Scottish Clan information?

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Edward
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Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

So, after reading a few dozen histories of Scotland and researching which should be our clan tartan (because so help me I will own an authentic kilt someday!), I have found I have a number of questions about our very recent Scottish history, and as with all Scottish history, my main question is "WHAT?!?"

I see that Great-Grandma was Bessie Ross (I presume not THE Betsy Ross of vexillological fame), and that she descends from one Robert (or John) Ross (or Bell). Now, looking at how Scottish families work, I have determined that we should rightfully claim kinship then with either the Bell or the Ross Clan, McAlister (or MacAlister) being a secondary claim that would not determine our ultimate status from what I can tell. But what of this Ross (or Bell) claim? I would obviously prefer Ross since any other discovery would basically render my middle name more redundant than it already is, but from what I gather, there are two possibilities:

1. We claim kinship with Clan Ross regardless of the ultimate middle name, since any family who lived under and was loyal to the dominant clan would still assume kinship with that clan and could thus adopt its name. Clan Ross was a larger, powerful clan that would have incorporated many families under its wing.

2. We would claim Clan Bell IF the family was indeed from the Bell Clan but changed its name to that of a local clan chief (Ross) under which it perhaps obtained some aid, which it seems the Bell clan did in droves from the 17th century on. They are also known for their mass emigrations.

I am familiar with the history, but now I am having a hard time placing our family in it. It seems this line of ours came over during the Clearances of the mid-nineteenth century, but the actual details of what the name really is, and where we fit into it, I cannot tell. All I know is that I claim affiliation with Clan Ross because it seems silly claiming any other and because I like their tartan. But let history prevail, as it were. So what's the scoop? Anybody know?
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Edward
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

Here are the best examples of Ross Tartans taken from one of the more well-respected tartan manufacturers. Ross is a gaelic word, also spelled Ros, meaning a promontory or rocky headland (or even moor depending on your sources). Funny enough, it is similar in meaning to the Welsh Bryn. The Ross clan has long been one of the most stable and peaceable clans in Scotland, and it's territory was coveted for centuries, changing hands from one ruling clan to another until restored to the rightful line of descent in the 19th century. Its lands are especially rich and beautiful.

The standard Ross tartan, known as Ross Modern (Red)
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This is Ross Ancient (Red)
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Here is Ross Muted
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And Ross Weathered (Red) When I do finally get a kilt, this is my tartan of choice, along with anything else I ever get in tartan:
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Ross Hunting
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Ross Hunting (Ancient)
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And my second choice, Ross Hunting (Weathered) - as you can tell I think the weathered tones are by far the nicest:
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Last edited by Edward on Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:24 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Edward
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

The Bell tartans, revealingly, all have some additional information in their names. They are either "Border Bells" or Bells "of Ardbell." Ardbell refers to the modern town of Ardwell, the spelling from the Gaelic Àrd Bhaile or "high town." Neither Ardbell nor the Borders are anywhere near Ross, which is up in the very heartland of Scotland and was considered the Jewel of the Isle. Ross is far up in the inner North near the great Glencoe, while the Borders are, as you would expect, along the borders with England. And warning, I have no idea why these images came out so huge:

Bell of the Borders Modern
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Bell of the Borders Ancient
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Now this is simply called Bell Border Modern
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And Bell Border Ancient
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And then we have Bell of Ardbell Modern
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And Bell of Ardbell Ancient
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Last edited by Edward on Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:19 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

I will just state here that I am not a fan of the MacAlister tartans, so I am glad it is not our strongest claim. MacAlister comes from the Gaelic Mac Alasdair, which is their rendering of the name Alexander, meaning Son of Alexander. They were one of the earliest clans to branch off from clan (Mac)Donald, the mightiest clan in the north whose chieftain ruled as "Lord of the Islands;" this branch of the family would have broken off as early as the 12th but more likely in the 14th century.

MacAlister Modern
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MacAlister Ancient
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MacAlister Dress Modern
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MacAlister Dress Ancient
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Ian
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Ian »

well, i used an image of the ross clan tartan for the home page of our genealogy website, for whatever that's worth. we'll need to do more research to figure out our family affiliations. we probably have other scottish lines in addition to bell/ross/mcalister. i have seen some additional information about our bell/ross ancestors on ancestry.com, but i haven't dug deeply. for now i'm focusing my time on ancestors who lived on this side of the atlantic.
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Edward
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

Well then, where do I go to start finding more information? I am feeling rather driven in all this, I want to know who these people are and place them in history. Is ancestry.com the place I need to be looking?
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Ian »

ancestry would be a good place to start, i know i've seen information there about our ross ancestors that we don't yet have on our website. for example, i think i saw robert bell ross sr. in a scotland census. the international subscription costs $300 a year, though. you might be able to find something with the free church membership. sometimes you can find things just by googling. or visit a family history center, they have subscriptions to various genealogy websites. see what we already have on our website, then go from there.
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Edward
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

I'll head to the Family History Library on campus tomorrow morning and see what I can dig up.
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Angela
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Angela »

thanks edward for all of the tartan samples. I agree, I'm not inclined to choose a mcalister tartan over the bell border modern or the ross modern. I think Rhys has pajama pants very similar to the ross hunting ancient.
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

Here is some more cool stuff about Clan Ross, which, as I look over dozens of tartans in a very cool library book I found, assuredly has one of the strongest and classiest tartans out there.

Clan Ross is known in Gaelic as Clann Aindreas, or the "Sons of Andrew," referring to Saint Andrew, Scotland's patron saint (The flag is known as St. Andrew's Cross). Their badge, or the plant which identifies them, is the Juniper branch, and their motto is Spem Successus Alit, or "Success Nourishes Hope." Their anthem is "The Earl of Ross's March."

Here is the Clan Crest:
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And the badge of Juniper on a Ross Bonnet against the Ross Tartan:
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Here are three variations on the coat of arms, which consists of Trois Leons Rampant Argent against a field of Vermillion (Or three prancing silver lions on a red background)
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And one of the treasures of Clan Ross, in fact heralded as one of the National Museum of Scotland's 20 greatest treasures, the Suit of Ross Tartan, originally owned by Clan Chief David Munroe Ross. From the museum archives: "This is ... a Ross tartan suit consisting of a kilt, jacket and plaid. Originally made for George IV's visit to Scotland in 1822, the suit was taken out to Australia by Donald Munro Ross when he emigrated in 1864. The plaid is gathered and pinned at the shoulder with a brooch on top of a silk rosette. Tartan became one of the most successful products of the Scottish textile industry. The 1822 visit of George IV to Edinburgh boosted its popularity as did Queen Victoria's love of the Highlands."

I would trade half of all I own to have something as utterly magnificent as this; I think it is likely the most beautiful historical costume I have ever seen. It uses a tartan most like the Ross Weathered (Red):
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Edward
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

So, I am in the Family History Library and am encountering a few issues. Robert Bell Ross Sr. is recorded as having been born in "Leavenseat, Edenburg, Scotland," with a subnote "born in Midlothian, Scotland." Leavenseat is unheard of, and no google search nor map going past two hundred years can produce it. And Edenburg is almost certainly Edinburgh, since no other place of similar spelling exists. Midlothian is 11 miles south of Edinburgh on Scotland's east coast, so I imagine that must be where he was born, and Leavenseat may be a street or neighborhood that existed at the time (Edinburgh went through massive renovations during the Industrial Revolution just shortly after the date of his birth and it may no longer exist). Interestingly, Charles W. Nibley, a member of the First Presidency under President Grant, also came from Midlothian, his family coming over in 1855 when he was 6 years old. Robert Bell Ross Jr. was born two years later in Scotland in 1857, though not in Midlothian, but in Paisley, which is on the west coast of Scotland. So far, I can find neither in census records, which are only extant in 1841, 1851, and 1861, by which time they were likely emigrated to America. I will post as I find out more.

For now, it should be noted that Robert Sr. was almost certainly born in Midlothian, near Edinburgh Scotland. I cannot yet explain Leavenseat.

*I just found some 1881 Census records that identify a locale called "Leavenseat, Edinburgh" heavily associated with an industrial corporation of the same name. I am not sure what that means but I am trying to figure it out.
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Ian »

as a starting point, i would recommend searching for robert bell or robert ross in ancestry.com, with birth year around 1832. that date is somewhat certain because it is on his tombstone (though it may be incorrect). we don't have good supporting documentation for the location of birth yet, so i wouldn't get too caught up on that. in ancestry.com, look at the family trees that come up, especially those with numerous sources or media (that shows that the user may have done some actual research). this way you can see what some other genealogists have found so far. i'm pretty sure i did that a few years ago and found some info, but i decided not to pursue it at the time.
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

According to Ancestry.com, Robert BELL (Ross) was born on 3 March 1830 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland, and was married to Elizabeth Stephenson Wright on 31 December 1854. They also have the death certificate of Robert Bell Ross JR. falsely entered as his own (this is common to every site I have visited).

His Father was John Bell, born 1783 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland, christened on the 23 of November that year. He was married to Mary Paterson in 1811 at the age of 28, but died at the age of 47 in 1830 - the very year Robert was born. Mary, his wife, was 20 when she married, but lived to the age of 75, dying in Carnwath, Lanark Scotland on 9 March 1867. John's FamilySearch ID number is 9K9V-RH9, and Mary's is LZLZ-226.

John's father died on 25 February 1798 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland. His name was also John Bell. He was christened on 19 June 1748 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland, and in May of 1774 married Elisabeth Wood in the same location. John Sr.'s family search ID number is LZ2Y-T8H; Elisabeth's is LZ2Y-TNW.

John's father was William Bell, born in October of 1720 in West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland, personal ID LZ2Y-TFH.

William's father was Thomas Bell, Born 1681 West Calder, Midlothian, Scotland, ID KNSN-LB8.

That is as far back as I can get on Ancestry.com, and I will try to fill it in with the other names later. The name change is so far inexplicable, although the death of his father that very year is, I am sure, related to the alteration. It is somewhat disheartening, though I will continue to use the Ross tartans since a. there is no rule saying I can't and b. use of a tartan is more representative of fealty to a clan than it is strictly descent. But still, this is kind of a bummer for me, since I never did like my middle name and now it seems like it just appears out of nowhere in the family lines. Clearly, the line is a Bell line, not Ross. Midlothian is nowhere near the Ross-shire anyway, so I have no idea what happened.
Last edited by Edward on Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Edward »

Here is the full photograph of Robert Bell (Ross) Sr.

Image
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Re: Scottish Clan information?

Post by Ian »

that's good, i'll update the photo on our website with the bigger photo. if you can find images of the parish records showing those christening dates, send the link, and i'll add them to our website.
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