Old Books

If you were with me last time, you’ll recall that I am, once again, dipping into the treasure trove that is the Annals of Aberdeen, published in 1818 but describing the history of the town going back to the 15th century.  One thing that stands out from those early years is just how small the town was at this that time.  Soon after the Scottish reformation, in the late 16th century, we can discover that, “According to that register (of births, marriages and deaths), there were, in the course of the year 1572, thirty-seven marriages; eighty children, namely thirty-five males and forty-five females, were born in lawful wedlock; and thirty-five illegitimate children.  During the same period the deaths were seventy-two. Taking, therefore, these last as data, supposing that one fiftieth part of the inhabitants died annually, and having in view the  healthiness and state of society at the time, it may not be deemed unreasonable if we should estimate, agreeably to the usual principles adopted in such cases, the whole population of Aberdeen, at this era, to have been 3,600, or perhaps 4,000 persons of all ages.”

Following on from this, it is very interesting to see what names were prevalent in the town at this time.  The following paragraph gives us the answer…

The prevailing sirnames (sic) in the town during this age, were, Anderson, Bannerman, Barbour, Benyn, Blyndsele, Branch, Cadzow, Chalmers, Colinson, Cullen, Cumine, Davidson, Douglas, Forbes, Fitchit, Fyfe, Giffard, Gray, Kennedy, Knowles, Irvine, Kintore, Lamb, Leith, Leslie, Lorimer, Marr, Menzies, Pratt, Reid, Rolland, Rowle, Rutherford, Tullidef, Scherar, Scroggs, Vaus, Wormot, Young.  

What’s really interesting is that there are a lot of names that we all recognise nowadays, as well as some that are clearly of that century.  Moreover, some of them (Douglas, Cadzow) are associated with other places in Scotland (Hamilton) as well as Aberdeen.  However, I am not that surprised that some have died out: I suspect that not many of us would like to be called Scroggs, Vaus or Wormot!

Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist