Birtwhistle Street in Gatehouse-of-Fleet?

My cousin Rob MacLaren got in touch recently about my John Birtwhisle of Dundeugh Coat of Arms? post. Rob is the brother of Hamish who I collaborate with on the family tree site collaboration. He mentioned the post because it references an Alexander Birtwhistle (1750-1810) in Gatehouse-of-Fleet being given a silver cup containing the Crest and Motto from the Dundeugh Coat of Arms by the ‘Gatehouse Volunteers’ (the local Militia of whom he was the Commanding Officer). Turns out there’s a street named after him there:

According to his mum (my aunt), Alexander was a mate of Robert Burns and appears in 2 of his poems. The Burns Encyclopedia includes a record for an Alexander Birtwhistle that describes him as follows:

A Kircudbright merchant, and Provost of the Burgh. He is supposed to have carried on a substantial foreign trade from the town.

And Burns referred to him in his ‘Election Ballad for Westerha”:

“To end the work, here’s Whistlebirk,
Long may his whistle blaw, Jamie”

In his ‘Second Ballad on Mr Heron’s Election‘ he called him “roaring Birtwhistle”. That’s maybe why my aunt described Alexander in Scottish slang which makes his leadership of the local miltia seem surprising at that time, but there’s nothing been found on Google to support this.

Joshiah Webbe(s) and New River(s) Estates?

As you may have seen in the last few posts, I am exploring my slave owning ancestors. It’s not quite the ‘Blood Legacy: ‘reckoning with a family’s story of slavery’ by Alex Renton that has been recommended to me, but that’s one I will check out (not least because its reckoning theme is part of what I am trying to do with this series of posts).

Most of my ancestors involved with the slave trade owned plantations on the Island of Nevis in the West Indies, and through marriage not only were they connected to most of the other plantation owners there but also across the Leeward Islands. What’s been difficult is to find out more about the family history of some these ancestors before they appear on these islands because what is publicly available is patchy.

From what I have been told that patchiness is the result of various fires, invasions and earthquakes that over the centuries have destroyed a lot of the original documents. For example, during the French invasion of Nevis in 1706 records were “burned in the street” hence the earliest record that the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) are working on being from 1705.

Continue reading “Joshiah Webbe(s) and New River(s) Estates?”

Lest We Forget: Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge

My cousin Simon (Hamish’s brother) stopped at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge on his way back home from North Uist (outer Hebrides) in late August. He took the photographs below that includes the following plaque remembering those who died during Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, which lists my nephew Sam Alexander (see Wiki entry):

Continue reading “Lest We Forget: Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge”

The Wright Family

Rosemary Louise Fitzherbert Wright (1905-1972)
Rosemary Louise Fitzherbert Wright (1905-1975)

Rosemary Louise Fitzherbert Wright was my grandmother. I’ve only skimmed the surface of my Wright family ancestors. They can be traced back at least to John Wright alias Camplyon of Stowmarket who made his will in 1557, although according to the Wikipedia entry for Fergie’s mum wills and deeds show the family holding land in Suffolk and Norfolk at least a century earlier. His son, John Wright, a captain in Colonel Whalley’s Regiment of Horse, was imprisoned in Newark Castle for his attachment to the Parliamentary cause, but later acquired estates in Nottinghamshire and Suffolk. Captain Wright’s grandson, Ichabod, was a banker who owned estates in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, and established Wright’s Bank with two of his sons. His great-grandson, Samuel Wright of Gunthorpe, married a daughter of Lord Coventry. Samuel’s brother John of Langar and Lenton Hall was a banker and principal proprietor of the Butterley Company. His granddaughter became the wife of the Earl of Buckinghamshire. John Wright’s son, Francis, married Selina, daughter of Sir Henry FitzHerbert, 3rd Baronet (1783-1858) of Tissington Hall, Derbyshire and was a noted philanthropist; he was my great great great grandfather. Continue reading “The Wright Family”

Garvabeg: Keppoch Macdonald home?

Garvabeg, possible home my ancestor Alexander Macdonald of Garvabeg

I found the above photograph of Garvabeg on It may the home of my ancestors. My great great great grandmother was Christina McNab. Her mother was Jessie Macdonald, the daughter of Alexander Macdonald, of Garvabeg, and Charlotte Macdonell, of Keppoch (see Alexander Mackenzie’s History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles; with genealogies of the principal families of the name, 1942). Continue reading “Garvabeg: Keppoch Macdonald home?”

Cadets of Clan MacDonald of Keppoch

Macdonald of Keppoch Cadet Family Trail

The Wikipedia entry for the Clan MacDonald of Keppoch lists the following ‘Principal Cadet Families’:  Aberarder, Achnancoichean, Bohuntine, Clianaig, Cranachan, Dalchosnie, Fersit, Gellovie, Inch, Inverroy, Killiechonate, Murlagan, Tirnadris, Tulloch, Tullochrom. As part of trying to discover where my ancestors hailed from I’ve ended locating these places. I may end up visiting some of them, but at the moment I mapped the places out on StreetMap on my fantasy ancestry road trip to the highlands: Continue reading “Cadets of Clan MacDonald of Keppoch”

Keppochs of Achnacochine or Achnancoichean

Achnacochine Field of the Disputants: From The East Highland Way – Amenities Guide

As mentioned in my previous post, my ancestor Aonghus Ban Innse of Inch (Fair-haired Angus of Inch) married Christina Macdonald, of Achnacoichine. She was the daughter of Archibald Macdonald, 3rd of ‘Achnacoichine’ according to my cousin Hamish’s family tree (source: Burke’s Landed Gentry, 1937, under “Macdonell of Keppock”). I was interested in the spelling of Achnacoichine because the Clan Macdonald of Keppoch entry on the Wikipedia shows Achnancoichean as being a one of the ‘Principal Cadet Families’. Continue reading “Keppochs of Achnacochine or Achnancoichean”

Fantasy Ancestry Road Trip: Inch Found

Insh Farm near Roybridge

As mentioned on my Fantasy ancestry road trip to the highlands – part 1 post, I’d been having trouble finding Inch in Locaber that was home to my Macdonell ancestors after Culloden. Amazingly, Doug who had previously kindly helped me locate the Cranachan farm nearby, has also managed to find Inch. I’m incredibly grateful for his help. As he explained, the spellings Inch and Insh (and possibly Insse) are interchangeable, such as the following example on the Clan Cameron Reference Guide: Continue reading “Fantasy Ancestry Road Trip: Inch Found”

Fantasy Road trip continued: Duart Castle

Duart Castle, home of Hector Mor Maclean, 12th Chief

I’ve added Duart Castle to my GoogleMap for highland ancestry fantasy road trip. I’ve discovered on cousin Hamish’s tree that Hector Mor 12th Maclean, 8th Lord of Duart, is one of my ancestors (see Wikipedia entry). From what I can tell he lived here and made improvements to the castle. My kids are also impressed because the castle in the Disney Pixar movie Brave is based on Duart Castle, so I might even persuade them to come on a trip if we ever head up that way. Perhaps we could also do the Jacobite Steam Railway ride from Fort William to Malliag made famous by the Hogwarts Express.