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Treasure 33: The Pedigree of the Cruickshanks of Stracathro
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Treasure 33: The Pedigree of the Cruickshanks of Stracathro

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Treasure 33: The Pedigree of the Cruickshanks of Stracathro
Historic Photographs
Treasure 33: The Pedigree of the Cruickshanks of Stracathro
Among the Local Studies collection of family trees is a chart from 1847 entitled Pedigree of the Cruickshanks of Stracathro. The title initially referred to the Cruickshanks of Langley Park but this has been scored out and replaced with Stracathro. A pedigree is a form of genealogical table. Collections of pedigrees were first made in the 15th century and, according to The Oxford Companion, were "a matter of aristocratic pride and of practical necessity for legal purposes". The term pedigree comes from the French 'pied de grue', meaning crane's foot, due to the resemblance of the genealogical lines to the thin legs and feet of the bird.

The pedigree of the Cruickshanks was compiled by E. G. G. Cruickshank, who features in the 10th generation detailed on the table.
The pedigree begins with the earliest ancestor at the top of the document with lines dropping down to succeeding generations. Each generation is given a Roman numeral and individuals within each generation are assigned Arabic numbers. The pedigree begins with "John Cruickshank first in Strathspey m. Mary Cumming of Elgin" and extends down to an incomplete 12th generation. The individuals in the 11th generation were mostly born in the 1870s.

The information listed on a family tree is dependent on the sources available and the purpose for which it was created. The information given on the Cruickshank's pedigree varies but typically includes an individual's date of birth, marriage details and date of death. Additional information is also supplied as is the case with the 7th generation of Cruickshanks - Margaret Helen is described as the daughter of Rev. Gerard of Aberdeen, author of a book whose title is unreadable, and sister to a Colonel Gerald. Details of army service are supplied for some individuals and many of the Cruickshanks were involved in the administration of India or served in the army there.

The tiny handwriting, use of abbreviations and sparse punctuation makes the document challenging to read so familiarity with the subject matter and names of places is useful. A later interpreter of the document has made a number of annotations in pencil. For example, one of the later additions points to an individual and reads "Is this W. Robertson of Auchinroath? Yes!"

In addition to a listing of descendants the pedigree is annotated with a number of original notes and a description of a coat of arms. The latin motto of Cavendo tutus translates as 'Safe through caution'. One note, quoting "an old paper", describes from where the family came prior to being in Strathspey. A note on the other side of the chart states that "distinguished Officer and Author the late Colonel Stewart of Garth" links the family to the Royal Family of Stewart and suggests the name of Cruickshank derives from "some deformity in the first cadet of the house."

Attached to the document is a letter dated 23 October 1927 from a Jim Bulloch to City Librarian G. M. Fraser. Bulloch explains that he got the pedigree from a Mr. Mackintosh of Elgin, thinks it is quite rare and that the library might like it for its collection. It has stayed in the Local Studies collection to this day.

The Gazetteer for Scotland website states that in 1775 Patrick Cruickshank, listed at No. 11 of the 7th generation, bought the estate of Stracathro in Angus. The property was subsequently inherited by his brother Alexander Cruickshank (1764 - 1846). Alexander hired the Aberdeen architect Archibald Simpson to build Stracathro House between 1824 and 1827. The Palladian Scottish country house still exists today.

University College London's Legacies of British Slave-ownership website indicates that Patrick and Alexander, and two other Cruickshank brothers, owned plantations on the Caribbean island of St Vincent that used slave labour. See Alexander Cruickshank's entry in the database here: 'Alexander Cruikshank of Stracathro', Legacies of British Slave-ownership database, http://wwwdepts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/8590 [accessed 9th June 2020]. In 1833 when Britain abolished the ownership of slaves the government granted £20 million in compensation to former slave-owners. Alexander Cruickshank made three claims for compensation, two of which were successful.

In 1874, Stracathro House and estate were sold to Sir James Bannerman, Lord Provost of Glasgow, and father of Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. The country house was later used as a World War II hospital and owned by Tay Health Board before being sold to private owners in 2003.
Aberdeen Local Studies
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