Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Recent discovery

I thought I'd found all of my father's notes and geneaology documentation but while looking through some crates and boxes in the garage, I came across an old briefcase of his, a file of family research notes and this photograph.

My grandfather, Charles Roberton is stood at the back in the middle (the one with a cigarette in his mouth). I assume this photograph was of the team of park keepers at Balloch. There's no date or writing on the photograph so I don't know for definite but the architecture of the building in the background looks very similar to Balloch Castle (pictured below).

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Hoarders Anonymous

My parents were hoarders. They filled drawers with old letters, took a mountain of photographs and slides, and even kept a collection of second world war pamphlets in a bag in the bottom of their wardrobe. Born in the 1920s, they came from a generation that really did 'mend and make do'. Furniture was made to last. Clothes were restyled and revamped. Jewellery and bibles were handed down to the next generation. When they moved from the house I grew up in (where they had lived for over thirty years), a quarter of the immense removal lorry was taken up with boxes of documentation, books and antique memorabilia.

With the advent of minimalism and the trend over the last couple of decades to declutter, hoarding has become a negative concept. Perhaps from the point of view of fashion and feng shui, hoarding is still seen as a bad thing but for genealogists, it can provide a treasure trove of dates, addresses and faces.

In amongst the treasure trove that my parents left behind, is a number of bibles that list family births and deaths. I also have a little book of birthdays which I've spoken of before on this blog, love letters between my parents, and a cupboard full of photographs and slides. I'll admit that finding a home for it all is a challenge (it's currently piled under our stairs while I try to empty some cupboards) but I see this clutter as a valuable slice of my family history. I'm glad my parents were hoarders.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Scotland's People

For family history researchers with links to Scotland like myself, the Scotland's People website can be a tremendously useful resource. Although you do have to pay to access most of the information on there, it's newly updated website offers a free surname search, free access to Wills and Testaments, and Coats of Arms, and a section to discover whether you're related to famous Scots such as Billy Connolly, John Logie Baird and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Well worth a visit.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Another Thomas Roberton

Today I managed to extend the Roberton branch another generation. Using IGI records, I found that the earliest Thomas Roberton I had was born on 7th February 1776 in Linton, Roxburghshire, Scotland, and that his parents are yet another Thomas Roberton and Katherine Hogg.

That still keeps us in the eighteenth century but it's a different part of Scotland. I wonder if I can fill out any more details about his life.

Which William?

Although my main focuses of research are the four branches leading from my grandparents, occasionally it is interesting to look at the other branches too.

Thomas Roberton (1841 - 1898) married Helen McIntosh in 1874. Helen's parents were Lauchlan McIntosh and Henrietta Hardie. This was proven by details from Helen and Thomas' marriage certificate. From further documentation, my father discovered that Henrietta's father was a William Hardie. My father took this information from the 1841 census which states William's birth year as 1801. Further investigation provided his parents, George Hardie and Henrietta Burnett.

Extensive research by David Peters (a descendant of Henrietta B) has proven that Henrietta Burnett's father was a black slave called Ong Tong who was christened by his owner and hence given the surname, Burnett. He married three times and Henrietta was one of several children.

When I contacted David, we found that we had discrepancies when it came to William Hardie's descendants. We both had the same William Hardie. That was definite. I decided to look back at my father's research.

When my father first found William Hardie, he took his date of birth from the 1841 census, 1801. My own investigations have further found 1851 and 1861 census which stated his birth year as 1798. Using these census, a map of the Angus and Perth area in Scotland, and IGI records, I discovered that my father had linked Henrietta Hardie to the wrong William. I also found her mother to be Elisabeth Walker.

Tracing my family back to Ong Tong would have been an interesting find but it appears that as far as I can trace so far, my ancestors were white and from Scotland, Yorkshire and Lancashire.

It just goes to show that the more information you have, the easier it is to patch together the past, and that it is imperative to double check everything.