Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Scottish Office/Scottish Executive Files.

The office of Secretary of State for Scotland was created in 1885, but even before that date documents were being created to record the administration of Scotland. These provide a fruitful source for the local historian; government records, although frequently concerned with matters of policy, can also contain quite specific information about local areas.
A database listing many government files, available in the West Search Room, allows researchers to trace relevant files quickly. Although these might not be readily perceived as carrying material of value to local history, the records of the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, for example, contain a wealth of material on crofting activity. If you are researching a local school, the files of the Scottish Office Education Department contains hundreds of school inspection reports from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These give a vivid picture of what schools were like, although unfortunately there is rarely an unbroken series of such reports for a single school.

This Education Department file (ED32/105) carries a report on St Trinnean’s school in Edinburgh, for the year 1935-36. This private school was founded in 1922, and offered girls (and boys up to the age of ten) the chance to concentrate on subjects that appealed to them, and learn at their own pace. However, unlike the fictional St Trinian’s, created by Ronald Searle, St Trinnean’s pupils were expected to apply themselves to their most difficult subjects too. The school was evacuated to Gala House at Galashiels during the Second World War, and closed in 1946 when its founder, Miss Catherine Fraser Lee, decided to retire. In 1962 she published a history of the school called The Real St Trinnean’s. The report on the school from 1936 concludes that ‘The general tone is excellent. There is an impression everywhere… of the happy co-operation which makes discipline automatic’.


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