Personal Stories

This is where we collate some of the many engaging and enlightening stories which people have been sending us since the project began. If you wish to add your story to this living archive, then get in touch via the website or our Facebook page.

Argentina – Australia – Brazil – Canada – China – England – France – Germany – Italy – India – Ireland – Jamaica – Lithuania – Malawi – Netherlands – New Zealand – Northern Ireland – Norway – Pakistan – Poland – Portugal – Russia – South Africa – SwedenUnited States of America 



John Johnston
: a member of the Scottish Gaelic Society of Victoria:

 John Johnston’s story (503 KB)
Helen Skedd: I am the oldest daughter of my family. There were ten of us, including two brothers, the oldest George who died about three ago, and William, the artist whose work hangs in The Gothenburg pub in Prestonpans but who unfortunately also died a few years ago. My husband Gordon Skedd was born and brought up in Polworth Terrace, Prestonpans.  We were married in l955 and emigrated to Australia in June l961. One of our reasons was that we wanted to bring up our son Alistair in Australia so he could enjoy the sunshine!  He grew up here and is now well established and very happy. We settled in Victoria in a place called Geelong which is a lovely city about 45 km west of Melbourne by the seaside and we have lived here ever since, so that tells you a lot! We had another son Cameron who is now 45 and owns his own business and is married to a lovely Australian girl called Rachel and they have two children: Alex who was born on the first day of the first spring of the new millennium and will be l3 on the lst Sept; and Breanna who is ten and is our heart’s delight. They both attend The Christian College, a private school near Geelong. Breanna excels on the violin and plays in a Scottish band and love’s it!  Now there are lots of Scots around this area and we have lots of Scottish friends, but we would have to say that we are very Australian, but have never lost our accent and have always been well accepted here. The Cadells came out here from Cockenzie and settled along the Murray River. They built paddle steamers and did very good trading along the Murray which is a very long river which separates Victoria and New South Wales and further west to South Australia.  They progressed to making and building Iron Works and became very good business people and have set their place in history. But I digress. I have two sisters. Agnes lives in Queensland and is married to an Australian and I am sure she will be very interested in the tapestry. Another sister Isobel lives in place called Grovedale. They had four children and now, I think, have 8 or 9 grandchildren which keeps them busy. So there you are a bit of interest on some expatriate Scots, Gordon has been retired many years and was an executive employee of Alcoa for over 20 years. I too worked for over 30 years and my last job was secretary to an obstetrician and gynaecologist for 11 years. Before that I was a dental nurse for many years, but like Gordon I am very happy with being retired. We have travelled all over Australia by caravan, after we stopped travelling over Asia and Europe, and of course many trips to Bonnie Scotland. I wish you well with the preparations for the Tapestry.

Helen Johnson (nee Macpherson): Helen stitched the Botany Bay panel for the Tapestry, and therefore wanted to share with us the fascinating story of her Scottish roots:   Helen Johnson (nee Macpherson) (1185 KB)


Prince Edward Island and the Maple Hill MacDonaldsread their story here.

Rob MacDonald has also collated some stories from Prince Edward Island: read them here.

Nancy Callahan’s Scottish connections from Ontario: read them here.

Don Carver: In 1841 Alexander MacDonald left the Isle of Skye in Scotland on a boat called The Washington. He and his family settled in Johnson’s River P.E.I. where they though there was ready farm land, but turned out to be a wood lot. It was too late in the season to grow a crop and unsure of how to clear the wood, they would wake up, cry all day, fall asleep and repeat the next day. To survive they had to sleep in the school houses and for food they had to dig clams and other shellfish, preserve them in mud and feed off of those for the winter.

Carissa Hogan: Two Hundred and forty years ago was the arrival of my Scottish ancestor, an army officer and colonizer, Capt John MacDonald. He was also the eighth laird of Glenaladale, in the Highlands. In 1772, he left Glenaladale, Scotland to head for St. John’s Island. In May 1772, John MacDonald and his brother Donald voyaged across the Atlantic Ocean to St. John’s Island aboard The Alexander. After a successful 7-week voyage, they arrived in ST. John’s Island, on Lot 36, which they named Scotchfort and then they settled in Tracadie. He then aided in bringing 210 Scottish Roman Catholics settlers to the island. Some of the Scottish Roman Catholic settlers worked as servants and others were promised to be known as land-lords.  

Brynn Cutcliffe: In 1776 High Ban MacEachern, former gardener for the Laird of Kinloch in Scotland, Settled in Mount Stewart, P.E.I. with seven of his eight children. His Eight Angus eventually followed suit and became the first bishop of Charlottetown. John one of Hugh’s sons later settled in Mermaid, near Stratford PEI, where my grandfather John MacEachern, built a house in 1977 and still lives today. He did not know that he was the second John MacEachern to settle in Mermaid until he saw his ancestor’s grave at the Mermaid Church one day.

Kayla Fraser: My great grandfather Hugh Stewart was born April 6th 1902 in Kirkintilloch Scotland. He immigrated to Canada in the 1920’s. In 1929 he married Helen Templeton, who also immigrated to Canada with her family. She was born on March 8th, 1907in Kilmory, Isle of Arron, Scotland. “She was a very Scottish Lady”—my mother. My great grandmother knew a little bit of Gaelic and even after 75 years in Canada, she still spoke with an accent.

Emily B: My grandmother always tells ma a storey of two MacLean brothers marrying two McKinnon sisters. So I asked her to tell me more about the storey. The MacLean’s came from the Isle of Mull in year 1808 on the ship Clarendone. The ship left port of Oban in the Isle of Mull and arrived in Charlottetown on September 21, 1808. Laughlin MacLean and his wife Catherine along with their eight children and they settled on the Island. The Storey starts out with Laughlin’s son Alexander. Alexander had two sons Neil and Roderick. Roderick decided to get married and he wanted to marry one of the McKinnon sisters who lived on the neighboring farm. When Roderick went to the McKinnon’s farm house to ask Catherine McKinnon for her hand in marriage, she ran and hid in the barn, because she didn’t want to marry him. As Roderick waited for Catherine, her sister Ellen, came out and Roderick decided to marry her instead. Later on Neil, Roderick’s brother came along and decided he too wanted to get married. So Neil married Catherine who had hid in the barn. My grandmother says Catherine hid in there because she had always had an eye for Neil.

Kailey: During the time when my relatives were coming from Scotland, one of my relatives was known for buying black slaves and then bringing them to Canada to free them. He once bought a young black male and took him to Canada where the slave and my relative’s daughter fell in love. My relative (being a good man) supported them but when they wanted to have a child together he disapproved because he knew the child wouldn’t be able to fit in. They decided to get married and have a child. The child had dark brown eyes that have since been passed down on my Fathers side of the family, from my grandmother to my father to myself.


Eric Liddell’s daughter Maureen has generously offered us access to the following document, recording her correspondence with a schoolboy inspired by her father’s story:

 Conversations with Nate (5339 KB)
Peter Kwok
: Coming from Hong Kong, the city for passionate businesses, to Scotland, the historical country for global innovation, Peter was educated at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh for his senior secondary education. During his time at Merchiston, he had the opportunity to participate in the Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) programme. He was the Managing Director of the company he set up with his classmates. The company was founded based upon Peter’s idea of selling portable hand warmers to bring warmth to the general public against the well known Scottish weather. That was the time when he discovered his strong passion for helping the society, enthusiasm for business innovation and entrepreneurship. Inspired by the speech on leaders of the future at a YES event by Sir Tomas Farmer, Peter has decided to dedicate his future to becoming of continuous assistance to supporting leaders of the future. Peter carried with his passion to Imperial College London where he studied Materials Science and Engineering. During university, he has spent immense effort in developing students to achieve their career goals through running the Career Research Advisory Centre’s Student Industrial Society as elected president and then the chairman of Bright Futures Society at the university. Peter has always strived hard to devote himself to social innovation and indeed bridging between Scotland and China. After his postgraduate business management education at Cranfield School of Management, Peter returned to Edinburgh to found the Young Chinese Professionals Scotland (YCP) that unites and develops young hearted Chinese professionals with Scottish experience. He has also created and convenes a number of non-profit community organisations such as Scotland-China Alumni International. Peter is now living with his partner Cathy who he first met on the Valentine’s night at his secondary school’s Highland Ball in his sixth form. Both of them love Scotland, and they travel often back for uncountable meaningful reasons.

Sarah Gu’s
 reverse diaspora story, of her time in Scotland: read it here.











New Zealand
Whilst our team were in India, they met with a descendant of one William Simpson, who had travelled from Greenock to New Zealand in 1862-3. Here is the fascinating account of that journey, by kind permission of the Malcolm family, the descendants of Professor John Malcolm and Victoria Simpson (only child of William Simpson) Simpson Voyage: Greenock to NewZealand (672 KB)

Northern Ireland






South Africa


United States of America

Stanley Groves (One Horse): My name is Stanley Edward Groves and I am an American of Scottish and Native American (Choctaw) descent. My Groves Family decedents came to this new world in or around the early 1700s. In Scotland they had live in the region around or near the Tweed River, a river bordering Scotland and England. We do have a crest, tartan and motto even though we do not have a clan. My people settled in many areas in the new world from the Bahamas to Georgia north to Virginia and Maryland. The Choctaw were living in the Southeast, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. They were the first tribe to be moved to Oklahoma to make room for the white farmers. My Great-grandfather (George H. Groves Sr.) went from Virginia to Georgia because he did not want to farm but to become rich by joining others in the first Gold rush. While in Georgia he met his to-be wife (Mertie C. Randolph), whose family had returned to Georgia after the long walk to Oklahoma. Her Choctaw Mother had died while there and her father had remarried. Mertie having been placed on the Dawes rolls while in Oklahoma had given a green card, one with a temp # M1325 and then at the age of 33, a finale one with the #5012. After getting married they did not like living in the state of Georgia and moved back to Virginia to farm and raise a family. They claimed there homestead right and raised a family of 17 children, one of them my grandfather (Edward H. Groves).