COALMASTERS AND THEIR CONNECTIONS
Some years ago I carried out research for a client whose ancestors had been coal mine owners (coalmasters) in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire. I became so engrossed with the family that, with her kind permission, I wrote this book. The youngest son of the family was written out of his father's will, so left home and travelled to one of the furthest points in the north of Scotland - the Shetland Isles. He then sailed to Nova Scotia with his young wife to make a new and very successful life there, but his siblings did not forget him. It was a fascinating insight into how some members of that family made a fortune and how that money was eventually distributed. I also traced living members of the family in Nova Scotia in order to obtain photographs and find out more about their progress in that country.
WEST LOTHIAN - THE DARK SIDE
This book contains short factual stories on the subject of crime in West Lothian from 1769 to 1869. Using indictments and witness statements - mostly for High Court cases - I have written these stories about homicide, theft, assault and robbery, poaching, embezzlement, fraud and many more.
This book not only describes the crimes themselves, but the places where the individuals lived and worked, details about their friends and family, and generally gives a flavour of peoples' lives throughout Scotland as a whole over that timescale. Poverty and drinking alcohol seemed to be the main cause of crime then! The relevant verdicts and sentences have been included. These can be quite incredible, particularly when one compares the setences given out for similar crimes in modern times. Transportation to Australia featured quite heavily, even for theft with previous conviction. Some of the stories are amusing, but some are more gruesome!
For those researching their family histories I believe that the stories in my book will provide a historical background which will help them to understand what living in Scotland was like during that period.
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I also regularly contribute to genealogical/historical publications.
To read my latest article in History Scotland, "SLANDERING A SCHOOL TEACHER IN 1875", which features Torphichen in West Lothian, and gives information on useful records relating to schools and teachers, use the following link:
To link to my article on the subject of hiring fairs, which describes the hiring of servants, use the following link: