and Mary McIlhaggie, nee Young, who had been married on 30th October 1908 in Govan. Mary gave notice of the birth in Govan on 1st December. I am delighted to say that Jane is an addition to my own family tree (but where did the variant McIlhaggie come from?) and gives me a new third cousin. This James was the fourth son of William Carson McIlhagga, the son of William McIlhagga and Elizabeth Carson of Ballycloghan, County Antrim.