Discovering Scottish Ancestry – which McIntosh am I looking at?

During my latest new teaching session there were quite a few learners who were trying to discover their Scottish links.  Scottish records can be difficult as so many families share the same surnames and lived relatively near to each other.  However, there are a few ways to check that you have the right people in your line.  For example, are the names of the children concurrent with baptism parental names, in particular the mother’s surname? Also, are there any middle names?  The registrration of birth, deaths and marriages has been conpulsory in Scotland since 1 January 1855.

Another clue can be found under occupations that appear on the Scottish census returns. (1851-1911). People tended to remain within their ‘born into occupational class’.  It is highly unlikely that a boy of sixteen working in a mill will appear thirty years later as a lawyer.  Yet the 2 differing lines may have even given their children all the same names!  So double check the children’s birth year and baptism record (if you have found it), and with time you can even crossing reference with cousins and other family members to see if there is a match.

Earlier Scottish records can be found in church records and these can be found on line if they have survived. Before 1855 Scottish births, deaths and marriages and burials will be found in the church registers.  However, they often contain only a simple index of names depending on the church and parish recorder. Presbyterian church records are available from 1716.

Heritage Found can help you with this research.

More information can been found at


New Bristol Family History Course dates – 2018-2019 book now!

New course dates

The new course dates are available and bookable now though Bristol City Council’s web site. Please link to the Book tab below this post for details of the Family History courses running in Bristol 2018-2019.

The courses are aimed for beginners and for those who have already undertaken some research.

Stage 1 – Six classes begin for 6 weeks on each Thursday. Starts 20th September 2018.

Also, 10th January, 2019 and 25th April, 2019

Stage 2 – Six classes begin for 6 weeks on each Thursday. Starts 8th November 2018.

Also, 28 February, 2019 and 6 June, 2019.

Saturday Taster Days – 6th October, 2018 and 2nd February, 2019

Also, an Intensive One Day Course.   The idea is for you to find the space and time to enable you to get on with fresh research through the aid of on-line records.  The days are tutor led and will be in tune with the individuals progress so far – even if you are just beginning!  Saturdays – 1st December 2018, and 23rd March, 2019.

For more details and to book click the link  Book 

Family History Courses starting in September in Bristol

Bristol Adult Learning at Stoke Lodge, Shirehampton, Bristol will be issuing their new course brochure during mid July.  My family history courses are staggered for different abilities and depending on how much research you might have already undertaken.  But the first course will be ideal for complete beginners.

The courses have always received fabulous feed-back from learners and come highly recommended.

Courses can be found at Bristol Courses (click for link).


Thank you to my learners – great work

Just finished my latest family history course.  The learners were very enthusiastic and managed to trace their family heritage back to the 1841 census.  This was the goal for the Stage 1 course.

Some found that family stories helped to validate the records they discovered.  While some discovered that the records only disproved what they had been told!   This is often the case.  Over time family memories and stories are re-told and often vital facts are forgotten, names forgotten, or dates are simply made up.  It is only by sourcing the records accurately, which can be very time consuming, can we prove, or disprove our family history.

This takes great discipline, concentration and good record keeping.  The learners found the time and space in their weekly class, and afterwards felt they had a better understanding of the process. I hope they all felt they had made really good progress and will continue with their research.

Well done everyone!

Genealogy discoveries and mysteries still to be solved – The lost marriage

Lost, First Marriage

Over the summer I have been busy with solving a couple of genealogy mysteries on behalf of clients. The one, below, involves a lost first marriage.  Let me explain:

The first involved a lady who believed her mother may have been married before her mother and father met and married.  When this lady was a child an elderly aunt had once told her that her mother had been married before, and that she, this lady had a brother.  The revelation remained a secret and was never spoken of again.  Her mother died in her fifties and now this lady wanted to know if she did in fact have a half brother.

I was able to help her by searching her genealogy through the marriage records and birth records. Unfortunately her mother had a common name, and came from a city.  This meant cross referencing with over 40 possible matches with the mothers names.  I had to check for deaths of some of these 40 women and birth records around the correct time.  But in the end I found her mothers first marriage, which took place in a different city.  This is probably why her family did not know of her first marriage or birth of her first son, who was born just 3 months after the marriage.

The story turned out to be true and the lady is now hoping to contact her half brother.  However, I did not find a divorce record for her mother, so we believe her father did not know of the previous marriage or child.  I hope very much that this lady finds her half brother and gets to hear all about his life story.

(The client granted her permission for me to blog her story).

Sign up for one of my courses and you could discover your family history Courses

Second story to follow soon…..

Pauper death and burial in Eastville, Bristol

On 12 July a fascinating public walk and lecture about the history behind the unmarked pauper graves of Rosemary Green, situated on the outskirts of what was once Eastville Union Workhouse, Fishponds Road, Bristol.

After the 1834 Poor Law Act a paupers funeral was considered to be an extravagance that the parish should no longer pay for.  Before the 1834 Act, pauper funerals were paid for by the parish, with local persons attending to the traditional funeral rituals and necessities. In other words a person with no or little money who had died was treated with respect in death and buried as a human being as would be expected, albeit simple, within the cultural rituals of the time.

But after the Act was enforced the Poor Law Unions, in order to save money, and ‘demonstrate disgrace in death of those who had surrendered to poverty‘.  Death and burial practices were changed to become a disgraceful new attitude that resulted in approximately 4,000 men, women and children simply being wrapped in a shroud and dumped in unmarked graves in a small piece of land that sloped into a small river.   The pauper graveyard is located at Rosemary Green just opposite Greenbank Cemetery where there is also an older pauper grave yard.

Extensive research into Eastville workhouse has been undertaken by Bristol Radical History Group and published in 100 Fishponds Road.  (Book available from BRHG). Click here.

Many people have now contacted the BRHG as they suspect that their ancestors may have be buried at Rosemary Green. (Records of names still exist).  If you think that you may have an ancestor who might have died in a workhouse you can contact Heritage Found, free of change, to try to find out more.

At Rosemary Green there is now a touching monument to all those souls once buried beneath.

Made of slate it reads:

Rosemary Green Burial Ground


On this site over 4,000 men women and children

who died in Eastville Workhouse,

known as 100 Fishponds Road,

were buried in unmarked graves.

A further 118 were given to the medical school.

This memorial stands in recognition of all

who lived and died in the workhouse.

Not Forgotten

Please click here to discover more and see fascinating photographs of Eastville Workhouse.

How far do you want to go back exploring your family history?

How far back in time to find out your family history?

In theory it is possible to go as far back as the 15th century for the average British family history, but this is usually only if your ancestors tended to live in the same region, or few parishes, and that the records have survived.  It is amazing how many church records of baptisms, marriages and burials have survived.  However, if your ancestors before around 1841, tended to move around, or were immigrants into the British Isles before this time, tracing them may be more difficult, but not impossible!  This will be similar to those who reside in other countries.

Having said this every person has a different and unique family ancestry that will always be fascinating, uncover some surprises, and reveal hidden circumstances that lead you to understand why you may have come to live where you live or where your parents lived.

I believe it is best to research your family history in generational stages, perhaps going back 4 generations to begin with, and then choosing to take a particular line further back that you find of most interest.  By researching your family history in logical stages it is easier for you to absorb the wealth of information that will be uncovered for you and to understand your unique family story.

Please feel free to contact Heritage Found to discover the possibilities available to you to find your family history.