Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Lost Relatives?

To many people it is strange that on doing their ancestor search that they find their ancestor being born in one area of Scotland, lived in another and died in a quite different area. Especially when we are told in earlier written histories people didn’t move around very much.

Unfortunately that isn’t true people certainly moved around and the best example of this is the Costal trade down the east cost of Scotland. In the 18th century to the early 20th century ships traded up and down the east coast of Scotland travelling drown from the Shetlands and Orkneys down to Aberdeen, Dundee, the Fife ports, Leith and so on down the east coast of England. In fact Scotland Yard the home of the London Metropolitan police got its name from its original headquarters which stood on the Thames at the point where Scottish ships landed. These ships didn’t only carry cargo but also people as it was easier before the coming of steam trains to travel by ship then by roads. So it is normal to find in cemeteries in ports down the east coast the last resting place of people who lived along this trading route. So for example I have come across the last resting place of people who were born and lived in Orkney who travelled this route to live in Leith and were buried in Leith.

There was in fact another trading route called the Eastern Trade which saw many Scots ships trading with the Baltic and Eastern Europe again these ship transported people as well as cargo and many Scots in this way left Scotland to settle in countries around the Baltic and Eastern Europe. In fact in the German Army during the First World War was a Colonel Mackenzie, his ancestors coming from Scotland in the 18th century.

In fact the most fascinating way that people moved around was proven to me when I done the family tree of a local butcher near to where I live. His family came from the borders and as I worked away through generations of his family. I thought to myself this is easy everything was falling into place until I got into the early 18th century and late seventeenth century the family seem to jump first it was Scottish proven by Scottish Church records then the earlier you went it was English and then Scottish. In fact in the 16th to the 17th century the family alternated between being English and Scottish. The reason was in fact quite simple as the family were Border Reivers or what we call Cattle Rustlers nowadays and they raided backwards and forwards over the English/Scottish Border which they in fact never recognised.

Unfortunately this makes life difficult for the family historian because although a family may be found initially in a certain area they might apparently disappear from the records found in that area because they may have moved elsewhere and unless personal letters or correspondence or some form of evidence is found then their last resting place may never be found. Although of course in a number of cases by merely using Birth, Death and Marriage certificates families can be traced around the country. However this isn’t always the case and the Family Historian should be aware of this. Put it like this if a sailor who was never married sailed from Orkney and settled finally settled in Leith and died there. Unless you had his discharge papers you would never know that he had settled in Leith at all as he could have settled anywhere down the east coast. In fact he could have been discharged in Leith and travelled somewhere else. This the reason for having as many family records to hand before starting your search.

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