Monday 31 December 2012

Scottish Graveyards Project

If you are looking for links to graveyards in Scotland, this website might be of  help to you:

I Can't Find My Immigrant Ancestor

Finding our ancestors who left Scotland and emigrated to Canada, America, India, South Africa, New Zealand or Australia can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. FindMyPast has a database of those leaving the UK.

 They have now extracted those records and placed them on a separate website, Ancestors On Board. Also in this database are businessmen or diplomats who may have traveled regularly between the UK and other points in the Commonwealth.

Although stand-alone, the website links you back to FindMyPast UK to view the image of the ships passenger list. This is a pay-per-view site and each image is 5 credits to view.

Friday 28 December 2012

Fife Headstone Transcriptions Added to Deceased Online

Deceased Online has added headstone inscriptions for 18 cemeteries in Fife dating back to 1753. These include:

  • Auchterderran Churchyard and Bowhill Cemetery, Fife
  • Ballingry Churchyard and Cemetery, Fife
  • Beath New Cemetery, Fife
  • Beath Old Cemetery, Fife
  • Burntisland Cemetery, Fife
  • Burntisland Churchyards of Kirkton and St Columbas, Fife
  • Crombie Churchyard, Fife
  • Culross Churchyard, Fife
  • Culross West Kirk and Culross Abbey, Fife
  • Cupar Churchyard and St James Cemetery, Fife
  • Douglas Bank Cemetery, Fife
  • Ferryport On Craig Cemetery, Fife
  • Forgan Churchyard, Fife

Wednesday 19 December 2012

FindMyPast Has a Christmas Gift for You

As a promotion, is giving out 50 free pay-as-you-go credits. This free offer runs from December 26th until Janury 2nd. To activate, click the button that says "claim your credits now" and then use the code: SNOWFLAKE. It's as simple as that.

Happy Hunting

Sunday 16 December 2012

Deceased Online Adds Headstone Collection for Angus and Dundee

Deceased Online has also a new range of Headstone Collections, including 31 burial sites in the Angus region and another 6 cemeteries in Dundee City. You can search under the 'headstone collections' option.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Giving the Gift of Memories

I remember as a teen, my "aunt" opening up a gift on Christmas. It was a china mug and her response was "just what I need - another dust collector" While her comment seemed callous at the time, I soon came to realize that after a certain age, gifts become less meaningful.

There comes a time when we all realize that after we are gone, the only thing that will remain are the memories that we have created and with that in mind, I always strive to give meaningful gifts to my elderly aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. Everyone looks forward to the annual heritage calendars. Other gifts that have been meaningful have included heritage scrapbooks, family recipe books (along with memories about the items contained within), or DVDs of old photos or home movies.

It can even be as simple as an old, treasured photograph, scrapbooked in a frame that creates the warmth and wonder of the memories associated with it.

Give some thought to the elder people (or the genealogy-minded) in your family or friendship circles and help to re-create fond memories for them this holiday season.

Friday 7 December 2012

Deceased Online Adds Ayrshire Records

From their announcement:

Scottish transcriptions collection increases to 16 Ayrshire burial sites
•Deceased Online continues to grow its collection of Scottish memorial inscriptions (SMIs) with the addition of thousands of records in 14 cemeteries, burial grounds and churchyards in Ayrshire
•There are now 16 burial sites with SMIs, dating back to 1611, in the registration county of Ayrshire (comprising East, North and South Ayrshire councils) and these are listed here
•In total, there are now SMIs from over 200 cemeteries, burial grounds and churchyards across Scotland
•SMI data includes photographs of memorials and headstones as well as their carefully transcribed inscriptions

Thursday 6 December 2012

Scottish Handwriting

Michael J Leclerc of Movaco's blog has written a great post on Scottish Handwriting. So good, in fact, I wanted to share:

Give the Gift of Heritage

If you are looking for a special gift for your genealogy sleuth this Christmas, why not give them the gift of connecting with their ancestral heritage. Take them to Scotland. Allow them time in the archives to research their roots. Tour their villages, town, graveyards. Learn the history and culture. Create a memory of a lifetime. Help your genealogist search their roots and discover their heritage.
Non-genealogy partners travel for half price.

Give the Gift of Heritage

If you are looking for a special gift for your genealogy sleuth this Christmas, why not give them the gift of connecting with their ancestral heritage. Take them to Scotland. Allow them time in the archives to research their roots. Tour their villages, town, graveyards. Learn the history and culture. Create a memory of a lifetime. Help your genealogist search their roots and discover their heritage.
Non-genealogy partners travel for half price.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Do You Have Covenanter Ancestors?

From the National Library of ScotlandBlog: 

“During the seventeenth century, the Scottish Covenanters were fighting for their religious freedoms against the King in London. Many were martyred for their cause and monuments to those who died can be found in many areas of Scotland.  

If you are looking for specific Covenanting ancestors, the ‘Scottish Covenanter Genealogical Index’ by Isabelle McCall MacLean (2007) may be of interest. There is also the ‘Register of the Rev. John MacMillan: Being a Record of Marriages and Baptisms Solemnised by him among the Cameronian Societies’, edited by Rev. Henry Paton (1908). This latter title is a record of the marriages and baptisms of Covenanters during the period 1706-1751.”



Monday 3 December 2012

Genealogy Tours of Scotland Newsletter Now Available

The December issue of the Newsletter is now available.

In this issue:

  • Only 4 spots left for 2013
  • Highlights from 2012
  • Ancestral Tourism - preparing for a genealogy holiday
  • Travels of a Taphophile
  • Part of Edinburgh Castle belongs to Nova Scotia

Genealogy Tours of Scotland Newsletter Dec 2012

New Record Sets Added to

The new records are for families connected with the Isles of Harris, Berneray and St Kilda. 

From the announcement: 

The database also allows access to two further unique features - family
notes and family sheets. These take the researcher beyond research
into individual persons to research into whole families. The family
notes give a summary of the family history. They are based on the 1851
census as a datum-line, working back as far as possible – usually to
the generation born in about 1750/60, and forward as far as 1920. The
family sheets are hand-written work-sheets, compiled by Bill Lawson for
each family, showing the lines of descent in the male line, together
with cross referencing of the female line to their spouses’ family
sheets. There is also a gazetteer available, with a summarised history
of each township for those less familiar with Harris.” 

This is a pay-per-view site where you purchase and then redeem credits to view the documents.

Sunday 2 December 2012


Spaces are booking up quickly. If you are considering joining the 2013 tour, please reserve your spot soon before the spaces are all filled. The next tour will not take place until 2014.

Travel to Scotland, spend time in the archives and get access to records not available online. Days of research will take place at Scotland's People Centre (you can also book time at the National Archives), the Scottish Genealogy Society and the National Library. There will also be the opportunity for you to visit the local genealogy society in the area where your ancestors lived. Daily fees for these research days are included in the tour fees.  

A Sample Itinerary for the tour includes: 

Day 1: The tour begins today. Today is a bank holiday. Banks, post offices and other government buildings will be closed. The afternoon will be free time to enjoy the city, take a city tour, or to rest after the long flight and 5 hour time change.   

Day 2: Following breakfast, we will be taken to Scotland’s People Centre. Here we will enjoy a Family History Event, which is not only an introduction to the facility but a workshop on Scottish Research as well. Coffee and tea will be provided during this event, which will run the entire morning. You are free to research all afternoon.  

Day 3: Following breakfast, we will return to Scotlands People Centre for a full day of research.   

Day 4:  Following breakfast, we will head to the Scottish Genealogy Society. Here, we will take part in a Family History event to learn about moving forward in our Scottish research. 

Day 5:  Following breakfast, we will be taken to the National Library. Here we will be shown a presentation on what the Library has to offer then given a quick tour. You will require a temporary library card in order to research here.  

The weekend is open for anyone wishing to travel or sightsee.   

Day 8: Arrangements can be made for you to attend the genealogy society in the area where your ancestors lived to provide you with the social history details you won't necessarily get elsewhere. If this is at a distance, you might want to also spend the weekend in the area to gain a better sense of who your ancestors were and then attend the local genealogy society on the Monday prior to your return to Edinburgh.   

Day 9:  Following breakfast, we will return to Scotlands People Centre for a full day of research. The evening will be spent at the Taste of Scotland Show.
Day 10: Following breakfast, we will check out of the hotel so you can transfer back to Glasgow airport.  

What better way to truly understand your ancestors than to visit their homeland? Walk where your ancestors walked. Visit the churches they attended. Pay tribute to them at their grave.


Scots In Jamaica

If you have Scottish Ancestors who emigrated to Jamaica, you will be interested in this book by David Dobson. Jamaica was a place where Covenanters and Jacobites were once banished to. In the late 1700s as part of the Clearances, highlanders began emigrating, especially those from Argyll. Jamaica was seen as a land of opportunity for merchants, physicians and clergy.

The book includes a number of resources to use in your search for your Scots-Jamaican ancestors as well as ships lists for those who were transported or who emigrated to Jamaica.

The book sells for about $20 and is available through your local bookstore, or through Amazon.

Saturday 24 November 2012

13 Scottish Cemeteries Added to Deceased Online

Deceased Online has added 13 cemeteries and burial grounds from Scotland 

These include:  

  • Churchyard and Cemetery, West Lothian (1662)
  • Adambrae Cemetery, West Lothian (1932)
  • New Calton Burial Ground, Edinburgh (1746)
  • Invergarry Cemetery, Highlands (1957)
  • Cromdale and Advie, Morayshire (1768)
  • Old Monklands Cemetery (1632)
  • Biggar Churchyard and Cemetery, South Lanarkshire (1700)
  • Larkhall, South Lanarkshire (1900)
  • Lesmahagow Churchyard, South Lanarkshire (1622)
  • Stonehouse Churchyard, South Lanarkshire (1651)
  • Stonehouse Old and New Cemeteries, South Lanarkshire (1876)
  • Strathaven Cemetery, South Lanarkshire (1676)
  • St Mary's Churchyard, Dunblane, Stirling (1833)
  • Abercorn Churchyard and Cemetery, West Lothian (1662)
  • Adambrae Cemetery, West Lothian (1932)
The date in brackets is the earliest readable year for that particular cemetery. Have a look and see what ancestors you can uncover:


Wednesday 21 November 2012

Historic Hospitals Admission Records Project

This website provides access to 120,000 admission records to four children’s hospitals. Although three of the hospitals are in London, the database also contains records from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. 

Records are fully searchable and free to access. However, many of the details are limited to registered users of the site only. Registration is free. Once your registration is confirmed, you can search by any number of fields. Information provided for each record includes: date of admission, name, disease, registration district (if known), length of stay, year of birth, age at admission, normal residence (if known), admitting physician, what child was admitted for, disease group, outcome of the disease (cured, well, not relieved, dead), date of discharge as well religion, name of parent and occupation of parent if these were known. 

The website also contains historical information on the hospital itself, as well as a small biography on each of the primary doctors and nurses. There is a gallery with some photographs but none appear labelled.  

Well worth a look.



Saturday 17 November 2012

BIFHSGO Call for Papers - Conference 2013

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) is seeking proposals for presentations at its 19th annual conference, September 20-22, 2013 to be held in Ottawa at Library and Archives Canada. The focus for 2013 year will be on Ireland. Proposals for other presentations besides those on Ireland are also invited as well as proposals for pre-conference workshops or seminars on Friday, September 20, 2013. Details on writing the proposals can be found at under the Conference heading. Please send your proposals to before January 31, 2013.

Friday 16 November 2012

Upcoming Scottish Genealogy Events

If you are in the Hamilton ON area, the Hamilton Branch of the OGS will be holding their WISE group meeting (Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English) onWednesday, November 21 at 7 pm at the Public Library, Main branch.

If you are in Simcoe County, the Simcoe County OGS branch will be hosting James Thomson on Saturday December 1 to talk about the British Resources available through the Toronto FHC. The meeting takes place from 2 - 4 pm at the LDS church in  Barrie. 
For more info:
If you are in the Montreal area, QFHS is having a "Genealogical Day in Scotland" event on Saturday December 1 from 10 - 3 pm at their History Centre and Library. For  more info:

Wednesday 7 November 2012

FindMyPast Adds Newspapers

FindMyPast has added British Newspapers (1710-1950) to it's extensive database collection. The images are 5 credits to view if you do not have a subscription. I was able to get the article relating the the mining accident that killed my 3X great grandfather and his only son, aged 18. The images can be saved to your computer in PDF format.

Here's the link:

Monday 5 November 2012

Interim Report from IIJG on Scottish Jewry

The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem has published an interim report of its research into the demographic and genealogical profile of Scottish Jewry.

From the website:  

“One extraordinary aspect to emerge is extremely high turn-over of Jews in Scotland throughout the 19th century – in any given decade a majority of the Jews in the country moved on elsewhere, either within the UK or to foreign parts, only to be replaced by gradually increasing numbers of new immigrants.”
Here's the link to the report:



Forces War Records Launches Online Digital Library

Forces War Records announces launch of online digital library of books, newspapers and magazines, some more than a hundred years old. 

“The library holds a huge catalogue of interesting documents, many of which chronicle the movements of regiments, ships and other units during the world wars and beyond”.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Planning a Genealogy Holiday

Genealogy vacations are on the rise. People are “heading home” in an effort to discover their heritage. This will have a positive impact on the economy of countries such as Scotland where the history and heritage are rich and where the repositories provide priceless treasures of their own.

Traveling to the home of your ancestors takes planning. It is not enough to show up in the village, head to the local pub and start asking questions. You need to do some research ahead of time. 

  • Learn about what repositories are available, what archival materials they hold, who can access them and what is required to access them (do you need a “readers ticket” or special card? Do you need photo i.d? Do you need to provide passport photos so an i.d. card can be created for you?) 
  • Learn the hours that the repositories are open, whether an appointment or booking time is required and whether there are fees involved. 
  • Many archival institutions have their holdings off-site and so it is important that you know this and order ahead so that your time can be well spent and disappointment minimalized.
  • Read up on whether you are allowed to photograph the images, scan the images, download or copy the images.
  • Take your laptop or tablet as well as a USB stick. 
For anyone traveling to an archival repository, the most important part of their research experience is not just the interaction with the archival documents, but their interaction with the Archivists themselves. The Archivists provide the road map to the archives and the records contained within. It is the Archivist who helps the researcher truly understand the information that can be gleaned from the records. The Archivist can put the documents into perspective. The Archivist can help the researcher know where to look next. And it is the Archivist’s enthusiasm and passion for what they do that puts the passion and enthusiasm into the researcher himself. It sparks the learning, and quells the yearning.

Genealogy Tours of Scotland, takes groups to Scotland every spring to research in the repositories in Edinburgh, including the Scotland’s People Centre, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Genealogy Society. Arrangements can also be made for you to visit the family history society in your ancestral part of Scotland. More information can be found at

A trip to your ancestral homeland is both awe-inspiring and humbling. It provides you with such a deep seated feeling of reverence knowing you stand in the same place where your ancestors walked. The sights, some of the landmarks and the sounds may have changed, but the deep emotion of knowing your great, great anything once stood in the same spot you are now standing in, or worshipped in the same church you are visiting is incomparable. It helps you put the dates, names and places into perspective. It breathes life into the documents. Take the time to plan your trip and you will not be disappointed.

Scottish Witches Database

Thanks to Chris Halliday at Scotlands Genealogy (  for this one:

Database of Scottish Witches:

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Theatre Ancestors?

If you have ancestors who worked in the theatre, you may find this  database from the National Library of Scotland of  interest:

The database contains an extensive collection of programmes, playbills and posters.

The Empress Of Ireland

The RMS Empress of Ireland was commissioned by CP Steamships to undertake the cross Atlantic voyage, moving passengers between Great Britain (Liverpool, England) and Quebec City in Canada.  The Empress of Ireland was built in Glasgow by the Fairfield Shipbuilding Company (Govan) and was first launched in 1906. Information about The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company archives can be found on the National Archives website:

The Empress of Ireland was one of several ships of its time moving immigrants from the British Isles to their newly anticipated lives in Canada. They also took many of those same immigrants back home to conduct business or visit family left behind. These large ocean liners allowed the less affluent to travel abroad at reasonable cost.  

Between the time of its launch in 1906 and the fateful sinking on May 29th1914, The Empress of Ireland had completed 95 round trips crossing from Liverpool to Quebec City (or on occasion Halifax).  On May 29th, 1914, her first run of the season, and her 96th voyage overall, The Empress of Ireland left the port of Old Quebec and sailed along the St. Lawrence on her way out to sea. It was 2 a.m. on a calm, somewhat foggy night. The pilot ship had just left the larger vessel, which was still fairly close to shore. Captain Henry Kendall was aware of another ship plying the same river, but in his estimation, the other ship was several miles away. What happened next is up for speculation, depending on whether the information is relayed by CP Steamships or the Norwegian Company, but in fairly short order, the two vessels collided, with the SS Storstad, a coal-bearing cargo ship ramming the Empress of Ireland mid-ship and causing the passenger ship to break apart, take on water and within 14 minutes, sink to the bottom of the river. 1,012 lives were lost that fateful night: 840 passengers and 172 crew members. This makes the sinking of the Empress of Ireland the worst marine disaster in Canada 

The wreck of the passenger ship lies in 40 metres of water. The artefacts that were recovered by the dive team hired by CP Steamships are now to be brought back to Canadaand housed at the Museum of Civilization in Hull.

There was a Marine Court of Inquiry launched into the accident and some of the transcripts from that inquiry can be found at: 

There were 64 witnesses called at this inquiry. The blame was placed with the Storstad. The results of the inquiry, presided over by British Admiralty Judge, Lord Mersey were that the Court ordered the Norwegian Company to pay Canadian Pacific's damage claims.  

Memorials for lost lives have been erected in Rimouskiwhere many of the victims were buried, as well as in Toronto. 

If your ancestor was one of the passengers who lost their life that fateful night, the following websites may be of interest to you: 

Crew List for Empress of Ireland


Monday 29 October 2012

Book Review

Susan Davis, Communications Director of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa(BIFHSGO) has graciously prepared a review of my new book:

Woodcock, Christine. In Search of Your Scottish Ancestors: Search Your Roots; Discover Your Heritage, Ontario. 2012. 56 pp. ISBN 978-0-9917500-0-9 Paperbound.
When Christine Woodcock told me she was publishing a book on researching in Scotland, I immediately wanted a copy. Still feeling a bit timid about crossing the pond to look for my Angus, Glendinning and Bell ancestors in Scotland, this how-to book is a welcome addition to my bookshelf. 

Packed with useful information, it is organized into a series of chapters that takes you from starting your search to providing advice on ancestral tourism. Written in an informative but friendly manner, the book is based on Christine’s first-hand experience as a researcher and educator. Each year, Scottish-born Christine, leads a group of family history researchers on Genealogy Tours of Scotland. 

In her chapter, Important Things to Remember, Christine reminds us to Beware the Ear of the “Hearer” and shares her challenge of getting past the heavy Scottish brogue to find her gggrandfather Henry Fowler. After years of research and a new strategy, she finds him 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 “Fooluhr.”” 

Christine gets you thinking about cluster genealogy research and your ancestors’ social circles in her chapter Who are the People in the Neighbourhood? One of the research examples she shares is her
ancestors and their neighbours who were miners working for the same coal company and living in company housing. Deep family connections were made when three of 10 Crawford children married three of 11 Fowler children. She also devotes a chapter to the Selkirk settlers. 

Very familiar with the various Scottish records, Christine provides insight into how to access the various records online with an extensive list of lesser known online databases and a handy list of the local resources provide by Scottish family history societies. She provides a primer on using ScotlandsPeople.
Printed in a booklet format, In Search of Your Scottish Ancestors is easy—to read, understand and put to use. It is also a convenient size to carry about. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to do some research on Mary Ann Angus, my gggrandmother who left Aberdeen as a teenager in the 1860s to settle in Canada with her family.
For more information about Christine, her book and her tours, visit her website:


Thursday 25 October 2012

To Be or Not to Be – Clan Gathering 2014

The story about whether or not there will be a clan gathering in 2014 has played out with all of the drama of a soap opera with changes being made daily over the past week.  

2009 was the first Homecoming and such a rousing success that Tourism Scotland has decided to do it all again in 2014. The year 2014 has been and will continue to be designated as Homecoming.  

But the challenges have begun. Homecoming 2009 was held in Edinburgh. A city well versed in hosting the masses. The basic infrastructure is already in place. The city knows how to deal with medical emergencies.  Security and safety responses can be put into place. Transportation is already in place. To host the various clans planning to attend the Homecoming, Tent cities were erected. Hotels were prepared for a brisk business. The event was well planned for, well managed and ended as a resounding success.  

Fast forward. The new venue is to be Stirling. A city with a population 1/5th the size of Edinburgh. A quite sleepy little city with lots of history, lots of scenery and a fraction of the tourists. The event was slotted to happen at the same time as the Stirling Highland games in July. Shortly after the announcement was made, calls started flooding in from the clans wanting to know about tent rentals. No doubt, panic set in and plans were suddenly in need of reconsideration. Back to the planning table. An announcement about scrapping the idea of the Gathering happening in Stirling, and reported on in the Scotsman.  

But millions of £s in tourism were at risk. As well as Scotland’s reputation. So, the idea of locating the tented city to Bannockburn in June seemed to make more sense. A decision was made to have the clans arrive close to the time of the celebrations for the 700th anniversary of the famed Battle of Bannockburn. The National Trust took over planning details. All seemed well.  

Then, Stone Mountain 2012, the largest Highland Games takes place in the USand confusion erupts. Here are two articles that ran almost simultaneously, the first on Oct 20th announces the move to Bannockburn. The second on Oct 21stannounces the Chiefs’ dismay that the entire idea of a clan gathering has been put on ice.

Somewhere along the way, someone realizes the tight timelines involved in getting the whole thing off the ground and mentions that 2015 might be a better choice. And the press has a hay day. Of course, Tourism Scotland has designated 2014 and if there is to be a Clan Gathering, it will coincide with the other events planned throughout 2014, the Year of Homecoming II. So in an attempt to quell the rumours and settle the nerves, this announcement came out yesterday:

Of course, this one needs to be read with a grain of salt since it is from the same source who reported on Sunday that the whole thing was off and perhaps postponed to 2015.  

Unfortunately, the Irish are putting the Scots to shame in that their celebrations for Homecoming 2013 are well organized and well underway, also putting them on target to be well attended. If the Scots don’t get their act together shortly, they may well miss out on millions in tourism revenues.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Discover Your Scottish Roots Talk

For those of you in the Kitchener area, I will be a speaker at the Second Annual Genealogy Fair on November 3 at Kitchener City Hall. I will be speaking on Researching Scottish Ancestry and will have copies of my new book, In Search of Your Scottish Roots available for sale that day.

The Genealogy Fair is a great event and is free. Other topics for the day include:

Deciphering German Script
Care of Genealogy Documents
Census Surfing
Researching UEL
Using Archives Online
Genealogical Research in Ireland
Researching Czech Parish Registers

The Keynote address will be given by Kevin James, Professor of History, Centre for Scottish Studies, University of Guelph.

There will also be a Marketplace.

This really is a great day. I hope to see you there. If you get the chance to attend, be sure to say hello!

Tuesday 16 October 2012

In Search of Your Scottish Ancestors

I have just finished a new book, In Search of Your Scottish Ancestors. Filled with information to assist you in your research, including lots of online resources to search.

Here is the Table of Contents:
  • Starting Your Search                                                             
  • Scottish Marriages                                                          
  • Scottish Naming Pattern                                                     
  • Important Things to Consider                                            
  • Cluster Genealogy  
  • Lord Selkirk Settlers  
  • Online Sources for Selkirk Genealogy  
  • Scottish Clans
  • Connecting With Others  
  • Online Resources  
  • Local Resources  
  • Not Everything is Online  
  • Ancestral Tourism
    Preparing for a Genealogy Research Trip 

The book sells for $7 (plus shipping) and can be purchased on the website's home page at