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Monday, 19 December 2011

Family history stuff

The weekend after I was at Colin’s, I found myself on a mission to take photographs of farmhouses in Fife that had a connection with my ancestors!  Part of this mission was on behalf of a very distant relative whose family went to America a couple or three generations ago.  We had been corresponding for a short time exchanging information on our respective family trees, and Mike desperately wanted to see the places where his ancestors came from.  We tried doing that from Googlemaps, but that didn’t work, firstly because they don’t have that little mannie who walks across the maps and shows pictures of places, and secondly because I discovered later there wasn’t one of them the correct farm!!!

So!  Out with the overnight bag again, put some petrol into the car, and I was off - armed with my detailed map of where these farms would be found.  forth bridge I crossed the Forth Road Bridge, calm again after a highly windy day the day before, when the bridge had had to be closed to high sided vehicles, continued along the motorway and turned off onto the St Andrews Road  - though I was only going as far as Cupar.    By the way this bridge is the Forth rail bridge resplendent after years of work being done on it.  You can see the road bridge in the distance beyond it though!   Strangely I was just crossing the road bridge when something came on the radio about how the rail bridge looked as good as new again and wouldn’t need any further work done for another 20 years!  So bang goes that story about a never-ending job being like painting the Forth Bridge!!

So, having turned off the motorway  there was a farm to be photographed before I got as far as Cupar. Detouring to Strathmiglo, I couldn’t find a farm – only a group of new houses with the street name of the farm!  east mill cottage There was an old cottage left though, so, rather disappointed, especially for Mike whose family had farmed here,

East Mill

I took my photos of the cottage and the houses replacing the old farm buildings, and continued on my way.

Russell Mill 2011 As I got near to Cupar I detoured again to take a look at the mill where a very early ancestor and his family lived and worked.  In fact the family worked the mill for over a hundred years and seem to have made a very good living out of it by all accounts!   It was probably only a flour mill in those days, but subsequently went through a couple of reincarnations at least, becoming a spinning mill for flax, and much later a pre-cast concrete works.  The place looks very deserted now, so I wonder if the business has closed or moved.  Russell mill house front2I had been here before a couple of times but hadn’t spotted the old house with its lovely bow window before.  I don’t think for a moment that my ancestors lived in it, I think it was probably built after their tenancy of the mill was over, but I still took a photo or two of it.  Sadly it too seems to be pretty derelict.  Such a shame.



From the mill I took the back road into Cupar in order to track down the house that old maps have as Bondfield, but which is now known by the name of the farm round the corner, Gillliesfaulds House.  The owner knew nothing of the house’s history so, sneaking a quick photo I came away.  Bondfield was the name of the house built by the elder brother of one of my direct ancestors, on a piece of land that had been in the family for a good long time.  I had never resolved the problem of locating the actual house as there are several Bonville, Bonfield, Bondfield Villa names further into the town.  However I am fairly convinced now that the house I photographed was the home of my Inglis ancestor, especially as a brand new development right in front of the house has a street named for him – well, I assume it’s him!  More digging to be done on that one!

I had decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in the library at Cupar looking at some books about the history of the area, stay overnight and do my touring around the next day.  So in Cupar I found the library and was shown to the research room.  The staff were so helpful, and I found a few interesting snippets, though made no major discoveries.

Next day was cold and frosty but, as often happens on frosty days, sunny – a perfect day for driving around.  I found the two farms that had once been a single estate, bought by an Inglis, whose wife was Mike’s connection.  colluthie front He renovated one old farmhouse, adding this impressive front, (left) Newington House

built a new house at the other (right) and gave them to two of his sons, Henry and John!    Henry’s house, Newington, the house on the right, is actually for sale right now.  I’d love to see round it, but thanks to the young woman I spoke to at Colluthie on the left I did see some of its interior, which was really fascinating, and what was also interesting was that inadvertently I had taken a photo with the initials JI and the date 1869 quite clearly inscribed on one of the buildings in the yard at the back.  It took Mike’s sharp eyes to spot that!  I hadn’t, at the time!  Has to have been John Inglis.

The next few farms were connected with Mike’s ancestors, but I found it fascinating talking to the present owners and being given bits of information which may or may not be right, and it was great just to see these marvellous solid houses, and wonder about the people who had lived in them.berryhill farmhouse berryhill house 

The house in the photo,  left, was the old farmhouse of Berryhill while the one on the right, above, was built behind the farmhouse for one of the spinster daughters, I was told.  Lucky lady!

lindores abbey farmhouse

This farmhouse on the edge of Newburgh was most interesting as its back wall was incorporated into the wall of the former great abbey of Lindores, sadly ruined since the 16th century.   Imagine having the Abbey as your back garden!  It was some size of abbey - huge!lindores abbey stitched

lochmill farmhouse

Lochmill farmhouse stands at the top of this rise with the farm steadings below.  Unfortunately, no-one answered my ring on the doorbell.

lochmill steadings

As with several of the farms I saw, the farmyard was empty and unused.  Sign of the times, I think!  I wonder if doves or pigeons still enter the right hand building through the two little holes above the window, and if there are nesting boxes inside, as was common in old farms, the eggs and the birds themselves being good provender.

ormiston front2     Ormiston House is another of these solidly built houses of the 1800s, and yet again I found no-one around to talk to about its past owners.Ormiston land



The land around it looks very rich and fertile.

Lumquhat is the name of the farm below.  In the Scots language QUH are generally pronounced like WH, a sound that is produced by pretending to blow out a candle.  There are several place names with that combination of letters, but the only one I can actually bring to mind right now is Balquhidder, home of Rob Roy Macgregor, pronounced Bal-whidder – though a lot of Scots will put in the KW sound Bal—kwidder.  So Lumquhat is Lum-WHAAT.  Curious name.  I don’t know what it means. lumquhat stitch 

Lumquhat back porchThe couple who live in the farmhouse were very kind, even going so far as to bring out the deeds to the house and look through them for a familiar name – which we didn’t find in a quick skim through.   I wonder if Mike’s ancestors here were just tenant farmers rather than owners.

Next time I come ancestor hunting in Fife I ought to do some graveyard searching.  One retired farmer I spoke to happened to ask the question “Where would they be buried ?” and we talked about which graveyards would be in which parish.   I know there are many people who aren’t the slightest bit interested in who or what went before, but I find it all very interesting, and wonder how like some of these ancestors am I?  I never liked history at school, but now I enjoy the social side of it, finding out how the ancestors lived, so here’s to the next time!

Talk again soon.


Katrina said...

Again - great photos. I must get one of the bridge as it is now, clear of plastic for the first time in years. My family came from around the Fife - Kinross areas and were mainly farm workers , but so were most people in those days I suppose, before they all moved to Glasgow for work. Those houses around Cupar look gorgeous. It's nice there but again very expensive as it's so close to St Andrews.

Peggy@Peggy Ann's Post said...

What a grand adventure you had! The houses are so beautiful. I can't imagine living in such an old house with so much history. Merry Christmas Evee!