RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 7, 2010
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825
Recently reprinted is Frances McDonnell's REGISTER OF TESTAMENTS: ABERDEEN, 1715 - 1800, the third volume in The People of the Scottish Burghs series. Her publication consists of three parts in one volume: Part One covers the years 1715 - 1734, Part Two encompasses the years 1735 - 1759, and Part Three concerns the years 1760 - 1800.
The Registers of Testaments are among the most important sources of information for tracing Scottish family trees. Since testaments made before 1868 dealt only with moveable property (such as linen, furniture, clothes, jewelry, or tools), they may pertain to individuals of humble origin as well as members of the upper classes. Generally, the documents reveal the name and designation of the deceased; date of death; name of the executor; an inventory of assets, liabilities, debtors, and creditors; and usually a will.
Until the 1820s, testaments were "confirmed" by various Commissariot Courts which were roughly based on pre-Reformation diocesan boundaries. Although the Registers of Testaments in Scotland are usually available from the late fifteenth century, fires destroyed the pre-1715 records of the Commissariot of Aberdeen.
McDonnell's work furnishes an alphabetical index of the names of people with testaments confirmed by the Court during the years 1715 - 1800. The list usually provides the name of the deceased, residence, and year of death. In many cases, she also supplies additional information, such as the name of the next of kin, occupation, or residence in another European country. The entry in Part Three for Helen RAGG explains that she was the daughter of the late Robert RAGG, who was a shipmaster in Aberdeen; her testament was dated 24 Jul 1781. An entry for William STRACHAN in Part Three, for example, states that he was a "sometime merchant in Rotterdam, last residing in Banff, 22 July 1777."
When necessary, entries are cross-referenced. In Part One, for instance, the entry for William STRACHAN, a shoemaker in Banff, informs researchers to see the entry for Isobell COCK. Her entry relates that she was the widow of William STRACHAN. (Genealogists should be aware that a woman in Scotland did not necessarily lose her maiden name when she married.)
As to be expected, familiar Scottish surnames found in the Aberdeen registers include ANDERSON, DAVIDSON, FARQUHAR, FINDLAY, FORBES, FRASER, GORDON, INNES, IRVINE, KEITH, MITCHELL, OGILVIE, ROSS, SCOTT, STEWART, AND URQUHART. Less common surnames appearing in the records include ALLARDICE, ARBUTHNOT, BISSET, CASSIE, CATANACH, CLARIHEW, CRUDEN, CRUICKSHANK, DALGARNO, DINGWALL, DUGUID, GILLENDERS, LUMSDEN, PANTON, MCHARDIE, MEARNS, MOWAT, OREM, SANDILANDS, SHIRRAS, SKENE, and WILDGOOSE.
In all, McDonnell's volume names more than 3,000 inhabitants of seventeenth-century Aberdeen. Any number of them or their descendants ultimately made contact with the New World. Genealogists with roots in this Scottish port may find valuable information about their ancestors in REGISTER OF TESTAMENTS: ABERDEEN, 1715 - 1800.
The 132-page paperback arranges entries alphabetically in each of its three sections. To the book's price of $22.50, 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 9964) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website www.genealogical.com).
In order to trace the lineage of a family accurately, genealogists need to be familiar with terminology found in various resources. The words "brother-german" or "sister-german" sometimes appear in records. What does "german" mean in this case? The term, which is pronounced "germain," indicates a close kinship. When the word is hyphenated with brother or sister, it alludes to a full-blood sibling (that is, they have the same parents). If the word is hyphenated with cousin, it refers to a full-blood first cousin (meaning they have the same grandparents).
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