I’ve discovered two world-leading physicists in or near my family tree (so far). They were both total surprises. Neither is an ancestor: they are modern contemporaries: F. Duncan Haldane and Stephen Hawking.Continue reading “My two best physicists: Haldane and Hawking”
The Generation Game
“People try to put us down …
Talkin bout my generation …
I hope I die before I get old … “
The Who‘s fans, singing along in 1965, mostly from the Baby Boomer generation.
Those Boomers are a social generation, a “birth cohort” of people in some region (e.g. The Western World) who are born into a social context that is relatively stable from birth through adolescence to early adulthood. Social generations share formative influences and/or critical events, so are defined by wars, pandemics, technology, and social or political change. The boomer generation started with a post-WW2 surge in the birth rate, from 1946. But how long this generation lasted is pretty arbitrary. The world changes quite fast. The Boomer generation is often said to have ended in 1964. That’s 18 years. Long enough for a few parents and their children to be in the “same” generation. So, that’s weird.
But how long is a family tree’s generation, on average? A genealogical one, from parent to child, etc. When we say such-and-such happened ten generations ago, do we mean 200 or 300 years? Are there five, four or even just three generations per century? Unsurprisingly, there’s no simple definition. But there are averages.
My family is, I think, extreme… Let’s see.Continue reading “The Generation Game”
David Laughland Scobbie and Marion Young Dick
This was going to be just a set of photos, presenting images of a handsome boy who became a distinguished-looking man. He was my father’s Uncle David, whose ninety years and more spanned the major events of recent history (14 Jul 1886 – 25 Feb 1978). Even though I was a teenager by 1978, I never met him, or his wife Marion Young Dick (27 Aug 1884 – 30 Jul 1978). I’m not even sure how her name was pronounced. I’ve heard her name pronounced as if it started “Mary” with the vowel from FACE, rather than starting like “marry”, as would be expected. This post is now more than photos. It’s a wee biography of the couple, and where they lived in Uddingston in Lanarkshire, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for others.
For David’s toffee factory in Craigneuk, Wishaw, go here.Continue reading “David Laughland Scobbie and Marion Young Dick”
The Theory of Eight Surnames
One, two, or many?
On a recent trip abroad, I was told that everyone should know and be able to recite their eight surnames. These are the surnames of a person’s eight great grandparents. A good game is to ask: can you name yours?Continue reading “The Theory of Eight Surnames”
The Aitkens’ Coin-Glass Goblet
We have an antique vase from 1889. We didn’t know what it was, and more importantly we didn’t know who it was made for. Thanks to research then replies to this blog, the mysteries are solved (mostly). Wonderfully, we have heard from a descendant of the couple whose marriage it was made to commemorate (see below). The goblet is large (30cm tall with a 4 pint capacity) and beautifully engraved, with a floral thistle theme and pictorial images of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House. The lead crystal rings like a bell when tapped. And it has two coins/medals inside a blown glass cavity (“knop”) at the foot of its stem.Continue reading “The Aitkens’ Coin-Glass Goblet”
Diamond and Gold and “Ruby”
Today, July 3rd, is a day to celebrate a long-lasting marriage. Fifteen years after the 1913 garden photograph on the eve of the Great War, discussed elsewhere, a Golden Wedding was celebrated, and ten years after that, in 1938, a much larger family of descendants and their spouses gathered with a photographer for group and individual shots that are full of formality and charm. The 1938 celebration was for the Diamond Wedding anniversary (60 years) of James Scobbie (1853-1943) and Williamina (“Mina”) Black Laughland (1852-1945), who were natives, neighbours and notable lifelong residents of Newarthill, a coal-mining village in Lanarkshire, Scotland. They were married by Mina’s father 140 years ago today, in 1878. The anniversary was written up in the local papers in 1928, 1938, and 1943 (a so-called “Ruby” anniversary), providing excellent detail of their lifelong relationship.