Thursday, November 14, 2013

'The very Touch of a Letter....'

Monday, December 21, 2009

'The very touch of the letter was as if you had all taken me into your arms.' Anais Nin 1903-77: letter to Henry Miller, 6th August, 1932

What love and comfort, a letter from James MCDADE's mother Elizabeth, pictured left, must have brought him as he bravely endured the horrors of war. I can only imagine the joy and relief a letter from their son would have brought to my great grandparents, John and Elizabeth as they waited for news of him, in their home in Cumbernauld, Scotland. letters are a wealth of information. Throughout the years they have delivered good tidings, sad news, the happy announcement of a birth and news of the death of a parent. They tell of the trials and triumphs of long voyages far from home, send news of safe arrivals, describe the horrors of war and extraordinary tales of comradeship. Letters pass on recipes, exchange knitting patterns, offer heart felt apologies, carry forth declarations of love, reveal secrets; treasured emotions all tucked inside an envelope and sent around the world to loved ones awaiting contact.

Letters, for the family historian are a wonderful portal to the past. They provide the human stories behind names and dates on the family tree. Words, written by hand, and from the heart, are an irreplaceable wealth of information. They tell us where our ancestors lived, who their friends were and how they lived their lives. Letters reveal much about the personality of an ancestor, his or her degree of literacy and sometimes just tell some jolly rollicking yarns. A death certificate is able to provide us with a date and cause of death, but a letter written to a relative provides a window through which we are privileged to view the emotions and reality of deaths, births, marriages, illness and the daily life of our predecessors. The humble letter is a window to the past.

My family members don't appear to have been prolific letter writers. Unlike myself, perhaps they were just not prolific hoarders. Of course, there is the very strong possibility, that in my family, letters were not preserved in order to hide some 'tiny' untruths! If my family had kept letters, I might have discovered earlier, that a very grand old family Welsh Castle does exist, but definitely not in my family! A letter might have saved me from years of searching for the grandfather in the Royal Welsh Fencibles.. who wasn't! These stories were myths, created to carefully guard well kept family secrets. ( I understand the desire for secrecy, and I do admit that the Royal Welsh Fencibles does sound a touch nicer than jail!) I might have discovered that letters were sent to Australia from Northumberland and Nottinghamshire and not from Wales where contrary to family tales, we have no ancestors at all. Not one! Disappointingly, no Fencibles, no Castle, no Welsh ancestors!

I know that letters arrived from America in the 1980's, and that, had they not been destroyed, they would have informed me that my grandfather's youngest brother, Alexander, was not a brother at all, but actually a nephew. He was the son of my grandfather's younger sister Mary by the husband of his older sister Maggie, (phew!). I would have known the reason that the entire family left Scotland and came to live in Australia (family 'scandals' are a popular reason for emigration!) and why poor Maggie and her straying husband emigrated to America to have no contact with their family for over 40 years. A letter might have told me that my grandfather on my mother's side was not a politician but instead, a bit of a rogue - quite possibly why there are no surviving letters ! How much easier my job would have been if letters had been stored away for me to read.

Documents such as divorce papers and shipping records and even photographs provide some useful information, but the letter remains the family historian's best friend. Letters are rich in detail, they are a part of the real fabric of life in the past and sometimes they are more importantly, proof of identity,and a key to unlocking the past, as in the case of my husband David's great, great grandfather.

David's side of the family, fortunately were both prolific writers and horders. Such a treasure trove for me! There are letters from Bedfordshire, England to the BEARD family, some from South Africa from Polly Brown (nee Beard) to her family in the Gippsland area of Victoria, letters from Kent, England to the DUNSTER family who settled in the Kiama area in NSW, letters from New Zealand to the WHITE family that tell of farming life on the Canterbury Plains and the most important a letter of all which proves a family story of Royal connections.

Mathew MACDONALD, great, great grandfather of David White, was born in about 1812 in Sleat, Isle of Skye, Scotland. There has been no birth record found for him, although this has been well checked. Family lore says that he was born on his grandfather Alexander MacDonald's farm, Gillin Farm on the Isle of Skye. His death certificate states that his father was Charles MacDonald of Ord, David's father, Brian was proud to tell everyone that he was descended from the great Lord John of the Isles through Charles of Ord. There is no marriage record for Mathew to Mary McPherson who travelled with him on the ship 'William Nichol' to Sydney, Australia, in 1837. It is only from a letter to Mathew, when he was almost 90 years old from a half brother in Scotland, that we can verify this ancestry. The author of the letter, Keith Norman MacDonald was a well known musician and writer of Scottish Reels and Spreys, as well as being a medical doctor. He was also the son of Charles MacDonald of Ord House, Ord, on the Isle of Skye, by his wife Anne McLeod who he married in 1828 and therefore a half brother to Mathew. In his letter, Keith referred to Mathew as his brother and informed him that 'their' father, Charles was buried in the churchyard of Kilmore, as were both his mother, Anne and Mathew's mother. So here was proof that Keith and Mathew were half brothers and that Mathew was the son of Charles MacDonald of Ord, whose ancestry is well documented, not only back to John, Lord of the Isles but to the Royal Stewart Kings and the McKenneth Kings. Unfortunately the letter did not tell us who Mathew's mother was. The letter also revealed that Mathew's wife, Mary McPherson, was a nanny to Keith and the other MacDonald children and that Keith still remembered her fondly. It is obvious that Keith's letter was in reply to a letter from Mathew and that this had been Mathew's first contact with his family since leaving Scotland some 60 years earlier. We might deduce from this that Mathew had a falling out with his father, possibly over his relationship with Mary McPherson. Keith Norman's letter describes beautifully, the scenery in Skye that Mathew might have wistfully recalled and offers colourful character sketches of local identities. This letter is a valuable document, without which, David's MacDonald ancestry could not have been traced back to Scottish Royalty. The photograph above, pictures Mathew and Mary (McPherson) MacDonald with their children, at their farm at Crookwell which is still in the MacDonald family today. It is sad to think that Mathew and Mary had no contact with their families for so many years and one wonders whether old age prompted Mathew to write to his half brother. It is a blessing that he did, for without that letter the Royal MacDonald connection would have been lost with the passing of time.

Some years ago, in a clean out, I threw away a bundle of letters from my mother and from friends. Now, I regret that I do not have those precious letters, the contents of which are lost forever. As for the MacDade 'scandal' previously mentioned (hardly a scandal worth mentioning these days!) the letters from Maggie in America were also thrown away and with them any hope of finding her three daughters.

Letters, for most people are now a thing of the past. I do receive several typed 'news letters' from friends who live overseas or in other parts of the country. Although these are, strictly speaking, letters, they are missing that special touch of a hand written personal letter. They are 'speaking' to many and not just to me. I am fortunate enough not to have to wait long weeks or even months for news of a loved one at war or to learn of the death of a family member. I can contact instantly on Skype, relatives in London and New York and not only speak to them but see them as well. My sister and I correspond by telephone or by email daily. Our emails are a record of our daily lives. They concern our families, the antics of our pets, the swapping of recipes, gossip and news of family and friends. Often our emails are quite silly and sometimes very humorous and they give us great pleasure. Then we press the delete button on our computers and any record of our conversation is lost. No one is going to find old deleted emails nicely tied with ribbon in a drawer one day in the future.

Now, I have to admit, that I am not likely to take up letter writing as I am quite comfortable living in an age of instant communication. I have, however, come to appreciate the value of communications of the past to the preservation of history, whether it be world, local or family history.

In keeping with technology, through my blog entries, I hope that my stories will be written from the heart, for the future. I am trusting that somewhere out there in cyberspace, my good tidings and recipes and family stories and even some secrets will be discovered by someone who will appreciate them and perhaps even discover a family tree through them. These blogs are a record of lives past and present. They are my 'letters'.

'Letters of thanks, letters from banks, Letters of joy from girl and boy, Receipted bills and invitations To inspect new stock or to visit relations, And applications for situations, And timid lovers' declarations, And gossip, gossip from all the nations. W. H. Auden 1907-73: 'Night Mail' 1936

'A Self Made Man May Prefer a Self Made Name'

Friday, November 6, 2009

'A self made Man may prefer a self made name.' Learned Hand (1872-1961)

'What's in a name.' wrote William Shakespeare in 1595 in his play Romeo and Juliet. Clearly he had encountered as much difficulty in tracing his elusive ancestors as I have during the past 11 years. 'A Rose by any other name' may smell as sweet but let me assure you will not be as easy to find!

In 1998 I embarked on my first search for my roots. After sending away for the marriage certificate of my great grandmother Barbara Lena Heberling to John Nargar in Maryborough, I thought that my search would be simple. Both surnames were unusual and so, I assumed, would be easy to trace. Nothing could have prepared me for the surprises that lay in wait for me, or for the amount of 'detecting' that was to be required of me.

I knew that the Heberling family had come from Switzerland and I knew roughly the year in which the family could have arrived, from a five generation photograph taken in 1955, in which my great grandmother was turning 88. I estimated her birth to be in approximately 1867 as the newspaper clipping said she was 8 years old when she arrived, ( I was new to family history and as yet unaware of the importance of checking the facts) so I guessed the arrival to be in the year 1875.

After months of fruitless searches on the internet, I decided to start again and rethink a new strategy. I began to suspect that the name Heberling may have been for some reason, changed on arrival in Australia. I had heard from a friend that his grandparents had shortened a long Hungarian surname to anglicise it. Then there was the tale of a non english speaking immigrant, who, when told by the the clerk on arrival in Australia, to 'make his mark', misunderstood and literally adopted the surname Mark! Suddenly, I remembered from the German language I had learned at school, that the letter 'a' with two dots above it (an umlaut) was pronounced as 'e' would be in English. Thus Haberling with a umlaut above the 'a' would be pronounced Heberling.

Another search of the passenger lists from Hamburg through me with the Haberling family who arrived in Maryborough Queensland in 1871 aboard the ship 'The Reichstag'. I found my great grandmother Barbara Lena aged 4 years (not 8) with her sisters Rosetta, Amalie, Bertha and Herminnie. Her father Jacob was a boot maker and he, his wife Anna Barbara and daughters had come from Zurich. These records had been provided by the Maryborough District Family History Society (MDFHS).

My search for the Haberlings spread its wings with the help of the Archives in Zurich (I had to seriously brush up on my German as the Archive replies were in written in that language) and also through the MDFHS. I now have a Haberling family tree that goes back to 1520 and sideways to Germany and the USA.

' Now,' I thought, ' this is easy'. And I set off in search of the Nargar family. Alas, there seemed to be no Nargars anywhere in the world! The birth certificate of my great grandfather showed that his father Gottlieb Nargar was born in Prussia and his mother Christiana Siegler, in Weuttemberg, Germany. The German lessons now being pursuing with a passion were to prove very useful.

I had never known that I had a German background. Perhaps around a decade after the end of WW 2, it was still a sensitive subject to this side of my family and so never spoken of. My mother had 'persuaded' my sister and I to study the German language at school despite our protests that French was much prettier!. "You won't regret this,' our unrelenting mother replied."German is the language of the future!". If my mother had known then how useful this language would prove to me in the future I am certain she would have been thrilled but I do believe it was the only thing that she could think of to say, at the time, without admitting to having a German heritage. My mother's prediction proved not quite true. But for me, my knowledge of German became literally the language that, in 'the future', enabled me to travel back into the past.

I worked on the principle that if the letter 'e' had been the key to finding my Haberling family then I would start with the same letter and work from there. I found a similar German name of Nerger and I reasoned that my great great grandfather, probably named Gottlieb Nerger, a German immigrant arriving on the 'Caeser Goddfrey" in 1853,would gave pronounced the letter 'e' as 'ay'. The clerk would have thought 'ay' was the letter 'a' thus Nerger became Nargar. The name Nerger has appeared as Nurjur on one child's birth certificate and as Narjar on another because of the language barrier between the german speaking immigrant and the clerks who recorded the passenger's name, births and mariages. I was correct in assuming the name was Nerger however the change had nothing to do with mispelling by a clerk. I was to discover much later that it had been changed for yet unknown reasons by my great grandfather, John. My great grandmother's surname Siegler was recorded on a number of documents differently as well, as Segler and Seglen and even her christian name was recorded as Christina, Christine, Anna and Christiana. I discovered that she was born Christiana Siegler, arrived in Brisbane on the 'La Rochelle' in 1863 as Seglier but that her parents were married under the name of Segler. I began to realise the significance of names and name changes when searching into the past.

Little did I realise that even my own maiden surname of MacDade had been altered, but for quite an different reason again. I was told as a child, NEVER to leave out the 'a' to distinguuish the protestant Scottish surname MacDade from the Irish catholic surname of McDade. (to my grandmother who hailed from Northern protestant Ireland I am certain that this was an important detail). I had often admonished my father for being lazy and using McDade. When I began to search for the MacDades in Scotland I found that there weren't any MacDades! In fact, it seemed there were no MacDades anywhere at all! They were all McDade. 'Perhaps my great grandparents were the last MacDades,' I proudly thought. When I found a catholic marriage of a John McDade and an Elizabeth Gibson, the names of my great grandparents, I put it away regarding it as the 'wrong' one. On a trip to Scotland, years later, armed with my research, my 'MacDade' aunt visited the General record Office in Edinburgh. She was so excited that she phoned me from Scotland to tell me that I had in fact found the right marriage all those years ago, and that we were, in fact, MCDADEs and in her words, ' We are catholics after all!'

My grandmother, born in Co Tyrone, Ireland, who had maried Colin Hamilton McDade (pictured above)from Glasgow, Scotland, had 'popped' the 'a ' into the surname to make it look less catholic. How I laughed. I myself had married a catholic man as had one of my two sisters. In fact more than half of my grandmother's grandchildren were attending catholic schools. From this discovery it was a short hop, step back to the late 1700's when my catholic Irish ancestor, James McDade moved to Scotland from Ireland. In Scotland in the 1800's, I added to my family tree, MacDairmids also spelled McDermid, McCleary that has appeared as Mc Clury and McClure, Moore with and without the 'e' and Andrew Smith formerly Antonios Ustila! "What's in a name?' Shakespeare asked. Where do I start!

Today the use of Mc and Mac can be a source of considerable confusion to the family historian. In the case of my husband David's MacDonalds from the Isle of Skye in Scotland, they have dispersed all over the world becoming McDonalds, McDonnels and MacDonalds just to name a few. The MacDonald ancestry is well documented however, going back to John, Lord of the Isles and the Scottish Kings and before them to the ancient Irish Kings.

On my Hoyes side of the family,( the 'Welsh side' of the family who we discovered were from Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire), ( always remain somewhat dubious of the 'we have a Welsh Castle in our background or the' your grandfather was in the Royal Welsh Fencibles' family boasts until you have verified them) there have been quite a number of interesting name changes, for a number of different reasons (some yet to be discovered!) ...Great uncle Rex Morley Hoyes, for example, left New Zealand and went to England where he added a hyphen (Morley-Hoyes) and then an extra Morley (Morley-Morley) not to mention a title that is quite a puzzle. At least Rex's grandmother, my great great grandmother Elizabeth Morley would be pleased to see her own maiden surname being carried on! My mother was born a Reece-Hoyes, the 'Reece' having been added to the Hoyes name to change it yet again. I spent many years trying to find my grandfather, who was Rex's half brother. That was quite a challenge as had changed his name from Reece- Hoyes to O'Dare. We are still trying to work that one out!

In search of my Weston family (no name changes there at least) I found the name Frame/ Frain/ Frane which finally turned out to be Frayne! Spelling mistakes made somehow in the context of my colonial Irish /Australian history perhaps? Or was it that he, as a convict, attempted to remake himself a number of times?

Sometimes a look at the history behind a surname will help to determine its 'correct' spelling. 'Correct' may not be the correct way to view the spelling of names given that many ancestors who were illiterate quite probably did not know how to spell their own name. In the case of immigrants who were unable to write, a clerk given the task, often had to guess the spelling. Once a name was mispelled on a passenger list, for example, some people just chose to keep the new name. A new name, a new country and a new start in life! My Frayne family (before their fall from grace as 'Dublin burglars' -and yes there were more than one - burglar that is!) descended from the surname Freyne or de Freyne, The Baron de Freyne from France, so I am told. It's a great story and it might be true but before I go passing the name Freyne on to any grandchildren I will need to verify that tale!

'What's in a name, 'Shakespeare asked? A good number of self made men , new beginnings, hidden pasts and well kept secrets, and some simple spelling mistakes, I suspect! That and some very interesting tales still waiting to be told. To be continued....... Sharn

Scottish Valuation Rolls - What can they tell us about Ancestors?

Scottish Valuation Rolls - What They Tell Us About Ancestors

Scottish Valuation Roll 1915 - John McDade

Every document on which we discover the name of an ancestor is a significant asset to family history research. Each individual piece of information gathered, helps to piece together a more complete picture of our ancestors' lives. 

If you are a family historian who is interested only in collecting names and dates for your family tree, then Valuation Rolls will probably be of little concern to you. If, like myself, you seek to put 'flesh on the bones' of each and every ancestor, then the unique information that these records offer, will I warn, cajole you into many late nights of researching. Scottish Valuation Rolls are available online on the Scotlands People website for the years, 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920. Valuation Rolls from 1856-7 and 1957-8 are fully digitalised and although not online, are available for searching in the reading room at the National Archives of Scotland (NAS). Valuation Rolls not yet digitalised, but which are indexed, can also be searched at the Archives. For the rolls not yet indexed, the search process is a time consuming one which involves looking through many volumes of records, and for this reason, the National Archives of Scotland does not undertake searches on behalf of applicants. The following websites offer excellent explanations of the Scottish Valuation Rolls:

National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh

A Short History of Scottish Tax and Valuation Rolls

Scottish Land Tax Rolls date from around 1645.  These inventories listed the owners of landed estates and recorded  the assessed  value of their land.  Compiled on an irregular basis, these rolls allowed for the established of tax collection on land ownership in Scotland from 1679 onward. Hearth Tax Rolls introduced in 1691, imposed a tax on anyone who owned a hearth, (this included kilns) . Owners of households and the amount of tax paid is listed on these rolls, although hospitals and the poor were exempted from Hearth Taxes. A fascinating list of taxes, arranged by county and burgh were introduced in Scotland from 1748 through to the end of the 18th century. These taxes provide a wealth of exceptional information about ancestors, the dwellings they lived in and their lifestyles. Such taxes and valuation rolls include, Window Tax Rolls(1748 which was a tax on the number of windows in a dwelling, Male Servant Tax Rolls 1777, Shop Tax Rolls (1785) , Horse Tax Rolls (1785), Female Servant Tax Rolls (1785), Carriage Tax Rolls (1785), Cart Tax Rolls (1785), Clock and Watch Tax Rolls (1797), Farm Horse Tax Rolls (1797) and Dog Tax Rolls (1797). Despite limited information on the actual records themselves, finding ancestors on tax rolls in itself can be quite informative. Discovering that an ancestor was wealthy enough to possess several watches or clocks or that a forebear could afford to pay 5 shillings per year in tax for each non working dog they owned, contributes substantial evidence of their social and economic circumstances. Many of these rolls have survived and are searchable online through the Scotlands Places website by means of a subscription.

In 1854, The Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act, introduced a means of systematic assessment of all property in Scotland. A Valuation Roll was produced each year and sent to Register House in Edinburgh. 

Horse and Carriage Tax Roll

Scottish Hearth Roll 1691-1695 for Denny showing my ancestor Robert Gilmour

What are Valuation Rolls? 

Prior to the Lands Valuation Act of 1854 in Scotland, land taxes contained only the names of land owners and little or no information concerning tenants or occupiers of properties. The Lands Valuation Act was significant in that it authorised assessors to gather information regarding every house, building and piece of land in every county and parliamentary burgh in Scotland. These rolls, compiled annually from 1854 to 1988, listed the name of the owner of the property, the property type, the occupier and the valued amount of rate paid. Other family members do not appear on valuation rolls, however there is a treasure of other information which can be found in these rolls for family historians researching Scottish ancestors.

What else can be found in Valuation Rolls?

If you have Scottish ancestors, the property valuation records can be an invaluable source of information which may not be found anywhere else. Unlike birth, death and marriage certificates, which often do not give a precise address, valuation rolls list not only a complete address, but also the type and description of the building a forebear inhabited, ( ie house, shop, church, factory), whether your ancestor owned or rented the property and the rateable value of the property based on the amount of rent paid per year. This information along with a comparison of rents paid and dwellings occupied by neighbours of ancestors, offers a considerable perspective of the social and economic situation of  the communities in which forebears lived and worked. Valuation Rolls also provide evidence of addresses for years between the census records.

Where census records state the occupation of an ancestor, the valuation rolls list not only occupations but most significantly, you may very well find the name of the company which employed your ancestor, or the name of a business owned by an ancestor, or the name of a farm on which they worked. If your Scottish ancestor happened to be a coal miner, like quite a few of mine were, knowing the name of the company and the mine in which they worked, is an extraordinary find. There are some extremely helpful websites which offer information about Scottish mines, work conditions, living conditions, details of accidents which occurred in particular mines as well as details concerning housing and living conditions for miners and mine employees. The Scottish Valuation Rolls provide a window into the past which offers a glimpse as to how ancestors really lived.  Two such websites well worth exploring if you have Scottish mining ancestors are: 

The Scottish Mining Website
WARNING: Once you enter the above site... you may not leave for some time! It is extremely interesting. 

My Great Grandparents and what  the Scottish Valuation Rolls added to my Research

My Great Grandmother Elizabeth Gibson McDade 1915 and son John, a coal miner in Scotland

On my paternal McDade branch of the family tree, I come from at least five generations of Scottish miners, including my grandfather, who was a miner before he came to Australia in 1923. 
My grandfather, Colin Hamilton McDade was born in Cumbernauld, in the district of Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, Scotland in 1901. I have written in previous blogs about the significance of place and the way in which understanding the places from which our ancestors come, becomes an integral part of our heritage and our identity. 

The 1901 Scottish Census shows my great grandparents, John and Elizabeth McDade living in Roadside Street in Cumbernauld with the first three of their children, John (1894), Margaret (1896) and Andrew (1899). When I was a child and unwise to my grandfather's sense of humour, I loved his entertaining tale of being born 'roadside' in Cumbernauld. I spent my childhood years envisaging his birth on the side of a road. [ Mind you, this was not entirely implausible in my family. I have a maternal great aunt whose birth certificate states that she was indeed born, 'by the side of the road'  in 1910, Bauple, near Maryborough, in Queensland. My great grandfather, fearing his pregnant wife would not make it to the nearest doctor, left her by the roadside, on little more than a dirt track, and rushed away in his horse and buggy to find help. On his return with the doctor, he discovered that my great grandmother had given birth by herself. But that is another story entirely!] 

Colin Hamilton McDade after arriving in Australia

The most relevant information for family historians with regard to ancestors, (after collecting names and dates), is where they lived, what they did for a living and how they lived. 
Prior to searching the Scottish Valuation Rolls of 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920, on the Scotlands people website, I had made use of census records as well as birth, marriage and death certificates to find information about my Scottish ancestors. Although one old window tax record had enlightened me as to how many windows a certain Campbell of Argyle ancestor possessed in his home, it was the Scottish Valuation Rolls which set me on a concrete journey of discovery about the types of homes and the living conditions in which my McDade great grandparents lived, as well as places in which they worked.  

The addresses and movements of ancestors can be traced by a number of means. Census data collected every 10 years provides reliable places of residence, however, census records do not account for moves within the decade between censuses. Marriage records, death records and birth records for children do not always afford dependable information, especially with regard to addresses, since births are often recorded in places other then the family home. 

John McDade, born in 1872, in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, was, as his father, grandfather and great grandfather before him had been, a coal miner.  He married Elizabeth Gibson in the Roman Catholic Church, Maryhill, Lanarkshire on the 4th of January, 1894. Between the year of their marriage 1894, and 1899, from birth records of children, I had several addresses for the family in Renfrewshire. From the 1901 census I knew the family then lived in Cumbernauld but the address was given vaguely as 'Roadside'. [To put your mind at ease, and before you despair that my great grandparents were entirely destitute, there is a street in Cumbernauld called Roadside Street.]

I had an address also for John and Elizabeth McDade from the 1911 Census Record which showed my great grandparents living at 7 Watson Street Uddingston, Bothwell, Lanarkshire. This corresponded with the address on the birth certificate of their 8th child, Robert born in 1911. The last known address for this family was listed on their immigration papers in 1922, as 3 Woodlands Terrace, Bothwell, Lanarkshire. 
Main Street Uddingston
So, although I had a number of addresses of places where my great grandparents had lived in 1894 when they married, in 1901 and  1911 from the census records and 1922 from immigration documents, I had little meaningful information about the way in which this family lived or the places in which they worked. 

A search of the Valuation Roll for 1895 found 35 men by the name of John McDade. Many could be eliminated as not being my great grandfather from their occupations. I knew that my great grandfather was a miner. My real complication for me in the 1895 valuation roll was the number of family members I had with the name John. I had a great and a great great grandfather both named John McDade as well as a number of uncles and cousins not only by the same name, but all miners.  On this particular roll it was impossible  for me to determine without doubt which one was my great grandfather, however,  I did find my two times great grandfather as the occupier of number 48 Double Rows, Thorniewoods, Uddingston, Bothwell. 

The rent which he paid per year for this house at the age of 53 years, was 4 pounds 6 shillings. The significant piece of information on this roll was the name of the mining company which employed my great great grandfather. John McDade worked for the Haughhead Mining Company Ltd. 

In the 1905 Valuation Roll I found 32 John McDades. Once again I eliminated those with the wrong occupation, however it was still difficult to determine which was my relative. The last known addresses I had for John were in Cumbernauld, Dunbartonshire in 1901 and 7 Watson Street, Uddingston, Bothwell, County Lanarkshire from the 1911 census.

Searching the 1915 Valuation Roll I discovered 41 men with the name John McDade, spread over a number of counties, and with a range of occupations. To my great delight I found my great grandfather living still at the same address as in the 1911 census,  7 Watson Street, Uddingston.  His occupation was given as a miner and he was recorded as paying 11 pounds 10 shillings per year to the owner of the house, one George Copeland, a joiner. The most significant piece of information on the valuation Roll for me, was the name of my great grandfather's employer. He was employed by The Haughhead Coal Company Ltd.  This was a crucial discovery since many records have survived which describe  details regarding the living, working and health conditions of miners in individual mines.

Uddingston today

In the 1920 Valuation Roll my McDade family were still dwelling at the same address in Watson Street but now the record showed that John McDade was employed by the Clydeside United Colliery Ltd, which operated under the management of Daniel Martin. The amount of rent paid for the house was now 6 Pounds Ten Shillings per year, which was less than in 1915, possibly due to economic difficulties after World War 1. Amongst my great grandfather's immigration documents I have since found a letter written by the above mentioned Daniel Martin, manager of the Clydside Colliery dated 18/12/1922.  He wrote of my great grandfather,

" It gives me great pleasure to testify that I have known Mr John McDade for the past five years during which time he has been employed underground at this Colliery. He is a steady sober and industrious workman and had been in every way an exemplary character signed Daniel Martin Colliery Manager"

From my searches of the Scottish Valuation Rolls I have established new lines of research which I have yet to pursue and  I have filled a number of gaps in information about places where my great grandfather and his family kived and worked. Although My grandfather, Colin Hamilton McDade was not named on the Valuation Roll, I havelearned something of his life also, since he worked in the same mines as his father and brothers until they left Scotland bound for Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on board the ship Largs Bay in 1923, when they left behind their life as coal miners forever. 

Stay tuned for my NEXT BLOG which will be entitled  Scottish Mining Ancestors - How they Lived.