Planning for Ancestral Visitations to Scotland

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July 13th 2022
Published: August 23rd 2021
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I started planning this trip to find Linda and my Scottish ancestors in October 2019, but due to the Covid pandemic the trip had to be postponed from June 2020 to June 2021 to August 2021 to August 2022. Many changes were made to my original planning blog as I found out more about our Scottish ancestors. Consequently, I cancelled that planning blog and am now publishing what I hope is the final version.

I've been in search of ancestors for quite some time. In May 1995, before returning to the States after living 18 years in Europe, we visited Norway to find my paternal Carlsen ancestors who came from the island of Notteroy on the Oslo fjord (see Norway and Denmark Memorial Day Vacation). More recently I've resumed my search. In May 2019, I visited Devon, England to visit the towns from where my maternal Northcott ancestors lived and to find some missing links in the family tree (see Solving a Mystery In My Devon Ancestry). I found the links and solved some mysteries. I had an amazing time.

At the end of that trip, while visiting my daughter Rosanna and family in Connecticut, we visited New London where one of Linda's ancestors, Rev. William Douglas, immigrated with his family, first to Boston in 1640 and then to New London. Upon reading the history of New London, William turned out not to be a direct ancestor. So once I got home I started to research her paternal family tree in detail using,,, Wikipedia, Google Books, etc. Once I made all the corrections it turns out that William was the brother of Linda's direct ancestor, Robert Douglas, who remained in Scotland. Along the way I discovered many more of her Scottish ancestors.

I was able to track her Hair family name back to George Hair, her 10th great grandfather, who was born in Glasgow in 1580. The family subsequently moved to Kilbarchan and New Cumnock in Ayrshire. James Hair moved from New Cumnock to Lancaster County PA in about 1750. He married Mary Greer (5th great grandparents). They then moved to Pigeon Creek, Washington County, PA where he died in 1817. He and Mary are buried at the Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery (see In Search of Colonial Ancestors in Delaware and Pennsylvania) and generations of his descendants are buried at the nearby Claysville Cemetery.

I was able to track her links to Scottish aristocracy through her 2nd great grandparents, Samuel Withers Hair and Nancy Patterson. Nancy's roots can be traced from the Pattersons to the Rutherfords to the Bridgetts to Sir Andrew Riddell, Baron of Riddell and Haining, who married Lady Violette Douglas, daughter of Sir William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton and Lady Agnes Leslie (11th great grandparents). Through the Pattersons, I followed the Scots branch to Sir Walter Scott, 1st Earl of Buccleuch, then to Sir Francis Hay, 9th Earl of Errol, who married Lady Elizabeth Douglas, Countess of Errol, another daughter of Sir William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton and Lady Agnes Leslie.

Further up Linda's tree, her 3rd great grandfather, Capt. James Hair married Margaret Black, whose 3rd great grandfather James Black married Marion Somerville (6th great grandparents), whose roots can be traced to the Lords Somerville and Lords Hamilton.

Even further up her tree, her 7th great grandfather, another James Hair, who was transported to Virginia colony in 1750, married Janet Corsbie, whose father John married Janet Douglas, who descended from Sir Robert Douglas, Master of Morton and Lady Jean Glamis Lyon, Countess of Angus (10th great grandparents), the son of the aforementioned Sir William Douglas, Sixth Earl of Morton and Lady Agnes Leslie, Countess of Morton (11th great grandparents). So Linda is linked to them through three of their children. So the main trunk of her tree is the Douglas family. To ensure that my information was correct, I bought Volumes 1 and 2 of "A History of the House of Douglas from the earliest Times Down to the Legislative Union of England and Scotland."

I discovered that once I established a connection to an aristocratic family, one was likely related to many such families. I found many interwoven families, with many wives having to remarry as their husbands were killed in battles with the English. In my English family tree I found one ancestor killed in battle of Flodden Field, while in her Scottish family tree there are many killed in that battle. When the husband wasn't killed, most often the couple had more than a dozen children. I had always wondered where the 33.5% of her Northern European/Scandinavian DNA came from. It turns out that many of our Scottish ancestors were Norman, Breton, and Flemish transplants...William the Conqueror had many Flemish and Breton knights in his invasion force. These families include Bruce (de Brus from Normandy), Douglas (de Douglas from Flanders), Stewart (originally the Fitzalans from Brittany who were the stewards of the Scots kings, and hence the change of name to Stewart), Lindsay (de Gaunt Linesay from Flanders), Erskine (de Ghent of Flanders), Boswell (de Bosville of Normandy), Leslie (Lesselyn, the name of the castle that Hungarian nobleman Bartolf built. In 1067 he accompanied Queen/Saint Margaret to Scotland where she married King David I), and Sinclair (de St. Claire of Normandy). One of her ancestral lines, the Keiths, descended from the Catti, a Germanic tribe from the Upper Wesser River in about 980 so preceded the Norman Conquest.

Through these various branches her tree ascends all the way up to Kings James IV (14th great grandfather), III (15th), II (16th), James I (17th), Robert III (18th), Robert II (19th), Robert the Bruce (20th), David I (24th), Malcolm III (26th), Donald Bane (26th), Duncan I (27th great grandfather who was the historical basis of the "King Duncan" in Shakespeare's play Macbeth), Malcolm II "The Destroyer," (29th), Kenneth II (30th), Malcolm I (31st), Donald II "The Madman" of the Picts and Alba (32nd), Constantine I of the Picts and Alba (33rd), and Kenneth I, the First King of Scotland (34th). Their spouses were also royalty from France, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. For instance, Malcolm III married Saint Margaret, whose father was King Edward "The Exile" Ætheling of England, whose Anglo Saxon tree ascends to King Alfred the Great (31st great grandfather) and beyond.

Then Linda asked if I had any Scottish ancestors. I didn't remember any, but given that my DNA test shows that I'm 24%!S(MISSING)cots, I did a search and found that King David I and his ancestors were also in my tree. King David I, as Earl of Huntingdon, had vast lands in northern England. King David I encouraged Norman and Flemish knights to immigrate to Scotland. His grand daughter, Margaret of Huntingdon married Baron Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford (my 22nd great grandparents). Once I entered his name, all of a sudden Linda became my 23rd cousin five times removed. So, we are kissing cousins very distantly removed! Coincidentally, in a famous scene King Robert the Bruce killed one of my ancestors, Sir Henry de Bohun (1st cousin, 22 times removed) in the Battle of Bannockburn.

But our tree links don't end there. King David I wasn't the only connection to my line. Going up her Sinclair line she is related to Sir Richard "The Fearless" Fitzwilliam, 3rd Duke of Normandy. In April 2020, I was contacted by a distant Northcott/Northcutt cousin who provided me with the link to the previous tip of my tree, Sir Galfridus FitzWalter de Northcote (27th), to his father, Walter le Ponz (28th). Using Google Books I found "Devonshire Wills" that detailed the pedigree from Galfridus to his father Walter Le Ponz whose father was Mauger le Ponz, Archbishop of Rouen Normandy (29th) who sold his soul to the Devil and died insane. Both Walter Le Ponz and William "The Conqueror" were grandson's of Richard "The Good" 4th Duke of Normandy who is my 28th/29th great grandfather, depending on whether I go up my paternal grandmothers tree through the de Bohuns or up my maternal tree.

Going up Mauger's tree, we are related to four Dukes of Normandy, including Rollo "The Viking" the first duke to whom King Charles "The Simple" of the Franks ceded the lands of the lower Seine River to him in exchange for protecting Paris from further Viking raids. These lands became known as Normandy. Using I found that Rollo is the descendant of three Jarls (earls) of Oppland Norway (near Trondheim), and two kings of Vestfold (west side of the Oslo fjord), and according to the Jngling Saga, twenty one kings of the Yngling Dynasty of Uppsala, Sweden. The first king of this dynasty, born in 240 AD, was King Fjolnir of Uppsala (58th great grandfather), the son of Freyr, a Norsk god, and Gerd, the daughter of the giant Gymir. He died by drowning in a vat of mead. Even further back in to the mists of legend, according to Dan Brown's "DaVinci Code" the St. Claires were descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene, but of course that is fiction, as perhaps is the Jngling Saga. But it makes for a good story!

Further research revealed that my great grandmother, Anna Elizabeth Ross, was a direct descendant of the Ross clan. In my blog In Search of Colonial Ancestors in Delaware and Pennsylvania I recount our trip to Delaware and Pennsylvania to follow in the footsteps of my Ross ancestors to Rev. George Aeneas Ross, 5th Laird of Balblair who was sent by the Church of England as a missionary to New Castle DE in 1705. Our trip to Scotland will allow us to go further up the Ross family tree when we visit Tain, Ross-shire (and the Balblair Distillery to try their whisky). It turns out that Linda and I share common ancestors through King Robert II Stewart and his wife Queen Consort Euphemia de Ross (18th great grandparents), daughter of Sir Hugh de Ross, 4th Earl of Ross. The Ross family has its beginning with the Celts. To ensure that my information is correct I bought the book "Rossiana; Papers and Documents Relating to the History and Genealogy of the Ancient and Noble House of Ross, and its Descent From the Ancient Earls of Ross, of Ross-shire, Scotland."

In my family tree I had initially cast a wide net by including the brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles, which resulted in a distant cousin in Australia letting me know that if I went diagonally through spouses up the tree I would eventually arrive at King Edward I, the Hammer of the Scots and bitter enemy of King Robert the Bruce. But this left me with a very cluttered tree. As a way of de-cluttering the tree, I deleted aunts and uncles and mostly included just the direct bloodline; i.e., parents, grand parents, great grandparents, etc. We still have 12,500 ancestors in our family tree.

These ancestral ties led me to scheduling our tour of Scotland around the castles of these families; namely, Bothwell Castle (Moray/Douglas), Douglas Castle (Douglas), Caerlaverock Castle (Maxwell), Drumlanrig Castle (Douglas), Morton Castle (Douglas), Sanquhar Castle (Crichton), Dundonald Castle (Stewart), Dean Castle (Boyd), Rowallen Castle (Mure), Sterling Castle (Stewart), Lochleven Castle (Douglas), Glamis Castle (Lyon), Dunnotter Castle (Keith), Kildrummy Castle (Mar), Huntly Castle (Gordon), Rothes Castle (Leslie), Dunollie Castle (MacDougall), Dunstaffnage Castle (MacDougall), Doune Castle (Stewart/Menteith), Linlithgow Palace (Stewart), Blackness Castle (Crichton), Dirleton Castle (Halyburton/de Vaux), Tantallon Castle (Red Douglas), Dunbar Castle (Dunbar/Ramsay), Yester Castle (Giffard/Hay), Crichton Castle (Crichton/Hepburn), Borthwick Castle (Borthwick), Rosslyn Chapel (Sinclair), Craigmillar Castle (Preston), and Edinburgh Castle (Canmore). So I've developed a very tight schedule, even showing the miles and driving times between all these locations to make sure it is feasible. Most of the castles are just ruins, so I think I can minimize our time at some of them. Upon further reflection, Linda was intimidated by my schedule and decide not to go. So, I am going myself and she will watch our animals and then visit family in CT, NJ, and PA.

I still have not given up my pilgrimage theme. In May 2019 after visiting Devon I walked a portion of the Old Way, from the Canterbury Tales, to Canterbury (see My Old Way Pilgrimage to Canterbury). On this vacation I plan to visit the abbeys of Culross, Dunfirmline, Scone, Iona, Lindesfarne, and Holyrood.

I also plan to attend the Strathardle Highland Gathering near Glamis Castle.

To prepare for this trip in addition to the aforementioned books, I read books about Scottish history, including the comprehensive masterpiece "Scotland" by Magnus Magnusson, "How the Scots Invented the Modern World" by Arthur Herman, "Robert the Bruce, King of Scots" by Ronald Scott, "Mary Queen of Scots" by John Guy, "Where's Me Plaid" by Scot Crawford (humorous book about finding Crawford ancestors, and as it turns out, also Linda's distant ancestors), the Xenophobes Guide to the Scots (also humorous), and "Scottish Covenantor Stories" by Dane Love (not humorous).

Linda's ancestors were members of the persecuted Covenanters led by John Knox (her 1st cousin 13 times removed). They refused to acknowledge the English kings as the ultimate head of the church (Jesus Christ is) and signed a Covenant to that effect. Many were killed by order of King Charles II and King James II during the "Killing Time" from 1680-1688. The massacres ended with the Glorious Revolution when William and Mary became co-regents of England and Scotland. I uncovered a Covenantor in my tree...Patrick John Hugh Machefee (9th), Covenanter banished to Charles City, Charles County, Virginia Colony on 17 Oct 1684. Coincidentally, I met Linda at Geneva College, a Scottish Covenanter college, and was married by a Scottish Covenantor pastor at her Scottish Covenantor church.

We also watched movies, all of which were pretty get a better understanding of Scottish history. We particularly enjoyed watching the TV series "The Outlander," which is historical fiction and thusly, no one is an ancestor. But the first two seasons provide a broad historical background of the early 1700s leading up to the Battle of Culloden in 1745. We plan to visit several Outlander sites (e.g., Drumlandrig Castle (Bellhurst Manor), Dean Castle (the Beaufort Estate), Culross (Cranesmuir), Culloden Battlefield and nearby Clava Cairns stone ring, Doune Castle (Castle Leoch which was also in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail), Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison), Midhope Castle (Lallybrook), Blackness Castle (Fort William), and in Edinburgh both Tweedsdale Court and Bakehouse Close (Jamie's print shop). I also plan to visit some Harry Potter sights in the Highlands and Castle Stalker, where the Monty Python search for the Holy Grail ended.

Given that Linda has decided not to join me, I have tacked on a trip to Stockholm and Uppsala, Sweden, since I am in the neighborhood, so that I can walk the 4.8 Km Erikleden Pilgrim Trail from Uppsala to Gamla Uppsala, where my ancestors, the Kings of Uppsala, are buried in mounds. I booked my flights COS-ORD-EDI-BRU-ARN-LHR-DEN-COS on 11 Feb 2022.


24th August 2021

Ancestral castles
Eileann Donan Castle is Sylvia's ancestral home. If you go there and the Laird is home (she still lives there from to time) say hello from Sylvia and me. We have met her several times both in Scotland and when she has visited Australia for McRae clan get-togethers. Lovely person. I'll be following your travels with interest. Sadly, no aristocracy in my ancestory - only miners, clay pipemakers and weavers.
26th August 2021

Ancestral Castles...
Wow! That is interesting that Eileann Donan Castle is Sylvia's ancestral home. The picture of that castle in my blog is from a previous trip. Given that we have been there before, and with no ancestral ties there, we have decided to go to Mull and Iona instead of Skye. It's hard to fit in another castle, although being able to make a connection to you is intriguing.
24th August 2021

The Bob & Linda Family Tree
Impressive as always, Bob. I hope you are keeping records of your research and conclusions for your kids & successors as without these details be lost. Denise's brother has become obsessed with their family genealogy and had a book bound & printed of their father's family arrivals from UK to Australia with copies of all the old records included titled "How We Got to Be Here". He was really proud of extensive records that one ancestor was jailed for 'refusing to work' during a miner's strike...history in action. We spent one Christmas staying with Denise's brother & his wife and I researched my father's mother who was the first woman to graduate in medicine in Newfoundland and was amazed at the information that I found...much more detail than the page in a Canadian history book on her. The little of my family history I have been told over the years I should record lest also be lost. By the way I note you do not have Lochnaw Castle at Stranraer, Scotland on your list...where my mother resided until a fire took her life. Life is a journey...glad you are making the most of yours!
26th August 2021

Bob and Linda Family Tree
Yes, I know how to access all the documents for my family tree, although with almost 10,000 ancestors, I didn't upload them all...just the most important ones. I recall your blogs about tracking your ancestors in the UK and the amazing connections you made. My Mom's ancestors immigrated to the Lewisport area in Newfoundland from Devon in 1813 or so, but they were fishermen. Was your ancestor nearby?
26th August 2021
Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness
I love castles...position, position, position...usually commanding the best views. I have posted your Urquhart and Eilean Donan pics in TB's "Palaces & Castles" thread in the Photography Forum. Check 'em out.
26th August 2021
Scots in full regalia in Glen Coe

The Scots
Fabulous pic, Bob. 5 stars.
27th August 2021

Ancestrally famous people
Not to denigrate my grandfather on my father's side was one of the leaders of the 1926 UK miners' strike. When it was quashed, he was unable to get any work in Scotland so migrated to Boston in the US where one of his brothers had gone in the early 20s. (I still have relatives there who I am in contact with.) He was killed in 1929 in an explosion at Everett, Mass., before the rest of the family were able to follow him. His compensation was enough for my grandmother to open a small shop in Glasgow, Scotland, but the crash of 1932 saw her bankrupted.
28th August 2021

Thanks for sharing...
the story of your courageous ancestors who fought against adversity. Could you tell us more about what happened to your grandmother after 1932? Thar's why we search for our see where we come from and what makes us who we are.
28th August 2021

Tracking the Ancestors
You've done enormous research and it has paid off. Finding the links between your family and Linda's is time well spent. Now you've got some great stories to pass along. Enjoy the trip next year.
28th August 2021

Tracking Ancestors...
It's been a treasure hunt! Scotland is an ideal place to track ancestors as they have very good records, and once you find a link to aristocracy, then you are in as they all married within a small number of families. I'm surprised that they don't all have six fingers! I've also enjoyed the history of is now personal.
29th August 2021

You've done so well to go so far back on your family tree and to discover you're both related albeit 23rd cousins. I wish you all the best and hope your trip happens for 2022.
30th August 2021

Scotland 2022
Looks like you've got a bit of a Lucy and Charlie Brown football situation going on. Here's hoping you finally kick that ball in 2022! Both your ancestry research and trip planning are really impressive. So many great things there that I'd like to see too, especially Iona and a Highland games. How many days have you given yourself for the whole trip?
30th August 2021

Scotland 2022...
We are planning on two weeks. However, we may add a couple days if we fly into Manchester as the cost to fly into Edinburgh has almost doubled.
12th September 2021

Scottish Ancestors
Wow! Very impressive pre-trip reading and planning Bob ? I'm also impressed with the amazing list of sights, and castles, included in your itinerary, as well as Iona. I look forward to reading about your long- awaited trip when it comes, and hopefully it will indeed, God-willing.
12th September 2021

Scottish Ancestors...
I've had plenty of time to do the research! We are praying that Covid restrictions will be gone by next June so that we can go.
12th February 2022

Today I booked my flights to Edinburgh, and also tacked on Uppsala, Sweden! I've updated my blog a bit.

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