My interest in my forebears arose when sorting through my parents' papers. There were, and remain, many questions not only unanswered but unasked. A common trait among survivors seems to be awareness of ignorance about previous generations tinged with regret that it is now too late to learn - regrets often committed to paper as was the case, among others, with my parents and my Roxburgh great-aunts, of whom more anon. I confess here to my own sins of omission from which arose the urge to find some answers, since when the siren call of ancestors has lured me ever deeper into the genealogical fog. Since unravelling exactly who the Roxburghs were in relation to myself, the project has suffered severe mission creep; one page starts 380 million years ago! One thing led to another and I have now compiled a pocket reference of all the significant dates and events in Orkney from 380 million BC up to the present arranged in a PDF printable booklet which costs £3 including p. & p. An A4 map of Orkney is included which shows many of the principle sites mentioned in the text.
Genealogical software is pretty indispensable when compiling a family history. Any genealogy software worth its salt should be able to produce and export data from its own database in a form which can then be imported and used by any other genealogical program. These files are called GEDCOMs and have a .ged suffix. GEDCOM (= GEnealogical Data COMmunication) files are the ‘industry standard’ format for genealogy that in theory enables files to be compatible with all genealogy software. As is often the case, theory and reality are separate entities and each program seems to have its idiosyncratic method of interpretation in much the same way as different browsers will often render the same web page differently. I have included my own GEDCOM as well as two others which may contain information of use or interest to others. See GEDCOMs to download. There are also 5 PDF family trees on the GEDCOM page some of which relate partly to my immediate forebears and may be of interest to anyone with Orkney roots.
Until April 2013 I had not consulted any archives or public records, but relied entirely on documents in my possession and the efforts and memories of other family members to construct a family history. The little I learned about FLINT, BELL, and ROXBURGH lines, as well as some passing insights on LINKLATER, came from ‘Notes’ written by Naena and Evelyn ROXBURGH q.v. which they compiled for an Australian relation of theirs. Where Naena and Evelyn's words are quoted directly, as they are wherever possible, their use of “you” or “yours” refer to “her” and “hers”.
Most of the material on SOUNDY and SCHAUMBURG was supplied by the late SYLVIA MURPHY whose indefatigable research not only produced exhaustive information about her own family but also provided useful new information about ancestors of mine with whom she had little or no connection e.g. MELVILLE and BOISSARD. To give you some idea of the extent of Sylvia's archival sleuthing, prior to April 2013 my GEDCOM contained information on about 90 individuals whereas Sylvia's tips the scales at some 3,324. Good job they don't all need Christmas cards. Additional information on the CUTHBERT side, including PALMER, GAUNTLETT, ANDREWS etc came via Andrew Cuthbert.
I am poor on the distaff side. After my aunt Jo Boissard died, I helped her nephew and principle beneficiary Michael Boissard sort out some of the contents of her main residence, ‘Kingsbury’ in Fen Ditton. There were a great many letters and photos which we tossed into a large brown trunk with the exception of anything that obviously related to my mother, Peg [Margaret Lilian Linklater née Boissard] who was Jo's sister. I have no idea what became of the contents of the trunk or other material relating to Boissard, Melville, Hall etc. but I suspect it met the same fate as the contents of his own mother's house and is in a hole in a landfill site somewhere. However, a distant cousin has recently  come up trumps with a lot of information about our Melville ancestors. I have only used part of what she sent. As a result of the infusions of data from this cousin as well as Sylvia Murphy and another distant relation in Orkney my GEDCOM has now contains records of some 1323 individuals. In the near future I hope to be able to add information about Sally's [my wife] family after which I shall consider the job complete!
Naena and Evelyn Roxburgh's notes end with this entry;
EVELYN: Looking back at them all, two things impress me. One is the ability, talent and forcefulness of the women, as well as their great good looks. The men of the fourth generation were good looking and charming, but useless. Then they picked up again in your [the Australian's] father and the Linklater men.
The other thing is the pattern of the sea which runs through the whole story. It started with great-great grandfather [I have no idea who this was], skipped a generation and began again with Arthur [my grandfather] and Val [his brother] Linklater. Then Jim Linklater's son Barkley and Arthur's son Nelson [my father], who chose the Navy during the War, and finally Nelson's son Duncan, [me] who has gone to Pangbourne [shoal water]. Also there is Gordon [no idea] with his love of sailing. Apart from the sea, teaching as a profession seems to have been the thing during the 3rd generation, but died out entirely with us all.
Since Evelyn wrote that, teaching has certainly exerted a pull; apart from my mother, my wife, brother, sister-in-law and several nieces and nephews have all taken up the cudgels. I was even afflicted myself for a few years, until I came to my senses. Boating continues to appeal, the most recent devotee being my son Magnus. Another recurrent theme Evelyn might have mentioned is that of art which recurs across the generations. Whether applied directly as paint to canvas or as design for theatre, fashion etc., art is a recurrent theme.
I have noted commonly used nicknames on individuals' pages. I have not bothered with obvious diminutives - Jim for James etc - as we'd be here all night. Nor have I bothered with alternate surname spellings but use only those which appear to be generally accepted e.g SchaumBURG NOT SchaumBERG. Linklater is particularly beset by variants. Straying much further astern than the 19th century one finds Linkletter, Linklet, Linclet, Linklatter to mention a few. For more on this and the origins of the name see The Name Linklater.
Relying just on information in my own possession limited knowledge of my immediate ancestors to James Stevens Linklater and his wife Amelia Agnes née Bell and their descendants. Subsequent to my 2013 visit to Orkney and a bracing but brief plunge into the Orkney Archives in Kirkwall Library my genealogical horizon has expanded considerably; my GEDCOM now boasts a healthy 293 individuals. Kirkwall Library is also where the Orkney Family History Society Orkney Family History Society, has its base and archives. I have been much assisted by members of the O.F.H.S., a ‘must join’ society for anyone with an interest in Orkney. Most of what I have learned about my direct ancestors earlier than James Stevens Linklater stems from this 2013 visit which also triggered a manic [ongoing!] phase of ‘Orkney’ book buying.
I intend to include at least three good photographs of as many individuals as possible; one as a youngster (5 to 10 years), one as a mature young adult and one as an old fogey - if they make it to fogeydom. It is surprising how many don't. Apart from the general interest of such images, they may assist others to identify the subjects of photos they have. If you have images that I lack, I would be very glad to hear from you! Adding images will be the last thing to see to.
This site is far from complete and, in the nature of such things, probably never will be. There are many gaps and uncertainties. There are whole swathes of relations that are currently [October 2013] entirely lacking e.g. my wife's family, SIMMONDS and HESKETH etc. Should you be able to plug any of these gaps or correct any other omissions or errors, I would be delighted to hear from you. Please also email me if you find any links not working, pages missing or have other criticisms or suggestions. I do not intend to say much about my own or younger generations apart from giving such basic facts as are matters of public record. Let those who come after shoulder the burthen.
© 2018 Duncan Linklater Custos Rotulorum.