This series of topics around the theme "Finding your Scottish Ancestors" was developed by Clan MacLennan as Zoom meetings for members around the world during the lockdown months of 2020. Zoom meetings were generally held each fortnight in three time zones: Waipu Room (Australasia), Kintail Room (Europe) and Cape Breton Room (Americas).


 1. Using ScotlandsPeople

 Extra - Author Talk – Extreme Migration VoyageHell Ship with Michael Veitch

  1. Finding your Scottish Ancestors with ScotlandsPeople - introduction and a few tricks The official government site for Scottish family records can be a huge help in finding your Scottish ancestors.  In the meeting we look at what is available and what is not, how to access ScotlandsPeople, spelling troubles, funny forenames, and some tricks to help you find what you’re looking for.  Also censuses and other records.

  2. Finding your Scottish Ancestors using the Clan Records - Introduction to the extensive Clan Genealogy resources: How to access, what is available and what’s not, TNG software for separate families, scope, years covered, eligible names, Place name conventions, map co-ordinates, evidence for relationships – “Notes”, Clan statistics, how you can contribute.

  3. Finding your Scottish Ancestors getting the best out of the Clan Records - Advance use, using search functions, examples of Black Isle districts, using Family Histories part of the resources, World War 1 Roll of Honour, Obituaries, Strays, and other tricks.

  4. Finding where your Scottish Ancestors lived – to better understand Clan allegiances, early history, feudalism, surnames, McKenzie Clan rising, maps and places, what it was like. Place-name sources, Strathconon, Black houses, the potato, peat, black cattle, sheep, self-sufficiency and occupations.

  5. Finding your Scottish Ancestors using DNA – Presented by administrator of the Clan MacLennan DNA Project: Alastair F Macdonald.  Alasdair is a Teaching Fellow and Lead Tutor in the Department of Genealogical Studies in the Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. His research interests focus on the use of DNA in genealogical research.  As well as his role as an administrator of the MacLennan DNA Project, he is also an administrator of a number of other DNA Projects including the Scottish DNA Project - all of which are hosted by Family Tree DNA. In the last few years genetic genealogy has seen tremendous change, both in the range of tests available and the level of information that test results can deliver. However, it can all be rather confusing for new-comers.  Just how useful are DNA tests and are they accurate? What is the best test to take and what can I expect from test results? Is one company better than another? If you have any question about DNA testing for genealogy then this webinar which will provide some guidance and seek to answer your questions.

  6. Finding your ancestors migrations to North America or Australasia - This meeting aims to help you to understand why they left, when they left, how they travelled and where they went. The part played by science and the enlightenment, overpopulation and poverty, politics, wars and destinations – especially places where there was limited documentation of their voyages. Cape Breton, Louisbourg, French and Indian War, Nova Scotia, Hudson Bay Company and Darien Scheme. Empire Loyalists. After Culloden, Napoleonic and other Wars.  Selkirk settlements: PEI and Red River. John Dunmore Lang recruiting migrants to Australia. Evolution of shipping.  Early settlements in New Zealand.

  7. Everyday life in Alness Parish in the 1790s - In this meeting we look at sources to help understand everyday life in a Scottish parish in the late 1700s: available sources such as the Old Statistical Account, old maps, FASTI, Clan Records, local history. Geography, population, history, economy, people, language and customs.  An example of everyday life in Alness parish, Ross and Cromarty – location, topography, crops, sources of income, health, housing, diet, education, agricultural improvements, curiosities and more!  MacLennans in this parish.

  8. Write your own family’s history - Every family has history!  This meeting will help you to collect and store your research, Plan and apply style and scope, Draft and review, and to Publish your own family’s history. Examples drawn from over 50 Clan History books on-line. What information to collect. Where might you find it? Traps using libraries. Changing gears – time to write! Let themes emerge. Thoughts about the book layout. Special parts of your book. Creating your book in InDesign. ISBNs. Alternative ways to publish – advantages and disadvantages. ePublishing.  Promoting your history book.

  9. 1700s – Scots invent the modern world! From the unique circumstances leading up to and following the Union of 1707, Scottish thinkers generated many of the ideas we take for granted in our own modern world. The Scottish Enlightenment bloomed out of the unique circumstances of the 1700s, and changed the western world … forever.  The Declaration of Arbroath, John Knox, George Buchanan, the National Covenant and other aspects set the scene. Do humans learn to help each other, or is it built in? Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) a professor at Glasgow University from 1730 inspired his students for liberty and against tyranny.  “If ever a Professor had the art of communicating knowledge; if ever one had the magical power to inspire the hearts of youth with an admiration and love of virtue; if ever one had the art to create an esteem for Liberty and a contempt for tyranny and tyrants, he was the man!” His influence on Adam Smith (for example) was singularly significant.  Also the part played by Harry Home – known as Lord Kames – and David Hume.  In this meeting we look at Scotland’s significant place in creating the modern world.  This topic set the scene for our 2021 meetings about EVERYDAY LIFE in particular parishes at the end of the 1700s.

    EXTRA Extreme Migration Voyage – the Hell Ship author talkMichael Veitch’s eighth book ‘HELL SHIP’ tells the story of the elegant Boston-built clipper Ticonderoga which set sail from Liverpool for Melbourne in August 1852. In her holds were nearly 800 souls - men, women, children and infants - most of them Highland Scots fleeing the tragedy of the Highlands. This break from their desperate past was these families’ last best hope of beginning a new life, in a new land on the other side of the world. Despite all due diligence being taken by the Ticonderoga’s operators to prevent disease on the 90-day voyage, deadly typhus emerged just as the ship crossed the equator, and proceeded to ravage the ship as she tracked south into the freezing waters of the South Atlantic and Great Southern Oceans. The last stages of the voyage were truly horrific, with over 100 deaths occurring at sea, then another hundred when the ship finally limped into Port Phillip Bay and was forced to endure another six weeks’ quarantine - the first ‘customer’ in fact of the famous Port Nepean Quarantine Station. Michael Veitch’s ‘HELL SHIP has received great acclaim and unanimously excellent reviews, as has his one-man stage show of the same name, which (but for Covid) would have been touring Australia.  In this meeting Michael talks about his book.

Co-ordinator: Bruce A McLennan -

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