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'.