Happy New Year everyone!  I hope no one has been too badly affected by the weather which has been fairly horrendous in certain places in the world.

Over the Christmas holidays, I had a chance to re-think some aspects of the Our Scots Genealogy website.  It’s difficult to know how much information prospective clients want to see, and over the years the website has evolved and expanded.  It’s easy for me to navigate because I had a hand in building it, but I began to wonder if it was user-friendly, and I came to the conclusion that it might not be.  A case of  ”too much information”.  I decided that I need a site which is easy to navigate and gives straightforward answers, and encourages potential clients to contact me for more details on their specific requirements.

So I now have a simplified Low Fat version of the website at Scottish Genealogist and I’m looking forward to seeing how the performance compares with the Full Fat Version!

All comments and criticisms will be gratefully received!


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Something I keep meaning to post about, and it came to light again while researching today.

If you find two Scottish Old Parish Register marriage entries for the same couple on (roughly) the same dates, don’t worry about which is yours, they could be one and the same.  Banns had to be read in the Parish of residence, and if the bride and groom lived in different Parishes, the Banns had to be read in both Parishes so that any objectors to the marriage had a chance to have their say.  The Banns may not have been read on the same days in both Parishes, hence the discrepancy on the dates.  It’s also a short-cut to finding the possible Parishes of birth for each party, or establishing that there were two couples with the same names in the same area.

The information contained in the two records which relate to the same couple can often differ, so it is definitely worth checking both entries, in case one gives more detail.

An example, from today’s research – from 29 June 1832, Kiltearn, Ross & Cromarty (parish ref 070-00) “Murdoch MacKenzie, blacksmith, residing at Davidston in the parish of Cromarty & Catherine Munro residing at [Mount...] were proclaimed on the twenty ninth day of June eighteen hundred thirty two” and from 29 June 1832, Cromarty, Ross & Cromarty (parish ref 061-00) “29th June 1832 – Murdoch MacKenzie blacksmith at Davidstown and Catherine Munro in the parish of Kiltearn were married”.  Although Catherine’s place of residence is illegible, it could possibly be determined from old maps of the area, or from finding her father in local directories from the time.

Anyhow, now I’ve alerted you to this anomaly, I can think about the next one that I need to let you know about.  If anyone has any queries, please feel free to suggest a topic and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Happy hunting meantime :-)

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Well, Sunday was the Final Bash of the Perthshire Amber Festival after ten days of musical fun, workshops, charity events and other assorted Scottish-ness organised by musician, Dougie MacLean’s management team – if you are keen on Scottish music, I recommend a listen!   The Festival was absolutely buzzing, with all activities going off left, right and centre and the Management team and theatre staff were constantly busy, but made time to help me set up for my genealogy workshop “Genealogy Stepping Stones” in Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s River Room.

I demonstrated how to trace your ancestry using the Scottish records, just as Dougie did, and included some “live research” using internet resources, which was really exciting.  Dougie had given me details of family “tales” which he was able to prove using the Scottish records, and we followed the research steps he had taken to find his Great Great Granny’s one-roomed cottage on Mull where he was pictured amongst the ruined walls.

Can you guess why they call it the River Room?

My audience enjoyed the presentation – it’s so encouraging when your listeners are nodding and smiling – and we had a lively Q & A session at the end, which is the part I enjoy the most.  I met up with some of the guests later for “genealogy chat”, advice and story-sharing.

Dougie was running about in between Rehearsals and greeting bands who were arriving, so apart from a few brief chats, this is the closest I managed to get!

He had his knitting sticking out of his jacket pocket – his Mum has been gathering squares of knitting donated from all over the world and has sewn them into a blanket which will be auctioned off  by The Big Knit for the Scottish homeless charity, Shelter.  Last year’s blanket raised £2000, so let’s hope this year’s does even better – I’ll let you know when I hear what this year’s blanket went for!


If you’re coming to Scotland next year at the end of October or beginning of November, the Perthshire Amber Festival should be on your list!

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Ornate plasterwork medallions and oculus of Adam Dome

Magnificent ceiling of the Adam Dome

As some of you may know, I am the genealogist for Scottish Ancestral Trail’s “Short Genealogy Breaks” which are held in the historic General Register House, built in the 1770′s, which houses the family records for Scotland.  On Monday we had a lovely group of ladies attending the course presentation and we went off for some hands-on research in the Adam Dome.

Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and designed by Robert Adam, this is Adam’s tallest (80 feet high) and largest surviving dome.  The central oculus floods the room with light, and the walls are decorated with magnificent plasterwork medallions.  It can be difficult not to be distracted from your research when working in such splendid surroundings!

Under the watchful eye of a larger-than-life statue of King George III, our guests carried out their research into their Scottish family trees.  The statue was originally placed in the centre of the rotunda in 1791, but is now housed in a small ante-room – if I am the only person in the Dome at closing time, I always say “goodnight” to George.  He’s a little spooky to be alone with, actually.

Statue of King George III

Our guests enjoyed their day, and now feel confident enough to tackle their Scottish family history research.  I am particularly delighted that one of our ladies made a spectacular flying start on her ancestry, as it is something she has wanted to do for many, many years.  And as today is a special day for her, I would like to thank her for coming and wish her a Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday, Winnie, 94 years young today!

Many happy returns and Happy Hunting!

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For those of you who might be interested (Hi! and Hi!), I’ve started a new blog at Images Past where I will be posting from my huge collection of old family photos.

I’m trying to practice what I preach about labelling and cataloguing a collection of precious family pictures so that they survive for future generations.  There should be a few interesting stories along the way.  I will also be looking into archival storage for my photos – acid free boxes will be purchased and newspaper clippings banished to their own folders (the ink damages pictures).  I’m also learning about optimal scanning for minimal damage.

Please drop by and meet Jackie Jackdaw and see if you can translate a Polish signature for me.



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Could findings in the little Scottish book could lead to a “research trip” to Antigua for this Scottish genealogist?   Please?

I’ve already posted (here and here) about this fascinating little book which lists the descendants of Richard Stevens and Janet Forsyth who married on 11 March 1787 in Falkland, Fife and on Friday I showed it to some friends who are archivists, as I wanted advice on conservation.   The main result of this (besides the good advice) was HUGE EXCITEMENT AND CURIOSITY.  We chatted about who may have started keeping the book, and why, and concluded that I am lucky, as the family “record keeper” to have landed up with it.

I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the inside cover, but got a bit nosy about the little everyday notes that had been made.  There are a few sums in pounds, shillings and pence, and on the first page a name, which could be Christian Stevens (born 9th Feb 1794 in Falkland – this is her actual birth date, rather than her baptism date which is recorded in the Old Parish Registers held at General Registers of Scotland in Edinburgh).  If it was Christian who started the book, how would she feel knowing that I had it in my possession?  I hope that whoever it was who thought it important to keep the family records would be delighted that I hold it so precious.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy just to hold it! Continue reading »

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I’m feeling a little creative

Though I’m probably wasting my time

Cos nobody’s reading my blog

It’s just an amusement of mine.

I spout off whatever I’m thinking

Regardless how pointless or daft

If anyone actually read it

They’d think me a little bit “saft”.

I need to get going on The Content

And make sure it’s interesting stuff

To get the wee blog going & cooking

And seeming a little less duff.

I’ve got a long list of Scots rellies

They’ve all been deceased for a while

I need to make contact with others

Who come from the Family Pile.

So check out the family name list

And see if we might be of kin

And if the blog doesn’t suit you

Just stick me direct in your bin

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I’ve already blogged about the little notebook I inherited which gives some family history details on the Stevens family from Fife, Scotland, and since then I’ve had contact from two relatives (hello Chris and Paul!) so I thought I would add some more details in the hope that we find more people researching these names :-)

page 1 of the Stevens Family Bible showing children of Richard Stevens and Janet Forsyth

I’ll do the first page on this post:

Continue reading »

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Thanks to Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers for his meme on “What I Do”

The idea is to list what tools you use for your genealogy.  Working as a professional genealogist, this is what I use on a daily basis:
* Hardware:  Dell PC on XP and emachines Laptop on Vista
* External storage: several 1GB memory sticks, Maxtor 160GB hard drives, new Seagate 1 Terabyte hard drive (vast!)
* Online storage: N/A
* Backup: to external hard drives Continue reading »
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Welcome to Scotland - CarterbarI made a trip down to England yesterday and on the way home it struck me how nice it is to cross the border back into Scotland again, so I took a few photos on the way home. Continue reading »

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