Once a Scotsman always a Scotsman - we carry our identity in our hearts, wherever we are.
Many say we can’t do anything about the past. So why waste time on it, as the future is so much more important. This is not quite the whole story. Knowing history is to really appreciate where we are now and why. This can help "big time" in taking the next set of decisions for the future.
Two parts here. One receiving (from parents, family, friends, society, country) and one giving (to next generation, others, society, country). Both need appreciation and attention for a person to be truly successful.
A sense of ‘heritage’ - where we come from, who our ancestors were, what they strove to achieve in their generation, and the challenges they had to face – is relevant to our own lives. A multi-generational view of a family provides a context and the broad evolution, and so helps set one’s own “identity base-line”. Then to go out into the world to make our way, and finally to recognize and value our achievements in that multi-generational context. That said, many people do very well with none of this context, and have no interest in or no way of knowing their family history and origins, and may even consider genetics just another lottery in life.
The value for me in bringing this family story together has been in understanding my own heritage, and answering many of the questions that I have been curious about over the years. I now realize how much of my family history was lost by not taking more interest in this while my parents and other older relatives were alive. I am proud of my ancestors (simple and unimportant though their origins were) and what they achieved for their families in frequently demanding times.
I have been fortunate to live in peaceful times with long periods of economic growth, major positive political realignment, and significant technology-driven lifestyle changes. Like my father and grand-father I have sought my career outside Scotland. But unlike them, I have been able to follow my goals to their conclusion and have not returned to Scotland. This peripatetic life has inevitably brought changes in the residence of my own family, the end of direct connections with Scotland, and estranged family relationships spread over continents. My children are now Europeans whatever that may mean with a barest-thread of connection to Scotland.
Over these years we have seen a steady erosion of much of what made Scotland, and the many cultural and ethnic regions across Europe, so identifiably strong. Being part of a bigger, homogeneous grouping can bring advantages but at the cost of the disappearance of the local customs, culture, values and community strengths. This may all be worthwhile if the Europe that emerges over the longer-term provides strong leadership, peaceful times and the economic opportunities that its peoples have sacrificed so much to achieve.
The 20th century nationalism of the SNP would have surprised and shocked my family - all staunch Unionists and Royalists. The hard-left socialist views now in abundant evidence in Scotland would have really concerned my family - with our traditional "unionist/conservative" middle-class values - as would the terrible working conditions that led to these views. But Scotland is now on a gradual path towards independence, which I believe will be a massive strategic mistake. But, for now, I am sure we can all learn a few lessons from the last 400 years and our rich ancestry that also serves also as an very small example of development in Europe.
Our family is inextricably linked over most of the last 400 years with the Royal Burgh of Forfar in Angus. So this history also looks at Forfar’s history, in a broad Scottish historical setting, as the context for most of our family achievements. There are still many unresolved family questions and missing details, which I now leave to others to research. I offer this history and the related documents to the safe keeping of my family that, in time, they may come to appreciate our family heritage and so, in their turn, pass it on to future generations.
Cicero, Orator 46 BC
To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history.
Patrick Whyte, 1758-1847