Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Post

Well, this is the day that we are all Irish, right? Except that I'm not Irish, or so I thought. I'm German, and Swiss and Scottish with some English and maybe even Welsh thrown in, but not Irish, nope not even a trace. I even used to tell people that in response to the question of why I wasn't wearing green on St. Patrick's day. In reality it was usually just that I had forgotten, but I always said it was because I was NOT Irish.


Now while I'm not Irish, I am definitely Scottish. Two of my great-grandparents were born in Scotland so one quarter of the blood in my veins in purely Scottish. The good news for me as I started to explore this part of my heritage is that Scotland has so many records digitized and available at ScotlandsPeople (which is a fee site and well worth the money in my opinion.) So, there I was sitting at home in my pj's tracing my ancestors in Scotland in the 1800's more easily than I can trace most of my ancestors here in the US for that same time period. I would find a death record and work back to a marriage or birth record and I was just sailing right along. I also looked as come census records for good measure. This was EASY!


And then I came to Thomas SWINTON. He was an early Tombstone Tuesday post and all of a sudden, I couldn't find where someone had been born (or baptised.) I had a marriage record for Thomas and Elspeth SOUTAR 27 Dec 1828. I also had a death certificate for Thomas 19 March 1892. There was surprisingly little information on this document. I say surprising because on his wife's death certificate ten years earlier, their son Thomas, who was the informant in both case, had been able to list not only his mother's parents' names, but also his grandfather's occupation and his grandmother's maiden name. Everything completely filled out. In the case of his father the only information he could give was his grandfather's name, Robert. Nothing on his grandmother at all and no occupation listed for his grandfather.


Still, I thought this would be relatively easy to pursue. I started looking at census information for Thomas to find the parish where he was born. I felt that given a location, approximate age and father's name I could find what I was looking for. OK, great plan - 1851 lists Thomas as being born in Ceres, Fife with an age of 41 that would put his birth at roughly 1810. Quick search - nothing. Expand search for a birth year of 1800 - 1820 - nothing.


OK, moving on to the 1861 census which lists Ceres again but has his age as 57 which would put his birth year at approximately 1804. I've already looked at that. Move on to the 1871 census which now lists his place of birth as St. Andrews and his age at 60 - he sure hadn't aged much in 10 year! Another quick search expanding birth range back to 1795 and taking in ALL of Fife - nothing. Moving on to 1881 census which again lists St. Andrews and age of 72 so nothing new to search. In desperation I decided to look from January, 1795 to December of 1820 for ALL of Scotland - NOTHING.


Wearily I pulled up the 1891 census. At this point his wife was gone and his children all married. He was living alone, still on South St in St. Andrews, 83 years old, listed as a retired shoemaker. Everything is looking about the same and then I focus in on the "Were Born" field. Listed there - IRELAND. Wow - could this be why I could not find a birth record for him, the reason that he had several different birth locations listed when all the other members of the family stayed the same throughout all their census listings? Would this be why his son didn't seem to know anything about his father's parents? Since Thomas is now living alone this would possibly be the only time that he had answered the census questions himself.


I have to admit that I haven't looked for Thomas any further. I meant to post about him as my brickwall ancestor but felt that he couldn't really be a brickwall if I hadn't even looked. I guess I am a little intimidated trying to figure out where to even start. I never read anything about researching in Ireland because after all, I'm NOT Irish. It's just that now, possibly, just possibly, 1/32nd of my blood is Irish ~ and I wore green today!

1 comment:

  1. I love it when you make an Eureka discovery. I am 1/2 Irish and still can not find the elusive Irishman in Ireland. But, I have only been searching for 2.5 years.

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