Douglas’ history of nobility
Man related to Earl of Errol
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.