#52 ancestors No 2 – why rent when you’ve already bought?

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series 52 Ancestors

The second of my 52 ancestors – and my other paternal grandfather – is Robert TEMPLETON, the sixth child of Kilmarnock postman William TEMPLETON and his wife, Agnes McCUTCHEON.

Robert was born just before Christmas 1849, on 23 December, in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire where he lived for the rest of his life.

In 1872 he married a girl from just over the river in the parish of Riccarton.  Robert married Jane DUNLOP on 29 November 1872 in Riccarton, Ayrshire when he was 23 and she was 20.  The young couple set up house in Kilmarnock and had two sons: William born on 26 February 1873, and Walter born on 4 November 1874.  Unfortunately, Jane didn’t long survive the birth of her son and died on 1 December 1874.  Her death certificate states that she died of fever which had lasted 14 days – possibly this was puerperal fever.  Wee Walter died 10 months later, on 6 October 1875, of an inflammation of the bowels.

1878 Certificate of Banns for Robert Templeton and Elizabeth Young
1878 Certificate of Banns for Robert Templeton and Elizabeth Young

Three years after this, on 30 August 1878, Robert married a 29-year-old domestic servant Elizabeth YOUNG.  Robert and Elizabeth had one son, George, who was born on 5 August 1880.  They had been married for almost 22 years when Elizabeth died on 13 July 1900 aged 52.

Robert Templeton, Elizabeth Young and son. George
Robert Templeton, Elizabeth Young and son. George

Robert lived on to see his youngest son George marry in 1912, and died of acute pneumonia on 11 March 1913 aged 63 – just one month before the marriage of his eldest son, William.

Throughout his adult life, Robert worked as an iron turner and lived in a series of rented tenement flats in a small area in the south of the town bounded by the Kilmarnock Water, the River Irvine and London Road (now the B7073).  However, his will shows that he also owned property at numbers 67 and 69 Robertson Place in Kilmarnock.  Tracing these properties backwards through the online copies of the Valuation Rolls, Robert appears to have bought them at some time between 1895 and 1905; as in 1905 they were rented to various members of his extended family.  I need to do more research in the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, but the question remains – why rent when you’ve already bought?

52 Ancestors #1 – It’s all his fault.

This entry is part [part not set] of 2 in the series 52 Ancestors

I’ve decided to join Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge this year so, to kick things off, I’m re-publishing an article I wrote back in 2009.  Since it’s about the man who triggered my interest in genealogy over 25 years ago I think it’s appropriate that he should be number one in the series…

I got interested in family history because of this man.

Robert Dunlop
Robert Dunlop

I never met him – he died in 1921 – but I’d always been aware of him because his portrait was propped against a wall in my parents’ bedroom and he was the only member of the family I’d ever seen who shared my red hair.  His name is Robert Dunlop, he was born in Ayrshire in 1848, the oldest of seven children born to a colliery engineman and his wife, and he was my great-grandfather.

In 1988 my mum received a letter from someone who had come across his papers in the National Museum of Scotland.  She had written an article about Robert and thought that his family might be interested in reading it before it was published.  My father had died two years before this and we knew very little about his side of the family, so that letter was the trigger that set me off.

Robert’s mother didn’t want him to follow family tradition and go down the mines so, when he was 14 she had him apprenticed as an iron moulder in Kilmarnock.  Five years later, in 1867, the iron master had the existing apprentices locked out and took on some new ones.  A disgruntled Robert persuaded the foundry clerk to show him his indentures and promptly burnt them.  He then ran away to the big city and a couple of months later his new foreman in Glasgow told him that “a lame man with a tall had and a policeman” were waiting to see him.  Robert jumped over the wall and fled.

He moved to Airdire and, on 1 March 1870, he married my great-grandmother, Ann Hunter.

Ann Hunter
Ann Hunter


Robert took up photography and fossil collecting, started going to chemistry evening classes and even won the Queen’s Prize for Scotland, later teaching evening classes himself.  By 1884 Robert had been appointed manager of the Stanrigg Oil Works in Airdrie.

Between 1872 and 1882 Robert and Ann had had nine children, including a set of twins, unfortunately only three of these children survived to adulthood.

In 1899, Robert was employed by the Pumpherston Oil Company – a forerunner of BP – to set up a new oil shale plant in New Zealand.  Some time round about then, this family photo was taken.

The Dunlop family about 1899
The Dunlop family about 1899 Robert and Ann (seated centre-left), daughter Elizabeth (left), sons David and Walter (right), Walter’s wife Janet and their three children – Robert, Agnes and Annie. The youngest child in this photo – Annie – was born on 31 January 1898.

Robert was to set up this oil shale plant in Orepuki, in New Zealand’s Southland and on 8 February 1899 the family left London aboard the SS Kaikoura for the 90-day trip to New Zealand.

From local accounts, the oil shale work seems to have had a huge impact on the area.  Robert obviously had faith in the new works as he bought 260 shares in the New Zealand Oil & Coal company which had been set up to finance the enterprise.

However the oil works was not a commercial success and in 1902 it closed suddenly with very little notice.  The official reason given for the closure was the government’s removal of the import duty on kerosene – locals blamed it on a conspiracy by the American oil companies.

Robert and his family returned to Scotland in 1903.

In 1911, when he was 63, Robert was appointed caretaker of the Pittencrief House Museum in Dunfermline.  He died on 21 April 1921 and his will shows that he had kept his shares in the New Zealand Oil & Coal Company until his death.

Robert Dunlop as an old man
Robert Dunlop as an old man

This is the last photo I have of Robert and we don’t know when it was taken.  If anyone knows anything about old scooters – I’d be grateful for your help.



The show of the year

The display stand has been checked, flyers counted, train tickets bought, flights booked and hotel rooms reserved… all in aid of the UK’s largest genealogy show.

Yes it’s time for Who Do You Think You Are? Live! which takes place this weekend from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 February 2012 in London’s Olympia.

There will be plenty to see and do over the three days:

  • exhibitors from all the major online companies, libraries, museums and dozens of family history societies from across the UK;
  • photo-dating experts;
  • displays relating to long lost occupations and the daily life of workers from postal workers to nurses, agricultural workers and more;
  • specialists from a host of military museums to help you with your military queries;
  • celebrities Larry Lamb, Emilia Fox and Richard Madeley from the WDYTYA TV series talking about their experiences filming the show;
  • The Society of Genealogists’ ‘Ask the Experts’ area provides an opportunity to get some one-to-one guidance on your family history research.

In addition there’s a full programme of talks and workshops over the three days.

There are some new features in this year’s show:

  • a keynote workshop entitled Breaking the Barriers with Social Networking – Strategies and Tricks.  The speaker will be  Laurence Harris, Head of Genealogy (UK) at MyHeritage.com followed by a Q&A session with invited panellists D. Joshua Taylor, Lisa Louise Cooke, Peter Christian, Paul Howes and Daniel Lynch
  • meet your favourite bloggers and tweeters who’ll be wearing rosettes sponsored by the Society of Genealogists
  • live broadcast talks from the show on Friday and Saturday:
    • Friday 24th February 2012
      • 10:30 – 11:15 GMT: First steps: Build your family tree with censuses and birth, marriage and death records
      • 13:30 – 14:45 GMT: Ancestry.co.uk revealed: the brand new features in the best-selling family history software
      • 15:30 – 16:15 GMT: Before 1837 by TONY ROBINSON: Discover the events that shaped your ancestors’ lives, and the records they left behind.
    • Saturday 25th February 2012
      • 11:00 – 11:45 GMT: Going further: Discover your ancestors all over the world with our global records
      • 13:00 – 13:45 GMT: Parish records: Uncover the records for your area and trace your family all the way back to Tudor times
      • 15:00 – 15:45 GMT: Getting started: Build your family tree with censuses and birth, marriage and death records

Find out how to view the live broadcasts on the Ancestry blog at http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2012/02/16/tony-robinson-others-to-be-broadcast-live-from-who-do-youthink-you-arelive-to-our-facebook-page/

If you’re a National Institute for Genealogical Studies student come and meet Managing Director Louise St Denis, Director of Scottish Studies Sheena Tait (that’s me!) and Director of English Studies Kirsty Grey.  Louise and I will be on stand 87/88 all weekend, Kirsty (who also works full-time as a teacher) will be there on Saturday and Sunday.

With all this going on you can’t afford to miss it.

See you there!


Fisher folk and fisher lassies

St Monans - a typical Fife fishing village
St Monans - a typical Fife fishing village

Herring has always formed an important part of Scotland’s economy and many of us have both male and female ancestors who were part of the herring trade.

What became known as the “Scotch cure” was reputedly invented by a Dutchman at the end of the 14th century and involved gutting and removing the gills of the fish which were then packed “sardine fashion” in barrels, their tails towards the centre, with a layer of salt between each layer of fish.

Herring is a seasonal fish and many fishermen tried to extend the season by following the shoals from the east coast of Scotland in winter and spring, to the west coast in early summer, round the Shetlands in mid-summer, down the north-east coast in late summer through autumn and ending up in England off the coast of East Anglia in December.

Uniquely to the Scottish herring trade, armies of young girls followed the fishing fleet to provide the seasonal labour needed to deal with the catches.

By the middle of the 19th century the major commercial markets were overseas in Germany, Poland and Russia; in Scotland herring (“silver darlings”) was regarded as a poor man’s food.

To find out more about the herring trade, try some of these links:

Modern fishing boats being repaired in Gamrie, Banffshire
Modern fishing boats being repaired in Gamrie, Banffshire


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 http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/biographical/.

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 http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/index.html.  The Hudson’s Bay Company also has a dedicated heritage section on its website at http://www.hbc.com/hbcheritage/.

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 http://www.abdn.ac.uk/materialhistories/index.php and Learning and Teaching Scotland explores the history of Scots emigration to Canada at http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/scotsandcanada/index.asp.  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 http://www.imeche.org/news/archives/10-08-31/A_chip_off_the_old_block_Engineering_Your_Family_History_open_day.aspx 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 http://lothianlives.org.uk 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 http://ascottishaccent.blogspot.com/ for the news of this new resource.


Did you know Scotland had its own Test Act?

I was browsing the Dumfries Kirk Session Minutes indexed online at http://www.dgcommunity.net/historicalindexes/default.aspx recently and came across several merchants in August 1689 who were being appointed as deacon and elders either regretting that they had taken “the Test” or saying that they had not taken “the Test”.
Now maybe there’s a massive gap in my knowledge, but I’d always thought that the Test Acts only applied in England and Wales so I’ve been doing some digging.  (By the way the 1911Encyclopedia at http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Test_Acts is better than Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_Act for this.)

After the Restoration, in 1662  Charles II re-introduced Episcopalianism to Scotland under the “Act for the restitution and reestablishment of the ancient government of the church by archbishops and bishops” (http://www.rps.ac.uk/trans/1662/5/9).  The Test Act in England and Wales was passed in 1672.  There doesn’t seem to have been a similar Act in Scotland until 1681 when the “Act Anent Religion and the Test” was passed (http://www.rps.ac.uk/trans/1681/7/29)

The Dumfries Kirk Session indexes only start in 1689 so I don’t know if this Test Act was causing a problem before then.  William and Mary accepted the Scottish Crown on 11 May 1689, just before these Dumfries merchants were being ordained as elders and deacons.  However given that the act applied to “all magistrates, deans of guild, councillors and clerks of burghs royal and regality, all deacons of trades and deacon-conveners in the said burghs” the merchants could have been in an embarrasing position.
The Scottish Test Act was repealed in June 1690 by the “Act ratifying the Confession of Faith and settling presbyterian church government” (http://www.rps.ac.uk/trans/1690/4/45)
The National Archives of Scotland appear to have various listings in their online catalogue at http://www.nas.gov.uk/onlineCatalogue/ :
  • Aberdeen Test – subscribed by the barons PA7/25/2
  • Caithness Test  – signed by the barons and freeholders PA7/25/8
  • Clackmannan Test – signed by the barons and freeholders PA7/25/9
  • Dumfries (Stewartry of Annandale)  – Test subscribed by the freeholders PA7/25/11
  • Dunbarton  – Test subscribed by freeholders PA7/25/12
  • Edinburgh – Test subscribed by the barons and freeholders PA7/25/13
  • Fife – Test subscribed by the barons and freeholders PA7/25/14
  • Forfar – Test subscribed by the barons PA7/25/15
  • Inverness – Test signed by the barons and freeholders PA7/25/17
  • Kincardine – Test subscribed by the barons and freeholders PA7/25/18
  • Kirkcudbright – Certificate by the clerk of the stewartry that the freeholders have taken the Test PA7/25/20
  • Lanark – Test subscribed by the electors PA7/25/21
  • Moray (Elgin and Forres) – Test subscribed by the barons etc PA7/25/23
  • Nairn – Test subscribed by the electors PA7/25/24
  • Peebles – Test subscribed by the freeholders PA7/25/26
  • Perth – Test subscribed by the small barons and freeholders PA7/25/27
  • Renfrew – Test subscribed by the freeholders and depute sheriff-clerk PA7/25/28
  • Ross – Extract Test subscribed by the barons, freeholders and feuars PA7/25/29
  • Roxburgh – Test subscribed by the freeholders PA7/25/30
  • Selkirk – Test subscribed by the freeholders PA7/25/31
  • Sutherland – Test subscribed by the heritors PA7/25/33
All of these tests appear to have been signed in 1685.
My brain hurts now!

The Scottish Distributed Digital Library

I’ve just come across the Scottish Distributed Digital Library: a collection of links to digitised sounds, images and texts with Scottish themes on the internet.

The collection includes books, photographs, paintings, drawings and websites covering such diverse subjects as

  • Aberdeen-built ships
  • Ayrshire working lives photographs
  • Hand drawn maps of Cawdor parish dating from 1782
  • The Dictionary of Scottish Architects
  • Architectural plans and drawings
  • Photographs of Glasgow people and places
  • More maps than you can shake a stick at

and much much more!

Go and have a look at http://scone.strath.ac.uk/sddl/index.cfm – I’m sure you’ll find something relevant to your own family history.


How many generations back can you trace?

1975 Golden Wedding celebration for Marcus Calder Campbell & Janet Russell Dickson

There’s been a discussion lately on one of the American genealogy blogs about how feasible it is to trace back through 10 generations of family history.

Leaving aside any arguments about “name hunting” as opposed to documenting a family’s history I thought it would be an interesting exercise to check the number of generations I’d traced for my own family.

My father’s ancestry is all Scottish, from the central belt of the country and on his side I can trace:

  • Generations 1-4: 15 out of 15 possible names (all of his great grandparents)
  • Generation 5: 16 out of 16 possible names (all of his great-great grandparents)
  • Generation 6: 15 out of 32 possible names (46% of his great-great-great grandparents)
  • Generation 7: 4 out of 64 possible names (6% of his 4x great grandparents)

and that’s it.

My mother’s family is all Scottish again but spreads across the borders, the Lothians and Caithness. On her side I can trace:

  • Generations 1-4: 15 out of 15 possible names (all of her great grandparents)
  • Generation 5: 16 out of 16 possible names (all of her great-great grandparents)
  • Generation 6: 12 out of 32 possible names (37% of her great-great-great grandparents)
  • Generation 7: 8 out of 64 possible names (12% of her 4x great grandparents)

and that’s it.

So what?

Well, it’s one way of stepping back and viewing the wood rather than the individual trees and leaves we normally concentrate on.

All but three of my Caithness ancestors are from the parishes of Halkirk and Bower where the Old Parish Registers don’t exist before 1780 – it’ll take a lot of luck and hunting in tenancy agreements held in Edinburgh to take them back any further.

I can see some ancestors who died post-1855 (the introduction of civil registration in Scotland) where the name of one parent is missing. I need to check that I’ve got the relevant certificates. If they died in an institution, I need to find out if those records survive and check to see if they contain further details.

and so on.

It’s been a useful exercise. I can see which families will need more research at archives in Scotland the next time I can grab a chance. I can also see families where more work with online sources, or in The National Archives at Kew, could bring results.

Have you ever stepped back to get an overview of your research?

How did you do it?