24/04/2019
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Did your ancestor sign the Declaration of Arbroath? New project aims to discover descendants through DNA testing

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The University of Strathclyde Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme has launched the Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project and released a list of surnames for families currently being researched.

The new project will see both students and staff carry out research into these individuals and their families, culminating in an exhibition which it is hoped will tour several venues. It will also involve a genetic genealogy strand, to discover previously unknown descents from these individuals through DNA testing.

What was the Declaration of Arbroath?

King Robert the Bruce's mission to gain recognition for Scotland as an independent nation, particularly from England, following the Scottish War of Independence, led to the creation of a letter to the Pope in 1320, which has become known as the Declaration of Arbroath. The letter was sent on behalf of the nobles and barons of Scotland, many of whom were named in and attached their seals to the document. 

Documentary strand

At least one set of research findings on 40 individuals associated with the Declaration have now been submitted by Diploma students, in addition to findings on another eight who had previously been researched as part of the Battle of Bannockburn Family History Project. This completes the initial coverage of all the relevant individuals and these findings will be supplemented by submissions from Diploma students in the next academic session.

The findings consist of brief biographies, four generation genealogies showing descendants of the grandparents of the focus individual and details of coats of arms. The list of their names can be found on the Strathclyde genealogy website.

Genetic genealogy strand

Preparatory work is being undertaken on thirteen families. 
The current status of the work is as follows and the project team have:

  • Sent out invitations to documented male line descendants to take a DNA test – 3, with 1 positive response so far
  • Issued invitations to documented male line descendants who have already taken a DNA test to join the Project – 3, all have agreed to take part
  • Research needed to identify documented male line descendants – 4
  • Investigate feasibility of including family in genetic genealogy strand of Project – 2

 

The families concerned are: 

  • Campbell, Arthur
  • Campbell, Donald
  • Graham
  • Hay
  • Lindsay
  • Maxwell
  • Menteith (Stewart)
  • Oliphant
  • Ramsay
  • Ross
  • Sinclair
  • Sutherland
  • Umfreville

The team also plan to undertake further work on the Stewart descendants of Walter Stewart, 6thHigh Steward of Scotland, following on from the research for the Battle of Bannockburn Family History Project.

Contact has been made with a number of DNA surname projects and it is hoped that the project will be cooperating with some of these as the research progresses. 

Exhibition

A Project Exhibition will be held initially at Arbroath Abbey from 3 July to 14 August 2020 with more details to follow.

An in-depth update on the project will be published in History Scotland magazine in late 2019. Subscribe today and save on the shop price.

 

QUICK LINK: Robert the Bruce trail map

(image copyright Tom Parnell)

 

Bruce and Bannockburn

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