Saturday, 14 November 2009

Clan Donald Society planned for Highlands and Islands

From the Stornoway Gazette, 10 November 2009
Clan Donald Society planned for Highlands and Islands

CLAN Donald, which in the days of its Lordship of the Isles held sway over huge tracts of the Highlands and Islands - from the Butt of Lewis to the Glens of Antrim - is seeking to establish with others a Clan Donald Society of the Highlands and Islands.

The Society would hold meetings and ceilidhs and aim to bring about a focus for people in the Highlands and Islands who belong to Scotland's largest clan, which is in itself an amalgam of clans including those of Sleat, Clanranald, Glengarry, Keppoch, Glencoe and Antrim.

Events featuring guest speakers on Clan Donald topics or field trips to places of interest (such as Culloden Battlefield or the Museum of the Isles at the Clan Donald Lands Trust based on Skye) are just some of the ideas that the steering group is considering.

"But what we would like to know is the level of interest throughout the Highlands and Islands in such a society and what people would be looking for," said Alan Macdonald.

If you are of Clan Donald descent, are interested in this idea and would like to participate, please e-mail Graham MacDonell, the group's media relations officer, at: graham_macdonell (at) or post to: Suite 324 – 24 Station Square, Inverness IV1 1LD.

Here is the original link:

Alasdair Macdonald
Professional Genealogy Research Service

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Probe into Friends Reunited sale

ITV's £25m sale of social networking website Friends Reunited has been referred to the Competition Commission.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it had asked the Commission to study the deal due to fears over its impact on the family tree research sector.

For more information see

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Scottish Place-Name Society - Autumn Conference - Saturday 7th November 2009

Discovering the origins of Scotland's place names has been one of my interests for many years and has been a great way to explore the extensive settlement history of the nation. 

The Scottish Place-Name Society are holding their autumn conference on Saturday 7th November 2009 at Glasgow University, Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre.

Here is the programme:

9.45: Registration

10.00: Welcome and introduction

10.15: Pete Drummond: Gaelic Place-names between Campsies and Clyde

11.00: Coffee

11.30: Richard Cox: Sanda

12.05: Jake King: Lost Aber-names

12.40: Guto Rhys: Towards a Phonology of Pictish

1.15: Lunch, and digitised book launch

2.15: Eileen Brooke-Freeman: Memories, meids, maps – the Shetland Place-Name Project

3.00: Paradox of Medieval Scotland research project

3:30: Short reports

4.15: Tea and departure

Find out more information here Scottish Place-Name Conference

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Burns & the Sugar Plantocrats of Ayrshire by Eric J. Graham

Eric J. Graham is an author, historian and one of Scotland‘s leading authorities on maritime history.  His latest work, Burns & the Sugar Plantocrats of Ayrshire, has just been produced by the Ayrshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.

Eric has written on a vast range of subjects such as slavery and emancipation, pirates and the Scots, the American Civil War, the Act of Union to name but a few. To see a list follow this link Eric Graham publications

Here is the forward by Professor Tom Devine to Burns & the Sugar Plantocrats of Ayrshire.

It is well-known that but for the early success of the 'Kilmarnock edition' of his poetry Robert Burns, like so many young Scotsmen of his generation, would have taken ship in 1786 for employment in the sugar plantations of Jamaica. In this illuminating study, based entirely on research on contemporary documents, Eric Graham has pieced together the strange world which the Bard might have entered if good luck had not smiled on him.

Only now is the story of Scottish involvement in the Caribbean economy starting to be told in full detail. It is one of the darker episodes of the nation's history. Though the Scots were not much concerned in the direct transatlantic slave trading in which Bristol and Liverpool specialised, they were deeply involved in the plantation economies which could not have existed and flourished without a pitiless system of chattel black slavery. In Jamaica, for instance, Scots were preeminent as plantation owners, overseers, bookkeepers, soldiers and physicians. It was a society governed by greed, the lust for profit and the unrelenting exploitation of many thousands of hapless slave labourers. As one observer remarked: the state of society in this place is as low and degraded as it is possible to conceive - a perfect Sodom!

Dr Graham examines the involvement of some of Ayrshire's social elite in the Caribbean. He shows how it was commonplace for younger sons to seek their fortunes on the islands of the British Caribbean. If they survived the lethal tropical diseases, which gained for the West Indies the unenviable title of ‘the white man's grave’, the aim was to make money quickly and return home to Scotland with the profits - living out the rest of their lives as members of the landed gentry. So it was that riches obtained from the slave plantations that fuelled estate purchases and financed agricultural improvement in eighteenth century Scotland.

The picture that Eric Graham draws could be replicated in many other parts of the country. But, by providing a detailed case study of Ayrshire's links to the eighteenth century transatlantic empire, he succeeds in adding important pieces of invaluable evidence to an aspect of our history that many generations of Scots preferred to forget.

Professor TM Devine OBE DLitt FRSE Hon MRIA FB
Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography,
Director of the Scottish Centre of Diaspora Studies

* Reproduced by permission. Copyright Eric Graham 2009

Available from Ayrshire Archaeological & Natural History Society, September 2009, Paperback, illustrated (including genealogy charts), 121 pages, £6

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Family Tree DNA database

Picking a DNA Testing Company? What Size is Their Database?

Why the Database Size is Essential

Whether your goal is to verify your genealogy or to discover your deep ancestral origins, the size of the testing company's database is of fundamental importance. To get the best and most accurate answer, you want to compare your results with as many others as possible, which means choosing the company with the largest and most robust database. Family Tree DNA is in the lead—Our databases are several times larger than all the others' combined!

About The Family Tree DNA Database

Our database is the largest in the field of Genetic Genealogy. As of September 27, 2009, the Family Tree DNA database has 264,063 records. We also have:

91,394 unique surnames
166,416 Y-DNA records in the database
96,250 25-marker records in the database
77,176 37-marker records in the database
29,991 67-marker records in the database
97,647 mtDNA records in the database
6,106 FGS records in the database