Copyright (C) 2020 by Patrick's People all rights reserved Updated 25 January 2020
HARKEN, Patrick
(About 1805-)
HARKEN MS UNKNOWN, Sarah? Margaret?
(About 1805-)
HARKEN, Margaret DNA Linked


Family Links

1. McGUNNIGAL, James DNA Linked

HARKEN, Margaret DNA Linked 1

  • Born: 1830, Ireland
  • Marriage (1): McGUNNIGAL, James DNA Linked in Ireland
  • Died: 11 March 1904 at 4.00 am, High Rows, Chapelhall, Holytown, Lanarkshire, Scotland 2

   Cause of her death was bronchitis and syncope.3

   Other names for Margaret were HARKIN, Margaret,2 4 5 6 HARKINS, Margaret,7 8 HEARKEN, Margaret, McGONAGLE, Margaret,9 McGONEGAL, Margret,10 McGONIGAL, Margaret,2 3 McGONIGLE, Margaret,11 McGONNEGAL, Margaret,12 McGUNIGAL, Bridget,13 McGUNIGAL, Margaret 13 and McGUNNIGAL, Margaret.

  General Notes:

No birth or baptism record for Margaret Harken has been found so far, but according to family tradition, she and her husband were born and brought up in County Donegal, Ireland.

The 1871 census for the village of Chapelhall, in the Holytown district of the parish of Bothwell, recorded Margaret McGunnigal, aged 40 years and born in Ireland, living, with her husband and five of her children. They lived 'East of Biggar Road', in a dwelling that had but one windowed room. Her five children ranged in age from 20 years to 7 years.

In the 1881 census for Chapelhall village, in Bothwell parish, now aged 50 years, Margret McGonegal was living with her husband, James, aged 60 years, and three of her sons: John, aged 30 years, James, aged 22 years, and Michal, aged 18 years, in Biggar Road. Patrick McGonegal, aged 28 years, who lived next door, was also Margret's son. Margret, and all her family, were recorded as having been born in Ireland.

The 1891 census for Chapelhall village in the civil parish of Bothwell, Lanarkshire, recorded Margaret McGonnegal living at High Rows, with two of her unmarried sons, John McGonnegal, aged 35 years, and Michael McGonnegal, aged 26 years. Margaret was a widow of 60 years of age. Their home had two windowed rooms. All three had been born in Ireland. Next door to Margaret, lived her widowed daughter, Mary O'Donnell, 35 years of age, and with three children and four lodgers.

The 1901 census for Holytown district of the parish of Bothwell, recorded a couple who are likely to be Margaret Harken and her son, John. In every respect but one they are what we would expect. First, the address for the couple is Biggar Road. We may take this as a positive piece of evidence since many family members including John and his mother have lived in this area. Then, the ages are right: John McGunigal was recorded as aged 50 years, and his mother as 75 years. Finally, both were born in Ireland, and of Mrs McGunigal it was recorded that she was a widow. They were living in a home that had two windowed rooms. All of this is consistent with what we know of the family's circumstances. The inconsistent point is that Margaret McGunigal was recorded as 'Mrs Bridget McGunigal. For the reasons cited above, this researcher believes the entry does relate to this family. The inconsistency of name can be attributed to a mishearing, misunderstanding or mistake on the part of the enumerator or an obscurity in speech or writing on the part of the informant. No other Margaret McGunigal, even with variant spelling, has been found in this parish, where she died four years later, in the 1901 census.

Margaret McGonigal died in March of 1904. Margaret's death certificate recorded her as aged 74 years, and as the widow of James McGonigal, Blastfurnace Labourer. The certificate also recorded that the death occurred in High Rows, Chapelhall, in the district of Holytown. Both of Margaret's parents were noted as deceased.

When Margaret's daughter, Mary McGinlay, died in 1919, it was Mary's son in law who acted as informant. No maiden surname was recorded for Margaret. 2 12 13 14

  Research Notes:


For James and Margaret McGunnigal, nee Harkins, we have very little reliable documentary evidence. To date, no birth, baptism, or marriage documents have been uncovered, though we do have a death certificate for each of them. In addition, we have two census entries for James, and four census entries for Margaret.

Some of the census entries are consistent with each other, namely the 1871, 1881 and 1891 census entries, on the matter of names, ages, countries of birth and employ. This is because it is likely that either James, or Margaret, probably Margaret, were personally providing the information contained in the entries.

There is less to rely on in the death certificate of James in 1888, 1901 census entry and the 1904 death certificate, in ascending order of unreliability. We know for certain that their son, John, who made his X mark on both occasions, was the informant of the material recorded in the death certificates. It is very likely he was also the provider of the information in the 1901 census.

After James McGunigal died suddenly in 1888, his wife, Margaret, would still have been available as a provider of information about him and herself. So, for the most part, his death certificate is coherent and consistent, as far as we can tell, in his own biographical details and the details of who his parents were, with the slight exception that we would expect that if Michael were his father's name, a first or second son would have been given this name rather than a fourth. However, we may not know of all the children born to this couple, nor their birth order.

A tiny alarm bell rings when we read that the date of death was either the 18 or 19 January 1888, the cause of his death was unknown, that he was found dead in bed, and that there was no medical attendant. This might have been more understandable in 1858, when the new registration system was still new. By 1888 registration is fully developed. There were exceptional family circumstances in that James' and Margaret's son, also James, had been seriously ill in hospital, and did in fact die on the evening of the 19 January 1888. Yet John was at the registrar's office in Holytown on 19 January 1888 registering his father's death. The matron of the Bellshill Hospital registered the death of his brother, James, the following day. One suggestion offered in explanation was that, possibly under pressure from a wave or epidemic of deaths locally, the registrar, William Richard, let this seemingly harmless case go.

In the 1901 census, Margaret was elderly, certainly about 70 years old, and she died three years later, so her health may not have been very good. John was entered in the census as the head of the house. His mother's name was recorded as 'Mrs Bridget McGunigal', and her age as 75 years, though the previous three census entries had recorded 40, 50 and 60 years for her age. Her death certificate in 1904 recorded 74 years. It seems that John may have been responsible for the information given in this instance.

Looking at Margaret's death certificate, one is left puzzled that a registrar, Gilbert Hamilton, could allow it to pass. Margaret's married name, status, date and place of death, and cause of death seem in order. The names of her parents are not. 'Margaret McGonigal widow of James McGonigal' has a father called 'Patrick McGonigal' and a mother called 'Margaret McGonigal', both deceased. Margaret's mother's name in full is 'Margaret McGonigal MS Harkin'. In short, Margaret's own name. It is impossible to know whether John McGonigal or the registrar is responsible, or whether it was an inspired collaboration. The use of 'Harkin' here, and in his father's death certificate, indicates the name was familiar to John. The registrar was unlikely to have that knowledge.

Despite the unreliability of some of the documents outlined above, we can perhaps highlight some items of information that are very likely to be true: that Margaret's maiden surname was Harken or Harkin, seems convincingly true; that her father's name was Patrick, is a sixty-forty, or even a seventy-thirty, possibility; that her son, John, did not know or remember her mother's Christian name and maiden surname, is undoubtedly true. It may have been Margaret, or possibly Sarah, the given name of James and Margaret's second daughter.

We don't know.

  Medical Notes:

The cause of death was certified by Hugh Robertson MB FRCSE.

John McGonigal, who was present where his mother's death occurred, notified the registrar, Gilbert Hamilton, at Holytown on 11 March 1904, and made his X mark. 3

Margaret married James McGUNNIGAL DNA Linked, son of Michael McGUNNIGAL and Mary KELLY, in Ireland. (James McGUNNIGAL DNA Linked was born in 1820 in Ireland and died 18 into 19 January 1888, during the night in High Rows, Chapelhall, Holytown, Lanarkshire, Scotland 15 16.). The cause of his death was recorded officially as not known.3

  Marriage Notes:

No marriage record for James McGunnigal and Margaret Harkins has been uncovered so far.



2 GRO Scotland, Death certificate Holytown 1904 RDS 625/2 No 46.

3 GRO Scotland, Deaths Holytown district 1904 RDS 625/2 No 46.

4 (, Civil Birth Record.

5, Web: Ireland, Census Search Forms 1841, 1851 website:

6 Internet Site, Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845-1958.

7 GRO Scotland, death certificate 1888 Bothwell parish/son James.

8 Glasgow or Paisley, General Register of Poor: Parish of Bothwell Lanarkshire 1888.

9 GRO Scotland, Marriage certificate RDS 625/2 No 13 Holytown 1881.

10 1881 UK census, Bothwell parish Holytown district Chapelhall village Biggar road.

11 GRO Scotland, Marriage certificate RDS 625/2 No 72 Holytown 1873.

12 GRO, Bothwell parish Holytown district en d not noted page 12 Chapelhall High Rows.

13 GRO Edinburgh (2002), Bothwell, Holytown district 652/2 En d 16 page 6 Biggar Road.

14 1881 UK census, Bothwell parish Holytown district Chapelhall village Biggar Road.

15 GRO Scotland, Holytown district 1888.

16 GRO Scotland, Holytown district.

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