TIPS & SOURCES FOR SCRIMGEOUR GENEALOGY
As generated from Skirmisher experience and editorial correspondence with members in recent years, the following notes, tips and list of information sources may be of use to “Scrimgeours” who wish to explore their own family genealogy. In addition there are, of course, many excellent and more general books on how to conduct genealogical research that are available in libraries and bookstores.
The Scrimgeour Clan Association, formed in 1971, is an obvious focal point for general information. A one day gathering is held in Scotland, usually at some location of historical interest, for all those who are able to attend. For information contact: The Secretary, 6 Victoria Road, Tilehurst, Reading, Berkshire, RG31 5AD. Annual memberships in the association are £5 for individuals and £10 for families. Payment should be made by money order or cheque, payable in sterling, to “the Scrimgeour Clan Association”.
The association’s publication, The Skirmisher, is distributed annually at year end to all members. In addition to general information, in recent years it has contained and increasing amount of genealogical information as contributed by members world wide.
The clan website
The clan association now maintains a Web site. This includes information reprinted from the some back issues of The Skirmisher. The Web site increasingly contains e-mail addresses and correspondence from members. The Web site address is www.scrimgeourclan.org.uk
The Scrimgeour History Book
A 134 page hard cover book entitled The Scrimgeours, and their chiefs Scotland’s Royal Banner Bearers (ISBN 0 9507135 0 3) describes the history of the Scrimgeours. Although published in 1980, a very small number of copies are understood to still be available. The book contains information on “Scrimgeours” both new and old of all spellings up to about the end of the 1800’s. R. W. Munro and Jean Munro, who wrote the book under contract to the Scrimgeour Clan Association, are known as two of Scotland’s most noted historians. Orders for copies may be submitted to: Mrs. Margaret Dean, Viewforth, 121 Rose Street, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland KY 120QT who looks after sales of the book and other clan goods. Payment of £12 should be made by money order or cheque, payable in sterling, to “The Scrimgeour Clan Association”
The Scrymgeour main line
The hereditary main line of the Scrymgeours is documented in Burke’s Peerage under “The Earl of Dundee”. Copies of this are available in many libraries and may be useful to anyone researching their possible connection to the main line. It could be of value to maintain a list of any members who have been successful in finding and verifying such connections. This could be useful also to other members conducting similar searches into their own ancestry.
The International Genealogical Index® (IGI)
Lists several hundred million names of deceased persons obtained from lists such as the Old Parish Records (OPRs) and other sources throughout the world. Many names come from vital records from the early 1500’s to about 1855. The IGI is now available for search in CD-ROM form. The index is published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day-Saints. Their genealogical libraries in church locations in major cities around the world are open to the public for genealogical research. Consult local telephone directories for locations and call to obtain the hours of availability. The organization now also maintains a Web site at www.familysearch.org .
A print out of the IGI 1993 edition 3.02 shows about 400 names for the spelling Scrymgeour. Following some earlier entries this starts in earnest about 1630 AD. Separate printouts for the spellings Scrymgeour, Scrimgeour and Scrimger show a total for all three spellings of about 1330 names.
The IGI records are widely known to have been made as complete and accurate as possible at the time the data was gathered. Family history centre volunteers, including those in Scotland, are understood to have been collaborating in a project to enter names and records that were missed or to correct errors. One can therefore expect that updated versions will become available from time to time or as work progresses. It must of course be recognized that the originals needed for many records simply do not exist, especially those in ancient times.
When searching any record one should not assume that the spelling used for the name “Scrimgeour” will always have been the same as currently used, even within any given family. Changes do occur over time. Examples are known for spelling switches between different files for the same family and even for files pertaining to the same individual. These can sometimes occur for no apparent reason. At least one example has been noted between the birth records and the christening records (made one month later) for children within one family in which the spelling had consistently changed from Scrimgeour in the birth records to Scrymgeour in the christening records presumably merely due to the choice of a different records clerk. Another example exists in which three brothers in the same family separately adopted Scrimger, Scrimgeour and Scrymgeour as the spelling for their name. Another spelling is known to exist with the “g” changed to an “s” to yield a spelling such as Scrymseour or Scrimseour (as in the Scrimgeours of Tealing for example). A good approach, therefore, when making a computer search, and in order not to miss anything, is to search using only the stem “Scrim” or Scrym” and to delete any unwanted “extras” after manual inspection of the results. One can also allow at times for an “h” such as “Schrim” that may sometimes occur.
How many Scrimgeours were there? –
An interesting estimate appeared in the 1999 Skirmisher as to how many Scrimgeours (all spellings) there may have been in any pervious century. For example, starting from the known figure of 810 from the 1881 census, estimates calculated on the basis of a doubling (or halving) of the number every one hundred years yields a result of 200 in 1681, 100 in 1581, 50 in 1481 and 12 in 1281. These data compare reasonably well with historical and IGI data.
Which spelling is the oldest –
As a point of interest one may sometimes wonder which of the three most common spellings is the oldest. Using the IGI as a data base the following frequency of occurrence appears in the 1993 version.
Year Scrymgeour (1) Scrimgeour (2) Scrimger (3) Total
1200’s 4 – – 4
1300’s 7 3 – 10
1400’s 8 4 1 13
1500’s 13 1 – 14
1600’s 11 17 12 40
This confirms (1) that the spelling Scrymgeour is apparently the oldest (there are other very old spellings). (2) that Scrimgeour has become the most common, and (3) that Scrimger, although often regarded as a recent contraction, actually goes back at least 500 years in at least one instance.
Given names –
Caution should be observed about making conclusions concerning connections that are merely based on the presence in a family of the desired given names. Some names occur very frequently. The names William, for example, appears 64 times, James 61 and David 29 for boys while the names Margaret 47, Elizabeth 41 and Ann 32 for girls are among the most frequently noted. A mere eighteen given names account for 76% of the 706 entries in the IGI under the name Scrimgeour.
The Tay Valley Family History Society (TVFHS) –
The Tay Valley Family History Society, as the name suggests, focuses its activities very much in the lands of Scrimgeour origin. As such, membership in their society can be a useful resource. As of year 2001, new individual memberships for those in the UK cost £15 and £17 for families. For overseas members there is a £1 supplement. The society has recently renovated and enlarged their premises which are open daily and staffed by volunteers at 179 Princess Street, Dundee DD4 6DQ, Scotland, UK. Their publication The Tay Valley Family Historian (typically of some 50 – 60 pages) is mailed to members three times per year. It includes much information on how to access genealogical sources and records in Scotland and regularly includes a section on members special interests. Their e-mail address is: tayvalleyfhssol.co.uk
Their Web site is located at www.sol.co.uk/t/tayvalleyfhs
Local Genealogical Societies –
For research involving areas other than the Tay Valley, the local genealogical society in the region or interest can often be of valuable assistance. For example, in Ontario, Canada the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) has publications, meetings and a large membership. Regional branches of the OGS, as in Ottawa, similarly have a substantial membership, publications, and regular monthly meetings. This includes special interest groups for Scottish ancestral research, Irish ancestral research and a computer group each of which meet on a regular monthly basis. Similar organizations exist elsewhere.
Official Records in Scotland – There are several organisations which fulfil different roles, and can easily be confused.
General Register Office – Scotland – also known by the title of the head of the organisation – Registrar General. This is the organisation which holds birth, marriage and death records for the whole of Scotland. They have worked to create a searchable website – www.origins.net – which provides online searching of the official records. (Based in New Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh – down the side of General Register House)
National Archives of Scotland – (until recently known as the Scottish Record Office it is separate from the General Register Office – Scotland) they hold Government and Court records and records of wills and adoptions. (Based in General Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh)
Registers of Scotland – this organisation holds mainly records of land ownership (the Land Register and the Register of Sasines) and some records of unpaid debt. It is less likely to be of interest for genealogical research, but knowing of its existence may help to limit confusion. (Customer Service Centre in Erskine House, Queen Street, Edinburgh).
General Register Office – Scotland
A strong recommendation can be given for the book: Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors – A Guide to ancestry research in the Scottish Register Office by Cecil Sinclair. The Stationery Office Limited. South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh. EH12 9EB. Revised edition 1997. 155 pp. soft cover £9.99.
As the books title suggests, this is a self help guidebook written for those who wish to conduct research into their Scottish ancestry. It is written in a clear and direct manner. Instructions and advice are straightforward and to the point (1) Do this –(2) Do that — variety (e.g. Go upstairs, turn left and ask for file xxx.) Obviously the book has been written, in part, with the objective of freeing the registry office staff from continually having to respond personally to many of the most frequently asked questions but it is of great help to the user as well.
As explained, the term Scottish Record Office refers primarily to records kept in the General Register House and it is to this end that the book is largely devoted. However, for the convenience of readers, and while it is outside the domain of the book in a strictly organizational sense, one additional chapter is devoted to the building called New Register House because it is here that official records are kept for births. marriages, deaths and census records.
This book should be obtained and read by anyone planning to do research in Scotland in order to develop an appropriate plan of attack before going to Edinburgh. This will help greatly with directions on where to go within the labyrinth of records available, what ancestral records or information to bring in advance, how to book ahead for a seat in the facilities, how much time to allow for research and many other important details. Without such a plan and without a reasonable amount of preparation the trip and one’s time could be largely wasted.
The book is available through bookstores (that is good ones, they say!). Since it is a government publication the book is also available from the many Stationery Office Book shops in the UK. It may be ordered by mail, telephone or fax from the Publication Centre, PO Box 276, London SW8 5DT, telephone orders 0171 873 900 or by Fax to 0171 873 8299.
For a more complete review of the book see The Skirmisher for 1998 or in Canada see the Ottawa Branch News of the Ontario Genealogical Society March – April 2000 as reprinted with permission from The Skirmisher.
Internet Searches –
On-line Internet access to the SRO is understood to now be available. This is at the rate of £17 for a 24 hour period, this being one half of the daily registration fee normally charged for on-site access. The above book may thus be of use to those who wish to access the SRO electronically in addition to those who might be able to travel to Edinburgh. A list of researchers in Scotland who will conduct searches on a fee basis is also understood to be available from the SRO
Local record offices in Scotland –
In addition to the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh there are also a number of local record offices with archival holdings as in Dundee, Perth and Glasgow, for example. As summarized in The Skirmisher 1999 those of most interest to persons wishing to research their Scrimgeour ancestry include the following. For notes on their holdings, availability, office hours and how to make reservations (if required) see the TVFHS publication noted in the following table.
Location see TVFHS publication issue
Dundee City Archives September 1995 pp. 17 — 19
Dundee City Archives September 1998 pp. 20 — 21
Dundee University Archives September 1995 pp. 19 — 20
Dundee University Archives September 1998 pp. 22 — 23
Dundee University Archives May 1999 pp. 16 — 18
Regional Burial Ground Records
(held at Forfar. Montrose, Arbroath)
September 1998 pp. 24 — 25
Perth Register House January 1998 pp. 24 — 25
Glasgow City Archives January 1999 pp. 20 — 21
Various Church Records, etc. September 1998 p. 23
Genealogical Software –
For a general guide see the booklet: Computer Genealogy Update 1997 edition by David Hargood. This is available from the TVFHS above and probably also from Family Tree Maker. The Family Tree Maker software package appears to be a popular software choice for drawing trees. The GEDCOM standard appears to be the system of choice for transferring files between computers. The Family Tree Maker software is available in most computer stores and includes a number of CD-ROMs containing IGI data with the deluxe version containing the most CD-ROMs. For further details see the above booklet or other reviews.
A Last Reminder
As a last reminder, and perhaps before delving deeply into one’s ancestry, one should not forget to document the records of one’s current generation. One can start, for example, with one’s grandparents and record all available data on every descendant. Initially no record searching will be required as all the desired information can be obtained from living parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers and cousins including current addresses for themselves and all of their descendants. Then distribute copies so that at least one will survive. This information will be a boon to any future researcher. Doesn’t every researcher wish someone had done this once every one hundred year before!!
In his extensive work Alexander has found, as most genealogists do, that there are many sources for records that need to be searched. He mentions that in some cases the Commonwealth War Graves Commission can be helpful, particularly because the next of kin are also listed. It can then be of further help, as Alexander did in at least one instance, in Crieff, to check this against the inscriptions on the local cenotaph. Due to distance and other factors it can also be helpful at times to engage the services of a professional genealogist.
Submitted by: Alexander Scrimgeour, Canada
Ed. Note:- Your editor knows of a person in Ottawa who has good success in searching the records of the Scottish Record Office in Edinburgh on-line by remote computer. Since their standard time contract is for twenty four hours of time it is suggested to start when about half the time can be used for general searching and then sleep overnight. On the next day the remaining hours of the twenty four hours can then be used for narrower more directed searches leading to specific records that are desired. Also, since the 24 hour period provides for a maximum or 30 printed pages, it is wise to print as you go. This is because some results, when printed, may contain information useful in guiding further search. It may also be noted that, when printed, there will sometimes be only one result on a page. After specific documents have been identified it can be time and cost effective at this point to engage the services of a local genealogist in Edinburgh to go and obtain the records. This may be available, for example, at the nominal cost of £5 per document, including the SRO fee. As another example, in one instance, involving a 24 hour search period by a person in Ottawa, eleven documents of interest were identified. Within a week or two all eleven were obtained as above and eight of the eleven were for true ancestors of the person’s family.
There is a lot more information about genealogy research, by members, in the Skirmisher (see front page).