With the date for the referendum on Scottish independence now set for 14th September 2014 I thought I would explore my family’s own links with Scotland
My great-aunts believed they were Scottish; their favourite family story was that we were descended from Robert the Bruce and for a time I believed that. A favourite story of my childhood was how he gained inspiration to continue his quest to win the throne of Scotland from the repeated attempts of a spider to complete her web. A case of if at first you don’t succeed………
Now I as research further into my family tree I am beset by doubts. There is supposed to be a family tree somewhere that proves this but no one now alive has ever seen it. But still The Aunts insisted they were Scottish.
Certainly they were both born in Scotland, in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire while their father was working for Watson, Laidlow and Co in Glasgow, but does this make you Scottish? Their elder brothers, including my Grandfather, had been born in Belfast but I don’t think they ever thought they were Irish. What’s more all four siblings were baptised in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. Their parents, father from Hebden Bridge and mother from Huddersfield, had strong Yorkshire roots.
In their teens The Aunts, although resident in London and attending school in Southwark, spent their summers in a rented house just outside Glasgow in Kilmacolm and told us many tales of the happy days they spent there. In 1970 Auntie Gladys took us on a holiday to Dunoon and showed us the house and some of their favourite places. Both Aunts often wore kilts made in the family tartan, Mackintosh. Not just the usual tartan but also those other variations of it such as the hunting tartan that had to be specially ordered. Does wearing the tartan make you Scottish? They loved the stories of Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and John Buchan and read the Scottish Ballads and these must have added to a romantic vision of Scotland’s past and present, but longing for that doesn’t make you Scottish.
But there is a real Scottish connection through their great-grandmother. Jean or Jane Shaw was born in Nairn, she married their Yorkshire great-grandfather john Liversedge and lived in Aldmonbury near Huddersfield for the rest of her life (I think). This is the one family marriage outside Yorkshire, indeed the one outside the narrow confirms of Halifax and Huddersfield, in centuries. John Liversedge was a clothier, did he travel to Scotland in search of different wools or processes and is that how he met the Scot he went on to marry?
Although I don’t expect to be able to find the real link myself it maybe is more probable than I used to think, for as Wikipidia says “Bruce’s descendants include all later Scottish monarchs and all British monarchs since the Union of the Crowns in 10603. A large number of families definitely are descended from him.”