Saturday, 21 July 2012

Irish Shipwrecks

I discovered recently that there is an Internet site which lists all the shipwrecks around the Irish coast, so I looked for the sloop Industry of which our ancestor Robert McElhago (born 1770) was the Master and in which sadly he and all his crew drowned when the Industry was wrecked just off Drogheda harbour in 1798. It wasn't listed as an Irish shipwreck, so I wrote to the editor of the site who was surprised to receive the information, as the person who compiled the information is said to be proud of its completeness. He has now added Industry and we can be proud that our research has made a very good 'shipping site' even better.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Name 'deviant'

Yesterday's blog made me go to the 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses and rather than put in a name, I put in the names of streets where I knew clan members lived, or had lived. The result was that I found three siblings living together whom I had missed before. The reason I had missed them was because when they (or the enumerator) had filled up the Census form the surname written down was 'as heard' rather than as handed down in the family. The result was as follows:

1901 Census: 98 Queen Street, Ballymena:

Mary Miclhagga, age 22, Head, Spinner, Church of Ireland;
Andrew Miclhagga, age 20, Son, Machine Boy, Church of Ireland;
Clark Miclhagga, age 18, Son, Carter, Church of Ireland.

Mary did sign the form, using the same spelling. They were the three youngest offspring of John McIlhagga and Mary Ann Atkinson. I suspect their parents had both died and that the three eldest, William, John and Elizabeth Jane were living elsewhere. William was married by then to Agnes Anderson McClure. John was married to Mary Sloan. I have no knowledge of what happened to Elizabeth Jane.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Two marriages & Two burials

Finally, from the Kirkinriola records I have noted two marriages and two burials. The first marriage I have already referred to in my recent blog, 'Shoemakers', the full record of which is:

Marriage at St. Patrick's, Kirkinriola on 1 November 1854:
John Hill, 22, Bachelor, Shoemaker, of Mill Street, Ballymena; Father: William Hill, Shoemaker; and
Margaret McIlhagger, 21, Spinster, of Harryville, Ballymena; Father: Crawford McIlhagga, Shoemaker.
Both bride and groom 'made their mark'. The Witnesses did not include a McIlhagga. Their signatures are difficult to read but are possibly Lorna Heaney and ? Henry.

The second marriage is of a McIlhagga widow. She had first been married to John McIlhagga, a Timber Yard Labourer, son of William, a Weaver (possibly from Tulleygarley). John had previously been married to Mary Ann Atkinson by whom he had had six children. He then married Margaret Tuff in 1901. As far as we know they didn't have any children. John died in 1903 and Margaret, now Widow Margaret McIlhagga married Joseph Hills, the full record of which is:

Marriage at St. Patrick's, Kirkinriola, on 11 April 1903:
Joseph Hillis, full age, Bachelor, Carter of Harryville, Ballymena; Father: Jospeh Hillis, Labourer; and
Margaret MacIlhaggart, full age, Widow, Mill-hand, of King Street, Ballymena; Father: Thomas Tuff, Shoemaker.
Margaret 'made her mark'.

The two burials are at the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries and are both from Queen Street, Ballymena. The first is Mary McIlhagga of 87 Queen Street, who was buried on 9 February 1898 aged 54 years. This means she was born about 1844. The second burial was on 23 February 1902 of John McIlhagga of Queen Street. He was 65 years, so was born about 1837. This means that Mary and John were born within seven years of each other. Were they siblings or husband and wife, or were they not closely related?

Although John died just a few months after the 1901 Census the only John listed there was 58 years old, though of course he may have given a false age. In 1901 he was a lodger in Ballymena High Street and was probably the John  who was to marry Margaret Tuff in July 1901, in which case they would only have had 8 months of married life before he died. Who Mary was I'm even less sure. She lived at 87 Queen Street, but by 1901 a Hamill family lived there, interestingly with a newborn son called Andrew Fullerton (full name), a surname we have come across before. Was there a link?

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A North Street Family

My next three Kirkinriola baptisms are I believe of siblings despite the fact that in four years this family was at three different addreses. The clue is that they gave their children distinctive second names, Atkinson, McLurkan and Todd. The parents were Andrew and Elizabeth (once Lizzie). I think we are looking at Andrew son of John McIlhagga and Mary Ann Atkinson, who married Elizabeth Todd on 7 August 1906 at Ahoghill Church of Ireland, Ballymena. The records of the three children at St. Patrick's, Kirkinriola are as follows:

Baptism: 8 Jul 1907 (born 15 Apr 1907) Andrew Atkinson to Andrew and Lizzie McIlhagga, of Patrick Place, A Millworker;

Baptism: 11 Apr 1909 (born 16 Jan 1909) Agnes McLurkan to Andrew and Elizabeth McIlhagga, of Ness (?) Street, Ballymena, Mill Worker;

Baptism: 15 Jan 1911 (born 24 Sep 1910), Elizabeth Todd to Andrew and Elizabeth McIlhagga, North Street, Ballymena, Labourer.

From a family source I knew that Elizabeth had the second name Todd, so this gave me confidence that I was right. Also these folk appear in the 1911 Census at 4 North Street, Ballymena, where Andrew's age was 32 and his occupation was Flax Buncher. In addition to the above three children there was also an older child in the Census, Jeanie. Andrew and Lizzie both signed the Ulster Covenant a year later, till living at North Street. Andrew does not appear to be on the 1901 Census. After 1911 Andrew and Elizabeth were to have another six children.

If I am right about this family, we know from the McIlhagga-Atkinson marriage that John's father was William. I was therefore wrong in my blog of 16 Dec 2011 to identify John as the son of James McIlhagga and Jane Middleton.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Ballymena town: a Minnie problem

The final half a dozen baptisms at St. Patrick's, Kirkinriola, are all from the town of Ballymena itself, three from Queen Street, one from Patrick Place, one from Ness Street and one from North Street. They cover the period 1887 to 1911 so perhaps we can relate them to the 1901 and 1911 Censuses and even to the Ulster Covenant of 1912. The 1901 Census shows a family at 67 Queen Street: Robert and Margaret McIlhagga with children Lizzie (18), Minnie (17), Robert James (16), John (14), Samuel (10), Andrew (5) and Joseph (1).

Now here is our first problem. Not that I have the baptism of Joseph on 16 Jan 1900 (born 31 Oct 1899), to Robert (Labourer) and Margaret, but that I also have the baptism of a Minnie, daughter of Margaret McIlhagga of Queen Street (no number), Harryville, a Millworker by (Rev) J.W. Murrey, Deane. Now at this baptism only one parent is named, but the record doesn't say 'illegitimate', so it could be the family at 67 Queen Street, except that Minnie's dates are not consistent with the Census. The Census implies that Minnie was born about 1884 and the baptism record says born 8 March 1887 and baptised 30 March 1887. However, there is no other Minnie in 1901 and none at all in 1911 or 1912. Presumably by 1911 she had a married name.  I have no Minnie who fits the case in my marriage records and no other 'suitable' Minnie in my birth records. As Minnie age 17 at 67 Queen Street in 1911 wasn't an eldest child I must assume she was born in wedlock. So was there one Minnie and one Margaret or were there two Minnies and two Margarets? I am baffled.

The Kirkinriola records are as follows:

Baptism, 30 Mar 1887 (born 8 Mar 1887):
Minnie, daughter of Margaret McIlhagga, Queen Street, Harryville, Millworker, J.W. Murrey, Deane.

Baptism, 16 Jan 1900 (born 31 Oct 1899):
Joseph, son of Robert and Margaret McIlhagga, Queen Street, Ballymena, Labourer.

I have a further baptism on 18 December 1895 (born 1 October 1895) of Mary to John and Mary McIlhagga of 97 Queen Street, Ballymena, Labourer. The only couple who might 'fit' this record is I think John McIlhagga who married Mary Sloan on 5 January 1894 at Ballyclug Church of Ireland, Ballymena. He was to become a Railway Carter. According to the 1911 Census they had three children, all of whom died in infancy, and Mary, baptised in 1895, could well have been one of them. I have discussed this couple before and I think that John's father, also John, could well have been a son of James McIlhagga who married Jane Middleton.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Six Williams?

It would seem that around the turn of the 18th/19th Centuries and in the first two decades of the 19th there may have been as many as six men named William McIlhagga in County Antrim. Of course it may be that when more information comes to light we may find that one or more prove to be the same person and so reduce the number! It could be that one or more moved from one place to another. They were: 1) 1798: William of Ballymena, a Weaver, father of James; 2) about 1807: William of Ballycloghan, Farmer and Weaver, father of William, John and Crawford; 3) about 1810: William of Maxwell's Walls, Farmer, father of Henry, Nathaniel Owens and George; 4) about 1813: William Gage also from the Maxwell's Walls area and father of Henry, William and Samuel; 5) about 1820 William of Tullygarley, Weaver, father of John; and 6) about 1820 William (John) of Ballygallough/Ballyclare, Farmer ?, father of William James.

At present I can see no way of even two of these being the same person, and maybe they weren't. I started on this trail when I found a 'mass baptism' of a whole family of five children in Kirkinriola. They were the children of John, son of William of Tullygarley. John had married Mary Ann Atkinson on 14 March 1863 at Ballyclug Church of Ireland. He was a Labourer, eventually employed as a Sawmill Labourer in a Timberyard. When their children were baptised on 3 April 1881 John and Mary were living at Ballyclare. Clearly it was only when the fifth child had been born that they decided to ask for all five to be baptised, which they were on 7 December 1881 at St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, Kirkinriola. The five children were:

John, born 14 March 1868;
Eliza, born 5 November 1871;
Mary, born 26 October 1874;
Andy, born 26 ? 1877;
Clark, born 3 April 1881.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Speculation

Sometimes one gets into a realm of pure (wild?) speculation! If I look at my own family tree, it hits a brick wall about 1810, which could be the year of birth of my great-great grandfather, William McIlhagga who married Agnes McCosh. But who were William's parents? As yet I have found no way of finding them. Ideally of course I would like to find a baptism and/or birth of William, and there is a (very) remote possibility in the Kirkinriola records!

It is remote for two reasons - first, I can't read the place of residence. It looks like 'Nivill' but as far as I can see there is no such place in or near Ballymena. Second, the spelling of the surname is a remote and unlikely variation, and indeed may be a separate name, though I have not come across it before. The record appears to say:

William, baptised 12 December 1812 (born 27 November) to James and Mary McIlaniagh of ?Nivill.

There are a couple of factors which encourage me to consider this couple as my GGG grandparents. First, for some time I have thought that William's father might have been named James, simply because his nearest clan neighbour in the 1862 Griffith Valuation was a James, with a smaller plot perhaps suitable for an older man to work. Second, if William and Agnes were following the naming pattern for their children, then they did call their second daughter Mary, maybe after William's mother. However, if they were following the naming pattern strictly his father should have been another William!

There is an additional factor - in 1862 there is a Mary living in Killygore, possibly an elderly widow, who could have been born about 1785 and so the 'right' age to be William's mother. But I did say this was all speculation!


The next baptismal entry in the records of St. Patrick's, Kirkinriola was for Martha, daughter of John Hill, Shoemaker of Harryville and Margaret McIlhagger of Harryville, by (Rev) Wm. Reeves on 3 October 1855. She was born on 17 July 1855. As I have mentioned in blogs before (see 23 Nov 09 and 26 Oct 11) I do in fact have a marriage record for this couple, from the Ulster Historical Foundation. They married on 1st November 1854 in the same Kirkinriola Church of Ireland. John was from Mill Street, Ballymena, a Shoemaker, aged 22 (so born 1832) son of William Hill, also a shoemaker. Margaret McIlhagger of Harryville, Ballyclug, aged 21 (so born 1833), was a daughter of Crawford McIlhagger, Shoemaker. I have looked in Street Directories as near to 1854 as I can find, but have found no shoemakers or cobblers listed. It appears from subsequent records that in addition to Martha, John and Margaret Hill had six children, but surprisingly, ten years after Martha, a female (unnamed) in 1865, Helena in 1867, Margaret in 1869, Mary in 1871, Crawford in 1874 and James in 1877. I have referred to some of these before in my blog of 6 January 2011.

With the above detail to hand, I believe I can now identify with this family the entry in the Griffith Valuation for 1862 where we find a Crawford McIltaggart renting a house and a small garden for £1.10.0 at 6 Railway Street, Harryville in the townland of Ballykeel, in the parish of Ballyclug, from a landlord named Thomas Casement. This is surely Crawford the father of Margaret. I cannot with absolute certainty place this family into a family tree, but there is only one where the name Crawford crops up again as a first name in the 19th Century, and that is my own! My great grandfather was Crawford McIlhagga, born about 1837 in Ballycloghan, Broughshane and I have often wondered who he was named after. If the traditional Irish/Scottish naming pattern was being followed, as the third son of William (born about 1807) he could well have been named for his uncle Crawford the shoemaker who must have been born about 1812, and who therefore would have been a younger brother of William.

Friday, 13 July 2012

McIlhagger/McIlhago - McClean

In the Kirkinriola records I next came upon the baptism of Hugh, on 20 July 1853 (born 26 March 1853), son of George McClean of Harryville, Labourer, and Margaret McIlhagger of Ballyclug. Fortunately we have a marriage record for George McClean and a Margaret McIlhago, daughter of Henry, a farmer, on 24 May 1849. At their marriage she was said to be from Kirkinriola. George's father was James McClean, also a Labourer. They didn't marry at St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, which is where they had their infant baptised, but at The First Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, with witnesses John McBride and William Cairns. Both then gave their occupation as 'Servant'. I mentioned this couple on 3 October 2011 to say I had no more information on them. Now at least we have a child and a mention of Ballyclug. However, the only clan family known to me from Ballyclug has no Henry! I am still at a loss to know where this family fits into a family tree. My best (only) speculation is the same as yesterday's. From the view of date (and possibly place) Margaret could be a sibling of Henry, John and Robert.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

McIlhagger/McIlhagga - McAteer/McAtear

Returning to the Kirkinriola records, the next baptism at St. Patrick's was on 5 September 1849, of Mary Jane (born 26 February 1849), with the word 'Illegitimate' against her name. However, in Mary Jane's case, unlike many others, the names of both her father and her mother are recorded and it looks as if she was given her father's surname. He was Robert McIlhagger of Kirkinriola, a farmer. Her mother who also came from Kirkinriola, was Mary McAtear, though I have also seen it spelled McAteer. The minister at the baptism was Wm. Reeves. Knowing that he spelled James and Mary Ann's surname McIlhagger, the likelihood is that Mary Jane's is also misspelled, for McIlhagga.

So who was Robert McIlhagga, born perhaps about 1825? The only Robert I have on record with a birth near that date is Robert McIlligan, not a farmer but a blacksmith, in the townland of Tickmacrevay, who was born in 1828, married a Catherine and had a one year old daughter. So I'm sure we can rule him out! If I simply try to fit Robert in to a family on the evidence of Place and Date, he could be a sibling of two men I think were brothers, both farmers in the area, Henry born 1821 who married Agnes Gardiner and John, born 1830 who married Elizabeth McCullough (who married at Kirkinriola). Robert could have been born between Henry and John. The slim supporting evidence is that the fourth son born to John and Elizabeth they named Robert, possibly for his uncle.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Eliza Anne McIlhagga

Following up yesterday's blog, I have come to the conclusion that Eliza Anne, the daughter of James and Mary Ann (nee Gardiner) McIlhagga, must be the single mother who had no fewer than five children by an unknown father or fathers between 1869 and 1879. They were James born about 1869 who must have died as an infant as Eliza Anne's second child was also James, born 13 May 1872. Andrew followed born 21 May 1875, and then on 19 February 1879 Eliza Anne had twins, William John and Mary Jane.

She was employed as a Weaver like her father and eventually, on 12 April 1890 she married another Weaver, William Buchanan (son of Weaver John Buchanan) at Connor Church of Ireland. The spelling of her surname at marriage appears to have been McIlhaggi. She was then still living at Slaght town and her marriage witness was a John Curry. At present I have no record of whether any of the above children were baptised, or whether she had further children who were registered in her married name.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Kirkinriola Parish

St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, Kirkinriola

At PRONI my next task was to search the records of St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, Kirkinriola. Kirkinriola seems to be co-terminus with Ballymena. I found twenty four records of interest to us. First, for today, three baptisms of the children on James McIlhagger and Mary Ann Gard(i)ner. James was a Weaver in Slatt or Slaght, an address now on the south side of Ballymena, but in the mid-nineteenth century on the west side of the parish of Connor. In fact the church to which they related is the above large building in Castle Street, Ballymena, clearly a church which drew people from a large surrounding area.

My understanding is that there were four or five children in this family and the nature of the microfiche records is that I may have missed one or two, however careful I was trying to be. I seem to have missed Margaret to whom I referred on 7 July when she married a John Fullerton. The element of uncertainty whether there were four or five children is that a Margaret and a Mary may have been one and the same person. One of Margaret's marriage witnesses was Eliza Ann McIlhagga who I believe was her sister, listed below. So first, a Mary:

Baptism, 27 August 1843 (born 25 May), Mary, daughter of James McIlhagger (sic) and Mary Ann Gardner (sic) of Slatt, Connor, Weaver, by (Rev) William Reeves. It is possible that this Mary died as an infant for another Mary was born on 8 Sep 1851. A second possibility is that the 1851 Mary was also Margaret! After Mary came the only boy, Robert:

Baptism, 13 August 1845 (born 7 Aug) Robert, son of James McIlhagger, Weaver and Mary A. Gardiner (sic) of Slaght, Connor, by (Rev) Wm. Reeves. 

The next child was Mary Anne:
Baptism, 13 June 1849 (born 20 Feb) Eliza Anne, daughter of James McIlhagger, Weaver and Mary A. Gardiner of Slaght, Connor, by (Rev) Wm. Reeves.

We may note that although these baptismal records spell the surname McIlhagger, this family normally used the McIlhagga version. Also Mary Ann may have come from the Gardner family in the nearby townland of Castlegore. Her father would probably have been Francis. In this case she would have had a sister Agnes who married a Henry McIlhagga. Also in a further blog I will come to a James McHagger in the Griffith Land Valuation for Slaght, who could well be the same as the James who married Mary Ann.

It remains to ask to which family James belonged. My best guess is that he was one of five brothers from a farming family in the Connor parish, namely in addition to James, Henry (who married Mary McDowell and had four children), John (who had four daughters), Francis (who married Nancy Fletcher and had five children) and William (who had nine children). It is possible that their father was Henry who could have been the son of William, the earliest farmer of whom we have a record in the area in 1781, rescuing a beef cow, and, as I have proposed in an earlier blog, may well have been the William McIllhago of Dalmellington in Ayrshire, Scotland, born in 1743.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Templepatrick Parish

The next set of records I searched in PRONI recently were those of Templepatrick Church of Ireland and I found one baptism, that of Elizabeth Ingram, daughter of Henry and Agnes Mcilhaggo (sic) of Maxwell's Walls, Farmer, by (Rev) Jas. Gilchrist. Elizabeth was born on 27 August 1856 and baptised on 7 September. Now Henry McIlhaggo and Agnes McMeekin had been married the year before, on 31 August 1855, at Templepatrick Presbyterian Church. Why then did they have their first child baptised in the Anglican Church? It wasn't because the Anglican records predated those of the Presbyterian Church, though in PRONI there were no Presbyterian Church records to consult. The new fact that we can learn from this record is that Elizabeth's father, Henry, was a farmer in the townland of Maxwell's Walls, where a number of other clan members also farmed.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

McIlhag(g)o - McMurtry

Although I've left the McIlhaggo - McMurtry marriage to the end of my IslandMagee notes, it was in fact the first I came across and was a complete surprise, I never having heard of Sarah McIlhago as she was spelled at the baptism of her first child. I found all five baptisms before I turned to look for marriages, each telling me that the births were in the townland of Ballytober. Now that name was familiar to me from the land leases held by James (Junior) McIlhaggo and William McIlhaggo both farmers, and brothers of Samuel in Port Muck, So was Sarah a daughter of James, Samuel or William? I first favoured Samuel for he had two other daughters, Catherine and Mary, but perhaps James, for I suspected he had married, but I thought William the least likely for I had gleaned no information about him, other that he existed.

My next ploy was to look at the names of the five children. Did they follow the traditional naming pattern? This may be all I had to go on! The first was Mary. That should be the name of the maternal grandmother. There was no Mary that I knew of in an earlier generation. The second child was Jane. That should be the name of the paternal grandmother, but of course I had no knowledge of the McMurtries, and anyway mothers' names didn't get recorded at marriages, so she was unlikely to appear. The third child was Thomas, and the first boy should be the name of the paternal grandfather, and maybe it was, for after all the father's name was Thomas. But the fourth child (second son) was William, which should be the name of Sarah's father. And lo and behold, I had a William, farmer in the right place, Ballytober! A possibility had become a probability! Finally the fifth child was Sarah, and the third girl should be named for the mother, and she was! So perhaps they were deliberately following the Irish/Scottish naming pattern after all!

Then I turned to the marriage records, and although no parents are named on either side, the two witnesses to the marriage of Sarah and Thomas were William Holmes and William McIlhaggo. I think the probability was becoming a near certainty. I now think that William McIlhaggo (one of the three sons of James Senior), born about 1872 had in all probability married a Mary and when farming in Ballytober had had a daughter Sarah about 1808 who married Thomas McMurtry in the First Presbyterian Church, Islandmaggee, who also came to farm in Ballytober. There they had five children who were all baptised in the First Presbyterian Church by the Revd. William Campbell. The details are as follows:

Marriage: At the First Presbyterian Church, Islandmagee;
21 May 1829, Thomas McMurtry of Balloo to Sarah McIlhaggo of Ballytober. Witnesses: William Holmes and William McIlhaggo, by the Revd. William Campbell.

Baptisms: At the First Presbyterian Church, Islandmagee, by the Revd William Campbell:
Mary, daughter of Thomas McMurtry and Sara McIlhago (sic) of Ballytober, born 10 March 1830, baptised 15 March 1830;
Jane, daughter of Thomas McMurtry and Sarah McIlhago (sic) of Ballytober, born 2 October 1832, baptised 18 October 1832;
Thomas, son of Thomas McMurtry and Sarah McIlhaggo (sic) of Ballytober, born 18 June 1835, baptised 22 June 1835;
William, son of Thomas McMurtry and Sarah McIlhaggo (sic), at Ballytober, born 14 July 1838, baptised 25 July 1838;
Sarah, daughter of Thomas McMurtry and Sarah McIlhaggo (sic) at Ballytober, born 29 April 1842, baptised 3 May 1842.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

McIlhaggo - Fullerton

Mary McIlhaggo was the younger daughter of Samuel and Ellon (nee McWhinney) McIlhaggo of Port Muck. She married John Fullerton, a farmer in the townland of Kilcoan on Islandmagee. I first learned of their marriage from a notice in the Belfast Newsletter giving the date of 17th December 1840. I then found it on a card index at the Linen Hall Library with the date of 25th December 1840. Maybe the marriage was reported on 25th and actually took place on 17th. It can hardly have been the other way round! The marriage appears not to be recorded in the records of the First Presbyterian Church, IslandMagee, so I think it must have taken place in the Second Presbyterian Church, where the Rev. David Potter was the 'Seceder' minister. Be that as it may, no fewer than ten children all born at Kilcoan, were baptised at the First Presbyterian Church, all by the Revd. William Campbell, as follows:

Margaret, born 28 Sep 1841, baptised 8 Oct 1841;
Ellen, no birth date recorded, baptised 8 Jun 1843.
She was to marry Samuel Forbes of Portmuck, who had been baptised six months earlier, as I recorded yesterday. This was a marriage of first cousins. They were to have three children.
Martha, born 15 April 1845, baptised 27 April 1845;
Robert, born 1 June 1847, baptised 27 June 1847;
Mary, born 18 December 1850, baptised 2 February 1851;
William, born 2 May 1852, baptised 22 May 1852;
Anna, born 5 June 1854, baptised 3 August 1854;
Eliza, born 24 June, 1856, baptised 24 July 1856;
Jane, born 24 July 1848, baptised 20 October 1858;
John, born 12 October 1860, baptised 26 November 1860.

In the past I have referred to the marriages of two John Fullertons, the first on 17 December 1840 and the second on 8 January 1872 in Connor Church of Ireland to Margaret, the daughter of James McIlhagga and Mary Ann Gardiner. In the second case the name and occupation of the father is also given as John, a farmer. The son John was a Weaver. I have therefore assumed that the father was the farmer from Kilcoan and John was his son. I have made this assumption not knowing John Junior's date of birth, but now I do! If John born in 1860 had married in 1872 he would only have been eleven years old, so I now think my assumptions were in error. An alternative scenario could be that John senior married twice, the second time eleven years after the birth of John Junior. This would probably mean that in the meantime his first wife Mary had died, which is of course a distinct possibility. Sadly I wasn't able to see the Connor Church of Ireland marriage registers as they are held in private custody. I'm afraid that for the time being the matter remains 'unresolved', though with a possible 'second marriage' solution.

The Islandmagee records included the above marriage of Samuel and Ellen as follows:
27 November 1873. Samuel Forbes, Widower, Farmer of Portmuck, Islandmagee, and Ellen Fullerton of Kilcoan, Islandmagee. Witnesses: Arthur Forbes and John Fullerton.

Friday, 6 July 2012

McIlhaggo - Forbes

Of the three families I found in the Islandmagee records I will take first Catherine McIlhaggo and Arthur Forbes. Arthur was born in 1798 in Killead, a townland about 20 miles inland from Island Magee near the present Belfast International Airport. Catherine was the eldest daughter of Samuel McIlhaggo and Ellon McWhinney, born about 1806 in the townland of Port Muck on Islandmagee where her father was a tenant farmer. She was about 30 when she married, some four years after her father had died and eight after her mother had passed away. When she married her brother was 21 and her sister 17. There being a nine-year gap between Catherine and William one wonders whether there had been any other children born in the intervening years, though none are known. No doubt Catherine had had to look after the family from her mother's death in 1829. Arthur and Catherine's marriage witnesses were Saml. Erskine and McNeely Erskine, no doubt good friends as their surname will be given to one of the Forbes children.

I found five children as follows, all born at Portmuck and baptised by the Revd. William Campbell at the 1st Presbyterian Church:
Catherine, born 26 June 1838, baptised 20 March 1839.
She is clearly named after her mother and was to marry John Napier and have 7 children.
Mary, born 17 January 1840, baptised 21 May 1840.
She may have been named after Arthur's mother.
Samuel, born 8 September 1842, baptised 11 December 1842.
He was clearly named after Catherine's father, though the tradition was to name the first boy after the paternal grandfather. Perhaps both were Samuel? He was to marry Ellen Fullerton whom we will meet when we consider the children born to Catherine's sister Mary. They were to have three children.
Robert, born 22 June 1845, baptised 24 October 1845.
Perhaps he was named after Arthur's father?
James Erskine, born 28 October 1848, baptised 23 January 1849.
His second name is for the friends who were witnesses at Arthur and Catherine's marriage.

According to family sources there were two other children, Jean or Jane and John, neither of whom I found in the Islandmagee records.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Islandmagee Parish

Old First Presbyterian Church, Islandmagee

In my research last week at PRONI, Belfast, I next moved on to Islandmagee. This time, however, I focussed on the Presbyterian Churches. Although in the past I have said that 'our' Church was probably the 2nd Presbyterian Church (the Seceder Church), its records don't start until 1848 and I found almost all our references in the 1st Presbyterian Church whose records start in 1829. Those of the Church of Ireland don't start until 1878. All this is despite the fact that Islandmagee has some of the oldest churches in County Antrim. There was a Presbyterian minister working there as early as 1613, with First Islandmagee being formed in 1652 and a church built in 1674. The building illustrated above is called 'Old First Presbyterian Church' and I'm not sure from which year it dates. A newer one replaced it in 1901.

Sadly there are no church records remaining from before 1829 though we certainly had clan farmers on the peninsula long before that. Nevertheless I found no fewer than 24 records for three families in three townlands on the 'Island'. The first thing that must be said about them is that the clan member in all three is the wife and mother, so there is no continuing clan surname. It is very sad that the male lines died out there so early in the 19th Century. Two of the marriages I have written about before, though these records give us much more detail. Catherine McIlhaggo of Port Muck married Arthur Forbes of Killead at the 1st Presbyterian Church and five of their children were baptised there, and one was married there. Mary McIlhaggo, also of Port Muck married John Fullerton of Kilcoan and ten of their children were baptised there. Finally, and totally new to me, Sarah McIlhag(g)o of Ballytober married Thomas McMurtry of Ballao at the 1st Presbyterian Church and five of their children were baptised there. I will give you the details in separate blogs.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Carnmoney Parish

Following my visit to Ireland last week I now come to the Carnmoney records. Carnmoney Presbyterian Church was founded in 1657 and had a minister from its very early days. The existing records of the church start from 1708 for Baptisms and Marriages and Membership transfers, in 1657 for Elders and in 1686 the Session Minutes start. Clearly all this is extremely valuable and it was the basis for a book on the history of the church written four years ago by R.H. Bonar, which unfortunately has no references to McIlhaggas. Mr. Bonar did kindly search the records and sent me two marriages from 1821 and 1830, and seven baptisms between 1832 and 1845. I have however been aware of some earlier records in the old IGI, hence I set my priorities to look up the Church of Ireland records, and 'lo and behold' there were four records from the turn of the century, so among the earliest we possess.

First there is a baptism on 13 Oct 1799 for Nathl. son of Nathan McIlhagan. Partly from correspondence with another person researching Carnmoney families, one of which married into our clan, I think this must have been Nathaniel son of Nathan who married Betty Burney about 1873. Nathaniel was I believe born the following year, 1784, though it now seems that his baptism was delayed until 1799, and to add to the mystery, 13 Oct that year is the date I have for the baptism of another son, Patrick (the name of Betty Burney's father). It could well be that they were baptised together, though why only one is recorded in the Church of Ireland Register I don't know.

The second Church of Ireland record is for Nancy on 26 Apr 1802, daughter of Nathan McIlhagart who I presume is the same as the father of Nathl. The signature at the foot of the page for both Nathl. and Nancy is F. Smythe, Curate. Third, we have Nathan son of Nathan McIlhaggar on 8th April 1804. I have no reason to think this is not the same father and that therefore the first Nathl. had probably died by April 1804 - surely a family wouldn't have had two sons Nathaniel and Nathan? The fourth and final baptism was on 15 Mar 1807 for Jonathan, son of Jon McIlhagar. This must be the same family, but what is the relationship between the father Nathan and the father Jon?

Nathan and Jon had to have been either father and son, or else they were siblings. Although I cannot prove it because I don't have a marriage for Jon, nor do I have a birth/baptism for either Nathaniel or Jon, my hunch is that it is a father/son relationship. This would give a reasonable spread of births for Nathaniel and Betty (nee Burney) as follows: Nathan c.1784, Jon c.1786, George c. 1792, Patrick c.1799, Nancy 1802 and Nathan 1804. I looked for marriages around that time for Nathan or Jon, but there were none. These are the earliest clan baptisms in Carnmoney, so had they married elsewhere in Ireland or perhaps in Scotland? And why, when they arrived in Carnmoney did they not go to the well established Presbyterian Church until nearly two decades later?

PS. On 12 May 1811 there was a marriage for Thos. Hagarty to Margt. McAlister, but I do not think this was one of 'ours'.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Skerry and Racavan Parish

Last week I spent most of three days in PRONI, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. For the first two days I sat glued to the screen of a microfiche reader - rather bad for the eyes - attempting to read very faded information, mostly about baptisms, marriages and funerals. On the basis that most of our clan were Presbyterians but that there may be some early records before the foundation of Presbyterian Churches, I chose to concentrate on the Church of Ireland records, though I did look at some early Presbyterian ones too.

I began with the Skerry and Racavan Church of Ireland records, the parish in which my own McIlhagga family lived in the 19th Century townland of Ballcloghan. William McIlhagga married Agnes McCosh, and although I found no McIlhagga records I did find one McCosh record, albeit somewhat incomplete. It is thought that Agnes had a brother David. The record reads: Baptism, Feb 21 (?), 1852, William (illegitimate), 'mother only', McCosh, Knockboy (Townland), Labourer. The space for the father's name had 'David' crossed out. I presume that 'Labourer' applied to the father. It is uncertain whether the father or the mother was a McCosh.

The microfiche did have some interesting population statistics for the four townlands in the parish, form 1821 (a Census year), as follows:

Kenbilly 44 houses; 242 inhabitants;
Eglish 26 houses; 182 inhabitants;
Lisnacrocher 24 houses; 131 inhabitants;
Ballycloghant (sic) 42 houses; 196 inhabitants.

Understanding from the IGI (which, by the way, no longer exists) that Agnes McCosh and William McIlhagga were probably married in Clogh Presbyterian Church and having read in a book on Irish resources that this Church's records were held at the Linen Hall Library, I went there to request them. They did produce the records of Clogh Presbyterian Church going back into the 1700s, but frustratingly they turned out to be from Clogh, County Down, not Clogh, County Antrim!

Monday, 2 July 2012

1940 U.S. Federal Census

The above Census has been published on the Internet site 'World Vital Records' and includes six McIlhaggas, as follows:

Catherine (she didn't use her middle name of McCulloch), who was one of my second cousins once removed, was a single middle-aged woman employed as a servant (maid) by the Warner family at 37 Middlesex Ave, Erie, New York. She gave her age as 48 though in fact she was 52. E. Carl Warner, 44, was a Partner in a firm. His wife Margaret was 41 and their children were Murray 16 and Barbara 13. They employed two other 'live in' maids, Agnes Kells 50 and Lillian William 59.

Ina (Alexandrina) was a younger sister of Catherine, living alone at 1097 Elmwood Avenue, Erie, New York. She was a Nurse, doing 'private duty'. She was later to marry James Strathearn, though we do not have a date or place for this.

James, Jean and their two children also lived in Erie, New York. James was a younger brother to Catherine and Ina. This family lived at 114 Woodside. James, 41, was a Switchman in a Steel Mill. Jean (she didn't use her middle name of 'Blue'), also 41, like James had been born in Scotland. Their two sons had been born in Buffalo, New York, James in 1926 and William in 1937.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Building a Church

Ballyclare Presbyterian Church

Last week I spent a full morning in the Linen Hall Library in Belfast. It was fascinating to work in the surroundings which date back to the end of the 18th Century. I had taken a list of a dozen books to be browsed, and references to some Historical Society journals, none of which I'm afraid produced any clan references. They had a card index of thousands of names from early newspapers listing births, marriage and deaths, which had but one name, about which I already knew, a 'Miss McIlhago' who was married in Islandmagee. It gave the date of 25 December 1840, some eight days after the marriage date of which I had learned from another source, but the library's date may well have been that of the publication of the Belfast Newsletter, a week after the event. Mary McIlhag(g)o, who was the younger of the two daughters of Samuel McIlhaggo, a farmer in Port Muck, married another farmer, John Fullerton. Would that more families had thought their 'vital events' worthy of the local newspaper.

So I was reduced to browsing the books on the library's 'Mid-Antrim' shelf. One book produced one reference for us. It was by R.T. Grange who in 1981 published Ballyclare Presbyterian Church. Ballyclare was one of the earliest Presbyterian foundations (mid-1650s) and had a minister in 1660. He was one of those 'ejected' in 1661 for not being willing to conform to the government and liturgy of the Church of Ireland, though he continued to minister to his people until his death in 1675. In 1669 in nearby Cogry three McIlhaggas had to pay the Hearth Money tax. The famous Covenanter fugitive, Alexander Peden, was sheltered in the area in 1682. In 1725 the church refused to subscribe to the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, so became part of the Non-Subscribing Presbytery of Antrim. In 1856 a section of the congregation separated from the Non-Subscribing Church and formed a new congregation within the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Clearly a new Church building and a new manse were needed. To quote from R.T. Grange, "In 1883... we have.. a complete list of all who subscribed to the building of the manse and it is not unreasonable to assume that fully 90% of those must have represented the families who in the first instance (about 1855) established our congregation". There are 105 names on the list including that of Wm. McIlhagga. I wonder if he could trace his line back to one of the three who almost two hundred years earlier paid the Hearth Tax, Alex McIlhago, Allexander McIlhago and James McIlhaga? I looked for a marriage or the baptism of children with a father William McIlhagga in both the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church and in the records of the Presbyterian Church in Ballyclare but frustratingly found nothing. Perhaps William was a single man, though perhaps not! The one thing we can say about him is that he must have been sufficiently well-off to be able to 'subscribe' a capital amount to the building fund.

Have we got a possible William on record? We do have one record of a McIlhagga being married at Ballyclare Presbyterian Church but it is late into the 20th Century and on the assumption that the marriage was in his fiancee's church, we may discount him. There is however a perhaps tenuous link in a reference to William James McIlhagga and his wife Mary (nee McNeilly) and their daughter Margaret. They appear in both the 1901 and the 1911 Censuses. In 1911 they are at 52 Ballygallough (Ballyclare): William James McIlhagga, 62, Head, a widower, Farmer (Brethren); Margaret, 34, daughter (Presbyterian), an only child, and Jenny, 64, William James' sister (Brethren). They have two servants, a 24 years old man (Robert James Todd) and a 39 year old woman (Martha Mullen), both Presbyterians. In 1901 this family was at 45 Ballgallough (Ballyclare) living with William James' father in law, James McNeilly, 58, also a farmer. In 1901 William's wife Mary was still alive, and at 65, fifteen years older than him. Daughter, Maggie, was living with them. They then also had two servants, a 25 year old man (James Adair) and a 20 year old woman (Martha Pennie), both Presbyterians. In 1911 the clan surname was McIlhagga and in 1901 it was McIlhaggo.

I have mentioned this family in earlier blogs, on 7 Jun 2010 and 2 Jul 2011, when I noted from a marriage record that William James' father was William John McIlhaggar. Clearly employing two servants over such a period rather indicates that this family was fairly well-off. Also although William James and his sister had attached themselves to the Brethren, the family tradition does seem to have been Presbyterian. Surnames can have a variety of spellings, second names are often dropped and William James' father, William John, could well have been the man who lived in or near Ballyclare and 'subscribed' to the building fund of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church.