Saturday, 22 February 2014

Last Day of Who Do You Think You Are? Live - What Not to Miss

We’ve been having a really great time in London, not only seeing the sights, but also enjoying  Who Do You Think You Are? Live. We’ve met some really interesting people at the event, which is the largest of it’s kind in the UK. It was also announced this week that Who Do You Think You Are? Live will be coming to Glasgow at the end of August, exciting news for those with any interest in Scottish genealogy.

It’s been great to be able to meet people face to face rather than just chat on Twitter! Talking in person helps you to understand what motivates people and what they want to achieve. You also discover the special interests that set them apart from other genealogists.

If you’re planning to attend today (Saturday 22 February 2014) here are a few highlights to make sure you catch:

Stand 320

Family Tree magazine are giving away their March edition at the fair. Watch our short interview with the editor to learn more about them.

Stand 530

My Heritage - A great site to share your family tree as well as grow it. Go to their stand to see how it works.

Stand 424

Borders Journeys  - At this stand you’ll find Ian Walker who can organize a tour of your ancestral homeland. Here's a short introduction to Ian and his business.

Stand 310

Family Tree DNA are offering some great deals and of course expert advice. There are a series of talks running throughout the day. If you're new to DNA genealogy the talk at 10:15 may be the one for you: Which DNA Test is Best for You?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Get Your Free Index to Quaker Marriages and Births in Scotland 1647-1874

Update - December 2014
You can now search Quaker births and marriages on our new website

With this months issue of Your Family Tree Magazine (Issue 140) not only will you receive an issue bursting with useful information but you will also receive two free downloads from Maxwell Ancestry!

  • Index to Scottish Quaker Births 1647-1874
  • Index to Scottish Quaker Marriages 1656-1873

Subscribe to Your Family Tree Magazine online today to make sure you will receive your free downloads. This isn’t a one-off either, they give a free download away every month!

About the Indexes

The Indexes to Marriages and births is taken from an alphabetical list of marriages and births recorded in the Digest of Quaker (The Religious Society of Friends) Births, Marriages and Deaths of Scotland, 1647-1874. The Digest can be viewed in the National Records of Scotland (NRS): their reference for this volume is CH10/1/64.

The digest was originally made around 1867 but seems to have been updated until about the mid-1870s. It was created by copying entries from individual meeting registers into one alphabetical volume. The original individual volumes can also be consulted in the NRS.


Our index includes the name of the individual, name of their spouse, the year of marriage, monthly or other meeting record location, and the page number in the Digest.

The Digest contains the following headings:

Book, Page, Names of Parties, When and where Married, Residence and Description, Parents’ Names, Residence and Description, Monthly or other Meeting Record.

Before the digest of marriages starts properly there are two pages of marriages which “have been either considered irregular or to have been but imperfectly recorded”. These pages been included in this index; an example of this type of record is given below.

Book: 17
Page: 3
Names: Ormston Jane, Waldie John
Date of Minute: 1749, Novr. 26
Description: [Jane Ormston] daur of Charles (merchant) of Kelso: Fewar and Commissary Clerk
Information given: At Kelso Monthly Meeting a letter was read from Jane Ormston acknowledging her having married contrary to the Rules of the Society. {The first child of this Marriage is recorded in the Parish Register as born 5th September 1750.}
Monthly Meeting or other records: Kelso Mo Mg


The Digest contains 1134 births and has the following headings:

Book, Page, Name [of child], Date and Place of Birth, Parents’ Names, Residence and Description, Monthly or other Meeting Record.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Scottish Towers and Castles

We have been adding towers to our flickr photo archive recently and plan to continue to do so as we tour these ancient ruins.

Before I proceed though I feel I have to dispel a few myths.

  1. Just because a tower was built by a person with your surname does not mean your ancestors, or in fact anybody related to you, ever lived in it. If you're planning a trip to Scotland visit the towers and castles, because they are magnificent, but do a little extra research and find out where your family actually lived. It may be less glamorous, but it's your real history!
  2. Not all the towers were inhabited. Do a little research to find out the history of particular towers. The Historic Scotland website and the Royal Commission the the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) website will help you to find the real history.
  3. You don’t always need to pay to visit a tower. It’s true to say that charges are made for many, but not all and it doesn't necessarily follow that it’s the good ones you have to pay for. Some really magnificent towers are free to explore. This is particularly good if you are visiting Scotland with your family. Here’s some free tower houses to visit:

You can search the Historic Scotland website by region, cost and opening. Some of the sites are only open during the summer months.

There are of course many more Castles or Towers you do have to pay to enter. The entry fee helps to preserve and restore these ancient sites. You can ‘join’ Historic Scotland and then receive free entry to their castles (including Edinburgh and Stirling Castle) as well as receiving a magazine and half price entry to 500 heritage attractions in England!

If you’re reading this thinking you would rather have somebody plan your trip for you so all you have to do is arrive and join in the fun, visit Borders Journeys and Ian Walker will help you plan your trip!

A Visit to the Carlisle Archive Centre

When researching it’s always vital to look at original records if you can. This principle was proved true yesterday when we made a trip to carry out some research at the Carlisle Archive Centre to help a client overcome a brick wall.

Using online resources, such as the IGI, we had found marriage entries. As this time we were researching in England, so we knew we were unlikely to find parents’ names on a pre-1837 marriage entry in the parish registers. Why look at the original then? If you live a distance from an archive with the records you need it may be a corner you decide to cut.

In England the registers of births and marriages before civil registration began in 1837 are very good, especially when seen in comparison to many Scottish Old Parish Records. One reason we say they are ‘good’ is that they are relatively complete. Also there are “Bishop’s Transcripts”, which were copies of the parish registers sent to the Bishop annually. This means even if the original has been lost, in many cases a copy remains. Of course unlike Scotland you rarely get mothers’ maiden names appearing on baptism entries, but we can’t have everything can we!

Things to remember:

  • Whilst a contemporary source the Bishop’s Transcripts are a copy of the original register.
  • An original post-1754 parish marriage entry will have the signatures (or marks, if they could not write) of the couple, and in the case of signatures these can be used as comparisons with other documents.
  • There are at least two witnesses to a marriage. Sometimes, although by no means always, it is a family member, which can give a vital clue to overcome a brick wall.
  • The original parish register entry may mention a farm name, or a small village within the parish. All these added details help to narrow down your search.
  • Errors are made in indexing, even the best indexing projects will contain mistakes. Look at the original if you can.

Carlisle Archive Centre

It’s great now that more and more parish register material is becoming available online. Sites like and have opened up genealogy to people across the world and often give access to images of original documents. They are not the only good websites though, there are many smaller sites operated by local people across England helping you to dig into your past.

Local Archives too can help by mailing you copies of the original parish registers. The local family history society can not only offer expertise but may also have copies of the registers on microfilm.

So don’t settle for a transcription, especially if you have a brick wall in your tree: always look at the original if you can!

As I said we went to the Carlisle Archive Centre yesterday. It’s a relatively new building, although it’s joined to an older building.

Carlisle Archive Centre

As you can see from my photos the archive itself is bright and airy, very comfortable for research. There are plenty of microfilm readers and a good number of machines to make copies from. Copies from microfilm are fifty pence each and you pay at the desk when you are finished.

The archive has two sections: the first room is for looking at books, microfilm etc., and the second is for looking at original records. Both have large tables so you can lay your notepad and laptop out without bothering other users!

They have plenty of lockers in the reception and you can use your County Archive Research Network reader’s ticket that you may have from another county archive.

They allow digital photography which is excellent, although they do make a charge:

1 Day licence: £8
1 Week licence: £20
1 Month licence: £45
1 year licence:  £90
1 year licence (corporate users): £140

They say it’s to “... help generate the income we need to protect front line services.”

I noticed a number of help sheets around the room and everything was very neatly labeled so if you’re new to genealogy there will be plenty of information to help you. The staff too were very friendly, explaining how the archive works succinctly!

All in all, five stars for Carlisle Archive!