Tuesday 28 May 2013

1895 Valuation Rolls Now Available on ScotlandsPeople

ScotlandsPeople has added the 1895 Valuation Rolls to its website. The Valuation Rolls contain the names of owners and occupiers of every property with a rateable value.

The Valuation Rolls are a great way to track your ancestors between census periods:

1881 census, 1895 VR, 1891 Census, 1895 VR, 1901 Census, 1905 VR, 1911 census, 1915 VR

Here is the link:

Tombstone Tuesday - Memorial, Obituary, Family Tree

Thursday 23 May 2013

Clan Gatherings 2014

For several months now, the Clan Gathering events for Year of the Homecoming (2014) have been on again-off again and really left up in the air, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of most clans in North America.

According to VisitScotland, the various clans have gone ahead and worked out their own schedule of gatherings and events.

Here's where and when various clans are gathering in 2014

Mapping Your Genealogy

If you have thought about printing out maps and putting push pins or sticker dots to represent all of the places your ancestors inhabited, save yourself the work and visit Ancestral Atlas:

This website is free to use. You simply upload your Gedcom file and the website takes over from there, plotting your ancestors onto maps. Little bubble-pins appear to show you who lived in that location and what events took place there.

Give it a try, but not until you have LOTS of time to lose yourself in the fun of mapping your genealogy!

Addressing History

This website takes old postal directory addresses and super-imposes them on both old and current maps. The listings also list address and occupation if known:

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Ramshorn Cemetery Glasgow

Many of the City's merchants are buried in Ramshorn Cemetery. In spite of their wealth, their tombstones are incredibly simple:

Monday 20 May 2013

History From A Genealogy Perspective

We all see the world from our own unique perspective. And much of that perspective is based on life experience: education, career, hobbies, situations we have lived through, books we have read. While trawling about Glasgow and Edinburgh recently, I found that even some unlikely things can be seen as "genealogy". I know that there is an entire specialty in the field of genealogy regarding tracing house histories. It involved pouring over land documents and deeds. But just look at how the genealogy of these buildings can be discovered just by reading the door jamb:

Similarly, the entire "genealogy"of the Order of the Thistle is documented on these walls in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh:

Lots of information on the genealogy of both the buildings and the Order of the Thistle. Not quite sure how you cite "written on the wall" as a source, however!

Saturday 18 May 2013

Tracing Your Scottish Rural Ancestors

If you have ancestors who owned or worked on farms here are a couple of databases you may wish to check out. The information you are seeking may not be online, but you can certainly send a query to the archivist for each database.


This database holds History and Accounts for the Society as well as information pertaining to their Shows & Competitions. Additionally, they have records for:

~St Kilda

~Agricultural Statistics

and what they classify as Miscellany:

~Aberdeenshire quarries, manuscript accounts by James Blaikie; 

~Descriptions, memoirs and reports of coalfields;

~Argyll Naval fund accounts and applications;

~Scottish Agricultural Committee for Relief of the Allies letter;

~Scottish Red Cross Agriculture Fund papers  


This database is looking to compile information about the "vanishing settlements and landscapes" that once dotted the country.


Tuesday 14 May 2013

Our Last Day

Today is our last day together as a group. It has been a busy but productive journey. This was also the final day for tying up loose ends in our research. And we capped the evening off with a good old fashioned Scottish Ceilidh at the Taste of Scotland Show at historic Prestonfield. A wonderful way to end our time together and to immerse ourselves in our heritage.

Week Two - Making Connections

Monday was open so that those wishing to could travel to the area where their ancestors lived to experience the sights, sounds, smells and landscape for themselves. One participant traveled to Paisley. Although not terribly fulfilling in terms of finding living relatives, she was able to gain a better sense of the area and times her ancestors lived in. She found the people at the Paisley Library extremely helpful.

Another participant traveled to Dumfriesshire with the aide of Ian Walker at Borders Journeys. Ian was able to personalize the tour and help her find locations she was aware of through reading documents.
I headed to Motherwell to the Lanarkshire Family History Society. They have helped to steer me in the right direction for future research. 
Then I was able to meet up with a couple of cousins who were wonderful enough to bring old family photos to share! Over a meal, we scanned photos and shared memories. We were also able to catch up on other family members.
All too soon, it was time to catch the train back to Edinburgh.

The evening was spent with my favourite uncle who loved seeing the photos I had been able to scan today. With his help, we were able to identify some of the mystery photos.

It was so good to connect with family and as an added bonus, my uncle agreed to share his DNA!


Tombstone Tuesday - Indulgence of a Taphophile

This week's cemetery jaunt was the Ramshorn Cemetery in Glasgow's Merchant City. Many of the well to do merchants are entombed here.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Sunday - A Day of Rest

The past week has been a very busy week. We have visited three different archival repositories as well as a conference. Today and tomorrow have been set aside for "local" research. Participants can travel to the area where their ancestors lived. And tomorrow, if they wish, they can do research at their local family history society. After visiting the marketplace at the SAFHS conference yesterday we have a better idea of what local resources are available.

For a number of us, today was a day of rest. Shopping, visiting tourist attractions, day long coach tours. I wandered down to Princes Street to do some shopping.

Then I wandered over to the Royal Mile and visited Gladstone Land, another NTS attraction. Which of course means "no photography" once inside.


Gladstone's Land is the original 1617 tenement home of Thomas Gledstanes, a merchant, landowner and property developer. A bit more upscale than the tenements depicted at the Tenement House Museum in Glasgow. Thomas was a trader in prunes, that were sought by the well to do in Edinburgh. Thomas and his wife, Bessie Cunningham lived in this home for the remainder of their lives, Thomas dying in 1654 at the age of 74. By then he was a widow.
 The wealthier families would have kept a pig which would have fed from scraps on the street. In the winter, the pig would have been killed and then the family would have dined on the meat which would be salted for preservation.
After a wander along to see what sights/characters the High Street held today, it was back to the hotel to enjoy a latte and sit with feet up while pouring over the information from earlier this week.

Extra bonus today - SAFHS Conference

We had an early start today as we travelled through the beautiful Scottish Borders to attend the SAFHS Conference in Galashiels. This year's conference theme was "Comings and Goings, Migration and Scotland". There were six very informative talks on the agenda:

Scotland and Migration by Dr Ian Wotherspoon. Dr Wotherspoon spoke about the impact that the Scots Diaspora have had on the countries they have emigrated to.

Droving and Drove Roads in Northumberland by Dr Ian Roberts. Dr Roberts spoke of the history of the drove roads as well as the social history associated with droving.

Emigration and Immigratrion Records on the Internet. Ken shared a number of valuable online resources that will assist researchers trying to track their emigrant ancestors.

Following Ken's talk, we were given an hour to have lunch and to visit the marketplace.

The first of the afternoon talks was given by Andrew Armstrong who spoke on Researching the Buccleuch Estate Papers. Andrew's focus was on the genealogical information that can be gleaned from the Rental Books.

Next up was Jennifer Bruce who spoke on the Border Shepherds in Caithness. In particular Jennifer spoke on the impact of Thomas Telford.

The last talk of the day was given by Sheila Assante who spoke on the Migration Stories in the National Portrait Gallery.

In addition to the talks, there was a very large marketplace of family history related vendors. These were spread throughout the building with the bulk of them being in the cafe. One should never underestimate the resources, information or assistance available through the local family history societies. For the most part, the volunteers were kept very busy and people were walking away with new ideas of where to look to assist in breaking down their genealogical brick walls.

As an outsider, it was a bit curious to me that only one speaker offered handouts. I find that days like  these provide a great deal of information and really, it tends to be far too much for one mind to absorb and retain. Handouts to refer to later are always helpful in both being able to recall what the speaker said and also in providing additional ideas of where to look for further steps in your research. In North America, delegates are given a syllabus of all of the handouts so that even if attendees were unable to get to a talk, they were able to access a synopsis of the talk, and not just of the speakers.\

All in all, however, the day was very well done. Kudos to the Borders Family History Society on a very productive, very informative day!

Friday 10 May 2013

Research Day Four - National Library of Scotland

Today was spent at the National Library of Scotland.

Most of the morning was spent in a session learning about all that the NLS has to offer people who are researching their family history. Then after a quick tour, it was time to hit the collections. Newspapers were consulted, trades and city directories poured over, maps consulted and books perused. While not quite as productive a day from a research perspective, we have learned a great deal about what resources are available to family historians and we have a keener understanding of the lives and times in which our ancestors lived.

Looking forward to the SAFHS conference tomorrow in Galashiels.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Research Day Three - Scottish Genealogy Society

We had a later start this morning since the SGS opens a wee bit later than the other archives.

Given the limited space available in the SGS, I left the group in the capable hands of the volunteers and made my way over to the National Library to order some documents for tomorrow. I made a detour to St Giles first.

Of course the masterpiece of St Giles, is quite likely the Thistle Chapel


Of course, no trip to the Royal Mile is complete without enjoying the characters that are routinely sprinkled along the street.

I did make it over to the NLS and ordered the documents I would like to peruse tomorrow when we visit as a group. Then I headed back down to the National Records of Scotland to consult the records of the appeals court as well as the kirk session records. Another very productive day.

A Walk Through Grassmarket

The hotel is ideally situated for walking to the Scottish Genealogy Society and to the National Library. It is also only a quarter of a mile to Edinburgh Castle from here

and across the street are the stairs leading down to Grassmarket.

The Grassmarket has such a deep and intriguing history and I love wandering through. Last night I was able to share the historical secrets with the group as we not only walked down to and through Grassmarket, but stopped for a meal.


The Grassmarket was an actual market, a place of business and gossip. It would have been littered with hawkers and buyers, tenents and visitors. It would have been loud and at times likely chaotic. The stalls would have been decorated with the daily Broadsides carrying the scandalous news of the day. And, those with a penchant for the wrong side of the law, would have met with their death on this rock where the public hangings took place.