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Friday 28 September 2012

U is for Umquihile, Unfortunate, and Unflagging

I am enjoying participating in this series from Aona at ttpw.gouldgeneogy.com/2012/05/take-the-family-history-through-the-alphabet-challenge

U is for:

Umquihile  - this word was new to me until I began researching Scottish records. in more  depth   You may come across this in old documents, wills etc. and it  is an archaic Scots word meaning "the late" or "the deceased."  I lay claim  for this being  most unusual U word| 

We come across in family history research many Unfortunate souls, particularly when browsing through  Poor Law Records.  Some cases unearthed from Scottish Borders archives:

  • Robert Leck, once a well known clockmaker of Jedburgh, admitted to the poorhouse aged 67, with a pattern of admissions and discharges until the time came when he was "wholly disabled, nearly blind and wholly destitute". Interestingly when I did a Google search, I found an illustration of a Robert Leck grandfather clock about to be auctioned in London.
  • The story of Janet Scott had a more positive outcome. Her admission record in 1877 gives us a glimpse of the desperate situation in which many applicants for poor relief found themselves. A single mother with two children and a baby, working as an agricultural labourer, she was "wholly disabled by a cart falling on her". She was on parish relief for three years. However she also demonstrated her resilience, as in the 1881 census she was back earning a living, as an Ag. Lab, along with her two eldest daughters.

Janet Scott's entry in the Jedburgh Union Poorhouse Register, 1877.

  • 15 year old James Robertson is described as "delicate and deformed by spine curvature and will never be able to do much. He needs a suit of clothes, 2 pairs of stockings and 2 handkerchiefs. Allowed.
  • Mary Burns, also in need of clothing, was granted " 1 frock, 2 yards flannel, 2 yards drugget, 2 pinafores and a pair of boots.
  • At Melrose, Rosburghshire, a mother and young children were "footsore and weary" and given help as they made their way from Newcastle to Glasgow to rejoin family - a distance of 114 miles.
  • Mary Phllips was admitted to the Poorhouse as "this woman's husband deserted her, having absconded to America. She has 2 children and is about to be confined. Her parents very poor."

Unlucky - sometime researching family history is a matter of luck.  I have recently been reserching my father's childhood in Shropshire.  I was delighted to find that the Brosely Historical Society website includes extracts from newspapers  with fascinating titbits of life in the local church and school.  But guess what?  The crucial years I wanted of 1925 and 1926 were missing!  

You may also be unlucky when trying to trace  World War One service records for an ancestor, as so many were destroyed in a 1940's bombing raid on the National Archives in London.  My five Danson great uncles served, but I have only managed to trace the records for one of them - George.

Tom and George Danson

 Whether  it is military, school or work, photographs of our ancestors in Uniform  put them in the context of their wider lives.  Below  is my Great Aunt Jenie Danson  (second left)  with colleagues who worked in the local post office in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.

We are always looking for that Undisputed record on  our ancestor

My four times great grandfather John Danson had a daughter Ellen Danson, baptised at St. Chad's Church in 1763 (Poulton Parish Register) In searching for a marriage I came across an Ellen Danson marrying a Ralph Dewhurst - and made the basic fatal error of assuming this was "my " record - until I disoscvered that there were two other young Ellen Danson's in Poulton around the same time.  Given that the marriage entry does not name her father, I remain Unsure that I do have the right record. 

And finally I remain Unflagging in my family history activities and in following this A-Z challenge - soon to come to its end. 


  1. Umquihile ... what a great word! Great post, Sue.

  2. Wonderful U words. Umquihile... fabulous! I have learned a new word. great post and wonderful photographs.

  3. "Umquihile" drew me in immediately Susan and my passing understanding of "the Gaelic" gave no clues :-)
    "Unfortunate" really tugged at my heartstrings cos my Scottish GG Grandmother, aged and ill with tuberculosis, kept refusing to be admitted to the "poorhouse" instead constantly asking for "poor relief" which would allow her to continue living with her daughter & grandchild. Thanks for another most informative & enjoyable post.

  4. It seems Unanimous that you've taught us all a new word with Umquihile :-) ... and thank you for the whole bunch of fabulous U words.

  5. Love that word - umquihile! Never heard of it until I read your post, Sue.

  6. You do take the prize with umquihile! I saw it first in the Inishail kirk sessions and thought "what???" and had to hunt down the meaning. Even so I can't say it trips off my tongue at every turn :-)

    As always I love your posts, you've provided such interesting and evocative words for this series. Thank you for sharing your joy in family history.

  7. Thank you to everyone for their kind comments in what has been such an enjoayble series to participate in.


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