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From Annie Lennox and Gregg Wallace to Alex Kingston and Patrick Stewart, join us every week to share your thoughts about the most recent series of WDYTYA?
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Annie Lennox's episode

Mon Sep 03, 2012 2:47 pm

Hello everyone!

Who Do You Think You Are? continues on BBC One at 9pm this Wednesday with an episode featuring the iconic Scottish songstress, Annie Lennox. As the Eurythmics star heads back to her native Aberdeen, she begins to uncover an extraordinary tale of tangled family relationships...

Let us know what you thought about the episode by posting in the thread below.


Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:44 pm

I thought this programme was excellent, it showed a lot of different resources including the Kirk Session Records which are very good for the north-east of Scotland and will eventually be on line, Aberdeen does have access and they are of course available at the National Records of Scotland. The great advanatge of Scottish ancestry was shown, you don't need to order a certificate, most are online!. The system of 'boarding out' is recorded in records but can be difficult to find (I've tried!) and the Victorians were not benevolent, my grandfather was 'boarded out' to a number of people and he left Aberdeenshire as soon as he could and the members of the Kirk Sessions were said to have had double standards and thankfully the system ended in 1929.

Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:12 pm

I loved this episode. Not only have I always been a fan of Annie Lennox but my Fraser ancestors were from Aberdeenshire - so a perfect programme for me!

Yes, researching Scottish relatives is wonderful, thanks to what is now online. I'm going up to Edinburgh to do some research next month so will now make a point of reading through Kirk Session Minutes.

Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:58 pm

Yep, this was definitely one of my favourites too! I particularly enjoyed seeing Annie wander around the old flax mill - such an impressive building. Just to think that she played in its shadows as a child when one of her forebears had endured gruelling shifts inside... it really does bring home how tough life must have been.

Anyway, so you are all aware, we have not just one, but FOUR clips of unseen footage over at: http://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine. ... tage/13799

Also, Peter Higginbotham has compiled a great guide to researching Scottish poor:
http://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine. ... ttish-poor

Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:33 am

What a fascinating story peeks through the unseen footage! They just need to make this programme longer! And what a contrast - royal servants on one side, andti-fascist demonstrators on the other!

Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:49 am

I enjoyed this episode as it was interesting seeing Scottish records - not something I've had to delve into but one never knows.

However, I did feel that there was a great deal of supposition in Annie's tale. It was assumed that Jessie's grandfather knew of her existance and that he was aware the family were living round the corner in dreadful conditions. It was assumed that Mrs Cruickshank was the Mrs Cruickshank Jessie was related it and even if it was did she even know Jessie was her great neice? It was assumed that what was written - 'of no further use' - was correct but I have seen statements written which bear no resemblance to the actual situation and the sentiments are very diferent from what they would appear to be at first sight.

I also felt looking at Jessie in isolation made it even more forced. Giving the location and situation of her siblings may have given a more realistic picture of what actually happened to Little Orphan Jessie.

For all that, it was an intersting episode but more as a tale of social history than the tale of individuals.

Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Thu Sep 06, 2012 11:48 am

Love the unseen footage, a shame this side of the family history didn't make the programme. I wonder how the makers decided to go with one direction rather than another?

Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:29 pm

phsvm wrote: It was assumed that Jessie's grandfather knew of her existance and that he was aware the family were living round the corner in dreadful conditions..

'Assumed' is a bit strong, but that was the only theory that was put forward. I did wonder if James Rose might have been unaware of his family living round the corner until the time of Mary's death, at which point the Kirk or other social administrators, in their quest to 'keep the kids out of the poor house' (as the program said), used records to identify James Rose as a relative and asked him to take in one or more of the kids. If so, it must have come as a shock to James to find them living so close ...

It was assumed that Mrs Cruickshank was the Mrs Cruickshank Jessie was related it .

It was. Turriff was (and is) a small place, though, so it's possible there was only one family called Cruickshank living there. The program showed no attempt to verify this, however.

Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:12 pm


I am a complete beginner and only started researching my family after an email from my mum's long lost cousin who is visiting us next week. He was looking for some info about the family and so I thought I'd see what I could find. Well it's a week later and I am totally hooked and loving it! Today I was looking to find info on my grandmother's aunt's and uncle's. After watching Annie's episode last night I was surprised to discover that one of my gran's uncle's also married a McHardy from Braemar and he was also a gamekeeper - not on Balmoral but another estate called Fetternear! One of those funny coincidences to find this info just a day after Annie's episode!


Re: Annie Lennox's episode

Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:45 am

It was nice to see an episode that was a typical family history story that many genealogists would have in their own family trees. I suspect that, and Annie's own desire to see if her family did have roots in poverty, are why the anti-fascist material didn't make the cut for the TV version. Having said that, these clips are fantastic so here's hoping they find some way to incorporate them into a DVD version - a Director's Cut maybe?

Speaking about extra footage, Annie Lennox has put up a post on her Facebook site about how much was recorded - "During a period of ten days, we recorded over twenty five hours of film footage. To create and edit a one hour programme with two separate story lines from that was a hell of a feat."

It follows that some things are inevitably not going to make the final cut, and they have to focus in on specific points in order to keep the story flowing within the time slot that they have. This might also explain why some questions were left unanswered.

I agree the Mrs Cruikshank story did have gaps (possibly because the evidence was sketchy), but they've done a years work in the space of a few months - I think it's inevitable there will be gaps, mainly because of the timescales involved and the records don't always have the information you want. After all the records were not created to allow future historians to research their family trees - they served another purpose that didn't require certain details to be recorded, and as a result they will inevitably leave more questions than answers.

I think it was a logical educated guess to make, that the Parochial Board's Mrs Cruikshank from Turriff was the same as the Solicitor's sister who married a Cruikshank in the same town. I think many family historians would be faced with similar situations where an educated guess is required, and for that reason I don't think we should criticise this case too harshly.

Where I think the programme makers got it wrong though was in allowing Annie to think that Mrs Cruikshank sent Jessie away. The Parochial Board Minutes only say that she is to do that when she has no further use for her.

If Annie Lennox wants to research her family tree some more, she could perhaps start by researching Mrs Cruikshank further to see if there is anything else that might shed some light on her character. I'm not saying that she wasn't as cruel as Annie thinks she was, but equally, just now there's nothing to say that she was.

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