Friday, 6 June 2008


Normally one traces ones fathers line first but as my father is shrouded in mystery and there was a lack of any concrete information from my mother, who sadly died in 2000 without giving away any more details, I did my research into my mother’s roots. I started this around 1997 and I persuaded Mum to jot down some of her memories in a note pad. This was almost as hard work as trying to prize out any information about my father from her but she finally agreed, continually mumbling that no one would want to read it anyway.

I stated my journey into the past by getting as much information as I could from Mum. Nana had been living with us until she died when I was 13 so seemed an interesting place to start. I knew she was Scottish, a nurse, she didn’t use her given name except when signing a cheque and she was a 7th child of a 7th daughter. This last piece of information proved to be more important than the fact that she might have had second sight due to being 7th of seven!
Mums father had died in the 1920’s and not a lot was known about his family until I started chatting to mum in depth and then lots of tiny morsels of information about both sides came to light. It was amazing that she didn’t realise how much she actually knew and how many important, facts were locked away waiting to be released by the right key. I so wish I had recorded our chats, as they were full of fun and information. Her jottings were always a little guarded, as she knew some one might read them. I finally typed them up in 2006 and I am so glad I have them. I will pop in some extracts from it as I go along.

NB Chat to older relatives, and record their memories however possible, because questions cannot be answered when they are gone.

After about a year I called on the help of a researcher, as mums roots were in Scotland and it was hard to check some of my findings. I struck lucky as he was reasonable and we worked together month by month rather than him going away and presenting me with all the facts. I think he enjoyed it as much as I did. It was like solving an amazingly complex puzzle or how I imagine playing long distance chess would feel.. I would send him the information I had gleamed from mum and the deductions I had made from pouring over the IGI. and off he went to see what he could find. I would wait eagerly for the postman so that I could continue my quest. and was saddened that, after a year, he felt we had gone back as far as we could. Many branches became dead ends by the early 1800’s but one we actually managed to get back as far as 1725.

For those who are unaware of the naming traditions in Scotland ….
It is a godsend for those researching their Scottish Ancestry, as the rules are true for 99.9% of children born prior to 1900. People gradually turned away from this during the 20th Centaury.
This is how it goes.
First Son named after … Fathers Father
First Daughter named after … Mothers Mother
Second son named after … Mothers Father
Second daughter named after … Fathers Mother

If any of these children died, the name was used again.This is why you can find 3 or even more of the same name in a list of children but it does show that each one has died before the next of that name, was born and how important the tradition was.
Up to about the1850’s most families also named
Third son after Father
Third daughter after Mother

Again,if there were a death this name would be used again.
I found this all so helpful when trying to work out families.

All the valuable information I researched , I painstakingly typed into a Family History programme but as an innocent in the world of computers I did not back it up. I then put this work to one side as I coped with the death of Mum and four weeks later, the death of my husband.2000 was a year I shall never forget yet do not want to remember either.

The next year my son got married and I began to feel I wanted to mess around on the computer again and maybe look into my husbands parents history. Alas all was not right with my computer and my son said I should backup every thing that was important if I hadn’t already. I looked blank … he looked worried. The result was that it wouldn’t let me do anything but just before it died I managed to print off a lot of the information. I was so upset with myself that I just boxed it away and never opened it again. To make things worse we moved in 2005 and I’m not sure what happened to the box,. or what box it actually was !!!!!

My mission is …..
To now unearth this box, if it still exists,
Resurrect the information I still have and input it where it cannot be lost again.
If the box has gone

1 comment:

Inspiration Alley said...

Trying to get any information out of my mum or uncles is like getting blood out of a stone. It's so frustrating. My one Uncle died a few weeks ago and my cousin's wife has sent me copies of some photos she found. I sent one to my mum asking who the bridesmaids were at her wedding - suddenly she remembered things she'd never told me about. She tells me that when she was young she was kept in the dark about what was going on and only knows what she over heard when out of the room.