Friday 20 January 2012

The 1833 Death of Tom Williams, Edinburgh's Hangman

A great piece of social history from the National Library of Scotland on the death of Edinburgh's hangman, Tom Williams. Tom had been in the job for 12 years. His body is interred in Greyfriar's Church Yard cemetery.

Happy Reading!

Decesased Online Has Added Scottish Records

From GeneaPress comes news that Deceased Online has added records for Scottish Burial sites. The recent ones are mainly from the Highlands. Deceased Online's news on the addition states that there are 4500 photographs of headstones and over 12,500 monumental inscriptions from 15 cemeteries throughout the highlands. These records date back to the 1600s.

The transcriptions and photographs are from the following cemeteries:
  • Banchor, Newtonmore and Ballidbeg Churchyards, Inverness-shire
  • Cille Choirill Churchyard, Lagan, Fort William
  • Clachan Duich Burial Ground (Kilduich), Invershiel, Ross-shire
  • Glenelg Cemetery, Glenelg, Inverness-shire
  • Grantown Cemetery, Grantown-on-Spey , Morayshire
  • Kilcuimen Churchyard, Fort Augustus, Ross-shire
  • Kilmonivaig and Gairlochy Churchyard, Nr Spean Bridge, Ross-shire
  • Kingussie Churchyard and Burial Grounds, Kingussie, Inverness-shire
  • Kirton and Lochalsh Cemetery, Kyle
  • Plockton Churchyard, Plockton, Inverness-shire
  • Rothiemurchus St John's Churchyard, Aviemore, Inverness-shire
  • Tenandy Old Churchyard, Killiecrankie, Perthshire
Happy Searching!

Getting Ready for Your Research Trip to Scotland

Although May still seems like a long way off, it is not too early to start getting ready for your research time in Scotland. Now is the time to start deciding how you are going to spend your time in the research facilities.

Here are a few tips to get you better organized:
  1. Make sure that your Family Tree is up to date. If you can, make it portable. Have it on a laptop, iPad, tablet or smartphone so that you can access the information in Scotland. If you are not tech savvy, print off Family Group Sheets and write down what you are missing and hope to find when you are in Scotland.
  2. Make a list of all of the documents you already have copies or originals of. This will prevent you wasting time searching for information you already have. Remember, you will be able to see births newer than 100 years, marriage records newer than 75 years and death records newer than 50 years, so you will want to make a list of the more recent records you want to have a look at while you are in Edinburgh.
  3. Write out your brick walls and think about what you want to find out to help break those down. Do you need to look at parish records, voters rolls, apprentice records, maps, directories, newspapers? This will help to focus and guide your research time.
It is also not too early to make sure that your passport is valid and up to date. If you are traveling from Canada, the US, or Australia, you do NOT require a visa. Your passport is all that you will need and it must not expire before you return to your country of origin.

I am looking forward to our time together in Scotland.

1881 Scottish Census Now Available on FindMyPast

News from FindMyPast yesterday was the release of the 1881 Scottish Census. Thanks to Mick Southwick for the heads up on the release. Mick's blog post from Bi-Gen can be read here

Like the other Scottish census records on FindMyPast, this is a transcription. Also like the other there is a wealth of information in the transcriptions.

This is the "print view"

The census transcription can be viewed on a pay-per-view basis. Each view is 5 credits. 60 credits are good for 90 days at a cost of £6.95 ($11). 280 credits are good for a full year at a cost of £24.95 ($39)

Happy searching!

Thursday 12 January 2012

Korean War Casualties - British Soldiers

If you have a Scottish soldier who served and was injured in the Korean War, you can access information through

A search of the records will provide you with:
  • Surname:
  • First and Middle Initials: 
  • Rank:
  • Force:
  • Event: (Missing, injured, killed, captured)
  • Newspaper where you can glean more information 
Happy Searching!

Ancestors On Board - UK Passenger List Database

From FindMyPast, news of their Ships List Database Ancestors On Board, which lists all outgoing U.K. passenger lists from 1890-1960. Initial searches are free but access to the actual transcription and images are based on a pay-per-view credit system. However, the transcriptions and images are included in a full subscription to FindMyPast. 
Search fields include:

  • Surname
  • First name
  • Port of Departure
  • Year of Departure (a range)
  • Name of Ship
  • Destination Country
  • Others also travelling
You do not need to fill all of the search fields. Often the less information, the better the results since not all fields are included in the transcription. 

Once you get to the transcription, you will see information such as date of departure, port of departure, date and port of arrival, occupation, marital status, age, approximate year of birth, name of ship, ship master, shipping line, ship's tonnage, ship's square footage and number of passengers on board.

You can also view the original document. This can then be downloaded to your computer for future reference and sourcing.
 Happy Searching!

Thursday 5 January 2012

Genealogy Research Trip to Scotland

With the popularity of television shows like Ancestors in the Attic and Who Do You Think You Are? more people are showing an interest in finding their roots. It seems to be an integral part of the Boomer Generation to want to connect with our heritage. In our collective lifetime, families have been on the move. Unlike the 50s when our parents were starting families, we don’t live, marry, work and die in the same neighbourhood, and often not even in the same city as the rest of our families. Many Boomers are finding the inclination to return to the countries where their ancestors came from.

Some 40 million Americans and another 6 million Canadians can lay claim to Scottish Ancestry. Scottish records are some of the easiest to access, but privacy laws prevent online access within certain timeframes (100 years or older for birth and census records, 75 years for marriage records and 50 years for deaths), making your desk-chair research a bit limited.

Certainly, new images are being digitized all the time, but the statutory records are bound by privacy laws. While you may find your ancestor in ship’s lists, trades directories, and newspapers you will not find the more recent BMD or census records. This is where it becomes necessary to travel to Scotland to do your research on-site. What better way to truly understand your ancestors than to visit their homeland?

If you are of Scottish descent, no trip to your ancestral homeland would be complete without a visit to the location where your ancestors actually lived. The beauty of Scotland is its compact size. Nothing is terribly far away, at least not for those of us from North America. This makes visiting your ancestor’s home area, and carrying out genealogy research, all possible in one vacation.

From Glasgow, it is a 1 hour ride to Ayr, home of Robbie Burns, or just a 2 hour ride to Oban and then onward to any island in the West. Also from Glasgow it is a 3 1/2 hour ride to Inverness and the highlands. From Edinburgh, you can be in St Andrews or the Borders Region (Jedburgh, Peebles, Moffat) in just over an hour. In less than three you can be in Aberdeen, the Granite City. While in the area of your ancestors, it is always a good idea to try to pop into the local family history society. The local societies will have local resources on hand (census reports, parish records, newspapers) and may also have school records, photographs of schools or school/church groups. They can give you a bit of the social history that you might be lacking especially in regards to where your ancestors worked or the specific village that they lived in. A list of the local genealogy societies can be found at: Click on the tab on the left side of the screen entitled “membership” for a full listing of the genealogy societies in Scotland.

If you are nervous about travelling on your own, why not join an organized tour? At Genealogy Tours of Scotland we offer 10 day research tours that include time at Scotland's People Centre, The Mitchell Library, the Scottish Genealogy Society and the National Library. Learn about the Scottish culture with a night at The Scottish Experience Dinner Show and round the trip off with a full Scottish Banquet at a small country castle. There is free time which will allow you to get to the area where your ancestor lived so that you can walk in his or her footsteps. Research tours run twice a year. For more information, visit our website at: We look forward to assisting you not just in making progress with your genealogy research, but also in gaining a better insight into your history and culture-rich heritage.

Our next tour begins May 6, 2012. I hope you'll join us

Tuesday 3 January 2012

How Much Was That Money Worth?

My Great grandfather had a penchant for signing up with the military. He registered twice, once at age 17 and once at age 19. The story has it that he also signed up when he was 30, but I haven't found those records yet.

Each time that Hugh signed up, he was given £10. His first stint in the army was with the Highland Light Infantry. He lasted 43 days. Hugh's second stint with the Army was with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB's). This time, he lasted 258 days and was dressed in his gear long enough to have his picture taken.

I have felt that the reason for Hugh signing up was purely a financial decision. My guess was that £10 in 1887 and again in 1889 would have been worth a small fortune. But I really wasn't sure how much. Then I came across this wonderful currency converter on the National Archives website. It will convert old money and let you know the value of that money in 2005. The converter will convert money from as far back as 1270.

So, I decided to give it a try. It turns out, I was right. £10 in 1887 would have been the equivalent to $598 in 2005. That is still a while ago, so I wasn't totally satisfied with that answer. Then I found this website that will convert money values from as far back as 1980 and tell you what they would be worth in 2011. The £10 signing up fee for Hugh would have been the equivalent of $695 in today's markets. That's nearly $1400 since he signed on twice. Not a bad wage. Especially when he didn't have to actually work for it.