Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Titanic

Today is 100 years since the sinking of The Titanic, built at the Harland and Wolfe Shipyard in Belfast. The photograph above was taken as the liner left Southampton on its fateful maiden voyage. The only evidence I have of a clan member being associated with the ship comes from a family tradition handed down. It concerns a shipwright having worked on the building of the vessel, and possibly having lost his life on the job. I do not have any documentation to prove this and would be most interested to know if anyone has. I have looked on the Internet and can find no list of men who worked as shipwrights, nor even of those, apparently very few, who died 'on the job'. It seems to be uncertain how many lost their lives in the shipyard. I have seen Internet sites claiming two, eight and seventeen!

The man who apparently worked on the Titanic was William G. McIlhagga. I have a Civil Record of his marriage on 25 June 1890 when he was 23, giving him a birth year of 1867 and an age of 45 in 1912 when the ship left Belfast. Why he gave his age as 23 when apparently he was 25, born 30 Jun 1865, I do not know. Unfortunately the record only gives the initial G for his second name, though there is some evidence that it was Gage, though another record says George. In 1890 he was a Carpenter and lived at 53 Berlin Street, Belfast. His father is recorded as John McIlhagga, Farmer. As usual with such records no mother's name was entered, but she was probably Elizabeth McCullough.

John was born in 1830 and died in 1912, so if William also died shortly before, this would have been a double tragedy for the family. William was one of twelve siblings. He married Jane Todd, a Weaver, four years his senior, of 12 Summer Street, Belfast. She was the daughter of James Todd, a Mechanic. Their witnesses were Joseph and Elizabeth Courtney at Belfast Civil Register Office. I don't know if William was working in the shipyards in 1890 but he certainly was two years later when the birth of one of his nine children was registered. By the time of the 1911 Census he is described as a Shipwright. Perhaps if I return to Belfast to do more research I will be able to find more information.

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