We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T S Elliot

Welcome to my family history web site and blog. I’ve done loads of research, only some of which is on here, so this is a work in progress as I’m adding more each week.

The tabs above take you to summaries of the research I’ve done on the different lines that converged, over three centuries, to result in my birth.

Check out my blog for some old photos and bits and bobs that have caught my interest.

The aim of this web site and blog is to share information and ideas. If it also puts me in touch with anyone I might be distantly related to, or share interests with, so much the better. So please feel free to browse and leave a comment.

About me

I’ve been researching my family history, on and off, since the 1990s and uncovered an enormous amount of fascinating information, as well as hit a number of brick walls. My interest has extended well beyond the mere gathering of names and dates, as I love finding out about how my ancestors may have lived, the places they called home, the occupations they followed and the living conditions of their time.

Home for me is Leeds (Yorkshire, England), although only one of my parents was born here and none of my grandparents were. As a child I took pride in saying I was three-quarters Scottish due to having three Scottish grandparents. My maternal grandmother, born near Barnsley, was the only English one.

I’ve recently retired, which means more time to take my interest in family history further. For the last ten years I worked as an academic, so like to think I have well honed research skills. Before that I worked in advertising, mostly in London and Australia. So like my ancestors I moved about a bit, but unlike some of them I’ve ended up back where I was born. Not surprising, then, that one of my favourite quotations (see above) is from a T S Elliot poem. I think it applies to all family historians.

55 responses to “Home

  1. Just to let you know, I’ve nominated you for an inspirational blog award, you can read my nomination post here: http://suzysu.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/very-inspiring-blogger-award/

  2. Oh Su, that’s lovely of you. I’ve not been doing this long and am trying to make it interesting to others, and not just myself and people who share the same ancestors. Thank you for appreciating my efforts!

  3. Hi, I have nominated you for a Liebster Award for your wonderful blog. You can see it here: http://amongmybranches.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/liebster-blog-award/

    Congratulations! William (amongmybranches)

  4. Hello Judy

    I wanted to let you know I’ve also nominated you for an inspirational blog award, you can read my nomination post here:

  5. Love you blog Just wanted to let you knowI’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award you can view your nomination here; http://genealogydiscovery.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/libster-award/

  6. Oh my! Three nominations for a blog award. Thank you all so much. I’ve now added a new blog post answering the nomination questions.

  7. I discovered your genealogy blog when I googled the name Joseph Gilmour Strachan. Wow! You have so much family information, and you present it so well. I believe that I may be related to your family, and I’m hoping that you can help me confirm if this is true. Would you please e-mail me at jeopardy@berkeley.edu so that I can give you the details of my convoluted story. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Best Regards, Carrie

  8. I have Frasers in the family. One is George Cruden Fraser. An offshoot line of Davidson of Balnagask.

    Any help?

    • Hi Michael and welcome to the blog. My Fraser line come from Cruden and Longside parishes, and before that the Arbroath area. Not come across anyone from Balnagask but will keep my eye out. I also have a couple of ancestors who married a Davidson. Fraser and Davidson seem to have be fairly common names in Aberdeenshire.

  9. Your blog is amazingly detailed and beautifully presented. My interested is that I am descended from Alexander Inglis and Janet Strachan (my great grandparents, who migrated to Australia in 1887. I have been researching all branches of my family only for the past five years (yes, retirement opens opportunities for doing this) but have managed to discover a great deal and to write it all up. I have traced my Scottish origins (from five migrant couples) and also their Australian descendants, so the accounts are now quite extensive. I would like to share any relevant accounts with you. In terms of ancestors, I too found Thomas Strachan and Susannah Alexander (and the possibility that Thomas’s parents were Thomas Strachan and Agnes Patrick). Your blog extends the possibilities but I agree that certainty stops with Thomas and Susannah.
    I have not yet read all the material on your blog and look forward to doing so.
    Graham Maxwell, Brisbane, Australia

    • Hello Graham and welcome to the blog. I believe we messaged each other a while ago via RootsChat so it’s lovely to talk to you again. Yes, family history is a wonderful interest to have once you’ve retired. I’d be very grateful for any relevant information to add to my tree. As you will know, the Strachans spawned very large families and so many migrated: I suspect I have more “cousins” in USA, Canada and Australia than I have in Scotland, and that I’m one of only a few in England! Yes, it does seem to stop with Thomas and Susannah as prior to them can only be speculation, though the more I’ve read up on it the more I’m inclined to think that prior to Ayrshire includes Ireland somehow. One day something might turn up to take us further back but I rather doubt it. So my Strachan research is focussed on forward and outwards now rather than backwards.

      All the best,

  10. Hi Judy, just found your blog. It is excellent!. You write so well. I have been doing family history for a number of years and would like to put it on a blog to share info and find extended family. However, I work full-time. I can’t wait till I am working part-time or ideally not at all! I have started to map out my blog. I love the layout of yours. I’ve annointed you my blog role model! Just might be a while before mine sees the light of day. I’m on a break from work at the moment, so pretending that I’m retired! Looking forward to reading more of your posts/articles. Cheers, Debra

    • Hi Debra and welcome to the blog. Glad you’ve enjoyed reading it. I was just like you – did a lot of research on and off for years, but while also working full-time it was difficult to do anything with it. I started the blog soon after I’d retired. But the good thing with a blog is you can take your time. Good luck with yours!

  11. Thanks so much for the very clear explanation of how the farm labour system worked. Ever since I visited the museum of agriculture at Pitmeddin in 2004, I’ve been trying to figure this out as my dad’s family were involved in farming, probably for at least the last couple of hundred years. You’ve saved me hours of research. Thanks again.

    • Hi Mary. So glad the article helped. I was intrigued after I started researching my family tree, so did lots of reading about life as a farm servant in that part of Scotland. Ian Carter’s book “Farm life in north-east Scotland” is a good academic read, and David Kerr Cameron’s “The ballad and the plough” is good on the social background to farm servant life.


  12. Hi Judy. I’ve just discovered your blog and am loving exploring all your entries and links. I have my own very modest blog which I share with my family but seeing yours has made me aspire to stretch myself & make it more interesting for other readers also. Thanks for such an interesting and inspirational blog.

    • Hi Val and welcome to the blog. So glad you’re enjoying it. I hope you have great success with your own blog and family tree, but be warned that it’s addictive! One of the lovely things about a blog is it brings you in contact of lots of interesting people, including relatives you never knew you had.

  13. Just a wee point of interest for you. Eric Liddell’s mother was Reddin (not Redding) from Paxton in Berwickshire. Her parents were the local blacksmiths! Thought you might like to know this, in case you are trying to trace her and can’t because of the wrong name!

    • Thanks for that Alison. I have the name as Reddin on the marriage certificate, which I found online, but the name seems to be written as Redding on Eric’s father’s death certificate. I haven’t yet got round to researching most of the people who married distant ancestors, though, as there are enough “blood” ancestors still to find out about!

  14. Hi Judy, Helen McCrae Strachan married into my extended Aitken family; I’d love to compare notes with you when you have time. Thanks, Amy

    • Hi Amy Are you related to John Aitken? I know very little about him as he was my uncle through marriage. Would love to find out more. Thanks for leaving a message.

      • Yep, he was my first cousin 3 times removed. I have some info about his family but very little about him personally. I’d love to contact living descendants of course. 🙂

      • H|i Amy – I’ve sent you an email with a few more details about John Aitken.

  15. Patricia Strachan

    Hi Judy,

    Great blog, with so much interesting information. Thanks.
    I also am descended from Thomas and Susannah through their son Robert, your g.g.g. grandfather John’s brother.

    Robert’s grandson Hugh, (son of John) also a coal miner moved around a lot and finally settled in Fife where our line continued. Be glad to share any info you’d like on this line.

    I guess we are cousins??

  16. Maureen Walmsley nee SOUTER

    Judy, browsing Cruden Parish Church site and came across a photographer called Fred Coutts from Hatton, and his series “Cruden Country”. His father was born is Moss Croft, Hatton and there is a lovely photo of the croft. On your sites your people were at Moss Side Croft – are they one and the same, and I think there was a COUTTS in your tree!!!!
    not progressing very well with my Family history but will get there one day.
    cheers, Maureen

    • Hi Maureen. I checked out that site – what wonderful photos. But no, his Moss Croft and my Fraser ancestors Mosside are not the same place, though they’re not very far away. I think there must have been an awful lot of crofts with the word Moss in their names!

  17. Hello Judy,
    I Just stopped by to read your blog because I put a Haddow Surname into google and it came up with your blog. My Haddows were from Lanarkshire, and Ayreshire . If anyone thinks they are related to me I would love to share my research with them. Nice set of research on your haddows.

    • Hi Ruth

      Sorry for taking so long to reply to your posting. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. If anyone stops by who might be linked to your Haddows, I’ll get in touch. How far back have you managed to go?


    • My Haddows are also from Douglas, Lanarkshire. A lot of Andrews and Thomases. The other surnames are Greenshields, Sloane, Inglis, et al. I would love to be in touch. My email address (if you still are interested as I understand this post is pretty old now!) is clairerobert403 (at) gmail.com. I am on Ancestry at claireowens75

  18. Judy,

    I found your blog when I was researching the name Alexander Rait. As you have posted he married Christian Morgan (Murgan). Alexander Rait is my ggg grandfather. If you want to know more please let me know. Thanks for the additional information about Christian.

  19. Judy: I have briefly entered a few contributions previously: bastardy, for example. I live in Iowa within a few miles of where there are many descendants of Nathaniel McWilliam son of your Janet Sangster. Nathaniel was a cousin of my great grandmother. My research over 40 years is almost encyclopaedic (4 times in Buchan from April 1946 to Oct, 2003. You can find a photo of Creeshie Raw (row) on page 256 of LONGSIDE; A PARISH AND ITS PEOPLE…ED. gORDON HAY. “Nether Kinmundy” is covered by pp. 254-259. A LOCAL CHURCH MILLENIAL BOOK 2000 COPIES.

    I have known of Janet Sangster since about 2002. Wade Buchan of Melbourne, Australia is also her descendant ant. A that time Wade was known as a dashing-debonair member of ‘THE DEAD PEOPLES SOCIETY OF MELBOURNE’. He is a first ,generation Aussie and at one time ran a web site: PETERHEAD GENEALOGY.

    Reflexion indicates that besides having a Burn’s Archivist relative connection, in Ayr, and also a co-worker researcher relative in Lanark, that my grandfather’s female second cousin (HER FATHER A VET AT CORBRIDGE, NORTHTHUMBERLAND) from where she later moved to the Ripon area, ….. her son’s wedding was to the daughter of Sir…..OBE…(a handsome man, judging by his official photo.)

    This female 2nd cousin was also married to a famous Yorkshire person, her son was a regular army Major and a noted actor (12 Page report) at Dunkirk and later getting the Military Cross from a Tank action in Holland. The issue from such marriage at Barkham-Ash (Selby, Yorkshire) was a son and daughter.

    I feel I cannot go further with information on this community blog……since my first visit to England in 1946 I became aware of what can be called ugly Americans, with no sensitivity to British values……… the son got to Britain’s highest social levels and is somewhat still there today so there may be no secure e-mail options but if there is any and real interest, I would give you the whole store on such …. the groom has McWilliam family history.

    • Hello again James and thank you for your comment. I’ll have to look up that book on Longside and get hold of a copy as it sounds really interesting. The Yorkshire connection is fascinating, as you’re talking about close to where I live. I think you might mean the village of Barkston Ash, which I know quite well as it’s close to where I go horse riding so I’ve ridden through it – and eaten at the pub there.

      Re email: I am given access to someone’s email address when they post a comment but it doesn’t appear on the blog. I can understand people not wanting information about there closer family appearing on a public site. So I’ll send you an email so you can let me have more information in private.


  20. I am a Judy…I feel more a IRISH though…want to talk. I would like to know where we are from…..

  21. Hi Judy, I came across your blog last night and found it very interesting – what a lot a work you’ve put into this very worthwhile family history. I’m from Ayrshire and, I have an old photo of the Agnes Strachan who married George McFarlane and died, aged 30, in February 1900. Agnes and George are my great grandmother and great grandfather (on my father’s side – he too was George McFarlane, named after his grandfather.) Agnes had four sons by George McFarlane – Alexander (1890), James (1892), Andrew (1894) and George(1897). My grandfather was Alexander.The photo I have is of Agnes, her husband George and three of her young children. I can send this to you and other information which I have if you send me an email address. Best wishes, Nancy

  22. Hi there have you come across a Alexander Fraser he lived in Pictou Co. Nova Scotia area back in the 1800’s? They say he was also called The Fiddling Fraser !

  23. Right here is the right blog for everyone who wants to understand this topic.
    You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I
    actually will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a
    brand new spin on a subject that has been written about for years.
    Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

  24. Canuck Family Curator

    Hi Judy, I have a photo for you of James McMurtrie in US navy uniform from about 1920 (son of Thomas McMurtrie and Cecilia Wylie King) The back of the photo is addressed to Cecilia in Wyoming. It was left to me in a box of treasures from my great gran. If you email me, I will send you a copy to post.

  25. Hello Judy

    I am a decendant of the Strachan’s of Forres, Morey – Our family spans many generations many of whom moved to Hamilton, Lanarkshire by the late 1700’s – I wonder if we are at all connected.


  26. Hello Judy. Thank you for this blog which I found today. I was looking for a definition of “grieve” as I found it on an ancestor’s death record. I have generations of ancestors from Dunfermline, Fifshire, most of whom were agricultural workers of some sort. As more research unfolds for me, I will continue to look to your really helpful blog! Jo Anne

  27. Hello Judy. I’m also a William Alexander (Twin of Robert) ‘Boarded out as orphans in 1944 to LOUIE and MAGGIE STRACHAN IN Melanbrae Croft adjacent to BIG MELANBRAE FARM overlooked by BENACHIE. An interesting history you have written. would you be anyway related to them at all? I have many memories of life there. A very hard life I might add.

  28. From my research, My great, great, grandfather Joseph and grandmother Jeannie Strachan (née Haddow)had five children: Robert, John, Henry, Jeannie, and Colin.

    John Strachan and his wife Lucy Alice (née Robertson) were my great grandparents. Their son, Robert Robertson Strachan, and his wife Margaret (née Armitage) were my grandma and grandpa. Their two sons, John and William, my dad and uncle, respectively, were born in Scotland, but raised in the US from ages 12 and five, due to continued economic hardships in Europe, after the war.

    My dad had an uncle John, son of John, son of Joseph, who had a daughter, Grace. My dad had been wanting to locate her for years, with no success.

    • Hi Doug. Joseph and Jeannie were my great grandparents. They actually had 9 children. There’s a page on my site with details of them all. (1) Amelia was the eldest, (2) Margaret died age 2, (3) Robert, (4) Flora, (5) Jeannie died in infancy, (6) Margaret died age 1, (7) John, (8) Henry and (9) Colin. I have John married to Lucy with 9 children but haven’t research the children, so good to know about Robert’s move to the USA. There was a great deal of migration from Scotland to USA and Canada throughout the early 20th century and your grandparents may have joined family when they went to the States. Haven’t researched John so don’t know what became of him. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog.

  29. brenda jane haggerty

    hi im a haggerty from lesmahagow researching haggertys did i see a mary haggerty baptised in lesmahagow thanks brenda

  30. Katharine Wootton

    Hi Judy – I’m trying to track down a Judy Strachan who might have written short stories for the women’s magazine, Yours, back in 2004. This wouldn’t happen to be you would it? Thanks a lot. Katharine

  31. Hi Judy.
    I am soon to be the proud owner of #6 Perceton Row….did any of your ancestors live there?

    • How amazing – lucky you. The census didn’t give numbers – just said Perceton Row or Cottages, so I don’t know which one. But in 1841, there was my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and family, his son Andrew Strachan and family, his son John Strachan and family, and his nephew Samuel Strachan and family. They were all coal miners.

      • Paul Russell

        I thought that might be the case, but am loving getting some history together for what will soon be a holiday home…!!

  32. Hi Judy,
    Are you still at this email address?
    Thanks for sharing your research!
    I’m a descendent of Francis Adam & Margaret Haddow’s daughter Elizabeth. She married a man born in Ireland, John Godfrey. Two of their daughters were born in Stevenston (Mary and Ellen/Helen) and the third (Eliza) in South Boston in the US.
    All of the boys born to John Godfrey & Elizabeth died as infants (usually within a week or two, but one lived about a month). It was some rare genetic disease of the digestive system.
    Mary worked in the printing business, sometimes as a compositer, and so did the man she married, George P. O’Brien, since they lived in neighboring cities , I think they may have met at work. They lived in Cambridge Massachusetts.
    One of Mary & George P O’Brien’s sons died at or near birth, but the other was fine. Mary & George’s youngest daughter Alice’s son, Richard S Merriam, was born with the same mutation, but was the first in the area to be treated and survived.
    Have you seen anything like this in other descendents?

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