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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - October/November 2004
Wee Snippets (7)

A Scottish Quotation---

The great end of all human industry is the attainment of happiness.

David Hume, The Stoic

McDuffie/MacDuff Clan sets up DNA surname project

            A new genealogical technique is revolutionizing the tracing of ancestors and establishing links between different family lines.  Scottish Clans around the world are setting up DNA Surname Projects using the proven technology of male Y-chromosome DNA testing.

            Clans Campbell and McGregor have already well-established programs which have shown interesting results.  There are a large group of Campbells in the USA who clearly have a common ancestor showing the Clan to have been relatively stable.  The McGregors on the other hand have a large number of different family lines, probably as a result of the surname being banned in former times.

            Now a McDuffie/MacDuff DNA Surname Project has been established with the following aims:

1.      To determine the degree of relatedness among those with surnames of the great McDuffie/MacDuff diaspora and establish links with ancestral homeland.

2.      To establish how closely associated surnames are linked.

3.      To assist with paper genealogical research in breaking through “brick walls”.

4.      To determine which McDuffs were McDuffies.

The project is set up with a genealogical research purpose only.  Participants are

allocated a number on joining and anonymity of those providing the DNA is preserved.  Participants each pay for the test.  A DNA testing laboratory, which is currently the most popular one with Clan surname projects, is used to analyze the samples.  The project is not commercial.  The DNA sample cannot be used for any other purpose than the genealogical research.  The sample is taken from a standard mouth swab and is non-invasive.  Samples are tested in the USA and the University of Arizona controls and maintains the genetic library under strictest privacy rules.

These projects are most interesting and successful if the data set is reasonably

large.  For this reason MacDuffs and McDuffies are being taken together.  There are good reasons for this.  In the pre-Dalriadic period of Scottish history, it is likely that Duffs and Duffies were one.  Also, in more recent times records show some McDuffies changed name to McDuff.

            The project results may shed fresh light on our Clans history.  For more details visit the Familytree DNA website and McDuffie DNA Project website

            Thanks for this article go to the newsletter of The Clan MacDuff Society of America, Mac Dhubhaich, 100 Barcelona Court, Cary, NC 27513-4201.

A Piper summons the spirits

Online access to Scots Wills for first time now available

            The final wills and testaments of some of Scotland’s most famous and influential figures have been made available online for the first time.

            Every known will and testament written in Scotland from 1500 to 1901 is featured on the Scottish Archive Network (Scan) website  It includes those of Rob Roy, Robert Burns, David Livingstone, Robert Louis Stevenson, and James Young Simpson, the pioneer of anesthesia.

            Archivists at the National Archives of Scotland, who are behind the new site, hope it will help thousands of professional and amateur historians all over the world to find out more about their family histories.

            Source:  Palmetto & Thistle, Scots-American Society of Brevard, PO Box 3325, Melbourne, FL 32902-3325.

Michael Newton sings for us!

            Portland America at has available a CD, Songs of the Highlanders in the United States, sung by Michael Newton, who has a Ph.D. in Celtic studies from the University of Edinburgh.

            This CD is the first collection of songs composed by Scottish Highland immigrants about the United States in Gaelic, their native tongue.

            Men who led a vigorous life as farmers, hunters, and soldiers bequeathed these songs to us to record their experiences all across America, from the mid-eighteenth century to the twentieth century.  Their songs give a voice to their history in the forming of the country we know as the United States.

Same difference poem

You may be a gypsy!

            If your ancestors are from the Scottish Borders area near England, you may have some gypsy blood running through your veins!  This is another example that if you label yourself as a Scot, you may have any number of bloodlines from the European continent.

            Another good example – my Scottish ancestry is from the Isle of Harris and Lewis – one of the many homes to the MacLeods.  Who founded the MacLeod clan?  Two Viking brothers!  Technically speaking, I’m not Scottish, but Viking!  Find out why you may have a wee bit of gypsy in you.

            In a country like Scotland where castles and stately homes are found almost everywhere, there is one palace where very different riches were celebrated.  The Gypsy Palace may sound like a bizarre contradiction, but here lived crowned kings and queens.  While they were not rich in the gold or the jewels associated with other famous palaces, these people were rich in other ways – in tradition and in spirit.

            The Gypsies were first recorded in Scotland in 1506, having arrived from the Continent, and are thought to have their origins in the Persian Gulf.  A nomadic race, the gypsy way of life was simple.  They would find work on farms, doing even the most menial work through the spring and summer, earning enough food or money to see them through the long winter months.  They never put much stock in possessions, apart from a fierce loyalty to their horses.  Their society was hugely reliant on family, and it was the Faa family who made headquarters at Kirk Yetholm.

            Located near the English border, seven miles (11 km) southeast of Kelso, Yetholm is adjacent to Bowmont Water and in the old country of Roxburghshire.  The town Yetholm is the younger of two parts of a village, which also includes Kirk Yetholm.  The nature of the land in the Borders – constantly disputed ownership between the Scots and the English – made it a perfect place for gypsies to settle.  The Faa family’s first official involvement in the area was reported in Chambers’ Journal, August 18, 1883, “the land (where the Gipsy Palace stands), was given to the gypsies by Bennet of Grubbit and Marlefield, Laird of Kirk Yetholm, after a brave gypsy named Young saved his life during the Battle of Namur, in 1695.”

            The photographer, Alasdair Alpin MacGregor, met a resident of Yetholm called Robert Christie in 1935, who could vividly remember the 1898 coronation of Charles Faa Blyth, the last king:  “There were ten thousand folk here the day Chairlie Blythe was crooned, and twa hundred cuddies [horses].  He was crooned oot there on the Green l’ Kirk Yetholm…  The gypsies wended their way up the Loanings toward the tract o’ land known as the Common.  There they put a tin croon on him, and broke a bottle of whisky ower his heid, and then bound a hare roond his neck.  Chairlie then walked down the Loanings to his Palace as ‘His majesty’!  The hare, of course, was indicative o’ the case – or rather, o’ the ancient art o’ poaching, whereby the gypsies derived so much o’ their sustenance.  They regarded poaching as their birthright, so to speak.”

            There was general distrust of the gypsies locally, but various people including the Quakers and a local man, John Baird, sought better conditions for the community.  He brought about measures like full-time homes for the children of the gypsies (in taking some gypsy girls into his own home, others saw fit to do likewise), and encouraged their education, but this also saw the beginning of the end of their traditional way of life.

            The last queen, Esther Faa Blyth, died in 1883 and her son, crowned king in 1902, died a few years later.  The gypsy community intermingled with the local folk and effectively disappeared.  However, if your surname is Baillie, Tait, Douglas, Young, Gordon or Blyth, you may well have Faa blood in your veins.

            Despite the demise of the gypsy royal family, the ‘Gypsy Palace’ still stands in Kirk Yetholm, although it now hosts commoners as a bed and breakfast. 

            Extracts from a Fraser Thomson article.

            Source:  Palmetto & Thistle, Scots-American Society of Brevard, PO Box 3325, Melbourne, FL 32902-3325.

Blood Drive

Scottish Radio can be heard through your PC

            Internet users will find BBC Radio Scotland Online at  Near the top of the page there’s a blue dot to click for the Listen Now function – hear programs as they happen!

            A free weekly electronic newsletter lists the programs that were recorded for later listening.  To subscribe, click newsletter in the middle of the right side of the opening screen.

            Radio Scotland programs are available on demand for seven days following transmission via or link to the program you want right from the electronic newsletter.

            BBC Radio Scotland Online has programs in the categories of comedy, sports, music, festivals, gardening, adventure, art, wildlife, health, and community matters.  Click around on the site and you’ll find Scottish weather, Scottish travel, etc.  Let Clan Ross News know if you find something you really enjoy.

            The BBC history site for Scotland,, is not perfect (even the typing contains some goofs), but its fun.  I like to read about ancient Scotland; the first ancient site offered is Skara Brae.  There are a couple of interesting opinions of evidence that the side of the bed you slept on was determined by gender, as areas of the house might also be.  But the author didn’t really provide an overview of what Skara Brae is, how it looks, when it was found – those basics.

            I wrote to the people who monitor Contact Us to ask what evidence there is that the base of a wooden pole found at the Stones of Stenness was a totem pole.  It will be interesting to see how that question is answered.  Weeks have passed since I submitted the question though.

            BBC History offers a free electronic newsletter, but it’s for all British history, not just Scotland’s.  Subscribe at

            Back to Scottish radio stations available through the Internet, has an International selection.  You’ll find Scottish stations mixed in with the UK grouping.  Included are:

(Hint)  Some of these stations use the same contest questions that U.S. stations do – hear the answer hours ahead!

            Source:  Clan Ross News, Clan Ross Foundation, Dorothy Gerych, Newsletter Editor, 21278 Flanders, Farmington Hills, MI 48335.

Arizona Society Meeting


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