Sunday 11 November 2012

Lest We Forget: 11/11/12

In memory of the members of our family who gave their lives in the service of their country. This list has been updated from last year, with the addition of five more names to the World War 1 Roll of Honour. The list now contains three sets of brothers.


PoppyThey shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

(Lawrence Binyon, For the Fallen, 1914) 







Regiment / Service

Afghan Wars
12 Jan 1842 Afghanistan Captain Edward Macleod Blair 38 Bengal Light Cavalry
Indian Mutiny
14 May 1858 India Major John Waterfield 40 Bengal Native Infantry
Boer War
14 Feb 1902 South Africa Artificer George Howard Clark 23 Queensland Imperial Bushmen
World War 1
25 Apr1915 France Private Richard Michael Ryan 25 Royal Irish Fusiliers
9 May 1915 France Corporal Charles Mulligan 28 Black Watch
9 May 1915 France Rifleman Thomas Stanley Groves 31 Royal Irish Rifles
27 Jun 1915 Belgium Private John Julius Groves 32 DCLI
24 Aug 1916 France 2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Ernest Bennett 22 Queen’s Regiment
15 Sep 1916 France Gunner Cyril William Coles 23 Tank Corps
18 Oct 1916 France 2nd Lieutenant Christopher Gilbert Durant 20 Worcestershire Regiment
10 Jan 1917 Egypt Captain Duncan James Nugent Blair 34 Royal Field Artillery
26 Mar 1917 Palestine Private William Gurney 21 Middlesex Regiment
19 Apr 1917 France Private Arthur Tom Munden 31 Hampshire Regiment
23 Apr 1917 France Lance Corporal Hubert Gurney 21 Middlesex Regiment
10 Jul 1917 Belgium Lieutenant Sanford William Shippard 21 North Lancashire Regiment
12 Aug 1917 Greece Private Ernest John Bentley 41 Durham Light Infantry
16 Oct 1917 France Private Frederick Alexander Drackett 21 Hampshire Regiment
9 Apr 1918 Palestine Lieutenant Gilbert Seymour Worsley Spencer-Smith 23 Hampshire Regiment
11 May 1918 France Captain Arthur Alexander Austen-Leigh 27 Royal Berkshire Regiment
18 Sep 1918 France Captain Eric Fairfax Bennett MC 20 Queen’s Regiment
World War 2
21 Jun 1940 at sea Sub Lieutenant Ian Reginald Winn Stileman 20 RNVR
21 May 1941 Crete Driver Robert George Davis 25 NZ Army Service Corps
28 Oct 1942 Egypt Private Ronald Archibald Halkett-Hay 34 Australian Infantry
3 Nov 1942 Egypt Lieutenant Nigel Aves Watson 22 Royal Hussars
13 Jul 1943 Italy Lieutenant Derek Pease Gregg 26 Glider Pilot Regiment

Monday 29 October 2012

Politics and Pills – an 1820 Medical Bill: Part 2

This is my second post about the 1820 medical bill I recently bought on eBay. You can read Part 1 of the post here.


1820 medical bill


The first thing that struck me when I saw the bill was that it covered a long period of time. The first entry was for treatment on 17 July 1817 and the last for treatment on 7 March 1820. I already knew that, during the Regency period, it was common for wealthy people to run up extensive debts with tradesmen, who often weren’t paid for years. I did not realise that this practice also extended to professional accounts.

In his covering letter, Dr Lowe said that he was “taking the liberty” of sending the account – suggesting that it was almost considered improper to ask for payment. My cousin in Canada has kindly sent me a copy of a letter, written to Dr Lowe in January 1819, in which a friend said, “I made particular enquiries about you & it gave me sincere pleasure to learn that you were so well employed & in such high estimation with the first class of society”. No doubt Dr Lowe was gratified to hear this but, if “the first class of society” were all so dilatory in settling their bills, it must have been difficult for him to support his growing family.


Dr John Lowe


Dr John Lowe was born in 1781, the eldest son of Robert Lowe, laird of Chapelton, Tullymet, Perthshire, an estate in the parish of Logierait, comprising a number of farms which had once belonged to the Duke of Atholl. For three years, from 1794 to 1797, John was apprenticed to Dr Alexander Stewart, a surgeon in Dunkeld, and in 1799 he was a medical student at the University of Edinburgh, although he never took a degree.

John joined the East India Company as an Assistant Surgeon and had just arrived back from a voyage to the East Indies when, in 1801, his father unexpectedly died. John inherited a considerable amount of landed property from his father but it was encumbered with debt and he was eventually forced to sell it. John left the Company’s service after his second voyage and in 1803 was working as a surgeon and druggist in Perth. By 1807 he had moved to Coupar Angus.

John Lowe married Janet Gillespie in Perth in 1806 and they had one child, Elizabeth, born in Coupar Angus in 1807. Following Janet’s death, John married Marjory Clark in Coupar Angus in 1810 and they had 13 children between 1811 and 1832. I am descended from their second son, John.


Calomel Pills


Returning to the bill, the next thing I noticed was that the bill contained three entries for “Calomel pills”, supplied in March 1818 and in March and December 1819. I had never heard of this medicine before and vaguely supposed it was something to do with calamine. Imagine my horror on learning from Wikipedia that it was actually mercurous chloride, a poisonous compound of mercury. Before the age of modern medicine, calomel was widely used as a laxative and purgative and was even given to teething babies!

Charles Tennant noted in his book, “The Radical Laird”:

George Kinloch had his own ideas about health and hygiene and, for most people, his advice was a good dose of "Dr Calomel”, as he attributed the usual complaints to constipation. “I wish you would get a box of calomel pills, three grains in each, of which you might take one when you have occasion for it. It is the best of all physic, and if taken in time often prevents serious diseases.”

In the summer of 1815 George wrote to his wife from London:

“I have been in perfect health since I left you, till Sunday last, when I had an attack of bile, which has not yet left me. I mean tonight to apply to Dr Calomel, who will rid me of it.”

The day on which Dr Lowe supplied him with his last prescription for calomel – 8 December 1819 – was the day before George left Kinloch for Edinburgh to prepare for his trial. He obviously wanted to take some of his favourite medicine with him – probably fearing a prison term - and Dr Lowe must have been one of the last people in the district to see George Kinloch before he left his home, not to return for over three years.


Use of the dental key


The bill also includes charges for bleeding – another horrific medical practice of the time – and for extracting teeth. Extraction was the normal way of dealing with persistent toothache and with problems such as abscesses which would nowadays be treated with antibiotics. The tooth was removed using an instrument called a dental key and, of course, it was done without any form of anaesthetic. I imagine the toothache must have been pretty bad before anyone would invite Dr Lowe to visit them with his dental key!

The bill covers treatment not just for George Kinloch but also for Mr Gray (a relative of the Smyths) and for two of George’s daughters. Ann was 17 when she had her tooth extracted and Eliza 16 when she was vaccinated. The vaccination took place a month before George’s family left to join him in Paris. 24 years after Jenner’s first vaccination, smallpox epidemics were still occurring in crowded cities. Sadly, Eliza contracted another scourge of crowded cities – tuberculosis – and died shortly after her return from Paris in 1822.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Politics and Pills – an 1820 Medical Bill: Part 1

Two weeks ago I received an email from eBay which caused me considerable excitement. Many of my Scottish ancestors came from the town of Coupar Angus in Perthshire and I have a “saved search” in “My eBay” which sends me alerts whenever the town’s name appears in an eBay listing.

Over the years I have bought a number of interesting items in this way, including the postcard which I blogged about in Postcard from the Past, which I now use as the header for my business website and my Facebook page.


Coupar Angus 1917


But the latest email from eBay led me to a treasure I had never expected to find – a bill, dated 22 November 1820, submitted by my 3x great grandfather, Dr John Lowe of Coupar Angus, for medical services to the family of George Kinloch of Kinloch, near Meigle, Perthshire. I’m happy to say that I won the eBay auction and my “new” family heirloom arrived this week.


1820 medical bill cover


The bill was addressed not to George Kinloch himself but to his brother in law, a writer (solicitor) called John Smyth of Balharry (who was probably also a cousin of Dr Lowe’s wife). And this is where the politics come in.

George Kinloch was born in 1775, the son of a poor half-pay Captain who unexpectedly inherited money from a brother in the Jamaican sugar trade. Both George’s parents died before he was eight years old and his sickly elder brother when George was 13. At the age of 21, George therefore took possession of the ancestral estate of Kinloch, situated on the banks of the River Isla in the beautiful Vale of Strathmore. That same year he married his first cousin once removed, Helen Smyth, the daughter of John Smyth, whose estate of Balharry lay directly across the river from Kinloch.

George and Helen lived quietly on their estate, raising their two sons and six daughters, born between 1797 and 1805. George sat as a Justice of the Peace, together with his close neighbour Charles Hay of Balendoch, my own 4x great uncle. In 1797, at the height of the fear of Napoleonic invasion, George was appointed to command the Coupar Angus volunteer militia, with Charles Hay and my 4x great grandfather, David Clark, as his subalterns.


George Kinloch


Despite these conventional roles as a member of the landed gentry, George Kinloch held liberal political views, was friends with the free thinking editor of the Dundee Advertiser and a correspondent of William Cobbett. In 1808 George resigned his commission with the Coupar Angus volunteers because he was opposed to the maintenance of a standing army. In 1812 he wrote an anonymous letter to the Aberdeen Chronicle attacking the Peninsular War because, “instead of fighting in the cause of the Spanish people, we have been fighting for a worthless King, an insolent nobility and a useless clergy”. He also supported the American cause in the War of 1812.

Following the defeat of Napoleon, George turned his energies to the reform of the franchise and the abolition of the income tax imposed during the Wars, which was depressing trade and employment. He attended radical dinners in Dundee and became known as a political orator. He drew attention to the enormous size of the National Debt, inveighed against excessive taxation and said, “I recommend retrenchment, cut off sinecures and diminish the salaries of Government Officers” – a strikingly up-to-date political platform to modern ears!

Radical agitation came to a head with the Peterloo Massacre in August 1819, when 15 people were killed and hundreds injured after soldiers charged a large but peaceful crowd which had gathered in Manchester to demand reform of the franchise. Protest meetings were organised all over the country and George Kinloch was invited to address the meeting in Dundee in November of that year. In his speech he described the government as “a contemptible Ministry” and asserted that “the House of Commons does not represent the people of these Kingdoms”. He called for annual parliaments and universal (male) suffrage. He said that, “We want no Revolution; on the contrary we want Reform to prevent a revolution” but, referring to the Peterloo Massacre, he also said that, “the time is near when we must either bow our necks to a military despotism, or be prepared to rise like men in defence of our liberties”. He also accused the Home Secretary of treason.

The speech was reported in full in the Dundee Advertiser and drawn to the attention of the authorities in London who, terrified of revolution, were engaged in a full scale crackdown on those who supported reform. Two weeks after the speech, George Kinloch was arrested on a charge of sedition. Bailed to stand trial in Edinburgh, he learned that the authorities intended to make an example of him by passing a sentence of transportation for life to Australia. He bought a large wig and, assuming the name of Smith, fled via Newcastle, London and Dover to Paris, where he arrived on Christmas Eve.

Before leaving Edinburgh, George had signed a legal document putting all his property into a trust, with his brother in law, John Smyth of Balharry, as one of the trustees. This was necessary because, when George failed to appear at his trial, he was declared an outlaw and all his assets became forfeit to the state. Using the trust, John Smyth was able to keep the Kinloch estate in the hands of the family and provide an income for George and his dependents.

George Kinloch remained in exile in France from 1820 to 1822. His wife and daughters joined him at the end of April 1820, after which John Smyth was asked to sell all their furniture and advertise for a tenant for the house. It must have been abundantly clear to Dr Lowe that his services to the Kinloch family were at an end and unlikely to resume in the near future. On 22 November 1820 he submitted his bill, which John Smyth settled the next day:


1820 medical bill covering letter


Coupar Angus Novr 22 1820


I take the liberty of inclosing you a small acct. of Mr Kinloch’s which you may settle at any time most convenient. I am


Your most obed. Servt

John Lowe


George’s wife and daughters returned to Scotland in May 1822. Helen hoped to bring pressure on the government to pardon George and one of their daughters – Eliza – was seriously ill with tuberculosis. Having received hints that a pardon might be imminent, George jumped the gun and himself returned secretly to England at the end of October 1822. The first news he received was of Eliza’s death in Scotland a few days earlier. After lying low in London until the New Year, with still no pardon in sight, George took an even bigger risk and returned to Scotland in February 1823. He remained hidden at Kinloch until his pardon finally arrived on 25 May.

George set about restoring his estate and took no active part in politics for some years. With the coming of Reform in 1832, views which had once been dangerously radical became mainstream and George Kinloch was feted as a hero of the movement. He stood for the new Dundee constituency in the first election after the passage of the Act and was duly returned as the city’s first MP.

In his own words:

“On the 24th December 1819 I was proclaimed at the Cross of Edinburgh a rebel and an outlaw … On the same day of December 1832 I was, by the same Sheriff L’Amy, proclaimed the chosen representative of the people of Dundee.” 

Sadly, George Kinloch did not represent Dundee for long. Having caught a chill in the old, draughty House of Commons, he developed complications and died in his lodgings in Parliament Street, London, on 28 March 1833. In 1872 a statue of George Kinloch was erected by public subscription in Dundee, “to commemorate a signal triumph of political justice”.


George Kinloch statue Dundee


If you would like to learn more about George Kinloch, I thoroughly recommend Charles Tennant’s book, “The Radical Laird”, published by The Roundwood Press, Kineton, 1970.

You can read the second part of this blog post here.

Thursday 19 July 2012

The 6 People You Need in Your Genealogy Corner




This afternoon, Marian Pierre-Louis shared this article from Forbes on Facebook. Reading the article I immediately recognised that these six “people” are variants of the Belbin team roles which I used when training senior managers at the Civil Service College.

The descriptions also put me in mind of some leading lights in genealogy. We may not know them personally (though I am privileged to count some of these people amongst my friends) but, because of their generosity in sharing their expertise with the wider genealogy community, we can all have them on our “team”.

Here are my picks for the 6 key genealogy players in my life:

The Instigator: Someone who pushes you, who makes you think. Who motivates you to get up and go, and try, and make things happen. You want to keep this person energized, and enthusiastic. This is the voice of inspiration.

This is Thomas Macentee, genealogy ninja, of Geneabloggers, High Definition Genealogy, Flip-Pal, Wikitree and so much else it makes me breathless. Thomas is constantly pushing at the boundaries between genealogy and technology, innovating, inspiring and encouraging the rest of us to get involved. Thomas is the living embodiment of energy and enthusiasm, all wrapped up in one larger than life personality, with the greatest sense of humour in the genealogy universe. Thomas inspired me to create this blog and my websites. Thomas also showed me how to do it. Every webinar with Thomas is a motivation to “get up and go, and try, and make things happen”. If you haven’t yet caught his enthusiasm and sheer zest for life, check out his back catalogue at Legacy Family Tree webinars.

The Cheerleader: This person is a huge fan, a strong supporter, and a rabid evangelist for you and your work. Work to make this person rewarded, to keep them engaged. This is the voice of motivation.

This is you, Dear Reader! It’s the 23 people who have connected to this blog via Google Friend Connect, the 20 via Networked Blogs and the 40 who have liked my Facebook page. It’s everyone who has ever left a kind comment on one of my websites or sent me a supportive email. It’s your uncritical support and enthusiasm for my work which keeps me researching, blogging and sharing, even when my own family recoil in horror at the very mention of the word genealogy. You are the unsung heroes and heroines who make the worldwide genealogy community such a supportive and nurturing place.

The Doubter: This is the devil’s advocate, who asks the hard questions and sees problems before they arise. You need this person’s perspective. They are looking out for you, and want you to be as safe as you are successful. This is the voice of reason.

This is Elizabeth Shown Mills. When you find a possible ancestor and are about to enter your findings in your family history software, it is Elizabeth’s voice you hear, urging caution and restraint. She reminds you of the genealogical proof standard, the nature of a reasonably exhaustive search and the difference between sources, information, evidence and proof. Like the wisest mother, she does not do it to spoil your fun but to keep you from getting hurt. And she does it all with exquisite Southern grace and courtesy.

The Taskmaster: This is the loud and belligerent voice that demands you gets things done. This person is the steward of momentum, making sure deadlines are met and goals are reached. This is the voice of progress.

I started by having difficulty with this one. The loud and belligerent voices in the genealogy community were the ones I blocked long ago on mailing lists and unfriended on Facebook. And then I realised that it’s me! My harshest critic and the one who lashes me into action is myself. Apart from my professional clients, I have few deadlines but I nonetheless impose them on myself. I set high standards for my own genealogical development and I am a perfectionist when it comes to revising my writing and tweaking my websites. I’m the despair of my husband, whose mantra is “Thursday not perfect”, but I will sit up late on Wednesday night to ensure I meet both goals.

The Connector: This person can help you find new avenues and new allies. This person breaks through roadblocks to finds ways to make magic happen. You need this person to reach people and places you can’t. This is the voice of cooperation and community.

I actually have two candidates for this role - Dick Eastman of EOGN and Cyndi Ingle Howells of Cyndi’s List. Dick started a genealogy bulletin board forum on Compuserve in the mid 1980s. He launched his EOGN newsletter in 1996 with 100 subscribers. Today he has over 60,000. That same year, Cyndi first published her famous list online, with 1,025 links. Today it has over 319,000. Through their efforts, genealogists worldwide have been introduced to new sources, software, societies and social media. Both provide a fantastic service to the worldwide genealogy community for which I doubt either will see much reward in this world. We owe them both an enormous debt of gratitude.

The Example: This is your mentor, your hero, your North Star. This is the person who you seek to emulate. This is your guiding entity, someone whose presence acts as a constant reminder that you, too, can do amazing things. You want to make this person proud. This is the voice of true authority.

This is Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Megan is the person who made genealogy cool. Megan gets to meet Presidents, appear on TV and rendezvous with FBI agents in parking lots. Megan didn’t need to make up a distinctive name for herself like Madonna or Lady Gaga, she just married well. She is also extremely smart – she has two Masters degrees and has written six books. Oh, and did I say that she regularly gives her money away in grants to help fellow genealogists? To cap it all she’s pretty and a very nice person.

It’s interesting that, although I am a Brit, all my choices are Americans. There is a reason but that’s a subject for another day.

I’d love to know who you would pick for these 6 roles in your genealogy life. Do let me know in the comments.