Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Scottish Games and Festivals

Last weekend, I went to my local highland games. I am still humming the tune played by all of the pipe bands in the competition. While I didn’t spend a lot of time doing genealogy, I could have.

These games featured a tent with genealogists from the Mormon Church who were doing individual counseling. They did two workshops during the day, one “Basics of Genealogy” and the other “Genealogy and Your Scottish Records.” Not all games will have this element, but if you are headed to one, check the schedule on their website before you leave home. Only pack your genealogy notes and questions, if you can consult with a genealogist.
On the other hand, every Scottish festival has clan tents or booths. These are almost always together and separate from the vendors and food purveyors. Most of the booths have some info for family researchers, if only a map* and list of septs (branch families). I saw some pedigree charts Saturday so some genealogy was taking place. I did observe that visitors had to talk to the clans people and not wait for them to begin the conversation.

As my program said, in that combination of English and Scottish perhaps spoken or written only in North America:
“Search for a bit o’ yer ancestry ‘neath ane o’ the mony clan tents.”

For information about the larger highland games that might be near you, consult the website of the Association of Scottish Games and Festivals: www.asgf.org. Next year’s Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival will be in Look Park, Northampton, Massachusetts Saturday, 18 July 2015, www.glasgowlands.org.
* To find where your surname is most prevalent in Scotland, consult the Great Britain surname project, University College, London, at www.gbnames.publicprofiler.org

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Easter Books

The happy holiday of Easter in Britain was the traditional date for paying the required ‘dues’ or tithes to the parish coffers. This was convenient because Easter nearly coincided with the beginning of the calendar year until 1752. Before that date, the first day of the year was Mar 25, Lady Day, celebrating the conception of Jesus (nine months before Christmas). In most parishes, each person was accessed two pence from the lord of the manor to his humblest servant. Another tithe based on ability to pay was collected at the same time. The practice was stopped by national legislation in 1836.
Records were kept in Easter books or rolls. There is quite a bit of variation among the parishes about what was collected and what was recoded. Some books have alphabetical lists of what was owed while others list the amounts paid in the order in which the money was received.

In 1989, Sue Wright wrote two articles about the Easter Books that are now downloadable as PDFs at www.localpopulationstudies.org.uk/authoridx.htm. The first article describes the records and the second one lists the books that exist and where they were archived. Now the first place to look is the holdings of the local County Records Office (CRO).

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Scottish/English Borderlands to Rural America

From 1717 to 1775, 275,000 people came from the border counties in England and Scotland to settle the northern and western areas of the American colonies. Some acted as a buffer between the Native Americans and the settlers on the seacoast. The skills and mindset from over 700 years of violence on the English/Scottish border served them well.

During the reign of KIng James I of England (James VI of Scotland) from 1603-1625, the first king of all of Great Britain gave people in the border area peerages and land in Northern Ireland to try to calm the troubles. Thus the Scots/Irish were created. They are not welcomed by the Irish, and as we know, there are still problems today.
One way to avoid the troubles was to emigrate. One hundred fifty thousand people came from ports in Northern Ireland in the sixty years before the American Revolution. The seaports were Belfast, Londonderry, Newry, Larne and Portrush. Another 75,000 came from ports in Scotland including Wigtown and Kirkcudbright. The northern English ports where another 50,000 immigrants departed were Liverpool, Maryport, Morecambe and Whitehaven. These immigrants had two things in common. First, they all lived on or near the Irish Sea, the body of water between Great Britain and Ireland, or they were former residents of that area or the borderlands

A study of the surnames in the 1790 U.S. Census showed that these immigrants went to all the colonies except the small coastal places - Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. The largest concentration was in southwestern Pennsylvania, and western Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Later their descendants would settle in large number in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Source: Dollarhide, William. British Origins of American Colonists, 1629-1775. Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest Genealogical Services, division of AGLL, Inc., 1998. ISBN 1-877677-69-8

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Quakers from the North Midlands

The Quakers who came to the Delaware Valley and especially to William Penn’s colony of Pennsylvania were primarily from England’s North Midlands. About two-thirds of this wave of immigrants came from the counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derby, Nottingham and Staffordshire. The remainder of the settlers were from Bristol and London. (Source: Dollarhide, William. British Origins of American Colonists, 1629-1775. Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest Genealogical Services, division of AGLL, Inc., 1998. ISBN 1-877677-69-8)

A notable exception to these geographic generalities is William Penn himself. The son of an admiral, Penn was born in 1644 and lived much of his first twelve years at his family's country house in Wanstead or at school in Chigwell, Essex. Later at Oxford, he was influenced by the Quaker Thomas Loe. Penn refused to attend chapel and was kicked out for nonconformity. His father eventually sent him to Ireland where he had another estate. While there, Penn connected with Loe again in Cork, and by 1667 he had become a convert and regular attender of Quaker meeting.

In 1675, the first settlers came to the Delaware River’s eastern shore in what is now New Jersey but was then known as West Jersey.

On 29 Aug 2012, I posted a blog entry about the origins and records kept by Quakers. You can easily find it in the list of topics under, ‘UK Quakers.’

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: UK Origins of the Virginia Cavaliers

Another migration began as the Great Migration of Puritans to New England was ending. Settlers with more conventional religious beliefs came to the Chesapeake Bay region to supplement the people who had begun settling there in 1607. Between 1641 and 1675, the face of Virginia would change.

England itself was in turmoil. Religious differences between the established church and the Puritans had taken on political overtones. The Civil War of the 1640s brought Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans/roundheads to power, and King Charles I was beheaded. Some of the Royalists or cavaliers needed to leave.
Virginia was an inviting possibility. Sir William Berkeley who had been knighted by the king on a battlefield was made Royal Governor of Virginia in 1641.  When he arrived here, Jamestown had 8000 poor residents. Berkeley quickly set out to reproduce the privileged society he had known in the West Country of England. He attracted many ‘second sons’ who could not inherit land in the UK, but having grown up on an estate, this kind of farming was all they could do.

All counties in England are represented in the wave of migration but again a majority came from two areas – the West Country including the counties of Gloucester, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire and Hampshire; and London and its surrounding counties. George Washington’s great grandfather, John Washington, immigrated to Virginia in 1656. John’s father had been an Essex clergyman. Essex although usually considered part of East Anglia borders on the city of London.
These families, not those of the earlier, original settlers, are known as the ‘first families of Virginia.’

Dollarhide, William. British Origins of American Colonists, 1629-1775. Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest Genealogical Services, division of AGLL, Inc., 1998. ISBN 1-877677-69-8

Smith, J.R. Pilgrims and Adventurers: Essex (England) and the Making of the United States of America. Chelmsford: Essex Records Office, 1992.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: British Origins of U.S. Colonists

Finding the UK parish where your ancestors lived is one of genealogy’s most difficult tasks for some of us. If your family came to America before 1837 when civil (government) registration was required, you must rely on the church records in a parish.

This week I found a slim but very helpful book by the famous genealogist, William Dollarhide.
Dollarhide, William. British Origins of American Colonists, 1629-1775. Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest Genealogical Services, division of AGLL, Inc., 1998. ISBN 1-877677-69-8
He suggests “if an American today has a British ancestor who arrived during the colonial period, there is a very high chance that he was part of one of these four waves of migrations.”
·         From East Anglia came the Puritans to New England during the Great Migration, 1629 to 1640.
·         From the West Country came the cavaliers and their servants to the Chesapeake, 1641 to 1675.
·         Quakers from the North Midlands came to the Delaware Valley, 1675 to 1715.
·         People from the English-Scottish borderlands came to the rural areas of the colonies 1717 to 1775.
If you know where your colonial ancestor lived in America, you can begin to pinpoint where he came from in Britain.
During the Great Migration about 21,000 Puritans came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although they came from all counties in England, over half came from East Anglia; Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex plus Cambridge, Hertford, Huntington, Lincoln and parts of Bedford and Kent.
Another group of Puritans came from the west of England where the counties of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire meet. Their beliefs were less strict and their customs different from the East Anglicans so they moved on to Connecticut, Maine and the Island of Nantucket once on this continent.
If you check my post on 2 Oct 2013, you will find information from a book by J.R. Smith about American connections in Essex, England including John Winthrop and William Pynchon, Puritans in New England, but he also highlights other Essex men in the Delaware Valley and Virginia. For example, William Penn was born in Wanstead, Essex.
Next post: Details of the Quakers and other groups of British colonists who went to specific places in America.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Scotland By the Numbers

In 1851 there were 901 parishes in Scotland with a total population of 2,888,742 people. The country had grown by about 250,000 since 1841, when the population was 2,620,184. Ten years later, in 1861, the population had grown again to 3,360,018.

To get more family friendly facts, you may want to visit the website www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk . Click on the 'Census Timeline' button on the left listing. There you will find a section that highlights each census year with three ‘census facts’ in the areas of population, culture and health.  For 1851, the 'population fact' is that children under the age of fifteen were 36 percent of the total, but now that group is only 15 percent. The population is aging.

The 'health fact' for that decade shows that life expectancy for men was 40 years and for women was 44 years. Worse there was a one in seven chance that a baby would die before its first birthday. That's all a little sobering.
Each section also has a few ‘contemporary historical facts’ – headlines from the decade. In the mid-1850s, “David Livingstone , the Scottish missionary-explorer and human rights campaigner, reaches the Victoria Falls and describes them to a European audience for the first time.”

The 1851 census had a religious component. The Established church was Presbyterian, called the Church of Scotland, and the other groups, including the Church of England (COE), were classified as non-conformist.  The other sects seem to be mostly Quaker, Roman Catholic, COE, and the Free Church. The last is a denomination that broke away from the Church of Scotland in the 1840s.
What was your ancestors’ Scotland like - by the numbers? Your look into their world will be helped by this site.