The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project
The University of Strathclyde Genealogical Studies Postgraduate Programme launched the Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project in association with the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy in October 2018. King Robert’s mission, to gain recognition for Scotland as an independent nation, particularly from England, following the Scottish War of Independence, led to the creation of a letter to the Pope in 1320, which has become known as the Declaration of Arbroath. The letter was sent on behalf of the nobles and barons of Scotland, many of whom were named in and attached their seals to the document. The new Project will see both students and staff carry out research into these individuals and their families, culminating in an exhibition which it is hoped will tour several venues. It will also involve a genetic genealogy strand, to discover previously unknown descents from these individuals through DNA testing.
The project will consist of two strands, a documentary strand and a genetic genealogy strand. Further information relating to the project can be found in the information sections below.
This will be based largely on PG Diploma student work in researching specific individuals who are named or set their seals to the Declaration of Arbroath, accumulated over two years – academic sessions 2018-19 and 2019-20 and would consist of the following:
- brief biographies of the individuals presented as narrative biographies of a maximum of 300 words.
- 4 generation descendant charts and reports beginning with the individuals’ grandparents and including as many of the grandparents’ descendants as can be traced to the third generation.
- images and blazons of the individuals’ coats of arms.
Genetic genealogy strand
This will be based largely on staff research with some student involvement and will consist of the following:
genetic genealogy research into the families of significance in relation to the Declaration of Arbroath to –
- discover previously unknown descents from these families through DNA matching with individuals with documented descents and
- to advance the knowledge of genetic branching within these families
- to investigate the origins of these families
Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project
Progress report 11, 3 September 2020
Since the main work of the Project is now drawing to a close, this is just a very brief report providing details of recent articles and how the work of the Project will be further reported on and presented.
For further details, please consult earlier Progress reports and the Project webpage.
The following two articles relating to the Project by Graham Holton and Alasdair Macdonald have appeared recently –
The Declaration of Arbroath: new research on stories of the signatories. History Scotland, September/October 2020.
DNA and the Declaration of Arbroath. Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, September 2020.
The talk on the work of the Project for the Victoria University of Wellington NZ Scottish Interest Group was supplied for the planned meeting of the Group on 28 August, but unfortunately, due to the introduction of stricter Covid-19 lockdown measures in New Zealand only a few days before, the meeting had to be cancelled. The Group hope to be able to reschedule the meeting for a date in 2021.
Work has begun on the compilation of a Project report which it is hoped will be completed around early October.
Plans for holding the Project exhibition at Arbroath Abbey, Dumfries Museum and possibly other venues at some point in 2021 are still on hold.
Previous progress reports can be downloaded and viewed via the links below;
Presentations by Graham Holton and Alasdair Macdonald:
- Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust symposium on the Declaration of Arbroath, 28 March 2020, Dumfries
The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project: 14th century men and 21st century descendants
- Declaration of Arbroath 700th Anniversary Conference, 23-25 April 2020, Newbattle Abbey College - 24 April, 4 pm.
The men of the Declaration – their significance, then and now
Rescheduled for 22-24 April 2021
- House of Dun, Montrose (National Trust for Scotland), 2 July, 6.30 pm
The Declaration of Arbroath Family History Project: local surnames 1320 to 2020
- Victoria University of Wellington NZ Scottish Interest Group, 28 August 2020
Recording of general talk on the Project to be supplied
- Dumfries Museum, 10 September 2020, 6.30 pm
- HMP Low Moss, Bishopbriggs. To be confirmed
Talk on DNA testing as it relates to the Declaration and its relevance today
Impact of Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic
Events have already been cancelled as a result of the pandemic, but it is hoped that the Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust will be able to reschedule their symposium at some future date.
The Declaration of Arbroath 700th Anniversary Conference will be held on 22-24 April 2021.
It is now clear that no physical events will take place until 2021, so the current ongoing plan for the Project is to produce, and if feasible publish, a Project report around early October. In the meantime, discussions will take place with the relevant organisations to agree appropriate dates for the Project exhibition to be held at Arbroath Abbey, Dumfries Museum and possibly other venues at some point in 2021. Preparation of an online version of the Exhibition will also commence with the aim of making this available at a later date.
Coverage in the press
The Scotsman 13 August 2019 - https://www.scotsman.com/heritage/dna-search-to-identify-descendants-of-declaration-of-arbroath-nobles-1-4983072
Article in History Scotland, November/December 2019 issue, by Graham Holton and Alasdair Macdonald
The Herald 28 February 2020 - https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18269419.new-study-uncovers-30-descendants-family-signed-declaration-arbroath/