Friday, 12 October 2012


In my last blog I said I was surprised to find four death registrations in Larne. The town of Larne is of course one of the ports on the east coast of County Antrim and so one of the nearest places to Scotland. Hence it should not be surprising to find some early references to our clan there.

In addition to the 17th Century Hearth Tax charged to three men at Cogry, near to Ballynure and Ballyclare, about ten miles inland, the earliest clan reference is to the man we know from several Indentures as 'James, Senior'. He was probably born about 1755 and may have lived in Larne until at least 1835 when he was 80. Our earliest mention of him is on 16 June 1786 when he is described in a house lease as a Bleacher. He was renting a house and garden in Larne from John White for £8.11.0 p.a. His name is spelled McElhago, a familiar spelling in 18th Century Ayrshire. Two further leases in 1786 and 1795 find James letting properties to other people, a farmer and a shoemaker, while he himself moved to Islandmagee. He may or may not have stayed there, or he may have moved between Islandmagee and Larne, for there are two further references, I presume to the same man, unless they be to his son James Junior. In 1824 he is in Pigott's Directory of Larne where he is a Publican in New Town. Then in 1834 he appears as James McIlhaggo in the Larne Tithe Applotment Book in Larne Parks Middle Division. We think he had three sons, James, Samuel and William, all of whom also farmed on Islandmagee.

The next person we find in Larne is George McIlhaggo who is also in the same Tithe Applotment Book of 1834 in Anteville, the West Division of Larne Parks. Someone paying tithes in 1834 must have been born at least around the beginning of the century, which is indeed confirmed for us by the first of the four Larne death registrations. George M'Ilhaggo's death was registered in the Jan-Mar quarter of 1880 when he was 76, making his year of birth 1804. There is also a George in the 1861 Griffith Evaluation for Larne, when in Newton Street, Townparks he was paying £11.10.0 for land and buildings, namely a house, office, yard and garden. He is recorded as George McIlhaigh, a spelling when admittedly opens the question of whether he was the same George.

I must add here that I have two possible references to another George in 1866, whom I believe to be George born 1841 to William and Margaret McIlhaggo/a of Maxwell's Walls. The first is to the grant of a house and small garden in January, recorded in a Griffiths continuation book about which I wrote on 11 August. This was a couple of months before his marriage to Elizabeth Ann Robinson, which is my second reference for they were married in Raloo Presbyterian Church in Larne. Surely we cannot identify with our first Larne George or he would have been 62 when he married and this would have pushed his father's date of birth much too early.

The next two people whose deaths were registered in Larne were I believe married. They are William John born 1812 who died age 83 in 1895. Mary Jane, born 1828 died age 66 in 1894. I think they are they couple I wrote about on 2 July 2011 and who lived in Ballygallough/Ballygallagh, Ballyclare. On 1 July this year I also suggested he might be the William the farmer who subscribed to the building of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church. Were William and George brothers? They were born within eight years of each other. William John and Mary Jane had a son whom they named William James. Why did they use the second name James? Was it after his grandfather or great-grandfather? If so, was this the James who had died about 1835? We know that James Senior had three sons, James Junior, Samuel and William born 1782 who was a farmer in Ballytober, Islandmagee. He had a daughter Sarah in 1808. Could she have come between a son George in 1804 and a son William John in 1812?

I have reached a point where I think it is justified to speculate! I do not know what happened to William son of James and I do not know where William father of George came from and I do not know where William John father of William James came from, though as I've said I think he might have been the farmer who contributed to Ballyclare Church. My 'speculation' brings them all together. James seems to have had three sons, James, Samuel and William. Perhaps William had three children, George, Sarah and William John. William John and Mary Jane had three children, Mary Jane, Jenny and William James. William James married Mary McNeillly on 15 Mar 1875 at Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church, Belfast. They had a daughter Margaret in about 1877. Did they also have a daughter Agnes, who is the fourth Larne death registered when Agnes was 26 in 1898, so born in 1872? Incidentally this 'speculation' also brings together Larne, Islandmagee and Ballyclare.

There remain two more people on the Larne horizon who need more research in order to fit them into an known pattern. Wm. McHagger is in the 1861 Griffith Valuation in Clementshill, Ballynure, where he is renting a house and garden for 15/-. Second is Mary Elizabeth M'Ilhaggy whose marriage was registered in Larne (1-673) in 1884. I wonder who they were?

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