Raitt blog

DNA matches - no fake news

Sunday 12 November 2017


It is rather fascinating, though time-consuming, to see what the various sites come up with regarding ethnicity, DNA matches and family tree hints. I have already given an explanation from a couple of sites regarding ethnicity identification on the page for my Ancestry DNA results and it just shows how different interpretations can be. The more tests the merrier I suppose! As for matches - well, MyHeritage throws up matches based on the Ancestry raw DNA data I uploaded and I assume these are the same matches that are given in GedMatch to which I also uploaded my data.

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Home thoughts from abroad

Monday 22 August 2016


I was just pondering once again on the early Raitts. It is probably fairly safe to say that all modern Raitts (including Rait and Reat, but excluding those who have had their name changed to Raitt) - and by modern I also include 18th and 19th century Raitts - throughout the world and especially in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States, emanate from Raitts in Britain, particularly Scotland.

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Wishful thinking and getting it right

Monday 28 September 2015


Because I have been checking into the Raitt families for some years now and endeavour to verify and double check references and resources, then I know when some things don’t see quite right when you come across them on the web. Of course, erroneous information is not meant to deceive - it’s perhaps more that wrong assumptions or fanciful interpretations have been made about certain facts or to try and prove a certain point.

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Claims of noble ancestry?

Sunday 15 February 2015


You may recall that some time ago I came across a reference in an old book to a 17th century manuscript residing in the Bavarian State Library. The manuscript was entitled Genealogie und Stammbuch der Familie Raitt bis 1683 (Genealogy and Family Register of the Raitt Family until the Year 1683) and was mostly in old German, with some parts in Latin. I arranged to have the manuscript first...

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Were our ancestors Crusaders or Conquerors?

Tuesday 18 February 2014


On the Raitt Context page I have discussed extensively the significance of the cross on the coat of arms of Gervase and Andrew de Rait and I speculated that they may have gone on a crusade and thus became “entitled” to adopt it for their shields. I didn’t follow up on this too much at the time, but I have just come across a bit about the 9th Crusade to the Holy Land in 1271-1272 to support the...

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The clans and us

Sunday 16 February 2014


I sometimes get asked by my newfound Raitt relations to which clan I belong. We Raitts (and alternative spellings) don’t belong to any clan or sept to the very best of my knowledge. The origin of the clans, according to Wikipedia (though there are plenty of other sources), is as follows. Although a couple of clans such as Clan Mackinnon and Clan Gregor claim descendancy from Alpin, father of...

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Are we Romans?

Sunday 9 February 2014


In earlier columns I have queried whether we might be descended from Vikings or Normans, but just maybe we are descended from Romans! I have finally received the male line results (after many months) of my second DNA test - this one carried out by BritainsDNA and much more detailed than the first one from a different company. I had the full works - my mother line (mtDNA) (which will not be...

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Adventures of the Stuart Papers

Wednesday 4 September 2013


James II and VII (1633–1701) was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. Even before 1800, the Prince Regent (Prince of Wales, 1762-1830, became King George IV in 1820) was aware that...

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What’s in a name revisited

Monday 17 June 2013


I have stressed several times about making mistaken assumptions because of identical names without adequate checking. And here is an interesting case in point. The husband of my great great grandfather’s sister, Susan Raitt, was married to Alexander Croal, a master mariner (read more about him under Arbroath Mariners, Raitt Anecdotes and Raitt Wrecks). I thought I would try and find out a little...

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Whither the weather?

Wednesday 30 January 2013


I have just finished an interesting book entitled So Foul and Fair a Day by Alastair Dawson (see under Raitt Readings at bottom) on the history of the weather and climate of Scotland – as always the purpose in buying it was to glean additional information of the lives and times of our ancestors. And I was not disappointed!

Although human life of sorts stretches back two or three million years, it...

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Ten in a bed and the little one said...

Friday 12 October 2012


In nineteenth century Scotland, a period for which there are fairly decent census records, it would appear that families were rather close-knit to all intents and purposes – at least so far as the Raitt families in Angus were concerned. We find various families living in the same streets in Arbroath and St Vigeans and the assumption is that they were probably related to a degree given that the...

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Life expectancy back then

Friday 31 August 2012


A while ago in another blog entry I discussed the causes of death of various ancestors. A couple of articles I have read recently mention some facts which might be worth adding to the pot. We have seen from our ancestors’ families that children are born every couple of years or so – and if there is a lengthy gap between siblings, then probably an infant has died. Medical evidence is clear: if a...

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A grandson of Eve

Friday 13 July 2012


Elsewhere on this site I have discussed the Raitt DNA, particularly my own. In the news in the middle of June was an item about Ian Kinnaird, aged 72, from Caithness in the far North of Scotland, who took a DNA test to find out where his ancestors came from. Well, he has been found to be directly descended from the first woman on earth, who lived 190,000 years ago. He has a genetic marker...

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The Castles of Rait

Sunday 17 June 2012


Sir Gervaise de Rathe and his brother Andrew lived in the Nairn area of the province of Moray some 750 years ago. Their story is known only from the few snippets of extant contemporary documents that still survive and that have been embellished and interpreted by writers several hundred years later in Victorian times. Sir Gervaise was Constable of Nairn (or Invernairn) Castle in the 1290s and...

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Populations in Forfar- and Kincardine-shire Parishes

Monday 21 May 2012


Although most of this information is available in the various Statistical Accounts of Scotland, I thought it might be helpful to extract the population details for relevant parishes in Forfarshire (Angus) and Kincardineshire and put them into one comparative table. For good measure I have also added more recent data from 1921 - the latest available. The early figures reflect the growth of towns at...

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Our origins revisited

Monday 16 April 2012


I have speculated here from time to time on our Raitt origins and the material I have put on the Raitt DNA pages discusses our origins and our to some extent. Something I read recently prompted me to revisit the famous Declaration of Arbroath, drawn up in 1320. And I was astonished, for here it confirms (or, more correctly, predates) what much later writers (such as Stephen Oppenheimer in his book...

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The Raitt name in history

Saturday 21 January 2012


The Raitt name in history (by Ancestry.com and co.uk). Published by The Generations Network, 2008.

I finally succumbed and bought this book (which despite its modest size was not exactly cheap) out of curiosity but against my better judgement and I was right – it simply is not worth buying since it provides nothing of substance and is mostly irrelevant to anyone named Raitt. I have since discovered...

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The Irish in Glasgow

Sunday 26 June 2011


Most of my many first cousins have Irish blood in their veins, but it was only after the 1911 Scottish census recently became available, that I was able to discover the extent of their Irish ancestry. In the case of my father’s eldest brother William, his wife, Sarah McKee, although born herself in Glasgow in 1903, had both parents (James McKee and Susan Downerd) born in Ireland. One grandfather...

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Are we Normans?

Sunday 23 January 2011


In a couple of these blogs I have alluded to our putative origins. The earliest possible date for our ancestors in Scotland would have been after the end of the last ice age, i.e. around 10.000 BC (actual settlements or artifacts of human civilization in Scotland date from 8500 BC) and I noted that it looks as though they may have come up from Southern Europe, though doubtless others came from the...

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Iniquities of the poll tax

Monday 29 November 2010



In Scotland in 1989 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (re)introduced the Poll Tax or Community Charge as it was euphemistically known – the idea being to extend it later to England and Wales. Riots and mass demonstrations in London and other cities during 1990 led to the plan being abandoned and the tax collection stopped in Scotland. These events helped bring about the downfall of Mrs T. The tax...

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Raitts here, there and everywhere

Sunday 21 November 2010


We know there were several other Raitt families in Arbroath and St Vigeans at the same time as ours in the nineteenth century – and the chances are that they were indeed related – possibly descended from the Raitts (or Raits) of Halgreen and/or Anniston – as were the Raitts in Aberdeen and Dundee. And this is something to work on. But in the meantime, it is interesting to see just what Raitts were...

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How unique are we?

Friday 29 October 2010


When I was in my final year of school (proper (grammar) school – not university!) I, with a few other lads – one with the interesting name of Stretton Taborn (which sounds as though it could be the name of a lost English village) whose father was, if I recall, the minister of a local church – undertook a project to make a short film. We wrote the script and screen play, made the props and costumes...

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What happened to the bairns?

Tuesday 13 July 2010


I have noted before how children seem to be looked after by their grandparents – and indeed the censuses show also a good mix of nephews and nieces living in households other than their parents. This may be for expediency, it may be because of poverty or working hours – but it may also be down to illness and death.

Alexander Kelman was born in 1818 in Fordyce, Banffshire. He was the brother of...

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Far away places with the strange sounding names

Thursday 25 February 2010


My father always maintained he had a relative in South Africa. Well, I presume to have found him! His uncle David (his father William’s elder brother) had a son called, after his grandfather, David Dorward Raitt born in Arbroath in 1897. David would have been a much older cousin to my father. He seems to have had some accountancy or commercial training and like his grandfather and great...

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History is the sum of countless individual decisions

Saturday 20 February 2010


I was rather struck by a sentence in Dominic Sandbrook’s opinion column in BBC History Magazine, v11, n2, Feb 2010, p21. He said that history is nothing more than the sum of countless individual decisions, most of them lost forever. (OK, the reason it rang a chord was because it brought to mind a quote that I had written in my old school notebook to the effect that happiness is made up of a...

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My bonnie lies over the ocean

Sunday 7 February 2010


Many of us Raitts and those related to the family are well-known in our own fields and areas of expertise, but we are probably not quite as well known as singer Bonnie Raitt, her Broadway actor father John Raitt, blues instrumentalist brother David Raitt, and singer/sound engineer brother Stephen Raitt. The question is often asked whether our Raitts are related to their Raitts. John Raitt was...

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Origin of British surnames

Tuesday 2 February 2010


In the January 2010 issue of the BBC History magazine (v11, n10, p12-13) there was an article by David Keys that caught my eye about the story of British surnames and how linguists are about to embark on a ground-breaking study of the evolution of some 40.000 British surnames which promises to illuminate Britain’s social, economic and ethnic heritage. What follows below is summarized from this...

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What might they have had for treats?

Thursday 28 January 2010


I've not really been following too closely the take over by the American food giant Kraft of the iconic British brand Cadburys, but when I read that Cadburys was 168 years old, that got me thinking that our great grandparents could well have eaten their chocolate and other sweets (assuming they might have been able to afford them). So I thought what other foods and brands were around then that we...

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Death by dying

Tuesday 12 January 2010


On the Web sites page, I discussed the informative site on the Scottish way of birth and death. The insights gained there as well as others in a recent book purchase (which I haggled down to a quarter of its original price!) on European soldier deaths abroad between 1815 and 1914 and the improvements made as a result which also filtered down to the British population at large, prompted me to look...

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We’ve come a long way

Saturday 2 January 2010


I was browsing an article in The World in 2010 published by The Economist about how manufacturing will overtake agriculture for the first time in India and I was struck by a couple of sentences about how, by and large, India's rural poor were protected from the [global financial] crisis by the same things that made them poor. "If you never had secure employment or many financial assets, you cannot...

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Love among the haystacks

Thursday 31 December 2009


As I have said before doing genealogy is like being a detective - ferreting out links and pieces of evidence. analyzing it and then putting it all together with very satisfying results. What you can glean from census records can not only be terribly useful, but also rather interesting for what it can tell us about our ancestors. Of course, registration and transcription, ignorance of the location...

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Why there’s nothing to be handed down!

Tuesday 22 December 2009


In the family – on all sides – there are precious few mementos or possessions of my ancestors. The American side of the family does at least have the sextant of James Dorward Raitt which was recovered from the bottom of the sea – and therein lies a clue: the Raitt brothers, James Dorward and David Dorward, master mariners though they were, both kept wrecking their ships! It’s little wonder there...

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No fixed abode

Wednesday 16 December 2009


The various BMD and census extracts can provide a fascinating insight into who lived where when and with whom. My father always said that his parents had moved at some stage from Arbroath to Glasgow – ostensibly because of a row in the family baker’s business. But it looks as though this might have been a little embroidered!

It appears that the family once having moved from Arbroath actually lived...

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Learning from records

Monday, 2 November 2009


You can really learn a lot from the entries on the various websites dealing with genealogy. For example, on one site dealing with burials (DeceasedOnline - which included burials in graveyards in Angus, Scotland) you can find out who was buried with whom - I came across several people who were presumably relatives of the deceased (though graves seem to have been reused after some sixty years or so)   and in one instance I found a name that on further checking turned out to be an unknown (to me) twin brother who died after a few months and was buried...

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Excavations of Pictish sites

Sunday, 11 October 2009


It is not totally certain who exactly were the Picts (the painted ones) and from whence they came. Around the third century AD, however, the Picts - a group of Iron Age Caledonian tribes – apparently joined together to form just two tribal units. In the early sixth century they converted to Christianity and by the late seventh century they had  merged to establish a Pictish kingdom covering most of what we know as Scotland...

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Do we have the wrong John Raitt?

Sunday, 4 October 2009


We know that our great great grandfather was John Raitt born in 1805 in Arbroath and that his wife was Elizabeth Dorward born 1808 in Arbroath. John’s father was Alexander Raitt (born 1768 in Arbroath) and his mother was Susan Millar (born 1775 in Monifeth). We also accept that Alexander’s father was also a John Raitt and his mother was Jean Meikison born about 1742 in Arbroath and they married in 1763 in Arbroath...

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Are we descended from Vikings?

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Having a very strong affinity to Scandinavia, I always fancied myself having Viking blood coursing through my veins! Alas, it is probably just wishful thinking. Although the Vikings had strongholds in Orkney and Shetland and constantly raided Ireland and the Scottish isles for plunder and slaves from the wealthy monasteries (as well as further down the Eastern English coast), they apparently didn’t bother too much with North East Scotland even though it was pretty much in their direct line of sail just across the water...

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Raitt roots - are we an incurious lot?

Monday, 28 September 2009


People these days are searching for their roots - but seemingly only if they lie outside their own countries. Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans are all searching for their Scottish roots - trying to find out about their forebears from the “auld” country. But with few exceptions Scottish people, at least in the Raitt family, are not at all curious where they came from and who their ancestors might be...

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Upon simply being here

Saturday, 26 September 2009


Have you ever stopped to wonder how lucky we are actually to be here? We have to date back tens of thousands of years - our ancestors survived the Ice Age by moving south and then a few thousand years ago found their way (back?) to Scotland. Our lot were probably Picts since they inhabited the lands of our immediate ancestors that are now Angus and Banffshire. St Vigeans, where many Raitts hail from, was an ancient Pictish religious site dating from around the year 700 when a monastery was established...

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Why does Raitt have two ts?

Friday, 25 September 2009


Have you ever wondered how we got the double t? That is quite unusual so far as names go I think - you do have double letters at the beginning as in  Lloyds or Ffoulkes - but not so often at the end except for names like Bell or Hill or Gunn...

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This blog will give some of my (perhaps rhetorical) musings on the

Raitt name and family and their way of life and context.