Monday, January 28, 2013

3 reasons to use Scottish Valuation Rolls

Until 1855, works carried out for the benefit of the public, for example, repair of the roads, removal of refuse and soil heaps, care for the sick and relief for the unemployed poor were carried out sporadically.

Initially these works were funded by the landowners, by the Crown, and public benefactors; as towns and cities grew in the 19th century, increasingly by levying a tax on householders.

However, with no standard system for determining the rate of the tax, its frequency, or penalties for non-payment; collection was often erratic, people refused to pay, could not be found to pay, could not afford to pay; in most years, the authorities had to scale down the works or relief offered to match the sums collected.

The most used valuation rolls are lists of properties, their owners, and occupiers produced for the purposes of taxation between 1855 and 1989 by assessors in council areas.

The Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act 1854 established a system of Assessors’ offices in each county and royal burgh in Scotland. Until the abolition of counties and burghs in 1975, these Assessors produced annual valuation rolls, listing properties whose actual or theoretical annual rental value was above a statutory minimum.         

Why use Valuation Rolls in your research ?
Well, mainly for 3 reasons:
  1. to put some flesh on the bones of your family history
  2. to help with finding people in the censuses
  3. to check information in the census
The rolls include the address of the property, its description (cottage, dwelling house, shop, workshop, etc), the owner's name, the name of the tenant, and, in most cases, the name of the occupier, the annual rental value.

Scotland's People have announced the availability of Valuation Rolls for 1905. This adds to their collection for 1915.

The 1895 valuation rolls are expected to be released later in the year.

Alternatively, come to our conference on 11 May at Galashiels and search the rolls there on Scotland's People's stand.

Reserved Occupations during the Second World War

The Scottish Oral History Centre at Strathclyde University is researching Wartime reserved occupations.  They would like to speak to men who were in the many varied occupations and who were exempted from Military service about their experiences and memories.  Interviews would take place at a time and place of the interviewee’s convenience and would take around 1 – 2 hours.  

If you are interested or have any questions please contact
Dr Linsey Robb
School of Humanities – History
McCance Building
University of Strathclyde
G1 1XQ

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Closure of Whitsome Church

I was sorry to read in the press today of the forthcoming closure of Whitsome Parish Church (above)
The present building dates from about 1820 but it is recorded that there has been a place of worship on the site since at least 1296 when one "Radulphus de Hauden parsona de Whytesum" swore allegiance to Edward 1 of England.
It is also recorded that in about the year 1700 when Thomas Boston preached in the Church the crush was so great that people climbed on to the roof and made holes in the thatch to see and hear this renowned preacher.
Changed days regrettable - like so many other Churches attendances have been falling over the years, not helped by general rural depopulation and the recent closure of the local primary school.
Whitsome Church is now linked with Fogo and Swinton, Ladykirk and Leitholm.
Members with connections to the Parish will probably be interested in the Whitsome website which contains among numerous other records a transcription and photographs of all the stones in the Old Churchyard and a list of head of households in 1834.

See the Flying Scotsman Again

If you're over 60, the sight, smell, sounds of a steam engine will bring back nostalgic memories.

I find they are always a joy to me - a rare joy, admittedly and one that I never experienced in the Borders.

The BBC has a video of the Flying Scotsman on the 40th anniversary of its first public journey. The anniversary took place in 1968 - a non-stop run from King's Cross in London to Edinburgh Waverley where it was welcomed with a pipe band. See Tweedmouth signal box, the train crossing the railway viaduct and Berwick-upon-Tweed in its 1968 colours.

There are several well-known faces on board including Rev Wilbert Awdrey, the author of Thomas the Tank Engine and he describes how he came to write the series.

There are even more steam railway videos in the BBC's collection.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Death of our Chairman, David Rudram

I regret to report that our Chairman, David Rudram, died on 9th January after a short illness. 

We will all feel his loss, both personally as a friend but also as a leader who did a lot for the Society. 
He joined the Society in 2005, joined our managing Council in 2007 and became Chairman in 2009. 

He was involved in almost all aspects of the Society's work, in fundraising, organising events, looking at premises, recording gravestone inscriptions (especially most of the work on West Linton churchyard), drawing maps, creating pages for the website, writing articles for our website blog and Kith and Kin, transcribing poor law records, as well as chairing the Society. 

He spent a lot of time recently on creating a new constitution for the Society to allow us to take on new commitments. 
Somehow, he also found time to help Robert Smail's Printing Works, Melrose Rugby Club, Tweeddale Community Transport, as well as researching his own and other people's family history. 
We will miss him.

There's a Service of Thanksgiving today at 2.30pm at Innerleithen Parish Church but due to the very snowy weather, I suspect there will be people unlikely to make it.