Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Scotland's 1905 Valuation Roll

On 1st April last I reported that ScotlandsPeople had put on line the Scotland 1915 Valuation of Property Roll, on which there were five clan heads of households. They have now put on line the 1905 Roll. I put the same 'McIlhag*' in to the search box and this time received four results, three the same people as in the 1915 Roll (Clark, James and George). They are again all Tenant Occupiers of Houses, as follows:

1. William MacIlhage, 87 Burnhouse Street, Glasgow; Ref: VR102/578/773;
2. James MacIlhagga, Upper Cartsburn Street, Greenock; Ref: VR36/61/51;
3. Clark MacIlhaggy, 13 Grace Street, Govan, Lanark; Ref: VR107/227/624;
4. George MacIlhago, 40 Murans Street, Glasgow; VR102/578/347.

Although the transcription spells Mc as Mac this is not necessarily the case in the original document. It is interesting to note variations in the spelling of the surname, even between 1905 and 1915, and we can note that only George was living in the same house ten years later.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Probate update

I published a Clan Probate Index in August 2010 referring to 16 clan or possible clan Wills. I updated it in December that year adding seven more references. I added a further six names in July 2011 of people to whom probate had been granted, and a further five in October last and I made comments on seven in November. It might be useful now to give a full list of Wills and Probate records where a clan name occurs. It reads as follows, with a current total of thirty eight references:

1667 Inverness, Scotland: Farquhar McIntagairt
1734 Maybole, Scotland: Jonet McIlhagow
1764 Burlington, USA: James McElhago (witness)
1777 New York, USA: Samuel McHago (witness)
1818 Islandmagee, Ireland: Samuel McIlhaggo
1835 Ballymena, Ireland: Margaret McElhago
1886 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: Henry McIlhagga
1897 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: John Wilson McIlhagga
1901 Maxwellswalls, Ireland: Archibald McIlhagga
1904 Belfast, Ireland & Courtrai, Belgium: Samuel McIlhaga
1905 Belfast, Ireland: Nathaniel Owens McIlhagga
1912 Belfast, Ireland: Mary McIlhaggo
1914 Belfast, Ireland: George McIlhagger
1919 Belfast, Ireland: David McIlhagger
1922 Tullagarley, Antrim: Mary McIlhagga (Probate)
1927 Liverpool, England: Margaret McIlhagga
1927 Belfast, Northern Ireland: James Wilson McIlhagga (Probate)
1929 Belfast, Northern Ireland: Henry McIlhagga (Probate)
1931 Tullygarley, Northern Ireland: William McIlhagga
1937 Belfast, Northern Ireland: Nathaniel McIlhagga
1938 Belfast, Northern Ireland: Robert McIlhagga (Probate)
1940 Belfast, Northern Ireland: Mary Elizabeth McIlhagga
1940 Whiteabbey, Northern Ireland: Mary McIlhagga
1941 Liverpool, England: Margaret McIlhagga
1942 Hillsborough, Northern Ireland: Samuel Robinson McIlhagga
1942 Belfast: Harry McIlhagga (Probate)
1943 Belfast, Northern Ireand: William Boyd McIlhagger
1948 Northern Ireland: James Spence McIlhagga (Executor)
1951 London: Robert McIlhagga
1954 Liverpool: Lindsay McIlhagga
1956 London: Adelaide McIlhagga
1957 Belfast: George Robinson McIlhagga
1962 Belfast: Harry McIlhagga
1964 & 1988: Northern Ireland: William McIlhagga
1993 Belfast: David Sherwood McIlhagger
1994 Bayswater, NZ: John McIlhagga
1995 Ballymena: Jessie Elizabeth McIlhagga
1996 Lisburn: George Edward McIlhagger
2002 Belfast: Elizabeth McIlhagga

Monday, 21 January 2013

Drummaul Graveyard

It is a rare thing that, when browsing for one thing (Workhouses) on the Internet, one finds something else of interest. It was a list of interments 1904-1972 at Drummaul Graveyard, near Randalstown, near Antrim, County Antrim, Ireland. It had been transcribed by Alistair McCartney last year. There were three McIlhagga burials, all of people from Tullygarley / Tulaugharley in the parish of Connor, and all of people I had previously noted from the 1911 Census but about whom I have known nothing else. They are as follows:

6 Jan 1934, Andrew McIlhagga, 87 (born 1847), Labourer, Tullygarley, Connor; fee paid 2/6d.

16 Oct 1923, Matilda McIlhagga, 83 (born 1840), House Keeper, Tullygarley, Connor; fee paid 2/6d.

26 Nov 1938, William S. McIlhagga, 64 (born 1874), Labourer, Tulaugharley, Connor; fee paid 2/6d. 

Any information about these people would be gratefully received. It looks to me that Andrew and Matilda were probably related, either as husband and wife, or as brother and sister. I have noted previously that in the 1911 Census William's wife's name was Mary.

Friday, 18 January 2013

On the Move

Tomorrow should have been the meeting of my local Family History Group, but we have several inches of snow on the ground and a severe weather warning, so there's no chance of a meeting. We were going to share with each other how our respective families had migrated from one place to another. The following is what I had prepared to say, most of which will of course be familiar to readers of this blog!

I am looking at this topic from a Clan point of view, not simply from my own family's point of view. My researches have I think demonstrated that our family name (and hence maybe my own family) moved from the deep south of Ireland to the west of Scotland way back in the 6th Century. It seems to have stayed around the west of Scotland for a whole millenium with interesting examples cropping up in the 12th, 13th and 15th Centuries, until during the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th Century, it moved over to Ireland again, this time to the north, which I think I can pinpoint fairly accurately to 1660. It stayed there until the time of the Potato Famine in the mid-19th Century when there were movements in fairly rapid succession to the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and again back to Scotland and then down to England and Wales.

My own family is in England, Scotland, Australia, Canada and the USA. I'm in correspondence with Scotland and Australia and I've been to Ottawa, Canada to meet my third cousin (once removed) - incidentally one of only three McIlhaggas I've ever met outside my own direct family line, and the other two for only a brief time.

It has been very difficult to trace the early movements of our name, but I'd like to give you two examples of 'finds' which have led me to 'probable' conclusions. The first is the movement from the south of Ireland to the west of Scotland in the 6th Century. The earliest reference in the English language to the surname is in 1527 when Michael Macylhaggow witnessed a charter in the Ayrshire Conservation village of Colmonell. So I went to Colmonell and saw the handsome sign at the entrance to the village which reads ' St. Colmon of Ella built his cell here in 555 AD'. The name Colmon rang a bell, for a St. Colmon had in the 6th Century met a fellow pilgrim in the South of Ireland, a bishop called Mochuda, whom he had persuaded to set up a Monastery and a University in a place called Lismore. Now in Gaelic the name McIlhagga means 'follower of Mochuda'! Wouldn't it be serendipidous if, when Mochuda's friend Colman had travelled to the west of Scotland he had taken with him one or more of Mochuda's followers from Lismore, known as 'the McIlhaggas'? These followers could have settled in the place which became known as Colmonell and lo and behold, in about 1490 (when they had stopped speaking Gaelic and had started to speak English), one Michael Macylhaggow had been born and about thirty years later had witnessed a charter which we still have - it's in the National Archives in Edinburgh.

My second 'movement' can be told more briefly. From about 1500 I have traced those earliest Scottish McIlhaggas right down to the present day. They are now mostly in New Zealand. The earliest clan members I have found who moved across to Ulster are named in the Hearth Money Rolls for 1665 (three of them). For years I've been trying to find any direct links between the Scottish family and the Irish families (including of course my own). At last I think I've found one. In the earliest Ulster newspaper, The Belfast Newsletter, for 6-9 November 1781 I found a 'notice' which reads "A stray beef cow, in possession of William McIlhaga, near Connor. Whoever can prove their property may have her, by paying his expenses". Apart from the three men in the Hearth Money Rolls, William in nearby Connor is one of the earliest McIlhaggas in the Province. Farming in 1781, he must have been born in the middle of the century. So is there a William in the Scottish family, who could possibly be the farmer who decided to make his fortune across the North Channel in Ulster? Yes, there is. There was a William McIlhago of Dalmellington, Ayshire who was born in 1743. Dalmellington is not so far away from Colmonell!. A newspaper notice seems insignificant but I think it has probably provided me with one of my most significant 'break-throughs' in my family history research, and has shown how our clan moved from one place to another.

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Rosemary Harris published in 1972 (Manchester University Press) a study of neighbours and 'strangers' in a border community in Northern Ireland. To the community she gave the name 'Ballybeg' in rural west Antrim. She was concerned with the nature of prejudice and tolerance. She identified a number of Roman Catholic families and a number of Protestant families. They were also given names which were pseudonyms. Among the Roman Catholics she names two brothers who are in the 50-70 years age range whom she calls Peter McIlhaggar and John McIlhaggar. John is married to Carmel, the daughter of another Catholic family called O'Hanlin.

Dr. Harris's choice of our clan name for a Roman Catholic farmer in an area where traditionally there have been Protestant McIlhagga farmers for upwards of 200 years is indeed a strange one. She has either Peter or John appearing on just five pages of her 225 page study, and it is for general interest that I quote her here rather than out of any thought that her characters might reflect any real McIlhagga clan members. Indeed I may comment in passing that there is no known Peter of our clan who would have been born near the beginning of the 20th Century.

In her chapter 5, entitled 'The Common Culture; the social networks of households', and in its first section, 'Ethnography', on page 80 she writes, 'Although I have now described Paul [Jamison, a Protestant]'s relationship with a number of Catholics with whom he was brought into contact through his farm I must say something further about his relationships with two of his closest Catholic neighbours. With neither did he have occasions for very regular contacts because links of kinship and kithship bound him in co-operative ties to Protestants rather than Catholics. Nevertheless the links his household did maintain with them are instructive.

With the more distant of the two, the McIlhaggars, the Jamisons' links were rather casual. Peter McIlhaggar brought his cow to Paul's bull, but this was their only normal business contact. Otherwise the men sometimes met in neighbours' houses; the women gossiped when they met occasionally going into or out of Ballybeg on the bus and as representatives of their households they met each other at neighbourhood activities. Because they were near neighbours of the young Presbyterian couple, Archy and Jenny Wright, the McIlhaggars gave a party for them after their marriage to which Paul and Mary Jamison were invited. More often than weddings, wakes brought them together; for example when Lizzie Wright's brother, Willy John, died, as near neighbours both the Jamisons and the McIlhaggars spent a lot of time in the house prior to the funeral. Clearly also there was considerable knowledge of the McIlhaggars' domestic affairs; they were neighbours to the extent that it was interesting to gossip about them. Peter McIlhaggar's wife's elder sister, a widow, usually stayed with them, but she was a woman with a somewhat difficult temperament who had never really reconciled herself to the loss of her own home, which as she was childless she had given up after her husband's death. Periodically she would have a row with her sister and brother-in-law and leave them to go to stay with other relations, always asserting that she was never going to come back. Her goings and comings were matters for amused observation by the Jamisons.'

In a further section entitled 'Bill Jamison's network', Dr. Harris makes the observation, '...he was a cheerful, friendly person, glad of an excuse for the odd pint with any neighbour, whatever his religion, and the local Catholics seemed to regard him with amused tolerance. As Peter McIlhaggar said, "Bill was the sort of lad to put the Union Jack up on St. Patrick's Day and the tricolour up on the Twelfth, just to set the neighbours at each other"; but this was said with a reminiscent grin rather than with irritation'.

In a further section entitled 'Peter O'Hanlin's network', Dr. Harris observes, 'The brothers [Peter, a driver...and Dan, a mason] had useful connection to nearby farmers. Their brother Micky, living in Ballybeg, was married to the daughter of John McIlhaggar, one of the most prosperous Catholic farmers in their locality..... Dan, looking for younger and more lively company, as befitted his age and unmarried status, found it in the household of his brother-in-law, John McIlhaggar....'.

The final reference is in chapter 10 of the book, entitled 'Protestant prejudice: the influence of income and area'. On page 182 Dr. Harris refers back to Peter McIlhaggar. After recording the comment 'Catholics are great neighbours - they'd carry you on their backs at midnight... even if they might stick a knife in you after....', she continues, 'Further evidence of the same sort of attitude was to be found in the use of the word 'sweet', to describe a person nice to your face but ready to do you a bad turn should occasion arise. It could be used perfectly well for a co-religionise.... Of the Jamisons' closest Catholic neighbours... McIlhaggar was definitely "a sweet man" despite his many acts of neighbourliness'. 

I wonder of Rosemary Harris, by choosing certain fictitious names for her (real) characters was doing a kind of double-take? Was she saying about some Catholics what she had really discovered about some Protestants, and vice-versa? Perhaps, or perhaps not!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Irish Constabulary

On 10 December last I mentioned the existence of the Irish Petty Sessions Order Books and said that all the clan references in them appeared to refer to one man, Sgt. George McIlhagger, although his name was sometimes transliterated wrongly. I have however just been able to access a couple of examples by virtue of getting a voucher for a national internet site and interestingly I spotted another clan name, so clicked on S.C. McIlhaggert. It brought up two entries dated June 3rd, 1880 from a court under Justice C.H. Mansfield in County Galway. The details of the entries are as follows:

Complainant: Sgt. George McIlhagger of Lawrenstown;
Defendant: Patrick Gready of Bellaroch;
Witnesses: S.C. Welsh and S.C. McIlhaggert;
Detail: That on 28th May 1880 on the public road at Annacallow (?) in the County of Galway, three head of cattle, the property of you the defendants were found wandering.
Fined: Two shillings and costs.

Same Complainant;
Defendant: Mary Stanton of Lawrenstown;
Witness: S.C. McIlhaggert
Details: That on 27th May 1880 on the public road at Lawrenstown in the County of Galway one Afs (=Ass) the property of you the Defendant was found wandering;
Fined: Sixpence and costs. 

These incidents have their own intrinsic interest but for us the main interest has to be the association of the two names, Sgt. George McIlhagger and S.C. (presumably Special Constable) McIlhaggert. We have known for some time that George was the Station Sergeant at Lawrenstown in County Galway. We have also know that a Constable McIlhagga was involved in a Border incident (involving cows!) in 1935, but he was Andrew born about 1895. So we have in 1880 a third clan member in the Irish Constabulary who presumably, like George, lived in Lawrenstown. I wonder if he was a son of George, or a young man who perhaps lodged with the McIlhaggers?  In any case we have learned that George's branch of the family had close contact with someone who spelled his name McIlhaggert. Perhaps George persuaded him to come and serve with him in Galway. I wonder who he was, and were they related?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Just occasionally I have included an item in this blog which has its origin in fiction or poetry. There is a web-site called 'Strange Angel' which appears to be run by a group of young people and is mainly interested in film. One of its authors has a surname we recognise as an early form of our clan name, McElhago. He has a poem on the site called Theophany which I reproduce below. I have known about it for some time and have not included it before as I have hoped to receive a reply from the author with his permission to use it. I haven't had a reply to my request but I imagine he is not averse to us reading his work, so here it is:


by Al McElhago

This morning I noticed perfection again;
He was dancing in a deep cloud of thunder,
Murmuring oblong nonsense to the snow,
Stamping his wooden leg on the tree's name.

A flutter of raven-kind alit near him,
Not to mock his blatant lack of sophistry,
But to huddle round the warmth of his scars,
Cawing War Hymns in flushed satisfaction.

They sat there and sang to one Lord Jezebel;
The barbed language from their mangled, 
Igneous throats glancing off the dark calm,
Reminding him of his own empty prayers.

They sang for the un-blackening of the dawn's guilt
(The hidden sun holds too much in its
Fat, saggy Conscience to be ignored):
Guilt for his unreturned complacency
While hiding in its dark and musty womb.
Waiting. Waiting for the grass to grow back.

A Theophallic answer to it all.

This morning I noticed perfection again,
As you fell past my slow, mordant laughter,
And I stole a glance at the pallid canvas
Of your snow drop smile, as it traversed
Through the meager light of our early hours,
Our earthly sorrows, our sodden souls.

Autumn is branded in your burning gaze,
Yet not the barren, leaf smitten playground that
Death can walk with such melodious ease.
Nor the forgotten appeal to spring,
Or the decadent torches that burn so slow,
But the fiery Gat that stays winters grip;
So strong in its religious resolve, that,
Even perfection flees from the flames.

My Perfection, lost to the saffron snow.
My name mingles with tears as you call it.


Perhaps the Frost has already grasped hold.
Perhaps it is his frigid claws that so
Neatly net my sight with blind fury,
Every time I look out at our Winter World.

He adds a comment, '"Theophany" basically means an experience of God. or something like that. "Theophallic" isn't actually a word, but I think you'll agree that the image is bizarre enough to warrant an addition to the dictionary. Its allusion to strong emotion, as there are few things I can imagine which would be less intense than sex with God. Also, I should point out that this isn't a religious poem - not that I have a problem with faith, just that it was written from an agnostics point of view. The godly imagery is merely being used to serve the theme of perfection.'

I would love to know whether this author's name is a pseudonym or not, and if not, how he fits into our clan families, presumably one from Ireland which emigrated to the United States.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Ballymena Workhouse

Ballymena Workhouse

I have never had the opportunity of seeing any of the records of Ballymena Workhouse but by chance came across a section of its Admissions Register which has been transcribed by Bill Macafee and which is on his website. He transcribed the seven week period from 13 May to 8 July 1847 which was of course at the height of the famine years, 1845-1848, and which followed a very severe winter in 1846/7. Many families must have been in desperate straights at that time, including one must imagine a McIlhagga family, for three siblings were admitted on 14th June that year, two girls and a boy. The elder girl was Barbara aged 13. Her sister was Jenny aged 12 and their young brother was David aged 3 (whose surname is mistranscribed or misrecorded as McIhhagga). Presumably they had arrived together though the registration number of the boy is somewhat 'earlier' that that of the two girls (4520, 4538, 4539), maybe because for admission purposes the sexes were dealt with separately.

Very little detail is recorded about these children, with no date or place of birth and no parents' names, which adds to my frustration in not being able to fit them into a known family. I have no births recorded for their probable birth years, for David 1844, Barbara 1834 or Jenny 1835. The fact that for each their religion is recorded as 'unknown' is no help, and the Electoral Division from which they came, namely 'Slemish' isn't much help either. Slemish is adjacent to and roughly east of Broughshane and I know of no McIlhagga family in that area in the 1840s.

There are two desperately sad facts in these Workhouse records which help us to imagine the plight of these children. The reason for their admission in each case is given as 'deserted'. Whether their desertion was deliberate or not we do not know. It is possible that their parents could have died of starvation in the famine, though more likely could not feed all the members of a large family. It is possible that to aid the survival of other children these three had to be abandoned. It is likely that they were all very sick, for the other sad fact that is recorded is the reason why two of them were 'discharged'. David was 'discharged' dead on 24 September 1847. He had been in the Workhouse for 2.75 months. Barbara was 'discharged' dead on 18th July 1848, having been there for 13 months. Just as I have no other record of any of their births or indeed their baptisms, neither do I have any other records of their deaths or burials.

The third child, Jenny was in the Workhouse for the slightly longer period of 23 months and happily she was 'discharged' alive on 11 May 1849. She would probably have been 14 years of age by then, and possibly some form of employment had been arranged for her, perhaps domestic service, though again I have to say that I have no other records from which I can with certainty trace what subsequently happened to her, though in the Irish records on Ancestry.co.uk there is one Jenny who died in 1876 in Ballymena who could well be the same person. Her recorded age at death was 35, giving her a birth year of 1841. If she was the same person she would of course have been 41 years old.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year and Flodden

First, may I wish you all a Happy New Year! I have today, in gloriously sunny but cold weather, been on a 'Peace Walk' to the site of the Battle of Flodden when 500 years ago the Scots were massacred by the English. On my family tree (paternal grandmother's line) I have four Scotsmen who were all killed at Flodden, a 3rd Cousin, two 4th cousins and a half-6th cousin. Next, I must report briefly that the Scotlandspeople website, which updates its BMDs each 1st January has only one item of interest to us this year. There are no 1912 births, no 1937 marriages, but there is one 1962 death, that of James McIlhagga on 11th May that year. He was aged 66 and was a Coal Miner living in Bathgate, West Lothian, Scotland. He was married to Jean Walker Wallace and had had five children, Daniel, James, Ruth, Roy and Elizabeth.