Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Good Detective Work

Publishing the Irish BMDs for M'Ilhagga has produced two positive bits of research which is very pleasing. The first, and the more 'adventurous' comes from a correspondent who is researching the family line which includes Robert born in Ballee in 1859 who married Margaret Craig. My correspondent is a great-granddaughter in Australia. Robert and Margaret had ten or eleven children, her grandfather Robert James being (I think) number five. And she has wondered for some time about his sister known as Minnie who was a year or two older.

Now the name 'Minnie' is a diminutive, but of what? When I published the M'Ilhagga births my friend wrote to say that she could definitely place one person on the list, namely Joseph born 1899 as one of the eleven McIlhagga-Craig children. She also suspected that Minnie (aged 17 on the 1901 Census) was Mary born 1833 and registered in the Ballymena District. When I then published the M'Ilhagga marriage list she decided to take a closer look at the marriage of Thomas Flack to Mary M'Ilhagga, a couple that I had not been able to place in a Family Tree.

There were some doubts because there seemed to be several errors on the Marriage Record. In the 1901 Census Thomas Flack lived in Valentine Street, not Ballentine as recorded. Mary was said to be living at 4 Agamor Street, though the family address was 5 Azamor Street. Was the Registrar hard of hearing? But worst of all, Mary's father was recorded as William, not Robert! However there were some positive pointers. The Flacks had two children, and the addresses linked to the Census. The mother on one was Mary McIlhagga and on the other was Minnie McIlhagga, with a Registrar's note that Minnie=Mary; and the informant was the same person for the two births.

I commented that the wrong father's name (William for Robert) was probably the Registrar's mistake after he had already correctly written William for Thomas's father. Also Mary would have been born between 1883 (if she was 21 at marriage) and 1886 (if the Census age was right). However, a wife often knocked two or three years off her age so that she didn't appear older than her husband on a Census form. In fact on the 1911 Census all three Flack adults knocked 2-3 years off the ages given in 1901! And there are sufficient occupation and address links to be confident in saying that Minnie and Mary were the same person, and that the Flacks belong to the Robert McIlhagga/Margaret Craig family tree. A good piece of detective work!

The second piece of detective work? I'm waiting for a death certificate to arrive through the post, so -another time!

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