The information put together here was originally written up as a summary of information obtained in Shetland in July 1985, for a study of family history. They were originally written up because several members of the family asked to see details of our discoveries.

We have not added a great deal to the content of these notes, since little extra work was done in the years following, and we last visited Shetland in 1993. However, technology allowed us to produce something a little more fun than a photocopy of handwritten notes, and a CD-ROM version was put together in 1999. This has now been edited for publication on the web, and we hope that you enjoy the photographs, maps (and, once the source file is made much smaller than the 12MB on the CD-ROM, sounds) that now accompany the words.

We hope that any members of the family who have further information which may help us (especially relating to people born before 1850) will let us know about it either by email or when we next visit Shetland, whenever that may be!

The summary here presents what we know to be true, with a few speculations which are clearly indicated! In the limited time available we were only able to follow a few of the family lines, but we hope to do more in the future. Particular areas which seem promising are the (west side) Mansons, the Hunters of Weisdale and the female line; the Morrisons of Skurron also seem to date back to at least 1730.

These notes were originally written purely for family information, and not for publication; however, with many more people now having access to the web, the CD-ROM version of the notes has been re-edited so that it can be made available publicly.

Records in the Shetland Archive

In 1985 three mornings were spent in the Shetland Archive, looking at microfilms of census returns and parish registers. Relevant extracts from these were given as an appendix in the original report, and were added here with appropriate acknowledgment once permission had been obtained. Many more extracts were taken and will provide the basis for future work.

The census records are mostly clear and legible; a number of mistakes have been noted, and these appear in the appendix. For example, in the 1881 census, Thomas Manson is shown as living with his wife Agnes; she was in fact his mother, and Thomas?s age is given incorrectly. In the same year Joan and Adam Hunter were staying with their aunt Elizabeth Hunter; they are shown as being born in Weisdale, which is incorrect. There are quite a number of age discrepancies in the census information.

The church records are very good indeed; for both Sandsting and Aithsting, and Whiteness and Weisdale there are registers of births and marriages going back to about 1730. The older register for Sandsting and Aithsting is somewhat damaged and difficult to read, but the Whiteness and Weisdale records are excellent. None of the records are completely continuous - there are gaps particularly in the marriage records - but much can be done yet, especially for the Weisdale families. There are transcripts of some parts of the registers, which are usually easier to read than the originals but may contain errors. For the Sandsting and Aithsting parish, there are burial records for the earlier years; these have not yet been searched at all.


Family members provided a lot of the information that allowed an efficient search of the Shetland Archive in 1985, and grateful thanks are due to the staff of the archive for their help then. Thanks also go to staff at the Scottish Record Office for help with locating background information (e.g. skat rentals) which helped my understanding of the islands.

Technical summary

The 1985 text was dictated into Microsoft WordPad using the Dragon Point and Speak voice recognition software. All the text was formatted as HTML files to allow easy access to the information using a web browser for the CD-ROM. (This was only tested using Microsoft Internet Explorer, but it should also work using Netscape Navigator.) The images are either "gif" or "jpeg" format. The sound available on the original CD-ROM has not yet been put on the web pages.