• Nicola

Time Travel and Family History software don't mix!


Today I was browsing through the British Newspaper Archive when the following short piece from the Dundee Courier (5 December 1934) caught my eye:


There was quite a lot of coverage of Miss Grigor's disappearance in the press over the next couple of weeks. Apparently she had taken a taxi to Fort Augustus but having run out of money had left the taxi at Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness and then set off on foot, dressed in a green raincoat, into the rain. A huge search was carried out on 10th December, 8 days after her disappearance, by hundreds of climbers, ghillies, stalkers and police on land and boat. A green button was found on the edge of a burn but the coat and indeed the woman wearing the coat was missing.

To fans of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books, and the accompanying TV series, this will all sound very familiar. In these fantastic books Claire Randall, on a second honeymoon in Scotland after the Second World War, sets off on into the countryside around Inverness, walks into a stone circle in the Highlands and find herself transported back 200 years to the 18th century. Adventures and romance ensue!


I have been a lover of these books for many years. When the TV series came out last year I, like a lot of other fans, was nervous; these characters live vividly in my head and I was worried they would be lost and replaced by the actors' images (no offence to the lovely Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan). I had the DVD box set for weeks before I felt brave enough to watch it. I needn't have worried; the series is amazing! And, last time I checked, my Jamie and Claire et al were still alive and well in my head. Phew! Watching the show I was struck by the records that Claire was generating in her adventures around the 18th Century Highlands. I don't know why this struck me more while watching the show than when reading the books. I just found myself thinking that she generates quite a paper trail: marriage contract, trial, deed of sasine. All these records that would have allowed her 20th Century genealogist husband to find her if/when he decided to look - did he look? I'm trying to keep spoilers to a minimum - read the books!!

Claire's first husband, Frank, is a historian and genealogist in the 1940s, researching his ancestors with pen and paper. Nowadays most of us have a programme such as Family Historian or Family Tree Maker to record all our information. I couldn't resist trying to input Claire's family tree into Family Historian, so I input her name and date of birth: 20 October 1918 and then the date of her marriage to her Highlander husband, Jamie Fraser in 1743. My software indignantly pointed out: Possible Error - Date is earlier than the individual's birth date. I decided to bamboozle it a bit more by putting in their daughter's date of birth, 23 November 1948. Possible Error - Date is later than the latest estimated child birth date for the individual's father. No kidding! Oh well guess I will have to go back to pen and paper for that one! Then I realised I didn't have to as there is a lovely family tree here . Having teased the software enough I turned the poor thing off and went back to my newspapers.

Unfortunately for Miss Grigor (remember her - the lady this blog started off about - I went off on a bit of a tangent!) there was no romantic passionate love in the form of a rugged Highlander. Instead it seems that she got lost in the Scottish weather and terrain and came to some misfortune. Her body was found in a river near Loch Ness 7 months her disappearance. She lies buried in New Elgin churchyard.

#elizabethgrigor #Dianagabaldon #Outlander #FamilyHistory

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