Sunday, January 12, 2014

William Thomson 1860 - 1920

William Thomson was born 31 Jan 1860 in Marnoch, Banffshire, Scotland to Alexander Thomson and Janet Reaper.  At the tender age 11 per the 1871 census, he was working at a neighboring farm as a servant, not uncommon during this time.  In 1881 we find him now living in Glasgow, Scotland as a Police Constable. He is boarding with Ann McIlwraith at 6 Waterloo St., Chalmers District of Glasgow.  In 1891, William is still a Police Constable, he had married Christina L0w Sim on 18 Dec 1889 in Glasgow, they and their first son Alexander age 5 months are living in the Chalmers District but now on 11 Henrietta St., Glasgow.  Christina dies on 17 Aug 1903 from Phthisis after giving birth to Helen in 1894, William in 1896 and James in 1898.
1904 Glasgow Police
Back row, third from the left is William Thomson.  This was the opening of the Criminal Investigation Department in Glasgow, Scotland dated 1904.
William married my great-grandmother Margaret Laidlaw on 16 Mar 1905 in Finlay Place, Newmains, Scotland.  My great-grandparents had my great-aunt Margaret (Peggy) Smith Thomson b. 29 Jul 1906 and my grandmother Janet Raper Thomson b. 16 Dec 1907 in Glasgow.
James, Margaret with  Janet, Helen, Peggy , William Jr., William Sr. (left to right)
James, Margaret with Janet, Helen, Peggy , William Jr., William Sr. (left to right)
William become a Detective before 1904 as proven in the photo of the 1904 Criminal Investigation Department, which was newly established right before this photo was taken.  I obtained the department photo on my trip to Scotland in June of 2005 when I visited the Glasgow Police Museum.  It was so wonderful to visit and actually see my great-grandfather on the wall of the museum in this photo, can't tell you the chills I have felt whenever I look at it.  This is what genealogy can do for you.  It's something like this that justifies your research, gives it definition, makes the ancestors real!
This is a photo of his actual Glasgow Police baton that had been used, it is bowed.  There was a leather wrist strap, but due to age, it has broken off.  It has the VR initials on it with Queen Victoria's Insignia I believe, so that dates it to before 1901 when Queen Victoria dies.Thomson wm baton2
William retired from the Glasgow Police before 1920 because of poor health.  The family was vacationing on the isle of Bute, when William was stricken down from a Cerebral Haemorrhage whilst playing golf.  He was taken to 8 Columshill Place, Rothesay where they were staying and he passes away there.  Margaret and the family take William back to Glasgow via ferry, apparently someone had been sitting on William's coffin when my grandmother, Janet then 12, asked them to please get off her father.  I found that quite thought-provoking that the family would be returning with the deceased and my grandmother a small but feisty gal would tell someone to get off her father.  When I asked my grandmother, in later years, where her father was buried, she had no idea.  I can understand as it had been many years and she was just a young girl at the time.  I have searched for many years to find his resting place.  Last year while attending RootsTech2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah, I was digging around in the Family History Library and noted a film on burials in Glasgow.  I never had seen this one before, so ever hopeful, I started in.  It was indexed and wow, there it was, Sandymount Cemetery in Glasgow, William Thomson age 60, died in Rothesay, Burial  in lair 626.  I was so thrilled.  Now I just need to get back to Glasgow to view his resting place.  This bit on the finding of the burial can be read at my blog:
reprint of my 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks at

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Scottish Clans DNA special from FamilyTreeDNA

I haven't forgotten you, just been a crazy busy spring. I have been contemplating the idea of having a Fife DNA website since my maternal grandfather's family seems to have never left the county.  Any takers on this?  Please leave comments if you are interested in joining or have had practice moderating a DNA site.  Thanks.  

I truly feel that DNA is a great tool to help you break down those brick walls.  I have used it in the past and while the wall is still there I now have cousins who can collaborate to help with the breaking. A few weeks after my mother's Family Finder went live on the site, I received an email from a 5th cousin of hers that was a middle branch of the pedigree which I would never have had the chance of catching doing either Y-DNA or mtDNA.  That being said, I use this company and feel they are the best and have a great world wide base,  I just received an email from Scottish Clans:

Beginning on Thursday, June 27, 2013 and running until Friday, July 26, 2013, we will offer the following:
Family Finderwas $289Now $99
mtDNA Full Sequencewas $289Now $189
Y-DNA37was $169Now $129
Y-DNA67was $268Now $208
Y-DNA111was $359Now $308
Family Finder + Y-DNA37was $368Now $228
Family Finder + Y-DNA67was $467Now $307
Family Finder + mtDNAFullSequencewas $398Now $288
Comprehensive Genome (Y-DNA67, FMS & FF)was $666Now $496


You and anyone else interested may order here:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ferry Port on Craig, Fife, Scotland.......... another of my ancestral homelands

Also known as Tayport, this village sits on the north eastern tip of Fife.  There is a lot of information on the web about this town.  I always check out, one of my fav's, for a overall picture of what is available to me from home in the States.

"Ferryport-on-Craig parish, or South Ferry, is 5 miles in length by from half a mile to 1 mile in breadth - stretching along the sea at the mouth of the Tay, where the land rises into a hilly range, extending westwards. The village is 3 miles from Dundee, seated at the base of the hills opposite to Broughty Ferry. The Edinburgh & Dundee railway terminates here, and passengers are forwarded by steam-boat to Dundee and Broughty Ferry - both on the north bank of the River Tay. For facilitating the shipping of goods, the railway company have constructed a dock and thrown out a pier; the latter can be approached by the steamers at all states of the tide. A great part of the village is composed of new houses, some of which are suited to the accommodation of visitors, who resort hither from the inland parts of the country for the benefit of sea-bathing - the beach here being naturally well-formed for the purpose: but the chief support of the inhabitants is derived from the weaving of course linens, and from the salmon fishery, which is coextensive with the parish along the coast; the fish captured here are mostly sent to the London market. The Glasgow & Edinburgh Bank have opened a bank here. The places of worship are the parish church, a free church, and baptist and presbyterian chapels." from Slater's Directory published 1852.  Gives us this to ponder:

A ferry service across the Tay was already well established when these lands were granted to the newly formed Arbroath Abbey about 1180. The abbey constructed shelter and lodgings for pilgrims making the trip between St Andrews and Arbroath via the ferry and this formed the core of a settlement that steadily grew over the centuries.
At the time a chapel was built in the early 13th century, the settlement was called Partan Craig, Gaelic for "Crab Rock." Possibly more of an abbey than chapel. The site was excavated in the 30's or earlier.
Over the following two hundred years English usage eroded many Gaelic place names in eastern Scotland and Partan Craig had become known as Portincragge by 1415 and as Port-in-Craige by the end of the 15th century. In 1598 the settlement received is burgh charter in the name of Ferry-Port on Craig. gives you a great picture of what films are available to lease through there library system, which is great for those of us on this side of the pond.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Still on Fife.............

Map showing the location of the parish
How many of you live or have ancestors that lived in Fife?

 I have my mother's paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Duncan Rollo Robertson (how do you like that for a name, no really), her entire family tree consists of Fife and it's villages- mostly on the east side tho'.  So, I'm thinking I would like to visit some of them, virtually these days for now anyway.

Let's start with my favorite, I just love the name Balmerino.  It sounds so royal, maybe it's the merino part, I do knit also.  My families in this area were weavers for the most part.  Fine linen, flax weavers or so the census tells me.  I remember my great aunt Evelyn talking about her mother's family from this area (actually she was talking about Elizabeth D. R. Robertson but I had no idea at the time)  I wish I had paid attention.  Part of the Rollo's lived in Kirkton during the 1800's.  

This is a view of Kirkton and Balmerino
Found at:

I have found the LDS church to have made my research so much easier, I hope this helps you also.

Here is an article found in the wiki of

The name of his parish, which is also Balmurynach or Balmerinoch, is a compound of two Gaelic words signifying 'Sailor's Town.'   Anciently, the Picts had sole possession of the area for over a thousand years (until the 10th century).  The small village on the banks of the estuary of the River Tay became a summer residence for royalty in the late 12th century.  Alexander II and his mother Queen Emergarde founded an abbey there in 1229 which was demolished in 1558.  The ruins can still be seen. The castle of Naughton is also in ruins. The terrain is hilly.
The two villages in the parish are Kirkton and Balmerino.  The parish has an especially healthy climate.  Many people live past 80.  There is an unusual number of twins and other multiple births.  The population in 1755 was 565, in 1791 was 703, and in 1837 was 1070.  The yearly average of births for the last seven years is 27 and of marriages 6.  In the last three years there have been three illegitimate births.  There is no register of deaths kept. 
The number of individuals employed in weaving is about 150 and the rest are chiefly engaged in agriculture.  There are 2694 acres in cultivation and 467 in woods.  Various grains and potatoes are grown and cattle are raised, which are fed on turnips and hay.  The produce of salmon fishing, which used to be immense, has not for some years past paid rent and wages (caused by legislation passed in 1812 to limit a certain type of net fishing in the estuaries).  In the past, wheat was shipped from the Tay, but no more.  However, potatoes are shipped to the London market. There is neither a market or a post office in the parish.  Coal is the chief source of fuel.
The parish church is situated about the center of the parish and has seating for 400.  It was finished in 1811.  The number of families attending the Established Church is 195, and of Dissenting or Seceding families is 20.  There are two schools in the parish including the parochial school.  About 165 students attend school in the winter.
The above extract is from the account written in February 1838.
Source: The New Statistical Account of Scotland, for Fife.  FHL book 942 B4sa, 2nd series, vol. 9;

The New Statistical Account of Scotland (pub. 1834-45) offers uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including history, agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. The reports, written by the parish ministers, are available online at  Click on ‘Browse scanned pages’ then search the parish you are interested in. Also available at the Family History Library. 
You also can research your Balmerino ancestral roots with the LDS church by reading the following:

Church Records

The Established Church of Scotland was Presbyterian. Read more about church records.
Here are the pre-1855 records that exist for this parish.

Established Church—Old Parochial Registers

Event TypeYears CoveredFHL Film Number
Births:1632-1674, 1690-18201040194 items 6-7
1829-18541040150 item 1
Marriages:1631-1674, 1690-18201040194 items 6-7
1820-18551040150 item 1
Deaths:1747-17621040194 items 6-7

Condition of Original Registers—

Index: For an index to these records, see the Scottish Church Records Index available on computers at the Family History Library and family history centers.  The records may be indexed in the
Births: Births are intermixed with marriages until 1782, after which they occur on alternate pages of the register. There is a duplicate of record 1652–1657 and 1690–1712 and it is incomplete 1782–1784. Mother's names are not recorded in entries until 1784 and frequently omitted after 1784.
Marriages: Marriages are intermixed with births until 1782, after which they occur on alternate pages of the register. There is a duplicate of record 1652–1657 and 1690–1712 and the record is incomplete 1782–1787. The records are not very carefully kept after 1782.
Deaths: Burials - See also Kirk Sessions below.
Source: Key to the Parochial Registers of Scotland, by V. Ben Bloxham, pub. 1970. FHL British Book 941 K23b.

Established Church—Kirk Session Records

The Kirk session was the court of the parish. The session was made up of he minister and the land owners and business men of the parish, chosen to serve on the session. The Kirk session dealt with moral issues, minor criminal cases, matters of the poor and education, matters of discipline, and the general concerns of the parish. Kirk session records may also mention births, marriages, and deaths.
Here is a list of the surviving Kirk session records for this parish:
Minutes 1696–1753
Minutes and Accounts 1745–1780
Accounts 1690–1787
Deaths and Burials 1744–1762
Note: Available at St. Andrews University Library, St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, record CH2/1540.

Nonconformist Church Records

A nonconformist church is any church that is not the Established church. Read more about nonconformity in Scotland in the article on the Scotland Church Records Union Lists.
The number of families attending the chapels of Dissenters and Seceders in 1838 was 20. These would probably have attended church in neighboring parishes as there were no chapels in Balmerino.

Civil Registration Records

Government or civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths (also called statutory records) began on January 1, 1855 in Scotland. Each parish has a registrar's office and large cities have several. The records are created by the registrars and copies are sent to the General Register Office in Edinburgh. Annual indexes are then created for the records for the whole country.
See the article on Scotland Civil Registration for more information and to access the records.

Probate Records

Balmerino was under the probate jurisdiction of the Commissary Court of St. Andrews until 1823, and since then has been under the Sheriff's Court of Fife at Cupar. Probate records for 1513-1901 are indexed online at You must register on the website but use of the index to probate records, called 'Wills & Testaments,' is free. You may then purchase a copy of the document or, if the document is before 1823, it will be on microfilm at the Family History Library. To find the microfilm numbers, search in the library catalog for the 'Place' of Fife and the subject of 'Probate records.' Then click on the link to the records of the Commissariat of Fife. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lets talk about Fifeshire......... Anyone with ancestors from there?

One of my most ancestors per counties in Scotland is Fifeshire.  They are mostly on the eastern half.  It seems you name a village and there they are.  Of course, for those that don't do genealogy, Fifeshire brings to mind St. Andrew's.  Yes, there is more to Fife than St. Andrew's. 

For those just starting out.............  I would advise your first stop to be Genuki -Fife at   This site starts out with location of parishes or "Where in Fife is....".  Wonderful!  You can spend days just going through all that is available to better your family history.  I like more than just names, dates and places.  I want to see where my people lived and what they did for a living, what it was like, etc......  Don't you!  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Scotland Peoples Centre is a next stop.  It is a pay to use site, but you are able to get your certificate or a just as good copy of for a small price.  You can actually get your Birth, Marriage, Death records since 1855, census returns 1841-1911, Church of Scotland parish registers pre-1855, wills and testaments.  You can reach this by going to, set up an account and off you go.  It is a safe, secure way to obtain your information.  I've used it multiple times and have had no issues with the banking system. 

This should get you started for now, more later. 

Happy Hunting!  Please let me know where in Fife you are searching........  we might just be cousins

Have you looked at the Fife Family History Society Blog?  There is a wealth of information to be found there.  I was totally impressed.  I spent a few hours just double checking to see if there was any "new" stuff pertinent to my research.  Give it a look:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Grandfather William Thomson dies at Rothesay, Bute, Scotland on June 1920........ found in Sandymount Cemetery Glasgow.

So, I've been telling you about my travels through the microfilm and the parish records etc.  Sometimes you get that feeling like " I just gotta do...... " and you do it and find something worthwhile.  It happened again today.  I have been looking for my great grandfather who was a Glasgow retired Detective Sergeant that passed away while on vacation with the family in Rothesy.  My grandmother, his youngest daughter, told me the story of them being on vacation and her father after golfing, not feeling well and then dying whilst on the trip.  She could not tell me where he was buried and I've been looking for years, she passed away back in 1997- so i'ts been awhile.  Last year my mother's cousin gave me the clue that William had been brought back to Glasgow, because she remembered my grandmother telling her along time ago of the ferry ride back to Glasgow with her father in the box and some man sitting on the box, apparently grandma told the man to please get off her father, she was only 12 years at the time.  
Glasgow archives had told me they didn't have records back years ago, I had just sent out another email to have it returned as "out of the office".  Anyway, I had to wait for three films to come out of the vault, I had been delving into the Wright side of the tree, and those three films were calling me, so after lunch today I just picked one and found 1920 and it was very nicely put together, there on the list was William Thomson age 60 died in Rothesay.................  yeah I now have a location, lair in Scottish terms, to find someone or go myself someday to visit and pay my respects and of course that photo op.

So how is your research going?

Searching for:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wright family of Arbroath and Montrose in Angus, Scotland

I am currently tracking down some of my Scottish ancestry and this is just one of my many lines.  This is the line of my paternal grandfather Frank Wright who was born in Dundee in 1901 and left for Canada at the age of three with his parents and next older sister Evelyn, their oldest sister was left with their grandmother Elizabeth Duncan Rollo Robertson in Dundee, she didn't trust the family to care for her "baby".  Apparently Winifred was quite adored by her grandma.  Anyway, this line is pretty exciting, actually they all are but this intrigues me greatly.  Frank's great great grandpa was an Excise Supervisor in the late 1700's early 1800's along the coast of Arbroath, Montrose and along the coast of the Firth of Tay from Dundee to Aberdeen.  Pretty cool stuff.  I have a photo of myself standing next to his tombstone in the Arbroath Abbey and it was as tall as me and I am 5'6", so it's a big one, but a lot of them on the Abbey grounds were big and very beautiful.

So I am off to delve through the microfilm again for SIMPSON's, FORBES, HUSBAND, WISE, ANDERSONE, GOWANS, IRELAND and if I have time - I do want to check out my ROLLO, ROBERTSON, DUNCAN, AUCHTERLOINE, TAYLOR AND JAMISON group down in Fifeshire.