Thursday, August 06, 2009

An Interesting Find While Watching TV

Hello All -

I was watching the latest episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on BBC last night. This episode was with comedian David Mitchell. During the episode David goes to see the vestry home of one of his ancestors the Forbes family of Sleat in Skye. The former home was sold by the Church of Scotland to a private owner. The owner showed David into her home and pulls out a 1852 (if I remember correctly) kirk session book that she found in the old house.

The earliest date of the Sleat kirk session records for Sleat parish is 1882 at NAS. This book found in the home by the private owner is about 30 years earlier. My colleague Chris Paton has also noticed this in his current blog post at I agree wholeheartedly with Chris. I would hope too that the current home owner who is in possession of this kirk session book would let the NAS have a copy of it for themselves. I was thinking this when I was watching the program. I said to myself that document looks to be an original, but maybe the Archives has a copy of it. It looks very likely that the archives don't have it according to their catalogue.

I am such a bit advocate for private citizens who do happen to have old papers and documents to have the Archives take a look at them to see if they need them or not. I did this recently with my husband's documents that he purchased at the Baras 10 years ago. They were late 1600s and early 1700s sasine records for a family in Ross and Cromarty. These were original documents written on vellum, which looks like were in someones loft or basement for ages. I took these 6 documents to the NAS while I was doing research there to let them have a look at them just in case they did not have a copy in their possession. However, it seems that they do have a copy as well. I am glad I went to let them see it, because you never know if they have the documents or not. I know that there would be someone that may be a descendant of those people mentioned in these documents that would like to see these documents for their research.

I really hope that someone will alert the NAS or other archive to this kirk session book, or perhaps someone can contact the owner of the document to take it to the Archives to let them look at it. They can take a copy of it, and give the original back to the private owner. It will be a win-win situation all around. I am sure someone's ancestor is in that book, and the person reading the details found in the book will be a bit shocked at the goings on in it. You wouldn't be pulled up in front of the kirk session unless you needed a good talking to for something. The same can be said in US church minutes as well, but not all ancestors were angels as we sometimes find out.

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