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Episode 7

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 20 February 2011

New family histories and genealogy advice presented by Bill Whiteford. This week in Digging Up Your Roots we look at "ancestors on the move" as we journey into the realm of immigration and emigration.



    When Ro Campbell, an Australian comedian based in Scotland, controversially won the Scottish Comedian of the Year Title for 2010 it prompted him to research his Scottish ancestry.

    Ro was completely unaware of his convict roots and had, "romantic notions of being linked to some mythical Scottish folk hero, […] what I found out was I was related to a serial fraudster and a thief!".

    In 1849 Robert Campbell was sentenced to 7 years transportation for breaking into a house in Helensburgh. Rose Ann McAdam was transported after 5 run-ins with the law, the last of which saw her sentenced to 7 years transportation for "Uttering Bad Shillings": passing off forged shilling coins.

    In fact, Ro has found the actual forged shilling coin that got Rose Ann transported still being held as Crown evidence in the National Archives of Scotland.

    (Above picture shows detail from Rose Ann's indictment)


    Listener Muirne Buchanan was searching for the death record of ancestor Simon Fraser when she came across a Poor Relief Application from his wife Janet which read:

    “Her Husband, Simon Fraser, Moulder aged 44 years, born in Thomsons Lane, Calton, deserted her two weeks ago. Says she heard he went away to Australia. He was a member of the Moulder's Society in Greenock and lifted his money there which paid his passage to Australia."

    Simon Fraser was born in Glasgow in 1812 and other than the Poor Relief record Muirne has no further details about him. There’s no proof that he made it to Australia – but also no reason to believe that he didn't. Did he have a second family out there? Did he go to make his fortune?

    As Dr Bruce Durie explains, there might there be more to the story than meets the eye!



    Humphrey Holmes is on the trail of his ancestor Colin MacLachlan and the subsequent demise of his nephew in New Orleans, circa January 1844.

    Colin left Paisley for North Carolina on receiving word that his uncle had died and left him heir to his estates. In 1824 he left that farm in the hands of a friend and moved to a further farm near Mobile. He died in February 1842 leaving his estate to the family of his brother John.

    The heirs put matters in the hands of an Edinburgh WS; however they suspected the neighbour of the deceased, who had appointed himself administrator of the estate, was helping himself to the proceeds of the sale of farm stock.

    Lachlan MacLachlan travelled to Mobile and discovered this to be true; the matter proceeded to court. The administrator did not attend the court hearing but promised to do so a fortnight later.

    Lachlan suspected the administrator had designs on his life so decided to keep a low profile in New Orleans until the next court hearing. His last letter home was dated January 1844 but he was never heard of again.

    What happened to Lachlan?

    (Above picture shows detail from a letter Lachlan sent to his mother)


    Jessie Ewing was listener Michael Rasmussen’s great grandmother. She came from Aberdeen but hadn’t always lived there. Aged 28 she emigrated to Argentina and Michael would love to know why. A late aunt told him Jessie worked for a company producing tin cans - is it possible that her work took her to South America?

  • surname change

    surname change

    Stephanie Bower’s interest in family history stems from her name. She knew that her family's surname had been changed at some point in the past but it wasn’t until 2002 on the death of her grandfather, and the discovery of a locked mahogany box that she began to find out more…

    (Above image shows detail from letter confirming name change)


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