My hunch is that all our known clan members born in the 18th Century whom we find in County Antrim, Ireland, must 'fit together' in a Family Tree. After all there are only 25 names covering the period from about 1720 to the end of the century. There are also about half a dozen people in the same families from the first decade of the 19th Century.
Who was the earliest? It is between two men, both of whom appeared in the Belfast Newsletter - either Nathaniel who was coming to the end of a tenancy on Islandmagee in 1770 or William who rescued a beef cow in the parish of Connor in 1781. If Nathaniel was retiring he could well have been born as far back as say 1720 and if William was an established farmer he could have been born say 1740. I have on another occasion suggested that William may have been born in 1743 in Ayrshire, Scotland, son of David of Dalmellington. William is the earliest name we find in Connor parish which suggests he may have been the father of later farmers there, Henry, born about 1865 and five men any or all of whom could have been Henry's sons, Henry (1784), John (1795), James (1805), Francis (1809) and William (1810), all of whom also had offspring.
Nathaniel's link with Islandmagee suggests he could have been the father of brothers Samuel and James ('Senior') who farmed there and were born probably between 1740 and 1755; and perhaps he was even the father of Nathan, born about 1758 who found his way to Carnmoney to marry Betty Burney in 1783 and have (I think) six children, five of whom were born in the 18th Century, Nathaniel, Jon, George, Patrick, Agnes and Nathan. A firstborn called Nathaniel does of course suggest a grandfather Nathaniel. With regard to Samuel, I still think that his eldest child, whose name is lost from his 1818 Will, was Andrew who was involved with the United Irishmen in 1795.
James (Senior) was born about 1755, probably married and had three sons, James 'Junior', Samuel and William. The next question which arises is whether James Junior married and if so could he have been the James who married Sarah and moved to Shankill? The answer has to be not unless he moved back again to Ballytober on Islandmagee where he was know to be still farming in the 1820s. So where do James and Sarah, and Nathan and Sarah (see my last blog) and their children, three born in the 1790s, fit in, if not on Islandmagee? At present I do not know.
I next come to John McElhager and Jenny McCarley of Lisnacrogher who were both born about 1790, who were to emigrate to the USA. John called his only son James which leads me to think that John's father was James. He would have had to have been born before 1765, so could have been either James Senior of Islandmagee or else the James we find in the Tithe Applotment Book for Kenbilly in 1823, when he might have been in his mid-forties. Could this James be the father of both John of Lisnacrogher born 1790 and of William from nearly Ballycloghan born 1795? Yes, I think so. Could he also have been James whom we find in Shankill fathering a William in 1792 and then another William in 1798 followed by Martha and Ann in 1803 and 1809? Yes, I think so. It is not unlikely that between 1809 and 1823 James could have moved from Shankill to Kenbilly, and this would allow for the possible Shankill scenario that I outlined a couple of days ago.
We have certainly not related all the clan members known to have been born in the 18th Century who lived in County Antrim, but we may have gone some way towards it. What remains to reconcile is what I wrote some time ago on 25 Oct 2011, when I named a younger brother of William, namely John, who was living next door to him in Ballycloghan, and Mary living in Killygore in 1862. I think I was wrong then to imagine she was their mother, more likely a sibling. And we have to deal with two Johns! If the parents of William and John of Ballycloghan were in fact James and Sarah, then John of Lisnacrogher cannot also be their offspring. Still too many loose ends! I will be patient until a new lead turns up!