Wednesday, 30 April 2008

500 year old race to win a pair of red socks...

If you have a hole in one (or perhaps both) of your socks, you could always try to win a replacement pair by competing in the annual Carnwath Red Hose Race, due to take place on June 22nd. Instigated by James IV as a means to find the fastest runner capabale of bringing news of invasion, this year sees its 500th anniversary.

To enter, you need to be over 16 and resident in South Lanarkshire, and in desperate need of a new pair of red hose! The three mile long race is limited to just 150 runners this year.

For more information, visit .


Forthcoming Scottish Lectures and Events - May 2008

Who Do You Think You Are? Live – stand
Fri 2nd – Sun 4th May, London Olympia
Shetland Family History Society
E-mail: Web:

The Scottish National War Memorial by Lt. Col. Shepherd
West Lothian Family History Society
7.00pm Tues 6th May, Blackburn Community Centre
E-mail: Web:

Gravestone Symbolism by John G. Harrison
University of Strathclyde
6.30pm Tues 6th May, Ground Floor, Graham Hills Building, 40 George Street, G1 1QE (Entry £3)
Tel: 0141 5484147

The Great Families of Victorian Falkirk by Ian Scott (& AGM)
Central Scotland Family History Society

7.30pm Wed 7th May 2008, Smith Museum and Art Gallery, Dumbarton Road, Stirling. (NB: The society’s evening visit to NRH on May 14th has been cancelled.)

Annual General Meeting, and speaker tbc
Orkney Family History Society
7.30pm Thurs 8th May, Supper Room, Town Hall, Kirkwall.
Email: Web:

Annual General Meeting
East Ayrshire FHS
7.30pm Thurs 8th May 2008, Gateway Centre, Foregate Square, Kilmarnock
E-mail: Web:

Genetics in Family History by Kevin O’ Dell
Lanarkshire Family History Society
7.00pm Thurs 8th May, GLO Centre, Muir Street, Motherwell

Graveyarding Weekend
Tay Valley Family History Society
Sat 10th – Sun 11th May, Dunnichen Kirkyard, near Forfar, Angus (event at Balmerino Cemetery has been cancelled)
Tel: (01382) 461845. Web:

Visit to Anstruther Fisheries Museum
Fife Family History Society
Tues May 13th 2008
E-mail: Web:

Committee Meeting
West Lothian Family History Society
7.00pm Tues 13th May, Blackburn Community Centre
E-mail: Web:

The Kennedys of Culzean by Lorna Cawood
Alloway and Southern Ayrshire Family History Society
7.30pm Thurs 15th May 2008, Alloway Parish Church Halls, Auld Nick's View, Alloway, KA7 4RT
E-mail: Web:

Coal Mining by Matthew Hume, and AGM
Renfrewshire Family History Society
7:30pm Thurs 15th May 2008, Paisley Museum

The Lighter Side of Gaelic Medicine by Mary Beith
Comann Eachdraidh Uig

7.30pm Fri 16th May, Uig Community Centre. Free entry.

Moray - its Lands and People by Bruce Bishop
Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society
2:30pm Sat 17th May, Queen Street Church Hall, 79 Queen Street, Aberdeen
Tel: 01224 646323, Fax: 01224 639096
E-mail: Web:

Midlothian History Fair
Sat 17th May 2008 10:00am to 4.00pm, The Scottish Mining Museum, Newtongrange* Stands hosted by Historic Scotland, Black Diamonds Radio, local history societies, genealogy consultants and more. Entry Free

Borders Family History Fair
Sat 17th May 2008, Innerleithen Church Hall, Leithen Road, Innerleithen. T

Stands hosted by Borders FHS; Dumfries and Galloway FHS; Lothian FHS; Hawick Heritage Hub; Robert Smails Printing Works; Scottish Genealogical Society; and Sam Godley, professional genealogist.

Sir John Alexander McDonald by Graham MacDonell
Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society
7.30pm Mon 19th May, Lecture Theatre No. 1, Boyd Orr Building, Glasgow University, University Avenue, Hillhead, Glasgow.

Clans and the Highland Clearances by Rev. James Munro
Renfrewshire Family History Society
7.30pm Tues 20th May, Waterfront Leisure Complex, Greenock

Evening visit to New Register House
West Lothian Family History Society
Tues 20th May
E-mail: Web:

Annual General Meeting, and speaker Pat David.
North Perthshire Family History Group
7.30pm 22nd May 2008, The Tryst Hall, situated behind the Church, off West Moulin Road, Pitlochry

Taransay by Bill Lawson (plus boat trip to the island, weather permitting)
The Islands Book Trust

Sat 24 May 10.30am at Community Hall, Tarbert, Harris.

Municipal Heraldry, and AGMThe Heraldry Society of Scotland
11.00am Sat 24th May, A. K. Bell Library, Perth
E-mail: Web:


Monday, 28 April 2008

English & Welsh BMD indexes from 2006 no longer to be available online

In a surprise move, the General Register Office for England and Wales has confirmed that it will no longer be releasing index information for births, marriages and deaths from beyond 2006 to commercial family history websites such as Findmypast and Ancestry, on the basis that they have no legal requirement to do so. Indexes will still still be made available on fiche at local registry offices and libraries throughout England and Wales, and at the National Archives. This is clearly a blow for many family historians in Scotland with ancestors down south.

The GRO is attempting to create its own online index system called MAGPIE, but this is still some time away in coming.


Your Family Tree issue 64

The next issue of YFT has just arrived on my desk and contains all sorts of goodies! On the free CD is a copy of Charles Fox-Davies' work The Complete Guide to Heraldry - if you are thinking of doing the Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical Studies at the University of Strathclyde, it's well worth picking up, as it is on the reading list!

The magazine itself has a census guide, with contributions from John Grenham, Andrew Chapman and Scotland's Chris Duncan; fascinating articles on the tailoring industry, adoption records and the anniversary of the Penny Black stamp; and yours truly continues the series of getting started articles by an in depth look at statutory death certificates in the UK and Ireland.

In the magazine's news section, the debate on Irish records pricing which I explored in issue 62 heats up, this time with comments of regret from Ireland's Fine Gael spokeswoman for arts, sports and tourism on the new Irish Family History Federation pay per view system. A day after the IFHF website was launched, Olivia Mitchell is reported to have commented "It was regrettable that the new genealogy service was designed to be a commercial one... It was always envisaged that this kind of public information should be freely available to the public". Indeed.

YFT 64 is on sale at your nearest newsagent!


Old Bailey trials go online

Trial papers from the Old Bailey have been digitised and made available on a new website by researchers from the Open University, and the Universities of Hertfordshire and Sheffield. The site hosts the records of Old Bailey Session Papers from 1674 to 1913, consisting of some 200,000 different cases. At the time of writing, the URL at was slow to access and terribly unstable, but it is well worth a look!


Cheaper access to GROS from today

From today, the price of entry for a full day's research in the General Register Office for Scotland is reduced in price from £17 to £10. It should be noted that if you wish to do half a day in the building, the price will still remain at £10 as before.

The reduced entry cost is now in effect as part of the new pricing structure for the forthcoming ScotlandsPeople Centre, which was intended to open in April, but which has since suffered some delays. I recently announced on this site that the opening had been pushed back to June, though this may still be optimistic. When the centre is finally open, there will be additional pricing changes - for example, free two hour sessions, as well as an assisted search scheme at £20 per hour.


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland 1853

New from Scotland's Greatest Story is an eBook presentation of an important dataset on the nobility and the titled classes. The Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage of Great Britain and Ireland 1853 is a fascinating book of over 720 pages in length, and contains the following:

Introductions and Illustrations
Inferior Titles of Living Peers
The Royal Family
Peers, Baronets, Knights, Bishops and Privy Councillors (the major biographical directory section of the book)
Sons, Daughters etc of Peers Bearing Courtesy Titles
Courtesy Titles of Second Marriages
Second Titles of Peers with no Male Issue to Enjoy the Title
Brief View of Titular Distinctions and Terms Relating to Rank
Formal Modes of Addressing Letters to Persons of Title
Lists of the Orders of Knighthood
The Privy Council 1853
The Advertising Sheet (40 page advertising supplement)

This book is now available on CD in PDF format (requiring Adobe Reader) for the price of £12.99.

For more information, or to purchase a copy, please contact us at


Family History Fair at Perth

Advance notice for you Perthshire folk! There will be a local family history fair at Perth's A. K. Bell Library on August 23rd 2008. More news on this soon...


Saturday, 19 April 2008

"A Short Life in the Sky" - new Scottish Archives for Schools resource

From the National Archives of Scotland website:

"The National Archives of Scotland's education website, Scottish Archives for Schools, is pleased to announce the launch of its latest resource, 'A short life in the sky, 1915-16', based on the letters of a young WW1 Scottish pilot.

"When war broke out in 1914, aeroplanes were still a relatively new invention. John Douglas Hume, known as Douglas by his family and friends, left his home in Fife at the age of 18 to join the Royal Naval Air Service. He trained in England and saw action in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and Turkey.

"He was a prolific letter writer. His correspondence displays a range of style and feeling that cannot fail to stir the interest and emotions of the reader. Thanks to his family who kept his letters and photographs, we can experience his life as a pilot from May 1915 until his untimely death in December 1916. The records are part of the Hume papers, which are held at the National Archives of Scotland, NAS ref. GD486."

To view the resource, visit the Scottish Archives for Schools website at


Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE

It's coming up fast! The Who Do You Think You Are? Live weekend from 2- 4 May 2008 at the Grand Hall, Olympia, London, promises to be a spectacular event. As well as live talks and special guests Alistair McGowan, Natasha Kaplinsky, Nicky Campbell, Peter and Dan Snow, and Tony Robinson, this year there will be two other events running in parallel - Military History Live and Discover Archaeology Live. A feast of genealogical and historical activity for £20 a day (£18 if booked in advance). More information at

This will be my first time at the event, and I will be helping out on the Family History Quests stall at stand 326 for part of Friday and Saturday, so for all your archive book and genealogical data CDs, please do come along and have a look - and if you read this blog, do say hi! For the new and updated Family History Quests catalogue, please visit

See you there!


Thursday, 17 April 2008

Records of the Weavers of Perth Volume 1

Now available from Scotland's Greatest Story:

Records of the Weavers of Perth: Volume 1 (data resource on CD)
£15 plus £2 p&p

This first volume of 18th Century and 19th Century weavers' records transcriptions, relating to the handloom weaving industry of Perth, Scotland, contains the following:

* Children born to weavers in Perth between 1770 and 1844 (almost 9000 entries sourced from the OPRs and arranged alphabetically)
* Freeman Weaver Voters 1821 and 1830
* Freemen Appointments Book 1719 - 1812 (over 200 entries)
* Weaver Incorporation Indenture Book: Indentures 1746-1794
* Weaver Incorporation Indenture Book: Minutes 1794 - 1809
* Indenture papers held at Perth & Kinross Archives
* Weavers' subscriptions to their seat in St. John's Kirk, Perth 1749 - 1751
* Weavers in 1837 Perth trade directory
* Weavers in 1843-44 Perth trade directory
* Weavers noted in the 1802 Militia Act Census for Perth (343 entries)

The CD is presented in PDF format (requiring Adobe Acrobat to be read)

For more information, please visit


Monday, 14 April 2008

2011 UK census date set

Sorry folks, I missed this when it was announced! The 2011 census date for the UK has been set for Sunday, March 27th, the earliest date since the decennial census was first recorded in 1801. This date has been chosen in order that the census can be taken before Easter and before campaigning commences for the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary Elections.

For more information, visit


Friday, 11 April 2008

New Archive Centre opens in Lochaber

The new £80,000 Lochaber Archive Centre (Ionad Tasglann Loch Abar) was formally opened today by the Lord Lieutenant, Donald Cameron of Lochiel. The centre holds all the family papers of the Camerons of Lochiel and Lochailort, as well as archives of the parishes within Lochaber.

For more information, visit


Thursday, 10 April 2008

Culloden descendants found

The result of the search for two children with ancestors who fought at the Battle of Culloden has finally been announced by the National Trust for Scotland as Scott Hay, 11, from Kincraig, and Philip Nicol, six, of Inverness.

For more information, visit


Monday, 7 April 2008

June opening for ScotlandsPeople Centre

A couple of days ago the GROS announced news of price reductions for those wishing to carry out research in New Register House, effective from April 28th 2008. The reason for this is that the new ScotlandsPeople Centre was originally hoping to open on this date, with the new pricing structure agreed by statute to commence from then. A series of last minute complications has unfortunately forced the opening to be pushed back, and it is now intended that the opening will take place in June, though a final date has still yet to be confirmed.

In this month's Practical Family History, now on sale, yours truly has written an article giving an insight into what can be expected from the new centre when it opens in June. Accompanied by Deputy Registrar for Scotland, Paul Parr, and Head of ScotlandsPeople, Dee Williams, I was given an exclusive insight into the new centre in February of this year, where the pair informed me of the many wonderful things soon to become available, including amongst other things, access to digitised images from the Scottish Public Register of Arms, wills, and many other exciting new offerings, all accessible from the same terminal. There is also news in the article of further developments down the road for the centre, including forthcoming access to the digitised death records held at the GROS, and plans to take the brand further afield across Scotland.

Practical Family History is available for sale now at all very friendly newsagents...!


Saturday, 5 April 2008

Traceline service withdrawn from English and Welsh GRO site

The 'Traceline' service, which for some years has been prominent on the G.R.O. homepage for England and Wales, has been withdrawn from public use as of April 1.

Traceline will still accept enquiries from charities such as the Salvation Army. The decision to remove it from the GRO website follows the transfer of the service from the Office for National Statistics to the Information Centre for Health and Social Care, but no indication has been given to explain the decision.

(With thanks to Elicia at the YFT forum).


Friday, 4 April 2008

New prices for access to GROS

As of April 28th 2008, the prices for access to the General Register Office for Scotland will be revised, and the good news is that it is in the customer's favour! As of this date, a full day's access will be reduced to £10, from the current £17. This is part of the new pricing structure agreed by statute in preparation for the new ScotlandsPeople family history centre, which was originally intended to open on this date, but which has been delayed by a short while. When ScotlandsPeople does open for business, there will also be a free two hour search available, though it is unclear just now whether this will apply from April 28th or from the opening of the centre. For more on the new pricing structure, visit .

Please note that the reduction in price for the access pass will be reflected in the charges made by us at Scotland's Greatest Story ( from this date, making it even cheaper to have your family history researched!

An exclusive advance look at the inside of the new ScotlandsPeople centre will appear in the next issue of Practical Family History, with yours truly having been given a guided tour of the new set up by Dee Williams, head of the centre, and Paul Parr, Deputy Registrar General for Scotland. As well as the new pricing structure, there will be exclusive details of what can be expected from the new centre.


Thursday, 3 April 2008 completes Ancestors on Board passenger lists

The website has completed its project to scan and index the complete set of outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages from all British ports between 1890 and 1960. Working in association with The National Archives of the United Kingdom, the project took a team of 125 people over a year to scan in the 1.1 million full colour individual pages - some handwritten, some typed. In total 24 million passengers are recorded travelling between these dates.

Accompanying some of the 1960 lists are scans of the handwritten departure cards completed by each passenger. These show the full date of birth of the passenger as well as their UK address and occupation, with the names and dates of birth of any children travelling with them on the reverse.

For more information visit


Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Your Family Tree issue 63 (Spring 2008)

This month's Your Family Tree magazine is now on sale, and for Scots there is the welcome freebie on the accompanying CD, in the form of a copy of Black's Guide to Scotland 1883, a late 19th Century tourist guide for the country.

Also in the magazine are articles on criminal ancestors, a region guide for Renfrewshire, the story of straw workers, a case study on Britain's first female registrar, and memories of VE Day. Yours truly has also contributed a getting started guide to statutory marriage certificates in Britain and Ireland.

For more on this month's magazine, visit


Ulster Historical Foundation records - new site and price

The Ulster Historical Foundation has made its birth, marriage and death records available at a new website, as part of its link to the Irish Family History Foundation. The new site can be accessed at and is similarly constructed to the other county sites represented through the IFHF.

A key development is the drop in price, but there appears to be a discrepancy in the pricing between the two sites which give access to the society's records. On the original site at the records have come down in price to £4.50 per record, or £3 if you are a member of the UHF; the records can be viewed for 48 hours after purchase.

However, on the new site above, the price is cheaper, at 5 Euros per look up, which is currently just under £4 Sterling, and there would appear to be more records available. So if you need to use the records, head for this site instead!

I have long been campaigning for a reduction in the price of records available through these Irish sites, so any drop in price is welcome, however, it is still my impression that for what you get, the price is still steep, and fundamentally, the search interface is still not great in helping you to narrow down to the right record that you are seeking. In issue 62 of Your Family Tree magazine, I wrote an article heavily criticising the pricing structure of these companies, and in this month's issue, Fintan Mullan, executive director, was given the right of reply. The following is his statement:

"The Foundation does not receive public funding to support its work, and exists through the sale of its goods, and through donations. While keeping costs to a minimum it has to set charges to recoup the cost of providing services to the public. As costs continue to rise for all businesses and charities, certain fees have had to be increased to take account of these increases."

The price drop was not alluded to by Mr. Mullan, and so it would seem therefore that this price drop is a very recent development, which is to be welcomed.