Sunday, 17 April 2011

Never Be Afraid to Ask

One thing I have learned over the years doing my research, is that it never hurts to ask. If you think someone may be able to help you, or have some information, there is no harm in getting in contact..the worst that can happen is you get no reply.

One such instance was when I was looking for information about a photo of my Great Great Uncle Alexander (Sandy) Rutherford. Sandy, was born in 1873 in the fishing village of Newhaven, Edinburgh, and I can remember going to visit him with my gran, when I was a little girl. I just have vague memories of him, but still remember the anchor in the street near where he lived, its strange what you remember from when you are small. 
He was a fisherman and according to family members was skipper of a boat called "The Whitestar" and there was a photo of him with his boat in the Newhaven Heritage Museum. By this time I was living in England and looked forward to paying it a visit when I went home to visit family. However, much to my disappointment, I discovered it was closed for refurbishment and it was then decided it would not re-open.

I thought that was the end of it, but decided to have a go at emailing a contact for the council I found on the internet and a lovely woman called Victoria, took the time to reply to me. She could not find the photo I had mentioned, but did find 2 other pictures of Sandy and was kind enough to email them to me.

Alexander Rutherford, 2nd from right, Front Row.
The photo above is one of these (left click on image for full size). It was taken in 1951 and is of the members of the Newhaven Fisherman's Society, something a lot of my ancestors were members of.

Sandy lived to the ripe old age of 96. He was found lying in the yard at the back of the tenement he lived in and had died from serious head injuries after falling from his window. It is thought he was feeding the birds when he lost his balance and fell. It is a very sad ending for a life that was lived to the full (that story is for another time).

Sandy , how I remember him, at the age of 94

So the next time you think someone maybe able to help in your quest for information, don't hesitate, you never know what you will find.


  1. What an interesting piece of genealogy, I always think being a fisherman must have been extremely hard work. I agree with you about childhood memories too. My strongest one is of my grandmother's pantry. The way it smelled in particular, as it was where she stored her fruit and vegetables.

  2. Thanks Fiona, and have done a lot of research about their occupation and it was very hard work, not just for the men but also for their wives,guess that is why they nearly always married thier own, the woman would have been brought up to know what to expect. Will be doing more posts about that in the future.

    1. Hi Susan, I work with the Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches project We are working with the School of Scottish studies in Edinburgh to make the sound recordings in their archive available online. I think we have some recordings of your great, great uncle Sandy which we would love to include on the website. He was recorded speaking to Hamish Henderson in 1964. He was 91 years old then. The others recorded with him were: Jemima Liston, Mrs Drennan, Isabella Buchan and Elizabeth Brunton. It would be great to hear from you as we need to contact family before making these recordings available. You can contact me at