Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The name David

On a couple of occasions I have looked in some detail at a given name to see whether any of its features, like frequency, can offer us any clues about particular clan family trees. I have done this with the male names Francis and Nathan. I have yet to do so with a female name. My last blog has suggested to me that I might look at the name David.

So I have searched through 15 clan family trees of which 7 have no examples of the name David. They were those who had their earliest known progenitors in Ballycloghan, Islandmagee, Templepatrick, Ballee and Belfast (3), all in County Antrin, Ireland. Two trees had just one David, both from the twentieth century, from Tullygarley and Belfast. One had two Davids, from Ballymena in the late twentieth century. Two trees had three Davids, all from the twentieth Century, from Carnmoney and Connor. I really don't think any of these examples are likely to help us in relating the trees to each other and possibly find more information about origins.

We are left with three trees which may be more worth looking at, one in Scotland and two in Ireland. However, I am going to discount one family, despite the fact that the name David comes down through five generations, back to 1826. It is the family which spells our surname McIlhagger, and my judgement is that the first David must have come from the side of the family which had a different surname to our clan name. I would of course be pleased to be proved wrong on this matter.

The earliest examples of the name are in Scotland, all in the village of Kirkmichael in Ayrshire. David McE/Ilhagow was born in 1634 and married Katherin Baird. The second was David McElhagow, born 1675 who was a first cousin once removed to the first David. He was son of Thomas. The third was David McIllhago, born 1702, the grandson of the first David, so was in a family that was following the Scottish naming pattern. He was the father of William about whom I wrote in my last blog, who as I said, may well be the 'missing link' between the clan's existence in Scotland, and its existence in Ireland. With three generations of Davids in the 17th and early 18th Centuries in Scotland I wouldn't be surprised if later Davids in Ireland relate back to them. But do they?

I have to admit that there is no other David known to me for another hundred years, but one of the earliest clan members in Ireland in the 19th Century was a David. He was born in 1806 in Newtowncromelin. He married twice, to two Marys, and had six children by his first wife and four by his second. One of his six was also called David, born in 1843. He and his family emigrated to Jamestown, Pensylvania. He married a Maria and had three children, all girls, hence the name, which they spelled McIlhagga, died out. Before they emigrated this family lived in the townland of Lisnacrogher in County Antrim, near enough to the town of Broughshane to relate to the First Presbyterian Church there for baptisms and marriages.

Can we draw any possible inferences from this information? David born in 1702 had a son William born in 1743. If he was following the naming pattern which was transferred to Ireland, we could expect William's first son (if he had one) to be called David. There is no evidence that William married in Scotland, and it is possible that he was unmarried when he first appeared in Ireland in 1781. On the assumption that he did marry and produce a son this could take us to say 1785 and then another generation to the time of the birth of David in Newtowncromelin in 1806. Admittedly this gives us a couple of unusually long generation gaps and it distorts the naming pattern! So I'm afraid we have to leave this theoretical though interesting speculation at this point and wait for more evidence to turn up to link our clan families more positively.

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