I have always been fascinated about where I come from. Not just in the geographical sense but in terms of a journey: how did I become who I am today and how did my family find themselves living in the borders of Scotland.
I have spent a decade researching and answering these questions. I’ve discovered who my ancestors were, what they did and where they lived. It’s been a fascinating journey with many surprises: I have discovered that I have Irish ancestors who came to Scotland in the 1850’s at the height of the Irish potato famine, and I’ve discovered that branches of my family emigrated to the United States and put down roots in New Jersey and California.
What’s in a name?
My surname by birth is Bell, an infamous Border Reiver name that dates back to the 16th Century, and one of the 17 names of the unruly clans found on the England/Scotland border at that time. I have traced my Bell roots back to the parish of Middlebie in Dumfriesshire, the infamous stronghold of the ‘bloody’ Bells of Middlebie. This clan was led by William Bell (‘Redcloak’ of Blackethouse’) who led a life of feuding and reiving against the English, until the Union of the Crowns in 1603 began to pacify the reiving clans.
My paternal family contains Armstrongs and Irvings who were also active Border Reiver families, so it’s fair to say that I am firmly associated with the land that I inhabit today, just a few miles from my ancestral home.
Travels far and wide
Many members of Border clans fled to Ireland (Ulster Scots) after the English Crown pacified the area, so it’s no surprise too that I have shared DNA links with the Emerald Isle. Finding branches of my Bell, Armstrong and Graham families has taken my search to Australia, New Zealand and Canada to discover individuals who left their mark in one way or another: I discovered a rag to riches tale of forging a new identity in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the story of a tragic death by accidental drowning in New Zealand in 1880.
It is the discovery of real people, of common ancestors with whom I share a bond, and how those ancestors lived their lives, that I find so compelling. I studied Empires in the 15th to 20th centuries as part of my degree in Humanities and learned more about how individuals experienced empires, on home soil and as settlers colonising new parts of the world. Their experiences echo my own research and are equally valid to many of us today. We all have someone interesting lurking in our family tree waiting for us to discover them.
So why Pre-You?
So why Pre-You? It’s quite simple: I can help you find the people who came before you, who make you ‘you’. There are many websites available today to help you trace your family tree but they all come with a price tag to access records, and a significant amount of your own time to do all the research. Let pre-You do all the work for you – you only pay a one-time fee instead of a monthly or annual subscription cost.
In my experience, it’s often been a problem sharing my discoveries with my extended family. It’s easy for today’s internet generation, but can be a challenge for older members of my family or those without easy access to a computer. So Pre-You has that one covered too – we will research your family tree and print it out to share with your entire family, a beautiful tree chart and evidence book providing all the information we discover about your ancestors. You can order extra copies too, for all your family.
For some of our packages, you can also receive a copy of your family tree file which you can upload to a genealogy site and continue to make new discoveries.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to discover ‘you’!