This website uses cookies. To read more about them, click 'cookies stored'. To accept our cookies, click the check box then press 'Continue'.


Borders Family History Society

Society Logo
Home Join
Us
Conference Publications Research Maps &
Parishes
Forums Other
Websites
Contacts What's
On
Blog Help

Borders FHS - Publication Reviews

These reviews are of publications sent to us for review with a few (mostly external) reviews of some of our own publications. Please note that these reviews are the subjective opinions of the reviewers and may differ from yours.
Some of them are several years old, and prices or distribution addresses may have changed since.
Please see our Publications Review Policy, if you would like us to review one of your publications.

50 Years of the Hirsel Golf Club
A Benvie Chronicle
A History of the Scotts of Milsington
Berwickshire Monumental Inscriptions No 6: Ayton
Berwickshire Monumental Inscriptions No 10: Lauder
Borderline Cases by Norrie McLeish
CD Millennium Memories - a celebration of life in the Scottish Borders
Children of the Sea
Clock & Watchmakers of the Scottish Borders, 1556-1900
Exhibitions and Expeditions - an artist's diary
Full of Egotism - being the diary of the Rev. John Hastie
Galashiels through the Years - A Selection of Photographs from the Old Gala Club Archives
GENUKI U.K. & Ireland Genealogy on Internet
Hall's History of Galashiels
HTML Pedigree - Creation of websites from GEDCOM files
Indexes to Kelso Chronicle death notices 1853 and 1854
Jethart Worthies
Knowing Your Grandfather - Joseph William Wilson 1879-1958
Lauderdale in the 20th Century
'No Cheese After Dinner' - With the 51st Highland Division from Normandy to Poland and back via Hell 1940-1945
Scottish Gypsies and Other Travellers: A Short History
Scottish Surnames
Shillinglaw
Surnames and Clansmen: Border Family History in Earlier Days
The Cumledge Chronicle
The Ewes Valley
The Scotts of Thirlestane

Other Reviews

50 Years of the Hirsel Golf Club

By Brian J. Young

170pp including photos and copies of documents. Card covers, £7.50 plus postage and packing.

This is a history of the Hirsel Golf Club, Coldstream, and begins with a description of the meeting that took the decision to relocate from the Lennel.
There is a foreword by Lady Caroline Douglas-Hume.

It's entertaining and interesting, covering the various changes in the club, the competitions, some of the characters, and the courses. From the family history point of view it lists trophy winners and office bearers by name and year. One grumble, it would have been better to list their full first names, instead of initials.

Available from The Secretary, Hirsel Golf Club, Kelso Road, Coldstream, Berwickshire, TD12 4NJ, Scotland.
Reviewed September 2000.
Top

A Benvie Chronicle

By James R Benvie

181+x pp. 10 illustrations. ISBN 0 9534053 0 3. £13.50.
Borders Family History Society members can get this book for £10 including UK postage from the author at 13 Lethnot Gardens, Forfar, Angus, DD8 3RQ, Scotland.

This book is a history of Scotland with particular reference to the locality of Benvie, near Dundee; and families with the surname Benvie.

It begins with a table of dates and events, including rulers from 1034 to 1707. The author details the beginnings of Celtic languages in Scotland, and goes on to discuss the meaning of Benvie (probably pig-stream).

Part 1 of the book covers the history from prehistoric times up to 1707; and also Benvie land ownership to 1918.

Part 2 lists a lot of families with the surname Benvie in the surrounding parishes between 1620 and 1870.

Mr Benvie warns that not all Benvies are included; and continues with the history up to the 20th century.
I found the chapter with diary extracts from 1824 to 1865 fascinating.
There's a useful glossary and bibliography, too.

A lot of research has gone into this book, but it's very readable.
This is a very worthwhile book that will appeal to historians as well as genealogists.
Reviewed January 2002.
Top

A History of the Scotts of Milsington - Vol. IV 1879-1927

by Kathleen W. Stewart

Paperback 93 pp. ISBN 0 952 8663 5 8.
£6.00 + 50p p&p from the author at Milsington, Hawick TD9 7PL.


Kathleen Stewart was a founder-member of the Borders Family History Society in 1985 (membership no. 7!) and has been a staunch supporter ever since. Her latest book covers the lifetime of her grandfather, Charles Scott, who was born in 1879 at Milsington, in Roberton Parish, near Hawick. He was able to buy the farm when the Duke of Buccleuch sold several properties after the First World War, and he died there in 1940.

Related to Sir Walter Scott and the Scotts of Harden, Charles had a full and influential life in the community, serving on various councils and boards, besides taking an active part in farming. He was an expert judge of Cheviot sheep and there are fascinating accounts of his own sheep-farming experiences.

The Scotts of Milsington were typical of their time and status and the book contains much local detail to interest the Borderer, particularly those connected with agriculture. It encapsulates an era which began in Victorian times and progresses to the reign of George V, and is a valuable record of rural life in the Borders.
Reviewed September 2004.
Top

Berwickshire Monumental Inscriptions No 6: Ayton

By Borders Family History Society

£7.00 plus postage. Available from us - see Monumental Inscriptions 

This is the Society's latest addition to its series of Berwickshire Monumental Inscriptions which any genealogist with ancestors in the Ayton/Burnmouth area will find extremely useful.

The volume contains not only over 1000 monumental inscriptions but also transcripts of Ayton Hearth Tax; Poll Tax - September 1695; Militia List - late 18th century; list of ministers and names on the War memorial, 1914 - 1918 and 1939 - 1945. The monumental inscriptions span 300 years from 1697 to 1998 and so there should be something to help everyone who has had ancestors in this parish. The most common names which appear in the index are Aitchison, Anderson, Brown, Cockburn, Johnston, Kerr, Martin, Patterson, Purves, Renton, Smith, Wilson and Wood.

Some of the entries relate to Burnmouth people and even include some who were lost on Burnmouth boats during the terrible storm in 1881.

This book is a treasure trove of information which to the general reader belies the many hours of hard work put in by Elspeth Ewan, Miriam Fish, Jean Fleming, Gilbert Millican and Jean Sanderson in recording the gravestones and transcribing all the documents. An excellent little book which is a valuable addition to this series - keep up the good work !
Reviewed May 1999.
Top

Berwickshire Monumental Inscriptions No 10: Lauder

By Borders Family History Society

141 pp including covers, index and illustrations. 956 gravestones. ISBN 1 874232 03 8. £8.50 plus postage. Available from us - see Monumental Inscriptions 

Those researching Berwickshire ancestral links will be delighted with this publication. The Royal Burgh of Lauder was an important settlement and many well known Berwickshire names appear on this gravestone index including Renwick, Cockburn, Renton, Tait, Aitchison and the ubiquitous Humes. There is even a McLeish there!

In addition to the inscriptions themselves, the authors have included names from the Hearth Tax from the 18th century and Militia Lists from the beginning of the 18th century. We sometimes forget that Scottish rural society was undergoing great changes at this time and many families emigrated or went to work in the industrial conurbations. It is therefore fascinating to note that some names mentioned in the Hearth Tax, such as Brotherstone and Hardie are still there to day, weel kent names to present day Lauder folk!

Once again researchers owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the production of this series.
Gravestones are under threat from the weather, neglect and vandalism. It really is a race against time.
Reviewed May 2004.
Top

Borderline Cases by Norrie McLeish

by Norrie McLeish

110 pp. Illus. ISBN 1-873-708-11-4 : Alba Publishing 2000 : £6.90 plus post and packing : Available from Alba Publishing, 20 Dounehill, Jedburgh, TD8 6LJ, Scotland.

In this eminently readable book, well-known local author and founder member of the Borders FHS, Norrie McLeish, unveils thirteen murder stories of yesteryear. Ghastly crimes from Ayton to Duns, from Jedburgh to Peebles are recorded and what makes this book so fascinating to family historians is that the author has set the events within the social context.

Norrie McLeish is a captivating story teller and the reader very quickly becomes engrossed in the morbid tales and soon finds himself wondering if any of his ancestors may perhaps have been among the crowd to witness the last hanging in Hawick in 1814 or been present at St. James Fair in Kelso in 1856 when feelings against the Irish navvies boiled over resulting in the death of 25 year old Robert Mills.

For anyone who wishes to read about the lives of ordinary men and women throughout the Borders in the 16th -19th centuries, this book is a must.
Norrie McLeish has succeeded in making history come alive and whets the family historian's appetite to dig deeper into one's own family.
Reviewed May 2001.
Top

CD Millennium Memories - a celebration of life in the Scottish Borders

from Scottish Borders Memory Bank

Price £11.25 plus postage.

This CD presents a selection of 40 stories collected and stored by the Scottish Borders Memory Bank from the almost 200 projects undertaken.
These are stories told by everyday people in their own way, in their own words, with no editing, and no third party spin. They are, however, extracts from longer interviews - a lifetime of experiences is not recounted in a few minutes.
Although these are everyday people, they come from all walks of life, and their stories range in time from the late 1890s up to 1999.
The material collected reflects the desire expressed by communities and individuals to share their heritage, values, and culture, past and present with a wider public.
Each of the stories is accompanied by relevant pictures with captions, text, spoken by the person contributing, and a wee biography of the speaker.

For example, there is the story of the mobile chip shop - a horse drawn vat of boiling oil, that travelled through Galashiels and St Boswells; stories about trains, droving cattle and the swinging dance scene in the Borders, and lots more.
Our Chairman, Mike Brydon has contributed a story about his family's milk round.

The sound is clear and distinct, and for those of us who are used to Borders' dialects, this allows us to enjoy the speaker's dialect. Other people who haven't heard Borders' dialects can gain familiarity, and fully understand the speech by reading the accompanying text.
For those who want to do so, the sound can be turned off, and / or the text can be hidden.

The main menu offers the option to access the stories through topics, places, people, or timeline, 10 in each set.

There is also a search facility, for example, a search for "St Boswells" finds 5 stories.

There is a separate two page introduction by the Memory Bank Co-ordinator, Wendy Ball, and pages showing the people in the Memory Bank and interalia (the company that created the CD), and other pages recording the working groups, the contributors, the volunteer recordists, and copyright acknowledgements.

There is also a useful and user friendly help facility.

As this is a computer CD, you'll need a computer to play this.
The recommended minimum requirements are a PC with Windows 95, Pentium 166 Mhz, 32Mb RAM, 60Mb hard disk space, 16X CD-ROM, screen resolution 800 X 600, 16 bit (65,000 colours) colour depth, Windows compatible sound card ; or a Mac with MAC OS 8, PowerPC Processor, 32Mb RAM, 60Mb hard disk space, 16X CD-ROM, screen resolution 800 X 600, millions of colours.

This is a really excellent CD, and I don't have any moans about it. As readers of my past book reviews will know, it is very rare for me to praise a publication in a review without mentioning any gripes.

It would also be a very useful as a teaching aid, both at primary and secondary level.

I strongly recommend you buy several copies of this CD, one for yourself, one for your local library or family history society, and others to give away as presents, even (perhaps especially) if the recipients have no connection with the Scottish Borders; and at the price of £11.25 plus postage and packing, it's a steal.
Reviewed January 2001.
Top

Children of the Sea

By Peter Aitchison

265 pages including index and illustrations. Tuckwell Press, East Linton, Scotland. £12.99. ISBN 1-86232-2406.

Anyone living in the Borders with an interest at all in history particularly anyone with an Eyemouth or fishing connection can't but be aware of the tragic events of 14th. October 1881 when in all One hundred and twenty nine men from the Town and another seventy from the neighbouring ports lost their lives in that dreadful storm.

A very full and very readable account of the disaster has been written by Peter Aitchison, a news reporter for the BBC, born in Eyemouth though now residing in Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire.

The book recounts not only the full horror of the events of the night in question and its aftermath but perhaps more importantly seeks to explain why the Eyemouth fleet virtually alone ignored all warnings and set to sea on that fateful day.

The background to this disastrous decision lies in a long and often ugly dispute between the fishermen and the Church over the matter of fishing tithes, a dispute which resulted in lost opportunities and effectively prevented the development of the harbour which should otherwise have taken place. Here is a case of two parties taking up entrenched, dogmatic positions in a dispute which should have been quickly resolved by more enlightened and forward looking attitudes on both sides. A quite fascinating read.

It is interesting to learn that at the height of the dispute only one member of the fishing community remained a member of the Established Church and he was a paid precentor. A situation to be borne in mind by anyone researching the Eyemouth Parish records.

The book is really excellent from a genealogical point of view apart from anything else containing a full family tree for the author and a very detailed bibliography showing where all information regarding Eyemouth can be accessed. Throughout the author seeks to give the best possible genealogy not an easy task in such a close knit community especially when so many were known by tee names such as 'Auld Tarry's Will', 'Little Dod' or 'Auld Peggy's Rowe'.

A full list with family details is given, not only of those who perished on that fateful night, but also so far as possible those who were lost in earlier disasters and in the cholera outbreak of 1849.

The names Dougal, Maltman, Windram, Whillis and Lough abound as instanced one committee set up in 1878, when no fewer than six of the eight members were Dougals from different but connected families.

All in all a most interesting, well written and well researched book - thoroughly recommended.
Reviewed September 2002.
Top

Clock & Watchmakers of the Scottish Borders, 1556-1900

By Donald Whyte FHG, FSG (Hon.)

19pp in card covers, with a few illustrations. A4 size. £3. Available from us - see our Publications Sales List 

This is a list of people arranged alphabetically with abbreviated details of family, and a few other notes.
There is a one page preface, a bibliography, a list of abbreviations, the standard Scottish county abbreviations, and a list of Clock & Watchmakers in Berwick-on-Tweed.
Reviewed January 2002.
Top

Exhibitions and Expeditions - an artist's diary

by Euphen Alexander edited by Avril Jack

ISBN 1-898654-13-1 240pp Paperback. £12 available from: Bordersprint, Scott's Place, Selkirk TD7 4DP, Scotland.

Euphen Alexander is a name which needs no introduction in the Borders, particularly among the many artists and art-lovers who inhabit this lovely part of the world. Born in Rangoon, where her father was stationed with his regiment, Euphen Cochran returned to the family home at Ashkirk, near Selkirk, in 1932 with her parents, brother Alec and sister Daphne.
Euphen developed her talent for drawing and painting during an enforced convalescence after T B was discovered in her spine. So began a career which has lasted a lifetime, taken her to many parts of the world, and enriched the lives of others with her delightful water-colours.
Her love of flowers was shared by Stuart Alexander, a noted artist who specialised in landscapes and flower paintings. They married in 1943, but sadly had only nine years together before Stuart died. Since then, there have been exhibitions of his work, which is still widely appreciated.
Euphen Alexander has also given the art world much to be grateful for, especially in the Borders, where she has been President of both Selkirk and Hawick Art Clubs, as well as president of the Scottish Society of Women Artists, a number of whom live locally. Her talents were rewarded by the Royal Horticultural Society from whom she has received two silver and two bronze Grenfell medals over the years.

This book is a very personal account of her experiences, both at home and abroad. She has travelled and exhibited her work in many countries, and little sketches from each place she visited appear throughout the pages, illustrating a keen observation and an eye for small detail.
In Australia, the Cochran family's warm friendship with the poet Will Ogilvie and his wife Madge opened many doors, for he was well-remembered and his many admirers wanted to hear more about him. Scottish connections crop up in various parts of the world, as most travellers discover !
Accounts of life during the war, with its disruptive effect on the local population, her work with disabled children, and her involvement with the Scottish League of Wives and Mothers, are of great interest.
There are photographs of several of her friends and family members, and the pages are full of names of Borders people, particularly those who take an interest in art, but also of people from other professions and trades who will be known to many today and a valuable reference for years to come. The overall impression gleaned from this attractive book is one of an interesting life, filled with affection, and a talent most definitely well-used.
Reviewed May 2003.
Top

Full of Egotism - being the diary of the Rev. John Hastie

Annotated and indexed by Ronald Morrison

ISBN 1-874232-04-6 122pp Paperback. £8 plus postage.
Publisher: Borders Family History Society.
Available from us - see our Publications Sales List 
Also see the author's talk to the Society on our Sample Articles page.

We are given here an account of the life and work of a robust and lively minister of a Scottish Border parish at the turn of the 19th century. The style of writing is deliberately telegraphic and staccato, intended only to be a private journal with no expectation that others would read it with a frustrating desire for more detail. Clearly he loves statistics - weather reports, details of crops and harvests and market prices - important to him of course because he had a glebe to farm, and because so many of his parishioners were involved in agriculture. He also records in considerable detail his travels and visits to other parishes. For example, he frequently helped out other churches in the busy Communion seasons - the custom of the time.

Obviously this allowed others to give him hospitality, and he relished this. Repeatedly he mentions dinners and parties with friends and relatives and people of social significance. Clearly he was a welcome companion over the dinner table.
His travels in the Borders were legion, on foot or on horseback, on what he calls his 'excursions', whether on business or pleasure.

There are, however, huge gaps in this chronicle, which makes for frustrating reading. But perhaps we have to understand that all his travelling and investment of time and energy in farming the glebe gives evidence that this was simply typical of the priorities and demands of country ministers of his day. Of course in those days there were no church halls or the 'community' concerns which take up so much of the energies of today's ministers.
But one wonders about his whole 'pastoral' ministry. We get hints and clues from time to time as, for example, in 1815 (Waterloo) he writes about a liberal subscription for the families of the 'sufferers'. But in the same breath he notes 'Crombie the Cow sold lately to N Edrom. A new one from Quixwood. Fracas with Miss Bell - sour plumb!' One would have liked to have known more about the fracas! We hear very little about issues of the day - national politics or the Napoleonic Wars.
Instead we are given a careful calendar of Assembly meetings, but scarcely any word of the contents of their debates. The same is true of the wider context of the Enlightenment and its consequences, or the Highland Clearances, or the writing of Sir Walter Scott who was moving into celebrity status at that time. Did this minister read anything beyond farming statistics and ecclesiastical papers and the Bible ? One wonders what he preached about ! We get no insight into his reflections on the deeper issues of life and death, the struggles of faith and action or the problems of belief. Did he question any of the received theological dogmas of his day ?
What were the stages in his spiritual journey ? Those things would have given the diary more depth and interest.

His description of his marriage and family life is chronicled with dates, but little or no description of life in the Manse. Following his marriage to Sarah Logan, four daughters and one son were born in quick succession. With such a family, domestic life must surely have been noteworthy ! Even the death of his second daughter Elizabeth at a very early age is mentioned without comment. It appears that his responsibilities as husband and father took secondary place to travel and parties, to sporting activities and the demands of glebe husbandry.

Historians and members of the Borders Family History Society will certainly find interest in the statistical details and the local names and families mentioned in the text, but for others of us, much of it could allow for speed-reading. However, despite the omissions and the lack of deeper reflection, we are presented with a man with a great appetite for living, albeit with small horizons.

Credit should be given to Ronald Morrison who edited the Diary and who has written an excellent introduction with also a series on informative notes, lists of events and persons.

Reviewed by David Reid in the Summer 2005 issue of the Scottish Local History Forum Journal.
We acknowledge the kind permission of the Scottish Local History Forum to publish this review and their copyright.
Top

GENUKI U.K. & Ireland Genealogy on Internet

by David Hawgood

48 pages. A5 paperback. Soft card covers. Published by David Hawgood and FFHS (Publications), ISBN 1 86006 111 7, price £2.80.

This is a book about GENUKI, a collection of web pages on the Internet for United Kingdom and Ireland Genealogy.
It shows what type of information is in GENUKI, and how to find it, and is a very good starting point for U.K. and Ireland genealogy.

The aim of GENUKI is to serve as a "virtual reference library" of genealogical information that is of particular relevance to the UK & Ireland. It is a non-commercial service, provided by an ever-growing group of volunteers in co-operation with the Federation of Family History Societies and a number of its member societies.

In the main, the information that is provided in GENUKI relates to primary historical material, rather than material resulting from genealogists' ongoing research, such as GEDCOM files.

There are 6 chapters, an appendix, and an index, covering the following
1. Introduction
2. How to find information using GENUKI
3. Indexes and Transcripts
4. Places, Towns, Parishes
5. Sharing and Collaboration
6. Family History Societies
Appendix: Structure of the book, format and amendments.

The book appears to be almost a print of some of the web pages in GENUKI, and therefore won't tell you very much that you can't find on the GENUKI site or in its links.

For those people without access to the Internet, this book will show you examples with pictures of what you could get from the site, and may well whet your appetite enough to persuade you to get access, but it can't do anything else.

For those people who already have access to the Internet, I can't see that this book is very useful, except that it gives you time to read the pages instead of spending time and money online, or printing off the pages.

In any case, the pages on the GENUKI site are frequently changed, so this book may well not reflect all the current content.

In general, I don't like books which are reprints of websites, so I'm not going to recommend that you buy it. However, at a cost of £2.80, it's so cheap, that it doesn't much matter if you buy but don't find it useful.

It's available from Family Tree Magazine (www.family-tree.co.uk) 61 Great Whyte, Ramsey, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE17 1HL, England. Phone 01487 814050, fax 01487 711361.
Reviewed January 2001.
Top

Hall's History of Galashiels

CD version of the original book which had 601 pages including index of subscribers and illustrations. Price £12 plus postage. Available from us - see our Publications Sales List 

The History of Galashiels by Robert Hall was first published in October 1898 in a limited edition of 425 copies for subscribers only.

Robert Hall was descended from an old Galashiels family and had been the Registrar in the town. This rare book of 601 pages describes the history of the burgh and the life and times of the early woollen manufacturers of Galashiels. The original book is difficult to obtain and commands a three figure price when available. This large book is 8 by 10 by 2 thick and weighs 5llbs and can only be handled on a table.

.The text in this CD edition was scanned and edited by Mr Bill and the late Mrs Jean Marshall-Roberts from copy number 256 (a fitting binary number for this 2006 electronic edition) loaned from my personal collection.

The sections covered include

The interesting maps, photographs and drawings of the original book have been faithfully copied. This electronic edition on a CD utilising a .pdf format allows an extensive index and search facility to be used and by the use of hyperlinks it can be easily navigated.

The modest price of this CD at £12 should make it a must for all with a Galashiels or related Border ancestry.
Reviewed March 2006.
Top

HTML Pedigree Program - Creation of websites from GEDCOM files

Cost US$25 (approximately £14).
Obtainable from www.htmlpedigree.com .

The software is quick to download from the web, as a free trial version so that you can check whether you like it, the limitation being that the trial version doesn't display death/burial dates - you can pay later on for the licence for the full version if you like it.

It was easy and quick to install.
The first thing to do is to import the GEDCOM file, this was quick, though many errors were logged. The errors were grouped into unrecognised months, unrecognised dates, non-fatal errors and warnings. In the case of dates, that's reasonable because the errors are in the underlying data created, in my case, in EasyTree, and it's really EasyTree that should have checked the data.
For example, HTML Pedigree picked up OCT where the 'O' of OCT had been entered as a zero, however it also warns about dates beginning with a question mark, or where a ordinal number has been entered (5th Jun instead of 5 Jun).
I think it's just that I find the headings worrying, moreover, the error messages could be improved, to be more specific, and as it raises dates as 'unrecognised', I think it should also tell me where they are so that I can review the original data.
Surprisingly it displays the 'non-standard' dates just as I've entered them, which is what I want.
Creating the web pages is simple and fairly straightforward, there are a number of customisation options, and it produces the files in just two folders, making the task of loading them on to the web easier. The web pages produced are clear, and informative, and for me, much preferable to those produced by EasyTree. You can also link in other files, such as pictures and audio. A great point is that you can view the web pages on your own PC without being connected to the internet, which would allow you also to put them on a CD and send it to someone else.
The web pages use frames, which I don't like, however I don't see how they could be produced without frames without losing the power of seeing text and charts together.

The documentation is on the whole very good, however there are places where it should be more specific - in two places I understood it differently from the author's intention, and it was not until an exchange of emails that I correctly understood it.
The supplier could make it easier for the web pages to be indexed by search engines and directories, and I've suggested as an enhancement that HTML Pedigree should generate the meta description and keywords sets, so that users don't have to do this for themselves.
Another big plus point for HTML Pedigree is that the supplier provides help and support by email within a reasonable time (less than a day for my queries).

I suspect that recent versions of many family history programs will provide a facility to generate web pages, so whether you should buy HTML Pedigree will depend on whose style of generated web pages you prefer, and the ease of use.
Given that you can try it out for free, I recommend that you download it, and try it out.

Apart from its minor problems, (and all programs have problems), HTML Pedigree is a good program, easy to use, and well worth its cost.
Reviewed September 2004.
Top

Indexes to Kelso Chronicle death notices 1853 and 1854

By Vivienne S. Dunstan

Each book 17pp. A4 format, thin plastic covers, £2.75.

Each of these indexes lists notices from the deaths column of the Kelso Chronicle, a Borders newspaper. There are 438 death notices in the 1853 index, and 428 death notices in the 1854 index. Information is shown in columnar format.

Names are shown in order of surname, and forename. For most of them there is a short description of a relationship, occupation, or location. Deaths of many Borderers on the other side of the border (including Berwick-upon-Tweed) are listed, as well as deaths of Scottish Borderers overseas. Other columns show the place of death, age, cause of death, date of death, and the date of the newspaper in which the notice appeared.

These are very useful indexes. If you have family in Kelso around 1853 or 1854, get one or both of these indexes - you might discover another family member or find that missing death.

Available from the author.
Reviewed September 2000.
Top

Jethart Worthies

by Thomas Smail


Edited with notes by Norrie McLeish

68 pp. Illus. Card Covers. ISBN 1-873-708-10-6 : Alba Publishing 2000 : £3.75 plus post and packing : Available from Alba Publishing, 20 Dounehill, Jedburgh, TD8 6LJ, Scotland.

"A 'Jethart Worthy' is someone who stands out from other citizens, as he exhibits some strongly individual characteristics that mark him out from his fellows, to such an extent, that he is remembered, sometimes with affection. generally with a smile, but never anything approaching venom, for long years after he is dead." The original book was first published in 1868, and is about the history of some of these characters in the early years of the 19th century.
Each of these character sketches is interesting and humorous, and brings in other people involved. Reading them has given me new insight into the social history of the times in Jedburgh. Notes accompany the sketches. There is a page of bibliography, a 2 page glossary of the more unusual Scots words, and an index.

This is a very good wee book, and Norrie's notes are both useful and informative.
It's not expensive, and it's worth buying, whether for yourself, or as a present.
Reviewed May 2001.
Top

Lauderdale in the 20th Century

Edited by Norrie McLeish and Fay Mackay

Paperback with card covers and glossy pages. xii+311 pp. ISBN 1-873-708-13-0. £14.99 plus postage and packing. Publisher: Lauderdale Development Forum.

My eye was drawn to this book lying amongst other books on the table by its cover showing the town of Lauder, Thirlestane Castle, and the hills behind; the image having been taken from a painting by Tom Davidson.

This book was conceived as a follow-up to the Lauder and Lauderdale book by Andrew Thomson published in 1902; to cover the century from 1900.

It comprises more than 60 articles covering life, history, politics, and the landscape of of Lauder and Lauderdale, together with 120 illustrations.
It's probably inevitable that reference is made to events happening long before 1900 in order to set the scene, however, I think it's particularly useful because by doing this, it covers matters missing from Andrew Thomson's book.

There are a lot of interesting anecdotes and potted history, and while considerable research has clearly been done, the book is extremely readable, even if you're not a resident or have no connection with the area. Just as the statistical accounts of yesteryear and Andrew Thomson's book are indispensable for today's students, I think this book will be a must for future students.
Especially useful for us, as family historians, is a huge 14 page index of people and places.
I particularly liked the histories of the police in Lauderdale, the roads, and the Lauder Light Railway.

A lot of the illustrations are of people and sporting teams, and the only drawback in the book that I can see is that in some of these the people are not named.
Whether you keep it in on your bedside table to dip into, or as a focus on your coffee table; this book is for you. Even a few poems and songs are included.
Reviewed September 2003.
Top

'No Cheese After Dinner' - With the 51st Highland Division from Normandy to Poland and back via Hell 1940-1945

By Fred Kennington

Paperback with card covers. 96 pp. ISBN 0-9526496-4-0. £7.50 plus postage and packing. Available from: F L Kennington, Northumbria House, 35 Corbar Rd, Stockport, Cheshire, SK2 6EP, England.

Fred has put this book together from the personal stories of some of the 7th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, a Territorial Army unit from Berwick upon Tweed and the surrounding area, who were called up at the start of the war, were captured in France, and spent most of the war in prisoner-of-war camps in Germany and Poland; the author's brother being one of them.

The accounts start with mobilisation, posting to France, their surrender after the evacuation of Dunkirk, continuing with the forced marches and other journeys through France, Germany, and Poland to the camps.

The working and 'living' conditions of these camps are described together with the deaths, escapes, and eventually liberation, and the return home; not by truck or bus as I had thought, but by marching back through despoiled countryside with severe privations - the 'death marches' for some.

The book's covers show a detachment of POWs from one of the camps in 1942 - remarkably well turned out and fairly 'normal' .

This is a very interesting book, well worth its purchase price.
Reviewed May 2004.
Top

Scottish Gypsies and Other Travellers: A Short History

by Donald Whyte FHG, FSG (Hon.)

A4 format, 83 pp including illustrations, card covers, stapled. 5 authentic historical drawings by Amaletta, map, and one photo.
Price £7.95 plus postage. ISBN 1-903418-09-7. Available from Robert Dawson, 188 Alfreton Rd, Blackwell, Alfreton, Derbyshire, DE55 5JH, England.

This book discusses the history of the Gypsies from their ancient origins to the present day.

There's a foreword by Robert Dawson, who writes, publishes, and retails a wealth of material about Gypsies and Travelling people.

It concentrates on the history of Gypsies in Scotland from the 15th century, and a substantial part of this concerns the Borders. There is a short chapter on (mainly Scottish) Gypsy customs.

There are 4 appendices: The Act of Parliament, 1609, requiring the expulsion of Gypsies; the poem Johnny Faa, the Gypsy Laddie; the Lament for (king)Wull Faa, and a sample of Scottish Traveller language.

I've always been quite curious about Gypsies, having been taken, by my grandfather, as a 6 year old to have lunch with a Gypsy chair maker deep in a forest.
Many of the books I've tried to read about Gypsies have been extremely dull and tedious.
Although a lot of scholarship seems to have gone into this book, it's easy to read, and I found it a most absorbing account.

The bibliography lists 30 items, which the author says is cut down from almost 300. There's also a list of useful addresses, an index of names, an index of places, as well as a general index.

This book contains a wealth of genealogical information, so the indices are well needed.

I recommend this book to anyone that has Gypsy forebears, or who like me, just wants to know more about the Gypsies.
Reviewed September 2001.
Top

Scottish Surnames

By Donald Whyte FHG, FSG (Hon.)

Paperback 267 pages, £6.99.
Published by Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh. ISBN 1 84158 056 2.

This is an extensively revised and expanded edition of Donald Whyte's best known book.

The introduction describes the different origins for surnames in Scotland.

The body of the book discusses at length some 220 Scottish surnames, arranged in alphabetic order, including their meaning and origin, earliest known references, and details the most notable bearers of those names.

There is an index to surnames mentioned other than in their section in the body of the book; unfortunately, for no apparent reason, not all of them are indexed.

There is also a useful section on further reading, but it would have been more useful to separate the book details out instead of including them in the body of the text, and to include ISBN numbers and publishers.

For us, in our family history studies, surnames are an essential link between the generations of our families.

Understanding those surnames, their meaning, origins, and main locations is essential, and this book provides this.
At only £6.99, I think this is one purchase that you should not do without.
Reviewed January 2001.
Top

Shillinglaw

By Jean S. Ridley

Hardback. 200 pages including 53 photographs and 11 maps and charts. Cost $33.00 including post.
Obtainable from the author: 4825 W. Old Farm Circle, Colorado Springs, CO 80917-1004, USA. Published by Gateway Press, Baltimore, USA.

This book covers a journey through time and travels from Edinburgh to Chicago. Places included on the journey are Edinburgh, Canada, the US and Peebles.
The story starts in the 1780's with Andrew Shillinglaw and charts the progress of the family, its relationships and how the writer uncovered their details and her ongoing research. The social history included in this book sets the tree in context relating the social conditions at the time. A large amount of social detail is included.
Surnames included in the book are Allison, Bates, Earle, Gurr, Bell, Jones, Logan, Moffat, Nicol, Paterson and Yesley.
Reviewed September 2002.
Top

Surnames and Clansmen: Border Family History in Earlier Days

by Michael Robson

200 pages: ISBN 0 9534015 0 2: Price £10.50.

For all of us interested in Border families, this well-researched and documented book by Dr. Michael Robson, is destined to become essential reading. From the first paragraph in which the author accurately reflects the enjoyment and addiction to be derived by family historians as we delve back into our own family histories to the final page, the reader will become totally engrossed in this very readable book.

Wherever your personal interests lie in the Borders, readers will surely find much helpful information about people or places. A cursory glance at the index reveals references to approximately 400 surnames ranging from well-known Border families to the more unusual names such as Pittiloch and Lukupe.

The author frequently advises the reader of the various pitfalls to avoid when tracing surnames back into the mists of time, including the influence of fictional characters in our quests and makes us aware of the existence of familiar Border place names on the English side of the Border , e.g. Yarrow in Northumberland as well as the Yarrow Valley in Selkirkshire. He devotes five chapters to the Chisholm family as an example of how a surname can travel beyond its home district, contending that Chisholm is derived from the name of a place, namely the lands of "Chesehome" which are to be found in the shallow glen of the Borthwick Water to the west of Hawick. He goes on to relate tales of Chisholms in Hawick, Melrose, Peeblesshire, Selkirk and Selkirkshire. Such a concentrated study of this surname will surely be of benefit to family historians as Dr. Robson provides a wide range of documentary evidence to back up his findings.

An interesting chapter on Highland names in the Borders gives much food for thought as the author suggests that the distribution of such names might be due to soldiers remaining in this area after the Battle of Flodden, or deserters from Bonnie Prince Charlie's army being so attracted by the scenery around Canonby that they settled there or folk simply coming in search of work on farms or in the burghs. Sometimes just marrying a Border girl was a good enough reason to stay !

Dr. Robson is a founder member of the Borders FHS and many members will be familiar with the attention to detail and historical accuracy which characterises his work through his many contributions to this magazine. His latest effort is a delight to read and is a book which I can thoroughly recommend.
Reviewed January 1999.
Top

The Cumledge Chronicle A history of a family and a home in the Scottish Borders over several centuries

by Jock Wilson Smith

Paperback. 140+xiv pp. Copious illustrations. ISBN 0 954 6297 0 1.
Cost £9 plus postage. Obtainable from Jock Wilson Smith, Alderstane House, Cumledge, Duns, TD11 3TB.

This book traces the history of Cumledge, near Preston, in Duns parish, Berwickshire, and its inhabitants from the early 1500s to the present day.

Lt-Col Jock Wilson Smith's Smith family heritage is from Northern Ireland, and though many fought on the English side at Flodden, they have been Borderers since 1700.

The accounts of Smith family individuals are interesting, and fun, and the author hasn't omitted the juicy bits - they are nicely rounded off with black and white photographs.

There's rather less detail on the Wilson family, who were originally 'moss troopers', but farmers in Berwickshire at the time of marrying into the Smiths.

Other chapters are devoted to his grandfather, father, his grandparents' poetry (some of the poems being quite humorous), other branches of the family, army service, and civil service, the estate and lands, and more importantly about the staff, tenants and neighbours. Occupancy details have been obtained from census records.

Appendix 1 lists the Lairds of Cumledge from 1400 onwards.
Appendices 2 to 12 are various one page family trees showing summarised details.

There are 2 indices, a general index, and an eight page persons index.

All in all, a very interesting, thoroughly researched and well-written book, and well worth buying.

Reviewed September 2004.
Top

The Ewes Valley

by Brenda I. Morrison & R. Bruce McCartney

132 pp. Price £ 7.50 (excluding postage). ISBN 0951785818. Available from R. B. McCartney, "Cairndhu", Walter Street, Langholm, Dumfriesshire, DG13 OAX, Scotland.

This publication gives the reader a small taste of the history of the ancient parish of Eusdale and brings in snippets of information of the surrounding parishes.

The content of this book will appeal to many of those whose ancestors strayed along the border country around Langholm to Ewes. It deals with the historical background of the parish as well as local folklore, monumental inscriptions for Ewes Churchyard and Unthank and also gives good information on ancient travel routes in the valley, local characters, buildings of note, Militia List, Register of Testaments, Kirk Session Minutes, War Memorial Inscriptions and extracts of important documents relating to its history. The monumental inscriptions alone is worth reading for the information of various trades and tenant farmers who also worked farms outwith this parish.
This book has a very clearly laid out format; is indexed, well illustrated and is a good pocket size for those visiting the area or for posting as a gift accordingly.
Overall, this is an excellent addition to the varied history of our region.
Reviewed May 2001.
Top

The Scotts of Thirlestane

by John Webley

The Society would like to acknowledge the gift to our archive by the author of a copy of this privately published book. It is a most handsome volume, bound in a burgundy hardback cover with matching end papers and gold titling and embellishment.

The subtitle is "The story of John Scott of Thirlestane, his Buccleuch ancestry and his descendants the Scott Elliots of Larriston and the Napiers." The author is descended from the Scott Elliots of Larriston through his mother, Elizabeth Noel Scott Elliot.

The book, as set out in the introduction, "is an attempt to set out objectively the history of the Scotts of Thirlestane and, in particular, the story of the senior line from the Scotts of Thirlestane through the Scotts of Davington to the Scott Elliots of Larriston. As the second millennium draws to a close it seems appropriate to record the varying fortunes of a family which can be tracked throughout nearly the whole period. The family's history is intertwined with that of the Buccleuchs and the Napiers and these two families therefore figure prominently in what is recounted. In particular, the extensive litigation between the senior line and the Napiers in respect of the estates of Thirlestane is explored, and is the rather extraordinary story of the Scott of Thirlestane Arms and the accusations that the documents used to obtain the grant of arms from the Court of the Lord Lyon were forged."

The book contains excellent photographs both coloured and black and white, plus reproductions of documents and letters, maps and plans and quotes from the relevant Border Ballads. Accounts of some of the family's fortunes in India include the voyage of the 40 gun ship "Protector" of the Honourable East India Company operating mainly out of Bombay. The story impinges upon several other families from both sides of the Border including Bells, Beatties and Richardsons. Locations covered include Canonbie, Meikledale, Woodslee, Davington, Eskdalemuir, Ettrick, St Mary's Loch and St Mary's Churchyard.

The coloured reproduction of the Arms of the Scott Elliots of Larriston is particularly fine.

Unlike some other family histories which border upon the arid, this story is told in a most readable and informative fashion and contains a great deal of additional information in the eight appendices.

The depth of research and academic effort that has been employed in the production of this volume is worthy of our admiration and is an example of what can be achieved by the diligent family historian.
Reviewed January 2001.
Top

Galashiels through the Years - A Selection of Photographs from the Old Gala Club Archives

Illustrated card covers. 111 pages.
Cost £7.50 plus postage and packing: UK £1.50, overseas (surface mail) £2.25. Obtainable from Helen Elliott, Whinfield, Paterson Street, Galashiels TD1 3DD.

This book contains 105 pages of captioned black and white photographs of buildings and people of Galashiels and the various events and gatherings in which they took part dating from 1842 to 1987; there being one or two photographs per page.

There are also 3 adverts, one for a concert in 1861, another for a sale of wood in 1854, and one for a carriage excursion to St Mary's Loch in 1870.

The cost of the excursion was 5 shillings (25p), which seems high, putting it out of reach of the workers.
What is more amazing is that a brass band was to accompany the trip, starting their performance at 4.30 in the morning in Market Square (Galashiels), and playing at every subsequent stop.
Weren't the residents annoyed ?
Was one of your ancestors on the excursion ?

It's an excellent collection, my only criticism being that an index to the photos would have been useful.
These photographs are useful in showing the dress fashions in use at the time.
One of my retired friends was able to name almost every one of his classmates in the pictures.

This is a good book to have for anyone who has family connections in the Galashiels area in the period, and also for those who want to see how Galashiels looked in the 'olden' days. At only £7.50, this book is a bargain.
Reviewed January 2005.
Top

Knowing Your Grandfather - Joseph William Wilson 1879-1958

By Malcolm Cant

Illustrated hard covers. xvi + 144 pages. ISBN 0-9526099-7-5.
Cost £12 post free in the UK. Obtainable from Malcolm Cant Publications, 13 Greenbank Row, Edinburgh, EH10 5SY.

This book, by an author well known for his books on the history of Edinburgh, is an account of his maternal grandfather's life from his birth in Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire, to his death in Edinburgh; having served for many years in the city's police force.

There are lots of illustrations including several of places in Hawick and Selkirk, where Joseph's wife, Mary Jane Mathieson Kain was brought up.

It is an interesting account, with family trees included, particularly worth reading if you are related.

Unusually for a family history, the author reveals how he got his information, and the problems and pitfalls he had. This makes the book useful for anyone contemplating family history research of a similar period, and he also illustrates some of the records found, in photos or as tables in the text.

As you would expect from a book of this type there is an index to people and places; additionally there is also a list of the illustrations.

This is an excellent book worth reading whether you are interested in the family or the people of the time, and is an excellent example of how to write a family history.

Well worth buying.
Reviewed January 2005.
Top

Publications Review Policy

We are glad to receive books, CDs, microfiche, microfilms, and maps for review on subjects relevant to Borders (the areas either side of the Scottish/English border) genealogy and local history, on the following conditions:

Please send items for review to
Reviewer, Borders Family History Society, Old Gala House, Scott Crescent, Galashiels, Scottish Borders, TD1 3JS, Scotland.
If the item is not available from book retailers, please state from where it can be obtained, the price, and cost of postage to all parts of the world.
All items will be acknowledged by email with a copy of the review, please therefore, include your email address.
Top