The Aitkens’ Coin-Glass Goblet

We have an antique vase from 1889. We didn’t know what it was, and more importantly we didn’t know who it was made for. Thanks to research then replies to this blog, the mysteries are solved (mostly). Wonderfully, we have heard from a descendant of the couple whose marriage it was made to commemorate (see below). The goblet is large (30cm tall with a 4 pint capacity) and beautifully engraved, with a floral thistle theme and pictorial images of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House. The lead crystal rings like a bell when tapped. And it has two coins/medals inside a blown glass cavity (“knop”) at the foot of its stem. 

Continue reading “The Aitkens’ Coin-Glass Goblet”

Two (well, three) men called Archibald Taylor – for Armistice Day

My aunt’s family history is convoluted, complex and interesting, the complexity providing a good training in genealogy. Some elements are stark and simple. The death of her mother’s first husband in WW1, the “Great War”, and of their son, her (half) brother in WW2… they were both killed in action. That’s pretty straightforward. You’d think.

It took a while, but now I know who’s who. I still know nothing personal about these men. Nor their lives before or during the wars that killed them. I am not really related to them (my mother’s sister-in-law’s mother’s first husband & son) in any clear way. But the centenary of the armistice in 1918 is a good time for a minding, and for me to mind them in particular. And some others. We are all connected. Me the writer; you the reader; and the dead. I know these soldiers’ bare details, a little general context, and something about what happened to those they left behind, but apart from that… their personalities, hopes and dreams? They are unknown to me.  But here they are.

Continue reading “Two (well, three) men called Archibald Taylor – for Armistice Day”

Inheriting privilege

So far, Noisybrain is full of “privilege”.  This is what I think about it.

At the bottom of this posting is a list of recommended people’s family / history stories chosen in part because they differ from my own initial postings here. First, a surprisingly long discussion:

  1. The modern meaning of privilege (with an aside about institutional patronage and those angry, annoying, patronising internet cartoons and discussions).
  2. A  genealogical perspective, both specific and general, on why this topic is so relevant and helping in augmenting and interpreting the bare binary bones of family tree ancestry: family history people are generally pretty interested in the loss and acquisition of privilege down the generations.
  3. A nod to the much broader genetic or population perspective.
  4. The Scottish context, with a little history of the Highlands, Lowlands and Ireland, and a reminder that there are a variety of the ways in which an ancestor’s lack of privilege plays out for their descendants. Obviously us Scots are not all the same, but less obviously privilege can vary a lot even within a single family.
  5. A change of perspective, to the continuing diversity in privilege within contemporary Scotland, with a focus on the “Glasgow Effect”, one of the negative legacies of our economic and social history (which seems set to continue).
  6. A brief reminder that one of the national legacies of the British Empire and European colonialism has been, from a global perspective, Scotland’s relative privilege.
  7. A conclusion that reminds us there is diversity everywhere, even in a homogeneous family, while stating the obvious fact that there are far more extreme examples, and that it’s the latter that are more important in contemporary society.
  8. The links to blogs, books, podcasts and so on. Continue reading “Inheriting privilege”

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