Tuesday 30 August 2011

Descended from the Isle of Lewis?

While Lewis is NOT on the tour, this wonderful slideshow from RampantScotland shows the magnificent scenery and rich history of this Outer Hebridean Island:

Descended from the Isle of Lewis?

Enjoy this brilliant slide show from RampantScotland:

Free Access to Immigration Records from Ancestry

Ancestry is providing free access to some of their immigration records this week (August 29 - Sept 5). While you do not need to have a subscription, you will need an account (Username and Password) which you can create on the Ancestry site.

Happy Searching!

Monday 29 August 2011

Aberdeen Ancestors?

If you had ancestors from Aberdeen who died of smallpox, you may want to have a look at the list of patients from the Smallpox Hospital at Mounthooly:

Happy reading researching!

Lanarkshire Cess Book Records Now Online in Digital Format

The Cess records are the land tax records of the Commissioners of Supply for Lanarkshire. The Commissioners of supply were the pre-runner to the County Council. You can search by specific location within Lanarkshire. Some interesting reading.

Happy reading researching!

Friday 26 August 2011

Free Access to Swedish Records August 27 & 28

Sharing a post from the Borders Family History Society which will be of interest to those Scots who have managed to trace a link back to Swedish ancestors:

Free Access to Swedish Records for this weekend only - August 27 & 28.

Happy Searching!

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Perth Records Coming Soon to Ancestry UK

Chris Paton has shared that Ancestry will soon have Valuation Registers and Tax and Rent Records for Perth available. Click on the link to read Chris' post:

A Piece of Scottish Military Trivia

A piece of Scottish Military Trivia from the Scottish Military Research Group - the Barracks where Gadaffi lives were once home to the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders. Check out the Scottish Military Research Group's blog to learn more:

Saturday 20 August 2011

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Sunday 14 August 2011

Wondering What Uncle James Died From?

Death registers can be a treasure trove of information. Having been raised by a nurse, I am always fascinated by the terms  used for cause of death. It helps me brush up on my Latin (does anyone even speak that anymore?) I have a great great uncle who died of Phthisis. This one stumped me.

I recently came across this website for Archaic Medical Terms. I learned that Phthisis is actually a fancy name for Tuberculosis! Here are the definitions from the website:

  • Pulmonary consumption. It is known by emaciation, debility, cough, hectic fever, and purulent expectoration. [Hooper1843]

  • Consumption; pulmonary consumption, or decline; emaciation of the body, and debility, attended with a cough, hectic fever, and generally purulent expectoration. It is also termed marasmus, tabes pulmonalis, etc. [Hoblyn1855]

  • In a general sense, progressive emaciation. It is usually, however, restricted to phthisis pulmonalis. [Dunglison1874]

  • Pulmonary consumption, characterized by emaciation, debility, cough, hectic fever, and purulent expectoration. [Thomas1875]

  • Wasting of the frame. [Cleaveland1886]

  • A term formerly applied (like Consumption ) to the disease of the lung now known as Tuberculosis. [Britannica1911]

  • A wasting or consumption of the tissues. The term was formerly applied to many wasting diseases, but is now usually restricted to pulmonary phthisis, or Consumption. [Webster1913]

  • Pulmonary Tuberculosis. Involving the lungs with progressive wasting of the body. [Wordnet]

  • Phthisis is an archaic name for tuberculosis. [Medicinenet]

Not particuarly surprising then that James died of TB given the time frame we are looking at. The hunt for his cause of death was a little bit of a let down, but the find of the website made up for it! Here's the link so you can have a look at what ailed your ancestor:

Happy Hunting!

Thursday 11 August 2011

AddressingHistory - A New Website for those with Ancestors in Edinburgh

AddressingHistory is a new website for anyone with ancestors from Edinburgh.   AddressingHistory is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and the National Library of Scotland. It provides full access to three city post office directories and overlays the information on historic and modern maps of the city. This is cutting-edge genealogy.

The British Newspaper Archive

Launching in the fall, the British Newspaper Archive will make millions of pages of historical newspapers available online for the first time – unlocking a wealth of material for genealogists.

The website is still in production, but examples are available at:

When the website launches, there will be over one million pages of newspapers from the pre- 1900 era available. Over the next two years, there will be 4 million pages and within the 10 year time-frame allocated for the digitization project, there will be over 40 million pages added.

For all of us looking for those missing bits of information to add to the social history of our ancestors, this new website will be a virtual treasure trove.

Ancestors from Aberdeen?

Aberdeen City and Shire have launched a website which they describe as: "'the online presence of the Aberdeen and North East Scotland Ancestral Resources Partnership, an affiliation of regional archives, registrars, family history societies and other organisations that hold and promote genealogical resources to visitors both at home and abroad".

If you have ancestors from the Aberdeen area, have a look at the website and see what you can find.

As always, happy searching!

Tuesday 9 August 2011

World War 1 Pension Appeals

Chris Paton has a wonderful "guest post" on his blog Scottish GENES regarding pension appeals for WW1 soldiers who were disabled or killed (in this case the next of kin could make the application on behalf of the "estate"). Apparently very few of the applicants were actually granted money but there seems to be a wealth of information in the application records themselves. Well worth a look at Chris' guest post. A fascinating piece of historic information that few seem to be aware of (well, until Chris' post that is!)

Happy Searching!

On This Day in Scottish History

August 9th 1757 was the birthdate of engineer Thomas Telford. Telford was the mastermind behind the Caledonian Canal - a canal system that connected the North East and North West,  from Inverness (east) running southwest to Fort William (west). This canal opened up the highlands to commerce following the depression created by the Highland Clearances. The canal is 62 miles long and has 29 locks. It is built along a natural fault line known as the Great Glen. The Great Glen houses several lochs and the Caledonian Canal with its lock system helped to join these waterways together.

Telford was also the mastermind behind much of the Highland road system which opened even more of the highlands to consumers once land vehicles became a more prevalent means of transportation.

Pay Attention to Witnesses and Informants

Often, on the records, the people listed as "witnesses" to a wedding or "informants" of the information (births, deaths) are close family members. Pay attention to these people. Search them out. Knowing more about them will help you to know more about your ancestors.
For example, my great grandmother's wedding registration lists her sister, Janet, as a witness. This particular sister was one of three sisters that my great grandmother had. But she was the oldest sister and the eldest child. My great grandmother was next in line. These two would have taken on a great deal of household management together as their sibling population grew. This helped them to forge a strong bond. The bond in fact was so strong that when my grandmother had her 8th child and was living next to her mother in law, my great granny suggested that the child be named after Janet's husband as a way to honour his role and position in the family. Thus, my uncle was named William Lorimer Colquhon Crawford.
It was also learned that when my grandfather's first wife, Sarah, died in childbirth, the baby that survived was raised by my great granny's sister, Janet. My great granny took over care of the eldest 5 children, but the baby was placed in the care of her favourite sister. The two women lived close to one another and so the sibling group was essentially kept intact. Naming my uncle after this sister's husband was also a way of saying "thank you" for this couple stepping up and caring for my grandfather's baby after his first wife had died suddenly. Janet was in no way obligated to care for Sarah's child. She would have been assisting with her own grandchildren. But as a favour to my great grandmother she opened up her heart and her home and took the baby in.
So, pay attention to the seemingly minor parties on certificates, so some sleuthing and you will be pleasantly surprised at the bonds and connections you find. This will help you to flesh out more intimate details about your ancestors and will add to your living history of them.

Saturday 6 August 2011

May 2012 Tour Booking NOW

With the popularity of the television show Who Do You Think You Are?, more people are showing an interest in finding their roots. I am a genealogist, living in Ontario, with an expert in Scottish genealogy research. I offer 10 day trips to Scotland to allow people to access the records directly.
Genealogy Tours of Scotland offers 10 day tours to Scotland so that you can do your family history research ON SITE. The tours allow time to research at Scotland’s People Centre, The Scottish Genealogy Society, The National Library and at the Mitchell Library.

For more information 
 e-mail me  

Wrong Information Given by Informants on Certificates

Although this happens take care not to discount the certificate because the informant
gave the wrong  information. I've had this happen as well, but taking into
account the circumstances, I could account for the informant's inaccuracies.
One the death certificate for my grandfather's first wife, he listed the
wrong name for her father. Harry would have been in desparate shock at
having lost his beloved wife and having a new baby to care for. His father
in law was deceased by this time so it would have been some time since Harry
had seen him and in that "caught off guard" moment, he wasn't thinking
clearly, so gave whatever name came to mind (it was actually the name of his
brother in law).
On another certificate, my uncle's wife was the informant. She gave the
wrong name for her mother in law. The two women had never met, the wife
being in California and the mother in law in Lanarkshire. My gt granny's
surname was "Mack". The wife must have thought that this was short for
something, so gave the name "MacDonald" Interestingly and perhaps unknown to
the wife, my uncle's first wife, whom he abandoned in Lanarkshire was a
Some day I will share this story, but to do so now is off topic. Having "dug
around" my brick wall came down on this one. He seems to have been a
bigamist, marrying in America without having divorced in Scotland and having
read the coroner's report, I am fairly confident that his accidental suicide
was indeed murder - by the new wife!
Anyway, long way around, but please take the misinformation of the
informants with a grain of salt. Do some sleuthing and you may uncover the
reasons for their error.

Scottish Resources

I recently had the great good fortune to attend a workshop on Scottish Genealogy. University of Guelph on Friday. The event was hosted by the Scottish Studies Foundation and the workshop leader was Dr Bruce Durie from Starthclyde University in Glasgow. Dr Durie runs a post graduate program of studies in genealogy at the university. His workshop was brilliant and there was so much to learn.
First off, there are so many new and exciting things coming soon to Scotland's People. While we are all eagerly awaiting the release of the 1911 census this coming Tuesday at 11 am, many more resources have been digitised and will be made available on the Scotland's People website in the next 12 - 18 months. These include:  Valuation Rolls and Kirk Session records.

I also learned of a website belonging to Scotland's People called Scotlandsplaces. This is a free resource and includes old maps, gazetteers. The trick here is to search by PLACE, not by person.

Other great sites to assist in our quest to hunt down our Scottish Ancestors are: (National Library of Scotland)

Happy Hunting!!

Funeral Home Records: often overlooked research resources

When you are looking for your ancestor, don’t stop at the Obit or the Monumental Inscription. Call or write to the Cemetery and ask who purchased the plot (or lair),  what address was given for the person who purchased the plot and whether any other family members are buried in the same plot. The Cemetery office will also tell you the names of any other people with the same surname who are buried at the cemetery. 
While you are at it, contact the funeral home listed in the Obit. Funeral homes keep detailed records about the individuals that they care for. This can be a valuable resource. The funeral home will have a copy of the “funeral card” or the card given to those who attend the service, a copy of the death record they issued for the family and information on the next of kin. If an autopsy was performed, the funeral home can supply you with the information for the name and address of the coroner as well, which will allow you to contact that resource for detailed information on the cause of death and the details surrounding the death.  The funeral home can also provide you with the name of the deceased’s family physician, the name of the insurance company, the name of the clergy that performed the service and oftimes they can also provide you with information about where to find a will for the deceased.

So, don’t be shy. Start writing letters requesting the information you are looking for on your ancestor which will provide you with the details you need to help  you “flesh out” who your ancestor really was. Always include the offer of paying for photocopying and mailing of the information (most of these resources will not charge for this information) and include an e-mail address so that if possible, the records can be scanned and sent to you electronically, or at the very least, any outstanding questions that the funeral home, cemetery or coroner may have can be clarified before they send out the final reports to you.
Happy searching!!

Thursday 4 August 2011

Were Your Ancestors in the Military?

Here's a great resource for those with ancestors in the Scottish Military. And the good news is that the scope is not limited to the two World Wars!

Happy Researching!

Do You Have Ancestors from East, West or Midlothian?

Here's a helpful resource for you which will help you get a better understanding of the area where your ancestors came from.

Happy Researching!

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

This is  a wonderful resource for anyone who has ancestors who died in either of the World Wars. The database is fully searchable and contains 1.7 million soldiers. There are photographs of the cemeteries and of the grave stones.
In addition, the website contains historical information about various wars, a list of casualties for each country, information sheets for various battles and so much more. The website is free and the CWGC is non-profit. Take a look and see what you can find about your military ancestor:

There is also a photographic project for the Commission:

"The Photographic Project (TWGPP) was started by a dedicated group of volunteers a few years ago. Recently, following discussion with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, (CWGC) the project has become a joint venture. Family Historians can now obtain a copy of the photograph of a grave or memorial which for many is impossible to visit due to its location. The intention of the TWGPP is not only to include images of official CWGC gravestones but also photographs of family graves which commemorate an individual. A surprising number of these have already been included. If you are able to provide a digital image of your family gravestone then details of contact addresses and advice on how to do so is available on the TWGPP website. This project has proved very popular and many individuals have been able to include graves from earlier conflicts that predate 1914. Should you have images from anywhere in the world where  military personnel were based then these should be submitted."
~by Barbara Parry, BRANTches August 2011

Monday 1 August 2011

Free Download of Resource Guide to Searching Your Ancestral Roots in Angus & Dundee

Tayroots Family History has a free Resource Guide to researching your Angus & Dundee roots which can be downloaded for free in PDF format. You can also sign up for a free e-newsletter to stay abreast of what is happening in their area. Once you do, you will be able to receive a free booklet, by mail, called "Researching Your Family History in Angus and Dundee"  This book will be mailed to you free of charge, regardless where you live in the world. Why not take advantage?

Here's the link to the website:

To sign up for the newsletter, and free booklet, and to download the resource guide, click on the Research Your Roots tab at the top of the page.

Happy Researching!