Jump to content

Shetland descendant


Recommended Posts

Hello, first time poster on this forum, not something I normal do.

But, well let me briefly tell you my story.

Ever since I can remember my mother always told me,

That her grandfather was the seventh son and that he came from the Shetlands.

A couple of years I did a little research of the net.

I had his name and in no time at all I found a trace of him.

On the north isles family history site.

So my great grandfather was born in 1873 in Lerwick.

I was able go back a couple more generations.

My great x4 grandfather was born in 1752 on the island of Unst.

So that’s my Shetland credentials for you.

I’m never been to your beautiful isles.

Maybe age thing or the state of our world today.

But on the eve of my 63th year I feel I’ll like to have some connect with the Shetlands.

Exactly what I’m not sure, I live in Antibes, France.

I left the UK in 1981 and have lived in France since 1985.

The family name back then was Donaldson.

So anyone with any information on Unst or Donaldson.

Also any more general information, such as living working in the Shetlands.

Thank you for your time reading this, lets see where it goes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Donaldson is a surname that seems to have entirely died out in Shetland. Between the censuses in 1841 and 1871 there are about 90 names. In 1881 and onwards there were less than 30.

The best known Donaldson was Professor Gordon Donaldson. His grandfather was a Shetlander who sttled in Edinburgh. He wrote a number of books, including some about Shetland.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you MuckieJoannie for taking the time to reply to my post.

I'll check out the books written by Professor Gordon Donaldson, from the links you kindly provided.

I was aware that many Shetlanders have left the isles on the years, but that is a big number.

Was that the period of the largest exodus of islanders or just Donaldson's?

How do most Shetlanders see themselves as Shetlanders, Scottish, Brits?

I'm aware of the history of the dowry for Margaret, is there a strong Norwegian connection?

I live in France and have shown pictures of your Shetland bus stops to friends.

They love them as do I, this would be unthinkable in most part of our planet.








Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shetland's population went from about 35,000 in the mid 19th century to about 17,000 100 years later. Some got thrown off their land by their landlords (the Clearances). Many left due to the lack of work and opportunity.

Knitwear and fishing had a boom in the 1960s then North Sea oil gave the economy a massive boost so the population has settled around 22,000.

A lot of older Shetlanders did not recognise their identity as Scottish due to the colonial exploitation of the islands in the 18th and 19th centuries by Scottish landowners and clergy. You won't see kilts here, except at the occasional wedding.

Norwegian links continue to be strong. Norwegian firms own much of the Shetland fish farming and fish processing industries. In WW2 many Norwegians fleeing Nazi occupation of their country ended up in Shetland as it is the closest UK landfall.

Some of these fleeing Norwegians were organised into a clandestine operation which transported men and material back across the North Sea to the Norwegian resistance. This ran so effectively it became known as the Shetland Bus. A number of the Norwegians married local women and the families kept up their links.

The Scalloway Museum is the main organisation that keeps up organised links with Norway.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll check out the Scalloway museum link you've provided me with, I did not know it was the old capital.


The Shetland bus I have just recently become aware off and need to delve into.


Colonial exploitation what a familiar story, repeated endlessly in every era on every continent.

A wound that never quite heals, a memory passed down through the generations.

The more it changes the more it stay the same.


When your not needed you have to go, when they need you they'll promise you the moon.

My favourite is Erik the red's naming of Greenland in the hope people would join him.

He knew calling it the big white bloody cold land would not do the trick.

For me the greatest marketing coup in this field belongs to the Brits.

By fooling the people into believing the American revolution was won by the settlers.

How many people would have emigrated if they knew it was just another colony.

Compared to the Australia emigrates forcible sent  to populate the continent.


What is the general feeling in Shetland for the future, is it positive?

Seems to me that things (a part from Covid) are on the up in your splendid isolation.


I found and ordered this book from amazon.

The other British Isles: A journey through the offshore Island of Britain by Christopher Somerville.

Being old school I like my books to be on my shelves where I can see, feel and read them.










Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shetland's biggest problem at the moment is lack of housing. There are plenty of jobs but few places for incoming workers to stay. The problem has been exacerbated by people selling up south and discovering how far their money can go in Shetland.

Since th 1960s Shetland has sailed through every recession more or less unscathed and there is nothing as yet on the horizon that will end that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The famous market forces at work, supply and demand. Since I arrived here on the Côte d’Azur I've seen so many changes.

The population has greatly increased the roads are choc a block at rush hours, any spare space is quickly built on.

Yet if drive along the coast out of season, you notice a large percentage of the apartment's are empty.

Second homes, apartment's brought to be rented out. So rents are high and apartment's difficult to find.

Over the years some locals have sold their or some their land, which is than divide up and built on.

The problem is for the local young people who can not afford to get on the property ladder because of the prices.

The irony being that many of the older generation by selling off their land have left their grandchildren paying through the nose.

You say there are plenty of jobs, what sort of employment is available or is just generally across the board?

With the internet and the increasing trend of working from home, are there jobs available for people not physically in situ?   

As I believe the Shetlands is home to a large amount of peat, being a wonderful medium for carbon storage.

Are the Shetlands being rewarded for working as a natural bank for carbon deposits, just an Idea.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

A quick look on Google for Shetland jobs revealed a long list, from CEO of a local charity to relief handypersons, with a bias to social/healthcare. I only found one working from home job but I guess anyone advertising that kind of job wouldn't advertis in a specific geographic area.

Conservation of peat is a hot topic here at the moment, as a 103 turbine windfarm is being built on peatland and more are proposed. The windfarm was originally proposed as an investment in the islands to maintain the income steram to the council that would be lost as oil ran down but there is a strong suspicion that any financial gains will not match the environmental damage being incurred.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes I had looked for jobs and many other things on various web sites, concerning the Shetlands.

But as I mentioned in my original post I'm looking to connect with Shetlanders and their opinions.


Most web sites push their views or agendas as an individual I cherish the views of fellow individuals.

Unfortunately we are more and more being herded into a collective think pen.


Regarding alternative power sources again local areas have difference resources and requirements.

It can not be a one size fits all solution imposed from a distance central decider.

Seems to me the local populace must live with what has been decided.


Bribes, backhanders and general corruption is rife in most countries.

A quick look at the fracking industry in the US shows what can happen.

When big business is left unchecked.


Serge a old friend who as a miner worked for many years in the Yukon.

Told me that if they dropped a box of nails in the mine, rather than pick up the nails they'd open another box.


What would you say have been the pros and cons of the oil industry?

Positive negative or probably seem where in between?







Link to comment
Share on other sites

The oil industry brought a lot of money into Shetland which was invested in infrastructure and businesses. But it has had its day as a driver of the world economy. Unfortunately the alternatives are not fully developed. Renewable energy is all very well but it just produces power at the moment when conditions are right. A lot more development needs to go into storage solutions such as batteries or hot water storage for district heating schemes. Oil companies should be making the transitition into these areas instead of trying to defend their ground.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandmother played the fiddle unfortunately she was the last person in my line of the family to do so. Is this the case in general on the islands or is the traditional music scene still healthy?

On the some subject who would you recommend I could listen too, to get a true feel of Shetlands music?

Far from being an expert or knowing all the facts in the production of energy.

Geothermal power is the one that appeals to me the most.

I don’t know it this has been on table in Shetland’s search for alternative power sources.

The storage in batteries needs both lithium and cobalt, two thirds of the world’s lithium production is used for battery production.

 Former president of Bolivia Evo Morales announced  his government's plan to industrialize the nation's lithium reserves. Shortly after he was ousted in a coup d’etat, being quickly replace by Jeanine Anez who immediately suspended the project. She in her turn has now gone and been replaced by a banker.


Reminiscent of the 1953 coup d’état of Mohammad Mosaddegh.

Mosaddegh wanted Iran to have more control of the Iranian oil fields.

He nationalised the Iranian oil industry,  The Anglo Iranian oil company found it’s itself out on its ear.

Britain called in the US to help deal with the issue.

The CIA set up operation Ajax headed by Major General Norman Schwarzkopf, whose son was to return to middle east 37 years later to head desert storm.

The Shah was installed as a western puppet, The Anglo Iranian Oil Company.

Then returned with a new name that we all know, the British petroleum company BP.


Daniel Yergin; The Prize, the epic quest for oil, money and power.

Ron Chernow;  Titan. The story of John Davison Rockefeller.

Major General Smedley Butler’s book; War is a racket.

Are all well worth a read.


Most of the world’s cobalt in mined in the Democratic republic of Congo, democratic only in name.

Thousands of children are either mining cobalt or used as soldier’s fighting for the control of this and other resources. The DFC would be fabulously rich if they could control their own resources, but the multi nationalists have seen to it that is not the case.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much George, such a wonderfully haunting tune beautifully preformed.

After following the link you provided me with.

I did a search on the name of the tune and found this.

I'm sure you have seen it, but I hadn't its truly heart wrenching.

I only now drying my eyes on patting down the many hairs on the back of my neck.

I've sent a link of the clip to my 86 years old mother and my sister.



I'm sure you have seen it;.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...