December 2018         Title    Past Issues

In this Issue:

  December Gathering & Events   Burns Supper
  President's Letter   Annual Meeting - New Members
  Remembrance   Meet our Members' Cars
  2019 Games Planning   Odds and Sods
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Coming Events - Valley & Nearby
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers  

December Gathering and Event

The Society is gearing up for the annual ‘Christmas at the Castle’ event being held on December 8 at the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library at 1106 N. Central Avenue.

It is the fourth consecutive year the Christmas Party has been held at the venue, and it is always a family-friendly and festive occasion, full of Christmas cheer. There are plenty of volunteering slots still available and if you want to help you can contact Don Finch on

The event will feature games, photos with Santa, plenty of good food, live performances, story time with Mrs Claus, a Christmas Tree contest, face painting, cookie decorating, a hot cocoa bar, holiday crafts, and a cash bar. In short, something for all the family. The evening starts at 6 PM but volunteers are needed for the Friday evening and all day Saturday.

Saturday December 8, 6 PM to 9 PM
Adults (16+): $10, Ages 10-15: $5, 9 & under: Free
Blood Mobile on-site - free family admission to donors

Movie Screening - "Mary Queen of Scots"

We have been contacted with a possible offer to attend a preview screening of the new "Mary Queen of Scots" movie. We are still investigating this possibility, and ask that you watch the Society web site for updated information. The screening would be on Thursday evening December 13 in Tempe.

Letter from the President
David McBee

David McBeeWishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays as well as several other special times this month.

Our participation in the APS Light Parade has run into problems beyond our control. We will not be in attendance there. I do hope to see you at Christmas at the Castle on the evening of December 8th which will serve as our meeting this month. The castle (Irish Cultural Center) is a unique location for Christmas socializing. The lights and trees as well as the entertainment will be quite special but even more so with seeing you all there.

As our year comes to a close, I hope it has been a good year for all. We have lost some members this year but their smiles carry on and even more memories are to be built among this Society. Pitch in, come out and get involved in the Society events, that is how the friendships build and the memories are made. We all gain and grow from the time together and that is what makes the Society grow.

It is also that time of year to renew your membership in the Society. The subscription is increasing next year (Family $50, Individual $30) as our costs keep rising. Beat the rush and the increase by renewing by December 31 at the 2018 prices (Family $40, Individual $25)

The final preparations for the annual Burns Dinner are underway. There will be several improvements made this year as we learn to run a bigger event with more organizations involved. There will be changes to the menu structure, entertainment, and facilities layout. Please mark your calendars for the evening of January 26th and get your tickets early as we expect a sellout.

We are gearing up for our 55th Games event this next March. Plans are coming together and the excitement is building. It is building not just among us but among our vendors, athletes, and performers both new and old. It should be quite an event this next year. Please volunteer where you can and be a part of this momentous occasion.

As the year comes to a close, we also have to face giving unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Remember that we are a 501c3 nonprofit that accepts donations. They go towards our mission of supporting Scottish arts, artists, athletes, history and the preservation of our great heritage.

A toast to the new year and each and every one of you.

Slainte. DAVID

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The Caledonian Society once again paid its respects to 23 Royal Air Force cadets who died while training at Falcon Field early in World War 2. President David McBee laid a wreath at a special Remembrance Day ceremony at Mesa’s City Cemetery to honor their memory.

RAF Memorial RAF Memorial

The event was extremely well-attended and included music by the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band. The roll of honor was read by Colonel Naomi Hancock, and a speech was given by Hank Marshall, the British Honorary Consul in Arizona.

David laid the Society’s wreath, accompanied by a representative of the Scottish-American Military Society Honour Guard. A 21-gun salute was given by members of American Legion Post 27 Rifle Team, and there was a flyover of T-6 Texan aircraft.

It was a poignant occasion and one the Society is proud to be involved with every year.

Highland Games Update

90 Days to Ggo

Yep, we’re counting down the clock and there are only 90 days to go. And we don’t mean shopping days till Christmas, we’re talking about something far more important – the 55th Anniversary Phoenix Scottish Games at Steele Indian School Park.

The Games Committee has been hard at work planning and preparing for the event, and is pleased to announce that permission has again been given by the Park Central Mall management to use their lot for FREE parking with shuttle service to the Games. There were some minor logistical issues last year with the lot location, but steps are being taken to ensure there is no confusion at the 2019 event.

Our entertainment lineup is in place with some new faces. Rod Stewart impersonator Jay Gates is certain to be one of the big draws of the weekend. He will be performing on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning the Sonoran Foothills Jazz Band will be playing in the Learners Arms.

We also will be launching the web site that will contain information, schedules and a link to purchase tickets.

Games Committee Chairman Paul Bell said, “We are hoping to use our social media to reach a larger audience for the Games. Look for us on Facebook and Instagram. It’s shaping up to be a great year for the 55th Annual Phoenix Scottish Games. Be sure to join us on 2 and 3 March.

Our next planning committee meeting will be in January

Scotland's Hidden Gems - Footdee, Aberdeen
Iain Lundy

Footdee, a quaint little fishing village tucked away at the entrance to Aberdeen Harbor, looks like a throwback to an earlier age when the fisher folk lived in small, well-maintained, granite houses as part of tight-knit, self-contained communities.

Footdee Footdee

It’s also a rather confusing place. Firstly, despite being located at a spot where the River Dee flows from Aberdeen Harbor to join the North Sea it is not pronounced Foot-dee. The village takes its name from St Fittick, a Christian saint who was washed ashore on a nearby headland in the seventh century. To everyone in and around Aberdeen, Footdee is Fittie.

For the visitor to Aberdeen, the discovery is quite a surprise – an old-fashioned fishing quarter in a modern bustling city.

Back in the early 1800s, when it was laid out in regimented squares, it was an early example of what would now be regarded as a planned housing development.

The village was originally called Fish Town and reverted to Footdee in the mid-1800s. In those days, Aberdeen and the other ports along the east coast such as Peterhead, Fraserburgh, and Montrose, were fishing boom towns. The nearby restaurant, the Silver Darlin’, an old Scottish name for herring, serves as a reminder of the area’s bygone fishing glories.

Footdee is nowadays a charming little spot, a world away from Aberdeen’s busy city centre. The houses always seem to be freshly painted, and there are small outbuildings that give the place a distinctive character. However, it must be remembered that it is a living village and every house is occupied. Taking photographs is common but be careful not to peek in the windows.

FootdeeIt was designed by John Smith, the same architect responsible for the royal family’s Scottish retreat, Balmoral Castle.

The village is built in a series of squares with all the cottages facing inwards to protect them from the worst of the elements. There’s a local church and a mission hall, giving the place an even greater sense of community.

If you find yourself in Aberdeen, nowadays home to the millionaires of the North Sea oil industry and known as the Oil Capital of Europe, make sure you take time out to find Footdee. It is quaint, quirky, a step back in time, and a genuine hidden gem. And, of course, if you are the nautical type, you’ll find plenty to interest you.

Footdee is reached by heading to Aberdeen Esplanade and turning right towards the harbor entrance.

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksConfirmations and Testiments -
Scottish Estate Distribution

by Robert M. Wilbanks IV, B.A.
Chief Genealogist & Historian, C.S.A.

A couple of articles back I discussed Wills and Probates, focusing primarily on their significance, process and procedure in American genealogy. You may wish to review that article before continuing with this article. Here, I will explain about the similar records, legal procedure, and research process in Scottish genealogy.

First of all, Scotland has no ‘probate’ records or courts. That is to say, the term used for the similar legal process is ‘confirmation’, with the primary term being ‘testament’. Testament is both the Will, where one exists, and the process and complete set of records related to the court case. Records found in the Testament include inventory and distribution of the estate of the deceased, such as Will, inventory, administration, guardianships, distribution, etc.

Like American Wills and Probate records, Testaments and Confirmations have the great potential for a wealth of information, including dates of deaths, lists of heirs and/or guardians, relationships, residences, inventories, etc. However, due to varying factors of Scottish history, jurisdictions, courts, etc., knowing where to find these records, if they exist for your ancestor, can be very complicated.

The Court system in Scotland has gone through several transformations, making knowing which court to search for your ancestors’ Testaments and Confirmations very complex. After 1560, the date of the English Reformation, and prior to 1592, the Scottish Reformation, Confirmations of Testaments was in the prerogative of the Episcopal Bishops’ Courts, established by Royal Authority, with the subordinate courts, called commissariat, actually carrying out the ‘probate’ function. Initially there were 15 commissariats, but eventually they were increased to 22. County boundaries were generally not regarded when it came to the Commissariat’s jurisdiction. This practice continued until 1823.

After 1823, through a series of evolutions, Testaments were confirmed by commissariat departments within the Sheriff Courts. The boundaries of these courts were the same as the county boundaries, but not necessarily with the same county name. In 1876, the commissariats were completely absorbed into the Sheriff courts.

Also, be aware that there was no legal requirement or compulsion to have a testament confirmed at all, or in any specific commissariat. If a confirmation took place, it could be at the local jurisdiction, or at the Principal Court in Edinburgh, regardless of where the estate existed.

Another important matter is the distinction between Movable Property and Immovable Property. Before 1868, it was not legally possible to leave ‘immovable’ property, such as land, buildings, titles, etc., to a person by means of a Will or Testament. Only personal, ‘movable’, property could be left by means of a Testament. There are two types of Testaments. If a person died leaving a Testament, with a named executor, the confirmation would be called a ‘testament testamentar’. If a person died without leaving a Testament, and the court had to appoint an executor, then the confirmation is called a ‘testament dative’. Inventories were standardly kept in both of these types of Testaments.

The website can help you determine which commissariat court had jurisdiction over which parishes and counties. Also on this site you can find county guides for all other aspects of genealogy research in Scotland. The site also has free indexes for Scottish testamentary records covering 1513 to 1925. Register to use the website and search the index for free, then pay-per-view for any record found.

Meanwhile, this webpage of the National Records of Scotland is a guide that will help explain more about Scottish Wills and Testaments, including providing a variety of information and links to various indexes, records, courts, jurisdictions, testaments, and more from 1514 to 1999.

While there can be a possibility that your ancestor didn’t leave a Testament, or had little or nothing to leave behind, there is just as easily a strong possibility that a Testament was left, or something was left for your ancestor by someone else. You never know what you could find if you don’t make the effort to search.

This is another of a series of articles in which I show you the basics of searching for your family history, discussing the use of family records, public records, and online resources nationally and internationally, etc. The previous articles are now available on the Genealogy Section of this website.   See “Genealogy” in the menu options at the top of the web page.

Burns Supper 2019

The annual Robert Burns celebration is only a few weeks away. That’s the night when we over-indulge in haggis, neeps, tatties, Scotch whisky, and listen to much speechifying extoling the virtues of Scotland’s National Bard.

The 2019 Burns Dinner – to be hosted jointly by the Caledonian Society and the Daughters of Scotia, Lady Claire Lodge – will be held on 26 January in the American Legion Mathew B Juan Post 35, at 2240 West Chandler Blvd, in Chandler (NW corner of Chandler Blvd and Dobson).

Expect a traditional Burns dinner with haggis and all the trimmings, Highland dancers, pipers, speakers, and other great entertainment, including dance music from disc jockey Paul Bell. The planning committee is still looking for items for the silent auction and raffle.

Tickets will soon be on sale and anyone who wants to volunteer should contact Linda Currie McGuire on

Watch the Society web site and the January Newsletter for order details

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Annual Meeting - New Members

The Society’s Annual Meeting last month heard progress reports by committee members, welcomed several new members, and enjoyed wonderful bluegrass music.

President David McBee spoke of the Society’s forthcoming events and stressed the need for more volunteers to come forward to help with the organization of meetings, the Scottish Games, and other Society activities. Treasurer Vicky Phegley reported on the financial health of the Society and revealed that membership subscriptions would be rising next year due to increased costs.

Among the new members who were ‘knighted’ by David were Douglas and Rebecca Hall, Dean Robertson and Don and Kelly McClelland. Music was provided by the Crossbow Bluegrass Band.

Douglas and Rebcca Hall Dean Robertson Don and Kelly  McClelland

Meet our Members' Cars

Thom's 1940 FordWe’ve been profiling Society members and their classic cars over the past year. Here is former Board member Thom von Hapsburg with his 1940 Ford Pickup truck with a Flathead V8 engine. It was the first instance of Ford using a V8 engine in any of its cars or trucks. Thom is an avid classic car collector. He owns a total of eight classics, including the 1940 Ford, which he picked up two years ago.

Odds and Sods

Len Wood Piper Len Wood was given a Society scholarship at the recent committee meeting planning the 55th Games.

Len organized the first Arizona Scottish Games, and is an extremely well-known figure in Scottish circles in the Valley.

He will use the scholarship money to provide lessons for his piping students.

Four Peaks Brewery, the main sponsor of the Scottish Games, held a 21st anniversary party last month in the Phoenix Rising soccer stadium. Collaboration between the brewery and the Society has reached new heights this year, and Society members were given a special invite to attend. Those who went along enjoyed great food, rousing music, and of course awesome beer.

55th Anniversary pinMembers can buy pins made specially to celebrate the upcoming 55th Scottish Games.

The pins depict a phoenix and an Arizona state flag on a blue and white Scottish saltire.

Around the edge of the design is a belt with a buckle at the bottom and the inscription ’55 years’ at the top.

They are available from Paul Bell at $5 each – cheap at half the price.

COMING EVENTS and Highland Games in Arizona and Nearby

December 8 Christmas at the Castle
December 13 Possible movie screening. "Mary Queen of Scots"
January 10 No Gathering at the ICC in January
January 26 Burns Supper
Chandler American Legion Hall, 2240 W. Chandler Blvd, Chandler

Membership Reminder

Membership dues for 2019 are:
- - $30.00 single and $50.00 Family (at the same address)

It's easy - just jump to the Membership Page for information.

Society Gatherings
Regular membership gatherings are often held on the second Thursday of each month, many at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix - others around the Valley - usually beginning at 6:30 pm. Please check our website for further details.

A Word from our Advertisers

Kilt Rental USA

Len Wood
Bagpiper USB

Lois Wallace


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