Archive for the ‘Names’ Category

My husband, Peter,  has been mumbling to himself in the kitchen. Well that’s not new!

He is reading out  text from a small book written a hundred years ago by an ancestor of his about his family.  The book was given by the author, Thomas Helm, to his niece (?) Peter’s mother when she was a lot younger and she is now 92.  The question mark about their relationship is hers.

The text Peter is reading out is:- ‘my mother Euphemia Helm nee Hunter’.  At the same time Peter is leafing through his family history records with a computer screen open in front of him.  You probably know the sort of thing…..  Mumble, mumble, ‘Euphemia Helm nee Hunter’ . Then he announced ‘something’s wrong – someone’s given me wrong information’.  Ahhaa yes, well that is what happens – go to the original records yourself and don’t just take people words for it – the mind plays tricks and when we write down the precious memories of relatives they may well have names and the generations mixed.

Or then there is the typing error.

Caroline Makein, of ‘Fife Rootsearch’,  a professional Scottish genealogist once told me of something which happened to her.  When searching for information about one of her own ancestors she came across dates which were quite wrong.  When she unearthed where the wrong information had come from she found it was from a typing error she had made herself.  Of course the erroneous information was already out there in the ether getting itself quoted and copied into other peoples records.  No doubt someone,  somewhere, is mumbling to themselves in their kitchen ‘someone’s given me wrong information’.  Check your original sources seems to be the byword for family history research.


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Questions often arise about the number of people with Scottish names who emigrated from Ireland to North America.

Answering this query:-  the west coast of Southern Scotland is very close to the north coast of  Ireland.  At a time when movement along the west side of the country was most easily achieved by boat there was a lot of traffic in the Irish Sea.  Besides moving up and down Scotland in this way, people would also cross  to and from Ireland. This would be to trade; in search of work; to avoid persecution or of course to escape the law!  There were also some more major movements of the Scottish population.  One of these was known as the Plantation of Ireland.  This took place during the 17th Century when the then King, King James (I of England and VI of Scotland) wanted a Protestant rather a Catholic Ireland.  He decided to move Protestants from Scotland to Ireland in great numbers.  Some were given the incentive of land and others just the offer of work.  To a population some of whom were living in extreem circumstances this was a good bet.  The Plantation took mainly the lowland Scots who were considered ‘tamer’  and more manageable than the wild highlanders.  So it is that the Southern Scottish names appear in Ireland.  Many names have since changed slightly though they are still recognisably of Scottish origin.

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