Kinsearching November 21, 2010




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Another recent volume in David Dobson’s new series pertaining to the inhabitants of Scottish towns and cities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is THE PEOPLE OF THE SCOTTISH BURGHS, A GENEALOGICAL SOURCE BOOK: THE PEOPLE OF KIRKCALDY, 1600-1799. In this work, the Scottish genealogical authority has again amassed numerous clues for possible familial ties between the Old World and the New.

     Unlike the town of Greenock (see review in Kinsearching column dated 14 November 2010), Kirkcaldy is located on the east coast of Scotland. A royal burgh since 1664, the town was semi-autonomous and, therefore, able to participate in foreign trade. Its economy depended on the production of linen from local supplies of flax as well as imports from the southern Baltic Sea. Linen was exported, either directly from Kirkcaldy or indirectly through London and the port of Leith near Edinburgh, to the American colonies. In addition, Kirkcaldy exported coal to markets on the European continent (particularly the Netherlands), to other Scottish ports, and to Charleston, South Carolina. (A well-documented voyage from Kirkcaldy to America was recorded in Janet Schaw’s JOURNAL OF A LADY OF QUALITY.) Dobson provides a short list of shipping links with the Americas, which gives the name of the ship leaving from Kirkcaldy, the name of its master, its destination in the New World, a date, and the source of information.

     Due to its international trade, it may not be a surprise that the famous economist Adam SMITH (1723-1790) was a native of Kirkcaldy. The son of the town’s Customs Controller, Smith wrote the well-known work commonly referred to as THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. Published in 1776, it is considered to be the first complete volume about political economy and has greatly influenced American economists as well as politicians.

     Following his usual format, Dobson arranges names of the burghers alphabetically. For every individual, he furnishes a date and the source of his information. Supplementary details vary from person to person. Facts may range from occupation and date of birth or death to the name of ship on which he or she sailed and the name or names of parents, spouse, and/or children. Some recurring surnames are ADAMSON, ARNOT/ARNOTT, BALANQUELL, BALFOUR, BERVIE, BOSWELL, COLLIER, DICK, DRYSDALE, GREIG, HAY, HUTCHEON, KAY, LAMB, LAW, MALCOLM, MOYES, OSWALD, RAMSAY, TODD, WILLIAMSON, and YOUNG. Data came from primary sources in the National Archives of Scotland, such as bonds, deeds, and testaments.

     As part of the title implies, this book is intended to be an aid for genealogists and local historians. Like Dobson’s earlier publications, the volume does not claim to be exhaustive for the period under study. Instead, it attempts to showcase some of the town’s residents and illustrate the types of records available for the era. Since the eastern port became involved in international trade in the mid-seventeenth century, THE PEOPLE OF THE SCOTTISH BURGHS, A GENEALOGICAL SOURCE BOOK: THE PEOPLE OF KIRKCALDY, 1600-1799 may provide helpful hints for further ancestral research.

     The 105-page publication has soft covers, a brief introduction, illustrations, and a list of references consulted and their abbreviations. To the book's price of $17.50, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order 9703) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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