Who Do You Think You Are?

Your Projects

Rosemary Collins talks to a couple who run a website that celebrates the heritage of Gatehouse of Fleet in Scotland


Celebratin­g the history of Gatehouse of Fleet in Scotland

Margaret Wright (née Hunter) grew up in Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbri­ghtshire, now in Dumfries and Galloway. She moved back to Gatehouse with her husband Graham after they retired in 2006, where they have dedicated much of their free time to family history. Their research into their roots has led to the creation of the website Gatehouse Folk ( gatehouse-folk.org.uk).

“For many years Graham and I have been interested in our own family histories,” Margaret explains. “We have often found it helpful to have a local contact in the areas where our ancestors had lived, and we decided that when we retired we would try to help other researcher­s in this way.”

Gatehouse covers two parishes, Girthon and Anwoth, each of which has two graveyards. For their first project, the Wrights photograph­ed and transcribe­d all of the headstones in both parishes. They shared the records with Jim Bell, of the website Stewartry Monumental Inscriptio­ns ( kirkyards.co.uk). He in turn helped the couple to set up their own site.

Gatehouse Folk is now a thriving repository, sharing informatio­n about the town’s history and the family history resources available; photos and old postcards; and trees for Gatehouse families.

With permission from ScotlandsP­eople ( scotlands people.gov.uk), which holds the census returns for the country, Graham and Margaret transcribe­d the 1841–1911 census records to correct errors by transcribe­rs less familiar with local people and place names. Copies of their transcript­ions are available in Gatehouse Library, Mill on the Fleet, Stewartry Museum, and Dumfries and Galloway Family History Research Centre. The Wrights also transcribe­d some of the Girthon and Anwoth valuation rolls, which record the proprietor, tenant and rateable value of each property for 1859–1975.

In addition, the website holds PDF summaries of the Girthon kirk sessions, held to establish who was responsibl­e for illegitima­te children, from 1821 to 1863. There is also a list of the male heads of families in 1834, and an A-to-Z of names in the 1864–1895 Girthon Poor Law register.

As more First World War records became available online, Graham and Margaret began researchin­g the lives of all of the local men who were killed and are commemorat­ed on the Anwoth and Girthon War Memorial. Their stories are now listed on the website, along with details of many who survived.

One story Graham and Margaret uncovered was that of the Davidson brothers. James, Peter, Robert and Nelson Davidson were all killed in 1917 in separate incidents. A fifth brother, Wilfred, survived the war and remained in Gatehouse for the rest of his life. He became a successful businessma­n, and was made the provost of the burgh.

The Wrights also marked the 75th anniversar­y of VE Day on 8 May 2020 by carrying out similar research into the experience­s of Gatehouse people in the Second World War, and publishing their details on their website. Their plans for the future include updating the site’s ‘Who Lived Where’ section, which aims to identify who has lived in each house in the town, and working on a new section about Gatehouse artists.

“We are proud of what we have achieved so far and all of the feedback has been positive, which makes it all worthwhile,” Margaret says.

‘All the feedback has been positive, which makes it all worthwhile’

 ??  ?? Left to right: Bob McDonald, John McDonald, James Hunter (Margaret’s grandfathe­r), Alex McDonald and John McMurray in the blacksmith’s workshop in Digby Street
Left to right: Bob McDonald, John McDonald, James Hunter (Margaret’s grandfathe­r), Alex McDonald and John McMurray in the blacksmith’s workshop in Digby Street

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom