Glasgow Police Museum is alive and well

The Glasgow Police were Britain’s oldest police force.  The first attempts to establish a police force for Glasgow were made as far back as 1779 but it wasn’t until the Glasgow Police Act was passed in 1800 that a permanent force was established.  The newly formed force, consisting of three sergeants, six police officers and 68 watchmen mustered for the first time in the Laigh Church, Trongate on 15 November 1800.

For the following 175 years the City of Glasgow Police served the city.  The force was finally disbanded on 15 May 1975 when it was amalgamated with other forces to form Strathclyde Police.

The Glasgow Police Museum tells the story of this police force.  You can view

  • displays of uniforms and equipment
  • documents and photographs
  • displays of gallantry and service medals
  • stories of the people who served in this force

The museum is located at 30 Bell Street, Glasgow G1 1LG and is open free of charge, seven days a week from 1 April to 31 October, Monday – Saturday 10am to 4.30pm and Sunday 12 noon to 4.30pm.  From 1 November to 31 March the museum is open on Tuesdays 10am to 4.30pm and on Sundays 12 noon to 4.30pm.

The Police Museum also has a website at where you can read about the history of the force.

Way back in December 2008 I posted an item about the closure of the old museum, with a later update in the comments section giving the address, opening times and website for the museum in its new location.  I’ve been contacted by Alistair Dinsmor, the curator, to point out that that old post was causing confusion to potential visitors so I’m happy to post this update.


Fur trappers and traders

Hudson Bay Canoes at Chats falls 1838
Hudson Bay Canoes at Chats falls 1838: Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-47-18

John D Reid over at the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog has just noted that the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives (HBCA) has created and uploaded biographical sheets on people who were employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company and/or the North West Company at

A large proportion of the company’s staff was Scots, whether emigrants or temporary seasonal migrants, especially from the Orkneys and Hebrides.  The biographical sheets outline:

the person’s employment history and may also include the parish of origin or place of birth; positions, posts and districts in which the person served; family information, if available; and references to related documents, including photographs or drawings.

The Hudson’s Bay Company was founded in 1670 as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson’s Bay. The original charter gave the company a monopoly of the fur trade in the 1.5 million square miles of land which drains into the Hudson Bay.

The Hudson’s Bay Company Archives is part of the Archives of Manitoba and is online at  The Hudson’s Bay Company also has a dedicated heritage section on its website at

If you want to find out more about Scots in the Canadian fur trade, the the University of Aberdeen has a dedicated micro-site at and Learning and Teaching Scotland explores the history of Scots emigration to Canada at  And don’t forget Library and Archives Canada who have their own dedicated genealogy and family history section.


Engineer in the family?

I’m married to an engineer, my father was an engineer and my past job in the Civil Service could be described as engineering so this news item from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London definitely caught my eye:

A chip off the old block? Engineering Your Family History open day

The Institution’s archive is a rich source of information on engineering professionals since the 1840s, and has increasingly been sought out by both members and the general public as they look to find out about their family history.

To address this growing interest, on 23 September 2010, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology archives are holding a joint open day for family historians. The event will be held at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and will offer a rare opportunity to talk with the professional custodians of the three archives and to see the stunning Elizabethan-style library, designed by Basil Slade in 1899.

The programme includes short talks on researching engineering ancestors, the international history of engineering, technical education and engineering in wartime.

To find out more, go to on the Institution’s website.

Thanks to my husband for pointing this out to me.

Now all I’ve got to do is convince next week’s visitor that she’s happy to be abandoned for the day so that I can go myself!


Lothians ancestors?

Back in December I posted a comment about discovering various Scottish Registers of Aliens, especially those held by Edinburgh City Archives.  Well now you can view images from some of these registers courtesy of the LothianLives blog.

Lothianlives features images and stories from the records held by the City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian archives.  If you’ve got ancestors from the Lothians, head over to to read about everything from the Edinburgh police to life in the New Town of Livingston via the German invasion of the Belgian village of Tildonk in 1914.

Thanks to Frances Woodrow over at for the news of this new resource.


Dumfries & Galloway archives online

Dumfries - engraving by William Miller after C Stanfield
Dumfries - engraving by William Miller after C Stanfield

As part of my certificate in Family and Local History being run by Dundee University Archives we’ve been looking at the financial records of Scottish burghs and specifically at some records created by the burgh of Dumfries.

Because of this I’ve now discovered that Dumfries & Galloway Archives have some very useful online resources.

Contact details and a summary of their holdings are at

They’ve also put their catalogue online at Even without seeing the documents, it’s amazing what you can find just by playing with the catalogue:

Warrant to Arrest Elizabeth Gordon for Alledgedly Keeping a Disorderly House

Date: 5 Jun 1735

Scope & Content: Mittimus [ie warrant for the arrest and imprisonment] of Elizabeth Gordon, accused of keeping “a lewd & disorderly house by entertaining soldiers and young women”, contrary to public morality, with depositions relating thereto [RB2/2/162 CB821/5/7/]

– was she one of yours?

or this:

Instructions for the Commissioners of the Sheriffdom of Dumfries Against the Passage of the Act of Union with England, Signed by 32 Freeholders

Date: 29 Oct 1706

Scope & Content: Printed Instructions for the Commissioners of the Sheriffdom of Dumfries against the passage of the Act of Union with England, signed by 31 freeholders of the County viz: William Fergusson of Caitloch , Robert Murray of Dumcrief, John Creichton of Crawfurstoun [Crawfordton], Alexander McGahen of Dalwhat , James Kirk of Bogrie, John Maxwell of Steilston, William Johnston of Granton, Mr John Cunningham of Birkshaw, John Corsan of Meikleknox, James Carlile of Breakwhat, James Rorison of Calside, James Douglas of Dornock younger, Francis Maxwell of Tinwald, Andrew Johnston of Newton, David French of Frenchland, Mr John Henderson of Broadholm, Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, Sir John Jardine of Applegirth, Sir Walter Laurie of Maxwellton, Robert Johnston of Wamphray, George [Millar] of Dalswinton, Walter Riddel of Glenriddel, Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch, Robert Brown of Ingliston, Char[les] – of Cowhill, William Hairstains of Craigs, John ..Bedieknowe, James Ferguson of Fourmerkland, William Grierson of Lag, George Johnston of Girthhead and Mr Ar[ni]ston, portioner of Moffat [RG2/6/17]

If your ancestor was listed there, you now have some idea of his feelings about the proposed Act of Union.

Unfortunately, although I’ve got ancestors from Dumfriesshire, none of them could be classed as one of the “great and good”.

Even better, the Friends of the Archives of Dumfries and Galloway have produced a series of indexes to some of the records:

  • 1851 census for Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbrightshire  and Wigtownshire
  • Dumfries Kirk Session
  • Troqueer Kirk Session
  • Mouswald Kirk Session
  • Dumfries Jail
  • Dumfries Town Chamberlain’s Accounts
  • Dumfries Dean of Guild Plans
  • Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Stranraer & Wigtown shipping registers
  • Dumfries Poor Board Minutes

You can search all these indexes free of charge at

I’m away to play with the Jail and Poor Board indexes – that’s where I’m most likely to find my ancestors!


Scottish registers of aliens

Although the various registers of aliens held by The National Archives in Kew have been fairly well covered in family history magazines, I’ve never heard of any similar records held in Scottish archives…. until today.

As usual, I was looking for something else, and came across a mention that the Edinburgh City Archives (ECA) catalogue had gone online at the Scottish Archives Network site SCAN. There was also a link to their website and it was when exploring this that I came across a mention of a register of aliens in Edinburgh dating back to 1794.

It appears that the register is in 2 volumes:

  • The first is declarations given by foreigners about their place of birth or country they came from, their occupation, the length of time they have been in the country and how long they intend to stay in Edinburgh. Most of these declarations date from 1794. (ECA Ref: SL115/1/1)
  • The second consists of forms asking a series of questions about the alien’s name, origins, status, occupation and age. They also include the port of arrival and their current address. These forms date from 1798-1825. (ECA Ref: SL115/2/1)

Best of all – there’s an index which you can download in PDF format from

However, it’s not an alphabetical index. Bear in mind I haven’t actually seen the registers, but from the format of the index I’m assuming that the names are in the same order as they appear in the register. There are almost 70 names in the first register and about 130 names in the second.

I had a further dig in the SCAN and NAS online catalogues…

and it appears that there are some further registers of aliens scattered around archives across Scotland:

(I’m not sure if these 2 are the same register catalogued twice)

I didn’t come across anything described as a register of aliens in the NAS catalogue, but there are some items that might be interesting:

  • Deaths of Enemy Aliens in Internment Camps; Transmission of Special Certificates of Death GRO5/1208 (covering 1916-1917) and GRO5/1209 (covering 1918-1944)
  • Edinburgh (Saughton) Prison registers Male Aliens 1939-1943; Female Aliens 1939-1941 (class HH21/71/44)
  • and a series of papers in class HH31 which include statistical returns and case papers on enemy aliens in WWI

Who knows what else is out there in archives which don’t have their catalogues online?

And just to top things off, Polish Residents in Scotland: A Statistical Sourcebook based on the Census of Scotland, 1861-2001 Edited by Jim Lipka is online at


Mitchell Library lectures

The Mitchell Library in Glasgow
The Mitchell Library in Glasgow

The Mitchell Library in Glasgow is running a series of family history lectures starting on 14 November and running through into December as part of the Archive Awareness Campaign.

The lecture subjects are:

  • An introduction to Irish family history
  • Census substitutes
  • School archives
  • Family and estate records
  • Poor law archives
  • Archive sources for family history
  • Church archives

To find out more, go to

Some record offices to get free access to 1911 census

The National Archives (TNA) has just announced that seven record offices across England and Wales will get free access to the 1911 census for England and Wales.

The record offices are in:
  • Birmingham
  • Exeter
  • Aberystwyth
  • Manchester
  • Norwich
  • Nottingham
  • Newcastle upon Tyne

See for the full story.

The full 1911 census is available on a pay-per-view basis through
Still no news about when the 1911 records will be added to the site though.

Glasgow Police Museum to close

The Glasgow Police Museum which is based in the old District Court in St Andrew’s Square is due to close on 8 December.  The Scottish Courts Service is taking over the District Courts from Glasgow Council but does not want the old court building, so the museum has been given notice to quit.  The full story is on the Evening Times website at
The Glasgow Police were Britain’s oldest police force.
The first attempts to establish a police force for Glasgow were made as far back as 1779 but it wasn’t until the Glasgow Police Act was passed in 1800 that a permanent force was established.  The newly formed force, consisting of three sergeants, six police officers and 68 watchmen mustered for the first time in the Laigh Church, Trongate on 15 November 1800.
For the following 175 years the City of Glasgow Police served the city.
The force was finally disbanded on 15 May 1975 when it was amalgamated with other forces to form Strathclyde Police.
The Police Museum has a website at where you can read about the history of the force.

Early female aviators

Isn’t it typical – I start this blog full of good intentions and then work gets in the way.
However, I have been playing with a new database at Ancestry – the Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates.
The Royal Aero Club was founded in 1901 and from 1910 issued Aviators Certificates, internationally recognised under the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The Club was, and still is, responsible for control of all private and sporting flying in the UK.
This database contains about 28,000 index cards and 34 photograph albums of aviators who were issued with their flying licences (certificates) by the Royal Aero Club from 1910-1950. These included the first military and naval personnel to become pilots. The original records are now held by the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, London.
As I was playing, I noticed one or two women’s names and started to wonder if any of these early female aviators were Scottish. It turns out that there were 16 of them:
  • Miss Elizabeth Ann Roche Anderson, born 1908 Aug 18 in Dullatur
  • Miss Winifred Joyce Drinkwater, born 1913 Apr 11 in Waterfoot
  • Isabel Clare Drummond, born 1915 Dec 12 in Ardrossan
  • Miss Ivy Barbara Mary Forsyth, born 1905 Apr 24 in Inverness
  • Mary Coutts Gordon, born 1906 Oct 13 in St Andrews
  • Sheila MacDonald Green, born 1901 Feb 15 in Elgin
  • Maie Hardie, born 1893 Jan 14 in Kirkaldy
  • Mrs Eleanor Amalie Harper-Gow, born 1894 Jun 21 in Cupar
  • Miss Janet Hendry, born 1906 Oct 23 in Ardrossan,
  • Marjorie Emily Meredith Hunter, born 1908 Jun 22 in Kilmalcolm
  • Dorothy Millicent Kay, born 1911 Jan 3 in Edinburgh
  • The Hon Miss Mildred Katherine Leith, born 1894 Mar 22 in St Andrews
  • Mrs Henrietta Learmont MacEwan, born 1897 Jun 21 in Hurlet
  • Mrs Margaret Helen Saunders, born 1901 Jun 30 in Montrose
  • Shaw Annie Gillespie 1904 May 28 Uddingston
  • Mrs Mora Morton Weir, born 1896 Jan 16 in Tayport, Fife
and there’s photos of 12 of them.
Frustratingly, not one of then has an entry in either the Dictionary of National Biography or in Who Was Who.