Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heritage Hub / Borders FHS Liaison Meeting

Mary Thomson and I met Rachel Hosker and Juline Baird of the Heritage Hub yesterday (29/06/11). This was the latest of our rather too infrequent liaison meetings with the staff of the Hertiage Hub – otherwise the Scottish Borders Archive.

Both the Poor Law and Police Record indexing projects continue to progress although we were not in a position to indicate when the next CD would be published. During the discussions it emerged that all extant Police Records for Berwick, Roxburgh and Selkirk prior to the formation of Lothian & Borders Police were with the Hub.  Some Peebles material may have ended up in Edinburgh, as at one time Peeblesshire shared its police force with Midlothian.

There are options for a few people to work on original documents at the Hub.  This might involve indexing documents or completing 'box listings'.  Anyone who can read old hand writing, is familiar with Latin or Old Scots, or, understands the Scottish legal system would be particularly welcome.  Some Town Council records for Hawick, Jedburgh and Selkirk dating from 1600 – 1900 have been digitised and there is another possible project there although this one will be quite complex.

A recent decision by the Information Commissioner means that School Admission Rolls are closed for 100 years. Hub staff no longer have discretion to review more recent records or provide access to relevant data.  At present the Information Commissioner’s decision does not appear to apply to School Log Books.

Rachel suggested that it is likely to be more fruitful to make requests for school records through The Hub. Not only are they known to many school staff but they may be able to suggest alternative sources of information. For example, they have a long series of the Berwickshire High School magazine.

The Kirk Session records returned to the Hub by the National Records of Scotland (the combined National Archives of Scotland and General Register Office for Scotland) are those in classes CH2 and CH3 for parishes in the Borders. In many cases, piece numbers are given in the relevant parish pages on our web site where they will still be listed under the National Archives for Scotland.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Whaling in Berwick

Whaling in Berwick is the title of the next talk in the series held by Berwick  Record Office to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

Well-known local maritime historian Tony Barrow will be talking about the importance of whaling to the town and about some of the key people involved. It’s a fascinating story. The talk will be illustrated.  This is a talk not to be missed by anyone interested in the history of Berwick or the fishing industry.

It takes place on Friday 8 July at 7.30 pm at Berwick Parish Centre, The Parade, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 1DF, England. Map. It's next to Holy Trinity Church. Entrance is through the churchyard. The suggested car parking is in the car park next to the churchyard.

Everyone is welcome. Admission free. Refreshments available.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Scottish Episcopal Church Records and Roman Catholic Archives

Chris Paton has blogged a report on two talks that he attended at the SAFHS 2011 Conference.

The talks were Dr Tristram Clarke talking about Scottish Episcopal Church Records and Andrew Nicoll on the subject of Roman Catholic Archives.

Sir Walter Scott, a cowboy of the Wild West ?

The headline in Scotland on Sunday, yesterday, was actually Sir Walter Scott, king of the wild frontier?
The article says that Scott now has a new claim to fame, and that a conference 'Walter Scott: Sheriff And Outlaw, organised by the University of Wyoming'   taking place 5th to 9th July in Laramie, Wyoming, USA, will discuss Scott's role as one of the pivotal influences on America's western frontier.

Jeni Calder, who will present a lecture on Scott's frontier legacy, says that Scott's influence on the wild west cannot be over-estimated and examines the comparisons between the wild frontier land of America and that of the Scottish Borders of the late 18th century - where Scott was Sheriff of Selkirkshire from 1799 until 1832.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Day in Edinburgh

I’ve just got back home from the SAFHS 11 Conference where along with Elma Fleming, Davina Smart & John Murray I was looking after the Borders FHS Stand at the accompanying exhibition. Regrettably I was unable to attend any of the lectures but all the comments I heard were favourable. We had a lot of visitors to our stand amongst whom was Jim Hunter, a member I’d been in touch with a couple of years about the deposition of School Log Books at the Heritage Hub. Unfortunately it depends on the school recognising the value of the records and passing them on to the regional archives. As you’d imagine the result can be variable.

I ended up in an interesting discussion with another visitor about the nature of evidence and just what constitutes adequate proof of a link. In the end most of us have only to satisfy ourselves although adopting a fairly rigorous approach will reduce the likelihood of making preposterous claims. This particular gentleman’s daughter was a historian and her standards were clearly more rigorous than his.

Wandering round the stands I discovered that:

  • Developments in DNA profiling mean that mitochondrial (m)-DNA which is inherited by both men and women from their mothers might be capable of establishing possible links over a few generations. At present m-DNA operates at a tribal level and there very little variation between people of Western European descent.
  • Kirk Session Records for parishes in the Scottish Borders have been transferred to the Heritage Hub (aka the Scottish Borders Archive) from the National Archives of Scotland (NAS). They have retained the NAS reference number which is given on the parish pages on our web site.
  • You can get access to the SCRAN archive of historical photographs via the Scottish Borders Library web site. There’s no charge if you wish to use the images for private purposes and there’s little impediment to using them talks etc – acknowledging the source and formal permission to use the images is the most that is likely to be required for any non-commercial use..

This year the conference was organised by the Scottish Genealogical Society – it will be our turn in 2013 and there hopefully we can learn some lessons from today’s event.. There were 150 paying delegates and a large number of visitors to the exhibition which had 50 exhibitors.

Sprouston Sweet Pea Centenary

100 years ago the gardener persuaded the then minister of Sprouston and his wife to enter the Daily Mail Sweet Pea competition to be held in the Crystal Palace, London, the prizes being £1,000 for the first, the second £100 and the third £50. This competition generated immense interest and excitement over the whole of the U.K.

The minister, The Rev. D Denholm Fraser picked two bunches and asked his wife which she preferred. The choice being made he packed the two boxes of sweet peas and strapped them to the carrier of his bike and pedalled to the General Post office at Kelso. There the sweet peas were dispatched by train to Berwick upon Tweed before being transferred to the London express.

The competition with an expected entry of perhaps 15000 was overwhelmed with 38,000 entries. A vast army of Post Office and Railway Company staff plus Boy Scouts aided by horse drawn Post Office vans delivered the sweet peas to Crystal Palace,

The competition results were announced by The Countess of Bective and transmitted by the A.B.C. Telegraph Machine. The machine sprang into life in the Sprouston sub-post office; the first prize was Mrs. J.H. Fraser’s entry. Twenty minutes later the machine functioned again; the third prize had been awarded to The Rev. D.D. Fraser.

The prizes allowed the Manse to be furnished but more importantly provide the funds to build the chancel for the present day Church.

An account of the Competition was subsequently written by the Rev. Fraser under the title “A Bunch of Sweet Peas” , a copy of which is in the Society Archive.

To mark the centenary a sweet pea competition will be held at Sprouston of 13th. August next which all are invited to enter.

Further particulars from; Peter Neilson – peter@whispering

Friday, June 24, 2011

Scottish Association of Family History Societies Conference

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the national family history conference organised under the auspices of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies, at Adam House, 3 Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1HR. 

Please do come along and say hello to us on our stand !

This year, it’s been organised by the Scottish Genealogy Society, and the theme is Census, Church and City. 

Their exciting programme comprises: 
  • Richard Hunter on Edinburgh, its Archives and Inhabitants
  • Dr Tristram Clarke talking about Scottish Episcopal Church Records
  • Andrew Nicoll on the subject of Roman Catholic Archives 
  • Duncan MacNiven, the Registrar General, about the 1911 Census

There’s also a family and local history fair (9.30am to 4.30 pm) with stands from most of the Scottish family history societies, as well as Scotland's People, various archives, local history societies, dealers in old books and postcards, and other organisations. The fair is free to attend, and the conference costs just £15 to attend (excluding lunch), and from my experience of past conferences, that’s well worth it. 

There will also be a choice of 3 free 15 minute talks between 12.15pm and 1.40pm: 
  • Ewen Collins discussing ways of researching your family history
  • Ken Nisbet about Military Records
  • Gregory Lauder-Frost on Land Records
More details on the Scottish Genealogy Society website,

New 'Who Do You Think You Are?' Series

The BBC Who Do You Think You Are? magazine has announced the celebrities whose family history is being researched in the next series of the TV programme, Who Do You Think You Are? 

It includes the French ancestry of the JK Rowling's mother, June Brown(East Enders' Dot Cotton (now Branning))'s family's migration from Africa, tracing generations of ancestors forced to move from country to country, comedian Alan Carr's maternal great-grandfather, who changed his name in mysterious circumstances; Emilia Fox who has theatrical ancestors, Richard Madeley who has early settlers in the United States and Canada in his family tree, Len Goodman who had poor ancestry in the workhouse, Robin Gibb's ancestor in war-torn 19th-century Afghanistan, Tracey Emin's family tree and Sebastian Coe, whose family history includes a plantation owner involved in the sugar trade.

More information on the BBC website at

I'm looking forward to it already.

Monday, June 20, 2011

British Library and Google to Digitise 250,000 Books Published between 1700 and 1870

The British Library and Google today announced a partnership to digitise 250,000 out-of-copyright books from the Library’s collections.

The project will digitise a huge range of printed books, pamphlets and periodicals dated 1700 to 1870, the period that saw the Act of Union, Industrial Revolution, Poor Law reform, the development of local authorities, Robert Burns and other major poets, the Battle of Waterloo, the British victory at Trafalgar, the development of railways. It's not just books in English and the books will feature searchable text and will be downloadable through Google Books.

The press release says that researchers will be able to copy, share and manipulate text for non-commercial purposes.

See the press release for more details.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Recording at Edrom

Recording at Edrom

The weather forecast for our day of recording had not been good and indeed as the day dawned it seems to have been raining heavily in other parts of the Borders not all that far away. This no doubt accounted for several members deciding against coming along.

Nevertheless over the day no fewer than fourteen members and friends did appear and by and large the weather held although there was some disruption for the odd shower and our picnic had to be taken indoors.

Notwithstanding the enforced weather disruptions good progress was made and perhaps 60%/70% of the stones were recorded. By popular request a further recording day will be arranged probably about the end of July but an exact date will be advised shortly.

Edrom is a very old graveyard, the original Church dating back to something like 1105, and a number of the stones proved very challenging but we did have our successes.

One very early stone had previously been recorded by Cargill and his transcription contained text which could only have been below soil level. Scraping away literally trying to unearth this we discovered the stone had been laid against and had preserved an even earlier one which read “here lyes Janet Younger 1697”. Not too much information but satisfying to discover – there are several stones going back to the late 17th century.

Another stone had initially been effectively written off as totally illegible indeed “no visible inscription”. Some persistence however unearthed text which was initially was quite baffling until it dawned that it was upside down. This had obviously been a slab stone which had lain horizontally but had at some point had been raised, probably to gain space, although unfortunately from our point of view the wrong way up. Considerable perseverance and contortion did finally result in the deciphering of a much of the text although try as could not a surname which being at the head of the stone is probably now underground. – we shall be continuing in our efforts.

Earlier while photographing some of the more modern stones I was befriended by a very conceited black and white cat who insisted on appearing in every shot. The above is only one of several in which he features.

Ronald Morrison

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kelso Poor Law and Ragged School Records

Contains two maps (around 1857), one of the town of Kelso, and another of the area of the Poor House and a 95 page text document all in PDF format. The text document contains information on over 400 Kelso families taken from the Poor Roll (and the records of the Kelso Poor House), prison records, Ragged School records and other sources. It was researched by the late Audrey Mitchell, one of our founder members, and past Chairman. She was well known as a genealogist and wrote many local social history books.
CD price £10.00 plus postage. Weight 70g.
See our Publications Sales List to buy.

Melrose Parish War Memorials

This lovingly researched book identifies each of the persons recorded on the Melrose Parish War Memorials in Melrose, Darnick, Newstead, and Gattonside.
It has a subtitle, 'The Men and their Stories', because for each of those listed on the memorials, there is a short biographical note of those named, and even of 5 men who should have been named on the Melrose War memorial, compiled from a variety of sources including military records, the census, newspapers, and local knowledge. Where possible, photos of the men are included. There is a surname index.
It covers both World Wars, and includes the Roll of Honour of St Mary’s School, Melrose.

Surnames in the index: Allan, Anderson, Andrews, Babington, Bain, Barclay, Barton, Bell, Beveridge, Binnie, Black, Blackadder, Blake, Bowie, Boyd, Brown, Buchan, Bunyan, Calvert, Calwell, Carlyle, Chambers, Chapman, Constable, Cook, Crooke, Cruickshank, Curle, Currie, Darling, Davidson, Deans, Dick, Dickinson, Dodds, Dorward, Doughty, Douglas, Douglas-Hamilton, Dun, Dunlop, Dunn, Elliot, Evans, Fernie, Ferrier, Fleming, Fortune, Frew, Gibb, Gibson, Gifford, Gill, Gordon, Gray, Grigor, Hair, Hamilton, Hart, Hastie, Henderson, Hill, Hobkirk, Hogg, Holmes, Honeyman, Hopkirk, Hutcheson, Jardine, Keddie, Kennedy, Laidlaw, Lang, Lawrie, Lees, Leithead, Lockie, Lockton, Logan, Lorimer, Lowe, Lumgair, Lyall, Mack, Maclaren, Maclldowie, MacPherson, Mann, Matthew, McDiarmid, McDonald, McDougal, McGinnis, McIntosh, McMillan, McVittie, Mein, Middlemass, Millar, Mitchell, Montgomerie, Morrison, Morvo/Morow, Munro, Murry/Murray, Myers, Notman, Paterson, Paton, Polwarth, Pringle, Purdom, Purves, Rafferty, Ramsay, Redpath, Reid, Richardson, Riddell, Robinson, Romanes, Rosie, Ross, Rutherford, Sanderson, Scott, Sharp, Sheldrick, Shiel, Sladen, Smart, Smith, Spiers, Spottiswoode, Sproat, Steedman, Steel, Stewart, Telfer, Thompson, Thomson, Todd, Tulloh, Tully, Turnbull, Wade, Walker, Webb, White, Whitelaw, Wilson, Wright, Wynn, Young.

Researched and written by Major Trevor S Mills, RE (Rtd) and Mrs Fiona M A Mills.
78 pages including index and illustrations. Card Covers. A4 size.
ISBN 978-1-874232-09-2.
Price £7.00 plus postage. Weight 285g.

See our Publications Sales List to buy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Roxburghshire Monumental Inscriptions - No 20: Kelso Rosebank Cemetery

Contains a militia list, as well as the monumental inscriptions/gravestone inscriptions from the 2454 gravestones in the cemetery. There is an index to the surnames. Covers stones installed between 1870 and 2002.
Available as a CD or an A4 format book, each has the same content. 2454 gravestones. Book 202 pp including index and illustrations. ISBN 1 874232 07 0.
CD price £10.00 plus postage. Weight 70g.
Book price £21.00 plus postage. Weight 620g.

See our Publications Sales List to buy.

Roxburghshire Monumental Inscriptions - No 19: Cavers & Kirkton (including Denholm)

Contains a hearth tax list, a list of kirk ministers, as well as the monumental inscriptions/gravestone inscriptions from the 820 gravestones in Cavers Old churchyard and new cemetery, Kirkton churchyard and Denholm cemetery. Includes War Memorials.
There is an index to the surnames.
138 pp including index and illustrations. ISBN 1 874232 06 2. 820 gravestones. Price £8.50 plus postage. Weight 205g.

See our Publications Sales List to buy. 

Hall's History of Galashiels

Available as a CD only. This is an electronic reprint of the famous book, The History of Galashiels by Robert Hall, first published in October 1898 in a limited edition of 425 copies for subscribers only. It's in PDF format which allows an extensive index and search facility to be used and by the use of hyperlinks it can be easily navigated. The original book had 601 pages including index of subscribers and illustrations. Copies of the original book are advertised from time to time, the last copy I saw, was advertised at £195 and was sold within a week.
CD price £12.00 plus postage. Weight 70g. See our Publications Sales List to buy.

Roxburghshire Monumental Inscriptions - No 21: Melrose Abbey

This volume was researched and published by us.
It's available as a CD or an A4 format book, each has the same content.
It contains a hearth tax list and a militia list, as well as the monumental inscriptions/gravestone inscriptions from the 564 gravestones in the churchyard, and a plan of the Abbey burial ground. Includes photographs of gravestones. There is an index to the surnames.
We regard monumental Inscriptions, gravestone inscriptions, tombstone inscriptions to be identical terms.
See Monumental Inscriptions for this and other volumes produced by the Society.
Search the Gravestones Index for names in which you're interested.

Surnames in the index: Aitchison, Aitkin, Akenhead, Alexander, Allan, Amas, Amos, Anderson, Angus, Armstrong, Bainbridge, Ballantyne, Barham, Barrie, Bartleman, Bathgate, Bell, Belly, Bennetts, Biggar, Bilton, Black, Blaikie, Blakie, Blythe, Borthwick, Boston, Bourdon, Bouston, Boustone, Bower, Boyd, Brack, Brewster, Broadwood, Brodie, Broomfield, Brown, Bruce, Brunton, Brydon, Brydone, Buchanan, Bunyan, Bunyie, Burn, Burnet, Burton, Butler, Cairncross, Campbell, Carmichael, Carr, Charters, Chisholm, Church, Clapperton, Clark, Cochran, Cochrane, Collier, Common, Cook, Cornel, Craik, Cranston, Cranstoun, Crawford, Crosbie, Cully, Cumming, Cunningham, Curle, Dalgleish, Dalgliesh, Darling, Davidson, Dawney, Dick, Dickenson, Dickinson, Dickison, Dickson, Dirom, Dodds, Dods, Donaldson, Douglas, Drummond, Drysdale, Duncan, Dunlop, Easton, Eddington, Edgar, Elder, Elliot, Ellis, Ewart, Fair, Fairbairn, Fairbarn, Fairgrieve, Falla, Farbairn, Ferguson, Fetherstonhaugh, Fiddes, Fisher, Fleming, Forbes, Ford, Forest, Forsyth, Forsythe, Fowler, Fraser, Freer, Frier, Galloway, Gardener, Gardiner, Gibson, Gill, Gillies, Gladstone, Glen, Glendinning, Goddard, Goodfellow, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greig, Grieve, Guthrie, Haig, Hall, Halliburton, Hamilton, Hardie, Harken, Harper, Hart, Hatton, Hay, Heath, Heiton, Henderson, Hepburn, Heriot, Hervie, Hill, Hogg, Hoke, Holland, Home, Hope, Hopkirk, Hoppringle, Howden, Hudson, Hunter, Huntly, Hutchison, Inglis, Innes, Ireland, Isaac, Jackson, Jamieson, Jenkins, Johnston, Karr, Keddie, Keith, Kells, Ker, Kerr, Ketchin, Kirkwood, Knox, Laidlaw, Laidlow, Lamb, Landreth, Lauder, Laurie, Law, Lawrie, Lawson, Lawton, Layell, Leadous, Learmonth, Lee, Lees, Legge, Leith, Lillico, Lillie, Lindsay, Linton, Little, Lockhart, Lockie, Lookup, Lukup, Lumgair, Lumisdon, Lundie, Lyal, Lyall, Mabon, Mack, Macpherson, Mahoney, Main, Mann, Manuel, Marr, Martin, Mather, Matheson, Mathieson, Mathison, Matthewson, Maxwell, Mcaulay, Mcewan, Mckenzie, Mclean, Mcnair, Mcneil, Mebon, Mein, Melville, Mercer, Merton, Middlemas, Mien, Miles, Mill, Millar, Miller, Millne, Mills, Milne, Mitchelhill, Mitchell, Mofet, Moffat, Monteath, Moodie, More, Morow, Morris, Morton, Moss, Muir, Mulvie, Munro, Murray, Myles, Nelson, Nepean, Newton, Nichol, Nicholson, Nicol, Nimmo, Noble, Oliver, Ommanney, Ormiston, Park, Paterson, Pawson, Pigot, Pitman, Pott, Preston, Price, Pringle, Purdie, Purves, Rae, Ramsay, Rankine, Redpath, Reid, Renolson, Richards, Richardson, Riddell, Riddle, Rintoul, Robertson, Robson, Rogers, Romanes, Ronaldson, Rule, Russell, Rutherford, Ruttledge, Sandilands, Scerven, Scoon, Scott, Sharp, Shelley, Shiel, Shields, Shillinglaw, Shultz, Sibald, Sibbald, Simson, Sinclair, Skinner, Skirving, Smail, Smith, Somervile, Spence, Spiers, Steel, Stenhouse, Stephenson, Stevenson, Stewart, Stoddart, Sutherland, Swanston, Tain, Tait, Taket, Taylor, Thin, Thinn, Thompson, Thomson, Thorburn, Tinlin, Tocher, Tod, Trotter, Tudhope, Turnbull, Turner, Usher, Vair, Vogan, Waldie, Walker, Wallace, Walsh, Watson, Wauchope, Waugh, Wayness, Weatherston, Weatherstone, Weir, Welsh, Whiteford, Whitehead, Whitworth, Wight, Wilkinson, Wilkison, Williamson, Willson, Wilson, Winter, Wintrup, Wood, Wybergh, Yellowlees, Young, Zair.
Book 73 pages including index and illustrations. Photos contained in CD attached to back cover. Card Covers. A4 size.
ISBN 978-1-874232-11-7.
CD price £10.00 plus postage. Weight 70g.
Book price £12.00 plus postage. Weight 285g.
See our Publications Sales List to buy.

Changes to the Site

The Website Committee has been discussing changes to this website, the Borders Family History Society website. The changes will be introduced gradually over the next 6 to 8 weeks, as time permits; we are all busy people.

Eventually, the What's New page will disappear; the details of publications changed into blogs, and the Changes section removed, as we think that it's more informative to announce major changes in our blog.

We're also going to be adding more informative descriptions about our monumental inscriptions (gravestone inscriptions) and poor law records volumes.

Lastly, if there are any changes you would like to see, please let us know.
If you use the 'Comments about the website' contact type on our Contacts page, your comment will get right to me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Recording Gravestone Inscriptions at Edrom Churchyard - Saturday 18th June 2011

We have another day planned for recording gravestone inscriptions/monumental inscriptions; in Edrom churchyard, Edrom, Berwickshire on Saturday 18th June from 10am to 4pm.

Even if you have not been involved in transcribing stones before, do consider joining us, as training can be given.

You’ll need a notebook and a pencil and also it can be helpful if you have a soft brush, chalk, water spray and a kneeling mat.

Most people coming for the whole day bring along a picnic, and a bottle of water; deciphering faded and weathered inscriptions can be thirsty work.

If you would like to take part, even for a few hours on either day, please contact our organiser, Ronald Morrison via our Contacts page using the contact type Gravestone Recording.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Impact Of Computers On Archive Research

Linda Bankier from Berwick Record Office will be giving a talk on Friday 17 June 7pm-9pm on the Impact Of Computers On Archive Research  at the William Elder Building, Castlegate, Berwick Upon Tweed, TD15 1JT, England.  Map.

Come and find out how to make best use of your computer when researching family and local history!

Free admission, everyone welcome and refreshments available! Don’t miss it!