I’ve just created a new Melrose one-place study site, to give a more structured and organised version of my online resources. It is a WordPress-based site, and the blog has also been moved to be part of the new site directly. Though copies of the old blog posts will also remain on the old blog site, but no new posts will be made there.
Please visit the new site and feel free to sign up for the new blog there to continue to receive new Melrose one-place study blog posts. If you click on “Blog” at the top of the new site (or just go here) you will be taken to the blog posts directly, and can subscribe from there.
Today I’ve uploaded a new version of my list of Melrose WW1 servicemen. This is a major update, adding over 100 names of new soldiers to the list, taking the total to nearly 350. Significant numbers of soldiers who were born in Melrose but lived and enlisted elsewhere have been added, as well as new soldiers from and in Melrose itself. In addition new information has been found out about many of the previously known soldiers.
The online list will continue to be updated over the coming years. The next goal is to incorporate the names of the soldiers recorded in the town’s Roll of Honour in the Ormiston Institute. I hope to collect these names later in 2016, and add them later this year, or more likely in 2017. And I would also research any extra names, to find out as much as possible. This Roll of Honour includes men who survived as well as those who died. Though it will omit many who had moved away from Melrose, but were originally from the town.
Although this one-place study focuses on the period with documentary evidence that can be studied and transcribed, especially before 1820, there is also an interest in the wider chronological history of Melrose and the surrounding area. And that includes extending far back in time before documentary evidence is available.
One of the most famous sites in the Melrose area is the Roman fort of Trimontium, which was excavated in the early 20th century. There is now a permanent Trimontium museum in the town, and the Trimontium Trust promotes the site and its history.
So I’m pleased to be able to say that the 1911 excavation report for Trimontium is available freely online. See here, in particular the link to the PDF page. PDFs of individual chapters are available, or a single 400+ page PDF of the whole book can be downloaded.
I’ve been using the National Archives of Scotland (previously Scottish Record Office) online catalogues for many years. Now it’s part of the National Records of Scotland, and I’ve just been trying some more catalogue searches, and found something new for me. The NRS has lots of plans for places in Scotland in the past, including maps, sketch plans of places, and architectural plans. And these seem to be largely tagged by place.
Searching for the place tag for Melrose parish finds 228 of these RHP maps and plans, from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Check out the list to see if any might concern your ancestors, depending on when and where they lived. Contact the NRS for further information on accessing these records, including arranging photocopies or digital copies.
I’ve previously announced a WW1 project associated with the Melrose one-place study.
The working list of servicemen traced has now been put online. This will grow over time, especially after I have a chance to study the Roll of Honour of 454 serving Melrose men that is held in the Ormiston Institute. This Roll of Honour includes men who lived as well as those who died. In this first working version of the servicemen list relatively more men who died than lived are included. This should change over time.
To see the list, and please remember that it will be updated, see here.
For my two one-place studies, Coldingham and Melrose, I’ve decided to start a project researching soldiers from World War I that I can trace. This is quite difficult to do, because the soldier records are in many cases incomplete, many lost due to World War II bombing. But it’s also hard for both parishes because of the high populations. It’s unlikely, for example, for me to be able to draw up a list of all men of the right age range, and look for all of them in the records, one by one. Rather I will use resources like Ancestry to try to find soldiers who were recorded as living in the right places.
Both parishes have war memorials, and the lives and deaths of the men recorded on them have previously been researched by others (see “Melrose War Memorials” book available from the Borders Family History Society). I do not plan to replicate this work about the soldiers who died during the conflict. Instead I’m looking for all soldiers that I can find, living or dead, in the surviving army records, particularly those I can search from home online.
I will be preparing a list of the men I find for Melrose, and putting it in the one-place study website. This will be a slow ongoing process, and more information will be added as I find it. I will be using as my model for this list Alex Coles’s list of WW1 soldiers traced for Wing in Buckinghamshire, though I will probably aim, where possible, to put more information online in my basic list. And I would aim to keep copies of relevant records that I trace, including any detailed soldier service records, so they can be passed on to any descendants or other relatives of the soldiers who get in touch.
I would also welcome information from modern descendants who have known relatives from each place who served during WW1. Feel free to contact me about this on email at email@example.com
I collect old postcards of Melrose, and particularly like the photographic ones that show major events in the town in the past, such as this one.
I’ve just got hold of another one, showing a large group of children at Melrose on 25th March 1909. They are described as the principals and chorus of Kinderspiel “The Gipsies”.
I wonder if anyone can spot their relatives in there. My grandfather wasn’t born until the following year, but he had older cousins, on both sides of his family, who could be there. Click on the picture to see a larger version of it.
Melrose parish registers, like Scottish parish registers in general, include addresses within the parish when children were baptised. This can be used to work out exactly where ancestors lived, but it’s also possible to trace which surnames were resident in specific areas, in an era long before the 19th century census returns.
Based on this principle I’ve started analysing surnames recorded for families bringing children to be baptised in Melrose in specific decades. The surnames recorded are those of the fathers, and only noted where an address inside the parish is given. So far I’ve analysed the baptisms for 1700-1709, 1750-1759 and 1800-1809.
The results are sorted by place name within the parish, and list the surnames associated with each place, at least as far as the baptism evidence goes. As I say on the relevant page
They aren’t complete lists of surnames in these places, being restricted to parents (usually fathers) having children baptised in the period. But it is hoped that gathering this information is useful, showing changing surname patterns over time, at least in part, as well as changing place names occupied in the parish.
For more details see the appropriate page in my Melrose one-place study website.