Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year - Bliadhna Mhath Ur!

A Happy New Year to everyone! Bliadhna Mhath Ur dhuibh uile!

When belting out the words to Burns' classic Auld Lang Syne, you might be interested to know that the man never wrote it! Burns took down the words from a folk singer in 1788, but a much older version of the song is known to exist, "Old Lang Syne", first written down by James Watson in 1711. The following are the words from Watson's transcription:

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
on Old long syne.

On Old long syne my Jo,
in Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
on Old long syne.

My Heart is ravisht with delight,
when thee I think upon;
All Grief and Sorrow takes the flight,
and speedily is gone;
The bright resemblance of thy Face,
so fills this, Heart of mine;
That Force nor Fate can me displease,
for Old long syne.


Since thoughts of thee doth banish grief,
when from thee I am gone;
will not thy presence yield relief,
to this sad Heart of mine:
Why doth thy presence me defeat,
with excellence divine?
Especially when I reflect
on Old long syne


Compare that to Burns version:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and days o'auld lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot,
sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.


For more on the story of Auld Lang Syne, visit Wikipedia at

Whatever ye end up singing - Happy New Year!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Manchester finds - Jacobites and census schedule

I've just spent the last three days in Manchester, visiting several members of my wife's family, and staying in the very highly recommended Brittania Hotel on Portland Street. Unfortunately I can't switch off the old genealogy radar, so the following are a couple of discoveries I made whilst on a very typical Northern Irish 'dander' around the place...!

Whilst wandering aimlessly around the centre I came upon St Ann's Church at St. Ann's Square. A series of old tombstone covers drew my attention beside the church wall, and lo and behold, I was onto the Jacobites of the 45. Two stories were in fact connected. From the explanatory plaque, the following:

The tomb of Joseph Hoole, the second rector of St. Ann's, meanwhile takes us back to an historical moment. Hoole was interred on 19 November 1745, the day that the Stuart Pretender to the throne, Bonnie Prince Charlie, entered Manchester. Townsfolk were impressed that although St Ann's supported the Hanoverian monarch George II, the officers of the rebel (Jacobite) army joined the mourners in paying their respects.

Another monument marks that unhappy time. This is the tomb of the argumentative Thomas Deacon who was firmly of the Jacobite party but fell out with them at exactly the wrong time - just before he died in 1753. As a result his body was refused burial at the Jacobite Collegiate Church (the present day Cathedral) and eventually after ten days was generously admitted to the churchyard of those he'd objected to.

What interested me about these is the way that in Scotland we often think of the rebellion as being a very Scottish thing, with the fact the Jacobites made it to Derby and scared everyone to death for all of two seconds as a sort of footnote that really marked the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, depending on your point of view. In fact, the rebellion had an impact down south also, with real stories affecting real people. I've never really heard the Jacobite rebellion from an English point of view, ie at the ordinary townsfolk's viewpoint as opposed to the Hanoverian aristocracy, so these two simple stories were a fresh take for me on a very overtrodden story up here in Alba.

Later in the day I also visited the Manchester Art Gallery. In the Manchester Exhibition I came across a section on the city's textiles heritage, and lo and behold, what did I find but a cotton handkerchief with a humorous print satirising the 1881 census. Despite the interesting satire, what really drew my attention to it was the fact that the images used to lampoon the questions seemed to have been set against a faithful representation of an original household schedule from 1881, as opposed to the enumerator's returns which we use in our research. I've only previously seen a household schedule for the 1911 censuses in England and Ireland, so this was an interesting discovery.

(Apologies for the poor quality of the images, taken wthout a flash on my phone). Anyway, I've also brought back a really nasty cold, but will do my best to keep on top of things over the next few days on the news front!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Discover my Past Scotland 15 on sale

Issue 15 of the online Scottish family history magazine Discover my Past Scotland (January 2010) has gone on sale with many new year goodies to keep you busy on the reading front...

In this latest edition, John Hannavy recalls Scottish public transport in days gone by, Caroline Makein takes a look at the linoleum industry in Kirkcaldy, Anne Rendall examines Dundee's seafaring legacy, whilst there's also a look at 140 years of People's Friend magazine, the Scottish census of 1871 and resources for ancestors in Dunbar. The usual regular features are also present, including the latest Scottish genealogical news and family history book reviews from yours truly.

Truly outrageous value at just £2.50, and available from

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Irish census website updated

The National Archives of Ireland census website has been updated to provide substantially more search options for the 1911 census. New search options include: Relation to Head of Household, Literacy, Occuptation, Marital Status, County/Country of Origin, Language Proficiency, Specified Illnesses, Number of Years Married, Number of Children Born, and Number of Children Living.

The site is available at and access to the digitised records is completely free.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

ScotlandsPeople records update

From ScotlandsPeople

Dear ScotlandsPeople customer,

We are pleased to announce that we have now released the new years statutory images containing records from the Statutory Register of Births for 1909, the Statutory Register of Marriages for 1934, and the Statutory Register of Deaths for 1959.

Please note that our help desk is planning to observe the public holidays of 1st and 4th Jan. During this time we will however keep you informed of the site status via the normal online message system.

Don't forget to check out the latest edition of Discover My Past Scotland Magazine, published online by brightsolid ltd, at January's edition is out on 29th December.

Look out for exciting announcements in the coming year regarding the addition of more data to the site.

Happy New Year to everyone from ScotlandsPeople.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Pharos courses discount offer

I posted an item a few days ago about online genealogy courses through Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Limited. Now Lost Cousins ( have announced in their latest newsletter that there is currently an offer on with a 20% discount on all courses for 2010, if purchased by December 31st 2009.

That means if you want to do the Scottish Research Online course, taught by yours truly, the cost will be about £34.40 instead of £42.99, if you purchase through the offer. Further details, inlcuding the code necessary for the discount, are available at Lost Cousins' newsletter -

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Archive CD Books Ireland winter sale

From Archive CD Books Ireland:

Dear Archive CD Books Britain and Ireland customer,

Didn't get exactly what you wanted for Christmas?

Never mind - with 50% off most Archive CD books Britain and Ireland titles during our Winter Sale, you're bound to find something that's perfect for you!

Don't miss out though - the sale runs from 26th December 2009 to 10 January 2010. Browse the
Archive CD Books Britain and Ireland shop now.

Happy New Year!

The Archive CD Books Britain and Ireland team

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Lost Cousins free subscription for 2010 offer

From Peter Calver at Lost Cousins (

It won't cost a penny, a cent, a rouble, or a yen to find living relatives at LostCousins between Christmas Day and January 4th - all members old and new will have subscriber privileges for those 11 days!

Make sure that you take FULL advantage of this opportunity - the more relatives you enter on your My Ancestors page, the more cousins you'll find, because every single one is a potential link to a new cousin.

Of course, the more researchers who take part in the unique LostCousins project, the greater the opportunity to make connections. That's why - for the first time ever - I'm offering you the chance to bring in your friends and relatives as new members by offering them a one-year subscription that costs absolutely NOTHING!

That's right - any new member who joins between now and January 4th 2010 quoting the offer code PROJECT1881 in the offer codes box at the bottom of the registration form will get a complimentary subscription that lasts until December 31st, 2010. There is only one catch - the new member must have at least one British ancestor who was recorded on the 1881 Census.

How many people do you know who are researching their British ancestry - but AREN'T LostCousins members? This fantastic offer is a great way to expand the membership for the benefit of existing members - but of course the new members also benefit, because they're getting a subscription that normally costs 10 pounds for absolutely nothing.

There are more special offers online in the special Christmas edition of my newsletter - for example, if you are quick, you can SAVE 15% on a subscription to findmypast!

To read the newsletter simply click the link below (if that doesn't work for any reason, just highlight it, copy it, then paste it into your browser). Remember, you don't need your password - it's not necessary to log-in just to read the newsletter.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Nollaig Chridheil - Merry Christmas!

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

To all readers of the SGNE blog, have a great holiday!

And I think I might have found a new method of transport to get me to Edinburgh to do some full on festive genealogical research. That old Police Box on Glasgow's Buchanan Street needs to be put to good use...!

Genealogists are basically time travellers after all...!

Have a good one!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Discover NLS issue 14 online

The National Library of Scotland's free to read online magazine Discover NLS (issue 14) is now online at

There are articles on the first race to the North Pole, Scottish theatre history, NLS maps, and a look at The Lyon in Mourning, a compilation of eye witness accounts compiled by the Reverend Robert Forbes following the 1745-46 Jacobite rebellion (though the library does curiously omit the fact that it has actually digitised a later transcription of the document and made it available for free consultation at

I didn't know about this magazine's existence until I picked up on it via the NLS's Twitter pages this morning, but it's a good read if you're at a loose end this Christmas Eve!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

1901 and 1911 Irish census update

The Irish censuses release timetable has slipped yet again, but progress is being made, as announced on the National Archives of Ireland's census website at

All thirty-two counties for 1911 are now available on this site.

The site is being re-developed to include full transcription of all of the data on the household forms for 1911, including religion, occupation, relationship to head of family, literacy status, county or country of origin, Irish language proficiency, specified illnesses, and child survival information. This additional information will be launched online on 29/30 December 2009.

1901 Census material, with all data transcribed, will be launched between early and mid-2010.

On the plus side - it is free and worth the wait! The 1911 census has already been released, and has been beautifully digitised, and 1901 will be with us soon. Some 1901 material is available from the Irish Family History Foundation, but in the form of expensive transcriptions at five Euros per look up. Hold on for a few more weeks folks, and you'll get the real deal - original scans from the enumerators' returns, at no cost whatsoever.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Irish Family History Foundation changes web domain

The Irish Family History Foundation has announced that it will be changing the domain name through which it offers its online records from to The former name will continue to operate for a whle, but will be phased out in due course.

The site has also announced the following records additions:

Co. Antrim
25,000 Church of Ireland birth records

Co. Armagh
almost 2,000 census records (from the 1821 census)

Co. Down
3000 Church of Ireland birth records

Co. Leitrim
18,000 birth records
7,000 marriage records
54,000 census records

Co. Mayo
42,000 baptismal records,
25,000 marriages
3,500 deaths
28,000 census records

Co. Cork
11,000 births
4,000 marriages
21,000 Gravestone inscriptions
9,000 census

The site will also be placing records from counties Laois, Offaly and Wexford available online in early 2010.

Again, as with the UHF, the cost of the site's records could do with a reduction, being 5 Euros each for a transcript, and no discount available for a bulk purchase. People are not made of money, and at present, particularly in Ireland where the recession is hitting particularly hard, this fact must surely not be rocket science.

Maybe it is just me, but I still fail to see how pricing people out of affordable access to their heritage can be to the Irish family history society movement's benefit.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Ulster Historical Foundation moves

The Ulster Historical Foundation has moved to the Malone Road area of Belfast. From the UHF:

We have successfully moved into our new and permanent premises on the Malone Road in Belfast, this for people who dont know the area, is very close to Queens university and the Belfast museum at Botonic, a very nice area.

By Easter, we hope to have our research centre and library up and running, this will include our complete resource library which is currently in storage and several computer terminals to search our many databases. These facilities will be open to members and to the public, on a reserve basis.

Our Volunteer staff are currently working on several different data bases, the full list will be published and uploaded early in the New Year.

As usual, there is no information on any forthcoming plans to reduce their online database access costs, and as before, for £30 annual membership (with discounted costs for longer membership periods), you are entitled to the privilege of purchasing records online at half price. As I think I've mentioned before, I can't think of another online genealogy supplier that asks for an annual membership subscription but then still charges you substantially for access to its records.

Then again, I can't think of any others based on the Malone Road in Belfast. Which is a very nice area...!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research - free access for Christmas

World Vital Records ( has announced free access to its site from December 23rd to December 28th, and without credit card registration. Amongst collections worth having a look at for Scottish input are:

1) a database of 14,000 burials extracted from the OPRs by Shauna C. Anderson at Brigham Young University, available at World Vital Records (, covering the following parishes - Cockpen, Midlothian; Cranston; Crichton; Dalkeith; Dunfermline, Fife; Edinburgh; Fala; Gladsmuir; Heriot; Humbie; Newbattle; Pencaitland, Midlothian; Prestonpans, East Lothian; Salton; Shotts; Tranent and East Lothian.

2) Records of Scottish militiamen within the Militia Attestations Index (1886-1910) and within the Irish Militia Attestations Index (1872-1915)

3) Directories such as the General Almanack of Scotland and British Register, for 1810, being the second after bissextile, or leap year, Containing an improved kalendar, with the usual lists; directories for Glasgow, Greenock, Paisley &c; Jones’ Directory of Glasgow for 1787; and an Orkney 1926 Almanac and Directory (including a list of the Justices of the Peace for the Orkney District, as well as a Kirkwall and Stromness Trades Directory).

4) The UK Marriage Witness Index 1655-1992 database, a small collection of records with just 58,816 names from across the UK, though there are many Scottish entries. The marriage records can be searched not only by the names of the contracting partners, but also crucially by witnesses.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Dick Eastman's blog - viewing problems

Many readers will, I am sure, also follow Dick Eastman's blog at Although mainly American in content, it does provide a fair amount of British items also, and is one of many blogs that I keep an eye on every day when compiling my own blog here.

In the last couple of days I have been unable to view Dick's blog online, and it appears that others have had the same problem. Dick has in fact posted a solution to the problem on his blog, though not being able to view the blog, this was not an immediate help! However, after a bit of Googling, I have now found out what the problem was, thanks to a repost
here of Dick's message. For those still unable to view the blog, the problem is not with the blog, but with Internet Explorer 8, which has basically thrown a wobbly and decided not to play ball when displaying the site's contents.

The workaround is very simple - Internet Explorer 8 has a compatibility view which allows websites that it has a problem with to be viewed as if you were using an earlier version of Internet Explorer. To find it, go to Tools, and then Compatibility View Settings. Type in the blog address in the Add This Website box, et voila - all future visits should work OK. This should also work for any other websites that seemed to work fine in IE7 and earlier versions, but which are struggling with IE8.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Who Do You Think You Are? Live workshops

Timetables for the workshops taking place in the next Who Do You Think You Are? Live event in February 2010 are now online at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

ScotlandsPeople Christmas message

From those awfully nice folk at ScotlandsPeople...

ScotlandsPeople would like to wish everyone the very best for the festive season.

2009 has been a busy year for ScotlandsPeople with the launch of the modern Statutory Marriage indexes, Old Parish Records Deaths and Burials indexes and images, 1881 census indexes and images and the Catholic Parish Registers of Births and Baptisms.

We are pleased to give you advanced notice of the early release of the new years statutory images containing records from the Statutory Register of Births for 1909, the Statutory Register of Marriages for 1934, and the Statutory Register of Deaths for 1959. Look out for further details early next week.

Please note that our help desk is planning to observe the public holidays of 25th and 28th December and 1st Jan and 4th Jan. During this time we will however keep you informed of the site status via the normal online message system.

If you are coming to visit the ScotlandsPeople centre in Edinburgh over the festive period then make sure to call in to see the family history of Formula 1 and shooting champion Sir Jackie Stewart OBE as the final distinguished Scot until the end of December. Check the website for more details

Don't forget to check out the latest edition of Discover My Past Scotland Magazine, published online by brightsolid ltd, at January's edition is out on 29th December.

Finally, look out shortly for exciting announcements regarding the addition of more data to the site.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone from ScotlandsPeople.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Who was Jesus' gramps?

Who was Jesus' grandfather? That's the interesting debate discussed in an article in Christianity Today ( Apparently the genealogies of Jesus differ in two of the gospels, Matthew and Luke, with one naming his grandfather as Jacob, the other as Heli.

I'm not at all religious, but it is a fascinating article which I would recommend reading, as it reveals a great deal about ancient Jewish tradition from 2000 years ago, and more fundamentally raises the point that a family tree may not always appear to be what it seems...

Incidentally, my son Jamie was a shepherd in his P.1 nativity last week. I videoed the perfomance and when we watched it at home I asked him who certain of his classmates were playing. The wee lad standing beside Mary and the baby Jesus in the stable, wearing a dressing gown, with a towel on his head, and taking gifts from wise men and shepherds, turns out to have been playing God in an impressive piece of logical deduction, because "he was Jesus' dad"... (my boy misses nothing!).

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Some Australians have royal ancestors...

I've never quite understood the desire of some people to prejudge their ancestry by wishing to discover a link to royalty or the nobility, such as those who appeared in the Sky TV series "So You You Think You're Royal". Don't get me wrong, at the risk of being hanged, drawn and quartered as a traitor to the realm, the current royals are a harmless if somewhat quirky bunch who do a lot of good for the country, and as Billy Connolly says, if anybody should save the Queen, God's the very chap!!! But skip back a few centuries to the Stuarts, with their 'divine right of kings' and their ruthless desire to stamp out religious dissidents, or to the Conqueror, who basically brought an invading army over to conquer the English and levelled the country in the process (look for the many instances of the word 'vasta' in the Domesday Book, it signals the places he laid to waste), and I personally struggle to see an admirable trait. I suspect the 'little people', such as my own ancestors, were the last things they were concerned with...

However, a survey by Ancestry's Australian branch has now revealed that 11 per cent of Australians are descended from British nobility. Maybe it's a fascinating fact, but if so, it's one which sits in second place to the even more fascinating conclusion that a whopping 89% aren't. 23% are also descended from convicts (77% aren't), and 13% from a historical famous figure (87% aren't). Quite why the survey should seek to measure this is beyond me. Is it to encourage people to go looking for such connections? If so, is that what family history is about?

I believe that not only is family history essentially a personal affair, but we are the sum of all of our ancestral parts, and so such surveys are basically irrelevant. Mrs Miggins from the local pie shop may not have a royal or a convict in her tree - but is her family history any less interesting for it?! And she probably has a better recipe book...!

Anyway, enough from me, the story is in the Herald Sun as
Australians discover royalty, not just convict past...!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monumental Inscriptions for Ettrick and Kirkhope

The Scottish Association of Family History Societies website has news of two new publications form Borders FHS, in the form of monumental inscription works for the parishes of Ettrick and Kirkhope. Both are in CD format, priced at £10.

For more information, visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Scottish Poor Law course at Society of Genealogists in London

The Society of Genelaogists is running a half day course at its premises in London on March 6th, to be taught by Willie Cross. The course commences at 10.30am and costs £17.50 (£14 members), and bookings can now be made. No further information on the course is available at present, so do keep an eye out on the society's website at if interested for more details.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monday, 21 December 2009

National Library of Scotland - YouTube channel

The National Library of Scotland has a YouTube channel with many films from the Scottish Screen archive. Films loaded today include Gas Mask Drill at Glasgow Primary School (1940) and Snow Blizzard in Scotland (1947), Ice Skating on a Pond in the 1930s, Industrial Stirlingshire in the 1950s: coal mining, and Good Table Manners in the Scottish Home .

Lots of fun!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Scottish business archives saved in 2009

The Business Archives Scotland blog has posted an end of year summary on the big developments this year in working with businesses to preserve their records, particularly in a year where recession has seen many company closures.

Successes have included the records of local paper mills being transferred to St Andrew's University and a local heritage society in Aberdeenshire, the records of a Newmilns lace mill being transferred to Ayrshire Archives and the records of a gear and deck machinery manufacturers moving to Renfrewshire Archives.

The full post can be read at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Meerkats take over Ancestors magazine

Slightly belated this one, but it appears that meerkats have taken over Ancestors' magazine's blog!

Following the earlier experiment of allowing a guest contributor to edit the monthly NRA post (thanks again to William Bones of the British Buccaneering Federation), it has been decided to extend this facility to other minority groups. Consequently, this month’s post has been edited by a meerkat. This may explain any infelicities of style and inconsistencies of grammar, the correction of which, it was felt, might otherwise detract from the charm of the piece. Now read on...

The meerkats evaluation of the National Register of Archives then follows, with searches for institutions such as Covent Garden Meerkat, and Compare the The full report is at

A mythical spokesman for the National Archives has been completely unable to comment as to whether the litle furry critters have taken over Ancestors magazine, its blog, or in fact the whole asylum. A meerkat has given a statement however, saying "We are in charge now - simples!"

To all those outside the UK reading this - normal service will be reserved as soon as possible...!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Government supports Monday closures at Kew

The Government has posted a reply to an online petition, with 1779 signatures, demanding the re-opening of the National Archives at Kew (located at It's a statement which basically reprises TNA's press releases on the issue, and with only one significant additional line: "The changes have the full support of the Government."

So basically this means don't go flying down to London on a Monday morning for a day's work at Kew in the immediate

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The National Archives website - layout changes

The National Archives at Kew has again made changes to its website layout. From its news section:

Today we launch further improvements to The National Archives' website with our new homepage and our new Records section:

You can find advice and guidance on the records we hold, our Catalogue and other databases, as well as animated guides to archives and interactive tutorials to help you read old records. All the changes are based on extensive customer research and testing, to make it easier for you to find the information you need.

This latest stage in the redesign of our website follows the success of the new education section, launched in September, and the corporate pages launched last month. We'll be revealing our improved information management section next year.

We are always interested in receiving your feedback on our website. Please send your comments to

On the whole, a vast improvement, in that everything is now more logically grouped together in relevant areas, and at long last I can find the Hospital Database link again (it disappeared there for a bit)! On the downside, perhaps one or two more clicks to locate what you need now.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Mike Durtnall's Deeds Index site

In researching the First World War POW camp of Ruhleben, one of the sources I use is eBay, where material concerning the prisoners is regularly placed up for sale. Mike Durtnall is another researcher who uses eBay to source material. His site at contains a database of information that he has been gleaning from eBay and other auction based sites where material is constantly sold which the mortal researcher may never again see. From Mike's website intro:

Most of the documents are indentures or other property related documents such as conveyances, mortgages, leases etc. Other documents include wills, bibles, letters, commonplace books etc. Many of these documents are sold into private hands and the information they contain is lost to researchers. In the process many collections of documents and bundles of deeds are broken up and the collective information they contain lost forever. Hopefully some of this collective information will be retained through these pages.

Scotland is well served, with details on over 300 documents sourced by Mike made available through the following links:

Needless to say, the rest of the UK is well served also, as are Australia and the USA. God bless people like Mike Durtnall...! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

University of St. Andrews lion feels the cold?

The rampant lion as depicted on the coat of arms at St. Andrews University in Fife appears to be feeling the cold as much as the rest of us, with a symbolic loss of manhood (lionhood?!)! The disappearance of the vital part is apparently not in any way missing due to the appointment of the first female principal, Dr. Louise Richardson. A spokesperson has apparently claimed that "Anything that's been through 600 St Andrews winters is going to be feeling the cold more than most."

For more on the story, visit

The university's Arms, as matriculated by the Court of the Lord Lyon in 2006, can be seen at (Before the surgery...!)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Genealogy courses as Christmas present!

If you are desperate for a last minute Christmas present for a friend, a member of the family, or even yourself, why not sign up to one of the many online family history courses on offer through Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Limited (

On the Scottish front, I'll be teaching the Scottish Research Online course from April 14th (5 weeks), whilst Sherry Irvine will be running Scotland 1750 - 1850: Beyond the OPRs from July 6th (5 weeks). Feedback from students on the last Scottish Research Online course includes:

"Thank you for the great job you did in the Scottish Records Online class. I learned a great deal, and will learn more as I go through the lessons more thoroughly now that both kids are planted at school!"

"I particularly liked the fact that the course didn't just focus on the well-known BMD resources available, but on a much wider range of websites, including many which give extremely useful background information on the geography and history of the localities where our ancestors lived. I also liked the way some of the exercises in later lessons referred back to some of the sites and resources introduced in earlier lessons, which helped to reinforce what I'd learned before."

"The lessons were organized so well that I will use them as the basis of research on each branch of the family, going through each lesson in order. The lessons were also fun."

If you have Irish blood in you, Sherry Irvine will also be running Ireland: A Practical Approach to Family History from January 26th (5 weeks), whilst other courses beneficial to those studying Scottish family history include The National Archives Catalogue - Finding People (3 weeks), Migration in the British Isles (3 weeks), Developing and Writing Your Family History (3 weeks), Climbing Trees: How to get Children Interested in Family History (4 weeks), Old Handwriting for Family Historians (3 weeks), Military Men and Women: Records of Britain's Armed Forces 1750 - 1920, and many, many more.

A full list of courses is available at The courses are very inexpensive - a three week course will usually set you back just £32.99, whilst a 5 week course is typically just £42.99.

All the Pharos instructors look forward to hearing from you!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

New British army uniform

The BBC has a short piece on the introduction of the first new army uniform for forty years. Included in the piece is an interesting video interview with Julian Farrance of the National Archives at Kew about why armies have changed unforms in the past.

To read the story and to view the vid, go to

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Borders bookshop to close on Tuesday

I was in Glasgow end of last week and popped into Borders bookshop on Buchanan Street to check out the magazine rack, only to find the store was closing down, another casualty of the recession. It's sad to see it go (I much preferred Borders to Waterstones), but this is just a quick post to say that there is obviously a closing down sale now underway. I managed to pick up Graham Holton's and Jack Winch's revised edition of Discover Your Scottish Ancestry (I had the PDF copy, but nothing better than holding an actual book in your hand!), and Alan Stewart's Grow Your Own Family Tree, together for £11, and there are plenty of other genealogy and history books still available there, on the ground floor (relocated downstairs from the second floor for the sale).

A staff member told me that the store will be remaining open until Tuesday 22nd, so still time to pick up some last minute bargains, with various books at 50% off. I'm assuming that the other stores across the country will also be closing in Tuesday.

To all at Borders in Glasgow - a HUGE thanks for being such a great store, and for providing such a great service over the last few years. You will be sorely missed.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

1863-64 Glasgow Post Office directory at Google Books

A post office directory for Glasgow from 1863-64 is now available at Google Books, at

(With thanks to Alan Currie at Talking Scot).

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

National Library celebrates Scottish theatre

STV has a news report on the National Library of Scotland's new exhibition, Curtain Up: 40 Years of Scottish Theatre, which runs from December 19th to May 3rd 2010

To see the report visit, and for more on the exhibition see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Ships BMD records added to the

From S&N Genealogy's Twitter and Facebook pages: has now added Births, Marriages and Deaths onboard ships to their Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Records. Compiled from ships' official logs of births, deaths and marriages of passengers at sea by the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS) and its predecessor, the records range from 1854 to 1908 and include over 150,000 individuals, complete with images and full transcript.

The records are:

BT 158 - Registers compiled from ships' official logs of births, deaths and marriages of passengers at sea (1854-1908)

BT 159 - Registers of deaths at sea of British nationals (1875-1888)

BT 160 – Registers of births at sea of British nationals (1875-1891)

(With thanks to Nigel Bayley and team)

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More on the Religious Archives Survey

On September 4th I posted that the National Archives at Kew had commenced working with the Religious Archives Group (RAG) and the Society of Archivists to create a survey of religious archives from all faith traditions. The project came about as the result of an initiative by RAG. At the time of writing a Resource Discovery Officer was to be appointed to see the research through. (For more, see Survey of UK Religious Archives)

So - introducing Claire Muller, the new Resource Discovery Officer! Claire has kindly been in touch to say that further information about the project is now available on the Religious Archives Group website at

If you can contribute to the research, please do so - religious records lie at the very heart of genealogical research, and the more that we can become aware of what exists, the better chance we have of progressing our efforts. And we would be ever so grateful!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 18 December 2009

Britain's Small Wars

Family historians tend to be fascinated with the First and Second World Wars, due to their sheer scope and the fact that almost everybody has a connection. But what if your ancestor served in Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands or the Gulf?

A site I have been having a lot of fun on today, and which has many useful resources for more recent conflicts, is Britain's Small Wars at It is packed with photographs, lists of regiments involved, historical essays outlining the conflicts, and in many cases, rolls of honour listing those valiant Brits (and allies such as the Gurkhas) who laid down their lives for the cause. My father has a medal for naval service in Borneo, now I have a rough idea why he was there.

Thoroughly recommended.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 17 December 2009

ScotlandsPeople Centre news update

The ScotlandsPeople Centre has announced that it will be closed on the folllowing days over Christmas and the New Year:

Christmas Day - 25 December 2009
Boxing Day - 28 December 2009
New Year's Day - 1 January 2010
New Year Holiday - 4 January 2010

On Christmas Eve and Hogmanay the centre's shop will close early at 15:00. it is worth popping in just now, as there is a sale underway until Hogmanay, with 20% off everything. The centre's telephone booking/enquiry line will also close at 13:00 on each of these days, and there will only be six free taster places available for each session, so better get booking now if you want to avail yourself of one of them!

A prize draw is also underway for visitors attending the Famous Scots Exhibition before it finally finishes in Decemeber 31st. Fill in a questionnaire and you could win a copy of the latest edition of the NAS's Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors: The Official Guide. One to be given away each week until Hogmanay!

Finally, the centre has created an exceptionally useful A-Z of websites available for Scottish research. Well worth a look at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Brightsolid purchase of Friends/Genes Reunited

The Competition Commission is asking for public contributions towards its deliberations regarding the proposed purchase of Friends Reunited (and Genes Reunited) by Dundee based Brightsolid Group Limited.

For more information visit - the deadline for submissions is January 6th 2010.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Slaters Scottish Directory 1889 goes online

Slater's Royal National Commercial Directory of Scotland for 1889 is now available online via Family Relatives (

The company is also giving away 30 annual subscriptions to its site as prizes for those wishing to take a short survey, available at the following link -
Family Relatives survey

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

2011 Scottish census questions

The proposed questions for the 2011 census, to be taken on March 27th, have been made available online as part of a Draft Scottish Statutory Instrument to be considered by the Scottish Parliament. There will be 14 household questions and up to 35 questions for each individual.

To see the order and the proposed questions, visit

UPDATE: Dick Eastman has a post on the forthcoming 2010 US census at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Digging Up Your Roots series 5

BBC Radio Scotland's family history series Digging Up Your Roots returns to the old wireless for a fifth series from January 3rd to February 21st 2010, and for the first time programmes can be saved as downloadable podcasts.

Keep an eye on for details closer to transmission on the content in each edition - the station can be found between 92.4 and 94.7 MHz FM, and at 810KHz MW.

(With thanks to the Borders FHS blog)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Freedom of Information - is the Government sincere?

Guy Etchells has successfully argued for the release of the 1939 English and Welsh national registration census for information on those who were enumerated at the time but who are now deceased. Here he shares a few thoughts on the effectiveness of the act down south, and his belief that the government has an obligation to release the censuses from 1921 to 1971 also, citing the plight of many who were sent overseas through the child migrant scheme, for whom the information within the documents might be able to help when it comes to trying to trace family left behind.

Whenever the government are asked to release information from later census they trot out the old chestnut excuse that they cannot allow an early release of information because that would constitute a breach of promise.

They never remark that the promises they made in the White Paper in advance of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 promised that no class of records would be exempt.

“3.8 We believe the 15 exemptions in the Code of Practice can be substantially reduced. Indeed, we do not propose that the Act should contain exempt categories at all, but rather that disclosure should be assessed on a "contents basis", records being disclosed in a partial form with any necessary deletions, rather than being completely withheld. This ensures that the harm test is sensibly and realistically
applied to key areas. We have provisionally identified seven "specified interests" in place of the Code's exemptions.”

Or the promises that all requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act would be based on a presumption of openness.

“3.1 Decisions on disclosure under the FOI Act will be based on a presumption of openness.”

The fact that the present government is so quick to renege on modern promises concerning current legislation yet preciously guard historic promises that protect very little shows that they cannot be trusted.

Since the news of the Information Commissioner’s decision regarding my request for of information gathered under the 1939 National Registration many people have contacted me. These people include those who were shipped abroad as child migrants.

The government claim they are sorry for that action but at the same time deliberately obstructing their attempts to find their lost families by refusing to release census information.

If the government of today is truly sorry for the disgusting actions of their predecessors then they can prove this by immediately releasing all census from the 1921 up to 1971 inclusive to public inspection. Such a release is within the present laws of the land (Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007) and personal privacy issues could be safeguarded by redacting personal information as was done with the early release of the 1911 census.

Enough information would still be available to assist child migrants and others discover the truth of their situation.

Such a release would prove that the government were indeed honourable in their promises and intentions and truly concerned about the plight of those they abandoned.

(With thanks to Guy)

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Scottish genealogy in 2009

"It was the year of fire, the year of destruction, the year when everything changed...."

Sorry, not so much a description of Homecoming Scotland 2009 as the opening title sequence from 90s sci-fi show Babylon 5!!! But what did happen in 2009 for those researching their Scottish ancestry? I've asked a couple of fellow genealogists to let me have their thoughts on the year's most significant developments. ..

Scottish genealogist and writer Sheena Tait, now based on the Herefordshire/Middlesex border in England, regularly contributes articles to both Practical Family History and Family Tree Magazine. The following are what she believes to have been the biggest developments this year:

"ScotlandsPeople now has “the full set” with the addition of OPR burial records & modern marriage index entries, whilst Catholic Parish Register births & baptisms are an additional bonus. The WWI Service Records (WO363 “Burnt records”) are also now complete on Elsewhere, the proposed purchase of Friends Reunited and Genes Reunited by BrightSolid (the parent company of and has been referred to the competition commission - at last the government in England is waking up to the size & importance of the genealogy market in the UK".

Graham and Emma Maxwell run a research service in the Borders, and have been trailblazing a brilliant new census service for the region on their website, with free transcripts linked to maps at the National Library of Scotland's online maps section, allowing you to view the house described in a particular entry. Definitely worth a visit at! I caught up with Emma to ask what she thinks the biggest family history development of the last year has been:

"This is a big question, as more and more is made available online it’s hard to identify what has really helped the most. I would suggest the Valuation Rolls that have been added to the National Archives of Scotland’s 'Virtual Volumes' computer system (not online yet). At the moment the index covers the valuation rolls for all of Scotland for these seven years: 1855-56; 1865-66; 1875-76; 1885-86; 1895-96; 1905-06 and 1915-16. Now we can very easily have a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors between census years, I think this is an excellent development however possibly a very under-used resource."

These are indeed a great resource, and the good news is that they will be going online via the ScotlandsPeople site in the near future, along with more Roman Catholic records and kirk session records.

For me, the biggest developments of 2009 were perhaps the formal opening of the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh in January, and the launch of the new ScotlandsPlaces website at The creation of the Discover my Past Scotland magazine is another notable event (actually launched at the very end of 2008), and of course, Homecoming Scotland had some major events throughout the year, such as the Gathering. The British Library 19th century Newspaper Collection finally opened up to the public, with digitised copies of three Scottish titles (Caledonian Mercury, Aberdeen Journal and Glasgow Herald) included, as well as the Belfast Newsletter and the Dublin based Freeman's Journal. There was an excellent article in the History Scotland magazine on how medieval Scottish pooh was cleared away, Deceased Online completed the release of burial records for Angus, and ScotFamTree launched an online Scottish genealogy channel through its excellent discussion forum.

So what's in store for 2010? Oooh, bucket loads, but you'll need to keep your eyes peeled on this blog and elsewhere to find out...! :) lol On a personal note, it's only ten weeks or so until the next Who Do You Think You Are? Live event in London, and I'll be down helping out Bob and Liz Blatchford on their stall. Hopefully the first of two books that I have written will be available by then, entitled Researching Scottish Family History, to be published in February by the Family History Partnership, and there will be more Scottish genealogy courses from yours truly through Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd, with the 5 week Scottish Research Online course starting on April 14th, as well as plans for a new course later in the year.

Remember that you can view everything that has happened in the last year and more via the archived blog posts found on the right hand side of this screen (which are fully searchable), and you can subscribe via an RSS feed and other means. You can also keep up to date on the latest happenings via my Twitter page at

Now what did you think the biggest developments of 2009 were...?!

(Many thanks to Emma and Sheena)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Daily Express archive now online

The subscription site UKPressOnline ( has added digitised editions of the Daily Express from April 24, 1900 onwards, joining the Daily Mirror, which has been online for over a year. Editions of the Sunday Express and the Daily Star are also available from 2000 onwards, though expect to see these online in the future with earlier coverage.

(With thanks to the
Anglo-Celtic Connections blog.)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monday, 14 December 2009

FindmyPast - URL change

From FindmyPast:

We are writing to you to let you know of a small change to our service. As a UK-based family history website specialising in UK records, we have decided to change the name of the website - will soon become

From later this week, you will start to see our new name appear when you visit. It will take a while for our name to change completely, so don't be surprised if you continue to see references to for the next few weeks. We hope to have everything complete by New Year.

You will need to add the new name to your bookmarks, but apart from that, you should not notice any changes. The name will continue to work in your browser: you will automatically be taken to

We have tried to make the change as simple as possible, and most people who use the 'Keep me signed in' option will get automatically signed in to However, there may be a few people who find that they are signed out when you visit.

If you are, don't worry. Just go to the 'Sign in' page, tick the 'Keep me signed in' box again and you'll be signed in as normal from that point. If you have forgottten your password, simply use the 'forgotten password' feature and a new one will be sent to your email address.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Customer Support Team, who will be happy to help.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Scottish Television searches for missing people

A new STV series is looking for contributors:

Lorraine Kelly and Scottish Television are looking at cases across the UK involving mothers who’ve disappeared. We’re working with the charity Missing People, and we’ll be putting out appeals for information on the programme.

We’d also like to speak to people who were adopted. Are you looking for your birth mother? Were you even abandoned as a child?

If you have a story to tell, and you’d like our help, please get in touch:

Contact Becky on 0207 535 7270 or John on 0207 535 7276

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 11 December 2009

Burke and Hare website

All you need to know about the murders of sixteen people by Edinburgh based Burke and Hare in the eartly 19th century can be found at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

National Library of Scotland annual review 2008-09

The National Library of Scotland has published its annual review online at

Included in the report is a two minute video interview with Gill Hamilton about the facility's new online search system ( and with Annette Hagan and Lee Hibbard, who outline their collaboration with the Internet Archive Digital project, including a demonstration on the digitisation of several Gaelic holdings. A summary of various online social networking facilities is also available at Other discussions include NLS projects that I've never heard of, such as the Medical History of British India site at

Well worth reading!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Free access to overseas British BMD indexes

Sometimes muggins here misses things! For some time I have known that the overseas British BMD records for 1761-1981 have been available on the subscription site, but I have just discovered that they can be accessed completely free of charge at (, including links to view the original register images for each entry.

The collection contains:

GRO Air Births Indices
GRO Air Deaths Indices
GRO Air Deaths: Missing Persons Indices
GRO Army Births Indices
GRO Army Chaplain Birth Indices
GRO Army Chaplain Death Indices
GRO Army Death Indices
GRO Army Marriages Within Brit.Lines
GRO Article 6 and Article 18 Marriages
GRO Births Abroad Indices
GRO Chaplains returns Marriages Indices
GRO Consul Marriages
GRO Consular Birth Indices
GRO Consular Death Indices
GRO Deaths Abroad Indices
GRO High Commission Death Indices
GRO High Commission Death Indices up to 1955
GRO Index Army Marriages
GRO Ionian Islands Chaplains Returns Births
GRO Ionian Islands Chaplains Returns Deaths
GRO Ionian Islands Chaplains Returns Marriages
GRO Ionian Islands Chaplains Civil Registration of Births
GRO Ionian Islands Chaplains Civil Registration of Marriages
GRO Ionian Islands Military Register of Births
GRO List of Army Registers
GRO Marine Births Indices
GRO Marine Deaths Indices
GRO Marriages Abroad
GRO Natal and South African Forces Deaths
GRO Regimental Births Indices
GRO Regimental Births Indices (suppl)
GRO Service Department Marriages
GRO Service Department Death Indices
GRO UK High Commission Birth Indices pre-1956
GRO UK High Commission Birth Indices up to and including 1981
GRO UK High Commission Marriages

It's not often I get completely blown away by an offering from an online supplier, but this is a major collection of useful records for all of those with British based relatives overseas. A serious thumbs up for FamilyRelatives on this one!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

RAF Kinloss tartan

A new tartan has been registered for RAF Kinloss. From the Scottish Register of Tartans website:

The RAF Kinloss Tartan may only be worn by personnel associated with RAF Kinloss, specifically military, civilian and contractors’ staff directly employed by units or companies on the station. In addition, local organisations with ties to RAF Kinloss such as the Kinloss Rugby Club and Kinloss Scouting and Guiding organisations may use the tartan with the approval of the Station Commander.

The design can be viewed at

The idea of restrictions on the wearing of a tartan is worth exploring a bit. I looked up the small print on the website (OK, it's a whopping big page entitled Guidance!), and here is what is offered:

Traditionally owners of tartans have sometimes wished to impose restrictions on the wearing/use and production of their tartan. If you wish, you may express your preferences here, however the Keeper cannot be held responsible for enforcing any such restrictions.

Do you wish to restrict the wearing/use of this tartan?
Owners of tartans have sometimes expressed a wish to restrict their wearing/use to particular groups or individuals e.g. in the case of a Clan/Family tartan. Please note that although your wishes will be published in the Register, no rights can be conferred by the expression of these preferences. The Keeper accepts no responsibility for the enforcement of these preferences. For further information or to register a design right in the UK, please visit the UK Intellectual Property Office at

Do you wish to restrict who can weave this tartan
You may express a preference here to limit weaving of your tartan to a specific supplier. The Keeper accepts no responsibility for the enforcement of this preference. Should you wish to limit weaving to a particular company you should consider registering a design right with the appropriate Intellectual Property Office.

There is no law in the country about what you can and cannot wear. However, the application of a design to a product without the consent of the designer is basically a breach of copyright on that design.

So you actually can wear any design of tartan you wish, but you cannot commercially exploit someone else's design. Whether you wish to walk past the personnel of RAF Kinloss dressed in their tartan is quite another matter though! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Moneydie 1832 electoral roll

Colin Mayall from Caledonian Connections has uploaded a transcription of the 1832 electoral roll for the Perthshire parish of Moneydie to his website at This brings to fourteen the total number of Perthshire parishes now served with the records, and there are more to come.

Nice one...!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

NHSIC will not appeal 1939 census ruling

The National Health Service Information Centre has just confirmed with me that it will not be appealing against the recent decision of the Information Commissioner to allow access to information for those now deceased who were recorded in the English and Welsh 1939 emergency census, created for the purposes of national registration at the start of the Second World War (see 1939 NHS 'census' to be made available in England and Wales and 1939 update - the decision). The service is currently looking into options on how to procede with providing the relevant access.

Ironically, Guy Etchells, who made the initial Freedom of Information Enquiry that led to the decision is now launching an appeal to see if information on the living recorded with both the census and the register can also be released, believing that the Information Commissioner may have misdirected himself - so lots still to report on this in due course!

UPDATE: Guy Etchells has uploaded a transcript of the information he has obtained from his FOI request, which shows the details that one might expect from a successful application - it can be viewed at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Canadian passenger lists - Ocean Arrivals 1919-24

The Canadian based site has completed its Canadian passenger lists with the upload of Ocean Arrivals 1919-24, bering ing the total to 8 million records between 1865-1935.

For more on the story visit the Society of Genealogists website at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

This IS England - DMPE issue 2 now on sale!

In my last post, I pointed out that Scotland is NOT England. However, should any English readers be a tad upset on that front, here's a consolation prize - Discover my Past England, issue 2, is now on sale, at!

Discover my Past Scotland is also available - two great partner publications, standing side by side, valiantly looking forward to the future as equals (well, back to the past actually!), etc etc.

So there!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

We're NOT England! 150 years ago...

One thing that really gets my goat as a displaced Ulsterman is when people refer to 'Britain' when they are in fact talking about the 'UK' - a good example being the recent Olympic team of GBR. I am constantly reminding people, whether they like it or not, that the 'UK' is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - which is not the same as Britain, Great Britain, or indeed the British Isles, all of which mean different things. Four British countries, lots of islands - and infinite grief when describing them!

Scots often get wound up by the same thing, when people talk about 'Britain' when what they really mean is 'England'. But this is nothing new, and Audrey Collins from the National Archives has discovered the proof! Audrey has found two items within HO 45/7928, part of the extensive collection of Home Office Registered Papers relating to Scotland held at Kew, which she has transcribed and placed online at the Your Archives site.

The first document is a protest from 1864 against the use of the word 'England' being imposed to describe the United Kingdom, which was 'dishonouring to the Scots', and signed by over three and half thousand bolshy bovver boys (probably from Edinburgh's Canongate!); the second is a reply written on behalf of Lord Palmerston (a Sasannach if I ever saw one, grrrr!!!!), quite happy with calling Britain 'England', but contradicting himself by also mentioning the UK at that stage included Ireland. ( brain is going wobbly!)

Nothing changes! The documents can be read at
A Protest against The Name England being imposed upon the United Kingdom.

So just to recap - we're NOT England, we're NOT North Britain and we're NEVER happy - we're SCOTLAND!!!! (OK, we're sometimes happy...!)

(Many thanks to Audrey!)

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