Genealogy

I have been researching my family tree since 1981, and have ancestral lines mainly in the Scottish Borders, West Yorkshire, West Midlands, and Dublin and County Cork in Ireland.

Surnames that I am particularly actively tracing include:

  • Moore (West Bromwich)
  • Dodds (Melrose)
  • Hall (Hawick and Wilton)
  • Somner and Usher (Scotland)
  • Fair, Greenfield and Hood (Coldingham and Bunkle & Preston)
  • Logan (of Restalrig and Burncastle)
  • Veitch (of Glen and Bowhill)

Another surname being researched is Cavers (the ‘s’ is an integral part of the surname). This surname originates in the Scottish border county of Roxburghshire and out of 146 Cavers recorded in the 1881 British census, one third were living in Roxburghshire itself, with large numbers in surrounding Scottish border counties. I gather Cavers information worldwide, but with a particular emphasis before 1900. My study is registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies. Please see the Guild information page about my study. I also run a Cavers One-Name Study Blog, a Cavers Surname Genealogy Group on Facebook, and a FamilyTreeDNA Y-DNA project for Cavers.

I blog regularly about my ancestors and their stories at Viv’s Ancestry Blog.

Over the years I have started many genealogical indexes. These include newspaper pre-1855 death notice indexes for The Scotsman and Kelso Chronicle newspapers. Many of my indexing projects concern the Scottish Borders, my home area. Commonly I come across records that could do with an index, and sometimes I am daft enough to compile one. Future indexes planned include:

  • An index of names of Scottish Borderers recorded in the Kelso Chronicle newspaper in 1854 (and possibly 1855 too) donating money to the Patriotic Fund set up to support families of soldiers in the Crimean War. People from the wealthy down to farm labourers and domestic servants donated money, and local newspapers often carried lists of those donors.
  • A list of criminals/victims mentioned in local court reports in the Kelso Chronicle (early 1850s). These cover major court cases in the Sheriff Courts (e.g. at Jedburgh) through to cases in smaller courts like bailie courts, police courts, poaching courts etc.
  • Names of prize winners in horticultural shows printed in the Kelso Chronicle. Old newspapers regularly listed prize winners at local horticultural shows and this can reveal a hitherto unknown gardening interest in the family. I’ve been surprised, for example, in the Kelso Chronicle to find one of my gggg-grandfathers regularly winning prizes at Kelso horticultural shows.

My Index to Coldingham Mortcloth Records, 1694-1759 was published in 1998. Mortcloths were hired by the kirk session to cover a coffin, and the mortcloth index for Coldingham parish in Berwickshire covers almost 4000 burials. The index entries give the name of the deceased, where he or she was living, and extra details such as if a child, a woman dying in childbirth or a stranger. Causes of death are often indicated, such as people falling from rocks or drowning by swimming. The ages of older people are often given and occupations are a common extra piece of information. This index is 57 pages long, in A4 format. For further information about this index please email me. The mortcloth index is not in print any more, but is still for sale in PDF format for 6 pounds.

I have been involved since 1995 with the GENUKI project which aims to provide an online information resource for UK and Irish genealogists. I have developed GENUKI pages for the following Scottish Border counties: Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire.

I am also developing a one-place study for Coldingham parish in Berwickshire, particularly before 1820. Similarly I am developing a one-place study for Melrose parish in Roxburghshire, also mainly focusing on the pre-1820 period.

Another interest is the application of computers to genealogy and family history. Together with my husband Martin I designed a genealogical browser GenMVD for the Psion 3 series of palmtop computers. I have also written a number of articles on this subject.