Monday, 31 December 2007

Who Do You Think You Are magazine - reader complaint

The latest issue of WDYTYA magazine has received an angry complaint from a Scottish based reader that it has next to no coverage of Scottish events, and is completely anglocentric, which the reader believes to be outrageous, it being a British Broadcasting Corporation magazine. The magazine has held its hands up and apologised, and hopes the next issue featuring David Tennent will in some ways address the imbalance so far.

Ancestry kills off Online Family Tree

Created in 1999, Ancestry's Online Family Tree has now been deemed obsolete, and as such will be discontinued after March 2008, in favour of their Ancestry Member Tree system, allowing users three months to migrate their existing trees from the old system to the new. For the full announcement, visit


Friday, 28 December 2007

Scottish Roman Catholic records

Whilst all Scottish Roman Catholic births, marriages and deaths are recorded in the statutory registers from 1855, and therefore available online through Scotland's People, events prior to this are currently unavailable online. Photocopies of parish registers pre-1855 are stored at the National Archives of Scotland, but if you have Catholic ancestry you may not be aware that the Scottish Catholic Archives holds an absolute wealth of material that may be of use to you genealogically. The following links outline the collections held at the SCA, including the parish registers that they hold: (Collections - requires Adobe Acrobat or Reader) (Parish registers)

The Scottish Catholic Archives are based at Columba House, 16 Drummond Place, Edinburgh EH3 6PL. They will carry out research for a fee, but are happy for private researchers to use their facilities.

Personally, one of the greatest uses I have found for the parish registers is in working out when people arrived in Scotland to flee the famine in Ireland during the 1840s, and to find additional members of the family, often named as witnesses at weddings and baptisms. In conjunction with the poor law returns (where they survive) held at places such as the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, a great deal can be worked out about where families came from in Ireland, which anyone who has found the birthplace of an ancestor in a census listed simply as "Ireland" can appreciate!


Forthcoming lectures in Scotland for January 2008

8 JAN 2008 - Lanarkshire FHS meeting, GLO Centre, Muir Street, Motherwell, from 7pm until 9pm approx. or

8 JAN 2008 - Largs and North Ayrshire FHS: Covenanters, by Bill Niven, Community Room, Largs Library, Allanpark Street, Largs, at 7:30 pm.

8 JAN 2008 - The Heraldry Society of Scotland: The Law of Arms and Heraldic Practice in the New Russia, by Michael Yurievich Medvedev, The Collins Suite, University of Strathclyde, Richmond Street, Glasgow (NB: This is a joint meeting with the University of Strathclyde Genealogy Lecture series) Entry fee: £3 payable at the door. Tel: 0141 548 4147

9 JAN 2008 - Caithness FHS, by Allan Lennon, at Miller Academy, Thurso, though topic not yet known!

9 JAN 2008 (7.30pm) - Central Scotland FHS: Scottish Freemasonry and Family History, by David W. Brown, Smith Museum and Art Gallery, Dumbarton Road, Stirling.

10 JAN 2008 - East Ayrshire FHS: The Wandering Scot, by Jim Grant, Gateway Centre, Foregate Square, Kilmarnock at 7.30pm. JAN 2008 - Troon @ Ayrshire FHS: Invisible Women in Scottish Blind Asylums, byDr Hazel MacFarlane.

16 JAN 2008 - Tay Valley FHS: Dundee Asylums, by Rod McKinnon, University of Abertay, Bell Street, Dundee, at 7.15 p.m.

17 JAN 2008 - Renfrewshire FHS: Quarriers Homes, by Josie Bell, Paisley Museum, 7.30pm.

17 JAN 2008 - Alloway & Southern Ayrshire FHS: How Railways Changed Scotland, by Robin Nelson, Alloway Parish Church Halls, Auld Nick's View, Alloway, KA7 4RT -

19 JAN 2008 - Aberdeen & N.E. Scotland FHS beginners workshop, Queen Street Church Hall,79 Queen Street, Aberdeen tel: 01224 646323.

21 JAN 2008 - Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society: Scotlands People an update, by Dee Williams. 7.30pm, Boyd Orr building University Ave Glasgow. Non members welcome.

22 JAN 2008 - Highland FHS: The Folk of Old Kilmore: Photos and Family Histories from Glenurquhart, by Duncan Macdonald & Graeme Mackenzie, Netley Centre, Highland Hospice, Bishop’s Road, Inverness, IV3 5SB at 7.30pm. Voluntary fee of £1 for tea.

22 JAN 2008 - Largs and North Ayrshire FHS: Research Workshop (non members welcome), Community Room, Largs Library, Allanpark Street, Largs, at 7:30 pm

Ancestry updates

This week has two new additions to their site. The first allows you to add video entries, up to 12 minutes in length, to your online tree. The second is a marriage index for Radnorshire (Wales) from 1813 - 1835, transcribed from both the parish registers and bishop's transcripts for the county. Original images are not shown. For more information visit .


New file releases from the National Archives (Kew)

The National Archives has just released new files from 1977, including files on an unauthorised SAS incursion into the Irish Republic (PREM 16/1339), the Lib/Lab pact (PREM 16/1399), the Windscale and Grunwick disputes (PREM 16/1409 and PREM 16/1491), and more. For more info, visit


Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Strathclyde University Genealogy Lecture Series 2008

Organised by the Centre for Lifelong Learning, the University of Strathclyde will be holding the following monthly public lectures at 6.30pm on the following Tuesday evenings:

8 JAN 2008 - The Law of Arms and Heraldic Practice in the New Russia, by Michael Y. Medvedev, Heraldic Council to the President of the Russian Federation.

5 FEB 2008 - German-Jewish Ancestry, by Jeanette Rosenberg; Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain.

4 MAR 2008 - Architectural History and Genealogy by Professor John Hume, Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland

6 MAY 2008 - Gravestone Symbolism, by John G. Harrison, historian, Stirling

3 JUN 2008 - The Confusing herladry of St Margaret, by Dr Bruce Durie, University of Strathclyde

1 JUL 2008 - The Slave Trade and its Implications for Genealogy, by Dr Eric J. Graham, author and historian

The cost of entry is £3, and the venue is the ground floor (level 2), Graham Hills Building, 40 George Street, Glasgow, G1 1QE. Contact 0141 548 5778 for more details or visit

See you there!

Chris update

Ancestry has now finished digitising the records at Perth's A.K.Bell Library and has begun to digitise Fife records in Cupar. Already online are the newspaper index cards to both Perth and Fife. A great deal of material at Perth was digitised, including valuation rolls, directories, 1767 and 1773 censuses, and much, much more. Once these have been indexed at their centre in Beijing, these will be released over the next year. The Fife offerings will then follow suit.

Other recent offerings from Ancestry have included their new "DNA Ancestry" service, for which I have written an article for Your Family Tree issue 59 (with a big thumbs up!), and the 'burnt records' series of World War 1 army pensions. Currently surnames from A-C have been uploaded, along with all of the 'unburnt' records. The Medal Index Cards for WW1, which they have been digitising in Salisbury, were completed at the beginning of December, and are now being indexed for the site, so expect these soon.


Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Scotland's People updated early

Scotland's People will be releasing their next update earlier than usual, on Dec 31st, though in an e-mail newsletter listed the wrong years now available to view, all of which were out by a year! The correct years are 1907 for births, 1932 for marriages (which was a very problematic project for them due to the quality of the original returns), and deaths for 1957. They have also now added a second forename search field for census searches, making it considerably easier to identify a correct family. For full details visit . The modern indexes are still not available, but are imminent.

It will be interesting to see if Scotland's People maintain the same pricing structure once the Scotland's People centre opens in late spring. £6 to see five records online as opposed to £10 unlimited access to view everything for a day at the GROS (including monumental inscriptions, register of the Court of the Lord Lyon, sasines, and much more) seems slightly imbalanced!


Monday, 24 December 2007

Santa Claus revealed

Who invented Santa? Have a butchers...


Nollaig Chridheil

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur!

That's Scottish Gaelic for "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year", and it's pronounced "noll-eg cree-yel ugus blee-anna vah oor" if you fancy impressing your mates!

Alec Salmond gave the annual Sabhal Mor Ostaig lecture the other night at the Gaelic college in Skye, and in this said that he wanted Gaelic to be a national language of Scotland again. I couldn't agree more that its status does need to be better secured in Scotland - I spent years learning the language in Bristol (long story!) and would hate for all that effort to have gone for nothing!

But here's an irony. The other Scots language, Lallans, receives more government funding in Northern Ireland, where it is known as Ullans (Ulster Lallans), than it does in Scotland. I remember visiting the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland last year in Belfast and seeing the exit markled as "ootgang". At first I thought it must have been in some European language, until I twigged that an "ootgang" was where you "ganged oot"! I've seen dozens of bilingual street signs in the west of Scotland, including here in my home of Largs ("Failte do'n Leargaidh Ghallda" - "Welcome to Largs"), where there is not a Gaelic speaking community, but I don't think I've ever seen bilingual signs here in both Scots and English. Shouldn't Scots get the same treatment to some extent? It was once the language of state after all, just as Gaelic was!

By the way, the translation of Queen Street Station into Gaelic in Glasgow is wrong - it says "Steisiun Sraid na Banrighinn" - but that means Queens (plural) Street station. At least if people are going to spend the money they should get it right! :)


Sunday, 23 December 2007

CD eBook - Memorabilia of Perth

The Memorabilia of Perth is a remarkable book, some 366 pages in length, which is an essential read for anyone with an interest in the local history of Perth or their own Perth based family history. First published in 1806 in Perth by William Morison, it contains the following:

A GUIDE TO PERTH (physical descriptions and stories relating to each of the streets in Perth, and surrounding countryside, at the turn of the 19th Century)
HISTORICAL MEMORANDA RESPECTING PERTH (including the earliest myths and history of Perth, and names of all Provosts, Bailies, Deans of Guild and Treasurers from 1465 to 1805)

Through Scotland’s Greatest Story I have now made this book available both as a CD based eBook, priced £12.99 +p&p, and as a PDF download, slightly cheaper at £10.99 available through Lulu publishing at, which also has an eleven page preview. For this and other CD products, please visit our shop at . (The range is limited just now, but will be expanding in 2008!)

Also, if you have a product or of an event forthcoming in Scotland, please drop me a note and I will happily give it a plug!


Burns Monument Centre, Kilmarnock

East Ayrshire Council is currently building a new genealogy centre in Kilmarnock's Kay Park for people wishing to do research without having to travel to Glasgow or Edinburgh to access digital images of Scottish birth, marriage, death and census returns (as at the General Register Office in Edinburgh), as well as local newspapers, maps, microfilms and much more. Called the Burns Monument Centre, it should be open later in 2008.

The centre will also host rare Burns memorabilia, and if you take the fancy, they'll even let you get married there too!


1832 Perthshire Electoral Roll

Colin Mayall of Caledonian Connections has transcribed the 1832 electoral roll for Perthshire, for the following parishes: Crieff, Comrie, Muthill, Balquhidder, Fowlis Wester, Monzie, Auchterarder, Monzievaird & Strowan, Blackford, Madderty, Dunning and Killin. It's free to access and available at

The entries list the heads of household who qualify for the vote, as well as their occupation and place of residence. Well worth a look, as this predates the first useful decennial census by some nine years.


Saturday, 22 December 2007

Here comes 2008

So here we go...! My first ever blog, no ideas where I'm going with it, but the aim is to try and keep you informed of things happening genealogically in Scotland, and also further afield. I thought I'd start off by listing a few things to keep an eye out for next year...

1) BBC Radio Scotland's new series of Digging Up Your Roots is provisionally slated to start on Jan 6th. I get to make an appearance in the 4th prog (27th), where we discuss the axe murder of my three times great granny, and investigate the impact that it had on her brother. I'm also slated to appear on BBC1's Reporting Scotland on Jan 3rd to discuss another murder I've been investigating for a client, but I'll say more about that closer to the time!

2) The Scotland's People website ( will be updated shortly with the release of births for 1907, marriages for 1932 and deaths for 1957. But the big news is that all Scottish record index entries to the present day will be made available online, although the digitised records themselves will not be. This is great news for those researching Scottish ancestry as it brings Scotland into line with the availability of English and Welsh indexes. Further developments down the line will include the release of the death records held at the GROS (currently being indexed), and the digitisation of the Roman Catholic baptismal and marriage registers for Scotland.

Of course, the big news is the imminent opening of the Scotland's People Centre in Spring (see The centre is being created out of the current General Register Office for Scotland (GROS), the National Archives for Scotland (NAS) and the Court of the Lord Lyon, and sees many changes and advantages for researchers. The current plan is that there will be two hours free access for anyone wishing to pop in and carry out some research, a full day's access will be dropped from £17 to £10, and the research terminal will have access to not only the current digitised birth, marriage, death and census images, but also to the registers held by the Court of the Lord Lyon, the sasine abridgements, and much more. The current GROS dome is to become an exhibition centre, and the main point of access for research will be in the current NAS building - so big, but very welcome, changes!

3) Next year is going to be a great year for those with Irish ancestry. The 1911 Irish Census for the whole island, north and south, has been digitised and is being released throughout the year by the National Archives of Ireland. The records for Dublin are already available, soon to be followed by those for Kerry, Antrim and Down. By the end of the year, the coverage for the whole island will be complete, and then onto the 1901 census! See

4) January sees the start of the second group of students on the Postgraduate certificate course in Genealogical Studies at the University of Strathclyde, and for the first time, there is a distance learning option. I'll be working as a tutorial assistant on the course whilst studying for the PgDip, so good luck to you if you are about to embark on it - it is a lot of fun!

Anyway, have a great Christmas, and a brilliant Hogmanay!