Tag Archives: Books

Book on CD: The Alexanders of Bourtie

Ian Macdonald, who is descended from my gggg grandparents Peter Watt and Helen Alexander, has done a superb job of researching the Alexanders from Bourtie in Aberdeenshire. He has published his research as a book on CD, which is available from the Aberdeen & NE Scotland Family History Society. I’m having a great time reading it and learning more my Alexander ancestors. Highly recommended if you have Alexanders from the Bourtie area on your tree as it’s very well researched and packed full of fascinating detail.

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Book review: The Scots: a genetic journey by Alistair Moffat and James F Wilson

Although it might not help your family history research all that much, this is a fascinating survey of where Scottish people have come from, using DNA, archaeology and recorded history. It’s also very well written, so though full of “science” it’s not too hard to read. It starts with the end of the ice age, more or less, as there weren’t humans that anyone knows about in Scotland before then, and works forward in time, right up to the incomers of more recent times.

Particularly impressive is how genetics is interwoven with an interesting telling of Scotland’s history and an analysis of it languages. But in brief, if you’re Scottish, or descended from Scots, you’ve probably got a largish dose of Irish in you.

Book recommendation: Illegitimacy, Sex and Society by Andrew Blaikie

Andrew Blaikie book

This is an academic book based on the author’s PhD thesis, and is also now out of print but I managed to find a secondhand copy. Worth looking for in a library if you have ancestors who were farm servants, ag labs and crofters in Banffshire or Aberdeenshire. The illegitimacy rate in that part of Scotland was much higher than in other parts of Scotland, and this book is an exploration of the reasons why that might have been, based on a very through analysis of parish registers and census data. In 1855 the overall illegitimacy rate for Scotland was 7.8% but in the northeast it was 13.0%. My Fraser family, from Cruden parish, did their best to contribute to that figure, which is why I was drawn to this book.

Book Recommendation: Farm Life in North-East Scotland 1840-1914 by Ian Carter

Farm Life Book

A good book to read if you want to know about the working lives of farm servants, agricultural labourers and crofters, and especially those who lived in Aberdeenshire and neighbouring counties. Takes a sociological stance and is an academic book, but gives a very thorough account of a lost way of life. Very good on the social relationships and “class” structure of farming communities, and the working lives of farm servants. Excellent bibliography for further reading.

Book Recommendation: The Mineworkers by Robert Duncan

The Mineworkers

An essential read for anyone with Scottish coal mining ancestors. Robert Duncan is an academic specialising in labour history. His book goes from the early development of the coal mining industry in Scotland and ends with the miners’ strike of the 1980s. Very well written and researched, with a good focus on the lives of the actual miners and their families. Lots of illustrations and photos too.