WHEN I was a child, my family packed up regularly and followed the regiment (Cameronians) to places where my father Glen served - Germany, Kenya, Edinburgh, Lanark and others. We all came from a city, town or village, and were naturally proud of these. But we were all Scots first and foremost. Here's tae us - wha's like us? Damn few - and they're a' deid!

As an adult, I lived for many years in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. So I feel very connected to much of Scotland and am privileged to have represented many of its traditions, occupations and regions in song, with the notable exception of Gaeldom. .

Researching my family history has also given me a strong sense of being bonded with more families, locations and occupations than I could ever have imagined when I set off on the journey of discovery under the dome of what is now the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh in the days when the rustle of paper, the creaking of microfilm spools being wound through, and the scritch-scratch of pencil on notepad was the soundtrack of genealogical research..

My forebears include crofters, farmers and farm workers, ploughmen, a dairymaid, a shepherd, a lime seller, grooms, coal and shale oil miners, a coal merchant, blacksmiths and shipyard workers, stonemasons and quarriers, fishermen, fishwives and fish guttin' lassies who followed the shoals o' herrin', fishing boat builders and owners, a gardener, a newspaper compositor, policemen, railwaymen, publicans, a dominie, a tailor, power and hand loom weavers, lacemakers, a papermaker, soldiers, sailors, a fizzy drinks maker and others.

There were presbyterians a-plenty, a rare Episcopalian, a smattering of RCs and, given names and locations, probably the odd Covenanter or two. One ancestor from Fife served with The Loyal Tay Fencibles and was almost certainly in Ulster in 1798. While there, he may even have crossed paths and even swords with Doughertys, Bradleys, Darraghs, Hutchinsons and Cochrans in my Irish lineage before these names later 'emigrated' to Scotland.  

It is an economic and social history of Scotland over two centuries, and not dissimilar to what many Scots will find in their backgrounds..In the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, my people lived in:

AYRSHIRE - Cunninghamhead, Riccarton, Peace & Plenty, Dalmellington, Kilmarnock, Dreghorn, Ochiltree, Trabboch, Galston, Loudoun, Cumnock, Monkton & Prestwick, Kilmaurs, and St Quivox

BANNFSHIRE - Buckie and Portgordon

BERWICKSHIRE - Eyemouth, Ayton and Coldingham;

CAITHNESS - Achanacraig/Badbea, Achow, Braemore, Forse, LatheronLybster, Swiney;

KIRKCUDBRIGHTSHIRE -Kells, Carsphairn / Carsphairn, New Galloway, and St John's Town of Dalry

FIFE - Kirkcaldy, Kingskettle, Cameron, Ceres, St Andrew's, Balmerino, Markinch, Wemyss Bay

LANARKSHIRE - Glasgow, Rutherglen, Carmunnock, East Kilbride, Douglas & Carmichael, Lesmahagow, Larkhall, Carluke, Chapelton, Glassford, Kirkmuirhill

LOTHIANS - Broxburn, Edinburgh

PERTHSHIRE - Inchture, Perth

RENFREWSHIRE Eastwood, Giffnock, Greenock, Neilston, Paisley

Their extended families spread far and wide around the world: Dunipaces to Ohio and Colorado, USA, and to New South Wales, Australia; Gunns to the Red River (Selkirk) Settlement and Ontario, Canada; Caldwells to Sydney Mines, Cape Breton Island, also in Canada; and McKays to New Zealand. Though most of my direct lines stayed in Scotland, my great grandmother, Hannah Wales Dunipace, made a foray to Trinidad, Colorado, in 1893, returning to Scotland in 1897 with a surprise package - my grandma. So there may be a bit of the Old Wild West in my genes!

In this small nation of Scotland, and among its diaspora, it is not uncommon to find a family link sometime in the past to anyone you meet with deep Scottish roots. So if you are, or have had connections with any of the following surnames, or variations on them, we could well be related, however distantly:

Addison, Aikenhead, Amelie or Amely (a rarity in Scotland), Anderson, Baxter, Beattie, Birrell, Br(o)adley of Ireland, Bruce, Cairns, Caldwell, Campbell, Chapman, Clark, Cochran of Ireland, Cowie, Darragh/Darroch of Ireland and Scotland, Dougal or Dugald, Dougherty or Doherty or Docherty of Ireland and Scotland, Dover of Kirkcudbrightshire, Wigtownshire, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dublin, Dun(n)ipace, Galbraith or Galbreath, Gilmour, Goudie or Goudy, Graham, Gra(i)nger, Gunn (the Robson Gunn branch of Braemore, Latheron and Badbea), Guthrie, Innes, Hay, Henderson, Herd, Hood, Hunter, Hutchison/Hutcheson/Hutchinson of Renfrewshire and Ireland, Johnston of Scotland and Ireland, Kay, Kirkcaldy, Kinsman, Laidlaw, Law, Lister, McAllister, McDonald, McKay, Mackie, Mathie, Meldrum, Melvin, Mitchell, Montgomery or Montgomerie, Morton, Muir, Munro, Murray, Pat(t)erson, Patrick or Petrie, Laing, Leggat, Liggett, Lygate, Lindsay, Reid, Small, Speirs, Struthers, Taylor, Urquhart, Wales, Wallace, Walton, Wells, Welsh, Wilson, and Wood.

I like to think that we honour and bear witness to this past by continuing to sing the lives of those who went before and without whose struggles we would not have been here to tell the tales.