Storyshelf

As well as the Category Cloud on the right (with topics like “Edinburgh” or “stories of objects” or “war”) to link posts together, I’ll provide some short descriptions of longer coherent stories here with links to individual but connected posts. And the family trees are here.

  1. EBETH. In 1916, pregnant and widowed, Ebeth Newton (nee Scobbie) was stranded in Smyrna in Turkey (now Izmir) during World War 1 when her medical missionary husband David died. Her start page links to others on her wartime situation, her later remarriage to lawyer Robert Galloway in Morningside Edinburgh, and her surviving and successful daughter Elizabeth whose research inspired this site and my own interest in genealogy.
  2. SCOBBIE-LAUGHLAND. The family of James Scobbie and Williamina Laughland from Newarthill near Glasgow whose long lives were divided equally into the 19th and 20th centuries are one of three main strands of these pages planned to date. They were married for 65 years, and had five children of whom one died as a teenager. The couple can be seen surrounded by their children and spouses in 1913, and by their extended family at later celebrations. James’s diary from 1943 provides some colour, and I have also his father’s Scots dictionary.
  3. Business and other successes of James and some of his and Williamina’s descendants and their spouses will be explored: featuring categories like lawyers, doctors, missionaries, entrepreneurs and academics (including two world-famous physicists). There are descriptions of their interests in coal mining, brick-making, confectionery-making, and ownership of housing by the Scobbies and relatives around the towns of Salsburgh, Newhouse, Uddingston and Holytown. They were associated with pits/mines at Fortissat, Shottsmyre and Threeprig at Shotts, and Auchenlea. I wrote on my and their “privilege” while thinking about these people’s wealth, and the wealth and opportunities they and their relatives have enjoyed, and/or did something useful with.
  4. The Isle of LISMORE. My mother comes from a Gaelic-speaking family, and her father, Duncan Black from Lismore, was recorded in 1957 for the Gaelic Dialect Atlas. Her parents had met in Glasgow during or just after the Great War, during which her mother was driving a tram, having originally come from Benbecula, in the Outer Hebrides. My mother’s father’s family have a long history on Lismore. Lismore has lost 90% of its population, yet remains a vibrant and accessible community. Nearby, on the mainland, were some of my wife’s Kinnis relatives, at Ledaig. I’m pretty sure also that my father’s mother’s mother’s surname Black is connected to Lismore.
  5. McCAIG. One of my distant ancestors was a McCaig, and she was a teenage housemaid (and niece) to the infamous Reverend McCaig in Edinburgh. He was transported to Tasmania for stealing books, but had an even more more sinister track-record which had been covered up (it seems to me). For the theft, he underwent a well-reported trial. Somehow he is related to the McCaigs of Oban, who were a famous banking family, and the McCaig’s Tower in Oban (lampooned somewhat as a “folly”) will be their permanent memorial. The real folly was a legal one: McCaig wills and legacies appears in lists of key cases in Scots Law.
  6. KINNIS or KINNES etc. My wife’s father’s surname. The angle here is how close the family were to the Scobbie family around Kirk o’Shotts. The Kinnis family were farming at Kirk o’Shotts Inn Farm, its site now covered by the M8 motorway. A side branch moved close to the Blacks in Lismore. Previously they had been (as grain-merchants) in Lesmahagow for a generation or two, and before that, Falkland, Tayside and Fife.
  7. SPENCE. My wife’s father’s mother’s family. John Daniel Spence is famous in St. Andrews for moving a tin tabernacle across town to build a roller skating rink and the first fixed cinema. He was a builder, but died young during a court case (posthumously won) that helped clarify right-of-way in Scots Law, another unexpected historical contribution.
  8. LIVINGSTONE. My mother’s father had several Livingstone ancestors on Lismore, as well as McCaig, McColl, Black and others. Descendants of the Highland Livingstones (Clan McLay / MacLea etc.) include the missionary Dr David Livingstone, so he is a distant relative – the remains active interests linking Malawi and Lismore. The clan chief “Baron of Bachuil” traditionally lived on Lismore and was (and still is) the hereditary bearer of the crozier of St. Moluag, the Bachuil Mor.
    This role goes back to the immediate post-Roman Pictish era. St Moluag (died 592) was a missionary from Ireland who founded a centre in Lismore and later another in Mortlach around 566 CE.
  9. STEVENSON. My father’s mother was born in India in 1883. Her father was a missionary, who died young in service. Around 1888, his widow and children returned to Glasgow. Rev. Stevenson learned Santali, an Austroasiatic language, and is mentioned and even quoted, and e.g. a book by Sir Monier Monier-Williams (professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University) praises his linguistic ability in Santali as well as his character. The town of Pachamba in Jharkhand still houses the mission church named in his memory, one of the oldest in North East India. An Indian elephant tooth remains as a family memento. He wrote a booklet about his work with Santals. His sons became some of the many doctors in the family, and they both returned to India. One of these brothers (my great uncles) was married to Mary Walker, who (it turns out) was physicist Stephen Hawking’s great aunt. Already finished are the stories of the other, Dr John Black Stevenson, and his first wife Marianne Milne Simpson, focusing on her ancestry in Aberdeenshire. Our Stevenson name lineage goes back to Findo Gask, and perhaps some relatives can be found hailing from there. 
  10. LAUGHLAND. There are a couple of good stories about the Laughlands, the family of Mina Laughland, mentioned above. One Laughland married into the Paterson family, a branch who were somehow connected to the Patersons who invented and owned Camp Coffee. One daughter married into the Haldane family of Paisley lawyers. Its most notable member must be Duncan Haldane, one of those awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016 – my 3rd cousin. (His own genealogy work shows any family link to other famous Scottish Haldane scientists is unproven or more distant than records can prove.) Another married into the Soutter family (more lawyers, in Hamilton). There are medical-legal cousins out there still.
  11. AYRSHIRE. Both my mother-in-law’s Erskine family and my own Laughlands are connected to Stewarton in Ayrshire, so I’ll be exploring that location at some point. My wife’s mother’s surname was Hay. Her male Hay ancestors were coal-miners for 4 generations in Coylton, living in cramped miners’ rows. There are bunnet-makers, quoiters, and farmers too. I particularly am searching for documentary evidence of the entire farm removal to Lincolnshire (Spier family?).
  12. MORNINGSIDE, EDINBURGH. Spiralling out of control is the House History of a flat we lived in for nearly 25 years. After a background on 19th Century Morningside, and then on the street, Woodburn Terrace, is the story of the first owner David Wight, plasterer. Next door is the grand Woodburn House. The owner in the 1870s was Donald MacGregor, MP of Leith and shipping magnate, who owned the land the street was built on. Unconnected to the house history are family connections. My Great Aunt Ebeth‘s 2nd marriage was to Robert Galloway (a lifelong local resident, and they lived on Greenbank Crescent). She was married and buried locally. Her sister, my Great Aunt Mabel, married John Logan, coalmaster: they and their children lived on Hermitage Drive. Unconnected to either is the story of a crystal goblet which was somehow owned by my parents-in-law.

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