Wednesday, 25 March 2020


This morning, I received a lovely email from Sean at the Scottish Banner. Here's what he had to say:

Dear Friends,

During this unprecedented time, we are very anxious of what is happening across the globe. With Scottish events being heavily impacted by postponements and cancellations worldwide, members of our Scottish community organisations cannot get out to attend and celebrate Scotland as we have all enjoyed in the past.

Please find attached the latest issue of the Scottish Banner which you are free to distribute to your membership,  which I hope may play a small role in helping to keep members feeling connected to Scotland in this time of social distancing.

If your group has any general news or is doing anything specifically during this extraordinary time, please share it with us so we can share with our readers and followers as now more than ever is the time the Scottish community needs to stand together and support one another. We host the world’s leading international Scottish events listing and our site is being updated daily, if your group has an event change please let us know so the wider Scottish community can keep up to date.

I look forward to when our community can get back to normal and celebrate our great culture, in the meantime the Scottish Banner stands ready in any way we can to assist and support Scottish community organisations both now and in the future.

Best wishes,

Sean has sent me links for you to download FOUR FREE ISSUES:



MARCH 2020

APRIL 2020

As their motto says, the Scottish Banner is "uniting Scots around the world" Perhaps more now than ever.  

*with thanks to the Scottish Banner team

Monday, 16 March 2020


We are living in extraordinary times. Extraordinary. I don't alarm when it comes to disease. I read, I listen, I study. I have a well informed understanding of how viruses work. This one is working as it should, but the depth and breadth of it is unprecedented. It is being compared to the Spanish Flu and Polio in terms of the impact on a global level.

I am still not alarmed. But boy have I been sobered. Listening to and reading from an ICU doctor in Italy say he had to decide whose life was worth saving because there simply weren't enough resources to save everyone.

Reading and watching the UK government's plans to switch a car manufacturing plant over to making ventilators. And how they have asked hotels to be on standby to convert to hospitals should the need become overwhelming for existing hospitals.

Listening to people in Europe try desperately to get a flight back home. 48 hours on hold on the phone. Airlines not answering. Online being asked to pay in excess of $5000 for a one way trip that was direct and didn't go through any of the countries currently on lock down. People unsure they will get home and not sure where they are going to stay if they end up being quarantined because their vacation place can't renew.

I have made the very difficult and unprecedented decision to cancel both the Edinburgh and Orkney tours that were scheduled for May 2020. It is incumbent on me to ensure that other's don't need to risk their health and well being to go on a research tour. 

I hope that by September, we will be living in a state of new normal that will allow the September tours to carry on. 

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Self Isolation Doesn't Need to Mean SOCIAL Isolation

We have been asked to stay in and to avoid gatherings. The size of the gatherings depends on the community in which we live. But self isolation doesn't need to mean social isolation. Many people who are retired are conscious of the need to stay active, to stay socially engaged in order to hold depression and even dementia at bay. Knowing we can't right now is heightening anxiety which then may lead to the very things we are trying to keep ahead of. 

I was scheduled for two conferences in April. My schedule has now been completely cleared thanks to cancellations. That, too, has provided me with a unique opportunity. I subscribe to GoToWebinar and have for a number of years. I have, in the past, on a case by case basis, partnered with societies to be the host of a webinar so that they can provide a virtual presentation without having to invest in a platform. This has also allowed them to have speakers for their groups or societies that they might not otherwise be able to afford. It is cheaper to pay the speaker fee  than to pay their fee, their travel, their accommodations, their meals etc. And that makes having them present much more affordable for societies. 

If you are a member of a society that is wondering about programming while we are all being asked to self isolate, I am offering the same to you. Free of charge from my end. You find the speaker and pay them. You, the speaker and I agree to a time. I set up the links and send out the registration information. And at the agreed on time, I run the webinar so that you and your society/group can watch the presentation of your speaker. 

I am also aware that some of you are members of societies where many in your group aren't very skilled with technology and will feel overwhelmed by this. I am also aware that it doesn't have to be that way, and I am open to giving a presentation to your society to help those members feel more comfortable with the web. I will, in an email, walk them through the registration process. Then during my presentation we will look at the free resources that are out there that can be accessed to keep their learning up, to help them fill the time and to help them feel a little less isolated. 

If you are interested in taking me up on either offer, please check my availability HERE then contact me to set things up. (Yes, I literally have the entire month open!)

ps: I am also available to BE the speaker. If you have an interest in having me be your presenter, check the calendar above, send me an email and we can work together to keep your members actively learning. Here are my current topics:

It's Time to Coorie In

We are living in extraordinary times. I am not going to debate the pros and cons of our request to self isolate. There's loads of that happening on social media. I am going to offer you an opportunity during our government’s request for us all to Coorie In.

This has been a year for the books and we are only in March. Unprecedented fires in Australia. Impeachment of a president. Nuclear disaster warning in Southern Ontario (falsely sent). The death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. And now Coronavirus/Covid 19.

In decades to come, our descendants will wonder how we coped. How were we, personally, impacted?  Were we worried but the events?

Being Cooried In provides a perfect opportunity for us to write up our own story, to share our worries, fears, thoughts so that future generations will know first hand how we felt, how we coped during this extraordinary year. Take the guess work out of it and leave your story for your descendants by starting a journal. Look back on the recent events and put your thoughts to paper. You can do this. And now you have the time. Take it as a gift and seize the opportunity.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Can YOU be ready for May 2020?

I have had a very last minute cancellation for May 2020 (17th - 23). If YOU think you can be ready to head to Scotland to research your Scottish ancestors in 10 weeks, let me know! As with all openings, this one will go on a first come, first served basis. 

Sunday, 16 February 2020


I can now confirm tours for 2021. Although I had stated that there would be no Edinburgh tour in 2021, I have changed that up. The reason being that I have moved the timing of the tour to April so that the group can also attend the annual conference for the SAFHS which is being held in Dundee on April 24th. I know a couple of you were eager to get to Dundee and this may well be your golden opportunity. 
EDINBURGH - APRIL 18-23 2021
GLASGOW - APRIL 25 - MAY 1 2021
The Edinburgh tour will begin April 18th which, as always, is the day of arrival. Research will take place at the ScotlandsPeople Centre/NRS for three full days. There will be a chance to research at both the Scottish Genealogy Society and the NLS but the timing will depend on group size. You may have to choose just one of these places.

If you wish to attend the SAFHS conference, you can either:
  1. Leave Edinburgh Friday evening and take a train to Dundee (train fees are not included) which will get you into Dundee ahead of the conference. We have rooms reserved at the Best Western in Dundee.  You can stay Friday and/or Saturday.
  2. Remain in Edinburgh Friday night and take the train up to Dundee Saturday morning. The conference usually begins about 10 am. You can stay at the hotel in Dundee on the Saturday evening. 
  3. Remain in Edinburgh throughout and take the train up Saturday, returning to Edinburgh following the close of the conference without staying in Dundee at all and without needing to move your luggage. 
For those staying in Dundee, you may wish to stay in Dundee for a few extra days and do some research locally. If that is the case, let me know and I will see if the hotel has availability.

If you have ancestors from the Aberdeen area, you may wish to attend the conference so that you can speak to the Aberdeen and North East Scotland FHS.  You may then wish to travel to Aberdeen from Dundee to spend a couple of days locally. The train ride is about an hour or the bus is about 90 minutes. Any travel to Aberdeen will be at your own planning and expense.

There will be a Glasgow tour following the SAFHS conference, beginning April 25th, as the day of arrival. If you wish to attend the SAFHS conference ahead of Glasgow research, you can arrive in Dundee on Friday the 23rd and stay in Dundee at the Best Western. You can then head to Glasgow on the Sunday. Train travel from Dundee to Glasgow is not included in the fees.

The Glasgow tour will run from April 25th until May 1st. Research will take place at the Mitchell Library and at both the Lanarkshire FHS and the Glasgow and West of Scotland FHS.

The registration for the 2021 tours is slightly different given that there are options not normally included, namely the opportunity to attend the SAFHS conference. You will notice that rather than just paying your deposit, you will need to fill out a form. This will help ME in keeping track of who is going where. When you click on the registration button, you will be taken to the Scottish ViC site to fill out the registration form and pay the deposit.

For more information and to register:


Friday, 14 February 2020

North Lanarkshire Poor Law Records Added to Ancestry

In August 2019 many - but by no means all - of North Lanarkshire’s Poor Law records were made available in digitised form on This article provides an overview of which records you will be able to find and how you can use them for your family history research.  You can read an extended version of this article on:

What are Poor Law records?
Poor Law records are records which were created under the Poor Law (Scotland) Act 1845 which established a secular system of distributing poor relief.  The main records of interest to family history researchers are those kept by the official appointed in each parish to investigate cases of poverty and to pay out relief, the Inspector of Poor.  These are the Registers of Poor and the Record of Applications for Relief.
North Lanarkshire Archives’ Poor Law records originate from civil parishes which existed within the former County of Lanark between 1845 and 1930.  On Ancestry you will find the digitised registers of the following parishes: Bothwell, Cambusnethan (Wishaw area), Dalziel (Motherwell area) and Shotts.

Why are these records of interest to family history researchers?
As the application and registration system involved a type of means testing which required detailed information about the person applying for relief and about their family, the resulting records can contain details of your ancestor you would not find together on one page anywhere else.  Poor Law records therefore can help take your research further at any stage of your family history journey.


Registers of Poor / later General Registers of Poor
Initially, each parish maintained a Register of Poor (General Register of Poor from 1865).  In this example from a General Register of Poor from Dalziel Parish (below) you can see why these are such a fascinating resource.  The example regards Mary Doyle or Slamin who first applied for poor relief when her husband was ill and then stayed in the system for several years after he passed away.  The document shows at the top her circumstances at the time of her acceptance into the system and in the bottom part what happened to her and her children while she received money from the parish.

Registers of Poor/General Registers of Poor digitised:
CO1/23 Bothwell Parish
Bothwell Parish Council. Register of poorhouse inmates. 1905 – 1909
Bothwell Parish Council. Children's separate register. 1909-1915
Bothwell Parish Council. Register of guardians. 1909-1915
Bothwell Parish Council. Register of other parish poor. 1912-1914
Bothwell Parish Council. General Register of Poor. 1894-1915
Bothwell Parochial Board. General Register of Poor. 1862-1888
Bothwell Parochial Board. Account, charge and discharge, and list of registered poor. 1892-1896
CO1/26 Cambusnethan Parish
Cambusnethan Parochial Board. Register of Poor. 1863 - 1864
Cambusnethan Parish Council. Register of other parish poor. 1885 - 1915
CO1/37 Dalziel Parish
Dalziel Parish Council. Registered poor pay roll. 1893-1912
Dalziel Parish Council. General Register of Poor. 1883-1892 and 1900-1916
CO1/54 Shotts Parish
Shotts Parochial Board. Register of Poor. 1846-1865 and 1871-1879
Shotts Parish Council. General Registers of Poor. 1870-1911

Applications for Relief
Application Registers contain more entries per year than the Registers of Poor as multiple applications from individual paupers are recorded as well as details of the so called 'casual poor', i.e. persons who received a one-off payment from the inspector without a decision by the board and therefore were not recorded on the poor roll.
The applications for poor relief recorded the main information the Inspector of Poor required to make a decision on the applicant.  These included:
·       Age
·       Religion (Prot. – R.C.)
·       Occupation
·       Average Value of Earnings per week
·       Names of Dependants and Children living with Applicant, and Ages and Earnings
·       Names of Children not living with Applicant (Ages – Residences – and Earnings)
·       Country of Birth (English, Irish, Foreign – or Parish if Scotland)
·       Condition (Married – Single – Widow – Widower – Orphan – Deserted – Separated)
·       Cause of Disablement, whether Wholly or Partially
·       Wholly or Partially Destitute
·       Name of Parents and circumstances if alive
·       Length of Residence in present House and of previous Residences (Settlement – Parishes claimed against &c.)

Application registers digitised:
CO1/23 Bothwell Parish
Bothwell index to registers of applications. 1900-1914
CO1/26 Cambusnethan Parish
Cambusnethan applications for relief. 1855-1916
CO1/37 Dalziel Parish
Dalziel application registers. 1865-1875 and 1877-1917

Poorhouse records
Only one item specifically dealing with poorhouse residents has been digitised which is the New Monkland Parish Poorhouse register of inmates, 1849 – 1862 (CO1/50/24).
There were several other poorhouses in North Lanarkshire whose specific registers have not survived.  However, you may find that your ancestor was sent to the poorhouse (indoor relief), rather than receiving outdoor relief, from their entries in the Application Registers and General Registers of Poor.

(with thanks to NL Archivist Wiebke McGhee)

Please contact if you have any questions about the above and if you are interested in records which have not been digitised.