Wednesday, September 26, 2012

East India Company At Home Project Podcasts

Some of the short presentations at the East India Company At Home Project conference held in Edinburgh a few weeks ago are on History Spot. The speakers are Helen Clifford, Ellen Filor, Margot Finn and Kate Smith.

That website has lots of other interesting history podcasts

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Bengal Obituary Available Online

'The Bengal Obituary, or a Record to Perpetuate the Memory of Departed Worth, Being a Compilation of Tablets and Monumental Inscriptions from Various Parts of the Bengal and Agra Presidencies. To Which Is Added Biographical Sketches and Memoirs of Such As Have Pre-Eminently Distinguished Themselves in the History of British India, since the Formation of European Settlement to the Present Time'
is the title of a book that was published in 1848 for Holmes & Co (a firm of undertakers and monumental sculptors in Calcutta) and is over 400 pages long and contains over 5,000 transcriptions of (mainly) Europeans’ gravestones with brief biographies of 130 people who played notable roles in the colonial history of Bengal.

Most of the gravestones are for officials of the East India Company, soldiers, sailors or their families.

One of the notables was Gilbert Elliot, first Earl Minto (1751-1814), Governor General of India from 1807 to 1813.  Although he died in Stevenage, England, a month after his return from India, he was recognised for supporting the addition of a South Gallery to St John’s Church, Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1811 and for erecting at his own expense a cenotaph at Barrackpore in memory of the officers and men who fell in the conquest of Mauritius and Java in 1811.

For more information see The Bengal Obituary.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Borders Heritage Week 12 - 23 September

 There's a great series of walks, talks and events scheduled for the next week (and a half) throughout the Borders with the theme Myths and Legends - from Coldingham in the east to Ettrick and Eskdalemuir in the west and from Drumelzier in the north to Jedburgh and Hawick in the south.  Ranging from Bats in Innerleithen to Burns (Rabbie) in Jedburgh, there will be something for everyone.

Ettrick Kirk

Events are arranged by the Scottish Borders Council Ranger Service, the Haining, Borders Journeys, Historic Scotland, Borders Forest Trust, Friends of Coldingham Priory, Trimontium Trust, the Heritage Hub, Kelso Connections, Bowhill and more.

For more info

Monday, September 10, 2012

Traquair Exhibition and Book Launch at Heritage Hub

Following on from Peter's post and book review I've received this invitation from the staff at the Heritage Hub which is open to all members of the Borders FHS:

We'd love to welcome you to an exhibition and book launch we're hosting on 19th September at 6pm.  Catherine Maxwell Stuart and Margaret Fox have written a brilliant book on Traquair and  the launch will celebrate this and provide an opportunity for the Border community to see some treasured items from the Traquair collections in the Exhibition Space at the Heritage Hub, Hawick. 

If you intend to come to this event please reply to Traquair House by email to: <> or by phoning - 01 896 830 323 .

Book Review: 'A Family Life Revealed' about the Stuarts at Traquair from 1491 to 1875

This book by Catherine Maxwell Stuart and Margaret Fox not only tells the story of the Stuarts and the major political upheavals, their support for Catholicism, the problems they faced in the community because of that support and strained relations in the family; the family’s debts and fines and general Scottish history but also lots of interesting snippets of local interest.

There are accounts of purchases made for clothing, wine and pans.  Illnesses and medicines (including dragon’s blood !) are mentioned, there are letters home from the children of the 4th Earl of Traquair, who were being educated in Paris between 1714 and 1718; their support for the Jacobite cause, changes to the house and estate, correspondence about matters in America leading up to the Revolution and its aftermath, a mining enterprise in Spain and Portugal, Catholic emancipation in the 19th century, and the later Victorian developments.

If there’s one drawback, it’s minor: on a few of the early documents, the caption doesn’t state the year. I found that very confusing and unhelpful; in some cases, I guessed the year by reading a few pages back but in other cases it was unclear. Although the documents themselves may not be dated, the authors evidently knew the year and it would have been so much easier to put the year in brackets in the caption.

There are lots of illustrations - views, people, accounts and letters, buildings; nearly every page is illustrated and some pages have more than one picture. There’s an abbreviated family tree (with 13 of the 17 children born between 1695 and 1711 to Lady Mary Maxwell, wife of the 4th Earl) inside the front cover and a timeline of the principal events including accessions of monarchs inside the back cover. Its writing style makes it easy to read even for children.
You can just read straight through, however the format is such that you can dip in and out.
The authors have really made the documents in the archive come alive and tell the stories of the Stuart family at Traquair.

Overall, it is an extraordinarily fascinating book and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
The book has 108 pages, the paperback version costs £11.99 and the hardback costs £14.99 and can be obtained from Traquair House or online at the Traquair House Shop.

The authors will also be coming to talk to us at our meeting on Sunday 28th October in Innerleithen Parish Church Hall at 2.30pm and no doubt they’ll be bringing along copies of their book to sell and sign.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Local Family History Meeting


Corn Exchange and Ormiston Institute, Market Square, Melrose, TD6 9PN
Sunday 30th September     Free Admission          Non Members welcome

 Get to know your Borders Past

 A talk by

Dr. Sandra McNeil, Learning and Engagement Officer with the Abbotsford Trust will give a talk on the exciting new developments at Abbotsford, Sir Walter Scott’s home in the heart of the Scottish Borders. With the new Visitor centre open and the House due to re-open next year this is a chance to find out what exciting new things are happening at Abbotsford.

So, why not come and meet others interested in genealogy in the Borders – lots of our publications will be available.

Sales Table & Refreshments Available.