The Structure of Moncreiffe's Family Records


The honours of a name 'tis just to guard;
They are a trust but lent us, which we take,
And should, in reverence to their donor's fame,
With care transmit them down to others' hands.

James Shirley (1596-1666)




Introductory Series

Fraser of that Ilk

Fraser of Inverallochy

Fraser of Lovat

Fraser of Philorth

Fraser of Strichen

Fraser of Saltoun (currently in preparation)

First Series

Second Series

(to be announced)

Introductory Notes

The structure of the ancestral data in the electronic version of Moncreiffe's Family Records combines many of the proven advantages of the traditional tabular layout of ancestral lineage with the new flexibility computerisation allows.

The systems evolved by such traditional genealogical directories as the Peerages of Debrett and Burke were shaped by many factors, such as page size and the cost of new typesetting, which do not apply to pages prepared for Web browsers. On the other hand, the present limitations of HTML and of many of the browsers in use by Web readers do not allow some of the paragraph layouts used by the traditional directories to structure the interrelationships. The design chosen for the online version of Moncreiffe's Family Records simplifies the presentation by using much more white space than the traditional systems allow, and this has enabled the complexity of the sometimes confusing indent arrangements to be reduced. Indents have been made easier to interpret by printing dots to indicate the size of the indent, and these, together with the letter suffixes, should eliminate ambiguities.

Although the removal of the size restraints imposed on books has allowed some of the traditional abbreviations to be replaced by full words, others have been retained, together with a few latin words, because they form a natural part of the working vocabulary of family historians. Italicised abbreviations retained are bfor born, mfor married, dfor died, dsp for died without issue, dspm for died without male issue, dspl for died without legitimate issue. Commonly used Latin such as ante is italicised, unitalicised English abbreviations for words such as daughter (shown as "dtr") are used only where their meaning is clear. With years the use of a slash, as in 1312/3 means that the date is 1312 in the old calendar then in use, and may be found as 1313 in those books that have tried to adjust those early years to fit the modern calendar. This is explained in more detail in the essay on calendars and spelling. Where a hyphen is used, as 1312-3, it indicates that the event is believed to have happened in the period between the beginning of 1312 and the end of 1313.

Again, without the need to reduce content to fit between the covers of a book, descriptive comment is not quite so compact as in the traditional directories, and in those cases where a title is the same as the family surname, and the normal usage is, for example, "George, 5th Lord Seton," the editors have chosen to use, in that example, "George Seton, 5th Lord Seton." This standardises the system with the style used for titles that are different from the family name, and helps to remove ambiguity where a man or woman's surname changes with succession to a title or to an estate with a name and arms clause in the charter.

One of the factors ignored by many of the early peerage directories is that the use of several titles today is significantly different from that of mediaeval times. the prefix Hon. (or Honble) being one notable example of a modern title unknown to the Middle Ages. A common anachronism is the use of Princess as a title during the period when, for example, the daughter of a king could have been known as Marjorie, Daughter of Scotland (or Marjorie, Lady of Scotland), and not as Princess Marjorie of Scotland. Moncreiffe's Family Records simplifies this situation by not using titles in front of Christian names where they appear in tabular form in the lineage. This practice is extended also to the use of "Sir" before the Christian name, and readers will find that those who would have used that prefix are instead noted as being a baronet (Bt), or knight banneret, or a knight of an order (by the usual abbreviation, such as, for example, KG or KCB) or a knight (Kt).

Most graphics are inline and are GIF files, so downloading by selection or automatically should present no problems. In the future there will be links to high definition files that may be downloaded for use with a suitable viewer. Similarly, appropriate sound files will eventually be integrated with the text (to allow clansmen to hear their pipe music).

Before becoming a regular reader of these pages, viewers may find it helpful to read the introductory essays. These give a useful background and include some hints that may make research more enjoyable and more successful.

Description of Introductory Essays

Abbreviations used by The Baronage Press (withdrawn for amendments)

Readers seeking information on heraldic matters (coats of arms, crests, supporters, banners, standards, etc) should refer to The Heraldic Records at The Baronage Press, but if the query concerns a particular family the answer sought may be found by direct reference to Buthlaw's Armorial, which is a dictionary of pronominal coats.

Buthlaw's Armorial

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