Monthly Archives: February 2013

Family sports day late 1920s or early 1930s

I love this photo as it’s informal as opposed to the usual highly posed studio ones. It was taken at Beckett’s Park, Headingley which is up the hill from where most of them lived in Kirkstall, Leeds. I’m not sure who everyone is but I can pick out:
– Third from the left crouching is my grandfather James Fraser
– Standing with her hands on her hips abd back to the camera is my great-aunt Edith Green who later married Joseph Martin (funny how can I pick her out from the way she’s standing!)
– With the cricket bat is my grandmother Clara Fraser nee Green
– The rather plump lady towards the right in the hat is my great-grandmother
– Second from the left in the cloche hat is my great-aunt Ethel Jessop nee Green

Sports Day2

And this one was taken on the same day.
– Sitting on the grass third on left is my great-aunt Ethel Jessop nee Green
– The couple standing on the right are my grandparents, Clara Fraser nee Green and James (Jim) Fraser
– The first child from the left is my mother’s cousin Margaret Jessop, who became Margaret Johnson.
– Next to Margaret is my aunt, my mother’s older sister.
– Second from the right, in front of her parents, is my mother, Dorothy Strachan nee Fraser.

Sports day1

Thank heaven for Scottish ancestors

I’ve spent some time over the last couple of days trying to sort out a friend’s genealogy mystery. This involved rummaging around in records from both Sussex and London. I’ve sent a report to her of what I’ve found, but it’s all still a tangle.

The experience, however, has made me so very grateful that the vast majority of my ancestors were Scottish. Being able to download digitised copies of BMDs and OPRs, as well as some other records, is wonderful.

I’m also very grateful that Scottish BMDs contain so much more information than English ones. Being able to read, on a death certificate, who the person’s parents were (providing the informant knew, of course) makes building a family tree so much easier. Always having the mother’s maiden name on birth certificates is a big help too.

I’ve also noticed quite a few female ancestors reverting back to their maiden name in the census once they were widowed, and some being called by their maiden name in the census even when they were living with their husband. Clearly, a woman’s name in Scotland was the one she was born with and wasn’t ‘lost’ when she got married. So saying something such as “William Fraser and his wife Christian Hutcheon” would have been perfectly normal in Scotland.

More Scottish records online

Got an email from ScotlandsPeople today to say the following have been digitised and put online.

Dog tax, 1797-1798
Cart tax, 1785-1798
Carriage tax, 1785-1798

So did any of my ancestors have a dog or a cart? I will look and see. I’m sure none of them had a carriage, though.

Interesting what they used to tax – windows, hearths, servants as well as dogs and carts. And didn’t they have a clock and watch tax once, or am I imagining it? Obviously, governments have been keen to raise money every which way they can throughout the ages.

Having a Sangster day

It’s snowing again, so I have a good excuse to stay in and do some research. I decided it was time to have a really good look at who my GGG Grandfather William Fraser was, and in particular who his parents were. I already knew he was the illegitimate son of Janet Sangster, from Brunthill croft near Hatton, Aberdeenshire, who, from the baptism entry for her son William, was most likely to have been a daughter of John Sangster.

So thanks to FamilySearch, Ancestry and ScotlandsPeople, I’ve narrowed down the possibilities and think I’ve worked it out. But as the records are thin on the ground it can only be the most likely possibility. I can’t say it’s certain. It does all fit, though.

So the bit about GGG Grandfather William Fraser has now been edited on the Fraser page here, and hopefully there will be more to write about the Fraser/Sangster line going back into the 1700s.

Helen McCrae 1875-1944

This is a photo of the grandmother I never met, as she died before I was born. Helen McCrae was born in Kilmarnock in 1875, the daughter of John McCrae coal miner and Mary Ann McInerney.

She married Henry Strachan in 1896 at the Commercial Inn, Hurlford and they lived in Crookedholm where their eldest seven children were born. They then moved to Lanarkshire, first to Tollcross and then settling in Cambuslang, where their youngest four children were born.

One of Helen’s children died in childhood, of measles, but the remaining ten lived long and fruitful lives (or at least most of them did). Three of the children migrated to Toronto, Canada, and Helen and her youngest child, my father Robert, did several journeys to Canada and back during the 20s and 30s.

Helen died in hospital in 1944. She was visiting someone, but sadly had a cerebral haemourage whilst there. My father was in the army at the time, down near Bath.

From what I’ve been told, Helen had a hard life, could be very tough at times, but was a bit of a softie at heart. I think it shows in her face in this photo.

Helen Strachan nee McCrae 1933

Transcription errors in online records

Last night, given nothing worth watching on the telly, I logged onto Ancestry to research into my earlier Senior ancestors. I’m lucky in that they lived within the area covered by the West Yorkshire parish records which have been digitised, transcribed and indexed. However, I do have to question the quality of the transcribing! I was amazed at how whoever transcribed the records for Royston managed to read the surname Senior or Senyer. Failing to find some things I thought ought to be there, I ended up trawling through the digitised records page by page, and there they were. They’d simply been misread and indexed under a strange surname instead of their correct one.

I do know how hard it can be to read old writing, and when transcribing is done by someone without any local knowledge it will be very tricky to do it well, but some of the errors can seem a bit extreme.

I’ve also found transcribing errors to be a common problem when using Ancestry’s census records. Again, some of my ancestors have been misnamed quite badly because the transcriber wasn’t exactly brilliant at reading the writing.

I’m not knocking Ancestry. My subscription is money extremely well spent, and because of Ancestry I’ve been able to track down an enormous number of ancestors, all from the comfort of the computer in my dining room (very conveniently located not far from the kettle and jar of tea bags in the kitchen).

However, if you use Ancestry, do be very flexible with how you spell names when doing a search. Learn how to use wildcards. Search with other known criteria instead of surnames (e.g. put in first name, age and location but no surname and then see what comes up – I’ve found a lot of ‘missing’ people that way).

Also, if you come across a transcription error, enter a correction. Ancestry adds user corrections to the indexes, so by flagging it up and putting in the correct name you’ll be helping anyone else who comes along and is researching the same families.