The blog has been busy with Fraser news lately – and I just finished my online class about advanced genealogical research in Scotland. Here’s a review of the class and the low-down on some new directions for my genealogy research.
The focus of the class was to learn about Scotland genealogy resources for the period 1750 to 1850. The significance of 1850 is that Scotland only began keeping civil registration records for birth, death and marriage after 1850. For research prior to that time, your only online resources are the parish church records and the 1841/1851 censuses. The church records are indexed at familysearch.org, but with a subscription you can see the actual images at ScotlandsPeople (sort of like a subsidiary of their National Archives).
These online source are great but they’re really only the tip of the iceberg – the really good stuff is, unfortunately, not digitized and is typically stashed away in archives and libraries in Scotland. However, most of those institutions do have their collection catalogs online. Using the catalogs effectively can point you to other sources that might enable you to learn more about your family.
If you do find something in an archive, you can either hire a researcher to retrieve it for you (I’ve done some of that already – lunatic asylum records for Joseph Fraser and Joseph Beattie) or go there in person (gosh, it would be a shame to have to go back to Scotland again….)
So here are some early successes and some new directions:
- I already wrote about the birth record for Ann Campbell (Andrew Fraser’s wife). I was able to find this thanks to new records recently added to ScotlandsPeople.
- I may have found the parents of Henriet Reid – Henriet was Andrew Fraser’s mother. I found a Reid family living in nearby Insch. I’ll write more about this in a future post.
- Newspaper articles from Aberdeen! I’ll write more about these in a future post, too.
- There are “Heritor’s Records” available for both the Kennethmont and Leslie parishes. These records may include lists of various things, especially poor records, and may shed light on family connections in the parishes. The “heritors” are the wealthy landowners who were charged with the care and management of the local schools and other matters.
- The Aberdeenshire Archives has the records of the Leslie Parochial Board and Parish Council. These may also contain poor lists and other administrative matters sort of along the lines of the Heritor’s Records.
It seems that both the Reid and Fraser families were associated with or employed as part of the Leith Hall Estate which was owned by the Leith-Hay family. The family has donated nearly all their historical family and estate papers to the National Records of Scotland. I will be sifting through the complete catalog to see what kinds of records might be available. Apparently, you can expect to find things like rent payments, employment records – all kinds of stuff. The hope is to find some indication of when and from where John Fraser came into their employ.
- There is also an excellent website associated with the family – http://leith-hay.org/. Lots more digging to do there!
- A 1957 book “Trustie to the end: the story of the Leith Hall family” will also shed some light on the operations of their estate. I have already ordered the book through Interlibrary Loan and hope to have it in a few days. The family has some interesting Highland connections that might end up being significant.
- Finally, I think I’m going to sign up for the Scottish Genealogy Virtual Conference scheduled for January 27 and see what else I can learn.
I am still coming up blank for Andrew Fraser’s supposed military service. The family lore has so many specific details – not to mention the fact that members of Chester Frasier’s family remember seeing and even handling Andrew’s ceremonial sword from his military service. One detail of the family story is that Andrew borrowed money from his half-brother Joseph to get a “discharge by purchase”. Unfortunately, most records of those discharges have not survived. Even if I could lay my hands on records, I’m not sure there would be much of any genealogical value. But it sure would be cool to independently verify the colorful story about Andrew participating in salutes for the births of Queen Victoria’s children.