Don't ignore information which appears not to relate to you.
I had researched the National Library of Scotland's archives for information about my direct ancestors and had therefore ignored references to documents with a reference to their siblings. Mistake!
Last year the New Orleans Collection published the memoirs of my g g grandfather's brother Admiral Robert Aitchison. Why? Because it contained details of his time in the British Navy, during the Battle of New Orleans. Several months (years?) earlier I had contacted their researcher to see if he had any information which may be relevant to my researches and, as a result, the Collection had eventually made contact with me to see if they could obtain more background information about Robert's family. During conversations I explained that the National Library had records and I gave them the email address.
Several days later I was contacted again "Did you know that there is a letter in the library from Robert to John Rennie Snr (the civil engineer who designed lighthouses, canals, ports, London bridges), addressing him “My dear Uncle”. No, I did not. This lead to my going to look at the Rennie letter collection.
Here I found letters from my ggg grandfather and all his sons to John Rennie and his family. These proved to be a mine of information about the family and, just as importantly, finally disclosed the link between John Rennie and my family. John’s oldest sister was our 4xg grandmother whose marriage record had called her Marion Rannie when she married James Mylne. On the Rennie papers I had found the words “Marion Rennie – nothing known”. So now I have tied up the records for a lot of people and it has enabled me to find other descendants of Marion and James Mylne who farmed at Lochhill.
One of the other descendants contacted me from New Zealand in great excitement a few months ago to let me know that James’ poems (published by Robert Burns) were available for downloading over that weekend. It was very exciting to read poems written by one of my great grandfathers.
Since then I have also been able to advise the editors of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, that there was a relationship link between John Rennie and James Mylne, both of whom appear on their web site.
Last year we visited James and Marion’s home town and were delighted to be invited back to Lochhill by the current tenant. They had been reinstating the Georgian fittings and had been wondering what happened to the Mylne’s whose family had farmed their land for over 100 years back in the 1700s and 1800s. They were also surprised to learn of the connection with Phantassie the home of Marion and John Rennie and their siblings. But even more surprisingly, they had photos of James and Marion’s daughter’s home. My 3xg grandmother and her husband (William Aitchison and Jane Mylne) had purchased the Drummore estates on which the current farmer of Lochhill had been born and farmed during his youth! They had no idea that the two estates had been connected in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
So remember to leave no stone unturned – it may just throw up a magnificent link for you too.
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