by Hugh Herbert
Over the years, I have made several visits to Scotland, most of them to check on our Herbert roots.
The earliest was in the 1970’s when Janet and I were living in the U.K. with subsequent trips in the 90’s and the final trip in 2003. I went alone, with Janet, Paul and sister Patricia.
In the early visit and several following, the only thing that I could find was grandpa’s birth record at the council office in Dalry, Ayrshire. I checked other town records and those of the cemetery. No Herberts!
Then on our penultimate trip, again coming up empty handed, Janet suggested that there might be church records. Prior to the potato famine in Ireland, there had been almost Catholics in Scotland. In 1855, to provide for the growing influx of Irish Catholics, St. Palladius Church was built.
We went there and spoke to the kindly priest who provided us with the appropriate dates. I started hunting down the “H’s” for Herbert and found nothing. Then, at the edge of the page, I saw the name of Janet Hailstones, who I knew was my great-grandmother. It was noted that she was the wife of John Halbert, iron miner. Granddad’s birth was recorded just a week after it had been registered in the council office.
When I asked the priest about the disparity, he said that at that time the Scots were not familiar with the Irish brogue. And, since great granddad would have been illiterate, he wouldn’t have known the difference.
Armed with this new information, I first went to the cemetery where I found a listing for “John Halbert, iron miner and china merchant. The custodian then led us to the location where he had been buried, an unmarked grave.
I later found information from the national census which showed that John had arrived from Ireland along with his brother Joseph. There were several different addresses after Joseph was married and moved out.
In addition to grandpa Edward, John and Jenny had other children, Ellen, Joseph, John and Agnes.
When Great Grandpa died in 1877, Dward moved to the states with his mother. He would, of course, needed a birth certificate which showed him a Edward Herbert. Having also been illiterate, he wouldn’t have noticed. Thus, we became Herberts.