Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bits and pieces about Scotland and the Scots

It is estimated that 85 million people worldwide claim to have Scottish ancestry.

The name Scotland comes from a tribe of irishmen who landed in Argyll and went on to take over the country. The Romans called them Scotti, which translated means Scots.

Scotland has a motto - Nemo me impune lacessit (Latin). It means - "Noone attacks me and gets away with it."

Passports did not become official in Britain until 1916. There was such a thing as a "letter of safe passage" given to wealthy residents who planned on returning to Britain once they had completed their travels.

People who took advantage of the principle, in Scots Law that marriage was constituted by mutual consent, entered into irregular marriages. The form of contract generally adopted was a simple written declaration of acceptance of each other as husband and wife.

One of the earliest events recorded and still available is the marriage od Mary Queen of Scots to Henry, Lord Darnley. Sunday 29th July 1565. registrar for the Canongate, Edinburgh. Canongate Church by the way has a set of deer antlers on its roof that get replace every five years.

The Bubonic Plague, or Black Death, wiped out about 1/3rd of the population of Scotland during the winter of 1349 and then hit every generation there after until the 1700's.

From a Tennessee perspective (since I currently live here) about 1 in 5 Tennesseans can trace their roots back to the Scots-Irish settlers of the 18th century. They originated in Lowland Scotland and were "encouraged" to move to Ulster throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The first ship load of immigrants from Ulster came to Boston in 1717.

As a Scot living in the US I spend quite a bit of time explaining to people that Scots-Irish is an American term and did not originate in the home country :) Any time I teach a class I have to include something about the Scots-Irish because someone always asks.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Scottish Naming Patterns

For a while in Scottish history there was such a thing as naming patterns. Having said that it's not written in concrete but if you get stuck researching a family it's a good way to move things along a bit :)

1st daughter after maternal grandmother
2nd. daughter after paternal grandmother
3rd daughter after mother
4th daughter after mother's oldest sister or maternal great grandmother.

1st son after paternal grandfather
2nd son after maternal grandfather
3rd son after father
4th son after father's oldest sister or paternal great grandfather

Often the children would have the mother's maiden name as a middle name or that of the grandmothers. In some cases the middle name would be the surname of the minister who christened the child. 

Some of my ancestors were named after family friends e.g. my grandma Lindsay's brother. I also have some ancestors that I have no idea who they were named after, and don't even try to match up the last two or three generations too closely to the naming pattern because you'll get tied up in a knot :)

You might also come across a baby being named after a deceased older child. In many instances this was to keep the naming pattern intact.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Where did William Lindsay live?

This is Walker Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian. This is where William Lindsay was living and working in at the time of his marriage to Euphemia Robertson on 20 December 1831. She lived across the street (my camera batteries ran out before I could take a photograph.) Both houses are now owned by private companies. Interestingly enough one of the houses on the street was up for sale and I was sorely tempted to talk to the estate agent about having a look inside :)
The street is part of Edinburgh New Town and is not too far from St. Cuthbert's Church where they got married.
1841 - Pitlour, Strathmiglo, Fife
1851 - East Pitlour Farm, Strathmiglo, Fife.
1861 - 3 Anniston Gate, Inverkeillor, Forfar.
1871 - Anniston Gate House, Inverkeillor, Forfar.
1881 - Priestfields, Inverkeillor, Forfar.
I went to Blairgowrie with my brother to try and track down some family information but we could not find the local library let alone any other site I was interested in. This will probably have to be a long distance writing endevour.
Pitlour Farm, Strathmiglo, Fife. I have information about the family that owned Pitlour House i.e. the Skene's. William was the butler to the household.
As for Inverkeillor some kind researchers sent me historical information and I found some maps on-line. Next step - photographs because my understanding is that Anniston Gate and Priestfields still exist.

Census Records

The one area of genealogical research that I really enjoy is looking through census records. Anyone doing Scottish research is fortunate to have a rich resource of information contained within this particular area.

Scottish census records started being taken on a regular basis in 1801 but the most intact and more readily available are from 1841 through 1901. 1911 should be available sometime within the next couple of years. There was no national census taken in 1941 due to WWII.

There are a number of places you can go to look at census records. If you live in Scotland you have the options of Register House in Edinburgh, your local library, your local FHC, and some sheriff's offices. If there is down time some of the local registrars may give you access to their computers for about an hour. If you are looking from home you can access Register House through ScotlandsPeople, use Ancestry, CensusFinder to name but a few.

ScotlandsPeople gives a really good, concise breakdown of what kind of information is available in each census and what "date" each census was taken.

A word or two of warning :) Census records were only as good as the person providing the information and/or the person writing down the information e.g. a persons age or place of birth, how the enumerator heard an accent. They also were a snapshot for one particular night and on occasion people would go missing, show up in two different households or be in an entirely different household than normal.

When I started to do some serious research on my Lindsay ancestry I was in the fortunate position of having a partial family tree already in my possession and wouldn't you know it the main family line we are descended from turned out to be much bigger than indicated :)

My Lindsays are descended from William Lindsay and Euphemia Robertson. Our family tree shows their children Agnes, Jane and William(mine) with most of their descendents up until the 1970's. So I went rooting around and eventually found out that they had 4 more children who were all deceased by the 1851 census. Some of them showed up in the 1841 census BUT and this is a big BUT, it was in an extract someone else had written down and stupid me forgot to write down the on-line source. Aaargh. It did however help me look for, and find them in the OPR's. (More about that in another posting.)

It's so important to write down your sources because you never know when you may need them. Citing your sources makes your information more reliable not only to yourself but to others as well.

If there is ever a dispute amongst people you can say well this is a primary source and I got it from here. The more PRIMARY the source the better e.g. birth, christening, marriage, death, and sometimes census. Some people consider wills, land and military records primary but I put them as primary/secondary. I'll go into that in more detail in another posting.

So I followed William and his family through as many of the census records as I could (they moved around a lot). This helped me pin down time frames for births, deaths and shed some light on a few family mysteries. Every family has a mystery of some kind :) From there I was able to look at birth, marriage and death records within a shorter time span, which saves a considerable amount of time (and money) on many occasions.

The one mystery I have still not gotten pinned down is who are William Lindsay's parents? They are not named in his marriage record or his death record. His son, bless his kind heart, was pretty exact about his age when he died. I know where he was born even though there are some pretty funky spellings on the census records. At one point I travelled along a lengthy and unfortunately false road for him (there went 200 years of ancestors when that one came to a grinding halt) and looked at any number of OPR records in and around the Blairgowrie, Perthshire vicinity. I now have two possibilities, James Lindsay and Agnes Loban/Lobbins or his birth was not registered.

Another area that census records are useful for is researching a particular house, street, town etc. The house I grew up in was built about 1883 and on my last trip to Scotland I did a street/house search at the local library. That was fun. I learned a lot about the street name changes that happened, who the neighbors were etc. I also bought a copy of a very old map that showed who all lived in the houses round the castle and town center. I also ran across some old photographs for the area. I looooove libraries :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

William Gardner (@1884-1931)

This photograph shows the spouse of Harriet Fleming Lindsay. He is the young man in the back row. My cousin Bill, mentioned in my previous posting, is not sure who all are in the photograph. He rightly identified John and Mary (nee Kirkwood) Gardner.
I am a firm believer in searching census records so I looked in my records to see what information I might have. I have John Gardner in census records from 1861 thru 1901 (latest available). He and Mary were married 28 November 1879 in Falkirk, Stirlingshire.
John and Mary had the following children all born in Falkirk.
Agnes @1882
William @1884
Mary @ 1889
George @1892
Jane @1894
Marion @1896
Margaret @ 1898
Beatrice @ 1899
Edith @ 1900
I don't have their birth records yet but they should not be too hard to access. All the children are in the photograph and I'm going to place it about 1905 in a photographers studio in Falkirk, Stirlingshire.
In many older photographs the youngest child is usually placed close to the mother. In this one we can see Beatrice and Edith right there. Margaret is in the middle of the photograph between her parents. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Agnes is standing to the right of William with Mary to her right. That leaves Jane and Marion to the right of their father and George to the left of his mother.
Since the Gardners are technically extended family for me I do not have any further information (yet) about marriages and families for William's siblings.

Harriet Fleming Lindsay (1881-1963)

My cousin Bill sent me some family photographs a few months ago which was a nice surprise. His grandmother Harriet was my grandfather Patrick Lindsay's older sister.

This is one of those family photographs where we know she is in there (far right) but we have very little idea of what the event was, who the other people are, etc. etc. etc. Bill wrote on the back what little he knew including a possible location.

So what do you do to try and place people with an event? First I looked at Harriet a little closer, since she is the relative in the picture that we could positively identify. I've already done a lot of research on our main line and I noticed that she has an engagement ring on her finger. My records tell me that she was married on 5 August 1908 so that places her within a short time frame.

Some other things to look at and ask questions about.
Hairstyles - what would be the typical age for the time period that ladies went from wearing their hair down to always wearing it up. When would ladies have stopped wearing bows in their hair (e.g. before or after marriage)?
What type and style of clothing, is being worn? Jewelry, spectacles?
Any unusual elements (in this case the greenery on their blouses)?
Kind of event - informal, formal ?
Possible ages of participants?
Location? If outdoors, which season?
Who took the photograph (amateur or ptofessional? Is there a name and address for the professional?

What we have in this instance is everyone with hair up in their best clothing at what appears to be an afternoon tea party. Season - probably late spring/early summer in the corner of a garden. The only lady without the greenery is sitting at the table and my guess would be she is the hostess or the party is in her honor.

The lady in the glasses looks like she might be older than the rest of the group. Her hair is set in an older style. Some of the group look like they are wearing the same pendant so that might be an avenue to explore. Harriet has a large bow in her hair.

My cousin suggested a location near Camelon, Stirlingshire but Harriet did not move from Dundee, Forfar till after her marriage so that may widen the search for historical information.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A couple of close-ups from the clan gathering

A closer view of the left hand side of the photograph and an up close of my grandfather Patrick Lindsay (he looks kind of young for a 9 year old but matches some other photos I have of him.)
(If you click once on a photograph you can see a larger view.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Clan Lindsay Gathering, Kinnaird Castle, 1902

Photographs are a huge source of information for many people researching their families. My father owns the original photograph from the gathering and very kindly took a number of photographs of it for me. It originally belonged to the Paton family (my grandfather's sister)

The little laddie near the front wearing a kilt is my grandfather. His parents, William Robertson Lindsay and Mary Anne Lindsay nee. Arthur, are 3 rows behind him (cap and flowery hat). Some of his siblings might also be in there but there is no list of names to identify everyone. The article in "Publications of the Clan Lindsay Society, Edinburgh, 1904 no. 3" sent to me by Gordon Lindsay in 2006 does not list all who went to the event. A number of people are helping me to try and piece the information together.

So make sure you label your photographs with event, date, place and most importantly who is in the picture.

So where do I start?

Surprisingly most people who ask that have no idea. They think that genealogy is only about some far distant dead relatives.

The answer is "start with yourself."

Put together all the information you have about yourself. Start with birth, christening, marriage records. Given that you are still alive you won't need to look for a death record. Believe me some people have tried to do that :) After that you save whatever information is important to and about you.

Then look at what information you have for your spouse and children (if that is relevant.)

Finally look at what information you have for your parents and siblings. If possible ask family members for help.

Try to keep your information organised as you collect it otherwise it can quickly become overwhelming.

Go to Familysearch (link in the sidebar) and download the free version of PAF , found on thehome page, to give you a place to write in all the basic details. The program walks you through each area. Always make a back-up copy of your research. (Computers can die and you do not want to lose all your information.)

If by some good fortune you have been given a lot of family information already take some time to organise by person and/or generation before delving into any more research. Getting organised right from the start will save you a lot of time, and often money, in the long run.

Finally. Take your time. Do a little bit at a time. You want to enjoy the process of researching your family not be overwhelmed by it all.