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.

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