Sunday, 29 April 2018

Surnames A - Z: S-Y

A 2017 Facebook meme had people listing their their mother's maiden name, father's surname, maternal and paternal grandparents' surnames, and sometimes even a few more generations back. By any norms, a bit too much information in this cyber age. 

Just think how many security questions ask for your mother's maiden name. And let's not even get into having that information on your Facebook wall, especially if you have your settings set to public (instead of friends only). You don't do that, do you? 

In a series of posts, I'm listing my direct ancestors' surnames, starting with "A" and going through to "Y" -- I have no direct or indirect "Z" ancestors. So far. 

We may share a surname, but this doesn't necessarily mean we're related, but if you think we are, please contact me using the email link on the right side of this post.

"S" ancestors

  • (de) St-Hilaire
  • Savory
  • Sheridan
  • Simons
  • Skipwith
  • Smith
  • Snow
  • Southwick
  • Spiers
  • Sprague/Sprigge
  • Stafford
  • Standlake
  • Stevenson
  • Strong
  • Swift
"T" ancestors
  • Taillefer
  • Tindal
  • Toby
  • (de) Toeni
  • (de) Tunbridge
  • Tupper
  • Twining/Twynynge
"V", "W", "Y" ancestors
  • Vavasour
  • (de) Warrene
  • Waterman
  • Weatherburn/Wedderburn
  • Webster
  • Wheldon
  • White
  • Williams
  • Woodcocke
  • Woodworth
  • Wyman
  • Young
And so ends my recap of my direct ancestors' surnames. The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Friday, 6 April 2018

A look at some family tartans on Tartan Day

Happy Tartan Day! On April 6, Canada, Scotland, the United States, Galicia and Argentina* mark Tartan Day. The date was chosen as it marks the day in 1320 that the Declaration of Arbroath document declaring Scotland's independence from England was drafted.

Over the past year, I've been lucky enough to push back in my family history research on some of my maternal Scots ancestors, and so today I present their tartans. Those familiar with tartans will know that most clans have dress and hunting tartans, and both ancient and modern versions of both of those.

Matheson ancient dress 
The tartan of John Matheson (1884-1964), my maternal grandfather (left).

Ross modern dress
Ross is the tartan of Annie Ross (1849-1922), my maternal great grandmother.

Grant ancient hunting
I've just started to seriously research my Smith line that originates with Isabella Smith (1815-1922, my 2nd great grandmother, and discovered that my Smiths are part of Clan Grant. This makes perfect sense when you see the Scotland clan map compiled by History Scotland. Grant territory overlays the area where my Smiths originated.

Gillanders ancient hunting
One of the best discoveries I made over the past year is that of a 3rd great grandmother, Isabella Gillanders (b abt 1775). I look forward to learning more about this line, although mid-1750s Scottish records are very scarce. I'm up to the challenge.

Mackenzie modern hunting
Another 2nd great grandmother is Margaret McKenzie (1798-1865). McKenzie and Mackenzie are interchangeable in many records. In my family, it's McKenzie. But I have a Mackenzie friend (sadly, we're not DNA matches). The McKenzie tartan search brings up Mackenzie, who rule.

MacDonald modern dress
Likewise, the search for the tartan of another 3rd great grandmother, Marjory McDonald (1782-1844) brings up the mighty MacDonald. These names also are interchangeable. There are many Donald clan tartans. I can't begin to accurately ascertain which tartan my McDonalds adopted. Here's one though.

The clan tartan of another 3rd great grandmother, Margaret Davidson (1778-1863) is below.

Davidson modern
Gordon modern

Clan Gordon is represented in my family tree by a 4th great grandmother, Jean Gordon (b abt 1755).

Cruickshank ancient
And finally, the tartan of the family of a 5th great grandmother, Margaret Cruickshank (b abt 1720), which for now, is the furthest back I've traced. It's one of the smaller clans.

*Why Argentina? Wikipedia tells us that Argentina has about 100,000 people of Scots descent, the largest group outside the English-speaking world. Who knew?

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

When vital records digitization reveals long held family secrets

I uncovered information about the parents of a deceased relative by marriage recently. I didn't go sleuthing intentionally, but as more and more statutory records are digitized across the globe, new information is always coming to light. 

Sometimes, family members would like information never disclosed at all. I get that. But in the age of digitization and widely available online records, that simply becomes impossible. 

In this case, it turns out that the deceased relative by marriage was born to a woman and a biological father who was long married to another woman. Whether my relative by marriage ever knew this is unknown.

I always knew the biological parents' names, and that the mother for reasons that always escaped me went by her maiden name all her life, very unusual for the time. When I asked my relative why, the answer was vague. 

I’d always found it strange that I couldn’t find a marriage record for his parents, when I knew that they'd met and married in London. British marriage records are so easy to find. 

I knew from family stories that the biological father died when the child was very young, and where he had died, but not when. I knew that when the child and its mother emigrated from England to Canada, the mother presented herself as a widow. This is how she appears in the ship passenger list and on her cemetery burial record, but using her maiden name. 

And yet, in Toronto city directories (where they settled after emigrating), she used the biological father's last name and identified herself as his widow. Those directories have also been digitized. The stigma for her child in school would otherwise have been great, I have no doubt, in a city that for decades was a very staid place, known as "Toronto the Good".

So, back to my discovery. What led to that was an Ancestry hint for the probate record of the biological father's estate, which was left to the lawful wife. Once I found that, with the wife’s name, I was able to find their marriage record and so much more. The biological father came from a large family in Scotland. I've found his parents, grandparents and great grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews. All these people my deceased relative by marriage grew up not knowing.

My deceased relative by marriage was born in Ireland. Perhaps because the London-born mother had relatives there. It turns out that a summary of my deceased relative's birth registration has also been digitized and is on at least three family history search sites. Interestingly, and unusual for the time, the birth wasn't registered for at least six months. I wonder if it took that long for the mother to convince the biological father to give his child his name. The summary lists the child's name, the quarter of the year when the registration was done, the district, and where the  The actual registration record hasn't been digitized, so I don't know if the biological father is named, but he did indeed give his child his name. 

Mother and child left England for Canada two years after the biological father's death, coinciding within a few months of the probate of his estate. Did he provide for her or their child at all in the years before his death? Did his wife know about the relationship? Did he and his wife have children of their own?

I'm sure discoveries like this are happening in many families. As more records are digitized, long held family secrets will be secret no more.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved