Genealogy is of huge
interest to many and tracing your ancestors is certainly one of the truly
great hobbies of today and especially due to the emergence of the Internet
and the Web where so much research can now be undertaken from your home.
Personally I have never been that interested in genealogy and far more
interested in the race and its people. To me being Scottish or of Scots
descent is far more important. It lets you explore your roots in so many
ways that pure genealogy doesn't. Recent DNA discoveries now tell us we're
all descended from just seven women and so by taking a quick DNA test you
can now go back between 10,000 and 60,000 years.
But what shaped us and made us the people we are today? For example you
Dr Jackson elsewhere affords us a striking illustration. While passing
through the Isle of Skye ("The Isle of Skye has, within the last forty
years, furnished for the public service, twenty-one lieutenant-generals
and major-generals, forty-five lieutenant-colonels; six hundred majors,
captains, lieutenants, and subalterns; ten thousand foot soldiers; one
hundred and twenty pipers ; four governors of British colonies; one
governor-general; one adjutant-general; one chief-baron of England; and
one judge of the Supreme Court of Scotland. The generals may be classed
thus :-eight Macdonalds, six Macleods, two Macallisters, two Macaskills,
one Mackinnon, one Elder, and one Macqueen. The Isle of Skye is forty-five
miles long, and about fifteen in mean breadth. Truly the inhabitants are a
wonderous people. It may be mentioned that this island is the birth-place
of Cuthullin, the celebrated hero mentioned in Ossian's Poems.)
So how did such a small island produce so many outstanding people? And for
that matter how does a small country like Scotland produce so many
outstanding people that have made huge contributions to the world.
John Napier, the 16th-century mathematician, philosopher and inventor who,
from his secluded tower in Scotland, produced the vital tool needed by
mankind to explore the globe and fathom the universe. Without Napier's
invention of logarithms and the decimal notation for complex fractions,
the discoveries of others such as Galileo, Kepler and Newton would have
been hindered by years of long and complex calculations.
Although the Scots comprise less than one-half of 1 percent of the world's
population, 11 percent of all Nobel prizes have been awarded to Scotsmen.
(Quote from the book "Mark of the Scots" by Duncan A Bruce.)
Even today we read
SCOTS emigres to the US are five times more likely to
become dollar millionaires than those from any other country, according to
a study of wealth. Thomas Stanley and William Danko, in their book The
Millionaire Next Door, analysed the ethnic backgrounds of the wealthiest
members of US society and discovered that while people of Scottish origin
make up 1.7% of the population, they comprise 9.3% of its millionaires.
A central theme of Scottish history, has been emigration. Historian George
Shepperson has labeled this the Scottish Volkerwanderung. Others have
termed it the Scottish diaspora. Scotland's loss, as the National Trust
Monument at Culloden currently phrases it, "has been the world's gain."
Sir John Sinclair, compiler of the first Statistical Account of Scotland
in the 1790s, stated:- "He [the Highlander] has felt from his early youth
all the privations to which he can be exposed in almost any circumstances
of war. He has been accustomed to scanty fare, to rude and often wet
clothing, to cold and damp houses, to sleep often in the open air or in
the most uncomfortable beds, to cross dangerous rivers, to march a number
of miles without stopping and with but little nourishment, and to be
perpetually exposed to the attacks of a stormy atmosphere. A warrior thus
trained suffers no inconvenience from what others would consider to be the
greatest possible hardships, and has an evident superiority over the
native of a delicious climate, bred to every indulgence of food, dress and
habitation and who is unaccustomed to marching and fatigue."
Here is where we get a clue
as to why Scots made such great settlers, explorers and warriors.
There is also a romance in
our souls as why else would someone write "But listen! Do you hear? Wild
and sweet in the distance over the water comes the sound. It is the pipes,
and they are playing "Flora Macdonald's Lament." Yonder, down near the
shore-you can make them out through the glass-a shooting party has
picnicked, and they have brought the piper with them. How the colour
deepens on the cheek of the old Highland gentleman here at the sound! He
is just returning from many years' residence abroad, and for the last
hour, leaning over the deck-rail, he has been feasting his heart upon the
sight of the mountains. "There is no music like that music," he exclaims,
"over the water and among the hills." To a Highlander, indeed, the sound
of the pipes is full of many memories, like "the sough of the south wind
in the trees" of an autumn night.
The Reverend Malcolm MacDonald, a native of Whitton, Quebec, a descendant
of the early Scots settlers and of the first church established in the
"'The Book of Books was the library they opened, and the Church of Jesus
Christ was the first institution they established and that in their homes,
and the Gospel of Christ was the philosophy they espoused.' "
"The most casual observer and historian must admit that these early
settlers played a leading part in setting the course in which the Nation
"I am indeed grateful that we are privileged to stand in the stream of a
noble, spiritual, national and cultural tradition, which has flourished in
Scotland for centuries, and for some 150 years established firmly on this
North American Continent, in both Canada and the United States.
While publishing so many
accounts of the Highland Regiments you are struck of course at the sheer
courage and fighting ability of the Scots. To me however it is just as
amazing to find frequent accounts of the generosity of the Scots to
defeated foes. Many accounts are documented of how they helped the women
and children in conquered townships and how they conducted themselves so
well in the regions they served in with discipline and kindness.
To read the histories
brings a lot of this alive for us and makes us wonder at our roots and
what it is that made us who we are.
So to those of you that are
struggling to find the next link in your ancestral family tree I would
suggest that you take great heart that you are part of such a wonderful
race of people whether you can trace your ancestors to a particular clan
or family or not. To be of Scots descent is truly an amazing heritage all
of its own.