Welcome to Scottish Genealogy Tips And Tidbits

A wee bit of info to help you in your journey to discover your Scottish Ancestors and maybe even crack a brick wall or two!

Monday, 16 October 2017

If Your Scottish Ancestor Worked for the Hudson's Bay Company

Scots first started coming to Canada in large numbers starting in 1788 when the Hudson’s Bay Company ships brought Orkney men back to Canada to work in their settlement at York Factory, some 250 miles south of Churchill. In 1791, the HBC appointed local merchant, David Geddes to be their recruiting officer in Stromness where their ships stopped for supplies and water. 

By 1799, clearly three quarters of the men employed by the HBC were from Orkney. This connection between Orkney and the HBC carried on into the early 1900s. 

By the early 1800s, HBC was also recruiting in Lewis and Harris. Many Scotsmen married Cree women. Most from Orkney left their wives and families behind when they returned to Scotland, where the Hebrideans took their wives back and Cree descendants are still evident in the Lewis and Harris even today.

·        The HBC archives are on deposit at the Manitoba archives. In addition, the Orkney Archives in Kirkwall have records pertaining to the Orcadians who worked for HBC, including the contract between the HBC and the recruiters.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

If Your Scottish Ancestor Was a Covenanter

If your ancestor arrived in Massachusetts in the 1650s, it is possible that they were Covenanters. Many thousands of covenanters were executed. In your In the event that your covenanter ancestor made it to trial, rather than being executed on the spot, the records of their trial will also be in the records of the High Court, available from the National Records of Scotland.  

Following conviction, the covenanter would be imprisoned and then sent to the colonies of North America. The court papers will provide the detail of the crime (preaching in public), the names of any witnesses and then the details of their sentence.

Both Ancestry and FindMyPast have searchable databases for Covenanters.

A great resource for reading detailed information about the individual covenanters is the website Reformation History. This website is run by the Reformed Presbyterian Church and is a wonderful resource for honouring the Scottish Covenanters. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

If Your Scottish Ancestor Was Accused of Witchcraft

Witchcraft trials in Scotland were tried in the High Court . The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, under a grant, has taken the trials maintained by the University of Edinburgh Archives, and has created an online, searchable database of Scottish. In this database, you will find:

·         The accused's name
·         Start  and end dates of the trial
·         "Characterisation" (eg: "Demonic")
·         Who the accused was implicated by

·         Any notes pertaining to the circumstances - whether tried as an individual, a group such as the North Berwick witch hunt (1590-92) or the Paisley accusations of 1699

·        The accusation - including details of time, place, other present and what the witch was purported to have done that was supernatural.  This may include healing illnesses, transferring illness from an animal to a human, causing natural disasters etc.

·         Appearance of Non-natural beings - whether the person claimed to have seen spirits who encouraged their witch craft. The type of spirit - person, animal etc

·         Whether they were known to have attended a "witches meeting" and whether said meeting included food and drink, dancing or the presence of the devil.

·         Whether the accused was then imprisoned and if so where.

Here is the link to the searchable database: http://www.shca.ed.ac.uk/Research/witches/

You can search by name, trial date, location or others involved in the trial. Your results will be returned and then you click on the hyperlink. From there you will get a box with the basic information (similar to an index card). Be sure to click on the hyperlinks within the index-card style box to get to the actual information regarding the trial(s).

Witch's Stone marks the spot where the last woman
 in Scotland was hanged for witchcraft

Friday, 13 October 2017

SAFHS Conference 2018 is OPEN for Registration!

The annual conference of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies is being held in Fife in 2018 and is hosted by the Fife Family History Association. 

The conference is being held at
 Rothes Hall in Glenrothes, 
Fife on April 21, 2018
 from 10 am until 4:30 pm

The topic for the 2018 conference is "Was Your Ancestor a Convict" and the speakers for the day are:
  • Andrew Campbell
  • Emma Maxwell
  • Ken Nisbet
  • Bruce Durie

The cost of the conference is just £20 or you can save £5 if you book before January 3, 2018. 

In addition to the Conference, there will be a Family History Fair where there will be stands with representatives of a number of the Family History Societies in Scotland. This is open to attend if you don't want to attend the conference and the fee for just the Family History Fair is just £2. The Fair is a GREAT way to get some ideas about what you should be doing next in your research, to speak to the volunteers who are expert in their region and who have a wealth of knowledge and information that is hard to beat. 

All in all, Conference 2018 promises to be another very successful day of genealogy learning and networking. 

Here is the link for more information: https://safhs2018.fifefhs.org/

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Project GB1900 Needs Help!

The team at GB1900 needs people to help complete the project. They are working to preserve the place names on old ordnance maps and have been running a crowdsourcing project to get this much needed work done. 

The project is wrapping up (January 8th, 2018). All of the place names have been transcribed, but volunteers are needed to verify the transcriptions. In an effort to get this moving, the team have put together a fun little incentive. Here's the info from their latest newsletter:

We need to finish up GB1900 and we realise that it is getting harder and harder to find new “pins” to create. We also know that the current leader board no longer provides the right incentive, as we now mainly need confirmations and most of you can only improve your ranking by creating new pins.

We can’t change the leader board within GB1900, and want to go on using it to recognise the contributors who have made the greatest long term contribution to the project. However, we are adding a separate system to reward those who do most in these final months:

These final months will be a kind of treasure hunt, searching out the last few names on the maps, so it is appropriate we pay you in Doubloons. Each week we will pay out one MILLION Doubloons.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5009186

Half of those Doubloons will be paid for doing confirmations, and half for new pins. Each week they will be divided up between all volunteers active that week according to how many of each kind of task you have done. It is already much harder to find new names, so the amount we pay for each one will be greater — but we pay you for a new pin only when it is confirmed.

As the weeks go by, both kinds of task will get harder, so the amount we pay for each one will go up. We would not be surprised if in December we pay out the whole weekly amount for a single new pin.

We are back-dating this system to the 1st of September, when we announced that the project would be winding up. These are the numbers of new pins and confirmations for each week since, and the resulting payments. 

We recognise that as piracy has been stamped out on the Spanish Main, Doubloons are no longer legal tender. However, the five contributors ending up with the most Doubloons will instead receive a bespoke, site-centred printed copy of the Six Inch map of their choice, a warm welcome and behind the scenes tour to view selected map treasures, and a free cup of tea if they can make their way to either of the National Libraries to receive it. We will do the same for the five contributors who are topping the existing leader board.

Doubloons, tea and a behind the scenes tour! What more could a genealogist ask for? 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Family History Month - New Records from ScotlandsPeople

News came yesterday that ScotlandsPeople have released the 1935 valuation rolls. Any new record set is of value, and should be applauded, however, when you consider the lead up to this point, the release was not only incredibly anti-climactic, but also incredibly disappointing.

Most of the diaspora have Scottish ancestors who left the country anywhere from 1650 - 1870. Records from the more modern period (20th century) are fairly useless when it comes to genealogical research. The memory is still fresh and there will most likely be family who can provide the information or who have passed the information along before they themselves passed on.

Of more benefit (and therefore more likely to draw people to the site) would be the long awaited Kirk Session records, High Court records for those whose ancestors were transported, Sheriff Court records to determine paternity. Much more genealogically useful to the diaspora than a modern tax record. 

It's disheartening that ScotlandsPeople was once a leader in providing online documentation for the purposes of genealogical research and now they are on the verge of going the way of the Dodo bird. While there was some incredible hopefulness that Scotland was going to be able to compete with larger online databases that is quickly waning and it is looking more like we are going to be wishing Scotland would partner up with the larger databases much the way the National Archives in London have. 

For those who want to have a gander regardless, here is the link: https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Don't Forget to Check the Wiki!

Once you have exhausted all of the online resources for Scottish research, return to the FamilySearch website and check the Wiki

Here you can click on the parish where your ancestors lived and see what records are available for the parish as well as where to find them. These include parish records, civil records, poor records, court records, census records, church records, newspapers and more. 

The Wiki has lots of resources, including webinars which will help you to learn more about your Scottish ancestors. 

Don't forget to check out the right hand side of the page to see information on different records sets that are helpful for researching your Scottish ancestors.