In 2010 I wrote of one of the more extended family trees of our clan. It has a number of extant members, mostly in Canada. It originates with William McIlhagga a Yarn Boiler whose name we know from the record of the marriage of his son William, a Railway Porter, to Mary Spence on 17 May 1878 at Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Recently a retired solicitor from Templepatrick, Co. Antrim got in touch with me to tell me that he too was researching this family and offering to enter into dialogue with me and to share any insights to the benefit of our clan records. This blog is to let folk know that some new information has come to light.
Mary, wife of William, was a key person. She was born about 1861/2 to James Spence, a Farmer, and one Mary Ross. Clearly She used her father's surname though it transpires that her parents were never married. This is clear from the fact that in a Will dated 5 December 1913 mary Ross left "all my lands and property of every nature and kind to my daughter Mary, wife of William McIlhagga of Tullygarley". The Will went through Probate on 22 September 1922. She died on 10 December 1929 age 65 of a 'cavernous thrombosis following cellulitis of the face'. William, described as a Porter, was present at her death.
A calculation from these details would mean that Mary was married at the age of 14! Her marriage record does indeed say that she was a minor, so was certainly under 21 and we know from the fact that she 'made her mark' that she could neither read nor write, so possibly had very little schooling. However it is unlikely that she was as young as 14. An age given at death is of course only as accurate as the knowledge of the informant. The evidence of the 1911 Census is that she was in fact born about 1861 or 1862, which would make her 16 or 17 at her marriage.
Mary Ross died on 22 July 1922 and her daughter Mary was registered as the owner of the lands comprised in Folio 1200, Co. Antrim in the Land Registry of Northern Ireland. This consisted of the valuable nine acres, three roods and eighteen perches of lands at Tullygarley passed to her after the death of Mary Ross, 'spinster', Tullghgarley. How valuable may be indicated by the fact that in recent times there has been a substantial housing development at or near Tullygarley, the name chosen for it being 'The Rosses'.
Among other things I have learned from my Templepatrick friend is about the Wellington Street Presbyterian Church, Ballymena, in which so many of this McIlhagga family were baptised, married or buried. Currently the Wellington Street buildings are for sale as the Congregation has in 2009 moved in to a new Church which has been called Wellington Presbyterian Church. It is at Sourhill Road, Ballymena, just a short walk from Tullygarley Bridge.
William, the retired Railway Porter, died on 14 October 1931 at Waveney Hospital, Ballymena, aged 71 years, making 1860 the probable year of his birth. He died of 'a prostatic urinary obstruction 1 month, shock following operation'. This information was given to the registrar by an inmate of Waveney Hospital.
William and Mary had seven children, the dates, some of which I did not know, as researched by our retired solicitor:
Elizabeth (Eliza), 29 Aug 1878 - 15 apr 1969;
James Spence, 12 Sep 1880 - 15 Apr 1958;
William, 12 Jul 1883 - 2 Feb 1921;
Andrew, 25 Nov 1886 - 27 Mar 1953;
Robert, 7 May 1889 - 29 Mar 1985;
John (Jack), 17 Aug 1894 - 3 Jul 1968;
Jane (Jeanie), 27 Feb 1897 - 8 Jan 1922.
Among the facts new to me are the names of William's and Jane's spouses. William married Matilda Allen, a Weaver from 116 Antrim Road, at Ballymena Baptist Church on 22 September 1910. Tragically only six months later, Matilda was dead. She died of a cerebral haemorrage on 29 March 1911 at Queen Street, Ballymena, age 26. Presumably she and William had set up home in Queen Street and after her death William must have returned to Tullygarley. This is confirmed by the 1911 Census where he is referred to as a widower. Jane married Aaron Scott Crowe on 12 November 1919 at Kells Presbyterian Church, Co. Antrim.
I will continue the story of further discovery in a subsequent edition of this blog.