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.