This blog started life as a place for me to share my family history research, which I felt was better published online rather than sitting in the virtual equivalent of a dusty old filing cabinet.

Over the years the content of this blog has evolved and if you’re interested in history, culture, genealogy or the West of Scotland then you will feel at home here.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to exchange research or to make corrections.

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  1. Hey Colin, what a fascinating blog you have put together, particularly the information on the Isle of Skye. I’ll read through this in more detail, but can’t help but feel we must be related – we are both Macdonald’s, my old man was from Sleat (Tokavaig) and my mother is from Springburn! Martin

    1. Wow Martin! That is very interesting, thanks for letting me know! A fellow MacDonald with links to Sleat (yours a bit closer than mine) and a connection to Springburn. Certainly within the realms of possibility that we have a relation in common!

      I would be interested in hearing a bit about your family when you have time.

  2. Hey MacDonald! It’s McLeod from Canada. Nice description of your blog. And thanks for the link to MacDonald and King Louis XVIII. All the best, Janet

  3. Hi Colin, I just got home from Paris last night where I had discovered the street named after your descendant and being a Macdonald of Clanranald of UIST I googled your ancestor to find his history, I knew of Neil Mc Eachern,s link to the famous Flora and thought he might have gone to France after Prince Charles ! Of course the street was named after his son. Great details Colin! my daughter Fiona wrote Alexander date of birth and death down for me, j have Hugh Macdonald born UIST (1755~1835) died at Skye loads of info from his son Archibald who was a weaver & his wife Chirsty Gillies, their many children etc etc my grandfather Hector came from Bracadale Skye~ I was born in SPRINGBURN Glasgow…………………….Flora Macdonald…………….Awesome site Colin………………..

  4. Hi Flora, I’m afraid to say that Marshal MacDonald is not a relation of mine, I merely have an interest in his unusual career. A lot of my interest came from trying to look up various sites associated with him when I visited Paris earlier this year. I really hope to generate a bit more interest in him and to make him more well known in Scotland. Nice to see you are yet another MacDonald with links to Skye and Springburn, seems there are a few of us! I stayed near Bracadale once, at Portnalong, it’s certainly a nice part of Skye. Thanks very much for the feedback, its always nice to hear people find this history as fascinating as I do. As for your Uist connection, I have a post coming up about Marshal MacDonald and his links to Uist which I think you will enjoy. Slainte!

  5. Hi Colin, I am planning a trip to UK and Europe late May and June. I’m thinking about a trip to Skye. Looking at the dates would be around June 5. I will be coming through Glasgow. I wonder if there is a boat trip from there it would be interesting to travel by sea. Anyway, want to meet up? I am also looking to do a presentation on family lineage, Intergenerational trauma and DNA research. It’s about a half an hour and it’s based on the research I’ve done on Ledger 1807. If you have any ideas of places to do this presentation that would be appreciated. A church? Women’s Institute? Hope we connect! Janet

  6. My Uncle came across your website and wants to get in touch with you. I told him that I would try to get an email address from you so that he could contact you regarding a common ancestor our ours. (We have the same great great great or great great great great grandfather, Alexander MacDonald) If you could send me your email address I will forward it to him.

    Guy Ayres

  7. Hello Colin, Just came upon your blog as i search my own MacDonald Family history. interesting read about Alexander MacDonald . I have now found out i have 3 grandfathers with that name, hence how i found your blog. Will continue to follow along.

    Jeremy MacDonald
    Napan Bay, New Brunswick

    1. Thanks Jeremy, I do plan on posting more articles about the MacDonalds, but sadly I don’t always have the time to do the necessary research. I’ve been doing more of my private research recently, but I will definitely try to get back to a more regular posting schedule.

  8. I am a Jean McLarty+Coll Sinclair/Nancy Sinclair+JamesLocke/L.Mabel Locke+R.B McGregor/Jean McGregor+D.H Ward/Bev’y Ward+W.N.Kinnear descendant from Toronto, Canada and…
    I’ve been trying to establish whether my ancestry descends from EITHER Coll Sinclair b.1810 m. Jane McLarty b.1814 OR Coll Sinclair b.1811 m. Jean McLarty b.1817!
    However, even if ‘Jane’ or ‘Jean’ McLarty are not related to any of the ancestors on your blog, Coll Sinclair’s father, Malcolm, was born in Craignish & his son, Coll Sinclair, 22y, married Jean McLarty, 16y, in 1833 in Argyllshire, but no specific location is given, so the information you’ve given about the Craignish area is much appreciated!
    I still have some work to do with this genealogical connexion…
    Cheers, Bev’y

    1. I am a Sinclair descendant. Coll Sinclair and Jean McLarty were married on May 7, 1883, in the London District of Ontario, not in Scotland. Hope that helps.

      P.S. I can’t trace the Sinclair family tree past Coll so your hint that his father may have been Malcolm provides a clue. Hopefully I’ll be able to trace it further, but as of now, no luck.

  9. Colin this is a fascinating piece of work and I wanted to thank you for it, I am currently reading the autobiography of Molly Weir and I needed to be able to visualise the places she decribes in and around Springburn in the early 1900s. I came across your blog and it started to fill the gaps. I am in the process of researching my own family, from the Renfrew area, grandparents, born in 1906 and 1907. Your blog has given me the inspiration to go on and also some valuable indicators for my own research. Thank you.

    1. Hi Judith, thanks very much for your nice comments. It’s always nice to know that history continues to inspire people, particularly to find out more about their own family. I’ve been researching my family tree for seven years now and I’m still learning new things all the time. Good luck with your research.

  10. Hi Colin, I’m working for Aulds in Greenock, refurbishing a Cafe. I’m looking for an old map of the Docks and came across your site. The old map you show of Greenock back in the 1700’s is the kind of thing. Do you have digital files of it and would they be suitable to enlarge and print? If so would you be interested in selling to us for a reasonable fee? Many thanks Bob – bob@marketreactive.com

    1. Hi Bob, the maps I use are available from the National Library of Scotland. I’m not sure what the rules are with respect to them being used in a commercial premises but I will email you with further details of how you can contact them.

  11. Hello Colin,
    I am writing a preview of the upcoming annual jousting event at Linlithgow Palace for iScot magazine, which will include an introduction on the history of the Palace. My preliminary searches suggest to me that the decline of the Palace buildings has been concurrent with Scotland’s slide into Union..starting with the royals disappearing down to England at the beginning of the 1600s, and culminating in the building’s destruction by Cumberland’s army. Do you think this would be a fair analogy to make?
    I came across a comment of yours that the destruction of the Palace was one of the great (and little known) works of cultural vandalism by the British Army. This resonated with me and I would be keen to expand this a little, please could you tell me a little more, and/or point me towards any sources to prove it was a deliberate fire-raising? I am away to Linlithgow library at the weekend to investigate this, meanwhile I have bought a copy of George Waldie’s Linlithgow, which claims the fire was accidental and that the limit of the Cumberland force’s culpability was carelessness followed by lack of interest in putting the fire out (p89). It seems ridiculous that the fire was an accident but I need to find some reasonable proof that it wasn’t. Can you help?
    Many thanks
    Zoe Weir

    1. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that it’s fair to say that Linlithgow, along with all Scottish Royal buildings declined in importance and prestige after our monarchs scurried off to London.

      As for whether or not it the Linlithgow fire was an accident, I have certainly read before that the fire was due to an unattended fire but I suspect the Hanoverian soldiers weren’t exactly distraught at the thought of the palace going up in flames. I have my own views, but no doubt there is an academic source which explores the evidence in more detail.

      What I would say is that this is the same army who damaged the royal portraits in the gallery of Holyrood House after the Battle of Falkirk, murdered unarmed prisoners and stole a massive amount of cattle and other economic assets from the highlands after Culloden. This shows a clear pattern of behaviour which may help to provide answers in relation to Linlithgow.

  12. Thanks for this. It corresponds very well with what I’ve unearthed so far -Waldie’s evidence is that the soldiers were disorderly and were still in the Palace when the flames spread and that they and their General (Hawley) refused to tackle the blaze. Not quite the accident reported on various websites and in official guidebooks then.
    I hope to find out more at the weekend. I’m still trying to clarify whether there were two groups of British soldiers, one fleeing Prestonpans under General Cope to Holyrood, the second under General Hawley fleeing Falkirk to Linlithgow. These two vandalisms both occurred Jan/Feb, then Culloden was in April.
    Possible route Falkirk-Linlithgow-Edinburgh-Perth-Culloden?
    I will let you know if I find out more.

  13. Hello again. I found nothing in the books at Linlithgow to disprove Waldie’s account. I also found out that Cope was supposed to be replaced by Cumberland after his defeat at Prestonpans, but Cumberland was otherwise disposed so Hawley took over. So it was the same army under a different leader. After leaving Linlithgow the Brits followed the Jacobites north until Culloden.
    I plan to give your website a mention at the end of my piece if that is ok, as I think iScot readers would really enjoy it. Article should be in June 1st edition of iScot, available online at pocketmags. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Zoe,

      Thanks for giving my website a bit of a plug, it’s much appreciated although I have been tardy with my posting these days.

      Also, if you are interested in another useful resource about the ’45, I’d recommend ‘Falkirk or Paradise’ by Geoff Bailey. I remember contacting him a few years ago about specific questions relating to points on the battlefield and he was very helpful. In terms of your work it gives some extensive detail about troop movements, much of which is not otherwise well known.

  14. Hi Colin, my organisation is putting on a talk about the Jewish Community in Greenock on Sunday 19 November, 2017. I couldn’t find a private comment / contact area so I’m writing here. Could you email me at shayna@scojec.org so I can pass on details. Thanks.

  15. Hallo Colin. Many greetings from the Heart of Europe! I have just came across you and your Blog. I printed out, and read, Skye’s Blood Soaked Locations – The MacDonald/MacLeod Feud. I have a question regarding one of your opening points. You say “I don’t plan on a pointless retelling of the entire conflict, which is done much more succinctly elsewhere on the internet.” Could you point me in the right direction to come to a better understanding of the MacDonald/MacLeod Feud? Some article which will inform and not muddy the water too much!

    I wanted to ask also about the forced truce by the Scottish Crown. Would you know where i could read something more about this too?

    Many thanks for the free flow of info; you provide a good source of insight!

  16. hanks I enjoyed the McLarty story , I am researching my ancestor Adam Charles McLarty born ca 1766 ??? his son is my 3rd grt grandfather Benjamin Burkhart McLarty born ca 1799-1800 possibly in England/Ireland/Scotland ? the rest of his siblings all born in St Johns Newfoundland Canada in the 1800’s , Benjamin Immigrated to New York USA in 1824 . On his passenger ship list it stated he was a resident of England.I am trying to locate the origin of his father Adam McLarty.I tried tracing him through the Freemasons with no help. He died in Newfoundland in 1824 and his obituary read that there were many British big wigs attended his funeral. He was married to Anne ??? They had a baby that was born before Benjamin in 1798 named John that died so I assume Adam’s father was John McLarty according to the naming pattern ,he was born ca, 1730’s–40’s….So the first born was John , Then Benjaim ,Then Adam and 12 more …..I would love some advice on how to proceed with this search . I am at a brick wall in Canada.please contact me at tracer411@msn.com………..thank you Carol

  17. Good Evening Colin, I understand you conversed with my mums cousin Wiiliam Brown. I am related through my Grandfather to the Craignish MacLartys and to your family line. Members of my grandmothers family were also from Skye (Sleat). My dad was in the merchant navy and I remember talked of sailing with a MacLarty from Greenock who was related to my mum. I would be interested in connecting my email is Jkmackellar@aol.com

  18. Happy Hogmanay, appreciated good read about the creation of Hill St. and life of your great gran Agnes Petrie. My husbands McNeill branch are pointing to Hayfield farming land, and cottage belonging to his 3rd great grandfather Duncan McNeill who lives in Regent Street, as a Gardener. His wife is Agnes and so far they have 9 children. I’m keen to discover more of our Green Man in his woods. Fascinating.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for the message. That is an interesting connection, I assume you have seen the 1842 map of Greenock which shows a ‘Mr McNeil’ as living at Hayfield? The farm is gone by the time we get to the 1856 map, which shows the Hill Street tenements in position. Now that they are also demolished I guess we have gone full circle.

      Kind regards,

      Colin MacDonald

  19. Hi Colin,

    I’m over in Australia trying to trace the roots of my McLardy ancestry and found your post – fantastic! The furthest I can get back is an Alexander McLardy born in 1804 in Kilmichael, Argyll, who married a Sarah Stewart in 1830 and had a son, Daniel, my 3x great grandfather, in 1835. I think Alex passed away in 1878, and that his father was also an Alex, but I’m not sure. Since reading your post I’ve been searching McLarty and McLartich but not having much luck. If you know of any Alex’s born in 1804, or have any pointers, I’d love any assistance you might be able to offer!

    With kind regards,

    1. Hi Meg,

      I’m glad you liked the post, you should also read my other article about the 1685 uprising which also mentions the McLartys of Argyll.

      I see that the parish records for Kilmichael-Glassary go back to 1750 so the right time period is available for your ancestor. I don’t see anything specifically relating to an Alexander McLardy, but if you are confident that his father was also Alexander then there are two families that could possibly match.

      There is an Alexander McLarty and Katrine McAlpine, who had a child in Kilmichael-Glassary in 1786. There is also an Alexander McLartich/McLarty and Anne McNicol who had children in the parish in 1793 and 1796. I don’t see a child named Alexander but researching these people might help you.

      I checked some of the neighbouring parishes too. There is an Alexander McLarty son of Alexander born in Craignish in 1789, which doesn’t quite fit your dates. I also see the McLarty/McNicol couple listed above as living in North Knapdale in the early 1800s. It might be the case that your ancestor was born in neighbouring Kilmartin as there is an annoying gap in the records there from 1793 to 1819. Those missing records have been a big stumbling block for some of my research.

      Of course it may also be the case that your ancestor’s birth was never registered, which did happen from time to time.

      kind regards,

      Colin MacDonald

  20. Hi Colin,

    it’s Chas at the Clan Donald Worldwide Facebook Group, here. Could you email me, please? I seem to have lost your email address (second one found lost today :O ). There’s a couple of things I’d like to discuss. Thanks.

  21. Hello Colin, I was recently looking into James Sayer Orr. I was wondering if you had some research links you could share with me? Possibly any sources which have specific records detailing his information on his birth parents and place of birth. I believe I’ve found every newspaper article on Newspapers.com which chronicles his movements in the United States. But I have little to no information on his wanderings in Britain. I would greatly appreciate your help. My email is rct46@drexel.edu. Also I can send you some sources I have as well if you would like. I really enjoyed your article, thank you for your work.

  22. Hi Colin. I’m researching the life of my GGF. His name was John McElhinney and his wife was Mary. They emigrated from Ireland and settled in Newton, Cambuslang around 1890. He was a colliery engine keeper. By the 1901 census the family had grown and they were living in 9 Springvale Place. John was now a general outdoor labourer. In all there were 5 children, at least 3 of which were born in #9. I guess our ancestors must have been neighbours and if I find any more information I’ll post it. Thank you for posting the map as I couldn’t find any reference to Springvale Place around the turn of the century. With best wishes.

    1. Thanks Alan, it seems like our families may in fact have been neighbours at one point. I’m glad the post was useful in finding Springvale Place, it took me quite a while to find when I was first searching for it on the old NLS maps. If you do find any other nuggets of information relating to Springvale Place then by all means please let me know.

  23. Hello Colin. If someone wanted to reprint one of your blog articles in a group newsletter/magazine, what would be required for permission?

  24. Hello Colin, I read your article about the Scottish connection and the Confederacy in the Clan Douglas Society of North America newsletter. I am particularly intrigued that you are in Greenock as I have an obscure question about the Greenock and P.G. Tramways Co. Perhaps you can help?
    Please email if possible. Thank you!

  25. Hi there, I’ve discovered a family connection to 1 William Street in 1894/5 – Patrick Loughney had a shop there and is listed as a dealer. Would you have any information? Thanks

    1. Hi Gwen, the only thing I have that may be of use is a copy of the 1905 Valuation Roll for 1 William Street, which doesn’t show the name of Loughney. It looks like he might have moved on by then.

  26. Hello Cousin, we are a DNA match on Ancestry. Nice to make your acquaintance family. I have just happened upon your blog so I’m off to have a good read. We share Irish (Louth) 3x Great Grandparents 🙂 I believe my 2x Great Grandfather Patrick Kane is the brother of your 2x Great Grandfather James Kane. Sharron

  27. Dear Mr MacDonald,
    Thank you for this terrific weblog.
    I’m writing to request permission to use this marvelous image:

    to accompany the release of a conversation I had the pleasure to have with the incomparable Sandy Stoddart. We will happily credit the photographer and/or owner of the image.
    If you don’t have copyright, do you know who does?
    I’d be grateful if you would contact me at sblackwood@ralston.ac at your convenience.
    With great thanks and best wishes,
    Stephen Blackwood

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