New Lanark World Heritage Site Blog

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29/06/16 New Lanark Search Room # , , , ,

Search Room Spotlight: Sock Making Machine

Search Room Spotlight: Sock Making Machine

Since the New Lanark Conservation Trust was formed in 1974 we have acquired a number of objects either found during the restoration process or graciously donated by the public. Initially, we had no intention of creating a collection but have now managed to acquire a large collection of artefacts, books, archival documents, photographs, architectural drawings, and much more which are now all housed in the New Lanark Search Room. Each week, we will give you an up close and personal look at a featured item from our collection.

This week’s Search Room Spotlight: Sock Making Machine

knittingmachine

This object is known as a sock knitting machine or circular knitting machine. It was donated by a woman whose husband purchased it in the 1980’s whilst he was working for a knitwear company, Lorne Knitwear in Kilmarkock. The machine is made to be clamped to a table, much like a vice. The main body of the machine is comprised of cast iron with metal needles used to thread the yarn from the top of the device into the bottom, forming a tube. The threading process is made possible by a separate piece attached to the top of the machine that threads the yarn into the device using a variety of gears that move using a hand crank that runs around the exterior of the device (please click the link for a full demonstration).

The exact make of the machine is unknown as there is no patent or any other indication of a company name. The previous owner had mentioned the name “Groz-Beckert” which is a German company that opened in the 1850’s specializing in the manufacturing of various parts for knitting/weaving machines such as needles. Although this may be a possibility, we have yet to uncover evidence to support this theory.

Circular knitting machines have been around since the early 1800’s when a French inventor Marc Brunel challenged the traditional flatbed knitting machines by arranging needles into a circular form. Since this development, there have been many alterations and improvements; more notably, Henry Griswold who was an American inventor that patented his own knitting machine in 1873 while visiting France and Britain. Since its invention, there have been many improvements such as a second set of needles to enable rib knitting and the cuff or welt for socks.

Knitting machines were used for mass production in English workhouses. It was also not uncommon to find children often using these machines as they were very efficient and quite compact. During the First World War the Red Cross urged the Home Front to knit socks for soldiers in order to prevent Trench Foot and machines such as these became an important part in the war effort. According to the previous owner, she believed it was used to make Argyll socks as well as socks for bandsmen. As New Lanark was known for its high quality cotton, knitting machines such as this would have used similar material to produce socks during the mid to late 1880s up until the second World War and are still used today by knitting enthusiasts.

VIDEO OF SOCK MAKING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVbPi0EAVoA 

RESEARCH:

https://sockmachine.wordpress.com/sock-machine-history/

http://www.sockknittingmachines.co.uk/about_machines.php

http://www.guild-mach-knit.org.uk/forms/history_part1.pdf

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/11/the-technology-of-socks-in-a-time-of-war/248006/

 

You can find out more about the New Lanark Search Room, and becoming an Archive Volunteer on the New Lanark website.

Holly – New Lanark Archive Intern 

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24/06/16 Behind the scenes at New Lanark , New Lanark Search Room # , , , , ,

Search Room Spotlight – Clogs

Search Room Spotlight – Clogs

Since the New Lanark Conservation Trust was formed in 1974 we have acquired a number of objects either found during the restoration process or graciously donated by the public. Initially, we had no intention of creating a collection but have now managed to acquire a large collection of artefacts, books, archival documents, photographs, architectural drawings, and much more which are now all housed in the New Lanark Search Room. Each week, we will give you an up close and personal look at a featured item from our collection.

This week’s Search Room Spotlight: Pair of Lanchasire-style clogs

Pair of Lanchasire-style clogs

Pair of Lanchasire-style clogs

The item pictured is one of three pairs of wooden clogs that were donated to New Lanark. The boots are incredibly heavy and durable, made of leather with wooden soles and metal plates on the bottom as well as in the toe. These wooden clogs are similar to the 19th century Lanchasire style clogs that originated in Lanchasire, England. The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the popularity of clogs being used by workers in the mills, mines, and factories as they required strong, cheap footwear that was easy to repair. Further research indicates that many weavers adopted the wooden clogs while working in the mills which leads us to believe that these wooden clogs could have very well been used by the weavers at New Lanark during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Look out for next week’s Search Room Spotlight! You can find out more about the New Lanark Search Room on the New Lanark website.

Research links:

https://theeverydayclothingproject.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/clogs/

http://www.antiques-atlas.com/antique/pair_of_19thc_wood__leather_pitt_lancashire_clogs/as155a878

http://bytesdaily.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/clogs.html

Holly – New Lanark Archive Intern 

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31/05/16 CAVLP # , , , , ,

Future of Chatelherault lies in its past

Future of Chatelherault lies in its past

Guest blog from the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership…

A MASSIVE woodland management project is underway at Chatelherault Country Park.

Almost 20 hectares of non-native plantation conifers will be removed and native woodland regenerated, as well as the restoration of spectacular historical views and features.

The park, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), will remain open at all times during the work, although access from the western side will be disrupted from this month (May) until late September this year.

This work is being funded by South Lanarkshire Council and Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP).

Detailed Forest and Conservation Management Plans are in place to guide the process with the trees removed from the west side of the gorge between the Cadzow oaks and the White Bridge. These were informed by two public consultations that took place last March.

Profits made from the sale of felled timber will be channelled back into much needed improvements to the parks footpath system. This will include replacing the White Bridge and restoring the paths linking to it.

Large machinery will be felling and moving timber throughout summer months and all visitors are asked to avoid the forestry operations for their own safety.

Signs will be placed at the affected paths and in the car parks and further information will be available in the visitor centre. Any areas where work is taking placed will be closed off to the public and clearly signed.

Chair of South Lanarkshire Council’s Community Services Committee, Councillor Hamish Stewart, said: “This work is absolutely essential to allow us to manage the woodland which makes up the spectacular setting that is Chatelherault Country Park.

“The park will of course remain open, the only difference will be some paths may not be accessible while the work is ongoing. Visitors should check the signage or go to the visitor area for more information.

“The tree felling will leave the area in question looking very sparse for the first couple of years, but we know from experience the native tree regeneration is very rapid in Chatelherault’s fertile woodland soils.

“In 2007 we felled a similar area of spruce and fir at Laverock Hill by Barncluith. After only four years the whole area was covered with young trees and after only six years the young woodland was alive with spring birdsong.

“We would ask visitors to be patient with us and understand that this work is essential to the restoration of this beautiful and historic landscape.”

CAVLP programme manager Donna Marshall said: “The regeneration of ancient woodland, which forms part of the Clyde Valley National Nature Reserve, will help reinforce the status of this part of woodland as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

“The project at Chatelherault is one in a growing number of rewilding projects in the UK which look at expanding native habitats, increasing biodiversity and connecting communities with the nature on their doorsteps.”

The 5th Duke of Hamilton’s hunting lodge at Chatelherault was restored 27 years ago. Once a crumbling ruin, surrounded by an abandoned sand quarry, William Adam’s 18th century masterpiece is now visited by 250,000 people each year.

From the 1940s through to the late 1960’s the ancient natural woodland at Chatelherault was felled and much of the area was planted with fast growing conifers, hence the need for the woodland regeneration programme.

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07/03/16 Latest News at New Lanark # , , , , ,

Double Row Restoration Project launches at New Lanark

Double Row Restoration Project launches at New Lanark

Building works have begun at New Lanark World Heritage Site on Double Row, the last block of former millworkers’ housing to be restored at the historic site. To coincide with the works beginning, bookings are now open for a range of free heritage-based community activities linked to the project.

Double Row has a beautiful location overlooking the River Clyde

Double Row has a beautiful location overlooking the River Clyde

Since its formation in 1974, New Lanark Trust has pioneered heritage-led regeneration and transformed a derelict site into one of World Heritage status. The last block of former millworkers’ housing to be restored is Double Row, a vacant and dilapidated terrace of eight four and five storey properties on Scotland’s Buildings At Risk Register. This important project will ensure the survival of this A-listed building of international architectural and historical significance by restoring it as residential accommodation.

The ‘Museum Stair’, a tenement within Double Row, was in continuous occupation from the 1790s – 1970s and is designated a Scheduled Monument, due to the remarkable survival of original artefacts and materials such as fireplaces, sinks, ‘set-in’ beds, remnants of wallpaper and linoleum. This rare example of early industrial workers’ housing is in a very poor, deteriorating condition and requires urgent conservation work. Due to the building’s fragile interior, access is currently restricted but this project will provide remote access and interpretation through the creation of a 3D Virtual Tour, which will offer a ground-breaking new visitor experience.

Total costs for this large scale regeneration project are over £4m. The two main funders are the Heritage Lottery Fund through its Townscape Heritage (TH) programme and Historic Environment Scotland through its Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS). Additional funding has been secured from the Renewable Energy Fund (South Lanarkshire Council), The Wolfson Foundation and New Lanark Trust.

A range of free heritage-based community activities will be delivered in parallel with the construction works. For the first half of 2016, these include:

There are also a number of volunteering opportunities available, from undertaking historical research to assisting with project events. For more information please contact [email protected].

Miranda Lorraine, New Lanark’s Townscape Heritage Project Officer said “After years of planning we are delighted that works have begun to restore the Double Row tenement block to its former glory. We’d love the residents of New Lanark and the local community to get involved with the project, from taking part in the Traditional Building Skills Workshops to donning a hard hat and joining us for a guided tour of the site – there’s an activity for everyone to enjoy”

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26/01/16 CAVLP # , , , , , ,

Kirkyard Tales: The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker

Kirkyard Tales: The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker

Guest post from Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership

Help exhume secrets of souls laid to rest at St Ninian’s Kirkyard, Stonehouse, by volunteering to take part in a FREE archaeological project on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February.

Join CAVLP Heritage and Stonehouse Heritage Group to help shed light on the lives and work of 17th and 18th century bakers, millers, masons, weavers, blacksmiths, farmers and their families, by recording the tools of the trades depicted on the headstones.

No experience of archaeology is necessary – FREE training will be provided in using the latest 3D recording techniques to digitise the gravestones, and there will be activities for all ages and abilities.

“These type of stones were popular in the 17th and 18th century across the whole of Scotland, and they allow us to construct a picture of the people that were living and working around Stonehouse at this time,” explains CAVLP Heritage Officer Dr Paul Murtagh.

He continues, “It would be great if people could help us record these stones so that we can explore the industrial, horticultural and agricultural heritage of the area.”

John Young of the Stonehouse Heritage Group has been recording St Ninian’s Kirkyard for years. He explains that, “As a community we need to work together to preserve our ancestral history in teaching new generations to respect and take pride in preserving our village’s heritage.”

He continues, “One way we can do this is by promoting the importance of graveyards to local residents – helping them understand their historical context, as well as the significance of the carvings etched on the headstones. These records in stone provide us with an insight into the period in which they were erected and stand as monuments to the people who shaped the communities in which we live today.”

The initiative is part of a wider project, Capturing the Past, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) and Historic Scotland, and managed by Northlight Heritage. The project seeks to research and record a variety of local sites of archaeological interest, so there are a plethora of opportunities to get involved in numerous sites of archaeological interest throughout the Clyde and Avon valleys.

A series of FREE, hands-on learning opportunities relating to the historical working lives of people in the Clyde and Avon valleys are also available from the CAVLP Heritage team and run concurrently with the Capturing the Past project until August. MapCRAFT, Tasting Through Time, Sheep to Shawl and Brick by Brick courses explore the mapping, agricultural, horticultural and industrial heritage unique to the area. Designed to fit in with the Curriculum for Excellence, Duke of Edinburgh and John Muir Awards as well as Badge Activities for Guides, Scout and the Boys and Girls Brigade, courses can be tailored to meet the needs of any age group and ability and can last between 2 to 4 hours.

The FREE weekend event at St Ninian’s Kirkyard, Stonehouse, will offer volunteers a chance to engage in the latest techniques used by archaeologists to digitally record sites, and to help enhance the record of this important historical kirkyard. Further events and training weekends will take place on the first and third weekends in February, March and April.

Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 of February – Archaeological survey of St Ninian’s Kirkyard

St Ninians Kirkyard and Stonehouse Lifestyles, 10.30am – 3.30pm, adults, children and families all welcome. Free but booking essential. For more information and to book, call 1555 661555 or email Paul and Karen at [email protected].

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19/10/15 Talks at New Lanark # , , , , ,

Free talk at New Lanark on Historic New Harmony & Jane Blaffer Owen

Free talk at New Lanark on Historic New Harmony & Jane Blaffer Owen

Robert Owen is known for being one of New Lanark’s most enlightened mill managers, but perhaps one of the lesser known facts about Owen is that in 1825, frustrated by constant opposition to his new ideas, Robert Owen sold the Mills at New Lanark and decided to buy the settlement of Harmony in Indiana, which he renamed New Harmony.

In the less conservative climate of the New World, Owen planned to create a Utopian Community or Village of Unity and Mutual Co-operation. Owen was partnered by William Maclure, a Scottish Geologist and social experimenter who shared his belief in rational and scientific education.

Just 2 years later, in the spring of 1827 the Owen / Maclure New Harmony was abandoned after a series of disagreements within the community organisation. Despite the failure of Owen’s utopian dream, New Harmony did not disintegrate completely. Some of its most brilliant settlers remained and made significant contributions to American scientific and educational theory, study and practice.

Over the years the relationship between New Lanark and New Harmony has continued to grow, with many visits ‘across the pond’ being made by residents and representatives from both communities.

On Friday 30th October, Nancy Mangum McCaslin from New Harmony will be giving a free talk at New Lanark related to New Harmony and Jane Blaffer Owen CBE, the wife of Kenneth Dale Owen – Robert Owen’s great-great grandson.

“In 1941, Kenneth Dale Owen, great-great grandson of Robert Owen, brought his bride, Jane Blaffer Owen, to his ancestral hometown, New Harmony, Indiana, where two communal societies took root in the early 1800s: the religious Harmonie Society from Germany, who relocated and sold their entire town to Robert Owen, who together with a like-minded Scotsman and scientist William Maclure, began an educational and scientific model community based on mutual cooperation. New Harmony’s historic significance, however, had faded by the time of her arrival in the 1940s.”

Jane Blaffer Owen dedicated herself not only to the preservation and revitalization of the historic buildings but also to bringing some of the finest intellects of her time to the town. Jane Blaffer Owen recounts her activities in the posthumously published memoir New Harmony, Indiana: Like a River, Not a Lake (published by Indiana University Press, 2015) and edited by Nancy Mangum McCaslin, who also serves on the Advisory Board of Historic New Harmony.

Nancy will give a presentation on Robert Owen & his family in New Harmony, followed by a brief documentary showing an interview with Jane Blaffer Owen, entitled Conversations in New Harmony. The free talk will take place on Friday 30th October 2015 at 2.30pm within the New Lanark River Room. Afterwards, copies of New Harmony, Indiana: Like a River, Not a Lake will be available for sale and signings.

No booking is required for the talk. For further information please call New Lanark Trust on 01555 661345.

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14/10/15 Events at New Lanark # , , , , , , ,

New Lanark set to host Spook-tacular Halloween events!

New Lanark set to host Spook-tacular Halloween events!

On Saturday 31st October, New Lanark will be hosting a full day of Halloween activities for the whole family to enjoy.

During the day children will be able to enjoy Halloween themed crafts & games within the “old gift shop”, which will be transformed into a spooky cellar for the day. There will also be a Storyteller with plenty of Halloween tales, and a photo competition for the best costume! Entrance is £3 per child, or £1.50 with a New Lanark Visitor Centre ticket with the main activities running from 12-5pm.

Ruth Beattie, New Lanark Learning Officer said “We run craft workshops for kids throughout the year, so we’re really excited to be planning some crafts especially for Halloween. Kids will be able to make and take home their own pumpkin, skull & ghost masks as well as taking part in fun games like Broomstick races and ‘pin the hat on the witch’”


Once the sun has set, New Lanark will be hosting a series of Spooky Tours of the village to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve! The ghost of one of New Lanark’s Millworkers, Mary, will be coming back especially for Halloween to lead the tours around the village visiting the School for Children, textile machinery floor and Robert Owen’s House. Mary will tell stories of people she used to know at New Lanark, local superstitions and some of the history of the village. Photo 3
Evelyn Whitelaw, New Lanark Events Officer said “New Lanark was formed over 200 years ago and thousands of people have worked and lived here over the years, so who knows who you may meet on one of the Spooky Tours!”

Photo 2
The tours will be leaving at 5.15pm, 6.15pm, and 7.15pm and will last around 45 minutes. There are limited places available so booking is essential for the tours at a cost of £5 per person. To book a place visit www.newlanark.org or call 01555 661345. (Lines open Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

Further information on New Lanark’s Halloween events can be found on our website.

Photo 1

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16/07/15 CAVLP # , , , , , , ,

Redcoats Launch Mapping the Past Project at Cleghorn Roman Camp

Redcoats Launch Mapping the Past Project at Cleghorn Roman Camp

Guest blog from Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership

An 18th century historic re-enactment survey by local mapping hero William Roy, followed by a local heritage Meet and Greet launched a project exploring the archaeology and heritage of the Clyde and Avon valleys last weekend.

The project, ‘Mapping the Past,’ will be led by CAVLP Heritage and facilitate the exploration of the area’s unique past through map based learning, research, design and making for locals. It is delivered by Northlight Heritage as a partner of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP), and supported by Historic Scotland and Renewable Energy Fund managed by South Lanarkshire Council.

Cleghorn Temporary Roman Camp near Lanark was discovered and first surveyed by William Roy in 1764 as part of his comprehensive survey of Roman antiquities of Northern Britain. 225 years after his death, on Friday 10th July, this very survey was re-enacted by the CAVLP Heritage team in full 18th century costume and with authentic survey chain and flag, where they could explore the finer details of 18th century surveying. The survey was preceded by a pilgrimage to the monument of the visionary cartographer’s birthplace at Miltonhead, near Carluke.

A CAVLP Heritage Meet and Greet followed the survey at David Dale’s House in New Lanark the following day. The team introduced visitors to the upcoming workshop streams through a series of activities. They drew maps from the survey data they collected on Friday, one in a traditional style using ink and fountain pens and another in a more creative, crafts based style. The team also ran some small surveys using the 18th century equipment, encouraging visitors to help out and handle the tools.

“It’s great that you’re here telling us about him,” a visitor to New Lanark on July 11th said, “I had heard of William Roy before but I didn’t know he was the father of the Ordnance Survey.”

The two main workshop themes which will run over the summer and autumn, are map-based research workshops and Crafting Maps workshops. The map-based research workshops will introduce participants to using historical maps to explore their heritage and learn about the changing landscape. The Crafting Maps workshops will be focused on creating different kinds of maps so that people can explore their connection to the Clyde and Avon Valleys. The team will also be running and hosting events and activities that will celebrate the rich mapping heritage of the Clyde and Avon Valleys.

“We hope there will be a workshop or event which will allow most people to get involved in some way with CAVLP Heritage.  Please contact the CAVLP Heritage team, whether you are interested in learning more about Major-General William Roy, developing new heritage skills, creating different kinds of maps or volunteering to help research more about the landscape and history of the Clyde and Avon Valleys,” says Gavin MacGregor, a director at Northlight Heritage and Manager of the CAVLP Heritage Programme.

The team encourages anyone who is interested to contact them at [email protected] for further details, or following them on Facebook at CAVLP Heritage or on Twitter @CAVLPHeritage to keep up to date with events and workshops.

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15/06/15 New Lanark Search Room # , , , , ,

How to create your first family tree…

How to create your first family tree…

The New Lanark Search Room contains a diverse collection of archive material including:

  • Historic & modern photographs
  • Archival documents
  • Architectural drawings
  • Maps
  • Paintings
  • Artefacts
  • Family history records
  • Oral histories

The collection helps to tell the fascinating story of New Lanark, from its days as a working mill, to its decline, restoration and inscription as a World Heritage site.  From Pauper Apprentices to Robert Owen, millworkers to mill managers and residents to famous visitors, the collection also gives us an insight into the lives of the thousands of people who lived in, worked at and visited the village.

As such, we were delighted to welcome Suzie Kolber from obituarieshelp.org to write a guest blog for us on how to kick-start your family history research by creating your first family tree. 

 

How to Create a Small Family Tree Template
Studying your family history can be a complicated process, especially if you want to go back as far as possible or trace different branches of the family tree. Creating a template for your family tree is one way to organize information and break it down into sections that are easy to manage. Begin with a small template that is limited to three or four generations.

 

The Benefits of a Small Family Tree
When organizing your information, it can be easier to find people you are searching for or recognize their relationships with each other if you use small templates. Choose a person and trace his or her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Fill in the information as you discover it and it won’t seem as overwhelming as with a large template of numerous generations when most of them would be blank.

 

Choosing the Right Template
You can search online and find all kinds of templates. Some will work better for your purpose than others. If you are tracing your family’s genealogy, you won’t need to include photos, but you will want space to write information about each person. Create a template with the person’s name and lines for the birthdate, date of death and marriage date.

It may be helpful to list locations for each of those events or other relevant information that you may need in your research. One of the reasons that a small three- or four-generation template is ideal is that it leaves you extra space to write more.

 

Entering Information
While you want to have easy access to the most important information about your ancestors, especially if you are traveling, do not try to include every tidbit about your family members. It will clutter up the template and make it difficult to read. Instead, keep it short and simple. Abbreviate as much as possible. For instance, date of birth would be DOB, date of death would be DOD and so on.

Consider using an online template where you can type the information instead of hand-writing it. This allows you to make changes or even erase information or people as you need to without having to start all over with a blank template.

Store your family tree online as well so that you can easily access it if you are traveling and need to look up information as you research. This also makes it easy to print or email a copy of the tree to others who may be helping you in your research.

The most important thing in choosing a template for your small family tree is to find one that works for you. It should fit your needs, be easy to use and look appealing to you.

If you are beginning your research into your family history, start with finding the right family tree template. It makes it much easier to record and keep track of data. Plus, it is fun to share with others who share your interest in genealogy.

Suzie Kolber created http://obituarieshelp.org/free_printable_blank_family_tree.html to be the complete online resource for “do it yourself” genealogy projects.  The site offers the largest offering of free family tree templates online. The site is a not for profit website dedicated to offering free resources for those that are trying to trace their family history.

Suzie – New Lanark Guest Blogger

Find out more about visiting the New Lanark Search Room. 

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19/05/15 New Lanark World Heritage Site # , , , ,

Family history talk by the Genealogy Detective!

Family history talk by the Genealogy Detective!

Come along to our talk on Friday night (22nd May) where Liz Irving, the Genealogy Detective will be discussing how to use fascinating sources to can add facts, context and colour to your family tree. Tickets are £4 and can be booked by calling 01555 661345 or ‘on the door’ on the night.

 

Here’s a guest blog from Liz to give you a flavour of what she’ll be discussing on the night…

Researching your family history is an absorbing and fascinating activity, but really getting to know your ancestors involves more than simply finding out their names and the dates and places of their birth, marriage and death.

In Scotland we’re lucky to have easy access to these “vital” or Statutory Records, along with other resources like Old Parish Registers, censuses and wills (known as Testaments).  We can work back through the decades and build up a family tree to be proud of.  But if you know where to look there’s much, much more that you can find out about your family, their neighbours, community and the world they lived in.

Being a genealogy detective means following clues, searching for evidence and building up a picture of our forebears and their lives.

New Lanark is a very special place, and its origins as a mill village have led to a large number of records specific to this community being kept together.  Glasgow University Archives holds a myriad of “name rich” material – including rent, wages and school certificate books, medical reports, letters, even a petition signed by villagers who wanted to continue worshipping in the village’s Old Gaelic Chapel.  Imagine the excitement of seeing your ancestor’s signature from a century or more ago.

Other archives and libraries also hold original volumes that record people’s lives in the past in intimate detail.

IMG_0116

It’s sad but true that our ancestors often turn up in official records when they’re having a hard time.  So the birth of an illegitimate child can lead to a mother appearing in Sheriff Court records as she attempts to have the father of her baby legally identified.  An accident and the resultant inability to work may mean an application under the Poor Law, when an inspector would visit and record in detail the circumstances of the applicant, spouse, and wider family members.  Committing a crime and being imprisoned can produce entries in prison registers, newspaper reports and even transportation records – often including a detailed description of the person.  And being accused of what may seem to us quite minor misdemeanours – such as “horrid swearing” – could see a person appearing before the Kirk Session for censure.

The Lanark Prison Register from May 1859 records that Elizabeth Nichol, a 16-year old millworker was accused of “theft of silver money”.  From this book, held at National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, we also learn that Elizabeth had been born in Ireland but spent most of her life in Lanark.  She was a Roman Catholic, 4 feet 11 inches tall, weighed 110 pounds, had a swarthy complexion, dark hair and black eyes.  Elizabeth couldn’t read or write, but her health was good.  She was liberated after spending one day in prison, her conduct said to be “tolerable”.

Thirty-five years later, another New Lanark resident found that with his eyesight fading he could do little work as a tailor.  He was Patrick McGuckian, who lived in Double Row with his wife Euphemia.  In September 1894 he applied for Poor Relief, and the Inspector recorded details of the couple’s birthplaces in Ireland, the names and occupations of their parents, Euphemia’s state of health, and the names, ages and spouses of their grown-up children.  The report – held in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow – even reveals that Patrick and Euphemia had seven grandchildren, a two-apartment house that was “comfortably furnished”, and that while Patrick had resided in New Lanark for around 60 years, he had spent three months in America in 1857.

Documents like these turn our ancestors’ lives from monochrome to colour, words written in fading ink bring us details we could never have imagined.  We become time travellers, dipping into previous centuries.

Let’s jump back to the late 18th century, when David Dale of New Lanark Mills was paying three pounds, eighteen shillings tax for having fourteen windows, and fifteen shillings for having four clocks.  Or to 1823 when the Moderator of Lanark Kirk Session was admonishing “at great length” Elizabeth Dewar of New Lanark for her sin of Fornication, though he later absolved her from the scandal and restored her to church privileges.

Most heartbreaking of all, we find ourselves in March 1918 when Samuel Barr of the Gordon Highlanders was writing a will in his army paybook, leaving all he had to his four motherless children.  Less than three weeks later he was dead and his mother in New Lanark was embarking on a correspondence with the authorities to ensure her orphaned grandchildren would be cared for.  She also received and signed for her son’s effects – letters and photographs, his war medals and a gold ring.

These people come alive again as we see their handwriting, read their words, discover how they lived and understand their joys and sorrows.

Liz Irving – New Lanark Guest Blogger

Tickets for Liz’s talk on Friday 22 May are £4 and can be booked by calling 01555 661345 or ‘on the door’ on the night. http://bit.ly/1zR24ci

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New Lanark World Heritage Site Aerial View

New Lanark is a beautifully restored 18th century cotton mill village in Scotland, and is one of Scotland's six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

On our blog you'll find a behind-the-scenes look at all the latest news, events, stories and general 'goings-on' from New Lanark World Heritage Site.

We are always looking for guest bloggers to become involved with the blog. If you are interested in writing for us, please get in touch.

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