20 January 2019

One Line of Coll McFadyens

Isle of Coll

Question: Is it possible to reconstruct ancestry based solely on Scottish naming patterns and reported patronymics?
Answer: No matter how long I stare at the GPS, not even in the ballpark.
Nevertheless. What one can do is construct hypotheses based on sparse sources. That may be all one can do. Ever. Highland ancestry was long based on oral tradition until events of the eighteenth century initiated the cultural breakdown. There is a point past which written genealogical records, as such, do not exist ‒ but perhaps only as tidbits buried in historical papers.
Alert: Spellings of names and places vary in transliteration.

Parents and grandparents of Donald McFadyen ~ identified as Donald the Soldier for clarity ~ are what I seek. Ancestry of my island-bred McFadyens hinges on what I call "the pivot." Namely, the 1776 Isle of Coll List compiled by the newly arrived clergyman, Charles Stewart, to test every soul on the island for his or her knowledge of the religious catechism questions.[1] The survey did not apply to children of an age estimated between seven and eight years or younger, but all the same, Mr Stewart dutifully noted all names in each household. Beyond that list we currently have no available documentary sources until 1716 when adult men on Coll were recorded by an agent of the Duke of Argyll; the duke was confiscating weapons among his tenants in the wake of the recent Jacobite rebellion. 

McFadyen/McPhaiden candidates who had an untested young Donald among their children in 1776 were Duncan at Grimsary, Lachlan at Arnapost, and a third un-named man whose widow was Mary at Totronald. Nicholas Maclean-Bristol (hereafter NMB) believes the deceased man was an Angus.[2] From other sources (military and ship's list) I can narrow Donald's birth year to ca.1773.

Abandoned house, Arnabost
Here we go on my Hypothesis.
I "choose" Lachlan and his wife Flora McLean as my Donald's parents. Why? The names Duncan (and that of his wife Catherine) do not occur in my family, nor does the name Mary, although Angus does. My Donald named his oldest son Lachlan. Angus was the name given to his second son (and also to the seventh son, perhaps implying the first-named Angus did not survive childhood ... but even that is debatable, as many families had two boys or girls with the same name. Because the pool of both forenames and surnames was so limited in the islands/highlands, same-names were endlessly repeated. Sample: Donald the Soldier's wife and mother were both named Flora McLean.)

The naming pattern existed but it varied. Here, children of Donald the Soldier and wife Flora McLean with potential namesakes in parentheses:
Lachlan (father's father)
Angus (mother's father)
Roderick (father's paternal grandfather or uncle)
Hector (mother's maternal grandfather or uncle of a parent)
Ann (mother's mother)
John (father's maternal grandfather or brother of a parent)
Donald (father)

Lachlan McPhaiden and wife Flora McLean produced siblings for their son Donald the Soldier, all born later — Neil (1777) Allan (1782) John (1784) Lachlan (1786) Mary (1788) Marion (1791) Catherine/Kate (1794)
Naming their first son Donald: does that imply Lachlan's father was a Donald?
Sister Kate was the widow of James Johnston, Arnabost, when she married Angus McFadyen (1800-1886) of Ballyhough in 1824.[3] Ancestry and descent of this Angus McPhaiden (but not Kate's) have been researched by NMB and others. 
Sister Mary married Lachlan Kennedy in 1819; they came to Cape Breton as per census returns and authored sources.[4]
If some sons are named after brothers, why does Donald the Soldier have no Neil or Allan?

Now if I pose Donald the Soldier's father as Lachlan, and Lachlan's father as either Donald, Neil, or Allan, where does that get me? Will it reach as far as the adult McPhaiden men on Coll in 1716, sixty years earlier? It is quite possible that Lachlan's parents are alive in the 1776 list; with one young child then, Lachlan could have been in his twenties. Is there a likely McPhaiden or McLean parent for my couple who produced Donald the Soldier?

Click to enlarge
No and maybe. The list had to be sifted for eligibility and relevance, i.e. a man or couple in middle or elder age, therefore living alone or without children of untested age ... a lot of guesswork. There are no other McPhaidens at Arnapost. There is no Donald, Neil, or Allan McPhaiden at all! There is Mary McPhaiden, a widow, alone, at Feall; Angus McPhaiden with wife Ann McKinnon at Breachacha, being the only two in their household. And we have Angus McPhaiden at Ardnish, wife Flora Kennedy; they have older (tested) children Allan, Julia, and Mary; the household includes servant Roderick Beaton and his family.

The Ardnish couple Angus McPhaiden and Flora Kennedy are what is termed "Ballyhough McFadyens," families traditionally close to Maclean of Coll at Breachacha Castle. I believe their son Allan (unmarried in 1776) has known descendants through four of his sons, including the Angus who married widow Catherine (McPhaiden) Johnston of my family. One more mystery: regarding that 1824 marriage of Angus and Kate, I have no answer to why NMB noted Kate's father Lachlan MacFadyen as "merchant in Arnabost."[5] Merchant?

No, the McPhaiden exercise is inconclusive. ANN (McKinnon) at Breachacha is the only wife of that name. Someone, somewhere, supposed that this couple were the parents of Angus in Ardnish. I've not been able to track down that hypothesis. It would make four living generations in 1776: from Angus and Ann in Breachacha to Angus and Flora in Ardnish to Lachlan and Flora in Arnabost and their young son Donald. How likely is that in days of shorter lifespan? But NMB, the recognized authority, on his 2002 chart does not show Ann and Angus in that direct line, even though their location is contiguous with Ardnish.

As for McLeans (Flora's father) – the most prolific surname on the island – it's again a matter of searching for a Donald, Neil, or Allan. The total McLean heads of household with those forenames were four Allans, one Lachlan, one Neil, and six Donalds. Couples with young children are unlikely candidates (but could be Flora's brothers!); eliminate any couple with a daughter Flora; eliminate households with servants — one is (the laird) Maclean of Coll and others are closely related families.

The remaining McLean "eligibles" seem to be ―
Allan, Cornaigbeg, wife Mary Gillis, three grown children
Donald Sr, Cliad, wife Mary McLean, mixture of children ages
Neil, Grimsary, wife Marion McLean, one grown child Neil
Donald, Totronald, wife ANN McLean, underage children Donald & Mary, also Ann (slightly older child?), mother Catharine McDonald, uncle Allan McLean
Allan, Feall, wife Catherine Campbell, mixture of 5 children

There we are, as far as I can go for the time being. Donald McLean, potential maternal grandfather of Donald the Soldier. The others are not necessarily eliminated. It would be serendipitous if the great hive of fellow researchers pitched into this with any relevant or corollary information.

Others have bridged the gap from 1776 to 1716; I can't say with how much confidence. Many have more local, historical, and linguistic knowledge than I. We always hope for information to surface in documentary papers and manuscripts of landowners and important local figures, so often kept in private hands. Rather recently, the Friends of The Argyll Papers began tackling the massive, important Campbell Family Archive at Inverary Castle to catalogue and conserve for public access ― exciting for Collachs, because the Earls, then Dukes, of Argyll were part owners of Coll for a long time. Combing through papers and correspondence could yield fragments of information, such as the "1716 list" itself.

Meanwhile. The collaborative success of Facebook pages ‒ MacFadyen Genealogy and DNA, Isle of Coll Ancestry and DNA ‒ is becoming evident. The best part of being Coll MacFadyens: we who research the same surname on the same small island truly ARE all one family!

Standing stones at Totronald

1. "List of the Inhabitants in the Island of Coll Dec2nd 1776," in Coll Kirk Session Minutes, National Archives of Scotland, CH2/70/1.
2. Email NMB to me, 7 August 2010.
3. Nicholas Maclean-Bristol, West Highland Notes &Queries, Series 3, No. 5 (November 2002), Special MacFadyen Issue. The issue includes an NMB-compiled chart showing earliest known McFadyen men and descent with most certainty from Angus McPhaiden and Flora Kennedy.
4. J.L. MacDougall, History of the County of Inverness, Nova Scotia, 488. Also Nelson and Mae Poole, "Lauchlin Kennedy," The Poole Family (capebretonpooles.com/LauchlanKennedy.html).
5. The chart as mentioned in Note 3.

© 2019 Brenda Dougall Merriman

11 November 2018

24 October 2018


It's not blogging fatigue. It's more like research fatigue. With other interests taking precedence. Make that other preoccupations.

Then Scotland's People informed me that my credits were about to expire. Stir yourself, I said. Where did those Frasers and McIntyres and McKenzies and Dougalls come from?

Some time ago I hit my personal brick wall with the wild explosion and correlation of DNA evidence. I watch proceedings of the MacFadyen DNA Project and the Isle of Coll DNA studies. Thanks be to those who understand chromosome segments (and all that) and diligently report to the few of us pathetic fogeys. Could be that my Neanderthal cells have surged, overpowering what's left of my unfocused brain.

My to-do pile grew into three foot-high stacks. For variety, the genealogy notes are mingled with scarcely decipherable travel journals, medication printouts from the pharmacy, photographs to scan, sketches for furniture rearranging, memos about meetings, and physiotherapy sheets of stick figures demonstrating painful positions. Momentary thoughts of de-cluttering the filing cabinet cross my cluttered mind.

Searching for the origins of one Fraser line have narrowed to two parishes in western Inverness-shire: Kiltarlity and Kirkhill. I'm sure the reason for this decision will become clear when I spend more time upright instead of performing all those supine exercises. And pursuing trial courses of painkillers.

I don't expect my John Fraser's daddy had enough worldly goods or estate to leave a testament in Inverness Commissary Court that would mention his son in the colonies but it should be fun trying to correlate a few wills with the transcribed burial stones.

Hold on, Scotland's People ... don't give up on me yet. Pass the codeine, please. It's been a Lousy Year.

© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman

12 June 2018

Proposed DNA Standards in Genealogical Research

Here are Standards proposed for DNA evidence as a research component with reference to Genealogy Standards, 50th Anniversary Edition (2014), published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Having a copy of Genealogy Standards at hand would be very useful for reviewing the items!

The BCG Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee invites public comments on the following draft (which also includes slight modifications to existing Standards, reflected in the questionnaire). See below for links. Thoughtful genealogists, please submit by 23 July 2018. 

Proposed Chapter 7: Using Genetic Evidence
All work products reporting genealogical conclusions—including those using DNA evidence—should meet the Genealogical Proof Standard and all relevant standards. The following standards, specific to DNA, do not stand alone. They are not the only standards that genealogists’ work should meet. Cross references identify the related existing, published standards.

1. DNA testing is:
Selective. Genealogists select DNA tests, testing companies, and analytical tools with potential to address the genealogical research question.   
Targeted. Genealogists target test takers based on their DNA’s potential to answer a genealogical research question.   
Sufficiently extensive. Genealogists examine the test results of a sufficient number of test matches to draw conclusions about a relationship and to analyze and eliminate competing hypotheses about the relationship posed in the research question. Testing can involve any of at least three groups:   
a. Test takers descended from a hypothesized common ancestor through multiple lines of descent
b. Test takers who descend from multiple possibilities for a common ancestor
c. Test takers selected to distinguish among shared segments pointing to a common ancestor
[See related Standards 9, 11, 15, 17, and 19.]

2. Using DNA test results. Genealogists consider all available relevant factors when they use DNA test results as a component of proving a relationship. Those factors include reported and typical amounts of shared DNA, sizes and locations of chromosomal segments, information about mutations, markers or regions that have been tested, number and genealogical expanse of people who were tested, and genetic groups, including meaningful triangulated groups.

Genealogists use valid tools and statistical algorithms from testing companies and third parties to interpret test results and establish conclusions about relationships or their absence. They cautiously form conclusions about the absence of relationships. Genealogists do not use DNA evidence to suggest genetic relationships beyond theoretically possible levels.
[See related Standards 12, 45, and 40.]   

3. Identifying shared ancestry of DNA matches. Genealogists using autosomal DNA both report and accommodate the possibility of shared ancestry on multiple lines. The report addresses the accuracy, and depth of test-takers’ pedigrees and assesses any gaps in those pedigrees. Genealogists accommodate gaps by selecting one or more strategies such as the following:   
Further documentary research   
Additional targeted testing   
Clear explanation with justification for concluding that the gap is irrelevant to the research question    
• Segment triangulation   
Analysis of data from clustering and genetic networks
[See related Standards 17, 40, 42, and 45.]   

4. Replicability of DNA test results. Genealogical reports of DNA test results enable others to assess their data and conclusions.
[See glossary for definition of DNA TEST RESULTS.]   
[See related Standard 3b.]   

5. Integrating DNA and documentary evidence. Genealogists use DNA test results in conjunction with reasonably exhaustive documentary research. They assess the merits and shortcomings of both documentary and DNA evidence. They consider points of agreement and disagreement between and within documentary and DNA evidence. They use those assessments and comparisons to help resolve conflicts within their evidence, including conflicts within DNA evidence and between it and any documentary evidence.
[See glossary for definitions of CONFLICTING EVIDENCE and DNA EVIDENCE.]   
[See related Standards 17, 19, 47, 48, and 50.]   

The full draft document is here:

Comment form (deadline 23 July 2018): https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScXrc4f2khLwF4TzTSipAmrppS_wxfTI10IyTWYASqw6gJoBQ/viewformhttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScXrc4f2khLwF4TzTSipAmrppS_wxfTI10IyTWYASqw6gJoBQ/viewform

06 June 2018

Book: The Wicked Trade

Nathan Dylan Goodwin. The Wicked Trade. Self-published, 2018.
Goodwin scores again in the seventh of his Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist series. Possibly his most interesting case yet begins with Arthur Fothergill who wants to learn more about a formative period in the life of his great-grandmother Ann Fothergill. Even more important, who fathered her son? Arthur knows from family papers and an old newspaper source that by 1820, young Ann was living a reprehensible life in and out of prison for petty crimes. 

Morton's own bizarre family story continues to unfold. His daughter Grace turns one year old, the occasion for overseas visitors and the first meeting in forty years of Morton's biological parents. Some bafflement on my part: Why did Morton haul out Jack's old love letters to Margaret in front of everyone, letters that Margaret had never seen before? Insensitive and out of character, I thought. The DNA evidence of paternity was rather fuzzy since one of Ann's lovers died without issue; how did the use of online family trees and Lost Cousins prove the father of Ann's son (only a family historian would question this!). Nevertheless, Goodwin and Morton do lively and engaging work pulling off surprises here.

Family historians have built a healthy fan base for the Morton Farrier books but they appeal to an even wider interest in crime fiction. How about a couple of extracts to tease your appetite? ...

Ann nodded. "What say ‒ quitter for quatter, like ‒ that I not be moving on tomorrow and be lodging here a while longer? Happen, then, I be forgetting all about men that pay you in the night time."Hester's narrowed eyes displayed such bilious anger. Short snorts of air fumed from her nostrils, as, with hands on her hips, she contemplated Ann's threat.Ann stretched exaggeratedly, as though she had all the time in the world to wait for Hester's decision. In her peripheral vision she spotted movement outside. Sam was walking the path to the house. Ann danced her way to the door and pulled it open. "Sam, what a delight. We be just talking about you.""What grabby weather," Sam complained, removing his boots, shooting curious looks between the two women. (103)

Morton took several photographs of the occasion, very keen to immortalise the day forever. He then handed the camera to Lucy and asked her to photograph the family group. Switching to playback, he zoomed in to the image. In the centre were he, Juliette and Grace, a scene of relative normality. Beside Juliette was her mother, Margot. The further he pulled out of the picture, the more bonkers it became: his American biological father with his wife; his biological mother (who was also his adoptive aunt) with her husband; his half-brother Jeremy (who was actually biologically his cousin, and yet more familial to him than his actual half-brother, George, who was at the edge of the image, frowning) and his Australian husband; and finally, his deceased adoptive father's fiancée, Madge.A perfectly normal family. (208)

You can find out more about The Wicked Trade and other books on Goodwin's website: www.nathandylangoodwin.com; orders for paper, audio, or e-book versions will go through Amazon.

© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman

18 May 2018

Egremont's Countess

2018 — Year of Women's Empowerment. We are not quite there yet after decades of struggle and consciousness-raising. With the passage of years perhaps we take some salutary, institutionalized changes for granted ... think voting, maternity leave. All the more reason to take note of women's achievements, women who lived in the shadows of even more constricting social conditions.

Elizabeth Ilive, 'Mrs Wyndham' by Thomas Phillips, 1799, private collection of Lord Egremont.
Elizabeth Ilive (c17691822) was one of them. In 1801 she wed George Wyndham, the wealthy, handsome, gregarious 3rd Earl of Egremont. At a moment of new beginnings for most newlyweds, their story was atypical for the times:
First of all, Elizabeth had been his mistress for some fifteen years;
Secondly, she had already been living with him at his Petworth estate in Sussex and had borne him seven children at that point;
Thirdly, Elizabeth left the Earl and her established life at Petworth permanently just two years after the marriage took place.

It was not unusual that the Earl would have a mistress of a lower-class status; keeping a mistress, or a series of them, was then commonplace in aristocratic circles. George Wyndham was no exception; he shared one of his mistresses with his friend the Prince of Wales. Nonetheless, it was quite unusual to marry one of them. Despite his long commitment to Elizabeth, the Earl carried on other liaisons that eventually may have caused the estrangement.

Little seemed known about Elizabeth Ilive other than she clearly was not of the upper-class mould. Rumours of her humble origins swirled. As "Mrs Wyndham" of Petworth House during her considerable tenure, Elizabeth apparently fulfilled her family and household duties but went far beyond the norm into agricultural interests and artistic patronage. Her husband did not always approve.

Who was this woman? This woman who received a silver medal from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce for her technological invention? Whose scientific curiosity led to potato cultivation? Whom William Blake, that visionary poet and artist, described as a "Mighty soul in Beauty's form"?

A portion of The Egremont Family by George Romney, private collection of Lord Egremont

Historian Sheila Haines, lead researcher on the Petworth Emigration Project, became interested in Elizabeth as one of its peripheral, obscure figures. After Sheila's untimely death, her inspired colleagues took up the research: gleaning contemporary accounts, hunting down countless records (with access to Petworth House Archives), finding collateral descendants, revealing a woman almost forgotten by her own family. Elizabeth's origins and ancestors are no longer opaque. Years of hard work were turned into a remarkable book that uncovers more of Elizabeth's character and relationships (and no, the 3rd Earl has not been ignored!).

Cover portrait for the book Elizabeth Ilive, Egremont's Countess is by Thomas Phillips, Elizabeth Ilive in a blue and white turban, courtesy of The National Trust.

The National Trust is currently holding an exhibit at Petworth House: "Elizabeth Ilive: A Woman Ahead of her Time." Without the details and guidance provided by the book, the exhibit could not have been so thorough. The book, itself a significant achievement thanks to Haines, Lawson, and McCann, is available at Waterstones book store only in the UK. Interested North Americans can purchase through the authors: leighalisonlawson (at) gmail.com.

Petworth House: western facade.
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Francois Thomas - geograph.org.uk/p/428734 labelled for reuse under Creative Commons license.
From long before the Suffragettes to the "Time's Up" movement, women's stories are being told.

© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman

24 March 2018

Conference Highlight of the Year!

This year the annual conference of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) is being held in one of my favourite places: Guelph! May 31st to June 3rd.

Watch for it

Guelph home of the notable University of Guelph (venue for the conference) with the university's renowned Scottish Studies Department; McLaughlin Library; the Arboretum; the Ontario Agricultural College; and the Ontario Veterinary College. Driving into town from the 401, especially on Brock Road, you must pass the ever-sprawling and charmless outlier subdivisions before finding the campus and any essence of the old town.

Church of Our Lady

The town's core of surviving limestone buildings and Victorian homes will please the historically-minded — so many designated heritage buildings. Part of the Guelph Civic Museum's mandate is caring for the childhood home of Colonel John McCrae, our beloved First World War soldier poet. The Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate is a National Historic Site, finest work of nineteenth century architect Joseph Connolly (design said to be based on Cologne Cathedral). Yes, you will see them on one of the OGS pre-conference tours. Guelph City Hall and the Armoury are also National Historic Sites.


You are not likely to see the Guelph Junction Railway line; the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada; Ignatius Jesuit Centre; Homewood Health Centre, pioneer of addiction treatment; "the Albion," cherished drinking spot for generations of students since 1856; or the seven recreation/nature trails within the city unless you go looking for them. Oh well. I'm not a travel agent, am I?

Accommodation for the conference is offered at the university's East Residence (non-air-conditioned) or nearby hotels such as Holiday Inn, Delta, and Days Inn. Presumably once you are registered you will be given more information about locations for lectures, workshops, and meals. I don't need to repeat here the abundance of genealogical offerings over the period; something for everyone! It's all on the conference website. https://conference2018.ogs.on.ca/

It's not unusual to share the chairmanship of the conference. What is unusual is sharing it this year with a non-Ontario resident, a non-Canadian. I'm trying to get my head around that (it's principle, not personal) for the biggest genealogy conference in this country. Maybe I'm the only one who feels strange about it.

© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman

19 March 2018


A cross-post from camelchaser.ca, not exactly by overwhelming demand, but just to say
Second edition of CAMELOGUE now available!

Created at and for sale on Blurb.com, $15.00 Canadian; the USD equivalent is less.

Now 110 pages, stripped of "fillers" in the first edition. Approximately half the book consists of edited past adventures; the rest is added adventures since 2012. I promise there will not be a Third edition.

Here's the public description:
A personal photographic chronicle of chasing camels in Arabic countries encumbered only by gender, age, opportunity, and gentle self-delusion. Impersonating a world traveller requires permanent smiles and sign language on high alert. Strange, the writer's pull to ancient civilizations. Stranger still, baking one's tender body in near-isolated deserts. Highly recommended for lovers of animals and warm climates. Lose yourself briefly here in a different world.

"Arabic" is over-stated only in that two of the countries are not. The United States and the Netherlands. Some of the experiences were divine. Others were funny or disappointing with a variety of characters, and just one heart-attack-scary night "hill climb."

Back cover:
Brenda Dougall Merriman is well-known as a genealogist for her serious books Genealogy in Ontario: Searching the Records; United Empire Loyalists: A Guide to Tracing Loyalist Ancestors in Upper Canada; and Genealogical Standards of Evidence. She writes about her Canadian, Scottish, and Latvian ancestors at https://brendadougallmerriman.blogspot.com. She also writes about other adventures on her blog CamelDabble TravelBabble at https://camelchaser.blogspot.com.

07 February 2018

A Journal That Educates

The National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) is likely the most prestigious journal in North America. Published by the society based in Washington, DC — yes, it's American-produced — it serves as a model for learning and writing (www.ngs.org). Both readers and writers benefit from the published results. "The Q" is more than worth the price of membership, available in print or electronic form.

Each issue contains several articles describing how a genealogist identified an elusive ancestor or solved an intricate lineage problem. They are the type of research obstacles every family historian runs into sooner or later — missing records or missing names; too many "same name" occurrences or language or handwriting barriers.

In such case studies, the reader learns about detailed research processes or potentially new resources that could apply to his/her own research. The editors ensure a teaching medium that often traces family lines into their international origins. Skilled research methods transcend borders.

Writers who submit articles also learn. They understand it's a rigorous process, demonstrating the Genealogical Proof Standard. In fact, the editorial contribution is a master lesson in fashioning a "soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion based on the strongest available evidence." I know whereof I speak; working with the editors is like an advanced class in analysis and exposition.

The "Q" has a long history (since 1912) of being headed by distinguished editors; the appointment of new co-editors to take position in 2019 is no exception. Alison Hare CG® is a remarkable Canadian who has served nine years as a trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). That service includes editorial assistance in various capacities and work on the standards manual committee, as well as chairing the NGS newsletter competition at times. She comes from a background of journalism experience and genealogical research in different regions.

To quote from the announcement in the NGS newsletter UpFront, Alison said, “NGSQ has played an important role in my personal development, inspiring me with its high quality and continual demonstration of approaches to solve genealogical problems. It is an unexpected honor to serve as its co-editor. Alison will meet the new challenge with her personally meticulous style.

Co-editor Nancy A. Peters, CG®, CGLSM, is from North Carolina, also a BCG trustee; as a professional genealogist, she has wide research, writing, and teaching experience. May both these special women find great inspiration in their predecessors and great satisfaction in shaping a new era next year.

Correction: Dyslexic blogger has corrected Alison's comment.

© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman

14 January 2018

Conference Freebies

Frivolous? Yes, but  bags. Family historians have bags.

Bags are the most popular handout at genealogical conferences. Why not? We need bags to haul not only the stuff we bring with us to the conference but also the growing masses paper, books, gadgets, snacks we collect from daily visits to the vendors.    

Pens are good. Pens are also common. But they don't last as long as bags. While re-usable drinking bottles are making inroads, fabric bags are sturdy, practical, re-usable, suiting many further purposes. If you collect indiscriminately, you have a handy carryall for every day of the month. And lest it slip your mind for a moment, a constant reminder that you have more research to do.

The oldest bag I've saved was from wayyyy back in the 1990s when Kawartha Branch hosted the Ontario Genealogical Society's (OGS) annual Conference. A small bag, perfect for library books. A little worn and ink-stained now.  

                  ~~ The gifts that keep on giving ~~

However, it would not be quite accurate to say that you can never have enough bags. Sometimes you can. Sometimes when you open the cupboard door they fall out in a messy heap. They multiply like crazy, taking up more space than the groceries you tote home in them.

Let me show a different handout from OGS. A one-time special item that anyone would find useful:

Attention, OGS and other conference organizers! How brilliant is that?!

This is a great answer for aging (who isn't?) family historians who want to capture provenance of family heirlooms, gifts received, sentimental souvenirs, and/or personal jewellery and art work — especially when we have devised certain items to certain heirs. Continuity.

Now I don't know what the cost of such an item would be, ordering in the hundreds. But doesn't it grab your fancy, just a little?

© 2018 Brenda Dougall Merriman

02 November 2017

The Petworth Emigration Story

The collaborative historical-genealogical study known as the Petworth Emigration Project began almost thirty years ago; it is still very much alive under the sponsorship of the Jackman Foundation. 
What is it? ... in essence, the identification and background of English families that came to Upper Canada by means of an assisted emigration plan in the 1830s. The Petworth Emigration Committee was organized by Reverend Thomas Sockett of Petworth parish in Sussex; it was sponsored by George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont. Emigrants came from parishes in Sussex and beyond.

Letters written after their arrival helped to reconstruct many families and revealed their locations in Canada. Archival sources in England and Canada contributed yet more contemporary information to the entire story, and many of the involved individuals.

And at a lovely reception at the Earl of Egremont's Petworth estate in 2000, the culmination of ten years' research on about 1,800 families was published in two volumes by McGill Queens Press. The book launch was also celebrated in Canada.

The first volume lists the names and basic information of all known emigrants:

Wendy Cameron and Mary McDougall Maude. Assisting Emigration to Upper Canada: The Petworth Project, 1831-1837.

Wendy Cameron, Sheila Haines, and Mary McDougall Maude. English Immigrant Voices: Labourers' Letters from Upper Canada in the 1830s.

Detailed information can be seen on our website www.petworthemigrations.com where surname indexes and other compiled indexes aid the curious researcher. There too, descendants can post new family information and connections. 

Facebook pages were adopted early, one to encourage and maintain contact with and between descendants (Petworth Emigrants) and one relating to the parish (Petworth Emigration Project). We deposited our research material and working papers with the University of Waterloo in Kitchener, Ontario.

Associated publications
Sheila Haines, ed. 'No Trifling Matter,' Being an Account of a Voyage by Emigrants from Sussex and Hampshire ... . UK: University of Sussex Centre for Continuing Education, 1990.

Brenda Dougall Merriman. The Emigrant Ancestors of a Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 1993.

Leigh Lawson. The Jackman Family in West Sussex 1565-1836. n/a, 1999.

Jane Britton. Petworth Project GA136 [Finding Aid]. University of Waterloo, Doris Lewis Rare Book Room, 2002.

Sheila Haines and Leigh Lawson. Poor Cottages and Proud Palaces: The Life and Work of Thomas Sockett 1777-1859. UK: Hastings Press, 2007.

Sheila Haines, Leigh Lawson, and Alison McCann. Elizabeth Ilive: Egremont's Countess. To be published late 2017.

Merriman, Cameron, Maude, Lawson, McCann, E.J.R. Jackman;
Haines is missing in this photo. 

New descendants, additions and corrections to family information, photographs, and even the occasional relevant letter continue to arrive via Facebook and our website. The Petworth Emigration Project remains healthy and well in the twenty-first century.

© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman