Almost as soon as I had posted Paul Chiddicks' interview, his friend David wanted to get in on the action, so let's hear what he had to say for my questions...
1) What got you into genealogy & how long have you been researching for?
"I was adopted as a very young child by two wonderful people who will always be my ‘real’ mom and dad. While I had always known that I also had genetic parents, I rarely thought much about them.
In my early 20s I applied for my original birth certificate, but it only recorded my birth mother’s name and address in 1969. She had already passed away and I assumed that it would be impossible to find out more.
At the age of 47 (three years ago) I suddenly got curious. Through some very intensive research - and some extremely lucky breaks - my late birth father’s identity has been established; I’ve documented all my ancestors for at least five generations and I’ve met distant cousins and my only surviving uncle.
Genealogy has become the thing that fills every spare minute of my time. I love knowing about the people who all played a part in my history."
2) What interesting things have you discovered about your ancestors?
"All my ancestors come from Scotland, mostly from the counties of Ross-shire, Banffshire and Aberdeenshire. They were mostly agricultural labourers, crofters, or tenant farmers with a couple of blacksmiths, coachmen and a merchant seaman thrown in.I get the sense that they were hardworking people who concentrated on raising a family and providing for their children.
Most of my female ancestors are recorded as domestic servants or farmer’s wives. They probably worked even harder than their menfolk.
My maternal grandmother and two of her sisters were nurses. One of them did part of her nurse training at the same hospital in Manchester where I was a student nurse.
What has surprised me is how mobile people in Scotland were in the 19th century, presumably going where there was work available until they settled down.
What shouldn’t be a surprise is the number of illegitimate children, and first children born within a few months of their parents’ marriage. Apparently, casual sex wasn’t invented in the 1960s."
3) Who/What are you currently focusing on in your research?
"Writing-up the history of my direct line ancestors and their children in detail is fascinating. It’s a really good way to make sure one has got all the essential records and that everything checks-out. It is a great way of getting to know the people who went before you.
Earlier this year I joined the Guild of One-Name Studies and have started to document every single person with the surname ‘Moggach’ and its variants. The Moggachs seem to originate in the historic county of Banffshire. It isn’t a particularly common surname - I’ve identified 549 people born with the surname. I have a feeling I’m probably related to every single one of them"
4) Have you come across any difficulties while researching your family?(e.g. Conflicting sources)
"I think I’ve been lucky. Scotland’s statutory birth, marriage and death records were introduced in 1855. They are quite detailed and are generally extremely accurate. Things are harder with people who died before the 1841 Scotland Census, as the Old Parish Records, which are the major source of information, aren’t complete and the information recorded is quite variable.
Once one has realised that ‘Mac’ and ‘Mc’ are interchangeable, the spelling of surnames is very hit-and-miss, even on the same document. One of my lines spell their surname Wagrel, Wagarel, Waggrel or Wagrell from one record to the next. They are a good example of why wildcard and soundex searches are so helpful for on-line genealogists.
There are a few names in Scotland where it helps to know the variations. People born ‘Jane’ are regularly called ‘Jean’ when they appear on the census. ‘Janet’ often becomes ‘Jessie’ and ‘Margaret’ may be ‘Maggie’. Men tend to have fewer variations, though ‘Alexander’ can become ‘Sandy’."