Sunday, 26 June 2011

Beware the "Ear of the Hearer"

When researching Scottish Records, it is important to remember that the heavy Scottish brogue can add a twist to some words making your research a bit more challenging. When the census taker arrived at the door, he was likely the school master and, being literate, was given the task of asking questions of the locals in the village where he worked. It is also likely that the census taker was not raised in the local village, more likely having come from a larger city or burgh. So, his accent would be quite different to that of the locals. And his ear would be trained to hear things differently than the way the locals spoke. For example, I had a terrible time trying to find the marriage record of my great great grandfather, Henry Fowler. I tried every parish surrounding where I knew him to be. I tried a few years either side of the marriage year. Then I tried the "wildcard"  I used F*ler. This time I found him! He was listed as Henry FULLER. Once I saw the name, it made perfect sense. I could literally see him standing at the door and the census taker asking, "Surname?" and my great great grandpa answering "Foolur". The "oo" being the brogue when he was enunciating Fowler. And the census taker mistakenly thinking he had said that his surname was FULLER.

For more on using wildcards on Scotland's People, visit their website at:

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