Hoots, Mon. Roots, Mon!
“I'm a different breed of mongrel than I thought”

Over the weekend, as is my occasional wont, I did a bit of genealogical research [my mammy is the main ‘Ancestor Hunter’ in the family, but I like to stick my oar in occasionally]. Anyway, I stumbled upon a surprising new fact, which has completely changed what I’d always assumed to be my genetic inheritence. Up until the weekend, I’d thought my lineage went thus:

Finest pedigree purebred mongrel
Finest pedigree purebred mongrel

But I’ve just discovered that my granny on my dad’s side wasn’t descended from a long line of Scots after all. Her dad [my great-grandad] was actually Lithuanian too, but changed his name when he emigrated to Scotland. So now my lineage looks like this:

Another finest pedigree purebred mongrel
Another finest pedigree purebred mongrel

T’would appear I’ve more Lithuanian blood in me than Scottish. Although I strongly suspect that, if we were able to get back into the C17th [or earlier] on the mammy’s side of the family, we’d find out that they originated in Scotland and came over during the Plantation of Ulster. So, I am probably still the 13 Irish, 13 Scottish and 13 Lithuanian that I thunk before –just that the ingredients were added in a slightly different order and at slightly different times than I previously thought.

Unfortunately, unless we [the mammy or me] get a really lucky break, it’s unlikely well get any further back on the Irish side of the family [We’ve got to c1796], as most of the old pre-1851 records were destroyed in the Irish Civil War. As for the Lithuanian side [where I’m back as far as mid-1800s]; your main problem there is that the records are apparently kept variously in Latin, Russian, Polish or Lithuanian, depending on which of their neighbours were kicking my ancestors’ arses, at various points throughout history.

Just before I go, a brief rantlet [It wouldn’t be one of my posts if I wasn’t whingeing about something, would it?]

I think the way that various organisations and semi-official bodies are cashing in on peoples’ interest in their family history really stinks. Bear in mind that all of our ancestors had to fill in these various Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates and Census forms, etc. on pain of being fined and/or imprisoned. It really sticks in my craw that, years later, their direct descendants are having to pay to view this stuff.

Now I know digitising all these records costs money. But this should be something that’s done at governmental level. After all, it’s the nation’s collective heritage. So, in principle, I wouldn’t mind a bit if some of my tax £££s went towards such a thing [it would certainly be putting our money to better use than endlessly suck-arsing the USA around the globe]. What irks me is that the ‘gatekeeprs’ of all these records seem to be operating as profit-making businesses.

Ancestry.co.uk charges an eye-watering £179 a year [or £19,99 a month] for their access-all-areas package. Scotland’s People, on the other hand adopts a PAYG strategy where you buy ‘credits’ in bundles of £7 a time for 30 credits, to spend on the site. On the face of it that seems fairer. However, their nasty money-grabbing trick is to charge you 1 credit at a time, just to view the results of any search you make on their site, which is absolute exploitation [Imagine if Google did that!]. If after paying through gritted teeth to view the search results you want to view one [or more likely more than one] of the individual records found, that will cost you 5 credits a pop. So your 30 credits won’t last you long.

Mind you, it’s a good job Ancestry.co.uk don’t also charge to view search results, as their search function is so abysmally bad it seems quite incapable of throwing up the same results twice in a row!

Of all the money-grabbing “Guardians of Our Collective Past” I’ve used in my genealogical searchings, only the PRONI and National Archives of Ireland seem to let you access everything online for free [although, in the case of the PRONI, use of the word ‘everything’ probably implies more substance than their never updated ‘archives’ of a scattered half dozen or so available documents merits].

Still, money aside, it’s all good crack and a fun ‘Sherlock Holmes’ way to while away the hours.

Backwards and Upwards!

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