Dou­glas’ history of no­bil­ity

Man re­lated to Earl of Er­rol

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Clark

An Auchter­arder man who went in search of his an­ces­tors found some sur­pris­ing fam­ily con­nec­tions in high places.

Dou­glas Hay-Bell (72) grew up in the Quar­ri­ers Or­phan­age in Bridge of Weir, and never knew his par­ents.

Once he had left the home in Ren­frew­shire, he was de­ter­mined to find his fam­ily, and the project has since be­come a life­time’s work, trac­ing his fam­ily tree back to the early 17th Cen­tury.

Since re­search­ing his history, Dou­glas has found con­nec­tions to some of Scot­tish history’s landed gen­try, and the royal Bruce fam­ily.

He was orig­i­nally in­spired by the TV story of an or­phan girl from Barnardo’s who suc­cess­fully traced her own fam­ily tree.

He said: “I was put into the or­phan­age and from that I was never told who my par­ents were. My father was called Matthew Gil­more and I went to see him in 1970 but he had al­ready died in 1968.

“I met a lady there who I as­sume was his wife, and she slammed the door in my face.

“From that I went on in 2000 to do my fam­ily tree and from my grand­mother Janet Hay and grand­fa­ther John Hark­ness-Bell I went through all the births and mar­riages back to 1608.

“I con­tacted the Hay So­ci­ety in [Aboyne] Aberdeen­shire be­cause I have been de­nied my birth right of a fam­ily.

“They con­nected me to the Hay fam­ily be­cause my great-grand­fa­ther 11 times re­moved was Sir Alexan­der Hay, who was the Earl of Er­rol, and found con­nec­tions to the Earl of Elgin and the Bruce fam­ily.

“I want peo­ple to know that an ex-Quar­ri­ers boy has found he is con­nected to the Earl of Er­rol!”

Dou­glas, who pre­vi­ously worked at both Gle­nea­gles Ho­tel and Auchter­arder Golf Club, has spent the past 17 years dig­ging through the old par­ish records at the Carnegie Li­brary, fund­ing the re­search him­self.

Since find­ing out his long-lost con­nec­tions to no­bil­ity, he also re­calls be­ing in a cot­tage hos­pi­tal when he was young where the ma­tron said he was a very im­por­tant and spe­cial child.

He claims he has a scep­ti­cal mind be­cause one of his an­ces­tors was a Dou­glas Hay-Bell physi­cian to King Charles II (1649-1651).

He con­tin­ued: “I was ab­so­lutely gob­s­macked, I found it very strange and weird find­ing all this.

“I have asked for help to find my fam­ily be­fore and I have al­ways been de­nied it be­cause it is all so se­cret.”

Dou­glas’ story got even more in­trigu­ing af­ter he spoke to a medium about his fam­ily tree.

He added: “A medium called Be­hind the Wall came to Aberuthven and the lady with the tarot cards said I have a very dark se­cret, and that I have been lied to all my life since day one and are still be­ing lied to to­day.

“I have been de­nied all th­ese years of brothers and sis­ters. The medium told me I had a sis­ter, but she died very young.

“I have al­ways been lied to about my fam­ily. I was told bluntly it was not in my in­ter­est to know what was in my doc­u­ments from the or­phan­age.”

Since dis­cov­er­ing more about his fam­ily history, Dou­glas has been in touch with a num­ber of clan so­ci­eties around the world, and hopes to find out if he is en­ti­tled to wear the Hay coat of arms as a hered­i­tary peer.

He is also at­tempt­ing to find out if he has any other rel­a­tives in Scot­land.

Fam­ily history

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