Farm horse tax records for 1797

I’ve added a transcript of the farm horse tax list for Coldingham parish in 1797. It includes the names of 88 owners and their addresses (many farms, and smaller locations), and the number of horses each used for husbandry or trade that were thus liable for tax. It’s interesting to see the long list of farms recorded, together with numbers of working horses giving an approximate guide to the scale of agriculture going on. But it’s also interesting to see how many other people had horses for small-scale husbandry or trade.

Creating new Coldingham one-place study website

I’ve had a hand-coded HTML site for my one-place study for some years, but it has become rather unwieldy in terms of structure and organisation, and it’s not the easiest thing for people to read.

So I’ve now switched to a WordPress-based site, which will have a much more structured approach to the resources that I put online. I am also hoping it will encourage me to add more!

The new site also incorporates the accompanying blog. All the previous blog entries have been imported, but their original in-text links may not all work. I will fix them over time. And new posts will be added to the blog here in future.

Two medieval Coldingham journal papers free online May 2016

I’ve just discovered today that there are two recent academic journal papers about the Coldingham area, which are freely available online until the end of May 2016. So download them fast! Normally they are only available to subscribers to the journals, and members of academic institutions that subscribe to them. But to celebrate their new website Edinburgh University Press have made their journal papers all freely available until the end of May.

The two papers are both by academic Dr J. Donnelly. The most recent was published in the April 2016 issue of the Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, titled “The perils and dangers of these knights (and undead peasants): Interpreting English and Scottish Extent Rolls of 1297-1305“. I’ve only glanced through it quickly so far, but it includes some discussion of the Coldingham evidence, including for non-knights – more ordinary people.

The other paper, in some ways a companion piece, was published in the Innes Review in 2012. “Cult and culture in a medieval community: Ayton and Coldingham, 1188-1376“. It is a 52-page article, with much information about the nature of local life in these parishes. Again I’ve only looked at it briefly so far – too eager to post here and tell people to get it while it is still freely available! But it looks superb for giving an insight into life and society in the Coldingham area three centuries and more before surviving parish registers.

Both journal papers are only available freely online until the end of May 2016, so get them now! They will continue to be available online afterwards in a more restricted form, and in print form in academic and university libraries who subscribe to the relevant journals.

Another 44 names added to Coldingham WW1 servicemen/women list

Tonight I added more names to this list, drawing on names recorded in the Reston United Free Church Roll of Honour. A few of these names are probably existing soldiers already in the list, but most aren’t, and are new. The Coldingham WW1 list now has 330 names, and will continue to be updated as new information is found.

Pulling out list of RHP plans for Coldingham parish from NRS catalogue

I’ve been using the National Archives of Scotland (previously Scottish Record Office) online catalogues for many years. Now it’s part of the National Records of Scotland, and I’ve just been trying some more catalogue searches, and found something new for me. The NRS has lots of plans for places in Scotland in the past, including maps, sketch plans of places, and architectural plans. And these seem to be largely tagged by place.

Searching for the place tag for Coldingham parish finds 207 of these RHP maps and plans, from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Check out the list to see if any might concern your ancestors, depending on when and where they lived. Contact the NRS for further information on accessing these records, including arranging photocopies or digital copies.

First working list of Coldingham WW1 servicemen and women online

I’ve previously announced a WW1 project associated with the Coldingham one-place study.

The working list of servicemen and women traced has now been put online. This includes names from the Rolls of Honour for Coldingham parish, which include men who survived as well as those who died. There are nearly 300 names in the list, although there are still some duplicate entries to be sorted out.

To see the list, and please remember that it will be updated, see here.

Starting a WW1 project for Coldingham

For my two one-place studies, Coldingham and Melrose, I’ve decided to start a project researching soldiers from World War I that I can trace. This is quite difficult to do, because the soldier records are in many cases incomplete, many lost due to World War II bombing. But it’s also hard for both parishes because of the high populations. It’s unlikely, for example, for me to be able to draw up a list of all men of the right age range, and look for all of them in the records, one by one. Rather I will use resources like Ancestry to try to find soldiers who were recorded as living in the right places.

Both parishes have war memorials, and the lives and deaths of the men recorded on them have previously been researched by others (see here for Coldingham). I do not plan to replicate this work about the soldiers who died during the conflict. Instead I’m looking for all soldiers that I can find, living or dead, in the surviving army records, particularly those I can search from home online.

I will be preparing a list of the men I find for Coldingham, and putting it in the one-place study website. This will be a slow ongoing process, and more information will be added as I find it. I will be using as my model for this list Alex Coles’s list of WW1 soldiers traced for Wing in Buckinghamshire, though I will probably aim, where possible, to put more information online in my basic list. And I would aim to keep copies of relevant records that I trace, including any detailed soldier service records, so they can be passed on to any descendants or other relatives of the soldiers who get in touch.

I would also welcome information from modern descendants who have known relatives from each place who served during WW1. Feel free to contact me about this on email at

Surnames per place derived from baptisms

Coldingham parish registers, like Scottish parish registers in general, include addresses within the parish when children were baptised. This can be used to work out exactly where ancestors lived, but it’s also possible to trace which surnames were resident in specific areas, in an era long before the 19th century census returns.

Based on this principle I’ve started analysing surnames recorded for families bringing children to be baptised in Coldingham in specific decades. The surnames recorded are those of the fathers, and only noted where an address inside the parish is given. So far I’ve analysed the baptisms for 1750-1759 and 1800-1809. I intend to go back and do 1700-1709 likewise.

The results are sorted by place name within the parish, and list the surnames associated with each place, at least as far as the baptism evidence goes. As I say on the relevant page

They aren’t complete lists of surnames in these places, being restricted to parents (usually fathers) having children baptised in the period. But it is hoped that gathering this information is useful, showing changing surname patterns over time, at least in part, as well as changing place names occupied in the parish.

For more details see the appropriate page in my Coldingham one-place study website.