Thursday, 25 October 2012

Death Certified

This morning I received a certified copy of the Death Entry, registered in the District of Broughshane, Ballymena, for my Great-great-grandfather William. I already knew from the (Scottish) death record of his eldest son William in 1889 that his father was deceased before that date. I also knew from the Griffith Valuation Continuation Books that he was still resident at Ballycloughan in 1879. So I had narrowed down the date of his death and when I looked at the Civil Registrations there was only one entry that filled the criteria. I now know that he died on 7th July 1882 at Ballycloughan, in the civil parish of Skerry. What else does the Entry tell me?

First, that in 1882 the townland was spelled Ballycloughan, not Ballycloghan as I have also seen it. Second, that our surname was spelled McIlhagga and not any of the several variants which have appeared over the years. Next, that William's 'condition' was 'married'. This I have to question. By 1882 I'm sure he was a 'Widower', though I can well believe that 'married' was reported to the Registrar. I will have to try and get a firm reference to the death of his wife Agnes. William's age is given as 87 which means he was born in 1795 and, as he died on 7th July, that his birth was between 1st January and 7th July. This of course assumes that he and his family really knew how old he was. I have wondered for some time whether he could have been the William born to James and Sarah McIlhagar, baptised on 29th June 1798 at St. Anne's, Belfast. That would have made him 84.

Next, his occupation is given as 'Weaver'. He was a Weaver on the 1851 Census for Antrim, though at times his occupation has been stated as 'Farmer'. I'm sure that if 'small-holding' was a secondary job, Weaving was his main occupation. The certified cause of death was 'Disease of the heart, 5 years. Dropsy 3 months'. The signature of the person certifying this is only half included and is unreadable. The space for the 'Signature, Qualification and Residence of Informant' has all been completed by the Registrar. J.R. Piettson (?), so the name Nancy McCleery has 'made her mark' with it. Either Nancy could not write or, as was often the case, she was reluctant to do so. I have seen her surname spelled both McCleary and McCleery. She was 'Daughter of deceased in attendance during last illness'.

Nancy was William's second youngest daughter who would have been about 41 years old. She had married William John McCleery in 1863 and by 1882 had had four sons. Most of William's other seven children had moved away to Scotland, and one to Australia. Nancy's place of residence was given as Broughshane, the town 'just down the road' from Ballycloughan. Finally we have the date of registration of the death, the fourteenth of July, a full week after William had died. We may presume therefore that he was buried on or after the 14th July 1882.

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