Sunday, 17 March 2013


I thought that on St. Patrick's Day I might write a brief blog on the relationship of the name 'Patrick' to our clan. First, the only reference to the saint himself (apart from place names like Templepatrick and St. Patrick's Church, Kirkinriola) is to the carved tomb in St. Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore. Our interest is in the fact that one of the three figures carved on it is St. Carthage (=Mochuda, the name from which our name may derive). The other two are St. Catherine and St. Patrick. There is a photo of the tomb on this blog for 3rd February 2009.

The earliest clan reference to the name is in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1553 when Patricius McIlhagon witnessed a charter to Kennedy of Bargaltoun at Balmacclanoquan in Kyle in the 'sheriffdom of Ayr'. Finding the name Patrick in Scotland in the 16th Century does rather indicate that it may have come over from Ireland, maybe two generations earlier, if the Irish/Scottish naming pattern was being followed. This could take us back to a Patrick born in the 15th Century, say in about the 1460s. Sadly there is no known continuation of the name in the Ayrshire family, though Patrick's grandson (eldest son of Robert) whose name is not known, could have been named Patrick after his grandfather.

The next Patrick was born (or more probably baptised) in 13th October 1799 at Carnmoney, County Antrim, Ireland.This information comes from an 'individual record' in the old International Genealogical Index, a record that should have a question mark against it until verified. He was the son of Nathan and Betty McIlhaggar / McIlhagar who were married about 1783 in Carnmoney. I wish I could say that he was inheriting a clan name, but I cannot. Betty's father was Patrick McBurney as was her grandfather and great-grandfather. That is where his name came from. Nor can I say there were any subsequent Patricks in that family. I have not found any independent proof of Patrick's existence and to complicate the matter there is another son of Nathan and Betty, namely Nathan, who was baptised on the same date, 13th October 1799. There are several possible scenarios. They could have been twins. Two brother could have been baptised together (the likely scenario). The original recording on the IGI could be misleading.

We do have a couple of clan females marrying Patricks, but not subsequently having offspring who were called Patrick. Ann Eliza McIlhagga of Ballymena did have a son Hugh Patrick before she married Hugh Kelly on 1st October 1872, after which all her children took the surname Kelly, probably because Hugh was the father.

Any other references are few are far between. A Patrick Mcintagirt was a witness to a Writ at Dunbarton in 1566 and another of the same name married an Ann Ncewn in 1703 in Kenmore, Perthsire. However these are I'm afraid among the surnames I reject as clan names - see my last blog. On 20th February 1881 Patrick Kernan was born in Belfast to James K. McIlhagga and his wife Catherine. I do not know from which side of the family the name came. Finally in the 20th Century there are a couple more. A Patrick McIlhagga married a Barbara in the USA. He was born about 1967/8. And in 1989 a Jason Patrick was born to Raymond Samuel McIlhagga and Diane L. Conroy in Stockport, Lancashire, England. Should anyone be able to add to the above information I would be glad to hear from you.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Spelling Clan Name

I have just reviewed all our clan name variants that I have come across and have referred to in this blog. When searching the various resources (eg on the Internet) I may of course have missed some variants and will certainly have missed some 'deviants'. We know that most variants occurred before most people could spell. There are many possibilities depending on what one does with each letter of our name.

M: normally it's included, but occasionally may not be, eg
      if 'Mc' has been wrongly transcribed as a middle name;
      if 'Mc' has been misheard, perhaps as 'Muckle';
      if 'Mc' has been deliberately dropped, as in 'Hagger';
      if a Gaelic pre-Mac/Mc version is being used, as in 'Gilmagu'.

Mc may precede the rest of the name in a number of forms, eg
      Mc, Mac, M', even Mic, or any of these followed by a space.

The letter following Mc. Normally I, it can also be A, E, even G (as McGilly), H (as McHago where a syllable has been dropped), T (as McTaggart, a related name) or L (as McLihager where two letters have been reversed).

The second letter of the second syllable is usually 'l', though in a parallel and possibly related name may be 'n' (as McIntaggart), may be omitted (as McItegart) or may be absent as part of an omitted syllable (as McHagg).  This letter may be doubled, eg 'll' though normally only after 'I'. Only very rarely is it doubled after E (as McEllhagow).

The third syllable is nearly always 'hag' (single or double 'g'). Very rarely the 'g' is mistranscribed as 'd', 'f' or 'n' or the vowel is changed to 'ae', 'ai', 'e', 'o' or 'ou'. Extremely rarely the 'h' is omitted or a 'r' is intruded after the vowel.

The greatest number of variants occur because the last syllable varies. All of the vowels have been used, the earliest in time possibly being 'u', then 'o', then 'a'. Any number of consonants may then be tagged on to the final vowel giving endings as 'gan', 'gart', gel', ger', gey', go', gow', &c.

In this blog you can find 152 names which I have considered as clan names. Of these there are 6 McA...(s), 24 McE...(s), 49 McI...(s), 11 McH...(s), 12 McIll...(s), 20 Mac...(s) and 19 others. In addition there are 11 which I have to reject as clan names.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Dog License

I referred to the Irish Petty Sessions Court on 10th December last and on 13th January when I gave the details of a couple of incidents. I did not however show how these incidents appeared in the local crime book. Clearly from the two I gave in January they were minor offences. The same is true of the copy I have produced above.

The complainant in whom we are interested was S. Const George McIlhagger. In this case the defendant had a dog in his possession without a license in 7th of June 1877. In a sparsely populated rural area (this was Galway) those who were charged with enforcing the law both on the streets and in the courts mostly had very minor incidents to deal with. The punishment in the last column was to take out a license forthwith, with a cost of 1/- (one shilling).

I write this just after watching the election of the new Pope who has taken the name Francis. I don't know whether this is meant to refer to St. Francis of Assisi who had a special care for animals. Let's hope the motive of S. Const George was similar in prosecuting this case!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Ballymena Times

I recently searched the archives of the newspaper The Ballymena Times for any clan Births, Marriages or Deaths and came up with just two items. The first I have published earlier in an abbreviated form, but the second I have not referred to before. I'm afraid I do not know the families to which the two McIlhaggas referred to belong, and any information about this would be gratefully received. Here are the two death notices as they appeared in the newspaper:

KERR — (nee McIlhagga). August 15, 2010, at hospital, Jennifer Carol, late of 3 Sperrin Heights, Portglenone. Beloved wife of Andrew, devoted mother of Kirstie, Justin, Penny and Chloe, mother-in-law of Paul and Noel, loving grandmother of Oliver and Erin. Friends welcome at the home of her daughter and son-in-law Penny and Paul Hampshire, 26 Hiltonstown Road, Portglenone. Family flowers only please. Donations in lieu, if desired, may be sent to James Henry Funeral Services, 100 Broughshane Street, Ballymena for N.I. Hospice Care. Lovingly remembered by her sorrowing Husband, Family, sister Anne and brother-in-law Sammy, brother Alan and sister-in-law Heather and Family Circle. "Greatly loved and now greatly missed."
SUTTERS — October 2, 2009 (suddenly), John Parker (Jack), late of 6 Mount Street, Ballymena, much loved husband of the late Annie and devoted father of Dawn, Jacqueline, Alan and Shane. Donations in lieu of flowers, if desired, may be sent to James Henry Funeral Services Broughshane Street, Ballymena, BT43 6EE for Antrim Area Hospital Coronary Care Unit. Lovingly remembered by his sorrowing Daughters, Sons, sons-in-law Paul and Barry, grandchildren Jamie, Naomi, Lauren, Ryan, Christopher and Sophie, sisters Maureen (McQuiston), Eleanor (McIlhagga) and Family Circle. “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Drumbeg Gravestone

The Church of Ireland graveyard at Drumbeg, County Down, has a gravestone erected by the Woods family and which includes Ruth McIlhagga who was the wife of William James McIlhagga. He was the son of William a farmer. The stone is in a large low-railed enclosure and reads as follows:

Erected by James Woods of Woodlands
to the memory of his father and mother,
Michael and Margaret Woods.
The former departed this life
March 1812 aged 77 years,
the latter February 1818 aged 79 years.
And three of his children who died young
Also his daughter Jane
who died 11th September 1831 aged 21 years.
Also his beloved wife Fanny,
who died 9th September 1860 aged 77 years.
Here also lie the remains 
of the above named James Woods
who died 21st April 1862 aged 81 years.
Also in loving memory of Margaret Woods,
who died 18th March 1862 aged 20 years.
Adam McFarlane Woods,
died 24th Dec 1862, aged 1 year and 2 months
Fanny Woods died 20th July 1868 aged 27 years
Ruth McIlhagga died 23rd June 1901 aged 49 years
Daughters and son of 
Michael and Elizabeth Woods of Woodlands
Also their son William Woods
died 18th Nov 1914 aged 68 years.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

1930 US Federal Census

Recently I came across the unlikely, but I thought possible, variant of our surname, McElhaug, in the 1930 US Federal Census which encouraged me to take a closer look. There were in fact five households which I began to suspect all had distant links to the families which emigrated from Lisnacrogher and Limavallaghan in County Antrim in the mid-19th Century. They are as follows:

1.  Edith McElhaug, 15, in Birmingham, Alabama;
2.  Frank McElhoge, 9, in an Orphanage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
3.  Ulysees McElhaug, 61 and Lena McElhaug, 54, in Armitage, Oregon;
4.  John C. McElhage, 43, Bessie 40 and four children: Edward 13, Arvin 9, Clifton 7 and Bessie E 1, in Liberty, Arizona;
5.  Joseph McElhaugh, 55, Ida 44 and eight children: Christian 22, Mary 21, William 19, Rose 16, Joseph 14, Charles 11, James 8 and John 5. Susan Richards aged 77 was living with this family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I suspect that Susan was Ida's mother.

In addition I have noted that there is a family found in the 1910 US Federal Census, from Alhergeny, Pennsylvania: Addison J. McIlhage (b.1875), Anna B. and their children, Mary A (1900), William L. (1902), and Aleta B. (1905).

Did any of the above fit with the known members of the families who had emigrated between eighty and a hundred years before? I have demonstrated in earlier blogs that there were two family lines involved, probably related lines. Of the one descended from David McElhager (b. 1806) there were four males through whom the name might have been continued, William (b. 1826), David (b. 1834), John (b. 1845) and George (b. 1849). All David's children were girls and we know of no children from the other three; and in any case I think they are all probably too early to have given birth to any of the people in the 1930 Census, with the exception of Ulysees.

The logical thing is to ask whether we can identify the oldest person in the 1930 Census, namely Ulysees McElhaug. In an earlier blog (22 June 2009) I noted the only other time the name Ulysees has occurred in our clan history, when one Augustine, son of James and Eliza McElhager was entered in the Youngstown, Ohio, Directory as Augustus Ulysees. I believe this to be the same person as Ulysees McElhaug, who had dropped the Augustus, in the 1930 Census. I think this not least because the birth dates agree, at 1860.

In 1930 Ulysees has living with him Lena (b. 1867). The first thought is that Lena would be his wife. There is however no evidence of him ever marrying or of him fathering any children. Admittedly a possibility is that he is the father of Joseph McElhaugh due to the similar spelling of the surname. We can however dismiss this as Ulysees would have had to father Joseph when he was 14 and when Lena was far too young to bear a child. John C. McElhage could also have been a possible offspring, though equally likely he could have been a son of Ulysees' younger brother William.

So I come to the conclusion that Ulysees and Lena were not husband and wife but brother and sister. The birth year of Lena is given as 1867, not too far away from that of his sister Ella, thought to be 1869. Also there is no evidence of Ella marrying, so a spinster sister may have gone to live with her bachelor brother. And, surprising as it may seem, the name Lena and the name Ella are both variants or diminutives of the one name Helen / Ellen. So, until I know better, this is what I'm settling for!

What of John C. McElhage and family? From a date perspective he fits well as an offspring of William and Hanna McElhager. We know that they had Mavis in 1892 and they may well have had John in 1887. So we are left with the two families of Joseph McElhaugh and Addison McElhage, both from Pennsylvania and both born in the year 1875. The only place I can fit Addison in is as a late son of James and Eliza McElhager from Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

Joseph was born in 1875 and I have found a Joseph McElhaugh in the 1900 Federal Census where he is the son of a Bridget born 1830 in Ireland and who emigrated in 1850. I'm afraid I have found no evidence of a Bridget marrying into the clan about 1850 so must assume for the present that, despite the similarity between the names McElhaug and McElhaugh, there is no direct relationship to the Limavallaghan family. In addition to Joseph, Bridget appears to have had ten other children between 1851 and 1879, four at least of whom married, two of whom at least had offspring. I will keep a record of these 26 people in case a clan relationship should appear.

Finally we are left with the two single children, Edith McElhaug, age 15, in Birmingham, Alabama and Frank McElhage, age 9, in a Pennsylvanian Orphanage for boys. Perhaps they were brother and sister, whose parents had died. Surely the Pennsylvanian link must place them somewhere on one of the Family Trees I have been referring to. Perhaps they were children of Joseph and Ida, or even John and Bessie. Again, we must await more evidence.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Winterfield Mains, Dunbar

1832 map of Dunbar for The Great Reform Act

We look to the registration of births, marriages and deaths for the basic facts about these events. However there is often more information contained in newspapers which adds special interest, and prior to statutory registration it is particularly valuable to find such a publication. In addition to newspapers there have always been some 'upmarket' journals that have included references to 'society' events. The Gentleman's Magazine was one such and I have just come across another that I have not heard of before, called 'The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal'. In its part 3, on page 336, July 1st 1825 there was included a reference to the marriage of Mr. S. McElhago to Miss White. This fact of course we already knew. The new information is that it took place at Winterfield Mains, near Dunbar. The site of Winterfield Mains farm can be seen on the (almost) contemporary map above in the National Library of Scotland and more clearly on the modern map below. 

I'm afraid we don't know whether either Samuel McElhago or Janet White were resident at Winterfield Mains farm. Perhaps one or other was a tenant of the owner of Winterfield House, the main residence near that farm. By courtesy of the National Library we have not only a map of the period of the marriage. It is the 1832 map of John Thompson which shows where the farm was. We also have two illustrations of the main house itself, one of its billiards room and the other of its lounge. So we are able to put a little 'flesh' on the 'bones' of the basic facts of one of our early clan marriages. I now add a modern map which shows where Winterfield Mains is today.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Coortin' O' Jeems M'Ilhagga

In '' there are all sorts of goodies. And one of them is in a book called 'Pat M'Carty, His Rhymes', published with a setting by John Stevenson (London, Edward Arnold, 1903). It has been digitised by The Library of The University of California. Chapter XVII is entitled 'Love'. The author, who calls himself 'a farmer of Antrim', prefaces the poems in this section with the comment, 'Courtship with us is not demonstrative, but not all of it is so tame as was that of Mr. M'Ilhagga'. Now do we have a James McIlhagga born about 1850 who married a Margaret Brown? I'm sorry we don't, so you'll have to make up your own mind about whether or not the story is ficticious! Enjoy.....!


He wasn't bad lookin', o' means he had some,
A guid steady man, warkin' early and late,
And noo, by the favour o' Providence, come
To years o' discretion - weel, say forty-eight -
The thought had come to him that maybe a wife
Might add to the comfort and pleasure o' life,
He thought, too, wi' raison I think, that the hand
That held twa leases o' guid ploo-land
Was no in the market just every day.
      He thought, as I say, that way.

For merriage the farmin's a deefficult trade,
It's no if she's tall, if she's light, if she's dark,
The man has to think o' in choosin' his maid;
He has to conseedir her p'ints for wark.
The wedded to farmer will verra soon feel
She has wedded the kye and the byre as weel,
And whaur there are acres o' guid ploo-land,
In less than a fortnight she'll weel understand
She, wi' the man bodie, has merried same day
      His praties and corn and hay.

Wi' halesome regard to the needs o' the case,
Jeems settled his mind on a lassie ca'e Meg;
A lassie no' muckle defeecient in grace,
The dochter o' ould Jamie Broon o' Dunbeg.
Her age might be thirty, he likit her hair,
Her temper (as far as he's kenn'd it) was fair;
Her step it was firm and weel rounded her arm,
Nae brithers had she to inherit the farm,
And then the bit penny that in the bank lay
      Was sure to be hers, some day.

Noo maybe ye'll think when the sweetheart was found
That Jeems wad be coortin' her every day,
And buying her peppermint draps by the pound,
And sayin' the saftest sweet things he could say,
And writin' lang letters extollin' her charms,
And tryin' to measure her waist wi' his arms,
And praisin' her eyebroo and kissin' her hand.
Na! sixty-wan acres o' guid ploo-land
Get on wi' nae blethers like that - not they.
      They coort quite anither way.

Once every week he wad tallow his shoon,
Wad put on the coat that o' Sundays he wore,
And find his way ow'r to see Mister Broon
And talk aboot matters o' farmin' galore.
His feet, straight afront o' his chair, he'd contrive
To fix at an angle o' forty-and-five.
And while the bit lassie, to north o' the fire,
Sat flashin' her needles and knittin' sae fast,
Oor frien' was addressin' his chat to her sire;
His face releegiously turn'd sou'-wast.
O never a word to the lass did he say -
       He lookit the ither way.

'Twas maistly o' Fridays the veesit was paid,
He cam' aboot seven and waited till nine;
But after the first "How d'ye do?" to the maid,
'Twas aye to the feyther his speech did incline.
He kept up the custom a guid twa year
Wi' weekly discourses on farmin' and gear,
And systems and praties and leases and hire,
And horses and butter, and drainage and hay,
Wi' Maggie aye knittin to north o' the fire,
And never a saft lovin' word went her way.
      Nae sweetheartin' word did he say.

The twa year complete, next Friday that came
He wesh'd his face weel wi' a bit scented sape,
And spent half-an-'oor at the glass wi' the aim
O' gettin' his touzled rid hair into shape.
Then a' in his best his guidsel' he arrays,
No' just the coat like ordinar' weeks,
But likewise the braw Sunday weskit and breeks.
In fack, wi' the hale o' his very best claes,
His boots, no' wi' tallow, but black frae the shap,
He polish'd until he had made them to shine;
Then oot frae the cupboard he took a wee drap,
The sma'est wee drap o' the ould port wine.
He fix'd in his buttonhole, wi' a bit string,
Twa lilac primroses - the saison was Spring -
Then made in the usual direction a start,
And whistled a bit to keep up his heart.
He didn't feel aisy although he look'd gay,
      Felt queer, just a bit, that day.

I s'pose ye'll be thinkin' ye're gaun to hear noo
O' kissin' and huggin' and wark o' that kind.
Git oot wi' your nonsense - I want ye to mind
This wee bit o' story I'm tellin' is true.
Proposals o' merriage ye must understand
Are serious in cases o' guid ploo-land,
Nae maitter what folk that tell stories may say,
      They're no' to be made that way.
It's mortal partickler is guid ploo-land,
It has to be carefu' in givin' its hand.
It doesn't do coortin' by commonplace rules,
Love letters, hand squeezes, a couple o' fools.
It does what it does in a 'sponsible way,
      A ser'ous, responsible way.

He arrivit at seven, like ordinar' days,
His greetin' was just o' the ordinar' kind.
But, barrin' the weel-observ'd fact of his claes,
Was naethin' to show he had aught on his mind.
His feet were, as usual, in front o' his chair,
Weel plac'd at the angle of forty-and-five.
His talk to the fayther was a' o' the fair
And prices o' cattle baith deid and alive.
He kept to that subjeck the veesit entire,
His face in the usual direction - sou'-wast
(The lassie aye knittin' to north o' the fire).
And never a word for the girl till the last,
And no' till the door clos'd behind him to boot
Did he put his heid back wi' the words, "May I beg
That ye'll come to the door for a meenute, Miss Meg".
And Maggie got up frae the fire and went oot.

They settled the maitter in two words then,
He ax'd her the question in one word, "Weel?"
She answered him straight wi' anither word, "When?"
(A word frae guid ploo-land, it means a great deal.)
They're married a year and a quarter the day,
The bairn's an uncommon fine laddie, they say.
      Tremendous fine babby, they say.