Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis
It is perhaps one of the greatest truisms of family history research that we will often find that the lives of our ancestors were best documented when the chips were truly down. There were many battles that our forebears fought for and against in Scotland, both on a personal level and as a part of the society within which they lived. There were the laws of the local parish church and the punishments awaiting those who breached kirk discipline; the struggles to avoid poverty and the stigma of being a debtor; the darkest moments of the soul, from mental health issues and illness, to murder and suicide; and the dramatic moments of rebelllion, when our forebears drew a line in the sand against a perceived tyranny or democratic deficit. Illness, death, bigamy, abandonment, accidents, aviction, ethnic cleansing - a dramatic range of challenges across a lifetime, and at times, outright tragedy. And close to each of them, a quill and ink. But through all of these episodes, there is an even greater story that emerges, of how our ancestors overcame such struggles. In this latest Unlock the Past guide, genealogist Chris Paton goes in search of the records of ancestral hardship in Scotland, to allow us to truly understand the situations that our ancestors had to endure and overcome across the generations, to help us become the very people who we are today.
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