Like many people, Andrea Simpson’s interest in her family’s history was born from the stories told to her at her grandfather’s knee. Andrea whose family are from Stranraer says:
“I would listen fascinated as my grandpa would tell me stories from his childhood like the time he met King George VI (then The Duke of York) when my grandpa worked as boy as a beater for a hunt in Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway.
Andrea’s grandparents, Eric Milligan and Catherine Gibson on their wedding day, 18 June 1941
Photograph courtesy of Andrea Simpson
It was tales like these and those of her grandparents’ wartime experiences that encouraged Andrea to dig deeper and find out more using the resources on ScotlandsPeople. Andrea said:
“The most exciting thing about ScotlandsPeople is being able to authenticate the stories that you’ve heard. To actually read the names of relatives who have often been mentioned and to see their signatures or in many cases even just their ‘x’ mark on documents, means that you really feel like you are connecting with past generations.”
And for Andrea, 2017’s New Year release of records includes an important landmark document from her grandparents’ life and brings to life a photograph that Andrea has long treasured:
"It's amazing to think that this certificate that I can see on my laptop documents the marriage photograph of the 18th June 1941.
"It shows my Grandpa Eric Milligan in his military uniform with my Granny Catherine Gibson having just married at the manse of the Church of Scotland in the village of Leswalt, Wigtown. They were both born in 1921 and both of them were just 20 when they were married.
“My Grandpa and his best man Frank Nelson were both serving with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers at the time and reference is made to his military status on the marriage certificate.
"The bridesmaid Isa Rankin was my Granny's best friend. My granny worked on the farm owned by Isa's father and our two families are still friends today so it makes the information in the newly added record even more poignant."
Marriage entry of Eric Milligan and Catherine Gibson, 18 June 1941
National Records of Scotland, Statutory Register of Marriages, 1941, 891/7
In the 'witness box' are the names of the best man and bridesmaid, who witnessed the marriage, with their home addresses. Interestingly, the photograph shows Eric wearing a corporal's stripes, although he is described as a private in the register.
While Andrea has managed to trace her family back to the mid-eighteenth century using the Old Parish Registers on the ScotlandsPeople website, it doesn’t stop her looking forward to the release of newer statutory records each January.
"I think it is always exciting when a new record set is added to ScotlandsPeople; there’s such a wealth of information with each column revealing a fact and often something you didn’t know before.”
But what would Andrea’s grandparents think of her intent interest in their lives and that of their forefathers? Andrea laughs and says:
"That is a very interesting question. While my granny and grandpa were happy to tell stories, if asked, they were in fact very private people".
"My Granny always did say, however: 'You need to know where you came from to know where you’re going.' ScotlandsPeople gives me and many people like me the opportunity to authenticate our own histories and add colour to our childhood family tales and for that I am very grateful.”