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John Simkin

Jim McCracken

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I have just been informed that one of our members, Jim McCracken, died two weeks ago. Jim had been suffering from cancer for sometime. He knew he was dying and was very grateful that he lived long enough to see his book, In Search of a Family’s History, published in April. This is the publishing blurb that went with the book:

Almost half a century after the death of his parents, both born in the 19th century, their last surviving son began a 330 year long journey towards retracing the paths of his family’s history. His searches took him back to 1675; to before the birth of the Industrial Revolution and to more than a century before we lost the American colonies. It was to prove a fascinating world-wide search undertaken solely from the keyboard by a novice genealogist with the assistance of professional guides recruited en route. As the history of his ancestors unfolds, we are given a snapshot of the important events of the day, events which would prove subsequently to be of immense historical significance.

Along the way the author has reminisced on his Scottish public-school and middle-class family upbringing. Nevertheless; there was no family car, no central heating, no refrigerator, microwave or freezer. Television was for the distant future. Then came the Second World War and with it, rationing. After National Service, medical graduation, marriage and parenthood his children are left to embark on their family’s journey.

As the author travelled through Scotland and ‘sailed’ to Australia and Burma in search of the paternal branch of his family he learned that following the Highland Clearances his paternal ancestors bought land and property in the South West of Scotland. Some became Weavers at a time when the Industrial Revolution, preempted by the Flying Shuttle, was in its early infancy. Over the next two hundred years or more, their descendants were intimately involved in the woollen industry until its demise in the 1960s. At the eleventh hour the patriarch of his family was identified as being none other than the author’s namesake James McCRACKEN, born circa 1675. He became a Church Officer and Belman / Town Crier (!) in the Burgh of Stranraer in Scotland.

Towards unravelling the tragic mysteries of the maternal family’s history, the author again journeyed back to the 17th century. This time; his ‘travels’ took him through Ireland, Germany, England and India before he found himself unexpectedly back in Scotland to where he himself had been brought up. Both journeys found him not only fishing amongst shoals of red herring but wandering, all too frequently lost in a veritable maze of blind alleys and cul-de-sacs, before successfully reaching his ultimate aim; journey’s end.

For further information see:

http://www.orgwebs.net/Jim/

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