Hello readers!

Thank you for following and all your comments which are so nice to read :-)

I’m having difficulty finding the time to maintain two blogs, so I’ve decided to move this blog and “merge” it with the WordPress-hosted blog that I use for my personal family photos and stories at ImagesPast.

Granny with her cousins

I will still be posting items relating to various aspects of Scottish family history, as well as exploring the stories and photos relating to my ancestry, and I hope you will nip along to ImagesPast and follow me.

I believe that there is an issue between Google Friend Connect and WordPress blogs, which means that you can no longer follow using Friend Connect and will need to use a different method of subscribing.

I hope you will come along to meet my tree-climbing Granny and other relatives and join in the family history fun!  Please feel free to leave comments on any posts that you find interesting or entertaining.  I hope to see you there :-)



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Randy Seaver says

Hey genea-philes – it’s SATURDAY NIGHT!! Time for more GENEALOGY FUN!!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to respond to Bill West’s Genealogist’s Time Capsule Challenge - read his post on West in New England.  Answer these questions:

1. Make a list of what you would put in a time capsule and why you’d choose each item.

2, What would you use for the time capsule? Where would you have it kept?

3. Write a blog post with the above information. If you don’t have a blog,  send your time capsule idea to me as a comment to this post or email it to me. If you do have a blog, make sure to send me the link to your time capsule post. (West in New England.)

My answers:

1.  a set of today’s current UK coins, a copy of the local newspaper, menus from restaurants (we have a great Bangladeshi nearby – yum), some photos of local landmarks as they are at the moment (the War memorial, ruins of Cousland Castle), a printed report of my family history, a pair of my favourite vintage US-made cowboy boots (but not my current comfy favourites), a bar of Green & Black’s Organic 80% cocoa chocolate and a bottle of 20 year old Macallan.  I’m not a whisky drinker, but it would be nice for those opening the time capsule.

2.  The time capsule would need to be a heavy-duty metal waterproof acid-free (of course!) box surrounded by concrete (just in case) but with an electronic tag (like the ones we tag our pets with, and it seems that we will be tagging our dead relatives with in Woodland graveyards so that folk can find them via GPS) and buried several feet down.  The electronic tag would need to link to a database which would be kept up to date.

3.  I’ve written the blog and will submit as a SNGF blog via Randy.

I actually have first/second-hand experience of finding time capsules – my Dad farmed in Lowland Scotland and bought another farm nearby when I was in my teens and it backed onto a cemetery.  The cemetery wall was very old (1750′s or thereabouts) and was supposedly maintained by the local Council.  Dad employed someone to re-point the wall and he pulled out various items from the wall, which had been cemented in for posterity but the cement had come loose – a pair of baby’s shoes, and a silver spoon.  There were no further clues as to who the shoes or spoon belonged to, so there’s no clue to identify who the items belonged to, and why they were left there.  I bought a cottage in a nearby village, which had been renovated in the 1960′s and a “lovely” massive wall-to-wall fake stone fireplace built.  When we took it out, we found a beer bottle with the label torn off and scrolled up inside – on the back in pencil it read “I had the beer” but no name or signature.   My sister lives in a house that my family have lived in since the 1940′s.  She took the decision to brick up the cellar under the stairs, and included my Dad’s vintage collection of miniature Scottish whiskies (in boxed sets) along with current newspapers and a letter from her.  Who knows who will unlock these treasures 50/75/100+ years on.

I think the main point is that if you’re going to leave a time capsule, please at least identify yourself so the next (next, or next) generation might have half a chance of identifying you in the records.  The more clues, the better.  Thanks in advance :-)

Jo :-)


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I hope you’re all ready for tonight with your haggis, neeps and tatties and a wee dram :-)

Haggis and a wee dram

The haggis is a 3 legged mammal – one of its legs is shorter than the other two, and this leads to the beast running round in circles. Consequently, large groups of haggi can be found at the tops of hills. In days gone by, haggis hunters would climb the hills in the hope of finding a tasty meal. The method of slaughter was rather unkind – the haggis had to be manhandled into a sporran which was then bashed against the nearest drystane dyke. Not pretty.*

On the subject of haggis, I found this text in a letter from the Papers of the Graham Family, Dukes of Montrose (Montrose Muniments) held at National Records of Scotland. It’s correspondence of James, 1st Duke of Montrose, and Mungo Graham of Gothrie.

From Montrose. Henly Park, 15 August 1721

‘Montrose, his family and servants are suffering from food poisoning; the duchess ordered a haggis and I take it for granted that some of the herbs that were put into it have been poisonous since all that eat of it have been ill of the same disease’.

In my humble opinion the best haggis comes from MacSweens and they do a great veggie version.  You can order it online, but I see that there are restrictions on importing outside Europe – perhaps you could find a local breeder?

Enjoy Burns Night!  Are you having haggis tonight?

*  Some of the facts in this paragraph may not be entirely accurate as I am unsure of the original source so can’t check the original document :-)

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Like many of you, I like wandering around cemeteries, and “going for a picnic” usually involves a graveyard.  I thought I would show you how useful Monumental Inscriptions (MI’s) can be when researching family history in Scotland.  Sometimes Scottish headstones give a surprising amount of genealogical information compared to other countries, so it’s always worth checking, especially if the paper trail has run cold.

Many cemeteries have been recorded and the results published – I surveyed and photographed West Byres Old Churchyard (Ormiston, East Lothian) a few years ago as I could see that some of the stones had noticeably deteriorated over a relatively short period of time.  Sandstone was often used for monuments in my area, and it has a tendency to crumble.  On a trip to Aberdeen, where they use a lot of granite, I was surprised to see 150 year old headstones which looked brand new.

This is the Hope family crypt – I love it.  Can you call a crypt “cute”?

Hope family crypt, West Byres, OrmistonThis headstone notes Thomas Hamilton’s occupation and place of work, details of some of his grandchildren, his wife, sons and a daughter in law.

Thomas Hamilton Headstone, West Byres, Ormiston



“Sacred to the memory of Thomas HAMILTON for 17 years forester at Ormiston Hall died 16 November 1874 aged 67 years. also of his granddaughter Agnes daughter of John HAMILTON died 19th November 1874 and of Mary A who died 24th January 1883 aged 18 years. also of his spouse Agness HASTON who died 29th September 1885 aged 85 years. Also of Thomas his son who died 14th November 1890 aged 40 years. Also John his son who died 17th August 1907 aged 69 years. Also Janet Rose daughter of John HAMILTON who died 27th October 1918 aged 38 years. Also Isabella Berwick AITKEN widow of John HAMILTON who died 6th April 1927 aged 83 years. Also Robert son of the above John HAMILTON who died 20th April 1958 aged 76 years”

Here we have a beautifully-preserved wall plaque listing various members of the Wight family of Ormiston, including a burial in a different country.   Thank you to Adrian for holding back the ivy and getting covered in bugs!

David Wight headstone, West Byres, Ormiston


“In affectionate remembrance and tribute to the memory of David WIGHT of Ormiston died 11th March 1792 aged 73 years. This monument was erected by his widow Mary BROWN who died 9th May 1808 aged 67 years. Sincerely lamented by her surviving family. Mr David WIGHT of Ormiston died 17th February 1830 aged 70 years also his wife Elizabeth WIGHT died 10th February 1812 aged 34 years and of their son Robert died 1st July 1807 aged 3 years Miss Catherine WIGHT daughter of Mr Andrew WIGHT died 22nd December 1847 aged 86 years. Alexander second son of Alexr Imlach LAMBE Esq and of his wife Ann Margaret WIGHT daughter of the above David WIGHT born 5th January died 12th November 1855. Andrew WIGHT Esq of Ormiston died 18th November 1858 aged 58 years. Interred in Kensal Green, London. David WIGHT Esq WS Edinburgh died 15th June 1860 aged 54 years”

Are you surprised at the amount of detail?  What information would you typically find on a headstone or grave marker in your local area?  Have you been on a “picnic” recently?

One of the important sources for checking published Monumental Inscriptions is the Scottish Genealogy Society – I regularly visit their library in Victoria Street, Edinburgh.  Check your local library, or you can order publications direct from the Scottish Genealogy Society’s online shop.


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Christmas is just around the corner, and much as I don’t want to think about it, it’s time to make a list of gift ideas.  This can be rather arduous unless you have access to everyone’s letters to Santa.

What to get Grandma for Christmas?  A Scottish genealogy gift!

photo of actual Scottish genealogy books researched & produced for clients by Jo Graham of Our Scots Genealogy Research

I am often asked to carry out Scottish genealogy research and produce an ancestral report which is to be given as a surprise gift for a milestone birthday or a special event, such as a wedding or a christening.

This can lead to some sneaky undercover work,  as the family gather the information needed to start the research without raising any suspicions.

I had one client whose husband was ordered to distract her mother while she secretly raided the suitcase of old photos under her Mum’s bed, without putting the light on.  We were able to include lovely old family photos, newspaper cuttings and personal memories in the family history report, which was then hand-bound as a book.  Even the Order of Service from this lady’s Wedding was included, and she was delighted.

This can make a lovely present for the family history enthusiast, however some folk would really enjoy being involved in the excitement of the research process.  Having the opportunity to regularly discuss the progress being made and the new facts uncovered over a period of time is much more fun, and the client can tailor the direction of the research as we go along.  Granddad might always have wondered what happened to his Great Uncle Bert, or if it really was true that his Grandfather was a Queen’s Piper.  This is when a Scottish Genealogy Gift Voucher is the perfect option!

Scottish genealogy gift vouchers from Our Scots Genealogy Research

Or if you’re pushed for time to choose, buy, wrap and post a present, it’s easy to  send an Our Scots Genealogy  gift voucher to the genealogy addict in your family.  You decide on an appropriate value and I print and send the voucher to you or direct to the recipient.  The recipient can then gather together all their existing Scottish family history information, decide on what aspect of their ancestry they are most curious about and contact me to discuss a research plan.

The gift vouchers can also be redeemed against our short one-day Scottish genealogy courses which are held at New Register House in Edinburgh.  I previously blogged about the fun we had on an informal family history course where one of the attendees was a lady of 94!

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Happy Easter everyone!  I hope you have had enough chocolate to see you through the week/month/year….

I’ve had a rummage around the Scottish records and come up with the following interesting statistics for the period 1855 to 2009:

3 little Bunnys were registered in Scotland in this period, and a further 3 Eggs were born.  Surprisingly, only 23 Rabbits were born and sadly, none were named Peter.

28 boys called Easter were born in the same period, along with 321 girls – a much more popular name for the little girls, then.

There were 67 Chick and 39 Chicken births recorded.   As far as first names go, there are no Chocolates or Cocoas, but of the 39 kids registered as Coco, 4 were boys.

Thanks to Randy Seaver at GeneaMusings for the inspiration!

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It’s the 265th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden and I thought I’d share some interesting findings in the Church of Scotland Old Parish Registers for Boyndie, Banff.  The Minister took notes of what was happening in the big wide world, IN THE BAPTISMAL REGISTER for 1745-1746.  And they’re to do with this chap:

Bonnie Prince Charlie locket ring taken at the Clan Cameron Museum, Achnacarry

Bonnie Prince Charlie ring

A VERY brief outline:  Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender (1720 – 1788) came to Scotland looking for support from the Highland Clans in his quest to restore his father to the thrones of Scotland and England.  He landed at Eriskay in July 1745 and gathered enough Jacobite supporters to take the city of Edinburgh and went on to defeat the Government Army at the Battle of Prestonpans on 21 September 1745.  Charles and his army headed south on foot, capturing Carlisle, however, on reaching Derby news came that the Government had assembled a large army so they headed north again, although Charles was keen to press on.

Eventually, the Duke of Cumberland defeated the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746 – it was a horrific bloodbath and some of the survivors of Charles’s army fled for their lives, which left the Prince feeling that he had been betrayed and he went into hiding, travelling around the Highlands.  The Government had put a £50,000 price on his head, but he was sheltered by his supporters and made it home to France in September 1746.

Imagine my amazement when looking for the baptism record of wee Jannet Lovie, I found this  - click to open in a new window and use your browser’s back button to return.  It’s the last line shown.

“HRH Prince Charles land-ed.”  Further investigations turned up these beauties in the Baptisms for 1746, this one in April

In the left hand margin is a note “11 days since the Battle of Culloden” and at the bottom “April 17th – Battle of Culloden”.  The Battle actually took place on the 16th, but news didn’t travel fast back then, and it doesn’t make it any less mind-blowing to think that the Minister was in the Manse writing up his Baptisms and Marriages while it all went off.

The Baptism of little James Shakel on 8 September 1746 and…

“HRH Prince Charles left Scotland 5 days after”.

The documents are from Boyndie Old Parish Registers (Parish No 149 Vol 1) reproduced with the kind permission of the Registrar General for Scotland.  Please note that these documents are subject to Copyright and may not be used without permission.

It’s little surprises like these that make the old records so fascinating!

Read more about Culloden on the National Trust’s website.

The Bonnie Prince Charlie ring was photographed by me at the Clan Cameron Museum at Achnacarry.

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Yesterday was very exciting – the 1911 Scottish Census data was released for public consumption, as was this beauty – it looked just like a real Enumeration Book but undoubtedly tasted better!  A special exhibition and press event was held in the Adam Dome at Register House in Edinburgh, with refreshments and cake for everyone.

The staff really got into the spirit of the occasion and some were dressed in period costume.  I apologise for the very poor quality photos, but I only got one shot with my phone as the TV crews were waiting, and I was itching to get to my desk and start researching.  Just think of them as “action shots”  :-)

By lunchtime, some of the costumes were causing problems – period clothing is made from very heavy materials, and would be great for keeping you warm in a chilly Victorian mansion, but in a climate-controlled environment, the wearer is likely to overheat fairly quickly.

Long skirts and bustles were not designed to be worn while sitting in modern office chairs and let’s just say there were a few near-misses due to hems being trapped under the wheels, but luckily no casualties :-)

It was a great day – every search place was occupied by enthusiastic researchers, everyone had fun, tea or coffee and cake or shortbread.  It will be another ten years  before we get to do it again!

Well done to everyone who made a day for Scottish genealogists to remember!  The Census is available online at the official pay-per-view website at ScotlandsPeople

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Fox basking in the sun in the Archivist's Garden at New Register House Edinburgh

As some of you might know, I carry out most of my clients’ research between New Register House and National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh.  The two buildings are connected by a garden area, right in the middle of the heart of the Capital, just off the main shopping area of Princes Street/George Street.  The garden is based on an “Archivist’s Garden” and was officially opened on 25 June 2010 by Jim McColl, the well-known BBC Beechgrove Garden presenter.  It is lovely to see the beautifully-maintained plants growing as planned and they have carefully designed the small garden area to have interest all year round.  The short walk between New Register House and National Archives sometimes calls for a stop on one of the benches just to sit in the sun for a moment, admiring the flowers or watching the birds.

I wasn’t expecting Reynard to turn up, though.  It seems that this streetwise City Fox has also discovered our little “0asis” and likes to come and bask in the sunshine in the shelter of the huge walls surrounding the gardens.  Today he came out in broad daylight, and ignored the various humans scurrying between the buildings, while he curled up in the sunshine in amongst the plants.  As both of these buildings are open to the public, I suspect he would be welcome in either, as long as he only uses a pencil, doesn’t eat anything (especially me) in the search rooms and has his mobile on “silent”.

I can advise him that there were no Reynard Fox’s born between 1855 and 2009, although there were 7657 Fox births registered in that period alone.  That’s a lot of foxes!

Apologies for the quality of the photo – I used my mobile to take the pic and had to zoom in on him as I didn’t want to trample the garden.

Jo :-)

Mobile Monday – Do you use mobile applications on a SmartPhone to assist with your genealogy research? Post a review of any applications you’ve used or post about what you’d like to see in a mobile application related to genealogy. This is an ongoing series created by A.C. Ivory of theFind My Ancestor blog.

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As you probably already know, the 1911 Scottish Census is due to be released to the public on the 5th of April.  This is will provide us family historians with lots of interesting new clues to help with our Scottish genealogy research.  I can’t wait for access to all this lovely new (old) data!

At the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh there is a definite feeling of excitement in the air, and I suspect there is a Special Secret Plan for the day of the release, but the staff won’t spill the beans.  Could they be planning to give out *free glasses of champagne to everyone on arrival?  Or *tea and cake at 7.30 to keep us going?  *Face painting?  *Bouncy castle in the Archivist’s Garden?  I’ll be happy just to sit quietly at my desk and rummage in the Census to my heart’s content until I’m chucked out.

I can report that there are posters up in the search rooms to say that the Centre will be open from 6pm to 9pm in the evening on the 5th (tickets cost £10) so if you can’t come along during the day, there’s no excuse to miss the special session in the evening.  If researching your Scottish genealogy is something you have always wanted to do, but didn’t know where to start, I’ll be around to give you a hand if you like.  If you choose to mix the champagne with the bouncy castle, you’re on your own :-)


*  these are just my wild imaginings – it could be something Even More Exciting!

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