Hello again at long last

It has been far too long since I posted anything on this blog, and for that I apologise. I also apologise to those wonderful people who have posted comments during my absence, and who have been long overdue a reply. I intend to get cracking with replying to comments in the next few days.

Why the absence? No real reason except retirement has proved to be a lot busier than I anticipated. Horse riding, volunteering at the horse and pony rescue centre, going to the gym, lovely long walks in the Yorkshire countryside, meeting up with friends, working in the garden including my new as of last summer vegetable plot have all left little time for much else. Plus a back injury made sitting at the computer rather difficult, though a fantastic physiotherapist and regular Pilates classes have sorted that out.

Not done any further research since my last postings, and to be honest I don’t think there’s a huge amount to add now to my tree. But I intend to try and write a few more articles over the next few months (before the gardening bug gets hold of me again) of the more general, social history kind of thing I’ve been fascinated with while doing my family research. Interestingly, the most read thing on this blog/web site is the article about farm servant life in North-East Aberdeenshire. Must write something similar about coal miners in Ayrshire.

In case anyone heard the news and knows I live in Leeds, yes we had very bad floods on Boxing Day but not in the part of north Leeds where I live. However, I have friends in the Tadcaster and Wetherby area who were impacted, including one who had the emergency rescue people using her paddock in order to do a boat rescue of the people down the hill. All very dramatic and the area is still suffering from flooded homes and businesses, plus old bridges which gave way under the volume of water. It’s been the wettest December on record and also the warmest. So far only one day of snow, which was last weekend. Hope the weather has treated you more kindly wherever you are.

Please pop a comment below to let me know if you’re still out there and haven’t given up on this blog! And if you’re a newcomer, your reply will be with you soon – in the meantime, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to add your link to my tree. I am very lucky to have so many lovely distant relatives out there!

Murphy & Wilson page added

Today I’ve also added a page on my Murphy (or Murphie) and Wilson ancestors, from the Stevenston area of Ayrshire, going back to the late 1700s. Not a great deal to say about them as the records are very incomplete for back then, and it looks as if my Murphy ancestors were probably Irish Catholics.

Cran & Kirkwood page added

I’ve just uploaded a page about the Cran & Kirkwood people on my family tree. These are not “blood relatives” as Susan Cran born about 1819 was the second wife of Robert Strachan, and I’m descended from one of his children with his first wife Margaret Haggerty. However, Robert and Susan had six children so they are on my family tree, hence Susan and her mother deserve an honorary mention.

Robert Strachan, due to being married twice, had a total of 15 children. A awful lot to bring up on a coal miner’s wage. How they managed in two roomed houses is truly amazing.

What happened in the States yesterday?

On checking my blog statistics this morning, I was taken aback to see yesterday’s activity. In just one day 156 visitors viewed 205 pages, and they were nearly all from the USA. I have no idea why, but something must have prompted internet searches that brought up my blog. Weird but gratifying. Whoever they all were, I hope they found something of interest.

Marshall page now added

I’ve just added a new page about my Marshall ancestors. To read it, click on “Marshall” in the header.

My Marshall ancestors were from Kilmaurs and Kilmarnock, but seem to have originated in Renfrewshire. The earliest Marshall I can trace back to was a tinker and then a brazier (brass worker). His descendants became metal workers, saddlers and shoemakers.

Marshall is quite a common name, so tracing them is a bit tricky when you go back to the 1700s and earlier when records, if they exist at all, don’t give much detail.

Great Grandfather found in trade union records

FindMyPast have released a limited amount of digital trade union records. These include the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters & Joiners, so as this was my Yorkshire great grandfather Joseph Green’s occupation, I looked to see if he was recorded. And yes, he was.

He joined the trade union in 1911 in Leeds, by which time he and his growing family had moved to Kirkstall. He was then excluded in 1915 due to being in arrears – in his defence, there was a war on at the time! But he was re-admitted in 1916 so must have paid his dues. He’s then recorded in a register for 1924. The union recorded his death in September 1925.

None of this tells me anything new or surprising, but it’s always good to see your ancestors’ mentioned in any records. And it pays to keep a close watch on what’s being released, as newly digitised records are coming online almost every day. I subscribe to a genealogy news blog, also subscribe to Who Do You Think You are magazine and receive email alerts from the websites I regularly use, which keeps me up to date without too much effort on my part.

Waterloo 200th Anniversary

The organisation taking care of the 200th Anniversary of Waterloo, which is in June this year, have put out a request for descendants of anyone who was on the Waterloo battlefield to submit a short piece about their ancestor and their life.

So I’ve sent them a piece about my ancestor, William Fraser, who received gun shot wounds during the Battle of Waterloo on 18th June 1815. It reads as follows, and will be published on the Waterloo 200 web site at http://www.waterloo200.org

Private William Fraser 92nd Regiment of Foot (Gordon Highlanders)

Ensign William Fraser was born in Cruden, Aberdeenshire in January 1778, son of Sergeant Donald Fraser of the 92nd Foot. William Fraser was my great great great great grandfather: in 1805, with the daughter of a local crofter, he fathered an illegitimate son who was also named William Fraser.

Shortly after the birth of his son, William Fraser enlisted with the 92nd Foot. His entry in the Peninsula War Medal Roll states he served from 1807 to 1814 and saw action in Vittoria, Pyrennes, Nivelle, Orthes, Toulouse and Salamanca. An entry in the regiment diary for 10th November 1813, at the line of the Nivelle, records that Ensign William Fraser was among the wounded. His 1816 discharge papers state that Private William Fraser “in consequence of gun shot wound received in the left hip joint, right thigh and left arm, while in action with the enemy at Waterloo on the 16th and 18th June 1815, is rendered unfit for further service”. According to his discharge papers, William Fraser was “5ft 8ins tall with fair hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion, and by trade is a labourer”.

After his discharge William returned to Aberdeenshire. The mother of his illegitimate son had by then married but there are indications he was in contact with his son throughout his life. In 1819 he married Isabella Fraser at Peterhead, but there is no evidence they had children. By 1841, William and his brother John, both army pensioners, are living with their brother Andrew Fraser and his family near Peterhead. William was to spend the rest of his life with his brother’s family on their small croft. He died in 1864, aged 86.

William Fraser’s illegitimate son William became a crofter near Hatton, south of Peterhead, where he lived next door to the grandson of his uncle John Fraser.

Almost 100 years later, my grandfather James Fraser, great great grandson of William Fraser, enlisted with the Gordon Highlanders and served in World War 1: he survived but was wounded at Beaumont Hamel during the Battle of the Somme.

Valuation Roll search leads to a puzzle

ScotlandsPeople are making searches of the Valuation Rolls free for a limited time. You have to pay 2 credits to view an actual image of a page of the rolls, but it’s free to search and see the search results, which are reasonably detailed. And very useful the Valuation Rolls can be.

But searching the newly released 1925 rolls gave me a surprise. My great grandfather William Fraser was a long-time tenant of Mosside Croft near Hatton in Aberdeenshire – as was his father and grandfather before him. In 1920 the Valuation Roll lists him as a tenant of John Bruce of Yonderton. However, in 1925 William Fraser is listed as the proprietor of the croft and house Moss-side.

Why, when and how did William Fraser become a proprietor instead of a tenant? The owner of Yonderton had changed from John Bruce to Robert Reid between 1920 and 1925, and a search of the records came up with a death for a John Bruce registered in Cruden in 1921. Wills and testaments on ScotlandsPeople go up to 1925, and John’s Bruce’s Inventory was there. His assets included “heritage sold prior to deceased’s death” of House & Farm of Yonderton to Robert Reid for £6,000 plus several purchases of crofts to what were most likely their tenants, including “Wm. Fraser purchase price of house and croft, Upper Mossend £60.” It’s rental value was £6 so William Fraser paid ten years’ rent in order to own the croft outright.

Thus my great grandfather actually owned Mosside Croft from 1925 onwards. I do know that the croft was lived in, at the time of my great-grandfather’s death in 1946, by his step-granddaughter Helen Rennie and her husband Allan Thomson, who had married in 1944. So it looks as if Mosside was passed onto the people who lived with him and looked after him in his old age. Nice to know it went to someone deserving.

I’m back again!

My blog has not been getting my attention lately – the reason is called “life intervenes”. But Christmas is now here, there’s still a bit of snow on the ground from Boxing Day, and life is a lot quieter than it has been of late. So one of my New Year resolutions will be to get back into family history and adding things to my blog.

There are a few comments I need to reply to, so a big thank you to everyone who has left a message. I do reply, eventually, but unless you tick the (small) box asking to receive an email when a reply to you comment is posted you may never know – unless, of course, you revisit the blog page where you left your comment. So if you haven’t seen a reply to a comment you’ve left, just let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction.

In my absence the blog is still getting a lot of visitors, and I do hope most of them find something useful and/or interesting. The average is around 100 visits a week. Yesterday 26 people visited, and between them viewed 71 items, which is gratifying. Most of yesterday’s visitors were from the UK with a few from Australia. I do wonder, though, who it was from Brunei who viewed 6 different pages!

I’m behind with replies – again.

Gosh, life has been busy lately with stuff that has nothing to do with family history. As a result, yet again there are a number of comments that have been left on my blog that I haven’t managed to get round to replying to. I promise to rectify this at the weekend.

Meanwhile, just to make you go aaaahhh, here’s a picture of the latest arrival at the horse and pony rescue centre where I do voluntary work. He’s a miniature Shetland and is only about 6 or 8 months old. Poor little chaps like this keep us very busy.

Rescued foal