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My ancestors, initially from Scotland, settled initially in Ballintoy, then onto Rathlin c1750`s after Rev Gage bought the island. In the 1766 Religious Survey there are recorded 6 McQuig families, but I have not been able to find any forenames or townlands.Can anyone tell me if that Survey contains any details of individual people or families.. or does it tell us only that there were a given no of eqch similar family name. To have any more detail from this Survey would be a major breakthrough for me

Bob McCouaig 


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bob mccouaig

Wednesday 24th November 2021, 05:46AM

Message Board Replies

  • The 1766 survey does contain forenames & townlands, certainly for the parishes of Ballintoy & Ballymoney which I have seen. I do not have access to the part for Rathlin but it may be in PRONI on MIC6A/2.

    Here are the tithe applotment records for Rathlin in 1834:

    Above is not a complete list of all on the island. Just those with titheable land (ie farmers).

    There is also the 1669 Hearth Money roll for Rathlin which does give townlands but obviously that is too early for your purposes. (No McQuigs in it as you would expect).

    In his book “Family names in the Glens of Antrim (pp 86/7), Brian Turner mentions the name. He says that the name McGavock “… raises interesting puzzles about possible connections between the strongly Islay name McCouaig, also well known in Rathlin, which previous authorities have related to McQuigg and Quigg rather than to McCooke. McCooke was noted as one of the common names in north Antrim in 1659 and in the Hearth Money Roll two of the name appear in eastern Armoy parish where the name still flourishes in the 21st century. Distribution patterns make it unlikely that McGavock and McCouaig are variants of the same name in north Antrim but a possible McCouaig/McQuigg/McCook connection suggest a nice challenge for the family historian.”

    3 McQuaigs in the 1961 electoral register for the Glens of Antrim area.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Wednesday 24th November 2021, 07:20AM
  • Hi Elwyn

    Thank you very much for your response. It has given me hope. At the risk of pushing my luck too far, are you able to give me any thoughts on how to access Proni MIC6A/2.

    Like you I have the Religious Survey 1766 for Ballintoy. Suprisingly, to me, there are no McQuigs orMcQuiggs . But there are Michael and Patrick Quigg. Both these names are prominent in my ancestry at that time. I`m fairly sure my x4grandfather was a Michael and that one of his sons was a Patrick. Possbly just coincidence, but who knows. There is,ofcourse, the problem of Michael and Patrick being recorded as Papists, when my ancestors were Presbyterian Scots! 

    It is my belief that by 1766 many of my family had made the move over to Rathlin. I have read that Gage wanted to settle there reliable Scot Presbyterians from "around Bushmills". Hence my interest in the Religious Survey for Rathlin then.

    You mention the 1669 Hearth Tax Roll. In Dunluce then was Patrick and John(another family name then) McQuigg and in Ballintoy Henry and John McQuide. A Henry is myx3 grandfather .... he and his presumed father Michael were definitely on Rathlin in 1803. On Rathlin also  was Neil McQuide, later written McQuaig. 

    Do you think it is possible that back then our name (which in Scotland was McCouaig) could be recorded by some as Quigg or McQuide?

    Thank you again for your help, and I still haven`t got to McCook, a total new thought for me!

    Regards from Adelaide


    Bob McCouaig

    bob mccouaig

    Friday 26th November 2021, 12:07AM
  • Bob,


    MIC 6A/2 is a microfilm. You’ll need to get a researcher to got to PRONI to go through it for you. Researchers in the PRONI area:

    Or, PRONI themselves do simple looks ups (for a fairly hefty fee, in my opinion). So if you want a copy of a given baptism at a known church and an approximate date, they will likely do that, because it probably will only take 10 minutes to find. What they won’t do (as I understand it) is a trawling search where you have to go through a lot of records and it’s hard to know how long the research will take. You could e-mail them and ask if they’ll search the microfilm for you. If they agree, you pay in advance, regardless of results.

    Regarding Quigg & McQuigg & McCouaig, they could certainly be the same name. (McQuide I am less certain about and MacLysaght doesn’t mention it). The Mc, Mac, M’  & O’ prefixes are all detachable and were dropped or attached at whim.  It’s just a prefix, and only indicates that you were related to that person or family. It’s easy to find families in the 1901 & 1911 censuses who used a prefix one year and didn’t the other.

    The idea of a single or correct spelling for a surname or a place name in Ireland is very much a recent phenomenon designed to meet the needs of modern officialdom. Before that there was no consistency. Names were spelled phonetically and each variation was down to the whim of the particular person recording the information. You will often see the spelling change as the records go back. This rarely indicates a deliberate decision to alter the name, nor even a mistake. Not everyone was literate, but even when they were, exact and consistent spelling simply wasn’t something they bothered about. 

    You also have the dimension that these are Anglicized renditions of a Gaelic name. And names in Gaelic change according to the grammatical context. Use of the genitive normally involves an extra “i” for example.  So expect spelling to vary. That was the norm. (A common name on Rathlin today is McFaul. They originate in Scotland where it’s McPhail. It’s easy to see how you get from one to the other).

    Your information that the family was Presbyterian is interesting. There’s no Presbyterian church on Rathlin and never has been. There’s an RC church and the Church of Ireland but no others. So when your ancestors moved to Rathlin did they change denomination?  (It’s just about possible they occasionally attended the Presbyterian church in Ballycastle but that would have been difficult in winter months especially).

    Looking at the 1901 census I see a McQuaig family on Rathlin who were Church of Ireland. They appear to have been the only protestant McQuaig (and variants) at that period.

    I have certainly heard of an influx of new settlers in the 1700s or thereabouts. The Duke of Argyll’s Campbells reportedly slaughtered half the island’s population in the 1500s and I think again in the 1640s, and so new folk eventually arrived to replace them. Traditionally many came from Scotland. Speaking of Rathlin, Nils Holmer observed in 1942 that: “.. the population used to be fishermen and sailors and a considerable intermarriage with the mainland Irish and Scots may be expected.  Thus of the nineteen persons listed as Irish speakers, three have mentioned Scottish parents or grandparents, three have supposed their ancestors came from Scotland, while the rest know of no other than their Irish. As for those who believe their ancestors were Scots, it must be remembered that there is a common theory in the island that every single family of those living there now are descended from Scots settlers who came to the island after the complete massacres of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. … Leaving the truth value of the historical evidence of a transplantation of the inhabitants aside, it still remains a fact that the connections with Scotland are important.”

    Turner (p 124) also says: “ It should be clear from any observation of the Glens that the Scottish connection with Ulster is much more complicated .. and while the majority of the population is Roman Catholic in religion, that the names of many of the old Protestant families in the Glens and Rathlin cannot be differentiated from their neighbours in type and origin. It is unwise in Irish family name study to attempt to make deductions based solely on the basis of a supposed correlation between religious denomination and any given family name.”

    You may know that in 1617 a George Crawford of Lisnorris, Kintyre started a legal claim to Rathlin, stating it was Scottish and not Irish.  Some accounts refer to snakes being released on Rathlin to help resolve the case (Scotland has snakes, Ireland doesn’t). The snakes died, ergo Rathlin was Irish.

    Not sure how well you know the area but if not, I have attached a couple of photos which demonstrate the relative proximity. Both taken from near Carrick a Rede on the mainland. Picture 0002 is of the west end of Rathlin (the west lighthouse just peeking out) and Islay behind it. Pic 1998 is the rest of Rathlin, with the Kintyre peninsula behind. The modern ferry from Ballycastle to Port Ellen on Islay takes 1 hour. It would have been a bit slower in the days of sail but always a relatively easy journey.

    Finally another of your possible ancestors built a very famous tower in Oban, known generally as McCaig’s folly. You might enjoy reading about him:

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 26th November 2021, 12:17PM

    Attached Files

  • Elwyn

    Thank you very much. You have certainly made my day. I have sent a message to Proni and if I have no luck there I will try one of the researchers.

    Thanks for all the additional info and commentary. It`s all grist to the mill.

    Re the 1901 Census ref you sent...the wife Isabella is a granddaughter of my x4 grandfather Henry of Carrivandoon on Rathlin. He had 9 children including my x3 grandfather James. It is my understanding that Henry, a Presbyterian, married Ann Horan, a Catholic in St Thomas church on Rathlin which whilst Church of Ireland apparently permitted this as it was the only church on the island at that time. I understand that atleast some of his male offspring adopted his religion, whilst the daughters followed their mother`s religion. This notion is perhaps reflected also in the family at house 2 Carrivandoon in 1901.

    I believe that Isabella and John were also married in St Thomas church. John was from another family (although McQuaig is a commonly seen variant of the spelling of our name) who lived near Carrivandoon at Ushet. I think the two families are linked a few generations back but I`m still working on that one. It`s like working on a huge jigsaw with many pieces missing. I am hopeful that your Proni reference might fill in a long vacant space!

    I have visited Rathlin, in 1996. I stayed there with Loughie McCuaig, who is in fact a grandson of the aforementioned Isabella, and I still correspond with him. I hope to get back one day as I feel a real connection there.

    I will keep in touch if that is ok by you. I`m not sure about the protocols of this site but will give  my email address  

    Best regards

    Bob McCouaig

    bob mccouaig

    Saturday 27th November 2021, 05:30AM
  • Bob,

    Marrying in the Church of Ireland is perfectly feasible. It was the state church (till the 1860s) and as such was open to anyone. Mixed marriage couples often married there pre 1845. (Register Offices were introduced in 1845 which became another option. Or some couples went to Portpatrick to marry. That was another avenue). 

    I am not precisely clear when Henry married but it was presumably in the early 1800s. At that time the RC church would not have allowed a mixed marriage.  The Non RC person would have had to convert. Not everyone wanted to do that. Likewise the Presbyterian church may have declined to marry them too. There was also a bit of an unresolved legal question as to the validity (in civil law) of a mixed marriage in a Presbyterian church at that time. So to avoid inheritance difficulties and other aspects, many mixed marriage couples headed for the Church of Ireland.

    The 1844 Marriage Act clarified the law, and stated that all church marriages were lawful provided they were conducted by someone qualified in accordance with the normal practices of that denomination. It was then down to each priest or Minister to decide who to marry but the law made it clear that it had no problem with mixed marriages done by denominations other than the Church of Ireland.

    With mixed marriages, it was common for sons to be brought up the father’s denomination and the girls the mothers, though obviously some families decided that was daft and divisive and opted for one denomination or the other.

    By all means stay in touch. You can contact me on

    Let me know how you get on with PRONI. I do go myself from time to time but it'll be the New Year before I could look at that microfilm. But if it can wait a bit, I could probably do it then.


    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Saturday 27th November 2021, 03:20PM
  • bob mccouaig

    Monday 29th November 2021, 11:57PM
  • Elwyn

    I think I have buggered up the transmission of my note to you so if you already have this I apologize. I will try to remember what I said.

    Firstly, thank you again. Your information confims what I have but more importantly explains how it came to be that my Prebyterian ancestors got to marry R Catholic women in St Thomas church. It is nice when a piece finally fits in!

    I recently learnt that a Neal McQuaig was a warden of St Thomas in 1768 and that a Patrick McQuig of Carrivandoon (our families townland on Rathlin ) was a warden there in 1775. Your advice explains how that could be, viz how Presbyterians could hold those church positions. I am sure Patrick was one of ours. Neal might have been too a couple of generations before. I wonder whether the McQuaigs of nearby Ushet on Rathlin  had their name spelt thus to differentiate my McQuigs, or whether the different spelling is more likely just chance, the whim of the recorder at the time. Some of my known family later adopted the spelling McQuaig, though  most reverted to what I believe was more the Scottish original,McCouaig or McCuaig. 

    Henry, my x4 grandfather (not x3 as I inadvertantly noted in my early text) married Annie Horan c1806. Their first child, Michael, was born in 1806.

    I will get in touch when I hear back from Proni





    bob mccouaig

    Tuesday 30th November 2021, 12:48AM
  • Bob,

    To be a Church Warden in St Thomas's, the family would need to have switched from Presbyterian to COI.  But that seems inevitable to me since there isn't a Presbyterian church on the island.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 30th November 2021, 04:43PM