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Genealogy is a fascinating and, yes, often frustrating exercise in following sometimes vague leads (and misleads!) and solving puzzles. Clan genealogy, with its clans, septs and related families, can be even more confusing.
Clan Grant does not have a professional genealogist on staff. Nevertheless, with our extensive contacts we have had some success in helping a few souls who have done their homework and appear to be facing an intractable problem.
If find you are in need of some assistance, you need first to have completed, to the best of your ability, a family tree. Recommendations for avenues to pursue and borrowed from the Scottish Grant Clan website follow.
When you have completed the tasks in the article below and still want some help or advice, please:
Make sure that you give a full resume of
(a) what you have done as well as
(b) background family lore etc.
Please advise us whether you are a member of any of the Clan Grant Societies.
Some inquiries have betrayed a very fundamental lack of understanding about clans in general, other enquirers seem to assume that we know personally every single Grant family which ever lived and so often it is quite hard to pitch a response in the right tone and so we hope that this page will provide an outline of the basics. The obverse side of this is that while we will take seriously any enquirer who tells us at the beginning that they have indeed read and heeded the contents of this page, it is not fair to expect us to take seriously those who do not.
"The Grant DNA Project"
The first thing to be recommended to anyone seeking to trace their Grant ancestry is to arrange for a male-line Grant relative to join the Grant DNA project. This will establish from the outset whether or not you are a member of either of the chiefly lines or "mere" clansman, like the majority. It may also throw up relatives you did not know about and they may be able to fill in portions of your trees which you did not know existed.
For an introduction see Adrian Grant`s Brief History of the DNA Project or visit The Grant DNA Project Website and follow the links to read all about what has been established so far and to join the project. If at any stage you do write in, please let them know where you stand viz a viz this project.
Second you should purchase family tree software which is GEDCOM compatible. It is hard to make specific recommendations here, as different packages offer different freebies which may or may not be relevant to yourself, but one good package is Family Tree Maker. It is helpful to have your family tree set up in GEDCOM format because then you can email copies easily. Several people have sent images or .pdf files or even reports generated by a Family Tree package, but frankly these are a real pain as too often it is very difficult to isolate the section one wants to study etc.
If for whatever reason you cannot send a GEDCOM file with your query, then it really is vital that you include full details of many family members - not just a few telegraphic details of the line you think you are researching.
Third there are several elementary things to do exhaustively:
(a) Check through all the census records available. In the US this means every ten years from 1790 to present and there are also many censuses available in other countries. Some of these are available online and others you can purchase on CD.
(b) Check through the civil registration records for the county or state for births, marriages divorces
- For Scottish records you can do this online via www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
- For other UK records check the national Archives at Kew: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. This may involve writing in.
(c) For records prior to the development of Civil Registration it is necessary to consult the Old Parish Registers (OPR). These are available by specific parish so it is often helpful to use parish references from the earliest civil registration documents you have. These are available from the same sources.
Fourth you will probably want to exhaust anything else in local archives:
Many Grants will have ancestry in Strathspey or Glenurquhart or Glenmoriston. The Local Authority officers for Highland Council and for Moray Council are very helpful and knowledgeable, but they do have many requests for their help. However they will be able to offer a list of charges and an estimate of when work can be done. Better still you can arrange to visit and do the work yourself under their tutelage.
So that is the basic groundwork you should be able to do without our intervention.
But wait! There's more!
(1) If you want to know about the chiefly family line the complete family trees listed in Sir William Fraser`s 1883 "Chiefs of Grant" is available in GEDCOM format and can be downloaded from the history sub-site via this link: http://www.clangrant.org/index.aspx?pid=22
(The associated biographical details are not yet attached.)
(2) For Local knowledge it would not be wise to overlook the famous Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society - if only to get good advice http://www.anesfhs.org.uk/
This will be of especial relevance to the descendants of several Grant families who settled within their bailliewick.
(3) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been very helpful. They have established the International Genealogical Index (IGI). Their volunteers at their Family History Centres are very helpful - and knowledgeable - and you can access their online presence at http://www.familysearch.org
These records may not be error free, but they are very useful none the less. If a problem did seem to emerge from it, it seems likely that this might be fairly easily resolved.
(4) Some background knowledge about the local area where the ancestors came from can often be useful. In Scotland there were two "Statistical Accounts for Scotland" drawn up by parish ministers, one in the later 1700s and the other in the middle 1800s. These are available online. Use this link http://edina.ac.uk/stat-acc-scot/ and choose "Browse Scanned Pages"
(5) If, having done all this, you are faced with a problem, the best thing to do is to formulate a hypothesis with a feasible timescale attached.
Bear in mind also traditional naming patterns. It was normal for many generations to name:
(a) the Eldest son after the paternal Grandfather
(b) the second son after the maternal Grandfather
(c) the third son after the father
(d) the eldest daughter after the mother
(e) the second daughter after the paternal grandmother
(f) the third daughter after the maternal grandmother.
There are also exceptions:
- On the death of a child, the next one of the same sex might often be named after the dead one.
- Many high born children were named after illustrious godparents
- Many Grants were named after the chief of the day or his heir apparent
- It is not unknown for two siblings to be given the same name!!
(6) It is, of course, possible to engage professional genealogists/researchers. One or two such have been in touch with us touting their services. Unfortunately we do not have any basis for knowing how reliable any of these people are and so we cannot make specific recommendations. The following links are, therefore, no more than a starting suggestion
Good Luck with your ancestor hunting. We hope you will share and we look forward to helping where we can.
Notes for those who might be willing to contribute and/or offer help:
Please get in touch via our contact form with "Genealogy Inquiry" as the selected Category.
GEDCOM Files are always welcome - though they may sit for quite some time before being used.
We are particularly anxious to develop family trees for
(a) Canadian Métis and other descendants of Cuthbert Grant
(b) Black and other Caribbean Grant families whether of pure African stock or interbred with planters, surgeons etc.
(c) In the case of the Siol Lewis (Cherokee descendants of Ludovick Grant) we look forward to working with the Cherokee Nation to add to the substantial work they have undertaken already and to try to complete the link back to the chiefly line.
Please let us know if you have any special knowledge or background or even just enthusiasm you can offer. In particular if you would like to suggest improvements or extensions to the advice offered below please let us know.