Here’s an article I found in yesterday’s Times reflecting on how few British people still live in the villages their ancestors lived in for hundreds of years.
Richard Morrison’s article suggests that the big turning-point was the Second World War, and I wouldn’t disagree that it brought about huge changes. My wife Linda’s parents met in High Wycombe, Bucks. during the war: Linda’s father came from Brecon in Wales and her mother from the Norfolk/Suffolk border. They would never have met if it hadn’t been for the war, and I’m sure that must be so for many people.
In my family in Scotland, however, there was movement to Edinburgh over the last 200 years. Although my parents were born in Edinburgh, my mother’s parents were not: about 200 years ago their grandparents (my great-great-grandparents) lived in Wester Ross, north and south Perthshire, County Londonderry in Ireland, south Caithness, Sutherland and the Scottish Border counties.
Around the same time, my father’s ancestors lived on the Isle of Skye, in north Caithness, the Scottish border counties, Madras (now Chennai) in India, Dumfriesshire (two separate lines), Aberdeenshire (where Donald Trump’s golf course is going to be), Moray, the town of Inverness, with only one line living in Edinburgh. (My ancestors in Madras descended from English soldiers from County Durham, London and probably Hertfordshire, and from Indian – or possibly Indian/Portuguese – women.)
And then I moved to the south of England.
I think my story’s fairly typical for Scotland, as I have a little book called Scotland’s Shifting Population 1770-1850 by D.F. MacDonald (first published in 1937), which shows that large numbers of people moved into Glasgow and Edinburgh in that period, mainly from rural areas of Scotland, but also from Ireland and even from England.