Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-09 > 0904774540

From: "Merle, Linda" <>
Subject: Ulster Scots and History
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 15:15:40 -0700

Dear Edward,

>I make no apology for being an Historian and not a
>genealogist. Generally the Historian traces the large
>events and movements. The genealogist - if they are
>anymore than list gatherers - is interested
>in the fate of individuals.

You shouldn't need to apologize at all. I recently
spent three days at the British Isles Family History
Society in the USA's conference. LOTS of lectures
by historians on history. One was I think his name
was David Cressey. Just wrote a book on the courtship,
marriage, and death customs of the English. FASCINATING.
Someone discussed, maybe him, the whole parish/bishopric
arrangement there in England -- so we could understand
where to go to look for probate records as well as
ecclesiastical court records. These are the records
with all the juicy stuff about bastard births. You
have to understand the culture to understand what
records certain events, like a bastard birth, created,
and where those records might be.

At a recent national conference a couple people
performed marriage ceremonies -- this was a great hit.
So this is theatre at a genealogy conference.

In any case the professional genealogists -- the ones
who teach the classes and write the books -- they say
we must learn the history to succeed.

What I found most interesting is how handfasting was
maintained in ENGLAND as a custom for a long time. We
tend to think of it as a Celtic highland habit, but it
was practiced as a form of common law, throughout the
Isles. What he said caused problems was the confusion
between common law and church law, since frequently
sexual intercourse between handfasted couples was
overlooked by the common law. This led to up to 1/3rd
of all brides arriving at the alter pregnant, while
at the same time there was a very low "bastardy" rate.
It wasn't beause of loose morals -- it would be a
mistake to think your ancester was a loose person
if he/she had an "early " baby. On the other hands,
if the marriage didn't actually happen, it left a
fatherless child and a very painful eclessiastical
inquisition to find the dad. Not so much because they
were morally outraged but because they wanted to make
him pay to maintain the baby so the parish didn't have to.

I'm one of the ones who will be buying his book...

(34,323,123 spearholder in the back row hiding behind
all the rest of ya.)

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