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William James Taggart was a son of Robert Taggart and Margaret Anne Abraham.  

His siblings were John Thomas (b March 1, 1867); Robert James (b July 1, 1868); Anne Jane (b Aug 3, 1871); Elizabeth (b April 20, 1873); Margaret (b Dec. 28, 1874) & Robert Arthur (b Jan 19, 1878).  

I have various suggestions for DOB for William James and can find no direct source to confirm any possibilities.  William immigrated to Canada aboard the Allan Line's Sarmatian on May 25, 1886.  The passenger lists William as 17 years which would suggest a birth year of 1869.  

There is considerable confusion with respect to his Canadian military records between William and his brother Robert James.  He variously lists his DOB as July 1, 1868 - the same as Robert's, or  March 13, 1832, or July 1, 1871 or July 1, 1877.  I have been unable to find anything for any of these dates or any dates within this period.

In the 1891 Census of Canada he lists his religion as Church of England.

William James Taggart died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada Dec. 14, 1943 - his military grave stone says he was aged 76 years which would suggest a birth year of 1866

Family legend has it that William's father Robert Taggart (b. March 13, 1832) was a gamekeeper on Lord Brookeborough's estate (Colbrooke?) before coming to Canada in 1886.  I would be thrilled if that could be confirmed and which Lord he may have been for.  

Any information for the Taggart family would be greatly appreciated



Monday 26th Jul 2021, 12:49AM

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  • Robert Taggart married Margaret Ann Abraham on 12th March 1866 and his occupation is given as gamekeeper, living at Colebrookepark. Colebrookepark is (to this day) Lord Brookborough's home. In 1878, when Robert was born, the place of birth was Corralongford, which is adjacent to Colebrookepark. One of the estate gate lodges is in Corralongford, and Robert senior was still a gamekeeper. So all that information confirms he was a gamekeeper on the Brookborough estate. The owner of the estate during the period Robert worked there was Sir Arthur Douglas Brooke Bt (ie Baronet). So that generation hadn't made it into the nobility. Nobility was conferred in 1952 when Sir Arthur's son, who later became Prime Minister of NI, was made a Viscount (so he was the 1st Lord Brookborough).

    The discrepancies in William James date of birth are normal. In the 1800s in Ireland people generally didn't celebrate birthdays and often had no idea of precisely when they were born. If officialdom later asked for a date of birth, it was common just to make one up, with the added consideration that if joining the military, it was sometimes necessary to adjust it to improve your chances of being selected (to avoid being too young or too old depending on the circumstances).

    I have looked at the birth records on the GRONI site and can only see births for the 6 children you have mentioned. No sign of William James. There's a small gap in the births between 1868 and 1871, so he might have been born in 1869 or 1870. It's possible his birth wasn't registered. That did happen especially in the early years of birth registration (it started in 1864). You could check church baptism records to see if you can find him there. Colebrooke & Corralongford are in Aghalurcher parish. Church of England in Ireland is the Church of Ireland. There are several churches in the parish. If you don't know which your family attended try Fivemiletown. It is possible the family attended Aghavea, though it is a different  parish to where they lived. Copies of all those records, for the years you need, are in PRONI in Belfast. (Personal visit required to view them). Another possibility is that William James was adopted, which could account for the absence of a birth certificate. Formal adoption law wasn't introduced in NI till 1928, so in the 1860s it was a word of mouth arrangement with no records.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 26th Jul 2021, 05:57AM
  • Thank you very much for your assistance and insights.  

    Could you please clarify a bit your reference to Fivemiletown - one of the Canadian military records for William James said he was born in Five-mile, Tyrone and said he was born July 1, 1871 (which would not be possible if his mother was Margaret Anne Abraham Taggart because a sister Anne Jane was born Aug. 1, 1871).  Unfortunately there are so many discrepancies between the military records of both William James and Robert James such as Robert claiming William's children on his documents.  Am I understanding correctly that Five-mile, Tyrone would be the same as Fivemiletown and that it is in close proximity to Brookeborough?

    Another question if I may - I have the birth of Robert July 1, 1868 and the birth of Robert Arthur Jan. 19, 1878.  Is it unusual to name two sons Robert?  I might assume that Robert of July 1, 1868 had died before Robert Arthur of 1878 was born, but I can find no death record and the Robert of 1868 is who is in the Canadian military records as Robert James.  Are there any insights you can offer?

    Many thanks



    Monday 26th Jul 2021, 11:58PM
  • Margaret,

    Fivemiletown and Fivemile are almost certainly the same place. One just being a shortened version of the other. Fivemiletown is a couple miles east of Brookborough. It's in Co.Tyrone, the county border with Fermanagh being close by. Fivemiletown and Corrylongford/Corralongford are both in the parish of Aghalurcher which is why I suggest it as a possible church that the family may have attended. Sometimes people gave their townland as their place of birth and other times (especially outside Ireland) they gave the nearest big town, which in this case is probably Fivemiletown. So it's possible William James gave Fivemile as his place of birth for that reason. Fivemiletown is in a different birth registration district (Clogher). You might want to check the Clogher birth records on the offchance he was born there. Not in 1871 obviously, for the reason you have given but perhaps a few years either side. Incidentally where a child is a twin, the times of birth are given on the birth certificates, to indicate which was the elder, in case that should ever be relevant later in life. An inheritance issue for example. There's no time recorded on Anne Jane's birth certificate so she wasn't a twin.

    Regarding the two Roberts, the most common explanation for two children of the same name is that the first one died and the name was used again.They liked to keep family names alive (literally). However you can also get it if the family were following the Irish & Scottish naming tradition, which specified that certain children should be named after certain parents, grandparents etc. So if you have two grandfathers named Robert on different sides of the family, then you end up with 2 sons named Robert. Both alive. Families usually dealt with the consequential potential confusion by actually calling the second born something else altogether for day to day purposes. Or by having a double name such as Robert Arthur and using that, and not just Robert. Did the whole family move to Canada, but with only 1 Robert? That could point to the first Robert having died, though like you I don't see a death certificate that fits. Or is that Robert actually you rWilliam James, mysteriously re-named? Can't think why they might do that though.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Tuesday 27th Jul 2021, 05:33AM
  • Thank you Elwyn.  Yes, the whole family moved to Canada with with only 1 Robert - Robert Arthur who was my great grandfather born Jan 19, 1878.  It is quite difficult to sort out who is who throughout the family history as there seem to be numerous Roberts & James in every branch. 

    Hopefully, someday day I will be able to visit the area and PRONI in Belfast.  Thank you very much for the assistance you have provided.

    Best regards,



    Tuesday 27th Jul 2021, 11:44PM

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