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23 Dec 2013

Bogralin - clue to Scots ancestry lies in a strange place-name

This is another thread of my hard-to-pin down Scots ancestry.  Fresh from the delights of finding ‘Scotland’ emblazoned across the census entry for Colby, Westmorland – being the birthplace of the heart-still-beating Margaret Moses (81).  It was fifth-time lucky as she’d presumably been counted in all the other censuses since the dawn of time (1801) and this really was the last time to catch her.

Clues came in thin and slow after this.  Today the word ‘Bogralin’ jumped into my head.  It’s almost certainly gobble-dy-gook but I searched my laptop for it – no dice.  Then I searched my sent items in email (known not to have been downloaded) and hey presto, an email that ought to be carefully filed, but isn’t:
Carlisle Record Office writing to my cousin Roger in 2009:
There is an entry in the marriage bonds.  It reads:
16 August 1783
Moses, Joseph, Netherton, p. Hayton, wdr, yeoman
Rae, Margaret, p Hayton
Rae, John, Bogralin, yeoman [Bondsman]

Cryptic!  A few thoughts emerge from this.  The square brackets are not translations – so Bogralin is not just another word for Bondsman.  Traditionally the third person listed was not a marrying party, but was the bondsman – clear enough.  The last square bracket is the place where the marriage was expected to take place.  Sometimes, as in Return of the Native, the marriage does not occur as expected at all.
It’s extremely unusual for the parish for ‘Bogralin’ not to be stated – was it meant to be within Hayton?
The couple were married the following day at Hayton and John Rae witnesses  (as does Joseph’s married sister).

Assuming, dare I?, that Bogralin is a mis-transcribed place in Scotland or Ireland, this might indicate that John Rae was expected to be in town only for a few days.  So, can’t wait to view films 90694 and 412603 at the research centre in Kew to resolve the matter.  With luck the latter is a film of the original, and I can be left to interpret the word, and my only true proven (0.8%) Scots origins, for myself in a tranquil setting by the Thames.

(The third piece of Scots heritage comes from the Mellrays of Kentmere, who were almost certainly earlier the Millreas of Kirkinner, Wigtownshire.  Fanciful – we hear them crossing the Solway Firth some time before 1735 – but utterly unprovable, or nearly. ~DNA for the Mellrays if still living, might prove it.  Though this is 0.4% of my ancestry and no guarantee I got any genes either from it.)


  1. Margaret Rae was also my ancestor I and too have had no luck finding "Bogralin." I am guessing that is a farm, maybe just over the border in Scotland, in Dumfriesshire. Ian Riley

    1. hi Ian, in an act 'of unparallel archival vandalism' to borrow a phrase from Don Steel; the original bonds were apparently destroyed at Cumbria Records Office, so it is not possible to examine them to read what Bogralin might have been. Davo.


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