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Proformat News
No: 87
May 2013
Graham Jaunay's May seminars
There are no seminars planned for May.

Graham Jaunay's June seminars
6: Dating old photographs, Mt Lofty History Group Stirling Library 9:30–11:30am
11: Bound for South Australia, WEA Centre Adelaide 7:00–9:00pm
14: Researching your Scottish ancestors, WEA Centre Adelaide 6:30–9:30pm
16: North Adelaide heritage walk, WEA Centre Adelaide 2:00–4:00pm
17: Finding families in newspapers, WEA Centre Adelaide 8:00-10:00pm

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

Adelaide Proformat will be closed 4 May to 26 May 2013

Welsh newspapers free online
The National Library of Wales has placed their collection of Welsh newspapers online although it's still in the beta testing stage.

Wiltshire marriages has placed 500,000 Wiltshire marriages on their site. Every parish has been covered and the earliest records date from 1538 when parish registers commenced to 1837. There are no digitised images of the registers, and unfortunately it's not clear which entries have been taken from the registers, and which from Bishop's Transcripts or other historical transcriptions. As is the case with many transcriptions, the names of marriage witnesses aren't included. Remember SA public libraries provide free access to Ancestry.

Griffith's Valuation follow-on
The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has placed online images of the Valuation Revision Books covering the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone for the period 1864 to 1933. These books follow on from the Primary Valuation known as the Griffith's Valuation 1848–64. You will need to know where your ancestor lived to avoid a very long search!

Ancestry membership

Readers should know by now that access to Ancestry is free in South Australian public libraries but of course you still have to attend the library and so for convenience many still opt to hold a personal subscription.
The question that now arises is which Ancestry site do you subscribe to if you have a Worldwide subscription? Ancestry offers a Worldwide subscription through all of its sites, but the cost varies enormously from one site to another. The Australian site is far more expensive than the UK site being £135.13 (no VAT) or about $203. Currently the Australian site offers a subscription for $449.95! $203 is even cheaper than the subscription for the collection containing Australian records which is currently $215!

In this issue:
May seminars
June seminars
Welsh newspapers free online
Wiltshire marriages
Griffith's Valuation follow on
Ancestry membership

Feature article
Problems encountered with Scottish research


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Problems encountered with Scottish research

There are some especially Scottish issues to be addressed when undertaking research. The main ones are:
    • schisms within the church following the reformation
    • naming patterns
    • the Clearances
    • clan tartans

Schisms within the church

The Established Church of Scotland has experienced a large number of schisms since the Reformation and these break away groups in turn divided into further groups. This makes locating church records very difficult and the researcher needs to be reminded that the records held at New Register House in Edinburgh relate to the Established Church of Scotland and not to these break away groups or indeed any of the more recent non-conformist churches. The problem for the researcher is the lack of organisation and record keeping. A failure to deposit many records with the National Archive adds to the problem.

Scottish parish registers differ in several ways from those found in England and Wales and the system of access to them is quite different. Scottish parish registers are known as the Old Parish Registers and have been deposited at New Register House in Edinburgh. These are the registers of the Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian church. (Anglican churches were not officially permitted in Scotland until the mid 19th century. Such churches are part of the Episcopal Church of Scotland.) There were almost 1000 parishes in Scotland but many of the old registers have not survived.

Baptismal entries are typically more detailed than the English equivalents with the motherís maiden name given. On the other hand, there was no obligation in Scotland to use the services of the Church to marry.

Parish registers were introduced 1553 following an enactment in 1552 by the General Provincial Council for Scotland, but only 22 registers begin before 1600. Most Scottish parish registers do not start until the second part of the 18th century, and some much later.

Parish registers were usually kept by local ministers or sessions clerks and there are very few early records of burials. Some Scottish parish registers suffer from under recording of events through slipshod record keeping, and other factors also render some of them defective. The record keeping in some highland churches was notoriously casual.
With no Bishops, there are no Bishops' Transcripts and this means there are no other sources to consult if parish registers are missing or considered to be defective.

From 1662Ė1689 the Established Church of Scotland switched to Episcopalianism, so many Presbyterian events were not recorded, or were recorded in separate covert Presbyterian parish registers, the majority of which have apparently been lost.

Omissions were also caused by various other short-lived 18th and 19th century secessions from the Established Church. Because the church was decentralised if often meant that when a congregation broke away, they took the church building and records with them with the outcome that the records were often destroyed as they represented the old regime. If the breakaway group ever rejoined the main stream again, it was likely that the records created during the schism would also be destroyed!

Parish registers also suffered in 1783 from an attempt to tax entries as many could not afford the tax. The event would have still been conducted but to avoid the tax it would not have been recorded!

Indexes to Church of Scotland and Catholic registers are freely available at ScotlandsPeople. Locating other registers for other denominations is more difficult. The publication, Registers of the Secession Churches in Scotland by Diane Baptie may be a useful starting point.

Naming patterns
The following well-defined system was widely used throughout the country to name children and although there were many exceptions the further north the more likely the scheme was usedÖ
    • eldest son takes paternal grandfatherís first name
    • eldest daughter takes maternal grandmotherís name
    • second son takes maternal grandfatherís first name
    • second daughter takes paternal grandmotherís name
    • third son takes fatherís name
    • third daughter takes motherís name
    • fourth son takes name of father's eldest brother
    • fourth daughter takes name of mother's eldest sister
    • fifth son takes name of mother's eldest brother
    • fifth daughter takes name of father's eldest sister
    • sixth son takes name of father's grandfather or eldest uncle
    • sixth daughter takes name of mother's grandmother or eldest aunt
This is a useful tool when faced with many common surnames. Highland families followed the practice so closely that a number of their children could share the same first name! Consider the outcome within a pedantic family where the paternal and maternal grandfathers shared the same given name. On the positive side knowing the names of children enables the researcher to predict the likely given names of grandparents.

Families living in former Norse areas and particularly the Shetland and Orkney Isles originally took their surname from their fatherís first name in the following patternÖ
    • John Rogersonís son would take the surname Johnson
    • William Pedersonís son would take the surname Williamson
Such a patronymic system makes it impossible to predict an ancestor's surname! All one can determine from a man named William Johnson is that his father was called John!

The Clearances rubbed out much of the infrastructure of Scotland from 1750. What you see in rural Scotland today is largely no older than 200 years! Up until Culloden, a clan chief could count himself rich based on the number of men at his disposal. After Culloden, with the loss of his powers over the clan, his interest in his clansmen diminished and he needed paying tenants rather than soldiers.

In the latter parts of the 18th century, chiefs started leasing their lands to graziers from the southófirstly to cattlemen and their black Highland cattle whose meat was required to feed a growing population, then, as Britain entered into long wars against the colonists in America and Napoleon in Europe, there was an even greater demand for meat and sheep were introduced. Graziers looked for more and more land and the profits it would bring them and Highland lairds had debts to pay so, inevitably, the land was sold or leased to the graziers and the former tenants were forced to move. Hundreds of small, uneconomic townships were cleared away, and the inhabitants were packed off either to poor land around the coast or to a new life in Glasgow or the colonies. Houses were often burnt down or demolished after the tenants left to prevent their return.

Pictured: Ruined crofter cottages on road to Mallaig.

Where resistance was met, special constables were drafted in and people were forcibly evicted.

Clan tartans
In less than 37 years after the Act of 1782 repealing the proscription of Highland dress and tartan, thirty Highland clans at least had acquired clan tartans. To be sure, probably not the tartans their ancestors wore, but clan tartans just the same.

By the late 16th century there are numerous references to striped or checkered plaids but it is not until the late 17th or early 18th century that any kind of uniformity in tartan occurred. Originally the patterns were loosely associated with the weavers of a particular area and it was common for individuals to wear a number of different tartans.

The tartan became associated with the Jacobite cause resulting in the 1746 Dress Act banning tartans except for regiments within the British Army. It was repealed in 1782. However, it was not until George IV visited Scotland in 1822 that enthusiasm for Scottish culture including tartans was revived under the encouragement of Sir Walter Scott.

Nowadays tartans are being registered by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, and when so registered (on the application of the chef du nom), they become protected in law in a similar way to coats of arms. Few of the tartans of today bear any resemblance to the tartans prior to 1746 so far as can be ascertained from portraits or specimens. This fact is often made much of, but it is not really important. There is no doubt that the interest in all things Scottish by Queen Victoria and her successors has encouraged the tartan industry!

The issue for family historians is the fact that they may be claiming a tartan that was never part of their ancestral heritage. Not only is it likely the clan tartan of interest is little more than 100 years old owing its origins to the effort of Sir Walter Scot and never used by their ancestors, but the structure of clans makes it quite difficult to be absolutely certain which clan chief enjoyed their ancestor's allegiance!

Within my own family there are three generations of eldest sons culminating with my father bearing the given name Cunningham from their Irish ancestors, the Cunninghams of Co Donegal. As a consequence the Cunningham tartan (pictured) is popular amongst some members of the family but it has no ancestral significance.
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