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Dunrobin Castle

The story of Dunrobin Castle is a story of earls and dukes that dates back to the 14th century.  Located in the Highlands of Scotland in what is now Sutherland, the land was granted by King Malcolm I to a Flemish knight named Hugh de Moravia. In 1235, his son William was made 1st Earl of Sutherland.

The Sutherlands were thus one of just seven medieval earldoms of Scotland and part of the ruling elite of the country, intermarrying with many of the other important families of the time. On Nov 19, 1614, Jean Gordon-Sutherland was born within the walls of the castle keep. She was the 10th great-grandmother of my niece’s husband.

The castle, which began as a fortified square structure with walls six feet thick, evolved over the years. Its largest redesign took place in the 1800s when it was remodeled by architect Sir Charles Barry who transformed the fort to a house with a Scottish Balmoral style and French influences which tripled its size. It remains privately owned and used as a family residence although sections of the castle are now opened to the public and available to tour.

The motto of Clan Sutherland is “Sans Peur,” which is French for “Without Fear.” It appears on the Countess’s Coat of Arms and the Clan Crest.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Have You Heard The One About…

Family stories are the best. You know… the ones that are passed down from generation to generation; perhaps with a few added embellishments that come with each telling. What they may lack in historical accuracy, they more than make up with their homespun charm. I’ve collected quite a few from the archives I’ve read.  This one involves the 5th great grandfather of my niece’s husband’s aunt.

Alexander McAllister, born in Scotland, was descended from Lord of the Isles and Thane of Argyll through Alester, eldest son of Angus Mor, Lord of the Isles and Kintyre. He emigrated to North Carolina and became a prominent citizen, serving in the Cumberland County militia as a colonel, the provincial congress and the state senate.

He arrived in America first in 1736 but returned to Scotland in 1739 presumably to marry for he returned to North Carolina in 1740 with his wife, Mary, who unfortunately died during the crossing.

As the family tale goes, during the crossing, a child was born to two of his fellow passengers. The baby, as they are wont to do, was crying incessantly. The irritable Alexander, mourning his departed wife, lashed out at the mother, “Would you just spank that little “b-****”!” The mother quickly shot back, “Never mind sir, she’ll be the wife of you yet.”

Twenty-three years later, that prophecy was fulfilled. That baby, who was named Jane Colvin, became Alexander McAllister’s third wife in 1763. Together, they had eleven children.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

The Allan Line

Captain Alexander “Sandy” Allan was born in 1780 Scotland.

In 1800, while employed as a journeyman shoemaker near Galston, Sandy moved to Saltcoats, intent on learning to be a ship’s carpenter, but eventually gave it up to go to sea. He was soon sailing as mate to Captain Wilson of Saltcoats. Within a few years, Captain Sandy Allan had served as Master and part-owner of several small ships trading out of Saltcoats.

During the Peninsular war, the 175 ton brigantine Hero, with Captain Allan as master, was chartered by the government to transport troops and goods to the continent to supply Wellington’s army. By 1814, Sandy Allan had established a reputation as an excellent mariner and shrewd businessman.

A new ship was needed and on June 5th 1819, the Jean sailed from Greenock for Quebec with Captain Sandy Allan as master. 

The name of the Allan family became synonymous with North Atlantic shipping and remained so for over 100 years. Under the direction of Sandy, the Allan line progressed from wooden sailing ships to iron-built steamships; from a one-man operation to a leading transatlantic company. The Allan Line continued to expand throughout the second half of the 19th century until by 1884 it was the seventh-largest shipping line in the world and the largest privately owned. 

Sailing from Glasgow and Liverpool, the ships of the Allan Line probably carried more immigrants to Canada than any other line.

Captain Sandy Allan was a 5th great-granduncle of my niece’s husband.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Coming to America

Rose Family Crest

I’ve often said, “Everyone has a story.” After spending months of genealogical research, I’ve discovered a lot of hidden stories belonging to people who are somehow attached to various branches of my family tree. I look forward to sharing these stories with you in this and future blogs.

Stories like the one belonging to Tormut Rose, the 9th great grandfather of the husband of the niece of my wife. Born in 1632 at Kilravock Castle in Inverness Scotland, he eventually became an officer in the Scottish Covenanter army and fought in the Third English Civil war which was waged in an attempt to retain the independence of the Scottish church and restore Charles II to the throne of Scotland and England.

During the Battle of Dunbar, the Scottish army discovered the whereabouts of Lord Cromwell’s forces but were advised not to attack by preachers due to it being a Sunday. This gave Cromwell an opportunity to launch a surprise attack and vanquish the Scottish defenders. Tormut Rose and others were captured. In order to prevent any attempt at a rescue, the prisoners were forced to march towards England under severe conditions. Most died of illness, starvation or exhaustion.

As a survivor, Tormut Rose was sold as an indentured servant to the Robert Ricks Iron Works in Braintree, Massachusetts and was shipped off to the colonies along with 271 fellow prisoners. There, he spent the next 7 to 10 years working off his “debt.”

In 1660 he, along with 15 others, made the decision to purchase Block Island, RI from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had claimed the land won by conquest of the natives who lived there.  It was there that he settled, married and re-began his life as a freeman. And that is the story of how this particular branch of the family came to America.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.