Laurel’s Ancestral Tour of Scotland & Northumberland

Laurel & Jim at Stirling Archives

Laurel & Jim at Stirling Archives

Laurel & Jim from the USA recently spent two days with Borders Journeys discovering Laurel’s Scottish & Northumbrian ancestral roots.

Laurel first made contact with me nearly a year ago requesting assistance researching her Gilfillan / Gilphillan ancestors from Airth in Stirlingshire. Through information Laurel sent to me, I established her family line back to the marriage of John Gilphillan & Helein (Helen) Wilson in Airth Parish on 22nd November 1664. From the marriage I was then able to trace at three and possibly four children:

“John Gilphillan on 31st August 1665 lawful son of John Gilphillan & Helein Wilson.”

“Thomas Gilphillan on 6th February 1668 son of John Gilphillan & Helein Wilson.”

“On 19th February 1675 Robert Gilphillan lawful son of Johne Gilphillan and Hellen Wilson. Witnesses Johns Wilson and Robert Gilphillan.”

“On 25th May 1684 James Gilphillan lawful son of John Gilphillan & …. Wilson in presence of the congregation.”

From Airth Burial Register, I found the death and burials for John & Helen:

“John Gilfillan, an old man, lawful husband of Helen Wilson was buried upon the 4th of January 1706.”

“Helen Willson, an old woman, lawful relict of the deceased John Gilfillan was buried 24th January 1717.”

Laurel & Jim’s tour began by visiting Stirling Council Archives – it was here that Laurel had the opportunity to see one of her ancestors’ signature on an Oath of Allegiance to King George II of Great Britain dated 15th May 1734. The oath was signed by the Provost, Baillies & Councillors of Stirling Burgh also rejected the Jacobite cause.

The next visit was to the ruins of Airth Parish Kirk in the grounds of Airth Castle – it was in kirk that Laurel’s ancestors were baptised and in the surrounding kirkyard that they were buried. Despite the ruinous state of the kirk, it was fascinating wandering through the ivy clad building as well as giving Laurel a feeling of returning to the heartland of her ancestors. The kirk has parts dating from the 12th century with three aisles and tower added later. When the new kirk was opened in the village in 1820, the 12th century kirk was abandoned and left to decay.

Airth Kirk

Airth Kirk

Laurel is an Outlander fan therefore I couldn’t resist taking her & Jim for a surprise visit to Doune Castle – Castle Leoch in the TV adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s series of novels. We briefly stopped in Callander for a picnic lunch at Mhor Bread – the banks of Loch Lubnaig made an idyllic setting for lunch.

The Gilfillan family are a sept of the McNab Clan therefore Laurel was interested in visiting the McNab burial ground at Killen. The burial ground is on Inchbuie, an island in the River Dochart at the Falls of Dochart. Generations of the of the Clan Chiefs have been buried in this peaceful and idyllic setting.


McNab Burial Ground & Falls of Dochart at Killin

The day concluded by visiting Scone Palace near Perth. The palace is the ancestral home of the Earls of Mansfield. For centuries Scottish Monarchs were crowned at the palace on Moot Hill upon the Stone of Scone (Stone of Destiny) – the stone was stolen by King Edward I of England in 1296 and remained in Westminster Abbey for 700 years, only returning to Edinburgh Castle in 1996. King Robert I of Scotland ‘Robert the Bruce’ was crowned at Scone in 1306; the last coronation was held in 1651 for King Charles II.

Day two concentrated on Laurel’s Northumbrian Ogle ancestry. Laurel is a member of the Ogle Family Association and will be Trip Leader for their 2017 family reunion in Northumberland. Our first visit of the day was to MacDonald Linden Hall where the delegates will be based during their stay in Northumberland; Laurel & Jim spent time meeting with the hotel’s event organiser and visiting the facilities.

The next visit was to Ogle Castle. The Castle dates from the 14th century and was where King David II of Scotland, son of ‘Robert the Bruce’, was held following his capture at the Battle of Neville’s Cross. The castle remained in Ogle hands until 1629 when it passed to the Earl of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Scone Palace & Ogle Castle

Scone Palace & Ogle Castle

Our final visit was to Kirkley Hall. The Ogle family have been associated with the area around the hall from the early 17th century. A house was built by the family on the site of the current hall in 1632; it was occupied by the family until 1923 and subsequently sold with the surrounding land in 1935. The hall now forms part of Northumberland College. The Ogle Family Association are currently raising funds to have a pond in the grounds renovated and renamed the Ogle Pond in time for the reunion in 2017.

It was a pleasure to meet Laurel & Jim and be part of Laurel’s ancestral journey in Scotland and Northumberland.

More photographs of the Janet & Libby’s Ancestral Tour can be found on Borders Journeys’ Facebook.

Where do you come from? What stories lie in your family history? Have you ever wondered? Maybe you’ve hit a dead end in your research or just don’t know where to start.

Simply tell me what you know so far and I will not only give you research advice but investigate your Scottish ancestry on your behalf. I will research your family history by connecting the dots to form a real picture of who and where you come from.

Do you want to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors?

I will design a tailor-made ancestral tour especially for you, taking you on a journey of discovery where you’ll connect with your Scottish ancestors by walking in their footsteps. Your ancestors will be brought to life when you learn about the people, places and traditions connected with them. By the end of the tour you will have gained a real insight into your ancestral heritage and where you came from, something you can share with present and future generations.

I recognise that for many of you this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, my emphasis is upon making your time in Scotland an experience you’ll always remember.

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