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.
It’s been a while since I last posted on here, but I just wanted to share a short film made by Janet Baker about my 3x great aunt Alice Claire Macdonell (of Keppoch). She was a poet, Bardess to the Clan MacDonald Society, self-proclaimed Chiefteness of the Keppoch clan and contributor to the Celtic revival movement. Her poem Scotland at Nation was a plea for Home Rule for Scotland and the eliminating of the constant use if the word ‘English’ for ‘British’ which she felt threatened and entirely swamped the Scots existence as a nation. This formed part of her involvement in a movement seeking historic truth in the teaching of Scottish history in Scottish schools.
I am hugely grateful to Janet for putting this short film together. Alice is buried in Hove North Cemetry not far from where I now live in grave where the headstone has no epitaph. From what I understood she would have liked to have been buried in the ancestral graveyard at Cille Choreil, where I think her mother and possibly her father are both butired. Not sure that would be possible now and if I was more flush I would try and get an inscription for her headstone, but maybe that’s a fund that could be put together with help from Keppoch and other branches of Clan Donald. In the meantime, I have included her poem Scotland at Nation below:
My wandering through family history seems to move forward in fits and starts. There’s probably a pattern to that waxing and waning, and exploring it may add to an earlier post reflecting on the why of it all (see If you don’t know where you are going). And you can see my attempt at a potted historical account of what I have been doing on this blog and how that has evolved over time outlined in the about section of this site. It includes the following explanation of what appears to be the two sides of it, or at least for me:
Pokemon-like genealogy of who begat whom, where and when: the gotta catch them all of ancestor BMD (Birth, Marriages and Deaths), and what now goes on over at the Ancestorium.com family tree collaboration I co-facilitate with my cousin Hamish Maclaren (see more about this here).
Social sharing of stories, photographs and content with others: that’s what this blog is still mostly about – hence containing anecdotes, discoveries, encounters, observations, notes and reflections like this one.
Unlike our uncles Michael and David, our uncle Edmund (aka Frog) never received an obituary we can find (even in the Ampleforth Journal):
As a child I had heard stories about his war exploits from my mother and grandmother, which included how he may have been picked up in the North Sea having had to ditch from a plane or possible accident while crossing the channel in patrol boat. That apparently included getting lung damage through the inhaling of diesel fumes, which may have contributed to lung problems later in life. My cousin Hamish had also been told a similar story by his mother, although in the version he’d heard our uncle had ended up in the channel when boat he was in sunk on its way to France.
This is part 3 of my housekeeping, where I am going through each generation of ancestors to see where there are ancestry dead ends, how much information we have about each ancestor, etc. Previous posts include:
Following my mother’s recent inclusion in The Telegraph as one of those enjoying success in later life, I forgot to mention that her work was also mention in The Morning Star by Michael Bartholomew-Biggs. He was one of six top poets asked which collections impressed them over the last 12 months.
My mother has been included among distinguished company in article about those who’ve achieved success in later years (see here). I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me who complained about having to pay 5 quid to listen to her perform at a poetry reading though.