Monday, 30 October 2017

Researching Pauper Ancestors

During Victorian times, most of the 19th century, poverty was a scourge and there was tremendous stigma attached to being poor. It was felt that if the poor were shamed and treated poorly, they would try harder to eke out a living, however meagre.  

The Poor Law Act was enacted in 1845 and the caring for the poor became the responsibility of the local councils/burghs through the passing of the Poor Law Act. The Act established parochial boards in the parishes and towns, and ensured a central Board of Supervision which was based in Edinburgh. The Board of Supervision was granted the ability to raise taxes in order to cover the poor relief payments.



Unlike England, where the impoverished faced a life in the Workhouses, Scotland preferred a system of  'out relief’. This allowed for the person in need of relief to remaining in their own home and receive regular small payments. This might allow the person to partially support themselves through work and to receive assistance from family members, charities and friendly societies, rather than becoming wholly dependent upon poor relief payments. Clearly the expectation was that if you were in need, then your family had an obligation to provide assistance. This is clearly seen in the questions that are asked during the application process.

The 1845 Poor Law Act also allowed parishes to operate poorhouses. Sometimes two or more parishes would join together to establish ‘combination’ poorhouses. This meant that the funding for the poorhouse was a combined responsibility of the joint parishes. 

Poor relief was not for able bodied persons who were unable to find work. It was for those who were infirm or incapable of being able to work. This might be men who were injured on the job, people who had a chronic illness, the elderly or perhaps  women of young children whose husbands had deserted them or who were incarcerated.   Other eligible persons would be those with intellectual or mental health  impairments.  In addition, the person who was seeking relief would need to prove that for whatever reason, their family were unable to assist them in their time of need.

Because of the restrictions around eligibility, not everyone who applied received relief. However, the poor law applications followed the applicant for several years and as circumstances changed, they may become eligible at a later time. The records give tremendous insight into the lives of those who applied.

In seeking information regarding the applicant, the council tried to determine not only eligibility by also who ultimately was responsible for the applicant. If the person was deemed not to have lived in the council area for a minimum of 7 years, then they were sent back to their place of origin to attempt to get relief there.

The questions on the application were quite thorough and provide a depth of insight not as clearly seen in other record sets. The information includes:

·         Name
·         Age
·         Sex
·         Marital Status
·         Date and place of marriage
·         Name of spouse
·         Names of any children residing in the household
·         Ages of children residing in the house
·         Status of child - whether working or in school
·         If working, wages of child (in this case, the children would be expected to contribute to           the household and offset any financial need)
·         The applicant's address
·         Monthly rent
·         Occupation
·         Employer or former employer
·         Religion
·         Name of the church
·         Names of parents of applicant
·         Name of parents of applicant's spouse
·         Parent and in law status as to whether alive, working etc. 

   Again the applicant would have been expected to reach out to family for assistance before applying for poor relief.

·         Any insurance companies applicant had a policy with

 The poor relief applications are with the local council archives for the area where your ancestor lived.


Sunday, 29 October 2017

Canada Northwest Land Company Settlements

Following the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885, the lands in the western part of Canada opened for settlement. The Canada North-West Land Company, incorporated in 1882, provided 11 settlements in the provinces of Assiniboia (Manitoba) and Alberta, 30 miles apart from each other and extending along the CPR lines at the foot of the Rockies.  The settlements each comprised 10,000 acres. 


Unlike the settlement grants in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, the grants in the west came fully stocked. While the grants in the east came with uncleared land, the grants in the west were “systematically” settled. The Canadian Agricultural, Coal and Colonization Company’s plans show this quite clearly.

 In the centre of each settlement, 640 acres were to be dedicated to the “village” including shops, a school and a church.  The outlying areas were to be divided into 1000 acre lots which were to be completely fenced, and were to come equipped with: 
  •        A farm house
  •        Furniture
  •        Stables
  •     A barn
  •     Cattle and sheep sheds
  •      50 sheep
  •        5 cattle
  •     1 mare
  •        1 sow

Each settlement area (village) was to share ploughs, wagons and rakes.
Each farmer paid £100 and was loaned £192 by the settlement company.

The primary purpose in setting these settlements up was to prevent isolation of any one family, having people emigrate with family or neighbours from their community and placing them together. On the new settlements, they were surrounded by people they knew and were able to carry on the traditions and customs of their lives in Scotland.

The purpose in having the farms fully equipped was to alleviate the hardships of the earlier settlement schemes and provide the farmer with a fully equipped and revenue bearing farm whereby he could begin to repay his loan that much sooner and be ready to own his own land that much faster.  

Maps and land grants for the Canada Northwest Land Company are on microfilm and held by the Glenbow Archives:

Some of the documents have been scanned and digitized and made available on the Internet Archives:


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Settling the Huron Tract

In 1826, a group of London based business men came together to form the Canada Company. The purpose of this conglomerate was, essentially, to sell parcels of land in what became known as the Huron Tract. The Huron Tract consisted of 2,484,000 acres of land in western Ontario, north of Lake Erie, south of Lake Huron and encompassing lands east of Lake St Clair. The Huron Tract covered parts of what are now Perth, Huron, Middlesex and Wellington Counties.

The Huron Tract  was managed by John Galt. Galt saw the Huron Tract as an agricultural settlement with the land owned by individual farmers. Settlers were attracted by the prospect of land. This land comprised some of the richest and most fertile farming country in Ontario.
  

The largest group of settlers along the Huron Tract were from Scotland. In 1833 there were about 685 people living on the Huron Tract. By 1839 the number of settlers had risen to 4,804. The earliest township records are for Goderich and Tuckersmith and date to 1835. Land in Grey County, also part of the Huron Tract, started being settled in 1852.

Land records for the Huron Tract can be found on the Library and Archives Canada website:






Friday, 27 October 2017

Feeling Stuck? Create a Research Plan

When you come to what you think is a dead end, or a "brick wall" in your Scottish research, step back, and take a better look at the documents. Scottish documents contain a wealth of information and can make researching so much easier when you really take a look at what the documents are telling you.

Use a spreadsheet or create a chart with five columns:

WHAT I ALREADY HAVE
QUESTIONS UNANSWERED
DOCUMENTS
NEEDED
WHERE THOSE DOCUMENTS ARE
NOTES

  • Make a list of all of the documents you already have so that you don't waste time searching for them again.
  • Think about what you already know from the documents you have.
  • What questions are still unanswered?
  • What do you still need to know?
  • Looking at the documents you have and knowing what you still need to find out, what are the best documents for you to get that might give you the answers you need?
  • Next do some online research to determine where you are likely to find the records that will help you fill in the gaps or chip away at your brick walls (newspapers, land records, church records)
  • Move forward by starting to look through documents you may have missed in the past. If you can’t access the records online and can’t plan a trip, reach out to a local genealogist who can work on your behalf to access the records and the information you need to help break through your stagnation and move your research forward.  

Selkirk Settlers



In 1802, Lord Selkirk approached the Colonial Office for a subsidized settlement grant in Sault-Ste Marie, Upper Canada, with the hopes of establishing a settlement where the displaced Highlanders could once again farm their own land. The Colonial Secretary instead offered a land grant in Prince Edward Island, in the Belfast area, near Wood Islandson the southwest shore. Upon receipt of this notice, Selkirk wasted no time in recruiting highland emigrants or in contracting ships and supplies.

In July 1803, three ships, the Dykes, the Polly, and the Oughton sailed to Canada with eight hundred former highland crofters and headed to Prince Edward Island. The Polly arrived in the harbourof Orwell Bay, Prince Edward Island on Sunday, August 7th, 1803, carrying 250 adults and 150 children. Most of these passengers were from Skye. The Dykes, which also brought Lord Selkirk, arrived in Charlottetown two days after the Polly. Most of the passengers on the Polly were from Mull. The Oughton arrived on August 27th, 1803, carrying another 40 or 50 passengers, this time from Uist.

The land given to these new settlers consisted primarily of evergreen forest. Each family was given between 50 and 150 acres for a nominal fee. The lots were laid out so that four or five families were grouped together. Each parcel of land granted access to the waterfront. Many families spent their first winter in makeshift lean-tos. However, come spring, the new immigrants worked together to clear their lands, build their houses, and settle into their new lives.

Being able to work the land once again became somewhat of a tonic for them. Because these settlers had come with their families or members of their communities, they arrived with their social support system and this made the transition to life in the new world much easier for them. These Highland Scots were a self sufficient community within a year of their arrival.

Later generations moved to the BruceCounty area of Ontario, setting up communities along the SaugeenRiver near Paisley as well as along the south coast of Lake Huron from Southamptonto Kincardine.  

Having used his land on the southwest shoreof PEI for the initial settlers, Selkirk was eager to continue to pursue his original desire to find land in Upper Canada. He was eventually able to purchase land in Southern Ontario, near the junction of Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, in what is now Wallaceburg. This was a problematic scheme in that the land was very different than that granted in PEI. The first winter saw deaths of 15 people through malaria from the mosquitoes in the damp, forested lands. Selkirk soon abandoned this settlement. However, the Scots remained and became very successful in their new country. The Scottish influence of these early settlers can be seen throughout the south western most part of Ontario.

Selkirk later managed to persuade the Hudson Bay Company that an agricultural settlement would lower their costs since local farmers would be able to produce goods that, at the time, the company was having to import at great expense. Selkirk was able to purchase 116,000 square miles in the Red River Valley and along the Assiniboine River in Manitobaand what is now Northern Dakota and parts of Northern Minnesota. This land mass was five times the size of the whole of Scotland. Selkirk purchased this land at a cost of 10/s ($26.50 in today’s currency).

This settlement was not without its difficulties and there were many physical battles as well as court battles between the early settlers and the Hudson's Bay Company, Canada's largest retail trading post. Many of the early settlers married into the local aboriginal communities, creating the Metis nation.

If you have ancestors who were Selkirk Settlers, here are some resources to assist you in your genealogy research:

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Polly:

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Dykes:

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Oughton:

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Spencer:

Hudsons Bay Company Archives:

There are some archives regarding the men from Orkney, Scotland, who were recruited as indentured workers with the Hudson's Bay Company in the archives in Stromness, Orkney. These are not available online.

Some records are also available at Library and Archives Canada. These records need to be consulted in person.



Thursday, 26 October 2017

Feeling Stuck? Create a Research Plan

When you come to what you think is a dead end, or a "brick wall" in your Scottish research, step back, and take a better look at the documents. Scottish documents contain a wealth of information and can make researching so much easier when you really take a look at what the documents are telling you.

Use a spreadsheet or create a chart with five columns:

WHAT I ALREADY HAVE
QUESTIONS UNANSWERED
DOCUMENTS
NEEDED
WHERE THOSE DOCUMENTS ARE
NOTES

  • Make a list of all of the documents you already have so that you don't waste time searching for them again.
  • Think about what you already know from the documents you have.
  • What questions are still unanswered?
  • What do you still need to know?
  • Looking at the documents you have and knowing what you still need to find out, what are the best documents for you to get that might give you the answers you need?
  • Next do some online research to determine where you are likely to find the records that will help you fill in the gaps or chip away at your brick walls (newspapers, land records, church records)
  • Move forward by starting to look through documents you may have missed in the past. If you can’t access the records online and can’t plan a trip, reach out to a local genealogist who can work on your behalf to access the records and the information you need to help break through your stagnation and move your research forward.  

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Covenanter Memorial Deerness

The Battle of Bothwell Brig (Bridge) was fought on June 22, 1679. The battle was part of the Covenanter Uprisings. There were about 6000 fighting on the side of the covenanters and 5000 government troops. While most on the side of the covenanters scattered, there are reports that up to 700 men died while another 1200 were captured and marched to Edinburgh. They were to be imprisoned at the Castle but they outnumbered the space available, so were placed in a makeshift prison on the south end of the Kirkyard at Greyfriar’s Kirk. 

Covenanter prison at Greyfriars

This prison was open to the elements and overseen by the notorious George “Bluidy” MacKenzie. Most were beaten, many were starved. Some 150 died from a combination of the abuse, starvation and exposure to the elements. They are buried in a mass grave in the Kirkyard and are honoured by a memorial known as the Martyr’s Memorial.

Some of the prisoners were freed after making submission. The 250 who remained imprisoned in Greyfriars were destined to be transported to Barbados. They were loaded onto the ship “Crown of London” at Leith to be sent to the colonies where they were to be indentured slaves on the plantations. The ship headed north, with it’s first scheduled stop to be Orkney. As is typical of the area in the late fall the winds were gale force and caused the ship to run aground just a few miles from Deerness. The chain of her anchor snapped. While the captain and crew managed to escape, the prisoners were not as lucky, since they had been in the hold. The captain had ordered the hatches battened down to ensure that the slaves were still on the ship when it landed in the colonies. He had planned to make some money by selling them to the plantation owners. One of the crew did manage to hack through the hatches before he left the ship, allowing about 45-50 men to escape. Some of the escaped men were eventually recaptured and later transported to New Jersey.  

The remaining 200 men drowned when the ship went down off the coast of Deerness. Bodies washed ashore for many days and weeks. 

There is a memorial at the edge of the cliff to mark the spot where the covenanter martyrs died tragically. Once again, we pulled up to the car park and found ourselves faced with a well worn footpath. While windy, the winds weren't gale force this time. The walk to the monument and back is 2 kms (a mile and a quarter) and primarily passes through a farmer's field. The monument is visible early on, but never seems to get closer. On the horizon was the sea, and what I thought was mist turned out to be some serious rain on its way to shore. 





apparently tourists aren't a common sight for this cow

Finally, we made it to the monument. The winds had picked up and the drizzle had started. The sky looked ominous, so in the end it was a quick whip round the monument, taking as many photos as time would allow before we had to run for cover. Cover? Oh, the car we had left in the car park! Go, go, go!



The monument itself is quite impressive at some 30 feet tall. One side of the monument holds a stone which reads: 
“Erected by public subscription to the memory of 200 Covenanters who were taken prisoner at Bothwell Bridge, and sentenced to transportation for life, but who perished by shipwreck near this spot on 10th December 1679”





Packing Your Cemetery Bag

Every genealogist or family historian has a inner taphophile - someone with a love of cemeteries. We might want to visit ancestor's graves, an historic cemetery or we might just enjoy wandering amongst the peace and tranquility of these sacred sites. 

If you plan to go and visit an ancestor's grave, make sure  you pack your cemetery bag before  you go. Here's what your cemetery bag should include:
  •         a camera and batteries - take photos of everything. The sign to the cemetery, a wide angle view of the cemetery, the proximity of the grave to a landmark within the cemetery (a fountain, the office, a pond, a church). Photograph all sides of the gravestone. Check nearby stones as they may also be your ancestors. If the names are the same and you are unsure of a connection, take photos of all sides of the gravestone for further research. 
  •         pencils and paper - take notes. Write down names, dates and inscriptions exactly as they appear on the stone. It is very easy to make assumptions in the excitement of the moment, and it will be important to have an accurate record once you return home. Take note of any symbols your are unfamiliar with so you can look them up later. These may give important clues about the life of your ancestor. 
  •      garden clippers - carefully trim back any overgrowth that covers the stone - especially if the stone is a flat marker. Do NOT dig into the marker to remove moss or growth. Instead, try washing it away
  •         water and soft cloth - wash away any dirt or moss that is obscuring  your ability to read the marker. If a marker is hard to read, pour some water over it to see if the wet stone allows for enhancement in reading the marker

  

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Was Your Ancestor a Shipbuilder on the Clyde?

At its height, the shipbuilding industry along the Clyde employed tens of thousands of workers who made some of the world’s fastest, biggest and most beautiful ships. In addition to this tens of thousands more were employed in the supporting industries in Lanarkshire. The industries of coal mining, ironworks and steelworks.

With the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840), came steam engines creating faster transport across the seas.  As a result, shipbuilding replaced trade as the major form of commerce along the Clyde river and shipbuilding companies soon dotted its banks. Arguably the largest of these companies was the Fairfield Shipping Company in Govan.  In addition to the Empress line (Empress of Ireland, Empress of Britain, Empress of Japan, Empress of Asia and Empress of China), Fairfield was one of the leading suppliers to the Royal Navy. 


As a result of the numbers of shipyards and the quality of the vessels, Glasgow became a world leader in shipbuilding. "Clyde built" soon became the standard of quality. 

If your ancestor worked in the Shipbuilding industry on the Clyde, you may wish to have a look at some of the archival records. These records include plans, photographs, minutes and cost books for the shipyards. Few personnel records have survived. The records are housed at the Glasgow Archives in the Mitchell Library and at the Glasgow University Archives.

Shipbuilding records are at Glasgow University Archives: http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_60314_en.pdf

Iron, Steel and Coal mining company records for Lanarkshire, are at the Glasgow University Archives:

Any company magazines of the various shipbuilding companies are available at the National Library of Scotland. These often include promotions, deaths, celebrations and photos of company gatherings.


Monday, 23 October 2017

Badbea Clearance Village

As we left Helmsdale and headed to Thurso to catch the ferry to Orkney, we saw the sign for Badbea Clearance Village. Always keen to learn more about the Clearances, and to see the destruction first hand, I made a quick left into the car park. Through the turnstile, we came upon a well beaten path which we began to follow.


Badbea (pronounced Bad-Bay or Badbay) is perched on steep cliffs above the North Sea and is on the east coast of Caithness, just inside the boundary separating Caithness from Sutherland. The village was originally settled by people who had been cleared from their crofts in Berriedale and Ousdale. As the sign post says “Please be careful. The people are gone, but the steep slopes, high cliffs and strong winds remain”. They weren’t kidding.


The plots of land that the crofters were given, were not arable, rubble laden and at a perilous angle to the sea. At one time, there were 80 families recorded as living here but by 1904, most had left. I’m sure thankful doesn’t even come close to expressing their relief at moving to safer ground. The former longhouses have all fallen into ruin but the foundations of many are still quite visible if you know what you are looking for. There are a number of drystone walls outlining former pastures, sheep enclosures and the village itself.






The ground is wet and marshy. There is a natural spring that runs through the former village that once provided drinking water for the villagers but which now only sops the land. The crofters were unable to farm anything more than a few vegetables for their own consumption. The men were encouraged to work as fishermen in the herring industry, with boats leaving Helmsdale and Dunbeath, several miles from the village.

Like any fisherwife, the women of the village not only tended the land while the men were away, they also kept house and raised children and livestock. When the men returned with their catch, the women worked to clean the fish and ready them for sale at local markets. The women of Badbea were in a precarious situation when faced with outside work in that they ran the risk of children and farm animals being swept into the sea by the constant winds. To keep everyone rooted, the children and animals were tethered to one of the many rocks around the village!

Our walk back to the carpark was all the more strenuous as we battled the near gale-force off-shore winds! For most of the walk, we were one step forward, two steps back and had to hunker forward to keep planted on the land. It was an endurance test at best and one I cannot imagine having to live with on a daily basis!




By the end of the 1800s, most people had left the village for a better life. Their mark on the Scottish highlands and the history of the Clearances live on in the ruins of the Badbea Clearance Village. 

Using Findmypast for Scottish Genealogy Research

While ScotlandsPeopleis the necessary site for Old Parish and Civil Registers, Findmypast can help you fill in the details of your ancestor’s life.


Military Records – one of the best resources on Findmypast for Scottish research. After the Union of the Crowns in 1707, everyone who was enlisted was enlisted in the British Army, even if they fought for a Highland Regiment. The good news here is that unlike the National Records of Scotland, the National Archives in London have partnered with Findmypast and made their records available for people researching their family history. In the military records, you get the entire record. If, like my great grandfather, your soldier was a serial enlister, you will get their attestation and discharge papers. If your soldier was a career military man, you will get oodles more.

Newspapers– another fabulous resource is the British Newspaper Archives. The real gem here is that the BNA is not limited to national newspapers, but also includes regional and town newspapers which, of course, hold a wealth of social history news.

Ship’s Lists – another treat from the TNA. These lists are “people leaving the UK”  but will give you the passenger manifest including the name of the passenger, their residence, their age, where they were destined, the ship’s name and where they actually entered North America. For example, my grandfather was on the Cameronian, destined for New York, first docked at Halifax and disembarked there.  

Paternity Decrees – these are listed under “Institutions”  and are a result of the incredible work that have been done by ScottishIndexes who have partnered with Findmypast to have their transcriptions available online. I was able to find the father of my illegitimate great aunt thanks to this database and the transcription which gives you the name and address of the pursuer (in this case, the mother), the name and address of the defender (the father), the date of birth of the child and the sex of the child. I can then order the original record if I wish.

Mental Health Institution Admission Registers – again thanks to the tireless work of the Maxwells at ScottishIndexes, these transcripts provide you with the name, age, sex, d.o.b., residence, occupation, and the year of admission as well as the name of the institution.

Prison Registers – more work from the Maxwells, this transcription gives you the name, sex, age, birth date, occupation, crime and name of prison.

Linlithgow Poorhouse Records – this is a result of the great work of the West Lothian Family History Society and includes Admission registers, death and discharge registers, lunatic registers and discharges, and the poorhouse roll of the sick.

Catholic Heritage Archives – this relatively new collection includes baptism, marriage, burial and congregational records from all eight of Scotland's Roman Catholic Dioceses. These are: St Andrews & Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Argyll & the Isles (where the Catholic faith was strong well into the 19thcentury), Dunkeld, Galloway, Glasgow, Motherwell and Paisley.

PERSI– what a wealth of information for those with Scottish heritage. There are thousands of records that you can search or browse to learn more about the life and times of your Scottish ancestor. These include family histories, family history society journals and newsletters and magazines. To find these gems, simply enter “Scotland” in the “where” field and “family history” into the “what else” field.


Enjoy getting to know your Scottish ancestors through the resources of Findmypast!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Understanding Scottish Surnames

Spelling was not consistent until dictionaries made it standard in the 1800s. Until this time, spelling was quite fluid and tended to be according to the enumerator or registrar. Often this was done in a manner similar to phonetic spelling. I could not find the marriage for my Henry Fowler anywhere. I was beginning to think that perhaps the couple had had an irregular marriage. Then I decided to use a wildcard search for Henry and lo and behold I found him - listed as Henry FULLER. As soon as I saw the certificate, I realized why I hadn't found him sooner. Henry would have been asked his surname. In his thick Border brogue, Henry would have responded "Fooler" And that became written as FULLER.

It is not uncommon to find that your ancestor's surname changed from Clerke, to Clarke and then to Clark. All three sound the same in Scotland (clark) and yet the spelling has evolved over time. Knowing this will help to ensure you don't rule out people who might be your ancestor, but who you have ignored based on the (mis)spelling of the surname.

As a standard, surnames in Scotland weren't adopted by the common man until about the 1600s. Prior to that, people were known by patrynomics (Donald, son of John or Donald John's son), by physical trait (John the Red - Red John - for someone who might have been a redhead, by location (Thomas by the burn or Thomas Burn) or by occupation (David the miller or David Miller). Once surnames became common practice, many of these former descriptors were adopted as surnames. Others, particularly the Highlanders or border clans, took on the surname of the clan chief, family head or even the landowner for the estate they lived or worked on. For this reason, not everyone named Wallace, for example, is related to William Wallace. Nor is every Mc/MacDonald related to the clan chief.

People often have questions about the Mc vs Mac surnames. Some understand that one is Irish and the other is Scottish, while others understand that one is Catholic while the other is Protestant. In reality, they are interchangeable. Both Mc and Mac are the anglicized spelling of the Gaelic M' or M'hic. M'hic or M' for short, means "son of" in Gaelic. This has been transcribed over the centuries as Mc or Mac, depending on the transcriber and their understanding of how the prefix is spelled. So whether your ancestors were Mc or Mac, don't discount the other spelling in the event you might also be discounting your ancestor and his/her documents!


Saturday, 21 October 2017

84th Regiment of Foot: Royal Highland Emigrants

From 1775-1784, 2000 Scots highlanders were recruited to the 84th Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Emigrants)  which defended the lands in the 13 colonies and then fought on the side of the British government in the American Revolutionary War. These men had military experience in the Seven Years War. The 84th Regiment of Foot was divided into two companies. The muster and pay lists for both companies can be found here: 



After the Revolutionary War, the 84th Regiment of Foot disbanded and about half of the men settled in Nova Scotia while the other half settled in Eastern Ontario where they were given land grants for remaining loyal to the Crown. They were given land grants of between 100 acres (for privates) and 500 acres (for Officers).  To search the indexes for these early land grants, consult:

Friday, 20 October 2017

Scottish Post Office Directories

Post office directories are the equivalent of City Directories. These are a terrific resource for following your ancestors between census periods. Not everyone was recorded. Since there was a fee to be included, many of those included had some degree of stature - clergy, educators, doctors, professionals, merchants, etc.


A recent addition to the website are the Post Office Directory Maps. Four hundred new street maps of Scottish towns held within Post Office Directories have been digitized and uploaded to the maps website. These are excellent resources for family and local history. These are quite detailed, providing street names, location of public buildings such as churches, shops and schools, as well as railways, cemeteries and open green space. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Researching Jacobite Ancestors

The Jacobites believed that being King was a God given right and passed on through heredity and were opposed to parliamentary interference with the line of succession to the throne. They saw this interference as being illegal. People were expected to swear allegiance to their King and his authority. Jacobites wouldn't swear allegiance since William was not a direct descendant of James, while Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) was. Hoping to reinstate the Stuart regime, the Jacobites rose in rebellion on a number of occasions, notably in 1715 and in 1745.


Beginning in 1716, Jacobites were rounded up, imprisoned and subsequently transported to the Americas. Approximately 1,500 Jacobite prisoners were exiled to the American Plantations. Since Jacobites were charged with Treason they were tried before the High Court. Documents pertaining to the Jacobites, for genealogical purposes, are Royal Warrants, Letters, and a variety of letters.

While there are some records contained within the High Court records at the National Archives in Scotland, the primary repository is the National Archives in London.
There are also registers of ships that were used for transportation. PDF listings of Jacobite prisoners for various regions of Scotland can be found here: http://www.jacobites.net/lists.html

Hugh Tornabene, a volunteer for the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild has uncovered the
passenger lists for the ships that were used to transport the Jacobites. He has transcribed the lists for the 10 ships that arrived in the Americas. 

There are another 8 ships that went to the Caribbean (Barbados and the Leeward Islands). Here is the website to view the transcriptions of the 10 ships (there are 13 lists, with two of the ships having made the voyage more than once) that Hugh has transcribed: 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

From the Western Isles to Canada

Following the Reformation, most Scots had converted to Presbyterian while the Highlands and Islands remained predominantly Catholic. The landowners who had converted expected their tenants to do the same and those that didn’t weren’t allowed to practice their religion. Some were even removed for not converting. 

This led to a group of Scots from the Outer Hebrides (Uist) to be sent to Cape Breton in what is now Boisedale, a group from Glenfinnan near Fort William to be sent to what is now Prince Edward Island and who are now known as the Glenaladale Settlers and a group from Loch Broom near Oban being sent to Pictou. These were the settlers from the Hector. Interestingly, the clues of their homeland are given in the names of their new countries.

In their new lands, they were not only allowed to practice their faith, but also speak their language (Gaelic).

·        In 1774, the Lord Justice Clerk tried to gain an understanding of the extent of emigration from the Highlands and instructed Sheriffs from the area to provide him with lists of those from their jurisdiction that had emigrated. These lists should be within the collections of the National Records of Scotland.

·      Archives Ontario have several letters relating to the Glengarry Settlement including letters sent to family back home encouraging them to come to Canada.

·       The PEI Historical Society has just released a very genealogically comprehensive book on the Glenalladale Settlers. 

     Archives for Glenfinnan are with the Highland Archives https://www.highlifehighland.com/archives-service/

·       For records pertaining to Lochboisdale, contact the Seallam! Centre on Lewis http://www.tasglann.org.uk/en



In July 1803, three ships, the Dykes, the Polly, and the Oughton sailed to Canada with eight hundred former crofters from the Western Isles and headed to Prince Edward Island where Lord Selkirk had managed to receive a land grant. The Polly carried passengers from Skye. The Dykes brought passengers from Mull. The Oughton carried passengers from Uist. Further Selkirk Settlers from Colonsay, Oronsay and Tiree arrived in 1806.

·         Lord Selkirk’s papers are available online at: http://www.canadiana.ca/
·         The Archives of Ontario also have a number of letters pertaining to Lord Selkirk and his   settlers. 

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Polly:

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Dykes:

Passenger List reconstruction for ship Oughton: