Monday, 27 February 2012


There is an Internet site that I have not come across before and looks very well designed, It is called Its home page has the following introduction:

Our Military Genealogy site is the ONLY location where you can find military records of over 3.5 million British Armed Forces personnel exclusively cross matched with over 4000 Regiments, Bases and Ships of the British Armed Forces going back to before 1350, making your military genealogy task much easier and more complete.

Military RecordsOur site is split up into different sections with name searches of forces records for those personnel whom either died in battle or those still alive today, and our history search details information of just about every unit ever created in the British Armed Forces.

I put 'McIlhagga' in to the search box and got the following results, one of which was new to me:

Boar War 1899-1902:
John McIlhagga, Private 1902;
Victorian Conflicts 1857-1899:
William McIlhagga, 1897;
WW1 1914-1919: H. Mcilhagga, Pte, 1917;
R. McIlhagga, Rifleman, 1917;
WW2 1939-1945:
Samuel McIlhagga, Gunner, 1944;
W. McIlhagga, Flight Lieutenant, 1944;
William John McIlhagga, Private, 1945;
Forces Reunited - Living Veterans:
Robert McIlhagga, Ranger, 1985.

'McElhagga', gave me

WW1, Serjeant John McElhagga, 1916.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Scotland and Australia in touch

Recently I received a comment on a blog that I was very excited about because it contained an answer to a question someone had asked. It was confirmation of the name of a person in a photograph - see my blog of 26 February 2011 where I published the comment.

I have written about this particular family on no less than six occasions and have included four photographs. The story began on 9th Feb 2010 linking Ballyclug in County Antrim, Ireland to Partick in Scotland. My correspondent who sent the comment lives in the west of Scotland and over the past few weeks I have been having very interesting email conversations with him in which I have been able to share much material new to him and he has shared with me information gleaned from elderly relatives he has been able to interview.

All my previous information about this family has come from a part of the family which emigrated from Western Scotland to Western Australia, with whom the Scottish branch has completely lost touch. So the really interesting part of the process has been that, with the permission of both sides, I have been able to pass on a contact address. The intention of my Scottish correspondent who is a Half-2nd-Cousin of my Australian contact is to be in touch with Australia in the near future. One of the many reasons why I am glad I write this blog.

If you want to read all that I have written about this family you can find it under the following dates: 9 Feb 2010, 3 Apr 2010, 11 Jun 2010, 28 Jun 2010. 2 Jan 2011 and 26 Feb 2011.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Sport - Football

I've had it in mind for some time to write a blog about Sport, highlighting the contributions of clan members to different sports, and if anyone would like to write to me with suggestions of people to be included, I would be most grateful. In order to 'get the ball rolling', here's one I've just come across.

Ballymena Football Club was founded on 7th April 1928 when four local business men and football enthusiasts decided that the town of Ballymena needed a senior football team in the Irish League. The history of the club on the Internet explains that rumours started circulating in the Belfast Press and then advertisements were placed in the Ballymena Newspapers announcing that a public meeting would be held in the town's Protestant Hall. Admission was by ticket only, and these were available from four men across the town. Three of those listed would eventually become shareholders in the club, and two would be directors. James McIlhagga was an engine driver and would eventually buy ten shares in the club. John Gordon was a garage proprietor in the town, while Albert McClelland was a Solicitor. They became directors. The newly formed club took the place of Barn United in the Irish League for the 1928/1929 season.

Interestingly there is a James (Jimmy) McIlhagga who plays football in Northern Ireland today who is often reported on in the press. I think he is a mid-fielder. I don't know whether he is related to James the Engine Driver. I think he was probably James Spence McIlhagga who in 1928 would have been 44 years old. He started work with the Railway as a Locomotive Fireman when he was 20. He died on 11th November 1959 in Ballymena, aged 75 years old.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Irish Time-Line

I have been convinced for a long time that our clan name was taken from Scotland to Ulster, and more specifically to County Antrim from Ayrshire. To say with any certainty by whom and when is more difficult. Hoping that it would suggest some links between people and places I have made a time-line of the little knowledge we have through the 17th and 18th Centuries in Ireland, which in date order shows the following:

Two or three men are listed on the Hearth Money Roll in the townland of Cog(g)ry, Doagh Grange, namely James McIlhaga and Allexander McIlhago twice, which may mean two Allexanders or one Allexander owning two properties. James is a name used in the Ayrshire family, but not Allexander though it is certainly a Scottish name. To be settled in properties they had surely been there a few years, perhaps since 1665 and must have been old enough to have sufficient money to own these properties. If, say, they were 35 years old, they would have been born about 1630. Did they marry and have children? It would be surprising if they did not.

Was Helen McHago who was born in Carnmoney really Helen McIlhago and was she the daughter or granddaughter of James or Allexander? She married James Millikin in 1713 so it is unlikely that Nathan McIlhaggar born in Carnmoney 45 Years later was Helen's descendant, but was he, or indeed the other mid 18th Century clan member, Samuel McIlhaggo, born in 1745 in Islandmagee, a descendant of James or Allexander? The name James was certainly continued in Islandmagee in about 1755.

Samuel McIlhaggo was born on Islandmagee between 1740 and 1750. We know a fair bit about him from the Will he wrote in 1818. It is possible that he was married to Jennet McIllhagoo who appears in Islandmagee in the Belfast Newsletter of October 1798. Many of the names in Samuel's Will are indecipherable so we don't find any other early Samuel, though we do find an early Nathaniel.

First, however, we have a Nathan or Nathaniel McIlhaggar born in Carnmoney who married Betty Burney there is 1783 and had probably five children, Nathan (1784), Jon (1785), George (1792), Agnes (1795) and Patrick (1799). Was this Nathan the same man who we find ending a lease on Islandmagee in 1770? This seems somewhat unlikely as he would have been only 28 and why would such a young man not be renewing his lease?

It was an advertisement in the Belfast Newsletter in 1770 which tells us that Nathaniel McIllhago's lease on a farm in the townland of Ballytober, Islandmagee, was coming to an end. He could have been the father of Samuel McIlhaggo, and maybe he had decided to move away from the 'island'. Is he to be identified with Nathan McIlhaggy who married Sarah and who turns up in Shankill, Belfast where in 1790 they had a daughter Margaret? Alternatively could he have been the father of Nathaniel above (b.1758) as well as Samuel (b. c.1745) and James (b. 1755) who started as a Mill bleacher in Larne before farming on Islandmagee?

James from Larne was the father of three boys, James Junior (1778) who farmed in Ballytober and may have married Margaret Mawhinney, Samuel (1780) who farmed in Port Muck and married Ellon McWhinney and William who also farmed in Ballytober.

If Coggrey, Carnmoney and Islandmagee were the first three places in Antrim to which clan members found their way, then the parish of Connor and specifically the townland of Maxwell's Walls was certainly the next. A family farmed there probably from the 1770s, the earliest of whom was William about whom we know because he was reported in a 1781 Belfast Newsletter for allowing a beef cow to stray in the parish of Connor. Did he, William, stray from Islandmagee? The father of a family of four or five brothers who were to continue to farm in Maxwell's Walls was likely William's son, Henry.

Were there any continuing links between the 'homeland' of Scotland and the new homes in Ulster? I have no firm evidence that there was. By the 18th Century the Ayrshire family had become seafarers and one remote possibility is that either of two men, both of whom had become sea captains, might have had some contact with their agricultural cousins. Captain James McIlhago certainly put in to a number of Irish ports in the years 1786 and 1787 for again his movements are documented in the shipping news of the Belfast Newsletter. Ten years later in 1897 Captain Robert McElhago was sailing into Drogheda harbour when he and all his crew were shipwrecked. They were buried in the Church of Ireland graveyard in that town.

1788 & 1798
There are two 'stray' clan members who may have migrated short distances, both possibly from one of the parishes mentioned above. In 1788 John McIlhago was born in the townland of Lisnacrogher only to emigrate in adult life much further afield, to Pennsylvania, USA, where he died at the age of 88. He had married Jenny McCarley who was born in Ireland in 1790. In 1798 William McIlhagar was born probably in the townland of Ballee where he farmed, as did his son James after him. Finally, as I noted in my blog of 2 November last, in 1798 Andrew McIlhagga from Island Magee probably took part in the 'Battle of Antrim' as one of the 'United Irishmen'. We know nothing more about him though speculate that he might have been a son of Samuel (1740-1818) who referred to him but whose name has been erased from the Will. Evidence from the Will gives us the names of two of Samuel's sons, Samuel and John, but not the third and this may have been Andrew.

I continue to research in the hope that further references will appear to the 17th and 18th Centuries and so fill out further the movement of clan members and the relationships between them.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

McHaggart revisited

In May 2010 I wrote about a McHaggart family whose records are scattered from Ireland to the Scottish Highlands, to Canada and the USA, producing some dozen people on a Family Tree with a few other 'strays' who at the moment I'm not sure where to put. Now, finding an extra person (or two) on the 1871 Census for Greenock in 'findmypast' has set me thinking again.

The people central to this mini-tree are Donald McHaggart and his wife Christina McCorquindale. In the 1860s Donald was a Shepherd near Lochgilphead in Argyllshire where, according to the IGI on 21st January 1864 Bella was born. In all probability a year or so apart Edward was born, though we only know of an approximate birth year for him from a later death record of his daughter. And now I have discovered on the 1871 Census for 3 Cowgate Street, Middle Parish, Greenock, a Margaret McHaggart aged 2, so born 1869, also in Lochgilphead. This must be a second daughter for Donald and Christina, though we have no idea why she was to be found in Greenock in the care of Isabella Innis, Widow, aged 50, born apparently in Greenock in 1821.

We may assume that Isabella was a near relation, and she presumably gave her name to the first born, Bella. Donald and Christina, according to Bella's birth record in Aldhui, Glassary, Lochgilphead, were married on 31st March 1859 in Kilchoman District, Argyll. Although I can find no paper trail, this probably gives us a birth year for Donald of about 1838. Was Isabella Innis Donald's mother, and grandmother of Bella and Margaret whom she was looking after on Census night? It would fit the Scottish 'naming pattern'! But if so so must have been 17 when Donald was born. I can find no documentary proof of this, or indeed that she was the mother of Margaret McHaggart born in the previous year, in the July Quarter of 1837 in Preston, Lancashire, north west England. It is possible that this Margaret had given her name to Donald and Christina's second daughter.

If Isabella was Donald's mother, her 1871 Surname Innis was either her maiden name to which she had reverted as a widow or it was the name of a second husband. The third possibility of course is that her maiden name was McHaggart which she had given to Donald as a single mother, after which she had married an Innis. Although I can find no paper trail for any of these possibilities, the third seems most likely if in fact she had had two children as a teenager.

The other two people living at 3 Cowgate Street in 1871 were another Widow aged 46, born in Greenock in 1825, Margaret Mitchel, who was employed as a Washerwoman, and Mary Mitchel aged 9, born in 1862 in Greenock. Although it is tempting to think that these two widows might have been sisters, this need not have been so. Although I have not found a birth record for two year old Margaret, I think I may have found one for Mary born on 15th June 1862 in Greenock, the illegitimate daughter of a Mary Mitchell, fruiterer. Were Mary the fruiterer and Margaret the Washerwoman sisters? Who knows! But I think the balance of evidence is that Margaret Mitchel was not a relation of Donald and Christina McHaggart. In conclusion, we may note that Briget McHaggart whom I mentioned in my earlier blog on this family, born in 1827, could easily have been a sibling of Isabella, born in 1821.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Two Comments and Hearth Money

I have recently added a comment to the blog 'A Belfast Family' on 26th September 2011, from the Military Attestation papers of one member of the family.

I have recently also checked the births, marriage and deaths published by the Irish Family History Federation on their 'rootsireland' Internet site. For the record, of the 96 clan births I can place 62 in families, which leaves more research needed on 34. I can also place 72 marriages in my Clan Family Trees, with 44 needing more research. There are many fewer deaths recorded, of which I can place 17 but at present not a further two.

This morning I have come across a Chart of the 1669 Irish Hearth Money Rolls which confirms and slightly amplifies my knowledge. The three (annotated) entries are as follows:

1. Record No. 4984
Surname (standardised): McIlhagga;
Surname (HMR spelling): McIlhaga;
Forename (in HMR): James;
Barony: Antrim Upper;
Parish: Doagh Grange;
Townland (modern spelling): Coggrey;
Townland (in HMR): Cogry.

2. 5001. McIlhagga - McIlhago - Allexander;
Upper Antrim - Doagh Grange - Doagh - [decayed parchment].

3. 5014. McIlhagga - McIlhago - Allexander;
Upper Antrim - Doagh Grange - Doagh - [decayed parchment].

Previous references I have found to the Hearth Money Rolls haven't included Record Numbers or the modern spellings, which have got our clan name 'right', or the fact that in cases two and three the parchment has decayed. Also the second reference to Allexander has been abbreviated to Allex. As all three references are to properties in the same parish I still think all three men must have been related though it is possible that there were only two, the two Allexanders being the same person but owning two properties. The likelihood is that the two decayed bits of parchment refer to the Townland of Cogry. Also it could be that the 'o' and 'a' name endings differ due to a 'slip of the pen' rather than anything else. The probability is that as early as 1669 the name would have been spelled McIlhago, equating with what we find in Ayrshire on the South West of Scotland.