So what do you know about your roots?

I was flicking through the books on the bookcase the other day and came across a book that I read when I was in university. I think CeeDubs had recommended it to me, anyway I’d forgotten all about it and its possible relevance to our family history. The book? “The Highland Clearances” by John Prebble. Opening it, my eyes were immediately drawn to a chapter entitled “The Massacre of the Rosses”. Let me quote the opening paragraph from that chapter …

“The men of Strathcarron in Easter Ross had been out in the Year of the Sheep, and their women had taken a stand across the road at Culrain in 1820, when Sheriff Macleod came from Dingwall to serve writs of removal in Strath Oykel to the north. Though the years since had emptied then glens of Ross-shire one by one, and filled the ships for Pictou and Geelong, Strathcarron in the parish of Kincardine had been left untouched by its laird.”

… I think you can see where things will lead. Now, I’m not suggesting that our branch of the Rosses were involved in any “massacre”, but it’s undoubtedly true that they moved down the coast of Easter Ross until they reached the Black Isle and Inverness where Uncle Hugh became the Lord Provost in the middle of the following century. So, there’s a very high probability that they were displaced from their crofts at the time of the Highland Clearances when landlords cleared their tennants to make way for sheep grazing. It’s worth a read – I’m certainly going to go back and have another look at the book. It helps to put in perspective exactly where one branch of the family came from.

In the same vein, whilst in Hay-on-Wye the other day I bought a number of books about the Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire (Wessex) working man and his family. I bought “The Victorian Country Child” by Pamela Horn, which details what life was like for children in the latter half of the 19th century. Then I also bought a book which provides illustrated commentaries alongside extracts from Thomas Hardy’s Wessex novels. Hardy, although not one of my favourite novelists, does write about country-life in Dorset/Wiltshire in the 19th century and in so doing gives a flavour of the life of the Harrisons of Downton/Redlynch and their occasional journeys to Salisbury. I then also picked-up a copy of “A Wiltshire Camera” – photographs of the period 1835 – 1914, which just give a visual impression of the life in the times of Francis Harrison. Finally, two books of photos from the New Forest from the last century recording the lives of the foresters (the Verderers) and then life during World War II when the forest was taken over in preparation for the Normandy Invasion, as well as a lovely Ordnance Survey map of the Forest from 1925.

I’ll enjoy looking through these, extracting pieces and illustrating the blog with pictures and text from them.