Archiver > SCT-SUTHERLAND > 2001-03 > 0985673273

From: "Lyndall" <>
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 16:07:53 +1000

I have sought and been given permission to forward the following message
which I thought might be of interest to some listers. It does explain why
some ancestors are so elusive.

Canberra, Oz

> ----- Original Message -----


This article was forwarded to me a few months back ,by the writer Stuart
Mitchell ,Scotland . With his permission Im able to pass it on.



Genealogical research in pre-1855 Upper Banffshire can be more frustrating
than in most other parts of the North East because of the large RC
population. The Invera’an and Kirkmichael OPRs - and hence IGI - are
virtually silent about them, so are of little help in tracing Catholic
ancestors. Although the RC Baptism Registers for Tomintoul and Glenlivet
(Tombae and Chapeltown) contain much of the information that is missing from
the OPRs, they are accessible on microfilm only in Elgin Library and the
Scottish Record Office. Unfortunately, the respective Registers go back
to 1807 and 1812/1829, then once again the familiar blank wall - or so it
seemed until recently. Now, not only do two newly-available sources give
additional information about early 19th century RC families, but an
unexpected ability to look over that blank wall has been provided by
apparently unconnected research. This is an investigation of aliases in
highland Banffshire, which although still incomplete has led to the
identification of ‘hidden families’ in the 17th and early 18th century OPRs.

An ‘alias’ phenomenon flourished in the Upper Banffshire records for nearly
a 100 years after its first appearance in 1740. These aliases were very
different from those used by the McGregors of Stratha’an and Upper Deeside
(forced by the proscription of their clan to shelter under a Gordon, Grant,
or other ‘safe’ name) but no memory of them has survived to the present day.
They seem to have had a Catholic dimension, for aliases were meticulously
recorded in the Glenlivet RC Registers until 1838, long after they had
disappeared elsewhere. Indeed, this was effectively so by 1812 when the
Tombae Register starts.

Until the RC Registers showed just how many early 19th century ‘alias’
families there were in the Braes of Glenlivet, the aliases in the Invera’an
OPR had appeared to be random and of little interest. After that first
on 1st April 1740 (the baptism of James, son of John Miller alias Grant) OPR
alias entries became increasingly frequent until the mid-1770s. They then
fell away sharply and the last two were recorded in 1794 and 1806. That
sudden decline coincided with the disappearance from OPR of baptism records
for RC Braes families that signalled the first lifting of Catholic
in Invera’an. This increases the likelihood of an RC connection for most
aliases, as does the very much lower incidence round Protestant
than in the Catholic Braes.

RC Baptism Registers
Although aliases were particularly prevalent amongst Grants, Stuarts,
McPhersons and McDonalds, many of these names were unembellished - one third
of Stuart families in the Glenlivet RC Registers 1812-1838 were ‘non-alias’.
It quickly became clear that as an alias carried from one generation to the
next, defining a specific descent line within the broad family name, it was
actually a genealogical patronymic. The children of ‘alias’ families, took
the patronymic of their father, never of their mother - a maternal alias was
not carried on, even when the father did not have one.

While entries in the records usually took the form ‘Family alias Patronymic

(often entered simply as ‘Family/Patronymic’ without the word ‘alias’),
this was occasionally reversed for families such as Turner alias Grant. The
majority of the aliases in the Glenlivet RC Records also occur in OPR,
usually as the stand-alone patronymic.
Stuart alias More/Moir*; McAllay/M’Lea*; Bain*; Dow*; Gibbnach
Grant alias Roy*; McRobie*; Bowie*; Turner*; McArthur; Bain
McPherson alias McUlly/McWillie*; Garrow*; McInnes; Gall
McIntosh alias Riach* (only two individuals, but common in
McDonald alias McAllister*
Gordon alias McRitchie (single family)
Smith alias Gow* (all families)
* These also occur in OPR, usually as the stand-alone patronymic.
Aliases in the Glenlivet RC Records, 1812-1838

Because of its gaelic origins and environment, the Upper Banffshire
patronymic Moir was pronounced ‘more’ not ‘moy-er’, so is not directly
related to the well-known lowland Aberdeenshire surname.

Aliases in OPR
As most of the other aliases in OPR occur only two or three times each, they
must represent individual small families - for some of whom it may have been
a single-generation by-name not a true patronymic. Only the Mitchell,
Cameron and perhaps McKenzie aliases were sufficiently prolific to represent
larger groupings - the multiple baptism entries for the Mitchell alias
families in the Ballindalloch area, indicating that they were Protestant
(see next page):

Stuart alias McGurman, McOmash, Darg (Kirkmichael & Mortlach only)
Grant alias Cly, Miller, Tailzeor, McShewan, McAdam, McComish
McPherson alias Moir, McOmie (Aberlour), Doulle (Kirkmichael,
Mortlach only)
Mitchell alias McAndy° (also Invernochty)
Cameron alias McPhail°, Bain McPhail alias Gauld
McKenzie alias Kynach° Shaw alias Roy
McIntosh alias Smith Innes alias Jay
Fleming alias Arrach Bayne alias Cuming
Grigorach alias McGregor Duff alias McKay
McDonald alias Couper
° These occur as both alias and stand-alone patronymic.
Aliases Occurring Only in OPR, 1740-1794

Families Revealed
While the alias phenomenon helps to rationalise the very many Grant and
Stuart families in Glenlivet by splitting them into more manageable
patronymic groups, this is a relatively minor benefit. Its real value is in
identifying many pre-1740 OPR entries as Grants, Stuarts, McPhersons etc.,
who had previously been ‘hidden’ behind patronymics. With a few exceptions,
most patronymics disappeared in a general resumption of the basic family
names at the end of the alias period. Some Grants, McIntoshes and
McPhersons chose to retain their patronymic in preference to the family
but More/Moir and M’Lea vanished except for sporadic records in adjoining
parishes like Mortlach and Aberlour.

Although superficially there appear to be few aliases in Kirkmichael OPR
the Tomintoul RC Baptism Register (both have still to be surveyed in
evidence that they were still quite common in early 19th century Kirkmichael
comes from the Appendix to the Gow Manuscript. This shows aliases for a
third of the 60 families (300 individuals) resident in the Braes of
Stratha’an in the 1820s:

Stewart alias More, Bain, Gault
Grant alias “Germany”
McPherson alias Doole, Bain, More
McGregor alias Willox, More, Bain
(plus two families of non-alias Riach)
Aliases in the Braes of Stratha’an, 1820s (Gow MS)

continue-part 2

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