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 Ancestorium.com 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.
“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.
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.
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”→